Wednesday, July 27, 2011

familiar faces

-Starting the day with a rustic potato, egg and basil frittata (with a bit of fresh parm shaved on top).  It was a great way to celebrate an ordinary Wednesday and make it a bit special.

-The way my dog jumps up and down with excitement when I get home.

-Seeing a friend I met at Montreat (he helped in my small group as an adult leader) on Jeopardy today.  He won over $18,000!  He was worth that and more in my "small" group of 30 fun teenagers.  And who knew he had so much knowledge about Henry VIII?

I'm headed to that favorite place of mine (Mo Ranch) tomorrow for a family gathering spent catching up, eating too much food, soaking in the Guadalupe and reading.  I'll share that fun when I'm back Monday. Wishing you a weekend of the familiar and the unexpected!

Monday, July 25, 2011

pleasant chatter

-Getting back into my running routine due to an early rise and a run when it was (thankfully) not so hot.  I actually enjoyed myself, so much so that I noticed birds singing in the trees above me.

-My usual Monday morning visit to the coffee shop, which actually in this interim period of seeking a call and preaching in several local churches but not having one congregation I serve, feels a bit like my parish.  Before even getting my coffee (with the exception of when the with-it barista Erin brings it to me mid-conversation), I sort of make the rounds among the other regulars, catching up and checking in on everybody.  What a great community (with free refills!).

-My sister calling while I was in the grocery store and us discussing the excitement of her not knowing whether she's having a boy or a girl.  She said that she didn't really even have concrete name ideas for either yet, and so while perusing the wine section for a nice chianti, I started rattling off names from wine labels as suggestions.  It turns out "Gabbiano" might not be the best choice (though it would probably fit with her last name: Patranella). :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

sunny Sunday

-Early evening light dancing through trees and the windows.  Hayden liked it, too (though I believe that's his 'don't take my picture' face).

-The feeling of satisfaction that comes with getting a lot done.

-The sweet man in church who told me how glad he was that I was there.

a prayer for Norway

Here's a prayer from The World Council of Churches and its general secretary the Reverend Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (who's Norweigian), written in response to the recent tragedy in Norway.

A prayer for the people of Norway and for all victims of violence and terror

God of life, God of love:
In the face of unbearable tragedy we turn to you;
hear our cry, listen to our prayers, to our words, to our silence ...

God of healing, God of mercy:
Hear our prayers for the people of Norway;
for all in deep distress, for all who grieve, for the injured and the shocked, for those in despair.
May they be cared for and comforted.
For all in the emergency services working long hours to search, to listen, to care, to protect, to heal.
May they be given strength and also find support.

God of mercy, God of peace:
Hear our prayers for all around the world facing terror and unspeakable violence;
May violence be overcome and the path to peace be found.
All human life is fragile, each of us is precious in your eyes,
Teach us to value one another as you value us.

God of justice, God of courage:
We pray for all leaders in times of crisis,
That they may act for the common good, offering hope and not fear.

God of courage, God of transformation:
We pray for our churches,
That they may be places of openness and forgiveness, planting the values of peace and justice in society.
Transform all fundamentalism and vengeance into attitudes that make for reconciliation.
May we learn to be children of your kingdom of love.

God of all  grace and all thankfulness:
In gratitude we pray, giving thanks for the prayers and encouragement which come from so many people and places at this time of suffering, pain and mourning. We learn global solidarity in a time of crisis; may we not forget one another in less stressful times ahead.

These prayers and the heavy silence of our hearts we offer in the name of your son Jesus Christ who trod the path of peace in the face of violence.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

theatre, thrift treasure and tea

-Helping out at Theatre Victoria's production of High School Musical and enjoying the buzz and excitement of opening night.  My friend Ashley and I volunteer there and have a great time working the concession stand and chatting to folks and then getting to watch the show afterwards.  The show was made up almost entirely of teenagers; it was so inspiring to see so many young people courageously exploring their creativity.

-Meeting Ashley early this morning at Goodwill for a little resale-retail therapy.  We're both enamored with Goodwill and find so much stylish stuff there.  Today was half-price day (where everything in the whole store was half off) and so they opened early.  So, at 8:15 am, there we were (me wielding my trusty to-go cup of coffee) among the other eager shoppers.  I found several things, including a perfectly-fitting brand new pair of jeans, a copper cuff bracelet, a parisian-style black and white striped top and a vintage leather belt.

-Having a perfect wee cuppa tea in the afternoon and realizing (via Twitter) that my buddy Neil in Belfast (who incidentally supplies me with proper tea from across the pond) was having a cuppa at the same time.  He's officially dubbed us the "Transatlantic Tea Drinkers Club" and is talking about making t-shirts. Ha.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

beach bliss

What a relaxing day!  I went with my folks to the beach at Port Aransas.  I LOVE Port A (and Rockport on the way).  There's just something about sitting in an open-air restaurant (blissfully shaded) watching the water lazily lap around a dock while listening to seagulls call to each other that just oozes every last ounce of stress out of you.  Wonderful.

  My parents relaxing.

Me (wearing a dress of my Mom's that she bought in Hawaii in the 70's...perfect for a beach excursion).

Get thee to a beach, people!  Or if that's not possible, well, have some seafood and watch Cast Away, Beaches or Jaws. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

little moments adding up to life

I can't believe this is my 900th blog post!  I imagine that a hefty number of those posts mention family, trees, strangers and (of course) coffee.  This has been a great journey with you all as I record the everyday ways I encounter God in the surprising and the ordinary.  For a little stroll down memory lane, here's my very first post:


wine, coffee and other transcendent things...

After reading, I've decided to record "glimpses of grace" I encounter, hopefully daily. They may seem random, but they are the little moments that add up to life for me.

-The way the light danced in my glass of red wine at Eddie's last night to the beautiful voice of Matthew Perryman Jones.

-The fuzzy whiteness of my room when I first opened my eyes this morning.

-The cinnamon smell of my coffee.

I'm looking forward to 900 more!  Here are today's glimpses of grace:

-I'm officially a Texan, y'all!  I am now the proud owner of a pair of Lucchese boots (my first pair of boots since the little red Justin ones I had as a kid).  They're soft, comfortable, gorgeous.  Here I am with my boots (and sweet Hayden hovering nearby) standing by my Great-Granddaddy's boots and my Mom's boots.  Lucchese's a bit of a tradition in our family (my Mom and her siblings got them as a gift upon graduating high school - hers were some of the last actually hand-molded to her foot shape by Sam Lucchese himself).

-Chuckling to myself as I read a book.

-Stars peeking through shadowy trees with silvery, sparkly light.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


-A relaxing cup of tea at the end of the day.

(With a little sweet decadent wild honey swirled in.)

-Meeting up with my friend Rachel after not seeing each other for a while and being so engrossed in conversation that it took us forever to actually order our lunch.

-Catching up with a friend on the phone whom I haven't seen in years and who has become a father.  I could hear his little girl in the background saying, "Daddy!  Daddy!"  So sweet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

reunited, reconciliation and recipe

-Going to the coffee shop and running into someone I grew up going to church with and enjoying catching up after years and years.

-Reading really interesting interfaith dialogue articles (between Christians and Muslims) and feeling hopeful about the possibilities for peace.

-Craving fried rice and trying a creative recipe.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


-Going to Market Days downtown with my Mom and Hayden.  I always went to St. George's Market in Belfast on Saturdays, so there's something comforting about being at a market on a Saturday.  Being underneath sprawling oak trees wasn't bad, either.  Hayden was (as always) a hit, bringing out baby voices in passerbys ("ooh, hiiiii puppy!") and giving bored children a new friend.

-A random seagull gathering in the skies above the Target parking lot.  I live about 45 minutes from the coast, and so hearing their persistent caw-caw-caw was a bit surprising.  It made me feel like I was at the beach for a moment.

-Going to Goodwill with Ashley (another Saturday tradition) and finding something amazing.  We found our usual fun clothes (me: vintage belt, chinos, a couple of blouses; her: a couple of summery dresses) and were looking through furniture when she mentioned that she had seen a turquoise chair with desk attached outside at the donation spot that she thought looked like my style.  We asked about it, the man priced it ($5!) and brought it in.  We were accused of having telepathy for knowing it was there. Plus, it was half-price furniture day, so that means I got this beauty for a staggering $2.50.  I love it. Maybe even enough to start writing right-handed. :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

cuddle, check up and clouds

-The way Hayden always wants to cuddle.  He's the most affectionate dog, and will prop his head on my lap every chance he gets.  I love my dog. :)

-The stranger who kindly told me that my front tire was a little low and then pointed me to a nearby Discount Tire, where they checked and aired up my tires for free.  So kind.

-Waking up early and looking up at a huge Texas sky with pink-tinted clouds.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

toddler time

My little trip to Houston was made complete by spending time with my family. Here's Grant, my cousin Adele's little boy. So precious! Adele and I had a great time playing with Grant, talking food, reminiscing and just hanging out.

And here are the girls (my nieces)! Natalie's doing her best John Travolta impression as she plays with her slinky.

"My hair's a little wild today."

Gigi's amazing magic trick: where'd she go?

There she is! (Blurry because she's too excited to be still.)

Nat enjoying a little Barney time with her Daddy.

Gigi's so happy after bath time.

So is Natalie.

Natalie singing us a song. So precious.

I had an awesome time. Love y'all!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

tasty reunion

Is there anything better than catching up with old friends? Okay, maybe there is: catching up with friends complete with wine, coffee and phenomenal tiramisu. That's just about perfect. Hanging out with Josh and Amy was awesome - stimulating conversation, laughter and food.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

multi-cultural youth conference @ mo ranch

After enjoying that amazing mango ice cream in Comfort, I made my way to Mo Ranch to be a small group leader for the Multi-Cultural Youth Conference. It was my first time at this conference, and I'm so glad I was able to be there. It's now my favorite conference I've been a part of at Mo. Before it all began, I enjoyed a little time appreciating the beauty of Mo:

The rustic, beautiful Chapel on the Hill, where I've gone for years and years. I found a shady tree (thank goodness) and sat reflecting, praying and just enjoying the way I always feel particularly close to God in that place. I did, however, move from my relaxing reflection when I noticed buzzards circling overhead. (Really!)

Before leaving, I made a little cairn (actual size: about 3'' high). Cairns are used all over the world and throughout history for lots of different purposes. Many in Ireland have ancient roots as burial sites or places of particular holiness. For me, it was just a way to respond to how "thin" (space between heaven and earth very close) that place is for me.

I also enjoyed a walk to the rapids and a quick soak in the lulling rapids before everyone arrived.

Once they did, it was busybusybusy and SO much fun. I had a fantastic small group full of diversity and personality, where we shared moments of deep care for one another and lighthearted moments of games and crafts. The theme for the conference was "If you really knew me..." and focused on who we really are as individuals, a community and children of God. We made masks that, rather than concealing ourselves, celebrated who we are in all our diversity and gifting. The kids had a lot of fun with it.

Naomi opted for the (less messy) hand plaster instead of a mask.

Luis had to be very still and patient as Max put the plaster strips on his face to make a mask.

Once they had dried, they all painted and decorated their masks. These young people were really creative.

We used the masks in closing worship. Rodger Nishioka (my awesome former prof at Columbia Seminary) was the keynoter/worship leader and he had the young people bring up their masks and place them on central tables to respond to God's call from Acts 2 and Galatians 3 to be prophets and visionaries and one (not "same") in Christ.

The highlight of my experience at Multi-Cultural was the cultural celebration night, where groups prepared food common to their cultures and then shared dances, songs and poetry. It really was a celebration of the richness of everyone's cultures and was fantastic fun. The food was divine, with everything from Native American tacos made with homemade fry bread to fried chicken and collard greens to kimchi and fried zucchini to chalupas and charro beans to trifle and earl grey tea. For more details on the culinary delights there, see my food blog.

Luis showed off his dance moves with the Hispanic American group and invited others to join in.

There was vivid energetic folklorico dancing...

...followed by some enthusiastic pinata breaking (to the amazement of the boy sitting in the front right).

Dabrina participated in a beautiful Native American dance to the Lord's Prayer...

...followed by Native American group dancing where lots were invited to join in...

...and even a rendition of Amazing Grace by many different tribes in their languages, made complete by Laramie's awesome rock guitar solo. :)

The Asian American group taught us songs in Korean and Chinese and then did the most hilarious skit of the night. April from my small group helped lead the singing.

The European American group did funny skits and songs from around Europe including ancient Greek Olympics, Shakespearean plays and even songs from The Sound of Music to celebrate Austrian heritage.

The African American group had everything from rhythmic step dancing (with a praise theme)... a powerful rap (with a family theme)... a poetry reading by Dawn, one of the most wise and compassionate people I've met, who was an adult leader in my small group. She read this poem by Langston Hughes:

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

It was an amazing conference. I'm definitely eager to take part in it next year, too. Do you know that this Multi-Cultural Youth Conference is the only one in all of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in all of the States? A representative from the multi-cultural office at General Assembly even came to show appreciation for the conference. Pictured above are some of the youth leadership team, who worked really hard making it a memorable experience for everyone. They were awesome (and as you can see, knew how to have fun).

Some of the fellas.

Get ready for a few pics where I look exactly the same but am with different cool people from the conference: here's Talvin and me.

Here's Andy and me...

...and here I am with Rodger, my former professor. It's been such a gift to see him first at Montreat and now at Mo Ranch this summer. God does great things through him.

All in all, a wonderful time, full of laughter, shared sorrows, worship, play, community, creativity and joy in celebrating God's gift of diversity.