Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday Five - It is Well with My Soul Edition

One of the local churches has a men's flag football team called Usta Could. I think this blog should perhaps be called Usta Blog. It seems the demands of solo pastorate and the convenience of fb have come between my blog and me.

So today I'm taking a few minutes to do this Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals.

Kathrynzj writes the following:

We lead privileged lives.
True, some are more privileged than others but the fact that we are communicating right now via technological devices puts us in the privileged category.
There are many perks in my life for which I give thanks and then there are some that make everything right in the world during the moment I am enjoying them. I'm wondering what a few of those things - five to be specific - are for you.

The hard part of this will be keeping it to five.

1. Fuzzy Socks. We are having our first cold snap of the year (just cool to many of you) and I'm grateful for my fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm.

2. In tribute to Mindy, I must also say clean underwear. Mindy has certainly raised my awareness of the blessing of clean underwear and the fact that many don't have them.

3. Hot tea and cocoa in a favorite mug.

4. Books - lots of different books - from spiritual to murder mysteries. Comfort books. Challenging books. Touching books. Funny books. Lots and lots of books!

5. The times when Manboy comes to talk to me about the things in his life. It's an interesting time of pushing for independence and touching base to make sure the roots are still here. So these conversations are now perks and less the norm and I cherish them. This would be my all is right with the world moment for now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Facing 50

I was thinking today as I drove away from my hairdresser's after getting last week's cut modernized, "I think I'm ready to face 50." I've got my little red car with a sunroof, my cool iPhone with the little red case, and a cute, modern (slightly defrumping) haircut.

Then I began to think a little deeper. I wondered why a car, a phone and a haircut seem important to me for facing 50. To me they are all the "right"signs that I'm NOT.THAT.OLD.

The hairdresser asked me how I felt about turning 50. I don't feel "that old." First I just dont' have time to think about, much less actually have, a birthday next week, so it really hasn't sunk in. Second, since I'm doing something brand new - again - I don't feel like I've been doing the old same thing for a long time. Most of the time I feel incredibly inexperienced so therefore, not at all old. If I was old, I might have some wisdom. If I was old, I might have a clue what I'm doing  or what I should be doing more than half the time.

So I decided to reconsider what makes me ready to face 50. In general - Life.Is.Good. I'm doing what I pictured myself doing 8 years ago when I left teaching and headed to seminary; pastoring a lovely little church where I've found folks to love and who love me. I've got a great husband and a great kid and lots of family and friends who love me. These are the things that make facing 50 okay. But the zippy red car with the sunroof, the cool iPhone with a red case, and a good haircut are all icing on the cake!

P.S Yes the new blog look is also part of facing 50. Trying for a nautical look. Wishing I was on a beach or a boat somewhere pretty. ;-)

Friday Five - De/Re/Cluttering

Jan at RevGalBlogPals writes, "Since posting about decluttering, I am still muttering about the need for it in my house. How about you?"

1. What things do you like to hang on to?  Memories from my and my son's growing up years. Family heirlooms and artifacts. I have the plates from all the Methodist Churches my grandmother attended, a cedar chest from my great aunt, a china doll that belonged to my great grandmother, and some depression glass.

2. What is hard to let go of? Very little actually. In spite of what I've written above, I don't keep lots of stuff. Neither G&T nor I have much clutter tolerance, so stuff goes out fairly easily.

3. What is easy to give away? Clothes, small appliances we'll never use. manBoy struggled with giving away toys...when he was little, but we learned if he knew it was going to someone specific who needed it, he was good with it. We also would put things in storage for 6 months. If they weren't missed, then out they went.

4. Is there any kind of stumbling block connected with cleaning out? Time. I've been trying to take time each day/week to declutter my desk at the office. It's so much more peaceful and productive when things look nice! If I could learn to not clutter my calendar with too many obligations, I'd be in good shape.

5. What do you like to collect, hoard, or admire? I have a bear collection, stuffed and other, that I haven't added to in a long time. I have a collection of Willow Tree Angels in my office, but I'm picky. I collect the ones that seem to me to be different ways we come before God (contemplative, victorious...). My most prized "collection" are the friends I've made along the way and on the web.

Bonus: Tell us about recycling or whatever you can think of that goes along with this muttering about cluttering. The person I most admire for reusing, reviving, repurposing stuff is Mindy. Check out her blogposts here, and here to see just a couple of the great things she's done.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Solved a problem. Running a Test.

This is a test of the emergency copy and paste system.

Friday Five - Dog Days of Summer

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Singing Owl waxes poetic about the anticipation of spring, the blessings of summer, and these (for her in Wisconsin) final days of summer known as dog days. She asks the following questions.

1. What's the weather like where you live? In a word, HOT! We are expecting a bit of a cool down next week when the highs will be 98 and 99 instead of 105-106. Yesterday marked 13 days of triple digits.

2. Share one thing you love about this time of year. The anticipation of a new school year. Since I was little, I have looked forward to this particular new beginning.

I was a teacher for 20 years so from age 6 until I finished seminary, my life revolved around the school calendar. Then I spent a couple of years in the conference office and really missed that sense of new beginnings. This year, I'm in a local church and we are celebrating back to school with a blessing of the backpacks on August 22. We are also in the process of kicking off some fall classes and small groups, so there is definitely a sense of new beginnings.

My late August birthday gets all wrapped up in that sense of new beginnings as well. There have been others, but I know I started 5th grade, college, and my first year of teaching on my birthday. I preached one of my first sermons (they were few and far between back then) on my birthday and organized a potluck for the same day. The whole church sang Happy Birthday. It seemed like I had just planned a big ole party for myself!

3. Share one thing you do NOT love about this time of year. Getting in and out of a hot car to go from place to place. It just zaps me and saps my energy. I do as many errands as I can early in the morning. Also, sweat.

4. How will you spend your remaining days leading up to autumn? Well that's quite a number of days here. When I was teaching, I used to joke that teachers had to be prepared to teach the season of fall on the day it happens. Planning your Halloween costume is a gamble here. It could be 35 or it could be 90. So autumn or fall here is more a matter of what's happening than how the weather feels. Besides the start of school, the biggest sign of "fall" is the beginning of the football season both professional and high school.

As for what I'll be doing, Manboy is starting his senior year in high school next week, so we have college visits on the calendar along with senior pictures and all the rituals that accompany this beginning that leads to an ending that leads to a beginning. It's hard to imagine that this time next year we'll be sending him off to ??????

5. Share a good summer memory. Swim lessons - both my own when I was little and Manboy's when he was little. Swimming was one of the few physical activities I could do moderately well.
I love being in the water and I'm thinking it's just silly that I let something like how I look in a swimsuit keep me from enjoying that more often.

The Manboy memory involves they day he learned to dive. He was sooo excited and proud of himself. Later, he sat at our kitchen table and said, "Mom, when you dive in the water, you get more speed." I asked if that was a good thing. A look of glazed ecstasy came over his face, his little hands raised as in praise and he said, "Speeeed is gooooooood!" I swore then he wasn't driving till he was 40. It's a miracle that he has his own wheels now.

Bonus: What food says summer to you? Watermelon. The taste. The color. The juice running down your chin.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Happy Belated 4th Blog Birthday

Just over four years ago, I blogged this. It seems not much has changed. I am once again in a new beginning and about half the time I feel like I have no idea what I should be doing. I'll have another birthday in a few days. One that AARP recognizes. I still feel like I'm in mid-life, and once again, I'm a rookie. I do sometimes long for the days when I was established in my career, and had a pretty good handle on what I should be doing. I'm not longing to go back to that carreer, just that state of comfort. This week's lectionary and sermonizing has certainly reminded me who I should be leaning on and trusting, and it'

At ordination, I was gifted with A Guide to Prayer for All God's People by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck and it has been my devotion source for the summer. The prayer for this week is oh, so appropriate:

Almighty God, who always moves with clarity of will and singleness of purpose, help me to live and work with certainty in an uncertain world. Light a lamp before me so that my feet do not stumble. Make my path clear so I may never wander from your chosen way. I pray in the name of Jesus who comes to make your way clear before our eyes. Amen.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Five - Memories

RevGalBlogPal meme for the day is Memories. This is particularly appropriate since I attended a meeting for parents of high school seniors last night. The meeting was about the memories the kids will make this year at homecoming, prom, senior parent night, senior trip, and graduation. But, it brought back many memories for me. It seems like only yesterday that we brought our little bundle of joy home with less than 24 hours notice. How can he possibly be a senior already?

In the meantime here are my meme answers:
1. Memory from childhood - camping trips: some in our state and some beyond, hot, cold, desert, mountain, tent, pop-up trailer, family, Girl Scouts - one that stands out is camping on the side of a mountain using a large rock with a flat top as our table. I still don't know what kept our tent from rolling down the hill with us in it!

2. Teenage Memory - recently reminisced about my group of friends in high school. We were called "The Grapevine." (Something to do with kissing and telling.) Even though we weren't in any way an official group, we all had t-shirts that said "Grapevine" on one side and "Great in '78" on the other. I still have pictures. Saw most of these friends a couple of years ago at our reunion.

3. Young Adult Memory - Which one to pick? Our wedding - was just barely not a teenager any more or bringing Manboy home - barely still considered young adult by then. Both were blessed days. We met Manboy's birth parents on a Sunday night at the hospital the day after he was born. We gathered on Monday for a placement ceremony in the hospital chapel. Pastors from both families were there. We prayed. G&T sang. Manboy's birthmother placed him in my arms. I will never forget my joy and my pain for her.

4.Memory from this Summer - Again, which to pick. Ordination on June 7th was awesome and awe inspiring. Triumphant music. Family gathered. Vows. Hands on head. Done at last!
Pie in the face at the end of VBS because the kids exceeded my number challenge by 5 was exciting and not too gross.

5. A memory I hope to have - working today on planning a getaway to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in October. I'm not gonna link to the place just yet because I'm waiting for G&T to check his email and approve. I don't want you snatching the room right out from under me!

Since I was 16 when G&T and I started dating, and since this is one of the first songs I heard him play and sing - here's my bonus song:

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Battling Discouragement of an Unknown Origin Today

I'm not sure why, because all in all things are looking positive. My sermon on faith and hope was rolling right along and really speaking to me when blam - discouragement and malaise. Edge of tears for no reason. Need to read my notes again. Need to pray and meditate some. Need to get off my rear and out the door for some pastoral care calls that will remind me of why I do what I do.

Lord, I could use some joy today. I also wouldn't mind being used as an instrument of someone else's joy if that is your will. Amen.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Without going into too many details, I can tell you that my start at the new church has had it's ups and downs: moderate crisis with youth mission trip at 9:10 a.m. on my first official day, serious financial and tax situations brought to my attention 3 weeks before I started, and all 3 members of the Pastor Parish Relations committee leaving the church for different reasons, none of them being me.

On the upside, warm welcome, good worship last Sunday, beautiful stole made for me and presented on first Sunday, some financial relief headed our way, trustees taking care of tax issue, and best of all awesome volunteers taking on planning of VBS 3 weeks before it's scheduled.

I'm also planning a wedding shower for a fellow clergy woman in the area. In the last two days, I've had someone offer to make a lovely cake and someone to do games for the shower.

God provides. Why do I ever doubt, and stress, and worry, and fret, and doubt? You get the picture. If I'm going to survive and thrive in the local church without an active stomach ulcer, I'm "gonna" have to trust, and breathe, and trust, and drop my shoulders back & down, and trust, and smile, and trust, and pray in gratitude.

God of love, forgive my doubt. Help me O Lord, in my unbelief. Remind me Lord of the joy of serving you in this place and help me be thankful. Amen.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Today I took time for a morning retreat at the park. I've had considerable anxiety about being solo pastor at my new church. I knew I needed to spend some time with God before I get caught up in a million details (okay a thousand).

As I began to read and reflect, I made some discoveries.

The first was that although I've asked God to fill me (peace, Spirit, joy, hope, wisdom), to be with me, and even to guide me, I've never really asked God to lead me. In my holy imaging, I always imagine God's guidance as coming from within like an internal GPS. I'm always out front on the look out for what 's coming and deciding where to put the next step. My scripture reading today was a psalm that asked God to lead the psalmist. New image - God's in front - reaching down (we are climbing a hill of course) and offering me a hand up. This changes my view of just about everything.

Later as I progressed through the retreat format that seems to work for me, I came to the part about surrendering one's self. Hmmmmm. I often surrender my concerns or situations or people to God (usually with a rod and reel so I can reel them back in). I've preached about what we are called to lay on the altar of sacrifice (Abraham and Isaac). But honestly, I've never thought about climbing up there myself. The old hymn "I surrender all" kept running through my mind, but that still leaves room for detachment. What would happen if I sing, "I surrender me."

These are the thoughts and prayers I will take with me to my new church this afternoon. Prayers always appreciated.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward

It's been quite a roller coaster week. Last Thursday and Friday, I packed my belongings, tied up loose ends and left my position at the conference office. I surprised myself when I cried as I offered a blessing over the meal I shared with the friend and co-worker who welcomed me with lunch almost three years ago. I cried again as I drove away from the building.

Saturday was an up day beginning with helping with the youth breakfast fundraiser the day before sending them off on mission trip and ending with taking dinner to my newly married niece and her husband in their new home. He starts medical school in just a couple of weeks and she will be student teaching in the fall. They are at the beginning of several new adventures.

Sunday, we were back to good byes. It was Gifted and Talented's last day with the worship band he helped start 14 years ago. He chose and sang lead on the last anthem. I cried. At the end of the service, we were presented with a hymnal signed by the folks at our church on the pages of their favorite hymns. I cried. Then the band sang a secretly practiced benediction for us. I cried more. Dogblogger tells it better. I cried when I read what she has written.
We had a joyful, temporary good bye as we waved Manboy off on the youth mission trip. We have been blessed to watch his faith developement thorugh the nursery, children's, and youth ministries since we "brought him home" to this church 17 1/2 years ago. We leave him in their care as he is choosing to finish his senior year with this youth group.

Later, after we were home, G&T told me he had left his guitar pick on the altar. He left a bit of himself, a bit of his heart there as an offering to God in a place where he has given and received so much.
In truth we all leave a bit of our hearts behind when we leave places. I think that's why I've
cried so many different times this week. Leaving the bits of my heart that have become attached to those with whom I work and worship - those I've come to love - and at the same time taking bits of their hearts with me. In some faith traditions, grief is expressed by rending or tearing of one's clothes. An outward sign of this inward rending of our hearts.
Today, I am looking forward; making plans and checking details as I prepare to go to my new church later this week. I go with some grief, and much anticipation. I go strengthened by all I have received and learned in all the places I have left and by all the people I have loved.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Getting Excited (and nervous)

Spending the morning planning worship before meeting with the music leader at my new church today. Exciting yet terrifying all at the same time. Humbling for sure. I used to brag at how much easier it is for me to make decisions than it is for G&T. Well now, I'm not so sure. This definitely calls for faith in God's guidance and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

For those of you wondering where I am going, I am working on an open blog that I will launch when I actually get there. I'll figure out a way to let you know where to find me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


This morning, I was reading the story of Elijah after God's victory over the priests of Baal (I Kings 19). Jezebel is after him. Exhausted and discouraged he goes to the end of his energy and to the end of his rope. Finally he collapses in sleep. I can identify. The let down after what seemed like an all time high at ordination last Monday has been a little difficult. I find myself fighting the blues a bit. Of course the fact that my sinuses need to either get all the way sick so I can get a prescription or get well so they stop hurting is certainly affecting my energy and coloring my attitude.

I can identify with Elijah. From mountain top (literally for him) to harsh reality can be a really quick and discouraging trip.

In the story of Elijah, an angel comes and ministers to his physical needs and later God makes God's presence known. Today my angel's name was DogBlogger and she ministered to my spirit and made God's presence known by singing this. (Sorry, there's not a podcast of her singing it up yet.) Thanks friend.

It was a wonderful way to be reminded God is with me as much in the day to day as in the special moments if I will give myself daily as I did that night.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Continuing the Journey and a Godincidence Story

For the first time since I started my blog almost four years ago, I have changed the description on my profile. Instead of "on the journey toward ordination" it now reads "recently ordained." I was ordained on Monday evening, June 7, 2010. I want to say I have completed a nine year journey, looking back at a long and winding path leading to this very place where I rest in the cool shade, kneel at the altar that is the trunk of a fallen tree and bask in the sheer beauty of this place. But, the truth is there is still a winding path ahead, and I cannot rest too long in this beautiful place.

On Tuesday, my new District Superintendent read my appointment effective July 1 (at least officially) as a solo pastor for a small church about 25 miles from my home . I am already well into the transition having met with the current pastor a couple of times and having done significant worship and transition planning. Tonight, G&T and I will have dinner with the lay leader and a handful of folks she's invited.

I am both excited and anxious about this new phase in my life. I will appreciate your prayers in the coming weeks.

Now for the story. One of the honors new ordinands have at Annual Conference is participating in the memorial service that remembers clergy and clergy spouses who have died in the last year. This particular service was poignant for our ordination class as one of our group was participating as a family member remembering her husband's death in December. The only other person I knew in the roll call of the saints was PB, a clergy person I only met once but who had a great impact on my life. The ordinands had two roles in the service. The first was to carry in the light with one candle for each person being remembered. The second was to place one white rose in a vase as each name was called. The order in which we processed and sat was randomly determined and involved some last minute shuffling. This meant the order in which we presented the roses was randomly determined also. As we began moving down the list of names, I counted ahead and realized that the rose I would carry would be for the man who was Manboy's birthmother's pastor and who helped perform the placement service in the hospital chapel when she placed Manboy in our arms. We have the service on video and we usually watch it sometime around "gotcha day" each year, so PB's memory will live on in our hearts. It was an honor to carry his rose on Tuesday.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ordination Eve

It's been a good day - make that a GREAT day.

We started with worship at our home church this morning. I did one last children's message, then helped serve communion. It was more touching than I imagined to do that one last time. G&T sang a beautiful song during communion. I'm gonna miss hearing him in worship for a while till he decides to let the new church in on his gift. Then the church threw a party for us with expressions of thanks and gifts and cake and punch and hugs and tears and everything. We thanked them for loving us too. Next was lather, rinse, repeat for worship except G&T sat with me which almost never happens.

Stage 2: Off to another city for clergy session of Annual Conference were I along with 18 others were presented and voted on for full membership in the conference and ordination. Glad to say we are all "in." Lots more hugs and congratulations.

Stage 3: To the arena for more hugs and barbecue followed by worship which was great including a good illustration about thermostats and thermometers. Would probably been a better illustration if the thermostat for the building had not been set on "freezing."

Stage 4: Back to the hotel with dogblogger for debriefing and checking out the cool gifts and cards accumulated throughout the day. Thanks to dogblogger, I am now the proud owner of two RGBP t-shirts including the one that says "Does this pulpit make my butt look big?" She's been waiting for 4 years for me to have a pulpit so she could get it for me.

Stage 5: Winding down so I can rest to wind up for the big day tomorrow. Meetings all day, then ordination in the evening.

I realize this is just a blow by blow report. If I even begin to go down the road of emotions and gratitude, I'll be here all night. I have been intentional ly attending to my spiritual and emotional life over the last few days as I have pondered the magnitude of ordination and the honor of serving God in this way. I'll blog more about it later.

So in the meantime, all of you who have prayed for and encouraged me, please know I am grateful and have felt your prayers.

P.S. Among the gifts was a second awesome new stole made with tender loving care by my friends at church. They made the first one(red) when I was commissioned 4 years ago. It has been a beacon of hope for that time and will be placed on my shoulders tomorrow night at ordination. I'll wear the second one (white) for the Memorial Service on Tuesday. Thanks y'all!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Look Up

My friend Mary Beth pointed out that the NaBloPoMo theme for May is Look Up. I'm not sure if I'm ready to commit to daily blogging, but I like the theme, so here goes. Part of the trick will be to not use up all my thoughts in one post.
One person I look up to is my son, ManBoy. He's about 10" taller than me, so to look him in the face, I have to look up (literally). Right now I look up to him for another reason. This weekend he and DogBlogger's husband rode 150+ miles on bicycles (yes bikes not motorcycles) to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. I'm proud that my boy is willing to go to the effort of fundraising and to sit on that bike and pedal 150 miles in two days. He's just $25 from raising $1000 for this cause. Donations are open until June, so I'm sure he will make that goal. I am blessed to be the mother of a kid who is great (most of the time).

I'll keep thinking about the theme "Look Up." Perhaps the next post will be the folks I have to look up on the map to see where they came from to visit us over the weekend.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things I Can't Say on Facebook

Dear clergy friends (and you know which ones you are),
Thanks for your interest in my upcoming appointment. I'm going to assume you genuinely have my best interest at heart and aren't simply fueling the gossip mill.

However, I would appreciate it if you keep your knowing looks, and hints of trouble, and blantant sharing of negativity to yourself. I know all churches have struggles and difficult people. I know my new church has its share. Still, I plan to go into this knowing God loves 'em, and so do I. If this seems too PollyAnna-ish for you, that's your problem. You see, I prefer my method of chosing hope to the alternative hopelessness. I pray you will also be able to find hope in your own situation.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Five - Smiling

If anyone can tell me why blogger won't let me paste anymore (for a while now) I would greatly appreciate it.

In the meantime, here are the questions (and my answers) posed over at RevGalBlogPals for the Friday Five:

1. When were you smiling lately? Today, when 3 friends and I went shopping for fabrics for a new stole (well 2 new stoles now) that I will need after I'm ordained in June. They had lots of design ideas and I'm excited to see what they come up with!

2. What happened unexpectedly to you this past week?
ManBoy saw the humor in this and got over being put out with me. I swear this cartoonist lives in my attic!

3. How was a catastrophe averted? No real catastrophes loomed (that I'm aware of). See number 2.

4. What was the most delicious thing you ate? That's hard because we just ate normal stuff and leftovers this week. So perhaps the hamburger G&T grilled when I was really hungry. It smelled great. Since it was a pre-made patty, I'm thinking it tasted good because it was a)grilled, b) available when I was hungry, and c)I didn't have to cook it.

5. Did you see and good movies or read any good books this week? I've been re-reading the Harry Potter books because we have them and I don't have to go anywhere to get them and they are enjoyable. I just finished Book 4. We've been watching the movies after I finish each book.

I'm also reading A Bias For Action for Leadership Incubator. It's a good book, but it's totally got me nailed about idle busyness and not accomplishing much. Now I need to read the next part that says what to do about it!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

ManBoy Rides Again

My 17 year old son will be riding in the MS150 bike ride again this year. We are very proud of him for taking on this challenge in order to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis research. He has set a goal of $750, but I believe he can and will surpass that. If you would like to donate to his fund raising efforts click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Changes and Transitions

In January, someone recommended a book called Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes by William Bridges. Am I the only one who sees the humor in a man named Bridges writing a book about transitions? When I bought it, I had no idea how much this book would apply to me in the coming weeks and months.

In February, I passed my ordination interviews. WooHoo! Work and family travel meant I celebrated with friends in my Leadership Incubator in Nashville, and with family at my niece's wedding later that week. A week after my interviews, I returned to the office expecting a chance to celebrate belatedly with my co-workers.

It didn't happen that way. Within 10 minutes of my arrival at work, I had learned that my position will be eliminated and I will be appointed to a church effective July 1. Immediately, I began to put the brakes on a 2 year training program scheduled to start in August.

In addition, three of the committees I've worked hard to get up and running to resource churches in areas of discipleship, health ministries, and disability ministries are being disbanded in order to reorganize the conference for more effective ministry. To be accurate, these are just three of several committees that are being disbanded. Last Thursday, I attended three "last meetings." I joked about three funerals, but really it was a close metaphor. We celebrated the life and works of each committee, and worked on documents to extend our legacy into the future. In each meeting there were images of resurrection that came through prayers and devotions offered. I was reminded that death must preceed resurrection. My tears were near the surface several times throughout the day and even now as I type.

William Bridges talks about the difference between change and transition. Change is what happens in our circumstances. Transition is internal. As it happens, I'm having lots of opportunity for transition before the actual change happens. I don't know yet if this is good, bad, or simply just is. Certainly there is much transition work going on internally, at least some of which is the work of the Spirit. I hope it's mostly the work of the Spirit.

Three years ago, if I had been told I was going to be a solo pastor in a church that averages 75 in worship, I would have jumped for joy. I keep reminding myself of that. People keep asking me if I'm excited about the new church. I will be in time, but right now I'm still grieving that which is ending - an important part of the transition.

In the coming weeks I'll share more about where I'm going here in this blog, but I want to wait until I can do it with less frustration over what might have been and more excitement about what might be.


Monday, February 22, 2010


I passed!

I have so much to be thankful for. There are so many of you and so many who don't know about this blog who have walked with me on this long, long, long journey.

In June 2001, I went to my pastor and told him I was being called to ordained ministry. In June 2002, I left my 20 year career as a special education teacher. In January 2003 I started at Perkins School of Theology, SMU. In June 2006, I was commissioned (clergy on probation). In June 2007 I graduated from Perkins with a M.Div. and began a three year probationary (renamed provisional period). On Dec. 1 I turned in roughly 50 pages of theology and discipleship project writing. Today, I interviewed with three groups of people on theology, call, and proclamation.

So if you are a family member, friend, professor, mentor, encourager, prayer buddy, classmate, covenant group member, lay committee member, co-worker, home church member, or one of the people who interviewed me today and were obviously rooting for me almost pulling the answers out of me, I thank God for you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you Lord, for the journey, for your presence in every step and for each of the people who helped me along the way. Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Morning Prayer

Lord, help me know your presence today. I confess that I've been busy doing, preparing, thinking, studying... and have taken little time to simply be in your presence and even less to acknowledge your presence amidst my busyness. Forgive me I pray.

Quiet my mind Lord. Open my heart. Slow my breathing. Put all of my senses on Spirit alert.

Be with me Lord. Be with me Lord. Be with me Lord. Be with me Lord. Be with me Lord. Be with me Lord.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Humble Confidence

A dear friend of mine posted on my facebook wall. She said I should go into my interviews with humble confidence. I like that. A lot. And truthfully that's about where I am right now. And that's a really good thing.

I've done all the important prep work - nails, massage, yoga, bought a new outfit. No, seriously, I've been reading and taking notes of "aha" moments over the last week or two. Yesterday, I began rereading my own writing. Many of my "aha" moments are closely related to what I wrote back in November. I think this is a good thing.

BOM recommends you bring someone because among other things it's at a retreat center 90 minutes from home. Dogblogger is taking a whole day off, just to go with me! Isn't that cool! She also shopped with me today, which is a huge sacrifice since Really. I mean it.

So thanks to Dogblogger and all of you who have been praying and offering words of encouragement. I can feel it!

Now if I can just get packed for the two, yes two trips I have next week after the interview

The ordination process is truely a process int the UMC with a minimum of three years (for my group) between comissioning (you are clergy on probation) and ordination. I'll let you all know on Monday evening if the process will end in June or continue for another year.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Interview Preparation

Hi all. For those of you who have been following, my ordination interviews are scheduled for 1:30-4:30 ish CST on Monday, Feb. 22. Prayers appreciated.

Last June, one year before what will be my ordination if I pass, I read a devotional by Bishop Robert Schnase. He talked about planning for failure and planning for success. He told about someone who does strategic planning with churches. The first thing he does is have the group imagine their plans (not yet formulated) failing and succeeding. He asks why the plans have failed or succeeded. The participants can always name the reasons their plans will fail or succeed even before the first idea is brainstormed.

I applied this to my journey toward ordination. I imagined June 2010 and I wasn't being ordained - why? Two reasons. One, in my writing, I tried to give the "right" answers and didn't take the time to explore what my answers really are. Two, I went into the interview with a spirit of fear rather than a Spirit of God accompanied confidence. Conversely, imagining I was being ordained would be the result of genuine exploration of my own theology in light of Weslyan theology and I walked into the interview heading the many scripture passages which say "Fear not, I am with you." It is truely a faith issue.

So, as the interview date nears, I am working on not letting the anxiety level creep up and to remember God got me into this mess, so God must have a plan to get me out of it. So far, so good, but we'll see how I'm doing the morning of. I'm trying to read daily to stay immersed in theology, to keep my brain thinking that way.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I have to admit, I've been concerned this last week about our denomination. Not so much the direction that it's going, but that something major is being left out of future plans. Early in the week, I wondered if I'm where I need to be. Then I remembered that although I haven't worked in the church all that long, I did work in the education field long enough to learn that the pendulum swings every few years. So, I concluded that in a few years, the area I feel is being neglected will suddenly become highly important. What I have to do is continue to be a voice for balance in all aspects of discipleship.

Today, however, my hope for the future of the Church got a huge shot in the arm. The youth of our church led both worship services. They did an awesome job! And I'm not just saying that as the proud mama of the person who delivered 1/3 of the sermon. I've developed pretty high standards for worship over the last few years, and our youth did an outstanding job of using their gifts and talents to offer quality, heart felt worship. Several provided music both through their instruments and their voices. Three young ladies did an excellent children's message using a puzzle to show the importance of all of us doing our part to create the big kingdom picture God would have us work toward. Three of the youth worked together to speak to our hearts about our call to care for the hungry. One of our youth members is serving on the National Teen Board for Souper Bowl of Caring, so they chose this as the theme of the service. All in all, it was an inspiring morning.

So, if we can figure out how to keep these kids connected to the church, I have great hope.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Valley of the Shadow

Up until a few weeks ago, I read this line in Psalm 23 as I imagine many do with the valley of the shadow of death meaning danger of death or nearing death. As I have tried to walk with my friend who suddenly lost her husband a few weeks ago, I have a new understanding of the valley of the shadow of death. Truely as she grapples with grief, with the logistical nightmare of estate and finances, with the difficulties of single parenthood, with trying to imagine a life with out her soulmate, she is indeed in the valley of the shadow of death. As the Psalm reminds us, God is with her. God is with those of us who make this journey along side her, but can't walk it for her much as we would like.

Show me Lord how to be your presence for my friend. Wrap her in your arms when she needs it. Walk along side her, carry her when she needs it. Help us all know that we will come to the end of the valley in time and that you are with us on the journey. Amen.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Belated Gratitude Post

Well, I hit the road running on Monday, so didn't take time to share my Holiday Gratitudes. We had a great Christmas/New Year break. All three of us were off for two weeks (excluding some sermon prep and a wee bit of pastoral care on my part). In the weeks leading up to this break all three of us were under serious pressure at school/work. Gifted and Talented was hanging on to his sanity by his fingernails at work. ManBoy took the SAT, ACT, and dual credit college final along with having several projects due. We needed a break. So here's what we did with it.

We got the house clean! We had snow on Christmas Eve - never happened here before. We hosted G&T's family for Christmas dinner. We watched movies. We hung out and did nothing.

We took a quick trip to my sister's house and had a great visit with her family including seafood in Galveston. We traveled in my new car and enjoyed all the different ways we can listen to music - from iPod, mp3 player, and straight from a flash drive. Our return trip was a late night adventure as we were trying to beat the ice that was headed our way. We had fun listening to each other's music and keeping each other awake.

We watched movies. We hung out and did nothing. We even went to a movie - The Blind Side is awesome. We watched ManBoy spend his Christmas money on a golf club (driver). It was fun to watch him try different clubs on the virtual driving range. We ate way too much junk. We stayed up late and slept late. We got all the leaves raked and bagged the day before the yard trimmings recycle truck came.

Then at the end, manBoy and G&T put away all of Christmas while I wrote a sermon for Epiphany Sunday.

In general we had rest and recreation that helped us be re-created. For this I am thankful.

We are all back in the grind, but with more energy and better attitudes.