Wednesday, January 31, 2007

emergent mainline

This seminar is pretty good...I'm enjyoing myself, meeting people, hanging out with old classmates, and enjoying being "out of town."

but here's the thing I'm missing: a center of God in Jesus.
We're all about our experience, we're all about ways of organizing (or not), ways of proclaiming, ways of whatever...but without the explicit center, what does that mean? Are we a community gathered around Jesus, or a community gathered around our postmodern experience of ourselves?

I think we assume the center, but it's not being said, and that worries me.

What excites me? Imagining our story together in a different way, re-writing our narrative, plugging into the greater story in a way that is renewing and whole-making rather than destructive. We can hope, people.

postmodern

in a conversation in which I've said "I'm postmodern"--the response:
"well, yes and no."

do you get more postmodern than that?

Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm famous!

Okay, so almost famous.
Whatever.
The article about me ran in today's Northwest Herald. It's pretty good--especially given the paper's reputation around here. The photo is funny to me because it's one of about 4,000 photos he took, with me looking at different things in the sanctuary. LOL! in the print version of the paper there's a photo and teaser on the front page, then the story and full photo are on the front page of the local/region section, section 2 or B or whatever. Cool! This is a good way to start my ridiculously early morning...

Thought I'd share...

in the dark....

it was night when we left the house, carrying only backpacks, and made our way to the bus station. We boarded a large charter-type bus with carpet-feeling seats. The other passengers were loudly speaking in languages we didn't understand, the movies they showed were not funny, the heat was not functional, the shocks didn't seem to work either, and often the headlights were optional.

We made it to (insert destination here: Sallum, Taba, Hurghada, whatever) in one piece, only through the grace of God.

At 4 this morning I went to a hotel and boarded a large charter/commuter bus with softer carpety upholstery, a functioning heater and brakes and headlights, with very few fellow passengers, all of whom spoke English. I was handed a newspaper as I boarded, the driver took care of my bags, and the lights stayed off the whole way to the airport. Granted, the drive is just an hour, but.....
I glanced at the front page of the paper and saw my own picture...and suddenly the trip wasn't feeling quite the same as those previous late-night-bus-trips....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sticks and Stones--a sermon for Ordinary 4 C

("final" draft)

Rev. Teri Peterson
Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church
Sticks and Stones
Jeremiah 1.4-10, Luke 4.16-30
Ordinary 4 C

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’


When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.


Can you think of someone who reminds you of Jesus? Someone who has been really Christ-like? How about someone who has really represented God to you, personally?

Now, be honest. Raise your hand if you thought of someone who was really kind, who comforted you, who helped you out when you were in need, or who is just really nice.

Now raise your hand if your first thought was of someone like Mother Teresa. Did any of you actually think the words “Mother Teresa”?

Now raise your hand if you thought of someone who said things you didn’t want to hear, who was kind of obnoxious, who hung out with all the wrong people. Someone who angered you so much by what they said and did that you would not have minded joining a mob stoning them—with actual stones or with words. Since, of course, we don’t really stone people today, but we all know that sticks and stones break bones, but words….well, words can hurt even more than stones.

Barbara Brown Taylor tells the story of a woman who, when asked to do this same exercise, said, “when I heard this question, I tried to think of a person who told me the truth so clearly that I wanted to kill him for it.” Taylor goes on to say, “She burst our bubble, but she was onto something vitally important that most of us would be glad to forget: namely, that the Christ is not ONLY the one who comforts and rescues us. The Christ is ALSO the one who challenges and upsets us, telling us the truth so clearly that we will do appalling things to make him shut up. If you do not believe that, maybe that is because you have not recognized Christ in some of the offensive people God has sent your way. Not all of them, mind you, but some of them—people sent to yank our chains and upset our equilibrium so we do not confuse our own ideas of God with God.”

The thing about Jesus, you see, is that in the gospels he doesn’t often look much like that first group: the nice, comforting, helpful Jesus. Yes, sometimes he’s like that. But most of the time he is out just narrowly avoiding getting himself killed. Why? Not because he offered someone a tissue, but because he says things. He does things. Not the good, popular thing, but the right, unpopular thing. He sees the image of God even in the annoying, the unclean, the wrong people. He talks to women. He touches lepers. He tells religious leaders that they may look righteous on the outside but they’re sinners on the inside. He says things like “blessed are the poor” and “take up your cross” and “your sins are forgiven” and “back in the time of the prophets, the outsiders from Lebanon and Syria got healed, but no Jews did.” It may not sound like it to us, but these are fighting words…especially since everyone listening knows that they are the truth, but no one wants to hear it. Jesus says to these people, sitting in his home church, “you think you’re special because you’re God’s chosen people, you think you can use me for whatever I’ll do for you, but you’re wrong. God has chosen a whole bunch of people, not just you—the circle is wider than you imagine.” And boy do they not want to hear this. They move from adoration and applause to anger and assault in the blink of an eye. Surely no one speaking for God would ever be like him?!!?

A couple of years ago there was a tv show called Joan of Arcadia. Joan is a normal teenage girl…except that she talks to God. Not like she prays a lot…I mean, she actually talks to God. God appears in totally random people—convenience store clerks, custodians, creepy guys at the cemetery, nurses, teachers… So Joan is constantly on the lookout for God, sometimes even mistaking ordinary people for God. The thing is, even when she turns out to be talking to an ordinary person, she hears God’s messages through them anyway. When God does show up, it’s often to ask her to do something—God has her join the chess team, take AP chemistry, go to a dance with a nerd, and even build a boat. Her parents think she’s gone crazy, but Joan learns not only about following when she’s called but also about her own hidden gifts, among which are boat-building! It’s an interesting show—I recommend it. The best part is watching Joan as she learns to recognize God in the most random ordinary people, even social outcasts, weirdos, and people who always say the thing no one wants to hear. She eventually learns to see God everywhere. I suspect that’s a part of our own calling too—to look for and see God in everyone we meet.

But how do we know when people are being Christ-like by saying things we don’t want to hear and when they’re just mean-spirited? Well, I suspect we can find some clues in today’s readings. Jesus tells good upstanding synagogue-goers that the woman from Lebanon and the man from Syria are worth just as much as they, the Jews, are, and the congregation tries to throw him off a cliff. Jeremiah is told he is being sent to the nations and kingdoms, not only to the Israelites, and ultimately his message gets him tossed in prison and dragged off to Egypt. It seems that whenever the thing we don’t want to hear is a widening of the circle, an opening of the door, a breaking down of barriers—perhaps that’s one place where we should look a little deeper for God’s image in the people who bring that message.

Recognizing God is one side of Joan’s calling, and ours. The other side of the coin, for both Joan and for us, is to be the one who says or does those things that need to be said and done. And often that second side is the harder part of our call—to speak truth with love, to do the unpopular thing. Sometimes we don’t know how to do it, what to say. Sometimes when we do it, we get words and stones thrown at us. Speaking the truth in love is not an easy thing to do, but it is a Christ-like thing to do.

There are lots of examples of people who try to do this. Sometimes they’re horribly unpopular, sometimes their stories make the news, sometimes they get labeled with unsavory words. I’m sure you know some. Here are some I’ve been thinking of lately.
I’ve been thinking about the couple who put a wreath shaped like a peace symbol on their house in Colorado this past Christmas. They were threatened, the neighborhood association ordered them to take it down, they were called traitors—because they put up a symbol of peace in a time of war.
I’ve been thinking about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian during World War II, who stood against the German churches that were going along with Hitler’s plan. Ultimately he spoke out too much and he also got caught in a plan to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer was killed in a concentration camp.
I’ve been thinking about protestors who converge on Washington to beg for a culture of life for all people—for the lives of Iraqis, the lives of people on welfare, the lives of unborn children, the lives of the Sudanese, the lives of would-be immigrants. Each of them tells us something about ourselves, about our country, our culture, our politics—and often they are things we don’t like hearing about ourselves. They get labeled “radical” and “partisan” but they continue to pray and work for what they know is right.
I’ve been thinking about Jimmy Carter, who has been working for peace and justice his whole career. Sometimes he’s popular, sometimes he’s unpopular. Right now he’s pretty unpopular because of the title of his new book. I haven’t read it yet so I can’t say much about it, but I can say that the storm surrounding it sounds an awful lot like he touched a nerve…like he said something that no one wants to hear.
I’ve even been thinking of Mother Teresa, actually. Yes, she was kind and caring and wonderful, and she eventually became popular and beloved. But in the beginning, she was doing the thing no one else wanted to do, she advocated for the unpopular and unclean, hung out with the wrong people, and spoke up for the right thing even when no one wanted to hear about it.
I’ve been thinking about some people here in this congregation who have said things about our life together that needed to be said…and there are others who don’t want to hear…and ultimately, we are the body of Christ together, the image of God is in each of us, and our task is to meet Christ in one another.

And, like Jeremiah and like these modern-day prophets, our task is sometimes also to be the one who says the hard thing, who does the right thing, to be the unpopular one, to tell the truth in love. When I was growing up, we had a phrase that got used a lot in my family. You’ve probably heard it: “What’s popular is not always right, and what’s right is almost never popular.” It’s hard to do what’s right, to speak truth with love. It often leads to getting stoned with words. For the prophets and for Jesus, it often led to real sticks and stones. Jesus didn’t say it would be easy. In fact, he said we’d be persecuted, but blessed. And God tells us through Jeremiah not to be afraid: though the way will be difficult, God will be with us the whole time.

Indeed, God puts God’s own words into Jeremiah’s mouth. How great it would be if that were the case for us! It would be so much easier to say the right thing if we knew they were God’s words. But since we don’t, we often keep our mouths closed. We pass by on the other side for fear of doing the wrong thing or of not being good enough. But, as I was reminded by Becky Fischer, the pastor in the movie Jesus Camp, “If you don’t open your mouth, the Holy Spirit can’t speak!” We are called to be Christ-like in both the “usual” caring, kind, and helpful way and also in the more difficult speaking-the-truth-in-love way. And that means we have to open our mouths sometimes and trust that the Holy Spirit is going to do the speaking.

In the words of William Sloane Coffin: May God give you grace never to sell yourself short, grace to risk something big for something good, and grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.
Amen.

Friday, January 26, 2007

monks

I was so hoping to fit the Monk Story (as I call it) into my sermon this week, but it's not going to happen. Therefore I'm going to tell you all the monk story.

Once there was a monastery with a bunch of old monks. No new monks had come for a long time. There was a monk that annoyed everyone because he slurped his soup. There was a crotchety old monk. There was a monk who irritatingly kept track of who arrived a few seconds late for mass. There was a monk who snored so loudly everyone else could hear him. All of the monks were pretty set in their ways and sometimes were...well...not subtle about the ways other monks annoyed them.

The abbot was not at all sure what to do about this or about the fact that the monastery was going to die with them, so he went to visit a hermit in the woods. After hearing the story (over a cup of tea of course!), the hermit said "well, I don't know how to bring more monks to your monastery, but I do know something: one of you is God."

well, the abbot sure was surprised to hear that! He went back to the monastery wondering who it might be--the slurper? The snorer? the time-keeper? bad-tempered-bob? He gathered the few remaining old monks and told them what the hermit had said. They were quite excited to hear this, but also desperate to know who it was! They left the chapter-house all-abuzz.

Well, not knowing who was God, they began to treat each other as if each one might be God, they began looking for Christ in each other. Soon enough the atmosphere of the place changed from one of grumpiness to one of joy. The very air was vibrant. Soon people began to flock to the monastery to try to learn what these monks knew...and the monastery grew and thrived. And they never did figure out which of them was God.

The end.

I love this story. I like it almost as much as the camel story, which will wait for another day because right now I am procrastinating on turning the 1700 words I have already written into something resembling a sermon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

okay, I had to do it

apparently I am a lemming.
Oh well, because I'm a winsome lemming.
Who doesn't love the word "winsome"--I mean, really?


My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Reverend Countess Teri the Winsome of Piddletrenthide Under Booth
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

"simple" luxuries

There are some things I can do here that make me really happy, and every morning I think of how luxurious they are. Perhaps they don't sound like luxuries, perhaps they sound like simple little things, but I promise you, they are luxury.

--popping my clothes in the dryer before I get in the shower, so I'll have warm clothes to put on. (Since I've been living in apartments with laundry elsewhere in the building, or in Egypt where dryers don't exist, for 8 years, this is an incredible luxury that I love.)

-- standing in the shower an extra few minutes, not doing anything, just being in the warm water, and knowing those two or three minutes are not going to make or break the morning. (this only happens on non-Sundays...)

-- running to the store to grab milk after 10pm. There's just one store nearby where I can do that, and there's just one person who works that shift each night, and I am so thankful for that girl.

-- Driving. Getting to church in exactly 10 minutes. Being able to say "I'm 4-1/2 minutes away from church right now" with authority, and being right.

-- telephones, and good friends on the other end of the line. Being able to talk to friends is so great. I can see why several of my friends have forbidden me to leave the country again for a while--it's hard to be without a friend, even by phone!

-- leftovers. Refrigerators, microwaves, dishes that can be microwaved...these are beautiful, beautiful things.

Monday, January 22, 2007

snow and ice

it's covering the lots of the country--some places used to it, some not.
I think we are supposed to fall into the "used to it" category here.
However, yesterday while heavy wet snow was falling onto frozen roads, the crews were not out in the full force one would hope. Instead, the roads, especially the ones that are not the two main roads in this town, were blanketed with snow and ice--though it didn't look that bad, it was extremely slippery.

Slippery enough that my cute (and still almost brand-new) honda civic slid at a 45 degree angle rather than the 90 degree turn I was trying to make, leaving me stuck on the curb in a snowbank at the corner. About half an hour and four lovely young men later, I was on my way but with a very broken bumper.

It turns out that snow can cause serious damage if you run into it, even at very slow speeds, and even more damage if you then try to get out of it. The estimate for repairs? $1302.66. Thankfully, injuries= none, except the car.

Today it's sunny, a teensy bit warmer, and there's actually a thaw going on.

figures.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

movie theaters

I don't like movie theaters. I think it's bizarre to pay $8 (more or less) to sit in a room with a bunch of people I don't know and then watch tv, very loudly, while wondering what exactly is on the floor. It's rude to talk, but I like talking. Other people talk and that annoys me. At home, you can watch the movie for about $3-4, in your own house where you know exactly what is on the floor, you can talk all you want and you can rewind if you miss something.

Having said that, I saw two movies this week: Charlotte's Web and The Pursuit of Happyness. Both were excellent and I highly recommend them. CW was witty, encouraging, laugh-out-loud funny, and tearful. PoH was saddening, encouraging, eye-opening, and dramatic. Both said things about life that were so great, I'm going to share them with you. I was really struck by how both of these movies, which seem so different, have the same exact themes. Now maybe this happens with most movies and I've just not watched enough of them in close enough proximity to one another to catch it, but this time I just really caught on.

Without further ado, three things I noticed in common between Charlotte's Web and the Pursuit of Happyness:
1. The main characters are so determined! (Fern is not going to let that pig be killed, and neither is Charlotte. Chris is going to be a good dad, he's going to be there for his son, he's going to provide, he's going to get their life together.)
2. The main characters work really really hard, all out of love for someone else, not for themselves.
3. The main characters really believe that the world can be different. Even when other people, even significant people, tell them it's not possible, even when everything is against them, even when everything looks hopeless, they continue to see possibilities, to trust, to hope, to believe. Ultimately, I think this is what the Christian life is really about--to believe that things can be different, that they will, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. and then to put into action themes 1 and 2--to work for that different world, to be determined, to love.

And that's my insight for the day. The end.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Five

A simple friday five for a busy week. Strangely appropriate, since I had an interview with a reporter yesterday.

Who: me!!! and who else?
What: emergent mainline seminar
When: Jan. 30-Feb. 1
Where: Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA
Why: cuz all the cool kids are doing it

So...anyone else?

an alternate set of answers:
Who: me and RCLPC
What: a newspaper article in the Northwest Herald
When: umm...good question. "within the week" according to the photographer, but who knows
Where: the Northwest Suburbs
Why: because RCLPC went to Egypt to find their new Associate Pastor (me).

oh yeah.

Monday, January 15, 2007

an adventure indeed

the first session meeting i've ever moderated is out in record time, all business accomplished.
no anxiety necessary.
:-)

a new adventure?

Right now I am desperately wishing I knew more of the matriarchs of RGBP personally, or had phone numbers for them.
Senior Pastor's daughter is sick. throw-uppy sick.
There is a session meeting tonight.
As "another minister of this presbytery" I have been invited to moderate said session meeting.
I feel some mild anxiety about this as it's not only my first one to moderate but also the meeting in which we need to discuss/approve the budget.

A new adventure indeed....every day, a new adventure.

In other news, I saw Charlotte's Web this afternoon. It was great. I cried. I was reminded why I don't watch Animal Planet anymore. And it was a beautiful movie. I can see why Richard's sermon was about the movie this weekend. :-)

More news: I was installed yesterday. It was great. Numerous thanks to the people from all over who agreed to serve on the commission--some of you are real life savers! The reception was wonderful--many thanks to the extremely talented women who baked, the people who set up and cleaned up, and the APNC and God for bringing me here. And I am so happy that last presbytery hoop is jumped.

That's all.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday evening

There are not a lot of better ways to spend a Saturday evening than this:

--cooking Indian food at home
--WHILE watching Buffy!
--then eating said Indian food
--WHILE watching Buffy!

It was great.

Unfortunately, now I have to clean up. boo.

parking lot adventure

I got my hair cut today (nothing drastic) and then headed down to Trader Joes because WOW was I in need of groceries!

I had the funniest experience there....

I parked my car, and when I looked out my driver's side window before going out into the cold, I did a double take.

There was a large, dark colored poodle-esque dog in a red sweater sitting in the driver's seat, facing forward, one paw on the wheel.

I kid you not.

I was a little too slow grabbing my phone to get a photo--I got the dog, kind of, but it had taken its paw off the wheel by then.

sadly, the car was gone when I came out, so I never got a chance to see if the owner looked at all like his/her dog. matching sweaters, maybe?

Friday, January 12, 2007

kitty news

My kitties are getting along.
How do I know?

They groom each other now.

How cute. :-)

Also, I woke up in the middle of the night to discover that I had Andrew sleeping on my left shoulder and Ollie sleeping on my right hand.

Also cute.
and kind of hot.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Things

There's a lot going on here. Too much, some might say. It's been a busy January, and promises to get busier. In a nutshell:

--There is big change afoot in our worship life.
--The confirmation class has started and there are 19 youth in it! It's incredible...and will require lots of prayer for both the youth and for me as to how best to organize a year-long class into half a year, and how to give the attention they deserve to 19 different youth.
--Senior High Youth Group has started well...and is starting some new things, which is exciting. Among the new things: Wednesday night "Study Break"--hanging out with theme snacks; movie nights, and field trips (to the ice cream place!).
--I was asked not once but TWICE to lead a workshop at the Blackhawk/Chicago Presbytery Junior High Retreat. Sadly, the session retreat is on the same day, so that's a no go for me. I'm sure the session retreat will be great and valuable, but I really love the B/C presby JH retreat and am sad to not only miss it but also to turn down that opportunity.
--I'm getting ready to teach a class on Celtic Christian spirituality.
--I'm also getting ready to co-teach a class on the church in Africa using story and song. If any of you are or have been in Africa and want to share a story, email me using the link at the top of the page. Thanks!
--It's my friend Noell's birthday today. You should go wish her a happy birthday!
--My installation service is this Sunday, thank goodness. I cannot wait for this last hoop to be jumped through. I think the PCUSA makes this intentionally difficult/a lot of work to discourage people from looking for a new call. Not that I'm looking for a new call, just that putting together a commission and a service in a place where you don't yet know anyone and where the clergy population is gender UNbalanced is a nightmare--and I'm glad it's almost done. Plus, the cheesecake that will be had at the reception might make it all worthwhile.

--I still don't have any friends in this area, but I am working on it.
--I admit to not having finished a novel last week, but for the past 10 days I have been reading "Mirror Mirror" by Gregory Maguire...it's pretty good so far. Different.
--The choir's Epiphany party was huge amounts of fun.
--Today I've been reading all the magazines/perusing the catalogs that have piled up on my desk in the last couple of weeks. Some: not bad. Some: very bad.
--Ditto all the music for our contemporary worship service, which has been playing on my car CD player for three days now in my attempt to familiarize myself with our repertoire.
--Lesson: in all sets of resources, there's good and not good stuff.

And now I must go. I have a novel to read.

Monday, January 01, 2007

marching band

Okay, so I know that the old-style (what I would call "Real" but is actually known as "big ten" style) marching is so out and everyone is doing the "marching" (glide step) that looks like walking these days, but honestly.
Regardless of step style, am I asking so much that marching bands in major parades at least walk in straight lines? In both the Macy's parade and the Rose Parade I have watched top-tier "marching" bands that can't even keep their lines straight when they're NOT playing, let alone when they are. Where are my high school band teacher and our kinda anal drum majors to whip them into shape? I mean, really. It's a marching band, people. Where are the diagonals? Oh wait, they don't exist because there aren't any lines.

Now that that's out of my system...I suppose I can move on in life. :-)

Happy New Year

Well, it's finally midnight here in central time...as jason pointed out to me, he gets "a whole hour longer" in 2007 than me. Until next New Year's, anyway. Unless he comes here for New Year's next year...in which case, I guess, he does in fact have an hour more than me in the year. lucky.

anyway, I think you should all be very impressed that I made it all the way to midnight. I was actually seriously considering going to sleep after talking to my eastern-time-boyfriend, but Veronica Mars kept me up. That's right. I finished two seasons on DVD and just wasn't ready to wait a year for the next season...so I started downloading. Did you know you can download TV episodes on iTunes? Dang. That's cool. Anyway...I'm enjoying the show. And so I'm still awake to hear and even see the fireworks random people around town are shooting off from their backyards with their own personal firework rocket launcher things. It's crazy. Real fireworks, coming from about three neighborhoods over...in every direction. Wow.

Everyone's listing their resolutions or things they want to do or whatever. I used to make my New Year's Resolutions into handy little acronyms so they'd be easy to remember. But then, at some point...maybe last year...I stopped making them. I don't do the resolution thing anymore. (warning: cynicism ahead...) I know that this week my gym is going to get more crowded, and it will last about until Valentine's day and then drop off. I know the Starbucks will probably have a shorter line for a few days. I know the library, which is undergoing some reorganization, will be full for a couple of weeks (when it's open, anyway, which is not a lot in january because of said reorganization).

(warning two: shameless bragging ahead...) Anyway, I have begun making it a habit of beginning my new year, and my new habits, at the beginning of Advent. It's been a couple of years...ever since the first time I had a youth group "New Year's Party" on the first sunday of Advent. so...my "new self" has been in progress since about Thanksgiving. But really before that too--because I don't want to be one of those Valentine's Day casualties, so I started making a habit of going to the gym, for instance, 5 days a week, back in November. And I have noticed that, along with that, I eat better. I don't crave the sugar, the candy, the cookies, the brownies, the Dr. Pepper, etc, in quite the same way. In fact, I bake and take the stuff to church and don't eat it. I made chocolate chip cookies a couple of weeks ago and am still working my way through the second half of the one cookie I tried to eat. And everyone else said they were really good.

Ice cream is still my main weakness.

Anyway...here are some things I would like to try to do this year:
* paint pottery once a month
* read a novel a week. (well...I don't have to finish the novel every week, just I want to have at least one novel going every week.)
* maybe get a library card....
* get into a work rhythm that allows me to get everything done and also set reasonable boundaries.
* make friends in Crystal Lake

that's it...no clever acronym yet though.

Anyway...Happy New Year! may it be better than last year.
And for those still waiting for the ball to drop...here's a little postcard from the future. nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah...I got here first. ;-) just kidding.

and happy sleeping to all of you.