Friday, February 19, 2010

20 Worst Cities... Great.

I'm the only daughter who made it out. While Austin is not surprisingly, not on the 20 Worst U.S. Cities ranking by Forbes Magazine, Kansas City is. And so is Chicago. Missouri managed to grab two spots on the Top Twenty with St. Louis ranking 7th worst (KC was 13th). Only Ohio proved worse than Missouri with 3/20 worst cities being located in that state.

I will note, in defense of Kansas City, that Forbes' criteria took into account nothing to do with art: music venues, museums, theaters, local speciality shops, etc. Rather they focused on, "unemployment, taxes (both sales and income), commute times, violent crime and how [a city's] pro sports teams have fared over the past two years. We also factored in... weather and Superfund pollution sites. Lastly we considered corruption based on convictions of public officials in each area.... Any area with a population of more than 245,000 was eligible."

Um, so yeah, that'll put KCMO on the top twenty worst cities in the U.S. They called our TWO pro-sports teams, "awful."


Click here if you want to see the rest of the cities and what terrible criteria they blew out of the water. And make a mental note not to move there...

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm Famous Too!

Okay, no. I'm not a local hero; I've not won any superbowls or met the president. I haven't started my own business making cute glutton free cupcakes or designed commercials for TV, but I am on TV... sort of.

This is the video of me preaching at Truett Seminary Chapel on Feb. 2nd.
Title: When the Bad Guy Wins. Text: Luke 10:25-37

height="495" codebase=''>

controller="true" loop="false" pluginspage=''>

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A First and a Second

I spent a long weekend (Thurs-Sat) in one of my four "hometowns," Waco, TX. And surprise surprise, it was a great visit.

I drove up in the rain, then the hail and finally the snow to attend George W. Truett Seminary's Winter Pastor's School. And for the first time in my life, I attended every part of the conference. From the Truett Alumni Dinner on Thursday to the final session on Saturday morning, I participated 100% of the conference. Wasn't even tardy once - not even to the morning activities!

This is unusual because usually at conferences the point is two-fold: to receive inspiration through the teaching or seminars or whatever but also to relax - take time for yourself, chill in a hotel, check out a local museum, take a break from church. In this way the conferences are restorative. Education and vacation all in one.

But this conference was in Waco. It's not an exciting destination. There's no aquarium to see, no national gallery to visit, no real sight-seeing opportunities. And even if there were... been there, done that. On top of that, while I had old friends to catch up with, I had been to Truett two weeks before to preach and had already caught up with many of them.

Not to mention that the real reason I had come to this conference was because my favorite Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann was speaking on Prophetic Preaching. Squeal!

And that's where my second comes in. Two years ago in 08, I was invited to participate in a Round Table Discussion with Walt in Atlanta. That gathering was so small that I SAT NEXT to this amazing scholar. So this was my second time to hear him and I was excited. So excited in fact that I printed off a picture of him and me from the conference two years ago and re-introduced myself to Dr. Brueggemann and asked him to sign the picture.

He wrote, "We look good together!" and then handed it to me and laughed.

I almost died.

It was an amazing conference. He spoke about the dominant narrative we live in, namely one of therapeutic, militant, technological, consumerism. He charged us as pastors to preach God's alternative narrative of hope and possibility. He charged us to help our congregations penetrate the denial, name the fear and muster the courage and freedom of the reality over which God governs. He charged us to relinquish and receive; to deconstruct the given world and help people relinquish it (as Walt's therapist says, "Do you wanna keep livin' that way or let it go?"; to construct another world and help people receive what is given. Why? Because God brings to nothing the things that are, and calls into existence things that do not exist. God is a god of the impossible. And what exactly must we relinquish in our modern context? We must relinquish the western, white, male, straight world of domination and invite into the story the poor, women, non-whites, gays and lesbians. But just like ancient Israel, we struggle to receive the new world God is giving us of new people and new economics. And in light of our upcoming Christian liturgical season, we must take the Friday stuff and the Sunday stuff and be a map for what's happening in the world.

Of course he took two days to exegete texts and explain his thesis, but there's a little to whet your appetite.

And if being reminded of our faith and called to God's new narrative of hope and possibility, of building up and planting weren't enough, I got to see the Eades.

The Eades are the family I lived with during most of my years in Waco. Wes (the dad) once called me his boomerang child (the one who just kept coming back). The youngest daughter, Olivia, was six when I moved into the house apartment... and is now 14. Yikes. And she's 5'7. I can't believe I used to hold her on my lap. And it was just like old times. All five of them were living there (before the oldest transfers to Tx State and the middle son moves to Missouri to start college) perhaps for the last time in a long time, or ever. We sat around in the living room just like they always have (it was too cold to sit on the porch) and drank wine and watched Glee and talked therapy and discussed what it means to be a neighbor. And of course we laughed at each other. It was so fun.

Tomorrow I'm back to work for an almost 12 hour day straight thru. College Bible study is Monday and I begin directing You Can't Take It With You on Tuesday. Life will be crazy from here on out. So it was nice to have a preemptive replenishing before I inevitably will be depleted.

And first and a second. And now on to my third...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Changes On the Home Front

This is a year of changes.

"Your couch has fleas on it," she said to me over the phone.

"No, YOUR couch has fleas on it," I wanted to respond like an eight year old child.

My house is slowly beginning to wear on me, so the idea that the fleas may have been reborn in between cold spells already here in Austin and have run their buggy little selves into my house and onto my couch from my cats who I didn't give anti-flea medicine to in January because it's JANUARY and why would fleas be alive in January anyway...

But it's not the fleas. They were just the most recent annoyance (and I'm not even convinced yet that they're here although I have of course treated all the animals and am buying stuff to spray the yard and bomb the house with this weekend...)

The flooding started it. And now I have a room that I know was never registered to be up to code and so floods unnecessarily and does god only knows what else to my house. Does it have insulation? How is its even staying attached to my house? Is it straining the roof? When is the next downfall of rain that will bring more water in from the floor? Should I get gutters or change the leveling of the dirt? Or do I re-do the room?

But then I got vertigo. Now what in the world do my ears have to do with my house, you may ask and rightfully so. But when I went to an ENT doctor and he begin examining my ears and my nose, he asked me if I wanted to do something about my allergies. "Yes," I replied. "I've actually been asking my doctor to help me with that for years now."

"Well I can help you."

And next thing I know I'm being given shots twice a week, using neti-rinse every morning and nose squirts and buying a bedding cover and an air purifier and tearing up the carpet in my house because, you guessed it, I'm allergice to dust mites.

And cats.

And we're back to the house issues.

No. I'm going to talk to y'all about the cat allergies, I don't even want to hear about it. My ENT and I already argued over the issue.

Back to the carpet. See pulling up carpet means doing something with the nasty mess underneath. Do I put down wood or laminate flooring? Too expensive (even if it ups the value of my house) and I'm allergic to almost every wood tree. Do I stain the concrete? Is it even salvagable in that way? What about tile? Too expensive? Too hard for the dog to walk on? Do I get rugs to cover the floor or does that defeat the purpose of no carpet?


"Don't go outside." That was my ENT's first recommendation for treating my allergies. "But since that's probably not an option, let's look at some other things you can do."

And that's how we ended up at the carpets. I need a personal house manager. I need my own Holmes on my Home.

New game plan. Marry a construction worker who doesn't take shortcuts.

Changes people. Big changes.

And I'm not sure I have the money or the courage to make them.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Living Among the Dead

This is crazy! But amazing. A 28 year old man pulled from rubble today in Haiti, four weeks after the earthquake was still ALIVE!

Super Bowls and Super Toilets

While I spent the Super Bowl mooring over my friends, Rod and Ronda's Super Toilet Bowl, the rest of my church and the nation watched an amazing game last night. Unfortunately, I got food poisoning from my lunch yesterday and didn't get to indulge in the BBQ that my friends made or in the rallying around the TV set (Rod and Ronda quietly moved me upstairs where I would have my own bathroom and TV and couch to "do my own thing" during the big game.) The funny part is that I was watching it live while everyone else was watching it a few minutes behind on TV downstairs. So when I hobbled down after the game they said, "Don't you say anything to tell us the outcome of this game!" and sent me back upstairs.

But it was a super bowl with some great leadership by both Drew and Payton. Here are some quotes from my facebook friends. Also, here is a news broadcast about my church and Drew and his grandparents (who, along with his parents and younger sister, still attend my church).

"I do have to also say that as proud as I am of how humble of a winner Drew Brees was, I'm also pleased with how Payton Manning was truly a gracious loser. And I mean "loser" in the most respectful way, commenting on the score of the game, not on the man's character. What a blessing to have two leaders who are actually good role models for how to be gracious and honorable in the spotlight." - Carleigh Chapman

"Drew Brees the Quarterback and Drew Brees the person are exceptional. He speaks of his 'moment' as 'calling' as 'destiny' as 'God's work.' This catches our breath because New Orleans so needed this moment, this leadership. It also catches our breath because it goes against everything we see in the celebrity world. Thanks for who you are Drew." Rev. Dr. Roger Paynter

And of course, Drew on The Tonight Show with David Letterman...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dumb and Dumber

Dear Stupid Christians and especially Stupid Baptists.

Please stop making the rest of us look bad.

Please stop going to Haiti to be missionaries. Please let the professionals and those who speak the language do the work that needs to be done. If you want to be helpful, give money to worthwhile organizations already in the midst of helping Haitians and feel free to pray. Just stop holding up rehabilitation efforts by doing stupid things like this. It's not normal, it's not biblical and you should all receive a psychological evaluation.

You make it hard for me to do my job.

Rev. Ann Pittman, (not the best Baptist and sometimes more of a bitchy Baptist, but prayerfully not a stupid Baptist).

P.S. Here's places to give, things to do and updates from people on the ground...

Partners In Health
Doctors Without Borders
World Vision
United Nations World Food Programme
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Texas Baptists
Baptist World Alliance

Moving Up

"I'm happy at my job."
I want to say to them,
to them who don't say anything to me.
"You asked for my resume, remember?"
So of course it doesn't bother me that they haven't called twice
haven't emailed twice
haven't even responded to receiving my resume.
Only that initial communication,
"Would you mind sending us your resume?"
still sits in my inbox
in my mind
making me think i'm important
or wanted anywhere other than where i am
which is happy
at my current job
and not wanting to explore
or advance my career
or make more money.
I'm perfectly content right where I am.
not moving up.