Friday, November 26, 2010

RevGal Friday 5: Pie-ola!!!

Songbird asked these five questions about pie:

1) Are pies an important part of a holiday meal?
Absolutely!  It's about the only time (other than Ainsley's birthday as she hates cake!) we eat pie!

2) Men prefer pie; women prefer cake. Discuss.
Never heard that one before...I prefer not to make generalizations based on sex regarding cake and pie.

3) Cherries--do they belong in a pie?
In a cherry pie, of course!

4) Meringue--if you have to choose, is it best on lemon or chocolate?
LEMON!  I LOVE lemon mergingue!  LOVE it!

5) In a chicken pie, what are the most compatible vegetables? Anything you don't like to find in a chicken pie?
Compatible--carrots, & peas (my family would highly disagree)
NEVER appropriate--lima beans! ICK!

Friday, November 19, 2010

RevGal Friday 5: Unexpected Thanks


Jan writes:
With the American holiday of Thanksgiving being less than a week away, I tried to think of some questions for Friday Five that could be connected to this, but in a new way. So here is my one try:


Name five things that were unexpected in your life that you are now grateful for.
  1. Merkin & Ainsley were complete surprises and I can't imagine my life without them!  Valerie was hoped for and planned and I'm just as grateful for her (can't mention just one of my girls!)!
  2. CPE & the preaching group I've been "ordered/suggested" to take by the conference ordination board.  It was terribly hurtful in the way they instructed me to take CPE and the "preaching coach" (have you ever heard of such a thing?  my DS hadn't!) but CPE & the preaching group my DS helped to get started so I could have a "preaching coach" have been very helpful to my personal and professional development as a human being and as a pastor.
  3. Getting moved to Northwest Missouri and pastoring 2 small churches--one of which is literally in a cornfield!
  4.  Attending the Putting It On Paper writer's workshop at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research and having it completely paid for by the Lily Foundation.  It was a dream come true and even better than what I had envisioned!
  5. My call to ministry--neither myself nor anyone I know of would have imagined that I'd grow up and become a minister! I'm grateful for this tremendous surprise as it has been a wonderful blessing in my and my family's lives!
Lastly, a big "Thank You!" to Jan for a fabulous Friday 5!

Oh and be sure to check out Holiday Dinner at Work of the People! 
(sorry, I tried to post the video here but I couldn't get it to work)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Conundrum of Preaching

Preaching is a mystery to me.  I've been blessed to find that I actually enjoy it.  In the beginning it was terrifying, truly terrifying to me.  Now that I've come to enjoy it I've discovered (developed?) a bit of a conundrum.

It seems that those days in which I leave the pulpit feeling distraught and frustrated because I had been vague, speaking in platitudes, missing the meat of what I needed to say...those days are ones in which folks tell me after the service it was nice and they enjoyed it and even a few folks will come up days later and tell me how much that sermon  meant to them or spoke to them.  Then there are days like today in which I felt as those I spoke the Gospel, that the Holy Spirit was with me and I came close to saying what was placed before me and everyone in the church looks at me with dead eyes, Joel says I couldn't follow you, I couldn't pay attention and yet I feel like I've actually preached or said something meaningful.

On one hand I am grateful that I never know how my sermons are received, that their reception rarely matching my experience of the delivery because then I am reminded that preaching is not about me.  Not really, that it is about God using that space, that time for more than what I can know or understand. 

That said, it still leaves me confused and unsure of what I should do.  How am I to preach?  Am I to preach the stuff that makes people feel good and keeps them pleased or do I preach in the ways that feel like good preaching to me?  I preach from my heart either/both ways and I can't say they are opposite things.  But some days it feels as though there are these 2 different ways/approaches to preaching and that neither are fully satisfying, at least neither satisfy both parties.

Please drop me a line in the comments or via email because I'm very interested in hearing others' thoughts and experiences about preaching.  Perhaps this is a stage of growth and as I develop further they will come closer to being one and the same.

Friday, November 12, 2010

RevGal Friday Friday: Winter's on it's way

Singing Owl asks: When it is cold outside:


1. What is your favorite movie for watching when curled up under a wooly blanket?
Depends on who's curled up with me...if it's my eldest it will be something scary; if it's my youngest it will be something silly; if it's my middlest it will be something short as she's most like her father and he doesn't care too much for movies.  All that said, if it was cold and dreary right now I (and my eldest and middlest) would settle in for a Harry Potter marathon!  Oh, why do we have to have such a busy weekend?

2. Likewise, what book?
Given the "now" it would be HP & The Deathly Hallows, otherwise you'd probably find our entire family sitting around reading To Kill A Mockingbird to one another.  We started it on our last road trip--added an extra 1.5 hours to our trip cuz I was more absorbed in listening to the book than in taking the correct turn.  Unbelievably, we've not sat down and finished it--however, I think the girls have eached finished it on their own.

3. What foods do you tend to cook/eat when it gets cold?
Chili and cornbread, veggetable soup, cheesey potato-broccoli soup...I see a theme here.
4. What do you like to do if you get a "snow day" (or if you don't get snow days, what if you did)?
Taking pictures of the snow and the girls as they play in it, drink hot chocolate, warm up under some blankets and fall asleep while watching a movie with the girls.  Or if it's an "ice day" (which we are more likely to have) cooking something yummy with the girls, playing Wii, watching movies, playing a board game.
5. Do you like winter sports or outdoor activities, or are you more likely to be inside playing a board game? Do you have a favorite (indoors or out)?
I like winter sports and outdoor activities but I find I spend less time than I used to outside when it's really cold.  It's been 4 years since I've actually gone sledding with the girls--sounds like it's time to do so again!  I love taking winter pictures (which of course are not on this computer so I can't share for now).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hello Stranger!

Hello!

It's been quite a while, 4 weeks since I had my carpal tunnel surgery and I guess it's about time I start typing with my right hand again.  I'm still recovering, at 2.5 weeks the dr. released me (he was going on vacation) and told me to start using my hand.  Unfortunately, I used it a bit much and split the area open--OUCH!  It's not healing quite the way  it should be but it is slowly getting better.  I'm ready to be healed and using my hand freely.  Yes, I am a huge whiner!

CPE has been very good.  During my first overnight at the hospital there were 3 deaths, 4 code alerts, and 2 calls from families that wanted to talk with a chaplain.  I took my first break at 3am (I started at 4:30pm).  It was insane and it took me several days to recover from the lack of sleep.  The powers that be assure me that my first night was not the norm.  I hope that when I go in this coming Friday night things will be much slower!

I hope to be back and blogging a bit more regularly.
Peace out!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vacation

Whew!  It's been a long time since I've blogged! 

Now that I'm on "vacation" it seems appropriate that I spend some time here.  It's been a long day!

Last night we returned from a weekend at "home" (Manitou Springs) with most of our family.  It was great except now I have the itch to return.  For the past few years I've been fine with living in MO but Joel and I were both a mess of tears because we didn't want to leave.

I came up with a plan for our return but I'm hesitant to get to far ahead of myself since our last "plan" to move was squashed by God being such a prankster and inviting me into ministry.  I'm hesitant to see what God has in mind next!  Even if God approves of my plan it will be sometime before we can put it into effect.  For now, I'll check out Iliff's Dmin and PhD programs for fun.  I've got a few things to finish up in MO before jumping that hurdle. 

Today was my first chance to shadow at the hospital.  My first death there.  I was surprised by how much it resembled the role play we did last week. 

I really enjoy my time at the hospital.  It's crazy and hectic but it's very satisfying...gratifying.  I'm actually finding myself feeling thankful to the board or ordained ministry for my rejection and suggestion/requirement of taking a unit of CPE.  Yep, I said grateful.  I can barely eek out grateful but there it is.  I am grateful to be in CPE--that is absolutely true even if I can't quite say thanks to the boom! 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

21

21 years ago today I gave birth to a little boy named Christopher Thomas.  Christopher never took a breath outside of my womb but I miss him just the same.  He lived and grew within me for 6 months.  Even though I was 16 and scared to death I loved him, was in love with him from early on.  Laughing when he first had the hiccups and then thinking he would become a kick-boxer or soccer player the way he moved all the time. 

Christopher would be 21 this year.  Had he been healthy and born on time I would likely still be in mourning today, wondering what he'd be like, if he went to college or had a special someone.  We planned to give him to a wonderful family who would love and take care of him better than a 16 year old girl and boyfriend who'd probably not last another year together, let alone be good parents.  He was never going to be mine.  But he's always been mine, he's always been near. 

I used to get glimpses of him as a 5 year old boy, dark hair, brown eyes and onry as the dickens.  Then a few years back while celebrating one of my friends' son's 15th birthday it hit me that he was the same age as Christopher would have been.  A skater boy, dark shaggy hair, deep brown eyes.  This Sunday on the way to church it hit me that Christopher would be 21 this year.  It's hard to imagine me with a 21 year old son.  Yet, it doesn't seem so scary now.  He'd be a young man, hopefully near finishing his college degree.  Philosophy?  Science?  Pre-med even?  Or maybe religious studies...like his mom.

This has been a hard birthday.  I've been a mess since Sunday.  Thankfully I have an especially wonderful husband and sister.  My sister, Amanda, drove 3 hours this morning to be with me.  She knew I was in pain.  Unfortunatley she knows my pain as she lost her first daughter just 6 weeks after she was born.  Today we cried we laughed.  We loved our dead children.

Yesterday was Merkin's birthday, today Christopher's, and Friday will be mine.  Most years aren't this rough.  The freshness of the pain ebbs and flows in no particular pattern or rhythm. 

Happy Birthday Christopher, I've always loved you and I always will.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Merkin's Birth-day--Happy Birthday Merkin!

Today is a wonderful and beautiful day, my Merkin's 15th birthday!  It's hard to believe that 15 years ago today she was born. 

I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours.  For the most part it was a pretty good 24 hours.  Phil (my father-in-law) still talks about it as the party room.  I was 23 and thrilled to meet my little girl.  My roommate Jenn and my best-friend Valerie took care of me the whole time.  We began with helium balloons and music playing, more friends and family dropping in to say hello. 

Joel (then a friend) dropped in to check on us.  He sat there reading the chart paper telling me when I was having a contraction and how big it was.  I laughed because in the birthing class they warned the dads not to get absorbed in the machines, "That's exactly what they said the dad's would do!"  It seemed hilarious at the time--if we had only known!

Of course, about 12 hours in the hours got longer and the pain began to kick in.  I tried to be good, to avoid the drugs.  Valerie helped me in and out of the whirpool.  She tried to help me breathe but Jenn had been the one to go through the birthing classes with me.  Valerie's breathing annoyed me but with Jenn all I had to do was look at her face and everything calmed down. 

Life is funny...15 years ago I never dreamt that I'd be married to Joel with 2 other wonderful girls, a pastor and living in a small Missouri town.  God is hilarious and I'm so thankful!

Friday, August 27, 2010

RevGal Friday 5: Dorm Life Edition

1) What was the hardest thing to leave behind when you went away to school for the first time?
The city.  I went from a large town/city (Colorado Springs) to a small rural town (Durango, CO) in the mountains.  For the most part I grew up in small rural towns but I had fallen in love with city life (don't laugh--the Springs was city-life to me!). 

My mom and I moved around a lot.  I went to 3 high schools in 4 years so there wasn't much to tie me down to any of them, nor the towns we had lived in.  I was excited and ready for college (so I thought). 

2) We live in the era of helicopter parents. How much fuss did your parents make when you first left home?
Not much.  It wasn't a big deal leaving home-- at the end of my junior year my mom moved to Colorado and left me in Manhattan, KS to complete the last few weeks/month of school.  Then my senior year she moved at semester to another town (she found some crazy old lady and her yappy little dog to live with and "watch over" me--not cool, not cool!).  So my momma left home before I did--twice!  No fuss there!

3) Share a favorite memory of living with schoolmates, whether in a dorm or other shared housing.

This was one of my favorite memories...KT, Megan, Katey (taking the photo), & I being total goofballs and doing the cliche girly thing--facials!  I think we danced around in our masks and everything.  We weren't sure if the mask cream was supposed to go on our lips or not.  Does that make Megan the smart one?

At finals Katey and I had a horrendous fight after watching New Jack City.  2 white girls in southwestern CO having an emotional knock-down over poverty, gangs, and racism.  Katey was from a wealthy family in Denver and let's just say I lived closer to the poverty line.  I ended up walking out and to Joel's apt. in my jammies, late at night, and with at least a foot of snow on the floor.  She called her dad, crying, saying that she was literally afraid that I might kill her.  It never occurred to me until I heard about that! 

The funny thing is that it was Katey's parents who helped me make it through college--they helped me pay for housing, bought me a car and kept it repaired, they adopted me and took me in.  Dave (her dad) grew up with a single mom (back when that wasn't ok at all) and wanted to help out because he knew how hard that road was.  Katey became one of my best friends and Merkin's "fairy god-mother."  Life is funny and wonderful.  Thank you Dave, I love and miss you!  Thank you Dave and Mary and Katey and Andy!

4) What absolute necessity of college life in your day would seem hilariously out-of-date now?
Word-processor!

5) What innovation of today do you wish had been part of your life in college?
Laptop computer of course!  Without internet--Facebook would have ruined my life! 

Bonus question for those whose college days feel like a long time ago: Share a rule or regulation that will seem funny now. Did you really follow it then?  I've never paid much attention to the rules.  ;)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jesus Camp

As I type I'm watching the documentary, Jesus Camp, with my eldest daughter Merkin.  I am keenly aware that I live in the Bible Belt.  Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church is in our backyard and the folks of Jesus Camp are here as well.

I would love to watch a follow-up to Jesus Camp and see what those kids are doing now.  It was rather spooky for me as I attended a few camps that didn't look so very different.  The biggest difference I noted was that everyone at Jesus Camp spoke in tongues while only a few kids at the camps I attended did. 

Another difference is that the Jesus Camp kids were allowed to listen to Christian rock.  I still remember one of our pastors telling us "Those same drum beats in those Christian bands are the same drum beats of those pagans in Africa."  He told us that one of the African men he saved asked him why their native music was evil when those same drums and rhythms were in the music he listened to at the church.  When I got home that summer I took all of my records and tapes and through them in the trash--I wasn't going to listen to devil music anymore. 

My junior year of high school, a friend came back from his church camp ready to pitch all his music too.  I told him that I'd hold on to his tapes, because in a few months he'd wish he had them back.

Each time I came back from camp, I'd throw away music and books that I discovered were "of the devil."  I began to believe that I was the rocky ground which good seed was wasted--that it would begin to take root but soon the weeds and rocky soil would choke out the good plant growing and it'd go back to waste.

I came home and tried to save all my friends.  I remember praying with one of them that special 6 word prayer that I believed protected us from hell--"Jesus, please come into my heart."  I knew that if the words weren't just right (please forgive me if I've screwed them up here) it wouldn't work--Jesus wouldn't listen.

I remember tears rolling down my face knowing that I was a hypocrite and luke-warm--I was something God would rather spit out than keep in his mouth.  As we watched the kids on Jesus camp cry for forgiveness I knew that feeling.  Out of all of the movie it is that which drives me most crazy--the guilt and shame inflicted upon these kids.  Where is the love of Christ?  The love Christ has for us?

As we watched (it's now over), Merkin would shoot me a quizzical look.  Did I agree with what they were doing?  Saying?  More often than not I understood and I could agree with many of the words but I couldn't go along with the "spirit" presented.  There is something violent about it all, its teaming with anger and rage.  I certainly understand the passion, perhaps even some of the reasoning, and ideas but that undercurrent brimming with rage and getting flattened by platitudes is disturbing. 

Watching Ted Haggard talk with the young boy, I wondered if Ted was sizing the boy up not as a future pastor but as a plaything.  I want to know how those folks responded to Ted's scandal.  I don't think that was the hypocrisy they wanted the kids to admit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Withdrawl

I've been struggling with depression for much of my summer.  I've withdrawn from blogging--reading and writing.  I've withdrawn from friends and the general pursuit of simply enjoying life and having fun.  I've been a less-than-stellar pastor (to say the least).  I've been an uber grumpy mother.  I've not been good.

I confess this here because I can't do so anywhere else.  While this blog is not private, it's also not well-read, so I'm not overly concerned.  Additionally,  I know that I'm not alone in struggling with depression.  I don't need to be ashamed.

So, today I promise, to and for myself, that I will call and make an appointment with a shrink--hopefully through my health insurance.  Something has got to change.  Today is the first step.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This is the day

This is the day.

This is the day that our life truly begins anew.  Each day offers ample opportunity for renewal, redemption, and rededication.  This is our family's day.

It's Monday morning and there is no crying as my girls wave their daddy off to work.  Instead, an early morning argument between mother and teenage daughter.  The house is now quiet with a sleeping spouse and sleeping daughters.  No early morning tears.  No early morning rush scuttlebutting Joel out the door and on the road.  No early morning Monday morose.

This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I write like James Joyce?

Over at Quantum Theology I followed this interesting link.  Supposedly, Margaret Atwood put her info in the application and found that she wrote like Stephen King.  After recently reading his book, On Writing, I'd find that more a compliment than previously thought. 


I write like
James Joyce
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

James Joyce is pretty high praise.  I didn't expect that at all.  I don't know what or how the application works.  An interesting little toy nonetheless.

more blogging than i thought

it appears that i will be able to do more blogging than i first thought.  there were some blips on my ekg that need to get further checked out before i'm cleared for surgery on friday.  no big whoop but the anethesiologist wants to be sure.

the good news is that i'll be able to use my right hand a while longer.

thank you for your support and prayers!
I've been a bad blogger. I've been pondering taking down the blog permenantly. I rarely post these days and haven't even been in the blogosphere much at all.

As someone told me last week that they wished I'd finally get my stuff together, it hit hard. I feel the same way. I want to have my stuff together. Some days it feels as though for the past two years all I've offered is excuses and apologies for not being on time, forgetting appointments, not making enough pastoral visits,not being in the office, having crappy sermons, etc. It's not just for the church either, it's friends and family. I've been a half-ass pastor and parent and wife and friend and sister.

I've avoided blogging and the blogosphere in hopes of not being distracted, of getting focused. But as I went to visit the RevGals for a final time, before closing my blog, i saw this picture:
 
I recognized my foot.  I also realized how this circle of friends has made my life and ministry better.  Blogging and the blogosphere has not merely been a distraction.  Blogging and the blogosphere have helped me to be a better pastor and mother.  Blogging and the blogosphere have encouraged me, supported me, and held me up when I felt the most alone.

Thank you blogosphere!  Thank you RevGals! 

I'm not giving up just yet.  I'm slotted for surgery on Friday--carpal tunnel release.  I'm ready for relief but I'm freaking out about surgery (and I won't even be put under!).  Even more than the surgery I'm wigging out about not using my right hand for the next 4 weeks.  Obviously I won't be blogging for a while as I can't imagine typing solo with my left hand.

Life is getting ready for another big upheaval--Joel is moving in with us full-time.  He's going to be a teacher's aid at the school in town.  We are thrilled but now that we have somone renting the house and Joel's last day will be Thursday, I'm having a difficult time.  I'm scared of our new reality.  We're going back to being broke after 2 years of being pretty flush. 

Life is changing fast.  For the good, don't get me wrong, it's wodnerful and I'm hopeful that with him being around I'll be more capable of getting my stuff together.  But change is hard...no matter what--good stress is still stress.

Thanks to all of the RevGals!  I'm checking out for a bit longer but I am grateful for your friendships and support.  Thank you!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hosea?

We've been following the Colossians lectionary texts the past 2 weeks. Initially, I'd planned on going through the entire book of Colossians but as I peeked at the lectionary today the Hosea passage caught my eye. I'm just not sure how I could use whore in worship. We have plenty of kids.

I feel a bit hypocritical since I'm the one constantly arguing for reading and dealing with difficult texts in church. Seriously though, when we have a lot of kids then what do you do?

I'd love to hear what you do!

Please do tell!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Thanksgiving "Good Samaritan"

One year I was driving 6oo miles, from Colorado Springs, CO to Waverly, KS to see my father, step-mother, and sisters for Thanksgiving weekend.

It's an excruciatingly long and boring drive; one that I had made several times. This time I opted to go a new way, away from the major highways. 3 hours away from home, around 6pm, I drove through a little town and as I looked away to adjust my radio I must have hit something in the road and the car spun and flew off the road into a ditch.

I tried not to panic though I was scared to deathand alone on a back road in the middle of "nowhere" (all before the days of cell phones). I gathered myself together, stepped out of the car and began to inspect the damage. The accident shredded one of my tires. Luckily I was just on the outskirts of a small town.

At the edge of town was a farmer's co-op, it looked pretty deserted but thankfully a man was there closing up the shop. The man was very kind and came out to help me get the car out of the ditch and change the tire. I followed him back to the coop.

This time his wife was there. She noticed that I was still shaking despite me attempting to put on a brave face. She insisted that I come home with them, have some dinner, get some rest and go back on my way in the morning.

She let me call my family to tell them what was going on and fed me a real Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc). They also invited me to help decorate their Christmas tree! Their youngest daughter (10 yrs old I'd guess) and I crafted some Rudolph ornaments, played a few games, and shared many laughs. It felt as though I had made it home after all.

The next morning, while she fed me breakfast her husband took my car and filled it with gas (I had been 19 and hadn’t noticed that I was nearly on E!). She also stuffed $20 into my hand along with some gift certificates for McDonald’s. The daughter gave me one of the Christmas ornaments we’d made together.

I hate that I cannot remember their name but I will never forget them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Assignment #2: Sentence series

6 years ago my Introduction to Bible professor, Warren, gave me new eyes to see, new ears to hear, and new pages to touch, and new words to read. For 6 long years I have waited to read Solomon’s words of Wisdom; I have waited to hear my name called at the city gates; I have waited to breathe in new breaths of life that I now know will sustain me in the desert and nourish me in the wilderness of life.

Sure, I’ve heard Wisdom cry from the city gates: I was with God in the beginning, helping with creation, and was his daily delight; my words may seem crooked but they are straight; take my words of instruction rather than silver and take my knowledge rather than gold; those who seek will find me; whoever finds me finds life.

I know that words like hers echo and reverberate through the good news of the gospel. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. I speak in parables, so that looking they may not perceive and listening they may not understand. Knock and the door will open unto you. Those who seek will find. Whoever saves their life will lose it, whoever loses their life for me will find it.

For 6 long years I have flirted faithfully but never explored enthusiastically, dived deeply, nor thoroughly thrust myself into Wisdom’s world.

6 long years after Warren first opened my eyes, cleaned out my ears, removed my gloves, and invited me to take a different look. For the first time, I opened the Wisdom of Solomon. For the first time in a long time, I cheered the words on the page. Finally, at last, I loosened the locks of Scripture and flew from the cage of Cannon.

Assignment 1: balanced sentences (I tried)

For 42 weeks she nested in the safe darkness of my womb but on her third day in the scary sunshine world time stopped and spun forward all at once. He walked upstairs to find her swaddled in my arms while I weeping had been stripped to my core. She safely sleeping, I nervously nearing a breakdown.

Time stopped while my life raced forward. I could see her clearly—she was walking, going to her first day of kindergarten, 3rd grade, junior high, and then walking in her cap and gown, all the while we stood still, unchanged except for some extra pounds and a few gray hairs. Her life had just begun, but I could see my life with her would end. I had already lost her to the future.

In 42 weeks she grew from a dot of a zygote to the writhing crying waking creature in my arms, exponentially growing in size and form, never stopping except on that 3rd day of the world outside my womb.

After hearing his laughter at this time stopping—time spinning nonsense the spell was broken for nearly 15 years. During those 15 years time slowed to a crawl some days while some others zoomed at light speed but it never stopped and spun simultaneously until last month. It happened again as the girl morphed from ponytails and blue jeans into bouncy curls and flowery dress. Her footsteps echoed the steps she’ll take in just 4 more years—time stopped and spun all at once but this time there were no tears to strip me to my core. This time, the clock has not ticked and tocked, it has continued to stop and spin all at once.

August 18 is when the clock is slated to start again, that is the day when days and nights will merge into one, speeding the next 4 years into one short day in which her high heels will click and clack down the aisle and into the open and adventurous world that doesn’t move nearly fast enough for her.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PoP: Day 2

I am getting my butt kicked! There are some amazingly gifted writers and thinkers in our group. I had no idea how much I did not know about writing!

Our first day one of the directors told us there were 3 things they assumed and/or wanted us to know:

1. We are all good writers--we could not have graduated from seminary without being able to string sentences together and be clear.

2. This is NOT a competition.

3. We are all in differing places with our writing abilities and we all have improvements to make and stuff to learn.

I've been chanting those three things to myself today. I am quite humbled by the writers that are here with me. Please do not chide me about self-esteem and the like--it's not about that. I've thought of myself as a writer most of my life. I've loved writing for a very long time. I would even say I'm a good writer.

I thought I knew and understood the basics of writing. How hard could it be? I've been writing complete sentences (off and on) since 1st grade, perhaps even Kindergarten. I had no idea about the many keys of the craft. OMG! I am in awe of what I don't know!

My first assigment was an epic failure. We were supposed to write an essay on whatever we chose but every sentence was supposed to be a "balanced sentence." A balanced sentence might be one that has parallel independent or dependent clauses (there is more than one way to balance your sentences--I think, I'm still working on understanding completely). Before we left to write our essays Mary told us that it's helpful to be writing about things/situations/idea that are an either/or situation.

My brain simply does not work in either/or. My essay barely contained one or two balanced sentences! It truly was an epic fail. Our assignment for tonight is to write an essay that is composed of series.

I'll be honest, school has always been easy for me. I've been able to BS my way through high school, college, and yes, seminary. It's done no favors for me. I don't think I've ever worked so hard on writing something as I did this afternoon and it truly was a disaster in that it did not meet the criteria I was given. It wasn't a horrible essay but it did NOT do what it was supposed to, or rather I did not write in the method that I was supposed to write.

Prior to the conference I was feeling a bit smug about being "chosen" for this class. There is no smugness left.

I am thrilled to be here and am loving it, however it is kicking my butt in a big way! I'm hoping to rework my assignment from this afternoon so that it meets some of the criteria of what Mary wanted. I've got a new assignment to work on as well so I should get to work on something!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Godde

I've noticed that a few bloggers have started using Godde rather than God. It makes the point that the use of "God" still tends to imply that God is masculine whereas Godde makes the point that Godde is more than simply mascualine and feminine (definately more than a being with a penis!).

I like using Godde--I wonder how my congregation will feel about seeing that in print?

PS. Thanks Shawna!

Putting It One Paper

I'm here! I'm actually here in Collegeville, MN at the Collegeville Ecumenical Institute and just had my introduction to a bit of what I'll be learning and working on in my writing! And do I have a LOT to learn!

As I explored my apartment I sensed just how much God has guided my life. I'm a girl who is more familiar with a trailor than a house with a big back yard and landscaping. Just the other day a good friend of mine pointed out that it doesn't take much to impress me--more than donuts at a hotel breakfast--awesome! I'm low-maintenence like that. I get a haircut every 4 to 6 months or so. I get my eyebrows waxed once a month or so. I have worn the same sandals nearly everyday for the past 4 years (Birkenstocks rock!). I wear jeans to church almost every Sunday. I'm a simple girl.

Today I walked into a small two bedroom apartment. It's nice and clean, simple and looks out over a lake with green trees lining the shore. It's breathtaking. Add to that, I am alone in this two bedroom apartment with a study in it that also overlooks the lake. Add to that, I am here to learn how to improve my writing and hence my preaching. I am here with a professional who has looked over a paper and essentially disected it to see what is inside--what kind of verbs do I use? What kinds of sentences do i use? How long are my sentences? This is just the beginning. That was the first 10 minutes!

I am blessed beyond measure! I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams! I've dreamt of being a writer since I could hold a pencil and write words. When I've shared my writing with professors and friends if they have said good things, encouraging things about my writing I shook it off as people who have care, who are being nice. Today, I was encouraged by someone who doesn't know or care about me other than in the fact that I am a human being. I was chosen to be here. Don't worry, I'm not getting a big head or full of myself.

Rather, as the tears rolled from my eyes and I tried to catch my breath, I realized that this is what is meant/intended for all of us. That feeling of love beyond measure.

In the beginning thoughts like, "How did I ever deserve this?" popped in and out of my mind. Then it dawned on me that this was not for me alone. I have not been blessed so that I may feel superior or supreme. Rather I have been blessed in order to share my blessing. No sharing in writing or finding a wonderful book but in sharing the message that Godde sent to me this day.

For you have been given much, much is expected.

This is not for me--not wholly for me--it is too large, too grand, too big for my life alone.

I'm just a girl from no where, no one, nothing special--no more than anyone else. This is Godde's vision--Godde's goodness meant for all of us. No starving, hungry children, no one abused or neglected. Rather all are meant to be surrounded by love and beauty that whispers insistantly that htis is the life and love meant for all of us.

Whispers from Godde say you are special! You are loved! You are worthy beyond your wildest dreams! Godde's goodness is created/crafted for you out of Godde's abundant love and joy and delight in you. Yes, you are worthy and so are they. Take this love to them--end the hunger, end the pain, end the expectations because I blow them all away. I love you! Godde.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 6:AC

Today was the first day since Thursday that I did not log at least 300 miles on my car. I've enjoyed and appreciated not driving from Mound City to Springfield this day! It amazes me how exhausting driving can be. Tomorrow I will be driving back to Mound City. I will be glad to be home for the day but I'm not looking towards teh drive.

Earlier tonight we attended the CCYM (Conference Council Youth Ministry) worship. It was awesome! We are blessed by some talented and brave youth (definately brave! I'd be scared to be up on the stage at AC). A group of 7th & 8th graders played and sang! Amazing!

Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post soon!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A first

I had a first today.  It was pretty amusing.

As I watched a young man say good-bye to his family after we celebrated his grandfather's life I noticed that we have the same tattoo!  Slighty different and in different places yet we both have Kokopelli tattooed on our bodies and on the same leg!  His Kokopelli is on his right calf muscle while mine is on my thigh (and thus I did not approach him and show him mine).  After he left I told his mother that her son and I had matching tattoos.  We shared a laughed about it.  I look forward to hearing his response. 

His mom is moving to our town for a while.  I don't know, she doesn't know for how long.  I'm thrilled that she will be around.  She's pretty amazing, funny, witty, and definately someone I'd be good friends with and while I have friends in our area, I don't have any close friends and I have the distinct feeling we'd be close.  I'm glad to know that she'll be around even if only for a short while.

Day 4 & 5

4 days is all it took to break the challenge!  that is true with just about anything i take on--or so it seems.  to be fair to myself, the past 2 days have had at least 5 hours of drive time in them and when i finally got to the hotel and then home i was not up to sitting at a computer.

i'm preparing for a funeral at 2pm.  folks will be here around 1pm for visitation.  i really shouldn't be blogging right now but i'm nervous and still worried about it.

the funeral is for a wonderful man who was pivotal to our church.  i barely knew him.  thankfully his pastor from florida (they were snowbirds) is doing the eulogy and sermon.  i'm essentially the mc.  i'm glad the other pastor came all this way--it says oodles about the pastor and the man whose life we are celebrating.

i hope to see my youngest for a few hours before heading back to annual conference.  otherwise i won't see her for a total of 3 weeks.  i don't think i can do that!  i think i may have to teach her how to skype (and learn myself!).

i leave for collegeville, mn on Tuesday for the Putting It On Paper writing workshop.  i'm excited and scared to death!  i'll actually have to write and work and get critiqued.  scary but wonderful stuff.  i really need the focus right now.

say a prayer for the Moorman family if you get a chance and i hope it's a wonderful Saturday for you!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3, 2nd Take

Weird!  I came back to make a quick post about Phyllis Tickle's book, The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord, and noticed that the post I had made a bit earlier tonight never posted!  It has been eaten up by the internet!

I'm taking it as a sign that what I was posting didn't really need to be read. I'll take it as a hint from the fates that it's better not to say such things in this forum.  Now, you're curious aren't you? Ok, so maybe not!

I'm thoroughly enjoying Tickle's writing.  I think this is the first time I've read her.  Last year at the Christianity 21 Conference she stole my heart.  She was witty, sharp, on target, and sweet.  It was a real pleasure to listen to her speak--especially with Sarcastic Lutheran!

I'm not even a third of the way through so I'm not offering a book review--rather I'm encouraging you to pick it up and read it for yourself. 

So here is what I fell in love with yesterday afternoon:
...That in addition to the approaches of the literal and the metaphorical camps there is a third way of knowing the Scriptures.  There is --for want of a better word--actualness.  There is interior to Scripture a holiness that is subject neither to literalness nor to metaphorical translation, but rather is the irreducible, ineluctable cohesian of it.  The holiness of Scripture is its actualness, its unsplitable state; and conversely, the actual existence or pith or vitality of Scripture is its holiness.  That is, by assuming an interior rather than an exterior point of view in considering Scripture, I became persuaded by two things:  the bald-faced truth of it and the impossibility of ever, in time, receiving its full meaning.
Actualness acknowledges that Scripture is not literal and neither is it merely metaphorical--rather it is more than both of those.  It is seeking the heart of Scripture--taking it as it is even when it's something as radical and awful as Jesus saying to love your enemies.    Jesus was constantly saying things that we water down and suggest that he didn't quite mean them the way it sounds and yet some people like Phyllis Tickle, Shane Clairborne, Jim Wallis, and many others would argue that Jesus did say what he meant.  Jesus did mean for us to give up our stuff and follow him.  Yet, it does not mean that God literally crafted and created and breathed life into creation in 7 days, nor 7 days that signify some other strange and magical mathematical formulation that makes sense to some other folks.  It is what it is...God crafted, created, and breathed life into our world in ways in which are deep and rich with meaning beyond what we see and understand at first glance.

Actualness (according to Tickle) is what Jesus was when he healed on the Sabbath to the dismay of the Pharisees.  Jesus says he did not come to destroy the law but to make it come to life more fully--this is what Tickle describes in this book.  It's beautiful.  It's not terribly new int he scheme and histories of Christianity but for those of us in this time and place it can be thought of as cutting edge.

Getting to the heart of it without watering it down--accepting the Scriptures with what they say and going even further, delving more deeply into their meaning so that we can more fully understand.

I'm tired and my thoughts are a bit discombobulated.  Please check out Tickle's book you won't regret it!  (r perhaps you might but that's your problem!  :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cause we all need one

Thanks kathrynzj!

Day 2: What's your favorite poem?

It sorta feels like cheating blogging so early.  I have a feeling that my night owlishness is getting a bit extreme!

Hmm...favorite poem?  Just one?  It's by Rod McKuen.  He's known more as a song writer but my senior year of high school I somehow ended up with one of his books, Stanyon Street and Other Sorrows, and fell in love.  I painted this on the back of my denim jacket:

Do not tell me your name
why you came to town
what you do on Sunday
your favorite poet
                    movie
                    comic strip
your age and next of kin
         in case of  accident.

Say instead that I am warm
let your touch talk
let the motion in the darkness speak
then go away if you must
but not while I'm looking.

It was exactly right at that time.  It was the first time that I read a poem and my world felt complete because of it.  It fit.

It doesn't fit quite the same these days but neither does the jacket!  I still have my jacket.  It's one of those items that I will keep until I can't.  I don't keep much from my past.  Joel is quite a pack rat but I'm not.  We moved around a lot when I was a kid and so I learned to let go of stuff.  My painted denim jacket is nearly 20 years old and the paint is flaking off but it's still relevant.  On one of the arms it says "Silence Equals Death, Support AIDS Research & Awareness Programs."  The other arm features a sunset, ocean water, land and says "Save the Rainforest."  If I remember tomorrow I'll take a picture and add it to the blog.  It's not genius or gorgeous--it's just me, it's sad how much hasn't changed since then.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 1

The thing that drew me in to this month's NaBloPoMo's quest to post each day in June was that they are offering daily writing prompts.  I love writing prompts--you never know where they will take you!

I've altered my office hours for the summer.  I don't go in until 10am!  I know it's crazy late but it's summer and it seems that with the girls and it simply being summer, my nights go rather late.  During the summer we rarely have dinner before 9, the evenings are just packed!  I am amazingly blessed to have such flexibility in my career!  It is my hope that I can dedicate this extra morning time to blogging and writing more regularly--hooray!

Today's writing prompt:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The first thing I remember wanting to be was a Sunday School teacher--I didn't have a clue that I could grow up  and be a pastor!  I'm honored to stand behind the pulpit and preach almost every Sunday.  It also thrills me to no end when I see some of the little girls from church "play church" and be the pastor!  I love it! 

I also wanted to play 3rd base for the Kansas City Royals.  So how is it that I thought I could break the no girls allowed rule in professional baseball but not the ministry? 

Yet, as I write it occurs to me that I wasn't a huge fan of our pastor at the time.  He was angry and scary--always preaching fire and brimstone and shouting that we were going to Hell.  Now that I think about it, no wonder I  didn't want to be a pastor!  He was icky and scary while our Sunday School teacher was loving, kind, and wonderful--of course I'd want to be like her rather than him!

Great day at the K!

It was a glorious day at the K!  The sun was shining, we had a great breeze for most of the afternoon.  We were with great friends and even ran into a few by surprise.  The people watching was fierce!  Crazy drunken men and women making fools of themselves and their friends.  We were relieved when we realized that they were not a family--or at least we hope they were not!

My girls didn't fight!  In fact, they got along wonderfully!  On our way home, they even talked about how great it was to just hang out and get along--they talked about how much they enjoyed being with each other!  I began to worry that perhaps this was my gift before wrecking the car and taking us out in a horrific car crash!  Thankfully, we all arrived safe at home tonight!

I wish I had a picture of the kid's face who sat in front of Merkin.  The Royals' announcer began playing an instrumental version of Lil' Mama's "Lip Gloss."  Merkin made a crack about me being old and asked if I knew what the song was.  I replied that yes, I knew it was Lil' Mama.  She then made another crack about me being old and lame.  So after a few minutes I turned to her rapping "My lip gloss is cool, my lip gloss is poppin..." and the poor kid in front of us about keeled over laughing--it was awesome!

The Royals lost the game but we had a great time cheering just the same. 

After the game we talked with some pastors who are absolutely amazing!  Beautiful on the inside and out.  Highly intelligent and extraordinarily witty.  The he of the pair will be appointed to the one church in KCMO that I would LOVE to pastor!  I'm so jealous!  That said, I know he'll be amazing and can't wait to hear and see how he and his family will impact the church.  I'm glad he'll be there even if I'd rather it be me!  That said, I know that I am where God wants me for now so it's "all good!" 

It's way past my bedtime so I better go.  Just had to say hello and brag a bit about mustaches at the K, great friends, and awesome entertainment!  Can't wait till the next day at the K!  Next time with Miss Ainsley!  I miss you girlie!

Monday, May 17, 2010

My youngest...

My youngest is a bit silly and has a pretty wicked sense of humor. 

Today when I walked into the house after my middle daughter's softball practice, Ains greeted me as Lady Gaga in her big (est) sister's snow boots, crazy hair, and a skirt used as a shirt/mini-dress singing "Rah-rah-ra-ra-ra" with some crazy dance moves.  It was pretty darn cute.

Like most 8 year olds she still stalls when it's time for bed.  Tonight she brought me a note from her teacher.  I then proceeded to read it out loud "Ainsley is getting one of the special awards...she does not know she gets one."  She burst out laughing.  I asked if her teacher had told her not to read the note.  Her face lit up as she said, "No!  She didn't say a word!"  She had already read it.  Too funny!  It wasn't taped together or anything.  I guess she'll have to act suprised on Friday!

Another

This morning I found out that another member of our church has passed away.  This will be 4 funerals in 2 weeks.  That's a new record for me.  One I'd rather not have.  I realize I need to stop being whiny.  I'll work on that!

Another wonderful person has left this world for a better place, place where everyone is whole and in the direct presence of God.  That's a beautiful thing but it's a bit much for those of us who are still here.  I was looking forward to this person's return and getting a hard time from them and some direction with my preaching.  This person really listened and gave me real feedback--not just, "that was  a nice sermon, pastor."

They were well loved by our community and their family and will continue to be loved through stories and memories.

Peace be with you B.  Say hello to Jesus for us!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I pushed the button

I pushed the hot-button issue today in church--I cowardly did not take "a stand" but said that we are a church and that as a church we welcome all people no-matter what.  Really not very radical at all but in our little corner of the world saying homosexuality in church might be enough to get in hot water.  I say that all the time--church is for everyone--no matter what, today I just mentioned homosexuality with it.  At the small church it was fine--heads nodded right along with me.  At the city church it was pretty quiet and no one even mentioned it.  I'm not quite sure what that means.

On a completely different topic--I bought a fabulous new luggage bag!  FABULOUS!  It's a Heys USA Exotic in Black and White Zebra stripes, 26in and so it will have to get checked but that's ok. 
Cool, eh?

Friday, May 14, 2010

RevGal Friday 5: Family Tree Edition

Daisy Belle Greeve & E. Robert Yockey
1. Do you have any interest in geneaology? 
Yes, I like getting the stories behind birthdates, weddings, and deaths.

2. Which countries did your ancestors come from?
Holland, Germany, Scotland, & England (there are some rumors about American Indian bloodlines but I haven't seen that verified)

3. Who is the farthest back ancestor whose name you know?
Off the top of my head it's my great-grandfather, Casper Yockey (now, my hubby could probably name off someone much further back in my family cuz he's the one who does the research!)

4. Any favorite saints or sinners in the group?
Daisy Belle Yockey--my grandmother who is definately both saint and sinner!

5. What would you want your descendants to remember about you?
I hope to live a life worthy of the names Christian and pastor.  I hope that people can honestly say that I loved like Christ.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Liturgical Snobbery

I am a liturgical snob.

We buried my grandfather today.  The pastor used the time to do an expanded altar call rather than celebrate the life of my grandfather or to offer any words of comfort whatsoever.

I thought that surely he would offer some traditional prayers at the burial--you know, some ashes to ashes, dust to dust, recieve this man into your open and loving arms, comfort this family, something!  I must admit--he did ask God to comfort us but that was it.  I wanted to hear about my grandfather being received/admitted into heaven, being made whole through Christ Jesus.

I did not want to hear that it was the time to decide whether or not to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I did not need to hear that  going to church, belonging to a church or denomination did not guarantee me admitance to the afterlife or that heaven is a litural place somewhere in the sky/up above. 

I've been to one other funeral that totally upset me as much as this one did.  That was for my cousin, Doug.  That pastor, different man but same denomination, also used the funeral for an extended altar call rather than offering words of comfort.  I was 16 at that funeral and it bugged me then! 

I wanted to hear about a new heaven and a new earth, about my tears and pain being wiped away.  I wanted to hear about my grandfather being made whole and resurrected through Jesus Christ.  I wanted to pray for God to lovingly receive him into God's arms.  I wanted real words of comfort.

I wanted to hear ashes to ashes, dust to dust, from God and returned to God. 

I did find that I have a pretty hilarious family.  I received a disk of pictures of my grandfather that I will cherish forever. 

Now I need to let myself feel the pain and sadness that keeps threatening to leak out.  It began to sneak out but I pushed it back.  I guess I need to pray for the strength to feel. 

That said, it's got to wait till Thursday.  I will be honoring the life and faith of a wonderful woman and friend on Wednesday.  I hope we'll have a break from death for a long while--we've had too much of it in our church this past year.  I know others who've experienced much more than I have but I'm really tired and need to rest in the Spirit.

Speaking of rest, good night and sweet dreams.  God bless.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

welcome to ministry

this week has been one of those "welcome to ministry" weeks.  it seems as if there are certain events/times/whatever that one "truly" gets introduced into ministry--sometimes they are wonderful and beautiful like when i was honored to baptize a little guy on Easter morning.  more often it/they are the moments that sear with pain and confusion or insane business.

yesterday was a very emotional day.  this week has been a heavy one. 

a wonderful and beautiful man passed away on Sunday, we'd been waiting for him to let go for some time.  he was also a man of devout and inspiring faith so while it was sad to lose it, it wasn't a horrible shock to the system.  he had a long and good life filled with faith and love.  i hope to die like that too.  his wife has been amazing and strong--she is an inspiration.  her faith is immense and beautiful to see.

this week begun with a mix of sorrow and inspiration.  then my grandfather had a stroke.  my grandfather who chewed on Swisher Sweets because my grandma didn't like the smell and the smoke.  i can still see his big smile as he teased me and my friends with one of his cigars in hand.  he was a tall man so his knees and legs were crunched up in his hospital bed.

for many years of my life i saw and hugged him every day.  i'm sorry my kids won't have that with their grandparents.  but for the past 23 years i've hardly seen him at all.  my kids have met him all of two times that they can remember, one of which was just a day ago.  i  was scared to go see him because it had been so long, probably 6 years or so.  but his smile was enormous and his eyes shown with love.

a woman who i love and adore, whose mother just passed away a few weeks ago, is probably soon to meet her mom.  her battle (for she has most certainly battled) with cancer is coming to an end.

the good news has been that i have the honor of baptizing a gorgeous little guy on Sunday.  funeral on Friday, baptism on Sunday.  and now probably a funeral on Monday, and another will be quick to follow.

my grandfather died in his sleep this morning.  yesterday he was facing the decision as to whether or not he would have feeding tubes placed in his body or to die.  it's really quite wonderful that he was able to pass quietly in his sleep (though i do have questions about how quiet that might really be) and he did not have to suffer and starve to death--which is truly an awful way to go.

so this is my week, yet another intro to ministry moment(s).

peace be with you Grandpa, i love you and am thankful i got to see you and see that smile of yours once again.  i love you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

check it out: Baxter's Ongoing Thoughts

I've decided to make an effort to read more blogs and get back into blogging on a consistant basis.  Over at Baxter's Ongoing Thoughts is a great article on our thoughts about ourselves and our thoughts about God.  It's a great read and I highly reccomend it.

Baxter asks about our "I am nots..."  For example, I am not...
  • brilliant
  • amazing
  • deserving
  • smart enough
  • pretty enough
  • holy enough
  • thin enough
  • generous enough
  • musical
  • healthy
...you get the picture. Whar are you not?

He goes on to talk about what people think of God, a few examples
God is:
  • judging
  • angry
  • demanding
  • dissatisfied with humans
  • etc.
He points out that we often project our own negative aspects onto god.  God is so much more than anything we can projectonto  God-either postive or negative.  Why is this so easy to forget?  Why is it so diffcult to to recognize the ?Christ within us, I am like God.  I am...we are...
  • Loving
  • Kind
  • Compassione
  • sensitive to the needs and desires of others
  • respectful
  • creative
  • beautiful
What/how are you like God?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's been a while since I've blogged.  I hope to do better at blogging regularly.  This past week I was reminded just how important it is and has been in my life.  I was blessed to spend 5 days with some amazing RevGals! 

We were also blessed by the teachings of Nanette Sawyer and she directed us in the areas of spiritual discipline, hospitality to God, self, enemies, family, and creation.  I especially appreciated the times in which we named and shared those places and/or activitites in which we are especially awakened to the presence of God in our lives.  I remembered how good it feels to just write with pen and paper--not for any purpose, just to write.  I remembered that photography helps me to witness the beauty of this wondrous creation and to offer thanksgiving to God.  I remembered how wonderful it is just to pray with my girls and listen to their thoughts and prayers.  I was reminded how the laughter of good friends heals the rough spots of our lives.  I was reminded how wonderful it is to pray without worry of how one sounds or appears--just to pray alongside friends.  I was reminded that it's okay to cry and how healing it is to receive a hug from someone who cares and probably has a pretty good idea about the hells you've been through.  Thanks RevGals!  I love you all!

This afternoon I was also blessed to be with other UM clergy and learn more about sermon prep and preaching from Gene Lowry.  It's funny how one changes depending on the context.  Rev. Lowry subbed for a few of our preaching classes in seminary.  At seminary he seemed a bit distant and reserved.  Today he was jovial, witty, inspiring, and accessible. 

I better be careful or my brain might implode from all of this learning!  I just hope it sinks in and stays!

Have I mentioned how good it is to be home?  It is wonderful!  I loved being at church(es) today and being in worship with the people I am honored to serve.  I'm glad to be home, even if it is loud and hectic!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Does this sound right to you?

As I looked upon my Yahoo page this caught my attention, "Medical Rights for Gays."  Now, when I clicked on the link it led to an article called, "Obama extends medical rights to gay partners."  I was relieved to find a better headline but I found it troublesome to read "Medical Rights for Gays."  I am thrilled that finally partners/signficant others of anyone will be able to see their beloved when they are in ill condition or at their last in the hospital.  I've heard heart breaking stories from friends not being able to say good-bye because parents didn't approve of "their lifestyle."

When we say "gays" or "lifestyle" it totally takes the human reality of the relationship of love out of the equation.  Gays sounds like "the gays" or someother bizarro it/thing.  Lifestyle implies there is some other way of living--something other than breathing, eating, and loving.  It sounds as if "the gays", those things, live very differently than everyone else.  As if people who happen to love and be attracted to those of the same gender don't work, eat, get dressed, and emote just like those who happen to love and be attracted to those of the opposite gender. And what about thsoe who find themselves attracted to others regardless of gender?  Rubbish!

It's about damn time we stop with the dehumanizing of our brothers and sisters of this earth based on sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, potlitical viewpoints, etc!  And please stop using the Bible to justify it!  Why is it so difficult to understand that violence in the name of religion is wrong--whatever kind of violence it may be?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Glorious Easter!

Last week was a difficult week for me.  We lost a beloved woman, one especially close to my heart.  Her husband then fell and broke his hip, another man returned to the hospital possibly with an additional stroke (he regressed quite a bit in just a few days) and it was Holy Week with extra services and preparations. 

Quite truthfully, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and struggled with some depression.  Then I read an email from another pastor in this area about his Easter experience which was wonderful.  As I emailed him back, thanking him for sharing his story I shared a bit of mine and it hit me just how wonderful and blessed I was by our Easter and how blessed I am in general, so I thought I'd share some good news for a change!

Within my first few months there was a crisis with a family that hit really close to home for me.  A couple lost a child far along in the pregnancy.  The doctors told them it was unlikely they could ever have one.  It was devastating.  Then they lost another.  This past Easter I baptized their infant son!  It was an extraordinary moment!  Additionally, I was honored to welcome them (officially) into our church family! 

Joel, my hubby/wanna be elementary school teacher, gave the most amazing and entertaining and profound children's sermon ever!  As he led the children's time, I continually thought:  "There is NO way I'm preaching after that!  There's nothing left for me to say!  I guess I'll just sit down and be done!"

But then there was an amazing musical special and a scripture reading between times and I was able to give a sermon and a very good one at that!  Which was a miracle in itself!  I had planned on telling a story that included my dad and not in a fabulous light, however the Spirit led me in a different direction.  Thank goodness for that because who showed up to surprise me?  Yep!  My dad and his fiance!  A little over halfway into the sermon I spotted him and then said a quick prayer for not revealing/sharing the story!

Our sunrise service had gorgeous weather and it was lovely.

I also worshipped at the nursing home that afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed making a joyful noise unto the Lord with them (I'm not a singer and most of them weren't either).

After that our family went to a hotel with a small water park and relaxed and played together.  There were only a handful of families/people there and so it was perfect!  Definitely an Easter to remember and rejoice in!

Thanks be to God!  God is great!  Amen!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A day with the Spirit

I was concerned about worship this morning.  Not so much worship but my sermon.  I did my research but hadn't made a preaching plan.  However, thanks be to God!  Worship was awesome!  Sometimes I wonder if I should ever make a worship plan, outline, manuscript because sometimes when I don't have a clue what I'm going to say, God provides the words and it's way better than what I could have come up with!  I know this morning the Spirit was with me because I could not have done that own my own. 

I napped the afternoon away which is both good and bad.  I'll stick with good.  We had a small but good youth group tonight.  I had a wonderful visit with a great couple who demonstrate with their lives what it is to be Christian not just in word but in deed as well.

As I stepped into the house and began to switch into sweats Joel told me to stop that someone had come by and needed me to visit their mother because she has refused to take any of her meds and is "ready." 

As I drove to see her I prayed for strength because I wasn't sure that I could go in and be the calm and abiding presence.  This is a woman I love.  I love the people I serve but there are some who are especially special to me and she is one of those people.  It was a bit of suprise.  The last time I saw her she told me not to worry that she would live so this was quite a change. 

Thanks be to God, God graced me yet again this day.  I  was blessed to be invited into this time of saying good-bye.  She told me she loved me and I gave her my love as well.  We prayed and again, I could feel the Spirit with me. 

I didn't cry until I got into my car.  It took a while for me to stop and I'm still a bit shaky.  I will miss her terribly.  I know she will be in Glory but I will miss her.  I know it's selfish, I will miss her because I could go to her home and be comepletely myself. 

Thanks be to God .  I don't know what else to say.

Friday, March 26, 2010

RevGal Friday 5: Redo, Refresh, Restore

Songbird writes:
We're in the thick of it in church life as we approach the end of Lent. Palm Sunday and Holy Week await. In the midst of this busy-ness, I undertook a little redecorating here at RevGalBlogPals and found a new template for us.

It's the sort of task I like in the middle of chaos, a chance to redo something, to refresh the way I feel, to restore some sense of order.

Please share with us five ways you redo or refresh or restore your body, your space, your blog, anything in your life that needs perking up this week.
EVERYTHING needs perking up this week!  So it feels anyway.  Funny how just one or two things can make it feel as if everything is unraveling.  Thank goodness it is just one or two things!
  1. Redo:  Often when I get stressed I need to "order" something so I will rearrange furniture in my house and/or office.  I, like Songbird, also redesign my blog.  Sometimes I have only enough energy to rearange the bookshelves in the living room.  Yesterday I took a mental health day and attacked the clean laundry that has been overflowing off of the futon in our basement.  Amazingly the futon is cleared of clothes, my middle daughter has gone through and weeded out her closet, now for myself and the other 2 to do the same!
  2. Restore:  I used to do yoga.  I haven't for a very long time.  A very very long time.  The past two years I've been afraid to try because of carpal tunnel in my wrists.  There were some poses that became increasingly difficult as my carpal tunnel worsened and now I've found myself too afraid to try to start again.  If you have experience with this or know how to work around the CT please let me know.  I do miss it!
  3. Refresh:  Paint or more commonly take photographs.  I love to paint--just abstract stuff because it's easy and there aren't really any expectations for it.  It's just fun and feels good.  However, you need a good deal of  time and space, or I do anyway.  I need time for all the clean-up afterwards.  Hence, I often just take my camera and photograph just about anything that catches my eye.  I love digital photography because it makes it easy for anyone to be a great photographer!  Plus, it is very refreshing/restoring because I find beauty in the oddest of places.
  4. Renew:  Hang out with great friends and just laugh, let loose, and be myself, forgetting that I'm a pastor and there are expectations about what I'm supposed to do, think, say, etc.  Oh man, that sound SO good!  I so need that right now!
  5. Restore:  Dates with my daughters.  We take turns spending time alone with each of the girls.  Often it's a Saturday afternoon of shopping (I'm not a shopper but do enjoy it with my girls--ONE at a time) or a movie, or grabbing a bite to eat someplace new.  I miss KCMO and the art museums--2 of the girls would probably be interested in strolling around them now.  There've been painting and cooking dates as well.  It's nice to focus and spend time with them individually and get a chance to really listen and pay attention to what's going on in their lives, getting to know them better.  Sometimes life flies by so fast that I feel as though I'm missing too much of them so I really enjoy our dates.  I do wish I could get my husband to take me on a few dates too!  However, when he's here he too wants to be with the girls since he's only here on the weekends--I don't blame him a bit!
Peace be with you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's a start!

I've been reading Rev. Debbie Blue's From Stone to Living Word--Letting the Bible Live Again (I know, I've mentioned it at least once before!) and in her endnotes I found a great resource to something I began thinking about last week.  As I was working on an entry for Feminist Theology in an Age of Fear and Hope I began thinking about God's love being like that of an abused child. 

While I have read lots of stuff about the suffering servant, this seemed a bit different.  I doubted that I was the first one to think of this and emailed some folks looking for resources.  I'm still waiting to get a response from one of my profs from seminary (hopefully there will be one).

Lo and behold, in Rev. Blue's notes was a reference to an article by James Allison in 2006!  Needless to say I'm a bit excited!  I can't wait to come back after I've read it! 

I better get to it so I can read it, let it rest, work on other stuff I need to be working on and come back to this later.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.  Hop over to Feminist Theology in an Age of Fear and Hope if your interested in reading my thoughts.  I'd really like to hear your thoughts!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Good-bye D, you are already missed

This evening the world lost a wonderful man.  I am blessed to have had him in my life for a year and a half.  He came home from the hospital in November of 2008.  The doctors had given him a week at most to finish out his life and say good-bye to his family and friends. 

He has lived fully until a few days ago.  He had some bad days but for the most part he lived, loved, laughed, and squeezed every drop of life there was for him to have.  He knew how to live and how to die.  I am honored to have known him and to have been his pastor.

Good-bye D and give Jesus a big hug from me.
I'll always love you and never forget you!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Services

This morning we had worship for the first time in several weeks at the small country church I serve.  It was only our 2nd service since Dec. 13, 2009!  The weather has been that crazy! 

It felt so good to be back at the small church.  There were 6 of us in attendence and it was a wonderful worship.  One of my favorite things about this church is its honesty.  When we gather it's ok to say I used to have an alcohol problem or I have an alcohol problem, I was abused, I was a pregnant teenager, I've been to jail, I cheated on my spouse or I got straight A's this week, I had a great week at work and helped to save 2 people's lives.   Whatever is going on is what these folks want to know about.  If there are appearances to be kept I don't know what they are and that's what I love about it.  I had forgotten how good it feels to be at a church in which we are who we are and that is ok and God loves us in our brokenness and offers a better way.

This morning there was a lot going on in all of our lives.  We began worship in the normal way but I soon knew that it wasn't a day to stick to the plan, stick to the bulletin.  I stopped and said, "I think there is some stuff that is going on and we need to deal with it instead of trying to muddle through the worship program."  Everyone agreed and people just spoke up and we talked about the things going on.  I began sharing and ended up giving a sermon.  We prayed over the elements and asked for God's blessing as we received the Eucharist.  We sang a hymn.  We prayed together.  I shared the Gospel.  It was CHURCH in all the best ways we can be church.  We shared tears and smiles, we experienced grace.  I cried much of the way to the town church out of joy and gratitude to God for  being placed in this particular 2 point charge.

I was a bit late to the town church but it felt good to walk into it as well.  The church was fuller than it's been in months.  We had VISITORS!  We rarely have visitors since we are such a small town and church and today we had one from Minnesota--a water fowl hunter, 2 sets of daughters with their husbands, and one great-grandchild!  How cool is that?  It was quite exciting!

A friend joined us for lunch at the house.
I served communion to a wonderful man and most of his family and nurse that had gathered round his bed as he begins his journey to a new life with a new body.  As I pulled the juice soaked bread away from his lips (he can't digest anything, just small "sips" from a sponge--or bread) I realized that this was the last earthly communion he would have and soon he would be feasting at Christ's actual table.  It was quite powerful.

Then there was youth group.  I wasn't fully into it so I'm afraid it wasn't great but we made plans and will be making videos next week so that's pretty cool.  I'll see if I can get their permission to post them here when they're done.

I'm physically and emotionally exhausted.  Now I must go and put curlers in my eldest daughter's hair.  Somewhere I did manage to squeeze in a 15 minute rest--not quite a nap.  It's been a full day and I can't always say that.

I love these days even when they leave me exhausted and weary.  I know that this one day I have truly completed what God asked of me this day.

God is good.  So good.  All the time.
All the time, God is good.  Amen.

Finally, I've decided!

Lent came upon us especially quick this year.  I've been struggline to decide what to do or take on as a Lenten devotion/discipline,  I wanted it to be meaningful and that would truly pull me closer to God.  Merkin gives up meat every Lent and she's very disciplined about it.  Another friend and her family gave up fast food--that seems impossible and I applaud them!  A different friend gave  up cheeseburgers.  Several people I know gave up pop/sodas/Cokes. 

I've finally decided what it will be, on Fridays I will fast from television and the computer.  This will be quite challenging for me and open up much of my day for prayer and thanksgiving, time  to be quiet with God.  It could also bring me closer to my family.  While I'm a bit late, I'm happy to have finally decided!

Friday, March 5, 2010

RevGal Friday 5: Spring Cleaning Edition

Sally writes: 
I have been thinking about spring, although it is still ver cold here the snow has almost gone and the sun is shining. Here and there spring bulbs are bravely pushing their way through the earth and Tim and I are thinking about planting the first of the years veggies in the garden!

Then I read:  The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you. (2 Corninthians 5: 17-20 The Message)
All this got me thinking that if we traditionally think of spring as a time for new life, then maybe a spiritual spring clean might not be a bad thing to clear the way for the new thing that God wants to do in us!
So with all of that in mind I offer you this Friday Five:
1. Is there a part of your spiritual life that is dry and dusty at the moment, something that could do with a good spring clean?
I don't know about a spring-clean but that sense of spring growth and renewal--absolutely!  After my interviews on Monday with BOM I can't help but think that I need to delve deeper into my prayer life and relationship with the Holy Spirit. 
2. Spiritual disciplines- life-giving/ terrifying: discuss
Life-giving definately!  I say that and yet I definately need to work on being more disciplined with my spiritual disciplines.  For the past 2 years I've said I wanted to start fasting on a weekly basis but it hasn't actually happened because I keep looking for the "best" day of the week to do it--you know, when it won't be "hard."  Sometimes I can't believe that I'm the pastor and I can be the dimmest bulb in the room at times!  I have been suprised by how spiritual and life-giving tithing has become.  I never imagined how it could really be spiritual but it totally is!

3. Share a practice that keeps you spiritually alive that you think others might benefit from...
Hmmm....the most suprising has been tithing.  It was a difficult process but now it is almost automatic.  During the transition to tithing I was constantly amazed by how we were able to pay the rest of our bills.  It was absolutely affirming in that just when I thought there was no way we'd be able to tithe that month or two weeks but we were--it seemed as though God always pulled us through.  It reminded and continues to remind us that God does provide.

4.Alone or together, how do you pray best?
Pray best?   I don't know about best but I love to pray in silence.  When I am the one to pray out loud for a group I lose my words.  That said, I love holding someone's hand or feeling their hand on my shoulder as we pray together--there's nothing quite like it, especially when I'm blessed to be praying with someone who does have the gift of praying out loud.

5.If your spiritual life were to burgeon and bloom into a spring flower what would it be and why?
It would bloom into a lotus flower that grows out of the muck and mire and into a beautiful flower.  Life can be hard and ugly and yet God's love blooms and grows through the brokeness and sin that surrounds us.

Bonus, a piece of music a picture or a prayer that speaks to you of new life....
This is a big bummer but I can't find my favorite painting right now and I need to go get my girls ready for school and myself ready for the World Day of Prayer Service.  I'll look later when I have more time.
Peace be with you!