Friday, September 26, 2008

Why I Want To Be a Sushi Girl

I want to be a Sushi Girl. You know them. You've seen them--all svelte and glamorous, quirky and interesting, munching on their California Rolls. So, I took myself to Whole Foods the other day, and I lamely asked the sushi chef what a fish-hating, non-weird-food-eating, uncool, non-glam girl could try at the sushi counter. He suggested the Crab, but I argued with him. Yep, I argued with the sushi chef, the sushi connoisseur himself about what I should try. "I don't like crab," I said. "Not a good choice." He laughed. "How about the California Roll?" I said. "Shrimp and avocado and cucumber wrapped in rice, I can handle that."

As I opened my chopsticks and smothered the round pieces with salty Soy Sauce, I blessed my food: "Thank you, Lord, for this sushi. I hope it is delicious. But remember, Lord, I have to make a visit at the hospital after this. Lord, please don't let me throw up."

I sat there and ate my sushi feeling pretty smug, pretty cool actually. I could picture myself being photographed by the paparazzi. Just kidding on that last part. Truthfully, I enjoyed the California Roll. It wasn't my favorite thing, and I won't become a regular, but it was okay.

What I enjoyed more was The Sushi Experience. Some of us in this world are "Type A": we get stuck in a rut of how things have to be, and everything always has to happen in the way we expect. So, The Sushi Experience got me to let go a little bit, to move outside my own sense of what is comfortable, beyond my own understanding of food, and toward a little bit of quirkiness. It helped me realize that life is way more interesting if we just let go and try something different sometimes.

And The Sushi Experience got me to thinking about my faith, too. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true. How much more interesting would my life of faith be if I tried a little "sushi" sometimes? How much more full would my faith be if I let God live in me instead of in the box I put him in? How much deeper would my relationship with God be if I just let go and let him show me something different, something quirky? But there I stand at the counter, arguing with God about what is best and what is good. I want to be a Sushi Girl. I want that very much.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What Molly is Getting for Christmas

As we watch our children grow, it's very natural to think about who we wish for them to become...and who we wish for them not to become. When I think about the person--the woman--I want my daughter to become, I don't think within boundaries or stereotypes as far as what may be acceptable or politically correct. My husband and I sometimes dream about her being a brilliant scientist who cures AIDS and cancer. While these are noble occupations, I think about the person I want her to become--a kindhearted, loving, compassionate, open-minded, Christ-like person. And that makes me think about vocation--being called to something more than a job. And when Molly plays and dreams about who she will become, I want her to imagine being a Christ-like person who so loves the world.
So, that's why if I can find them, this first Christmas, Molly is going to get Clergy Barbies. When she plays with them, and when she interacts with the world, I hope she will see beyond the roles and stereotypes we have created and look toward becoming a person who loves like Christ does. I hope she'll play with them and think of me, not that I am any closer to being like Christ than anyone else, but I am a good Methodist. And we Method-ists believe that by putting love in action as a method of living, some sweet day Christ will make us perfect in his love. I hope she'll pick up Clergy Faith or Clergy Grace and think, let's do what mommy tries to do. Let's do what Jesus does. Let's love people. And that's all I could ever want for her to become.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Purell Addict Meets the Bishop

This week, the clergy and lay people in our district had the opportunity to spend a little time with our new Bishop. It was a truly enjoyable experience, except for one thing...I think I heard him say there's no room for germ-o-phobes (like myself) in the Kingdom of God. He even quoted scripture. In John 14, Jesus says: "The one who believes in me will do the works that I do, and I tell you, even greater works." The Bishop went on to talk about how Jesus was touching the untouchables, loving on the lepers, and that the church and the followers of Jesus haven't been doing that as much as we should. Ouch. He said we have to find out who the lepers are in our communities (the ones who have been labelled "unclean"), and go out and touch them. Touch them? Are you nuts? Is that even legal? Is that wise? Is that really necessary for us to follow Jesus? The Bishop reminded us that this is truly what it means to share Christ with the world--to touch a bit of brokenness and uncleanness with the love of Christ. I have a little problem with doing just what the Bishop and Jesus are instructing me to do. I hate germs and's been that way since I was a kid sitting on the edge of the sandbox, putting only my hands in the sand. And whenever I'm confronted with things--or people--who aren't as generally "clean" as I'd prefer, I get a little antsy. And I try to pretty things up. I sanitize. I organize. I makeover. I rearrange. I change things. I try to change people, too, I confess. And I even go so far as to try to hide my own uncleanness. So, it's all a little overwhelming for me to go out there and get dirty and get to being like Jesus. It weirds me out--a lot. But shouldn't it be a little bit uncomfortable to share the Gospel? Shouldn't we get sort-of nervous about doing the work--and even greater work--than the Son of God? It sounds like if I am ever going to be a part of the Kingdom, my germ-o-phobia, and my being-like-Jesus-phobia have got to go.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Hug for Lunch

Today, I stopped for lunch at a place I rarely visit because it isn't very easy to get into during the lunch hour. Today's lunch was a late one, though, so I decided to stop in. I have a new rule about eating--no eating in the car (we'll see how long that lasts). I've decided to impose this particular rule upon myself because lately I have found myself rushing through meals while driving, while on the computer or phone, or while holding my daughter (A few times, Molly has gotten a little remnant of the meal on her head!) I decided that I need to take more time with eating for my body's well-being and for my spirit's well-being. So, with my new rule in tow, I went into the restaurant instead of hitting the drive-through. As soon as I walked in, one of the people taking orders said, "I know you!" It was an old friend from high school. I haven't seen her in many years. She was so glad to see me that she came out from behind the counter and hugged me. Then, with tears in her eyes she said, "God is so good. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm in the right job, but then, God sends someone I care about into the store, and I am just so happy." I have to say, I wasn't prepared for such a greeting. I didn't think that my presence in restaurant at 3 pm would make anyone's day. I didn't think it would make my day either, but it did. This was a person I knew in high school, but not a close friend. I never thought of myself as someone memorable. So, today, it was good to see someone who knew me long ago,who remembers me, and who welcomed me in a warm hug. Maybe, that's a little like how it is with Jesus and me, too. He's someone who knew me long ago, and he remembers me. He's glad to see me, even when it's not my own idea. He welcomes me with a warm hug, hoping it won't be so long the next time I slow down and come inside for a visit.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family Portrait

You asked for's the photo.

Yesterday the Fitzgeralds had our first family portrait made. I wasn't sure how this would turn out with an eight month old wiggling all around and a photographer trying to capture a still image. As we sorted through more than a hundred images, the ones I was drawn to were not the perfectly posed ones (there were very few of these) but the imperfect, different images where we were laughing or looking at each other instead of the camera. My favorite is one where James and I were each kissing Molly on the cheek, and she turned toward me instead of looking ahead. It made for a lipstick smeared little girl and a lot of laughs...and a real family, with all of its flaws and all of its love.

I've been thinking a lot lately about families...who is in them, what they mean to us, and how to deal with them. It's interesting that our family members are the ones who know us so well that they can push all our buttons and annoy the stuffing out of us. But then, when everything seems to fall apart and when others have turned away, they are the ones turning toward you for that kiss, letting you know that you're still imperfectly as that may be, you're connected and loved.

Somewhere in that messy kiss is the church...that place where you're family, God's family, connected imperfectly by a Great Love. In the church family portrait, things aren't perfectly posed, and we don't have to fake a smile. We can be real together, and that's a great family to have.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On what day did God create blogging?

What in the world is blogging? Is this just some techie thing or a political tool? Is it an online diary of sorts? What is blogging, and what does it have to do with God, anyway?

I'm relatively new to the blogosphere myself, but I find blogging to be like snuggling up with a warm, soothing mug of tea with a good friend. For me, blogging is a way to find direction, comfort, and even grace in the small things in life. When I first started blogging, I was often plagued with "blogger's block," not knowing what I should be blogging about. How did one find a topic worth writing on? I often wondered.

Then, I took a good look at some of the old Saints' writings. I read parts of Come Be My Light, a book of Mother Teresa's personal thoughts on faith and letters to God. It was then that I realized blogging is a way that modern Saints and Sinners can reflect on their world and faith and interact with a living God. Blogging is a way of looking at our everyday life and seeing where God breaks through. It's not always that obvious...sometimes it takes a blog to bring out God's presence and have a good wallow in His grace.

It may not have been in existence from the beginning, but I believe blogging is a tool we can use to connect to our Creator. So, welcome to my blog, which I've called: Wallowing in Grace. Why have a chosen such a name? I was driving by a nearby church recently, and I was so impressed with the bold sign near the door: "Wallowing in Grace." Ever since, I can't get that image out of my mind, wallowing in grace. Rolling in and wrapping myself up in God's love. It makes God seem approachable, okay with a little messiness that is sometimes my life, and comforting like a warm cup of tea with an old friend.

I hope you'll find something to connect with as you read my posts, but beware: wallowing is messy. You might be surprised by what God shows you.