Thursday, September 27, 2007

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

For the last 18 months I have felt like Maria in the beginning of the movie The Sound of Music. The cabinet didn't seem to know what to do with my friend and me when we managed to pass commissioning interviews a year before we graduated. They didn't know what to do with me now that I've finished CPE in the middle of the appointment year.

Today, they came up with an answer, albeit very temporary. From Oct. 1 -31 I will be working for the Conference office gathering information and creating a resource for ministering to persons with special needs in the church. Given my 20 years of teaching special education and the fact that I've done some research on this for earlier presentations and seminary papers, this will be right up my alley. It keeps me in the appointment system, it gives us income, and allows me to continue my residency (probationary period) for at least one more month. We will have to see what happens next, but for now I am relieved.

I saw it coming

but was
to prevent it.

A gentle nudge
of the vacuum cleaner
against the shelf
where the
began sliding into
the glass bowl

which began its own journey
across the shelf

onto the marble tile
where it shattered
into hundreds of pieces.

This is how my life feels today. Then I am reminded that shattered dreams are easier to repair than shattered bodies. Emails today speak of an infant waiting skull surgery and a friend's brother on hospice care.

Lord, today I can only pray that you will keep my perspective right and show me your way. Amen

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I thought...

perhaps I had found just the right thing to do for the next while. It felt right. It would use all I've learned in CPE, but have little of the anticipation of what trauma will happen next that I found so difficult.

that door may not open either. I visited with the chief chaplain. We connected. However, she doesn't make hiring decisions. The hiring manager already has someone in mind for the job.

I did learn today that there is little or no hope of an appointment before January.

until January to be employed.

Lord, you know my needs (and my wants). Show me where and when I need to wait and when I need to act. Amen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Encouragement ..... and tidbits

is measured
not only
in achievements...
but in lessons learned,
lives touched,
moments shared
along the way.

This was on a card that came in the mail today. It was sent by G&T's aunt and uncle in Minnesota without knowledge of last week's set back. It was just what I needed.

As I faced my disappointment last week, I asked a particular group of people to pray for encouragement for me. I have received encouragement from every direction. G&T, manBoy, my mom, blog friends, church friends, seminary friends, neighborhood friends have all offered emails, phone calls, hugs, and words of encouragement for staying the course. So I am grateful to all of you who prayed and commented and called and hugged in person on via the net. I am truly blessed.

I am in a better place, but I still don't know what the future holds. Today I reworked my resume with a teaching focus so I can apply for a substitute teacher. My heart isn't in it, but I didn't cry at the thought of going there. I meet with the DS on Wednesday and I'll have a better idea then if I need to find employment and for how long.


Homecoming Mum: I realize this is a unique practice to my part of the country, but it is important here. manBoy and I went yesterday to purchase the needed materials. At least I hope we got what is needed. He has asked creative neighbor to help him put it all together. We are trying not to go overboard. We saw already created mums for $180 at the craft store. At the same time, I don't want his date to feel short changed. Her mother has asked that we do all of this in moderation since they are only freshmen. Sounds good to me. Now, if I can figure out what a moderate mum looks like. I actually dreamed about this last night. Do you think my other stress is coming out in odd places?

Organizing: What does it say about me that I organized my organizational tools yesterday? You know, binders, folders, and notebook dividers. Now they are neatly stored and easily accessible.
I definitely think I'm needing to feel in control somewhere.

Self Absorption: As I ventured forth from home this weekend, I was reminded that there are people all around me who are struggling with far worse issues than me. A widow approaching the first anniversary of her husband's death. Two friends helping their extended families through crisis. A young couple holding their few months old baby before she goes in for skull surgery. A two year old with Down's Syndrome and Leukemia. Too much time at home to think has not been good for my perspective.

Lord, open my eyes to the suffering around me. Show me where I can be part of your healing touch. Amen.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday 5 - de-cluttering edition

I'm just now posting because I spent the whole day scrubbing the kitchen and putting the den back together after the foundation repair. I now have a pile of stuff that's not going back into the den in my garage. Tomorrow it will go to a local charity that has a resale shop.

Sally at RevGalBlogPals writes this timely meme.
With Jo, Jon and Chris all moving to college and University accommodation there has been a big clear up going on in the Coleman household. We have been sorting and trying hard not just to junk stuff, but actually to get it to where it can be useful. On a brighter note we have used Freecycle ( check it out) to provide the twins with pots and pans etc that other folk were clearing out.

Making the most of our resources is important, I have been challenged this week by the amount of stuff we accumulate, I'd love to live a simpler lifestyle, it would be good for me, and for the environment I think...

With that in mind I bring you this Friday 5;
1. Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
Somewhere between, but closer to minimalist.
I have a few boxes of keepsakes going back to my childhood and of course manBoy's infancy. I have my original teddy bear along with some others I've collected. However, I have no problem gettting rid of things that are not sentimental or useful. I prefer an uncluttered look.

2. Name one important object ( could be an heirloom) that you will never part with.
Wedding Rings. I've worn them almost 27 years. Not the biggest of diamonds, but the one we chose together.

3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit???
Fancy party dress bought as reward for losing weight some time in the late 80's. Sadly it doesn't come close to fitting.

4.Yard sales- love 'em or hate 'em ?
To sell or to shop? I will hold one if I have enough time to go through the whole house and gather up stuff. Lately, I've gleaned one room at a time and wind up just donating to above charity as I don't accumulate critical mass to have a garage sale. We bought much of manBoy's baby equipment at garage sales. In the time of BC (before child), G&T and I used to go garage sale shopping just for fun. That was a simpler time. Now we spend Saturday mornings at Cross Country meets.

5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into.
That's hard. We are fortunate to have once a week curbside pick up for recycling plastic, paper, glass, metal, and yard debris, so it's easy to recycle that stuff. manBoy's clothes get passed down to cousin or donated. One thing I need to do is find a place to donate old eyeglasses. All three of us wear them and we have quite a collection. I know the Lion's club collects them. I just have to find where.

And for a bonus- well anything you want to add....
Today: the kitchen and den
Tomorrow: my office/ guest room.
Thanks for the inspiration.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Being Dissed or Crisis of Call

I've been dissed - disappointed, discouraged, and disillusioned. The waiting has been for nothing or so it feels. The sure thing isn't sure any more. I'm wondering why I'm even still trying. It would be so much easier to go back to teaching. I checked - there are special education openings in the neighboring suburb. The call that seemed so clear so long ago is less clear now. I'm pouting and I know it, but that's how I feel for today. Of course it doesn't help that I'm stuck at home today while our foundation is being repaired (costing lots and lots of dollars). So maybe I'll just pout a while longer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Daily Offering

In my Bible, the following section is titled The Daily Offering

Exodus 29:38-46 Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old regularly each day. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening; and with the first lamb one-tenth of a measure of choice flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb you shall offer in the evening, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the LORD. It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. I will meet with the Israelites there, and it shall be sanctified by my glory; I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate, to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the Israelites, and I will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God.

Here's what spoke to me from this passage today. First, the Israelites are to set aside time to meet with God twice a day. They are to bring the stuff of their daily lives (lamb, grain, oil, wine) as offering to God. What would it look like for us to bring the stuff of our lives to God twice a day? Our watches, calendars, wallets, Blackberries, cell phones, lap tops? If we did, what would happen?

God makes some promises in this passage. "I will meet you and speak to you" at this place where you come with your offering. "I will dwell among" you. "I will be their God." "They shall know that I am the LORD their God," because they will remember what I have done for them.

In this time of waiting, I have gotten lazy about many things. One of them was offering the stuff of my life to God. When it was hospital work, it was easy to offer that to God. But what about all this unstructured time?

Lord God I give you my time, my mental and physical energy today. Show me how you would have me use it. Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2007

24 Hours

24 hour getaway:
2 trips to pool at lakeside resort
1 evening spent with friends who used to live here and now live there
1 dinner at restaurant overlooking lake with above friends.
2 hours in hot tub at friends' awesome home
8 hours sleep on sheets that feel a lot better than our cheap ones
1 hour on balcony of lakeside resort reading and watching the boats go by
2 hour lunch with sister-in-law at more famous restaurant overlooking lake
Good break. Wish it could have been longer, but we made the most of what we had.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Did I mention that manBoy has settled right into High School? So much so that he now has a date for Homecoming. He asked her via text message. Now apparently this isn't the social faux pas it seems to be since she said yes. I'm afraid I'm just too out of touch with teens. Help! What else do I need to know?

Friday Five: Meetings

At RevGalBlogPals, Reverend Mother writes:

In honor of a couple of marathon meetings I attended this week:

1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own:
a) When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.
b) I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.
c) The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.
I guess b. Some (a very few) meetings are good, but so often we seem to go around the same mountain again and again and again.

2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?
I tend to be all business, but part of my CPE learning as we studied servant leadership is about the importance of the relationships in productivity. As I wait for my next step (see previous post) I am thinking about how I can be more intentional to focus on relationships as well as task.

3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.
I'd rather lead than follow most of the time. I get frustrated when I'm not the leader and we seem to be going nowhere. At the same time, I have much to learn about leading. One thing CPE did for me is show me how little I know, and how much room I have to grow.

4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) What do you think of this format?
The closest I've come to this was having one sister on my cell phone and one on my land line while we tried to make holiday plans. It worked pretty well.

5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.
This summer I was working with a couple of other people to create a inservice bulletin board - not just cute, needed to convey information. One person in the group wanted to discuss many possible themes. I was ready to just pick one and move on. We had a deadline to meet! In my frustration, I finally said I would step out of the process until the decision was made. Then I'd be happy to do what ever was needed to make the project happen. As I visited with the other person later, we discussed our different approaches. I mentioned that she liked to consider lots of options. With a huge smile and a spark in her eye she replied, "Yeah, it's like shopping." . I replied, "Exactly! I hate shopping." Well between the two of us and a third person who didn't have many opinions but was a great worker bee we managed to create a great product. It truely takes all types.


and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

For pretty much the whole summer, and definitely for the last month, I've been waiting to hear about an appointment (where I will be sent to serve in the United Methodist Church). Since August 31, I have been told 4 different times that I would hear the news I'm waiting for in the next day or two. Still no news. The latest of these was this past Monday when I was told it would be the end of this week before the District Superintendent could tell me anything. I want off this roller coaster! Today is Friday, the end of the week. The DS doesn't work on most Fridays. I am determined that I will not, as I have several times in the last few weeks, spend the day waiting for the phone to ring. Honestly, I've been like a girl waiting for the guy to call after the first date. I promise I'm not going to do that anymore. Really. No, really. Do you believe me?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday 5 - on overcoming

Beware, I have lots of back blogging trapped inside. Sit back for a longish read.

From RevGalBlogPals:

1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...
How to choose? This past year has been full of difficult times. My CPE experience brought me into contact with great pain and suffering weekly. There were 12 hour on call shifts that I thought I would never make it through either physically or emotionally. God was there. Gifted and Talented was laid off mid-November and didn't find a new job until the very end of February. That was scary. I struggled to feel God's presence, but God was there. God surrounded us with people who could feel/see God's presence in our lives even when we couldn't. Graduating from seminary and attending Annual Conference knowing that there wasn't at that time an appointment for me was difficult. It seemed I had worked so hard and my family had sacrificed so much for nothing. God was there. God brought healing from my grief. Now I am waiting to hear where I will be appointed. God is here now too.

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?
Our years of struggle with infertility left me empty and hurting. Finally, I came to the point where I didn't want to be sad anymore. We began to take steps to enjoy our life. At the same time God was working through people around me to let me know I wasn't alone. God was with us in our pain. One Friday in Dec. 1992, a friend told me she was pregnant. She worried that her news would be difficult for me to deal with. I was able to tell her that for the first time in 4 years I could hear the news of someone else's pregnancy and not hurt. I had a peace that God had a plan for us. We were in the waiting part of the adoption process. We expected to wait up to a year. We brought manBoy home on the following Monday. God is indeed good.

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?
Romans 8:28 "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. " Note this verse does not say all that happens to us is good, but I believe that God can work good in all things.

As we were dressing for what would be our last fertility appointment, I heard the following statement on Oprah, "The best revenge is to live happily inspite of what someone has done to you." This put into words exactly what I was feeling about infertility. I wanted to find a way to live happily inspite of it. We did. manBoy has been with us for 14+ years now.

Song: Something Beautiful (UMH 34, Bill and Gloria Gaither)

Somthing beautiful, something good;
all my confusion he understood;
all I had to offer him was brokenness and strife,
but he made something beautiful of my life.

4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?
Part of my personal CPE work involved reading a book called The Power to Bless by Myron C. Madden. It has been powerful reading for me. I have to read and reread and digest a little at a time. One chapter talks about the vows we make as children and how we sometimes spend our adult lives living up to unreasonable and sometimes buried expectations. My childhood was not happy. I realized that one of the vows I made was that I would not suffer as I did then. Our CPE readings on suffering helped me see that suffering is inevitable. I do not think it was a coincidence that these two readings happened in the same time frame that I was suffering from the stress and worry over Gifted & Talented's job situation. God is good. God is faithful.

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?
Hey that's now! I am relaxing (some). I've already ready three novels since CPE ended. I have some bookstore gift cards and I plan to spend them on books or music. I'm listening to a CD my sisiter-in-law gave me with all girl singers. I may splurge on new CD's from some of these artists. Our family is trying to plan an overnight getaway this month.

Bonus- anything you wish to add....
Great an opportunity to tell this story on overcoming.

A is for Amazing

I want to tell you about a friend I met at the hospital. I'll call him "A". He has given me permission to tell his story.

"A" is 30 years old. He has spent his adult life seeking pleasure in partying and drinking. He admits that life was all about him and today. He didn't want to think about tomorrow. He didn't want to have to consider anyone else.

Then within a few short days, "A" went from an active man who made his living doing physical work to lying paralyzed in an Intensive Care hospital room. That's when I met him. He had a nerve disease that had started in his feet and worked its way up his body. Talking had even become difficult. "A" was scared. They told him his disease was reversible, but he couldn't see that happening. What he could feel happening was God calling him. He had seen a peace and joy he didn't understand in some of his friends who were Christians. "A" wanted what they had.

I have visited with "A" many times over the last two months. His condition has indeed improved, but what has been more wonderful to see is the way God is working in this man's heart and spirit. After a few days of fear and "why me," "A" began to see his illness as an opportunity to change himself and his life. He thanks God daily for even the smallest things that you and I take for granted. He looks forward to the day when he will be able to brush his teeth. He sees that he will be able to use his story to encourage others. He is grateful that he has been pulled out of the life he was living. Last week I asked him if he could go back and had a choice to continue in the life he had or to have this illness happen. His response was, "I'm glad this happened. I'm happier here (still mostly paralyzed in the hospital) than I ever was before."

"A" was the last patient I visited on my last shift. When I asked about his day, he said it had been the best day ever. He had received an electric wheelchair. He had wheeled himself to another wing of the hospital to look out a different window and get a different view. For the first time in months he could do something without another person having to help him. As he gazed out at the city, he prayed in thanksgiving that it had only taken him and God to get him to the window. "A" still faces several months of therapy before he recovers. He looks forward to the day when he can walk again and he finds joy in every little step in between.

I have been blessed to know "A". He has taught me and inspired me. We plan to keep in touch.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


The last day of CPE fell on my birthday. It was a few days ago. My son manBoy gave up his last day off from school to come with me for the graduation worship and lunch. He listened - really listened - to what was said at the graduation. He has already used a poem that was read during the service for one of his school assignments. When we got home that afternoon, he disappeared into his room for a while. When he returned he handed me a handwritten page. This is what he said.

A Birthday Poem

Another year come and gone
Another year well spent
A year filled with joy
But not without its share of concerns

CPE residency
A year spent learning
A year spent teaching
Most importantly a year spent growing

This is your day.
Your day.
I hope it has been a good one,
It's going to have to last until next year.

I am blessed.

I worked a few more days to cover on-call shifts while the new residents where trained. My last shift ended at 11:00 last night. I walked out leaving my badge, keys, and pager behind. For a whole year they lived in a cubby hole in my car when they weren't attached to my person. Somehow this made an invisible connection between the hospital and me even when I wasn't there. I have a new sense of freedom now that they are no longer with me.

It is Finished

374 days later, my time at the hospital is finished. I haven't written in a long while. Perhaps because I was pouring out my soul in CPE writings. Perhaps because I was pouring it out into my patients.

I have learned much. I am a stronger person for having served one year and 9 days as a chaplain in a 900 bed County Hospital that is the Region Burn Hospital and a Level 1 Trauma Center. Level 1 Traumas are the most serious. My assigned units included one of five Intensive Care Units, the Oncology unit, the Geriatric unit, and the Endocrinology unit. Each had it's own personality. The oncology patients return for several chemo sessions. You get to know them on a deeper level. Some of the ICU patients stay a long time, some go home, and many go to their final rest. A few leave ICU for less intense locations in the hospital. Those I followed from floor to floor. The Endocrinology patients are usually coping with diabetes and facing life changes either with a new diagnosis or complications. The Geriatric patients varied from grumpy to wise. I wonder which of my personality traits will be magnified as I age.

I have the next 3 weeks off before I begin what comes next (a great mystery that should be revealed soon). It is my intent (yes a play on someone else's words) to go back through my journal and share some of my CPE lowlights and highlights in this blog.

My First Baptism

A tiny baby
in the sterile
yet holy
delivery room
too small, too soon.

Two hours later
beside his mother.

She held him
in her arms
as he breathed


Mother Care

God sent me to this place.
The me that I am.
The me I already was.

God placed me,
the mother that I love being
in this very place.

To offer a bit of grace,
God's mother love
for those who need it.

Gentle Care,
Brushing Hair,
Hearing Heart,
Hugging Arms.

Soft reprimand,
Holding hands,
Bedtime prayers,
Mother care.

In God's name,