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!