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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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???