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Archive for December, 2008

So long, 2008

Dear friends,

What a year it has been! So much to be grateful for. And so much to hold in prayer, so much in need of healing, restoration.

For those of us in the U.S., we anticipate the historic inauguration of our first Black President (and I gather that much of the rest of the world is interested in this story.) However one might feel about the results of the November election, my prayer is that this man will be able to put us on the path of healing some of the divisions and polarities that have become so entrenched in our society, even in our families.

My religious congregation this year has a new leadership team and some exciting challenges we have identified to guide our zeal for the mission of Jesus over the next 5 years.

At work, I have found renewed enthusiasm for the ministry of teaching and being present with the young adults who are a big part of my joy.

And let’s not forget the techie side of things…our IT department has invested in a product called “Wimba Classroom”, which is going to make it much easier to meet my teaching obligations even with the brutal travel schedule required of me this year. One of the reasons you haven’t seen a lot of posts from me over the past week is that I’m repackaging some of my course materials to take full advantage of the new technology in such a way that it results in deeper understanding of difficult concepts.

I’m spending a quiet evening in reflection and prayer tonight. I will keep you all in my prayers for a peaceful and blessed 2009.

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Christmas 2008

Dear Friends,

If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome, and come back often!

From the midnight liturgy Scripture readings:

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.

It seems to me that in these days of continuing war and unrest and economic turmoil throughout the world, we have never been more in need of a little light. My prayer for you this Christmas season is that you not only see the great light, but manage to walk in that light as you make your way through the season and the year.

Blessings and love,
Sandy

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Building God a house

Tonight I’m reflecting on the first reading from today’s Liturgy, 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16. God seemed indignant that David should build God a house…what this brings to my mind is the question of where God dwells… I have had this strong and abiding conviction for many years that God makes a home in me, and is especially evident when I am faithful to who I really am as God’s beloved. So if God is content to make a home in me, who would be served by my creating any kind of exterior “house” for God to live in? Is God’s intimate presence in the deepest and truest part of me unnerving? To be honest, the answer is sometimes yes…there ARE times when I’d like to keep this God at arms length.

On another level, does making some kind of external display somehow feed my ego, somehow make me feel superior to others who are seeking and serving God in less public ways? These are all things I need to hold in my heart as I discern how I will continue to be in this world.

Now, lest you read this and think I’m all about a kind of individualistic “me and God” devotional spirituality, let me put that notion to rest. I believe that God makes a home in all of creation, not just me. And so there’s a constant invitation for me to honor that sacred presence in every creature, even when it is difficult to see beyond what exasperates me.

My wish for you tonight is that you encounter this loving God deep within yourself and let that love spill out to touch those around you who need to experience your witness.

Advent blessings!

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Yes, another “key” post…as Paul Harvey (a syndicated radio commentator here in the U.S.) used to say, here’s “the rest of the story…”

So the main point is that in the scripture reading from Matthew where Jesus says he will give Peter the “keys to the kingdom”….let me make this perfectly clear…if keys are involved, I’m not the best person to rely on…I have lots of “key” stories…

But first, the end of the present key story is that I did NOT have to shovel snow today. A colleague from work saved the day by suggesting I use a plain old screwdriver in the ignition switch – it worked like a dream!!

Now a confession…I only needed to eat one Dove bar last night to get the stick for my abandoned  “wooden key” plan…well…I engaged in a “little” stress eating – I ate ALL FOUR Dove bars last night!

Finally one more “key” story from about 10 years ago. A friend and I rented some X-country skis from Notre Dame one weekend, and headed to an Indiana State Park to use them….when we got back to my car, my keys were gone…they must have fallen out of my pocket somewhere along the trail, and retracing my steps did not result in success – they were buried somewhere in the snow. So I had to call my roommate and have her bring my spare keys to me, because the lost keys would probably not be found until the spring thaw… Note that these were the days before cell phones were common, so we had to ride in the back of a guy’s pick-up truck the 8 miles back to the ranger station to make the call…cold ride!!

So, the next day, I headed out to the park to do more skiing, this time with my keys securely zipped into my pocket. As I was trying to master the art of going downhill and turning at the same time, I fell down in the same spot I had fallen down the day before.

Anyway, I thought…while I’m down here, butt in the snow, it can’t hurt to dig around and see if this might have been the spot where my keys fell out the day before. And you know what? I found them!!

So that has been my favorite “key story” for a long time….but yesterday’s story might give this one a run for its money…what do you think? Which story is better?

For future reference…if you need someone to keep track of keys, I’m NOT the best person to depend on…

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Some “key” points

You might expect that after such a long hiatus from this blog that I’d have something profoundly spiritual to write about…

…..well, you’d be wrong….I’ve had quite an “interesting” day, so I’m going to use my little soap box here for a bit of a rant session. Perhaps the thing that might be of interest to you as my readers is that we religious do have very human responses to frustration.

Anyway, in just a few hours, a major snow storm is supposed to hit here in Michigan…6-10 inches before the end of tomorrow (Fri.) I had been thinking, “so what”, because my roommate recently got her snow blower repaired after two winters of us having to shovel snow.

When I got up this morning, I found a note from her asking me to look in a couple of places for the key to the machine…seems in the 2 years it has been broken, she has lost track of where she put the key…

I had no luck, and I searched some other places in addition to those she suggested…by then, I was running late for my meeting at work, and rushed off. After the meeting, I tried to find a way to get a replacement key before the snow hit…the closest place I could find was Flint, which is about 50 miles away.

I could not get through by phone to this Sears Parts & Service Center, so I called the 800 number to see what I could do. The operator confirmed that the keys were available at the Part Center and took my order and payment. I asked what time they closed, because if they closed at 5, I would have had to ask a friend who lives closer to Flint to pick up the keys, but the sales person checked and told me they were open until 7:00. No problem, I thought…my not insignificant time spent searching for the missing key and locating a replacement was about to pay off, or so I thought…

Fighting rush hour traffic, I made it to the Flint facility at 6:20, only to find that they had closed at 5:00. I was so frustrated I was about ready to scream! All that time and gas spent, and we still have to shovel tomorrow.

I called back the 800 number to complain and to make arrangements to have them change the order to allow me to pick it up at a closer location, since I wasn’t going to drive that far again for such a small purchase. The sales person I talked to this time basically said, “tough luck.” There was no way he could change or cancel the purchase, that I’d have to call the service center directly…aaagh….but if they don’t answer the phone, how can I call them…that’s why I called the 800 number to begin with… Strange that I placed the order through the 800 number, but they are not the ones who can cancel or modify it…

So, is this the end of the story? Not yet! After I broke the news to M. about our shoveling date tomorrow, I got to thinking about going to work and getting a toggle switch and soldering iron to go in and replace the ignition switch with the toggle so as to be able to turn it on and off without a key. Since I had no idea how long and how hard it was going to be to get to the switch connections…I opted to act on some new info from my roommate. Turns out she has a friend with a Craftsman snow blower…some web research revealed that the 2 models take the same key…home free, I thought!! Just borrow that sucker and take it to Meijer’s to get a copy so we have it for the next day.

Not so…the first Meijer’s I went to…the key shop was closed…so off I went to the next closest….it’s 10pm by now…I showed the key to the woman at the service counter….they don’t have the ability to make these strange keys…

So I used this disappointing turn of events to justify buying some Dove bars. $3.50 for 4 Dove bars was cheaper than buying a whole bag of popsicle sticks from the crafts department, And of course, I would have to eat a Dove bar before I could carve a key of the proper shape from that stick.

M. does not want to chance using a wooden stick in the ignition switch for fear it could break off, so we are down to trying to use a screwdriver to turn it on, or see if Ace hardware has a key or anything we can use to start and turn off the machine, or shovel.

This has not been nearly as funny as it has been frustrating, but I’m sure it will be a funny story that endures once I get my patience back…it’s now one of many key stories that will become part of my repertoire.

Well, my eyelids are drooping, so I need to sign off…more later…

But that’s not the end of the story…

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She’s baaack!

Oh, how I have been wanting to write a post for this blog…but I didn’t even have time to keep up with previous conversations, let alone begin new ones. Please don’t give up on me…this is just one busy “techie nun”, doing the best she can to bring the semester in for a graceful landing.

I just turned in (almost) the last of my grades – I had to give an incomplete to one student, so I’ll have another report to grade next week… The next 2 days I’ll be tied up in a training session for Wimba…a system that allows interactive online learning – something I’ll be needing to utilize on the occasions this term when I’ll be out of town travelling.

I promise that you’ll see a substantive post here sometime this week; for now, I just wanted to surface, take a gulp of air, and let you know I’m still kicking…

May your Advent season continue to be richly blessed!

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Too pooped to party…

I do wish I were in a place to be able to be able to compose some good posts for this blog, but life has a way of happening…so much of it good, but keeping me hopping till I drop.

Just to give you an idea of what’s happening in my work life these days, here’s a partial list of things that have been converging on me lately:

  • the dissertation defense of my first doctoral student – he defended today quite brilliantly – yay!
  • revisions to two major journal papers
  • reviewing a conference paper
  • search and interview of candidates for a faculty position
  • putting in extra hours with students completing a final project
  • tying up loose ends in all three courses I’m teaching – tonight was my last class for the semester – yay again!
  • a trip to PA for an all-day meeting on Saturday, then Mass/Brunch back here on Sunday, a CLC meeting Sunday afternoon, dinner with my doctoral student Sunday evening, then a 9:30 online review session with the students in my grad course…

Sleeping and eating? Highly overrated! And I must be a bit dehydrated because I went all day without a bathroom break…

But our students make it all worth all the work. For example, on Monday, I told my class that I was going to ask another grad student to visit tonight and talk about a practical application of the Kalman filter, but I never connected with him yesterday or today. Even so, he showed up with a presentation ready to go, because he heard from someone in my class that I was hoping to ask him. That’s what I love about this place! My faculty colleagues and our students and I really ARE a community of scholars…we do go out of the way for each other.

Does it sound like I’m making an excuse for not writing on this blog more frequently these days? Well, perhaps I am…

So…on to those journal papers…then eventually I’ll fall into bed…thanks to those of you who have been contributing your reflections on Thanksgiving and gratitude…it only adds to my joy…

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