Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Good Things in My Life

After yesterday's rant, I'm thinking I need to focus on some of my blessings.

1. I turned in my ordination paperwork last week - one day before the Dec. 1 deadline! Now it's sit and wait time until interviews in late February.

2. manBoy has thus far managed his time and energy during a school year that is very academically demanding and continued to work 9 hours each week at his pharmacy job. Job may have to be dropped when track season starts.

3. Gifted and Talented is employed. This is a mixed blessing. His job has become increasingly demanding and the culture increasingly toxic. Please keep him in your prayers.

4. Several initiatives in my work are bearing fruit. We started a network for Adult Christian Educators since children and youth were getting great support, but there was a gap for folks working in Adult Ministries. So far the network has been well received and benenficial for those participating. Another committee that has been somewhat dormant for a while, has gained momentum and is thinking big!!!!

5. manBoy can get himself where he needs to be now because he's driving my old car and I'm driving one of these:


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Rambling Rant

It seems like most of my posts this year have been on the blue side and I don't mean the font color. It has been a blue year for so many of those I care about. While our immediate family has been spared from many things, others around us are struggling with unemployment, grief over death that came way too early (neighbor, young boy I've followed on Caringbridge, and husband of friend), anger, and hurt of all kinds. I find myself hurting for others daily.

Today, I went to the Y and hopped on the elliptical trainer. I found myself peddling away at more than 180 strides per minute. I've never gone that fast before. The faster I went, the more the tears came. I managed to not embarrass myself or those around me - you can make grief look like intensity of work out if needed. I was listening to Girls of Grace, but not really hearing the words.

Then just in time for cool down the words were In the calm of your presence, I am listening Lord. Only I wasn't listening. I was ranting. I was more than a little ticked at God, and I definitely was not in the mood to listen. Now, I in no way think God caused all this pain, but I need someone to be mad at and God is mighty handy. Also, it's not as hard on my marriage or other relationships when I take my anger out on God rather than those around me. God is tough. God can take it.

Several years ago, I was lamenting to a friend that manBoy then mostly just boy, could be so polite with everyone else and vent his anger on me. She pointed out that meant I was safe. manBoy trusted that I would still love him even when he was less than polite and needed a place to spill his frustrations. Well I'm counting on that being true with God. I'm trusting God to love me even when I vent.

Truth is, I don't want to be calm and listen right now. I just want to rant a little, and I wouldn't mind if someone would give me a hug now and then. While none of this pain is mine personally, it is in a way. I hurt for my friend who is trying to figure out how to live without her life partner, father of her children, and provider of a hefty chunk of their income while remaining faithful to her call. I hurt for another friend who is in pain I can't imagine and have no words to comfort her with. I hurt for a family that inspite of their emotional and spiritual health are finding the loss of Little D has left a great hole in their hearts and lives.

I have a message of hope mulling in my head that will be delivered at Blue Christmas Service. I'm sure I will be preaching to the preacher.

There are good things happening in our lives. I will post about them soon. We continue to be proud of manBoy and all he has grown to be. Yesterday marked 17 years since he came into our family and we have been blessed by every minute of it.

If you are still there, thanks for "listening." Letting this all spill out helps.

Lord, open my eyes and heart to your presence in all this pain. Let me see the blessings you bring in the midst of it all. Show me hope. Amen.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Five: What's New?

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Songbird writes:
There's a new baby on my street, a double PK whose mom and dad are Methodist Pastors and church planters. I'm hoping to go over and meet her today. I love new babies, the way they smell and their sweet little fingers and toes. Little K has me thinking about all the new things that please us with their shiny freshness.

Please share with us five things you like *especially* when they are new.


First let me share that the cyber world and IRL world are getting increasingly connected. I've never met Little K's parents, but I spent Monday and Tuesday at a Leadership training with someone who is a part of that new church plant. She kept checking her email and facebook to see if the baby had been born yet. In addition I also met one of Little K's grandfathers a few weeks ago when his job and my job intersected. United Methodism is indeed a connectional system.

Now on to the Friday Five.
1. A new journal. I love the possibility of all those pages waiting to be filled. This is probably connected to my earlier fondness for a brand new big chief tablet and a big fat pencil with a fresh eraser. It should be noted that I write in my journals with a Parker pen that was a High School graduation present more than 30 years ago. It just feels right in my hand.

2. A new car. Maybe in the next year or so???? Or maybe a new used car.

3. A new, fresh off the presses J.D. Robb detective story - or Jan Karon book but those are few and far between.

4. A freshly cleaned house (does this count?)

5. Almost anything new - especially if the procuring of it was not too painful. I had Leadership Incubator assignment in a mall this week. I was reminded of why I don't go to malls often. They spark in me that desire to get something new, just for the sake of having something new. Our budget doesn't allow for this as it once did, so I just don't go any more.

Bonus: I am looking forward to having a new Wesley Study Bible which will be on sale for only$20 Nov. 19, 20, 21. I didn't put this in my five because, well used Bibles are just as much fun as new ones.

When I was in Brownies, I learned the following song. It is applicable to friends and things.
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, and the other's gold.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday Five - Special Days

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Sophia is "thinking of the special rites of passage in our lives which we participate for ourselves or in which we support and bless others: baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination, graduation, funerals etc. Such important days, so exciting and joyous, but also sometimes anxiety provoking or deeply painful..."

So for this week's Friday Five she asks us to "share five memories of such sacred moments with God and her holy people from your life and the lives of those you love."

This is an interesting day for this particular topic. While my life has been filled with many holy moments, there are a few days that stand out.

This weekend, Gifted & Talented and I will be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary. Remembering our wedding all those years ago - we were sooooo young and sooo full of hope and possibility for our future. Earth tones prevailed. Young men and women lined up beside us as we took vows we believed but couldn't begin to comprehend. We have been blessed over the years through both trials and triumphs.

Our struggle with infertility ended on the day we stood in a hospital chapel and Manboy's birthmother placed him in our arms. It was indeed a holy day with a ceremony presided by her pastor and ours. We honored the difficult but love filled choice his birthparents were making, promised to raise him in a home filled with love, and prayed for all of us. We still watch the video some years as we remember that day, just two days after his birthday. He'll be 17 in a few months. Surely God has been with us.

There are several memories connected with my ordination journey which really began when I went to my parents and asked to "join the church" a year before the standard age for confirmation. The first time I spoke of my call out loud to G&T and later to my pastor. Standing at the giant window of the retreat center looking out at the lake, listening to praise music as I prepared for my commissioning interviews. The comissioning service.

Today, I am working on writing the answers to the theology questions for ordination. My last entry is not yet a memory, but rather a hope that next June the Bishop will lay hands on me and say "Take thou authority..."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunshine

is the name she goes by. She has a brilliant smile and a servant's heart. She works at the breakfast room of the hotel I stayed in last week. Breakfast is a buffet. Her job is to refill as needed and clean up after guests. Her vocation (calling) is to greet those guests with a smile or in my case a hug and a warm welcome. She takes a job that could be drudgery and turns it into a ministry. She wears a name tag with her official name, but her real identifier is the yellow and orange sun pin she wears next to it. I was blessed by her presence and so are many travelers each year.

Thank you God for sunshine (after 10 days of rain) and for Sunshine who brightened my day even if it was rainy outside. Amen.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Imagination

can be a good thing or a not so good thing.

In April, I wrote about my missing neighbor, Kathy Garza. Friday, I attended a memorial service for her. Her body still has not been found, but the prosecution is proceeding with murder charges. In the weeks following her disappearance, I really struggled - especially with my imagination. I wondered if she had been afraid, if she felt pain, if she knew she was leaving her children (2 adult, 2 teenagers). Even as I type this, the tears still come. As time passed, these thoughts no longer dominated my thinking, but were still under the surface and bubbled up whenever there was a reminder.

At the memorial service, the first song was I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me. This time my imagination was healing rather than painful. As I listened to the song, I could imagine Kathy looking ahead to heaven in delight, looking back at her family with grief, and looking back to the presence of God with delight. I could imagine her feeling God holding her hand as she went through her suffering. I still ache for her loss, for her family, for our neighborhood, but I also have more peace.

Still working on that forgiveness thing.

Please keep Kathy's family and all those who miss her in your prayers.

Giver of Life, thank you for the hope we know in you. Thank you for your presence in our grief. Hold us close please. Amen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good Day

Yesterday was a good day. It was my birthday and lots of good things happened . Many were totally unrelated to my birthday, but made it a great day.

First I got a hilarious e-card from my sister in law showing Moses parting the waters. In the waters on one side of the break are three fish with big mouths and teeth chomping. On the other side of the break is a little fish named Harvey who is sticking out his tongue (do fish have tongues?) and mocking the fish who would have eaten him. The caption is "Harvey catches a lucky break. Hope your day is filled with unexpected blessings." It was!

Next, I was bemoaning with an experience pastor that I didn't feel good about my sermon that was video taped on Sunday to send to the Board of Ordained Ministry. I felt is was too head based and not enough heartfelt. She happened to have heard the other sermon I will be sending and felt showing both sides of my preaching might be a good thing. It may simply be justification, but I felt better anyway.

I got a long voicemail message that ended with appreciation for aforementioned sermon, and especially some of the teaching I had done in it. (Smile)

I received a thank you note signed by a whole Sunday School class for the materials they had checked out of the Conference Resource Center and used over the summer. I've worked for the last 9 months to get the Resource Center better organized and more user friendly, with more current material. This was wonderful affirmation. (Smile)

I received The Porpoise Given Life in the mail from the author's wife whom I met at a leadership incubator last week. She didn't plan it as a birthday gift, but it was nice that it arrived that day. I'm looking forward to spending more time with her as we incubate in the coming months. (Smile)

I had several calls and cards with birthday wishes through out the day including cupcakes at work. (Smile)

I had dinner with my husband and son - something that will happen less often now that manBoy is taking a dual credit class at the local Community College one evening a week, and working part time. They gave me a new Terri Hendrix CD and a crockpot cookbook to go with the crockpot I got a couple of weeks ago when the 30 year old one bit the dust. (Smile)

I joined facebook. If you know my real name, feel free to friend me.

We ended the evening with birthday pie - Key Lime to be exact - much better than cake. (Big Smile)

Now, on the morning after, I'm beginning to think my "age-fighting moisturizer" might be loosing the battle. (Smile, oops then the lines show!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spiritual Junk Food

Last week, I had the opportunity to worship here. The scripture reading was the "Bread of Life" passage from John 6. Rather than hearing a sermon, we were asked to reflect on the passage on our own. Here's where my thoughts went:

Lately, I've been working with my doctor or healthier living habits. One of these includes switching foods that are high in nutritional value for those that are high in fat or are simply empty calories with little value for nourishing my body.

So, given this passage about what real nourishment is, I asked myself, "Self, what spiritual junk food have you been taking in of late?" Where have you been seeking nourishment or refreshment where there was none to be found? Good.question. Frantic prayers of distress (see previous post), rather than faith perhaps? They serve their purpose, but they are not the "protein" I crave or the "fiber" I need.

On the flip side, where have I found true spiritual nourishment of late? In the study I'm doing for sermon writing, ordination writing, and preparation for Leadership Incubator (more later). In the new friends and colleagues in ministry I met last week at the LI. In one particular new friend with whom I spent a lovely afternoon exchanging spiritual journey history and exploring our surroundings.

So my question to you which you may answer in the comments or just in your heart is: What kind of spiritual food have you been consuming lately? Junk or the stuff of high nutritional value?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Coping, Dealing, Gratitude, and Healing

COPING AND DEALING
It's been an interesting two weeks - that's the best word I can come up with.

Last week, the one that began when it was still July, started off with a minor concern. manBoy had a bit of a sore throat. Here's how it went from there:

Tuesday morning: Trip to pediatrician for minor sore throat ends with manBoy having fainting spell or neurological event that scared the ...... out of his mother (me). Of course the doctor had just left the room and it was over by the time she took the 10 steps back in response to my cry for help.

Tuesday afternoon: As a result of morning event, make trip into big city for pediatric cardiology work up that showed manBoy's heart to be perfectly healthy.

Tuesday evening: Jake the dog is whimpering and welping in pain and we cannot find the source.
Wednesday morning: Take Jake the dog to the vet.

Wednesday morning continued: Take manBoy to podiatrist for foot concern that involves a certain amount of digging around in his heel.

Wednesday noon: Meet with residency group to discuss Ministry Project that is new, last minute requirement for ordination.

Wednesday afternoon: Take manBoy to dentist for small filling.

Wednesday afternoon: Jake the dog comes home from vet with pain meds and instruction for 2 weeks of limited mobility due to possible slipped disc in neck meaning he is for now an inside dog with much more maintenance.

Thursday morning: Jake the dog is already feeling better and is whining to get out much to my aggravation. It will be a long 2 weeks. Daily Guidepost devotional for the day - being irritated with the dog and how God loves us even when we are irritating. Thanks.a.bunch.

Thursday morning continued: Deliver manBoy to PSAT/SAT prep class as heel hurts too much to propel himself there on foot or bike. Run into the office to pick up work to do at home. Pick manBoy up from class.

Thursday afternoon: Attempt to work at home, only to discover personal laptop screen goes black every 3-4 minutes. Look for extended warranty papers, give up, call store to learn they have records of warranty. Go to my doctor for follow up on health program. Good news. It's working. Take computer to store for diagnostics and repair.

Thursday evening: G&T discovers nails in two of my tires. Drive G&T's car to meeting at church.
Friday morning: Take car to tire store for repair. Learn that computer must be shipped off for two weeks for repair.

GRATITUDE AND HEALING
In all that, I did not have a headache! See earlier post about healing service and yoga. It's working! I did have a mild headache this week in the let down, but still two headaches in 7 weeks is way better than twice a week early in the summer. Prayers of thankfulness ascending.

My mom was in town for business and went with us to the cardiologist. Her background in people and animal medical technology comes in handy in understanding medicalese and interpreting doctor reports...

manBoy feels fine. The doctor listened to my concerns especially since manBoy drives now and ordered an EEG. We had it done this week, but do not have results back.

Jake seems to feel fine and we plan on releasing him from his housebound status today or tomorrow.

Computer is home and working after only one week!

With the exception of Jake the dog, all the issues of last week were covered by insurance or warranty. Out of pocket expensese were a mere fraction of what they could have been.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bishops Week II

Worship at this event was awesome - truly awesome! Bishop Hope Morgan Ward preached at all three services. The first was a Service of Holy Communion. In her sermon, Bishop Ward mentioned adoption, special needs ministry, and hope built through pastoral care for a dying parishioner. Needless to say she touched my heart at several points.

The second worship was a Service of Healing and Wholeness. The worship settings (far beyond the altar) for all three services were awesome, but I didn't realize until the second one that each would be different and very appropriate for the specific service. For the Service of Healing and Wholeness, there was a huge (at least 12 feet tall) cross laid at a slight angle from the floor. It had votive candles all along the vertical and horizontal bars. In addition we were given a candle and a shard of a broken clay pot. At the appropriate time, we each placed our candles in one of several terra cotta pots filled with sand. Later we were annointed with oil if we chose.

As the service progressed, I remembered the healing God has already worked in my life. I am by far much healthier mentally and spiritually than I was 20 years ago. I have been healed from a great deal of childhood pain over the years. One of the big "healing moments" in my journey happened when I was a pilgrim on a Walk to Emmaus Weekend. I heard a woman tell a story about verbal and emotional abuse that rang so true with me that it was like that song "Killing Me Softly." I finally began to understand that in God's eyes, I am both lovable and loved. Seated right behind me at this healing service was a woman who had been on the Emmaus Team and at my table when this breakthrough happened. Now she's the wife of a Bishop. It was great to give her a big hug of thankfulness following the service.

My struggles with migraines for a couple of months leading up to this event made me ripe for this service. While at Bishop's week, I attended two Yoga classes and two "Late Night Relaxation" classes. This service happened between the Yoga classes. Healing had already begun. My head,neck, and shoulders were loosening up in ways they hadn't in months if not years. The second round of classes made a huge difference. I have continued Yoga classes since my return and have only taken migraine meds once in the last 3 1/2 weeks!

This healing service was just one part of a lot of physical and mental letting go that made this seminar on health ministries a turning point in my own physical, spiritual, and emotional health. More on this in later posts.

The third service was a Remembrance of Baptism. Again the worship setting was awesome - the whole altar area (read stage) was draped in a yards and yards long piece of fabric woven in all shades of turquise and blue. We had our own fabric river leading right to the font. Again the preaching was touching and meaningful and the music was incredible.

Thank you Lord for the blessings of these worship experiences and again as I recall them. Amen.

Tell me about a meaningful worship experience you've had.

Bishop's Week...

was several weeks ago, but there's lots of bloggable stuff still left from it. I'll break it down into several posts so you don't get too bogged down.

The theme of the week was Health Ministries. I went for two reasons. First, because I am the staff liaison to the Conference Health and Welfare Committee. I also was asked to take a display showing the work of the Disability Concerns Committee I co-chair. They were having a ministry fair where different churches told about what they are doing in health ministries.

I fell into the liaison position because Disability Concerns falls under Health and Welfare... However, I have learned so much about how churches can use even the simplest health ministries to reach out into their communities. I never expected this to be a new area of calling for me, but apparently it is. I didn't learn much at Bishop's week that I hadn't heard at another conference last fall, but I did get re-energized to grow these ministries in our conference.

Does your church have any kind of health based ministry? If so what?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Five - Exercise

For some reason I can't paste the Friday Five I've successfully copied from RevGalBlogPals into this post, so I'm just going to type the short version.

1. What was your favorite sport or outdoor activity as a child.
Playing - just plain playing. I lived on a deadend street with anywhere from 10-30 kids. We played all the time. We played at the playground at the end of the street. We played in "the woods" (a wooded vacant lot). We played in the creek behind the houses on the other side of the street from my house. We played freeze tag. We played blind-man's bluff. We even had seasons where we would play one game for a few weeks, then switch. In the winter, which isn't long here, we would play Monopoly afterschool. When it was time to go home to dinner, we just slid the board under the bed with all the pieces on it until the next day. I wonder if kids just play much any more.

2. P.E. Class - Heaven or the other place.
The other place definitely. No physical skills (coordination, speed, aim...) here. I still close my eyes when a ball comes my way.

3. What is your favorite form of exercise now?
I ride an elyptical trainer for cardio and do strength training on machines at the Y. Some days I like these a lot. Some days not as much. Recently I've started doing "Gentle Yoga." This has made a huge difference in my headaches and overall well being. So this I like!

4. Do you like to work out solo or with a partner.
Solo! I put the MP3 player earbuds in and shut the world out.

5. Inside or outside?
Inside. It's 105 degrees here! I like to be outside in nature, but not for exercise. Hiking and biking are good during those months when it's not too hot.



Thursday, July 02, 2009

Bold New Look.

4 years ago when I went from contacts back to glasses because my aging eyes could no longer read through my contacts that corrected for astigmatism and nearsightedness, I wanted glasses that didn't show up at all. I had been without glasses on my face for several years and just wasn't used to the look of myself in glasses. So I bought these:




I.liked.them.a.lot. So much so that two years ago when it was time for new glasses, I stuck with the same style.

Now, it's time for new glasses. I'm tired of feeling frumpy and invisible in a lot of ways, so I decided to go with a much bolder look:

The difference is much more visible on my face, but I'm just not up to taking a picture of myself today, so if you know me IRL, you'll just have to wait till you see me. If you just know me through this blog, you'll have to take my word for it... this is a big change. Another part of "The Woman I Want to Be."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Herding Wind

Last week I felt like I was herding ping pong balls - all bouncing in different directions. Well all the deadlines I was facing are met. Now, I have the whole month of July with no deadlines. Get this straight, I have lots and lots to work on, but none of it is actually due in July. I have a couple of meetings each week, but not much in the way of be in x place at x time in the schedule. I have before me a vast plain of unstructured time. Not good for this goal oriented person who spent 38 years having my life scheduled around classes and deadlines.

Now, I feel like I'm herding wind. The stuff to work on is out there, but it's nebulous - hard to get hold of. I've been told I need to make lists, set priorities, make a schedule and set my own deadlines. Yeah, I know that. I'm the queen of lists, priorities, schedules, and especially deadlines. It's just harder with such a long period left for me to structure.

God of eternity, guide the use of my time that it may glorify you. Let me busy, let me be idle as is your will. Amen.

P.S. On another note, according to my psych eval for ordination, my summaries "reveal no significant mental health or personality disorder issues that would prevent me from being an effective parish leader." Whew! That's a relief.

Collars and Pumps

A couple of weeks ago, my Lay Ministry Committee (advisory committee for residency) was discussing my identity as clergy or pastor since I am appointed "beyond the local church." One person suggested that every clergy person should wear a clerical collar at least 3 days a week, especially when going into public places. Now most clergy in my denomination don't wear collars, but a few do. He went on to discuss how some clergy who come to our office have an "air" of clergy about them. It is definitely part of their identity. Others don't have that air everywhere they go, but seem to put on that identity when needed.

I asked myself, "When do I wear a virtual clerical collar?" When do I carry that identity and authority and where don't I?" I've been stewing over this for several days. There have been plenty of days in the last year when my position seemed more administrative than pastoral, but I think that can happen for pastors appointed in the local church as well.

Then, as I got dressed one morning this week and opted for pumps instead of casual flats, I realized my pumps are one way I put on that virtual collar. When I worked at the hospital, I gave up any form of shoes that weren't flat with plenty of support. I was on my feet a lot with 900 beds on 11 floors. When I walked into a room and introduced myself as the chaplain, the collar was on - real or not. Shoes didn't matter. When I left the hospital, I stuck with my flats. Now, I'm short and round and flat shoes make me look shorter and rounder. When I wear pumps with a moderate heel, I stand straighter and walk with more authority. HMMMM. Interesting. Pretty much the only time I wear pumps has been when I'm preaching or leading a meeting - in other words when I'm being pastoral. So the current line of thinking is, if I need to extend that identity to more of my days and more of my functions, then perhaps I should forego the flats a little more often.

For some of you, this discussion with myself may seem odd. I know folks who think either you are, or you aren't clergy, but after 20 years as a special education teacher, my professional identity has been slowly changing. I knew I was making progress when at a Support Group for Parents of Children with Special Needs, my first concern was for their theological understanding of disability before worrying about "teacher" type concerns.

This aha moment is brought to you courtesy of some work I'm doing in terms of "The Woman I Want to Be." Watch for upcoming blogs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Herding Ping Pong Balls

I've dropped the ball on a few obligations/details in the last few days. This.is.not.like.me. I'm not sure what is going on except I have many, many details to attend to between now and Wednesday when I head out for Bishop's Week.

In my quest to handle this in a spiritual way, I tried using imagery to "give it all to God." Well, the problem is, in my imagination, I can't get to God with all of the details. The mental image that has come to mind is trying to carry about 50 ping pong balls without a bag or case or basket of any kind. I keep trying to use my shirt or a dish towel to hold on to them, but they keep escaping. Every time I bend over to retrieve one, two more fall out.

Finally, my imagination has God scooping me up, ping pong balls and all. It doesn't matter if some of them fall, because they simply fall into God's hand next to me. Theoretically this is a comforting image. I think it will be if I can get my mind and body to relax just a little. Hmmm, what does that say if I have an image of being held by God, but in that image, I'm still squirming and trying to grasp at everything? Breathe in...... Breathe out.....Breathe in.....Breathe out....

Oh Lord, help me in my unbelief. Perhaps the best I can do is offer you this day. Literally, the calendar page with all the to dos. Take it Lord and do with it as you will. Take me Lord and do with me what you will. When I come to the end of the day, help me see where you were and how any detours that came up were part of your plan even when they don't seem to fit in mine. Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Five - Life is a Verb

Jan at RevGalBlogPals writes:
Jennifer recommended this book, which I got because I always value Jennifer's reading suggestions. The author of Life is a Verb, Patti Digh worked her book around these topics concerning life as a verb:
Say yes.
Be generous.
Speak up.
Love more.
Trust yourself.
Slow down.As I read and pondered about living more intentionally, I also have wondered what this Friday Five should be. This book has been the jumping off point for this Friday.


1. What awakens you to the present moment? Being outside in nature - harder to do right now with heat index 100+ most days. There is a park near my house with a creek and big trees and no playground (quieter that way). Great place to go.

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now? Sunlight, green leaves, people scurrying off to work, a porch light left on through the night, a spider web shimmering between the leaves.

3. Which verbs describe your experience of God? release - as in free, embrace, send (sometimes push), nag, call, love, caress, teach, inspire, delight

4. From the book on p. 197:Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go? I was growing - 8 inches in one school year - from abnormally small ("Are you in the right school?") to just short. Being stretched. Socially awkward, trying to find my way. Incredibly insecure. Miserable in home life as parents' marriage began to crumble. Yet, growing my interest in working with children with special needs. Being encouraged in my intelligence/ scholarly pursuits. Seeking a spirituality that was all my own and a release from home distress. Today that kid is all grown up - many of the seeds sown still blossom. Occasionally the incredibly insecure 13 year old peeks out, but less and less often. I'm being stretched in different ways as I'm learning to think more about the big picture in my conference level position. While I don't feel like I've grown 8 inches taller in the last year, I feel like I've grown emotionally, mentally, spiritually at least 8 inches in the last few years.

5. From the book on p. 88: If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be? How can "The Church" best help local congregations bring God to the world - make disciples? Do we just need to get out of the way?????

Friday, June 12, 2009

Inertia Defeated or Hope Comes in the Mail

A few weeks ago I began to blog about the inertia that seemed to have overtaken my life. While the disappearance of my neighbor was the catalyst for this, it was not the only cause and not the reason it stuck around for so long. While some early steps helped me move into functionality, I had not yet moved back into energy and joy. I seem to have arrived back at energy and joy, or at least out of sadness and fatigue.

The Spirit has helped me take several steps that have helped. First has been getting my morning devotion routine back thanks to the arrival in the mail of a new book The Balancing Act by Bishop Robert Schnase. It has been just what I needed: reflection based on real life incidents that draw me into deeper thinking about who I am, who God is, and who the Church is. The reflecting has deepened my prayer life as well.

I also took an afternoon and worked (again) through the goal setting activities found in the Franklin-Covey Starter pack. It asks you to identify roles, values, and goals. This was a wonderful way for me to visualize how I wanted my life to be different from what it has been these last few weeks and make a plan to make the changes. The afternoon was spent near the creek in the park and was full of Holy Moments.

Prayer by others has been integral to this process. Last Saturday, I asked my small group to pray for discernment in several decisions I was facing regarding my work, my health, and my family. The first thing that happened was, I received permission I needed to miss some of my residency work to participate in an awesome training opportunity. Decision made. This week, I received a book about migraines in the mail that made it clear what one of the health issue decisions should be. Making that decision gave me courage to get started on the next one.

The other thing that has helped is remembering not to let dread suck up my whole day and energy like a giant vacuum cleaner. I've been doing some "Just Do It" self talk. I had a phone call to make to someone high up in the church, and was worried how it might go, since I was going to call into question a decision she and I had made together only the week before. Thinking it through had brought up some concerns we hadn't considered in our eagerness to get going and I didn't want her to think I am fickle. The phone call went fine. She agreed that we need to re-think this project and didn't say a word about me being fickle. In fact, she stated we are very much on the same page.

Next step: - Get back to the Y. I have a somewhat "normal" schedule next week with no excuses for not going. I haven't been in 2 months.

If you are still reading at the end of this long post, thanks for your interest and your prayers.

How do you deal with inertia?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Proud Mama Moment

They had awards day at manBoy's school today. As you can see, he was honored multiple times. The one I was most proud for him is the flame shaped glass trophy presented to one student in each grade for selfless efforts to make the school and community better. He earned this award through his work with our church's special needs ministry, organizing a shoe drive at school, and the MS150 (or MS72) bike ride. I'm so thrilled that he attends a school where service is honored as well as academic achievement. The school requires a minimum of 10 hours of community service to pass to the next grade. There were many certificates given for those who far surpassed the minimum requirements. The learners and facilitators as they are called each have a t-shirt that says (insert name of school here) Gives Back. This is the first year for this school and I'm so pleased that this is the culture that is developing.

We are indeed blessed! I just need to remember that the next time I'm picking up stinky shoes and snack leavings from the living room. He is still, after all, a teenage boy.



Friday, May 22, 2009

Random Acts of Cleaning

I'm off today - took today as a vacation day - not working today. Get the point? manBoy has an opportunity to go off campus for lunch. I want to encourage him to work for the grades that earn this privelege, so I planned to work at home today in order for him to take the car. Then I decided that there was more home work that needed doing than work work, so I took today as a vacation day.

Trouble is the house is dirty. I don't mean messy, I mean dirty - needs scrubbing top to bottom. But... it's my vacation day. Do I really want to come to the end of my vacation day having worn myself out getting the house clean? No.

So here's the plan or the unplan. The goal is not getting the house clean, it is getting the house cleaner. Normally when I clean house, I work in a very systematic way. I.love.systems. I love getting one room all the way clean. But today, I am purposefully not making a plan. I'm simply doing the next thing I see that I want to have done. Note I didn't say that I want to do. I don't want to do any of it, but I do want to have it done. So in the name of it being a vacation day, I'm not making a plan. I'm not setting specific goals or making a list. I'm simply doing what comes next, and at the end of the day anything that is done is more than was done when I got up this morning.

So far today, I have put away a few things in my home office/guest room. I can see the quilt on the guest bed now, so progress has been made. I have swept and mopped the pantry floor and swept most of the kitchen (except the part that is under all the stuff I hauled out of the pantry floor ;-). I'm not sure what I'll do next. At some point all the stuff from the pantry will have to go back in so we can get in and out the back door. But I don't really have a plan for that.

I know I want some time outside and some time with my new devotional book (see previous post). So if I decide to stop and sit a while, that will be fine. It is after all my vacation day. Perhaps I'll pick up a few more items in my office then go have a glass of tea and read my devotion for today. Hope your day is good too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Balancing Act

I recently received in the mail a signed copy of Bishop Robert Schnase's new book The Balancing Act. It is a devotional, discussion book and it came at just the right time. I was needing new devotional material. It is quite thought provoking and I've only read three days! His first entry talks about balancing versus being balanced. We aren't ever fully balanced, but are always balancing. THAT takes a lot of pressure off.

The third entry focuses on prayer, specifically for pastors. I have recently done some self examination and prioritizing. One of the things I realized I need to be balancing is relationships/people and task accomplishment. I tend to go straight to the task. So, one of my commitments to myself was to be more people oriented in the coming weeks. I will be moving into a leadership role with a new group of people in June, so I have a great opportunity to practice what I've already preached to myself. Bishop Schnase's observations on prayer opened my eyes to one way I can focus on the people before that task - praying for them before the group starts and following.

I'm also going to pray for those who irritate me. It's harder to be irritated with someone if you've prayed for them. So far, so good, but I'm only a few hours into it.

How does prayer influence your own spirituality and your relationships?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Psych!

Tomorrow I have my psychological evaluation required for ordination. This is the second one, because the first one is more than five years old so therefore not valid. There seems to be a flaw in the system here. The evaluation is required before being certified as a candidate for ordination, but it takes more than 5 years to go from certified to ordained. This is not inexpensive.

At any rate, I have to go tomorrow and answer many many questions to determine if I'm psychologically fit for ministry. I'm thinking today is not a good time for me to be having meaning of life, or where's our family headed, or what's the future of the church type ponderings. But somehow, that's where my brain is today - probably because I have this evaluation tomorrow. I'm feeling a need for some outdoor journaling time this afternoon - enjoy nature sights/sounds and pour it all out before tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Delightful Mothers Day

G&T worked hard to make sure Mother's Day was reserved for me (not hosting other family...). I had battled a migraine off and on all week, and fully on for Friday and Saturday. G&T came through with a gift card for a 90 minute massage! I'm scheduled for today - can't wait.

I woke to find a handmade card from manBoy on the kitchen table. It wasn't fancy - but it was big - made from left over display cardboard. What it looked like wasn't important. What is says is. To quote a couple of lines, "You do more for me than I realize, and you mean more to me than you realize...And even though I seem to always be mad at you, deep down I really do love you." Words to be treasured during these years of teenaged angst. Top that Ha**mark!

Fortunately, headache subsided by Sunday. I didn't have any responsibilities at church, was able to go and enjoy the service. One of our members spoke about her experiences as a foster parent including last summer's adoption of the most recent child placed in her home, making this her first official Mother's Day - if you ask me she's been a mom for a long time. Her inspiration to become a foster parent came from one of the restoration passages in Isaiah. I'd never thought of the restorative nature of foster parenting - but now that she mentions it, I've watched it happen in her daughter. I was blessed by her story.

Lunch was at a favorite Mexican restaurant. We had fought the temptation to spend our eating out money on fast food for two weekends so we'd still have some for Mother's Day. It was worth it.

Later in the afternoon, manBoy asked about going to see the new Star Trek movie. G&T and I were interested, so we all went together (rare occasion these days). It is a great movie. We will probably purchase it when it comes out on DVD. Can't wait to see the special features.

All in all, it was a great day!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

More Prayers

HulaHeart (see post below) texted me last night saying she and her family are fine, but storms (possibly tornado) have blown down trees and damaged their roof. Prayers of thanksgiving for their safety.

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Great New Blog

My long time friend HulaHeart (she was with us when we got the call about manBoy being born and us being picked to be his parents) has a new blog Searching for the Breeze. She's a wise woman. It will serve you well to stop by and read her posts every now and again.

P.S. My sister is having back surgery today which is also her birthday. Prayers appreciated.

UPDATE: Surgery went well. Now the trick is to come out of anesthesia - not something she does especially well. Thanks for prayers.

Monday, May 04, 2009

MS150 becomes MS72

DogBlogger did such a good job reporting on our boys' escapades, I just stole (borrowed?) her post.

Well, The Alpha and ManBoy were having a pretty good Day 1 on the Bike MS ride, but it was cut short when a storm blew through the area just as they reached the last breakpoint of the day. They had already decided not to camp at the overnight site, which we knew was the right call when camping was officially canceled. And not long after we got home for the evening, about the time the hail started to fall on the next morning's starting line, Day 2 of the ride was canceled.The National MS Society wrote in an email announcing the cancellation, "As we've seen this weekend, our North Texas weather is just like MS: unpredictable." True. In fact, it didn't rain today after all -- though I still think the severity of yesterday's and last night's storms justified the calling-off of the event. (Just as DogBlogger and I were leaving to pick up our riders, the Cowboys had a bit of a problem a couple of suburbs over.) ManBoy is disappointed that he doesn't get to answer the "What'd you do this weekend?" question with "Rode my bike 150 miles," but he had a very good time with the 72, so I'm certain he will find another opportunity.Thanks to everyone who offered support, whether it was as a part of the online cheering section or as a donor. The money raised still goes to fight MS, and that was the real goal. Not all the numbers are final yet, but it looks like our two guys topped $1,600 together!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Looking Forward

Last week's Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals really took me aback. It asked what 5 things do you want to accomplish before you die. We've been so long in the get through school, get debt paid off, get ordained path that we haven't really talked about longer term dreams. It was a depressing realization and I couldn't even make a list.

While Gifted & Talented and I still haven't had time to talk about long term dreams - maybe this weekend while manBoy is on his MS 150 ride - we have at least made plans for one fun event this summer. We will be going to see one of our favorite musicians perform in June. Dogblogger will go with us because she likes this artist too! If you were at BE 2.0 I played a snippet of one of her songs for our group's response to a question.

manBoy and The Alpha will not go with us but for a good reason. They will be away on a mission trip to the place that arranged for manBoy to be ours. Cool huh!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mix and Match

Several unrelated, but seemingly important observations:

PERSPECTIVE:
G&T called late this afternoon to tell me about something that had him really bummed out. I could hear in his voice that he was unhappy, so by the time he got around to telling me the "thing" he was upset about it wasn't nearly as bad as the "things" that had already gone through my mind. He still has a job, and his car and his body are both fine. So, feeling relieved that the "thing" wasn't as bad as those "things," I failed to offer appropriate condolences and support for the "thing" that was indeed bad in his view.

BIG ROCKS:
I may have blogged about this before, but I learned from company that combines organizational tools with being highly effective to make a Big Rocks list. This is the list of tasks that will make the biggest difference in your project or goal. It's based on an illustration I had seen years before. If you have a glass full of large rocks and sugar or salt and dump it all out, it won't all fit back in the glass if you put the small grains in first. You have to put the big stuff in first. This morning I was able to make a Big Rocks list for the first time in a couple of weeks. I got stuff done today. Inertia begone!

BE 2.0 REMINISCENCES
While some of the others who attended BE 2.0 have talked about their re-entry afterwards, I had a crash landing and all good done at the retreat center seemed to vanish with one phone call before I even went to bed the first night. So now I'm going to try and get back that lovin' feelin' by making a list of memories - idea stolen from Zorra.

*Understanding friend who helped me when I started feeling faint - really faint - on very crowded plane. I'm so glad I wasn't alone. All was well - no actual passing out. Friend very gracious.

*Ride in van to retreat center with other BE 1.0 returnees - having great laughs and perplexing driver.

*Laughing until I cried as we read the beginning saga of teh RevGalBlogPals. My sides ache still when I think about it. I haven't laughed that hard in years. I soooo needed that.

*Reconnecting with lovely ladies I met last year, missing those who couldn't return, and making new friends too.

*Helping with a puzzle geocache and noticing the names were spelled differently on the diplomas than on the placards. Tricky, tricky....

*Finding a clay pot that would go perfect in my southwest den, but deciding not to get it as I have other priorities - thanks a lot monetary contentment college!

*Learning about the Hebrew word for womb-love or mother-love that is used many times in the OT. Gave flesh to the few feminine images of God I was aware of in OT.

*Walking in the desert beauty, looking at the scenic mountains around us, and visiting with Zorra - I guess this is now a pattern. Last year we snorkeled and hung out on the beach together.

*Discovering that Abigail whom I have long admired as someone who saw trouble coming and prevented it (my forte) really was a prophet in the way she convinced David it was not in his best interest to kill her husband et al.

*Working with Rev. Dr. Kate to put together the Prayers of the People for closing worship. We learned a lot about each other doing that. We make a great team - my desire for simplicity with her strong liturgical background.

*The.campfire. - I loved this part of the weekend. I love being outdoors if it's not 110 degrees. I grew up camping. I don't spend much time outdoors anymore. G&T who also grew up camping (Eagle Scout) thinks it's too much work. So....getting to tend the fire after it was already built was great fun for me.

*Angelic voices singing Taize songs at an impromptu worship gathering under the stars.

*Closing worship.

*Lunch at airport with old and new friends. Learning a little more about each of them.

*Landing at home without a migraine - much, much better than last year.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inertia

Main Entry:
in·er·tia
Pronunciation:
\i-ˈnər-shə, -shē-ə\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
New Latin, from Latin, lack of skill, from inert-, iners
Date:
1713
1 a: a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force b: an analogous property of other physical quantities (as electricity)
2: indisposition to motion, exertion, or change

3. See Mid-life Rookie the last few days. Laundry - check, blogging - check, pretty much anything else - not so much.

Lord, move me please. I just can't on my own. Amen.

UPDATE: Big Rocks List and Daily To Do Lists made for this week - huge progress toward motion. Big Rocks List explanation coming in next post.

Praying for the Enemy????

When I hear the same message from more than one direction I listen up. Yesterday in accountability group we talked about what it takes to be able to pray for our enemies or for those who have harmed others. I told my friends I was just not there in regards to the man who is accused of murdering my neighbor, the man against whom the evidence is overwhelming, the man who has not told the police where they can find her. My mentor pastor tried to get me to go down that road on Thursday - to acnowledge the victims in the family of the accused man, but I was having none of it. I'll just hold onto my anger and hurt, thank you very much.

Today, our pastor included the story of Jonah in his sermon. He talked about Jonah running from God's mercy - not for himself, but for the folks of Ninevah. Jonah was afraid God would offer them mercy and save them if they repented - turned from their ways. Our pastor also talked about the first step in our own spiritual healing being admitting something is wrong - ie confessing our sinfulness. Yikes!

This afternoon, I finished reading The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. In this book, the main character is asked by God to forgive someone who did something evil just as I believe the man mentioned above did something evil. The author believes that forgiving does not mean forgetting or letting go of the hurt, it means "letting go of another persons throat." Later God tells the main character, "for you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me and allow me to redeem him." Powerful stuff - not enough time to process where I stand on this particular theology, but definitely I'm hearing that I must choose something other than (or at least in addition to) anger and hurt.

The conviction or convincing I've received from all of this is: I need to be praying for this man whose soul is so broken or polluted that he could do such a thing. I'm pretty sure that I'm not supposed to be praying that God's light will shine on him so brightly that he will be crushed at the revelation of the evil he has done - that's still vengeance. So I have begun to pray to the best of my ability and to ask God to strengthen me in this.

My journey as a neighbor through this tragedy is minute compared to that of the family. Please keep all of us in your prayers. Pray that bitterness will not magnify the harm that has been done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Abigail the Woman Prophet

I have long loved the story of Abigail found in I Samuel 25. Abigail sees problems coming and acts before they happen. This is something I find myself doing - a.lot. However, I've always reminded myself that Abigail doesn't seem to lean on God much in her problem solving. This is also something I have to watch in myself.

I found a new view of Abigail as a prophet at the BE 2.0 this year. In addition to correcting her husband's poor judgement in refusing to supply David and his men, she also speaks truth to David. She tells him he must avoid having blood-guilt when he becomes king. She believes that God will make David king, and that David needs to live his life accordingly. I love that David recognizes that God has sent her to him and blesses Abigail for her "good sense."

No major aha's or words of wisdom in this. Just affirmation of my admiration of Abigail and something more positive for the top post on my blog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Evil Lurks...

even in those neighborhoods portrayed in Norman Rockwell paintings. This is something I've known on a cognitive level for years. But when it's your neighborhood and suddenly evil is big and scary and right in front of you, you know it on a whole new level. I'll admit I'm struggling with this. My heart hurts. Someone is missing. Please pray for her family.

Update: An arrest has been made - someone she knew. Charge is murder. She has not been found. Prayers still needed. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Almost Time!

This evening I will go watch manBoy run at the last track meet of the season. He runs hurdles - it's hard for a mother to watch. This has been a good season in terms of making it all the way to the end still on his feet. If he makes the finals, I'll miss those races tomorrow night. I'll have to get the results by cell phone because...

Tomorrow I leave for BE 2.0! Today I've done most of my packing and visited the blogs of the people I haven't met yet. I'm in the office now, just about to set phone message and email replies to "Not Here" or some other nicer way of saying that.

I have stopped myself from packing work and church related reading material that I could work through while I'm gone. This is, after all, a retreat. How can I retreat from responsibilities if I stick them all in my suitcase and haul them with me? Talk about baggage. I think I'll stop by half price books on my way home and look for a novel.

UPDATE: manBoy did make the finals in one of his events and ran a personal best. So, tomorrow evening, I'll have to get the scoop via phone.

Next post will be post BE 2.0.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

There Were No Trumpets....

...on that first Easter morning. We celebrate Easter as a great joyous occasion - with flowers and singing and trumpet fanfares - because we know what the resurrection means. But on that first Easter morning, there were no trumpets.

A seminary, covenant group friend's adult son died this week. It was tragic and unexpected. I've been asking myself - how do you preach Easter to a church who is coping with tragedy? My friend's church, churches where fire and tornadoes have struck in the last 3 days, churches in Italy where the earthquake death toll rises, in places of war? How do you preach Easter in places where joy has slipped away?

Here's what I've come up with. The first Easter morning was not a time of joy. There were no belly bumps and back slaps as the disciples discovered the tomb empty. So what did Easter morning bring to Mary and the other disciples? What did they find on Sunday morning that they didn't have the night before?

The answer is hope. What the resurrection gave the disciples that they didn't have in those dark hours following Jesus' death was hope. They were still bewildered and wondering what their future held. They still didn't understand what it all meant. But...they could begin to hope again. God had not forsaken them. Christ had overcome death and returned to strengthen them before the coming of the Spirit. Hope lived. Hope lives now.

Hope is the Easter message for folks who find themselves in places of despair.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Important Cause


manBoy needs some help gathering donations for the MS Society. After he bought his road bike last year, our friend The Alpha told him about the MS150 bike ride and manBoy thought it would be a great thing to do. So in a few weeks, manBoy and The Alpha will set out to ride 150 miles in two days along with a few hundred other riders. That's a lot of miles. I have to tell you this mama is just a tad worried about safety, but I know The Alpha will keep an eye on him.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurological disorder that affects people in many different ways. It could be paralysis one day, loss of vision the next or impaired memory the day after that. Living with MS means living with uncertainty.

manBoy's school places strong emphasis on giving back to the community and this is just one way he is far surpassing the required service hours. He also volunteers at our church ministry for adults with special needs.

So whether you strongly support the work of the MS Society or simply support the efforts of one young man trying to serve others, please click on over to his page and make a donation.

Many thanks from his proud mom.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Disorder

My offices - home and work - are both in a state of disorder. I.don't.like.this. Twice in the last few days I have not been able to put my hands on papers I needed. In both cases I thought I knew just where they were. I was wrong. This disorder of space and stuff leads to disorder of mind and heart for me. Today, I will begin to bring order within and in my environment. God is the God of all order - after all look at the universe! God will be with me in this.

Lord God, Creator of All, guide my steps and thoughts and words today as I work to restore order to my surroundings. Remind me that the purpose of organization is not to be organized but to be ready to do your work in this world - to have the materials I need at hand. More importantly Lord, help me restore peace in my heart, knowing you are with me whether my stuff is organized or not. Amen.

UPDATE: both sets of papers found - offices still a mess, but important details attended to today. Perhaps tomorrow.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Keeping Holy Week Holy

The Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals reminded me that Holy Week is upon us. But MLR, you say, you are clergy! Didn't you know Holy Week is coming? Yes, I did. But since I'm chairing the Hospitality Team, not pastoring my local church, my preparations and activities for Lent have been much about doing and not so much about being. Our church has been focusing on hospitality as a part of our spiritual practices during Lent, and I head the team that has put together the many elements of this focus: Devotional Guide, Hospitality Moments for each service, postcards, flyers, signs, banners, we miss you cards for those we haven't seen in a bit... The list goes on. So when I say I'm surprised that Holy Week is already here, it's because I've been busy doing or arranging for someone else to do.

At small group this morning, two of us talked about the need to keep Holy Week holy in the midst of all our doing. As I read Cheesehead's blog a few minutes ago, I realized one thing I can do is pray for energy and stamina for my clergy friends who are serving in local churches.

You see, I am at the end of three months of non-stop doing and going. I have work to do in the next few months but no urgent deadlines for a while. So, while my friends are still waiting for that time when things slow down, I'm already there. My spiritual discipline this week will be to pray for them.

Instead of putting a list of "big rocks" list (things I need to do that will make the biggest difference) in the weekly bookmark, of my planner, I'm starting a list of my pastor friends for prayers.

So, if you want to be on my prayer list this week, leave a reply. Chances are you are already on there, but remind me just in case.

Lord of All Hope, please be with all of our pastoral leaders as they guide their congregations through the elation of Palm, despair of Passion, and celebration of Easter. Provide for them a personal Easter - resurrect their spirits after this long period of Lent. Amen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dread Report

Hooray! I have outlines for the first two ordination questions. Sometimes getting past getting started is all it takes to build momentum.

Income tax is calculated - outcome is not pretty, but knowing is better than dreading.

Board of Ordained Ministry interviews for continuation in the process are Thursday at 11:30 am - prayers appreciated. Not ranking too high on the dreadometer right now. Just a mild underlying tension.

Busy week all over 3 different cities. This morning I will catch my breath, identify priorities and recognize that I have no deadlines next week or the week after. Stuff to do, but no deadlines. Life is slowing down a bit from the first quarter frenzy. It won't last, so I need to refill and renew while I can.

So how are you doing on getting stuff done?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dread

Lately, I've come to realize how much mental, emotional, and even physical energy I spend dreading certain tasks or events. Most of the time, the things I dread aren't nearly as awful as I think they are going to be. Well except cleaning the toilet - that one is never good. I think my habit of dreading has been worse since I began to think about ordination writing and interviews. Those are big dreads.

I'm working on a "just do it" attitude.

What do you dread? Is dreading a habit for you?

Lord, take away this dread, for I know you do not come in a spirit of fear, but in a Spirit of peace and courage. Amen.

Heart to Heart Questions 1

On Valentines I picked up a deck of cards that are not playing cards. They are called Heart to Heart Conversation Starters. The three of us used them for our Valentine's dinner and learned something about each other. I pulled them out again for dinner tonight and thought they would make good blog fodder. So here are tonight's questions with my answers. What are your answers?

1. Who is the last person you helped? Explain.
Life-long friend - see link for explanation

2. We turned the question around and asked, who is the last person who helped you? This was much harder, because as manBoy put it, "People think I don't need any help." It seems all three of us like to help, but not so good at showing when we need help. My answer was when Gifted and Talented took me to the store on Saturday to do a return I was dreading.

So tell me about your helping and being helped.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Five: Signs of Hope

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Songbird at RevGalBlogPals challenges us with this meme:

In the late, late winter, as the snow begins to recede here in Maine, we begin to look almost desperately for signs of spring, signs of hope that the weather has turned and a new day is on the horizon. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter and Spring twine inextricably, the crocuses and daffodils peeking through the Earth as we await the risen Christ. Share with us five signs of hope that you can see today or have experienced in the past.

This is an interesting question for today. I have more angst than hope this morning and I'm not sure why. So this should be a good exercise.

1. This morning I began to explore the questions I will need to answer for ordination writing (due Dec. 1) prior to ordination interviews in February 2010 prior to ordination in June 2010 if I pass all the requirements. This particular activity has filled me with dread of the writing and the interviewing. I've done it before for commissioning - no picnic. So I'm trying to see this morning's activities as a sign of hope that this very long ordination process (I began seminary in Jan. 2003) will come to fulfillment. Lord give me hope and vision in the coming months and your Spirit to sustain me. Amen.

2. Just received text from life-long friend's husband. No artery blockage. See previous post.

3. ManBoy has begun receiving propaganda (oops promotional materials) from colleges. Future looks bright. Glad he's still home two more years.

4. Church member, who is noted to be an introvert, made a concerted effort to invite some visitors to our soup supper this Sunday. Hospitality emphasis during Lent is having a positive effect!

5. I'm leaving this one blank to see what the day holds. - Lord, I know that hope is a mark of discipleship, but honestly I'm not there today. Open my eyes and heart Lord to see the signs of hope around me. Lead me in your way today and fill me with your peace. Amen.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friendship and Mortality Check

My life-long friend (our mothers were pregnant with us together) is having a heart catheterization to look for and remove blockage tomorrow. She is 4 months older than me which is way too young to be dealing with this. Needless to say it has been a sudden reminder of our own mortality for both of us.

I called her today and we had an awesome talk about what God might do for good in this. Our relationship has changed over the last few years. We are not each other's day to day buddies as much as we used to be. But still, our history is so long and so rich we can pick up where we left off. We also know each other's strengths and weaknesses. We have been through lots together - divorces of our parents, weddings, teaching, infertility, motherhood, and now middle age. Today we did some crying which she needed and some laughing which we both needed. We talked about how realizing we can't be everything for everybody might be a part of the healing process. We talked about how long she can milk this and get extra help from hubby and kids. We talked about keeping faith meaning knowing God is there even when we're not feeling it so much. I told her I am not worried for her health. I trust that the procedure will be successful and she'll feel better tomorrow afternoon than she's felt in a while. All in all it was a good conversation for both of us.

So if you think of it, your prayers for life-long friend would be appreciated early Friday morning.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Better

So far in my time off I have -
1. Gone to the office for a predetermined amount of time to tie up loose ends and email myself business expense information I need for my own taxes. I left at the deadline I had set, so I'm proud of that.
2. Visited with pastor of my local church and set some boundaries. Another good thing.

3. Gone to the library and checked out 4 novels.

4. Gone to the phone store to determine possibility of changing to a phone from my office. This was not all good as I got really mad when they couldn't talk to me as my husband's name was the only one on the account. I let them know how sexist it was for me to have done all of the dealing and negotiating and them to only put his name on the account.

5. Sat in big comfy chair and read 1/2 novel.

6. Facilitated productive hospitality team meeting at home church. Lenten hospitality focus coming along well.

7.Gone to the Y and done both cardio and strength training. Walked leisurely around grounds of Y enjoying beautiful weather and birds singing.

8.Moved my haircut appointment from Friday (trying to stretch them out for $ sake) to today because this week is about rejuvination and getting my mop cut would go a long way toward that.

9. Had my haircut. I love having my hair washed and head massaged. Since I can't afford a massage this week, this was the next best thing.

10. Filled car with gas and bought a few groceries.

For the rest of today:
Sit in big comfy chair or in backyard swing and read more of the novel.
Plan Disciple Bible Study Lesson for tonight.
Lead Disciple Bible Study.
Stay up really late finishing novel or starting a new one just because I can!

Lord, I thank you for the joyful moments of sabbath and for the productivity of the moments that weren't. Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

I facilitated two sessions of the same seminar this weekend. The presenter was the author of a book on changing the way churches approach stewardship. He expressed dismay at the low turn out we had compared to other conferences. Some of the circumstances that contributed to this low turnout were beyond my control since I didn't schedule it (on the first weekend of Spring break)... However, I was responsible for the PR and am second guessing how I could have done things differently (better).

I'm supposed to be off this week, but I have to go in and tie up a few loose ends from the seminar and set my voice mail and email to out of office. I forgot to do that on Friday. I am working on finding a way to let go of this "woulda shoulda coulda" thinking and enjoy my week off.

As I type, I'm realizing not all my anxiety this morning is from the seminar. Part of the problem is I've been so busy right up through yesterday evening, I don't have any firm plans for my time off. Part of it is I have lots of stuff to do that is not directly work related but feels like work.

Lord, help me make Sabbath time this week. It will be so easy to get caught up in all the little to do things that I will go back to work next week just as tired as I am today. Pour your Spirit of peace in over and through me Lord. Keep me close to you. Amen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Decisions and Enthusiasm

Last night we went to an invitation only meeting about a PSAT and SAT preparation course. Seems manBoy has potential- but we already knew that. The decision is do we spend the big bucks for this course in hopes of increasing scholarship offers? The answer is probably, but we had to think about it harder than we would have a few weeks ago before we started Money Contentment College.

I met with my DS yesterday and told him all about my Epiphany and how I'm excited about my current position and the opportunities for ministry I see there. He was pleased. Since church appointments are fewer than people to be appointed, I imagine everyone - my boss (who is assistant to the Bishop), the Bishop, and my DS will be happy to leave me right where I am. I just hope God is on the same page as the rest of us. Now that I've really come to terms with what I'm doing in the conference office and why, it would be nice if God doesn't throw in yet another change.

I'm going to Nashville at the end of the month and observe a program I really want to bring to my conference. I also get to hang out with someone I met in January who contributed greatly to the Epiphany and get introduced to other people who can help me fulfill my vision for helping churches be more effective in making disciples.

Well I must go cook 2 more pounds of sausage for a Teacher Breakfast at manBoy's school tomorrow. Cook tonight, heat in morning, take in crockpot. No more stalling by writing trivial blog posts.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Today

Wee hours of morning: Woke up too early - practiced sermon.

Morning: Led worship and preached for two services. Both went smoothly including Girl Scout Sunday, Hospitality Moment, Orchestra Sunday, and the pianist didn't set her clock forward. Fortunately, music director was there for 8:45 service and stepped in to play the piano. I preached with much fewer notes so as to not need a stand for them - one page front and back in booklet form folded into Bible. It worked, but I had to do it in publisher to get the pages right.

Afternoon: Typed outline for evening presentation - already handwritten in journal - just needed typing. Helped manBoy track down items for medieval king costume needed for tomorrow. Consequence for waiting to last minute - he paid for items that had to be purchased and he owes me two weeks of positive attitude and pleasant tone of voice.

Evening: Spoke to parent support group for parents of children with disabilities about theology of disability - God did not do this to your child as punishment or so you would grow to face the challenge or so there could be a miracle... and much more.

Later in the evening: Made royal robe for medieval king out of sheet. Two small breaks in seam of top hem. Shoelace inserted. One cut across bottom for hem. One seam for hem. Voila! manBoy threaded the shoelace, ironed, fetched, and cleaned up mess. He still owes me.

Now.I'm.going.to.bed.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Challenge

So far, I have done well with not playing Turbo Solitaire during Lent. While this may seem to be a trivial or not especially spiritual fast, it drastically changes how I spend my time - how much goes to spiritual life, family life...

The challenge for today is I am working at home. Lot's more temptation. I have a sermon to write - really easy to take "just a short break" that turns into an hour before I know it. Posting this increases my accountability. I've told the world I'm not going to do this, so I'm not.

How are your Lenten disciplines going? Do you have any?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five: Fork in the Road

One of my favorite movie lines is in the original Muppet Movie. Fozzie Bear is driving and Kermit is navigating. They come to a fork in the road looking somewhat like this picture only the road actually splits. Dialogue goes like this:
Kermit: Bear left.
Fozzie: Right frog.



This memory was stirred by Singing Owl's Friday Five Post at RevGalBlogPals. She writes:
I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

Some of the paths I have taken have been directed by others and/or God. Some have been my own choice.

1. When I was 11, my parents signed me up to help at a daycamp for children with special needs. I fell in love. This became my calling and career path. I taught special education for 20 years until.... see number 4.

2. Chasing Gifted and Talented until he caught me. I was just 16 when we started dating. 2/3rds of my life has been spent with him. This is a very good thing.

3. Adoption: After 5 years of struggling with infertility and no firm diagnosis we made the decision to adopt. ManBoy came into our lives just 3 weeks after we finished the last of our paperwork. It's been a blessed 16 years. He's out in on the town in the car right now. Feel free to pray for safety.

4. Leaving teaching to attend seminary and work toward ordination - after 3 years of arguing with God. Probably the biggest change in my life, in our family life.

5. Staying in the conference office rather than going to serve in a local church after seminary - NOT what I expected. This is one of those God things, I fell into. For the latest on how this is unfolding click here and scroll down to Epiphany.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day Off

Hey! Tomorrow, I'm actually taking one of those days off we talked about in the Friday Five. It's kind of cool to have identified what I want to do with it. The time outside thing is a little iffy. Today the high temp was 86 degrees. Tomorrow 30 degrees cooler. Whether I go to the park will depend on how much wind there is to go with the cooler temps. Now I know many of you are thinking highs in the 50's would be a breath of spring - but I'm a cold (cool) weather wimp. For now, I'm off to read a novel - because I can!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent

For accountability purposes, I am posting that I am giving up Turbo Solitaire for Lent. It eats up time and energy that could be better used in my family and spiritual life. I'll go into more detail later about other plans for Lent, but I must get ready to go to the office now.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not as Tired as I Thought I'd Be

Well the big event that the commitee I co-chair has been planning since August has come and gone. We offered awareness information and training for Disabilities Ministries. All in all it was a success. I wish we had better attendance, but this was the first one and lots of people don't get why this is important. We had wonderful worship with band from home church including G&T and Dogblogger, liturgical dance choreographed and danced by a teenager with Downs Syndrome, and a sign choir. I delivered the message which was well received. We followed worship with breakout sessions on accessiblity, evangelism, and starting ministries. Our keynote speaker after lunch was someone who suddenly lost her sight just a few years ago. Feedback from the participants was very good. The committee was awesome at taking responsibility for their various parts and being really helpful in general. I want to feel exhilarated, but I don't. I'm working on figuring out why.

I am however, not nearly as tired as I thought I would be. This event fell in the middle of 10 weeks of go, go, go with lots of travel, projects, and deadlines. I have next weekend basically off from work/church events, but the two following will be hectic on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Hospitality Team at church (which I lead) is planning a church-wide focus on prayer, welcoming, and invitation for Lent. This means we are working hard to get several things in place this week. One of those is a prayer/action guide inviting church members to add some disciplines around hospitality rather than giving something up for Lent. Another is a "hospitality moment" for each Sunday worship during Lent. One thing that did happen today is our "Information Station" was up and running. Our hospitality team member who is also on the furnishings committee for our new building found a great portable bar that works great as long as we don't put the foot rails on it. Good height, storage for brochures, gift bags... We started our big hospitality push with a Saturday morning training on Radical Hospitality just after the first of the year. It was exciting to see one of the ideas that came from that session come to fruition. More are on the way...

Well, bedtime has come and I'm perhaps more tired than I thought I was at the beginning of this post. I hope your week brings you joy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Five: Taking a Break

Songbird writes at RevGalBlogPals: Where we live, it's February School Vacation Week! Yes, that's an odd thing, a vacation extending President's Day. But it's part of our lives here. Some people go South or go skiing, but we always stay home and find more humble amusements.In that spirit, I offer this Taking a Break Friday Five.
Tell us how you would spend:
1. a 15 minute break: Power nap if I can find a place. Hint: If you are going to sneak a power nap in the back seat of your car in the office parking lot, be sure you know where the Bishop is.
2. an afternoon off: Read a novel that has nothing to do with church or work. I've actually done this on a couple of Sunday afternoons lately. Survival technique in a time when Saturdays have been full of work and church stuff.
3. an unexpected free day: Bubble Bath and other girl stuff I never have time for, good music, lunch with friend, time at the park or in the backyard, read. Sounds good. I need one of these!
4. a week's vacation: Beach, hammock, books, music, time with hubby.
5. a sabbatical: Gee, I've never even considered this. Travel in Europe then explore and visit around to learn what young folks are looking for in church today.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Pets

Sophia at RevGalBlogPals writes:

My son's tiny beloved lizard, Elf, is looking and acting strange this week. His skin/scales are quite dark, and he is lethargic. We are adding vitamin drops to his lettuce and spinach and hoping and praying that he is just getting ready to shed his skin--but it's too soon to tell. Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her precious Molly, the amazing dog who is well known to readers of her blog as a constant sacrament of God's unconditional love.

So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known.

Well, I haven't had five pets in my lifetime, but a few weeks ago, I started to tell the story of Jake the Dog and got side tracked. This seems like a good place to do that.

It starts in my childhood when a couple of scary events involving being knocked down by hunting puppies who were as big as I was and a dog running through the slats in my playpen left me terrified of dogs. I don't just mean scared, I mean climbing on the furniture or nearest car terrified. Our family had a couple of small outside dogs but it was understood that I didn't want to have anything to do with their care. I didn't run from them like I did with other dogs, but I certainly wasn't going to pet them.

Now fast forward thirty plus years when manBoy comes into our lives. His first word was "dog." I kid you not. His sitter had a dog in her back yard. When I would release him from his carseat, he would crawl or walk to the backdoor, look out and ask "dog?" Okay it sounded like "gog," but it was his first real word. Go figure.

As manBoy grew older, the pleas for a dog grew more frequent and backed with increasingly complex arguments for his case. At first we put him off saying we didn't have a fence around the yard. Then one summer, Gifted and Talented finished the fence. Now we were out of excuses. manBoy was 9 going on 10, and I began to feel I could perhaps tolerate an outside dog in the name of love for my son. I knew it would take more than my own strength to do this.

So, one Saturday morning in November, I went to the local SPCA website just to look. Just to see what might be there... and of course on the front page was a picture of a beautiful blond dog. His name was Jake and he was the dog of the week - on special! manBoy came in while I was looking and fell in love. I told him I wasn't sure if we could do this right now. I told him Jake was probably already gone since he had been dog of the week. I told him not to get his hopes up. Yeah. Right.

All day long, manBoy and I thought about Jake. Finally just before closing time, I called the SPCA. Yes, Jake was still there. So, the next afternoon we went down into the big city to the SPCA shelter. All the way down, manBoy kept saying, "You are the greatest parents ever!" And I kept saying, "We are just going to look. We are not getting a dog today." We walked in and manBoy presented the picture we had printed saying, "We want to see Jake, and my mom is scared of dogs." Needless to say, Jake went home with us that day.

Just like when manBoy came home with us, we had not one dog anything at our house. So we stopped at big box store. manBoy and G&T went in to shop leaving me with Jake in the van together! Lots of prayers and deep breathing, and we did okay. The guys came back with one of everything from the dog aisle!

Fast forward one week. We come home from church to find Jake awake but not getting up from his favorite place in the sun. He hadn't eaten. One of the toys we had purchased had disappeared and the doggy bed had been chewed to shreds. So, off we went to the emergency vet. In the next few hours exploratory surgery revealed that Jake had not swallowed anything undigestable. He did however have guy type problems that had been overlooked at the shelter. He also had a malformed kidney that was not functioning, and bad hips. So now, instead of an outside dog, we had a post-surgery dog that required wound care, and medications by mouth. Not.what.I.had.signed.up.for.

With the help of our vet and friends who were more dog lovers than me, we made it through. Through it all, Jake and I became fast friends. I still don't get my hands too close to his mouth and I'm not fond of licking. But, I brush him and he loves that. He listens to me better than to the males in the house. By our best estimate, Jake is 7 years old this month. His kidney function has never been an issue. He only shows signs of hip problems if he's been inside where he can't run for extended periods of time. He prefers to be outside unless it is thundering or below 25 degrees.


I was reminded of this story when Gifted and Talented was building him a new dog house. The one he built six years ago was falling apart. They both have wind breaks built into them, but the new one is insulated too. He puts cedar mulch in the bottom of it since Jake likes to lay in the mulch in the flower beds. Not that G&T likes this dog or anything.

All in all we are glad Jake came into our family. I'll post pics when I get home this evening. I don't have them on this computer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lots of stuff to blog - no time to blog it

Okay, this may be long so just read as far as you have time. Life has been very, very busy since Christmas, but should slow down to a trot for the next few weeks. I've spent every Saturday since Christmas except one doing something church or work related. I have one more Saturday that doesn't have church/work stuff between now and March 20. However, most of that stuff has/is/will result in exciting events. The Disabilities Ministry Symposium for the confernece is falling into place and my home church hospitality team has great plans cooking.

MY LIFE AS AN HYPOTENUSE.
I try to avoid triangling, but some how the rest of the world just doesn't seem to get it. I keep finding myself in triangles. I try to set boundaries and extract myself as often as possible. Not always possible or perhaps my boundaries are not always strong enough. Today I've been proofing a print job that is not for me. Proofing fell to me because I happen to have the original file on my computer and because the person wanting the print job is using his blackberry to check emails and can't look at the proof. arghhhh. Some how the fact that I'm working from home today because of the migraine meds doesn't seem to make a difference. This really is a triangle I need to do something about. I know I have big girl panties around here somewhere.

FITNESS ASSESSMENT
A couple of weeks ago I went for a fitness assessment at the Y. I could hardly move for the next three days. I haven't done a push up in years, much less 8! I learned pretty much what I already knew and a couple of good things too. My flexibility and strength are in the basement. However, I did pretty well on the cardio part. A whole year of cardio work has paid off! Now I have a new workout plan that includes strength and flexibility.

Meanwhile as I walked a mile to see how fast I could do it, I had time (more than 16 minutes) to think about this assessment in a theological way. The assessment measured cardio fitness, flexibility, strength, and how fast I could walk a mile. It seemed to me these might work for the spiritual discipline of self examination. How are my heart, flexibility, and strength of faith? I'm not sure how to work in the timed mile, but surely it will preach somehow.

MY ADVENTURE WITH THE BISHOP
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in Jacksonville, Florida riding in a car with our new bishop, his wife, and another conference staff person. We were headed for a specific seafood restaurant. We had the instructions, a printed google map and a GPS gadget. The bishop was driving and the other staffer was in the front seat navigating. When it came to deciding east or west on a particular street, we turned east as directed. However we were looking for a street number in the 1000 range and I was watching the numbers go up from 5000 to 6000. We started to turn around, but changed our minds. We went a little further east and still the numbers went up. We pulled into a parking lot and called the restaurant. Yes, they told us we needed to go east. When we asked about the numbers, they told us the restaurant is actually in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and the numbers start over at the city limit change. Aha. We had directions. We knew the restaurant was near the beach and the beach was to the east, but we let the signs distract us. I know this will preach sometime, somewhere.

EPIPHANY
While I was in Florida, I gained some real insight into my current appointment. I had trouble picking which breakout sessions to attend because my job description is rather nebulous. Basically for the last year, I have been bringing to fruition the events my boss envisioned in his efforts increase our support of local churches. We have offered a variety of trainings and one retreat. Some of what I attended was helpful to me, but some wasn't. Then on Sunday morning, a session I had wanted to skip so as to have more than 15 minutes at home before the next trip (another story), I had an "aha moment." The topic was helping churches create discipleship systems - something I've been interested in since I was on staff at my home church 5 years ago. I felt like I had come home. This is what my position is about - helping churches be more effective at making disciples! Finally, a clearer definition.

But wait there's more! If you have read my blog (here and here and here) you know that my ministry path has not gone at all the way I expected. I like being in the conference office, but I still struggle with wanting to pastor in a local church. As I listened to someone very high up in the General Board of Discipleship make his presentation, he said, "Folks, you know I love the local church. I know I'm called to be where I am, but if I was told to go back to the local church, I would run there." I felt like he was speaking my heart. At the next small group discussion time, I excused myself from the group and went to talk to the presenter. When I told him how his words spoke to me and for me he answered, "It is your love of the local church that makes you valuable in the conference office." Music to my ears, soothing to my soul. Exactly what I needed to hear and to be able to articulate when I go before the Board of Ordained Ministry for my annual check in April.

Well you know a lot more about my life than you did when you started reading this, and probably much more than you wanted to know. Thanks for letting me get all that out. That is if anyone actually read this far... Anyone.... out.....there???