Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mr. Independence and Gardening

Cassie and I are planting a garden at their horse farm! So far we have, 9 tomato plants, 2 rows of corn, and one green pepper plant. Half of it will be vines- watermelon, canteloupe and zuchinni, the other half green beans, corn, spinach, lettuce and tomatoes. Anyway, the boys and I packed up our gardening and water fun items and headed over to their house at around 4:30 this afternoon. The boys entertained themselves with very few interventions from mom for a whole hour in the water, dirt and mud. We ate with Mr. Tom and Ms. Cassie, and then went back to the dirt for another hour where they were almost as well entertained. I kicked myself for not bringing a camera, but where in the world do you put a camera when everything is wet or muddy. Imagine three little boys, covered in mud, climbing into a round rubermaid tub full of freezing water, laughing their heads off, then jumping out again only to go role in the dirt and repeat the process. Needless to say we were all pretty dirty when we got home.

Snack, soap and stories and everyone was in bed,(Eric is at a track meet), so I decided to take a bath. I left the TV on CBS, ready to watch CSI as soon as I was done. I stepped out of the bathroom looking forward to a new episode only to find Isaiah. He is sitting on the coach with the remote control in his right hand, his cup in his left, and on TV...not CSI (thank goodness) but Larry Boy. He had climbed on top of the table by the TV, put the movie in the VCR himself and climbed up on the coach to enjoy a late night movie. One of those times when it took everything in me not to laugh.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Doctrinal Symposum Article

It is June 1st, 2007 at Wesleyan Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Comfortable, padded executive style chairs are tucked neatly behind professional looking tables. All seats face the front of the room where a simple wooden podium appears to be the main attraction. Not exactly a setting conducive to frivolity, but there is certainly the sense that something significant is about to take place here.
While sampling the chocolate covered cream puffs and fresh strawberries at the refreshment table, I glance around-albeit somewhat nervously- and quickly ascertain that I will be representative of at least one and probably two minority groups this weekend. Gentlemen in shirts, ties and expensive looking shoes gather in groups of three or four, shaking hands vigorously, obviously enjoying the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with each other. Feeling rather female and young, I occupy myself with the fruit at the table, and breathe a little sigh of relief upon noticing a former professor whom I feel certain will at least recognize me. A brief conversation later my confidence is renewed, and I am ready to participate as fully as any middle-aged male theologian- well, except of course for the fact that I am not a middle-aged male theologian but a twenty something, female educator- minor differences though right? I’m sure they have their insecurities too right?
Internal pep talk complete, I scan down through the agenda for the day’s activities, and let out a little poof of relief as I notice that I am not alone. There are several women in attendance and even one woman presenting a response. I also look around to notice a few heads of full, thick hair dotting the crowd of slightly thinning, graying coiffeurs. A closer inspection of the group’s shoes reveals a pair of flip-flops, some Doc Martens, and several pairs of tennis shoes. Definitely breathing more easily now.
Despite the age, gender and cultural differences that exist between some of us, it quickly becomes apparent that our purposes are like-minded. What do Wesleyan scholars and pastors have to say about the church- ecclesiology? Topics to be discussed will range from historical perspectives on John Wesley and what he had to say about ecclesiology, to signs, wonders and the miraculous.
We find seats promptly, and from my inconspicuous vantage point in the back row I am able to observe most participants. Suddenly struck by the number of years of ministry and years of theological study represented in this room, insecurities creep in yet again. Most of these gentlemen have been experiencing and discussing the things of God longer than I’ve been alive, and I find myself questioning again, “Why am I here?”
Good question. I’m a teacher. My school year has just ended. I’m without students for only 18 hours before throwing myself into yet another academic setting. It’s summer vacation. I have 3 small children. I don’t have a vast understanding of theology to begin with. What could I possibly gain from this weekend? What was I thinking? Where is the closest exit?
Presenters and responders approach the podium one after another, reading their scholarly papers to an eager, attentive, contemplative audience. With individual copies of papers in hand, we copiously take notes, underline key phrases and jot down questions. I am impressed immediately by the courage it must take for these presenters to share their views. Reading and having ones work scrutinized by some of these Princeton or Harvard educated theological minds could cause, I would think, butterflies in the stomachs of even the most seasoned veterans. Doubts creep in. “How challenging will their content really be? Will they really risk offending anyone in such a setting? Will the information really even be of any use to those in local church ministry?”
One after another, my doubts are overcome by a growing sense of- call me crazy- exhilaration. I know. Exhilarating is to be reserved for things like roller coasters and bungee jumping, not doctrinal symposia. I’m such a nerd. But let me try to explain.
These people are sharing challenging beliefs about what it means to be the church God wants us to be. They are not simply affirming the traditions of the past. They are not content to waffle between opposing views in an effort to please everyone. They are not predicting the unavoidable demise of the church because of those young people who are corrupting what we’ve established. They are not devising new ways to ruin all our fun. For several years, I have been a party to and at times (I confess) a participant in conversations among pastors and ministry students of my generation and younger, who feel that the older generations do not hear them.
Inevitably, late at night over a box of leftover pizza crusts and bottles of flat, half-empty Mountain Dew, the conversation will turn to something like this:
“Yea, I just wish they (the old people) wouldn’t be so slow to make changes.”
“Seriously. People and teens today just aren’t who they were 75 years ago.”
“I know. They (old people) just don’t get us (young people), and they’re going to lose us.” Followed by solemn, downcast stares, head shaking and… pouting. Don’t get me wrong. We are well meaning, full of passion ministers of the gospel who are doing great things, but a very important point is being affirmed for me here this weekend.
Events continue, we break into small groups to discuss, and this is what I hear. “They” are encouraged by the desire for our churches to look different from the world. “They” ARE willing to be flexible, espousing the same kind of “evangelical pragmatism” that Wesley first brought to our tradition. “They” are open to changes in our worship. “They” do believe in the truly miraculous. “They” do see the essential nature of true community. “They” do want to see women as leaders and pastors in our churches. “They” do want our congregations to represent a variety of cultures, ethnicities and languages. What “we” often interpret as rigidity and an unwillingness to “get with the times” could be in reality the wisdom of experience; it is patience; it is waiting on the Lord, and many times it is right and good.
I begin to notice that “they,” even the really old “theys,” are encouraged by some of the passions of our generation. Would it hurt us to take our time a little? Really think before we speak? Read? Discuss? Pray? I’m not saying we neglect these things completely, but in our instantaneous culture, what feels like adequate time to “us” may simply not be adequate.
Am I saying that we shouldn’t be urgent in our cause(s)? Absolutely not. I’m only asserting that if we expect change to come, we have got to stop whining over pizza crusts at conventions and start attending doctrinal symposia. We need to be involved in district conferences and, yes, meetings- meetings of all shapes and sizes. We need to write letters that aren’t angry or critical. We need to read authors from generations before us. We need to present well thought out, supported views without expectation of immediate acceptance and response. We need not get offended when change takes time- it’s nothing personal. We need to maintain a spirit of unity that respects the views of all generations, framing our desires and passions for our futures by the rich traditions and legacy of our denominational past. As for me, I walk away exhilarated knowing that I can continue to be involved in this dialogue for years to come. I can take these ideas home, read the papers with friends and family and continue the conversation. I walk away proud of who we are in the Wesleyan tradition and anxious to see what we will make of our future.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Elijah at Five

You are 5 years old now;
We are struck daily by your
Thoughtful character
Always contemplating, analyzing, connecting
This morning, I’m rushing to get everyone in the van,
You and I almost collide at the corner of the walkway and the driveway. I don’t see you in my rushing.
You grab the corner of my shirt and pull me back to you, wrapping your arms around my legs for the briefest moment, reminding me:
“Mommy, I love you,” and you dash off to the van.

You love to play harmless tricks on us,
Giggling wildly as you not-so-secretly stash a toy transformer on my chair before dinner- barely able to contain the anticipated moment of Mommy sitting on the toy.
And your laughter is such a gift- not terribly frequent,
But when it does bubble up
It comes from somewhere deep inside you-

You love and hate with passion.
You love your green checked button up church shirt. You’ve worn it every Sunday for the past 2 months- since Easter when Nana gave it to you. You hate every other church shirt.
You love sleeveless T-shirts because, “they show people my muscles, Mommy.” You’ve refused to wear anything else since summer began.
You hate change- any change.
Even changes most kids wouldn’t mind, you abhor.
“They’re all out of strawberry, do you want to try a chocolate shake instead?”
“No Mommy! I only like strawberry!”
Of course, how could I even suggest such a thing.
“Hey, do you want to try T-Ball or soccer this summer?”
“No! There would be people I don’t know.”
Silly me. Why would we want to get to know new people?
A new church and new home in Kentucky? We’ve been here for a year and you still call Indiana our “real home.”
Flexibility is coming- in the small things
Over time and with patience.
You teach us so much about

You delight in all things pretend;
When you become Spiderman for the day- we must address you as such. Usually, I am also Spiderwoman and Daddy is your accomplice, the Green Lantern.
Your imagination is your favorite toy.

You are protective of your brothers, especially Isaiah. You generally get along well with them-
Jumping, running, climbing, moving
As though motion were the life source of your being.
You love to participate in family life
Doing your chores eagerly-
Making your bed, feeding the dog, cleaning up your dishes
We rarely have to remind you.
You thrive on routine and you want to know the plan
You are always thinking ahead
Always thinking
This is you at 5,
Elijah Garret Crisp.

Simile Metaphor Collection

Elijah after running: My heart is beating like a coconut rolling down a hill.
Elijah on urination: Pee is like horses galloping out of the gate. Once they get started you just can't stop them.
Elijah: If school were a human I'd give it a wedgie.
Elijah: I am like a hot rod and I just want to be a plain old Ford
Elijah on the fruits of the spirit: I've got them all covered except self-control. Its like a tiny green tomato and the rest are all big ripe ones. Especially love. Its like the biggest tomato we saw in the garden tonight.