Friday Five: The Sound of Muzak

It’s my week to host the RevGals Friday Five! :)

Recently, we got some Indian take-out food. While we were paying for our order, we heard a “Bollywood” version of “My Favorite Things.” We almost missed it because music is so much a part of our lives that we can ignore it!

Since then, I’ve been noticing some of the background music in my world. Sometimes it’s the usual “oldies” station, or the “Mix” station (“the BEST of yesterday and today!!!”). And sometimes it is completely random, like that Bollywood moment…

SOooo let’s talk background music this week for our Friday Five.

1. At the office: If you have a choice, do you turn it up, turn it off, or drown it out with headphones?

I play it softly because I share an office space. I hate other people’s music bleeding into my work environment!

2. At the grocery store or mall: What song (or genre of music) makes you want to hurl? Or throw something?

Sorry Taylor, but we are Never EVER EVER getting back together. Like… ever.

3. If you were going to create a “perfect playlist”, who are the artists (or songs/pieces) that you would include?

I am the queen of eclectic music tastes: there would be classical symphonies, Baroque ensembles, New Age type instrumental, some classic rock and a wee bit of Christian contemporary.

4. Have you ever tried using recorded music in worship? If so, what was your plan, and how did it go over?

We generally use recorded music during Communion. It doesn’t overpower and it provides a nice background.

5. When is the earliest you’ve heard Christmas music in the grocery store or mall?

Last year I heard it on Halloween. And I did want to throw something.

BONUS: “Weird Al Yankovich” has been releasing a stream of his parody music videos lately. Among my favorites: “Because I’m Tacky”  :) If Weird Al was going to do a music video of your most recent church, what song/hymn/musical would the parody be based on?

I think I’d like to do a parody/cover of “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.” (Like this one!) I might look like a suburban mommy in my SUV, but I will cut you off if you try and squeeze past me and the lane is closed ahead.

Where Does Your Memory Go?


Where Does Your Memory Go?

I was once asked the question,
“Where does your memory go?
When you can’t remember who you are,
Or what you know?
Where does your memory go?”

“I don’t really know,”
I said with a smile,
“Does it bother you to think
That one morning you might forget
Who you are or where you parked the car?”

There was silence.

And then,
“No, I think I would be sad
If I couldn’t remember my my family.
If I couldn’t remember their names.
If I wanted to sing a song
Or recite a poem
Or dance a waltz
Or tell you that I love you.
And when I couldn’t remember,
I wouldn’t know what I forgot.”

“But I would know,” I said,
“And I would miss your stories and your laugh.”

“I will always try to laugh, then,”
came the reply,
“For laughter needs no memory,
Only someone to laugh with me.”

~Deb Vaughn

Bad to the Core

20140714-151825-55105828.jpgI had a favorite pair of brown pumps. They were that lovely versatile kind of shoe that every female chaplain loves: they have good arch support for all those hours on your feet, they don’t need a lot of polishing, and they had a high enough heel to look dressy, but low enough that I didn’t kill myself walking in them. I could run and catch an elevator in them, or stand behind the pulpit in confidence.

And today, they died.

I took them to the repair shop not long ago and had them re-do the heels. The shoemaker looked them over and shook his head, “I will try,” he said, “but they have no core left. The heel will come off.” To me, it was worth trying to salvage them, so I paid the fee (a whole $5!) to get them fixed.

Today, the heel came off of one shoe, leaving the core and the lovely new heel pad on the cement. I was catching a train to downtown, so I sucked it up. I limped my way around the Metro, met up with a fellow chaplain, and limped home. The shoes were tossed in the trash on my way in the door. I knew better than to go back to the shoe shop. He was right… They had no core. They had no way to support the wear and tear of walking (or running) and the stress made them come apart under my feet.

The shoes looked lovely on the shelf. They had worn well for the time I had them, with very little in the way of scuff marks or wearing. But there was nothing internal to help them deal with the pressures of the external.

It seemed to me, as I sadly pitched my shoes, that it was a great metaphor for life, for coping, for dealing with all those unexpected crises that could trip you up. Without a “core” to bear the pressure and the stress, we fall apart. Is it any wonder that I limp so much?

I’m going to keep remembering to put my hopes on the One who hears, holds, and empowers me.

Thanks be to God.




It’s my anniversary!


Eight years ago today I was ordained to Christian ministry. Like today, it was a hot, muggy July day. The A/C worked to keep up. And we enjoyed some prime family time. My co-ordinand, Glenn, and I chose a “luau” theme to keep things in the spirit of celebration. And celebrate we did!

In these eight years, I’ve worked in 3 hospitals, 2 churches and one hospice group. I completed four units of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) after finishing my Masters of Divinity.

It’s been a good journey. Difficult at times, stressful at many points, but it’s inconceivable to me that I would be doing something else. (And yes. I do know what that words means. ;) )

But beyond remembering and thanking God for these holy moments and encouragers, I look forward to more years in harness, doing the work that I’m called to.

Thanks be to God.

“And When I Die” (Cross-Post)

Today I wrote a piece on RevGalBlogPals about a difficult but important topic. It’s about “aid-in-dying” and it is worthy of your thoughtful reflection and consideration. Here’s an excerpt…

As a chaplain, I have been a part of many conversations with families over end-of-life care. I know from personal and professional experience that they are brutal. While there are great resources and trained professionals to help and support the decision-making process, there is no way to express the heartaches that accompany it.

The scenarios I have witnessed came to mind as I read a recent news story about the recent death of Diane Rehm’s husband. Diane, a public radio personality, shared the details of her husband’s death by dehydration when his doctor could not and would not help him die faster in his end-stage Parkinsons disease. So, despite the best medical support and symptomatic relief possible, for nine days he refused food and drink, enduring discomfort and pain.

The full article is here: “The Pastoral is Political: And When I Die”

I’m grateful for the opportunity to offer my reflections and opinions on the RevGals blog. Please wander over there and check them out!

A Summer Friday Five

Revkarla at RevGals hosts this week’s Friday Five:

Hello friends~~
It’s Friday, and TBTG! Even when I work all weekend, I still love that “Friday feeling”, you know? PLUS~~it’s summer! So, for a summer Friday Five, here are a few thoughts to ponder upon:

1. What makes you happy in your happy hour? (kicking off shoes, reading a book, a cocktail, lemonade~~essentially, what do you do to relax at the end of your week…)
When the kids were younger it was pizza and a movie. Now it’s more likely to be knitting and a cat on my lap.

2. I have a pair of shorts that I jump into the minute I get home for the evening–every day in the summer. What’s your favorite summer “garment”?
I have a couple of cotton sundresses (maxi length) that are my faves. Comfort + coolness is essential!

3. I have discovered, after living here in New England for 7 years, Ipswich fried clams. Oh. my. OH MY! Do you have a summer food you might splurge on once or twice in the summer?
Hmmm… I think it would have to be shrimp. Fresh shrimp grilled with a garlic and butter sauce. Oh YES PLEASE.


Me with my three older sisters, quite a few years ago! (As the car in the background attests!)

4. Do you have a specific fond memory of summers of your childhood?
Summers at camp, swimming and canoeing. Also making the trek to see grandparents and other relatives. This meant long car rides (some of it pre-interstate). Popsicles, too!

5. Use these words in a sentence: snail, baby duck, camper, ice cream, surfboard, cherries.
I’m short on brain cells this morning. I’ve got nothing.

The Quiet Visitor

She seemed to be an introvert. Yet she showed great thoughtfulness and care in her interactions. She tiptoes in a room, sidling by anyone standing in the doorway. She watches the room’s occupants, gauges who might need some personal care, and then gives them her undivided attention.

I am new here. I observe her way of engaging. On my way out of the building, she stopped to visit with me. I felt welcomed.

Sometimes the smallest creature in the room has the largest impact. I learned a lot from her.

She is a small grey cat with white mitts and green eyes. Her name is Shadow. And I am her student.

After The Storm


It stormed last night
The wind and rain woke me
(or perhaps it was the cats,
running for cover in a panic!)
This morning I found
the air was fresh,
the heat abated,
and the dewy aftermath of the storm
beaded every surface.

How true it is
that storms in life come,
overwhelm and panic,
and soon after
there is quiet and peace,
and reminders of what we saw.

For the debris from the storm
is still there,
awaiting composting
or perhaps some heavy lifting,
but the raindrops
offer a blessing
and a benediction
that yesterday’s storm is done.
We can walk through today’s
knowing that Peace, Shalom, will be ours.

God is gracious.

Friday Five: Transitions – Accentuate the Positive

It’s my week to host the Friday Five. :)

Many of us are nearing (or in) a time of transition. Either in between Calls, waiting for the next Call, moving to the Academy or another kind of work entirely.

This time of transition can be scary, lonely, frustrating and busier than we ever thought possible! If the time is protracted, it can be a bit soul-sucking too (which is a very hard place to be).

So with that in mind, this week’s Friday Five is all about that time called “the in-betweens.” Thanks to the Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer song, ACCENtuate the Positive, here’s our FIVE:


UpButton1. “ACCEN-tuate the positive…” begins the song. Tell us something that makes (or has made) your time of transition a good thing.

For me, it has been understanding what I know I can do well, and what I have to offer at a new organization. I had enough time to sift through what are priorities in terms of life/work balance and a general “feel”.

2. “ELIM-inate the negative…” (yes, that’s the next phrase!) Share with us a pro-active step you are making (or have made) in times of transition to make things less stressful.

Good self care. Pedicures. Haircuts. Reading. Walking. Blogging. And continuing in Spiritual Direction. Seriously, investing a little TLC in myself was a huge step and a good one. It also meant I had begun the process of valuing myself.

3. “LATCH ON to the affirmative…” What’s ahead? Even if the future is a bit hazy, what joy or learning has come your way from your previous position?

I have had the opportunity to learn there are many ways to do the same thing. As someone who had gotten stuck in a rut, it was important for me to remember that and welcome the change.

4. “But don’t mess with Mr. In-Between…”  Many of us are in that space of “in-between”. Or we remember it all too well! How are you caring for yourself in the uncertain times (or have done so in the past?)

I am so grateful it is almost over!!! Patient and sweet and easy on the nerves…. I am NOT.

5. “Have faith, or pandemonium’s liable to walk upon the scene.” In the  “Faith – to – Pandemonium”spectrum, where are you? What peeks of joy do you see through the clouds of crazy, even the upheaval?

I seem to live in a state of pandemonium with deep faith. If that makes sense… It’s messy. It’s fun. It’s at times painful. But the joy runs deep and I am aware that it’s all God, anyway.


Book Review: So Not Okay: Mean Girl Makeover

SO NOT OKAY is the first of three books in a pro-active series on bullying by Nancy Rue. It is juvenile fiction in content, but its topic extends far beyond the age group.

The book centers around a middle school girl named Tori who has to learn how to stand up to a “Queen Bee” named Kylie and her friends. Tori discovers how to “take back” her control over friendships and her attitude towards others.

Among the other themes are learning how to stick up for your friends, what it means to truly be “best friends” (hint: it doesn’t mean being a doormat!), and how to go about getting support and help when it’s needed.

Anyone who has made it through middle school and high school knows the effects of bullying. Rarely does anyone make it to adulthood without enduring some kind of mockery. In a world where the bullied student responds with firearms or IEDs, it is important to teach alternative ways to “fighting back” — ways which demonstrate self-control, self-respect and self-awareness.

Ms. Rue’s book touches a chord. You remember what it was like to be scared to present in front of the class. You feel those gut-wrenching moments of ridicule and frustration. You relate to the quandary: tell or stay silent? stay with my friends or go to a “cool” clique?

There is also an excellent role model for Tori. Lydia, a research assistant for Tori’s father, has real life experience in dealing with bullies, disappointment and taunting. Her gentle guidance and example help Tori and her friends come up with a solution.

While I think it would be a great book to get in the hands of older elementary school students and middle schoolers, I think I am little too old to judge it for certain! My plan is to share the book with some students at our church and get their feedback. But – I feel certain that they will be encouraged, challenged and strengthened by this book. The book has some Christian content as its backbone, but it would not prevent someone from another faith group from gaining valuable lessons from its pages.



So Not Okay: Mean Girl Makeover, by Nancy Rue. Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. (c) 2014.

Soft cover: 284 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-4003-2370-8
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided this book without cost from the publisher and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”