Archive | October, 2010

Finally A Double Digit Run – 10 Miles!

30 Oct

I can’t believe it – I ran 10 miles this morning!

I’ll be back later with a full recap of the run, but Bruce and I are getting ready for a Halloween party with Tim’s youth group!  I will definitely take pictures of our costumes.

Here’s a hint about mine – I will be making use of my wedding tiara.

See, mom?  I told you it was a worthwhile purchase!  xoxo

Beyond The Auto Focus – A Reflection

29 Oct

I was taking photographs of my breakfast this morning when something caused me to stop and throw my lens on manual focus …

Here we are on autofocus, seeing the mug and the beautiful froth of the french press coffee.  But there is something beyond the coffee …

Plants in full bloom.  A beautiful blue sky.  Puffy white clouds.  Life – reflected.

What do you see when you slow down and refocus the lens that you are seeing your life through?


Have a great weekend.

Creamy Cream of Mushroom and Veggies with Rice

29 Oct

Goooooood morning!  Thank you thank you thank you for all of the suggestions on how to deal with RLS after yesterday’s post.  I am going to try some of the home remedies (Ivory Soap in the bed, thanks Mrs. Cooper!), as well as focus on preventative strategies (someone in yesterday’s foodbuzz twitter chat suggested stretching right before I got into bed).  I’ll keep you posted!

Onto this morning’s recipe.  I’ll be honest – the other day I was browsing my recipe page and was thinking about the fact that nothing that I post is overly complicated, creative or difficult to come up with on your own.  Are they even considered recipes?  Who knows …

I realized, however, that I love posting recipe (meal ideas?) for two reasons.
1. As hard as I have tried, I cannot keep a recipe box/binder for the life of me.  I’ve started three since moving to Atlanta and they all remain unfinished.  I like having the recipes on my blog so I can pull them up wherever I am!
2. One of the most annoying conversations Bruce and I used to have on a regular basis is the “What’s for dinner?” conversation.  We are both so indecisive and end up in a hunger-induced frustration about the fact that we can’t decide what to eat.  Reading food blogs and experimenting in my own kitchen has really helped with those conversations and pushed me to think more creatively.  I hope sharing my own learning process can (1) help me when we’re stuck in that conversation and (2) help others on their own process!

Okay, so onto actual FOOD.  I was dreaming this recipe up yesterday when I was working late and I’m really excited about sharing it.  Actually, I think I’m just really excited about the fact that I’m going to eat the leftovers for lunch.  I can only imagine the flavors get better overnight.

Creamy Cream of Mushroom and Veggies with Rice

2 cans Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Water
1 can Mushroom Stems & Pieces
1 bag Frozen Broccoli
1 bundle Asparagus
1 medium Yellow Onion
1 cup Uncooked Rice
Salt & Pepper 

Start by combining the two cans of soup with one can of water … 

… and whisk it up!

Pour into a skillet and turn on low-med/low heat.

Carefully add your mushrooms …

… and broccoli.

Wash and chop your asparagus and stir them into the mix.
Dice the onions and throw them in last!

Then season season season!

Let it simmer, stirring often.

Once you’ve got the soup warming, start the rice.  By the time the rice is finished, the veggies in the soup will be cooked!

Serve over a big pile of rice.

Oh my.  So hearty.  So simple.  So delicious.

Question – what kind of rice do y’all use?  I normally buy long-grain, but decided I wanted to try medium-grain for this dinner.  I really liked the texture!

Okay, I’m ready for lunch.

Restless Leg Syndrome

28 Oct

Goooooooood … afternoon?

Okay, I was not “rising” and “shining” this morning.  I had an RLS(restless leg syndrome)-related-terrible night and didn’t go to sleep until after 4 in the morning. 😦 I accidentally woke Bruce up around 3 crying because I was in so much pain.  I then proceeded to google RLS for about an hour to find home remedies.  Wikipedia said to walk and stretch so around 3:30 I started pacing around my apartment, waking up Lilly in the process, who thought it was time for breakfast and pranced around squealing and cryin until Bruce finally fed her.

I think my life would make a good reality show.

Anyway, to make matters worse, I was having issues with my coffee maker this morning!  I thought I only had two options – 1. Drink tea and complain about it not being the same as coffee and 2. Buy coffee at work and complain about spending money – until I realized I own an often overlooked appliance in my kitchen.

The French Press!

I chose option number 3 – Press a foamy, frothy cup of goodness.  Why don’t I use this thing more often?!  I drank the WHOLE THING and was ready to start my day.

When life hands you a bad night’s sleep and a malfunctioning coffee maker, you make french press coffee!

Okay, for real though – does anybody else deal with RLS?  Any suggestions for how I can prevent it?  I’ve never had it as bad as I did last night.

Thanks guys!

5 Miles In The Pouring Rain

28 Oct
I haven’t had this much fun running since I got caught in a snowstorm four years ago.

Once the metro area was free of a tornado watch, I decided to throw caution to the rain wind and head out for a run.

Just FYI – I obsessively checked the radar before I left and made sure I would just be running in rain and wouldn’t get caught in a tornado or even lightning/thunder.  Trust me – a summer in the burn unit will scare you away from running in that.

I e-mailed Bruce and told him I was thinking of heading out for a run.  His advice?  “Have a blast running in puddles!”

And you know what?

I did.

It actually was only a heavy sprinkle for the first two miles.  Then things started to pick up.  By mile 4 it was absolutely pouring.  But the heavier it rain the faster I ran.  I felt like I was flying.

I was soaked.  It was awesome.  I could have gone another 5.  I ran 5.00 miles in in 56:26, averaging a 10:17 pace.  Ummmmm, hello?!  A 10:17 PACE!  Who am I?  I never run that fast!
I have to be honest – it hasn’t been a great two weeks of running.  This run was exactly what I needed in order to re-energize me in my last month of training.
Actually, this DAY was exactly what I needed in order to re-energize me in my last two months of life in Atlanta.  I feel like I got soooooo much done on the packing/organizing/cleaning front.
My pile grew from this morning!
The weather reeked havoc on Bruce’s commute, so he didn’t home until 8 and was in the mood for something quick, delicious and not healthy for dinner.
Pizza it was!  I dipped mine in italian dressing – does anyone else do that?  It sounds gross, but it’s delicious.
I’m off to finish up some laundry and get to bed at a reasonable hour.  I did NOT sleep well last night, so I’m hoping I can make up for that tonight.
Goodnight!

Redemption Wednesday

27 Oct

What

a

dreary

day.

Tornado watches and warnings have been popping up all over the state of Georgia today!  It’s insane.  So far the metro-Atlanta area has only been under a watch, but it’s still a wet and muggy mess out there.

Because I put in two longer days on Monday and Tuesday and I’m still only supposed to be working part-time I decided to take the day off and focus on packing, ordination and general life chores that I’ve been putting on the back burner lately.

But first …

I needed to redeem myself in the kitchen after last night’s mess.  Creamy cream of mushroom soup seasoned with sea salt and ground pepper served over leftover egg noodles.  Sweet potato fries on the side!  (Not the ones Bruce picked up off of the floor last night.)

Ahh, good to know I’m still competent.  I went to bed last night convinced my kitchen was cursed.

Alright, I’m off to get back to the packing!  We cleared some space in our bedroom for boxes that have been packed, marked and are ready to go.

Ahhhh, the site of organization just makes me happy.

Have a great day!  To those of you in the southeast – stay dry!

xoxo

It’s a Good Thing I’m Not a Perfectionist Part 3

27 Oct

Oh my God.  I’m a hot mess tonight.

Bruce was working late today so there was no need to rush home.  It was 80 degrees with about 173% humidity today so I emphatically declared today’s run cancelled and had a lovely chat with my friend Jenna over some frozen yogurt in Emory Village.  I came home at 7:00 and got started on dinner.

After that, I’m not quite sure what happened.

By 8:00 I had a cast iron skillet with overcooked meat, a pan seared with burnt rice, a kitchen floor covered in sweet potato fries and an apartment full of smoke.

I heated up a waffle for dinner.

I did not take a picture.

It’s a good thing I’m not a perfectionist.

It’s also a good thing it’s Wear a Dress Tuesday!

I was all black with silver earrings today. Lovely!

And yes, all of my kitchen cabinet doors are open.  Don’t ask.

Alyssa has actually been celebrating on Mondays – which is perfectly acceptable as far as I’m concerned!

And guess what?

She sent me a picture of her shoes!  I love them.  And I love her for sending this to me.

Sarah of the Miller variety.  I miss this girl.

Alright, I think tonight’s kitchen disaster showed me that I need to slow down and calm down.  I am going to take a couple of deep breaths and put myself to bed!

Goodnight!

On Faith And Rainbows

26 Oct

Below is the sermon that I preached two Sundays ago.  I wanted to post it so I could remember this time and so that church members who weren’t able to make it to church when I announced we were leaving could have the opportunity to read it.  I hesitated posting it at first, because of how emotional this has been for me, but I do feel like there is an underlying message of change and good news attached to something extremely personal.  Enjoy!  See you tonight for WADT pictures!

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

***

On Faith and Rainbows

I went to lunch with some coworkers early on in the week and popped open a fortune cookie with the following fortune: “It takes rain and sunshine to make a rainbow!” I sat back in my chair and stared at those words for a few minutes, thinking about how true they have been in my life over the past couple of months.

Most of you know that I spent the summer working as a chaplain at Grady Memorial Hospital downtown completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, a required unit for my pending ordination. It probably won’t surprise most of you that nothing could have prepared me for what I saw, what I experienced and what I felt during my 11 weeks of often 60 hour weeks inside the walls of Grady. That was rain.

I surrendered my hospital ID on a Friday afternoon and on Monday morning I was back at work at the school of public health down at Emory, a job that I worked while I was in seminary. This is a job flexible in hours, part time, paid and doesn’t involve me sitting with grieving families on a daily basis. I have found new meaning in my life outside of Grady. I have time to eat breakfast at home and not on the go, to cook dinner and to read for pleasure. I am training for a half marathon. I can watch the leaves change color. I can spend time with my husband and my friends and family. I can marvel at the beauty that surrounds me. That was sunshine.

And all of a sudden, there was a rainbow.

Despite the breath of fresh air that came with life outside of Grady, there was a gray cloud hanging over my head: My ordination process. Most of you remember when Heidi and Rachel went through the process a few years ago. It is slow, tedious, confusing, linear and long. I was in Connecticut last month for a meeting with my committee on church and ministry, only to find out that – for reasons beyond my control – things had been pushed back another month. I arrived in Connecticut excited about the prospect of moving forward and I flew back to Atlanta feeling completely defeated, feeling like a failure both professionally and vocationally. I felt like I had let down my home congregation and my family. I wasn’t sure if I was even supposed to be on the path to ordination; maybe I had misunderstood my call. That was rain.

This past Thursday I met with my committee on church and ministry again through a conference call. The tone of this meeting was much different. I was commended on the sermon I submitted to them, praised for my openness to new ministries and was told repeatedly of my maturity and readiness for ministry. The committee voted affirmatively to call my Ecclesiastical Council and on December 12th I will go before the delegates of the Litchfield North Association of the Connecticut Conference; if I am approved, I will begin my search and call process. That was sunshine.

And all of a sudden, there was a rainbow.

That brings me to today – and some news that I have to share with you all. Last month when I was in Connecticut, I was speaking with a Connecticut Conference staff person about my upcoming search and call process. It was recommended that I circulate my ministerial profile nationwide to widen my pool of possibilities. It was also recommended that I look at where some of the highest concentrations of UCC churches are – and to consider giving congregations more confidence in me by already living in their vicinity. Unfortunately, the southeast is not known for its saturation of UCC churches (yet!). And after a lot of prayerful consideration, Bruce and I have made the decision to move to Connecticut. We are leaving in Atlanta on December 7th.

This decision brings us both sunshine and rain. On the one hand, we will be much closer to our families and to the support system of my sponsoring congregation and ordination committee. I will have the opportunity to supply preach for congregations in my association and possibly get my foot in the door of churches with openings. That is sunshine.

But it is not going to be easy to leave our family here; here in Atlanta and specifically here at Pilgrimage. In my etidings message this week, I said the following: “I’m not sure that I can put into words what Pilgrimage has meant to Bruce and me over the past three years. When we walked through the sanctuary doors nearly three years ago we were two people living very far away from our families for the first time in our lives. Three years later, while still living the same distances from our nuclear family, we have our own family – right here.” That – this – is rain.

I know that somewhere there is a rainbow – but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Most scholars believe that Paul wrote the letter that we read to Timothy this morning while he was imprisoned in Rome, facing imminent death. The editors of the HarperCollins Study Bible note, “Concern for church order is thus less important in this Letter than are personal exhortations. In particular, the example of Paul’s faithful endurance in the face of suffering is used to encourage Timothy—and through him all Christians—to similar endurance.”

In many ways I feel like Paul right now. I am not in prison and facing death, but I am getting ready to leave. And I feel like time is running out. With the craziness of mine and the church’s schedule, this will be my last time preaching before we move. So I almost feel like it’s now or never – to encourage you, to commend you, to inspire you, to celebrate you and to challenge you.

This church has undergone a lot of changes in the three years that Bruce and I have been there. The most noticeable, of course, are the physical changes of the building and grounds. We went from blue walls, folding chairs, partitioned off Sunday School classes and a mold-infested trailer to a worship inducing sanctuary lit by the beautiful colors of the stained glass windows, brand new fellowship and educational spaces for the youth and children and a spruced up meeting and educational space in the fellowship hall.

I have worked closely with the Christian Education committee during my time here and I continue to be in absolute awe over its growth and vibrancy. We currently have six Sunday School classes in session following our 10:00 worship service. Six!

Parish Life events are only getting bigger and better. The strength of community that is being built during these events will be the catalyst that this congregation needs to continue to grow in the spirit of Christ’s love and ministry.

The diversity in music and worship has doubled, if not tripled, over the past few years. We have brass, woodwinds, bluegrass, bells, vocalists, drama, dance, drums and more! The talent in this congregation is absolutely incredible.

The missions committee continues to open up this congregation to the needs of this community and of the world. They refuse to be complacent and inwardly focused and they want to collaborate with others. That attitude has rubbed off on each and every one of you. I can see it. I can feel it.

The church as a whole is finding new and exciting ways to mix tradition and innovation, combining age-old texts and sacraments with 21st century technologies and communication devices. Communion on facebook? Well, maybe not … but you are thinking creatively.

I also said in my etidings blurb, “If I had to pick one thing that Pilgrimage does well, I would say it is the spirit of hospitality and support throughout the entire congregation.” The members of the Good News team have given new meaning to the phrase radical hospitality. Most of the new members in our congregation note specifically in their Inquirers Classes how, where and by whom they were welcomed by when they first visited Pilgrimage. That’s not normal; that’s something to be proud of. That is something I hope to one day call my own church to strive towards.

And let’s talk about the youth and children! They are smart, they are compassionate and they care about this church, the community and the world. They probably know their bible better than I do and their energy should be bottled up and distributed out. People say that mainline protestant churches are in trouble, but I don’t agree. Not with this generation chomping at the bit to get into leadership! Their potential is great and their ambition is greater.

Paul says in his letter to Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” In other words – You have the tools. Use them. Trust them. You are already doing good things. Continue to do good things.

I do not think that I could think of a more perfect thing to say to you as I begin to make my own transition out of this congregation. You have the tools. Use them. Trust them. You are already doing good things. Continue to do good things. This is the sunshine.

Of course Paul doesn’t exactly leave quietly. He continues on with some advice. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.” In other words – Keep going. Because the work doesn’t stop here; it doesn’t stop today. This is only the beginning.

Again, I do not think that I could think of a more perfect thing to say to you as I begin to make my own transition out of this congregation. Keep going. Because the work doesn’t stop here; it doesn’t stop today. This is only the beginning. Continue to push the boundaries to force change where you see that it is necessary. Give of your time, your talents and your financial gifts to continue to allow this church to grow and to thrive. Teach what you know and be open to learn what you don’t. Do not force conformity among one another and love each other because of your differences, not in spite of them. Believe in the people around you. Believe in yourself. Believe in this congregation.

Be open to change.

But be true to who you are.

Yes – you are already doing good things. But your work isn’t done yet. This is the rain.

And all of a sudden, my friends, we have a rainbow.

Pilgrimage United Church of Christ is still very young. When I was a student intern here, I once described Pilgrimage as a rebellious teenager, capable of so much, yet still struggling to find its identity. I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but 30 years is not old for a church! Here is the beauty of where you are right now: You do not have to have all of the answers. You do not have to have to declare your identity. You can just be who you are.

Paul’s final words are these: “As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.” The words “always be sober” are comical in light of last night’s wine tasting, but I think the rest of the call can be said to you all verbatim: Do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

I am excited for you. I am excited about the potential of this church and its congregation. And the beauty of the United Church of Christ is that this isn’t goodbye – and when I head north on December 7th, it still won’t be goodbye. The covenantal commitments of the United Church of Christ will always keep us connected. As the UCC continues to discern what it means to be a mainline protestant denomination in the 21st century, it is my hope that conferences around the country will continue to collaborate. I encourage you – and I will do the same! – to push for those collaborations to happen. I hope to work with you again in the future. And I hope to see some of you at General Synod in 2011 in Tampa.

This isn’t goodbye. And honestly – it isn’t the end either. But it is time to start a new chapter. Paul knew that the real ministry was going to go on long after he left. And the same goes for me. I have great expectations for Pilgrimage United Church of Christ – I know that the best is yet to come.

Amen.

Treadmills Suck The Fun Out Of Running

26 Oct

A reeeeeeally quick post because I’m trying to stay on top of my training workouts on here.

First of all, I have to give props to anyone who works full time and trains for a race at the same time.  I’ve been working more lately and I’m finding it damn near impossible to get all my workouts in!  Things got busy at work this afternoon and I didn’t get home until after 7 and it was already getting dark.  I would have grabbed Bruce and run outside anyway, but things had gotten even crazier for him at work and he didn’t get home until after 8!  Oh my.  And I just don’t want to run in the dark by myself – it doesn’t seem safe.

I knew at that point that there was no rush in getting my workout in – it was going to be a treadmill kind of night.  Blech.  I love WALKING on treadmills.  I find running on treadmills to be very painfully boring, frustrating and harder on my body than when I’m running outside.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I tried to psych myself up with a classic PB&J for dinner –

Question – what is the difference between jelly and jam?

This PB&J had strawberry jam on it.  It was delicious.

So I let this digest and headed to the gym at my apartment complex.  Two of the treadmills were being used, so I hopped on the third.  It was broken.  I decided to get on the elliptical and do a light warm up while I waited for a treadmill to open up.  Also broken.

It is moments like that where I am ready to move.

Anyway, I went back to my apartment and Bruce and I disassembled some furniture in an attempt to create more space for storing boxes as we start to pack things up.  About an hour later I headed back to the gym and hopped on a treadmill.

#*%)*#$&%)*#&)@*#$&)@*#$&@)*#$&!!!!!

That is how I feel about running on the treadmill.  I ran two miles and couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt like I was working harder than I was and I couldn’t zone out and I was much harder on my legs than I normally am (my knee!).  So I slowed to a walk for about a 0.50 mile, cursed myself out for falling into a running rut and packed up.  As soon as I got outside, I got a sudden surge of energy and felt like I could have take off and run five miles.

Stupid treadmill.  Whatever, miles are miles.  I ran 2.00 miles in 20:15.

She thinks treadmills are lame, too.

Goodnight!

Wells Fargo?

25 Oct

Good afternoon!  I buckled down this morning and completed what I was calling “Operation Inbox” and actually feel like I have some control again!  It also helps that I paid some bills (hooray for checking things off my to-do list!) along the way …

I woke up to rumblings of thunder this morning!

We were under a tornado watch!  Not fun for people on the roads, but extra-cozy for me in sweatpants, drinking coffee and watching the Today Show!  I love having a flexible work schedule – I know I will never again in my life be afforded this kind of luxury.

Breakfast was black coffee and a PB multigrain bagel.

Eventually I made my way to work and ate lunch at my desk.  The last of my Pasta Chicken Stir Fry (the recipe for that is here) – how sad!  Luckily I’ve got last night’s French Onion Roast to attack next. 🙂

***

Okay, this is completely unrelated, but much more important than food.  Bruce and I both have accounts at Wachovia, which is now (as of Saturday) Wells Fargo.  We haven’t combined our accounts yet, mostly because of how my accounts were set up to pay tuition when I was in school.  I always figured I would combine them when we moved and had a more permanent address because I didn’t feel like having to change our direct deposits and online bill paying accounts.

Not that you needed to know any of that.  But sometimes I have a tendency to over-share.

ANYWAY, this weekend I was going through mail and saw that Bruce had gotten his new Wells Fargo debit account.  I haven’t seen mine yet.  THEN this morning I signed into both of our accounts.  I signed into mine through Wachovia’s website, but when I signed into Bruce’s I was guided through the steps of setting up an account through Wells Fargo online.

I’ll be honest – I didn’t read up on the buy-out and the transitional processes that the banks are putting place the way I should have.  I definitely will be doing some research tonight, but is anyone else formerly-Wachovia-transitioning-to-Wells-Fargo-banking?  Have the transitions happened for all of you or are they happening in groups?  Also – will my account numbers change?  My current account numbers are saved in my online accounts (utilities, credit cards, etc.) and I don’t know if I need to change them.  Help!