Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning


We just finished watching Sunshine Cleaning. I highly reccomend it. It is sweet and odd. Painful and beautiful. Check it out.


What I didn't say

My daughter Merkin says I've gone soft. She can see it on my face when I want to say more but hold back. At my meeting with the DCOM, one of them said I'm not being truthful, I'm not preaching the word of God. I'm telling you that that really hurt--not just my ego but my vision of who I am as a preacher as well.

This morning I retold the story of Esther to the congregation. The sermon title was Holy Disobedience and I had planned on talking about how God calls us to be a part of upsetting the status quo when it is unjust.

I wanted to say that in our world 1/3 of the population is concerned with an epidemic of obesity and the other 2/3 is dying from starvation and malnutrition. In the United States, a small percentage of people have health insurance that they can actually afford to use. Many others have insurance but their deductibles and payments are so high that they still can't afford to use it. Many others, most of which are probably children, have no health insurance at all and do not, cannot go to the doctor until a problem has reached crisis level. We have some huge problems.

As Christians we proclaim to be on the side of God, that we are interested in doing God's work, in following Jesus the Christ. Jesus preached that God would overturn the status quo--that the hungry would be fed, those that mourn would be comforted, etc. On the flip side, those who are not hungry would experience hunger, those who laugh will experience sadness, etc. Our status quo is in dire need of change.

There's a lot of talk about the USA being a Christian nation. If we are to be a Christian nation, then shouldn't we be taking care of the "least", the hungry, the poor, those who mourn? Shouldn't we at the very least provide healthcare for all of God's people, which means all of us because we are all the children of God? I would be thrilled to be part of that Christian nation.

Esther risked her life for the sake of her people. We do not even risk our money for the sake of taking care of our people. Esther made a potentially deadly sacrifice, while we risk nothing. We are not a theocracy, we are not a Christian nation. Yet, if we Christians stood together, ready to sacrifice to at the least provide healthcare for all people in the United States, we might begin to look like a Christian nation some profess that we are. Do we dare stand for Christianity rather than democracy? Do we choose to be Christians or Americans? Is there room for both?

I don't quite have the words right...yet. I'm working on it because they must be said. I think I've earned their trust, I hope that they will be able to hear me when the words are finally right.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not "feelin" it

I'm not feeling much like a writer these days. I'm not really grounded either. The two are likely related.

It's been or felt darn near impossible to sit down and pray. I haven't been up for much lately. Yes, that sounds like depression. Perhaps it is. But I'm not feeling sad, I'm not crying. I'm just not feeling much of anything. I take an anti-depressant already. It's not a matter of getting meds. I'd love to stop taking the meds but jeez, if I'm having issues on meds I'm scared to stop!

Hmmm...I'm gonna stop blogging since I'm just complaining.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To be queen

I'll be preaching about Queen Esther this coming Sunday. Most likely I'll be borrowing part of the title of Karol Jackowski's article, Holy Disobedience in Esther. I love the idea/reality of Holy Disobedience so that will likely be my title.


However, I keep coming back to Queen Vashti. She was also a heroine, without her would Esther have had the courage to approach the king? Queen Vashti, like the legend of Adam's first wife, Lilith, does not bend to the whims of men. She is her own woman and will not be subject to their drunken and abusive requests.
One of the texts I read today (I can tell you the title tomorrow when I get back to the office) talked about how it was Vashti's death that made the king more ready to accept Esther as she approached him without an invitation. Perhaps after experiencing the death of Vashti, he did not want Esther to suffer a similiar fate and was ready to accept her approach.
Perhaps Vashti also inspired Esther to approach the king at the risk of her life. Yes, Mordecai was persuasive about saving her people but in addition she could draw from Vashti's bravery in saying no to the king. If Vashti could stand up for herself and herself alone, risking death for her own dignity, then of course Esther could risk death not only for herself but for her people.
Today, as I reread Esther, I was in awe of Vashti. I thought, perhaps my next tattoo should be of Vashti. Perhaps she, like Mary Magdalene, she would give me strength and courage when I needed it. Perhaps she could remind me to be strong in the face of great opposition and danger. Does that pass over into the land of idolatry?

Friday, September 18, 2009

This morning Jan posted this poem from A.A. Milne:

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
Other stair
Quite like
It.

I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
Where
I always
Stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up,
And isn't down.
it isn't in the nursery,
it isn't in the town.

And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
"It isn't really
Anywhere!
It's somewhere else
Instead!"
— A. A. Milne“Halfway Down,” When We Were Very Young


She also posted these questions:
Thinking of your childhood as a stairway, when did you feel (and how did you feel then)

1. at the bottom?
when boarding the school bus...i dreaded getting on the bus every morning. a boy from down the road would come and wait at my stop with me and the older kids would tease us that we were boyfriend and girlfriend. i hated it, plus it made my stomach drop to find a place to sit down. it was scary and agravating all at once.
2. at the top?
this might sound strange but when i would comfort my dad after my mom left or on those nights that he and my step-mother would have a terrible fight. it made me feel strong to tell him that everything would be alright.
3. halfway?
later when i moved in with my mom and could walk home from school. i loved that. i felt grown up but not so much that i didn't like to stop and do goofy things, or play in the gulley between our house and the neighbor's.
4. At this point in your life, where would you place yourself on your own stairway?
not quite halfway up the stairs? that's hard to assess. after the rigamarole (sp?) this week/the DCOM interview i discovered that i'm further up the stairs than i thought.
5. Identify a place for you that "isn't really anywhere" but "somewhere else instead."
at our house it's called "sitting on the curb." when things get really stressful joel or i will ask if we need to go and sit on the curb. it's a great place for a time-out, to calm down, to assess the situation, to relax a bit, etc. sometimes it's a literal place and others it's not.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

iPOD nano wins!

A week or so ago I canceled my appointment with my favorite tattoo artist, Jessie. Currently, she is book up through January/February! Yes, she is that good!

I was going to add prayer beads to circle my Mary, Blessed Mother tattoo and add a bit more color to the original. However, I canceled the appointment because I ordered an orange 16 gb iPOD nano--4th generation. (prices dropped when the new iPOD was released) I thought I should choose one or the other because we didn't have money for both. I was being fiscally responsible.

This made my husband, Joel, very happy. He's not too keen on my desire for more tattoos. He says he didn't sign on to marry the painted lady. He didn't sign on to marry a preacher but he's doing fine with that.

As my appointment date gets closer I get a little sadder. I was really looking forward to seeing Jessie, hearing stories, and adding the finishing touches to Mary, Blessed Mother. If I get commissioned this spring (I'm optimistic) I'll likely get the tattoo finished--finally after 2 years!

This past weekend I watched a show on MSNBC called Hooked and it was about people who get tattooed. I thought it might hold some value but it wasn't very insightful and offered the armchair analysis one would expect to hear at the end of Maury Povich Show or something like that.

Sometimes people think its odd that I, being a preacher, would get tattoos. I simply tell them that our bodies are our temples, and I want mine to be covered with stained glass!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

rumblings in my head

i haven't been keeping up with the blogosphere lately. i just spent an hour (perhaps longer) going to my favorite blogs and reading. i'm not going to feel guilty for using my office time in such a manner because, well, i needed it. thank you all for blogging and sharing your worlds with the rest of us. i've really really missed you!

yesterday i interviewed with DCOM (district committee on ordained ministry) and during the interview i mentioned that even though i consider myself a writer i find it nearly impossible to write out my sermons (ok, perhaps not THAT bluntly but that i don't write them out) and that for the past year i haven't been able to write.

one of the Elders got this quizzical look of shock on his face. as if that was the strangest thing he'd ever heard. then i popped in that i do write daily email devotionals for the folks at church so it's not like i'm not writing at all. but i keep flashing back to that look on his face.

have i changed? have i simply been too busy? what is going on with me that it's stopped? it's not completely unusual for me to stop writing. when the girls were little i had stopped for several years, the joke was that all my creativity was being zapped by them and put into raising children--after all, what is more creative than that?

perhaps i simply lack discipline.

the DCOM approved me to move on towards ordination and go through the conference interviews this coming spring. but there were some issues i need to work on and they were kind just to offer 3, there are a few more that i would add. one of those is meeting with my mentor once a month and this is related to becoming more disciplined.

i think part of my discipline needs to be writing for myself as well as writing the daily devotionals. i've been feeling drawn towards writing/crafting/creating curriculum. the pull is getting stronger too. currently i'm creating lesson plans for our Kids' Klub that meets on Wednesdays. we're studying the Apostles. at the small church we've not had "church" per say, but have been talking about the development of the Bible as we know it and some early church history. it's been really fun, i absolutely love it. the folks are totally interested in it but i haven't found curriculum that has been very helpful. we don't' have a mainstream book store around--we've got to go 1.5 hours for that and it's difficult to get a sense of it from an online bookseller. i would love to see some of the videos Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan have put out but they are crazy expensive. in other words, i may not need to write curriculum--it might be out there (if so PLEASE leave your suggestions in the comments!).

another thing i noticed yesterday was that i actually enjoyed the interview! i haven't been so intellectually engaged and challenged for such a long time. it was really fun! i know this spring isn't going to be fun--too much will be on the line to enjoy it. i knew most of the folks interviewing me yesterday and know that they want the best for the church, as well as for what's best for me. i trust them.

i've rambled quite a bit and need to get back to my pastor stuff! thanks for "listening" and peace be with you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Frustrations run amok

I've been a bad blogger and I'm not making things any better because I've come to blog out of frustration.

I shouldn't be complaining because Joel has been home more this week than any other week we've been here. Perhaps that is why tonight felt so exhausting.

Val has quite a bit of homework every night. It sucks. It really really really sucks. She's got some ADD issues but they're pretty much under control but it makes homework a huge struggle. She's a kid that needs lots of space and time to run off her energy but most of her time is spent avoiding actually completing her homework. She does ok IF i sit right by her and watch her do it. If I'm readying, working, or anything else she won't do it. It makes me crazy! I can't just sit there and watch her work or not work. EEEKKK!

There there's that thing about having 2 other kids to take care of and help with their homework.

In addition, Wednesdays are simply long days. I go to work at 8:30, leave for lunch, come back to prep and have Kids Klub, go home and fix dinner and then back at church for meetings or Bible Study and home around 8:30 or 9pm.

My wonderful secretary has resigned. She's been working too much between the church and her work at the school. It's a good call for her. It seems that we won't be replacing her. They aren't expecting me to simply take over all that she does (that would be way bad!), they are reasonable about that but they are expecting volunteers to do the rest. They do want to give me a raise so I guess that is good. Truthfully, I'll miss her input. She's not leaving the church so I'm probably being over dramatic about it right now.

Kids Klub was lots of fun today. It was a great first day and we had several new kids which is fun and exciting. Sunday we begin Youth Group again. I hope it goes as well or even better.

Lastly, I'm craving ice cream. We have it in our freezer but I'm trying not to eat it. This summer I've gained at least 10lbs and need to start eating well and losing weight. Why not start on a night I'm stressed right?

Anyway, hopefully I'll get off my duff and start blogging something intelligent or at the very least interesting or entertaining.

Peace be with you.