October was too short…

Life is too short to ice cakes; cakes are good without icing.
Life is too short to read all the church periodicals.
Life is too short not to write regularly to your parents.
Life is too short to eat factory baked bread.
Life is too short to keep all your floors shiny.*

October was too short.  Time passed so quickly this month– so quickly that I just couldn’t keep up with all our happenings here in real time and I must confess I’ve felt a little guilty.  [smile]  But October was too short… Full of little anniversaries of our first date and first kiss and bigger celebrations like my 30th birthday and our first wedding anniversary, October is already a busy month in our household, but happily we added a bit more hustle and bustle with a record total of 7 overnight guests this month (my parents and our seminary friends), the wedding of dear friends in Georgia, and of course Halloween.

Life is too short to let a day pass without hugging your spouse and each of your children.
Life is too short to nurse grudges and hurt feelings.
Life is too short to worry about getting ready for Christmas; just let Christmas come.
Life is too short to spend much money on neckties and earrings.
Life is too short for nosy questions like “How do you like your new pastor?” Or—if there’s been a death—”How is he taking it?”

October was too short.  The busyness of October bubbled over into our lives at work as well.  At the beginning of the month, Caleb celebrated his first baptism and we welcomed four new members to “The Church.”  What an exciting Sunday!  That evening at the prayer class I’ve been teaching, I had a hard time focusing our discussions because so much joy was spilling over from the mornings activities.  [smile]  “The Church” is slowly growing and we are blessed to bear witness.  This was my first full month in my new job with Appalachia Service Project and essentially I spent the whole month establishing and living into new routines.  Since October 1st, I have made trips back to each of the centers in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia.  I have loved discovering how I am being called to be present for these young adults who are serving in these centers.

Life is too short to be gone from home more than a few nights a week.
Life is too short not to take a nap when you need one.
Life is too short to care whether purses match shoes or towels match bathrooms.
Life is too short to stay indoors when the trees turn color in fall, when it snows, or when the spring blossoms come out.

October was too short.  The most brilliant transformation during the month happened to the mountains.  Slowly the greens of summer have been replaced by the yellows, reds, deep purples, and oranges of fall.  It’s really been quite a spectacular show!  We’ve tried to be intentional about using down time to take in the colors as much as possible.  We’ve taken long drives, biked the Creeper, and spent mornings just sitting by the great floor to ceiling window in our living room.

Life is too short to miss the call to worship on a Sunday morning.
Life is too short for bedspreads that are too fancy to sleep under.
Life is too short to work in a room without windows.
Life is too short to put off Bible study.
Life is too short to put off improving our relationships with the people we live with.

October was too short, but I don’t feel like we’ve let it pass by without taking in the fullness of this very special month.  So I didn’t write about it all until now… at least I have the memory of having lived this October in a way that I can happily proclaim with orphan Ann-(with an)-e Shirley that “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!”

-Margaret

*Poem by Doris Longacre, the author of the Mennonite cookbook More with Less and the book Living More with Less.

11 Questions: Who inspires me the most?

Day 2 of the 11 question challenge and I fear that I’m already stumped. [smile]  Read this question and tell me it doesn’t give you pause.

2. Who inspires me the most? Think about the one person you most want to emulate. Who is it? Now what is it about their story or character that draws you to them? …The person you want to be like the most tells you a lot about who you hope to become.

I mean really one person.  Just one person who inspires me.  I am overly blessed and like the gift of great friends, I am fortunate to have many people who inspire me.  Rounding out the top of the list are my grandparents, parents, and in-laws. Each of these incredibly special people have taught me so much simply by being their authentic selves. From them I have learned that it is better to give than receive.  I have seen them open their homes to the world.  I have heard the stories of their perseverance to work to provide for their families and the stories of the stances they took against injustice.  I could do little better than channel a bit of their work ethic, love for family, faith, and passion to help others.

-Margaret

 

Be our guest: A top 3

We are thrilled to have guests at “The Parsonage”!  My parents arrived late afternoon yesterday and are with us through tomorrow early afternoon.  We’d love for them to be able to stay for church, but as my dad just moved to a new church it’s still a little early for him to take off a Sunday.  Still having Bill and Sue visit for even a quick trip is a real treat!  [smile]

I only have time for a quick post so I thought I would list the top 3 best things about having weekend guests:

  • #3:  The house is super clean.  Even though we’ve not completely finished decorating, I wanted to present our new home in the best possible light to my parents so we spent yesterday cleaning top to bottom.  I love waking up in our clean house and knowing I don’t have think about cleaning anything for a few days.
  • #2:  We get to be tour guides and tourists in our own town.  I love the opportunity visitors provide to drive around and explore where I live.
  • #1: Finally, I love getting to have real, in person conversations with people I love.  The telephone is a marvelous invention, but nothing beats a conversation across the table with someone.  Plus actually being together means I get plenty of good hugs from Mama and Daddy.

Gosh I miss living closer to my parents, but I also love having a house they can now visit.

-Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Hospitality [New Home Week, Day 1]

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Amazingly enough given how small our seminary was Caleb and I managed to only take 2 classes together during our 3 years there.  The first was “Church History 2” before we began dating and I hate to admit that I don’t remember him being in the class.  I sat in the front and can be fairly oblivious to a lot of things when I’m in scholar mode.  [smile]  The other class was “Hospitality” during the semester that we were engaged.  I can’t quite imagine a better class for the two of us to be in together while dating and through our engagement.  Not only was our professor, Dr. Amy Oden, simply a fantastic teacher, but cultivating a welcoming and hospitable home is something we both desired/desire for our marriage.  In class, we discussed the broad themes of the importance of preparing our spirits and spaces to welcome; of how genuine hospitality may be at times risky and is self-sacrificial; and how hospitality is modeled on God’s divine, triune nature.

Dinner on the Grounds

First Sunday’s Dinner on the Grounds

As wonderful a class as it was however, there is only so much you can learn theoretically about hospitality before practical experience must come into play.  Over the last seven weeks of transition into our new home, Caleb and I have been the recipients of such gracious hospitality that I feel like my understanding of what it means to welcome and receive people in love has been stretched by leaps and bounds.  [smile]  There really are too many people to thank us for making us feel at home and welcome during our transition so I’ll just list the top 3 below:

  • We are grateful for the hospitality of our parents, Raymond, Lisa, Bill and Sue.  We’ve been alternating time between both families for about 6 weeks now and our parents have been so understanding about our need to go back and forth.
  • We are grateful for the hospitality of the parsonage committee and the volunteers at the church.  We had church volunteer at the parsonage from last Wednesday thru today cleaning the parsonage and preparing the space for our arrival tomorrow.  As a PK I have lived through a number of parsonage horror stories and so I had prepared myself to move armed with cleaners and mops in hand.  [smile]  Thankfully we have had the exact opposite experience!
  • We are grateful for the hospitality of the church on our first Sunday.  We were embraced yesterday with such care and love.  My heart is full.  After worship we were treated to a wonderful spread and celebrated “dinner on the grounds.”  We were also “pounded” or showered with housewarming gifts.  Aren’t southern church idioms charming? [smile]

Today I am thankful for genuine hospitality.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

And then the butter splattered everywhere!

Although I try not to dwell on it, there is a bit of stress created by this whole process of moving– the little stresses of not being able to find some favorite book or piece of jewelry because its packed in a box and the bigger stresses of anticipating that feeling a little like you are in a fish bowl on moving day.  Yesterday surrounded by the boxes at my parents’ new parsonage and with thoughts on our own approaching moving day, I had a mini breakdown in the middle of the kitchen.  Thankfully my mother and my husband were both around and were quick to give the strong supportive hugs I needed to reassure me there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  [smile]

After the tears were wiped away, I began to tackle the task of deep cleaning the fridge.  Don’t get the wrong idea.  This parsonage is pretty fantastic as parsonages go.  It is certainly the most spacious house my parents have ever lived in and the newest build!  It is also fairly clean, but my mother and I are meticulous housekeepers and wanted to clean the fridge to our standards before completely settling all of our food into the space.  [smile]  It took a little more than half an hour but afterwords it was sparkling!  Sadly it didn’t stay that way for very long and thus begins the story of “The Great Butter Incident of 2013”!

Date: June 17, 2013
Time:  Approximately 9:30 p.m.
Location:  Bill and Sue’s Kitchen
Situation:  Post-dinner clean-up

We had just finished our first almost full-family dinner (we were missing my little sister Rachel) around the nice round kitchen table in the “breakfast nook” of the new kitchen.  It was so nice to all be gathered there in a familiar way and began the process of making this house feel more like our home.  [smile]  We were all helping to clear the table and load the dishwasher.  I was standing in between the end of the counter and the fridge.  We were nearing the end of the clean-up.  The dishwasher was full and the table was wiped off.  An unsuspecting tub of butter had made its way from the table to the counter and having been wiped clean was waiting to be put back in a top cubby of the refrigerator.

Looking back the witnesses all said that just before the incident it seemed as if time had slowed.  The door to the refrigerator was open and as I slowly reached for the tub of butter, Bill was at the sink; Caleb was cleaning the table; and Sue was at the oven.  Somehow in the process of conveying the tub of butter to the small shelf in the door of the refrigerator it slipped out of my hands.  The top popped off and the softened butter splattered all over me, the open fridge, and the kitchen floor.  Splattered butter was found on the back of Bill’s pants and the dishwasher.  Sue swears that the butter shot all the way up to the ceiling.  [smile]  I immediately froze in place as everyone turned to assess the situation.

It didn’t take more than a minute for the “butter finger” jokes to start rolling in.  I was renamed “Margaret Butterfingers Bagwell”– Caleb thought my maiden name sounded better with the new nickname.  [smile] My favorite joke of the evening courtesy of my loving husband:

“Next time somebody drops something I’m going to say: ‘I can’t believe it’s not Margaret!'”

When your whole family is laughing about you, all you can really do is laugh along! [smile]   Combined with the stress of our impending move, this could have easily led to more tears, but I’ve decided “The Great Butter Incident of 2013” will be the first of many great family memories in this new house and if my clumsiness was the cause then so be it!  In the grand scheme of things a little or a lot of butter splattered around a kitchen is pretty minor.  [smile]

-Margaret

 

A duck named Skipper

One of my very first pets was a little white duckling that I named Skipper.  Looking back at it now I’m not really sure what my parents were thinking when they gave me a duck.  It is certainly not the typical pet and comes with a very different set of difficulties than a puppy or kitten.  When I was little hardware/farm stores still carried ducklings and chicks in the spring and I guess my parents were swayed by the adorableness of the miniature fowl.  [smile]

Skipper only lived with us for a season.  When he grew too old to enjoy swimming in the paddling pool in our backyard, we took him to a local duck pond where I hope he lived a long and happy life.  I have such fond memories of that little duck waddling around behind me and am reminded of them every time I see other waterfowl.

This week at Lake Junaluska we have been dodging the ducks and geese right and left.  Well not so much dodging them, but dodging their droppings.  [smile]  They have all set in for their summer vacation at the lake.  I observed them basking in the sun, fluffing their feathers, floating around the lake, and diving in for a good dip in the hot afternoon.  Their presence and the memory of my duck Skipper reminded me of an article I read online a while back.  It was a defense for choosing ducks over chickens as backyard egg laying fowl.   Tina Elliot for Mother Earth News writes:

Yes, ducks are messier, they require water in which to swim and clear their beaks and that water becomes filthy and needs to be changed frequently, and even the best egg laying breeds don’t lay as often as their chicken counterparts. In my opinion, however, those things are far outweighed by the disposition and personality of ducks as compared to chickens. Duck eggs are better for baking, too, and many people who cannot tolerate chicken eggs can eat duck eggs. And there is nothing in this world that is more adorable than a duckling.

She concludes that “happy go lucky ducks” are the way to go.  [smile] She’s convinced me of the same!

Now that we are going to have a back yard Caleb and I have been dreaming about the gardening we can do and seeing the ducks at Lake J makes me think that we should also consider raising a few ducks too.  I can just imagine walking around the backyard with a gaggle of ducks following me around.   We are a long way from figuring out all the logistics but maybe one day I’ll have another pet duck or two.  In honor of Skipper, I’m think we should name them Maryann, Ginger, and Gilligan.  [smile]

-Margaret

His and Her’s: Waffles

His and Her’s: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”

Still no air conditioning, but we are trudging through and crossing all our fingers that the AC guy will show up today with the part that he ordered on Monday.  Hopefully we will be chillin’ like villains by this afternoon.  [smile]  In the meantime, we’ve found that maintaining our sanity while living in and packing up a hot house requires that we indulge in a few rewards throughout the day.  Last night we ate dinner out and then picked up a movie to watch at home.  And this morning we are headed to my favorite place to eat breakfast out… WAFFLE HOUSE!

If you know me at all you know of my love for this classic American diner.  I got onto the Waffle House bandwagon a few years ago when I moved back in with my parents who at the time liked to eat out there about one morning per week.  We’d always visited every once in a while when I was a child, but eating out there once a week really convinced me of how special these restaurants are.  I love to watch how community happens at Waffle House, especially between “the regulars” and the wait staff.  Though my parents don’t eat out at Waffle House as often as they once did, they are still regular enough customers to have a couple of waitresses who visit their table just to say hi during each visit.  I’m convinced that the church could learn something about what it means to welcome people from the Waffle House hospitality model.  Perhaps I’ll explore that topic a bit more in the future.  [smile]

Another thing I love about Waffle House is it’s predictability.  The coffee is strong and if you have a good neighborhood diner they’ll even make a fresh pot when you arrive.  The waitresses are down to earth and friendly.  The waffles are sweet and the grits are perfectly creamy.  And at our table at least the consistency of service is matched by a consistency in conversation.

For years my mother has always kidded my dad and I on our waffle eating technique.  Waffle eating technique?  In answer to your question, yes there are multiple ways to eat a waffle.  My dad and I meticulously cut our waffle following the lines and squares and my mother inevitably points out how silly she thinks we are.  Its a sign of our very rigid type A minds, she says.  In return, we appropriately mock her free form slicing of the delicious waffle before her.  We laugh about how there is no way that the other person can enjoy eating their waffle quite as much when they are using the wrong technique!  [smile]

Caleb’s first visit with us to Waffle House was secretly a test to see where he would fall in the waffle eating spectrum.  Funnily enough seems like us type A’s are attracted to free form thinkers because Caleb eats his decidedly less meticulously than me and my dad and more like how my mom eats hers.  [smile]  I guess its kind of a silly thing to notice and even sillier to bring up in conversation regularly, but we do and I’m glad.  Watching how Caleb eats a waffle is a reminder that he brings something different to my life.  As clique as it is to say so his differences complete me.  I am so fortunate to get to laugh and cry and argue and agree through life together with him.

-Margaret