The Barn at the Homestead

The Barn at the Homestead

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 is on the horizon!  Watch for coming changes in this blog!
My companion saint for this year is Hilda of Whitby.
My chosen word is simplicity.

May God grant me the wisdom to do it!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Domestic LIfe

The latest issue of "The Christian Century" magazine published a cartoon that is a part of the New Yorker Collection (which can also be seen at that caused me to reflect on my life.  The cartoon is a depiction of the sacrifice of Isaac.  Abraham is holding the knife and with outstretched arms looking up to the heavens he says, "Must I sacrifice family for career?"  It's a good question to ask for all of us, but especially for those of us in ordained ministry.  And maybe more for women than men, but I know some male colleagues who also wrestle with this issue.

I recall several years ago listening to a female rabbi sharing her story, although I can no longer recall her name.  She talked about being at the Synagogue celebrating a holy day when she longed to be with her family--who was celebrating at home.  It is a dilemma.

The Domestic Life is still very important to me.  I find myself longing for simplicity; finding joy at home through many traditional things make a house a home.  How to combine the priestly lifestyle with the longing for simplicity?  Perhaps you are asking these same questions.

So, I'm creating a wish list--to help revive the Domestic Arts in my own life--a way to slow down and be with my family a little more often.  My wish list includes:
Dairy Goats
Building a back yard labyrinth
and time to sit in the porch swing with my beloved.
And time to also think about the Domestic Church (that's the subject for another time).

Create your own wish list.  And remember, as Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz said, there's no place like home.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I've been reflecting on what it is to be a welcoming community.  Many churches today speak of being welcoming, of hospitality.  What does it mean to be such a community?

A couple of weeks ago as I was making a pastoral call at our local hospital, I happened to have the radio on to NPR, and heard a piece that captured my attention.  It was on "Cowboy Church."  You may want to listen, too:

That same week, I received notice of an article posted by the Episcopal News Service (ENS) regarding biker/motorcycle blessings.  It may be found here:
I was interviewed via telephone for this article because in one of my previous parishes, I celebrated a biker mass and blessings.

At another one of my parishes, I wanted to extend hospitality  by hosting a monthly Tea and calling the program HospitalTEA.  Each month the menu would vary according to the season.  Monies raised would be donated to welcoming ministries.  It remains just a dream, still, but perhaps something for my future

I've often heard it said that God loves you just they way you are, but refuses to leave you that way.  As I ponder welcoming and hospitality, I also reflect on a God that bids us come . . .

"Just as I am,  without one plea...
O lamb of God, I come, I come."

Welcoming gives way to surrender; surrender to transformation.

How does your community welcome--and whom do they welcome?  What are your hospitality ministries?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mama don't let your boys grow up to be professional football players

I live in a town where football reigns!  The fall start up of our local university brings with it many fans for the "home team."  Parking, already a premium in our area, becomes nearly impossible during home football games, and I have a reserved parking place!  I find it particularly annoying that on Sunday mornings I often have to have a car towed from my reserved space in a parking lot that is designated as Church Parking.

Football is something I've grown up with; each of my brothers play on our High School Team (at different times due to their ages), and my family enjoyed watching games together on TV and the occasional treat of being in the local stadium.  But more and more, I have noticed that professional sports seem to have taken on a new dimension!  Of course, I view this with the lens of an Episcopal priest--so there is a bias in my comments.  I've joked a few times about "the other god"--the one who is worshiped from the stands.  How I'd love to see folks flock to church like that on Sunday morning.

Then, today comes a story on NPR that I found particularly disturbing:
"Football needs a Guardian, not a CEO."  According to this piece, since the Superbowl earlier this year, 29 professional football players have been arrested.  This saddens the heart.

I think I'm giving up football for the future.  It's time we stop glorifying these so called "superstars!"  I'm not seeing them as very good roll models for our young people.  Sports can teach young people many good skills, but we really need some better examples.  There are some really great players out there I know--and we need to hear more stories about them.  It's too bad that 29 of them give them a bad rap.  

Sundays will find me in church, worshiping God.  The only pigskin I might remotely get close to is a bag of fried pork skins on my low carb diet!  :)  If you have a son or a daughter considering professional sports, help them think through this.  Can we salvage sports, or are we just in for more of the same?

Then of course, there are always goats ...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Julian of Norwich

Here is a good read on Julian of Norwich; today is her feast day, which explains why I've wanted hazelnuts all day! :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Amish Reading

     In the latest issue of "The Christian Century" I was surprised and delighted to see Valarie Weaver-Zercher's article "Chaste romance." The premise of her article is about Amish fiction and its rise in popularity over the past several years.  Surprised, because it caught me off guard--seems as if the Amish are every where.  Delighted because I think it speaks to a hunger in American life.
   Weaver-Zercher's new book Thrill of the Chaste:  The Allure of Amish Romance Novels, has recently been published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.  She spent a great deal of time and study researching the popularity of the rise of Amish romance.  I hope to read her book in the future.  
     I discovered the author Beverly Lewis while in seminary.  She is one of the more popular authors and has written a number of books over the years.  ( You can read about her at  Personally, the reading was pure escapism; my brain could only hold so much theology!  It was intriguing to read about the Amish--the simplicity of their lives embedded in "romance" stories.  While it provided entertainment and reading that was quite different from my theological studies, I do admit that it also opened up new avenues in my life.  
    To be fair, I've also read a book or two by Julia Spencer-Fleming (my favorite was In the Bleak Midwinter) and the exciting life of her main character, the Rev. Clare Fergusson ( and yes, she did serve a St. Alban's just like me!)  But I've returned again and again to Lewis' books because there is a hunger deep within, not so much for the romance, but a simplicity of life and a place where one can find something that doesn't involve violence.  Yes, peacefulness is desired.  With the rise in popularity of reality TV programming (I'm not a TV fan), there is still something to be said for ficition.
     While the books provide entertainment, they have led me to an exploration of Anabaptism, along with my Anglican/Episcopal roots.  Anabaptists are as diverse as any other Christian group; but I find the commitment to peace and justice issues very compelling--they are a gentle people.  Presently I am slowly reading John Howard Yoder's The Politics of Jesus.  This is no Amish romance book.  I am finding Yoder's book a challenge at many levels.  I'm not sure that I would have stumbled across this book if I had not first been exposed to authors like  Beverly Lewis.
     Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Great Fifty Days of Easter

The Monday after Easter was a welcome rest for me from the hectic pace of Holy Week.  Life as a priest falls into certain rhythms, and Easter Monday provided some time to be home savoring the blessedness of our Parish Life.  I've read with great interest about the Amish and Easter Monday; it is not the time spent hunting bargains or half-priced candy.  Amish businesses are closed and the Amish spend the day visiting with family and friends.

In the Anglican tradition, my family is celebrating the Great Fifty Days of Easter.  It was St. Augustine who said, "We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song."  Each day, we look for joy, and signs of resurrection all around us (although as I pen these words, it is rainy and chilly and winter seems to be hanging on!) Perhaps your family (however you are configured) would like to celebrate these Great Fifty Days, too.  They begin with the Great Vigil of Easter and continue until the Feast of Pentecost (following the liturgical calendar)  Here is a website, while Roman Catholic in its orientation, may give you some food for thought!

Next year following Easter Sunday, the Day of Resurrection, I think I'll take a cue from the Amish, and instead of just resting, or catching up on duties I didn't get done during Holy Week, I'll take Easter Monday and visit--with family and friends.  It will be a nice addition to our Fifty Day celebration.

Blessed Eastertide!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Pope of Hope...

     Yesterday's announcement of a new Pope caught me off guard.  The early morning news reports suggested that it might be as late as Monday of next week before white smoke would rise over Vatican City.  A quick chance glance at Facebook changed my afternoon: HABEMUS PAPEM !!!!  White smoke!
      Several folks gathered around my computer, watching a Live Stream of news from far away--waiting as we so often find ourselves doing in this life.  Waiting for word of the new Pope, finally unveiled--Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Argentina--presented to the world.  He chose the name Francis I.  At first, I spectulated it was taken for St. Francis Xavier--a Jesuit--same order as the new Pope.  But as day turned into night in my setting, I learned he chosen his name for Francis of Assisi.  And I went to bed feeling hopeful!
    The Pope of Hope, I've dubbed him!  I haven't listened to news today or crused the internet.  Instead, I've focused on his first few acts--the choosing of his name and his asking for a blessing from the people. Deep humility?  O, I so hope! Francis of Assisi was a reformer who wanted to bring the people back to the joy of knowing Jesus.  May his name sake bring about reform in our day.  May there be dialog among people of many denominations and faiths.
      Last evening, the Parish where I serve as an Associate, and our local Methodist church gathered together for an already scheduled service of Eucharistic sharing--Episcopals and Methodists linked together by the Wesley brothers (who never stopped being Anglican priests, I hasten to add!).  Yet, we were all struck by the events of the day and recognized in the end, we are all united in Christ.
     This being Lent, I feeling a little like I want to do Stations of the Cross this Friday.  Our parish does not have Stations except for Good Friday.  In the Spirit of Francis of Assisi, and Francis I, I may join in our local Catholic church this Friday--to walk the pilgrim way.
           Our prayers are with you, Francis I.  Peace and all good!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

They call themselves covered Christians . . .

'...any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. 6For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. '  From I Corinthians 11

Many years ago, I fancied myself with a veil; I had longed to be a sister with All Saints Sisters of the Poor  A very wise Mother Superior suggested that I receive a college education before returning to convent life--and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.  I met and married a wonderful man,  adopted a beautiful daughterafter many struggles to have children and later became an Episcopal priest.  Many years later, my beloved All Saints' Sisters left the Episcopal Church for Rome, which is a profound loss for the Anglican communion!  But I've thought about that veil for a long time.

The lessons and love learned in the Catonsville setting never left me, and I recall the desire to wear a veil continued long after the reality of being a sister left.  For years, I wrestled with the length of my hair--the only Bible my husband ever quoted me was that "it is disgraceful for a women to have her hair cut," sweet man that he is!

For several years now, I have studied Headcoverings--I've read countless blogs, articles, and studied numerous documents and paintings.  And I have noticed an amazing number of Christian woman who post on line who are also intrigued by headcovering--and many who do.  Mennonites, Amish , Hutterites and some other Christian women wear a variety of prayer caps.  There are many good websites that may be consulted for patterns.  At one point in my walk with the Episcopal Church, hats and chapel veils were popular.  But for many reasons, hats and chapel veils are rarely a part of the wardrobe.  This history of Headcoverings is a fascinating study. 
Wearing a biretta at a Tea in Meridian, MS

As a priest, I do not cover my head-- and I am not likely to, unless I wear a biretta  I often do wear a headband or barrette. And as you can see from a few pictures, I've donned a hat or two in my ministry!   But I continue to find myself drawn to headcovering for some strange reason.  I am so grateful for the women in my life who do "cover" and for those who allow me to be a part of their lives. For many, it is out of deep religious conviction that they cover; they are women of faith--albeit different from my own--yet we share a common bond in Christ Jesus.  I'll continue to read and explore and listen!  God is always inviting us!

My Fruit of the Spirit Hat from a preaching series
on the Fruits of the Spirit

"Veiled" at Vacation Bible School