Joys of Homeownership

Regular readers of this here little corner of the internet (Hi, momma!) may remember the great roof saga of last year. It was ugly, it was expensive, it was ultimately totally doable. Well today’s adventure in homeownership is a new air-conditioner. This transition hasn’t been nearly as ugly or stressful. I’ve known for quite some time that my unit was struggling to keep up with Florida heat and humidity, but my own relatively high tolerance for those things has made it a less pressing issue than it may have been.

But a few weeks ago, graduation day, in fact, we came home from post graduation festivities and both the outside unit and the air-handler in the attic had frozen. They simply couldn’t keep up. Right on schedule, my meltdown ensued, right on schedule. After a nice long rest, the a/c came back (and after a few beers and some time in the pool with friends, so did I). We had it looked at and the bad news came. Not only is the unit too small for the house, but it’s old and dying and sad.

So that brings us to today– new air conditioner day! I find myself sitting in a strange space- I am profoundly grateful that this transition is happening with relative ease. I’m not coming home to a 92 degree house and an emergency replacement; while it’s terribly expensive, I’m not having to choose which bills I can pay this month; and despite the anxiety and inconvenience I am reminded of the remarkable privilege of simply getting it done. And yet, I don’t want to do it- I don’t want to hang out as the house gets hotter through the day; I don’t want to pay for it; I don’t want to think about it.

Michael and I have a rule that only one of us has to “adult” at a time, but if we’re totally honest, I think we’re ready for a bit of a break.

Oh wait… the termite guy is here…

Doing My Homework

As vice-moderator of my presbytery I sit on what we call the “coordinating team”, along with major committee chairs, the current moderator, the most recent moderator, and then our clerk and executive- that we call the coach and coordinator. A few meetings ago we were given a book by said coach and coordinator and told to read it. She doesn’t often give us homework, but I sure do like getting books as surprise presents, so on both accounts I finished it.

The book is called Waking Up White: Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Essentially it’s a memoir of her journey toward “wokeness”- as the kids are saying these days. Irving is a middle-aged, white, straight, cis-gender woman from New England with seemingly liberal politics and throughout the book she comes to terms with the ways her background instilled in her the notion of being a “good girl” and the very particular connotations of not rocking the boat or causing trouble that go along with that.

It’s a lovely read and most helpfully includes a question at the end of each short chapter for reflection on one’s own privilege, power, white supremacy, and experiences of race and racism. (So if you’re the sort of person who finds themselves needing to pull together a book group, this might be a really powerful option…)

In her closing paragraphs she offers these thoughts:

I can’t give away my privilege. I’ve got it whether I want it or not. What I can do is use my privilege to create change. … Self examination and the courage to admit to bias and unhelpful inherited behaviors may be our greatest tools for change. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to exposer our ignorance and insecurities takes courage. And love. I believe the most loving thing a person, or a group of people, can do for another is to examine the ways in which their own insecurities and assumptions interfere with others’ ability to thrive. Please join me in opening your heart and mind to the possibility that you- yes, even well-intentioned you- have room to change and grow, so that you can work with people of all colors and ethnicities to co-create communities that can unite, strengthen, and prosper. (Irving, Debby. p 249)

I don’t know that I would have thought this book applied to me- not because I don’t always have learning to do about my own racist tendencies and privilege- but because Debby Irving isn’t my usual kind of activist. But what she describes above is exactly the kind of work I’d like the institutions I’m most closely involved with to undertake. This is what I want for my church and my college. It’s what I want for my neighborhood and my country. And so for today, I’m particularly glad that my presbytery is beginning to engage in this conversation and that I’m still a person who does my homework- especially when it involves being given a book.

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Resist the Pull

So I got a haircut today, which next to therapy (which also happened this week) is just the best thing ever. The same guy has been cutting my hair for nearly seven years and he’s wonderful. Typically I don’t trust people who don’t have curly hair, but I trust Frank.

One of the great things about our relationship is that there’s not a lot of pressure to talk. He gets talked at for a living; I get talked at for a living; so early on we decided only necessary talking for us. No need to fill the space. Our days have enough talking.

Frank also knows what I do; he understands the rhythms of my year and the challenges and hard realities of my job. Usually this manifests itself in his taking a careful read of my body language before asking me how I’m doing when I first walk in- I’ve been known to burst into tears because it’s been a terrible week. It also means he knows the importance of a May haircut- this is stress relief as much as basic hair maintenance.

So he’s cutting my hair today and he just finished asking me how many days were left in the semester. There was a pause in the conversation and he very calmly said “resist the pull”. My mind started reeling- resist what pull? The pull to check out before it was over? The pull of student’s stress and anxiety? The pull to buy problems that aren’t mine? OF WHAT PULL DOES HE SPEAK?? WHAT DO I RESIST?!

And again he said “resist the pull”. That’s when I realized he was cutting some layers in the back and he needed me to move my head forward while he pulled the hair back. Perhaps I ought to just resist the pull of over-complicating things and enjoy the damn haircut.

Well done.

My whole life my mom has said that “while God may love all of us the same, when their time on this earth is through the people God likes the best get to go quickly.” I’m quite sure she’s right. As we learned yesterday of our friend, brother, and colleague Jeff Krehbiel’s death I was even more sure.

Jeff served his family, his community, and his church faithfully and well. And while our grief feels overwhelming, I find comfort in how little he suffered. I find comfort that I am surrounded by my church in this ash heap. And I find comfort that he has joined the great cloud of witnesses where pain and oppression and injustice have no place.

My friend Neely and I have taken it upon ourselves to rank the the place settings of the heavenly banquet- for reference Justice Scalia is far from the dessert table. I’m quite certain Jeff has taken his seat near the dessert, near the guac, near the craft beer, and near the great saints of justice.

Well done good and faithful servant. May your life continue to be a blessing.

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Women’s Work

It seems as though hardly a week goes by without some article flitting across my social media radar detailing some such study about the extra work women do- in the home, parenting, and at work. That fact that these studies almost always talk about white, heterosexual, partnered women is a different frustration for a different day. But these studies often go into great detail about the expectations around women’s tasks- from recognizing that toilet paper needs to be added to the shopping list, to what Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg described as “Office Housework” in a 2015 New York Times article that has clearly not escaped my memory.

And then we come to Easter morning. Perhaps an odd jump- except we’re back to the women. It was those women- Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, Mary- Jesus’ own mother- the very same women who had stood watch on Friday while the disciples deserted him- who rose early on the first day of the week. It was those women, the few whose names we know, but whose stories and the fullness of their roles have mostly been lost to those who didn’t think they were important enough to include; those were the women who rose early to take spices to prepare the body. It was Mary Magadalene- who the church would later brand whore, who recognized him in the garden. It was the women who ran back to the upper room and proclaimed him risen.

In a society and certainly a church that continues to undervalue women, and especially in those traditions and denominations where they are told they have no place, no voice, no authority- let us particularly remember this morning that it was the women. It was the women who in the midst of their grief and disbelief, rose early, and did the work society expected of them and in doing so preached the Gospel for the very first time.

But seriously, can’t a girl get a break?

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Wise and Forgiven

I spent all day thinking about “wise”. And it just kept foiling me at every turn. I simply wasn’t sure what I thought about it; wasn’t sure about an angle or a reflection. And then after a 13 hour work day, that wasn’t always super easy, the day ended with no blog post. Nothing to say about “wise”. And there was a bit of guilt and a bit of a sense of failure.

Then I came in this morning and looked at today’s word and found “forgiven”. Oh ReThinkChurch. You are wily.

Lenten disciplines are great. They keep us focused on the season, they are commitments we make to ourselves and to our faith practice and that’s wonderful. I love a good Lenten discipline. But without the grace that comes when we fall off the wagon or mess up or forget or get too busy, without the forgiveness around which this entire season is focused, what’s the point?

So yeah, nothing about wise yesterday- but a whole lot about forgiven today. Perhaps that’s the wisdom at the end of the day.

Also, the upside to a long crappy day at the office is that it includes this:

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It’s really a lovely place, even when the days are too long. 

 

 

*The good folks at ReThinkChurch offer a word of the day for Lent. The idea is mark the 40 days of Lent with a photo corresponding to the word. You can find the complete list and more info on the project here.

Celebrate*

If Lent is meant to be a season of fasting and penitence before the great feast season of Easter it would seem a little odd to place a word like “celebrate” in the midst of it. Except we are always, even in the midst of Lent, Easter people.

I struggled a little through my first Lent in seminary. And while I’m not entirely sure what brought on the conversation, I will remain forever grateful that one of my preaching professors, Chuck Campbell, took time that early spring to remind me that even in the midst of Lent we celebrate mini-Easter’s every Sunday. That each new Lord’s Day we remember that we are first and foremost people who celebrate an empty cross and an empty tomb. We are Easter people- always.

Or in the words of the great Truvy Jones- Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. (Steel Magnolias)

 

 

*The good folks at ReThinkChurch offer a word of the day for Lent. The idea is mark the 40 days of Lent with a photo corresponding to the word. You can find the complete list and more info on the project here.

Treasure*

What is that we treasure? What is that we lift up? Or cling to? What do we actually treasure? And how do we talk about it?

Yesterday I got a little surprise in my change:

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I’m just not sure what to think of it. I’m sure I agree with the sentiments expressed, but I’m less sure about the method of expression. Is this an evangelism tool? Just a friendly reminder? Or is it a really thoughtful bit of social commentary on the ways we’ve idolized money in our culture? Maybe the author is trying to convince us to rethink the way we’ve turned consumerism and consumption into our cultural religious practice?

At the end of the day, what we treasure and how we talk about it and share it matters enormously. That’s the beauty of Lent. It asks us about what we hold dear and what we’re willing to give up or change that we might be a little more faithful or a little more thoughtful or a little more intentional.

I’m not sure I totally “get” the message on my dollar bill, but regardless of the intent it’s a helpful reminder about what we value and how we show it.

 

 

*The good folks at ReThinkChurch offer a word of the day for Lent. The idea is mark the 40 days of Lent with a photo corresponding to the word. You can find the complete list and more info on the project here.

Sacrifice*

Sacrifice is a hard one. Not because we live in a culture of excess, though we do. Not because we live in a culture that glorifies conspicuous consumption, though we do. Not because the whole notion of sacrifice is just plain old un-fun, though it is.

Sacrifice is hard. It’s hard because regardless of all the other deeply privileged circumstances that surround my life, I was still born a woman in a world and a culture that says “give a little more up” or “be all things to all people” or “have it all” or “do it all”.

For many women across our communities- our friends, our mothers, our sisters, our wives, our coworkers- sacrifice is a way of life. It’s the thing that says “don’t buy the cupcakes, just stay up a little later and make them” or that says “make the frosting into minions, how hard could it be?”. It’s the thing that compels us to put at the top of our twitter bios “knitter, chef, gardener, marathon runner, beekeeper, woodworker, mime”.  It’s the thing that pushes us to work full time jobs and go to the gym and cook healthy meals for our families and clean bathrooms and get clothes ironed. It’s the structures that say we should get paid less and work more and have more expensive insurance and fewer healthcare options and less representation in the board rooms, city councils, and legislative chambers.

But where in the midst of all of this do-ing and over do-ing do we find be-ing? Where is reading time? And movies? And naps? And regular sleeping patterns?

Sacrifice feels like the thing I have been implicitly told to do all my life and the lines between choice and compulsion is blurry at best.

So for today, no words of wisdom, no pithy sayings, not even a half-assed commitment to do better- just the recognition that sacrifice carries a lot of baggage and it feels heavy today.

 

 

 

*The good folks at ReThinkChurch offer a word of the day for Lent. The idea is mark the 40 days of Lent with a photo corresponding to the word. You can find the complete list and more info on the project here.

Injustice*

Yesterday Publix Supermarkets announced more than $2,000,000,000 in profits in 2016. Yes, $2 billion dollars in profits- a record for the company. Not too shabby for a little grocery store from rural central Florida.

Except, here’s the thing- for nearly a decade the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the

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The tomato bucket from Immokalee that sits in my office as a reminder of those who labor for justice.

Fair Food Campaign have asked Publix to come to the table and talk about who supplies their tomatoes and Publix has adamantly refused. Apparently ensuring there’s no slavery in their supply chain and that workers have recourse for situations of violence, harassment, and hostility are simply too much to ask. Apparently access to clean water and shade and bathrooms in the midst of the hottest winter on record is too much to ask. And most importantly a pay increase of one penny per pound of tomatoes picked is way too much to ask.

Publix argues it’s a labor dispute and not their problem. And yet they continue to tout their community partnerships and claim to be a great company to work for- I guess unless you’re the person supplying the produce.

A $0.01 per pound raise against $2,003,000,000 in profits.

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the things of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

*The good folks at ReThinkChurch offer a word of the day for Lent. The idea is mark the 40 days of Lent with a photo corresponding to the word. You can find the complete list and more info on the project here.