Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I took a couple of days off to do absolutely nothing. Ryss has been delivered to Texas for Thanksgiving with the family and all I have done today is hard physical labor. Except for the extremely sore muscles that I foresee in the near future, it has been a good day. Worked out at the gym and bagged twenty-three bags of leaves from the front yard. I did run to the wireless place for some software so I can use my child's new laptop computer with my wireless modem. I promise to let her use her new computer......once in a while.

I talked to the director of the D.Min. Program yesterday and she said my dissertation is making the rounds of committee members. Hope they are all in a holiday frame of mind and go easy on me. I really don't want to have to spend months on the revisions. I really don't want to spend any time on the revisions actually. I'm tired of school work period.

I have finished all of my ordination/doctrinal questions. In fact, I have finished everything except for the interviews. Another thing to be praying about besides the uncertainty about where my next appointment will be, I pray that we will stay in this county until Ryss finishes High School. She is in a magnet school so as long as we stay within the county we will be okay.

Since I am on-call (even though I took vacation days), I couldn't go with Ryss but I am hopeful that some of my church members will bring me left-overs. Keep your fingers crossed :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Done, Done and Finished

Well, the draft of my dissertation has been officially submitted. I wonder how long I will have to wait for the multitude of revisions to begin?

But that hasn't been on my mind as much as the Church Council Meeting which officially stated that due to budgetary concerns my position at Trinity will not be renewed after Annual Conference. The people are heart-sick and frankly I am too. I really wanted to stay put for a couple more years until Ryss finished High School. I am praying that I will be placed within the county. Luckily, she is in a Magnet Program and so as long as we remain in the county she is eligible to attend school there.

After she finishes high school, I will be foot-loose and fancy-free. Itinerancy will not be nearly as heart-wrenching but for now we are sad. So say a prayer for us.....

It won't hurt to say one that the revisions on my dissertation are manageable, too.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Formatting, Formatting, Formatting

Okay dissertation has some issues to be corrected before we even get started on substance and it is the nitpicky kinds of issues that drive me absolutely batty. And to make matters worse, they want me to mail them a three-ring binder with a hard copy for the initial draft. We live in the 21st Century......why waste a tree for something that will eventually be thrown away. All of the comments can be done electronically.

Oh well, time to make sure everything is exactly the same.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Plans of Mice and (Wo)Men

Well, zoning out and relaxing as yet to occur, ministry keeps getting in the way. Isn't there a quote about ministry happens in the interruptions? Well, I've been doing a lot of ministry. Lot's of deaths occurring in my church and it would be depressing, but I feel such a bond with the people as I'm allowed to be apart of their lives during this transition from this life to the life eternal. These bonds seem to be stronger than many of the other pastor/parishioner bonds that form over the course of a ministry. It has been good and I can say that because the people who died were suffering.

I have continued to work on the dissertation. I have assembled it all together in the correct format and with all the appendix/bibliographic information. It is right around 100 pages long. Seems kind of short considering the years that went into this project. Part of that is that I have never written the max required length of almost any paper because, why use 100 words when 10 will suffice. I hope this habit doesn't bite me on the rear.

And then the normal everyday crap of living in modern society. For instance, I have had automatic draft for my car payment for years. I don't have to think about it and the bank gets their money, sounds perfect. Until loan changes hands for servicing and the new company cannot draft money on a regular basis. Last month it drafted, this month it didn't and then they start calling my parents (my references) talking smack about debt collection. So I have removed it from automatic draft and I will write a check every month (but it will be with a bit of anger thrown in).

On the good side, I have finally crossed that month long plateau and have started losing weight again. Hurray!! I have preached and recorded my "ordination" sermon and finished the doctrinal questions. I had my "ordination" physical last week and my "ordination" mammogram yesterday. So 2nd base is safe for another year :) Really, now it is a matter of waiting for the interviews next Spring and lots of praying.

Sadly, it doesn't look like I will be able to stay at my church after my (hopeful) ordination. The money just isn't there for an associate pastor. I'm praying that I will stay in the same county for just two more years so my daughter will finish High School. I'm afraid that she will disown me if we have to move. It won't be a pretty sight.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


In the midst of all this writing, I have really been working at becoming more physically healthy too. Over the summer, I lost 40#s and lot's of inches. Working out is the first thing I do in the morning now so that it doesn't get lost in the "to-do" list.

The other thing is tracking all of my calories. Church dinners are laden with hidden calories but the church ppl have been good about understanding why I only get a tiny bite of their Aunt Lucy's favorite casserole.

I am walking as part of the United Methodist "Holy Healthy" program under Virgin Healthmiles. Out of hundreds of clergy that are currently taking part in a month long, eight conference challenge I am ranked 42nd. I am ranked 2nd in my conference. Not to bad for an old lady :)))


I have just finished the first draft of my entire doctoral dissertation. This has been a project years in the making and here at the very end I didn't think I could force myself to type another word. I was just exhausted. It was like I had writers block ten times over.

I know that it will probably undergo a zillion rewrites but getting the first draft finished was a huge accomplishment. I plan on reading a novel today and just zoning out for the first time in "like forever".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Clergy Killers, Part 2

People who come up with grand ideas and then want others to do all the heavy lifting has become my new pet peeve.

I have become a big fan of the "Simple Church" concept. We complain about the parishioners not being present for this or for that. Maybe they aren't the problem and we are. If people knew that everything that was happening at the church happened on Wednesday or on Sunday, it might be easier for them to schedule their own lives and still include church. Just saying!

What do those two thoughts have in common? More than you might want to know but discretion is the better part of valor and I'm not going into a rant (at least not tonight).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Clergy Killers

I have been reading a lot of articles about the stressful conditions that pastor's work under; low pay, no respect, expectations that no human could ever live up to, etc. I have decided that the thing that was killing me the most was not taking the time to care for my body. This summer started out with me giving up all soda's. I thought I was going to DIE. The chemicals in the Diet Coke's caused literal pain as my body flushed them out.

After that, I started eating healthy and logging everything I ate in "Calorie Counter" a free app on my Droid. (Did you know that one serving of Organic Blue Corn Chips is only 6 chips?? I mean, really, who only eats 6 chips?)

I had been a member of a local gym for over a year, but my attendance was sporadic and I never did any true cardio work. So when my conference began Holy Healthy through Virgin HealthMilies, I signed up and received my free pedometer. Now I am in a competition with other clergywomen and even next week it is men against women (those guys will never know what hit them). Not only am I losing weight, I am building friendships with clergy that leave on the other side of the state. I walk between 15,000-20,000 steps a day. I eat less than 1,500 calories a day.

During this long, hot summer, I have lost 28 pounds. I wake up now without the alarm clock and hit the road before dawn with the dogs. I still have a lot of weight to lose but I am over a 1/3 of the way to my goal already.

The comments from the parishioners is nice and I'm glad they are noticing. I am being intentional about it being a part of my ministry.......yes, me. They need to know that I matter too. What kind of spiritual leader am I if I ignore the body that God gave me, that has the Holy Spirit indwelling within?

I have much more to post about Clergy Killer's. I might start with office staff that are so insecure that they only feel better if they are putting someone else down.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Can't Sleep

Told you a couple of posts ago about my church administrator. Found out while at Annual Conference that when people ask her about my status in the conference, she is telling them that I am "just licensed to preach". I smiled and corrected them, but inside I was furious for several different reasons.

First, no one is "just" licensed to preach. It requires jumping through several hoops in most cased to become licensed to preach in the United Methodist system. At the very least it requires attending a license to preach two week seminar, not to mention being called by God, etc. And this is very demeaning to the hard work that local pastors are doing to cover churches across the United States and world, to say that they are "just" anything.

Second, it demeans the Senior Pastor and suggests that she left the church in less than capable hands.

Third, it discounts the tremendous time and energy that I have put into becoming a Provisional Elder in the UMC. As I enter my 2nd year of Residency, I know that I could be discontinued or delayed for years to come. I pray that it doesn't happen, but for this woman to say that I am "just" anything or for that matter that anyone is "just" anything is upsetting.

I process events in my lift by writing. It helps me find the right words to say when I have a "come to Jesus meeting" with this woman. So part of this is a rant, because I need to rant. Part of this is so that later I don't think, "I should have said this or I should have said that". Feel free to give me suggestions, because frankly I just want to scream.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Time Off

I am really anticipating the return of my Senior Pastor. The work has not been that much harder. It is doing the work without the authority to back it up that has been stressful and not having any time off.

Today was my day off for instance, I had scheduled month's ago to do a Eucharist Service at a local retirement home. Way before I had any idea my SP would be on a leave of absence. So I did it. Then a call came about a man very sick in the hospital that wanted an actual pastor and not one of my lay chaplains. Which is very suspicious......I believe that was more the church administrators doing than than the sick mans (He was very surprised that I was the one that showed up, hmmmm).

This leads to my other point. I know that I am fairly easy going, but she (church administrator) has been a tremendous pain in the butt. First, I understood she was nervous at the shift in authority from the SP to myself. But this has gone on long enough she should know that I'm not out to do her job. Hell, I can barely keep up with all that I have to do.

Everything is an argument with her. She even argued with me over the proper way to do a Confirmation.......this was just over one of the kids I was confirming out of the 13. She thought that I should use the kids nickname and I disagreed. I'm just sick of everything being an argument.

Another example, gifts for the confirmands. Such a stupid thing to worry about, but they couldn't (at the last minute) find 13 crosses. So they bought crosses for the boys and bookmarks for the girls. Now I'm sure they were wonderful bookmarks, but there is just something wrong with hanging a cross on the neck of the boy and handing the girl a bookmark. So I refused to do give them out during the actual service. I was accused of being a feminist with "issues". Damn, I guess I am, but it really isn't a bad thing in my book. I did take great offense to the "with issues" portion of the conversation, however.

The funny thing is the very next day. I was on a two-day mission trip and a dentist told my daughter that she was physically too small to become a surgeon and should consider becoming an optometrist. So too small to be a surgeon but she can sell glasses and contacts. You can't tell me that sexism is a thing of the past.

So all this started with the notion that I need a day off and I do. Next week in Annual Conference, so no time off. My SP is due back on July 4th and on July 11th I leave for my D.Min. seminar. No time off there.

Tomorrow, I get to drive for four hours with my daughter to pick up her best friend. I guess that constitutes time off. Trust me, this will not go on much longer, I will take care of myself.

Do people think before they speak?

So a lady in my church was talking to me. She complimented me on a wonderful sermon the previous Sunday (Memorial Day). Several of the old men had been very complimentary, one said it brought tears to his eyes. "Made them feel very connected to God."

So the lady asked what my plans were for ministry.....did I plan on becoming a Senior Pastor one day. I said that I was happy serving as an Associate. She says, "Well, that's good. You preached such a wonderful sermon on Sunday, but I could have really made the people leave feeling as if they were much more uplifted, after all, that's why they come to church". She goes on to say, "Well, maybe that black lady that preached a few Sundays ago could have taken your manuscript and done an even more wonderful job."

I kindly thanked her..... I won't tell you exactly what I was thinking at that particular moment.

It was over Romans 5:1-5 and I used our veterans as a living illustration for the sermon and drew heavily upon my own military experiences.

And here she was saying she could have taken my manuscript and touched the hearts of the people better. (She never served in the military.)

Granted I know that I am not an Ellsworth Kalas, Tony Campolo, or Bishop Willimon, but this woman is not even a public speaker of any kind in her professional life or personal life.

I'm really not sure how to think or feel about this. I don't think she ever realized how offensive and arrogant she came off sounding.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Yesterday we lost a member of our small family -- Misti -- she was only ten years old. I remember getting her for Ryss because her other "best friend" Stormy was the only other cat in our house. Turns out the cats really didn't like each other and Misti became best friends with Gus the daschund. They would cuddle together for hours and give each other baths.

She was the shyest member of out family and until the last couple of years most people never even knew we had another cat. I'm not a cat person, but I cried like a baby yesterday when the vet put her to sleep. She went downhill so fast over the holiday week-end and really didn't give us a lot of warning that anything was wrong until it was too late.

We buried her yesterday and put a gardenia bush over the grave, so next Spring the scent with remind us of what a great cat she was and that she is missed. I probably won't ever get another cat but I'm not sorry she became a member of our family.

Stormy is still going strong and she is two years older than Misti. She acts more like a dog than a cat. I hope she makes it into her late twenties for Ryss' sake.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


My Senior Pastor started a 3-month Leave of Absence yesterday. She has had a rough time with personal issues, one in particular that I wouldn't ever want to face--the death of a grandchild. I haven't burned anything down yet, so that is all good.

The district has stepped in with some guest preachers, so I won't have that entire responsibility and we have a great staff. So that is all good.

So the questions is: Why am I feeling so stressed?

I know that part of it is working on my D.Min. writing. I have an entire research chapter due by July. Part of the problem is that I am bored with the topic. I know that getting a doctorate means that you become an "expert" on a topic, but I'm sick of reading about it and writing about it. Is this normal?

I was able to put it off during Lent because I was reading the entire Bible (thanks Brian). Now I have no excuse. I moved during Lent to a new house. No Excuse (well except for I can't find everything). I don't get a special day devoted to writing due to the Senior Pastor's absence. So, okay, I have one excuse....weak as it is.

I want to be outside, planting flower beds..............anything but writing. Whiny today aren't I??

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Living Legend

I suppose it is going a little over-board to say I had dinner with a living legend, but in Methodist circles Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas IS pretty famous. I took him to dinner tonight, just the two of us. He is the nicest guy and it was great. I can't wait to hear him speak tomorrow at church.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I went before the BOM last week to be re-evaluated and voted on for continuance as a Provisional Member of the conference. Everything went well, Thank God. So I'm leaving to get home and take my daughter to the airport for her trip to Guatemala and I back into one of the BOM's cars. They are right in the middle of a huge discussion about discontinuing another PE and so I left a note. I have heard absolutely nothing. What to do, what to do. It was a tiny dent but I would like to know who I hit and am anxiously awaiting a phone call from someone.

My Senior Pastor is going on a three month leave of absence. I had to talk to her today because I felt that she had been very ambiguous in the staff meeting about leadership responsibilities. She reassured me that she would clear it up.

So this week has been very stressful, besides the fact we moved into a new house. I am so glad. It is bigger and in a safer neighborhood, but this has been a rough week and the next three months might be as bad. So I can use all your prayers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Just sat here listening to my daughter impersonate me with the telephone company. I'm amazed she knows everything that she needed to make them believe it was me. I don't know if I should be angry or impressed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Holy Healthy

I have decided to join the Holy Healthy Program offered by my Annual Conference. I am already teaching a class about healthy body image and eating until one if full versus using food as a crutch. So now the conference will have a record of the number of steps I take during the day. This could get interesting.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


My heart broke when I heard that the little 11-year-old girl (Annica SanLouis) died after her amazing rescue in Haiti. I watched the rescue. I saw her cute black reading glasses and the braids on her head. She looked so sweet.

She died a few hours after her rescue. "Mother, please don't let me die" were her last words.

I was so happy after her rescue and broke down crying after I heard that she had died.

I know that so many have died that didn't have to because of a lack of medical care. I believe that we mobilized as swiftly as we could, but it breaks my heart.

My prayer is that we help them rebuild and we make sure that it is rebuilt in a way to help reduce any future tragedies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My heart goes out to the people of Haiti. I spent today passing out 9 tons of food to the hungry in Houston. I watched enormous effort and love pour out in the name of Christ, so when I got back to the hotel and read the following headline I was furious:

Pat Robertson, the evangelical Christian who once suggested God was punishing Americans with Hurricane Katrina, says a "pact to the devil" brought on the devastating earthquake in Haiti. (Source:cnn.com)

We cannot let a man that is so filled with hate speak for us as Christians. He is such an ass, that I can't even begin to express my contempt for him.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Urban Ministry

The topic for this seminar is Multi-Cultural & Urban Ministry. I never thought that it would be something that I needed, because I thought I would always be in rural/small town ministry. The speaker is awesome and is very interesting (and energetic). I don't foresee falling asleep in class.

I feel sorry for the people who don't speak English as their native language. The pace is very, very rapid.

We are going on a field trip Wednesday to feed & cloth the homeless in downtown Houston. I am excited about that.

As much as I complain about the way this new doctoral program is moving (more into a Ph.D. mode and away from practical), the new director of the program is managing to add a hands-on experience for every seminar. It is making it more interesting and more trouble all at the same time. Like many people, I don't like change.

They were laughing when I sat down because it was the same seat as last time, and the time before, and the time before that. You get the idea!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I suppose that I will be in a Nursing Home before I finish school, but I am back in Houston plugging away at it. It was really good to get away from the church for a while. Major conflict brewing with Senior Pastor and former Youth Pastor. I figured the best place to be was 500 miles away. It will keep me from becoming triangulated. Whewww!