Thursday, April 27, 2006

Holy cow.

I know I haven't written in ages.

I'm sure dad's about to send out that "It's been 10 days Ann, you know we read your blog..." email.

And I've actually started several posts.

One was about global warming and how ridiculous our government is. But it didn't save for some reason.

Another one about this huge ugly bug I killed and about how grown up I was that I killed it (albeit after 10 minutes of deliberation) without Wes, Lance or Big Phil to rescue me (one of the few downfalls of living in Austin is being away from my best landlord and best friends). But the computer plug pulled out and since this computer is 6 years old, it doesn't run on battery anymore. So I lost that one too.

So you had some really great posts coming at you, but they didn't take.

Here's was has...

I'll be a homeowner officially as of probably 1:30pm Central time tomorrow, Thursday, April 27th. We're doing a final walk-thru at 12:15 and the closing at 1pm.

I told a friend I feel like I'm giving birth. I've never been this excited in this way before (and since I'll never probably give birth it's good I have this feeling).

I'm sorry I'm describing it so inarticulately, but how do you describe something that feels like roots for the first time since you left your parents house 10 years ago? How do you describe your feet sinking down, snuggling into the sand while your heart flies up and up way into the air like a kite and its so strong you might not be able to pull it back in.

Tomorrow, after I sign what I hear will be the most papers I'll ever sign in my whole life, Michelle and I will christen the house with a bottle of wine and then I will roll around all over the new carpet.

Because it's mine and I'm marking my territory.

Also because it's clean and new, and again, mine.

And so I can do whatever I want.

And don't think I haven't planned it all. Most of my place on Northridge is packed up, the boxes not only labelled for content but for destination. Each box has a room name one it: bedroom 2, reading room, kitchen, so that it's carrier may know which room to put it in when he arrives with a carload at the new house. And as if that weren't anal enough, I've made signs to post on the room doors: Bedroom one, Living Room, etc. And the things that should be delivered into that room, just in case the label already on the box isn't clear. Come on now. I see those eye rolls. A little organization never hurt anybody.

Actually I think it will make for a very smooth adjustion and unpacking process.

We'll start on Friday since I work well into the evenings on Thursday night. I have five friends (plus myself) and two trucks and I've made a list of all the large items that need to be moved over via the trucks first. Then as people start getting off work, I have about 10 more friends joining me in grabbing boxes from Northridge, stuffing them in their cars, and heading approximately 3.5 miles southeast to the new house.

Then together we will eat pizza and drink beer and revel in my new home. We will marvel at my ability to commit to something. And we will toast to my future in my new house with my sort-of-new-job with my new and old friends in Austin. FBC and Mosaic collide. Waco and Austin collide. And all are toasted.

And we might toast to God too if by that time anyone remembers Her. Oops...

I mean Him.

But you know I don't. I called this a birthing process and it has been. God has opened Her womb and released me into a world I didn't ask to experience. But here I am and after a little nurturing and nudging by no one I can describe as but God, I am here.

And I AM is with me. She has birthed me, breathed in me and pushed me out of the nest.

And now it's time to make my own and open it up to others.

Here I go...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Days off are beautiful.

Not rad. Not cool. Not relaxing.


Because you might actually get the house. And you pack up your earthy treasures. More than just materialistic stuff, things that bring you meaning, memories and a fuller self.

The clothes, the bed, whatever.

The scrapbooks, the literary novels, the pictures. That's where the beauty lies. Even the dishes. The dishes you inherited from your dead grandparents who always seemed a little strange to you on earth but in dreams reminded you of their presence for a whole year after their death.

And now you've got their dishes.

And pictures of your sisters when they get together in Missouri without you.

And leftover greenbean casserole in the fridge from your Sunday School party Monday night.

That's beautiful too.

Cause the memories you take with you are being made anew here too.

And that makes days off very very beautiful.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

No, seriously... happy easter.

Thank you god for the resurrection. Thank you for not leaving us with an empty cross and a full tomb. Thank you god, cause there's no way in hell (or on earth for that matter) that we could make it without your embodiment and example of purest love in the incarnate christ. Thank you for loving us and not letting go, not passing by but staying present. Thank you for Jesus Christ the messiah, misunderstood just like you. We'll try to be better followers this year. We'll try hard to love you and love each other. Thank you for your example. We'll work for peace, we'll bring your kingdom. We'll not only do your will but be your people.

Thank you, Ann.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday Noonday Sermon...

One year ago this very day of this very season, I spoke for the first time to this congregation. I had met Roger a few weeks before at the advice of a mutual friend and after that first meeting, he asked me to preach here for you. And so I met Roger for the second time that Maundy Thursday morning and preached, very nervously, my first sermon here in this Sanctuary at this service. At the time I was a permanent substitute teacher at Johnston High School. In two months though (at the end of the school year), I would become unemployed. In four months I would move to Waco with $7 in my bank account to room with an 8 year old girl in my former landlord’s house. I would pay rent by cleaning house.

Having been unsuccessful in a job search across the country from Austin, TX, and being unable to afford living here any longer, I moved back to Waco, one year after leaving, and returned to my old job of waiting tables for $2.13 an hour plus tips at Buzzard Billy’s Armadillo Bar and Grill-o. I felt displaced to say the very least. I didn’t even return to the church I had attended and worked at the four years I’d lived in Waco. I went with my landlord to church out of convenience and confusion. I had a BA in English and Religion, an MDiv in theology and I was stuck cleaning house and asking “fries or hush puppies?” I was in need of deliverance.

Three days later, I received a call that changed my life.

Have you been there before?

You’re stuck in slavery to an abusive empire and some man shows up claiming that some God cares enough about you to get you out of slavery, and the next thing you know you’re watching locusts fall and frogs jump and cows die and hail rain down and boils spring up so when that man said slaughter a lamb and wipe it’s blood on your doorpost, there was no way you weren’t gonna do it.

What other choice did they have? Remain in slavery? And so with a fragment of hope that maybe they really would be delivered, they wiped that blood across their doorways and huddled inside praying God would pass them by.

For that man Moses had said that an angel of death was coming to take the eldest child, and honestly, that would have been the last straw in their life. Already they’d hid their children, giving birth in caves and with mouths stuffed to muffle the screams to keep the Pharaoh from finding out. He’d already ordered the slaughtering of their children. They’d worked hard to keep them alive and now only blood would save them.

But though the Angel of Death passed by those Hebrew houses that night, God didn’t.

“Pass me not oh gentle Savior, hear my humble cry, While on others you are calling, do not pass me by…”

Have you been there before?

Have you felt so desperate at the loss of a job, the lack of luster in a marriage, the disappointment in a child, the bad news from the doctor that in your bed at night, awake when you should be sleeping, you call out, “please God, do not pass me by!”? Drop, drop slow tears.

Maybe there’s nothing even that dramatic going on. You have a job, an income, friends, but you still feel empty. Or you volunteer and help others and tithe to the church, but you still feel alone. You’re the life of the party, but feel lifeless inside. Life looks good but you feel awful.

“Heal my wounded broken spirit…”

The Passover meal for the Jews reminds them of their deliverance from the Egyptians so many years ago. The evil passed them by, but God didn’t, God stayed present, the great I AM. “My God,” they recite, “You have delivered me…”

But who is in bondage now? Who now needs the blood of protection wiped across their doors? Who now needs a Moses, a miracle, a messiah?

Me. Me. Me.

And them. Them. Them.

Them. The children of Uganda, who are kidnapped from their beds at night, brainwashed through torture and death, and given guns to shoot and kill so that death is now all they really know.

Them. The children of America who get a second rate education because they live on the wrong side of town.

Them. The teenagers on the right side of town who contemplate suicide cause they’re neglected, bored or completely alone in a material world that may fill their bodies but starves their spirits.

Them. The women who can’t get jobs in churches because of their gender. The homosexuals who can’t get jobs in schools because of their orientation. The immigrants who can’t get jobs anywhere because of their accents.

Them. Them. Them.

Me. Me. Me.

We. We need the lamb slaughtered, we need the blood on the cross, we need the deliverance and we need to stop waiting to be that for others.

But not until we realize that God has not done that to us. God has not passed us by. God has not left us neglected. God has not left us un-chosen. We are God’s children, heirs of Christ not only to a someday kingdom, but to God’s kingdom now, called to be his hands, his eyes, his ears, his heart. Help us to believe we can be delivered, oh God, and empower us to deliver others.

The miracles of Moses didn’t permanently restore the Israelites’ faith. They were afraid when they met with the Red Sea, and even after they crossed it miraculously, they grumbled on the other side.

The fish was sure better in Egypt. I’d rather die in Egypt a slave than in the desert from hunger.

Would you really?

I mean really?

How easily we forget from whence we have come. And how sad that we forget that we are moving toward a promised land.

“Pass me not oh gentle Savior” even when I forget what you have already given me. Even when I forget that I am loved by God. Even when I fail to trust and huddle frightened of faith in a God too mysterious for my feeble mind. Do not give up on me when I fail to feed the poor, educate the children, provide for the marginalized. Even when I forget to vote, forget to volunteer, forget to stand up for what is right, to push for the deliverance: physical, material and spiritual of all people, whether they look like me, stand like me, talk like me, or worship like me.

And whether confident or curious, faithful or frightened, I look at the blood on the wooden beams and whisper,

“Pass me not”
“Pass me not”
“Pass me not”

And I hear: I have not. For I AM and ever will be with you.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Burt Burleson preached for the first day of our holy week noonday services at FBC. (I preach Thursday).

His sermon was beautiful of course, but even more vivid were the memories I found when I encountered him, hugged him and listened to him preach.

There are Holly and Wes and my three surrogate siblings. How old is Olivia now? Does she have to grow while I am gone? Can she please, please keep her witty childhood young? And Ben who used to sit on my lap and cling to me in the swimming pool when it got too deep, he probaby has girlfriends now and long cute hair. And I wish he'd stay innocent too, and behave nicely toward his little sister. And Abby, the closest in age and the most troubled in spirit. So beautiful, yet so confused. I pray for clarity and love. I loved that house. Loved that family. Loved their spirit, honesty and accepting nature. I loved sitting on the porch, drinking white wine (yep, sometimes out of the box) and loving life.

There are the Carrons, Paul and Jen. Paul I knew before Jen, when he, Jessy and I used to go to Common Grounds five years ago and study, them Hebrew, me Schleirmacher or something. And Jessy. So many memories of music, long discussions, climbing, tears and guffaws. Of midnight runs to see weird Spider movies (what was that film called you guys?) and trips to Austin when cars broke down. That was the old crew. Remember Big Phil, Robert, Rocky, Eric, Rebecca, Lance and that guy, that sweet, smart pre-med guy who totaled two cars in two days. What was his name?

And Julie. My beloved Julie who came towards the end and helped me survive Hebrew through giggles and dirty play on words. Julie who calmed my spirit and let me join her on cuddle-island transformed. Julie who understood the drugs and the memory loss and the sadness and joy. Julie who knew both worlds, Jewell and Texas, and forgave me for changing.

And Jeremy and Phil and Lance who are all gone now. They feel gone at least. They're in Minnesota or Beaumont or in married-land and sometimes I'm afraid I'll never get them back. Jeremy once said, there is (was) no community like ours whether on Phil's porch by Baylor, Phil's porch by the hospital or the Eades porch late at night hiding cigarette butts in the chiminay and promising to give it up soon.

Oh God, I miss these people. And there are more... Billy and Renee, Robert and Hun, Rebecca, Cat, Kyle, Kris, Wags, Josie,Lynette...

But Kyle is gone now and will not be communicated with again except in dreams. So let's communicate while we have the chance. This is my shout out. I love you Wes, Holly, Abby, Ben and Olivia Eades. I love you Jessy, Phil, Lance, Jeremy, Julie, Josie. I love you Paul and Jen.

I miss Lance cooking me mac and cheese.
I miss Jessy eating all the contents of my fridge.
I miss Paul playing the guitar.
I miss the theology discussions on Phil's old porch across from Rebecca's place where Phil would introduce everyone as "my wicked smart friend."
I miss Lynette's eye rolls and making subversive tee-shirts.
I miss eating a whole pizza with Julie and doing CM.
I miss Bridget Jones' Diary and wine coolers with Cat.

I miss it all. I miss you all. And I love you. Let's stay in better touch...


Friday, April 07, 2006

FEAR: Part 1


Google the word fear and you’ll find the 2005 winner of the Best Action Video Game. You find which lists everything people fear from a fear confined spaces to a fear of the color yellow. You’ll find the heavy metal band Fear Factory’s website. You’ll find Fear Factor the infamous TV. show which forces people to face their fears by locking them in a box full of tarantulas, or dropping them from a plane, or making them eat cockroaches. Sick. You’ll find Fear Dot Com a horror film made by Warner Brothers. You’ll get linked to Freedom From Fear, a nonprofit agency dedicated to helping people heal from their fears. You’ll find F.E.A.R the Forfeiture Endangers American Rights web page.

So what is fear? describes it as a noun. 1a. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger. 1b. A state or condition marked by this feeling i.e. living in fear. 2. A feeling of disquiet or apprehension for example, a fear of looking foolish. 3. Extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power. 4. And finally, A reason for dread or apprehension: Being alone is my greatest fear.

So what are people afraid of? Well, gave us some easy answers (and some peculiar ones). We’re afraid of the dark, we’re afraid of people with bad intentions, we’re afraid of rapists, murderers, robbers. I can remember as a child praying at night that God wouldn’t let any robbers get into my house. I used to try and lay as flat in bed as I could in case any did get inside, maybe they wouldn’t see me in my bed. I used to lay on the inside of the bed against the wall, so that if they got in and if they saw someone in bed, it’d be my sister, on the outer side of the bed who they would take and hopefully overlook me.

Twisted but true.

We’re afraid of spiders, cockroaches, bees, snakes, mice, rats, cats, dogs.

We’re afraid of losing our checkbooks, forgetting to pay our bill, missing a deadline, not making the grades.

We’re afraid of thunderstorms, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis.

We’re afraid of getting a cold, breaking a bone, hearing the word cancer, contracting AIDS, catching the bird flu when it makes it to America.

And we’re afraid for others too are we not? We’re afraid for our sisters that they’ll date sketchy men. We’re afraid for our children that they’re making poor decisions. We afraid for our best friends who may not get out of the slump they’re in. We’re afraid for our parents’ health and age.

And somewhere in there surfaces our own deep-seeded fears. Fear that we will never be truly loved. Fear that we will never ever please our parents. Fear of losing loved ones. Fear that we aren’t good enough. Fear that we’ll never achieve our dreams. Fear that we’ll never make a difference. Fear that the world is too big and we are too small. Fear that we’ll never amount to more than our mistakes. Fear that God will reject us just like people have. Fear that we can’t control anything in our lives. Fear that we can’t trust anyone, not even God. Fear of facing our past. Fear of facing our future.

And suddenly spiders don’t seem like such a big deal.

I’d rather find a monster in my closest than a past I haven’t dealt with yet.
I’d rather find a cockroach in my bathroom than watch my self-esteem go down the toilet.

I’m get afraid sometimes. And lent reminds me of that.

Lent falls at the most peculiar of times. It is a time in the church calendar that forces us to look inward when all we want to do is play outside. It asks us to examine what makes us un-whole when around us everything is blossoming into fullness.

But perhaps when we turn into ourselves and face our fears, fullness is what we will receive in return.

FEAR: Part 2

The disciples were afraid.

All was fine and dandy at the Passover supper. Good food, good wine, good friends, good times. Now granted, Jesus had been saying some strange things about death lately, but he was always saying crazy stuff like that. Lose your life and find it. Riiight. Be born again. Now how was that supposed to happen? And what about that story about the fig tree? What was that all about? And then there’s that one with the son who went and ate in the pig sty. That was weird.

So the dinner went great, it was Passover, they were in the big city, and then all hell broke loose. Judas got mad and left early. There were guards waiting outside after dinner. Peter thought it was the start of the revolution. Jesus didn’t put up a fight at all, not that he’s ever lifted a finger against anyone, but he usually sweet talks his way out of every tricky move the Pharisees and Sadducees made. God he’s smart. But he didn’t do anything, they just carted him off. And Everyone else just freaked out and ran. Some followed at a distance, but far enough away not to get caught. It was crazy. Everything we were expecting for that weekend went out the window.

And then he was convicted. Not even convicted, but the mob went nuts, you know? They demanded he be crucified and Pilate just kind of gave in and the next thing you know, the women are sobbing, the soldiers are staring and Rome’s got Jesus nailed to a damn cross in the middle of the street.

And then he died.

And then what?

What were the disciples to do then?

They were afraid and hid in upper rooms. They fled the scene. The women, beside themselves, but knowing their duty, wrapped his body and visited the tomb daily to pour the oils on his dead body.

But on the third day when they arrived, there was no body.

And then they were really afraid.

Tomb robbers? Jewish officials? Who stole his body? Why? Will they find us too?

A resurrection? An angel in white? Or was that Jesus himself? A new body? Dead becoming alive? What does that mean? Can a man so powerful care enough to return for us?

For two days the disciples, men and women sat in fear. But on day three, fear took on reverence as they realized the impossible had come to pass. Rome had not won. The Sanhedrin had not won. Death had not won.

And their eyes were opened. The old became new, the dirty became clean, and the desperation became hope.

And Peter proclaimed the message to the Jews.
Paul preached the message to the Gentiles.
The women started churches in their homes.
They all understood that they were called to something higher than a fear of authorities, or fear of a lisp, or fear of being the wrong gender, or fear of being misunderstood. They took their gifts and come hell or high-water, crucifixion or stoning, they pushed fear aside and let God breathe on them.

And then they took that life to the world around them.

I’m afraid of cockroaches.
I’m afraid of tornados.
I’m afraid of the bird flu.
I’m afraid of a lot of things that I only tell my therapist and my diary.

But we cannot be afraid to be who we are: children of God. Breathed on by God and gifted by God to go, be ourselves full in Christ to the world around us.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

my culinary genius is back.

i can hear you groaning and i'm not even going to hollar at you.

so what i did now... i was just trying to defrost some banana bread that i found in the freezer at work...

i put it on a plastic platter, put it in the microwave and hit the defrost button. i returned to my office to listen for the ding.

then i heard something that made me think i was back in my bedroom at my house in high school. in this re-occuring scenario my dad yells from his easy chair "something's burning" and i hear my mom go running downstairs saying "shit. shit. shit." except this time, it was the music minister giving the alert and it was me who began flying spirited in step and speech to the kitchen.

now the "kitchen" consists of a fridge and two microwaves which sit in our paper supply and copy office. it was full of smoke.

i stopped the microwave and started coughing. i've never smelt anything like that before.

it still stinks today. after five hours of high tech fans sucking air out of the copy room, hallways and offices, after five or six rounds of spraying freshener to distill the smell, after leaving the doors to our office complex open the whole rest of the day, it still stinks. and needless to say, i haven't heard the end of it.

the worst part: the banana bread was unsalvagable and i was still starving.

i also burnt a hole through the plate i used.

as janet says "that plate ain't worth 2 cents now... and it used to be worth a nickel!"

at least no one's mad.

actually they laughed (and coughed) all afternoon.

and we all stunk. all 10 staff members will be taking the clothes they wore yesterday to the cleaners. gross.

also, i've been banned from the kitchen. roger's secretary said anything i need from now on, i can ask her for.


i thought i was getting better.

i can make mac n cheese now without burning myself. i can load a diswasher with the proper soap now and not cause it to ooze bubbles for two hours. i've really cleaned up my act with regard to cooking. i even throw an ocasional dinner party.

but this was a set-back. i admit it.

my head hung a little lower yesterday.

but that might of been cuase i was ducking the smoke...