Dr. Peter Browning
Chow & Chapel: The Thankful Life

Drury does this weekly service called Chow & Chapel (the chow part is pizza, and the chapel part is a 30 minute inspirational service in the Diversity Center–historic Washington Avenue Baptist Church).
Something about the venue (wood pews, stained glass, history) and the purpose (spiritual break in a workday, community, inspiration) makes for a nice way to spend your Tuesday lunch hour.

This week was the first time I’d made it to one all semester, and I snuck down hoping for a little bit of warmfuzziness before Thanksgiving. And boy did i get it! Dr. Browning (chaplain, favorite professor, and now colleague of mine) presented a talk on thankfulness.

He started out with a story from his Sunday church service. During the kids sermon (a phenomenon of some protestant churches that my AG background did not include. Kids had separate church in my world. Puppets. This one is a small part of the regular service.) adults in the congregation helped little kids write out what they are grateful for: “thankful for my mommy. my doggie. my kitty.” (Oh man! that’s cute.)

He said that watching the older church members taking the hands of the little guys, and walking them to the front to share their lists made you think:

Life’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

He also recalled childhood road trips, and the fun of Thanksgiving spent with family. He looks back now and contrasts the magic, comfort, and happiness of childhood memories with the knowledge that
his mother was ill,
grandfather had lost his job.
All that real-life stuff was going on, but the parents worked to create JOY, contentment, stability.

Then he read from Psalms, “psalms are all about human emotion. let ‘er rip.”
Psalm 136 is all about praise (“his love endures forever”), but then in 137 we’re by the waters of Babylon. And we’re away from home. And we’re lamenting.

And that’s life. And that’s Thanksgiving: finding a way to be grateful in the midst of whatever else is going on.

Here’s something I’d never thought about before. That first Thanksgiving: the pilgrims were homeless. They were in a dire situation, (something like half of the settlers died that winter) and in a strange land. But they were still able to recognize their ability (and need) to give thanks.

It’s okay to be grateful in the midst of a tough situation, and it’s also okay (and healthy) to be real about your life in the midst of Thanksgiving.

Perhaps the biggest Chow & Chapel revelation of all: I am now one of the adults who makes sure the holidays are meaningful and joyful for the small children at my Thanksgiving.
Jacob 5, Hannah 3, Ean 2 months, Clayton 1 month.
(and Jenksie Cat. she’s 2. I do my best to make her feel special every day.)

PS: I’m not going to “go there” in labeling the Bible fiction/nonfiction for the blog category. We’ll go with “classics”…

Stupak or not Stupak, that is the question

Found this article on The Daily Beast about the Stupak amendment. (you should read it before reading my post. it’s written by a doctor [a Christian!] whose views on abortion will make you think.)

My first inspiration for this post came from, what else, The Daily Show (which I recently heard described as “niche news for cynics”).
A montage of funny moments from healthcare debate on the House floor included one Republican defending the Stupak amendment. His argument is that tax payers who find abortion morally reprehensible should not have their tax dollars go toward insurance coverage of the procedure (though I’m fairly certain it’s already covered by MedicAid, legal medical procedure that it is).
I wonder, then, what about those of us who think war is morally reprehensible? Do we get a right to choose where our tax dollars go? (Cost of war in Iraq: $700 billion and counting.)

Talk about right to choose. Huh? Am I right?!
*rim shot*

In all seriousness, I understand the polarizing nature of this issue. If you think “life” (soul, etc) begin at conception, it changes things. Even as a pro-choice voter I think the issue’s complicated. I don’t think abortions should just be an easy fix and replace birth control, caution, and good ol’ fashioned virtue.
I’ve just come to think as I’ve grown up that if we’re going to talk about “right to life” there are far more important ways to go there than with unwanted pregnancies.

What about the 1 million people who die from malaria worldwide?
The 3.5 million people who die because they don’t have access to clean water?

Don’t these people have “right to life” too?
Why don’t we have more billboards or bumper stickers about poverty? health? sanitation?

I know my little blog isn’t going to convince anyone. (hell, I used to be a pro-life little kid, standing in “Life Chains,” holding posters where baby seals said “save the humans.” But I was a KID. No one had told me the myriad reasons—physical, financial, relational, social—why a woman might choose not to have a baby.)

My point: abortion is currently a legal medical procedure. All arguments of whether it should be aside, let’s all think twice before we make it difficult for those on government aid to afford one. Let’s ask ourselves, can these people afford to have a baby? Raise a baby? Nurture a baby? Educate a baby?



my mom gets this magazine from time to time called
Where Women Create: inspiring work spaces of extraordinary women

I was flipping through it today and was overwhelmed by the deliciousness of the photos.
the organized chaos of creative space
rainbow collections of colored pencils
wall shelves full of yarn and thread
bulletin boards jam-packed with inspiration
books and photos and quotes and art

It’s the kind of space I like to work in: full of inspiration, plenty of supplies, room to doodle and think.

We recently did an extreme makeover of the design studio where i work at Drury. We already have a unique office space. We’re in the basement of a classroom building, and are the only office with loft-like beamed ceilings, stone walls, lots of windows and gallery lighting.

We’ve transformed the space in the last month with furniture from IKEA and Eames knockoff chairs from FUNtiques (the cutest local store at National and Commercial. Go there. Now.).

Just being in this new space (absorbing all the “ooohs” and “aaaahs” from visitors) makes me think of the word DWELL. I don’t think it’s a mistake the ol King James version of the Shepherd Psalm says, “and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever.” There’s a spiritual feeling to the word. Like the space is not just a place you go physically, but the space has something to do with the rest of you as well.

(I know my architecture-major friends could probably articulate this better than I can, the meaning of SPACE.)

I just know who you are has a lot to do with where you are.
Oprah always said your home is an extension of your self (usually on one of those “help! we have too much stuff!” episodes).
Maybe creative space leads to creative thought.