Monday, December 31, 2007

Going Home

Okay, believe it or not, my New Year's resolution is to blog more. I'm aiming for 2-3 times a week not counting Friday Fives. So, here is the first installment.

I am reading Jan Karon's Home to Holly Springs (a Christmas gift from manBoy). It is her latest book featuring Father Timothy Kavanagh, but it is not set in Mitford. In this book Father Kavanagh returns to his home town after 38 years away. He learns a great deal about his childhood and deals with some of his baggage and ghosts. This book is "heavier" than the Mitford books, but it is good.

I had my own homecoming last week. We spent a few days in my home town last week. I preached at my mom's little church on the 23rd. It was a small group, but the Spirit was there. I will be preaching there each Sunday in January while their pastor goes through chemotherapy.

None of my family lives in my childhood home. It was sold when my parents divorced during my college years. But never the less, we had family together and that made it home. I baked Christmas cookies and Cranberry Glazed Pork Roast from a Friday Five recipes.

We attended Christmas Eve services in the church I where grew up from age 3 to age 25. Gifted & Talented and I were married in that church. We left when G & T was transferred to the big city.

Being in that old familiar sanctuary was a John Wesley type of "heart warming" experience. I was surprised at the sense of good memories I had there. Not specific memories, more of a pleasant nostalgia. You see, my childhood memories are not on the whole happy. But in the last year or so, I have been finding more and more good to remember. It seems I am able to move past the painful parts and recognize the good that also happened.

God of Love, Thank you for the healing you have brought about in my life. Thank you for showing me the good memories mixed in with the difficulties. Let this new stage emotional health enable me to serve you more. Amen.

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Almost Christmas! Friday Five

The Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals asks these questions:

What was one of your favorite childhood gifts that you gave?
Funny, I remember being excited about giving gifts to particular people, but for the life of me I can't remember what the gifts were!

What is one of your favorite Christmas recipes? Bonus points if you share the recipe with us.
I guess that would be Shrimp Creole although we have it at other times of the year as well.
I'm not at home with the recipe, so I'll have to pass on the bonus points for now.

Someone at the office brought Salmon Spread yesterday. It was goooooood. If I had the recipe that might be my new favorite.

What is a tradition that your family can't do without? (And by family, I mean family of origin, family of adulthood, or that bunch of cool people that just feel like family.)
Our Christmas activities have varied a great deal from year to year. We are rarely in the same place or with the same people as the year before. But, one thing that always happens between my mom and us sisters is the "Christmas Gift" game. Here's how to play the game: On Christmas morning (others do it on Christmas Eve) you always want to be the first one to say "Christmas gift." Since we are often in different cities, this involves early morning phone calls where the caller recites "Christmas gift, Christmas gift, Christmas gift" over and over while the phone rings. You always answer the phone with "Christmas gift," just to be sure to be first.

Pastors and other church folk often have very strange traditions dictated by the "work" of the holidays. What happens at your place?
I have yet to be fully responsible for Christmas Eve services at church, but one or the other of us often has a role in one or more service. We make sure that we have family time sometime on Christmas Eve. We put on our comfy clothes, get our egg nog or hot chocolate and spend some time around the tree. Last Christmas Eve, the 3 of us and my mom led worship in the Hospital Chapel and took communion to all the nurses stations and a few patients. It was a blessing to be able to serve those who could not be home.

If you could just ditch all the traditions and do something unexpected... what would it be?
We watched a PBS special on Christmas in Yellowstone last night. All three of us agreed that would be totally cool. Okay - really cold but lots of fun.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Peace I Ask of Thee O River

Peace, I ask of thee, oh river
Peace, peace, peace
When I learn to live serenely
Cares will cease.

From the hills, I gather courage
visions of the days to be;
Strength to lead and faith to follow,
all are given unto thee.

This is an old Girl Scout song from my (much) younger years. I have always loved it.

I was writing about my Call to Ministry for my Lay Ministry Committee recently. I finished by talking about how my time at the conference office has shown me that I can be in ministry anywhere. As I typed the words, "I have more peace now than I’ve had in a long time," I had a Big AHA moment.

During CPE, one of my peers pointed out that my struggle with the disappointment of not having an appointment was similar to my struggle with the pain of infertility. That was another epiphany. It was amazing to me how much the emotions were the same - anger, sense of abandonment, grief... It also gave me hope.

Now the parallel continues. manBoy came to us just three days after I made the statement that I was finally at peace with God’s plan for us and a child. A friend had pulled me aside to tell me of her pregnancy privately so that I could deal with my pain before she announced to the group. I was able to tell her for the first time in five years I could hear of someone else's pregnancy and not hurt. I was at peace.

I find myself in the same place now. I don’t know what my future holds, but I am confident that wherever I go, God will use me.

PS The latest news is that I will continue at the conference office through February. I am still hopeful for a church appointment in March.