Rose Madrid-Swetman

— Random Thoughts, Stories of Life, and Questions about the Journey —


June 22, 2010

Unbelievable

Category: All Posts,Stories of Life – Rose – 8:59 am

Unbelievable is how I would describe my life these days. I don’t know how long this run is going to last but I am trying to enjoy every minute. I have a friend who wrote a little book called “Simple Spirituality, Maintain your personal peace and lovingly serve others.” One of the practices of SS is “celebrating moments.” The idea is that we have moments in our lives when we really do sense that “all is well” and in our fast-paced, full lives we should stop and savor these moments. I have had more of those moments in the last month than I can count. I don’t remember many times in my life when moment after moment to celebrate just kept coming.

Winning a 12-week pastor’s sabbatical grant…
Finishing my dissertation…
Passing with distinction…
Alex’s baseball team winning their division championship…
Graduation…
Graduation party…
Celebrating with family and friends…
Regional conference….healing and restored friendships…

and today…

LEAVE FOR ITALY FOR ONE MONTH!

I don’t want to wake up from this dream…

June 15, 2010

Here we go…

Category: All Posts – Rose – 7:56 am

I’m leaving for Boise this morning for our Vineyard Regional Conference. I am looking forward to our time but have a wee bit of anxiety too. It will be good to see everyone. I haven’t been to Tri’s church in so long, 13 years I think. I can’t remember the first time I met Tri but it was sometime in the early 90’s when he was our then regional overseer. Most of my early interactions with him was about Women in Ministry. We had some good debates, friendly debates. About the time Jim Henderson and VCC wanted to ordain me in 1995 I was in Boise for some training and talked with Tri. I wanted to get his approval as our RO. He was most respectful, he said he blessed whatever we chose to do in our church even though he wouldn’t ordain a woman in his church. To this day I am very thankful for the way he respectfully disagreed yet could bless us.

Alex is getting ready for school, he only has 2 days left. He’s going to stay with Nathan until Saturday when Rich and I get back from Boise. What an amazing time he has had this year. He told us that 6th grade was his best year ever. He really liked his teacher, Wayne Clousing, and who could ever forget winning your baseball division championships when you were down by 2 in the last inning with 2 outs and 2 strikes and your teammate knocks one out of the park to tie the game. Alex is up next and hits a single, makes it to 2nd base and then the next batter up hits the winning RBI. I don’t think any of us will ever forget that moment!

Rich, Alex, Nicole and I leave for Italy on Tuesday. I am so grateful for the opportunity (to the Louisville Institute and VCC) to go on such an amazing trip with Rich and the kids. It’s the perfect way to start a sabbatical, one I could never have imagined.

I can’t wait to get on the plane, but first a plane to Boise:)

June 8, 2010

2 Weeks to Go

Category: All Posts – Rose – 8:22 pm

Two weeks from today we will be in the air on our way to Italy. First stop London/Heathrow then on to Roma! We will be 3 nights in Rome then we take the train to Monleone on the Italian Riviera. Here is a picture (the castle) of where we will be for 7 nights. Here is the view from the castle deck. We will be 15-minute train ride from the Cinque Terra and a short boat ride to Portofino.

From Monleone we go to Lake Como for 3 nights. Then 1 night in Milan and then Nicole and Alex will fly home. Rich and I will go on to Venice where we will meet up with our friends Nick and Cathy Gretton for 3 nights! Then we drive to Tuscany where we will spend the next 9 nights. Lots of places to see in Tuscany, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Assisi, then 1 final night in Rome before returning home.

Lots still to do before we go. Graduation parties, an anniversary party, our Vineyard Regional Conference.

Speaking of graduation parties, my husband and friends threw me an amazing party on Saturday after my graduation. What a celebration. I had a hard time taking it all in. I still have not quite come down from the weekend beginning with Alex’s baseball team winning their division championship the night before I graduated.

Rich and I were reflecting on the weekend. It could not have been more perfect. I am so, so, so grateful for my life!

May 28, 2010

Getting Ready to Go

Category: All Posts – Rose – 5:38 pm

We take Friday’s off. Rich and I have been pretty good about completely taking Friday’s off since February. Something we didn’t do for a couple of years. When we realized we were not that indispensable and that we were on the verge of burnout, we did an immediate course correction. I am loving our days off. Time to just hang out, chill, and do whatever.

It has poured rain all day. We left for a couple of hours to get something to eat. I swear when we got home the front lawn had grown 3 inches!

I quit blogging the past year or so because I was working on my dissertation. I finished, I passed and next Saturday I graduate from Bakke Graduate University with my Doctorate. It has been a 4.5 year journey. I am so happy to be finished. A lot has happened in the past few years. Alex was 8 years old when I began this program, now he’s 12 finishing 6th grade. I’m grateful I finished this program as he is approaching adolescence.

Last fall I applied for a pastor’s sabbatical grant. I totally did not expect to win. Over 500 grant applications were submitted, only 40 were selected. I won the grant and will take a 12-week sabbatical beginning June 22nd. The grant provides me a great opportunity to do some things I don’t think I could have ever done. I am going to Italy for 4 weeks! The first two weeks Alex and Nicole are with us, we will fly into Rome, spend a few days and then head to the Northern Italian Rivera, (Cinque Terra) and then on to Lake Como. Nicole and Alex fly home and then for 2 weeks Rich and I will travel mainly through Venice and Tuscany with a 2-day stop in Assisi.

Life is pretty full until June 22nd! Alex’s baseball team won their division and go on to the Tournament of Champions. They start tomorrow night and then from day to day we don’t know when the next game will be. It’s a double elimination tournament. It’s really a blast to watch them. One way or another the tournament will end by next Saturday. Until then, games or practices everyday!

On Saturday I graduate! On Sunday we have a fundraising event for Turning Point. Then it’s time to get everything ready so we can be gone a month. I’m teaching a session at Bakke’s Overture I for incoming DMin students on the 10th, flying to Boise on the 14th – 18th for our Regional Conference then it’s home to say goodbye to VCC (we just about have our new website ready to launch) on the 19th. As excited as I am to have 12 weeks off, I am a little anxious about missing everyone from VCC. This will be interesting. We will see?

I wanted to re-start my blog so I can document my time. Again, I have no idea how things will go. I might decide to turn off all technology for a time, I starting to shake just thinking about that!

May 26, 2010

Hoping to begin blogging again

Category: All Posts – Rose – 1:53 pm

As the time comes closer for me to go on a 12-week sabbatical I want to re-start my blog so that people can follow me. I will be posting through the summer and wanted to test how my blog interfaces with facebook. Okay, this is a test.

August 9, 2009

Vacation Day 1

Category: All Posts,Stories of Life – Rose – 10:20 am

I woke up this morning at 9:15! This is sad but I can’t remember the last time I woke up before 7:00 on a Sunday morning. We are in Southern Cal on vacation.

Rich and I, Alex and Nate, our friend, Jo and her girls are here and Nicole comes on Tuesday. We are staying at the Worldmark resort close to Disneyland. Getting here was a bit of a challenge. There was a 9 year old girl traveling alone sitting in the window seat. Alex was next to her, then Nate on the aisle. I sat in the aisle seat across from them with a teenager next to me and her mom in the window seat.

The 9 year old told us she was flying to California to visit “my mom’s ex-husband, my dad.” She was hyper. She would not leave the boys alone. She kept leaning into them. At one point the boys were playing cards, she took a card and held it up high so Alex couldn’t get it. At first the boys were good sports but an hour into the flight with her constant up and down, in and out and teasing, she was driving them nuts. I had to ask her, nicely several times to leave the boys alone and to stay in her seat.

I was listening to an audio book on my computer and all of a sudden the young woman next to me spilled her Sprite all over me and my keyboard. It took a while to clean it all up….my computer survived, I was covered in soda. We no more got that all settled, I sat down and then I hear Alex, “AH, NO.” I look over and the feisty 9 year old has now spilled her soda all over Alex. I went back to get some towels from the flight attendants and asked them to talk with her and ask her to please settle down.

All of a sudden my two hour flight to begin vacation felt a bit strained and all I wanted to do was get off that plane. Nate traded places with Alex, had better results with her calming down (I think when he put his elbow in her face cause she kept leaning into him she finally got the message).

The flight from H#LL finally ended, we rented a car and got to our condo. We couldn’t check in for a few hours so we had a nice lunch and walked around the outdoor mall. We caught up with Jo and the girls, it took forever to get our room but we finally got our rooms, went to the pool, the kids played in the game room while we cooked dinner. Had dinner, played Scrabble watched “I Carly” and then we all crashed.

Today we are going to the beach. Tomorrow our Disneyland adventure begins. I love Disneyland. The kids are a great age to have tons of fun here at the Happiest Place on Earth!

August 7, 2009

Going on Vacation

Category: All Posts – Rose – 5:46 pm

Tomorrow morning, Rich, Alex, Nate and I leave for southern California. 7 days at our time-share condo close to Disneyland. I am looking forward to time at the pool, reading, mickey, minnie and of course California Screamin…

Back in a week!

August 4, 2009

Father Abraham and child sacrifice

Category: All Posts – Rose – 11:17 am

Recently I was studying the cross. What happened is multi-faceted and probably will never really be fully understood in this life. As I was studying I came across the story of Abraham and Isaac. Have you ever had someone ask you about this story? I have. Here is how it goes, “what kind of god asks you to kill your firstborn son?” Which then usually goes into a diatribe about how destructive religion is and how the god of the Old Testament was barbaric and on and on.

I don’t have all the answers but I do know that God has worked in culture for his/her purposes to come about. Abraham lived in a culture that worshipped many gods. It was part of his life to offer sacrifices to the gods. The first of their livestock, crops and even firstborn children were offered to the gods in the ancient Sumerian culture.

When the voice of God first speaks to Abraham something different is happening. The unknown Divine is actually communicating to a human, is connecting in a way the gods do not connect with humans. Abraham responds and goes, not knowing where he is going but trusting in this God who is very different than the gods he has offered sacrifices to all his life.

At the point God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham obeys because that’s what you do if you are a good ancient, you sacrifice to the gods. I don’t believe the only point of this story is about Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience. As terrible as it must have been for Abraham, this request was not out of the norm.

The point of the story for me is this God said, no don’t, and provided a ram. This God is different than the other gods of his time, he intervened to show Abraham who He/She was – the God that doesn’t require a sacrifice but the God who provides. This God is love. This God provides. This God will intervene in time, space and history to connect with humans and say “go” or “follow me”

This God is not like the gods of stress, worry, success, image, consumerism, self-absorption, that demand our sacrifices of health, time, peace, joy, relationships, distraction from the real issues of life, humanity as we were meant to be.

This God provides! Learning to step into it is and ongoing practice eh?

July 24, 2009

Blogging Again

Category: All Posts,Random Thoughts – Rose – 1:08 pm

I haven’t been blogging for a few months. Too much going on.

Alex played baseball in the Spring and then made the All Star’s Team. We lost control of our schedule. He had practices 6 days a week and then game to game depended on if they won or lost the prior game. He is obsessed with baseball! It was a ton of fun watching him but March through mid-July was a bit long.

My mom passed away in June. That was a tough time. Once again all the unresolved issues that come up for a highly dysfunctional family came right to the surface. The farther away I get from her passing the more I am able to disconnect from all the negative emotions that come from having to interact with my siblings. I am actually relieved that I don’t ever have to interact with them again. And when I say that, it might seem harsh but there are some times when there is no hope for reconciliation because without change it’s dangerous to put yourself back into an unsafe situation. Now that my mom is gone there is no reason and that is a relief.

Rich and I took a short trip to Vegas to just get away for a few days. While we were there my daughter convinced me to play in a Texas Hold’em tourney. I did, there were 154 players and I won! I played from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. What a surreal, fun, crazy experience. I was in shock for days afterward. Rich and I walked around Vegas for the next 2 days in utter amazement we kept saying to each other “how did that happen?”

VCC is going well. Some changes coming soon. Very exciting.

I am on the last leg of my doctoral journey. I am writing my dissertation. I have been a bit paralyzed and blocked thinking about the 260 pages I need to write. Someone gave me a brilliant idea to write 12 pages at a time. I am going to try it. I am also blogging again. It helps me get the creative writing juices flowing.

We are having a beautiful summer in Seattle. I cannot remember a time that the weather was this great and for so long. Back to writing…

July 21, 2009

President Carter Leaves the SBC over Equality for Women

Category: All Posts,women – Rose – 9:40 am

I saw this on Eugene’s blog this morning. After 60 years President Carter is leaving the SBC. Here is his statement:

What do you think?

It’s important to note that President Carter writes in the larger context of the injustice against women in the global world including his “interpretation” of the larger segments of Western Christianity including the SBC.

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.