Sunday, July 29, 2007


we're home. flight was only delayed about 45 minutes. we got to go in the cockpit afterward--awesome. everyone was picked up promptly at church.
I'm tired.
no work tomorrow--yay!
more later.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

heading home

We're on our way home today, via the Closing Celebration here at Passport, and via the IMAX theater at the Audubon Institute, and possibly via the Lower 9th Ward, which is not on the way to the airport but should be on our mental, emotional, and spiritual journey nonetheless.
It's been a good week--the youth did lots of hard work, there's been some good opportunities for worship, celebration, study, and fellowship (both spiritual and just fun). But we're all tired after 6 days away that have also been filled with sleep deprivation and southern-college-cafeteria food. I'm ready to go home, pet my kitties, sleep in my bed, and eat some vegetables and fruits.
See you back in the CL....

Friday, July 27, 2007

how you KNOW it's bad

(if you couldn't tell already, that is...)

Now, I have many many issues with the big W-M, so I can't say I feel sadness for the corporation when I see this sight. But I feel sad for the bigger picture of which this is just a small part.

There are more extensive reflections and many many more photos over here...enjoy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Orleans, day 3

It was another busy day. My group went to a new site in a new neighborhood, right by the Six Flags. We could see the roller coasters from the corner, but of course they aren't running--the park has been closed since the storm.

The neighborhood was much more damaged than the one from the previous day. We could see water lines, the windows were blown out, the brick facades were damaged, the whole neighborhood was nearly deserted. The kids did a lot of really good work--they brought the ceiling down and all the insulation out, they gutted the second floor (not in that order!), and a group made short work of another person's yard...all in 2-1/2 hours before a thunderstorm came through and lightning put a stop to our work.

Last night's fun was the masquerade dance...the youth were awesome about making their masks and costumes. They were instructed to "imagine who you really are" and then make a costume that reflected their true selves. It seems to have gone reasonably well--we have two clowns, two princesses....average! :-) the dance was a great time, and everyone went to bed exhausted at the end of our third day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Orleans, day 2

Well, we got to work at last. At least the kids did! I spent time supervising and taking pictures, as my job is supposed to be encouragement and supervision rather than actual working. So here's our first house--the debris pile at the end of the first day. You can see some of the kids in their suits in the driveway. They're super hot, apparently. The houses are full of mold, so we're gutting them down to the studs.

At the end of the first full day there was a huge rec party, with games galore. My favorite game to watch was the slip-n-slide Jenga...they had to slide down with the piece in their hand, then build the tower at the end. The team with the highest tower when time was called won. It looked really fun.

Today, being day three, deserves its own post after the activities are done, so I'll leave it for now. I'll just say that our group went to a different work site than yesterday, and it was....definitely different.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Orleans, day 1

hot. humid. people stopping us on the streets of the French Quarter to ask about our t-shirts (which say "Katrina Relief" on the back) and to thank us for coming down to help. Opening celebration which was like a party. leg wrestling with other leaders on stage. one mosquito bite so far. Talkative group--a nice change!

Here's our group in the French Quarter, at our fave intersection (good signage!)...
And now it's time to get moving for our first full day!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

BBC headline

"Final Potter book revealed"

And that is the end of my checking the news, or any other media outlet, until I get back from this trip and have a chance to read the book for myself.

Do not..I repeat, do NOT post any comments here telling me what happens. I will hunt you down and the scene will not be pretty. I'm going to be a week behind--it will be hard enough to not find out anything until then without people putting it on my blog!

No more more surfing...I'm done until I can read for myself, beginning on the 29th. boo!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

getting ready

This is the time of year when we get ready for many different things...

Most immediately, 18 of us are getting ready to go to New Orleans for a week...t-shirts are here, notarized forms are turned in, plane tickets ready, van rentals organized, nametags made, "fun" activity reserved, directions printed out, dress code emphasized and re-emphasized.

Other things need to be made ready too...
...some of our youth are getting ready to go to college...
...some of our youth are getting ready to go to high school...
...we are getting ready for the September 9 Kick-Off Day...
...we are getting ready for a new year in Sunday School, with a new curriculum in place...
...I am getting ready for next year's Confirmation Class...
...I am getting ready for a new youth group season...
...the world is getting ready for the release of Harry Potter...and I am getting ready for the internet and media to be filled with spoilers (so no browsing for me until after I get back from New Orleans and get a chance to read the book!)...
...we are getting ready to articulate how we are church together and how we can be church better...

I wonder if we will ever be ready, really ready? What happens when the Holy Spirit breaks into our readiness and we find out we weren't ready at all? Part of me is desperate for everything to go according to plan, for my plans and my preparations to be perfect. But another part of me hopes that God will come and mess up the plan and show us all a more excellent way.

...I just hope the messing up the plan doesn't come in the form of injuries or illnesses on this trip. 6 days--we can all be healthy for 6 days, right?

We're as ready as we're going to be.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

too good to be true?

Has anyone ever seen this place before? It seems too good to be true--what's the catch?

I am trying to find comfortable, functional, and stylish furniture that we can use to transform a section of the fellowship hall into a senior high youth area/fellowship area. We need a sectional couch and another couch, or, according to this place, I can get a three-sided sectional. Either way, it needs to be affordable, not hideous, and comfy. This place looks like they deliver on all three counts (plus the actual delivering via UPS!). We have amazing b&g people who can assemble.

so...what's the catch?

Monday, July 16, 2007


I finally got my blog out of Lent...halfway through Ordinary Time. yay for the easy "new" layout changing in blogger!

Sunday, sunday, sunday

Well, my voice came back with me for today. Three services successfully preached! Many thanks to Senior Pastor who took the welcome and announcements at two services so I could keep my voice.

Now, after lunch with grandparents and a good long nap, I'm hanging with my kitties and watching Firefly. Witty dialogue galore! I wish that show had lasted longer.

no more cold here--I can breathe, I'm only coughing a little bit. Just stuffed up ears and a little voice irritation left. Hopefully all better by tomorrow! :-)

I'm pretty sure that's more than enough random nonsense for today. no need for more...I have nothing else to say for tonight. maybe tomorrow...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Street Smart--a sermon for Ordinary 15 C

This is just the first draft. Comments welcome and appreciated!

Rev. Teri Peterson
Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church
Street Smart
Luke 10.25-37
July 15 2007, Ordinary 15 C

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

“You just have no common sense!” I used to hear this a lot. Apparently I often did things that grown-ups thought either ridiculous or wrong, and said things without thinking them through very clearly. Those were my younger days, of course…you know, back a few weeks ago. It seems that logic is not my strongest gift. So, when I was six and my brand new shoes were muddy, rather than traipse mud through the house I hosed them off while I was still wearing them. It turned out that wasn’t the right thing to do. When I wanted to know something, I just asked rather than thinking it all through first and coming to my own conclusions. The first thing I would see was a look, followed by a sigh or a “hmph” or a laugh, and then followed by a patient explanation of why I did not need to ask the question in the first place because I already knew the answer.

The lawyer in this story asks Jesus a question, and I can picture Jesus being a little bit like my grandparents—first the look, then the sigh, then the patient walk-through of how the man already knows the answer. But the lawyer takes it one step further, and Jesus takes the opportunity to tell a story.
But the story doesn’t go the way anyone expects. It goes against every grain of common sense we have, and if we try to plug ourselves into a character we quickly find that none of the characters are very street smart. Sure, I may have walked around Chicago alone at night many a time, but that’s nothing compared to the street un-smart of these people.

First there’s a man traveling along one of the most dangerous roads in the region. He’s alone, he’s an easy target, he probably looks as though he has something worth stealing and perhaps he’s even glancing all around, as though he doesn’t belong on the road. Everyone knows that you should always look straight ahead, walk purposefully, and use the buddy system. Everyone, that is, except this guy, apparently, because he ends up lying on the side of the road, robbed and beaten.

Then we have a priest. Now, religious professionals, everyone knows, are very holy, and very busy. There’s church business to attend to, sermons to write, worship to plan, and mission trips to lead. This priest knows what his job is, and it’s not to defile his ritual purity by helping a non-member. Besides, people on the side of the road are usually drunk, and everyone knows if you help them they’ll just buy beer and drugs, not food. It’s just common sense to pass on by.

Then we have a Levite. He’s just a Temple-helper, really, but he still has to worry about his image. Everyone knows that touching a dead, or half-dead, body, makes you unclean. And everyone knows you should stay away from people who look like troublemakers, and this man certainly got into trouble. It’s just common sense to stay away.

And then we have a Samaritan. He’s a foreigner, and everyone knows foreigners are dangerous. He’s got some weird religious ideas, and everyone knows we have to stay away from heretics. He sees the man beside the road, but instead of thinking of his image, or the trouble he could get in…really, instead of thinking at all, he feels. He feels compassion, and he stops to help. Not just a half-hearted “are you okay?” but a costly help—he uses his own oil and wine to disinfect and dress the man’s wounds, he burdens his own animal, he uses his own money to pay for a hotel room, and—most remarkably, I think—he delays his journey for a day to stay overnight with the man and ensure that he is okay. He acts without really thinking of the consequences. Not much common sense there.

I wonder what the wounded man thought, when he opened his eyes to find a Samaritan touching him, helping him, spending the night with him, caring for him. I wonder if he recoiled in horror at this inferior being. I wonder if he resisted. I wonder if he just smiled weakly and said, “thanks.” I wonder if he realized how different his life must be now that the enemy was his friend and neighbor. I wonder where his common sense went.

When the Samaritan leaves, he leaves money, instructions, and a promise with the innkeeper. Well, everyone knows a Samaritan can’t be trusted. How likely is it that he’ll really come back? He’s just like a group of teenagers in a department store—they must be watched carefully at all times. It’s just common sense.

The thing about this story is that common sense doesn’t seem to get us very far. The people who exercise common sense are the very ones Jesus makes out to be the bad guys, while the people who exercise no common sense at all are the good ones. Jesus leads the lawyer, and his other listeners, through an exercise in leaving common sense behind, and picking up kingdom sense on the way.

I wonder what Jesus would make of most of our “everyone knows” common sense statements. Everyone knows that groups of dark-haired, pale-skinned teenagers with skateboards are lazy good-for-nothings who destroy property. Everyone knows that people on welfare just work the system. Everyone knows that English is the only language we use here. Everyone knows that beggars make more money than we realize. Everyone knows a whole bunch of things, and most of them aren’t very nice. It seems like Jesus, with this story, is taking our street smarts and turning them on their heads. What if the “everyone knows” statements were more like, “everyone knows that all people are children of God” and “everyone knows that love is more powerful than hate” and “everyone knows that what you see on the surface doesn’t say much about what’s underneath.” For all we say “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” most of us still do. I’ll admit that when I figured out that I was in the Cabrini-Green housing project at night, whether it was with my tutoring student who lived there or not, I felt fear. I’ll admit that all those people who said moving to the Middle East was a sure-fire way to get myself killed weren’t alone in thinking it could be dangerous. I wonder if, as a church or a nation or individuals, we are willing to admit that sometimes we don’t look underneath what we can see on the surface. I suspect that we often use our common sense instead of our kingdom sense, and we end up walking by, or trying to get out of our responsibilities by asking questions to which we already know answers, or even something worse.

Using our kingdom sense means looking underneath the surface. Using our kingdom sense sometimes means throwing caution to the wind. Using our kingdom sense means sharing love far and wide, even if that means we share God’s love with the so-called “wrong” people. Using our kingdom sense means allowing others to help us, even if we think we’re superior. Using our kingdom sense means pushing the “what if’s” out and letting compassion take over. Using our kingdom sense means keeping our promises, because God always keeps God’s promises. Using our kingdom sense might even mean not using “everyone knows” statements anymore.

Jesus doesn’t answer the lawyer’s question—he answers it for himself. All Jesus says to the lawyer is the same thing he says to us: go and do likewise.

Thanks be to God.

Accio Friday Five!!

As seen at RGBP, with many thanks to ReverendMother!!

1. Which Harry Potter book is your favorite and why?

hmm, tough call. 3 and 5 are my faves, I think, mainly because the characters really develop in those story lines. They are intense and real-feeling.

2. Which character do you most resemble? Which character would you most like to get to know?
I'm such a Hermione. (anyone need an extra insufferable-know-it-all friend? I'm free.) I think I would love to get to know the twins--they crack me up, plus they're funny and smart all at the same time. That's a prerequisite for my friends.

3. How careful are you about spoilers?
a) bring 'em on--even if I know the destination, the journey's still good
b) eh, I'd rather not know what happens, but I'm not going to commit Avada Kedavra if someone makes a slip
c) I will sequester myself in a geodesic dome to avoid finding anything out

I do NOT like spoilers. I'll be out of town when the book comes out so I won't be starting the read until more than a week after everyone else gets theirs. Do not, I repeat, do NOT tell me anything, or else.

4. Make one prediction/share one hope about book 7.
ooh, I am working so hard not to make predictions because I don't want to get my hopes up, and I don't want to become tied to my way only to discover it's not what happens at all. But I am with most others who insist that Snape is a good guy. I would love to see some reconciliation between Harry and Snape, but on the other hand I would be sad to see it come out all happy-ending-ish when that's not really how life works. I just hope that the end isn't fake feeling. and, selfishly, I want percy to die a slow and horribly painful death, preferably at the hands of one of those ministry officials he idolizes.

5. Rowling has said she's not planning any prequels or sequels, but are there characters or storylines (past or future) that you would like to see pursued?
I would love to see more of Neville's story, and maybe Luna's too.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

tireder and now with a cold

this time, Harry Potter kept me up.
Went to the midnight show of Order of the Phoenix last night.
It was quite good.
Possibly even awesome.
A different mood from the other movies.
quite a few differences from the book, but at least the movie still contained character development (unlike Goblet of Fire).
Less talking, more feeling in this movie.
It was very good.
Dark, but good.
Best line? hmmm...would need re-viewing to confirm, but I think Snape's second line might be it. "obviously." ha!
enjoy...and I'm taking my sore throat and stuffy nose to an early bedtime tonight!

Sunday, July 08, 2007


I stayed up too late.

Anna Carter Florence's book Preaching as Testimony kept me up.

Well, that and the laundry I had to do in order to have a top to wear this morning. I neglected to remember the laundry during the many hours I was home and awake during the day, so had to put the load o'laundry in at 11.20.

And my washing machine doesn't advance from wash to rinse, so I had to stay awake until it was time to click it over manually.

That means it was midnight by the time I both finished the book AND dealt with the washing machine.

The book was awesome--I didn't want to put it down.

The clothes are clean and I am dressed.

But I'm very tired.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I haven't been writing much lately...I noticed as I went through my blog archives to write my 1,000th post that my blogging habits wax and wane much less regularly than the moon or tide or even the fortunes of the Cubs. Sometimes I write tons--lots of short posts every day, or medium-to-long ones several times a week. Sometimes I write very little--there's an entire year when I wrote less than 100 posts (unusual for someone as verbose and extroverted as I am).

I have been reading a lot lately, though. I canceled my cable TV so now I get zero channels. I have extremely fair skin and have already sustained three sunburns this summer, so I'm trying hard to stay indoors. I loaned my season 7 of Buffy out to a friend, which is no excuse for not watching Buffy since the previous six seasons still sit on the shelf. I've been cooking a little more, but nothing terribly exciting--just taking my farm-fresh veggies and turning them into dinner a couple nights a week.

Maybe I've not been writing because I don't generally blog in the daytime (since I feel like I should be doing something else with my "work" hours--ha!), and I tend not to take my computer home at night unless I really need to. I am not good at not checking my work email, for instance, if I have my 'puter handy, so I just leave it in my office Monday night to Thursday night, and then have it at home one my days off. (yes, I sometimes check my work emails on my days off, if they come from youth. But I don't answer them until Monday unless it's an emergency.)
Maybe I've not been writing because my life is full of things I can't write about here--namely church, church, and church.

I want to be writing more. I can tell that I need to write more if I'm to keep any sort of writing skills at all. So perhaps, soon, I will take up more regular blogging. I will try to remember some of my stories, stories I feel that I've lost and will have to work hard to retrieve from vaults deep in my memory bank. I will maybe just write about mundane things, or maybe about interesting things. Maybe I'll even figure out an interesting and amusing (and still confidential) way to write about church--who knows? (that sounds much harder, though, so....not yet.)

That's all. I'm off to the farmer's market now, in search of fruit. :-)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Five...

a not-that-oldie but still-goodie from ReverendMother at RGBP....

What are you:
1. Wearing? pajamas. It's Friday morning. I have no plans beyond reading and sleeping and maybe watching Buffy today. pjs are great for this.

2. Reading? Preaching as Testimony, A Room of One's Own, and I'm pondering a second re-read of the 5th and 6th Harry Potter books.

3. Eating? I was just eating Frosted Flakes, but right now, nothing. Later, portobella mushrooms, zucchini, and broccoli (from the farm). Maybe something with black beans. We'll see.... I also suspect there will be lots of popsicle eating in my day. It's kind of hot.

4. Doing? blogging. listening to the lawnmowers outside. petting the kitties. doing laundry.

5. Pondering? My 1,000th blog post (2 posts down from here)...

farms, flowers, and flutterbyes

It's summer in the midwest, which means a few things:
--farms full of corn that gets both taller and darker green every day
--wildflowers along every road--many near church are purple and orange

Since I live in an extremely strange place--in a suburb of a major metropolitan area, and yet on the edge of the rural midwest--I can go one direction for city or the other directions for farmland. Most of the farms grow corn--lots and lots of corn. Most of it is feed corn, so I'll never get to eat it, just look at it longingly as the ever darkening leaves flutter in the breeze. When there is a breeze to break up the humid heat.

Every Wednesday afternoon I drive 8 miles west from church to the salute! farm where I pick up a box of just-picked veggies, and where I cut some fresh herbs from a lovely herb spiral behind high fences. The drive out there involves hills and curves and a gravel road. The scenery includes old fashioned red barns, more corn, and very few cars. It's a lovely drive and I often make it with my windows rolled down (but the a/c still on!) so I can enjoy being out in "the country."

My regular drive to work is similarly pretty, but only part of it and for a different reason. In my ten minute commute, approximately 6 minutes is city driving, with traffic and djstores and lights and businesses. The last four minutes are past two cornfields, the pasture for some beef cattle (and their adorable calves!), a barn, a grain elevator, and a house where the people keep chickens and roosters--who regularly wander into the street causing me to have to wait until the rooster has decided to go back into the yard. Currently this last 4 minutes also include flower-lined roads. The purple flowers are definitely wildflowers, but the orange I'm not so sure. We have these same flowers planted alongside the church building, so I wonder if these, 1/4 mile away from our (or anyone else's) planting, are the result of wind and bees. Perhaps. (photo forthcoming, promise!)

With all these flowers and all this ruralia, the butterflies are swarming. There are tons and tons of them all around--monarchs, white, yellow, every color, every size. They are beautiful. When I see them I think of my mom--not because she particularly loved them, but because there was a lone butterfly in Dawson Hall, fluttering around the doorway of the flat where I made the phone call home, when I found out she was gone. Butterflies are great symbols of life, resurrection, hope, beauty, etc, and that butterfly that day helped me out. And now here they are, fluttering around every time I go outside. It's great. (almost as cool as the lightning bugs that hang out in the grass near the cornfields! at night they look like confetti along the roadside, flashing and flickering. They always make me smile!)

and now we return to your regularly scheduled summer friday programming....


This is my 1,000th post to this blog.

1,000 posts ago, it was May of 2002 and I was intrigued by this blogging thing, and was finishing up my college and Chicago experience, getting ready to graduate from DePaul and go off to seminary.

900 posts ago I was writing about words I overuse, including "hilarious." (all of the words listed I still overuse.)

800 posts ago, I was sick and couldn't go dancing. It was apparently awful, for many reasons. I, of course, don't remember this at all.

700 posts ago, it was only the end of my first semester at Columbia and I was stressing about finals. I apparently wrote a lot those first six months.

600 posts ago I was happy about the end of the school year and planning to read a not-for-school book. (I'm seeing a theme...)

500 posts ago I was not blogging very much and was apologetic about it and made a resolution I didn't keep. then, for my next post, I posted my post-alternative-context-in-Jamaica sermon.

400 posts ago I was lamenting the fact that I had to figure out, in a mere six months, what on earth I wanted to do with my life, get a job, and move. Who did God think he/she was, calling me to ministry without a clear sense of what kind of ministry? silly God.

300 posts ago I had just returned to Egypt from being home for mom stuff, and was getting ready for Thanksgiving with the other american and canadian missionaries in Egypt. As you can see from 298 posts ago, it was awesome.

200 posts ago, I was writing to my mom on the first mother's day without her.

100 posts ago, I discuss whether or not I am postmodern.

It's been a busy 5 years, 1 month, and 7 days. well, busier sometimes than others, but a pretty busy 1,000 posts nonetheless.

here's to 1,000 more....