Thursday, September 27, 2007
So I'm scattered today. My thoughts about the Project -- using small groups to increase a congregations spirituality. The hard part is coming up with quantitative measurements for spirituality. And an added stress, all of my Commissioning requirements due by Dec. 15. Plus, what happens if I get my project approved and then I move?
To much to handle today. To much to think about. Miss my baby and my other babies. I'm thinking that I will totally veg out tonight. Watch mindless television. Read a trashy romance novel. Pack. Call me Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about it tomorrow."
Lord, I know that you will not give me anything that I can't handle and that you will give the skills and strength to accomplish YOUR goals. Amen.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
That doesn't sound that bad does it? It also means that I have high expectations of others and can be critical when my standards are not met. Ouch.... it also means that I don't SEEM to show empathy. So this means that my decision not to get my D.Min. in pastoral counseling was the right one. I'm leaning towards Pastoral Leadership.
Spending all of this time alone has given me a lot of time to think and pray. So it has been a mini-retreat in some ways. Not a bad thing but I miss my daughter and my dogs. (And my pillow, sob sob)
She just seems content to wait and that just drives me crazy. I've been scouring the Internet for more information but, since, I don't know any of the details it makes getting that information hard.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Rumors may stop here.Here are the facts:
1) Good News HAS stated that it will try to press a new hymnal committee(which hasn't been formed because the legislation to form it has not been voted by General Conference) not to approve hymns with "questionable theology." That's a pretty broad term that could mean different things to different people.
2) Some may interpret the stated concerns of Good News to mean an attempt to remove any sort of feminine images for God. They have not said that. That part would be rumor. They HAVE identified, by title, some of the same hymns in TFWS they went after when the collection was first published, and the ones they have specifically named DO include feminine imagery for God. But that is not the same thing as saying "We want to remove all hymns with feminine imagery for God."
3) TFWS CANNOT be up for revision by GC action because it was never approved by GC in the first place. It is not a supplement to the 1989 UMH in any legal sense for that reason. It is simply a songbook, developed largely by GBOD and UMPH, and published by UMPH. I do not know at this point whether UMPH is considering a second edition of TFWS or something like it. They haven't asked us at GBOD in any official way to participate in it if they do have that in the works.
And in the meantime, if you haven't done the survey yet, please do now. As a hint, it will be MUCH easier for you if you print out the survey first, or have a hymnal and TFWS ready and pre-select the 10 you love and hate rather than trying to work through those decisions online.Here's that link:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=JqqQD9anWCmmPk9oc6QApg_3d_3d
That is the end of the official word on the subject except to recommend that all interested parties do the survey. Today in chapel we sang, "This is My Father's World", and I loved it. However, I believe that if you claim that God is ONLY MALE then it is your theology that is weak. Just my opinion for what it's worth.
And my opinion probably isn't going to influence anyone very much but we have to defend all minorities against some of the bigotry that comes from ALL groups. Nazi Germany and history should teach us a lesson otherwise we have learned nothing.
Okay, total change of subject. Classes are going great. I'm loving it. Went further down South to have dinner with friends, loved that too. My back is killing me from sitting in very, very uncomfortable chairs. However, I have kept up the work-out schedule and healthy eating (for the most part).
You remember the Hummer vs Mini-Van accident yesterday. I drove by the Hummer this morning and it didn't even have a scratch on it, a few pieces of broken glass. Crap--destroying the environment and innocent mini-vans.
Monday, September 24, 2007
"First They Came"
When the Nazis came for the communists,I remained silent;I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,I remained silent;I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,I did not speak out;I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,I remained silent;I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,there was no one left to speak out.
There is a purpose for me reminding you about this poem. If I receive permission to re-print an email I received, I hope that you can see where I am leading. The vast majority remain silent because it doesn't seem to directly impact our lives.
I am in class with the pastor that ran my local licensing school. How ironic is that?? It was a great class. It dealt with leadership and leadership issues, which was not a stretch to guess considering the titles that we were required to read for class.
And just in case in are wondering, this is school is accredited with the ATS.
I want to go out to dinner but I have seen two accidents in the parking lot and the police were here earlier (a truck was broken into). I'm sure that if I wait until later the bumper to bumper traffic will ease up. So I might wait. One of the accidents happened in the parking space that I parked in last night. I noticed that it was hard to back out of and apparently, it was really, really hard for that huge ass Hummer to get out of. I feel sorry for the mini-van that got flattened.
This morning I worked out on the treadmill, bicycle and then swam some laps in the pool. I would like to do all of that again but I won't go down and swim when there are people who can see me. I was very shy when I was skinny (which was just a 8 years ago) and now I'm even more shy about being seen in a swimming suit. I quit smoking because I won't to be around to see my daughter grow up. I had tried for years but somehow never found the strength until I became a Christian. Coincidence?? I think not.
This week might be more important than I first thought, another coincidence. Nope, God loves me. My class-mate is a member of the conference Board of Ministry. Hopefully, this is a good sign.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Following that great quote, my beloved daughter and her BFF convinced younger brother and cousin to eat dirt. Hazing starts young..... and continues through commissioning and ordination. I wonder if I agree to eat some dirt the higher ups with release me from this hamster wheel that I am turning upon endlessly.Good thing that I'm getting in shape. Looks like I will need all the strength that I can muster up.
Half of the trip was on a two-lane highway through the countryside and the other was on an Interstate. And for some odd reason, the local highway was more congested than the Interstate. It was a solid line of traffic. I was thinking I had missed some national holiday or something. (And I observed that the speed of traffic is in exact proportion to how fast you want to move - the faster you want to go, the slower the speed of the lead car). The super bad traffic was just reinforcing my initial impression of a secret national holiday because NO ONE CAME TO CHURCH. Attendance was down 50%. That sound's really bad but considering the size of my church it wasn't a lot of people.
"Head Bane" said I had a "very good" sermon today. I'm thinking that I will have to come up with a new nickname for her if she is nice for a couple of more weeks. (Not much chance of that happening, however).
The VIP bell pepper was a welcome addition to my afternoon meal. I'm very proud of the stupid thing. It doesn't take much to impress me, obviously.
I am contemplating having a "Blessing of the Animals" on October 7th. Have any of you every done this particular service? I live in a rural area and we are all use to working with animals, so that isn't a concern but the only actual "Blessing" service that I have every seen was on the "Vicar of Dibley". Maybe not the best example that I could use as a basis for my service.
There will be no excuses for not working out while I'm here. The exercise room is just down a few flights of stairs. I have already visited it tonight and feel very smug. Fat but smug.
I have only embarrassed myself once today. Went out to my vehicle which has a very cute SMU Mustang hitch cover. Well someone with exactly the same vehicle parked next to me. Picture this, me squatting down in front of the trailer hitch, exclaiming "Oh No, someone took my mustang!" Only to look up and see I wasn't behind my vehicle at all. You all know what happened next, right? The quick look around to see if my antics had been observed. I think that I am home free.
Travelling has it's own pitfalls -- but I managed to miss most of them except for forgetting my favorite pillow and my razor. The razor situation is easily remedied, no hope for my favorite pillow magically appearing before I lay my head down tonight.
I'm still trying to get used to using my laptop again. I will have to re-learn this keyboard and the flatness of it. I'll probably be getting used to it sometime around Friday morning.
3rd Quarter - Dallas Cowboy's vs Chicago Bears - Score 10 to 3. Cowboy's are winning but it isn't pretty. And I'm not expecting a win if they keep playing like this. Man, Chicago just scored. Tied 10-10.
You don't even want to know how miserable Licensing School was---they made serving the Lord feel like it was penance for sins or something. Laughing was severely frowned upon.
I missed the puppies last night. Of course, it was nice sleeping the night through without any puppy adventures. Two, pile up on the bed with me (I'll need a King Size bed if Luke gets any larger.) The other one sleeps under the bed and guards me against any wandering cat that tries to invade our territory. I was invaded last night--woke up with a kitty staring me in the face.
In case you are dying to know, our High School won their first football game of the season.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Wouldn't Barbara Kingsolver be proud of me?? I harvested my first bell pepper of the season (the other one got eaten by a mystery bug). I'm afraid that I would starve to death. I want you to take a close look at my little shadow.... he was helping in the garden. Note the dirt packed nostrils. I finished her book today. Loved it!!
I previewed my talk for the "Walk to Emmaus" today. It was a very affirming moment for me because they unanimously loved my talk. How often does that happen in the life of a preacher? This was a first for me. I'll admit that the Walk can be hard work and probably isn't for everyone but I have people coming up to me, who remember what a change occurred in their spiritual lives after their walk. Some of them I don't even remember because I just swung in, gave my talk and hit the road, again. Drive-by spiritual transformation.
My bags are packed and ready to go. I have this weird OCD thing where the only times that I really want the house clean are; 1) When company is coming, my ex-husband said he invited people over just to get the house cleaned. (I always wondered why he didn't do it himself.) And, 2) I must leave a clean house behind whenever I leave on a trip.
Dogs have been dropped off with a good friend. Daughter is packed and ready to stay with her BFF (with all the emergency numbers that I could think of and a copy of our insurance card, just for emergencies). I noticed how much stuff that I have accumulated and, obviously, don't believe that I can live without by the sheer number of chargers that I needed to pack. And, I even packed my swimming suit. I'm thinking early morning swim for a work-out. I haven't been able to do that since I was young, single and living in an apartment complex.
Ryss said, "Mom, it's a shame that you couldn't find anyone to preach for you tomorrow". She is so sweet to worry about me. I promise that I am not a workaholic. I'm not. I tried really hard but the laborers of few.
However, having gotten up before the bird or the sun or any other normal person, I'm feeling out of charity this morning. I'm off to preview my talk on Prevenient Grace. Yeah, I love this subject because my life is such a clear and vivid illustration of it.
Guess what I just heard? Three 30-minute naps a week can improve our heart's health. Told you so!!! Plus, they just feel wonderful. Snuggling down into a nice comfy bed or couch, football game playing in the background, something in the crock pot for later.....Bliss.
Friday, September 21, 2007
I am a hoarder that goes through periodic sweeps that totally cleans things out. Unfortunately, they tend to collect right back. I bought a shredder which is making throwing papers out much easier but, darn it, you really don't know when you might need it.
Plus, I really have a lot of different activities in my life. I need the camping equipment and chainsaw for Emergency Mission trips; the books for well, everything; O crap, I can't make excuses - I have too much.
2. Name one important object ( could be an heirloom) that you will never part with.
A rocking chair that is 61 years old. It has been passed down from mother to daughter for three generations now. Its "birthday" is October 27th. Of course, I would probably try to grab my computer if the house was on fire (I have scanned all of the family photo's into it). Plus, it has my sermons, my school stuff (backed-up off site) but, still, it's MY COMPUTER.
3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit???
I have a dress that is 10 years old. And no, it doesn't still fit but I'm really working on it. And before you say, "Get rid of it", Cheesehead is living proof that I can get that small again. (((So there)))
4.Yard sales- love 'em or hate 'em ?
I kind of like them but I don't believe in pricing every single little item. Too much work. I like sections or tables - Everything for $1. But when you walk away with money and a cleaner (or emptier) house. It's a great feeling.
5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into.
Paper - I would like to recycle paper. In this part of the country, you don't recycle paper -- you burn it. And the plastic water bottles..... yeah.... the plastic water bottles. And, aluminum cans, those too.
And for a bonus- well anything you want to add....
In my family, recycling means giving your old stuff to a member of a younger generation. As recently happened with all of my daughter's furniture. It is anathema to throw away or sell furniture. Cousin Billy Bob's niece twice removed is getting married and has to furnish her house. I can honestly say that I have never bought a piece of silverware in my life. Of course, none really match (except for the fancy set I got for my wedding)
One a different subject: In honor of the October Book of the Month, I bought all the food from local vegetable stands and my daughter and I cooked and baked today after school. It was a total vegetarian meal. She wasn't to keen on the squash.
I finally received an email from the Dean of the D.Min. Program. We start at 8 a.m. Kind of weird, that none of the staff could answer that question, Isn't it??
Thursday, September 20, 2007
"That's not fair"
"Doesn't God Live in Heaven?"
"Where will he find a lawyer?"
I apologize to all you lawyers out there but the whole thing is pretty ridiculous.
So my daughter tell me "Mom, you don't have to drive all the way to RC tonight to watch me cheer." It is 72 miles there and 72 miles back so at first I'm thinking, "Okay". Then I'm thinking, hmmmmm, why doesn't she want me to come? So the questions is, do I go or do I go to the band boosters meeting? I need to go to the band booster meeting and drop off the fund raiser information since I will be gone next week. However, I am intrigued by the generous offer made by my daughter. What is she up to??
Now all of you who aren't parents yet, might not understand. Unless you were hellion children but you parents will know my dilemma. It looks like I will be driving 144 miles this evening...or will I?
I began reading Barbara Kingsolver's book yesterday Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. This is the second monthly book read for RevGalPals. I read Good Fences: The Boundaries of Hospitality this month. I want to be up-to-date and ready to go when I get to join in the monthly book discussion. It's very exciting to be a part of something that I love to do anyway -READ. I have to wait just one more month and then I will have been blogging long enough to join RevGalPals and the first thing I'm getting is the T-Shirt. Let me tell you a little secret - I love T-Shirts. Trying to dress professionally has been the biggest struggle of this whole being a pastor process except, maybe, for having to learn the entirely new vocabulary.
I remember the first time I saw the word - Prevenient Grace - I thought "Damn, don't they have spell check!?!" And in my Intro to Theology class at seminary, I had to read the assignment with a dictionary in my right hand so I could decipher the words on the page. And it was a humbling experience. I had graduated Magna Cum Laude from university. Intro to Theology was my very first "C" (except for an Algebra incident early on - and really who needs algebra :-). It definitely took the wind out of my puffy sails.
I was on the Editorial Board of my Seminary's Journal last year. It has gone to print and they have agreed to mail me a copy. I didn't submit anything this year because I thought it was unfair and wouldn't look right if my article made it while I was serving on the ed board. It was fun getting to read all of the papers, poems, etc.
Ryss' school can't find her yearbook order. She lives in her yearbook. Most of us put them on the shelf and never open them again. Her friends and her pour over the yearbook when they get together. It's kind of weird. I put the order for the book in through a friend because, frankly, we were supposed to have been moved this year. But they didn't have anywhere for me to go.
So I stayed at a Student Appointment but it worked out well, since I'm going to be a student again anyway. I miss the pay increase that would have come with a move but that's not really the motivating factor in my life. One thing about me staying past my expected time, I've really been able to stir the pot and get the church moving in new directions. I'm afraid that I will be the last student pastor here, though. It really looks like they are going to move to a Part-Time Local when I leave unless they agree to the merger.
I have had three professions of faith this year but my numbers have remained static. This church is part of the Transformation Project, so we have really done a lot of work but we don't have any of the programs to offer that a new person moving in is looking for. This is one of the reason's for the Kidz Day Out program. But can I realistically expect to have the same group of people do all of the work? Can I hold up to the pressure of doing everything and always being here? Let me tell you a secret - (I hate the Game & Fellowship Night) - SHhhhhh. It's held once a month. And we eat junk food and play domino's. I tried playing poker but got in trouble with the old fogy's. It wasn't for money. How is that different than domino's?
My quest to find a replacement for this Sunday has failed miserably. The District has a list of retired pastors who fill in for you in theory. I have only missed one Sunday (Annual Conference) in over a year. That can't be healthy. But I can understand them not wanting to drive an hour each way.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
She is 41 so the prognosis is pretty good but she has been in poor health for most of her adult life. I, once, told her that she didn't have any more expendable organs. They had all been removed.
I'm still processing this information and I'm not sure how I feel right now. I'm guess I'm in denial or hoping that the tests will show that it is something else. Her name is - Joy - pray for her.
I have been a busy, busy girl. Finished the sermon for Sunday and bulletins for the next two weeks, now I just have to touch up the sermon for week after next and I will be almost ready for the D.Min. seminar. Even if, I had to email them and ask them "What time does it start?". You would think that would have been included in the information somewhere.
I couldn't talk to my PD Guy yesterday because they had to rush a family member to the hospital. I'm thinking that his wife is really feeling overwhelmed right now. She still works full-time, her 92-year-old mother lives with them, and her husband is sick. I need to remember that the next time I'm bitchin' about all I have to do.
I think that I need to talk to someone who is an expert in Parkinson's, so I am going to dig into my referral information and see what I come up with. Maybe they will have some insight. In the meantime, I will wait.
A new opportunity was handed to me today. We are going to be using the upcoming Sweet Potato Festival as an evangelism/outreach project. We will pass out cold water to the crowd, so now we are trying to design a "Living Water" Float for the parade. I am going to delegate the design part because my talents definitely don't lie in that area.
For you United Methodists out there, much of the chatter about General Conference that I am hearing has to do with how we ordain clergy. Some of the talk is about moving to a new model for churches that worship under 50. A team approach.... sounds good in theory. However, as more and more, small membership churches close their doors, less and less student pastors are given the opportunity for practical experience. Not one, Not One large church in my district (of over 80 churches) has a student pastor on staff. They can all afford to pay for a fully ordained elder for associate positions and so that's what they have. Who is going to get these larger churches to step up to the plate and allow student pastors to serve?? This is another example of them wanting more clergy on one hand and throwing up roadblocks to the process on the other.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I feel so bad for her and wished that they would have sought help before it came to this. It is hard not to rush to judgment but I don't know the entire story and probably won't. Pray for her.
On a more personal note, OMG ((((!!!!!!)))))) I just realized today that I have to cram two weeks of bulletins and sermons into this one week. I can't count on having any time next week to do any of it.
I have this weird reaction to stress - I get massive muscle cramps under my shoulder blades and they are in a big knot right now or, maybe, it's because I carried weights during my walk this morning. It was fun but I probably looked like an idiot. Singing along with my IPOD and swinging my arms in time to the music.
Monday, September 17, 2007
There are some of us who aren't technically GenX/Y but still feel the pain of the PROCESS. The seminary's are not in sync with the Book of Discipline. You really will find it quite hard to be commissioned 1/2 way through your educational process because many of the classes are impossible to get until your final year (if not your final semester).
And because we don't fall into the 30 Something demographic, we are consistently put down in the all important quest for the YOUNG clergy. Our gifts aren't as important because we have 10 more years of life under our belt. I would say that in today's time that it is virtually impossible to be ordained before the age of 35. I have one friend who made it but he almost killed himself going through seminary in 2 1/2 years.
I left this morning to get my oil changed. I went to the car dealership because they still owed me one free oil change and tire rotation. I'm trying to make sure that everything is good to go before I leave for Houston. I get there at 11:45 a.m. I am told, "We are leaving for lunch and will be back at 1 p.m." Great! I'm thirty miles from home." I ended up visiting family so it turned out okay but it was 3 p.m. before I got home. The good news is that I did have a slow leak in one of my tires and they fixed it for me. (I am pretty meticulous about oil changes and my tires maintenance. If you break down out here, you can be totally out of touch because cell service is very, very spotty.)
I'm thinking of an analogy between poor customer service at a car dealership and the church. We have some of the same issues. We want everything according to our own schedule, we want to set all of the terms of the deal, and we are willing to shop around if we don't like the service.
I need to tap into some of your pastoral experiences. I have a man who has been a member of the church - forever. He is in his 70s and has Parkinson's Disease. He has been a pillar of the church and chair of the Trustee's for years. However, old age, disease, anger, etc. have made him borderline abusive. He called one of our members who hasn't been coming to church and told him that his mother's memorial garden needed to be ripped out and re-sodded because his family wasn't taking care of it the way they had promised. In the course of this conversation, Trustee guy called Absent Guy "A traitor to the church". I know that there are some anger issues involved in Parkinson's (my grandfather died from this disease). However, I think that he crossed the line. I'm really at a loss about how to handle this. Salvaging Absent Guy's involvement in the church is very doubtful (He has already begun attending another local church). My question is how do I curb the tongue and actions of Trustee Guy without causing some kind of rift in the church?
I went to bed last night and had sweet, sweet dreams. And woke up to a bad, bad smell. Apparently a skunk visited very close to the parsonage last night. I had to keep the dogs in because they were frantic to find it and become one with the smell (roll in it).
At this time, one week from now, I will be getting up and dressed in Houston, getting ready for my first day of school. I am so excited. I hope that I'm just as excited after the first day. Most of the books that I had to read in preparation for this course were leadership books with a couple of spiritual formation books thrown in for good measure. I have been using some of the techniques already and maybe that's why things are looking up at the church. (I had hoped to find a pulpit replacement so that I could leave early and get a good nights sleep but no luck. Everyone is busy.)
One of the things that I read in one book said that you needed to do everything by consensus. That might be a little further down the road for us. Do any of you use that as a leadership method? It seems like it would be hard.
This afternoon I meet with one of the 4-H Committee's (the one that I tried to stay off of). We are picking out and categorizing the gifts for this year's banquet. Absolutely hated the way that it was run last year so this year I made a spread sheet. It makes it much easier than thumbing through 40 sheets over and over and over again. I know a secret....... Ryss won a big award that she had to interview for. It really is hard keeping it from her. It's like Christmas all over again. She will be tickled pink - she has some kind of weird love for plaques. Doesn't care about trophies, or ribbons but loves plaques.
Good news - School superintendent just called me about the school board passing the resolution to allow 4-H events to be considered extracurricular school activities. It is a state law in Texas but still the resolution has to be passed every year. That just saved a whole bunch of kids unexcused absences this year. What is even more amazing - He called me at 7:59 a.m. He returned his own calls and called me before the start of a business day. Holy *&%^ batman. I'm not used to that kind of efficiency from the school.
UPDATE: The stretches have made a huge difference in my foot problems (plantar fasciitis). My right foot is getting a whole bunch better. My left still has some strides to go :) The high heels I wore yesterday almost killed me. One of the experts said that going barefoot is worse than wearing the cute little sandals. I don't know if I can break the habit of kicking off my shoes when I enter the house. I was raised not to wear shoes in the house (and sometimes not even outside). Whenever you enter my home, you are greeted with a pile of shoes by the front door. I am going to have to buy a new pair of athletic shoes. The side ripped out. Do you remember when shoes would last more than a few months?
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Then I went and spent a couple of hours with my newly engaged couple, It was really a great day. They are a great couple. We are going to start pre-marital counseling soon. Do you guys know of any great resources that I can use?
Later I learned something today about the "Head Bane of my Existence". Let me put it this way, I'm not going to feel inadequate around her again. Apparently, she isn't taking singleness and celibacy thing very seriously. Now don't think that I am gloating. But she is so "holier than thou" that it is sickening. Can you say "hypocrite"???? I know that I'm a sinner and I will admit it. Now, I'm not going to use this information in any way but I can better understand why she is acting in certain ways and will be able to cope. Especially since I can always rant and rave here.
Pic#1= Playing in the park while Mom is walking around in circles. We aren't sure what she is doing but we get to have lots of fun while she does it. And we get very, very excited when she puts on her walking shoes.
Pic#2= Last but not least, trying to keep up with very short legs. I try really hard to keep up but I have to take five steps to everyone else's one.
Pic#3= Telling Mom "It's time to go home." We got in here by ourselves the first time because it sounded like Mom was croaking out on us but she made us get out and went two more times around. This time we waited until she said, "Load up". (Check out Luke's tongue, where does it all goes when its not hanging down to his knees?)
As I was walking, I was listening to Casting Crowns on my IPOD. And at the end of one song, they sing "Whom shall I fear, whom shall I fear?" I thought, "how much has fear defined me?" Fear of embarrassment, fear of people thinking that I'm not a perfect pastor, fear, fear, fear....
It's a deadly combination and I believe that as I walked, and listened to this that it was a message from God because as he sang the words I looked up and saw the graveyard where I will be burying someone tomorrow. Living in fear is like being in the grave.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I ran up to the nursing home and visited with the family. They were very sweet and apparently had been praying for this for a long time. I wish I had been there though.
It makes me wonder why I take an entire day off to lay around and read when I've left something this important undone. The funeral is Sunday @ 3 p.m. I've never conducted a funeral for someone I didn't know. I made arrangements to go and visit with the family tomorrow and hear their stories. I remember the pastor at Wichita Falls telling me to do this and it has worked well for me. He is the pastor of church that the Protho/Perkins family attends. If you are acquainted with SMU-Perkins School of Theology, then you know this family.
Thank God I didn't have anything scheduled for tomorrow. I was planning on visiting with my young couple that is getting married soon. They are having a garage sale in anticipation of combining their households. But it can wait.
a) When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.
b) I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.
c) The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.
And my answer is c). Meetings are some of the biggest time wasters that I have ever run across. Unfortunately, b) is also part of my answer because you really cannot get anything done without them. I just really, really hate them.
2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?
I think that it is hard to just jump into the business of a meeting without the community building conversations. It might work in a purely business atmosphere but not in the church.
3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.
I really don’t have a preference – I like to lead and to follow. It just depends on what the meeting is over. I might have a particular expertise in underwater basket weaving but know nothing at all about putting together widgets. So it would make sense for me to lead a meeting on underwater basket weaving and be a follower at the widget meeting.
4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) Yes.
What do you think of this format?
I love these kinds of formats. It is perfect for busy people. It has a tendency to be shorter and not a waste of time. You get in, get the job done, assignments made and that’s that. Love it, love it, love it. Plus, you can be wearing your pajamas.
5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.
It was the admin council from hell. The pastor of the church where I was the office manager got mad, I quit, and the meeting fell apart. And it was all over one man’s insistence that the church be run like a business. No grace.
Bonus question: pet peeves about meetings?
People who start rambling on and on about something that is totally irrelevant to the subject at hand. And especially, when it something that we hear at every single time we come together. People who hold their own little private meeting during the public meeting – whispering and carrying on separate conversations. Meetings that don’t start on time. Meetings that never end. Meetings where one subject is use to disguise the true subject, usually where they are mad at the pastor.
Things I like:
Meetings that accomplish what they set out to achieve. Meetings where everyone leaves happy. Meetings that further God’s will. Meeting’s that are short and can be held in conjunction with something else – Two birds with one stone.
This is the "reading pose" and my little helper. He whines and cries until I put my legs down and then jumps up next to me and I curl my legs up around him. This would be so cute if he wasn't the size of Goliath. Thank goodness I have one of those Snuggler recliners.
See the look he gives me if I yell at something in the book I'm reading. And then he goes back to sleep with his head hanging down over the edge of the arm.
Today, I am reading "RE-Imaging Evangelism: Inviting Friends on a Spiritual Journey" by Rick Richardson. I have a love-hate relationship with evangelism. I live in the bible belt and have people knocking on my door trying to "save my soul" all the time. They will really kick it up a notch if they find out I am a pastor. Obviously a female pastor MUST BE going to Hell. I refuse to do this form of evangelism. Which makes many in my congregation think that I'm not doing my job. My favorite book on this subject is "The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West....Again" by George G. Hunter III. The difference between the two forms of evangelism listed in is his book is that the Celtic form takes time and building relationships. That isn't what my people want. They want fast and quick results. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Hence, my failure at evangelism.
Today is my Sabbath day. So I will read and pray and post. And maybe do it over and over again. I have no plans, nothing on the calendar, no meetings and no money so I am not tempted to go shopping. So plan on reading another post later tonight. The RevGals Friday Five is about meetings. I have some definite ideas about those, maybe even some that I can put into print.
My ankle looks swollen - doesn't it?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Just kidding. I am feeling much better since my quasi-nap. Didn't really fall asleep but just kind of drifted and much of the cramping has stopped. I did eat a Hershey's Bar with Almonds. It made me feel SO much better. But I ate baked salmon and green beans for dinner and even had enough to share with daughter's BFF. Always good because I don't usually cook enough for more than two servings.
This poor little football program went seven years without a single win. The new athletic director led them to 3 or 4 victories last year. I'm wondering at the amount of money that goes into this particular school program. Why don't we use it for soccer, swimming or something else? Why are we so set on football?
Well, time to go to the games (plural as in more than one-as in three). Should I wear my clerical shirt and collar?
The people still haven't recovered from Rita and now will be struggling with this new storm damage. This is a critical problem. One of the ladies whose home was in the absolute worst area of Port Arthur, we helped put a new roof on her home. I pray to God that it has held up. We did follow all of the new building codes but you just never know for sure. Before we could put the new one on, we had to remove the old one. And it was definitely NOT UP TO CODE. There were seven layers of shingles. It's a wonder that the house hadn't collapsed. We also shifted the house back onto its foundation and fixed the dry rot areas.
I believe that one of the latest reports from the area still had over 700 people still waiting for help in rebuilding their roofs, homes, lives. The ones that still haven't been fixed from Rita will be in even worse shape and, now, new ones will be added to the list.
If any of you are contemplating a mission trip, consider coming to the Texas/Louisiana coast. Email me at email@example.com and I will give you the contact information for the PIM/VIM team leaders working in the area. Or visit the Texas Annual Conference web-site http://www.txcumc.org/ for more ways to help. And pray for the people.
On a selfish note, I will be in Houston week after next. And this Hurricane came up fast, very, very fast. I'm a little nervous especially after being in Louisiana when Rita came on shore and seeing the destruction first hand, immediately after the storm. When power lines are still snaking across the road, and trees are impaled in a local McDonalds, no power, no water, entire forests with all the trees snapped off like matchsticks.
Book recommendation: Transforming the Stone: Preaching Through Resistance to Change by Barbara K. Lundblad. Just finished it and it is really good especially if you are dealing with change resistant congregations. She really forces you to tackle the tough subjects: homosexuality, poverty, domestic violence.
I finished my sermon and I really want a nap before going to the football game tonight. I haven't spoken with another person today at all since I took Ryss to school (unless you count the salesperson). Hopefully, everyone is still recovering from yesterday and it isn't the calm before the storm.
I mustered up enough energy for bible study last night. In fact, I rode my bike to church. Burned calories and not gasoline. Good for me. However, yesterday really made my feet sore. Chasing miniature tornado's puts alot of stress on the body. But at least we have not been hit with the Hurricane currently dropping huge amounts of rain on the state.
I am going to try and work on the sermon today. I have football tonight (unless it gets rained out). I suppose it would be bad of me to pray for rain - starting around 5 p.m.
I haven't heard for the school yet. Maybe they are just letting me sit or maybe they just felt that my email didn't rate a reply. Maybe they are regretting letting me in. I'm sending the email.... but really!!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Now the big question is; Do I wait until the financial aid person responds to my test email or should I let her know that travel has been taken care of?
I'll just play Scarlett O'Hara and worry about it tomorrow. Maybe by that time she will have responded and then I will let her know it is taken care of..... (sigh:(
To Ellbee: I recently went on a tour of the local Chocolate Store with the 4-H. And the lady who ran the place said that chocolate does not ever go bad. It might get white looking on the outside but that the chocolate will be good. I thought that was kind of cool.
Now for the Tears......... The school is only willing to advance me $300 upon my arrival in Houston. That won't even cover my hotel bill. I will be sleeping in my car and it really upsets me. None of the other schools that I have attended have ever made us wait until after school started for our loan money. They would make us wait for scholarship and grant money but not loan money. $300 is almost a slap in the face considering how much I am paying for the privilege of going there. I am mad, very, very mad.
Now I have to get ready for tonight's Bible Study. It is going to be hard to get into the right frame of mind.
My daughter is just on the cusp of the literal teenage years. She will be thirteen in December. However, in mental and emotional years she is 45. And she makes me feel, right around, 105.
((I was going to tell you a personal story about Ryss but I thought "better not". She might read this and be mad at me for two or three weeks!!)) And the reasons that she makes me feel old: She is a cheerleader, purple-belt in Karate, runs cross country, active in the 4-H Vet Science and Horse Club, plays four different instruments. I am very proud of her but gues who drives her to cheer practice, karate practice, cross country practice, 4-H meetings, music lessons - me, me and me.
We have three dogs in my family: Lily is a purebred border collie who was given to me for free and had a rough childhood with a man who shot at her because she chased his cows. Gus is the daschund, who is the old man of the bunch at 9. Luke is only 10 months old and a pure-bred Australian Shepherd. His favorite past-time is eating all of Ryss' rubber bands that she absolutely will not pick up. Plus, I don't take a single step in the house without him right there.
We have two cats which I will seldom mention because I'm really not a cat person. Three guesses about who is and the first two don't count. They are both around 8 years old. And the black one - Stormy - follows my daughter around like a dog. She gives kisses if you blow on her nose and she let Ryss push her around in a baby stroller ever since they were both babies.
I did a weigh-in this morning. I have lost grand total of 2 pounds for the two weeks and absolutely ZERO for this past week. I figured up my calories for yesterday - only 1200. Plus, I'm still sore from the bicycle ride and working out my arms with weights.
Well, time to get ready for the 1st day of Kidz Day Out. Still only four official kids coming but it will give us the opportunity for an initial evaluation without being overwhelmed. Plus, there might be some unofficial ones that just drop in. Pray for us!!!!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
1) My sermon will be over the parable of the Lost Sheep this week. I wonder what trouble I will get in if I compare/contrast God searching after the 1 lost lamb and leaving the 99 - with my church's well entrenched tendency to want 99% of our time and effort to go to taking care of the members of the church and only 1% to the lost. I have been fighting this battle for four years. They are used to retired or almost retired pastors coming in who don't have the energy or will to fight them on this............. Arrgghhh.
2) My home county's jail is being painted pink this week. It is supposed to make people not want to go to jail. Now imagine I am a crack head looking for something to steal to get my next fix, "Oh, I can't steal that - I don't want to go to the pink jail". It is also supposed to prevent people from stealing stuff from the jail. What kind of jail are running where people can steal from it? If a jail isn't safe, what is?
I remember painting my barracks room pink in the Army while stationed in Germany. My sergeant took one look and said, "Repaint it". I did but it I did it in Chocolate brown, dark, dark brown. And in spots I didn't cover up the pink very well. It was an interesting time (and ugly time).
3) Why don't more pastors participate in Church Camp? Especially large church pastor's. Does having a youth pastor excuse you from dealing with your church's youth at all? Your church doesn't all apart while you are on vacation, or at Annual Conference? Why can't they do without you for a week while you work with your youth?
4) This is embarrassing: While cleaning today, I found a bag from the 2006 Annual Conference. And in it were two polo shirts. This cleaning is getting bad for my self-image. I'm finding brand-new books and, now, brand-new shirts.
Considering my last post, I decided I would ride my bicycle to the church. Not far, can see it across my yard. But after I left the church, I rode it home the long way - 2 whole miles. We had our very first cold front today and it really dropped the humidity down. It was pretty pleasant but now I am so sleepy and it is only 1 p.m. Of course, I didn't tell you about Lily getting sick last night so I only got about four hours of sleep. It wasn't pretty and to top it off I jumped out of bed without my new foot stretch routine (because face it when the dog is sick you have to hurry to the door). Feet hurt - ouch, ouch, ouch.
My office floor is cleaned and shampooed and visible for the first time in four years. I have discovered why it is hard to clean in here because I stop and go through stuff. And remember why I saved it to start with. I have a person in my congregation that has a problem with hoarding (no, not me - someone else). And I can totally see the motivation - "BECAUSE you really might need it someday!!!!"
I am going to use puppets tomorrow and tell the story of Noah and the Ark. I'm excited. I hope that this works out and no one gets hurt or something equally terrible. I have a very vivid imagination. Plus, I worked in Day Care for my senior year of High School. I know that the little munchkins are just a walking accident (and a disease-carrying host). Just call my Paladin, off to battle with my Hand Sanitizer.
Came home in time to meet my friend to do our Pilates workout but a message on my machine said she was canceling. So I vacuumed and shampooed three rooms in the house: my bedroom, her bedroom and Yippee!! the office.
So my question is this: Do I still have to workout? I did the big walk in Wal-Mart and even came out the far door and walked to my vehicle. Oh, and I gave the two big dogs a bath. And it is only 9:59 a.m.
I am receiving phone calls from people interested in the "Kidz Day Out" (Do you like the name?). Very exciting.
Had to tell the Chair of my SPRC Committee about what had been going on. I wasn't going to but she came by last night with the sign for the above mentioned ministry and said she was going to a girl's night out dinner with "Head Bane" and another church member. I didn't want her to be ambushed so I let her know. It feels kind of like snitching on your sister.
Do you guys remember the buzz over this mom's ebay description of her six kids and a trip to the grocery store? Well, I visited her blog today and it was just as funny as her ebay billing. mom2my6pack.blogspot.com
Monday, September 10, 2007
To The Thief - I would love an interview. Email me at; firstname.lastname@example.org
I read your interview the other day. And I vowed to quit looking at my site counter.....but then I heard about these real cool ones where you can get statistics, and other neat stuff. Just kidding. :)
Started a new book last night by Luke Timothy Johnson - The Creed. And one by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identities. You might ask why a United Methodist would want to read this. One because it's by Rowan Williams and two because Wesley was an Anglican. Plus, it was a give away at the Seminary bookstore and I never, never, never pass up a free book. I even let the Mormon Church send me their books. Yep, it's a disease. I'm officially a book-a-holic. I have been trying to catalog all my books, shelf by wearisome shelf. This is serving two multiple purposes. One it is making me organize my office which was looking kind of like you would see on a Maury Povich show over hoarding. Two-I'm finding books that I own that I haven't read. Three-now I can check to see if I've read it before I buy it. Sometimes the book cover is revamped and I don't recognize it. I have been using GoodReads.com to do the organization.
My office DOES have a floor and now I have a whole bunch more books to read that I had forgotten about. Perkins' Cokesbury bookstore had this sale every few months, as many books that you could fit into a bag for only $8.88. So I have lots of books that I got just because they looked interesting. And some have been pretty good reads for ministry, like Tex Samples Blue Collar Ministry. One of the reasons I have been successful here at this church is because I speak their language. I was raised in the same income bracket. I have the same accent. And face it many of the same values. And even with all of my belly-aching I have been successful here. It hasn't taken off and grown they way that I dreamed it would but I have been here four years. That is longer than any one ever made it before. I took them from not paying apportionments to paying 100% every year. It probably won't stop the merger from happening and it honestly it needs to happen for the sake of God's Reign.
Anyway, I digress. My floor is almost (almost) free of stack of books. Now if I can force myself to throw away all of my seminary papers. I have them on the computer but they don't have the cool comments by the professors so I have saved every stinking piece of paper ever handed back to me. Man am I weird or what??
I don't suppose that I can say that to my congregation - "Hear ye, Hear ye, all you ministry nay-sayers, if you had half a brain and half a heart, you wouldn't oppose these ministries to the community!"
I suppose not. (Sigh)
I worked out this morning but forgot to weigh myself. I am scared too because after I got so upset yesterday - I ate chocolate cake and not just a small reasonable sized piece. Oh no, a massive piece. I did give the rest to the neighbor so that I wouldn't continue down that slippery slope.
I finished the RevGals Read of the Month "Good Fences: The Boundaries of Hospitality" by Caroline Westerhoff. I disagreed with her assertion that "we are not God's hands in the world". I do agree that "God could do it without our help" but that isn't how it works - at least, not in my understanding of theology. God chooses to do it through our work. Otherwise, why are we here? What are we doing?
I am off to the bank to deposit my paycheck and to visit at the nursing home. Tonight is Karate and a Horse Club Meeting.
We had an idea for our Mother's Day Out Program. We are going to take the kids on outdoor nature hikes. So I want to talk to our County Extension Agent, who is a Master Gardener, about giving a demonstration or talk. This week I am going to take Lily down to meet the kids. She loves kids. Plus, she will fetch a frisbee until she collapses from exhaustion or a tennis ball or a stick (basically, anything you throw she will fetch). Plus, she doesn't jump and she smiles. I kid you not, she smiles at people.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
The head bane said, as I left, "Are the dishes done?" Yes, Head Bane. "Is the floor swept?" No ma'am. So I go back and sweep the floor (only because there was no one else and it wasn't that big of a deal). Then I start to leave and I hear her talking to all the little banes. "I called the pastor and told her they had messed up the pension withdrawal again and SHE wasn't even upset!!"
I can't win for losing. If I had acted very upset then the comment would have been - "She can't control her emotions." What really peeves me off is that I was upset and called the District Office and the Conference Office. However, I couldn't act as the 3rd wheel because I didn't have the books in front of me. So I asked the conference to call her and get this straightened out. Then I called her and gave her the number and name of the conference contact person for pensions. Of course, they did not manage to talk to each other.
I was pissed on several levels. One for her talking about my pension and insurance issues with people who really aren't involved in it. Two for being such a bitch about my reaction to the situation. Three at myself for taking it so personally. And for her treating me like I am a child.
Face it that is all that I will think about for the next 24 hours. It will keep making me mad and that is stupid. If you weigh the day on scales, the good outweighs the bad. This group just can't get over making them step out of their comfort zone and actually do ministry. I really, really wanted to confront her but it will just inflame the situation and other than her leaving the church, I just don't think it will get better. But she is the treasurer, admin chair and the pianist. Those of you in small churches or having served in small churches will understand my dilemma.
I know that we are supposed to love our sheep but she is making it very, very, very hard.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Our team won 3rd place in the Junior Division. Ryss won 4th place in the overall individual junior competition. Last year she was in the top 10, this year in the top five. I'm so proud of them because they made it even harder this year AND two of our team members are in their first year on the team. They had never been to a hippology contest.
I have to bake a cake for church tomorrow. Hmmmm.... Ryss probably needs experience in this. So she will bake a cake for church tomorrow. Cool! I'm going to sit in the recliner and supervise.
Friday, September 7, 2007
God seemed to come into my life at one of the worst moments in life. As I have grown theologically I realize that God was there the entire time but that I didn’t realize it. I grew up in an abusive household where you had to make sure that you moved softly, and never drew attention to yourself. I remember when my sister was being verbally and emotionally abused because her spaghetti noodles had clumped up (she was probably 11 or 12). I stepped into a role that even today I can’t always back away from – Defender. It meant that I ended up eating all of the clumps of spaghetti.
Like many women who were abused as children, I made bad choice in later years. And it was while recovering from one of those choices that I finally made the best choice in my life – accepting Christ into my life.
I remember kneeling at the altar at 33 being baptized and to make it even more special – my daughter was kneeling beside me at 3 being baptized at the same time.
2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?
This past six months have been some of the hardest since accepting Christ and that’s saying a lot. By the grace of God I have climbed out of the pit or, rather, been lifted out by God. What is interesting is that in many ways it was my secret reading of other female pastor’s blogs that made me see that it would be okay. It is one of the reason’s that I vomit words in my blog now. As an introvert, I have been storing them up for so long that they are bubbling out with the force of “Old Faithful”. Of course it doesn’t help that I type almost as fast as a thought pops into my head. So in many ways it is just a way of processing that has brought healing. Plus, professional therapy.
3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?
Philippians 4:13 (NRSV)
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Matthew 19:26 (NRSV)
26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
These two verses resonate in my heart about hope and possibility.
4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?
Yes, I’m sure you all have heard the quote, “there are no stupid questions”. So, it is a valid question however I am not sure that there has ever been or ever will be a perfect answer. I believe that it is caused by our own free will. Now do we always cause our own suffering – Nope, others have free will also.
Interesting point: I have seen reading other responses is that almost all of those “dark nights of the soul” have been or seem to have been emotional ones and not necessarily physical ailments. This comes at a time when CNN is reporting that hundreds of bodies are coming onto beaches in Central America from the destruction of Hurricane Feliz. Not that emotional, mental suffering is somehow less.
5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?
Go to Disney Land. :)
I don’t know. I have very little experience with celebrating in a traditional sense. I would love to go on a Monastic Spiritual Retreat.
Bonus- anything you wish to add.... on the subject of free will and suffering…. As women, we bring some of it on ourselves. Take my mouth for instance (no, I’m not talking about what comes out of it). My mouth is scalded today because I did this intense teeth whitening process yesterday. So today I am suffering because of deciding or buying into the whole whiter is better…. Skinnier is better….richer is better …. More, more, more, Cultural ideal that Americans seem driven by. Serves me right.
I bought some of the cutest sneakers that last year of seminary but they had very little padding on the insole and absolutely no arch support. I wore them all the time. Hmmm.... a foot condition caused by cute shoes - would've have thought of it.
The story said that many sufferers found relief by; 1) shoes with good arch supports, 2) stretching the foot before ever getting out of bed. Here is my initial evaluation of the foot stretching advice. Yesterday, when I got out of bed it was like stepping on hot needles. This morning after diligent stretching, it was merely sore. It was hard to remember though because when the alarm goes off I usually jump up and wake up my daughter for school. This morning I waited a couple of minutes while stretching and still she got to school on time. So it is looking good so far. I worn shoes with good arch support all day yesterday. My only question is what about going barefoot? Because I spend all the time I'm home without shoes on.
My book for the RevGalPal's September book discussion arrived yesterday, "Good Fences: The Boundaries of Hospitality" by Caroline A. Westerhoff. I can't actually join the group yet because I haven't been blogging for three months (shrug), but I am looking forward to reading it. I finished Nicholas Evans "The Smoke Jumpers". It was a great book.
Bloggus Interruptus: Just got of the phone with my church treasurer. It is supposed to be my day off but apparently the conference has screwed up my pension/insurance automatic draft yet again. They have pulled out over $1100 dollars this month. When I called the conference, they said, "we have only drafted $279". It is hard trying to handle issues like this from a middle position, so I asked the conference person to call my treasurer directly. Now you might ask, why doesn't my treasurer have that contact name and number. She did. I have it to her after last months fiasco. But she wants it fixed and it is easier to call me, than it is to call the conference directly.
Tomorrow, I am spending the day a few counties over for the State Hippology Contest. Hippology is the study of horses. Last year Ryss was in the Top Ten for the entire state of Texas - Junior Division. That is big deal since Texas is so horse orientated. The contest consists of some actual horse judging events, then a written test, then a identification test which covers; tack, equipment, scientific labels for body parts, and the hardest identification of various grains, feeds, etc. It is an all day competition.
Ryss was awarded her purple belt yesterday at Karate. I'm so proud of her. And better yet, she came home and cleaned her room. Of course, she talked on the telephone the entire time. Yes, the entire time. I had to finally make her get off because it was bedtime.
I walked for one hour today. Didn't want to but my friend called and said "Are we walking?" Thanks to "The Thief" for the advice. Actually, two good pieces of advice; buy good shoes and get a friend to exercise with. Wish I had taken the shoe advice before I caused this problem in my feet.