Thursday, November 29, 2012


Funerals are never quite the same from family to family. They can be heart-wrenching or almost a relief to the family, especially if the person has been suffering for a very long time. They can, also, be quite weird and egocentric. If anyone ever decides to write a book, they need to give me a call.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Well, the election is finally over. It seemed like the politics and pundits were starting to consume my life. It feels like a broke a bad habit today when I finally turned the television off and started living again.

I know that politics really can have life and death consequences but I have decided that it is time to kick the habit, at least for a little while. Time to concentrate on what is really important, God, Family, Church.

With that said, my daughter wants to go camping this week. I HATE CAMPING unless you are in a fully heated/air conditioned RV or camper. I think I can find something else to distract her with but pray for me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Red Stole

As I prepare for Annual Conference, I asked the question about which red stole I should wear. This was a serious question because I don't always know what the customs are for certain social occasions. Should I wear the red stole that was given out at my ordination or could I wear the fancy red stole that was a gift from my last congregation? This is the first time that I shall be a part of the Procession of Elders during the Ordination Service and I didn't want to commit a social gaffe (which I am apt to do). The consensus was any red stole would do just fine. It made me think that know matter how deep I get into the church organization there are some things that are just not taught at seminary. A day for random thoughts.

Monday, May 7, 2012

General Conference

General Conference 2012 was held in Tampa this month. I would love to brag on how much progress we made as a denomination to make disciples for Jesus Christ. It didn't work out like that. I watched in horror as guaranteed appointments went away without even the slightest bit of discussion. Regardless, of how one might feel about GA itself. They threw away something that has been a part of the church since 1914 (even if only enforced since the 1950s). After all that people give up to become Methodist clergy; the picking up and moving of our families every few years, the extreme debt from seminary, etc. You would think that we would have rated at the very least some discussion on the floor of general conference. Now it is up to every individual Annual Conference to put in some safe guards against possible abuses. I trust my Bishop, let me say that up front, but he will be leaving this year and I don't know who my next Bishop will be and that can be a little scary.

The other big item was the restructuring of the church itself. This went down in a flaming wreck. The first plan didn't go over too well and neither did Plan B. The compromise plan, Plan UMC failed to pass the litmus test of the Judicial Council. Key in rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. After two weeks in Tampa, we ended up with the same structure that we started with from the start.

The only bright spots that I can see is that we still have UM Communications, and the two groups that will protect women and minorites. And another interesting tidbit: Twitter made it to the big leagues during this General Conference. Twitter directly impacted debate on the floor.

I am Methodist through and through. I know that God will work through this and in spite of, this mess. Perhaps, that was the point God was making. Quit trying to legislate growth and start making disciples--one disciple at a time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let Down

I wanted to blog about something that happened at my church but common-sense prevailed and I decided to keep my mouth shut. It is funny when people let you down as a pastor. We don't feel the freedom to tell them about it. Should we? Should we tell the congregation when we are disappointed in them?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Where Has that Loving Feeling Gone?

I was thinking about that great scene in "Top Gun" when Tom Cruise starts singing this song and it kind of struck me as funny because that is how I feel now that Easter has passed. Basically though, I think it has more to do with absolute exhaustion. I haven't had a day off in two weeks without anything on the calendar. I am so looking forward to Saturday. The ironic thing is that the more tired I get the less I can sleep; harder to go to sleep and harder to stay asleep. As the week winds down, I hope hoping/praying that I can relax and not have any emergengies or even phone calls to interrupt my down time.

Emotional Prisons

Book Review: “Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions that Control You” by Andy Stanley

Emotional Prisons

Andy Stanley writes that all our emotional problems and spiritual problems stem from four basic emotions: Guilt, Anger, Greed and Jealousy. He traces all of the emotional issues that face humans, as far back as Cain and Abel, to these four basic emotions. The argument is clear and concise and he does have a convincing argument. He believes that if we would take a moment to dig deeper into why we are feeling a certain feeling eventually we will find that it stems from these four emotions which keep our hearts “out of sync with the rhythm it was created to maintain”. Part of this problem is that “we rarely stop to monitor out hearts” instead “we are taught [as children] to behave” but not how to dig deeper into why we act the way we act.

As Christians, we are not supposed to stop changing and growing at the moment of our salvation. As a United Methodist, we call this sanctification. Stanley tells us that we still haven’t given God full access to our hearts at that moment. We still have work to do. We must continue to grow in grace.

Guilt is the first emotion that Stanley highlights. “Guilt is the result of having done something we perceived as wrong.” He used the example of a man leaving his family for another woman and this incurs a sense of guilt for having stolen from his children. This incurs a feeling of debt towards our family. Since, we have usually all done something that we feel guilty for this leaves us will a defensive manner unless we are able to balance this debt.

Anger is the second emotion that he discusses. “Anger is the result of not getting something we want.” He says in many ways this anger stems from being hurt in some way. A parent that abuses a child has deprived that child of a happy or safe home thus resulting in anger issues. Stanley has a wonderful exercise for those who suffer from anger issues. “Here’s the question every angry man of woman needs to consider: How long are you going to allow people you don’t even like—people who are no longer in your life, maybe even people who aren’t even alive anymore—to control your life? How long?”

Greed is third on the list. “Bottom line, the greedy people believe they deserve every good thing that comes their way.” However, “greed is a different breed than the other three enemies of the heart we’ll discuss. Greed disguises itself.” You might not believe that you are greedy by disguising it as being careful or frugal or saving for the future. “Greed isn’t a financial issue; it’s a heart issue. Financial gain doesn’t make greedy people less greedy. Financial gain or loss doesn’t change anything, because greed emanates from the heart.”

Jealousy is the fourth enemy of the heart. “Jealousy says, ‘God owes me’.” “Let’s face it: most of us believe on some level that if God had taken as good care of us as he has for some people we know, our lives would be richer.” Stanley goes on to say that on some level this might strike us as “absurd” but he is able to make a sound argument for his statement.

Stanley goes on to give his prescription for confronting these four illnesses. To confront guilt, one must publically confess the sin. The remedy for anger is forgiveness. The solution for greed is generosity. Jealousy means that we need to take it to God and pour out our unmet needs and let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts. He uses the Book of James to make this argument. And that we are to celebrate what we already have instead of being jealous of what we don’t have.

“Confess, forgive, give, celebrate” are the four prescriptions for what ails the human heart.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Anyone who wasn't able to get outside and enjoy this last week-end truly missed out. Thankfully, the rain knocked some of the pollen out of the air (it will be back I'm told), which made breathing a little easier. The warm air caused me to get started on planting my summer garden. I couldn't get everything in that I wanted because my winter garden is still ripening, but I did get in tomato, pepper, cilantro and basil. My basil exploded last year and ended up with tree-like stalks so I put it in a big container this year to make room for some other stuff. I harvested carrots, lettuce and chard. I still have broccoli and cauliflower producing, so it gets to stay in a little longer.

After spending Saturday gardening, I decided to rest and read after church on Sunday. I had Billy Abraham's new book "Celtic Fire" about evangelism on my Kindle and a comfy spot on the back patio to start reading, when my back neighbor started trying to cut some branches that were blocking her satellite. I couldn't just sit there and read when someone my Mom's age was working, so I got up and helped. A couple of hours later my arms were tired from cutting and snipping but we got her a clear path from her satellite to the open sky.

I did manage to read part of "Celtic Fire" later, I think Billy would be proud :) It did remind me of seminary when we read the book by George Hunter called "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" and it talked about the way evangelism was done by the early monks in Ireland. They moved into a community and started working in and with the people. It was a kinder, gentler way of evangelism versus the door knocking, forcible baptism evangelism of the "Roman" way. I loved that book because it showed me that there is a different path to evangelism that doesn't require me going door-to-door with pamphlets, something that my postmodern soul cringed at the thought of doing. The one problem that United Methodist clergy have with this particular way of evangelism is that we are seldom in one place long enough to put down the kind of roots necessary for George Hunter's method. It is still possible to train the laity up in this way of evangelism, however.

All in all, this was a great week-end to get things done around the house and rest up for the Palm Sunday/Easter rush that is hitting this week.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Time

By now most of us of almost used to the time change. I love Daylight Savings Time but detest the losing an hour of sleep part of the whole change over. I am becoming an advocate of leaving it this way forever. Who do we have to petition for that to become reality? I was stationed in Arizona for two years and for two years the time remained the same. I would have enjoyed it if I wasn't a shift worker and our shift rotated every two weeks, but I digress.

The other part of this time of year is becoming very apparent in the South, all of our cars are covered with a nice yellow color....tree pollen in out in full force. One can only gaze longingly out the window at the wonderful weather because to venture out requires a HazMat level breathing apparatus for those of us who suffer from allergies. I just take a record level of allergy medicine because I am weak willed and must go outside and work in my vegetable garden.

Friday, February 17, 2012


One of the worst parts of being a pastor is the whole employee/self-employed situation as it relates to the IRS. Before I loved when I received my W-2 because it meant that soon I would be getting a check in the mail from the US Government. I understand that it was really my money but it felt like a gift that meant I could buy something special or pay off bills or whatever.

Now when I get my W-2, it just means that I have to work on taxes even if I pay an accountant. It helps that I computerized all my stuff years ago so it doesn't mean digging through boxes of receipts or anything that horrible, but it still means that I have to spend the day getting things "ready" for the accountant. And it usually means that I end up having to pay into the IRS.

So like many unpleasant chores that I can put off, this is one of the things that I leave until the last minute. I am proud of myself for getting everything finished today. Hurray!! Yippee!! Alleluia!!

I can at least celebrate until the accountant calls back with how much I will have to pay by April 15. This year I did start having the churches I serve to start taking it right out of my paycheck, just like the old days. I have my fingers crossed that I will only owe the accountant this year.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Post Cruise

After returning home from the RevGalS BE#5, I finally succumbed to the pesky sinus infection/cold that had been threatening me for weeks. I guess everything I had done to push the sickness away from caused the eventual fall to be really, really harder than it might have normally been. In other words, I was sicker than a dog for over a week. Glad to report that I am finally on the mend except for a pesky, lingering cough.

My first cruise and my first time with so many other wonderful ministry women was a unique experience and I loved both. I was able to observe that so many of us go through the same ups and downs in our ministries. We don't all seem to deal with them in the same way or come out of them the same way, which is to be expected. The church is a rough place for women in leadership. We sometimes go into ministry thinking that everyone will be "just like Jesus" and loving, sweet and supportive ALL the time. We discover just the opposite. I think that ministry is much more rough and tumble than we like to admit.

When I worked in the corporate world, I knew going in that I was not going to win a lot of friends or popularity contests. I expected to have conflict and so was not disappointed when it came my way. With ministry, we seem to have an innate desire to please everyone and for everyone to like us. Thank God for my business experience, it doesn't strike me as hard as it might when I find that someone, for some reason or for no reason at all, just doesn't like me. Frankly, I find it hard to like some of them too. Oh, I can still love them as Jesus love me, but I won't be expected to be invited over for family events or anything.

It seems like most of my troubles seem to come from women and not men. I can get along with "grumpy old men" much better than I can with some women. At least with most of the men, they are up front with why they don't agree with something, not all women can be quite as direct.

So back to the cruise, we had such a large group that it was impossible to get to know everyone in only one week. And I am not complaining just stating a fact. I did feel that with almost every that I met however, that I COULD become friends with and that was a great feeling. I did hear some complaints from at least one of the old-timers about such a large group but I am am dismissing that due to the fact we are all bitchy once in while. I know that my physical sickness definitely interfered with getting to know many of the women and I regret that especially since I am usually healthy as a horse. I know that I would love to go again at some future date. Probably not next year since my daughter will be finishing her Senior year of high school and rumor as it that can get expensive.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stormy Weather

I live in the South, so stormy weather isn't at all unusual. However, having tornadoes on the ground in January is just plain weird and a little scary. I didn't have to get into my safe zone last night because the really bad ones were about 50 miles away, but it doesn't quit making one hyper-aware of the weather.

The bright spot on the horizon is the Continuing Education Cruise that I am taking next week with all my new and old friends from RevGalsBlog. We will sail the high and hopefully calm seas, as we study the upcoming lectionary.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Continuing My Education

I am leaving next week on a Continuing Education Cruise. Yeah, I know, it sounds like a rough thing to endure (laughing). It is a new adventure for me, however. First off, I have never been on a cruise and this coming right on the heels of the cruise calamity in Italy. That really didn't phase me at all, however. The part that worries me is that I am such an introvert it is hard to go into new situations with people I don't know, which is ironic considering the calling God has on my life. I will be moving into new situations on a regular basis with the United Methodist Church.

Thank goodness that I am traveling with my friend from seminary, who has been with from the very first day of school. I am certain that I will make some new friends on the journey. I have made a decision (which I hope I don't regret) to travel without my baby--the laptop. I am going to go old-school, Bible and a notebook but with my IPOD and Kindle and Smart-phone. Hey, a girl can only give up so much at one time :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eating With God - A Book Review

“Dinner With A Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering” by David Gregory

Spoiler Alert: This is a story of a man, Nick Cominsky, who receives an anonymous dinner invitation to a fancy restaurant from Jesus. He suspects that it is a prank joke from some of his buddies but decides to go anyway. What follows is an in-depth and personal encounter with Jesus. It is a story of a skeptic who has a meeting with God and he asks some of the questions that you and I might ask. I was disillusioned by only one part of the story, when the author is setting the scene in the restaurant and he writes, “In the middle of the room two weigh-challenged women giggled as they plunged into a monstrous chocolate torte.” (10) It seemed harsh and did not flow well with the story that would follow.

The best part of the book is when Nick challenges Jesus by saying, “The other day I passed by the church down the street, and their sign read, ‘No one comes to the Father but through me’ – Jesus. If you actually said that, I think you’re full of it.” (24) What follows is an interesting stroll through the variety of world religions and how they differ from Christianity. It was a compelling argument for Christianity.

From there, it moved into the notion of grace and God’s free gift to humanity. This is where it ties into the life story of Nick and why his own marriage is having problems. It delves into when Nick actually asked the question why Jesus was having this meeting with him and the loss of his father. It is a moving book and does a good job of answering some of the questions that seekers might ask.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Last night I had an encounter with a man carrying a Bible as I left my United Methodist Church. He said he was leaving the Baptist Church from across the street and had only had one drink that day. I congratulated him and then he asked for money. I told him I didn't have any cash on me but that tomorrow was our food pantry day and we could give him food. He was horribly insistent and it got a little tense as he was blocking me from my car. I kind of ducked under his arm and got in the car and rummaged around until I came up with a dollar and change to give to him. He said he needed it for the bus. My logical thought was "Well, how did you get to your church service and didn't you anticipate the need for a way home, or why not ask one of your church people for a ride?"

I know that it was made even more awkward (in my own mind) because I have a clergy sticker on the window of my car. I really don't carry any cash around with me except the change that ends up in my car ashtray. It is too easy to spend and is untraceable from a personal accounting standpoint, so I wasn't lying to the man.

I used to be a military police officer and it became a matter of feeling threatened. I don't know if I handled it in as gracious manner as I could have and that bothers me. As a Christian, I wonder at how we handle such situations and perhaps one of the solutions is not to walk to my car alone at night but that is not a theological response to things like this.