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!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Strange Names

My dad has a friend whose last name is Strange--seriously!  The last name really is Strange.  As a kid this totally  and completely cracked me up.  For the longest time I thought that was a nickname, like they called him ____ Strange because he was strange.  However, that is not the case!  the last name truly is Strange.

As to a nother strange name...when I was a kid my mom dated a guy named Guy!  Yet again, I thought they were giving me a hard time.  The first time I met him I asked him like 20 times "What is your name, really?" until his daughter confirmed that Guy truly was his name.  I was so embarrassed.

that's all I know about strange today.  Other than of course,

People are strange when you're a stranger

Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down

When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name

When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange

People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down

When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name

When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange

Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name

When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Story of My Life"

I received this cartoon from my good friend Kim this morning.  It totally made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too.

I don't know that it is so much strange as it is annoying--my youngest daughter always pleads sick for school.  She is the most sensitive little thing and this morning I offended her by using a demanding tone of voice and now will not get ready for school.  Of course I have promised that I will roll her out of the car in her pj's.

I'm now shocked because she just walked out of her room fully dressed.  Her hair is a mess and she has probably not brushed her teeth either but I'll take it. 

Last night I switched gears from thinking about commissioning to wondering about an application I submitted for a writing workshop in June.  I became very excited as I thought, "I'm supposed to hear in March!  Wahoo!" and so I looked at the email which stated they received my application and they plan to let applicants know the END of March or first of April.  Ugh!  Oh well,  thankfully there is a lot to do in the meanwhile.  Besides, I don't really want to experience any more rejection for a little while if at all possible.  ;)

I hope your day is blessed and not one of "those" days.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Strange Days

I woke up this morning and didn't feel like facing the day just yet.  Yesterday I sat before the Board of Ordained Ministry.  I thought I was ok, but in my first set of interviews I broke down.  I cried.  I cried and cried and cried. 

It started out fine.  Then it felt as though I was being attacked.  I doubt that I was but I was shocked by the person's assessment of my paperwork.  What this person said took my breath away and I felt as though I had been slapped in the face or punched in the gut.  Unfortunately I did not recover from this.  I went into the next 2 sessions crying as well.  I generally don't have an issue with controling my emotions but I certainly did yesterday. 

I definately understand why the BOM would be leary of commissioning me.  It still sucks.  I  don't want to redo my paperwork.  At this point I have no idea if I will have to redo my paperwork or not.  I will find out when I get my letter from the BOM.

The strangest part of the day was going into the sessions for Doctrine & Theology and Proclamation.  I had assumed that they would be the most difficult sessions.  They were the most affirming sessions of the day!  I actually enjoyed talking with those groups! 

The folks in Doctrine & Theology asked clear questions.  One of them loved my Bible Study and asked for permission to use it.    Proclamation folks were extremely helpful and affirming.  This morning nearly as soon as I woke up I tried to write down many of the things they had suggested because I didn't want to forget anything.

The people in Worship were also very helpful and gave me some suggestions for how to prepare/plan for worship.

Yesterday gave me lots of information to process.  Yes, I'm disappointed.  I had hoped to be commissioned this year at Annual Conference. 

However, I have a better knowledge of my weak spots and where I can grow.  I am also confident that next year I will not cry and cry and cry, next year I will know what I am walking into and rest assurred that I can demonstrate my competency and readiness.

As one of my friends stated:  God is good, all the time....it's just the BOM that sucks sometimes!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Napoblogwhatever's theme for March is Strange(r)

One of the strangest things I can think of is the fact that I am preparing to sit before the Missouri Conference Board of Ordained Ministry this afternoon.  I don't know that anyone in my childhood, or especially teen/young adult years would have dreamt this was even a possibility.  I know I wouldn't have believed it!

That's what makes God and life so great isn't it?  All the wonderful suprises?  I think so!

Love and peace be with you this day!