Friday, November 30, 2012

red fruits tea

I've probably written before about the Red Fruits Tea. I'm not in the mood to go looking for that post, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere, probably with a "mom" tag on it, just like this post will have.

When I graduated from seminary, my parents and grandparents came down and we all went on a fun vacation to Hilton Head. It was lovely. We spent a day in each of the towns easily reachable from HH too--including a day in Savannah, where we visited lots of cool places, including the Tea Room (which I'm pretty sure we'd heard about on the Food Network--we were Food Network junkies back then).

Among the teas we sampled that day was the Red Fruits tea ("a mild fruity taste in a black tea base infused with stawberries,red raspberries and red currants."). One of the things I remember about that outing was a conversation about sugar in tea, and how that particular tea really needed a bit of sugar to really bring out the berry flavor.

We bought some of that tea and brought it home. Later in the summer, when I visited my parents before moving to Egypt, mom and I drank Red Fruits tea (with a touch of sugar, of course!). When I left, I packed the tea ball. I will never forget the phone conversation with my mom, who was hoping to make tea and couldn't figure out where I'd put the tea ball, and I had to confess that I had taken it with me. I've never felt so selfish and horrible in my entire life. And basically every time I use the tea ball, I remember that conversation as one of our last.

Tonight I happened upon the packet of Red Fruits tea on the top shelf of my tea cabinet. I know that tea really only lasts about a year or so, and that it's been 7.5 years since we bought that tea. But I wasn't about to waste it either, after all the emotions tied up in it! So I made a pot, using the last of the tea in the packet. Sans tea-ball, which I have started using as a strainer instead (yes, the same tea ball...).

I of course added a bit of sugar, remembering that afternoon at the tea room.

And the tea was delicious, even 6.5 years after it should have been stale (or whatever happens to tea).

Except that I inadvertently let the second half of the pot steep too long, and the last cup, seven and a half years after the first, had a hint of bitterness to it.

Which is probably exactly as it should be. bittersweet.

the day we drank tea in Savannah...

Miss you, mom. Wish we could drink tea together again.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I don't get sick terribly often. Only one time in all my years here have I been sick enough to go to a doctor (and that was just last November). Usually I get a cold or a stomach bug and I get over it with relative ease. Or I have a day of feeling blah but once I heed the cue to rest, I'm back at it the next day.

I managed to procure a cold the week of Thanksgiving. But after a few days of combining rest and Robitussin, it was gone in advance of the feast. I spent Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday being fine and normal (or at least mostly). Monday and Tuesday, though, began a slow slide back into cold-land via sneezing and coughing. By Wednesday, even Robitussin wasn't working (and it is WAY too gross to take if it doesn't work). Today I'm laying in bed, because at least when I lay down then I can breathe through one side of my nose. I'm not hungry and even the cats won't come near me.

During the Big Secret Keeping Adventure Of 2012, especially as I neared the end of that stressful period in which I needed to interview with one place while doing my job in another, figure out how to preach at one church while having a convincing excuse for being gone from the other, and my head was in two places while my body ran around from place to place in what felt to me like a frantic race against time...I was pretty sure that the instant I finally told someone, put the cards on the table and got the pieces in motion for a move, then I would be sick. I was prepared to spend Halloween (which is also the anniversary of my mom's death, just to add another layer to the crazy I was experiencing this October!) in bed. I stocked up on kleenex and EmergenC. I knew that I had been burning the candle at both ends and maybe in the middle too, and soon it was all going to blow up in the form of some kind of illness.

Except it didn't.

Now, a month later, I've been surprised by this illness that came out of the blue not once but twice!

Of course, things haven't exactly slowed down, so I shouldn't be surprised. But I've been trying to practice Sabbath...but obviously I haven't been trying hard enough. My body said it was time to rest, so rest I shall.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to blow my nose and then go back to laying around so I can breathe. ta!

Monday, November 26, 2012

a whole new world...

When I know people are coming to visit, or when I feel I need to be more efficient in heating my house, I close up the guest room. I run the vacuum, make the bed (well, usually*), and shut the door. Hopefully the lovely Domestic Goddess who appears at my house once a month is coming sometime between when I discover you are going to visit and when you arrive, because then she will clean even more thoroughly and shut the door.

This way the room is as free of cat hair and dander as is possible in this house. And when you come to visit, you won't be sleeping in a bed of cat hair or wondering why you're strangely sneezy.

However, when you, the guest, leave and the room is again available, it's as if I've been depriving the kitties of the most comfortable room in the house.

When the door is closed, the cats sleep on the couch or in my bed or even in the middle of the floor. I'll often wake in the middle of the night to find a cat on the neighboring pillow or in the crook of my elbow or at the foot of the bed. I'll come home to find them snuggled in the blankets on the couch or soaking in the sun by the sliding glass door or stretched out on the yoga mat.

But now that the guest room is open for the first time in 6 weeks? They might never leave this beautiful new world.

*I say that I usually make the bed. This last time, I apparently made the bed without putting sheets on--probably as a way to keep the cats off the clean sheets. This was discovered when guests went to bed after a long day of traveling, cleaning, cooking, and generally preparing for a major holiday. awesome. Hopefully they are forgiving people. Sheets were immediately procured, but still...that would be a hospitality fail. Sorry friends.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

random yet fun

When I'm doing things around the house (cleaning the kitchen, cooking dinner, lounging on the couch) I often listen to podcasts.

I will note that in our book (due out September 30 2013), we actually advise AGAINST this kind of thing, because the spiritual practice of being in the moment, simply being present to what you are actually doing rather than distracting yourself by multi-tasking, is super important. Yes, I'm admitting that my own spiritual practice is lacking sometimes. Though I think we could probably make a case for the spiritual practice of podcasts, too. (okay, it's a stretch. But I probably could do it. It would just take longer to rationalize.)

So anyway, I often listen to podcasts around the house and office. When I was painting the bathrooms this summer, I listened to a LOT of podcasts. When I cook dinner for Wednesday Night Dinner (which I'm not doing these days, but I did a lot in the spring), podcasts. When I clean my office (hahahahahahaah!), podcasts.

Some of my favorites are: Stuff You Missed In History Class, How To Do Everything, RadioLab, God Complex Radio, and of course the usuals (Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, On Being, This American Life).

I have learned a ton of random stuff from podcasts. I love hearing biographies of people I've never heard of or people I think I know about, I love the random prank ideas (of course I'd never use any of them...), I love the "listener mail"--letters/emails/facebook notes from people around the world writing about stuff they do and things they wonder about.

Today Stuff You Missed In History Class posted a podcast on a topic I asked about. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm super excited!

Where's the "listener mail" feature of church, I wonder?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

no excuses

Well, now that the big secret is out, I guess I don't have any good excuses for not blogging. Back when I was worried I'd let something slip, I was pretty quiet. And of course there's still plenty to be careful about, since much of my job involves holding confidences.
However: there's really no excuse for my lame non-writing self. I'm not burned out on writing. I'm not keeping an enormous secret about a new job. I'm not in the middle of any big dramas.
What I AM is a little conflicted about the nature of my blog. I know my family reads it, and they're mostly interested in what I'm doing and various updates like that. I have cats and could easily turn this into a kitty blog (ha). And then there's the stuff I spend most of my time thinking about: church-and-world stuff...and I know I have RevGals and BlogPals and church members who would be probably interested in things I might write about that. Or they might not, but it would probably help me to process.
So how to balance all of these things, without just starting a new blog for each one (too much work)?

I think it's probably going to mean that everyone will have to compromise a little. I know "compromise" is practically a dirty word in our culture right now, but seriously, everyone just get over it. ;-)

So, sometimes my blog will be about cats and how adorable they are (one is on my lap right now, obstructing my access to the keyboard--he does love to snuggle). Sometimes it will be about random stuff I do ("today I sat on the couch and watched 15 episodes of Lost.") Sometimes it will be about churchy stuff (I have been thinking a TON, for instance, about confirmation class--who/what/where/how and mostly WHY).

As a way to sweeten the compromise, I'll see if I can put more pictures in posts. :-)

Friday, November 02, 2012

big news...

This letter was sent to members and friends of RCLPC this week...

October 30, 2012

Dear Friends,

Six years ago you and God called me to serve as one of your pastors. I came with joy and excitement about the work God called me here to do with you and this journey we would travel together. During these years we have we worshipped, worked, played, and learned together. We have seen God at work. It has been an exciting six years with many highs and lows, loves and losses: we have served God and our neighbors, we have built community, we have shared our lives. Now it is time for God to do a new thing, and so with many mixed emotions I write to tell you that I have accepted a call to serve as Pastor/Head of Staff at the Presbyterian Church of Palatine.

Our youth and children’s ministries are in capable hands with fantastic volunteers, though they may need more help from you in coming weeks and months as they transition to a new model of leadership. The Youth Vision Team will be asking for your input and help as they seek a sustainable and intergenerational approach to congregational youth ministry. And of course our worship, fellowship, and mission ministries will go on as strong as ever, thanks to a good pastor, faithful staff and incredible volunteers. I am so lucky (and yes, that’s the word, in addition to blessed, grateful, privileged, happy!) to have served with so many wonderful people here. I know they will continue to lead you into the wonderful future to which God is calling RCLPC.

My last Sunday with you will be December 16th. This will give us time to plan the transition, to say goodbyes, to celebrate all we have done together. After that time, our pastoral relationship will end (and you’ll hear more about what that means as the time nears), though I will of course hold you all in my heart and in my prayers, and hope you will do the same for me.

I am grateful for the time God has given us together. For so many reasons, you will always hold a special place in my heart! You have provided opportunities for growth and learning beyond measure. I am confident that God is not done with either of us, and the new thing God is doing is sure to be as awesome as the past. May our ears and hearts be open to hear and follow that call. It has been a privilege to be among you as pastor, friend, and colleague. Thank you for six great years!