I am a stone, being gently washed, sculpted, and shaped by the river of the Holy Spirit. Wife, mother, Episcopalian; software developer; student; lover of pink, purple, and Dr. Pepper; wisher, hoper, dreamer, prayer; usually irreverent; and often silly. I believe in the best of people, and I am rarely disappointed. Peace be with you today!
riverstone dot blog at gmail dot com
Friday, November 04, 2005
My sister had her baby this morning, Delia Jane. She was in labor for 30 hours, but the only medication she took was a sedative at 1am so that she could try to sleep for a couple hours. She's definitely braver than I am! My mom flew from Virginia to California yesterday to be there, and she assures me that Delia is the sweetest baby ever. I kind of doubt that, because I happen to know that my son Bear was the sweetest baby ever. I know this because when he was 11 months old and his sister Ladybug was born, he wasn't jealous at all - he just cuddled her and kissed her every chance he got. But that's okay. Every new baby is the sweetest baby ever. When I talked to Mom this morning, Delia got her first shot, and she didn't make a peep. But soon after, she decided it was time to nurse, and that prompted some fussy noises. My sister is tired and sore, but happy. There had been some issues with her pregnancy, not major ones, but issues nonetheless, so I'm glad that the birth went well for her, albeit slowly. I already have nieces and nephews on Panda's side of the family, but this is my first on my side of the family. I am excited for my sister's new journey and for Delia's.
Posted at 11/4/2005 3:04:55 pm by riverstone
Monday, October 24, 2005
You Are Likely a First Born
At your darkest moments, you feel guilty.
At work and school, you do best when you're researching.
When you love someone, you tend to agree with them often.
In friendship, you are considerate and compromising.
Your ideal careers are: business, research, counseling, promotion, and speaking.
You will leave your mark on the world with discoveries, new information, and teaching people to dream.
With props to Jim
for the link.
Posted at 10/24/2005 2:27:14 pm by riverstone
Friday, September 30, 2005
What?!? Where did September go?
One of the things that makes me sad is when I go to one of my favorite blogs and find that it hasn't been updated in a few days. Of course, I have no right to let this make me sad, since I am awful at keeping my blog updated. I just looked at my own blog and noticed that my last post was dated August 30, so I hadn't posted during the month of September at all. I can't let the month go by without any recognition, though.
Bear and Ladybug went back to school smoothly. This is Ladybug's last year in elementary school, and her teacher seems wonderful. She is really buckling down and working hard on her schoolwork so far this fall. Last year she had some problems focusing on schoolwork, so it's good to see her taking it seriously this year. She's really proud of the hard work she's been doing, and so are we. Bear started middle school this fall, in the middle school portion of the International Baccalaureate program. He seems to be settling into his routine of changing classes (and having different classes every other day), using a locker, and changing into a gym suit for PE. He doesn't seem to have made any real friends at his new school yet, though, which is sad. Bear is very introverted, and would rather have his nose in a book or on his computer than be out with friends, but I can tell that he misses his best friend from last year, who is going to the local middle school for the gifted this year. Bear eats lunch with a couple of kids who went to his elementary school last year, but it doesn't sound like they're very close. We try to encourage him to take the risk of talking to some of the other kids in his classes, but we can't be there to push him into uncomfortable situations. He seems to really be enjoying his orchestra class this year. I had been telling Bear and Ladybug since they started that beginning strings classes in elementary school might not be a lot of fun, but that once they got to middle school, they would have a lot more fun in orchestra. I know they didn't really believe me then, not until Bear got a taste of it by getting into All City Strings last spring. He practices at least 20 minutes every night now, and is really working hard on his music. Since I've played flute for 25 years, this makes me tremendously proud. Music is awesome.
I'm about to have my first midterm exam of the semester next week in my class on decision support systems. I'm not expecting it to be very difficult, but I suspect the professor is going to put in some tricky questions. It will be true/false and multiple choice questions in an online format, so I'll have to be careful to pay close attention to the questions and not rush through them like it's a survey or game. This is not "Which Harry Potter character are you?" If I don't get an A or B in the class, my employer won't pay for it. I'm a bit worried about my organizational behavior class. I heard from a classmate Tuesday night some things that she had heard from people she had met during the program that he is rather capricious about the questions he puts on the test, picking out obscure details from the video cases he shows us during class or asking questions from chapters of the textbook that we haven't covered yet. I hadn't been taking copious notes during the video cases, thinking it was more important to pay close attention to them and really soak them up rather than to spend the whole time writing about them. But I may have to reconsider that attitude. I'll definitely have to spend time carefully studying the material we've read in the textbook before that exam, which is three weeks away.
Today it finally feels like autumn outside. The temperature right now is hovering around 70F, after being in the 80s for the whole month. It's supposed to creep back up to 80 over the next few days, but it's nice to finally have a taste of fall. It brings back all those memories of marching band practice, Friday night football games, and settling into a new school year with old friends and new ones. I remember how different college was for me, since I went to a college of about 1200 students after a high school of 1600 students. The fall didn't center around marching band any more, and I had more time to devote to work. I also remember my first fall after I graduated from college, and how strange it felt not to have any homework to do in the evenings. Once the weather turned cool, it was unsettling to have no new school classes, no marching band practice, no football games, no homework. I didn't know what to do with myself. The next fall I was pregnant and preparing for Bear to come, so I had plenty to do then.
Panda wants me to cut back on my commitments at church so that I can spend more time at home with him on the weekends. I serve as a lector (reading the lessons), intercessor (leading the prayers of the people), chalicer (serving the wine at Communion), and lay healer (laying on hands and praying for healing). I tend to be scheduled two or three Sundays out of the month for one of these ministries, and he resents having to plan around church when he wants to go to an early movie or take a road trip. I haven't explained to him that I would want to go to church even if I wasn't scheduled for one of those ministries. I enjoy those mornings when I get to go to church and simply worship, and there don't seem to be many of them. Panda has trouble believing that God would want to be worshipped. After all, what does our worship do for God? I try to explain that worship is for us, because we need to believe and we need to come together and worship, but he doesn't buy that argument. He doesn't think he needs to believe or that he needs communal worship. So it's sad.
Peace be with you today!
Posted at 9/30/2005 12:24:27 pm by riverstone
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
This past Sunday was our rector's last Sunday with us at my parish. He had served in this parish for 26 years, so there are very deep ties. Such longstanding ministry with a single parish is practically unheard of these days, and I feel fortunate to have been blessed with Peter's ministry since I joined the parish in 1983. The Episcopal Church seems to have a liturgy for everything, but I haven't seen a formal liturgy for the retirement or resignation of a rector. Instead, each parish comes up with its own way to recognize the event liturgically. It never fails to be moving. For me, it wasn't so much when Peter returned his keys to the wardens or preached his last sermon or celebrated the Eucharist with us for the last time, but when his son escorted him and his wife from the nave as we sang a blessing. I could tell from the voices of the people around me that I was not the only one choked up at this moment. I will miss Peter, but I am also looking forward to meeting someone new. My munchkins, who are the newest acolytes on the team, served as torch bearers for the service, and were very nervous about messing up in front of not just one bishop but two. I was very proud of them.
Next week is our annual beach Eucharist and picnic, and the following week, the Canon to the Ordinary will visit and preach and talk to us about what to expect over the next twelve to eighteen months or so. I'm looking forward to this because the Reverend Canon happens to be my confessor, and because I'm playing a kick-butt flute solo (two movements from Claude Bolling's Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio) as the prelude and offertory. I don't think he knows I play the flute, which I have for 25 years now, so it will be fun to hear what he has to say after the service.
After working the last four Saturdays in the library at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, Bear and I have a couple weeks off. He is required to accumulate 50 or more hours of community service during the school year for the program he is in. He worked through August to get a good head start on the year, and during the school year he plans to work two weekends a month to keep it up. After the librarian found several cards filed in the wrong place in the card catalog while helping her boss find a book (!), Bear and I have the tedious task of reading through the card catalog to make sure all the cards are in the proper order. We've found that someone in the past had a habit of filing author, title, and subject cards for a book all in the same place rather than in their proper separate places. Argh!
I am in my second week of MBA classes at Virginia Tech. One class is an online class, and I'm working at being disciplined in that class so that I don't get behind. The other class is a distance learning class, and I'm the only one at the Hampton Roads Center in that class. This is kind of nice, because I can stretch out and have my stuff all over the table, but it's also kind of lonely. Thankfully the professor is good at going to the various distance centers to ask questions and solicit feedback, so I don't feel so totally isolated. We are taking the Keirsey Temperament Sorter in this class, and I came out ISFJ. The I and J are no surprise whatsoever, but the middle two attributes seem to change each time I take a different inventory. I think I've gotten each of the four combinations at least once. I can tell I'm going to be working hard this semester. The work is definitely harder than the undergraduate accounting courses I took this spring and summer. But I think it's going to be fun, and the payoff will be good.
Posted at 8/30/2005 12:36:01 pm by riverstone
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Yesterday afternoon was beautiful. The temperatures weren't as hot here in Tidewater, Virginia, as they have been, and the humidity wasn't as oppressive. So we decided to take the jet ski out for an hour or so on the North Landing River for some fun. Launching a jet ski is an interesting problem. It's actually more difficult than working with a boat. Panda had built an extension for our trailer so that we can get the trailer far enough into the water without submerging the back end of the van. Last night he tried this trick where you back up into the water really fast and then hit the brakes really hard to jog the ski loose from the trailer. It worked. In fact, it worked so well that the ski started floating away! We kind of stood there watching it float down the little inlet, knowing that someone was going to have to swim to it to retrieve it. I looked back at Panda, who shrugged and said, "You know I don't know how to swim." So I waded into the water - fully dressed - and swam out to the ski, climbed on, and motored over to the dock so that we could get out the life vests and get ready to ride. Panda thought this was hilarious. Of course, he didn't have to drip dry while we were there. Harrumph.
Jet skiing is exhilarating, though. If you're going to use up fossil fuels for frivolous fun, this is a great way to do it. None of us is particularly fond of going over waves and wakes, so we're probably not going to take it out on the ocean. Rivers and lakes are more our speed. When we were on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Panda looked hungrily at Lake Bras D'Or, and its wide-open, peaceful expanse of water just begging for the jet ski. He's been wanting to take it out himself so he can do some exploring without having to take turns with me and the kids.
Afterwards, we dropped the ski off at home, changed clothes quickly, and went out to Arby's. We had a nice dinner together. Panda and the munchkins got milkshakes with their sandwiches. After we got home, I took a shower, and we watched Ghost Hunters on the Sci-Fi channel together. All in all, it was a nice evening. Not earth-shatteringly great, but a nice family evening. I treasure those.
Posted at 8/25/2005 11:20:30 am by riverstone
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
You may already have heard about Pat Robertson's latest
, that the U.S. should assassinate Hugo Chavez. I cringe when I see articles about him in the newspaper, because they always start with the location, my hometown, Virginia Beach, and I hate to see my beloved city linked with his name.
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's The 700 Club.
"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."
I don't happen to know a lot about Hugo Chavez, and what I do know makes him sound like someone who shouldn't have authority over anyone, much less a country. But I would never advocate his assassination. Mr. Chavez is a beloved child of God, and killing him is as wrong as killing any other child of God. I don't just say this out of my increasingly pacifistic leanings, but directly out of the teachings of the bible. Is not one of the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not kill"? And did Jesus not teach us to love our neighbors as ourselves? Is it loving our neighbors to kill them? Or even to say publicly that they should be killed?
All this by way of saying, Pat Robertson doesn't speak for all Christians. He certainly doesn't speak for me. A few years ago I spent some time believing I was a pagan, and I became very aware of Christians like Mr. Robertson. I'm still very aware of them, because they give all of Christianity a bad name. Unfortunately, you don't see our Presiding Bishop or the Pope issuing a press release to apologize to the rest of the world: "We're sorry about what this man said. He doesn't speak for us. Not all Christians are like him. Honest."
In closing, I quote the last paragraph from the USA Today article, so that you can see just how dangerous Pat Robertson is. I'd call him a lunatic, but that does injustice to the mentally ill.
Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
Indeed. Mr. Robertson, just for the record, you don't speak for all Christians. You don't speak for all Americans. You don't even speak for all Virginians. So please, stop making believe that you do.
Posted at 8/23/2005 2:05:43 pm by riverstone
Thursday, August 04, 2005
What is your model of the church?
| You scored as Mystical Communion Model. Your model of the church is Mystical Communion, which includes both People of God and Body of Christ. The church is essentially people in union with Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit. Both lay people and clergy are drawn together in a family of faith. This model can exalt the church beyond what is appropriate, but can be supplemented with other models.|
Mystical Communion Model
What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com
With props to Mumcat
for the link. I am not surprised by the result, although I'd been expecting to come up Sacramental, as Mumcat did. I've known for some time that I'm a mystic, though. Some of the favorite hymn questions were hard, though, because I'd like one of the hymns but either not know or not like the other one.
Posted at 8/4/2005 10:26:44 am by riverstone
Thursday, July 21, 2005
If I could impart a little wisdom to this congregation before I leave it would be this: live kindly, live gentle lives, love each other, especially those whose voices are different from your own, and give generously and freely of the greatest gift God has ever created, give generously and freely of yourself.
I'm thinking that I should start a book for each of my children, and fill it with beautiful quotations like this. This just absolutely made my morning. Thank you, Niebuhrian!
Posted at 7/21/2005 8:33:40 am by riverstone
I saw my psychiatrist yesterday, and he and I have agreed to embark on an experiment. About a year ago, we moved my anti-depressant to the morning from the evening, and I started having trouble remembering to take it. I did pretty well over the school year when I had a regular breakfast routine, but once this summer started and things weren't the same every morning, I started missing doses. I realized a few days ago that I hadn't taken my anti-depressant in three weeks, and that I was feeling absolutely fine. I thought about it some more, and I thought about the things that I have lost by going on these meds - my music, my poetry, my creativity, my sex drive, my ability to feel excited about things - and I decided that, after four years, perhaps it is time to give the meds a break and see how I do without them for a while. So when I went to see my psychiatrist yesterday, he seemed okay with this idea. We've stopped the anti-depressant at this point, and when I see him next in October, we'll look at weaning down my mood stabilizer, too.
I am naturally apprehensive about this. It took 27 long months of trial and error before we arrived at my current med combination. Stability has been hard won, and I consider it a blessing from God for which I give thanks every day. This is one of the places where my fellow bipolars and I have a little trouble with so-called "normies." A normie is someone who doesn't understand the huge head start he or she has been given, just by being able to start from a position of stability, rather than mania or depression. A normie just doesn't get how hard someone like me has to work to get to that same starting place. I've been blessed by being boosted to that starting place by modern medications. I hope and pray that I won't lose out on it by taking a break from the meds. I think I'm in a good place right now. I'm light-years ahead of where I was in 1997 and 1998 when I first received my diagnosis and spent six weeks in the hospital. Both my spiritual director and my former psychiatrist (who moved out of the area about six months ago) have told me that it's a joy to work with me because I'm very self-aware. I don't know whether I would ever be as self-aware as I am without having come through the episodes of bipolar (aka "the valley of shadow and death"). I have said many times that while I would not wish the suffering on anyone, I also would not trade the lessons I have learned from this illness for anything. So overall, I'm pretty confident that I can make it through this, and I know that I will call my doctor if I slip into an episode, either way, and need to go back on the meds. I'm stubborn, but I've learned that there are things outside my control that aren't worth beating my head on.
Right now, I'm not worried about going off the anti-depressant. My spotty record of taking it over the last few months, coupled with my lack of symptoms, indicates to me that I don't really need it at the moment. But in a few months, I may be asking you to pray with me as I wean myself off of the mood stabilizer. The fall and winter should certainly be interesting times!
Peace be with you!
Posted at 7/21/2005 8:22:53 am by riverstone
Monday, July 18, 2005
Like millions of others around the world, I went out Saturday morning to purchase Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
. I spent much of Saturday and a few hours Sunday devouring it before my kids got their hands on it. It was an excellent installment, but the ending took me by surprise and reduced me to tears. I won't say more than that there was a death, and that it made me cry.
Meanwhile, in the real world, in Iraq on Sunday, 71 people died
in a single, particularly violent attack. I didn't know about it until I heard it on the news this morning, and in the bustle of getting ready for work, there were no tears. Somehow, a fictional death of a fictional character can make me cry, but I cannot find the tears for 71 lives snuffed out and 156 people injured in the real world. Does this seem as topsy-turvy to you as it does to me?
Sunday morning at church, we heard an excellent sermon on the wheat and the weeds, and on what happens when we - who are not the sowers of the wheat or the weeds - try to take it upon ourselves to get rid of the weeds. For some, the weeds are gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the church. For others, the weeds are American soldiers and Iraqi citizens who choose to work with them. For yet others, the weeds may be Muslims in general. For me, I find that I agree with my rector. There's not one person in the world who is a complete weed. There is not one person here who is not a unique and wonderful creation, a beloved child of God, who does not comprise a mixture of pesky weeds and good wholesome wheat. I don't care if you point out Hitler or Hussein or bin Laden or Manson or the BTK killer who has recently been in the news. Not one of those men is a waste. Even if Voldemort himself walked into my office and slew everybody here with an avada kedavra
I would not admit that he is 100% weed, 100% unsaveable, 100% beyond the reach of God's salvation.
But today, I find that there's a weed I'd like to pull, and that's the weed that can hear news like the news of this brutal bombing and not cry. Have we all grown so hardened and cynical that we are unmoved, or is it just me? Have I let myself get so battered by the media that I can't bring myself to care any more? I don't know. And I find myself often repeating the psalmist: How long, O Lord? How long?
Posted at 7/18/2005 1:18:18 pm by riverstone