Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fave Verses Friday Five (on Saturday)

Songbird over at Revgalblogpals had a great idea Friday Five yesterday; she asked us to share our five favorite Bible verses. 

It's Saturday night, but I liked her idea so much I thought I'd go ahead and play, even really really really late.

Here are mine (sort of), with some backstory:

1.  "If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17.  Whenever someone asks me, "what is your favorite Bible verse?", this is what I say.  The first time my dad asked me, I recited this verse, and he said, "Wow."  (He always quipped that his favorite Bible verse is, "Jesus wept.")  I think this verse comes from my fervant college days, when I was involved in one of those raise-your-hands-in-the-air, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, pray-with-laying-on-of-hands sort of groups.  This verse reminds me that Christianity is not some sort of spiritual -self-improvement project.  It's a new life in a new creation. 

2.  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."  (Luke's version, in 10:27.)  The longer I am a pastor, the more I like this verse, and think it would make a terrific motto for a congregation (i.e. First Church, loving God and loving our neighbors since 1947...)  Then see if we are really doing it.  I once heard an explanation of "loving neighbor as self" -- in Biblical terms, "loving yourself" is not about self-esteem, but about how you treat yourself; for example, do you want enough to eat?  Do you want warm clothes and meaningful work?  Do you want a roof over your head?  Then want those things for your neighbor too. 

3.  "Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."  Proverbs 25:25.
A friend of mine put this verse citation at the end of every letter she sent me while I was living in Japan.  ah, letters.  that brings back memories.

4.  For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness" who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.  2 Corinthians 4:6, 7.  So, what is it about 2 Corinthians?  This was part of my ordination passage.  The "earthen vessels" is the way the old RSV translates it.   

Finally, yes,

5.  What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.  Micah 6:8.  One year our social justice committee had a ministry booth where they gave out Bible verses on a stick.  This was the verse.  A friend recently had this insight:  usually we get the two parts of the verse backwards, instead of doing justice and loving mercy, we love justice and do kindness.  Because doing justice is much harder.  It makes us feel good to work at the food shelf, and house homeless families in our church.  It's certainly necessary, too.  But "doing justice" is the hard work of trying to decrease the inequities so that there will not be hungry homeless people. 

I'm aware that in naming five, I've thought of at least as many more that I didn't mention.  Are these really my top five?  Who knows?

Maybe a new blog feature should be "Bible verse of the week."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Road Bumps on the Way to Better Health

Our family has recently taken the step of joining a local health organization, which has several benefits.  Chief among them is the opportunity for my husband and I to go swimming a few times a week.  When we first joined at the end of October, we were motivated and found the time to swim about three times a week, which was pretty impressive.  Then my husband fell and sprained his wrist in the great ice storm of November 2010, and a few days later I caught a cold, and suddenly, we were out of the habit of regular exercise.

But after a brief span of backsliding, we determined to get back into the habit, despite the cold weather and our busy schedules.  (my evening work schedule makes scheduling pool time challenging at times.)  I got a bad cold right after Christmas, but I was feeling a bit better after a few days, so we headed back to the "Y" to swim.

The next morning, I was all stuffed up and sneezing again. 

I thought I was suffering a relapse of my cold, and fussed and fumed a bit, and took an antihistamine, which cleared up the problem, but made me feel as if I had been hit over the head with a sledge hammer.

However, I've had the same exact thing happen every single time we've gone swimming. 

Since high school, swimming has been my favorite form of exercise.  I'll admit it has its drawbacks -- especially when it's about 20 below zero.  But I've enjoyed the water ever since lake swimming as a little girl, and when I'm swimming in the pool, I'm only competing with myself.  Unlike most competitive sports, I feel like I'm good at swimming.

(I've also walked for exercise, but plantar faschiatis has cut into that in the last year or so.)

I've spent a couple of middle-of-the-night computer sessions looking into the swimming/sneezing connection, and discovered that I am not alone. 

Some people wear nose clips.
Others rinse with saline.
Some people take an antihistamine.
(I suppose there are others who use a combination of all three solutions.)

I guess that getting healthy is not for sissies, especially if you are over fifty.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sermon, part 2

(see previous post, but not if you are coming to church tomorrow)

But maybe, just maybe, we are focusing on the wrong thing. Think about this – Jesus called to the four fishermen – and here’s the thing – they were four ordinary people, doing their ordinary daily work, and it was an ordinary day. In other words, in many ways they were just like you and me. They weren’t famous, they weren’t especially educated for this line of work, and by the way, it wasn’t Sunday and they weren’t even in church. They were just going about their daily lives and Jesus met them and called them. Think about that.

You know, most of the time when I ask young people, “where do you see Jesus?” or “where do you meet Jesus?” they usually say, “when I go to church.” And certainly there is nothing wrong with this answer; I want people to come to church, to gather and worship and to know that something special is happening when we are here, praying and singing and hearing God’s word together. But it makes me a little sad to think that they don’t realize that church is not the only – or even the main – place that Jesus meets them, that Jesus calls to them. I hope people come to church to be reminded that God comes to them in many different places in their lives, and calls to them in many different parts of their lives.

Just as Jesus called to Peter and Andrew, James and John while they were fishing, Jesus calls to us in the middle of our ordinary lives, when we are standing in line at the grocery store, when we are helping customers,when we are taking care of our grandchildren, when we are listening to heartbeats or helping children learn to read, when we are comforting a friend, when we are making change, or making coffee.... and Jesus calls to us in those ordinary activities, to “follow me.”

It’s not so much that Jesus asks us to live different lives, but to live our ordinary lives in a different way, by the light that he shares with us. It’s possible that Jesus will call us to follow him to Haiti, but it’s just as possible that Jesus with call us to follow him – right where we are – doing the same work, with the same family, but living by the light of his love. If we are fishermen, our tool might be a wide strong net; if a doctor or a nurse, our tool a stethoscope or a thermometer; if a sales clerk, our best tool might be a smile. But the call is the same, and it comes to us where-ever we are, and all the time, “follow me. Be my person in the world. There is so much darkness in the world. Make my love real to people.”

That’s what I was supposed to that dark cold winter morning, when I was went to the Denver City and County Jail. So, nervous and unsure, I clutched those index cards and I went into the large room where they would soon be serving breakfast. We set up the sound equipment and the men shuffled in. Some of them carried Bibles, tattered New Testaments, the King James version. The songs began. I sang along. We all stood for the reading of the Holy Gospel.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” I began. “On those who lived in a land of deep darkness, light has shined.” What does this mean? I asked questions, wondering if anyone would respond, and what they would say.

When did this happen in Jesus ministry? Near the end? In the middle? No, in the beginning, someone answered. After when? After his baptism and his temptation in the desert. Right after Jesus’ temptation, he went out and began to preach, and began to gather disciples.What about those strange words – the prophecy about the great light, the light which has dawned? “That’s Jesus,” they said.

“Jesus is the light.” What does that mean, that Jesus is the light? “It means that you can trust Jesus. He’ll be straight with you. He won’t ever lie to you.

So we continued through the passage, reading together, talking about Jesus, the light in our darkness, the dawn in our night. I wondered aloud about the calling of the disciples. I wondered about how it must have felt to hear Jesus call “Follow me!” and about that strange word “immediately. They dropped their nets immediately. That must have been difficult. Do you think it was difficult?

“No, was the surprising response. “Why not?

Because Jesus is the light. You can trust Jesus. Jesus won’t ever lie to you. Everyone else will lie to you, but Jesus will never lie. If it was anyone else, it would be difficult. But not if it was Jesus. You can trust Jesus. Jesus is the light.

Now it was time for my sermon to end. But I hadn’t figured out the ending. So I began to say, a little softly, “You know, I believe that Jesus is still calling people today.”

Then a man in the back row stood up. “You know ma’am,” he said in a big booming voice, “considering where we all are, I bet he’s knocking on the door of our hearts right now.”

It’s still true – not just at the Denver City and County Jail and not just here in the his sanctuary – but out in the world, and in our daily lives – Jesus is still the light and he is still calling people today, calling people to follow him into the world, in their ordinary lives, to make his love real where-ever they are. Jesus is still the light and he calls you not to live a different life, but to live your life differently, by the light of his love. Jesus says, “follow me.” No matter who you are. No matter where you are.

I believe that Jesus is still calling people today.And considering where we all are, I bet he’s knocking on the door of our hearts right now.


Would you want to know the end of this Sermon?

"God Calling"

It’s been many years ago now, but it was a cold Sunday morning at just this time of year, and I still remember standing at a front window, looking for headlights. It was dark – I think it was about 5:30 in the morning, and I was waiting for a ride, because I was going out to preach a a sermon at the Denver City and County Jail. The service there was early in the morning, maybe 6:30, before breakfast, anyway, so I was up and waiting for my ride, a member of my internship congregation – part of a group that went out to lead worship occasionally at the jail. He was the drummer, and he said he was one of the most meaningful things he ever did.

So, there I was, at 5:30 in the morning, waiting for headlights. I carried a Bible, no manuscript: just a few index cards with notes on them, and I was afraid. I had never done anything like this before. What could I say? I had asked for advice, and was told that I should make my sermon more – conversational – that I should ask the men (and yes, it was all men at the City and County jail) questions along the way – and that I should even ask them to participate by reading the scriptures. So, I had some advice. But, I had never done this before. And it was cold, and it was dark.

I saw the headlights of my ride, and hurried in, where the band’s drummer was waiting with a hot cup of coffee, and encouraging words. He trusted the Holy Spirit, and me. I would be all right, he said. It would be fine. Still, I had butterflies. I had never been to jail before. Would I be able to say a word to set free prisoners? I was an inexperienced preacher, after all. The driver kept saying to me, everything will be fine. He trusted the Holy Spirit.

Now this was not the prison – this was the city and county Jail, which, someone told me, was a holding place for prisoners – both those one their way out, and those on there way in. And the crimes alleged or committed could be anything, from petty theft, to murder. It certainly gave me pause.  Who would I meet that morning?  And what would I say?

The Bible passages for that morning were – coincidentally – the ones we just heard. Yes, it was the third Sunday after the Epiphany, and we heard about the people walking in darkness, and the great light that shone. The passage from Matthew was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, his call to repentance – the calling of the first disciples, four fishermen, four poor fishermen, doing their daily work. And just as I asked the question so many years ago – I ask again – what does this have to do with us? Today?

We might focus on some strange and unusual things and keep this story far from us and from our experience. The first strange word is immediately. The four fishermen heard Jesus call and they followed him, immediately. They dropped everything – we couldn’t possibly do that, could we? We have homes and mortgages and jobs and children or grandchildren. We have homework due tomorrow. No, this is a strange story about a different time, so far away from us, when it was so much easier to follow Jesus than it is today.

More to come.....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five: Books!

Jan over at Revgalblogpals has this Friday Five game for us:

I hope some of you received books for Christmas presents; I did and have been reading ever since. Then I discovered a new author from those recommendations that pop up on Instead of buying those books, I've been checking them out at the library, which will not help Amazon's future recommendations for me at all.

So tell us what you're reading, what you would and would not recommend--five books or authors! And if you don't want to do that freestyle, here are some questions:

1. What books have you recently read? Tell us your opinion of them.
I did not receive books for Christmas, but I did receive gift cards, and am making use of them (both for real and ebooks).
I recently read a children's book called "Forge," the second in a series by Laurie Anderson, about two African-american young people seeking their own freedom at the time of the U.S. Revoluationary War.  The first book is "Chains," and features a young girl, Isabelle, who was supposed to be set free in her master's will, but was not.  The second book follows more closely her friend, "Curzon," who ends up fighting with the troops at Valley Forge."  (I also read the third Chet and Bernie mystery, "To Fetch a Thief"; very fun, and told from the dog's point of view.)  I just finished re-reading A Wrinkle in Time as well...

2. What books are awaiting your available time to be read?
I have an e-wish list that includes "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress," "Room," "The Grace of Silence," among others....

3. Have any books been recently recommended?
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by a new member of my book group.
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand (just recommended at Saturday Bible Study)
Eat, Pray, Love (no, I haven't read it yet, or, seen the movie.)

4. What genre of books are your favorite, along with some titles and/or authors you like best?
For fun, I love a good mystery.  I also love young adult novels these days and memoirs.  I'm fascinated by memoirs:  is everyone writing a memoir, or what?  I always love a good novel.  I've been re-reading some of the "Little House" books lately.

5. What have you read lately that you have a strong urge to recommend? (or to condemn)
I really liked "Forge", as you can tell.  I also read "The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay".  Though it wasn't perfect, I thought it was beautifully written.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cursing the Darkness...

I check in periodically these days at the Saturday morning men's Bible study and breakfast.  I always get oatmeal.  The management bought raisins especially for me.

The men have decided (without consulting me!) to begin a study of the Gospel of John.  This is the favorite gospel of one of the group's members.  I'm sure they've studied John's gospel before.  After all they've been meeting for over twenty years.

Last Saturday we waded through the third chapter of John:  Jesus and Nicodemus, light and darkness, the most familiar verse in the whole Bible.  As for me, for some reason I always imagine Nicodemus sitting in the shadows.  We can hear his voice, but we can't see him very well.  (Or is it Jesus that is sitting in the shadows?  I can't be sure.)  I like to remind Bible study participants that in the next chapter Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well in broad daylight.  The themes of light and darkness run deep.

For some reason, somewhere along the line I remembered an old Peanuts cartoon.  This is how it went:

In the first panel, Linus is standing in the darkness, holding a candle, and reciting the famous saying:  "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

The second panel is dark.  The third panel shows Linus' sister Lucy, shouting, "You Stupid Darkness!!!"
In the fourth panel, Linus quips, "Although there are some who would disagree with me."

We talked about being born again, and what baptism does (or doesn't) have to do with that.   Some one thought that identifying being born again with baptism, was "putting a lot of pressure on a ceremony".  Someone else (maybe it was me?) said that identifying being born again with a particular one-time experience also put a lot of pressure on that one-time experience.  It's the ongoing relationship that is important.  An analogy with literally being born:  it is not the birth certificate that is the proof that you were born, it is the fact that you are alive.  (I got this insight from N.T. Wright.) 

While eating breakfast, our conversation meandered around the themes we had discussed:  relationships with God, being born from above, light and darkness, darkness and light.  It's epiphany after all.  One participant mentioned a family member who had not been a believer as an adult.  Same upbringing, same baptism, same confirmation classes.  But such a different result.   He had gone to college, and to graduate school.  One member of the group thought perhaps that was the problem:  "the colleges have been taken over by the secular humanists", he thought.

The other man was not so sure.  Maybe it was the experience this family member had of the church, of Christians.  He wasn't sure about that, but it could have been. 

Could it have been possible that the believers he knew were more interested in cursing the darkness than they were in lighting a candle, more interested in condemning sin than in embracing sinners, more interested in judgment than in mercy?

The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Heat than Light

Several years ago I assisted at the funeral of a beloved saint of our congregation.  And when I saw beloved, I mean it:  I still remember two families in tears the week after she died.  She and her husband sat near them in church, and she always reached out to them, wanting to know the names of their children, and making them feel welcome. 

I really loved this saint of our congregation, and I thought that if I were asked, I would give a terrific sermon at her funeral.  But I wasn't asked to preach; of course, my colleague, the senior pastor preached, and he told this story.

He remembered a particular congregational meeting at which Pearl was present.  He didn't any longer remember the topic of conversation, but the discussion turned passionate, and was at the point where it was generating "more heat than light" (my colleague's words.)

It was at this point that Pearl stood up and said, "I want us all to remember:  Jesus is in this room."

Funny how, after that, things quieted down some.  People started taking a different tone.

I've been thinking a lot about these words -- my colleague's words -- and Pearl's words -- these past few days.

It's not just the aftermath of the horrible shooting in Tucson, although that has certainly played a part in it.  For a long time, much of our political discourse has generated more heat than light.  The words chosen and the things said are, in fact, deliberately in some cases, meant to generate anger, but not to shed much light or give us information so that we can make informed choices.

What worries me the most is that some of the most heat-generating comments come from people who call themselves Christian. 

Now I'm not naive.  I know that heated political discourse will not go away; in fact, the passion is part of the process.  There will always be heat as well as light whenever people talk about things that they care about.  But it's also good to know the difference, what kind of words stir up the pot, and what kind of words shed light and offer a way forward.  I'm not saying there aren't injustices worthy of our anger, whether the awful waste of war, hypocrisy of some leaders, the frustration of having to choose the lesser of two evils.

But this is the season of Epiphany -- this is the season when we strive to see Jesus revealed:  "The word became flesh and lived among us and we have beheld his glory."  This is the season when it is more essential than ever to understand the difference between heat and light.

Pearl offered and still offers us the first piece of wisdom, at least if we call ourselves Christian:

"Just remember, Jesus is in this room."

This is the beginning of wisdom:  "Just remember, Jesus is in this world."  He's not just in me, and not just in you.  No one of us has all of the truth.  We live in the darkness, and we're all called to hold up the candle for one another.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Counting My Blessings

I've been dismayed lately by my inability to get much of anything down in writing (other than sermons, and funeral sermons), so I thought I'd break the ice by counting a few of my blessings:
1.  I am re-reading A Wrinkle in Time from a hard-cover first edition (it's from the church library, with marks and everything so it's not worth anything, but still, it's cool.)
2.  I have a little Christmas money from my husband to buy an old book, if I want to.....
3.  I got an invitation to subscribe to "Poets and Writers" magazine today:  at a discount rate, because I am "part of the writing community."  Seriously.
4.  I got a card from a friend who lives in China today, as well.  Do you know how rare it is to get actual mail that isn't advertising or bills?  Mail that has your name handwritten on it?  This is a blessing.
5.  When I say to my dog, "sit", she sits.  When I say to my dog, "stay", she stays.
6.  The aforementioned dog smiles a lot, and also likes to run in the snow.
7.  I have not killed the Christmas poinsettia, yet.
8.  I actually have more yarn than I need.
9.  I can sing.  That's a really really big deal.
10.  There is oatmeal in the cupboard, there is orange juice in the refrigerator, and there are bananas and granola as well.  What else do I need?
11.  At Bible Study today, a man told a story: when his wife was dying, she asked him what time it was.  He looked at the clock and saw that it was 3:16.  So he recited John 3:16:  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son..."  a good example of the difference between chronos and kairos, no?
12.  It is better to light a single candle than to curse the dark. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Five: Time to Get Up Edition

Singing Owl over at Revgalblogpals has this Friday Five for us:

Where I am it is dark, and it is cold, and it is snowing. I really wanted to stay in bed with the electric blanket cranked this morning. Share five things that made getting out of bed worthwhile for you today.

Where I am sounds very familiar to where Singing Owl is!  In fact, I've forgotten to set my alarm this week several times, and overslept, because it is dark until so late in the morning.

Without further ado, here are the five things I could come up with that made it worthwhile to get out of bed:

1.  Coffee.  In particular the flavored coffee that my husband makes every morning.   He is partial to flavors such as Amaretto, Chocolate Caramel, and Gingerbread.  The smell is as wonderful as the taste!

2.  Oatmeal.  With blueberries.  And bananas.  Nothing like a hot meal on a cold morning.  I grew up believing that oatmeal in the winter is a sign that your mother loves you.

3.  Stopping on the way to church to deposit my check in the bank.  I don't work for the money, but it does help pay for the oatmeal, blueberries and bananas (and flavored coffee).

4.  Wearing my new hat (the one I just learned how to knit).  Getting to wear my new hat makes it almost bearable to go out in 10 degree weather, and shovel snow, and clear off windshields.

5.  Letting the dog out.  She very rarely wakes me up early any more (when she does she just puts her head on the side of the bed and sighs).  But it's fun to watch her run through the deep snow; she loves the season more than we do.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Don't Hate Me Because I Spent a Few Days in the Only Warm Place in the U.S.

....I'm back now.  And there are still about 17-odd inches of snow on the ground, where I am.  It will reportedly get very cold this weekend.


The last day of our vacation, we got out of town and drove to the Kennedy Space Center.   They put us on a bus where we toured the facilities where the Gemini, Apollo, Saturn and many other space shuttles took off.  We got to ride a simulated take-off, feel what it might be like for an astronaut lifting off from the earth.  We looked at rocket launches and learned about some of the astronauts.  At one point, we found ourselves standing in front of a small black and white television at the door of a theatre.  There we were transported back in time to 1969, and we were hearing the reports of the Apollo 11 flight as they attempted the first landing on the moon.  As we walked into the theatre, we continued to hear about the moon landing, including some details that I don't think I knew about at the time.  It turns out that the time right before the moon landing was more harrowing than I thought.  They were in and out of communication, and ended up doing a manual landing.  No one knew what would happen.  I remember turning to my husband in the theatre and whispering, "I know how this turns out, and I'm nervous!"

Then Neil Armstrong got out of the shuttle, and said the famous words, "One small step for a man.  One giant leap for mankind."

It got me thinking.  Neil Armstrong didn't say, "I'm king of the world!"   He didn't say, "Look at me!"  He placed himself in the middle of something much larger than himself.  This moon-walk, he knew, was not just about him.  It was "one small step for a man."  But that small step was a part of a great mission.

This weekend is the one we call "Baptism of Our Lord."  This weekend we hear the story of how Jesus walked into the river Jordan "to fulfill all righteousness", whatever that means.  This weekend we hear the story of how Jesus walked into the river Jordan in solidarity with all of sinful humanity, becoming fully and completely one of us. 

And yet, what a simple act:  to be baptized.   "One small step for a man."

Jesus' baptism (thankfully for us) was not just about him.  Jesus' baptism was about the mission of God, God's mission to save and redeem all of wayward humanity.   Jesus got down in the water with all of the sinners and prostitutes, with all of the tax collectors and ne-er-do-wells, with all of the proud and the foolish, with all of the self-righteous and the unrighteous.   And God called him "Beloved."

It's the same with our baptisms, I think.  Our baptisms are not just about us.  When we are baptized, we are joined to Christ, and, like it or not, we are joined to something much larger than ourselves.  It might give some of you pause, if you are thinking about your own child's baptism, coming up soon.  Do you know what you are getting them into?  Yes, yes, you are getting them into forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, but this is not just about them as individual people.  You are getting them into the body of Christ and the mission of God -- without even asking them, you are saying that you want them to be a part of something much greater than themselves, to be joined together with Christ, and with all of the proud and the foolish, the self-righteous and unrighteous people that he associates with, that he came to save.

So what do you think?

It's one small step for a child...

Monday, January 3, 2011

On the 7th, 8th and 9th Days of Christmas...

okay, so I've been off line for a few days.  I haven't had access to internet, which (except for blogging) is probably a good thing for me.

Suffice it to say...

Everyone and their dog seemed to want to spend New Year's Eve at Epcot this Year.  I'm glad that we weren't among them.  We were at Epcot early in the day, but returned to our hotel for a wonderful dinner and quiet evening together.  (sadly, without Scout.)

We have been keeping a good balance between rest and activity.  I'm almost done with my first book of the new year, The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay: Fiction.  I'll let you know.....

I also read the children's book Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Book).  One of my New Year's Resolutions (If I had New Year's Resolutions) is that I am going to read more children's books.  Also, one of my criteria of a good book:  if it makes my eyes wet.  Snowflake Bentley made my eyes wet.

I've been knitting here.  I finished a pair of red cable footies, and have begun a pair of lime green cable footies.  (Right now, it's all cable footies, all the time...)

And, we're been doing some things too...

Epcot, Seaworld, Kennedy Space Center (although that would be the 10th Day of Christmas)....

on this the 10th day of christmas, already, I do have a short list of things I want to tackle, or do differently, this year:

1.  keep track of my reading, read in many genres and include children's books
2.  get one more article published this year
3.  buck an authority
4.  speak the truth in some strategic times and places
5.  print out some of those healthy recipes for two I found...
6.  give thanks for what (and who) I have