Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Okay, Me worry. A little.

Oh I remembered a couple more worries, both food related- I worry that I have food in my teeth, and I worry that I have gross eating habits and everyone knows it but me. Did I mention that sometimes I worry that people didn't have a good time at my wedding?

Yeah, but that's pretty much it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

This! Is! Alphabeat!

THIS is the song that got me hooked on the band that I am currently hooked... on. Alphabeat is a great little band from across the pond, for whom English doesn't appear to be their first language, but who keep me singing and dancing through their whole album (except for a couple of slow tracks near the end...)
Here's my challenge to you: watch this video twice and see if you don't start craving that beat! Then, go buy the album! It's darn catchy!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I found out recently that there's a word for my favorite kind of vacation: a STAYcation. It means you take time off from work, but stay home. I guess I'm pretty cutting edge because I've been doing this for years. As I've written there's not many places I'd rather be than home. I love to travel but due to my "lifestyle choice" (aka choosing a career in a less than lucrative ministry- CATHOLIC ministry, even)- it seems that most of my travel opportunities revolve around professional conferences. That's not a bad deal, really- conferences have taken me to Denver, Pittsburgh (okay that was the least exciting), Florida and Las Vegas (yes! apparently it's a cheap place to hold conferences...). I'm working on getting our pastor to book us for the LA Congress or the NPCD conference, both in California next spring. Hey, it's for the learnin'!
My husband's away this week at camp with his youth ministry. I'm jealous, because I know this trip will be great (It's with the Catholic Heart Work Camp crew) but also, I'm looking forward to a week-long taste of my single, Margo Tyler Moore days. Whenever Scott goes away, I miss him a lot, but do assert my alone-hood by making a few unauthorized changes. I put all the shades up just a bit higher, leave the lid of the toilet seat up, leave the bed unmade... fun stuff like that. I change the blinds in the bedroom so that I wake up to sunshine, unlike Scott who likes the bedroom to look a bit like the inside of a pocket.
By the end of the week I will not be able to wait to see Scott again. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Gosh, I miss him already.

Friday, July 25, 2008

No worries!

I mentioned something to my sister that I was worried about (nothing serious) and she asked me, "you worry?" I was kind of surprised by her surprise, actually. Do I strike people as a non-worrier? Oh I'VE got WORRIES! (Nothing serious, though. Well, in fact, let's see...

I worry about Scott dying. Not enough that it keeps me up at night but enough that I worry when he's late or I haven't heard from him in a while.
I worry about oversleeping on important mornings.
I worry when a motorcyclist passes me on the highway and he's only wearing a t-shirt and shorts, that he'll skid and crash and I'll have to witness it.
I worry that I'll need to give CPR someday.
I worry about getting pregnant.
I worry that my friends will ask me to babysit.
I worry, in the winter, about falling down and hitting my head.
I worry about catching the flu from my friends.
I worry that secretly, everyone thinks I'm kind of a jerk!
I worry that my pastor will be transferred.
That's all I can think of. Maybe I am pretty worry-free. Well that's good news!
I'm sure I'll come up with additional worries... I'll let you know.

UPDATED: Oh I remember! I worry whenever I get to a meeting or event, that I'm there on the wrong night, or at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Right! Yes, I worry about that. Okay.

Thinking about this reminded me of a great story that was part of a This American Life episode, about a guy who made a list of his fears, and now it's a published book- you can hear his story here, it's act 2.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Although I am no simple woman...

and you can do it too...

FOR TODAY 07/22/08...
Outside My Window... another rainstorm swings through the yard. No thunder tonight, though. It's the best-sounding rainstorm we've had in a while, and I'm glad for the coolness and water for the garden.
I am thinking...
about the stressful day we had- a lot of awful stuff in one day, and I'm glad that a fresh new day looms ahead. In fact, I'm going to go all Sabbath-keepy, and consider it a new day now.
I am thankful for...
the relationship I have with my husband, for how strong we can be for each other, and how much we can trust each other when we're not strong.
From the kitchen...
oh it looks like I picked the wrong day to start a simple woman's day book... Scott had awful asian noodle microwavy stuff, and I had a bowl of cereal. We were just a bit too spent to cook!
I am wearing...
comfy sweatpants and a t-shirt.
I am creating... nothing crafty- but at work I'm putting together a nifty brochure.
I am going...
to miss Scotty next week, as he heads off to work-camp. But I'm planning to get a lot achieved while he's gone.
I am reading...
OOOh just finished "Bonk" by Mary Roach, it was AWESOME, and hoo-boy did I learn a lot! For instance, did you know that cheddar crumbs placed in front of copulating rats will distract the female, but not the male? Next up, David Sedaris' new book "When You Are Engulfed In Flames"
I am hoping...
for a peaceful and overall okay tomorrow.
I am hearing...
bits of music from my itunes, as we play with Scott's new iphone, which has an app that can identify songs that it hears. So Jetsons.
Around the house...
are sleeping cats and unfinished chores.
One of my favorite things...
ways to spend a weekend is doing nothing, and that's our plan for this weekend. Yay!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
my brother's coming on a layover visit Friday night and that means we can hang out on Saturday morning for a while. His visits are always fun and we're glad when he doesn't have to rush off too early.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This picture is on the business card we hand out at conferences and such, it says our names and "Youth Ministers" below the picture.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Prods Among Us

I didn't blog much about the workshop week we attended a couple of weeks ago- the one on Christian Practices- and what I did say, I know, was a bit jumbled. But one thing about the week that struck me was something that wasn't on the syllabus.
There were a few Protestants among us, in the group of about 50 of us. Two were Lutherans (a religion that I'm intrigued by, I'll admit, after watching a PBS doc. about Martin Luther a couple of years back)- one an interim pastor at an Episcopal parish and the other her faith formation director. Also in attendance was a Presbyterian minister. I learned some interesting things about how their clergy work in their respective religions (including the baffling fact that in the Presb. guy's church there were something like 50 ordained clergy! How does that work?) and that Episcopal and Lutheran churches can share clergy- but not on a permanent basis.
But what really struck me was the effect that having some "Prods" as my uncle Bud used to call them, in amongst our mostly Catholic group. I was interested to see that when the Presb. guy (sorry to keep calling him that) referred to scripture, he seemed to expect us to know exactly what he was referencing- and it wasn't that we were all dolts, staring gape-mouthed at him whenever he mentioned the Bible, but there was a difference there. The impressively educated , professional Catholic faith formation people in the room were well versed in Maria Harris but... I guess the difference was, our knowledge was purely Catholic.
I mentioned already here the difference in perception between us- about how when the PGuy (better?) mentioned being "outside your faith tradition" the Catholics among us assumed he meant "Protestant"- not, say, Muslim or Buddhist, etc... I thought that the Protestants seemed to know more about Catholic teaching and tradition than we did about theirs- and it was interested when they would ask questions like "what do you mean when you say a 'reconciliation service'? Everyone goes at once? But they have to do individual confession? Huh, that's interesting..."
On the last day of the workshop we were talking about involving parish groups in each other's activities- like involving the whole parish when the Youth Ministry has a Fast-a-thon or what have you. The PGuy told a story about a church where they commissioned their youth during a church service- the group was making pb&j sandwiches for the homeless. The PGuy beamed as he told about the kids actually making their sandwiches ON THE ALTAR during the service. I had to laugh (I laugh too much) at the polite reactions in the room among the Catholics- everyone smiled and nodded at the PGuy but the tension in the room was palpable. ON THE ALTAR???? It was funny. Our leader, when we had all swiveled around to face him again, was grinning. He said "sometimes... it's great to be Presbyterian!"

Friday, July 18, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Just now Scott called me outside to watch the lightning that was striking over the airport that we can see from our yard. It was very cool out there- there were strikes every few minutes, but no thunder- and the wind was tossing the tops of the large trees in our neighborhood, making them wave in slow motion. The wind was a warm, delicious wind that I love to be in. But here's the thing- my first thought was "ooh I should go check my email to see if there's an accu-weather alert!"
When did my first reaction to nature become the urge to go google what I am seeing?
I do love my computer and using the web. I don't know how I ever watched a movie without scanning and I love the instant answers I get to all my questions. I have an old paperback dictionary with a list on the back that I started in high school, I called it "WTLU" which stood for "words to look up" because they were not in the dictionary. Now, I look up words all the time, among other important facts and figures that it is vital for me to know.
And as much as I love being outside, my happy place is indeed in my home. I love this apartment- the bedroom is cozy and romantic, the kitchen is cute and homey, the bathroom is fresh and crisp-looking and the living room is my happiest place of all. My chair suits me perfectly, I love watching tv and surfing the web, and it's just a pretty cool room overall. The loveseat across the room from my chair is so comfortable for napping that I sometimes slip out there at night if I can't get settled in bed.
I love home, not just since we've lived here but wherever home is/has been. I have a near-physical need to GO HOME after being away for a certain amount of time, and when I'm feeling ugly or sad or lost, it's at home that I need to be.
I'd like to believe that I could travel the lands like a hippie or an adventurer, but the truth is, home is my favorite place to be.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

get a saddle

In recent days, I had a conversation with a beloved young lady who complained to me that everyone she knew was "jumping down her throat." I wanted her to know that criticism is important to hear, and although that can be painful, there's something vital to be learned from every jumper.
As I told her this, I heard the words echo in the back of my head from my days working in a treatment/school facility- they were printed on a paper hung on the bulletin board in the staff office:
If one person calls you a horse— laugh at him. If a second person calls you a horse— think about it. If a third person calls you a horse— get a saddle.
I remember being where she is now- In college I was told that I could never fully understand myself because there are elements to me that only the outside person can see- like having a "kick me" sign on my back. That insight was a stunner, because up to then, I felt that I knew myself completely, and that anyone who disagreed with me just didn't understand. But I had to accept, at least eventually, that it's true- I have a limited ability to know myself from in here behind my face, and so it's important to hear what others say about me, good and bad- so I can get an ever better understanding of who God made me to be, and how I'm doing at the job of being me.
One day at a shopping center parking lot a friend drove up to me and said she had spotted me driving in, and knew it was me, because she could see I was whistling and I am always whistling. I was shocked! I always whistled? I had no idea that I whistled often enough that it would be an identifying trait. Once she pointed it out to me, I found out she was right-I do whistle a lot.
A young man in the school I mentioned above wrote me a note when he graduated. He said "I hope you always laugh too much." That one really made me think- do I laugh too much? Do I laugh more than other people? He was right too- I do laugh a lot, and I catch myself laughing at things that no one around me is laughing at. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I feel like Alex, the note-writer, was appreciating this odd trait of mine, and I guess I appreciate it too. I'd rather laugh too much than cry too much.
I'm not good at taking criticism... I've been told that... but after my initial reaction I do mull over what I hear, and the criticism and feedback I've gotten from people in my life have helped me become the kind of person I want to be- on my journey toward becoming the kind of person God wants me to be.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stuff to think about (two new posts)

Here are the great quotes and concepts from day one:
  • Christianity must be presented as a Way Of Life, rather than a system of belief.
  • Christianity must counteract the Smorgasbord lifestyle that modern families face, instead of being one of the dishes on the buffet.
  • REAL SIMPLE is the best selling magazine in the country right now. Why? People are hungering for a way of life.
  • Ideas can be “inert”- like inert gases, they just sit there, never mix with any others, never do anything.
  • The old model of Faith Formation can be described as a Banking Model. This model deposits information into the person’s head, and hopes for good dividends down the road.
  • We have a presenter who is Presbyterian- today he was talking about the practice of Hospitality, and asked us to share a story of when we experienced hospt. when visiting a faith outside of our tradition. Immediately all us Catholics thought of the friendly receptions we’ve gotten from Protestant Churches- huh. Only the Lutheran among seemed to know that he meant OUTSIDE our tradition- as in, not Christian. It struck me how separate we are from our peers in the Christian community.
  • “She believes that by teaching her children to sleep (well), she is teaching them to die (well).”
  • One thing families say they won’t do at home is study the faith.
  • Young people want to be marked deeply by their experiences. This is why we see so much tattooing, piercing, etc… How do we help young people gett hat experience from faith formation/faith? The speaker gave the example that everyone gets injured on a (good) mission trip- bearing great "battle scars" of their time in service. Just a thought...
More tomorrow. They are long, marathon days (tomorrow's 9am-9pm) packed with mind-bending stuff. I'll keep you posted.

Christian Practices

So, every year I try to get to one of John Roberto’s institutes- last year I blogged a lot about it, you can read back about it here- and this year I’m in Connecticut with a bunch of great people for the Summer Seminar on Faith Formation in Christian Practices.
John is an inspiring teacher, full of great information and ideas- he is a walking best-practices resource. I love these weeks because they fairly make my head explode with ideas and inspiration and a fire under my butt. I get this feeling of energy and urgency at these weeks that drives me for the rest of the year.
So… Christian Practices concern the things that people DO as Christians. John, and the Valparaiso Project (more about them later) define Christian Practice in much the same way as a doctor has a practice, or a lawyer has a practice. Christians, they say, have a practice too.Here’s the definition Dorothy Bass gives (of the VP):

Christian practices are shared patterns of activity in and through which life together takes shape over time in response to and in the light of God as known in Jesus Christ. Woven together, they form a way of life.

Got that? Okay, here are some of the practices we are talking about this week:
Honoring the Body
Household Economics
Saying Yes and Saying No
Keeping Sabbath
Shaping Communities
Dying Well
Singing Our Lives
There are more, but these are the original ones identified by the VP.

Today we talked a lot about how we (and the people in our parishes) already do so many of these practices without necessarily identifying that they are- and, that when given a chance to share their stories, they will (like we are) learn to see their daily practices as connections to their faith.

It’s kinda hard to describe. Check out the website at and the teen version at
because I’m sure they explain it there better than I do, so far. But after tomorrow…

Monday, July 07, 2008

who's your unibrow baby?

I used to believe that everyone needed someone to... well, kinda... hate. I thought, hey, every story needs a villain, right? Maybe if we all channelled all our hatred onto one person, we wouldn't hate so many other people.
Sometimes I still catch myself falling into that, letting something create a grudge in me and I do have a hard time letting those somethings go, sometimes.
But lately I have been hearing things about forgiveness, and letting go. I read today about a man who decided not to hate. He said (and I am summing here-) that one day he just said "enough." Now, when he feels anger, he reminds himself by saying "enough." Sounds easy...
Yesterday I heard the story of the girl from that famous photo from Vietnam, and how she learned to forgive. It was certainly convicting- go read it or listen to it here, and pay close attention to the last line. It's a hum-dinger!

Saturday, July 05, 2008


I imagine that turning the Big 4-0 is a different experience for people who have kids. I can only guess that when you have kids, you must measure your life against theirs, to some extent- and that turning 40 with kids who are 5 years old must mean something different than turning 40 when your kids are 20 years old. Know what I mean? My mother had 5 kids when she was my age- FIVE! The thought of one kid overwhelms me.
But not having kids means all I really have to measure my life against is myself, my own dreams for where I would be at this point in my life.
When I got my first Youth Ministry job, I had no way of knowing that I would end up with a heart for faith formation- NEVER dreamed I'd be going to grad school for religious education- I hadn't any idea how much I would suffer in my vocation, never thought my faith would be shaken like it has been, and never in a million years would have envisioned the job I'm in right now, NOT in youth ministry and loving it like I do.
When I told my spir. director how excited I am in my life right now, with so much great stuff on the horizon, so many opportunities for growth coming toward me, she asked how it felt to be in the "not there yet" phase. I said "it feels like pregnancy- like women must feel when they're in happy pregnancies- happy and hopeful and dreamy, excited for the future. It feels like the kind of pregnancy I want!" She said "woah- Margo!" and she was right. Woah. I am feeling all the hope and courage and excitement that I didn't feel when I was pregnant with a baby.
So here I am, almost 40 (about a month and a half to go!) and Expecting.... great things.