This Journey

Thoughts, rants, prayers, sermons I'll never give and other stuff gathered as I make my way through this life.

July 29, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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via Thomas Merton

“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender oneself to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. It destroys one’s own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of one’s own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes the work fruitful.”

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”



February 26, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Chicken Soup with Rice

NFH’s Chicken & Rice Soup

3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
1 T olive oil
1 orange pepper 1/4 ” dice
3 C leftover brown rice (frozen)
2 chicken breasts
4C chicken stock
3-4 T dried parsley
1-2 T herbs de Provence

Oven roast chicken breasts at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Heat oil in large saucepan. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add peppers, rice chicken and stock. Heat until rice is thawed. Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes.

I’ll admit to a bit of decadence when I garnished mine with a little dollop of sour cream.


February 23, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Grateful: Almost the end of February edition

An incomplete list of things for which I’m grateful these days:

  • The sun is stronger at 45 degrees North. Even when the wind-chill is -25 F, walking outside in a black pea coat one can feel the warmth of the sun.
  • We’re getting more days with bright sunshine.
  • The snow is accumulating a bit – so things look pretty. From inside the house anyway.
  • G is somehow staying hopeful through this unemployment period – even though he’s not finding much to apply for yet.
  • I had a good interview at a church last Thursday. Many questions remain and much process to walk through but it was a good, energizing conversation at least.
  • There are slightly more postings in the Twin Cities.
  • I’m making progress on cleaning out the attic.
  • The interim music director work is something that I LOVE doing.

UPDATE: I’m also grateful that DS1 called today “just to see how things were going.”


January 14, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Musical Meditation Monday #2

I know you should probably set the pattern securely before breaking it, but this video cam across my desk this week and I have to share it with you now! It’s musical, yes, in the sense that there’s a combo of musicians playing underneath the masterful storytelling of Noah St. John – the winner of the storytelling contest of NPR.

To be in keeping with the point of the meditation part of these posts, listen to the story and then contemplate for a while when in your life, your journey, you thought it was falling apart only to be surprised. I’d love it if you shared in the comments, or if this seems like a good post on your own blog, link back here and leave us a note in the comments so we can go read your story at your place.

January 13, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Grateful: Baptism of Jesus edition

Today is the day the church remembers (and celebrates in various ways) the Baptism of Jesus. This morning was the first Sunday for me as interim music director and it was a busy one. As is my pattern on Sunday, I’ll a list few of the things for which I’m grateful this week.

  • Grateful that a “low” Sunday where “lots of people are out with the flu or flu-like illness” means I still had over 25 people in choir.
  • I’m grateful (again) for how the anthem, selected weeks ago based on the lessons, expands and illuminates the sermon from preachers who preach on the texts (and not a chicken-soup-for-the-soul random sermon.)
  • I’m grateful that the choir, having heard the sermon, really proclaimed the text of the anthem, and sang beautifully.
  • This week we traveled to the nearby nursing home and sang for their worship service. I’m grateful that the choir sees this as part of their ministry and I didn’t end up there alone.
  • Grateful for a short nap before having to get on the road to take DS2 back to school.
  • Grateful for clear (if below zero) weather for driving to Menomonie and back.
  • Grateful that DS2 is liking school as much as he is.
  • Grateful for friends, DH and at least one colleague who is supportive of me through the contract negotiations.
  • Grateful for the text and the sermon this morning that unpacked what happens to be my investiture and consecration verse:

Isaiah 43:1-3a (my investiture and consecration verses)

But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

It continued this morning:

I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
4Because you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
6I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth —
7everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

The anthem was based on this text. “Do Not Be Afraid” by John Helgen. (Click to listen. We sing it better. Just saying.)

January 7, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Musical Meditation Monday #1 2013

As I said earlier in this January 2013 NaBloPoMo exercise, listening to music usually recharges my energy. Listening to music can also greatly reduce my stress level and also can assist in my prayer life. I’ve decided that on Mondays this year, I’m going to attempt to share here some of the music that does each of those things in the hope that anyone who stumbles past this little corner of the blogosphere will be served by them as well.

Today, I wanted to share a piece that I used on Saturday. I was on the verge of a migraine and wanted to lay quietly in a darkened room with an ice pack on my head. The problem was that I couldn’t quiet the brain monkeys who kept chattering and chattering and leaping from branch to branch. This piece, because of the way it is written and performed and the fact that it is in a language I don’t understand gave my brain monkeys something to focus on while I tried to unclench my upper back muscles and breath through the pulsing pain of the migraine.

As you listen to the harmonies and vowels shift and change, sit comfortably and breathe. Don’t change your breathing to make it faster or slower or match the music somehow; just pay attention to it. When you inhale, imagine inhaling the light and beauty of the sounds; when you exhale, imaging exhaling the stress and tension in your muscles and your mind. Let your shoulders relax. Unclench your jaw. Let your hands rest in your lap. Imagine floating on the sound as you might float on water, letting it bear you up without you having to work against gravity.

For those who must know, the text comes from the Great Liturgy of the Orthodox Christian church. It is called the Cherubikon and is sung at the beginning to symbolically include all present with the choirs of angels singing around God for all eternity.

This setting is by Tchaikovsky. The English translation of the text is:

We who mystically represent the Cherubim,

and who sing to the Life-Giving Trinity the thrice-holy hymn,

let us now lay aside all earthly cares

that we may receive the King of all,

escorted invisibly by the angelic orders.



January 6, 2013
by Not Fainthearted

Grateful: Epiphany 2013 edition


An incomplete list of some things for which I am grateful this week (in no particular order):

  • That DS1 and I have as good a relationship as we do that I miss him when he goes back to school.
  • That DS1 can drive himself back to school.
  • That we still have enough cash flow to send DS1 to school with a small cooler of food – including fifteen of the infamous burritos.
  • That DS2 is not going back for another week.
  • A week of work that I love… even if it’s only a short term interim position.
  • That I was able to manage my own anxiety about the fact that so much about this interim situation is not finalized and in a great deal of flux.
  • The expressions of support I’ve received from choir members and congregation members as they’ve learned about the leave and my filling in.
  • That at least people here are still thanking me for being willing to step in.
  • Milder weather this week – more sunshine and temps in the 20s instead of the 10s.
  • A safe New Year’s celebration for me and G and the boys.
  • That the boys have the opportunity to spend time with their father – and a relationship with him that makes them want to.
  • That the boys had a chance to hang out with their friends this week.
  • For a co-worker who was willing to share his lunch with me Friday when I mentioned that I ran out of the house without breakfast – delicious tamales from Trader Joe’s
  • That it looks like cash flow might work until Friday when G gets his vacation pay out
  • That it looks like I might get a paycheck on the 15th – again helping cash flow here at Chez Journey
  • That there are starting to be more job postings for which I can apply
  • That my mail order prescription plan thingy got straightened out and received
  • That even though I’ve now entered the ranks of those taking daily medication – it’s only ONE and it seems to be working
  • That I was able to provide a strong ministry of presence to my friend who is battling a significant depressive/anxiety episode
  • New friends here through NaBloPoMo
  • Conversations with G as he engages in a J-term seminary class; his first class since he graduated from college a long, long time ago.

January 4, 2013
by Not Fainthearted

Friday Five: Resolutions and Absolutions

The RevGalBlogPals Friday Five are all in the New Year’s theme – and not surprisingly have a link to the “energy” theme of NaBloPoMo.

Herewith, a Friday Five all about Resolutions and Absolutions.


1. Start by sharing your success stories with us: In the past, what resolution has been your most successful? What change have you made that has been the most beneficial, to your mood, health, finances, or other way of being in the world?

I have had about the same amount of success with resolutions as most people – spotty at best, I suppose. The one exception to that was a resolution I made when I was in 9th or 10th grade. I decided I was tired of complaining about the weather and I resolved that for one whole year I wouldn’t do it. If it was raining, I’d be thankful for the rain watering the earth and making the plants grow. If it was cold, I’d be thankful that the cold weather kept the size of the bugs small in Minnesota (no giant flying cockroaches here, thankyouverymuch!) I remember being very successful at this resolution. And then the most amazing thing happened. On January 1 of the next year, I went right back to the old habits of complaining about the weather!

Why? If it only takes 21 days to establish a new habit this one had been going on for 365. Why couldn’t I just remain consistent in this one thing? Maybe because it was really freaking cold that winter. Maybe because we love to complain about the weather up here. Maybe because not complaining about the weather meant I was not part of a lot of conversations. I don’t really know the reason. I just know that I complain about the weather as much as the next person.

But sometimes, in my head, I remember that year and think about trying it again.

2. What is one thing you hope to do differently this year with regard to health, either physical or spiritual? If you are satisfied with your current status in both areas, perhaps you would be willing to share something you’ve already done (or regularly do) to care for yourself.

I hope that I will continue to get better at eating healthy food in reasonable portions. It’s another uphill battle, as we all know. Or most of us. Luckily, I know that as many times as I fail at it, I can start over again the next meal. I’d like to get better at having thing prepped and ready to cook so that when I come home from work I’m not starting from the “what do you want to eat?” question so that we don’t slide into the “where do you want to go?” or “who do you want to call?” options. I want to bring my lunch to work.

3. What is one thing you hope your family (of origin, of choice, however you define your primary place of mutual emotional sustenance) will do differently this year? A new tradition for birthdays? More vacation time? Game night? Feel free to really dream about ways to deepen your connections with those you love.

I hope that G and I will get better at doing devotions together. My real dream is that we would sing compline on a regular basis.

4. What is one thing you hope your community of faith will consider doing differently this year? New music? Different approaches to preaching? Rearranging the furniture? If you are in a position to try to introduce change, share some of your enthusiasm and/ or anxiety with us!

One thing I wish we’d try is more study opportunities out in the community. At a pub or coffee house. I’m not exactly positioned to start this but will look for opportunities to move it forward.

Another thing I’d like to introduce (and am positioned to introduce it) is adding more contemplative prayer opportunities. Not prayer services but instruction in prayer practices. Not sure how that can happen here, but I’ve started some conversations.


5. In what area would you most like to learn to be gentle with yourself? For what would you most like to forgive yourself? Share your ideas and strategies for extending yourself the kind of grace we know we are assured of.

I’d like to give myself more permission to not be responsible for taking care of everyone. And to forgive myself when I have to choose between two important priorities.

January 3, 2013
by Not Fainthearted

What is your favourite way to recharge?



Like asking me to name my favorite song, or food, I don’t have just one way to recharge my batteries. When I’m able to go like the proverbial “energizer bunny” I’m usually employing at least several techniques:

  • First thing in the morning, please don’t ask me to be coherent until I’ve had a cup or so of coffee. In an extreme need I can go without, but not for long. In fact, if I don’t have about 1.5 cups of coffee by 10:30 in the morning I’ll have a raging migraine by noon.
  • If it’s my motivational batteries that are low I do a lot better if I listen to some music. Not just any music, but just about any music. It can’t be something I’m prepping to conduct, for instance. That’s just work. And it can’t be something I consider as “adding to the darkness.” You know what kind of that music that is. Anything that promotes through it’s sound or lyrics violence and anger. That’s not to say a good protest song doesn’t do it for me. But songs glorifying misogyny, murder, bullying, racism, etc is not going to help me feel energized.On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if it’s classical, pop or something else (yes, even occasionally country music). I’ll often feel better even when I’m not trying to.

    I have a specific playlist that I’ve called “Get Happy Dammit” that can almost always be counted on to give me a second wind.

  • Listening to music is something that I have to rely on when I’m doing other things. For a real energy boost I can count on making music. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve dragged myself to a rehearsal only to leave flying high and sometimes even having a hard time falling to sleep!
  • If my batteries are low because of insomnia – which I suffer from far too often – it’s a nap that does the trick. I’ve been to sleep clinic and they’ve ruled out apnea and restless leg. I’ve cleaned up my “sleep hygiene” and I’m doing lots better. I allow myself one day a week to take an afternoon nap – Sunday after church. And there are weeks when I sink so deeply into the bed that I don’t roll over for a couple of hours.  It’s a luxury and a pampering that I look forward to.
  • I know that I’m still an extrovert when I find myself with more energy after a meeting or conversation with friends. That interaction with others raises my spirits and gives me a bit of an energy burst – although it doesn’t last as long as it used to.
  • More and more, the best way to recharge for me as I get older is to spend time in contemplation and prayer. More about that in another post.