Monday, February 28, 2011

Shore Excursions

For some people, a cruise is all about the shore excursions. For others, it's all about the experiences on the boat. For me, it's a mix of the two. I think a cruise is a great way to see a lot of fun, new places at once but it is more than simply a means to an end because most of your time will be spent on the boat.

If given a choice, I probably would have preferred a cruise to the Bahamas because I've never been there. But between my schedule at the hospital and the desires of other family members, this is what was available. And I'm ok with that because there are some places I have never been and there will be other cruises in the future.

One thing I have noticed about shore excursions is that they are quite expensive. And while it is cheaper to take advantage of the offers from those simply hanging around the port, there is a certain level of risk to that! One good thing about researching the shore excursion options through Carnival has been to simply learn what is popular and available.

We haven't booked any "official" excursion, but there is one we are thinking about and that is the beach on Isla Roatan. It costs $30 and covers 2 people, including your transportation to and from the beach (as often as you want) and two beach chairs. I was ok with that.

Cozumel and Costa Maya I don't anticipate our doing much of anything except wandering around when we get off the boat. Especially in Cozumel, the port kind of reminds me of a mall and I am guessing we will probably just wander around and maybe have a few drinks before we get back on the boat to enjoy the peace and quiet! The last time we were there, there was a mariachi band playing right where people got off the boat, so from the deck we could see and hear them. I think "tequila" is the only song they knew and after about an hour, it got really old!

Belize I'm still undecided because we are supposed to have to take a tender boat in. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Still, it would be fun to say I've been to Belize so I may at least tender in and wander for a while. From what I can tell, there's no beach and most of the attractions are the rainforest, but that requires driving for a while and I don't know if it's worth it this trip. We'll wait and see how I feel when we get there.

There are some major advantages to staying on the boat while in port, but that's another story...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week 7

I really don't have a ton to report on, even though I've been MIA for the past few weeks.

I've cleaned out the drawers of my nightstand, but not cleaned off the top yet so I'm getting there but can't cross it off the list yet.

I did discover an adult dance class on Tuesday nights that is close to me, so I may start doing that soon. I have a little more investigating to do on that.

I want to go shopping for a devotional journal so that I can start working on that one.

We have started talking about family vacation with my family, so that is something that will probably go into the works this summer to actually happen after my residency ends.

So far I've cooked two days in a row, but I know I'm not going to make two straight weeks because of Jeff's birthday. I normally don't consider leftovers to be cooking, but I also realize that if I actually cook for 14 days, there's going to be no room for anything else because of leftovers. So I think I'm going to modify that goal to be "eat at home every day for two weeks".

I'm working on getting stuff sorted so I can start giving stuff away. I probably have about half a box of stuff but I actually have to get it all packed up, fill the box the rest of the way, and take it to give it away.

I did try two new recipes so that gets me almost to that goal. I think I'm only lacking one new thing now, and I have a nice long list of stuff I want to do in the next week or two, so that one should be able to be crossed off soon!

I am excited about the coming weeks/months because trying new spiritual disciplines will be facilitated by CPE stuff. Stay tuned for more about that.

So that's where I am with my list. I feel like I'm making some good progress and I'm looking forward to crossing more things off the list!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two Simple Recipes

I finally have gotten myself back on track this week and been able to do some cooking. Both of the recipes I made this week were new twists on old favorites and were SO stinking simple. And they were tasty. And I was making them after a long day of work. So pictures didn't happen. You'll just have to make them for yourself and see them (and taste them!)

The first was Parmesan baked chicken. I ate this some growing up, but haven't ever made for myself, which I don't understand because it's so stinking easy and tasty. I used thin chicken breasts and coated them in italian bread crumbs with parmesan cheese. I used the very precise measurement of "that looks about right". I just tossed some bread crumbs and cheese on a plate, then tossed the chicken breasts on the plate to coat them. No egg or fancy breading. In fact, if I'd had a big ziploc bag I probably would have just tossed the chicken in a bag with the bread crumbs and cheese so as not to mess up a plate! Then I just baked them in the over for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Yummy! The leftover piece made a very yummy sandwich for lunch.

The second was Pork Carnitas. I put a pork tenderloin in the crock pot with a can of green enchilada sauce and let it do its thing all day (probably about 9 hours) on low. I had plans to make quesadillas to go with it, but it almost didn't go that far because I was standing over the crock pot with a fork and a package of flour tortillas. I didn't even make it to other toppings like lime, cilantro, and onions, but those would be good. This will make an excellent leftover lunch tomorrow I'm sure!

As always, if you try either of these let me know what you think!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Five - Words

First of all, thank you to everyone for all the love and prayers for me and my family through the past couple of weeks. We are slowly returning to "normal" and allowing grief to become a part of that normal for now. And that is a good place to begin my Friday Five for this week.

Grief - In case you missed my previous post (because I know not everyone who reads my FF reads all the time) my dad died last Saturday after a four year battle with prostate cancer. This has truly been a journey that consumed more of me than I realized and one which will continue for a while. It's very different grieving a loss you expect than one you don't, and honestly this isn't something I would wish on anyone because it really does stink, but it is a part of life. I know this will not always be one of my defining realities, but for the moment that's where I am. I'm still processing it all, so there's no telling where it will come out again in the future, so stay tuned.

Touch - Physical touch is really important to me. I love hugging (and being hugged), holding hands with my husband, petting the dogs, feeling dough squish through my fingers, letting the rain pour over my face, getting slobbery baby kisses, and just about any other sensation that reminds me of what it means to be alive! I'm not a huge fan of unexpected pain, but I won't go so far as to say that I dislike all pain, because I know it has its place.

Stories - I'm a "story person". Whether reading stories, writing them, hearing them, sharing them, or simply living them I love them. Even when I sit on the front porch and watch the birds playing in the tree, I imagine the story of their life and their family, where they're from and where they're going. When I preach, I love the stories that are told and dream about the stories that are un-told, often trying to fill in the parts that aren't there. I like hearing the stories of others, which I think is why I love my work at the hospital so much, because that is a big part of what I do! I am honored when people share their stories with me, invite me to be a part of their story, and allow themselves to be a part of mine as well!

Creativity - I love being creative. I like making things and re-purposing things and finding a new way of looking at something, either literally or figuratively. There is something especially rewarding about creating something new. This typically comes out in craft projects (although I have a lot more ideas than time or resources lately!), cooking, writing, and even in worship planning. Even stuff that is not "churchy" is often a profoundly spiritual experience for me.

Leadership - This is taking on new meaning for me right now. What does it mean to be a leader? What does it mean to be a follower? How do you lead? How do I lead? There are a lot more questions than answers at this point, but I do know that it is important and that it is changing me in amazing ways.

And yes, in the midst of everything, I have been trying to take care of myself. I have kept my therapy appointments, probably eaten a little too much chocolate, and spent some good time with people I love. I look for this trend to continue for a while (at least until the chocolate runs out!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A New Crossroad

Thank you for the love and prayers. Dad died Saturday morning about 5:30 am. I was at work, just as I know he wanted me to be. John was home and Catherine was able to be with him. She said it was very peaceful and I'm glad they had that time together. Visitation will be Monday 5pm -8pm at Moss-Service Funeral home. The Funeral will be on Tuesday in the chapel at Cullman Memory Gardens at 11am. The full obituary can be found through the Cullman Times.

It's been a long road, but now we have arrived at this place. This place of both grief and celebration. Of both laughter and tears. I'd love to say that the journey is over, but I know that is far from true. This is just an intersection on this particular road. We'll all keep going, although now at very different paces. On some level we were being dragged, lead, forced, pushed, and guided up until this point, but now we are on our own. We can continue together if we so choose, but the bottom line is that we will start to spread out a bit. We'll reach different intersections at different times and take different turns and that's ok.

I'm very grateful for all my traveling companions through this. You have been wonderful blessings to me and I know I couldn't have gotten to where I am without you. So now, after a brief rest, the journey will continue...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Five - Perks of Ministry

Today's Friday Five invites us to share some of our favorite gifts and perks of ministry. I initially had a hard time trying to come up with five things because I am engaged in different forms of ministry and they have different perks that may or may not translate to all of my life. But I decided that perks are still perks even if they aren't universal and it's worth celebrating the things I love about the different parts of ministry I do.

Flexible Schedule - I do love the flexibility that comes with the church work. As long as I can be there on Sunday, I can generally work around other stuff. I don't have that kind of flexibility working at the hospital, but I do have a little bit. We don't have to clock in and out, so if we need to come in early and leave early or be a little late one day and work a few extra hours another day, that's something we can do. It's been nice and very helpful, especially with the stuff I have going on at home.

Colleagues - I have all kinds of wonderful colleagues in ministry that I adore. Some of them are more like me than others, but all of them are very valuable. I love being able to share thoughts, share resources, share experiences, and to learn from one another.

Creativity - One of my favorite gifts/perks of ministry (especially the worship leadership part) is the ability to be creative and encourage the creativity of others. I love taking "normal" things and using them or sharing them in new and unexpected ways. I love incorporating all the senses and inviting everyone into the whole experience.

Relationship - I love being invited to share in relationship with so many people. I love sharing the various parts of their lives - joys and sorrows, celebrations and pain. I love the stories I get to hear and the adventures I get to see and participate in!

Learning - I love that, as I engage in different aspects of my ministry, I am constantly learning new things. Sometimes about the practice of ministry, sometimes about history, sometimes about theology, and sometimes about me! The reading, the exploring, the talking, and the listening are probably the greatest gift I could ever receive!

Self Care for the Week: 1) Therapy on Tuesday, 2) A New Coloring Book, 3) Cooking one of my favorite foods just for me

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Week 4

I really haven't made much more progress on my list.

Getting to bed before midnight kind of got blown to heck when I was on call last time. I sort of tried to go to bed the first time about 11:30. The second time was about 12:10. The third time was at about 5:00 am. I ACTUALLY got a decent amount of sleep around 9:45 am. Oh well. I'll try again another month when I don't have to do overnight call!

I did make stuffed shells, so that was another new recipe. I still have some new ones to try including pork carnitas, chicken tetrazzini, buffalo chicken pasta, beef stew, parmesan pork cutlets, and garlic chicken. Obviously this will put me over my goal of six once I actually make them!

I think I'm going to try baking a cake near the end of the month. I'm currently taking suggestions. I'm kind of thinking spice cake with cream cheese icing, but we'll see.

I'm working on the possibility of my limo ride sometime this spring.

There is a ballet in two weeks that I want to go see. I'm looking into tickets. Anyone want to go with me?

In the not so distant future, I want to make my way over to the Alabaster library to #1 get a library card (that probably should have made the list!) and see if they have the Harry Potter audiobook.

Still no cuss jar, but I have noticed that I'm not cussing as much because I'm thinking about it. Still, I need to get the jars.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The How

I've been turning some stuff over in my head recently, so rather than trying to process it internally like a normal, rational person I'm going to try and make sense of it all here. Feel free to stop reading here.

I will go ahead and put the disclaimer that I'm going to be talking religion in somewhat specific terms, so please recognize that these are entirely my personal beliefs and not representative of anyone or anything except me and my slightly crazy mind!

There are millions of people in the world. And I would venture that, at some point or another, my path will cross with lots of those folks. However the number of meaningful interactions will probably be substantially smaller. And I already know that a good deal of these interactions will involve diversity of just about every kind imaginable, but right now I'm thinking specifically about religious diversity. Some of it is simply a byproduct of my career, but some of it is also simply who I am and the people with whom I choose to associate.

For the most part, I know what I believe. If required, I can break it down for you. I can quote a variety of affirmations of faith (or at the very least reference them accurately!) but I can do it with passion and conviction because they are things that I believe. And there are some things that I might have a hard time even reciting in a worship service because I simply don't agree with them. And I think having a good sense of what you as an individual believes is important. One of my slightly sarcastic statements has always been that it's called a "PERSONAL" faith for a reason, and while tradition and family and culture and community all play a role in the development of your beliefs, they ultimately have to be YOUR beliefs to have any meaning.

I still stand by that statement, but there is oh so much more to it than simply knowing what you believe. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, that part is kind of the basement of your house. It's the foundation. For some it is bigger and deeper than others. A lot of folks won't ever see it, and they may take for granted its existence at all. What you do with that space is ultimately up to you. But like I said, it's just the start. Unfortunately, this is where too many people stop. They have their list of doctrinal statements and famous quotations and official policies and choose to leave it at that. And that is really a shame, because there is so much potentially rich and beautiful dialogue that can take place when you don't just look at the water, but you dive into it (even if only in the shallow end to start with!) The foundation may shift and settle a bit, it may even undergo some pretty extensive renovation, but that renovation has to be undertaken carefully because it WILL have an impact on everything else. Ultimately, if there are too many problems here and not enough of the pieces line up, everything else will come crashing down and you'll have to start over.

The second part is the part that I emphasize when I teach, especially when I teach young people who have a pretty good sense of the first part (or at least enough healthy curiosity to keep them motivated along that journey). The second part is understanding "Why?" Now, from a counseling perspective, "why" can be a dangerous question. It's human nature to get a little defensive when this question is posed, especially depending on the tone with which it is asked and the context in which it is asked. But a little agitation and confrontation are necessary and very helpful, and I feel like this questions is essential. And as you do the work of the first part, you sort of naturally work out this second part. And if you have done a little too much coasting in the first part, you'll know it when you get to this part.

I tell kids and adults alike that I don't mind if you disagree with me, so long as you can defend your position. I am happy to engage in respectful dialogue with you, but I expect it to be an intelligent and informed discussion, and "because my pastor said so" or "because a book says so" is not an acceptable answer to any question of why YOU believe what you do. I don't want to argue for the sake of arguing and I don't have to be right, but don't expect me to change my mind about my position right away. It's not an attack on your beliefs or an attempt to prove that your thoughts are inferior in some way. I genuinely want to understand. This is the framing for your house. This is the basic form around which all the other stuff will be shaped and held. This is where your floor plan is outlined and your opening are initially created. And once this part is constructed, it can be changed without having to tear down the whole thing, so long as you take into consideration the way all the other parts support the part you want to change, and consider the parts being supported by the piece you want to take out or move.

Now, I said all that to say this: Recently I have been playing around with a new piece - the HOW of belief. Now, asking someone "How do you believe?" can be tricky. Because really the question is "How do you share/show what you believe?" I have generally stayed away from this question because when I was growing up, in the battle of the big denominations (Methodists vs. Baptists in my hometown) that was not something "we" did. ("We" was the Methodists) We don't "do" witnessing. We don't beat people over the head with salvation. We don't try to convert people We just don't do that. In fact, it was the doing of those things that is what made "them" our opposition.

I understand now that this knee-jerk reaction of mine is rather limited. But unfortunately it's the same one that many people experience. However, let me state very clearly - THERE IS MUCH MORE TO SHARING WHAT YOU BELIEVE THAN SIMPLY SAYING IT! In fact, if you really want to get the message across, verbal communication is probably the least effective way to do it! So if you can't TELL people, how do you let them know what you believe? How do you preach the gospel and use words only when necessary? Well, the "Sunday School" answer to this one is to show them by the way you live! Sure it's great to be able to recite a creed with passion, but isn't it more important to live the faith? Isn't it more important to show the love of God than to simply tell someone "God loves you."?

I'm still trying to figure out what this means for me. On the one hand, this is exactly what I do every day at the hospital. When I am reading stories to a small child who is lonely and scared or listening to a staff member tell me how upsetting it is to be yelled at for something he/she couldn't do, or simply sit by the bed of an elderly patient so he/she won't wake up alone, I am showing what I believe about love and care for everyone. But what about when I leave my "official" role as minister? What about when I'm driving home? Or in the grocery store? Or out at dinner with my husband? I'd love to say I do it there too, and I'm sure sometimes I do. But I'm also sure there are more times that I don't. And I need to work on that.

So what does the how look like in your life, regardless of what you believe? Do you think people would guess what you believe based on the way you act? And how does that make you feel?