28 May 2006

A Quest

So yesterday started innocently enough, but several days ago. It began with a request from LightBoy for waffles. He asked, "Mom, can you make waffles for breakfast tomorrow?" But that particular tomorrow was the day we were going to an amusement park for the day. So the answer had to be, "No. Not tomorrow, but I will make them one morning this weekend." However, our waffle iron has become too small for our family. It was fine for LightHusband and I when I bought it 17 years ago. It was even fine when the LightChildren were small. But now, in order to make enough waffles for all of us, I have to cook for several hours. And ... that's just not right.

We began with a search on the internet; where all good searches begin. And we found:
on the Bed Bath andBeyond website. Aha! One of those stores is right across town. And, there is a sporting goods store next door where LightGirl can get the remaining hockey equipment she needs for her skating lessons. Two birds, one stone. Couldn't be better.

We piled into our trusty steed, gathered some sustenance, and off we went. We knew what we wanted, so first we poked through a couple of other interesting places in the store and managed to fill our cart with several other items that we could NOT live without. Then proceeded to the area with the waffle irons. Alas, it was NOT there. We searched high. We searched low. We questioned employees. It was not there. So we asked about other stores in the area. No ... it is not in any stores in the area. "But we can have it in for you in two weeks!" "That will not help," said I in my most cheerful voice, "I promised my son waffles tomorrow morning." We saw the grail signal above this castle, I thought to myself, and it is not here.

We purchased our basket full of items we hadn't known we needed til we walked through the door. I suppose it's alright to replace your trash can once every ten years ... among other things. We went to the sporting goods store and purchased hockey equipment for LightGirl and baseball glove and bat for LightBoy. So far the bat has variously been a gun, a cannon, a light saber and a guitar. I don't think it's been used as a bat just yet. I watched this morning as our deck became a star fighter and LightBoy took on legions that surrounded him using the bat as various weapons.

We next pursued our quest for the holy waffle maker of Calacirian.
We did not have coconuts or we would have clacked them together to relieve the boredom. According to the LightChildren this was the very worst sort of torture they would have endured. We had never asked quite so much of them. Of course, it was all in the name of waffles the next morning. And eventually their whining began to take on a new tone.

Through town after town and store upon mall our quest did not cease. We encountered knights, and townspeople, and magicians and silly Frenchmen, and worst of all, bad parkinglot drivers!

Then we walked and we walked until finally ... there ... in a store I vowed to never shop in again (because of repeated extremely poor customer service 20 years ago), there it was ... gleaming ... glowing ... humming. I'm pretty sure we all heard organ music. We, knights, gathered round and said in chorus, "It's HERE!" to the astonishment of the sales girl who had just wandered up. We reached out to touch it. And she kindly pointed out that there was one in a box for us on the floor. Best of all ... the grail ... was on sale!!

27 May 2006


It's funny the plans you make for yourself and then your life gets in the way. That's what I've been thinking about today. It all started at a meeting the other night. I vowed once again that I will not end up "... in a tent in Kenya." But I've learned to make that vow with my fingers crossed, because those are the vows that get me in trouble.

I remember all the plans I had to be "when I grow up." At some point I wanted to "be" a nurse, because my favorite "auntie" was a nurse. I thought that the most wonderful people grew up to be nurses. That was when I was about 5 and 6. Then when I was in junior high I decided to be an oceanographer. But I think this had more to do with my infatuation with Cape Cod and the fact that I would be able to work out of Woods Hole, than any true desire to be an oceanographer. I'm sure I cycled through a couple of other things. At some point my mother insisted I take a typing class, which I indignantly resisted, "because I'm NEVER going to be a SECRETARY." Words I ate in humility several years later. Humility causes indigestion I discovered. Or maybe it relieves it. When I went to college I wanted to be a physical anthropologist and discover the "missing link." But I took my college's only physical anthropology class my first semester freshman year, so .... that was sort of out. Next I wanted to go into International Law, but by the time I graduated with my bachelor's degree all I really knew was that I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

So I started working. The other thing I knew was that I had no plans to be a wife and mother. That was never on my radar screen.

At ...



I was going to have a career in foreign affairs. That had no place for a family. A husband ... perhaps. But no children. Besides ... I'm not the maternal type.

But I never settled in a job and I did find a husband. Then I went to graduate school. And I did find a faith and a church. It's funny the curveballs that you get thrown when you're not looking. Suddenly you look around and wonder who's life this is. I mean I know this **is** my life ... it's just not the life I had planned. I like this life, I just wonder where this life came from. I wonder how it happened when I wasn't looking. It sometimes feels like that line from "Once In A Lifetime" by Talking Heads: "That's not my beautiful house ... that's not my beautiful wife"

How did I, the daughter of a public school teacher and the chairman of the schoolboard and holder of 40+ graduate credits in Secondary Education, end up homeschooling my children? How did I get here? Does anyone else wonder this? I know it's the result of thousands of small and large decisions made, some on the fly and some as the result of hours of prayer and pondering. But it feels rather capricious.

And ... I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. But I've narrowed it down a little. I'm considering seminary. Or quilting.

A Haggadah

It occurred to me the other day that Jesus was Jewish. Which shouldn't have come as such great surprise. In fact, it wasn't ... it came as more of a "Duh" moment. So, I've been reading a few books that bridge the divide between Judaism and Christianity. One of them has proved particularly fascinating, The Parables: Jewish Tradition, Christian Interpretation, by Brad H. Young.

He begins with a description of Jewish haggadah, or what we might more easily recognize as a fable; a story with a moral point. There are some finer points to it, because most haggadah are developed to inspire points of the Torah, or the like. But for my purposes here, this description will be enough. I liked this haggadah found on page 9 of the book and thought I'd share it with all of you. Here is some lead-in that most Jewish listeners would know and then the haggadah follows:

"A fine example of haggadah is found in the sstory of Rabbi Eleazer's encounter with the exceedingly ugly man. Unlike the exceedingly ugly man, who probably had labored menially throughout the day, R. Eleazer had the privilege of devoting himself entriely to the study of Torah. His master was R. Meir, and R. Eleazer and his beloved teacher had spent the day learning the deeper things of God.

The Rabbi and the Exceedingly Ugly Man

On one occasion Rabbi Eleazer son of Rabbi Simeon was coming from Migdal Gedor, from the house of his teacher. He was riding leisurely on his donkey by the riverside and was feeling happy and elated because he had studied much Torah. There he chanced to meet an exceedingly ugly man who greeted him, "Peace be upon you, rabbi." He, however, did not return his greeting but instead said to him, "Raca ['Empty one' or 'Good for nothing'] how ugly you are! Is everyone in your town as ugly as you are?" The man replied: "I do not know, but go and tell the craftsman who made me, 'How ugly is the vessel which you have made.'" When R. Eleazer realized that he had sinned he dismounted from the donkey and prostrated himself before the man and to him, "I submit myself to you, forgive me!"

R. Eleazer could not hold his tongue. When he encountered the exceedingly ugly man, all he could think about was that ugliness. When he made his stinging insult, he failed to see each person as created in the image of God."

24 May 2006

Adventures In Missing the Point

Once upon a time there was a group of people who lived in the middle of a middle sized city. This group of people became friends. Very good friends. They shared meals. They shared their stuff. They laughed together. They cried together. They built things together. They saved things together. They pulled each other out of quick sand.

Some places in the city weren't terribly safe. So these friends accompanied each other through the dangerous spots. They helped each other over wobbly bridges. Sometimes they even had to carry one another through hard times.

As they did these things, they came to the attention of others who lived around them. Those outsiders stopped what they were doing and watched these friends care for one another, laugh together, talk together, and share life together. Gradually, oh so gradually, these outsiders started to make themselves known to the group. The outsiders liked what they saw and wanted to be part of this group. They began to talk to people in the group. Some of them were known to individuals in the group and others were complete strangers to all.

This was when things began to get difficult. The outsiders only saw some of the conversations and some of the activity. They didn't get to see it all. The group was only known to them in a certain dimension. They believed they knew the group, but the reality was more like an iceberg. Still they wanted to be part of it and so the group began to welcome them. And more and more they began to participate in the conversation.

The day came, however, that an outsider took what was percieved as "too much" ownership of one of the group members. On another day, another outsider stepped out of line with their sense of humor. Unknowingly, unwittingly, the outsiders had transgressed the unwritten rules of the group. And they were punished quite severely for their crimes. Because, as we all know, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

So ... my question for today is ... would you say that this group has a Christian ethic of love and grace or not?

22 May 2006


Ahhh ... another sigh of relief. Another milestone passed, another year down.

Virginia homeschooling statute requires that I show "evidence of educational progress" each year to my local school board. There a number of methods that I may choose to do this. I choose to have an outside evaluator come in and interview the LightChildren and look over their work and curriculum and let me know how they're doing (and by extension how I'm doing).

We had our evaluation this evening. As usual, I was very nervous about this. I'm always nervous about this. But this year was worse than usual. There's Smaug grinning at me in the background (of course) and then, well, we haven't been as diligent about school this year as usual. There have been good reasons ... but ...

They passed ... with their usual flying colors!! There is still work to be done. LightGirl needs to finish her math and grammar courses. LightBoy needs to finish his math course. We'll do some science and history through the summer just for fun. But now it's on to the next grade and we can relax a bit for a while.

And plan and dream about next year. The new curriculum catalogs have begun to arrive ... complete with all the hopes and dreams that any good teacher could have.

19 May 2006

DaVinci Code

The movie is released today. Are you breathless?

I'm not. The reviews have been not so wonderful. I read the book a number of years ago and found the premise intriguing. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard of this book and now the movie. I'm going to spoil it here, so don't read any further if you have neither read the book nor seen the movie and don't care to have it spoiled for you.

The premise of the book is that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and they had a son. I can't remember if the son was born before or after the crucifixion. It doesn't matter. Mary M. and the son were carted away to Gaul (France) and hidden there to protect them after the crucifixion. The Knights Templar were created to protect the son and his descendents. This bloodline became the Holy Grail of Arthurian legend.

This is the bit that has so many Christian in such an uproar. A friend (unaware of the upcoming movie release) recently said, "What's with all the DaVinci Code stuff again? I thought we put that to bed." We told her about the movie. So now everyone is having "discussions" and Sunday School classes and debates and trying to be open and all sorts of hoo-haw about this all over again. But it's really a tempest in a teacup.

Here are the two main points ... that most Christians miss.

First, being married and having a child in no way changes Christ's divinity. It doesn't stop him from having been crucified and rising from the dead. Those possibilities don't really change anything about him. He never made any claims about being a virgin, only about being fully human and fully God.

Second, IF there were any descendents of Jesus they did nothing. At this point in history (2000 years later) their "blood" has been so thinned as to be non-existant.

Third, Jesus' main points had nothing to do with what this book is about. And people who are Christians ought to know that. The DaVinci Code is titillating reading and fun international intrigue, but people who take their faith seriously cannot possibly be frightened or put off by it. After all, it's just fiction.

UPDATE: Real Live Preacher has some of the best thoughts I've read yet about the whole mess. Here's a bit to whet your whistle:
Anyone who paid attention in seminary has heard of these extra-biblical sources and knows that Mr. Brown’s book is an adventure story and not a biblical or historical treatise. The Da Vinci Code has roughly the same relationship to biblical and church history that James Bond has to the world of secret agents. And hey, what’s wrong with that? It’s a good read. Like a Clancy novel. (May 24, 2006)

15 May 2006

Smaug Vanquished

And so it has come to pass that Smaug has been vanquished. I stood to do battle with him and when I looked he was a small Hispanic lady in a pink blouse with bright pink fingernails. She was a government worker at a certain agency that I needed to get through. I faced her with all my weapons drawn, a smile, a contrite heart, and downcast eyes. I was properly concerned for my oversight and the lack of concern of others for her dearly beloved agency. These became the best weapons of all. Smaug made a reverse turn again this morning as I had one more agency to visit, but I stared him down once again. This time it just took one hard look for him to turn tail and run into his corner.

I know he'll keep coming back. But I've learned some things about him and how to keep him penned. I've learned some things about me too and how to stay strong. That I have good friends. And most of all that the world isn't going to come to an end just because because Smaug is blowing smoke out his nostrils.

14 May 2006

Happy Mothers Day!

Here's a holiday I've never understood. I love my mother 365 days a year and one day a year I'm made to feel guilty about not remembering it. This holiday also causes LightHusband much consternation because my birthday comes so close. My children love me 365 days a year (although last night I may have been heard to grumble under my breath, "What I really want tomorrow is a day with no arguing." as we were clearing and setting the table for dinner). It just all seems to be a national guilt trip and I don't care to participate ... thank you very much.

I did when I was younger. I saved my money and purchased a small figurine for my mother that said "World's Best Mother" at the bottom. It's very funny because the figurine is the antithesis of my mother. She gave it to LightGirl to give to me a couple of years ago. So now it's in my house and I'm the "World's Best Mother." It's also the antithesis of me. We both giggle about it.

But ... this morning (HT to Maggi Dawn) I discovered the roots of Mothers Day. God bless our greeting card industry and their pea pickin' little hearts, because I never knew about this. This makes Mothers Day so much more palatable. It was begun as day for the nation (not families) to honor mothers and the sacrifices they made. And it was begun as part of the women's suffrage movement. Ironic then, how cloying it has become. There are three women responsible for Mothers Day. A mother and daughter with the same name, Anna Jarvis, and Julia Ward Howe, better known for her authorship of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

I feel a bit better about the holiday now. I also feel a bit cheated. What a great heritage we women have. The herstory of women has been warped and bent til it's nearly unrecognizable. Maybe that's what I'll be when I grow up ... a women's "her"storian.

09 May 2006


At last ... did you hear it? The combined exhale as all of us in our community let out our breaths. The AwakeChildren are here!! They have made their grand entrance to the world this afternoon. We can all breath again. YAHOO! Our girl weighs 6lbs 12 oz. and our boy weighs 3lbs 12oz.

I probably shouldn't speak so proprietorially of them, but after this long wait and many prayers, they are already part of our community and family. All that remains is to hear their names and see their faces. Which I (for one) await with much glee and anticipation.

Memory Lane ... A Day Late and A Dollar Short

My BrickFriend blew new life into his old tradition yesterday with a post about memories from his kindergarten year. That was intriguing because I only have one memory from kindergarten. It is of being hit by a car. So ... here's that story. I'll tell it now because we (in our blog circle) are all breathlessly (and I use that word purposefully) awaiting word of the AwakeChildren's entrance into the world.

We lived in the outskirts of Topeka, Kansas when I was in kindergarten. Or it might have been Manahattan. In any case, my dad worked for the Menninger Foundation and we lived in a house at the top one of the few hills in Kansas. It also happened to be outside of the school bus routes in 1966. So in order to save money, time and resources for one little kindergartner going a half day, it was decided that the janitor would pick me up in the morning and the principal would bring me home at lunch time. This worked very well all year long.

Sometimes my mother would be out shopping and would stop in to pick me up. She called ahead of time and would let the school know and then I'd wait for her in the office. I remember that the janitor had an old black dusty truck. I think the interior might have been red. The principal had a newer green truck and the interior was tan.

That year on the first Saturday in May I turned 6. I had a party. My best friend, Ryan Peake and his little brother Darren, brought gifts with pennies taped to the top. That's all I remember about the party or turning 6.

On Monday I went to school as usual with the janitor. When it came time to go home, I started out with the principal. But my mother had apparently been out shopping, and she and the principal saw each other on the road. So they stopped. Here is what I remember. I got out of the truck. I walked down into the little ditch next to the road. I walked behind the truck and out into the road. I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital in an oxygen tent covered with Raggedy Anns and Andys. My mother saw the whole thing. I was hit by a 1967 midnight blue Mustang. My head hit the hood, then I hit the pavement. I was dragged for about 60 feet under the car. My right femur was broken, both collar bones, a rib, I bit off the end of my tongue and lots of abrasions. It's pretty likely that I have my seizure disorder as a result of this accident. But since my parents didn't know to ask for an EEG at the time, we'll never really know for sure.

I spent about four and a half weeks in the hospital in traction. The guy who hit me (he was 18 at the time) brought me a Skipper doll. I was thrilled. It had "life like arms and legs." This meant the plastic was sort of rubbery instead of hard plastic. I also got to watch TV in the hospital and order my own food. Still, it got pretty boring after a while. My face was pretty much one big abrasion and my mother said that the first place to heal was the track of my tears. I still have scars on my knees and one on my right hand that I use to tell my left from my right.

When they released me from the hospital, they were worried that I might have a growth spurt so they didn't put a cast on the leg. Two days later I fell on the 18" of concrete that we had on our property and rebroke it! So back to the hospital for a cast. By this time, we were in the middle of tornado season in Kansas. One day we had to go to the basement for a long time while there was a tornado watch. All I had was a blue crayon. So I colored the cast blue.

The very best thing about it all, was that my parents rented a television so that I would have something to do while I was recuperating. I got to watch The Lone Ranger and The Three Stooges. My brothers and I used to play the Three Stooges. I was always Moe. We didn't get a television after that until I was eleven.

A couple of months after that we moved back east.

05 May 2006

Smaug Rising

In an innocent moment this morning my world turned. Smaug arose. He grinned at me and allowed as how he knew I was in his chamber trying to squeeze through. The smoke wafted out of nostrils and he turned to get more comfortable amongst his treasure. Me? I'm just trying to get through the cave and out the other side.

I began the process, tho, of standing on my shaky knees. The process of facing Smaug and seeing him for just what he is. And seeing myself for what I am too. I started finding my weapons and finding his weak spots. My knees are still weak and I'm still very afraid.

But the process today involved finding somethings that helped me remember who I am. They were an interesting assortment of things. One was a postcard album that my Grandpa Naylor gave me when I was small. He must have given it to me when I was quite little because there were postcards in there from when I was one. I was surprised to find how many postcards he sent me. All with just a few funny sentences on them. This also surprised me because all my memories of him are of what a disciplinarian he was. But I think we must have had quite a relationship that started because of these postcards. No wonder I missed him when he died when I was 12. I'd forgotten all about those postcards. I also found a postcard I sent my dad when I was seven. He was in the hospital. Here's the other funny thing. I obsessively buy postcards whenever I go on vacation and daydream about sending them because I think that they're so much fun. And I've never been able to figure out why I think that.

I found my college transcript. It's funny but my grades were much better than I remembered. Somehow every semester I remember thinking that I should have done so much better than I did. I remember that I was terribly disappointed with myself ... that if I'd applied myself and done a better job my grades would have been better. But today when I looked back at it, that's a good transcript. When I see the whole picture, I did a pretty good job. I also found a couple of papers from college and graduate school. And ... hey ... who wrote those? Oh, me. And the grade report from my student teaching.

There were whole folders full of paystubs from 1986, 1987, 1988 ... shall I go on? What were we saving those for? LightHusband bought a shredder with an 8.5 gallon tub and we filled it. We never did find the things we were looking for. But I found all of our baby books, LightHusband's Learner's Permit from 1979, users manuals for several phones we no longer own, the loan paper work for the first furniture I bought as an adult in 1986, LightHusband's first paystub from 1981, the loan paperwork from the first car we purchased together (Jeep Cherokee), and too many other things to mention .... most of which got shredded or thrown away.

So ... as time passes I will face Smaug. I will still be afraid. But I will be well armed, I will know his weak spots. I will remember who I am and how I got here. I don't know if I will be able to take him on, but I may be able to avoid him and get out of the cave.

03 May 2006

Grammy O.

Today, May 3rd, was my Grammy O's birthday. She died about a week before her 80th birthday in 1989. I was unprepared for her death despite the fact that she had leukemia for two years previous. I am still unprepared for the fact that she is not in this world with me. I was very fortunate to know all four of my grandparents, but my Grammy O became my friend as well. She was my confidante, a mentor, a fellow seamstress (but I have not nearly her skills or talent), and fellow early bird. I could and did call her early in the morning before work. That was our time. We talked at least once a week, sometimes more. I know she thought the money I was willing to spend on long distance was scandalous, but it wasn't the same to talk long distance now as it was when she first had a phone. This morning I would have called her to sing "Happy Birthday!" ... of course by now she'd be 97 and it's most unreasonable to expect her to still be alive. She doesn't know that LightBoy has her father's eyes, or her husband's sense of humor and people sense. She doesn't know that LightGirl has her grace and empathy. I wish sometimes that she did.

She taught me to type on her manual typewriter when I was ten. I still remember, "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." I'm still bad at it, because now we can just backspace over errors. Back then an error was a big deal. Now, just backspace, or move your cursor and delete. She'd love word processors. Although, she'd probably also grumble that they make people lazy about spelling and proper typing technique. She'd be right, but if the idea is to get your words out, I'm not sure that spelling and typing technique matter at first.

The other day I was looking through some of my sewing stuff trying to locate a particular tool and I stumbled across some drawings that she and my aunt made when I was getting married. At the time they were proposing to make my wedding gown. LightHusband and I were really into the colonial period at the time and so these drawings were taken from that era. They never did make it; my aunt was going through some personal issues and as it turned out, Grammy was diagnosed with leukemia 2 weeks after my wedding. She was already feeling really bad and didn't have the energy to make a wedding dress. I still keep those drawings. Some day I might just make myself a period gown ... just because. In honor of my Grammy O.

I have her old Singer Featherweight 221 complete with the purchase invoice. She bought it in 1959. She used this machine exclusively til she died. These sewing machines are prized among quilters. Depending upon their condition they can sell for as much as $600. They sew well and are workhorses. I (of course) will not sell mine. She left me some jewelry as well. Tourmaline, which is a semi-precious stone and also a May birthstone because we share the same birth month. The jewelry doesn't mean nearly as much to me as the sewing machine.

I remember when she taught me to sew. We were in the process of moving from Kansas to New England. My father drove the truck with all of our belongings. My mother flew with my brothers and I to visit her parents in Florida. Grammy O. taught me to sew, by hand on her scraps. I made some clothes for my Barbies. She also taught me to swim on the kitchen table. I lay on the table while she taught me the crawl stroke and then we went to the bay and she held me up while I practiced in the actual water.

Later on I would go visit my grandparents on my own when they lived in Annapolis. She taught me to do embroidery (which I hated, but now like). They took me to Chintoteague for the Pony Penning one year and it was years later I learned that my grandfather and my mother got into a heated discussion because he wanted to buy a pony for me. My mother won, because (and she's right) there was no affordable manner of getting the pony from Chincoteague Island to Vermont.

My sophomore year in college my grandfather died rather suddenly on Veteran's Day. So I spent the better part of my Thanksgiving Break with Grammy O. She'd had time by then for the hubbub to calm down and I got to hear all of the stories. The stories of how they met, and courted, fell in love. After that, I got to spend time frequently with her. My grandfather had had emphysema and after he died, she was much more available for vacation time.

It's been seventeen years since I wished her Happy Birthday. You'd think I'd get used to it by now.

Happy Birthday Grammy O, with Love from your oldest granddaughter.

02 May 2006

Turn, Turn, Turn ...

There was a book sitting out in a room where one might be inclined to read for a period of time. I was in this room, so I picked the book up and began to read. I always read every page. Even the forwards and acknowledgements and introductions of books. That did not used to be the case. I only began this habit as a senior in highschool. I was introduced to it by a very good friend. He and I were in an independent study together (philosophy). He did his reading very late at night taking long baths and he told me that the most important part of the book were those, in an incredulous voice, as if to say, "Doesn't everyone read every single morsel ... even the index?"

So I picked this particular book up, noting that LightHusband is already reading it by the many dogears (grrrr ... this makes me nuts), and began reading. The title of the book is Turning To Jesus: A Sociology of Conversion by Scot McKnight. I read long enough to read through the introduction. It's quite good, and I'll go on to finish it. But here's what it got me thinking about.

SMK says (and I hope you'll forgive my paraphrase of his introduction) that the differences between denominations, large and small, may be summed up in how they view the conversion experience. How each denomination forces people to summarize their own conversion experience. He says that conversion experiences are like fingerprints or snowflakes, no two are alike. I think fingerprints is a more apt analogy (and he doesn't use it ... that's mine) because our fingerprints are a way of identifying us. Our conversion experience becomes a part of us and none of us has quite the same story to tell, because we are all unique. Yet the denomination we grew up in (spiritually speaking) gave each of us a format to tell the story in and thus all of our stories became somewhat the same. I remember thinking that in my old church when someone got up to give their "testimony" ... that I could probably give it for them. I knew just when certain things were going to happen. It's pretty formulaic after a while. I had an epiphany as I read that introduction.

One of my big questions for the last several years has been that I'm unclear about why established church is so afraid of the emerging church, or emerging conversation or whatever it is that is happening. I'm not really a part of either. I'm not emerging, but I'm not a part of an established church. When I'm out on the blogs and see people in established churches go after emergent, I see fear at the root of what they are saying. And reading SMK's introduction gave me an epiphany.

The emerging conversation pays scant attention to the denominational boundaries, to conversion stories. There are few walls; no measurements about whether or not someone should be in or out, they are just welcomed. People are allowed to have individual conversion stories that have not become formulaic. The ancient denominational boundaries are ignored to a certain extent, especially those between the Protestant, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. In fact, some of those ancient practices are being explored. I'm not sure why, but for some reason all of this is leaves the established church without it's footings.
Feeling lost.

We have such a rich heritage from the last 2000 years. It seems sad that people are afraid to fully explore and engage it.

01 May 2006

Cookie Dilemma

When I was young I learned how to cook. I still remember the first thing I ever baked on my own. I made banana bread all by myself when I was eight. Every Thursday afternoon I walked down the road and had tea with an elderly couple (Uncle Greg and Aunt Jo). They were Canadian. Aunt Jo taught me how to make cookies. I especially remember that she taught me how to dip a fork into flour and make the criss-cross in peanut butter cookies. Uncle Greg would take me home at dinner time when he went to "the store" to get the mail. Our post office was attached to the General Store. He taught me to beep an "R" in Morse Code when we passed my house on the way to the store. Then he dropped me off on the way back. "R" is short-long-short (in case you care). They also taught me how to play cribbage and how to use "as" properly instead of "like." There was an ad campaign for a cigarette at the time that said, "such and such tastes good like a cigarette should." That was offensive to them because it should have read "tastes good as a cigarette should." And then they would add, "But really, cigarettes shouldn't be advertised."

In any case, Aunt Jo taught me how to make cookies. I've made many cookies for many years since then. My favorites have always been Nestle's Toll House cookies ... made with the real Toll House chips and real butter. Yum! No walnuts please ... they make my mouth hurt. I like nice thick cookies, that stay sort of moist, but not too much. You have to eat them with milk.

Here's my dilemma. I've made these cookies for years now and never had a problem. But then several years ago, they started coming out all wrong. I'd put my cookies in the oven and they'd spread out all over the pan. The cookies would be too thin, I couldn't get them off the pan, and when they cooled off they were as hard and tough as bricks. Yuck. I've tried everything. I've used only Crisco. Only butter. A mix of Crisco and butter. I've used expensive flour ... cheap flour. Brand new baking soda. Old baking soda. New salt. Old salt. Baking stones. Metal baking pans. Baking parchment. I've tried a cooler oven, I've tried a hotter oven. I've tried every trick I know of and still I get the same result. So I finally gave up and I just don't make my favorite cookie anymore. It's just too frustrating.

Tonight my sister-in-law called. The LightHusband's sister. She has about as much cooking experience as I do. She said, "So ... lately, like the past couple of years, when I make chocolate chip cookies they come out hard as rocks and really thin. Do you have any ideas about what I can do for that?" Nope.

Anybody? ... Anybody? ... Buehler?