Monday, December 24, 2007

Hot Damn and Hallelujah!!!

I finally have my internet at home!!! Yay!!! Oh, and I have a phone again,
too, but that it so much less important!

Merry Christmas and may your services be meaningful and blessed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What Happened

Thanks, friends, for your concern. This has been my first chance to get on teh internet since Sunday night.

We got hit...hard....by the ice storm here. I don't have much time to post, so I'll just sum up: the huge branches of our sycamore tree decided to visit the power lines to our house, as well as our roof. So, we have a big ol' hole in our dining room and no electricity. Thankfully, we found a place to stay that has heat and lights while we wait for our home to be habitable. Many in this area aren't as fortunate.

Please pray for us around here, as there is a lot to do and peoples' fuses are getting shorter and shorter.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Speak Your Mind, Even If Your Voice Shakes."

And mine did shake this morning.

This overture, which had been tabled for a year, was defeated at Presbytery today. This was no thanks to me, as I kept having moments of aphasia while I was at the mic speaking and couldn't remember the word "overture." This happens to me a lot when I attempt to speak at Presbytery- rambling, forgetting the main point I wanted to make, etc....but I still find myself speaking at just about every meeting. And honestly, sometimes it's just because I can't stand it if no one under 50 has spoken, so I'll speak just so a young(er) voice is heard.

The debate could have been uglier than it was, but it was more heated than I would have liked. There were some very uncomfortable moments when they were trying to count votes- first by voice, then by showing of hands..... then, they asked us to stand to register our vote and there we were literally standing against one another. There was still confusion, so thankfully, ballots were handed out. It was interesting, by my estimation on the standing vote, the overture would have passed by, I'd say, 4 or 5 votes. Yet, when we voted by ballot, it was defeated by about 12. Some stormed out of the sanctuary after the result was announced.

While personally I am so glad that it didn't pass, I am also feeling grief over where we find ourselves as a Presbytery-not to mention our denomination. This skirmish is behind us, but we'll just very likely regroup for the next battle. How long can we keep this up? Really?

Someone made the comment on the floor of Presbytery that we are like a gallon of the Blue Bell Ice Cream flavor, The Great Divide, which has chocolate on one side and vanilla on the other. I only wish our division was as sweet! (mmmmmmmm.........Blue Bell........)

Oh, the former pastor of the church I am now serving sent a message to me via another pastor. The message was, "Do you know what the f(ireplace) you're getting into?" I just nodded and smiled, because what can I say to that?

I went home early because I began to feel pretty bad and a couple of people told me I looked "yellow." I never noticed that, but I was sure beat. I'll sleep well tonight.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How It Went

I've been feeling pretty bad this afternoon and I don't think it is completely because of my late night last night. I'm feeling a bit feverish and queasy. I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon tomorrow, thankfully. I bet I've just been overdoing it.

Anyway, real quick, here's how it went this morning...

  • I think I am going to actually like the drive down and back. It's a good four lane highway and the drive is about 39 minutes- not too long and I can listen to NPR. But, ask me again in a year.
  • The only Sunday School class- of any age- was a Bible class where I was told, "We're gonna look at Job today!" From what I could gather, they were only going to study Job just this week. I think there was someone prepared to teach children and youth, but there were no students today. My family is still worshipping with my former congregation since my kids had already begun preparations for the Christmas pageant before I was knew I was going to serve this congregation. We'll reevaluate in the new year.
  • I think I was grabbed and hugged by every church member I came across! I think some of the session members had let it slip that I had been extended more than one offer to serve as an interim, because a couple of folks said, "I'm so glad you chose us!" I've decided not to feel strange about that. It seems that they could use some esteem building.
  • Each year in Advent, the congregation invites the young men of a boys' home that our Presbytery supports to come to worship and then lavishly gives each of them gifts. I mean it- presents and cards with cash! One of the staff members of the boys' home, whom I had never met, led the service. I suspected that he wasn't Presbyterian when I saw that his gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent was Luke 2 and his 30 minute sermon was entitled "Noses Pushed Against the Glass of the Bethlehem Nursery." He is the newest staff member and is a Southern Baptist pastor. It wasn't a bad sermon, but I think folks will be happy with my 12-15 minute sermons!

I'm in a very good place right now- peaceful, grateful and really, really excited about this new ministry!

3:40 am...

....and I can't sleep. So, I'm insomnablogging.

I guess I'm a little nervous and wound up about my first official day as interim pastor tomorrow. Thankfully, I just have to be present and am not preaching.

I'll need lots of coffee in the morning for the 40 mile drive!

Have a blessed first Sunday of Advent, everyone!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Someone Shoot Me Now

In the spirit of today's Friday Five, I have to add that The Polar Express is the most tedious movie I have ever seen.
We've been watching it for an hour and a half now and it feels like at least 4 hours have passed.
The animation is creepy- the eyes on the people look dead.
And the whole point of the movie is "Christmas is in your heart," expressed, of course, by Tom Hank's version of Santa Claus. (Speaking of creepy...)
Oh, please, no.... now we have band Aerosmith as elves.....
I think I hear the baby Jesus crying....because he's creeped out and bored.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday Five: The Comeback Edition

I'm feeling a little better, so I thought I'd quickly do this Friday Five:

WillSmama writes: Parishioners pushing for carols before you digested your turkey?

Organist refusing to play Advent hymns because he/she already has them planned for Lessons & Carols?

Find yourself reading Luke and thinking of a variety of ways to tell Linus where to stick it? (Lights please.)



Then this quick and easy Friday Five is for you! And for those of you with a more positive attitude, have no fear. I am sure more sacred and reverent Friday Fives will follow.

Please tell us your least favorite/most annoying seasonal....

1) dessert/cookie/family food My mother-in-law makes this "Christmas cake," which she can call it that if she wants, but it's a fruitcake. 'nuff said.

2) beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...) Drinks made with crappy, sub-par ingredients. I don't want peppermint flavored or eggnog flavored drinks. Give me the real deal if I'm gonna indulge!


3) tradition (church, family, other) overgifting by the grandparents


4) decoration Those ginormous snowglobe things that people put on their lawns. I just want to poke them with a stick. Not that I would, mind you....


5) gift (received or given) Almost anything given to my children by the grandparents. Their goal in holiday gift giving is to buy the most obnoxious toy for the children because they don't have to live with the noise. The worst? Hulk Hands of a couple of years ago.

BONUS: SONG/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it. Any Christmas song being played on the radio while it is still freakin' November!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Utterly Uneventful....

the surgery was, anyway. I was home within three hours of being wheeled into the OR- amazing!

I threw-up the pain meds, which was rather painful.

Cutting this short because looking at the computer is making me woozy.

Thanks for your prayers and well-wishes!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Under the Knife

It may be quiet here for a couple of days because I'm finally having my surgery tomorrow morning. I'm getting it done just in time before the really, really good insurance coverage I have through hospice expires.

It's an outpatient procedure, so I should be home in the afternoon. I have ordered from Netflix the seasons of Sex and the City that I've never seen and I plan to just lie on the couch and watch TV. While I'm not looking forward to recovering from surgery, I am looking forward to some peace and quiet!

Later!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Five: The Day After Thanksgiving


Singing Owl at Revgals writes: Ah, the day after Thanksgiving--groan! Fortunately, I love Thanksgiving leftovers.Thanksgiving is the American holiday when the greatest number of people travel somewhere else to celebrate. I am posting this from my son’s home in Minnesota where we are recovering from the food shopping and the preparations and the meal and the clean up. It is difficult to think of anything requiring much energy today, and I am enjoying my sweet baby granddaughter, so I will keep it simple. For those of you not in the USA, I apologize for the nationalistic tone of this Friday Five!


1. Did you go elsewhere for the day, or did you have visitors at your place instead? How was it?

After my son's birthday party the day before, we were very chill yesterday for Thanksgiving. My great-aunt, my only relative in town, came over and spent the day with us. We ate very well and watched movies. Very nice.


2. Main course: If it was the turkey, the whole turkey, and nothing but the turkey, was it prepared in an unusual way? Or did you throw tradition to the winds and do something different?

No turkey for these vegetarians! We had a yummy tofurky. Don't laugh.... it was awesome!

Check out this funny song from SNL a few years ago called "Basted in Blood."


3. Other than the meal, do you have any Thanksgiving customs that you observe every year?

Not really, we just try to make it a day where we enjoy time together.


4. The day after Thanksgiving is considered a major Christmas shopping day by most US retailers. Do you go out bargain hunting and shop ‘till you drop, or do you stay indoors with the blinds closed? Or something in between?

I make it a point to buy absolutely nothing on the day after Thanksgiving.


5. Let the HOLIDAY SEASON commence! When will your Christmas decorations go up?

When I get around to it....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Decision Made

The session got its act together and is offering me a fair package. Since beginning this process , I have sensed that I am called to serve this church right now. So, I am going to accept it.

Decision made. I'm ready to move forward.

thanks be to God.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Confused

I just got off the phone with the Clerk of Session of the church I thought for sure I was going to serve as interim pastor. When am I going to learn to never think anything is "for sure?"

Well, it turns out that there was some confusion at their Session meeting Thursday night concerning my pay package. There were those present who thought I had said that the figure we were talking about included Board of Pension dues (pension and medical insurance.) When they found out by the others who did not have that misunderstanding that that was not the case, they freaked out a little. So the Session decided to table the discussion until the whole Stewardship committee can meet a week from next Thursday!

I told her that I had another offer and that I could not keep them waiting for so long. Besides, my family needs me employed pronto.

I am so confused. I truly thought I would go to serve this church, as I was not as drawn to the other church. However,I told this other church that I would let them know by Monday and I know that they are clear on the package. In fact, when the man called me to offer the position to me, he repeated twice, "This is not including Board of Pensions dues."

I can't see turning down the solid offer and waiting for the other. Even if I did wait, do I still want to go to this church? Do I not accept either position and wait for a called position? What do we do for money to pay the mortgage?

I am feeling sheer panic right now and need to just calm down. I'm sorry if I'm rambling and making no sense.

Any thoughts out there?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Invited to Both Dances

Both churches have asked me to serve as their interim pastor, which is great, but I hate having to turn anyone down. I'd rather eat worms.

There really is no question, in my mind, as to which church I feel called to serve. However, my husband leans toward the other because it's a little easier to get to and, he believes, the road is safer. They are offering practically identical pay packages, so no real difference there.

Considering the situation I have found myself in with being laid-off, this truly is an extravagant blessing to be asked to serve by both churches.

Now, I just hope that I will be an effective interim.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Grateful

Just a quick happy......

At Presbytery Council this week, the pastor of one of our churches here in town overheard me talking about my concern in finding a good childcare/pre-school situation after having to leave my daughter's last school due to my no job=no money situation. He said to me, "Call me tomorrow" and left it at that because we had to begin our meeting.

So, I called him and he said that the board of their church's Child Development Center would like to give my daughter a place tuition-free for a couple of months to help us out in this difficult time. I am beyond grateful- this a great program and finding childcare in this town is so hard. (And those of you have been reading my blog for awhile know that childcare is a touchy subject with since last May.)

I am hopeful that our ability to pay the tuition will be sooner rather than later, as I will be hearing back this week from both churches I interviewed with for interim positions. I feel particularly drawn to the one I preached for this past Sunday. (That would be Church "B" from my post the other day.)

I feel a sense of peace at serving as an interim right now. And I will have no intention of bailing after 3 months for a called position! I am beginning to actually trust that the timing will work out just splendidly- for everyone.

It feels good to know that when I do go back to work I won't have to scramble for childcare. And it feels great to know that we have friends and colleagues who care.

God is good.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

25 going on 12

This afternoon I confronted a young, twenty-five year old man today after he drove his Camero like a bat out of hell down our street while my children were playing in our driveway. I knocked on the door of the home he shares with his parents and younger sister. His mom answered the door and invited me in. This was how this young man reacted to my visit:

Me: Jacob, I would like to ask you to please drive more slowly down our street. I have two small children and I need to keep them safe.

Jacob: I appreciate you coming by and all, but now I'm going to hear it from her all night (motions to mother). Thanks a lot.

The conversation went south from there.

I am seriously worried that I will wake up with slashed tires tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ten Things About Me

Alex tagged me for this meme. I think I may have done this one before, but I will try to think of some new things to share with you all about moi.

1. My left hand is bigger than my right hand, by quite a bit.

2. When I was a teenager, I boycotted Universal Studios for two years because of the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. I had never seen the picture, of course. This stand of mine prompted my mother to declare that I was "moral to a fault." Alas, she was right.

3. I later rented said movie in my early 20's and was ticked that I had given up seeing lots of good movies those couple of years over ....that.

4. I have never gone skinny dipping, but it is a desire of mine to do so before I die. Actually, I've thought about it as a reward for after I lose weight. I don't really want to skinny dip while I'm still fat.

5. I may have mentioned this on my blog before, but in 1996 I ran into George Clooney in Bratislava, Slovakia. I had accidentally wandered onto the set where they were filming The Peacemaker. George just kind of smirked at me and I got the heck out of there! I haven't seen the movie. Is it any good?

6. I went to church by myself for most of my adolescence.

7. I used to love to go cliff diving. Now, not so much.

8. I never dreamed of being a mother. My husband and I had lots of conversations prior to getting married about not being parents because I wanted it to be crystal clear that I didn't think that motherhood was in my future. You may not believe this, but after I said, "I do," I began to have the desire to be a mother.

9. I've been a vegetarian for about 8 years.

10. I'll share with you why I use the pseudonym "Iris." When I was about 3 years old, I used to tell people that my name was Iris. My parents don't know where I heard the name, but I guess I fell in love with it and wanted it to be my name. My mom also tells me that I would answer "Iris" when asked, "What is your name?" However, I would answer with my real name whenever I was asked "Who are you?" So, I knew who I was. But my name was Iris.

I tag PK, LutheranMom, and tngirl

Friday, November 02, 2007

After the Phone Interview

The phone interview went very well. They asked thoughtful questions and laughed easily. It felt good.

The question is: do I want to go there to freeze my tushie off?

Friday Five: Interviews

Mary Laura writes: Songbird just had an interview for a "vague and interesting" possibility, and More Cows than People is doing campus visits for doctoral programs. There always seem to be a few RevGals applying for new positions, and I just got my first call for this year's preliminary interviews for college teaching jobs at the American Academy of Religion meeting in San Diego coming up in a few weeks. It's for my dream job among this year's offerings, and I am flipflopping between excitement and nervousness. So please keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer for everyone facing such conversations, and share your thoughts on the wonderful world of interviews:

This is a very timely Friday Five for me, as I have a phone interview this afternoon and two face-to-face interviews on Sunday and Monday. So, I'll be reading all of your answers with much interest!

1. What was the most memorable interview you ever had?
The Summer after my Freshman in year in college, my friend who was a nanny needed a substitute for a week and asked me if I would do it. I agreed and my friend arranged for me to meet the family one day before she left. So, I came by at the agreed time for what I thought would be just a quick hello and run down of the kids' schedules, etc. I wasn't expecting when I walked into the living room to find the kids, a girl 9 years old and boy 7 years old, sitting side by side on the couch each with a legal pad and pen ready to "interview me." At first I thought it was cute and I was amused by their very grown-up questions like, "What is the best book you've read in the last year?" I answered all of their questions and was about to ask to what time I should show up on the first day of my friend's absence when the little girl said, "We don't think that you are taking this very seriously. I mean, you dressed in a shorts and a t-shirt for a job interview. We're going to ask if Kristen has any other friends she could ask." It was okay by me. I always hated babysitting!

2. Have you ever been the interviewer rather than the interviewee? If so, are you a tiger, a creampuff, or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between, I guess. I usually conduct interviews by committee. So, if others on the committee are being tigers, I'll usually be the cream puff. However, if the interviewee comes off as overconfident or pompous, I'll become a tiger.

3. Do phone interviews make you more or less nervous than in-person ones?
Neither less or more nervous. There are several advantages to the phone interview as far as not having to dress up and being able to spread out all the information about the church on my bed to consult during the interview. However, it's often disconcerting to not have the opportunity to read body language. For all I know, people might be rolling their eyes during the entire interview!

4. What was the best advice you ever got to prepare for an interview? How about the worst?
Oh, the absolute best advice I've ever received is "Know when to shut up!" It's very easy to get diarrhea of the mouth and go on and on and on. This is especially helpful advice during phone interviews and on the floor of Presbytery!

I can't think of any bad advice I've received, but I'm sure I've given plenty of bad advice!

5. Do you have any pre-interview rituals that give you confidence?
For a phone interview, I almost always talk in my bedroom away from the rest of the family. The room has to be very tidy or I feel scattered. So, I take time to clean my room and, although they can't see me, I make sure that I am dressed in something besides my pj's or sweat pants.

For in person interviews, I will often take sometime by myself in the hour or so right before to collect myself and pray.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I love Fall...

... and my digital camera and my crockpot!

Some of you shoe blog,
well, I stew blog!



This is my unbeef stew I made today.
J. made some corn bread.

Yummy, yum, yum!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Lady Bug and Stitch

I am trying my hand at posting photos fr0m our new (to us) digital camera. A co-worker gave it my husband.

I love Halloween. The kids are so excited! Have fun and be safe everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Situation

I have thrown my name in to be considered for two interim positions in nearby towns. I preached at Church "A" this past Sunday and will preach at Church "B" this coming Sunday. I know that I wrote a couple of days ago that I they would both be good options, but now I'm thinking that I wrote that because I was just so glad that there were any immediate possibilities at all. Getting dumped on your ass suddenly makes you feel that way, I've found.

Church A is a nice small church about 35 miles away from my home. I've preached there twice and have had good experiences both times. In fact, I first submitted my PIF to be considered for the interim this past summer when I decided I really needed to be employed full-time. I was told then that they were going to skip the interim process all together and use pulpit supply until they call their next pastor. I thought, "Yeah, right!," but I didn't sweat it because I accepted the hospice job.

I got a phone call yesterday from an elder of Church A who identified himself as chairperson of the interim search committee. (I knew COM wouldn't go for their no interim idea!) He said that they really like me, but they don't want me to be their interim pastor. They want me to be their called pastor and want to "back burner" me until that time. I am not joking. He really said this.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I told him that I was flattered by their confidence in me and that I had been praying about whether or not to submit my PIF when the time came (which was true- now not so much.) However, my situation had changed and I found myself in need of employment now. He said that they were considering a couple of other pastors, but that they would interview me in 2 weeks. Geez.

Among the challenges that Church A would present is the fact that their recently retired pastor continues to be present each Sunday, singing in the choir, and has informed COM that she has no intention of not doing so indefinitely. I am all for retired pastors being invited back to serve as pastor emeritus, but it seems to me that she is not giving the congregation a chance to look ahead and will cause problems for the next called pastor.

However, this congregation is healthy in many other ways and the people are delightful. Someone just needs to be very forthright with this pastor.

Church B is also about 35 miles away in another direction. Their pastor was so fed up with them and ready to move on that he resigned a month before it was even certain that he had been extended his next call. (He did. Whew!) I have never been to this church, but I know a few members who are active in Presbytery. They have been described to me as being quite negative and ready to blame the pastor for everything. Granted, most of this information was given to me by their former pastor and there are two sides to every story.

The challenge in this situation will be to help them through any anger they are experiencing and help them to look forward. After service this Sunday, I will be interviewed by the interim search committee of Church B. Chances are, I will know something from them before I am even interviewed by Church A.

In the midst of all of this, I am continuing to think about a called position. I was contacted today by a PNC who would like to do a phone interview on Friday. I think I could be interested in this position. Is it okay to accept an interim (if I'm even offered the job) when I'm actively looking for a called position?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Iris the Tree Hugger


Today was a gorgeous 70 degree day here, so I decided to take a walk in one of the many parks in this city in the Bible Belt. (I tell you, this town has great parks and libraries.) This particular park doesn't really have proper walking paths, which is okay because it makes walking in this wooded park rather more like hiking than walking.

I had only been walking a few minutes when I was overtaken by an irresistible desire to....hug a tree. I'm serious. There was no way of talking myself out of it. I just had to hug a tree. Now, the park wasn't especially crowded, but I walked further into the woods anyway and began to scan the trees to locate the object of my affections.

Now, I'm awful with identifying trees, but I found a nice tall one on which someone had built a birdhouse. I had been so enthralled with last week's episode of Pushing Daisies where Kristen Chenoweth and Ellen Greene's characters together sang They Might Be Giant's, "Make Little a Birdhouse in Your Soul," so this had to be the tree I would embrace. (You can watch the Pushing Daisies scene here.)

So after looking over each shoulder to make sure I wasn't being observed, I cozied up to that big ol' tree and threw my arms around it. I liked the feeling of the rough bark on my arms and the side of my face, so I squeezed a little bit harder. But just a little bit.

Now, you may think that I am nut. But I have to tell you that my tree hugging experience made me feel grounded and I truly wonder why more people don't engage in tree hugging outside of making a political statement.

As I walked away from the tree, I was wondering why I felt so compelled to hug a tree. My answer came a few steps away as I came upon a monument erected by the Shakespeare Society to, well, Shakespeare. On one side it read,

"Then how can it be said that I am alone
when all the world is here to look on me?"

This is part of a banter between Helena and Demetrius in "A Midsummer's Night Dream," but taken by itself on that monument this afternoon made me feel connected and loved by the God of the Universe.

So, I am a silly 35 year old woman who hugs trees in the park. What next, but "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm Still Here

Thank you, friends, for your kind words and support. It means a lot. In the year I have been blogging, you all have been a wonderful support in so many ways.

I've been doing all right, but I have been coughing my head off for about two weeks. So, I've just been lying low and trying to be good to myself and my family. I have moments of pretty intense anger where I imagine what I might say if I ever ran into the hospice owner. Hopefully God will give me the grace to not say most of those things when the situation arises. My city is rather large, but not so large that there isn't a good chance I'll run into him at some point.

As much as I am angry about my own situation, I think I am even more aghast at the the social worker that was laid -off 7 months pregnant! It makes me sick. It is unconscionable.

The name of this hospice is indeed ironic- Grace Hospice.

So, what now? I need to find work very soon. I applied for unemployment benefits, but was denied, as I knew I would be. My General Presbyter has given me an application for a shared grant between the Board of Pensions and the Presbytery that is for situations such as mine. He says that there will be no problem for me to receive anywhere between $2,000-$4,000. So, we won't have to put our house up for sale....yet.

I have submitted my PIF to two churches nearby who are looking for an interim pastor. As it happens, I was already scheduled to preach at these churches the next two weeks. Either would be a good and challenging situation. I would need to go to Interim training, however. I have also sent my PIF far and wide for called positions. And my PIF is still in the "system" and I am continuing to be matched with Pastor Nominating Committees.

I appreciate and continue to covet your prayers as I try to trust God.

Friday, October 19, 2007

They Picked Me

As I knew they would.

I get a whole 2 weeks severence.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Four Things Meme

RevKim tagged me for this meme ages ago and I'm finally getting around to it!

Four Jobs I've Held
carhop at an A&W drive-in
birthday party clown (not anywhere near as fun as it might sound)
English teacher
room service waitress

Four Films I Could Watch Over & Over (And I Do!)
These are not necessarily the best film I have ever seen, but are ones that make me happy!
Spirited Away
The Princess Bride
When Harry Met Sally
A Fish Called Wanda

Four T.V. Shows I Watch
Heroes (The pacing has improved. That last episode was just made of awesome!)
Ugly Betty
Pushing Daisies
How I Met Your Mother

Four Places I've Lived
Casper, WY
Budapest, Hungary
Abilene, TX
Denver, CO

Four Favorite Foods
homemade chocolate chip cookies
pesto made from the basil I grow on my back patio
my great-grandmother's oyster dressing
grilled vegetables


Four Websites I Visit
of course, the wonderful blogs in my sidebar (I can lump all those into one answer, right?)
my bank's website
For Better or For Worse
the Opportunities List of PC(USA)'s Church Leadership Connection website

Four Favorite Colors
cornflower blue
black
crimson
midnight blue

Four Places I Would Love To Be Right Now
anywhere by myself
on a massage therapist's table
in a bubble bath
not here


Four Names You Love, But Could/Would Not Use For Your Children
Lydia (was going to be our daughter's name, but we found that the name didn't match the baby!)
Meredith (my cousin's daughter's name)
Zachary (my husband didn't want to name our child after an old boyfriend!)
Charlotte (my husband had a bad association with this name.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This Just In.....

It was announced this morning that there are going to be a round of layoffs across all departments, including one chaplain.

hmmmmm...... I wonder which chaplain that will be? Oh yeah, the one who just came on board fewer than four months ago, I'm sure. Although they tell me that nothing has been decided yet.

The three chaplain who remain will have crappy schedules and, of course, increased patient and bereavement caseloads on top of what already seems to be barely manageable. Two of the chaplains will have to cover the weekends.

I've been looking at unemployment benefits and it looks like I won't qualify because it's based on what you made the whole year prior, excluding the most recent quarter. Well, the most recent quarter I've been at the hospice making a pretty decent salary. Before, I was working part-time at the church making about $1200/month, not counting benefits.

Pray for me. I need a new call- pronto.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Five: The B-I-B-L-E

Mother Laura at RevGals writes:
Does everyone remember the old Sunday School song?

The B-I-B-L-E,
Oh, that's the book for me.
I take my stand on the Word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E.

I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's experience and reflection on these B-I-B-L-E questions:

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a biblical text?
I'm not sure about this.

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? (You might have a few for different purposes).
NRSV, The Message (though not technically a translation.)

3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage?
Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will be faithful to bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Which verse(s) make you want to scream?
For me, there is not a book that in its entirety is "straw", but there are certainly "straw" verses. I Timothy 2:11-15, for instance, is one big ol' bale of hay! Just two days ago I was with a patient who was very depressed about his current state who said, "The bible just makes me mad sometimes!" I think he thought that I would be shocked, but of course, I wasn't. I happenedthat day to be carrying with me my bible I received when I was a teenager. I pulled it out and showed him how banged up and notched the cover was and told him that it was in that condition because of all the times I have thrown it against a wall. I was 16 years old when I first acknowledged my call to be a pastor and the "straw" passages of I Timothy and others caused me to go nuts! I think it was a revelation for my patient that it's okay to not like all of the bible.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral?
I am most definitely for inclusive language.

Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart?
Right now, Psalm 139. "You hem me in- behind and before."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is It Wrong....


....that my new TV boyfriend looks remarkably like my actual husband?
Pushing Daisies- cute show!
MoreCows, I am still enjoying Heroes, but it needs to pick up the pace very soon or they might lose me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Like Mother, Like Son

I'm angry with my son's behavior.......

He's acting exactly like his mother.

Oy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Shameless Solicitation of Ideas....

I'm in charge of planning a memorial service for those patients who have died in the past year. It's a very big deal as we invite the entire staff and, of course, family and friends of our deceased patients.

I have bulletins from past years, but I'm not inspired. We have a harpist and a vocalist. They have a tradition of each person setting a stone in a fountain in remembrance of their loved one.

Anyone have any wonderful ideas? Songs, poems, anything.....

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Five: Thankfulness List


A quick Friday Five from Mary Beth at RevGals.


I am, of course, thankful for my family, church and home, but this day I am also thankful for.....


1. I think I wrote this last time we did a thankfulness Friday Five, but it's applicable again.....chewable antibiotics that my daughter will take without me having to chase her around the house first!


2. that my husband and I seem to be getting a handle on our run-away finances. A full-time salary helps!


3. legumes. There are endless dishes one can prepare using beans. (I also thank God for Beano!)


4. the state fair is almost over. The fairgrounds are about three blocks away and, let's just say, people aren't always on their best behavior.


5. my beautiful mums and pansies I just planted last weekend. They are so cheerful. (I'd post a pic, but I don't yet know how to use the digital camera we were just given.)


How about you?


Friday, September 28, 2007

A Reminder

Three months ago, she lost her husband of over forty years. As she was speaking to the group about her husband, she looked me right in the eye and said,

" You fall in and out of love. When you're out of love, he's your best friend."

She was talking about her relationship with her deceased husband, but she was re-reminding me of the choice my husband and I make each and every day to love one another. I needed that reminder.

I'm glad she decided to come to our bereavement group yesterday.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Blogoversay to Me!

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.


I just realized that today is my 1st blogoversary!

In my very first post, which took me about an hour to write because I was so nervous, I wrote, "If you had asked me just last week if I would ever have a blog, I would have laughed until I peed." Geez, I spent an hour agonizing over that post and that's my opening line!

But that was certainly the truth. I had always thought that blogs were for people who took themselves and their opinions way too seriously and it seemed like work. And I hate work. What I found, however, was community.....a community that has become a real, not just a virtual, part of my life and ministry.

So, thank you friends for all the ways in which you have enriched my life this past year. I want to especially thank you all for the support you gave to me last May when I was dealing with the child care worker situation. Your kind words and prayers meant so much.

So, I guess I'll keep with it for another year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Hunting (Nominating) Season

I think that I have mentioned here that my husband and children are still faithful members of the church I most recently served before becoming a hospice chaplain. Well, it didn't take the nominating committee long to swoop down on my husband now that he's no longer married to one of the pastors. Wait... that sounds like we're no longer married. You know what I mean!

Tomorrow night, two members of the nomcom are taking my hubby out to coffee with the purpose of asking him to serve on Session. He has never served on session and has, to my knowledge, never sensed the call to do so.

I'm trying very hard to keep my nose out of this decision. There's a part of me that doesn't want him to because I'd like to relish in these meeting free evenings for awhile. On the other hand, if he feels like he's called to serve in this way, I'd hate for him to say no. If he doesn't serve now, I wonder if he ever would. He has said that he absolutely would not serve as an elder of a session where I am the moderator. Not because he thinks I'm a sucky moderator, but because he fears that it wouldn't be the best thing for our marriage. I think he might be right about that.

So, what do you all think about pastors' spouses serving on session (or your denomination's equivalent?)

P.S. How do you do that neat trick where it looks like you've crossed out a word? I wanted to do that in my title, but didn't know how.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Week at Hospice

One of my patients I visit is an 87 year old woman with dementia who is such a hoot. (Let's call her Maxine.) Each time I visit, Maxine asks me if I have kids and when I answer "yes, I have a six year old son and a three year old daughter," she responds, "How can you have a six year old when you can't be older than nineteen!" I love Maxine.

In my past visits she might have forgotten my name, but she always knew me as the chaplain. Yesterday she didn't, and I am beginning to see signs of decline. However, she still was her hilarious self this day and, of course, we had the above mentioned conversation. Yesterday, however, she took a look at my big belly and the following conversation took place:

Maxine: Are you pregnant?

Me: No, are you?

Maxine: (laughs out loud) Oh dear, not me! I just saw your stomach and thought you were pregnant.

Me: No, I just have a big belly and I need to have some surgery to fix something in there.

(pause)

Maxine: Can you still have sex?

[end scene]
Today I officiated the funeral of "Percy," a 76 year old man who died with Alzheimer's. Percy was a golden gloves boxer who once fought Floyd Patterson at Madison Square Garden before Patterson became the world heavyweight champ. It was only one of two fights that Percy ever lost.
Percy was extremely difficult to handle, especially at night when the "Sundown Syndrome" would really kick-in. His behavior turned destructive, such as tearing the drapes off the wall and pulling the upholstery off the furniture. Last week, he took a terrible fall and broke his head open. It is hard to believe, but his behaviors got even worse. The nurse told me that oftentimes with Alzheimer's patients, wild behavior is indicative of pain. So, it was decided that he needed to be given some serious pain medication and, not too surprisingly, when his body was free from pain and was able to relax, he died a few days later.
Percy was not connected to any faith community in his adulthood and I am told by his wife that, as far as she knew, he never talked about spiritual matters. However, the last time I saw him alive he looked at me and said, "Pray for me." Four days later, he died. I wonder just how God was communicating to him in those last days.
All in all, a good week.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!

I'm back from my pulpit supply gig. What a great morning!

  • I found this morning that for the first time in two years I could fit into my favorite purple suit. So, I felt pretty today.
  • I'm picking the blue play dough that I played with in the pulpit off of my rings. Yeah, I had fun!
  • I most certainly did NOT preach a dud this morning. Thank you, God!
  • The congregation was overwhelmingly warm and welcoming to me.
  • I can tell that the two music directors are incredibly gifted musicians and are worship, rather than performance, oriented.
  • They are going to elect their Pastor Nominating Committee later this month, but I have no clue how long it will take from them to be ready to review PIF's. God, help me to be patient.
  • The chair-apparent of said PNC said to me after service, "So, you're going to apply, right?" This is very, very encouraging, yet at the same time, I hope that she doesn't say that kind of thing to me anymore. I know that they will be receiving PIF's from many other fine pastors and she needs to keep her mind and heart open.
  • God, also help me to trust you. This may be my call..... might not.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday Sermon Writing

It's almost noon on Saturday. I am doing pulpit supply tomorrow and I'm only about a quarter of the way through with writing the sermon. I really don't want to preach a dud tomorrow because I want to apply to be this congregation's pastor when the time comes.

Thank God for the 11th Hour Preacher Party over at the RevGals!

Please pray for me!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

.....and her head did not explode!

The memorial service at the nursing home was this morning. The activities director (the anti- women minister gal) greeted my colleague and me when we arrived. Well, I should say, she nodded at me and directed all of her comments to the male chaplain. I didn't look at her during the service, so I don't know what her reaction was to my leading the majority of the service.

The service itself went very well and the family was very appreciative. The male chaplain played the guitar while leading the hymn singing. Since I don't play the guitar, I was grateful that he was there to lead that part. I could have done without him giving what amounted to another homily right after I had given mine, but whatever.

Right before we left, I saw him give the activities director his card and heard him say to her, "I'd be glad to come out and do a music program sometime." You know, I might just say to my supervisor that this guy should just be assigned to this facility.

Did I just have a massage on Sunday? Time for another one.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Reason Why I Love My Husband



I don't think I mentioned what my husband gave me for my birthday.

For the long weekend, we are headed over to this beautiful little town the next state over. On Sunday morning, before he and the kidlets head over to a wildlife refuge, I'm being dropped off at the spa for an hour massage and a facial.

One of the Social Workers at hospice said, "What husband school did he go to and can I enroll mine there?"

I'm not sure that my husband's innate sweetness is something that can be learned.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sliding and Nipping

I'm stuck today between indignation and being glad to not have to do extra work.

One of my elderly patients died yesterday. She was a resident of this sad little nursing home with an Activities Director who tells anyone who will listen how awful it is that our hospice has a woman chaplain. She says, "It's not in the Bible and it's wrong!" I'm usually just happy to ignore the ranting of such people. There's nothing that I can say or do to change her mind and I'm certainly not going to stop doing what I'm doing because of anything she says.

Well, this afternoon one of my fellow chaplains, a guy, comes into my office and asks, "Was Mrs. H. your patient? Because the Activities Director at sad little nursing home just called and asked me to do her memorial service at the nursing home next week. Just thought I'd let you know. "

Huh.

My colleague never visited this woman or her family and I only did a couple of times since I've been with hospice. I talked with a family member of the deceased an hour or so later and she mentioned that they had asked the facility to coordinate with us in doing a service. I didn't get the vibe that they didn't want me involved, but that they were grief-stricken and wanted someone else to take care of arrangements.

I don't feel any special attachment to this woman, though I'm sure she was a fine person. I'm not chomping at the bit to do this service, but I wonder if I'd be doing the right thing to just let it slide. First of all, I can't let this Activities Director think that she can get in the way of my doing my job at this facility. I am the only chaplain who sees our hospice's patients at this facility. Second, I wonder if I need to say something to my colleague. Something just doesn't sit right with me about him agreeing to do a service for one of my patients.

Please tell me: am I feeling weird about this for no good reason? I don't want to be territorial, but I also don't want to let this slide when (to mix my metaphors) this is something that should be nipped in the bud.

To let slide, or to nip?......that is the question.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's My Birthday!

It's my 35th birthday today. Have one of my cupcakes!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes(12 servings)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Filling1-8 ounce package of cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1-6 ounce package chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine cocoa, flour, oil, baking soda, vanilla, water, and sugar until smooth.
In a smaller bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.
Line a 12 cup cupcake pan with paper liners. Pour equal amounts of chocolate mixture in each cup. Top with equal amounts of cream cheese mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What Will Heaven Be Like?

Here in this city in the Bible Belt, the local grocery stores often have tables near the registers with "inspirational" books for sale. Tonight this one caught my eye, What Will Heaven Be Like? The copy in the store had a sticker affixed to it that read, "Seven Common Myths Debunked!"
Since I needed to go home to feed my children, I didn't take the time to look into the pages of the book to see what those myths were, nor did I get to read just how Mr. Hartman became such an authority on heaven. Does he read the same Bible that I read? Because my Bible is quite vague on that topic.
This is the theological emphasis that is prevalent in my city; that the life hereafter is all that truly matters. The whole point, or at least the most important part, of faith is to get a fire insurance policy against going to hell. And the way to obtain this fire insurance is to say the magic words (the "sinner's" prayer) and *poof* you're a Christian.
I'm noticing this more now than I have in the four years we've lived here because I'm realizing that I have been wrapped in a liberal cocoon, surrounded mostly by Christians who, for the most part, think like me. Of course, at Presbytery meetings, I am around folks who have a different perspective, but I tend to stick to those who, again, are a lot like me. It feels safer that way in today's PC(USA.) Safe, but not very healthy.
In my new gig as a hospice chaplain, my job is to meet people where they are spiritually and minister to them in a language that is familiar and comforting. Considering the religious ethos of this metro area, most of my patients and their families have quite a different take on things than I do. But you know what? When I act and speak in a manner that seeks to reflect the love and grace of Jesus Christ, I find that in the sacred days before death, we are speaking the same language.
A daughter of one of my patients asked me the other day, "Are you born again?" Any other time I would have bristled, but at this moment I said, "If by that you are asking if Jesus Christ is my Savior and if I believe in the God of eternity, then the answer is 'yes.'" At another time and place, this answer may not have satisfied her, but in these sacred days as she walks this journey with her dying mother, she was comforted.
There are very real, very important and very painful issues that divide us as Christians. This is how it is and I believe I am called to work toward the goal of a church and a world that reflects the justice, peace and compassion of God; oftentimes in opposition to brothers and sisters in Christ whom I believe have it all wrong. And they I.
But I wonder...maybe I'm getting just a small glimpse of what heaven is like by walking these journeys with the dying and their families. That in the final analysis, our lives will come to an end and all that matters then is that we are precious children of a loving and merciful God.
Somehow, I doubt that Jack Hartman wrote about that in his book.
ETA: For some reason blogger will not let me put spaces between my paragraphs. Sorry of it's hard to read.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

and now for something completely different....

Clay Aiken tried to get his sexy on. I think he's goofing, I hope. It's a bit disturbing, but in a hilarious way!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A TMI Post

Warning: This post contains what some might deem to be TMI (Too Much Information.)

I got my test results today. The good news: all of my female parts are in tip top shape and my uterine fibroids are not causing my discomfort. The bad news: I've got an umbilical hernia and apparently it's pretty big.

It's weird, I always thought that you could see a big bulge or bump with a hernia. As I said before, my abdomen has been steadily growing bigger, but it's been growing all over, not just bulging in one spot. Also, I am unsure what is causing this feeling of fullness, like I have too much fluid in my belly.

I am going to see more doctors and figure this all out. Thanks for all of your prayers and good thoughts. But all of this is pretty lame, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ewwwwwww!

Do anything you want to me: poke me, prod me, set my hair on fire... but please do not make me drink something gross!

The barium drink was just more than I could take. I know that sounds very melodramatic, but it kicked my butt all the way down the hall. I have never known myself to be such a baby about something, but this stuff was putrid. I just hope that I got enough inside of me to make the CT scan worth it because I'm not drinking that crap again.

The scan itself went fine, I think. Took about an hour. I'm not sure when I'll know anything.

Today is my 9th wedding anniversary. I think I'd rather go out to pizza with my kids and my husband than go to some romantic restaurant alone with my husband. What does that say about my sense of romance?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday

  • I've got two medical tests this week: a pelvic ultrasound, which I had today, and an abdominal CT scan tomorrow. I've been having abdominal pain and am looking about 5 months pregnant. I was told to drink 32 ounces of water an hour before my appointment. Well, I guess I overdid it because by the time I got called into the examination room I looked like my 3 year old when she has to go really, really bad!
  • Tomorrow I've got to drink some disgusting barium stuff that they have the audacity to call Vanilla Smoothie. I hope I can keep it down. I hope to have some news as to what is going on in my body in a few days.
  • It's over 100 degrees here today, not counting heat index. It was equally as hot this past weekend, but it didn't discourage those silly people standing outside watching the men in ugly pants walking at the big, big deal sporting event that was held in my city. This event happened across the street from the hospice offices and it was a major pain in the butt. I'm glad it's over and I can make a left hand turn out of our parking lot again.
  • I love my 7:30 am- 3:00 pm schedule.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Five: Stress Busters


I am completely goofing off on this Friday morning, but my work is caught up, so I don't feel too bad. And I haven't had a chance to do a a Friday Five for awhile, so here goes...

Sally says: I am off to spend a few days at the beach chilling out after a hectic few weeks and before I head off for Summer School...So with that in mind this weeks questions are looking at how you deal with the stress monster!!!???

1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ? For me, it's the little things when they start to pile up on each other. You know, like the other day when my son got pink eye, my only clean shirt lost a button, I fell going down the front steps at work and spilled out all the contents of my work bag, I lost three progress notes from visiting patients, and got some not so great health news. Okay, that last one isn't so small, but I could have handled it better without all the piddly stuff on top of it!

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ? Okay, I really want to say exercise because it is good for busting stress, but I must admit that I more often reach for the chocolate. A better plan would be exercise first and then eat lots of chocolate!

3.What is your favourite music to chill out to? It depends on if I want to relax or expend some nervous energy. For the latter, I pull out some of my 80's CDs from High School! For relaxation, I like this nice mix tape (remember those?) that my husband made me many years ago.

4. Where do you go to chill? Bubble bath, baby!

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk? Introvert. Parties are so not relaxing to me. I need alone time to wind down.

Bonus- share your favourite stress busting tip! That would have to be a funny movie. I'm really craving one right now. Anyone seen anything good lately?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Some Good News

I have a new work schedule! My hours are now 7:30 am to 3 pm, 35 hours a week.

I made this request to my supervisor several days ago thinking that it would be shot down immediately. To my surprise, when I approached her about it, she said, "I know that this transition has been hard on you and your family. I'm just glad that you aren't coming to me submitting you resignation!" So, she brought my request to her boss who said it was fine, if one of the other chaplains would agree to change his schedule a bit in order for there to be coverage until 5:00 pm. Right now, the other chaplains have a 7:30 am to 4:00 pm schedule and I didn't think that any of them would be willing to change- and I wouldn't have blamed them.

So, when my supervisor brought it up this morning at our chaplain's meeting, I expected there to be dead silence. But one of the chaplains immediately said, "I'll change. I was thinking about it anyway." I want to buy this man a steak- and I'm a vegetarian! I do think I will give him a gift certificate to a restaurant or something.

This is going to make all the difference in the world for us. My daughter will have a shorter day at preschool and I'll be able to pick my son up from the bus stop after school. I'll be able to spend more time with my kids in the afternoons and evenings than just supper, bath, and bed. This, of course, helps tremendously in my feelings about this new position. I still don't think I'll be doing this 5 years from now, but I feel like I can now settle into this ministry until God moves me on.

Dear blogpals, thank you so much for your support, especially when I was so very negative. I have a teensy bit of a problem in the trusting God department, it seems.

God is good.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Being Employed

I've been thinking..... A dangerous pastime, I know.

One of my many problems with this adjustment is that I don't like being an employee. Pastors, at least in my experience, aren't often called employees of the church. (That is, of course, unless someone doesn't get what they want, when they want it, from the pastor. Then, you might hear something like, "Hey, she's working for us, isn't she?") It's totally a pride thing and I need to get over myself.

But I do miss the dynamic of the pastor not being a member of the congregation, but rather a member of Presbytery. The owner of this hospice doesn't give a rip that I am a member of Presbytery; I am just his employee. And I am sure that he would have no appreciation for the fact that I consider myself first a Minister of Word and Sacrament serving in a validated ministry by authority of the my Presbytery before I consider myself his employee working as a chaplain for this particular hospice.

I believe what I just wrote, but do you see what I'm doing? I'm finding any way I can to not be an employee! I think that this is very significant for me and it is something that I am going to wrestle with in prayer. I really troubles me to think that I view the ordained office of Minister of Word and Sacrament as somehow more important than what others do for a living. Maybe I do. God help me! But also think that there are some other things going on too that I can't even articulate yet.

More later...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You know you don't like your job when...

you're actually glad that your child is sick so that you can stay home.

(Did I just type that out loud?)

ETA: My daughter is going to be fine. She was running bit of a temperature, but is perking up now after a day resting and watching "Spy Kids" and "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl." I just want to clarify (mostly to myself) that I would not have been glad if she had been very ill.

Monday, July 30, 2007

My Life Story?

With a tip of the hat to Mags:




You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.



I have to admit that I've never read this book, but talking rabbits sound fun. Harvey or Donnie Darko anyone?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Playing Hooky

For the first time in ten years, with the exception of some vacation days, I am playing hooky from church.

Do I feel guilty?

Nope.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Can't Think of a Title for This Post

I've written very little lately. I think it's because I've been embarrassed to express that I'm not having that great a time in my new gig. My kids are crying everyday because they don't want to go to daycare all day and I don't blame them. And although I have been privileged already to walk with patients and their families in those sacred last days of life this side of eternity, I still feel like a cog in the machinery of this for-profit company.

Maybe I'm not cut out to be a 9-5er. I feel like such a brat saying that because that is what normal people do; work and come home. Why should I think that I'm so frickin' special?

God, I wouldn't be surprised if no one reads my blog anymore. I'm getting on my own nerves.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Friday Five: Looking Forward, Looking Back

Sally with the RevGals says: When I began work here at Downham Market a wise friend told me that after one year I would see a few changes and sense God at work- years two and three would cause me to question and to wonder why I had chosen to accept the post here and in year four I might see the beginnings of something new.And so with that in mind alongside yesterdays celebrations I bring you Friday 5 Looking back, looking forward..

1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith
You know, at first I was drawing a blank for some reason, but as soon as I thought of one instance of encouragement, many others began to flood my mind. One such time was in my first year of seminary when the pastor I worked with at the time declared that it was time that I started to preach. I was terrified because in my past life in another denomination a pastor that I had worked with never let me preach, saying that I wasn't ready. So, I preached my first sermon a few weeks later and I must have said some apologetic or self-disparaging remarks about myself during the sermon because one of the older gentlemen in the congregation took me aside after service, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Don't ever let me hear you put yourself down or apologize for who you are in the pulpit ever again." It was a scolding that is one of the best moments of encouragements I've ever had.

2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?
Although I have just begun in my ministry as a hospice chaplain, I am aching to stay home with my children. My dream right now is for my husband to make enough money for me to be able to quit my job. I'd love to stay home while also doing some pulpit supply and continue moderating the Presbytery committee I serve until my daughter is old enough to go to school in a year. My dream also includes a congregation here in town that is the right match for my gifts and experience that would be ready to search for a new pastor at about that same time.

3.Money is no object and so you will.....
I guess I already answered that one.

4. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going?
For me, it is important to let myself feel disappointed and not try to act like it doesn't matter. I bitch and moan and eat some (okay, lots) of chocolate. I pray and ask that I might be able to trust that God has plans and purposes for my life.

5. How important are your roots?
I am close to my parents and my sisters, but not so much my extended family. Both my husband and I moved around a lot as kids, so we are both prone to restlessness and wanderlust. We are trying to provide a more grounded upbringing for our kids, which is why we decided to stay here in this city for awhile.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Shifting Gears

I really should have taken at least a day off between jobs. I am physically and emotionally exhausted and I didn't feel like I could assimilate anything they were teaching me today. And there is so much for me to learn.

I am going to be glad when my training is over so that I can begin going alone on visits. I am an introvert that can play the part of an extrovert for a while, if I have some alone time. I think I am really going to like my time alone in my car as I drive to patients homes. Some of my drives are over 20 miles away.

I do think that I am going to enjoy my job, but all day today I was longing for the church, not specifically the church I just left, but just in general. I want to be fully engaged in what I am doing, but how do I do that when I know that ultimately my heart is in parish ministry? I know the answer to my own question and that is to accept this time as a gift to hone my pastoral care skills, not to mention my organization skills! I am also going to gain an understanding of folks who work M-F, 8-5 each week, which is something I have never ever done.

I have already met some incredible people and I'm sure to blog about many of the experiences I have had. Like today, I visited a women who is an immigrant from Russia and doesn't speak English. When we prayed together, she began in Russian and I continued in English; back and forth in each language until we finished the prayer. I felt like it was Pentecost!

More later!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Good Good-bye

It's 6:00 pm and I'm finally able to write about today, my last day at the wonderful church I've been serving for 4 years. I kept it together pretty well, but got a little teary in the middle of my sermon when I was challenging the congregation to not neglect the ministry right under their noses; namely the children and youth.

Afterwards they had a nice reception for me and, get this, they gave me the entire 12 volumes of the New Interpreter's Bible! I about fell over! I expected something like a gift certificate to Cokesbury, but this is just too much.

Lots of hugs and lots of saying, "I'll miss you, too." I meant it, I will miss them, but I also have a deep sense of peace today.

Three of the girls in the youth group asked me to go with them to see the Harry Potter movie. Man, is that a dark movie. I mean, in terms of lack of light. I nearly fell asleep a few times, but I still enjoyed it. But they really need to get on the stick about filming the final two movies before the actors have children of their own. I'm just sayin'.

I've been a part-time associate, which has been a real gift, but now I'm looking forward to having my evenings and weekends a little bit more free. Time will tell how I will like my new job, but I'm optimistic. I start full-time tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Harry Mania!

Okay, I gave in. I just ordered my copy of the Harry Potter book. All the talk on the webring about spoilers got to me and I can't stand being spoiled!

Also, I'll need something next weekend to take my mind off of the fact that I am no longer at my church. This should do nicely!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How Do I Trust Again?

A woman in my congregation called me tonight to tell me that her daughter had a bad experience at the daycare/preschool that I have enrolled my kids (my son just for the summer.) She didn't say that anyone hurt her daughter, but that her daughter seemed unhappy there and they didn't monitor her diet closely enough. (The daughter has a milk allergy.) This woman is a little high strung and I tend to take things that she says with a grain of salt. However, after what we experienced in May with our last child care provider, I am extra sensitive to any complaint I hear about where my children are.

My children tell me that they like this place, but are unhappy that they have to go everyday. Yeah, they know how to push my guilt buttons.

I believe this woman when she says that they had a bad experience, but I don't want to over-react because every place has someone who didn't like them for whatever reason. However, I do not want to repeat the mistake of rationalizing things that I see and hear. The sad thing is that I didn't even know that I was rationalizing. This place has internet monitoring, and believe you me, I will be monitoring.

How are you vigilant without being overly suspicious? And how can I ever trust another child care provider again?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Stuff and Things

This may sound really stupid, but I feel as if I'm leaving the pastors' club. I know there's no club and that I am certainly not leaving ministry, but I am experiencing a sense of loss thinking about not being a parish pastor.

I have worked just two days for hospice and those days have been a whirlwind of learning all about Medicare regulations. I am going to be easily spending twice as much time on paperwork as I am actually with patients. One thing is for sure, my organizational skills are going to be getting a much needed improvement! Everyone I work with is very nice and I do think that I will enjoy the work...... for awhile.

I am very concerned about our new Administrative Assistant. I do not believe that she is at all well. In the past couple of weeks she has been going on and on that someone has been coming into the church office and tampering with her computer and moving things around, so she asked that the locks be changed. Well, she is still going on about it and has accused both a session member and our former Administrative Assistant. Her proof? A text message that she said she traced to a small town about 25 miles away. Yeah, it makes no sense. She called another Session member twice on Tuesday to talk about it. The Session member then called me and said that the Admin. Assist. was rambling on and on and making no sense. She has also been out of the office all week with an ailment that she hasn't clearly explained to me. But, I don't want to ask anymore because her explanation is too convoluted and confusing. I hope that she returns to the office in a better place physically and mentally for everyone's sake. I have documented all of this for the personnel chair and for the Interim pastor when she returns from vacation. I don't envy them.

Here's a happy.... "Sally" is doing so much better! She is walking around and her thought processes seem to be okay. When I was talking to her on Thursday, she seemed as sharp as she ever was. And she is easily one of the sharpest tacks in the drawer! Praise God! Thank you for your prayers for her.

Have a blessed worship service tomorrow, y'all! I'm off to finish my Naaman sermon.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Summary

I have so much to write about, but little energy. And that I wish to save for my family to enjoy the holiday tomorrow.

So, to sum up quickly:
  • I think I'm going to like my new job and the people with whom I will be working.
  • I'm afraid that the new Admin. Assistant at church is losing it.
  • I am experiencing an exhilarating freedom in preaching right now.
  • We're shopping for a new (to us) car. I hate the adversarial relationship I have with car salesmen.
  • I visited the young woman I've been telling you about today. Let's call her Sally. Sally has been removed from the ventilator, feeding tube, and tube that was attached to her head to drain fluid. She is responsive, but fades in and out a lot. I was happy to see that she recognized me and asked about people at church. She should be moved out of the ICU tomorrow. Praise be to God!

'Night!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Update

The young woman I wrote about a few days ago is hanging in there. They are weaning her off the drugs that they were using to keep her in a coma and the doctors are encouraged by her progress. She is still, however, critical and the extent of the damage to her brain is unknown.

Thanks for your prayers.

ETA: I just realized that this is my 100th post. Wow- I still can't believe that I have a blog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It Takes Soooo Long to Resign!

Just a quick update....

I gave my resignation to Session last night. Everyone was stunned, but very sweet and affirming.

I just returned from meeting with most of my youth group and as I told them about my leaving, it felt like all the air rushed out of the room. But they did take it well, although they are understandably concerned about the future of the youth program. I'm praying that more adults will step up after I leave.

The letter to the congregation is going out today.

I am a bit amused by my colleague's insistence that I have a performance review before I leave. Whatever.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Five Things I Dig About Jesus

I was tagged by Cathy. This has been all over the blogring, so I'm going to dispense with the instructions.

Five things I dig about Jesus...

1. He loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so.

2. He was a holy man AND knew how to have a good time.

3. He liked short people, including children and tax collectors.

4. He was completely present with whomever he was with.

5. He didn't teach the hokey-pokey, but he told us to love God and neighbor and to spread it all around. That's what it's all about!

I'm not sure if there's anyone who hasn't already done this, but let's try tngirl, Singing Owl, Lutheran Mom, Pastornines, and grace-thing

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Update and a Prayer Request

My colleague was very supportive and kind when I told her I was resigning. I haven't told anyone else because she is calling a special Session meeting on Tuesday night. They don't know the reason for the called meeting, so I'm sure that they are confused and little ticked they have to come in.

Not looking forward to it.

Okay, I have a much more important issue to discuss. I ask for prayers for an 19 year old young woman in our church who is right now in a chemically induced coma in the ICU. On Friday night, she and some friends were goofing off and racing shopping carts in the parking lot of a mall. She toppled out of the cart head over heels and landed on her head. She had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot the size of a fist.

Her prognosis is unknown, but she does have youth on her side. The girl was a straight A student and was looking forward to her first year of college where she was going to study Engineering. She had just returned from a year studying in the Philippines. I am heartsick for her and her family. Her younger sister is a very active member of our youth group and is one of the most spiritually sensitive people, youth or otherwise, that I have ever met.

Please pray with me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

11:09 PM

I can't sleep and feel like I'm gonna hurl thinking about telling my colleague and my youth group that I am resigning. Everyone else I can handle.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A New Garden

Well, I've done it. I am now a hospice chaplain.

The interview with the other chaplains was very laid back, as they didn't bombard me with questions, but just told me about their experiences and answered my questions.

I don't think that the head chaplain and the Social Service director intended to offer me the job right then and there, but on my way out the owner of the hospice asked them, "So, did you tell her that she got the job?" They stammered and said, "Well, we were going to let you sit with this for a bit and then call you. But, do you think you want the job?" We then went back into an office to "talk turkey." The salary is several thousand more than I expected and the insurance coverage for my kids is practically nothing, which I was very concerned about since we've gotten accustomed to paid family coverage.

So, now the hard part: telling my church. My colleague is going out of town on Monday for 3 weeks, so I'll have to tell her on Sunday. The folks at hospice said that I could be part-time for a few weeks to get trained so that I can give appropriate notice to the church.

Oh, how I hate quitting a job! I've gotten sick to my stomach over quitting a paper route and when I resigned from my first call, I was completely beside myself. I know that they will be supportive and I know that my leaving will make way for ministries that are on the horizon. Namely, we are beginning to reach out to the Hispanic population of our neighborhood and have someone who is ready to lead that effort, but she does need to be paid. I am excited for what God has in store for this congregation and for the next called pastor.

Thanks, friends, for all the prayers and words of wisdom. You all are the best!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Fork in the Road

Yesterday I had a job interview for a chaplaincy position in a local hospice and tomorrow I meet with all the chaplains. I have the feeling that I will be offered the job. I go into this a bit half-hearted because I really wanted to have a pastoral call by now. It's not happening and we are going deeper and deeper into debt. Something's gotta give and that something is me getting a more lucrative job. My part-time position with its itty-bitty salary just isn't enough.

I do enjoy pastoral care and find it a privilege to journey with people in their last days. I am intrigued about the possibility of working a Monday-Friday, 8-5 job and there is a lot of autonomy in how I spend my time. Chaplaincy certainly is a very important ministry and I am grateful that there is an opportunity for me to be in ministry in this way.

It's not only our financial situation that leads me to want to move on. Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that my job satisfaction has gone way down in the last year. I absolutely love the congregation, but I know that my purpose for being there has passed.

I spoke today with my beloved former colleague and he is concerned that I might have a hard time finding a parish ministry if I am a chaplain. It's easier to be called to a church while working in a church. I do know that ultimately I want to pastor a congregation.

I have been playing the Indigo Girls' song "Watershed" over and over the past few days.
Up on the watershed
standing in a fork in the road.
You can stand there and agonize
til your agony's your heaviest load.

Any words of wisdom out there? Would I be hurting myself professionally?

Of course, they might not even offer me the position and this whole conversation would be moot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Eight Random Things

Towanda tagged me for this "Eight Random Things About Me" meme the other day while I was out of town. Since this meme has been all over the blogring, I'm not going to bother sharing the rules, especially since I'm going to disregard them anyway! I'll try to share different things than the "Six Weird Things About Me" meme from several weeks ago!

Let's see....

1. My older sister's and my middle name are each one half of our mother's name.


2. I hate, I hate, I hate it when someone squeaks a balloon. It hurts me physically..... really.


3. My second toe is longer than my big toe and I don't mind! My mother's toes are the same way and she once told me when I was a little girl that it signified that she was the boss! I like that interpretation!


4. My daughter went without a name for her first two days of life because she didn't look like the name we had originally chosen. The name we came up with suits her quite well!


5. I don't understand underwire bras. I mean, I know they are supposed to be more supportive, but I have been professionally fitted and still can't find one that is at all comfortable.

6. I'm discovering that it sucks to still be on vacation, but not be out of town. Well, at least when you have kids and school's out for summer!


7. I just fed my kids cereal for dinner.


8. I wish I had a gin and tonic right now.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Blogger Meet Up In Colorado!


Today I went back to my old stompin' grounds (and I did stomp a lot!) at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. There I met up with Towanda and had a great lunch at a Chinese restaurant I used to frequent. Thankfully, the food is still delicious and I didn't have to say, "It used to be good, really!"

The roses are from my sister-in-law's back yard. She didn't have any irises. :) But we have lovely hands, don't you think?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Vacation

We're heading out early tomorrow to drive about 12 hours straight to Colorado. My husband's parents and sister and family and both of my sisters and their families live in CO. My parents are coming down from Wyoming. Lots of family time and a little camping. While in Denver, we get to meet for the first time our nephew who was born in March!

Also while in Denver, I'm going to drop by where I went to seminary, Iliff School of Theology and have a blogger meet up with Towanda. I am really excited about that!

I'll be back blogging in a week or so. Peace, y'all!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I got spoiled the first time I was seeking a call. I received and accepted a call less than a month and half after I was cleared to circulate my PIF, and the church I went to wasn't the first one to issue me a call. I'm not sure why it came so easy that time around, but it did. I do know that the PNCs (pastor search committee) I was in contact with back then were very motivated and moved very quickly, whereas the ones I've been in conversation with this time are taking their sweet time.

A few weeks ago I told a PNC that I wasn't their gal mainly because I couldn't stand the way they were going about the process. First, they didn't like my list of references because there were, "too many pastors and elders on it." Oookay. Then, it took three weeks for them to check my references because they felt they had to have the entire committee present to speak with the references. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn't and neither had any of my references.

The PNC of a congregation that I am very interested in has been dragging their feet, too. I had a terrific phone interview with them about a month ago and I know that they have called a few of references, but I hadn't heard a thing from them since the phone interview. So I e-mailed the committee chair last week to check in and ask if my sermon tape had arrived. He wrote back saying, "We haven't made any decisions yet, but you're still in the running."

Now, this bothered my husband to no end. He doesn't want me to be "in the running." He thinks that the PNC of the church I am ultimately called to will be super excited about me from the get-go and won't drag things out. You know, like it was the first time around. I've told him that we need to trust the process, that this PNC probably has some really good candidates that they are considering and that we need to be patient. But there is a part of me that wonders if he might be right. I'm not sure I want to be "in the running" either. Is this call process a horse race? Am I in competition with my fellow pastors? I don't think so, but I wonder if that's how some PNCs view the process.

So, I pray for these committees and their discernment, as well as mine, knowing that God's going to land me somewhere that's right. But could it be soon, Lord?