Tweetup in “Far North Texas”

We had a great time at an Epiphany party in Durant, OK, yesterday evening. We were invited by Stephanie Shepherd, and even though we didn’t know the hosts at all, folks came from Dallas, Carrollton, Ft Worth, and Oklahoma City.

@RevJCMitchell was the gracious host

along with his wife @RevMindy.

Others in attendance included @philshepherd and @rk-p

@mightymere and @revrevwine

@mad_curls

of course, Big Al!

We had great Cuban Black Bean Soup, cornbread, Pumpkin Cake, chips and dip, veggies and dip, accompanied by whatever anybody wanted to drink (JC is a bourbon collector and Chris brought some of his wine). Us oldsters left pretty early (before 10 p.m.) and we were driving, so we didn’t drink anything, but it was a great time even without the liquor. Really fun to see some of the folks from UNCO11 again.

Reflection Time

I saw this article from the New York Times today on Facebook.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-quiet.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

When I was young (in the 40s and 50s and even into the 60s) we used to go to Little River Country Club in SW Arkansas. We’d go for the weekend, or for a week. It was an enclave of about 100 cabins with a golf course, and a club house, and the river to swim in, and places to launch boats for fishing. There were several of doctors and lawyers who had cabins there, and they were adamant that there could not be a phone on the property. In an emergency, someone could call the general store in Horatio, 7 miles away, and someone would drive out with the message. It was possible to really get away. It was even hard to get a decent radio signal. All that quiet is gone, now, and while the club is still there, I don’t think it’s used as often as it used to be.
Here are Anne, Mimi, Harriet and me in the river at Little River Country Club.
And here we are on the steps of Eagles Nest – one of the cabins at Little River.
I talked some yesterday about how Big Al and I really needed to be able to get to a quiet motel suite and decompress after time with the kids and dogs, so this article really spoke to me.
I think the need for quiet and time to just BE is one of the reasons I love traveling by train. When you’re on a train (particularly if you have a bedroom or compartment), the only thing you can do is look out the window, or read, or nap, or think. The world passes you by while you have a chance to live with your own thoughts.
This was basically my view for the whole two days there, and two days back when I went to UNCO11 last spring. I stretched my legs by walking to the diner for meals, and otherwise, I didn’t have to talk to anybody else the whole time, except the steward who made up my bed in the evening and put it back to a seat in for the day.
I’m dreaming now of when we finally sell the house (from my mouth to God’s ears). Then we’ll ship the car up to Tacoma, and we’ll take the train for 3 blissful days of relaxation and escape.
And once we’re there, we’ll be able to ride the ferrys out to the islands, where again, we’ll be able to just watch the world go by.

Expecting the Word – Advent Three – Friday

My Advent series this year will follow the Words Matter Advent study from the National Council of Churches. Download the whole booklet if you’d like, and follow along with the writings for each day. I’d love to discuss them with you. Also, here is a link to the Advent readings from the Inclusive Bible. I prefer the more inclusive language here, than the NRSV texts used in the study booklet (be sure to read the note on page 6).

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Oh, my! Apparently, I have arrived. I’ve been called out by the uber-conservative Voices of Orthodox Women, apparently for associating with Margaret Aymer, Katie Mulligan, and Sonnie Swenston-Forbes in the formation of Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook and for writing an article about it in Horizons. I feel a little like John the Baptist in the scripture today – I’m not worthy to untie these women’s sandals.

These women are loving, forward-looking, Christians who have been, and are, actively working toward full equality both inside and outside the church for our LGBT sisters and brothers.

I have a firm rule, not to feed the trolls in Social Media, so I won’t respond in any way to Viola’s comments, but she did provide many of us with several hours of hilarity when she suggested that I was personally a danger to Orthodoxy! Of particular interest was the suggestion that this was all hatched up as a plot in secrecy. It led to a suggestion that we all learn how to knit super-secret underwear at the next UNCO gathering.

My grandchildren might be interested to learn that I am a closet lesbian, intent on marrying a new wife as soon as I can get rid of their grandfather.

(I am deliberately not linking to their article because I would hate to be the source of driving up their hit count and making them think they were more important than they really are.)

Back to the Blog

I know I’ve been severely remiss the past couple of weeks in posting here. Part of it is the natural emptiness brought on by the major brain dump that I did in the Legacy Project. Part of it is pure sloth, without the prod of the prompts from the Legacy Project to get my mind working. Part of it is that I’ve been busy with church stuff (more mental busy-ness than physical busy-ness). And part of it is that I’ve rediscovered my joy in sorting out the genealogy of the family.

So today, let me tell you about the church/religion things that are noodling around in my brain. You may already understand that I am really interested in the “Emerging Church” movement. (Your first clue was my interest and involvement in #UNCO11. Be sure to check out the category Unco11 here on the blog if you don’t remember me writing about it.) I don’t remember whether I said much about it on the blog, but one of the things that came out of that was a desire to bring some of our expertise in social media to already existing avenues in the church. In furtherance of that aim, a small group of us created Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook. Here’s a short synopsis of that creation, and where we are today.

In May 2011, an ecumenical group of about 75 clergy and laity interested in exploring how the church is evolving and expanding met at Stony Point Conference Center in New York for an “UnConference.” At the end of two days of worship, fellowship, and exploration various members met in small groups to discuss how we could be of service to the greater church. Katie Mulligan, Abbie Watters, Janet Boren and Margaret Aymer Oget participated with several others in one group which was focused on using social media to expand and enrich current programs in the church. In addition to the group in the room, several others, including Sonnie Swenston-Forbes, Laura Viau, and Karen Sapio were with us
virtually (on Twitter). Rather than reinventing the wheel, we thought we could convene a virtual Presbyterian Women’s Circle. In our off-the-cuff, one-hour planning session we hoped we could get 15 or so women who would be interested in doing the Horizon’s Bible Study, and gradually expand from there. We said, “If there’s more interest than that, we should consider splitting into two groups when we reach 18 or 20 members.”

We agreed that we would each use our Social Media contacts to publicize the group. We left the UnConference on Wednesday afternoon, and
Katie went home and set up a private group on Facebook and added the six of us as members. By the time most of us got home on Friday, we had 150 members, and the rest, as they say, is history. By Monday, we realized we had a tiger by the tail, and a steering committee was formed.  That committee met on Skype, and various administrative jobs were parceled out. By the end of May there were over 250 members, and today we have 400 members, nation-wide.

We have Bible study groups meeting regularly in four different media:  Skype, Facebook, blog, and Second Life. We also have the Mission discussion groups meeting on Facebook. The national office of Presbyterian Women has been gracious enough to lend us advisors who are members of our Facebook groups and who help keep us true to the mission and purpose of Presbyterian Women.

I am functioning as registrar, keeping track of new members as they ask to join the Facebook group, and making sure they feel welcomed. I also try to “friend” each of them, and send them a personal message inviting them to choose a Bible study circle, and/or a mission emphasis group to join. That, as you can imagine, gives me something to do every day. I’m also one of the Bible study leaders for the group that’s studying the Beatitudes on the blog.

In the middle of September, Big Al and I drove over to Ft. Worth to the 1st Presbyterian Church there to hear Margaret Aymer Oget preach.

Margaret is the author of the Presbyterian Women Bible study on the Beatitudes this year. It was great to get to see her again (I had seen her at the Texas PW Bible leader training at Mo-Ranch). You can hear her sermon here.

Last weekend, we hosted part of an emerging church conference at Preston Hollow. The featured speakers were Nadia Bolz-Weber

and Brian McLaren.

Nadia is a Lutheran (ELCA) minister who pastors the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, CO. That church serves the homeless, drug addicts, and LGBT folk of Denver. Brian McLaren is a nationally recognized speaker on the emerging church. Their messages were basically that we – the mainline, tall steeple churches – need to get out of our own heads and into the world. We need to be authentic, and loving to the least, the last, and the lost, and “it’s not about the numbers.”

So you can see, I’ve been busy trying to reconcile my staid, unchanging Presbyterian soul with what I know HAS to be a new direction for the church. I’m still not sure where I come down on all this, but I am sure we need to begin to get on board for the ride. I’ll be posting more about all of this as the time goes on.

Joy and Happiness

Before you get all excited, no we didn’t sell the house. 😦

But at Toastmasters this morning, one of the speeches was about Happiness, and how to have real happiness. The speaker posited three necessities for happiness.

  1. Have something to do.
  2. Have something to love.
  3. Have something to look forward to.

So I’ll try to drag myself out of my funk by listing a few things in those categories, to remind myself so I can be happy.

What do I have to do? Right now I’m involved in getting the Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook organized and moving.

It is taking on a life of its own and has now spawned four Bible studies, and seven discussion groups related to various issues facing Presbyterian Women. We don’t just have Presbyterians, either, but are ecumenical, with members of Disciples of Christ, Methodists, Lutherans, United Congregationalist, and at least one Catholic. It’s a vibrant, enthusiastic group of women who are interested in social and religious issues facing all of the world. That also gives me an excuse to indulge my Social Media relaxation where I can eavesdrop on lots of other people’s lives. It’s wonderful for an introvert like me – to be able to have contact with folks without having to be around them all the time.

What do I have to love? I love my husband of 46+ years.

I love my kids and grandkids – although I don’t get to see them as often as I would like.

I also love my friends on Twitter and Facebook who allow me to get in their lives and in their heads. I love my church friends – although they sometimes irritate me. I love God.

What do I have to look forward to? In the very short term, I’m looking forward to lunch tomorrow with Big Al’s men’s group at the church. On Sunday, I’m looking forward to a new-style EPIC worship service in the evening. On Monday, we’re going to the commissary with a nice trip to the casino and overnight in the Horseshoe Hotel. In a little bit longer term, I’m looking forward to going to Mo Ranch for the Bible Study Conference, and reconnecting with Margaret Aymer Oget, aka @mayog, one of my Twitter friends who I met IRL at #UNCO11. She is the author of the Presbyterian Women’s Bible study for this year and she will be presenting at the conference.

I’m a little afraid to think about looking forward to moving to Tacoma, because whenever I get my hopes up, they seem to be dashed – but I guess I can put that into the category of looking forward in the loooooooooong term.

And in reflecting on Happiness, and thinking about these three questions lead me back to my series from last December on Joy! Maybe I’ll go back and work through those suggestions again.

 

It’s Been a While

I realize it has been quite a while since I published a blog.

The first anniversary of my drivelings came and went unnoticed. It’s not that I’ve gotten bored with writing, but I really have been busy getting the Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook up and running. I think I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’ve, at least, “friended” everyone in the group. There seems to be a lot of energy for this, but it took off so fast I’ve had a hard time keeping up with it.

I think I mentioned a couple of months ago that we put the house back on the market. Just in the past two weeks showings are beginning to pick up. We have had two “lookers” who seem to be very interested, but they are taking their time deciding. I REALLY hope something comes of one or the other of them fairly quickly, as our duplex at Franke Tobey Jones

would be ready around the end on July. If we could get one of these two people to pull the trigger, we would be able to close at the end of July, and be in Tacoma by the end of August. Any and all prayers to make this happen would be gratefully received.

So other than keeping the house pristine and working on the Facebook Presbyterian Women, I haven’t been doing much. I finished off the last pair of socks

that I had yarn for when I was on my trip to #unco11,

so I haven’t even had much to do while watching West Wing

in the evenings. Big Al has gotten hooked on Words with Friends

on his iPad, so we play that in the evenings while we’re watching.

There’s a free concert in the park with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra tonight,

but it will depend on how hot it is whether we go or not. I’d kind of like to, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t enjoy myself if it’s still 90 degrees at 8:00 p.m.

I know I haven’t done a diet update since I got back,

but that’s because I’ve been on kind of a plateau for the last month or so

(probably caused by my less-than-strict adherence to the diet while I was traveling). The scale seems like it is finally moving again, so maybe I’ll have something for you this weekend.