Monday, December 29, 2008

The Story of Jake the Dog or NOT.

Well that story will have to wait until another day. Just as I typed the title of an old story that would make a good blog entry, my sister called to say Mom took a tumble in a parking lot in another big city. No serious injuries, but hairline fractures and the end of New Years plans with her cousin at a spa resort. All relatively minor inconveniences but extremely frustrating for my mom. Sister who is hours closer than I am will take her daughter down and pick Mom up tomorrow, making orthopedic appointments as she drives. Prayers appreciated.

UPDATE: Good news - no surgery required. I spent a few days helping get Mom's house set up for her to be as independent as possible in the next few weeks. Current prayer - she sees the orthopedic doctor again on Monday. We are all praying she'll be able to get the short arm cast he mentioned at the last appt. It's amazing what a difference movement of one's elbow can make in one's life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can't think of a snappy title

Well, I've been out reading a few blogs on this cold morning - 24 on my patio thermometer which for some of you isn't all that cold, but for this place it is. Broke out some of manBoy's stocking stuffers - hand warmers for running - before he left for school this morning. Figured giving him what he needed now was more important than a surprise he might not need in a few days.

I'm teaching the Disciple I Bible study on The Book of Job tonight. That.will.be.interesting. All those questions about innocent suffering... Lord, help me. No, really - I'm trusting you Spirit to give me what I need for this.

ManBoy has been driving himself around for about 10 days now. So far, so good. G&T and I attended the neighborhood progressive party (3 houses) on Sunday evening. For the first time in 4 years, we didn't have to leave in the middle to pick him up from youth.

It was wonderful to go to that party and not be in the middle of a crisis (as the last two years have been). I was even asked to offer the blessing. In the past that has always fallen to a man. This year someone said, "Hey, we have our own pastor on the street." There may be a time when I wish that wasn't so acknowledged, but since I taught school in the neigborhood elementary school before I went to seminary, this was a cool acknowledgement of my career transition being complete.

The other cool thing about this annual party is that it also involves collecting gifts and funds to provide Christmas gifts and food for two families who would not otherwise have them. These families have children attending above mentioned elementary school which serves two lower income areas as well as our fortunate neighborhood. We don't know their names. The school nurse provides us with age, gender, size information, but keeps the names private. I live in a great neighborhood!

I have many things to do at the office this week, and to prepare for the kind of Christmas celebration I'm hoping to have (fun, relaxed...), and my January calendar is absolutely nuts - chock full. So, my current spiritual discipline is to catch myself when I fall into "dread mode", and pause to enjoy the here and now. Today my goal is to live that out in relationship to tonight's class.

I should be ready for work by now, but I'm sitting here in my flannel bathrobe and jammies and slipper socks. So, this is the end of this blog entry.

Update: Disciple class went really well. Lots of good discussion participation. Now on to the next thing.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Everything I can blog in 10 minutes

Okay, it's been weeks and weeks since I blogged. I've had blog block, plus a busy schedule so this entry is everything I can get down in 10 minutes. Then I have to go back to doing stuff on my to do list. Limiting to 10 minutes seems to help the blog block.

Item #1 - It is done. This morning manBoy or should it be ManBoy obtained his driver's license and has driven himself solo to school. This won't happen often as he doesn't have his own car. He's got mine today. He'll be able to drive to school when I travel on business which is more and more often it seems.

Item #2 - I did a baptism (or most of it) last Sunday. I was scheduled to preach and lead worship at my home church. I was wrestling with my sermon on Saturday evening and had just typed "we know that we can expect the unexpected," when the phone rang. It was our pastor, letting me know that one of our members had called asking to move his grandson's baptism from another church to ours (long story). The whole family was in town including great grandfather who is a retired UM pastor and arrangements had fallen through at the other church. So, of course we had a baptism. Technically, I didn't baptize the baby, Great Grandpa did that part, but I did all the rest. I've done baptisms before, but always in the hospital, so not with a healthy baby that looks at you and grabs your cross chain, and is just utterly adorable.

Item #3 - I am coming to terms with God regarding my anger over my friend's death. She trusted God to take care of her and her husband and her almost 5 year old son, so I can too. I'm still grieving, but less mad.

Time's up.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wow, where did the time go?

Things have been nice around here of late. G&T and I celebrated 28 years of marriage a few days ago. We tried to get out of town, but had several obligations and couldn't. So... we pretended we were out of town on Sunday and had a family day instead of church which usually has many obligations.

The weather has been nice here - highs only in the low 80's, somedays even in the 70's. It's nice to leave the office and not feel like I'm in a furnace.

What doesn't kill you will make you stronger - we hope.... manBoy's school experience has improved, but he still runs into issues that come up when you are working in groups. For those of you who don't know - he's at a school that has project based learning. Everything is group project based. They get the project first then learn what they need for it. Amazingly like real life. He's learning so much more than academic content, but man these lessons are not easy. I just keep thinking he'll be way ahead of the game in the real world. I know lots of adults that don't have the time management and interpersonal relationship skills he's learning.

Gifted and Talented is spending lots of time playing his guitars (yes plural). He's getting ready for the big gig on Nov. 1. The church worship band which includes Dogblogger and several other really talented musicians is doing a concert of folk, country, pop, and classic rock. G&T is looking forward to showing his stuff with leads on his newish Les Paul.

I have two big projects going at work. The Disability Concerns Committee wants to produce an awareness video while we still have money in this year's budget. Not much this year left to do that. I'm meeting with the videographer on Wednesday.

I have also been charged with updating the Conference Resource Center and moving it out of it's way underused status. The first thing I'm doing is adding a heading to each item. There was a system for shelving items, but no one who is on staff now understands it. The computer catalog system has provision for headings that can be included in the item number. Deciding the heading category of each item has been an interesting study in theology and logic. Does this study on Christian Living based on the book of Ecclesiastes go in Bible Old Testament or in Christian Living. I'm on page 104 of 151 of the entire catalog list.

Spookyrach did a meme and talked about fearing parents of other kids. This isn't usually an issue for me, but last week I found myself in a small group of parents from manBoy's school. I found myself wondering if I really live on the same planet as a couple of the other moms. It just seems like my values and world view are soooooo different from theirs. We just seem to have very different ideas about what's important. I'm so middle of the road, middle-class, and middle America that I rarely feel like I'm an outsider. I did at this meeting. No one there knew I'm clergy, so I don't think that's it. We are in the bottom half (more likely third) of the income range for this place, and that may have something to do with differeing priorities, but it's more than that. As I type this and think about it, I think the difference is that I don't have my life centered in Suburbia, USA. There's a bigger world out there that makes most local issues seem trivial. 4 years at somewhat liberal seminary and one year at big public hospital that serves the poor and uninsured have changed the way I see the world. At the same time, I have been reminded that people who live small lives often still have big pain. I must not discount the concerns of those other parents.

I asked manBoy if he feels the same way around his peers. This led to a wonderful loooooong conversation. Now its late and the alarm will go off early. Good Night Gracie.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Odds and Ends and Maybe Beginnings

Yesterday was one year since I went to the conference office for one month. Ya just never know. Yesterday I had a call from a pastor wanting to know how his church can address the "no's" on the accessibility survey they just did. One year ago, there wasn't anyone to tell them they needed an accessibility survey, much less a committee with an Occupational Therapist, a builder, an architect, and a pastor who uses a wheelchair to help this church. God is good.

In the Disciple Bible Study I'm facilitating, someone commented on the lack of awe and respect Moses shows for God in the whole burning bush - call story passages. I've been thinking how Moses wasn't exactly raised to have respect for God - not for the one true God anyway. Makes me wonder how we judge people who come to our churches but have never learned "how folks act in church." It makes me wonder if their coming before God isn't a little more authentic than those of us who know "how folks act in church."

Sunday our church will worship in our new building for the first time. This has been more than a decade in coming. Please pray for us that we will remember who it is we are worshiping and that the building is simply an instrument for our work as the body of Christ.

For those who have been praying for manBoy, the new school is getting better or he's feeling better about it. The teachers are learning that the students need direct instruction on how to manage their time. The students are learning they need to get their acts together and manage their time. Still a few kinks to work out, but progress is being made. He's in two groups he really enjoys right now. One member of one group is the daughter of a couple we met 16 years ago at adoption seminar. We kept in touch during our short waiting period. They went to meet a birthmother the same week manBoy came to us. Their baby came 4 months later. We lived in different suburbs at the time, but have both moved since then. If the kids were at mega high school, they might never meet. Now they are working on projects together. As the other mom put it, it just feels like coming full circle.

I went to the Y four mornings this week! Tomorrow we get an extra hour of sleep, manBoy doesn't have to be at school until 7:30! I get a break from (as my sister puts it) the cr*p of dawn carpool and from the Y on Fridays.

As I tell my mom when we're all talked out on the phone, "That's all the news I knows."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall Equinox Friday Five


It's actually been cooler here the last few days (highs in the 80's instead of low 100's), so todays meme from Revgalblogpals seems appropriate.
Songbird writes:
It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness.And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn.As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

1) A fragrance: Cinnamon candles and wet leaves
2) A color: Peach (see special day)
3) An item of clothing: Fuzzy slipper socks needed for walking on cool tile floors. I have stripes and solids. I put them on when I put on my pajamas and take them off after I'm in bed. They stay right there beside the bed until I need them the next morning.
4) An activity: Sitting in big chair reading in above slipper socks.
5) A special day: Our anniversary - it will be 28 years next month. Our bridesmaids wore peach, and the groomsmen wore dark brown. Very fallish.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Family Hurricane Update

Sister who lives between Houston and Galveston directly in path of Ike -safe with her daughters in our hometown with our mother -out of the storm's path. Her husband sat out storm in basement of large corporation building in downtown Houston where he was required to be at work - they have power from some source. He has since been able to get back to their home. They have no structural damage to the home they are selling and only minor damage to the one they are buying. Power is out and limbs cover the ground, but they are quite relieved.

Dad & Wife - further north on I-45 in direct path of Ike - no power, but have generator. Power company recording says it may take weeks to restore power. One big tree down, didn't hit house, cars.... All safe.

Step Sister & family living south of Houma, LA- returned home from Gustav evacuation with all their worldly possessions on Thursday - all was well with house. On Friday, levees broken by Ike storm surge forcing sudden evacuation - She was at work and the police wouldn't let her get to her house. She only has the clothes she had on. They are at a hotel somewhere and cell phone service not working well. No report. This family made it through Katrina only to be flooded out in Rita. This whole Gustav - Ike thing is feeling too familiar.

Please continue your prayers.

Latest Good News: All are safe. Home south of Houma is fine. This new one was built 6 feet off the ground and didn't flood! Conroe and League City still with out power. Prayers for all those working to restore services and for all those who suffered much loss.

More Good News: Power back on in League City. Sister, girls, dog, and cat headed home.


Lord show us how we can be your servants in these circumstances. Amen.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Feminism and Motherhood

Please Note: This is not a political commentary or opinion. It is simply a reflection on my own values as I responded internally to political events of the last several days.

I have been convicted by my own judgement of others recently. I must admit that when I learned that Sarah Palin has a child who is only a few months old and another dealing with teenage pregnancy, I wondered if this is really the time for her to run for Vice-President. This was not a reflection on her capabilities, electability, or even if she's the best candidate. I simply wondered if it is in her family's best interest for her to be involved in this campaign and possibly to serve as Vice-President of the United States at this time.

Here's the rub. I left my well established teaching career and changed my family's financial and life situation in order to attend seminary and pursue ordained ministry. I won't go into whether or not Sarah Palin feels called by God in her government service. That's not the issue. The question for me is how do I balance my understanding that women (specifically myself as a woman) can do anything we chose and shouldn't be limited by our gender with the fact that we have chosen to have families. At our son's adoption placement ceremony, G&T and I made vows to raise manBoy in a loving home and to know God's love. I take those vows as seriously as I do my wedding vows and those I took at my commissioning for ministry. It was those vows that led me to take my current position which is less demanding of my evening and weekend time during these last few years manBoy is at home than if I was pastoring a church.

One question I ask myself is would I have wondered about the timing of this candidacy if the candidate had been a man with the same family circumstances. I must say probably not. Indeed, you could say I'm pretty hipocritical or old fashioned about some of this.

In the end, I think I can't consider this only from a feminist vs. motherhood view. For my current situation, it boils down to love. I love God and want to be in ministry for God. I also love my family whom I believe are gifts from God. In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck's definition of love includes “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” I believe that sometimes love also means limiting one's self for the purpose of nuturing another.

Whether or not my questions about Governor Palin's decisions are fair or gender biased, I believe I have made the best decision for myself and my family. The only fair thing I can do is believe that Sarah Palin is capable of making her own decision as well.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav

My stepsister and her family live between Houma, LA and the coast. In case you haven't heard, that's directly in the expected path of the eye. They evacuated Saturday evening with everything they could pack in their cars including the two belonging to the teenagers. They lost almost everything in Rita. They fully expect to come back to nothing. These people I know and care about. Thousands more are fleeing with the same expectations. St. Casserole is waiting it out at her home further to the east. Keep praying for them all!

Lord be with them. Amen.

Un-update: No news as yet how their home faired. We know they arrived safely at their evacuation destination, but no news on damage. Thanks for praying

Monday, August 18, 2008

Competitive Homiletics

Yesterday, in a casual conversation with our pastor and a few others, we discussed the latest Olympic news. Then it was brought up that the pastor would never make it to the Olympics as preaching is not a competitive sport. What followed was some fun speculation as to what competitive homiletics might involve. Here are a few of the ideas:

1. Two types of events - endurance and speed
-Endurance - how long can you preach - last one standing wins.
-Speed - who can get the most points made in the shortest time

2. Degree of difficulty -
-Higher difficulty points awarded for preaching from a difficult scripture passage. Most of Romans would count as higher difficulty.

3. Deductions would be given for ers and ums.

What are your ideas? This could be fun. I was reminded last week of the importance of fun in our ministries, so let the games begin!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Five: Fall Transitions

Mary Beth posted a great Friday Five with pics of horse apples over at RevGalBlogPals. I don't have time to copy the whole thing here, but here's the meme.

For this Friday's Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way.
Well, where I live fall and spring last about one day. As a teacher, I used to joke that we had to be prepared to teach about the season of fall on the day it happened. Still there are transformations happening.

1. For the first time if 40+ years, I am not preparing to start a new year of school, internship, job at this time of year. School years were followed by teaching years were followed by seminary years were followed by CPE and then last year at this time expectations of a new appointment. That didn't actually happen until March, but that's another story.

2. manBoy and I will not be shopping for school supplies or clothes this year. This just seems wierd! His new school is computer and project based, so the usual binders and spiral notebooks are not needed. He only has to have a carrying case for the laptop they will assign to him. His growth has slowed down (he's 5'11") and his wardrobe preferences run to t-shirts purchased at cross country and track meets, so he's not buying new school clothes.

3. I'm still defining myself in my position at the conference office.

4. I'll be facilitating a Disciple Bible Study for the first time this fall. We start August 26th, and I'm loving the preparation work.

5. We will be moving into our new church building sometime this fall, but not before Aug. 31 which is when I'm next scheduled to preach. I had hoped to be preaching from the new pulpit, but alas, not yet.

Bonus: Give us your favorite activity that is made possible by the arrival of fall.
When the weather gets to where the high temperatures are below 80 (late October to November) I get to enjoy hot drinks again - tea, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, choffee (Hot Chocolate with a spoon of instant coffee and Readi-whip).

Reflection on Life

Yesterday, I served as facilitator for a seminar. I didn't present, but did all the background work. This was the 6th time we've held this seminar. In it, the presenter tells the story of Elisha's followers building a new place to gather. (2 Kings 6:1-7) In the process, the iron axe head falls off the axe and into the water. The man cries out, "Oh, my Lord." The presenter encouraged each pastor to think seriously about what in their ministry would cause them to cry out "Oh, my Lord" if it was lost or missing from their church. Later in the day, the presenter invited 3 people to come forward and help with an example of hospitality. One of the men who came forward was cutting up and being funny behind the presenter's back (these two know each other from years in the same conference). When the presenter stopped and looked back at the man, his comment as he grinned was, "One of my iron axe head words is Fun."

This morning, I received an email saying that the man who thought fun is an important aspect of life and ministry died suddenly last night. I didn't know this man. I heard the band he plays in several times, but other than meeting him yesterday, I didn't know him. What I do know about him is his last day on earth included fun and learning how to better lead his church because those things were important to him.

If today was my last day, would it include what is important to me? It will now!


Added later: I posted a comment about this on the band's blog. His wife responded with the following:

"You are so right. On his study door he once had a sign that read "Playground Director" because that way everyone there would know that he was in charge of all the fun."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dealing with Disappointment

Exodus 17:1-6 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?" 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?" 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5 The LORD said to Moses, "Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink." Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Last week, manBoy called on the first full day of running camp to say he had sprained his ankle. I could tell that he was mad at himself and disappointed. I did not hear from him again until the last day. I fretted all week that he was probably having a miserable time not being able to run at running camp. When we picked him up at the airport, his ankle was wrapped, and no he had not been able to run for the rest of the week. He, however, was not in a bad mood. He had still managed to have fun at running camp while he learned about running technique and injury care... He had dealt with his disappointment far better than I had.

Yesterday, manBoy learned that one of his Cross Country teammates has broken his femur. He will miss the entire Cross Country and Band Marching seasons during his senior year. In addition, this may affect his post graduation plans which include an institute of higher learning that requires excellent physical condition. (I'll let you figure that one out.)

As I consider the deep disappointment this young man must be facing, I now see the value in manBoy's experience. We need to live through these small disappointments so we know we can make it through the big ones. While I hope manBoy never has to face a life plan changing disappointment, odds are he will.

The above passage shows us that even when we are cranky about life not going the way we planned, God is with us. Thank heaven for that!

Loving God, help us know that you are with us in life's ups and downs. Amen.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sigh of Comfort

AC replaced. House cool and quiet! Nice!

No word from manBoy since Tuesday, but I'm not stressin' They will call if he's seriously hurt. Otherwise, hope he's having fun - if you can do that at a camp for running.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Worry Update

manBoy called. He doesn't have cell service out at camp but they had come into town. I had managed to get more peaceful until his call. The sad news is he has hurt his ankle. Please pray for speedy recovery so he can get a little running in at running camp! Thanks to all of you.

NEWER UPDATE:
I got to talk to him again while they were still in town. He says when he first hurt it, he could only walk on his toes. Now he can walk on his whole foot with some pain. I think getting better is a good sign. If it was serious, it would be getting worse. He says the terrain is much rougher than he's used to running on. He actually hurt it going across camp, not on a run. I told him to ask if they could stop at a pharmacy so he can buy ankle braces.
Thanks for holding my hand even if it is in cyberspace.

Worry Wart

I could use some prayer. My worry button is being overworked this week and I need you to pray that I will be able to pray the prayer of relinquishment.

The last I heard from manBoy he was in town of flight destination in the vehicle with one of the coaches going from the airport to the universtiy they were meeting up with all the runners. I've had no word that he got to neigboring state with mountains where high altitude running camp takes place. I worry about several issues, but mostly I just want to know he got there okay.

I know that my worries are exacerbated by the gazillion of dollars we are about to spend to replace our entire AC unit ducts and all, and by the fact that we are living in a small part of our house and in a lot of noise (Window units are loud). Being an auditory learner, constant noise is exhausting for me.

In the meantime, my sister who lives just 25 miles north of Galveston has evacuated with her two daughters and her dog to my Mom's house. I haven't checked the trajectory on Edouard this morning. Her husband is still down there. We also need to keep Quotidian Grace and Zorro in our prayers for this event.

My prayers have been of the frantic nature, not the faithful trusting kind. So if you guys could send up some prayers for peace for me and for safety for my family, I would really appreciate it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Up Up and Away

Well, I had hoped for something deeper and more inspiring than potty humor for my 150th post, but that is not to be. Perhaps I'll be 12 today.
manBoy flew out to running camp this morning. It's the first time he's flown alone and I was nervous, more about the fact that he was being met at the other end by someone we've never met.

The announcements for his flight went like this.
Boarding for flight xxxx will be delayed. We have maintenance crew aboard the aircraft. (Not comforting).

15 minutes later: Boarding for flight xxxx has be moved to gate y and will be delayed. We have maintenance aboard this aircraft. Please listen for further anouncements. (Inconvenient and still not comforting.)

15 minutes later: Attention passengers on flight xxxx, the lavatory on this aircraft is not functioning. Please use airport facilities before you board.(Well at least we hope that's the only maintenace issue.)

Finally: Boarding for xxxx at gate y has begun. We will board all groups at once due to the delay. Flight left 40 minutes after scheduled departure.

Fortunately, it's only a 1 hour flight. He met the right person and camp adventure has begun.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Checking in with statistics

-Number of totally dead air conditioner units - 1.
-Number of people sleeping in oven like temps last night - 3
-High temperature on back patio thermometer 111.
-High temperature on interior thermostat 94.
-Number of window AC units purchased and installed so we can live in 1/3 of our house for the next 5 days until new AC unit installed - 2.
-Degrees cooler in cooled rooms - many but not measurable at this time.
-Number of musical instruments hauled to neighbor's house for cool keeping - 8
-Record time for sprinting through hot section between cooled areas - 2 seconds
-Number of prayers of gratitude that we have the ability to find a temporary solution - many but probably not enough.
-Prayers lifted for those suffering in heat without AC many. Window units will be donated as soon as new AC is installed.
-Number of posts to get to 150 - 1
-

Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday Five: Lock Me Out, Lock Me In

Songbird posts the following Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals.

For some reason, Blogger declared this blog possible SPAM and locked us down yesterday. This morning, we're free to post again, but there was a fair amount of excitement last night among our contributors, who found a dire notice on their Blogger dashboards threatening that this blog might be deleted in 20 days!We requested a blog review, and I posted a request at the Blogger Help group, where I found we were not alone. Many other perfectly nourishing and cromulent blogs got the same notice last night.This turned out to be a very small barricade in our blogging community life, but it seemed appropriate to explore locks and blocks and other barriers this week. Also, I liked the picture of the security team above! Could they be Blogger's Spam Prevention Robots, working overtime?In honor of their efforts, I bring you the "Lock Me Out, Lock Me In" Friday Five.

1) How do you amuse yourself when road construction blocks your travel?
I make use of my bluetooth earpiece and cellphone to catch up with friends or family. Here in big city one often doesn't see what has caused the traffic delay because usually it's cleared up by the time you get up to the source. I think that's a metaphor that might preach, or at least have practical application in life.

2) Have you ever locked yourself out of your house? (And do you keep an extra key somewhere, just in case?)
We don't use the key to our house much as we go through the garage. We have an external entry method if the remote dies, but if the electricity goes out, we're in a mell of a hess.
Once a long time ago, we arrived home late one night to find the door between the garage and house locked and G&T had not brought the "big set of keys"- you know the ones with the house key. As I was musing whether it would be cheaper to get a hotel room and call a locksmith in the morning, G&T busted through the door. Replacing the door and bits of frame cost more than a hotel room and lock smith would have. I'm just sayin.

3) Have you ever cleared a hurdle? (And if you haven't flown over a material hurdle, feel free to take this one metaphorically.)
I haven't ever run hurdles, but manBoy does. I always watch with my eyes half closed. I figure if he's still on his feet at the finish line all is good. He of course is always pushing for faster time, better stride...

I've lived not quite a half century so yes, I've cleared many metaphorical hurdles. I can't think of a specific one to discuss right now. In fact, much of the way I function is to figure out ways over, under, around hurdles. I also can anticipate many hurdles and plan ahead for them. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Abigail (I Samuel 25) a great problem solver. The problem with my liking that story is God isn't mentioned. I tend to try to find ways over, under, around hurdles on my own power. Not a good idea.

4) What's your approach to a mental block?
I read blogs or play word games or solitaire on the computer. Synapses firing while other stuff works in the background. The problem comes when I play toooooooo long.

5) Suggest a caption for the picture above; there will be a prize for the funniest answer!
Secretly in the night, she quietly placed the warning men in front of the chocolate factory. Not because of the inherent danger of chocolate, but so she could have it all to herself.
Or
Stop! Do. Not. Take. One. More. Step. Stop! We mean it! If you come any closer we will shuffle over and headbutt you with out little plastic hardhats.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting to Know You

Psalm 139:1-10
O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.

John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 14:6-9 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." 8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?


I commented in my last post that our reunion didn't really give us a chance to get to know each other beyond a surface level. So for my message at the office Communion Service this morning, I did a Bible Software search for the word "know." The above passages are the one's I chose for today's message. I asked myself what does it take to really know and be known by someone - by God?

In the workshops I've been hosting, I've been learning that one way to build connections is to share stories. I believe there are two elements to sharing our stories that help us connect. The first being willing to be vulnerable - to open ourselves to the other or to God. It takes courage to share our inner selves with our closest friends much less with mere acquaintances. Our social standards have a continuum of intimacy and we are uncomfortable when someone is open and vulnerable to a degree beyond what the social situation calls for. At the same time, I think we can carry about us an demeanor of openess without actually making others uncomfortable. They can know we are willing to look at and expose our weaknesses without us having to do so in great detail and scaring people off.

As we consider our relationship with God, there comes a time when we must also be willing to be vulnerable. Psalm 139 tells us that God knows us inside and out, so why is it important that we be willing to share our failures, fears, and joys with God? Because as long as we keep a wall of pretense up between us and God, we are missing out on the greatest intimate relationship available. We open our hearts to God not for God's sake, but for our own sake.

The second part of sharing our stories comes in deep listening. Hearing what is said and what is not said. We only know other people when we truly listen to their stories, taking them into ourselves. I love the wonderful hymn, "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus." I'll admit, I'm a Bible nerd. I love to feel the weight in my hand, to read even one or two verses and just sit with them hearing God's word to me, feeling it seep in to my pores. There is wisdom in "Be still and know that I am God."

God of Love, Let me know you and be known by you. Use me as you will to make yourself known to others. Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reunion Ramblings

While I have lots of things on my to do list today, these thoughts keep walking around in my head clamoring to be released.

MY LIFE IS GOOD
This weekend reminded me of the many, many blessings I live in daily. I visited with people whose financial success far exceeds ours, people whose life experiences have been broader, people who have traveled far and wide, people who have avoided big city influences and found peace in their hometown - in other words people whose lives for one reason or another might appear better than mine. But, when I consider it all, I wouldn't trade my life for any of them. Life is good and I have much for which to be grateful. Just to list a few, my loving husband who supports me in countless ways, our son who is all in all a great kid and a pleasure to be around most of the time (which is more than one can ask of a teeenager), my big, soft bed, my pillows (which I forgot to pack), and greatest of all knowledge of God's steadfast love for me.

LIVING ON THE SURFACE - WADING INTO THE DEEP
This weekend I had conversations with people I hadn't seen in 10, 20, or 30 years. We all exchanged the basic information - where we live, are we married, do we have kids, what we do with our time. All very surface interactions. A few were genuinely intrigued or interested by my new role as clergywoman, but no one there had time to get any inkling of who I really am now. And by the same measure, I learned little about the real people under the surface. I'm wondering if that's all that much different than 30 years ago. I imagine that few of my classmates were aware that my home was filled with conflict and strife through out my high school years. My parents separated (a good thing) the week I left for college. I wonder if even my closest group of friends knew how much pain I carried within me at all times or why.

As I looked across the room at the dinner dance on Saturday night, I wondered how much pain was hidden beneath the surface of all those conversations that went, "How are you doing? Oh, I'm great!"' Who was struggling with illness, damaged marriages, troubled teens? It just didn't seem to be the time or the place to share one's struggles or even one's deeper feelings. In most conversations, the fact that I had anwered the call to ministry was discussed in light of career change rather than in terms of call and spirituality. I admit I contributed to that. It felt like words like "call" and "God" might give people the creeps. So, I am guilty of keeping all my conversations strictly at surface level. I don't know how I could have done otherwise, but I know I didn't listen deep enough.

CONNECTIONS
In spite of the surface nature of our interactions, I truely believe many of us felt genuinely connected to the others. It seems our class had a bond beyond common experience. Perhaps that bond has continued because several of the natural leaders have maintained contact with each over the years.

WHAT YOU DO MATTERS
One conversation was with a woman who like me wasn't part of the "in" group back in high school. As she introduced me to her signficant other, her comment about me was, "She was one of the ones who would talk to me." Now I have to tell you, I didn't make a conscious effort to make sure everyone felt included back then. It's something I do now, but not as a teenager. I talked to her because she was there to talk to. Who knew that something like that would matter? Be aware. What you do makes a difference.

I'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY - but I've still got a way to go.
While my understanding of my own and everyone else's value as a human being has grown and changed over time, it was really easy to fall back into expecting the same social strata to be in effect with me near the bottom. It's amazing how ingrained old patterns of thinking and reacting can be.

Lord, Thank you for the blessings you have poured on my life and for this reminder of them. Show me Lord how and what I can learn from this experience. Forgive me for opportunities missed and show me the blessings I overlooked from this weekend. Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tomorrow...

I leave to go to my 30 year high school reunion. On the class website where quite a few of us have posted our "Where are they now?" info, we all keep asking, "How the h -e- hockey sticks did we get this old?" It's been interesting to read other's stories. Somehow I expected all those pretty, popular kids to get through life without changing and without facing difficulties. I'm not surprised by my life and changes (well the Rev. in front of my name still is a little surprising), but I expect them to have stayed the same - same personalities, same looks. It's an interesting phenomenon. We'll see how it goes at the reunion. I saw quite a few of them 10 years ago, but somehow this one makes us all more on an even keel. Lots of them have grown children and grandchildren. Again, it should be interesting.

On another note, I will be one of three clergypersons leading a memorial service for our classmates who have died (43 of 500 that we know of). I've been debating what to wear - men clergy never have this issue. The other two clergy persons are Catholic priests. What to wear isn't an issue for them. Today at Dogblogger's suggestion, I looked for a dark suit. I found a black one that fits for only $20!!!! It will be perfect. Not high quality, but not planning for it to fit for too long. My mom hates me to wear black as it's not my best color. Mom, it's a memorial service and the other two clergy will be wearing collars. This is what I need to wear.

Gifted and Talented is as I type working on "Friends are Friends Forever" by Michael W. Smith. He will play it during the powerpoint showing the yearbook pics of our classmates who have died.

Well, I'll post next week and let you know how this meeting up with my past goes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More of the Journey

This morning, I went to the consecration service for the three new bishops in our jurisdiction. One of them was my District Superintendent when I first answered my call to ordained ministry. Another will be our bishop come September. I met him and his wife at the reception following. His wife is blind and leaders in the conference have already told her about the newly (6 months ago) formed Disability Concerns Committee I started and now co-chair. She and I will have lunch after they get here to learn how we can incorporate some of the programs she's done elsewhere into our conference. Tell me again why I wonder about whether I'm supposed to be where I am and doing what I'm doing????

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Five: What's In A Name?

REVHROD posts at RevGalBlogPals:
If you are a regular reader of Songbird's blog, you know that "The Princess" has requested a new name. Her older brother changed his "secret identity" a while back and now this lovely young lady is searching for a new name on her mother's blog. This got me to thinking. How do we come up with all of these names? There must be at least a few good stories out there.

In honor of the Princess I have posted a picture of one of my favorite members of fictional royalty, Robert Munch's "Paperbag Princess." She is a brave young woman who doesn't need anyone else to fight her battles. And she knows that what is most important isn't tiaras and finery but what's on the inside. If you haven't read this little fairy tale, I highly recommend it.
But I digress.
1. So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog?
My blogging name comes from the fact that after teaching for 20 years and being comfortable in what I did, I left to start seminary in my early forties. Since then I have done many new things and find myself in the rookie position often. It is a very different feeling being new to something at mid-life after years of being the expert. It is humbling and scary and exciting.

2. Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there?
Gifted & Talented (G&T) is my husband of almost 28 years. He plays guitar and other stringed instruments and sings very well. He is also incredibly handy around the house. He has an amazing knack for knowing how to fix stuff. Since his personality is much quieter than mine, his talents are often sleepers that people only discover when they get close to him or get hear his music in church. His family of origin often doesn't realize how gifted he is, so I try to tell him, but not often enough.

manBoy or perhaps soon to be ManBoy is our son. He grew early and has been taller than 5'10" since the summer before 8th grade. He has been a boy in a man's body. This summer I see him growing and maturing in new ways and becoming a wonderful young man (who still aggravates me to no end on occasion). There are lots of stories about how manBoy came into our lives at two days old through adoption with less than 24 hours notice. We are blessed to have him with us.
3. What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun?
There are so many creative ones. A couple that I read are Skewed View and Bits and Odd Pieces of Mindy's Kingdom . I came across this one on RevGals but haven't had a chance to read it: Clever Titles Need Not Apply I liked that one because I couldn't think of a clever title for my blog.
4. What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals of course!
See my sidebar. Can't pick just three.

5. Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why?
The Typist over at Dog and God suggested I read reverendmommy because she was doing a CPE just before I started a year long CPE. The Typist also pointed me to RevGalBlogPals!
Bonus question: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends? Where are some of the places you've met these fun folks?
I met all the lovely ladies listed under BE Blog Friends in my sidebar. The original Big Event was great fun and spiritually renewing. I hope you will make plans to attend BE 2.0 next Spring. Details coming soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I have heard

not. one. word from manBoy while he's been on mission trip this week. No text, no calls, nothin. Dogblogger says The Alpha who is chaperoning and leading the work crews hasn't mentioned manBoy at all when he calls. This morning is their last work day, then they do some fun things. He'll be home late Saturday afternoon. I'm assuming no news is good news. I do miss him though.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. Acts 1:24-26

This week United Methodist Jurisdictional Conferences will be held all over the United States. The main order of business will be to elect new Bishops to fill vacancies left by the retirement or death of previous Bishops. Lots of people in our conference office are involved in jurisdictional conference here. As I prepared for leading worship this morning here at the office, I looked for a story that would parallel. What I found was Acts 1:15-25 where the 11 apostles fill the vacancy left by Judas. The words that jumped off the page were, "Show us which one of these two you have chosen." It doesn't say show us who to chose. Help us with our decision. It says show us the one you have chosen.

I have prayed many times for God to guide my decisions. I have never prayed for God to reveal to me God's choice for me. I think this will change the way I pray when I come to forks in the road of life.

Loving God, pour your Spirit on all those gathering for jurisdictional conference. Show them the ones you have chosen to take the place in the ministry of leadership in our denomination. Amen.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Need to Blog

I need to blog. No that's not it. I should blog. It's been a month and my last blog was just a quick update on the family. I could blame it on supply preaching the 5 of the last 6 Sundays, but that should have given me fodder for the blog not kept me from blogging. So I'll try and dig up some insights to share and then fill you in on the family again.

COMING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN
The sermon I used for two of my assignments was based in Matthew 9:9-13. Jesus calls Matthew and eats with tax collectors and sinners. I talked about the real presence of Christ in that meal - the up close and personal contact with God incarnate. Then I went to the communion liturgy (both were communion Sundays) and talked about "Pour out your Spirit on us gathered here and on these gifts of bread and wine that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ so that we may be for the world the Body of Christ redeemed by his blood." I went on to ask with whom are we called to be at table?

I am leading the weekly communion service at the office for the month of July. That's the conference office, so I am leading people who have been preaching and leading worship for decades including the Bishop. I had planned to recycle a shortened version of above message this past week. On the morning of the service, I had a dream. I was serving communion in the chapel, but the altar was on a raised platform. The Bishop was, for an unknown reason, in a powered wheelchair. He kept trying to get to me on every side of the platform. I had to come down from the platform to serve him. In the introduction of the earlier sermon, I mentioned that chapters 5,6,and 7 of Matthew are the Sermon on the Mount. In chapters 8 and 9, Jesus comes down off the mountain and touches people with more than words. There are healings and dinner with sinners... So my questions to myself and to the leaders of the conference (and the support staff) were, "What is the mountain we are standing on? Who do we need to get off the mountain to serve? Why aren't we doing it?"

OPENING THE GATES
Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
The weekly Psalm in my devotion book was Psalm 24. This verse gave me a wonderful mental image of two large wooden gates opening - one on my head and one on my heart - and felt the King of Glory enter in.

UPDATE
Okay that's it for insights, so here's the update.

Gifted and Talented is over at Dogblogger's as the band prepares songs for a Nov. 1 concert that will raise funds for the church. He purchased a new Gibson Les Paul guitar a while back and has been searching for the right amp to go with it. It seems he has found just the thing. He spent the afternoon testing out all (okay some) of the 400 preset sound combinations that change the way the guitar sounds. Even I admit it's pretty cool. The really interesting thing was 200 of the presets are based on classic songs from various rock eras. I was amazed as he would suddenly be playing a few bars of at least 1 out of 3 songs he scrolled through. He's amazing. I tell people that, but they say, "Yeh, yeh." Then they hear him and say, "You didn't tell me he is this good." Well I did, but no one listens because I'm his wife and I have to say nice things. Right?

manBoy left today for the youth mission trip. They are going to repair houses in another state. I've been nagging him all week about gathering up the stuff on the packing list. Yesterday, he finally got started. He told me he was done, until I asked about silly things like towels and sheets. Oh yeah. Last night I asked what he did about a water bottle? Is that on the list? Oh. Yeah. Generally though, it's been a good summer with manBoy. He's growing and maturing. He's getting lots more muscles! As he puts it, "I'm filling out my t-shirts more." Soon, I will have to change manBoy to Manboy. He's talking a lot more this summer than last summer - hooray!. I hate when he communicates with grunts.

manBoy's latest aquisition is a road bike (light weight, fast, lots of gears...) that he's been saving for for a long time. He's had it a week and he's already gone on two group rides with folks from the bike shop. He did the starter rides - 18 miles - ugh! The first night, I called DogBlogger and said, "What have I done? I just sent my 15 year old out on a bicycle ride with a bunch of strangers on dangerous roads? Pray!" Then it started raining. An hour and a half later (there were 5 flats in the group, none for manBoy) he came back soaked and happy. We met some of the other riders, who seem nice enough and had kept an eye on him. One of them worked at the hospital while I was doing CPE. We bought a flat kit and an extra tube the next day. Ride #2 went better.

As for me, I feel like I'm kind of muddling along. I have several projects at work, but I'm having a hard time getting moving on them. I loved the supply preaching, but showing up somewhere new with only verbal directions about the order of worship is somewhat stress inducing. Many of my closest to Christ moments in the last month have been at the beginning of the service when I let it all go and trust the Spirit who was going to take care of it whether I let go or not.

Last week was a two point charge - two different churches in one morning. The first one was a cute old white building. There were 7 of us including manBoy, G&T and myself. I was grateful for G&T's singing voice and manBoy's assistance with the offering.

I am preparing to go to my high school reunion. I have interesting thoughts about that, but I'll probably blog about it afterwards. I am assisting with the planning and leading of a memorial service. Some 42 out of about 500 classmates have died. A few died before we graduated, but most since then. It seems an awfully high number for 30 years out. I am putting together a powerpoint with their yearbook pictures and getting white roses for each one. I'm not sure what other roles I'll play in the service.

BLOGGING DONE
Now see Rookie, that wasn't so hard was it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Update

I survived the preaching in smalltown, Annual Conference (be there for every minute of it because I sit in the front row as Conference staff), camp pastor, preach back in same smalltown marathon. My boss asked me today, "So, when will you rest?" I took his advice, did only the essentials, came home and read a library book!

manBoy's driving is improving. He doesn't scare me so much any more. Sunday, he and Gifted&Talented joined me for worship in smalltown. Afterward, we had him do some small country road driving. He was quite nervous with highway speed and narrow road (thank you Lord!). I'm pleased that he doesn't see himself as an expert driver already. He knows his limitations and that is a very.good.thing. This evening we did a little more practice around town. He really is getting better - no more hugging the curb. We've even tackled some of the busier parking lots in town. He has another lesson with the professional teacher tomorrow and will come home with another assignment to work on (this week was right turns).

My high school reunion is looming close and I'm frustrated because I keep falling off the exercise, healthy eating wagon. I didn't expect to make a drastic change in a couple of months, but I had hoped for some progress. I was back at the Y tonight after 2 weeks off. manBoy and I have a deal - any day he runs, I have to go to the Y. Hopefully that will motivate both of us to stay active this summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blog Break

Annual Conference has come and gone, now I'm off to camp. I have lots to post about but no time to do it, so I'll be back to blogging late next week.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer Meme

Ruby tagged me for a meme, so here goes.

1.) What first tells you that Summer is here?
Temps in the 90's

2.) Name your five of your favorite distinctively Summer habits or customs.
grilling (too hot to cook inside)
sandals (not big into flip flops)
capri pants (used to be shorts in a smaller time)
more phone calls to and from manBoy (checking on where abouts, getting permissions...)
family reunions

3.) What is your favorite smell of Summer?
Just before it rains.

4.) What is your favorite taste of Summer?
Juicy grilled burger.

5.) Favorite Summer memory?
Working as a counselor at day camps for children with disabilities - this was the beginning of a career that has spilled into my ministry. Girls Scout camp as a camper and later as a counselor.
There are many others involving swimming, sailing, and anything in water.

6.) Extreme heat or extreme cold? Which would you choose and why?
Extreme cold assuming I can hibernate inside by a fire with hot chocolate and a good book. As much as I love water activities in the summer, I don't get to do them much anymore and my body doesn't do heat well. My thermostat has never worked quite right. A hot summer spent in the pool or lake or ocean would be good, but given my reality, cold is better.

7.) What books do you plan to read for the season?
Waiting for the latest J.D. Robb to come out in paperback or available at the library, whatever comes my way.

8.) How does the Summer affect your faith? Is it a hindrance or an ally?
It depends on what's going on. In busy summers, I tend to let my spiritual disciplines become less disciplined. During vacations and slower times, I enjoy increased reflection time.

Who's next? I can't remember which blogs I've already read this on, so if you haven't been tagged, you're it!

Shopping Prayers

I.hate.to.shop. I especially hate to shop for clothes. Twice in the last three months I found myself shopping for clothes I needed for particular events (one of them the BE). Up until recently I would have thought that praying for shopping might be just a little wrong. I've changed my mind. In both instances I prayed that I would find what I needed and only what I needed, that God would guide my judgment, and that I would maintain a good attitude. It really made a difference. Prayer, I firmly believe, changes the pray-er. It did me. I also believe that I received the guidance that has always been available to me but never used before. Both trips were successful in finding what I needed at pretty good prices. Both events that required new clothes made a difference in my outlook on life. So, I will continue to pray for my shopping trips - for God to help me be frugal and wise, and to look in the right places, and to stay positive especially with those poor clerks who have no idea how much I.hate.shopping.

How do you feel about praying for shopping? Spiritual discipline or self indulgent?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Five: Garage Sale!

Welcome to your irregularly scheduled Fifth Friday Five, hosted by will smama and Songbird!Since will smama is preparing for a joint garage sale with her parents, and Songbird's church had a Yard and Plant Sale last Saturday, we have five enormously important questions we hope you will answer:
1) Are you a garage saler?
Not so much any more. There was a time when G&T and I used to garage sale for entertainment on Saturday mornings, but that was in a time of fewer responsibilities. After manBoy came with very little notice (less than 24 hours), we garage saled for baby paraphernalia.

2) If so, are you an immediate buyer or a risk taker who comes back later when prices are lower? Usually, I just buy right then. I don't want to have to come back. If it's a pricy item, I might go away for a while and let myself consider whether it's something I really want/need.

3) Seriously, if you're not a garage saler, you are probably not going to want to play this one.(That wasn't really #3.)

3) This is the real #3: What's the best treasure you've found at a yard or garage sale? A high chair for manBoy. We were at the stage when we needed one, but not in a place to spend retail dollars. We had looked at several places that advertised baby stuff, but alas no high chair. Then, at what we had decided would be our last stop there sat a wonderfully clean and in good condition high chair. It was almost all that was left at that particular garage sale. Definitely a God thing in my book. I also bought some leather boots for $5 more than 15 years ago. I still wear them in the winter.

4)If you've done one yourself, at church or at home, was it worth the effort? Well it got a lot of stuff out of my house before our last move, and a couple of times since then. It's a good way to get rid of kids stuff. I'm making my own bonus below that talks about this.

5) Can you bring yourself to haggle? Usually not, but if it looks like everything is priced high with the expectation of haggling, I'll bite.


BONUS: I'm creating my own bonus. When manBoy was 5, we had a big sale just before we moved to our current home. With a little sadness, I bundled up his cribset (dust ruffle, bumper pads, sheets, a new blanket, pillow, and mobile) and priced it at $20. We kept the real blankie, it's a long story how we had two, but that's okay. All day long, people came and went. I was a little relieved when the crib set didn't sell. Finally in the afternoon, a young couple came by. She was round with child, and they were delighted to find a complete set for such a good price. Their excitement suddenly made it okay to let it go. I remembered the excitement we had when we put manBoy's nursery together (after he was already here). I also remembered how glad we were to find the high chair, and stroller, and walker, and many other baby items we needed at other garage sales. I was thrilled this couple would have the same opportunity. So on that day, the answer to number 4 is yes, it was definitely worth it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Restoration

What does it take to restore a neglected relationship to health? It takes time and intentionality and listening and sharing one's heart and being vulnerable and time and intentionality and inherent interest in the best for the other and time and intentionality. But this in itself is not enough, it also takes God's healing touch.

This is true for human relationships. It is also true of our relationship with God. It is so easy to let our relationship with God slip to the back burner when times are good and we are less needy or when times are bad and we are caught up in survival mode. But when we realize what has happened, not all at once, but a little at a time so that we barely noticed, we can make a change. We can invest time and be intentional and be open with our hearts and consider God's desire before our own and invest time and vulnerably admit our fears & hopes and God will bring restoration.

Loving God, Thank you for the restoration and healing you bring to our lives. Teach us to open our hearts and give of ourselves to others and most of all to you. Amen.

Report

Wonderful. weekend. Nuff said.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Five Vacation Style

Sally at RevGalBlogPals wrote this meme. "It is a holiday weekend here in the UK, and the weather forecast for much of the country is not good!!! But we can still dream and so with that in mind I bring you this Friday Five."

1. Getting ready for summer, do you use the gradual tanning moisturisers ( yes gentlemen you too can answer this!!!), or are you happy to show your winter skin to the world?
Well, I'm not happy about showing my pasty white pudge to the world, but I'm not going to let it stop me from doing what I want to do. I'll be in swimsuit this weekend, so watch the news for albino whale spottings. I never got the hang of tanning lotions - can't get them even.

2.Beach, mountains or chilling by the pool, what/ where is your favourite getaway?
Any of the above. I love the sound of the ocean, but really anything that is not city is good - better if there is water of some kind.

3.Are you a summer lover or does the long break become wearing?
Well back when I had a break for summer, I loved it. Since I was a teacher for lots of years, this will be my second summer ever working full time. Not nearly as much fun.

4.Active holidays; hiking swimming sailing, or lazy days?
Hmmm - depends on the activity. Not so much on those listed here, but there are other kinds of activities (wink). I love just hanging out with a good book. My family will only hang out for so long before we need to find something to do.

5.Now to the important subject of food, if you are abroad do you try the local cuisine, or do you prefer to play it safe?
I'm a chicken, not great at trying exotic foods.

No bonus this week unless you can think one up!!! Okay here's mine -
Due to a crummy vacation policy at G&T's work, we won't be taking an extended vacation this year. The two of us are however getting away alone this weekend. We are going to posh place and plan to do as little as possible. Does swimming to the swim up bar count as activity? Even if you just get fruit juice?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

DogBlogger tagged me for this meme:

Rules: The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Yadayadayada

Ten years ago: I was preparing to move into the house where I live now. I was anticipating my 20th high school reunion. manBoy was finishing pre-school and preparing for kindergarten. I had no inkling there would ever be Rev. in front of my name.

Five things on today's "to do" list: Meeting about residency requirements for ordination, lunch with friend who is starting a special needs ministry, haircut, work on sermon, workout at Y. All done :-)

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire: Help children with disabilities in Vietnam get the equipment and training they need. Pay off my student loans and other accumulated debt. Pay off church building debt. Send manBoy to top college without student loans. Put a pool and hot tub in the back yard.

Three bad habits: procrastination, leaving cabinet doors and drawers open, and according to manBoy - nagging,

Five places I've lived: Kerrville, Carrollton, Fredericksburg, Lakey, and Huntsville in no particular order.

Five jobs I've had: Music store clerk (2 weeks), Flower Shop Delivery Person, Camp Counselor, Pizza Place Counter Person, Teacher.

Five people I'm tagging:
Elastigirl
Vicar of Hogsmeade
RevDrKate
Rev. Dulce
Mary Beth

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Camp Pastor

I've added a new title and role to my already interesting list - Camp Pastor for SEEK Camp. SEEK Camp is for persons with special needs and is put on by great volunteers from our conference each summer. This particular session will be for kids ages 9 and up.

I am so excited about this. I have been asked to help with SEEK Camp more than once in the past few years. My obligations as student and mother prevented me from being able to say yes. But it was more than that. I just couldn't get excited about serving as a one-on-one counselor/helper. I've done that before - lots of times, but it just wasn't calling me at this point in life. If my classwork and parenting hadn't been obstacles, I would have had to look closely at that. I don't think everything we are called to do will thrill us, and I would have had to ask myself if I had a real reason for declining.

Then, I got an email last week looking for someone to lead worship for SEEK Camp. That got my attention! It seems to be the perfect melding of all my life experiences and my new role as pastor. For new readers, I was a special education teacher in my previous life (BS-before seminary).

Today, I got to speak with the Camp Director. As we visited about the theme of the camp, I began to have ideas. By the time we hung up, I had formulated the themes and some of the details for the three evening worship services. I will also lead a short devotional - get energized morning worship each day. In between, I'm looking forward to just being there as a servant. Helping where I'm needed whether it be pastoral care or physical assistance. This. will. be. fun. and uplifting. and spiritually renewing.

Thank you God for exciting opportunities to serve you. Your love and guidance are steadfast indeed. I can't wait to see what else you have in store. Amen.

New Books & Good Day All Around

Today the UPS person brought me new books from Amazon. While this may cause groaning on the part of G&T when he sees the books and the bill, it brought smiles, energy, and enthusiasm to the rookie. These new books include a four volume set of Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary. These are cool books. They wouldn't pass muster as seminary texts, but they are just right for the average lay person wanting to know more about the language and culture referred to in the Bible. And.....they have pictures. And...the information is linked to and organized by scripture passage. It's not a dictionary where you look up the topic. It's background information for specific books and passages. This particular set covers the New Testament. I've been browsing through them. They will be helpful in sermon prep and especially with facilitating Disciple Bible Study next fall.

On another note, the new dryer is here. G&T will have to hook it up when he gets home as we didn't spring for new power cord or venting material and the installers aren't allowed to hook up with old ones. So in just a few hours I'm back in laundry business. You think I wouldn't be all that excited, but I like the feeling that comes with getting through all the mounds of dirty clothes and having three baskets of folded clean ones. I like the smell of clean clothes!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If the dryer dies on Tuesday...

it normally wouldn't be a big deal. I usually do the bulk of our laundry on the weekends. This past weekend, I chose to spend time with our company leaving the laundry for Monday and Tuesday evening. So the fact that the dryer died this morning as I started the load that had washed while I slept last night is a bit more of an inconvenience. Especially since many of my work clothes and 80% of my underwear lie in a tidy pile in my bathroom floor waiting for this evening's wash/dry cycle.

So....today, I will go to Mall near office and purchase undies at JCPenny - something I've been needing to do anyway. I will also drop by Sears and compare models live before going on line and placing my order. The 15% off sale ends this evening.

There is much to be grateful for in all this. I'm typing this so as to breathe out the irritation and breathe in peace. Gratitude is the key.

Thank you Lord for the comfortable home I live in, for electricity and running water, for friends who will let me bring wet clothes to put in their dryer, for the financial means to purchase things I want and things I think I need. Thank you Lord for a husband who finds the measuring tape and measures the space for the dryer while still in his bathrobe. Thank you for the technology that allows me to shop on line. Remind me Lord that there are many who do without the things I deem necessary, and lead me to help them even as I seek to make my life more convenient. Thank you Lord, most of all for your unending love. Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Joy Report

Saturday afternoon found me in Big Perfomance Hall in nearby city listening to twin nieces play in their middle school band. It is a big deal to be in middle school and play in the big concert hall. Then we (G&T, his mom, sisters & their manfriends, manBoy and I) all walked around downtown of nearby city, ate lunch at 3pm, and shopped a little.

Normally this kind of thing would leave me stressed and nursing a headache. G&T's family doesn't like to plan in advance which in the past has driven me to the brink if insanity (don't ask from which direction).

Saturday was different. I was able to relax and go with the flow. I actually enjoyed myself. Those around me enjoyed my presence more than they would have if I had been my old uptight self. I usually hate. shopping. This time, I was the only one who bought stuff, and I bought: a plate holder for my communion paten to go in my office, and two novels. When G&T asked if there was something I wanted for Mother's Day, I dragged him back two blocks for the unique cross I had seen in another shop. At the end of the day, I was hot, but not exhausted, and I realized I had fun!

Sunday, was less successful in the not being uptight mode, but still better than the past most of the day. Baby steps.

Thank you Lord for your patient work in my life and in my heart. Don't stop now! I'm a work in progress. Amen.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Letting Go

manBoy is now the proud owner of a Learner's Permit. He may legally (not necessarily safely) drive with a adult over the age of 21 in the front seat with him. I let him drive the last three blocks home the day he got it, and a little the next day. His dad does much better at letting him drive and learn just how much acceleration, brake, and turning it takes to keep a car in the right place at the right time. Riding in the car with a teenage boy learning to drive could possibly be the ultimate Spiritual Discipline. It involves letting go at a whole new level. I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing with that.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Five - Wait and Pray

Sally at RevGalBlogPals puts forth for consideration:

Part of the Ascension Day Scripture from Acts 11 contains this promise from Jesus;"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Then he was taken from their sight into the clouds, two angels appeared and instructed the probably bewildered disciples to go back to Jerusalem, where they began to wait and to pray for the gift Jesus had promised. Prayer is a joy to some of us, and a chore to others, waiting likewise can be filled with anticipation or anxiety....

So how do you wait and pray?

1. How do you pray best, alone or with others?
My journal is a prayer journal - most of the time, so I guess you can say I pray best alone. While I was in CPE, I did gain skill (yes there is skill involved) and understanding of praying with the sick and hurting.

2. Do you enjoy the discipline of waiting, is it a time of anticipation or anxiety?
For most of my life I was terrible at waiting. I often jump into decisions too quickly. My husband is very slow at making decisions. Sometimes we have to agree when we will decide something. I can't jump the gun and he has to cut his research off at that point.

That being said, I spent over a year waiting to hear where I would be appointed. There were many false starts and disappointments. In the end, it was all for the best, including the waiting and all that went on during that time.

Now I feel I have this call to use my gifts with our missionaries in Vietnam, but I'm not in a hurr;y. I feel like God will open the doors when and where they need to be opened. It's not that I'm afraid of moving forward, it's that I just know I need to wait and see how God unfolds this rather than making things happen.

3. Is there a time when you have waited upon God for a specific promise?
Well you could say waiting for an appointment, but there have been others. As we struggled with infertility and finally began steps toward adoption, I became content to wait for whatever God had planned for our family. When I finally voiced this "peace with the plan," I didn't have to wait long - about 72 hours before our precious manBoy was in our arms.

4. Do you prefer stillness or action?
At first I was going to say action, but really I enjoy both in their own time. I am an X on the introvert/extrovert scale. Really, I'm a reflective extrovert. I truly appreciate time to "be still," but I thrive on the thrill of completion as the result of action.

5. If ( and this is slightly tongue in cheek) you were promised one gift spiritual or otherwise what would you choose to recieve?
Gentleness, which is really a fruit rather than a gift.

My own bonus: It is possible that my wait for ordination may have been shortened by one year. The petition was passed at General Conference. What remains to be seen is whether it will affect those of us already in the probationary (now provisional) period. I guess I will need to practice patience waiting to see if it changes my progress, and trust in God that it will happen at the right time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Five

Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals posts the following:

Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?
I'm spoiled and I admit it! I could live without most of our conveniences today, but I love having the ability to connect via internet and yes, cell phone.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day?Why?
VideoGames (for my son) and Computer Card Games (for me). We get less from them than they cost us. We lose time for outdoor or reading activities as well as genuine interaction with other people. On the other hand, manBoy and G&T now have common music knowledge as Guitar Hero has some great oldies - make that classics-on it. manBoy plays them on Guitar Hero. G&T plays them on the real thing. Last night he was playing on his newish Les Paul and manBoy named most of the songs within the first few notes.

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?
We have a working turntable, and more than one cassette player along with multiple CD players and more mp3 players than we have people in our house. We seem to collect ways to listen to music. We also still have about 40 LP's to play on the turntable, but we rarely do it. Usually it's when we are telling manBoy about some group or song from our youth. We don't have an 8 track tape player. I burned mine up playing Best of Bread over and over again in High School. I tried to get G&T to ditch some of the cassette tapes recently, but he fears he will need to listen to a song for a band gig at some point.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or somethingelse?
I'm assuming that I'm in the same generation as Singing Owl. Rapid change is all I know. It's neither scary nor exciting. It just is.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain?
Homemade Jelly - specifically the plum jelly my grandmother used to make.

Bonuspoints if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.
Well, I am not gifted in the cooking area, so perhaps what I will do is go to the local farmers market where they sell homemade jellies and support their efforts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obey

That was my word for the cruise retreat - obey. Hmmmph.

My first reaction is I don't want to obey. I want others to obey me. Okay, that probably has something to do with 20 years as a teacher.

My next reaction was to question whether I have obeyed, whether I am obeying by taking the position in the conference office. Did I take the easy way out? Or am I right where God wants me to be? Ponder. Worry. Go before Board of Ordained Ministry and try to convince them and myself this is where God and the Bishop have sent me.

Then I got busy doing my job and didn't think about it so much.

Then the whole go to Vietnam thing came up. In my small group last Saturday, one of my friends asked, "Do you want to go? You keep saying you have to go." I couldn't explain to her this sense of being compelled and whether I want to or not is irrelevant. It is indeed very exciting ....and scary.... to think about.

I realized this morning that whole concept of whether I want to being irrelevant is what "Obey" is all about. In the Prayer of Confession in the UMC Communion Liturgy, we find the words "free us for joyful obedience." Joyful obedience. That's what this letting go of all the reasons not to do something and just waiting to see how God will work it out feels like.

Because strict obedience was demanded in my childhood, I have never associated obedience with joy or freedom. Now I'm finding both. It is rather freeing to just be willing to go with what comes instead of orchestrating everything with very tight control. Isn't growing fun?

God of love, thank you for all you have and are revealing in my life. Give me courage to discover the joy and freedom of obedience. Amen.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Think I Have to Go to Vietnam...

but we'll talk more on Saturday. That's what I told my friend Amy just before I hung up from a very brief phone call on Friday morning.

I spent two days at the United Methodist Church Mission Initiative Summit last week. I went because our Volunteers In Mission (VIM)coordinator thought it would be helpful to have extra eyes and ears to attend more of the sessions. On the first day, I ate lunch with a couple who are missionaries to Vietnam. We discovered that I went to seminary with their son. We both graduated last May. It was a nice social conversation.

Then I asked the VIM coordinator which breakout session she wanted me to attend. She said Asia as she didn't know much about UM work there. So off I went. There were presentations on the misison work in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and others. I took notes so I would be able to share the information back at the office. Then the couple from Vietnam got up to speak. They too presented a power point on the church starts and the pastor training that is happening there. It was interesting. Then they started a second powerpoint presentation on Agent Orange. They showed pictures of children and young adults who have a variety of physical disabilities. Over and over again, they said he or she cannot walk and cannot talk. These children were pictured in their mother's arms or on the floor. There were no wheel chairs. There was no special seating that would support a body unable to support itself.

My heart cried. Here I am trying to help churches reach out to and welcome families of persons with disabilities. Families who have wheelchairs for their children but don't feel welcome in church. In Vietnam there are mothers who carry their children to church because they have no wheelchairs.

The church where we were meeting has a special needs Sunday School room. I took the woman missionary down there and showed her some of the special seating equipment that is available. I explained my background in teaching children with disabilities. I began discussing the best way to get equipment to them (buy and ship or send money for them to order...). I talked to them about ways children can communicate without speaking. Then her husband asked, "Can you come to Vietnam?" I told him it might be possible although I didn't have any idea how to make it come about.

Day 2: I had lunch with our VIM coordinator and told her "I think I have to go to Vietnam." I told her the rest of the story. She feels, like I do, that it was a God thing that I wound up in that particular presentation. About that time, a VIM coordinator from another conference walks up. The two of them begin to talk and he mentions that he attended the Asia session as his conference is planning to expand their mission work into Vietnam. They are in fact planning a trip in the next twelve months. My friend told him my story, so now it is a real possibility that I will go to Vietnam sometime soon to scope out the needs so I can come back and raise funds for equipment and medical care. Look out, I see a soapbox with my name on it.

I know one group I will ask. Our conference has several churches who offer respite care for children with disabilities. I'm thinking that the families who use these services might like an opportunity to help someone else. Part of healthy living with chronic illness or disability is feeling like you are contributing and not always needing.

This is soooooo far from preaching in a little church somewhere. God are you laughing at me?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wound Up Tight

You've heard the terms "uptight" and "loosen up." I had a conversation with a friend that prompted an interesting visual image. It seems to me that we have this imaginary spring inside us that keeps us together - keeps us from flying into a thousand pieces. The end of the spring is attached to an imaginary screw with it's head on our back (like baby dolls with battery compartments). When we face difficult times and it seems like we are in danger of "losing it" or "falling apart" even just a little, we turn the screw and tighten the spring hoping to hold it all together a little better. Sometimes, we loosen the spring later, but mostly we don't. We just live with this new state of tightness until it feels normal. When the next adversity comes along we repeat the process. Winding ourselves a little tighter. It works. We manage to hold it all together. The only problem is that everytime we tighten the spring, we lose a little fluidity in our movements - both physical and emotional. Our shoulders draw up. Our brows furrow. The last thing to go is our smile - lips become pursed. This also explains the meaning of tight--- that refers to one's backside. Emotionally, we become so absorbed in keeping ourselves in tact and not disolving into crying jags or angry outbursts that we are no longer able to experience joy.

I believe that the RevGal BE did some serious loosening of my spring. I see now that I can't play and enjoy life if I can't move either internally or externally. The joy I found there was directly related to letting go of my tight hold. That had begun before we left, but reached a whole new level of freedom on the deck of the boat.

Since I've been back, the spring has been tightened some with daily responsibilities, and friends facing difficulties. I was a little discouraged that the joy level seemed to dip. I understand now that it isn't all about staying loose all the time, but about remembering to loosen up every now and then.

I realize that our family has a collective spring too. It's been wound just about to the breaking point over the last 18 months. Now it is time for us to loosen up. We are moving toward that goal, but it is slow.

God of Joy and Pain, thank you for the light and loose times. Thank you for walking with us during the uptight times too. Remind us that you are truly what can hold us together when we need it. Amen.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Another Big Event

I learned yesterday that my High School Reunion is 109 days away. The organizers have set up a website and made plans for several activities - one of them is referred to as "The Big Event." I have mixed feelings about this reunion. I have changed a great deal (both internally and externally) in the last 30 years as would be expected. But I've changed and grown tons just in the last 6 years. I wonder how hard it will be to explain all the changes I/we have gone through since I left teaching. Will I even want to? Who there will care? There are a few people that I was close to in high school that I would want to reconnect with. I have a friend who read my blog soon after I first started it. She said, "It's like reading about someone I don't know."

On a lighter note, for the most part High School was fun and I do look forward to seeing many people I haven't seen in a long time. So, regardless of how deep the sharing goes, I can go and have fun if I don't let myself get too bogged down in seriousness.