Tuesday, March 31, 2009

PUBLISHED! on Fidelia's Sisters

Thanks to the good folks at The Young Clergywomen Project who enjoyed my piece enough to give it a chance to fly outside of my little blog.

You can read it... here.

Blessings - especially to you, Aunty K. It was nice to re-live the trip all over again!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Breaking the Fast...

And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6:16-18

Apparently, I've decided to take a week-long fast from my 40 days of blogging pledge. It seems as though I'm really, really good at it, because I didn't once disfigure my face so as to show you I was fasting. My head is anointed, and my face is scrubbed. My Father, who sees in secret (but not in a creepy, stalker-ish kind of way) has rewarded me with leisure clothes and a nice visit from my mom.

I'll make sure to go back and fill you in on all the goings-on of the Flemming family during this week, which includes a lot of sporting events and pancakes, and currently, a feverish Jackson. But, for now, my fast has been broken, and I'm stashing away the sackcloth and ashes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth..."

"...for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them. " - Umberto Ecco

Last Thursday, Jon Stewart hosted Jim Cramer on the Daily Show for the most devastating 30 minute piece of journalism I've ever witnessed. For your convenience, I've posted the UN-edited segments here (please be warned - Jon Stewart uses some language that isn't bleeped out, so this post is not suitable for young ears).

The only thing that comes close is that great scene from the movie "Network," and a similar homage that aired as the first clip of a short-lived Aaron Sorkin show called "Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip."

The only difference? Those clips were fictional.

Fictional though these comparisons may be, it doesn't take away from the truth of their message. Sorkin has the ability to write the world as we wish it existed, with people being brave in their assessments and ethical in their actions. But watching a real-live person interview another real-live person and hold him actually accountable for the things he has done was both painful and healing.

Many other bloggers (here and here) have beat me to the punch in commenting, and have made some astute connections to the parallel between Jeremiah's prophetic lanugage and Jon Stewart's unflinching inquisition. The fact that Stewart, a comedian with a self-proclaimed fake news show, is the only person who is willing to begin holding network hosts accountable for the information they've been spewing forth and marketing as "truth" is scandalous.

Jon Stewart's interview is not just a scathing critique of Cramer's work in presenting fiction as truth, but it also held a mirror to the face of the news media that has refused, for decades, to present true investigative reporting that isn't entertainment, character debasement, or worthless. Cramer claims to be hosting an "entertainment show about business." But, as Stewart points out, folks take his advice seriously. They're not watching him to be entertained; they're watching to be informed. He's abusing their trust and his authority, and Stewart is the only one who calls for it to stop.

Many of my friends are journalists, and many are clinging to the last vestiges of their jobs at their print media homes. They can speak to this topic far more knowledgeably than I can. But, I know that we, the people, are not alone in our anger over how far we've come in receiving actual news that isn't smeared with an agenda. Yes, there will always be a bias, but why can't we just decide it for ourselves?

To register your complaint, click here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Prayer of St. Patrick

St. Patrick's Breastplate
or A Prayer to God for Protection and Safe-Keeping

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Madness Begins...

You know that I grew up in Knoxville, TN, which is the home of Women's College Basketball, and the Hall of Fame. I know that other schools have teams, but really... why? I guess I can concede that UT needs an opponent, otherwise they'd just be really good at scrimmaging, and really, what's the fun in that?

I am a dyed-in-the-polyester UT Lady Vols fan, and Pat Summitt is one of my long-time heros. When I was a girl (embarrassingly pictured here asking for Pat's autograph in 1989), I wanted desperately to play for the Lady Vols when I grew up. I also desperately needed a wardrobe intervention to rid my waistline of the orange UNITS belt, so one out of two isn't bad.

I watched Bridgette Gordon and Sheila Frost (embarrassingly pictured here) win the first National Championship game in 1988. When I played, I chose #12 as my number, and I did my best to make the front part of my hair look as curly and lofty as Frost's. She was my favorite player, and still holds the Lady Vols career record for most blocked shots (251). She was good, crazy tall, and not too flashy. She made my goal feel attainable.

For my birthday that year, my mom's friend's friend (who worked for the UT Athletic Department), got the entire team to sign a basketball for me. It's still sitting in a prominent place in my bedroom at home. My family went to lots of games, even when we were among the select few. My mother still goes fairly often, and UT Basketball became one of the traditional fun things that we did together.

There are lots of great things about being in ministry, but one of the best things is meeting people who do all kinds of different things with their lives. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, professionals, painters, contractors, hairdressers, massage therapists, singers, actors, real estate agents, and many who are still searching for their vocation. It's a gift to be in a community that celebrates all these folks in whatever they do. Recently, I've gotten to know Beth, who is the CEO of ... women's college basketball. She is the most humble famous person I've ever gotten to know, and she manages a fairly stressful job with such balance and groundedness.

Last week, Beth invited me to come to the world headquarters of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association WORLD headquarters (!) to watch the selection show on Monday night. I was psyched. Matt was incredibly gracious, and stayed home with the boys, and I went with PL and Redykle to the WBCA headquarters in (wait for it) Lilburn, GA. It was surprisingly tucked-away in a little office complex, and made me wonder what the National Association of Basketball Coaches office in Kansas City looks like. I imagine it's not tucked behind Joe's Auto Body, like the WBCA.

We arrived, decked out in our appropriate collegiate t-shirts, just in time to settle in with empty brackets and lots of excited, smart women. It just so happens that Beth seated us right behind Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli, who host a podcast for the WBCA on their own time, just because they love women's basketball. We chatted and joked with them during commercial breaks, and we filled in our brackets with groaning and trash-talk. After the show, the visitors were introduced, and Beth gave us a brief tour. It was such a remarkable experience to be around people who all love the same thing, and work so collaboratively together to promote it. Churches should be so lucky, friends.

We wound up sticking around for the live podcast, and because of our idle chit-chat I somehow managed to become a character on it. So, if you have the time, check out ShootAround's Selection Show. Rev. Mandy, the Methodist Minister, who doesn't share their view of the Pope (there's no Pope in the Bible, right Number 8?), is, in fact, me. So, I guess, I'm famous-ish for all the folks who take time to listen to the podcast.

And, for the record- Methodists don't play Bingo, and no, I did not take a whole box of cocktail napkins with me in my trunk. I rode with my friends, thank you very much.

For all that's been said about the level of play at every stage of women's basketball, it was a gift to be present with such passionate and gifted women who love the sport that's both brought them together and placed them in opposition. It was my first sporting love, and it was so great to celebrate the start of the tournament with those who love it, too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Pastor's Prayer for her Lenten People - 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

O God of Wisdom, who makes our wisdom foolishness,

We are humbled by our attempts to seek wisdom when in your eyes, we can know nothing except what you have revealed to us.

We are foolish when we think we know your grand plan for our lives, and suddenly,

something changes

something breaks

and our understanding falls apart.

We question you, and beg to know, "Why?"
"Why God? Why have I lost my job?
"Why has the cancer returned?"
"Why has he left me?"
"Why am I so broken, and why do I feel so unloved and hopeless?"

Our lack of wisdom and understanding leaves us to feel foolish and misled. So we come to you with our questions and brokenness and what it is you are doing with us in your grand scheme.

The stories we read are of little help at times, when we read of you,
becoming one with us in this dirty mess of a world,
and your Incarnate Being in Christ
schools Rabbis, though only a boy,
turns water into wine,
eats with outcasts
and succumbs to a ridiculous death on the cross.

It seems utterly foolish that your revelation to us is this odd witness, when we look for wisdom, and Jesus offers only clunky metaphors and dense parables.

But you, O God, know that we can see in a mirror dimly, and you promise that we will one day see clearly as we laugh at death, celebrate liberation from a job that was never a vocation, and find an even better love in true relationship with you.

Help us, Lord, to embrace the foolishness - not of our own failing actions - but of your ridiculous message of grace and peace
truth and reconciliation
turning the other cheek
the meek inheriting the earth,
life conquering death,
and a perfect love that you have for all of creation which comes from you and through Jesus Christ, so that we may know that in your wisdom and foolishness, we are your own children, who are bold when we pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever.


Friday, March 13, 2009

It is Finished...

Onto thy foot, I commend my sock.

It took me nearly 3 weeks from casting-on to kitchener stitching-off, but I've finished one, whole sock. Other than a few, minor first-sock glitches, it's perfect.

Perfect, that is, for a four-year old foot.
Or, for a grown-up with feet with the exact proportions of a Barbie doll.

I mentioned this all-too briefly in a previous post, but I felt that the great first sock project of Ought-Nine needed it's own blog lovin'.

This was my first real non-hat/scarf project. It's a little insane, I know. Socks can be purchased in stores these days, for less money than it takes to buy lunch (and they last longer than lunch, at that).

But the good and patient folks at Sheepish in Decatur are big into sock knitting. They swear that it's the only way to really keep your feet cozy and warm. The investment of time and some fancy yarn will be returning heaps upon pounds of good use for years to come. Yes, the skein cost $16, but I'll get at least two pairs out of it, and they will be washed and worn with love and respect.

You can't say that about store-bought socks.

I pray that I do not fall prey to the disease that is Second Sock Syndrome (REALLY!). I know that there are ways around it, but making one sock and then neglecting to ever cast-on/finish the other is completely something I would do.

But for you, sweet Jackson, I will continue on. I have cast on your sock's mate and it will be yours very soon.

Soon, that is, after I finish my whisper cardigan...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reverend Soccer Mama

I am sure this is the first of hundreds of blog posts that will reference or be centered around my sons and their sporting events.

BUT, this is the first, and consequently, must be celebrated with the appropriate amount of pictorial documentation.

Jackson, along with two classmates from school, had his first soccer practice tonight.

Yeah, I know. This isn't even the first game, and I'm already geeked out beyond belief at how awesome this is. I get it.


But, friends, let me tell you that there is nothing more wonderful than watching your offspring look up to another grown up, receive and follow instruction, participate with friends old and new, and beam with the joy of accomplishment at completing a challenging new task.

And I'm just talking about the jumping jacks during warm-up.

Most of the other kids have both played soccer and have played soccer together. So, they're old pros now. But, Jackson and his buddies are new to this. That having been said, it mattered little since there were four coaches for the 16 kids on the field. They set up a rotational model of drills and exercises, and the kids got some really excellent four-to-one time with the coaches.

J really struggled with dribbling a ball through the cones. He couldn't quite get all of his limbs working together at the same time, but when we talked about it later, he said that it was the part he enjoyed most.

Man, I love that kid...

And lest you worry about Cooper, Kid Brother Extraordinaire!, know that he had a blast running around like he owned the place. I don't know that it occurred to him that he wasn't on the team, in some ways.

And I wouldn't fret too much about Cooper missing out. He found ways to occupy his time and build up his strength:

Look out, football fans. This kid's gonna grow up quickly...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Counting my chickens...

So, I tried to avoid making this a blog topic, but it's big. It's really big.


Friends, with this post, I join the host of other mama-bloggers who have made reference to their children's potty training enterprises. Enjoy.

Okay. Last night, we discovered as we were putting the boys to bed that we were out of pull-ups for Cooper (always a sign that the house is running smoothly, no?). So, I plopped him into an cloth diaper from days gone by. He's been out of diapers for at least a year. He hated it. He looked insulted. "I NO NEED DIAPERS!" He insisted.

Well, he showed us. When he woke up this morning, he marched into the kitchen, unsnapped it, and dumped it into the washing machine. I went to put something else in a few minutes later and discovered a (wait for it!)...


I'm assuming he must be totally, completely potty-trained! Sure, I know that I laid on the smugness about this topic months ago, but he's clearly a potty prodigy. He's been completely dry at home and school for the last 8 days, so that's definite progress.

I think I'm done with pull-ups forever.

...One little chickie still in an egg... two little chickies still in an egg... three little chickies still in an egg! Oh! These chickens will be so numerous once they all hatch successfully!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Photographed Sunday on the bathroom wall of a local eatery. (If you can name it, I'll send you a prize!) I love it when wall art spurns thoughtful critique.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Envy, coveting, greed, and other deadly sins found here!

If I'm going to be using this blog as a Lenten Discipline, then I might as well work on some form of confession.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing my Stats on the blog. (No, this is not the confession.)

I discovered that a reader had found me through this site: Top 50 Blogs in Atlanta, GA - NetworkedBlogs.com:

Go ahead and look.

It's a list of the top 50 blogs that are networked on Facebook. So, of the Facebook blog users, I was the second most popular in Atlanta.

Woo. Hoo.

I should have been thrilled - and really, I am. But I'm so close to being the #1 blog that I can't stop obsessing over this site. I've been as far behind as 20, but then that gap was narrowed to 2 readers. TWO!!

(This is where the confession part comes in.)

I need your help, readers. I need you to click that weird widget thing to the right that says, "Join my Blog Network!" or "Follow Reverend Mama!" I need you to do it because I'm giving up envy and greed for pride. I figure this is a two-for one opportunity. You've been loyal, devoted, kind, and witty. You leave comments and you forward to friends. I love that. I love you. Now, I just need this tiny little favor. I need you to help me triumph over the blog that is not as clever or witty or impishly adorable as Bob Loblaw's Law Blog.

Tobias Fünke: So what are your plans for this evening?
Bob Loblaw: I thought that maybe I would stay in and work on my law blog.
Tobias Fünke: Ah, yes. The "Bob Loblaw Law Blog". You, sir, are a mouthful.

Oh, how I miss that show...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Reflection: Mindfulness and Glory...

Today was the first day of Spring.

The clock gave us an extra hour of daylight, and after church and afternoon naps, we biked to McKoy Park. We mused over the bizarreness that a week ago, Atlanta was doused with golf-ball sized snowflakes, and our Sunday afternoon consisted of making a snowman. Today, we dressed in shorts and pumped up the bike tires. God's sense of humor is HILARIOUS.

Before this, we had the delight of lunching with some friends from church, who are preparing for a baptism. The baptism is for their daughter, who is 10 years old. She is the one who has prompted this decision, and her mindfulness is leading the whole family into a great relationship with the church community. It's rare and lovely to encounter such age-defying decisiveness.

Jackson's face captures the joy that exuded from all of us as we biked swiftly to an afternoon of fun. Even Dementor Bike offering to suck only a partial bit of the joy of life from Matt as he bravely pedaled with Cooper cheering him on.

We dined at MoJo Pizza in Oakhurst, which is famous for spicy sauce and absentmindedly slow service. We got wise and called ahead, offering to pick up our order (and then eat it on their patio... mwahahahaha!). A large Mr. Pete's pizza was nearly ready, and the boys got to have dessert before dinner, which has happened approximately never in their lives. They sucked down push pops and munched on ice cream sandwiches while Matt and I enjoyed cold beverages and then we devoured our main course.

We biked home and prepared for bed. Cooper tried on the sock that I'd completed the night before. It's done, and unfortunately, I made the beginner mistake of not following my pattern, so it's sized for a four year old instead of a grown-up.

Jackson is thrilled.

Today was a good day. It was more than good, really. It was glorious. Simple. Easy. Restful. Fun. Mindful and joyous.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Matter of Life and Death

Today was one of those days where life and death met, shook hands and carried on.

It's Saturday, which in the Flemming house always means pancakes, sleep-in days, and no school. On occasion, it also means trips to Dancing Goat Coffee in the morning, and maybe a frolic in the local park.

The 3 boys and I were excited today, since we had organized a playdate at the Decatur Christian Church park with three of Jackson's classmates. It just so happens that their moms are pretty fantastic people, too, and it seemed like a good way to spend Saturday morning.

With minimal drama or harumphing, we made it out of the house on time, with short sleeved shirts under our sweatshirts. Or, if you're Cooper, four layers of clothing, which were shed within moments of arriving at the park. Matt tromped the boys to the park, while I loaded up on the tastiest coffee in the universe, which is gleefully shared with any who will drink it.

Wonder of wonders - we were the first family to arrive. This never happens. Tardiness is my constant companion. It distracts me and leads me to believe that I can fit a 20 minute activity into 10. Believe me, like anyone with a problem, not only am I supremely aware of it, but I'm also the most annoyed by it. This is a Lenten Discipline for another year...

As our friends came, we gathered in a mom huddle, and watched our progeny race to the farthest reaches of the gated playground. Some to the swings, some to the trucks, some huddled by mamas, and all of us sipped coffee and recounted the morning to date. My friends were staying to play, Matt chaperoned nearby, joking later that he was doing his best imitation of a marginalized person on the fringe of society, and our children whooped and imagined their grown-upness with delight.

I had to leave all too soon, and Zipcar'ed to Saint Mark for Bob's funeral. It was frustrating for Death to intervene on such delight and fun. Haven't you already visited us, O Death? Can't you leave us be? But no... Death showed up again to sit in the back pew and mock us as we paid tribute to the spirited life of my friend Bob. It was sad, but a true celebration of a life lived to its fullest.

I returned back to my family, bright green coat masking the drab black beneath it. I put life back on, and left death behind.

We spent our quiet afternoon doing spring-like things. The yard is tidy and fertilized. The laundry is under control. We claimed this quiet life and lived it peacefully, but we all know that death can swoop in and knock everything into disorder.

Today, life was interrupted. But it did not cease.

Thanks be to God.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Jackson and Cooper have had a really wonderful experience at the Clifton School. It's been a place that's challenged them (and me) in ways I never would have expected. Jackson started writing at age 3. Cooper is encouraged in his athletic prowess. They are loved and recognized as full beings.

Truly. Full beings.

Because the Clifton School students have parents who are affiliated with Emory or the CDC, we have a pretty remarkable group of kids that attend. One of Jackson's friends has a parent who is a researcher at the Yerkes National Primate Research Institute. A couple of weeks ago, she offered to bring in some teaching brains (BRAINS!) for the class to see and touch.

BRAINS, people!

The teachers thoughtfully put out an information and sign up sheet, to which many of the parents responded: "[MY CHILD] may see/touch brains."

And one Wednesday morning, a tub of preserved brains arrived in the class. There were tiny, mouse brains, medium sized rat brains, and big ol' human brains that got take out of jars of formaldehyde for the kids (and teachers) to poke and prod. The students were educated on what the brain does, and where it's located, why we protect it and what the different parts do. Then, they were divided into two groups and sent to either make "Brain Hats" or to the "Brain-touching Station." I had a little extra time, so I stayed with Jackson and we let Cooper slink around like he belonged there. We went first to the table to color brains, which had bold lines clearly indicating the different parts. The children began saying things like, "I need green for the occipital lobe!" They're tiny geniuses. Once we finished coloring to halves of brains and taping them to a circle of construction paper to place over their heads, we went to the brain table.

I can't describe how cool it was for these kids to get to see something so delicate and important. They were asking such good questions, including one bright child who thought to ask, "Where did this brain come from?" The facilitator of this activity thought for a moment, and didn't back down from the toughness present here. "Well, this person died, and when he did, he told his family that they could donate his brain for us to study." She covered mortality and organ donation in a single breath, and the child seemed satisfied with this answer, which made all of us exhale with relief.

Later that day, the class made jello in a brain mold. "WE ATE BRAINS!!!" Jackson reported. He also brought home a tiny, green, brain-shaped eraser that has taken up permanent residence in the pocket of his favorite jeans.

I'm fairly certain that when I was four, the most exciting thing we did at school was to eat graham crackers *before* lunch one day. But now, my children, influenced by their father's wacky sense of humor, stalk the each other with arms raised like tiny zombies, shouting, "BRAINS! BRAAAAIIINS!"

But at least they know where the occipital lobe is located.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"And when I start to melt, I get all wishy-washy!"

Frosty... you said it best.

Mr. Carrot Nose is shrinking into oblivion. When Jackson got home today, he raced over to repair Mr. Nose's eyes and limbs (HA!).

This tiny, 11" lump is all that remains of our winter snow, and of this season that is coming to an end. Saturday, we set our clocks ahead, and welcome the warm weather that will accompany the marking of this new time.

We say goodbye to our snowman, the first and only of the year. The winter that taunts us here in the south gave us a surprising gift, and it was you, snowman. It was you.

Farewell, Mr. Carrot Nose.

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~George Eliot

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pining for Saturday morning...

I don't normally suggest posting pictures of food. Matt's begun pointing out that TV commercials do a great disservice to the food they are trying to market by showing pictures of said food. Really, nothing is more disgusting than a close up of a burger, served rare. Well, nothing except someone eating that burger.


One of my favorite bloggers, Catherine Newman, (who I apparently feel the need to reference at least once a month) recently started a food blog. It's clever and witty and manageable, and involves kids and stuff like that. She prepares real pot roast, salted chickpea snacks and wrangles beets into a lovely borscht. Back in January, she posted an entry for a puffed pancake.

If you read my Minnesota post back in February, then you know how much puffed oven pancakes mean to me. I love them. I delight in them. They are a feast and accomplishment in and of themselves. They're like little souffles that manage to succeed each time. On the rare Saturdays that the boys can contain themselves the 25 minutes it takes for one to bake, we opt for pannekoeken instead of pancakes. We take a few simple ingredients, and pour them over melted butter and sliced apples, coated in brown sugar. Then, we wait.

As the timer beeps, the boys will shout from their supine couch-inhabiting selves, "PANNEKOEKEN!!!!!!!" and race to the kitchen to watch as it is pulled, puffed and heavenly, from the oven.

It deflates slowly, leaving a delicious, apple-y pattern on the surface. Tiny eyes peer over the countertop as it is sliced into wedges and served on their favorite plates.

We forego maple syrup, and crunch on the buttery brown sugar crisps.

The sun shines. "Thomas the Tank Engine" plays softly in the background, a ritual soundtrack to our slow, Saturday mornings. For several minutes, it is quiet and we feast.

Flemming Family Recipe for Pannekoeken
1/2 stick organic butter
1 1/2 c. flour
1 apple, peeled & sliced thin
Cinnamon & brown sugar mixture
1 1/2 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place small, circular pan and cold butter in oven while pre-heating, so as to melt the butter. Remove before butter browns, and tilt to cover the sides. Arrange apple slices on the bottom and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar crumbles. Mix flour, milk, eggs and vanilla together and pour into the pan on top of the apples. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Pannekoeken will puff up in the oven and deflate rapidly when serving. Pass the syrup, and sausage for an easy supper.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Other Car is a Pink Cadillac...

A couple of weeks ago, I was shopping around Target for some goodies to go in Matt's new office. Now that he's upgraded to a real professorial space, it seemed fitting for him to have things like a clock and some mugs. (When he gets tenure, I'll buy him a snifter.)

I was perusing the "CLOCKS" aisle, when a woman with a cart full of stuff stopped me and said, "I'm sorry. I hate to interrupt what you're doing but... YOU. ARE. FABULOUS!"

She said it in such a way that it made me believe her. In the core of my being. "You're right, strange, waifish lady with the fancy scarf! I AM fabulous! Thank you for noticing!" I stammered some convincing thank yous, and she persisted.

"I mean, really... you are such a fabulous woman! Look at all that you're doing - I see you have children. You just have something about you. Do you mind if I ask what you do for a living?"

Ah. The question. I love it and dread it all at once.

"Well... I'm, uh, a Methodist Minister. I work at a church in midtown."

She stopped. You could see the gears turning, the script pages flipping, the improv lights coming on.

"Well. That's so interesting! I know that things are bad in this economy, so if you're ever looking for something else to do to supplement your income, call me! I work for Mary Kay, on the business side, doing consulting. You never know - this could really help you and your family!"

She slipped me her card, and I bumbled as I handed her mine. The inside voice in my head slow-motioned a rebuttal: "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" But it was too late. I'd thanked her. Been flattered by her. Gotten taken by her. Handed her my info.

I shuffled to the checkout line with my clock and mugs and hotpot.

About a week later, I was back at that same Target after a late church meeting. I was starving, and circled through the "CHIPS" aisle for some supplies (read: Pringles). I was taking advantage of the fact that now that I'm responsible for payment of said item, I can open it whenever I darn well please. I was munching through a stack of 7 sour cream n' onion chips when a woman stops me and says,

"Excuse me?"

I paused, mouth full of salty, chippy goodness.

"Mruhuh?" I replied.

"I'm sorry to interrupt... but what do you do for a living?"

I bowed my head, chewed my chips, swallowed my dignity and said:

"You work for Mary Kay, don't you?"

I mean... FOR REAL!?!?!? I'm unmade, disheveled, chomping through a can of Pringles that I haven't even paid for yet at 9:47 p.m, and you're SERIOUSLY stopping me in the food aisle to hit me up for a consulting gig?!

She responded, dejectedly: "Man! Other people always get to the businesswomen first!" and shopped down the coffee aisle.

And that, my friends, is a sure sign the economy is crumbling.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day!

If you know anyone who lives in North Georgia, then you likely know that it snowed here yesterday. A lot.
We left church in the midst of flakes as large and heavy as wet goose feathers. It was so beautiful, so peaceful, and so likely to send Atlanta drivers into complete panic.

We made it home safely, and spent the afternoon napping and staring out the window in fascination. Jackson and Matt made an awesome snowman, though I'm taking complete credit for the eyes, made on the lids from Cooper's soymilk and some sharpie magic. Jackson's named him "Mr. Carrot Nose."

Today, we woke to a neighborhood-wide power outage and canceled schools. We've been improvising on our morning routine, and taking things slowly.

Here's to a break in routine and the unexpected taking charge. It's a good time to let go and see what happens next...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Forty Days of Blogging...

I'm not sure why, but it's taken me, now, four days into the Lenten season to decide what discipline I'd like to take up.

This is a touch embarrassing, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because my favoritest of favorite classes that I get to facilitate (Theology on Tap) has decided to choose some disciplines for the season based on our reading. This semester, we're reading The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. It's marvelous - funny, honest, mostly reverent, and a good entry into the actual Bible. I have some qualms with his methodology, but it's been a great way to encourage some good conversation about what the Bible says and what the Bible might mean. The author takes up all kinds of literal Biblical practices (wearing tassles, stoning adulterers, ceasing to shave, refraining from wearing mixed fibers, going forth and multiplying, etc.) during his year of writing.

So, as a class, we've decided to choose something that is a literal practice from the Bible and adopt that as our Lenten Discipline. One member is searching for tassels to pin onto the corners of his garments. Unfortunatley, TasselsWithoutHassles.com has moved to a new website, so it's slowed us down a bit. Another member is keeping a coveting journal. Another is writing the scriptures on her doorframe. My blogfriend, Redykle is planting a garden with more food than they need, so as to encourage the practice of gleaning. I've talked about binding my scriptures to my head and arm, at least for a portion of the day, but sheer laziness has kept me from making good on this promise so far.

In an attempt to be disciplined about something this season, I'm covenanting here to blog for the rest of Lent - all 47 days. No Sundays off. Some days may be ridiculously short or ill-fitting, but I'll find something, somehow, somewhere, to share here.

While I'm sinfully bragging about my great congregation, let me just put in a little plug for the Lenten Devotional Guide that was written for St. Mark by St. Mark. This was a wacky idea cooked up by the staff, that I managed to find myself in charge of compiling it. So, I had the honor and pleasure of reading these incredibly thoughtful devotions that came in from our congregants. If you're looking for something really lovely to help you think and pray during this season, you can download it in PDF form here: St. Mark UMC Lenten Devotional Guide. The artwork on the cover and throughout the book is from Bobby Strickland, a church member who painted these last Lent for each week in Lent. They're stunning.

I realize that this blogging discipline is much more for me than it is for you. But maybe, just maybe, we'll all find a way to be reminded of God's abiding presence in our lives, even as we wander and search.