Segwaying

Segwaying

I just got back from DC. I’ve been to DC before. I’ve seen the sights, haunted the galleries, gaped at the Star Spangled Banner. When my kids were little a friend arranged a tour of the West Wing for us. The image my kids most vividly remember is a rubber ax one of the West Wingers had. Every time you whacked it, the ax whistled and screamed. Presumably this got used for tax cuts. This time my husband, our now grown son and I took a Segway tour. My son, a DC resident since August, says that locals laugh at the helmeted tourists wending their way through our nation’s capital on these funky vehicles. But we were game.

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Agendas

Agendas

Unless the Lord builds the house...

Agendas

by Linda Hoffman Kimball

Like many of you, I’m sometimes called on to lead group meetings. Whether it’s a meeting for community, employment or a church responsibilities I generally try to have an agenda. Agendas can help.

Here’s my general plan for crafting agendas. First I splat all the factors out on the tabletop that is my mind, or actually on paper or computer screen. I make no judgments at first about what weight to give each item; I just spew.

Pondering comes next. I determine which topics need to be emphasized. Does the pre-school board need to address playground safety first or decide about cutting teacher’s salaries in a bad economy? Does the college need a new sports arena or a new library? Do we donate to the “alabaster bottle of expensive anointing fragrance” campaign on the donation slip or to the “sell the perfume and give the proceeds to the poor” fund?

I don’t know that there are clear answers to these questions. I’m constantly trying to keep in mind the “meta” – the fundamental objective of the group. This isn’t always obvious or even answerable. Is our task teaching kids or keeping them out of harm’s way? Making sure the Relief Society ladies learn CPR or facilitating a social experience?

I find it’s most valuable to keep reminding myself of the basics, even if the current issue seems impossibly fraught with complexities. Can the College advance its scholarly pursuits without the kind of funding that comes in large measure from sports departments? Did Mary and Judas ever come to a meeting of the minds after she anointed the Savior with the contents of the bottle?

I record the items in some kind of order of importance. Having a written down, distributable agenda helps me. I find outlines with OCD-esque detail too confining for me and outlines that are just too loosey-goosey ineffective. I expect each person learns what works for them.

The group meets. We talk. We listen. As leader, I try hard to keep on task and on schedule. Nobody much likes watching the clock but it is a necessary evil in most situations.

At the end of the meeting we assess. We make and accept assignments. We set a “return and report” time frame.

To me this has been pretty workable, a decent if not perfect plan for making agendas.

What about those deep level agendas? People of good will approach challenges from different and seemingly irreconcilable points of view all the time. Recognizing agendas can bridge the differences or exacerbate the problems if the invested people de-emphasize the group’s main goals. Psalms 127:1 says it well: “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”

I think of my life as the main thing over which I need to have an agenda. What I am most fundamentally trying to accomplish? What am I most about?

I’m with Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” That’s the main task of my life – to figure out what that means, to explore those depths and heights, to let the Lord build my house. This is no small task. It’s complicated and requires plenty of wrestling, heavy lifting, and the grueling work of being vulnerable. This is not a challenge for the faint of heart nor a facile sop.

People talk about and proclaim generic agendas all the time: feminist agendas, progressive agendas, conservative agendas, organic and ecological agendas, etc. I’m not comfortable claiming any of those. The labels distract me. I’m just trying to work the Gospel of Christ into my bones, a process for which spewing, pondering, keeping on task and on schedule is plenty for me.

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Missing the Point of Perfection

Missing the Point of Perfection

photo by LHK

When I was a Methodist teenager first learning about Mormons, the youth pastor at my church warned me that Mormons were a lot like the Pharisees – very rule bound, proud and determined to “work their way into heaven”. Having been a committed Latter-day Saint Christian for nearly 40 years now, I know what he was sensing.

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Long Time Gone

Long Time Gone

by Linda Hoffman Kimball

This was the month my mother died.
16 years already.
Long enough ago
That I could have been
Again a teenager,
Straining and wrestling
With her strange brand of love,
her impulse to lay blame,
To foster shame,
With her passive game
Of parenthood.

Long enough ago
That I can now see
She did the best she could
With what she had,
Undiagnosed, unaided;
That in her own
Wounded heart
She wanted as much
Unconditional love
As I did.

In her awkward care
Somehow I flourished.
She nourished some part that
Now can see her precious core,
Her singular beauty,
Her shimmering self
Holy, relieved and Alive.

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