Saturday, November 12, 2011


RT : "God is sneaky. God tends to murmur to our hearts." (rather than call in big obvious ways).

This video is titled, "You Sneaky Mom!" When we talked this morning at Exploration about God being sneaky, this is all I can think about.

But in reality, when it comes to our calling, God is sneaky. Sometimes it is by putting us in conversation with someone unexpected. Sometimes it is getting us to an event that we're not sure about but it is life changing.

And sometimes God is most sneaky by leading us gently into what we are called to be and do. I have shared with my small how I was never one to feel scared or try to run away from what God has called for me. God was "sneaky" in the still, small voice that guided me gently but steadily toward vocational ministry.

The paths that we find ourselves on toward ministry are never the same. We have varying reactions to our call to ministry in whatever form that takes. But we are all called.


(This is my post from last night... I don't have internet access in my room, so I post when I can.)

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think that if you were my husband you would disagree. He called me this afternoon to see how my flight was, and I blew him off to talk to someone who had great questions about GCSRW. Telling him I’d call him *right back,* I bid him a good afternoon. Now, it is 11:09 (in St. Louis). Finally calling him back, he answers in a groggy tone. CRAP. I forgot about the time difference. I’ve just disturbed his slumber. But I have so much I want to tell him about today.

I want to tell him that Mark Miller sang one of our favorite songs. “All Are Welcome” has become an instant favorite not only at the church I serve (North Broadway United Methodist Church, a Reconciling Congregation), but also a favorite in our household. I took a video of Mark and the singers performing the chorus and attempted to send it to Garrett, and the video was too large…

I also wanted to tell him that I ran into Andrew, one of the members of my small group in 2007 (who also bought our washer/dryer before we moved). Garrett got to meet him and his fiancĂ©, hear about their journey of faith, and the four of us shared what it was like to be married and in ministry. I tried to text Garrett, but in the lower level of the hotel, I couldn’t get enough signal to send.

I want to share how a woman in my small group has had deep conversations with her husband about the meaning of baptism, and how a man has shared about how he and his wife have had conversations about baptism, children, and in-laws. Another small group member orders her pizza the same way my husband does. I didn’t want to ruin the sacred moments in our small group to reach for my cell phone to text him. I value the sharing that happened and didn’t want to be the one to take us out of the mindset and soul-state that God had called us into.

So many incredible things are already happening at Exploration. I shared with someone today how this is my third Exploration (Florida as a participant, Texas as a recruiter/small group leader, St. Louis as a recruiter/blogger/tweeter/small group leader/agency representative), and how this event holds deep meaning for me. She then said, “I can see how this event has deep meaning for the Church.”
Rev. Hamilton spoke of his hope that of the 600(ish) gathered in the hall for worship, 300 would be called to ordained ministry. He then went on to share that each United Methodist pastor will serve approximately 8 churches (Does my two-point charge count as two? That means I am at three now… see honey, only 5 more churches… 5 more moves… that doesn’t sound too awfully, right?). If the math is correct, that means the ministry of those gathered will touch around 2,400 churches. Do you feel as though that is enough churches to change the trajectory of the United Methodist Church? Rev. Hamilton thinks so. I do, too.

We have each been called to this place not to discern if we are called to ministry, but to discern what our ministry will look like. Each of us was invited to remember our baptism, a calling in and of itself, and dream God-sized dreams for our ministries. Blessings on your dreaming!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Am a Woman

I am a woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love

I am caring and competent
vulnerable and powerful
seeking wholeness
physically, emotionally, and spiritually

I am a woman
reaching out to others
making a difference in myself
my family
and the world

I am empowering myself
to empower others

I am struggling to accept my anger
and use it to gain strength, confidence,
courage, and intimacy with others

I am a woman
who sees the interconnectedness of all human beings
who values the unique gifts of all

I am a woman who leads and follows
who accepts responsibility for myself
and the choices I make

Yes, I am a woman
who sees each day as a new beginning
a chance to grow in self, love, and service

I am a woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love
And I can be
All that I am

- Ms Katherine Tyler Scott

This is one of the first prayers in Women's Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated. I have found many of the prayers in the book moving already, and I look forward to praying many more of them.

After church on Sunday a gentleman introduced himself to me. He had been a member of North Broadway United Methodist Church when he was younger. In the years between then and now, he had dabbled in many denominations and faiths, finding space for worship in the Baha'i faith at times. He was visiting his sister, a member of NBUMC, and he spoke to me of how exciting it was for him to come back to his home church and see worship being led by two energetic, called, and capable women. He talked about how he used to be frustrated when he came "home" to find the wall of pastors filled with the pictures of staunch looking men. We chatted about the place of women within not only the United Methodist Church, but in the Church as a whole and in other faiths as well.

As I walked home (so yes, the walk is short because I live across the parking lot) and the time after, I found myself thinking about how I count myself blessed to work with a female senior pastor. She has journeyed in many places that I myself hope to someday journey, and she has the experiences to share with me as we journey in ministry.

I have so many women in ministry to look up to, so I don't want to sound brag-y about just one. God has placed so many remarkable women in my life. I am so thankful that the United Methodist Church is a place that values and recognizes the call of women. I know that there is still work to be done (shout out to my GCSRW sisters and brothers), but on this particularly mundane Tuesday, I am taking a moment to be thankful for Rev. Dr. Stevens and all the other women with whom I am in ministry. I am blessed to count you as colleagues and friends.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You may now kiss...

Oh dear... watch this video:

Apart from being wildly funny (in my opinion), the Improv Everywhere wedding has alerted me to a dilemma for clergy.

Did you see how when they shared their kiss you could see the officiant's head in the background?

You didn't? Watch it again.

I have a picture of myself in the same situation!

Photography by Jennifer Snyder

This beautiful couple had one of the most fun and touching weddings I've officiated! But here, in their stunning first kiss, one can see my crazy mug below their chins and above their shoulders!

And again! When I married my husband's fraternity brother (wait...) When I officiated at the wedding of my husband's fraternity brother and dear friend, it happened again! Two lovely people who now have my right arm forever captured in their photo. UGH!

When the officiant invites the couple to smooch, I don't know many couples who could politely wait to kiss until the officiant steps out of the way of the picture!

Clergy, what do you do? And do you have similar pictures? I'd love to compile them and post another entry of our invasion of first kisses!

Friday, September 23, 2011

top 10 hymns

My friend, Diane (who I've mentioned in an earlier post), just created another brilliant blog experience. She challenged bloggers and friends to list their favorite hymns. Her challenge comes with a few rules:

1 - Hymns must be included in the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal, so no The Faith We Sing hymns may be included (excluding, to my dismay, We Are Called).

2 - It must make your heart thrill to hear/sing it.

3 - You must be able to sing at least one verse by heart.

So, in no particular order, my top 10 favorite hymns:

159 - Lift High the Cross (Newbolt) - Nothing beats the descant from Ada First UMC on this one, but it holds a place on the list for many reasons.

555 - Forward Through the Ages (Hosmer) - This will be sung at my funeral. Take note.

707 - Hymn of Promise (Sleeth)

302 - Christ the Lord is Risen Today (C. Wesley) - There is just something about the Hallelujah's after you haven't sung them for 40+ days.

203 - Hail to the Lord's Annointed (Montgomery)

400 - Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Robinson) - I must say that I hear Sufjan Stevens and/or David Crowder usually when I think of this.

147 - All Things Bright and Beautiful (Alexander)

369 - Blessed Assurance (Crosby) - I don't always love the blood language, but I love Fanny Crosby and I love the tune and I love the song. I stand by my choice.

92 - For the Beauty of the Earth (Pierpoint)

211 - O Come, O Come Emmanuel (15th Century French) - I am an Easter woman, but is it really possible to list ten hymns from the UMH and not include an Advent hymn?

So what are yours? If you are non-United Methodist, your own denominational hymnal will work... even though it won't be nearly as much fun...

Monday, September 19, 2011


Recently I watched the movie "The Help" (after reading the book, of course). In a scene the main character, Skeeter, is walking through a newspaper office full of cigarette smoke to the enclosed office of the manager. When she opens the door and walks in she does not shut the door behind her. The manager yells at her (and the quote is not exact here), "Shut the door! Eventually they're going to figure out that those things'll kill ya!"

I have just returned home from Crucible, a leadership development program for ordained and provisional members in the West Ohio Annual Conference. The first retreat was a personal development retreat that focused on wholeness, wellness, prayer, and solitude. Among the many topics we addressed, we talked about workaholism.

Our presenter, Ruth Haley Barton, stated that workaholism is the -ism of our generation. It is important for leaders, both secular and religious, need to understand that workaholism is an addiction. It will not only destroy career, but self, family and many other vital aspects of our lives. I was so surprised to hear how many pastors in the room don't take even one day off per week. Many confessed to feeling a drive within them that would lead them into self-destructive behaviors. Perfectionism, overdrive, and technology mix to form a fatal cocktail that will seem successful until the great crash and burn that will cause many to leave vocations, families, and even life behind.

Why don't we understand that workaholism will kill us?

I tweeted last night about being frustrated that I would likely have to do work on my day off as a result of being at the Crucible retreat. One pastor working in a non-parish setting replied, "Day off?" I know that she was joking, but why do we expect pastors and people in so many other vocations to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

I think the attitudes are beginning to shift, but but how can we honestly examine our own work patterns and realize that when our work cannot be accomplished in 50-60 hours it does *not* mean that we should simply work longer and harder! Our spirits, our minds, and our bodies are not made to function as a workaholic.

I have made a few goals to start examining my workaholic ways. Here is one:

I will buy an alarm clock so that I can turn my cell phone off each night. Not just on silent and ignoring it, but turning it off and not attending to twitter, facebook, and email in the middle of the night.

What will you do so that you do not succumb to the addiction of workaholism?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Passion and Possibility in St. Louis

A lot of things have changed since November of 2006...

My name is different. Then? Anna Barrett. Now? Anna Guillozet.
My home is different. Then? Ada, Ohio. Now? Columbus, Ohio.
My status within the United Methodist Church is different. Then? Laity. Now? Clergy.

Of all of the things have brought me to the place I find myself now, Exploration was a stand out experience in getting me to where I am now.

A junior at Ohio Northern University, I journeyed to Tampa in 2006 to hang out with my friends and hopefully try to piece together an identity which would carry me after college. What I got was so much more...

There I met a (now dear) friend who shared with me what it was like to enroll in seminary, have a partner who stood by her but understood that her calling was her own, and what calling looked like in her life.

Three years later, I went to Dallas as a second year seminarian, clear of my calling to the order of elder in the United Methodist Church. I served as a small group leader to eight smart, gifted, and called young adults (with whom I still talk today). I kept in my head the experience I had in Tampa, hoping to be the person who shaped the life of a young person in a way that was meaningful. All eight young adults in my small group are living God's call in their lives in ways that a powerful. Few are pursuing ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church.

I know that as I attend Exploration 2011 I will be the one being blessed. There are few things more sacred than to live among the questions. Young adults from across the country will come together to explore, question, form, talk, laugh, sing, worship and pray together. Of all the ways in which God is calling me to ministry, I am blessed to witness Passion and Possibility.

I ask that you pray with me. Pray for the young adults attending. Pray for those who will travel to support them in understanding calling. Pray that God will open their hearts to a great calling, unique to each young person. Pray that the young adults leave the event not with answers, but equipped to ask the challenging questions.

What are the meaningful experiences of call in your life? What questions are you still in the midst of asking?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The "Fat" Stigma

So, I am not a "small" woman. I never have been. I never remember easily finding jeans in my size. I have generally been happy with the shape my body is.

... but I have recently been made aware that in the culture I am immersed in, my body is often the subject of other conversations. Many others believe that my body is not only mine, but theirs to comment upon. I understand that my body shape is not what society is most comfortable or familiar with, but it is real. I have *shape.* I have *hips.* I am *curvy.* That has, on more than one occasion, opened (against my will) discussion about my body. A few times folks have asked me if I am expecting. Surely you can read into all the reasons this is offensive to me, one who has never been pregnant.

Self-confidence issues that resulted from those comments aside, this question is only one of the few times that my body has been the subject of unwanted and uncomfortable commenting.

I recently experienced another instance. I was in a setting where I was not the only overweight person in the conversation. One person (a man... I feel like this is a relevant fact, despite my effort to remain situationally ambiguous) pointed out the fact that not only he was overweight, but I was, too. I believe that I handled the situation with grace. I dealt with his questioning about my healthcare habits in the best way that I could. I stated that I knew that I could stand to lose a few pounds. It was uncomfortable (and I believe inappropriate).

So after the conversation was concluded, and those involved were loitering in a setting with others who were not involved, I found myself with a grumbling stomach. I had not eaten yet that day. As I stood in front of the food/drink spread, I found myself debating between a cookie and a banana. What I wanted was a cookie. What did I choose? A banana. As I peeled and consumed the banana, I kept my eyes on those around me. I chose the banana over the cookie because I didn't want to see the man who had drawn attention to my "fatness" to see the fat woman eating a cookie. "Hey, LOOK AT ME! I chose a banana!"

And I am not the only person who feels this way. I know of many other situations in which a person does not want to be seen eating a certain item or drinking a certain drink for fear of being stigmatized for being fat.

I am reminded of a recent episode of "What would you do?" on ABC. A larger woman is sitting in a restaurant and orders a large meal (I don't remember exactly what) of fried/fatty food. The server (an actor who is really "in" on the situation with the actor playing the customer) berates the "fat" woman for ordering "fat" food. Very rarely do any of the unsuspecting onlookers stand up on behalf of the customer. If anything, they side with the server.

So here is the question: is this fat stigma in the mind of me, the writer, and other "fat" people, or is this an honest societal issue that needs dealt with?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

On the Eve...

Dear Anna,

Tomorrow is a life changing day.* You're nervous about it, I know. I am telling you the same thing I tell brides and grooms on their wedding day. If you weren't nervous about it, I'd be worried. It is a big day with a lot of meaning.

... that being said, please remember that tomorrow does not define you. A committee can not negate a call. A board can not take away your identity. Sure, they may vote no, but even if they do you will still be a beloved child of God, one who is called and claimed.

You have done the work. You have prepared. You have prayed. You have been prayed for. No matter how tomorrow turns out, you will still be you. The outcome may or may not be what you had desired, but you are a strong woman who will make the best out of whatever may come.

I promise I will always love you for who you are and who God has shaped you to be. No one will change that, no matter what you may be feeling.

Remember the quote you love so much...

"So I walk like I'm on a mission 'cause that's the way I groove. I've got more and more to do. I've get less and less to prove. It took me too long to realize that I don't take good pictures 'cause I have the kind of beauty that moves."

~ Anna ~

* written on the eve of my interview for commissioning as an Elder in the United Methodist Church

Friday, March 11, 2011


I saw this post on one of my favorite nail polish blogs (yes, I read more than one nail polish blog... don't judge me).

Let's see your handwriting!! Write out all the answers to the questions below, and post it to your blog!!

1. What is you name? And your blog.
2. Blog url
3. Write: the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
4. Favorite quote
5. Favorite song
6. Favorite band/singers
7. Say anything you want
8. Pass it along to a few bloggers

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Things Vanessa Taught Us

56 years ago today, the world changed. Vanessa Joan (pronounced Jo-anne... don't get it wrong) Craft (later Barrett) entered this world. But really, doesn't the world change each time one of us is born? Doesn't the world change when each one of us dies? I think that's how Vanessa felt. Each of us has a unique task of leaving this world better than we found it.

On this, what would be her 56th birthday, I think it is important for us to remember that Vanessa left this world better than she found it. Vanessa, my dear mother, was a teacher. Not only in the classroom, this brave woman sought to teach each and every person she met. I believe that she succeeded. Listed below are 56 lessons that Vanessa taught us.

I hope you enjoy the list, laughing at the funny lessons, and humbly remembering the somber ones... but most of all, I hope you share this list, both by sharing the list itself with others, but even more so by living out the lessons.

1. Meals can be one course. This course can be popcorn, Shells-n-Cheese, nachos, or any other number of foods that require little to no effort to prepare.

2. Of all fast-food restaurants, always choose Taco Bell (unless the Taco Bell has been closed by the health department... then choose Arby's).

3. The healthiest competition comes from card games. Also, don't mess with a Craft woman, especially when she is playing Phase 10, Skip-bo, or Wizard.

4. Teachers have first names. They really like to be called by them, too!

5. The only way to be happy is to be yourself.

6. Everyone has a talent. If you think you don't, you haven't tried hard enough.

7. Travelling in large groups is risky, especially when you don't know the language. Always have a meeting spot in case of emergencies.

8. If something seems like a bad idea, DON'T DO IT!

9. No child is a lost cause.

10. Likewise, every child deserves to be loved and to be given a second chance.

11. Again, likewise, children are not their parents.

12. Love transcends divisions. That doesn't make divisions less hard to deal with, but love is worth persevering in.

13. If you have troubles remembering your 9 times tables, hold both hands in the air (working under the assumption that you have all and only 10 fingers). To figure out 9 x 4, (starting at the left) count over four fingers (your left pointer finger). Put it down. To the left of it will be 3 fingers, to the right of it will 6. 9 x 4 = 36. 9 x 6 = ? Count over six, put down your right thumb. 5 to the left, 4 to the right. 9 x 6 = 54.

14. The only ab workout you need is laughter.

15. Don't take yourself so seriously.

16. The best way you can love your children is to love your parenting partner. (She phrased it, "The best way a man can love his children is to love his wife." I have altered the lesson to be inclusive.)

17. When stuck in a conflict, "BUILD A BRIDGE and GET OVER IT!"

18. Things don't always have to be tidy to be organized.

19. If a group of people is getting together and have invited you, you declining the invitation means that you will be the subject of conversation.

20. Life is short. Spend time with friends and family.

21. Friendship is the most precious gift you have. You are not limited to one best friend. The more, the better.

22. You can live on less than 1 kidney. For a long time.

23. If you don't know the answer, admit it. Don't make an answer up. It does no good to anyone.

24. Take the questions of children seriously. You might learn something in the answering.

25. There is truth to the command to "make a joyful noise." Tone-deaf is merely a state of mind.

26. If you're feeling sorry for yourself, others probably are, too. You are worth more than feeling sorry for yourself.

27. Doctors should be nice to you. You are buying their houses, their cars, and (as the case of Vanessa's nephrologist) funding their divorces.

28. Once you get the "teacher look," you'll never forget it. Phrases like "suck a duck" will incite said look.

29. The "mom glare" is strikingly similar to the "teacher look."

30. If you can't play sports (or just aren't any good at 'em), encourage the people who do!

31. Cherish your sorority sisters. They're the only ones who won't think you're crazy when you sing the songs/do the dances you remember from college.

32. Always designate a friend to remove your "bedside/top drawer" contents in the case of your untimely death. Your children won't ever thank you for it, but really they're thankful.

33. Pepsi is addictive. Never trust a Coca-Cola drinker (even if you marry one).

34. Children are never mistakes. They are gifts to be cherished.

35. Do not try to iron your clothes while you're wearing them.

36. Family is family, no matter what.

37. Never underestimate the power of a smile. It lifts your own spirits more than it lifts the spirits of others.

38. Kids grow up, most of the time before you even know it. Savor childhood.

39. Relax. Yes, you. RELAX.

40. When making puppy chow, always double-bag.

41. Relationships (especially with your kids) are more important than keeping a perfect house.

42. The only color of Laffy Taffy worth eating is the yellow. And if you don't think the jokes are funny? Well, see #15!

43. When being intimate under the Christmas tree, watch out for needles. Or buy a fake tree.

44. When sneezing, remember to squeeze. This maneuver is (cleverly) titled the "sneeze-n-squeeze).

45. You are perfect, but your life won't and doesn't have to be. Trying to make it so is a wasted effort.

46. You never know when Kilroy is watching.

47. It is convenient to name your kid the same thing as the next door neighbor's kid. It cuts down on the yelling.

48. Hug people. You probably need it more than they do, but it will brighten their day and lift their spirit.

49. A dog will always love you, no matter how badly you snore.

50. Open your home to those who need it.

51. Your paycheck does not define you.

52. Everyone has a nickname. If they don't, it is your responsibility to make one up!

53. Give until you can't give anymore.

54. Like most music, Barry Manilow is best heard on vinyl.

55. Your legacy will continue to affect people long after you have left this earth. People you've never met... make sure it is one worth leaving.

56. Never forget the 4 L's... Learn, Laugh, Love, Live

So, which is your favorite? Which are you best at? On which do you need to work?

*a special thanks to Diane for inspiring this post
** a VERY special thank you to all who shared lessons and memories on facebook. I couldn't have compiled this list without you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2010 in Albums (re-post from Facebook)

My friend, Nick, has posted a list of albums that he connected to in 2010. After a bit of conversation with him during a class break, I decided that I would do the same. Like Nick, most of these albums are not albums released in 2010, but albums that I found myself constantly returning to.


"Furnace Room Lullaby" - Neko Case

I was introduced to this artist by my friend, Julia. We used a Neko Case song as a background for a group project, and I was immediately captured by her unique sound. I was taking an intensive class in January in which I was studying the Doctrine of the United Methodist Church. When I felt very boxed in to the "system" to which I was submitting my career, I found freedom through the sound of this album.


"Evolve" - Ani DiFranco

I have always considered the title track from this album to be a "mantra" of sorts for my life... "So I walk like I'm on a mission 'cause that's the way I groove. I've got more and more to do. I've got less and less to prove. It took me too long to realize that I don't take good pictures 'cause I have the kind of beauty that moves." What headstrong woman finding her way in the world wouldn't relate to this lyric? (As you will see emerge later in the year) I have a tendency to re-listen to albums both before and after I see an artist in concert. I saw Ani with my friends Julia, Chrissy, and Deana. She put on a spectacular show and put in motion a lot of thoughts about how I can be both a married woman and an activist for women's rights.


"New Moon Daughter" - Cassandra Wilson

March contains not only my birthday, but also an opportunity for me to spend time with my sisters and brothers of GCSRW. I always feel quite tapped into the universal feminine when I listen to Cassandra Wilson, and in the celebration of my birthday in Chicago, my GCSRW friends made a monetary gift to the Advocacy for Women Endowment. I felt as though they said to me, "You're womanhood is a legacy."


"Kansas" - Jennifer Knapp

As I prepared to attend the West Ohio Annual Conference, I had been in much prayer and conversations with Christians and non-Christians alike about the relationship between hetero-sexism and faith. Around the middle of April, Jennifer Knapp, a successful Christian recording artist, came out of the closet. Hearing not only this album from Jennifer Knapp, but also listening to her interviews alongside my preparations for a heated week at annual conference made me keenly aware of many issues surrounding sexuality that have permeated many conversations, churches, communities, etc.


"The Everglow" - Mae

This is just an overall great album that holds a lot of memories and emotions. As I transitioned out of my "second year" at MTSO and into the summer, this album just held me together.


self-titled - Corinne Bailey Rae

Annual Conference, mentioned above, occurred in this month. Corinne Bailey Rae served as a calming presence. Her music is light but full of soul.


"Call Off the Search" - Katie Melua

July took me on a journey to Germany. My dear friend Vici, her husband, Hauke, and their BEAUTIFUL (no really, she is the most gorgeous child in the world) daughter Mathilda had graciously hosted me for a few days. As we were all enjoying a typical German breakfast, Vici put on this album. I was instantly hooked. I listed to this album not only for the rest of July, but for the rest of the year.


"God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise" - Ray LaMontagne

A newly released album that was long awaited from this Ray LaMontagne fan. His album set the tone for the beginning of my last year in graduate school (FINALLY). I have always loved his music, and the collaboration with the Pariah Dogs somehow captured my feelings of stress, worry, sadness, and the beauty that comes from them all and represented them musically.


"Wreck Your Wheels" - Kim Richey

Again I found myself with my wonderful GCSRW friends in Nashville. We went to the Bluebird Cafe to listen to songwriter's perform, and we all fell in love with Kim Richey. I had heard a song of hers on Grey's Anatomy, but never followed up. She is another woman who performs with soul.


"Simplicity" - Katie Reider

As I arrived at church one Sunday morning, a parishioner asked if she could play a song that she heard at a wedding to celebrate the anniversary of two of our beloved congregants. The song was beautiful, but she didn't know who sang it or where it came from. Quite ironically, the next day my friend and colleague, Don, posted a status on FB about a Katie Reider song. As I read Katie's story and listened to more and more of her music, I discovered that she was the writer/performer of the song in church. Her music captivated me and encapsulated her life of hope and love. Her story is all at the same time heartwarming and heartbreaking.


"Lonely Avenue" - Ben Folds & Nick Hornby

This album was released this year, and I haven't stopped listening to it since. I saw Ben Folds in concert with Garrett and my friend, Bethany. It was incredible.


"On a Rolling Ball" - Gabe Dixon

December held a lot of stress and distress, and this album on repeat settled my mind as I entered what will no doubt be one of the craziest years of my life.

I would love to hear yours!!

Imagine a Woman

Patricia Lynn Reilly, M. Div.
© 1995

Imagine a woman
who believes it is right and good she is woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman
who believes she is good.
A woman who trusts and respects herself.
Who listens to her needs and desires and meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman
who has acknowledged the past's influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman
who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and to her wisest voice.

Imagine a woman
who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs her own spirituality and allows it to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman
in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates her body and its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman
who honors the face of the Goddess in her changing face.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her precious life energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman
who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

[emphasis mine]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Life is More Than a Box of Chocolates

So, another Valentine's Day...

I am quite happy to have many people with whom I share the sentiment of the day. And for those who abhor this day? Please don't let a
day make you feel less special than you are.

And now for something totally different.

I'm a pastor. 99.9% of the time I love it. I loved it yesterday. I lead two worship services each Sunday, and after a particularly normal first service, I was feeling a bit down. As I walked into the sanctuary of Church Number 2, I saw a lovely box of chocolates neatly placed in my chair behind the pulpit. I knew immediately who the chocolates were from. Last year I got a dozen roses from this same person.

Here comes the dilemma.

So, I have decided to start (again) taking seriously this business of eating better and making my body fit for life. Seems easy, right? I am a week in, after I had a few successes and many, many failures. But I live one day at a time, choosing water over sugary soda and veggies (which I truly love) over chocolate.

So these chocolates from church posed a problem. I lived through a minor "encounter" during worship, and felt good when I got home. My husband and I swapped some Valentine's Day trinkets, and life was good! So I had one chocolate! Look at my self control! And then Monday came...

I made good choices. I ate one more chocolate. Self control win! I went out to lunch with a few friends, at a Chinese Buffet even, and made good choices! LOOK AT ME! I am being successful! And on the drive home, my phone shouted at me, "IT'S SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE!!" (that's the ringtone I have set for email notifications.) So I get home, open the email, and it is a passive aggressive email from the same instigator of the "encounter" during worship yesterday!

Ugh... I am angry. I am disappointed. I am feeling attacked. I cry. I want chocolate. Perhaps it is because the chocolate is sitting on the coffee table. So I moved the chocolate to the kitchen table. Out of sight, out of mind, right? So I vent to a friend about how angry I am, I do some housework (that in itself should tell you how angry I am), and I try to take my mind off of eating

But when I sat down and needed to get work done on the computer, I ate one caramel. I typed. I ate another caramel. I typed. And before I knew it, I had devoured every caramel in the box. And then I picked up a strawberry candy! I DON'T EVEN LIKE THEM. What is it about anger that can make an otherwise strong willed person eat a bunch of chocolates I don't even care for?

So I walked outside, dumped the box of chocolates in the dumpster, and said to myself, "Anna, life is more than a box of chocolates."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Nose Knows

So, I have been wrestling with a decision for the past couple of weeks that represents larger issues within my life. Are you ready for the question I have been asking myself?

Should I pierce my nose or not?

Let me begin this argument by stating that I have had my nose pierced before. In fact, shortly after I got it done, I posted a picture of me and a friend that displayed the modest jewel.

When I posted this picture, a former youth pastor (MAM) posted the following comment: "if that's a nose piercing i'll kill you out of sheer jealousy. youth directors ought not cause their youth directors to stumble." By this point in our relation, MAM and I were more friend/colleagues than youth pastor/youth, but I understood her comment.

I had always been a person who valued self expression and felt wonderful about explaining my gauged ears and my tattoos. I welcomed the conversation, even from the people who disagreed with what I did to *my* body. I very vividly remember that there was a woman who attended the church at which I was a youth pastor who approached me to question my facial jewelry. I was ready to do the *smile-and-nod-and-respect-an-elder* defense of my jewelry when she declared, "I just love it! I may have to get one myself!"

It surprised me that someone who was well over the age of 70 valued my own self-expression, too! As I finished college, I was deep in the final stages of planning my wedding. My (then) fiancé had asked that I think about taking out the nose jewelry for our ceremony. I obliged, agreeing that I may not want a little bauble showing in my pictures 30 years from now. As we waited in the airport to depart on our honeymoon, I realized that I had not replaced my nose stud. Stupid me...

but the nose piercing went by the wayside. I have been working in a church since college, so I welcomed the *not having to defend yourself all the time* mindset that the lack of facial piercing afforded. As I wore my hair down most of the time, very few people even noticed my gauged ears. And I continued to "grow up."

As I continued to age, I began to have a desire to wear fun, dangling earrings. I made the decision to take out my size zero gauged ears. (See below picture... the white is solid, forming a large hole in my ear).

With my gauges gone, my nose piercing closed, and only one tattoo made known to people with whom I work and attend school, I started to feel like a large part of my personality had been stifled. I was, after all, the person who rounded up friends on my birthday and drove to the tattoo shop to get inked or pierced.

So here is where I find myself now. I am a young woman in ministry, who is working in a church where I am the youngest by at least 15 years (and even 40 year olds are hard to come by). I feel largely misunderstood by my congregation anyway. I don't explicitly state my personal political views, as I know it would cause more harm than it would good.

Even beyond my immediate context, I am preparing for some major interviews that will influence my appointment and journey toward ordination. My husband has made it clear that he thinks it is a poor decision to pierce my nose again. Though I disagree with him, I value his opinion.

As we were talking about it yesterday, my husband and I reached an impasse. He has made it clear that he believes it to be a poor judgement call on my part, and I made it clear to him that I am not asking for his permission. He gets that. He does. I want to respect his viewpoints without losing myself in this marriage. It is a unity candle thing (which we didn't do...) Do you blow out the two small candles after lighting the large one? I don't think so...

I think what this all stems from is a lack of control. I am feeling very helpless in a process of appointment, graduation, etc. and my husband would admit he feels the same way, too. It may sound a bit silly, but it is one thing that I can control. A nose piercing, although disputed, is not a polarizing topic.

So what say you? To pierce or not to pierce? THAT is the question! What would you think of a pastor with a pierced nose? Would it even make a difference?