Monthly Archives: July 2003

On Vacation

Whoopee!!! I am officially on vacation. There are some years when vacations are great but this year I am so needing a vacation! Three whole weeks to recuperate so I can go back to work for another year. Actually it’s not that bad since we go back at the end of August to a 4 day week the first week we are back and then we have a long weekend right away again. I think I’ll survive.

My oldest son just dropped in to use our laundry facilities and shower before he heads somewhere up by Dore Lake to help fight fires. He works for Sands Septic and the pumping capacity is used not only to pump out hog barn lagoons but to draw water from lakes to fight fires. After about a week of this he and his wife head down to Washington D.C. where he will be best man for his best friend’s wedding.

Monday, we all will help my sister and brother-in-law celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. That will be fun. And then I am heading up to one of the lakes nearby to have my own private retreat. Three days to myself. For me that is something I haven’t been able to do for many years. When you have a houseful of children it is hard to get away without taking some of them along. I need to restore my sanity this time. Maybe it shows! Oh my goodness – maybe that is why my husband encouraged me to do this!

Actually we are anticipating the addition of three more children to our home – if their visas come through. If this takes place, I won’t be getting a lot of breaks for the next little while. Two ten year olds and a 14 year old (besides the 17, 15 and 14 yr olds still left at home) should keep me occupied I think. If God pulls this off then it will work out OK but I won’t have much free time. They could be here as soon as September.

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CHIC'ers Make it to Tennessee

The kids arrived in Tennessee. Just got a phone call from my two. They called with the most popular request kids everywhere make – please send more money. I guess there was a slight mixup and no day before or day after reservations were made for them. So it will cost a few extra dollars. I have really come to appreciate internet banking. Only trouble is, it is too easy for kids to catch on too.

The kids will learn an important lesson about travel – check the reservations. I guess we parents can be held partly responsible. Next time…

I really regret the extra hassle this will cause the two counselor/chaperones.

Any way on a more upbeat note – Grace left me a wonderful little note under my pillow before she left. It is a very special note to me because what she said was so significant in the light of some stuff that has happened this week in her life. I am praying that God will meet her in a very special way at CHIC this week- Christian as well.

This morning Grace McK and I were at the church for Gate Crashers. As we sat and shared and prayed together, I was made aware of the deep need I have to develop meaningful relationships with fellow Christians. I need the support of their prayers and they of mine. And we talked about the need to mentor our young people as they grow in the faith but how hard it is to get a legitimate entry into their lives. This is something – one of the many things – we need to do in our church community . But it can’t be some program set up. It has to grow out of a genuine interest in each other.

God,
Help me be part of the building process. Show me, timid, introverted me, where I can be useful. Help me to discover ways to connect with some of the young people in our church and take the initiative to do something to make the connection.

And God help those kids down at CHIC to discover You in new ways this week. Let the difficulties of traveling fade away in the light of seeing and meeting with you this week. Do not let the problems they have run into overwhelm them or their leaders. And help us parents not to be critical and petty about whose fault it was that some things did not get done “right”. Give us the grace to allow some forgiveness for errors made. Protect our kids while they are in Tennessee.

Amen

I was just thinking – Christ traveled much farther from his home and at a much younger age. He knows all about the complications of traveling and finding no room at the end of the journey. He’ll be there with our kids. I think we can count of that!

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Joan Chittister

We received a summary of a speach given by Joan Chittister from a friend of ours. Wow, it contains a powerful message! You can read more about Joan here. I don’t care what your opinions are on the ordination of women to ministry in the church – she says some powerful stuff!

Here’s a copy of the report we received:
More meat than mince

Church isn’t meant to be non-prophet, nun tells Women’s Gathering

by Alexa Smith

LOUISVILLE – In her sermon during the final plenary of the 2003
Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women last weekend, Sister Joan
Chittister didn’t mince words.

Making nice is just not her style.

Chittister, one of the first journalists to criticize the Bush
administration in print for its war-making, has insisted repeatedly that
it does matter whether the government decided on the basis of bad
intelligence to invade Iraq, and that it does matter whether U.S.
officials lied about the urgency of destroying what apparently may have
been non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

In Louisville, she took on the Church, capital “C” – without naming names.

She told her audience that too many religious institutions – run by
establishment-comfy, offering-conscious clergy or pietistic bureaucrats
– would rather “bind up wounds made by the system, but do nothing to
change the system that is doing the wounding.”

In other words: Real ministry means exposing the underlying causes of
suffering, not being satisfied merely to be present – to use a “churchy”
term – with those who suffer.

Chittister challenged her listeners to do better than clergy and church
leaders who fear that speaking prophetically might cut into their
offerings and their numbers: “Our ministry must be not only to comfort,
but to challenge the state, community and church,” she said. “Not just
to attend to the pain, but to advocate for change; to be not just a
vision, but a voice; not simply to care for the victims of the world,
but also to change the institutions that victimize them.”

That is what is required of Christians who balance contemplation and
action, who refuse to simply “play church” or be tempted to settle for
bureaucracy, weekday mysticism and office management, she said.

In a gathering of more than 4,000 women that was otherwise subdued,
Chittister’s words brought her listeners to their feet. The diminutive
nun was applauded loudly and long as she stepped out of the spotlight
and offstage.

The reason people tend to sell prophetic witness short? It costs too much.

“The church became part of the establishment,” Chittister said over a
breakfast of eggs benedict the morning after she preached. Somehow, she
said, personal spirituality and action – especially political critique –
got separated in the minds of U.S. churchgoers who often confuse
Americanism with the Bible, and good citizenship with unquestioning
loyalty to the government.

On the other hand, she said, Jesus was a contemplative who practiced
active reflection and demanded more from his disciples than personal
faith; he wanted commitment to the process of bringing about the reign
of God.

“I never read a Bible story where it says, ‘Jesus didn’t want to rock
the boat, so he decided not to say anything that day.’ Or, ‘Jesus went
home with the rich man and decided not to say anything more,'”
Chittister said.

Chittister, whose father was a Presbyterian, is a Benedictine Sister of
Erie known nationally for her opinionated column, “From Where I Stand,”
in the National Catholic Reporter. She is engaged in international peace
work, now with the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and
Spiritual Leaders, which is funded by the United Nations. Her role is
leading the Women’s Partnership for Peace in the Middle East, which
brings together Israeli and Palestinian women.

Chittister became a national voice as a Benedictine prioress, spiritual
director and social psychologist who refused to splinter her diverse
perspectives and insisted on applying the principles of spiritual
awakening to the political realm.

Preaching on the Transfiguration story from the Gospel of Matthew,
Chittister told Presbyterian Women that on Mount Tabor that night, Jesus
identified himself with Moses and Elijah – not David, the king, or
Aaron, the priest, Biblical characters that represent royalty and ritual.

“Jesus identified himself on Tabor … with Moses, who led people out of
oppression, and with Elijah, whom King Ahab called ‘that troubler of
Israel,’ the one who condemned the compromise between true and false
gods, the one … who exposed to the people the underlying causes of
their problems,” she said.

“Jesus, the minister, identified himself not with the kings and priest
of Israel who had maintained its establishments and developed its
institutions, good as they were,” she pointed out. “No, Jesus, the
healer, identified himself with the prophets, with those who had been
sent to warn Israel of its unconscionable abandonment of the covenant.”

Nor does Jesus stay on the mountaintop, as Peter is prepared to
do.Instead, he comes down to the plain below, to walk among crowds of
suffering people.

Chittister said Christians are called to do more than be pietistic or
merely to move among the hurting. Ministry, she said, means exposing to
the wounded the underlying causes of “all the wounding in this world” –
and doing so in the face of opposition from those “institution-saving
types for whom saving the system is much too often a higher priority
than saving the people.”

She told her audience: “Service people can pay for, and many people do.
But ministry, real ministry, is priceless, and can be done only in the
name of Jesus, not in the name of careers, professions or promotions.”

The root causes of suffering in the world are many, she said, and too
few ministers speak about them.

Churches minister every day to hurting families on the verge of
financial collapse, she said, but no one speaks about the loss of
industries to Third World countries whose people are reduced to
industrial slavery.

Seldom mentioned are seniors losing Medicare benefits; the one in six
Americans who can’t afford insurance; the fact that more money is put
into weapons of mass destruction than in human development.

“Let’s put it this way,” Chittister said. “If you were to count one
trillion $1 bills, one per second, 24 hours a day, it would take you 32
years to finish counting. But with that trillion dollars, you could buy
a $100,000 house for every family in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska,
Oklahoma and Iowa and you could put a $10,000 car in the garage of every
one of those homes. Then there would be enough money left to build 250
$10 million libraries and 250 $10 million hospitals for every city in
those states. And after that, there would still be enough money left
over to put in the bank and, from the interest alone, pay 10,000 nurses
and 10,000 teachers and still give a $5,000 bonus to ever family in
those five states. That’s what one trillion dollars will buy in this
country today.

“But Star Wars, the ‘death star’ weapon being sold as a defense system
but which most credible scientists say can’t possibly work, now – this
morning, while we sit here – has already cost more than that. And, the
Brookings Institution tells us, nuclear w
eaponry alone already carries a
price tag of over $5 trillion.”

Such demons, Chittister told her listeners, are not driven out by
insight, vision, contemplation and compassion, nor by organizational
niceties, canon law or clericalism.

“This kind is driven out only by prayer,” she said, “by ‘putting on the
mind of Christ,’ not by putting on more titles, or roles, or uniforms,
or offices, or money. This kind is driven out by soul-sightedness, only
by risk, only by courage, only by a care that supersedes cost, only by a
heart devoted to causes rather than to symptoms.

“This kind is driven out only by the spirit of Moses and Elijah, whom
kings expelled and professionals despised and the temple feared, but to
whom the people looked for truth.”

Chittister said in an interview that women’s ministry can be powerful in
such times, precisely because institutions seldom support them well. In
her own tradition, she said, religious women have received paltry
salaries, but managed somehow to build their own institutions and still
pay their bills.

Economic independence from the larger church, she said, allows them to
read the Gospel without wearing ecclesiastical fetters. Pastors, she
said, will tell you in a heartbeat that a hard word may be costly in
terms of money or support.”Preaching the Gospel is something you do
without counting the heads,” she said. (We are called) to be a leaven in
the society, not to be the population.”

In her sermon, Chittister drew knowing laughter from her female
listeners by reminding them of the poor treatment of women by
institutions they serve. She criticized churches where God may be called
“rock, tree, key, wind, door and dove in centuries of litanies without
bringing the church to perdition, but … can never, ever call the God
who is endless being, eternal womb, mother.

“How can we think we minister to women and erase them from the very
pronouns of the church?” she demanded.

Chittister said she has tried for decades to learn how to faithfully mix
contemplation and action, piety and politics. The church has tried
dogmatic clericalism, she said, and discovered that it doesn’t work.
Also insufficient is simple sharing of the suffering of others, a kind
of misguided solidarity.

She said she is now counting on the concept of co-creation, the idea
that the church is creating a new model for living inside the shell of
the old.

“If you are seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus, Moses and
Elijah, you understand that you have to do something about what you see,
” she said. “You contemplate what is going on … seeing it with your
soul. “Then you do something.”

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Psalm 150

 
Psalm 150

1
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his heavenly dwelling;
praise him in his mighty heaven!
2
Praise him for his mighty works;
praise his unequaled greatness!
3
Praise him with a blast of the trumpet;
praise him with the lyre and harp!
4
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
praise him with stringed instruments and flutes!
5
Praise him with a clash of cymbals;
praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
6
Let everything that lives sing praises to the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Do you know what I wish? I wish I could dance! My feet never learned the freedom of movement that my children’s feet know so well. I was taught that this was something wrong to do and so my feet never were allowed to follow the music’s rythmns. It remains one of those things that I am most timid about. It is funny how some childhood training can be such an influence even into my adult life, suffocating that form of expression. There is nothing I like better – to watch the gracefulness of really good dancers. But no matter how I try, I can’t get my feet to dance.

But I think that one day I’ll be free to dance at last.

Someday, My Feet Will Dance !

Someday, my feet will dance,
Move in time to the music
That I hear,
That I feel,
That He plays.

Someday, my feet will be set free
Where now they’re still,
Fixed to the spot,
Bound invisibly,
Too timid to move.

Someday, my feet will move
To the rhythm makers irresistible beat,
To the uninhibited
Steps and rhythms
Of His dance.

I will dance, someday, in His house!
My feet, my whole self, will dance
Unrestrained,
Full of joy.
Dance for Him!

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July 10, 2003 Kieran is Born

I am a grandma again. Kieran David Leo Lanoie born this morning 8 lbs 1 oz. I just went to see him. He’s beautiful of course! Mom was still in recovery – a C-section. So I visited a few minutes with Kieran and David his dad. I’m bubbling – now I have to go and get back to work. Pictures will be posted. You can count on that!

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Ups and Downs

Today has been a day of real downers and real uppers. One of the real good things was having friends over and just having a very good time. We don’t do this enough. And it was so nice out. Can’t say the same for inside our house tonight though. Wish it would cool down as fast inside as out.

As for the downer stuff, well it happened. Sometimes I think the evil one likes to get his jabs in at us through the chinks in our armor. And it hurts when he gets through the defenses. And I suspect he knows my most vulnerable spot is my kids. So if he wants me to start worrying he knows how to get to me.

So help me to remember, God, your care for them and trust them into your care. And give me wisdom enough to know what to say and what not to say. Help me to be a firm but loving mom. And throw up your protective barrier around my little erring one.

Now goodnight all. I’m beat.

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Just Another Day

I just went to post and lost everything. Rats!…

This afternoon I had to buy a “new” fridge for the office. I am never a big spender so found one in the “Penny Pinchers” of our local paper. I went over to one of the worst parts of our illustrious city. The gentleman I bought it from has lived on that street for a number of years. He said he just “lost “his wife on June 1st so we sat and talked a bit while he wrote out the receipt. He said that his neighborhood was actually pretty safe. The news was on and he was pretty upset with the verdict in a well publicized trial. He felt that men should not be asking a “little” girl to go for a ride. Whatever happened in actual fact I imagine that the young woman will always be the most adversely affected. Life is a mess sometimes.

Tonight Leo and I sat and watched a movie. The kids all seem to have their own agenda tonight so we were pretty much free to do what we wanted for a change. Leo went to the Video store a few weeks ago and instead of renting a movie came back with half a dozen tapes. They were such a good deal. I’m not the only one in this house who likes a deal! The movie we watched was Instinct. It had a good story line although the ending was a bit implausible.

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