Shawna Atteberry

Writer, Editor, Researcher

Keeping Lent in the Pandemic: Practicing Contentment

Contentment

Last year in February I started planning my birthday. It was my 50th, and I planned a bash. We rented out our building’s Party Room, planned the menu with my good friend Kim Callis (an excellent personal chef), sent out invitations, and The Hubby and I were shopping for party favors and decorations. A week and a half before Shawna’s 50th Birthday Bash, we canceled–the state of Illinois was shutting down and sheltering-in-place for two months (hah!). I thought I could reschedule for June. Then a friend with a yard talked about having a cook-out for those of us who had pandemic birthdays at the end of the summer. Now I’m looking at my second pandemic birthday still sheltering-in-place. Needless to say, I haven’t done much planning this year. I did see a cool cake recipe on Nadia Bakes that I am going to make for myself Friday.

As you know I was determined to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and practiced joy that week. I feel pretty ambivalent about my birthday. But practicing ambivalence doesn’t sound like a practice I should intentionally do.

It’s the Little Things

So I’m practicing contentment. Am I going out for my birthday this year? No. Will I see my friends? No. That’s OK. I am content. My husband and I are healthy and so are our families. Our moms and older family members have all been vaccinated. We are having gorgeous spring weather in Chicago (I have windows open as I write this). We are financially sound and have a comfortable home that is more sanctuary and less prison to us even after a year of this. I have plenty in my life to be happy about and feel content about. So maybe a party next year.

Like gratitude and joy, you have to be paying attention and be mindful to practice contentment. Once again it is normally the small things that bring the most contentment: a hug, a smile, sunlight through the window, a cup of coffee before anyone else is up, enjoying the quiet.

Contentment and Consumerism

I think this is an important practice to cultivate in our consumer culture. We are constantly told we aren’t enough, and we don’t have enough, or what we have isn’t good enough. But this company’s product will solve all of our problems! I think one of the most counter-cultural actions American Christians can practice is to be content–being content with who we are and with what we have. Not to say we shouldn’t have ambitions and plans, but those ambitions and plans should be about more than getting another tech toy or car or another diet to lose 15 pounds.

I am content with my quiet birthday at home this year. I’m also content with another virtual Holy Week and Easter. I am looking forward to being vaccinated and finally seeing and hugging (there will be a lot of hugging) my friends and finally returning to our church building and worshiping in Grace’s sanctuary. I am also looking forward to not being anxious when there are too many people around. But until I can do that safely for all of the people I love, I am content to shelter-in-place and celebrate (hopefully my last) pandemic birthday.

What about you? What are feeling content about? Where do you find contentment in your life?

Keeping Lent in the Pandemic: Practicing Joy

practicing joy

When a few different friends told me they weren’t sure if they were going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, I knew what Lenten practice I was going to focus on for this week: Practicing Joy. Of course, I celebrate the day differently than most people. I don’t go out for amateur hour bar hops, and green beer really just doesn’t interest me. I treat St. Patrick’s Day like I do any other holiday: I cook and bake and have people over. It sucks I can’t have friends over this year, but I have a terrific menu lined up for The Hubby and me, and we will be celebrating Wednesday.

Joy in the Little Things

The longer the pandemic went on the more and more obvious it became how important the spiritual fruit of joy–and noticing the joy in my own life–was going to be to help live with the depression, anxiety, and obsessing over how long this new way of life was going to last. Just as I found ways to practice kindness and gratitude, I found little things every day that brought me joy: learning a new recipe, writing a haiku, cuddling with my husband, and reading a good book. Like kindness and gratitude, I discovered practicing joy also depended on paying attention to the little things. If I waited for big things like going to church, seeing our families, or traveling, joy was going to be hard to come by.

I noticed my friends also taking joy in the little things. A wonderful friend out in Galena, IL, Cindy, posts her morning walk pictures on her Facebook and Instagram accounts. Her photos always include the sunrise, and honestly, it’s the only way I see the sunrise. Monique found great joy in getting her second Covid-19 vaccination. The weather filled Kate with joy when it actually acted like it was spring in March in Chicago, and she dug out her lawn furniture to enjoy the sun in her yard. My husband finds his joy on Friday Night Pizza Night complete with homemade pizza.

Practicing Joy Chicago-Style

The resilience of Chicagoans being able to find joy always impresses me. Last month when we had over four feet of snow, and the temperatures dropped to single digits, a person was photographed joyfully skiing through Grant Park. The kids didn’t care how cold it was, they were sledding and building armies of snowmen in all the parks. Two incredibly talented people sculpted the Eiffel Tower out of snow in the Logan Square neighborhood. Even Paris took joy in that!

I remember when I was younger, very little brought me joy. As Yoda described Luke Skywalker: “All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh.” I was the same in my 20s (aren’t we all?)–always looking for something else somewhere else to make me happy. Rarely noticing what was right in front of me. One of the blessings of being middle-aged is being able to see what is right in front of me and appreciating it. Taking joy in it.

What is right in front of you these days? When you stop looking to the future and notice the here and now, what is giving you joy? How will you practice joy (and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day) this week?

This article is part of an on-going series Keeping Lent in the Pandemic. You can also read about Practicing Kindness and Practicing Gratitude.

Keeping Lent in the Pandemic: Practicing Gratitude

Practicing Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is this week’s theme? I can already see you roll your eyes. Yes, I know this is a cliched buzzword, which probably explains why I had only one friend respond to my inquiry on how are you practicing gratitude these days.

In Chicago, we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the governor’s shelter-in-place order. This coming Sunday my church will observe the anniversary of shutting our doors and going online at our bishop’s command. On Friday my husband and I will celebrate sheltering-in-place for a year in a 970 square foot condo. Guess what? We still like each other! We still get along! We aren’t in marriage counseling, and we are not heading toward divorce. If you would’ve told me that incredible man could be locked up with me for a year and still want to be my husband, I wouldn’t have believed you. And that’s why gratitude is so important. It reminds us of how important the little things are. If we will only stop and see them.

James Reho notes that the New Age “attitude of gratitude” is “associated with a surface-level, Pollyanna type of spirituality that avoids the hard facts and sets us up on a pink cloud. The attitude of gratitude often presents as nothing more than a platitude.” That is why I’ve rolled my eyes in the past, and you are now rolling your eyes over this week’s Lenten practice. But The Rev. Reho goes on to say: “…deep strands in Christian spirituality and other spiritual traditions—highlight gratitude and thanksgiving as an integral part of spiritual maturity. St. Paul links giving thanks to joy in life: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess 5:16-18).'”

Practicing Gratitude in Action

Last year I decided when I prayed Compline* my personal prayers would be thanksgivings and gratitudes. We just started sheltering-in-place, and I knew my cynical, sarcastic self needed limits on how much grousing I did. I spent my time in Morning Prayer and through the day asking God for what I wanted (and telling God what I thought she ought to be doing). I decided before bed I would thank God for what I have and what she’s done.

Soon, I started noticing how this practice made me more mindful of my day. I realized many of the things I was grateful for were little things. The sun shining through the window after a few cloudy, gray days. The smell of bread baking. My husband’s smile. Hearing my mom’s voice. Seeing my family on a Christmas Zoom call. I thought it would be difficult for me to come up with three things I was grateful for each night, but it was a rare night I only had three things to be grateful for.

Miracles of Ordinary Life

This is why gratitude leads us into spiritual maturity: it makes us see what is right in front of us, name it, and thank God for opening our eyes to the multitude of miracles that happen to us every day. In “Thankful for Being Here” The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire writes:

Miracles surround us, but we miss them most of the time. We make it harder on ourselves to see the abundance of miracles that crowd around us because we too often look for the dazzling, the shockingly out of place.

Today, of all days, may we give thanks for the quotidian miracles of each day, each breath, each worthwhile task that fill sour days with purpose, each lesson we’ve taken away when something didn’t go as we planned. Perhaps this is the thanks that we should be giving.

I like my practice of gratitude because it makes me aware of the little movements of the Holy Spirit in my life. It is all too easy to be cynical. Buying into the negativity that drives our national life and culture is far too easy. It is a discipline–a spiritual discipline–to practice gratitude. But when we do, we notice the many ways God is moving in our lives. We notice a multitude of things right in front of us. We can be truly thankful to a God who meets us in the little, ordinary places in our lives.

*Compline is the Night Prayer Service in The Book of Common Prayer that is prayed before bedtime.

This is part of a series on Keeping Lent in the Pandemic. You can read the first article on practicing kindness here.

It Came to Pass: Rolling with Life Changes

Life changes
Life changes, so I bake.

How life changes never ceases to amaze me. In my most recent post on Lenten practices, I tagged a post I had written in 2008. First, how can 2008 be 13 years ago? Then I stumbled onto this little gem from that time that I had totally forgotten about:

I am a night owl, and I’ve always done my best and most creative work in the wee hours. It’s after midnight. It’s quiet and dark. I can hear myself think and for some reason, in the wee hours, I don’t mind hearing those thoughts.

Last month I started staying up working until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. I get up around 10:00 a.m., pray morning prayers and practice contemplative prayer then I start working between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. and go until around 5:00. Now it’s time to practice yoga, make supper, and spend time with The Hubby. Then sometime between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m., I get back to work (usually closer to 10:30 p.m. because I have to have my Jon Stewart fix).

Changing Routines

After I got over laughing at myself because this schedule did not last for long, it amazed me how much both my schedule and life itself had changed. The largest change has come in managing my clinical depression. I’ve been off the anti-depressants for a few years now, and I manage it with spiritual practices (yes, I still pray the Morning Office), exercise, and eating better. An incredible support network and a wonderful psychiatrist also does wonders for one’s mental health.

I no longer have problems with maintaining mundane, daily activities like taking showers and keeping up with my home because I have created routines to help me with all of this so that I don’t actively have to think about it. Like today, after I co-taught a Citizenship Class, I exercised, took a shower, wiped down the bathroom, and made the bed because that is the Tuesday and Thursday routine. The morning routine is cleaning out the dishwasher while I wait for coffee, so that way the dirty dishes have a place to go throughout the day and don’t pile up (I cannot tell you how much this one routine has changed my kitchen). Talk about life changes.

I also hope I’m not that whiny and navel-gazing anymore. To be honest, I aggravated myself a bit reading that. Talk about first-world problems. Don’t get me wrong: they’re problems, but not near the problems I once thought they were. Perspective is a marvelous thing (as well as good friends telling you to stop taking yourself so seriously).

It Came to Pass

This is one of the reasons I like writing–especially journaling: the memory grows fuzzy, and I forget. I remember when I was in the throes of the deep, deep depression in 2008-2009, I thought it would never end, but it did. Not only did it end, but now I have trouble remembering how deep that pit was. I think that’s another thing for us to remember as we go through this Lent and continue through this pandemic. One day it will be over. In a few years, the memories will start to grow fuzzy around the edges. As we used to joke in one of the churches I once attended: It came to pass.

What does that mean? It’s a phrase that’s all over the King James Version of the Bible: “And it came to pass.” Most of you will know the passage from the Birth of Jesus: “And it came to pass in those days Mary gave birth….” Why did we use to joke about this phrase? To remind ourselves things literally came to pass. Feeling sad over how long it’s been since you hugged your friends at church? Don’t worry: it came to pass. Sheltering in place have you depressed? Don’t worry: it came to pass.

Of course, this goes for the good stuff too. Your internal hermit overjoyed because you have an excuse not to go anywhere? Enjoy it: it came to pass. Are you ecstatic over all of the baking you’ve gotten to do because the pandemic pretty much halted your job search? Why yes, I am enjoying it because it came to pass.

Life Changes

Change is inevitable, even when we wonder if we’ll ever be comfortable going without a mask indoors again. It will pass. Life changes, always.

What has come to pass in your life? Did you think something would never end, and now you now have fuzzy memories about it? What advice would you give someone who was waiting for the “it came to pass” moment?

Keeping Lent In the Pandemic: Practicing Kindness

Practicing Kindness

Last year when we began to social distance and shelter in place, we said it was “the lentiest Lent we ever lented.” Little did we know Lent was going to last for a year (at least). As we now walk through our second Lent during this pandemic, many of us entered this season thinking: Oh hell no. I’m not giving up anything else. (Yes, I was one of those people.) Friends reminded me Lent was not just about giving things up, but also adding practices, like practicing kindness, that bring us closer to God.

They reminded me of this after I joked that I wasn’t giving up baking. Baking is how I’ve survived this pandemic. So I didn’t give it up. I found a way to add to baking when I discovered Give Us This Day: Lenten Reflections on Baking Bread and Discipleship.

As a result, I decided to be kind to myself and find God in what I was already doing. That got me thinking that maybe what we need to do this Lent is this: discover ways to find God in the wilderness we’ve been in for the last year, and this includes practicing kindness–both self-kindness and kindness to others.

As this world crisis continues, I need to make space for all of my feelings and be kind to myself. This does not come naturally for me. I am a slightly obsessive-complusive perfectionist with clinical depression. After four months of sheltering in place, I realized I was going to have to cut myself some slack. I needed to learn self-compassion if I was going to make it through this (not to mention if my husband was going to make it through this).

Practicing self-kindness

How am I kind to myself? I tell myself:

I wanted to see what others were saying about self-kindness and discovered The Mayo Clinic has a good, short article with several ideas on how to be kind to yourself. They recommend you choose one idea to practice this week. If you want a more in-depth read, head to The Kindness Blog (yes–there is an entire blog on kindness!), to read about 40 ways to be kind to yourself. Here are the ones I thought of off the top of my head:

  • Deep breathing to offset stress.
  • Have one person you can call or text anytime and be honest with.
  • Create a support network: spread all of the kindness you can!
  • Indulge in your hobbies.
  • Permit yourself to binge on the streaming service of your choice.
  • Remember: naps are a good thing.
  • Just because Shakespeare wrote whatever play during The Plague doesn’t mean you have to create a masterpiece. (That meme got old real fast: this is NOT practicing kindness.)

These are extraordinary times

I also asked friends what they were doing to be nice to themselves. They echoed some things I had thought of and other things I hadn’t. Chris told me unapologetically that she had taken a long nap that afternoon and didn’t care! Melissa wrote, she’s “giving myself permission to eat what I want, making myself go on longer walks with the dog, and being honest with friends when I’m feeling shitty.” And Kate said “I’m trying to get all the sunshine I can. I get outside a little at lunch and sometimes move my computer to the back window, which gets full sun in the mornings.” Of course, her cats have a different idea about who should get the sunny window.

Criselda went on to say it’s OK to go to “Sonic nearly every day for a drink or cup of ice so that I also have some safe interaction with someone.” (Likewise, my mother-in-law goes through the McDonald’s drive-thru for her Diet Coke for a safe way to get out of the house for a while.) Meagan is reading more intentionally to deepen her relationship with God, and Beatrice is forgiving herself. She says, “Right now is HARD, and I can’t make things better for my kids. I can’t fix it. We just have to get through, and if that means we play video games for three days, then we play video games for three days. It doesn’t make me a bad parent, these are extraordinary times.”

As Beatrice said: “These are extraordinary times.” Yes, they are. So what about you? Are you walking through this Lenten season differently this year? What are you telling yourself? And most importantly: how are you being kind to yourself?

Blast from the Past: Geeks and Ghosts: Valentine's Day for the rest of us

We take Halloween very seriously too

I posted this three years ago. An update on what you will read: I still have not learned Latin (BAD SHAWNA!), and we still haven’t gone on the Haunted Chicago’s My Bloody Valentine Tour because it’s too damned cold! Tonight we will be having a romantic dinner at home: lasagna, salad, homemade bread, and sundaes, and we’ll watch The Olympics. May be we’ll get in a macabre movie or two over the weekend. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

You remember the TV show Freaks and Geeks? It had the tagline: “What High School was like for the rest of us?” This is what Valentine’s Day is for the rest of us, whose romantic tastes fall on the more….macabre and nerdy side of things.

I should preface this that for our first date My Then-Best-Friend-Morping-into-My-Boyfriend took me on The Haunted Chicago Tour (the first date weekend also included Neil Gaiman and Shaun of the Dead). It was perfect. Even if you’re not a believer of things that go bump in the night, The Haunted Chicago Tour is worth the money because of all of the weird, macabre, and gory Chicago history that you learn during this 2.5 hours. But I’m a believer of things that go bump in the night, so I was really hoping to see the monk ghosts who supposedly haunt Hull House. Everyone else was trying to see Demon Baby up in the second story window while I was wondering around the garden outside of the house praying to see monk ghosts. I should also mention the year before when My Best Friend was trying woo me, so he could become My Boyfriend, he lent me Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and American Gods to show me he was interested. Our first date fell around his birthday, so I brought along Anansi’s Boys for his present, then we went on The Haunted Chicago Tour (and watched Shaun of the Dead). That’s who we are.

February is one brutal month of Chicago, and I got my first taste when I flew up to spend one of the weekends around Valentine’s Day with The Boyfriend. The highs that weekend were two degrees. We’d just gotten together, and hadn’t seen each for over two weeks, so cuddling for warmth on the couch watching movies sounded romantic (and warm) for both of us. Did we watch Casablanca? Ever After? Sleepless in Seattle? Oh hell no. Here was our “romantic” movie line-up: Donnie Darko, Being John Malkovich, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Groudhog Day. We may have watched a couple of Pixar movies because we totally love Pixar. Knowing us: The Incredibles was also on the line-up. We did brave the frigid Chicago weather for a wonderful meal at Gioco’s. But that’s not what I remember. What I remember are airplane engines falling out of the sky, people taking over John Malkovich, and Bill Murphy committing suicide and taking Phil with him.

This picture was NOT taken in February

Then there was our first Valentine’s Day as Husband and Wife. Sometime before February (and yes the weather was brutal), we were watching Mythbusters, and Kari was wearing a shirt that said Geek. And Geek was written in Greek letters. I blew out one of The Hubby’s eardrums by jumping up and down on the couch and yelling and screeching: “I HAVE TO HAVE THAT SHIRT!” You see, being the total nerdy dork I am, Greek was my favorite subject in college, and I pursued an M.A. that was almost nothing but Greek and Hebrew. I’ve called myself a Greek Geek for years. I. HAD. TO. HAVE. THAT. TSHIRT. And guess what The Hubby gave me for Valentine’s Day? Yeah baby. (I don’t remember where we ate out at.)

Another Valentine’s Day I received a collection of books to teach myself Latin because a couple of weeks before I had mentioned that I love learning dead languages, and I wanted to add Latin to Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The Hubby is my biggest supporter when it comes to learning more geeky subjects and becoming a bigger nerd. God, I love that man. (Don’t remember where we ate at.)

Tonight we’ll be staying in and watching Being Human and Castle. Because that’s just who we are. We’ll be going out to Gioco’s for dinner on Wednesday because we don’t want to deal with all the crowds (and next year I probably won’t remember where we ate at). It’s who we are. And may be next year we’ll go on Haunted Chicago’s My Bloody Valentine Tour (scroll down about half way down the page).

C’mon, you know you want to join us.

Now I am off to write a wonderfully macabre Valentine poem for my nerdy macabre Husband.

How can it be September?

Hello Company Girls and RevGals! Although I don’t know where the summer went fall is my favorite time of the year, and I’m very happy it’s on our doorstep. At RevGals for the Friday Five kathrynzj asked: What are 5 things that the beginning of September mean to you?

  1. HALLOWEEN IS IN 32 DAYS!
  2. I get to dress up!
  3. Brilliant fall leaves
  4. The wild feel the wind gets in the fall.
  5. CREATIVITY: this is my most creative time of the year.

Not much has happened this week. I spent some down time after all the traveling we did in August. Maid service came in and gave the place a good scrubbing, and I am so happy everything is clean, and I feel like I can keep up now. The hot and muggy weather is back, so The Hubby and I decided to stay in this weekend. Plus we have plenty of projects to work on. I did buy hot dogs and we are ready to go on grilled dogs and burgers.

Happy Labor Day to those in the U. S., and I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Company Girl Coffee: Vegas Picture Edition

We had a great time in Vegas and saw some incredible magicians. There are no pictures of the performances because cameras and video weren’t allowed. We saw Joshua Jay’s show Unreal. He’s a wonderful storyteller, and has quite the story himself. Two years ago he was in a water skiing accident, broke his left arm in two places and seven bones in his wrist. He was told he’s never get full use of his hand back, which is a career ender for a magician. But he’s using his left hand, and his magic was flawless (My Magician Hubby may disagree with that: he knows what to look for. This laywoman doesn’t know better and doesn’t want to know better). If you get a chance to see him, go. He’s very talented, and he has some good takes on classic illusions.

The final night we saw Carnival of Wonders with Kalin and Jinger. So, so, so incredible. Made ever more incredible because they hadn’t done the show for over a year and pulled it all together in TWO MONTHS! How they did it, only Godde knows, but it was fun and magical and memorable. I loved it.

I also spent a lot of quality time at the pool. I finally had a mojito, and they are wonderful. It’s a nice light drink with refreshing mint–an almost perfect poolside pool drink. But my favorite poolside drink is the pina colada: it’s hard to beat coconut goodness on a hot sunny day. I got some work done Monday: wrote three pages on the novel then I went on vacation after that. I slept in, ate big breakfasts at one of the hotel restaurants (my favorite being the Courtyard Cafe, and their courtyard French Toast: a cinnamon sticky bun French Toast layered with strawberries, blueberries, and syrup.) Went to the pool where I swam, napped, watched people. Got all dressed up to go to shows at night. Didn’t have to cook or clean. It was wonderful.

I read an incredible novel on vacation: Lady Lazarus. It’s an urban fantasy (magic set in this world, normally in a city). The protagonist, Magdalena Lazarus is a Jewish witch, descended from the witch of Endor, living in Budapest in 1939, right before Hitler invades Poland and starts WW2. Magdalena’s sister has a vision foretelling Hitler’s atrocities, and Magdalena moves into action to find an ancient family volume that could stop Hitler. The oldest daughter of the Lazarus family also has a special talent: she can come back from the dead. I loved this book. It was a great story with very real and human characters. It combined my two great loves: the Bible and magic successfully, and I thought did justice to both of them. It turned out to be the perfect read for a theologian attending a magic conference.

And now the pictures:

The Hubby and I all dressed up for the opening festivities

 

The Magic Shop where magicians bought their wares

 

Our friend Gabe selling magical products. Gabe also writes books about magic.

 

Magic Magazine puts on Magic LIVE every other year

 

Magicians trading Magic Magazine cover cards like baseball cards

 

The Pool at the Orleans

 

The Spa/Whirlpool/Hot Tub

 

Me, poolside

 

We had a view of The Strip from our room

 

Room view at night

 

The couple on the right are magician legends, Nani & Mark Wilson. They were the first to bring magic into your living room with their show, Magic Land of Allakazam. I also got their autograph. They were so gracious and patient with all of us!

 

The crowd for the first show for Carnival of Wonders

I have coffee Company Girls, but need to go shopping, so not much else. Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

The Vegas Vacation Update

Hello all! The Hubby and I are in Las Vegas on vacation. We’re hear for the Magic LIVE conference. The Hubby is attending most of the seminars and classes. I’m attending the performances, but I don’t want to know how anything is done, because I want it to be magic. Needless to say I’m staying far away from anything that might ruin my fantasy.

I have found a perfect spot by the pool to work and swim. And I do actually work! I spend 30 minutes writing then go swim for awhile. Write 30 more minutes, then more swimming. To be honest, it’s amazing how productive you can be that way! I wrote 3 pages in an hour of work yesterday, poolside with a pina colada (I ordered a mojito but the bar was out of fresh mint. To be honest: the mojito has a pretty tall order to fill to be a better poolside drink than the pina colada).

If you stay at the Orleans, you have to go to the Courtyard Cafe and order the strawberries and cream. It’s divine and makes the perfect breakfast.

Last night we went to this incredible magic performance. It was a magic show for the blind! We were all blindfolded and led into the parlor. The magic was done by touch and listening. It was fabulous. And to hold objects in your hands then have the magic happen when nothing has left your hand, and you’ve just followed instructions is just mind-blowing. Tonight is more close-up magic plus the Magic Museum. It’s so much fun.

I do have an announcement to make. The 12th Century B.C.E. Career Woman was featured in September’s Biblical Studies Carnival, hosted at Exploring Our Matrix, the blog of Dr. James McGrath. My post is under the Textbooks and Literature section. I haven’t had time to read who else was chosen for the Carnival, and I doubt I’ll make it over this week. If you see anything there you’d think I’d like, let me know in the comments.

I hope everyone is having a good week, and I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures:

The Hubby and I at Sunday night's opening festivities

We have a lovely view of The Strip from a room

Because Company Girls and RevGals Should Do Coffee Together on Occassion

Good morning Company Girls and RevGals! The Hubby and I are getting ready to leave for Las Vegas tomorrow for the Magic LIVE conference. There are classes and lots of performances. I plan on going to the performance, but I don’t want to be at anything where I might learn secrets. I don’t want to know how it’s done because I want what I see to be magic. We’re staying at the Orleans, which has a beautiful pool. When I’m not attending magic performances, you will find me poolside with a book and the notebook I’m writing my novel in, and an alcoholic beverage might be beside me as well. I’ve been saying for the last few months I plan on being poolside with a book and a mojito. But I’ve never had a mojito. Mojito is just fun to say: Mo-heeee-toe. So next week, I am going to see if I actually like mojitos, and if that would be my poolside, book reading beverage of choice.

This has been a great week. I’ve gotten a lot done. For three weeks in a row I posted to my blog, so I’m back to regular posting! Whoo-hoo! This week’s post is on Jesus and Syrio-Phoenician woman. For churches that follow the lectionary, this is the Gospel Reading, and I thought one of my takes and a friend’s take on the passage might help some pastors who want to preach the Gospel reading. I also wrote seven pages on the novel! And started translating Colossians for the upcoming editorial meeting I have with The Christian Godde Project. Plus there was all the shopping and glamming up to go to Vegas: I got a haircut and my brows done. Tonight I need to paint my fingernails. The toes still look great from the pedicure I got while we were in Nebraska.

Today I need to make a Target run to get the last few things we need and clean the house, so the cat sitter doesn’t have to walk into a mess (and I don’t have to come home to a mess). I want to write a few more pages on the novel today too, since I didn’t work on it yesterday.

Here is the reason why I thought today would be a good day for the Company Girls and the RevGals to get together. Terri made gratitude the RevGal Friday Five this week. She shared this powerful May Oliver poem then issued a challenge:

The Place I Want To Get Back To

is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts bestowed,
can’t be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

(Mary Oliver, “Thirst”, Beacon Press, 2006)

For this Friday Five I invite you to offer five gratitudes you recognize in your life.

Here are my five:

  1. We get to take a vacation this year! (It’s been 2 years.)
  2. The migraines are under control.
  3. I’m back to writing and I have some great creative mojo flowing through me.
  4. My husband: I waited a long time to get married, and he was worth every second of the wait. I am his ezer cenegdo: the power equal to him.
  5. The gorgeous weather we’ve been having Chicago and getting out and enjoying it.

I have a favor to ask: if you have sometime this weekend, could you read my post on Martha: The New Testament Church: Built by homemakers like Martha? I’d love to get some feedback on it. Thank you.

What are you grateful for?

I hope everyone has a great weekend!