Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Long Overdue Update and Goodbye, 2009

Wow, way for me to keep you hanging...

I am still processing what took place as I visited that young man in the jail; it was not pleasant. It was about a 5 minute walk down a windowless hallway to where he was being held. When I walked into the visitation area, I saw him sitting on the other side of the thick glass. At first, he didn't know who I was, even though I had just seen him a few days prior at church.

When I asked him how he was doing he replied, "Hey, I got 3 squares a day." It turns he had just been kicked out of the place he was staying, probably on a couch, and didn't know what to do. He told me that he threw a rock at the bank's door and announced he was going to rob the bank so that he would get arrested and therefore, have a place to stay.

After we talked a bit more, I asked if I could pray with him and he consented.

Then, the conversation took a strange turn...

Him: "Well, I know you're just here because it's your job, but thanks for coming anyway."

Me: "No, I'm here because the congregation and I are concerned about you. We've been glad that you've been worshipping with us. I'm sorry we didn't know you were struggling."

Him: "Well, your visits won't get me a job, won't put a roof over my head. So, no thanks."

Me: who knows what I said here...I can't remember...probably something entirely unhelpful...

Him: "I don't want a relationship with you. Don't call me; I'll call you. Hey, it feels good to say that to someone else for a change."

And...scene.

I haven't been back. I'm not sure if that is the right thing or not. It's possible that if I went back, he wouldn't even remember that I had been there. I'm not a psychiatrist, but it is clear that he has some significant mental health issues. (Duh.)

The fact remains that he sought us out for several weeks and I didn't follow up with him. True, he never left any contact info, but I didn't try very hard because he made me uncomfortable. That's the truth.

So, like I said, I'm still processing this and taking it into my prayer.
==============================================
I am going to maintain my blog, for now. Since I began my new call at the beginning of the year, I have had less and less time and inclination to blog. However, I miss my blogging buddies and will try to do a better job of keeping up with you all. I am Facebook friends with many of you, which I enjoy so much.

Happy new year, my friends!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Prayers, Please...

A young man who has been worshiping with my congregation for a couple of months was arrested this afternoon for attempting to rob a bank.

He has been extremely faithful in coming to worship; he has only missed one Sunday since we first saw him. He never wanted to talk after the worship service, but he had begun to at least greet me in the receiving line. Some of our members, myself included, have wondered if he has some developmental disabilities.

My space bar keeps sticking, so I'll stop now. Please pray, as I am sure he is frightened and I am sure there is much more to this story.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Five: PJ's

Sophia at RevGals writes: As the weather cools off into a lovely fall, my son and daughter are rediscovering their joy in cozy footed "pajammies"--though not to sleep in. They love to hang out in the pjs before bed or in the morning, but when it's time to actually sleep they strip to their skivvies! Good thing they finally have their own rooms, now that they are getting older.

Without going to TMI land, share with us your sleepwear memories and preferences....

1. What was your favorite sleeping attire as a child? And did you call them pjs, pajamas (to rhyme with llamas), pajamas (to sort of rhyme with bananas), jammies, or ???
I liked any nightgown that made me feel pretty!

2. Favorite sleepwear put on your own little ones, or perhaps those you babysat? (Bonus points if you made it).
I loved those cute little sleep sacks when they were just a few months old in the winter.

3. How about today-do you prefer nightgown, pajamas, undies, or au naturel?
When in my own bed at home, I prefer a simple cotton nightgown.

4. Silky smooth or flannel-y cozy?
neither, really...if it's too silky, I feel cold and usually flannel makes me sweat.

5. Socks or bare feet?
Definitely bare feet.

Bonus: Funny story regarding sleepwear (or the lack thereof).
My mom used to love to buy my younger sister and I matching nightgowns or pj's to open on Christmas Eve. This was charming when we were both pretty little, but became kind of embarrassing as I entered into my teenage years. For instance, when I was 13 years old and my sister was 6 years old, we received Rainbow Brite nightgowns.

You know this obnoxious, stupid character from the 1980's...

Well, about three weeks after Christmas, our house caught fire and we had to run out of our house early in the morning for our safety. What had I put on to sleep in the night before? Yep, that frickin' Rainbow Brite nightgown! Even worse, I had to wear it over to my friend's house because I needed to borrow some clothes because all of mine were now torched. Yes, all of my clothes were torched...except for that damn Rainbow Brite nightgown! Funny how I can still feel my consternation and mortification very, very keenly 24 years later!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Five:Child's Play Edition

Thanks Kathrynzj of RevGals for today’s Friday Five which celebrates the spontaneous child in all of us… or at least the one that we admire in someone else:

1) On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being I can’t do this now I am about to jump into a pit of plastic balls at the mini-mall and 1 being I can’t do this now until I can get all of the fonts on my blog to match – where are you?
I am a strong "4." I love to play!

2) What is the silliest/most childlike thing you have done as an adult?
I can name a couple: I went on the slip and slide with the kids in the front yard last summer.

A few summers back I went white water rafting with some teenagers from my church on the Arkansas River in CO. About halfway through the trip the guides have all the rafts pull over to the bank for a break. Our guide pointed to a huge boulder on the bank and said that we could jump off of it into the river if we wanted. I jumped up excitedly, thinking that at least half of my group would come with me, but they all looked at me like I was insane. Well, I could not NOT jump off that rock 'cuz, well, it was there. I did it and it was even higher than it looked. Wimpy teenagers...

3) Any regrets?
The slip and slide? Yes, it hurts to slip and slide. I won't be doing that again.

Jumping off the rock? No way, that was a blast! Bring on another one!

4) What is the silliest thing you have ever seen another adult do on purpose?
I'm usually that adult- volunteering to be the one who gets the pie in her face, jumping on the inflatables, dressing up...

5) What is something you wish you did when you had the chance?
Velcro jumping.

BONUS: For our ‘I told you so’ sides – what thing did you skip doing and you’re really glad you did!
This girl does NOT bungee jump. Nor do I play games which involve eating gross food combinations. Nope. uh.uh.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

John Calvin 500

I got away with the following in my sermon today about Calvin.
(Please keep in mind that punctuation is not my strong suit!)

One thing to keep in mind as we wrestle with Calvin and his ideas is that while, yes, he is known as the Father of the Reformed tradition; he is not God the Father. And, like my earthly father, whom I accept and admire and respect, I don’t always agree with him. I wrestle with his ideas and find myself oftentimes landing in a different place.

And you know, I’m okay with that. In fact, for me, this is one of the enduring legacies of John Calvin for the church today- we need not check our brains at the door of the sanctuary.

Here are some pics of our celebration...



It wasn't the intention to make these look like
ghost John Calvin masks!
Boo!


The kids worked this up.
The "Picasso" Calvin in the upper left is my son's!
This tasted even better than it looked!
mmmmmm......

Monday, July 06, 2009

Evil Eval Day

Today was evaluation day with my Admin. Assistant. Didn't go too well. It's hard to have a constructive conversation about improvement when she gives herself superior marks on her self evaluation.

We had her sign the improvement plan and told her we would meet again in 45 days and determine if there has been improvement. (It would have been in 30 days, but I will be on vacation then.)

The avoider in me hopes that she will decide to find something else in the meantime.

God, help me to not be a jerk...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Just Doing My "Duty!"

For better or for worse, I did preach this morning- a sermon on John 3 from my files. My music director and liturgist took up the slack in everything else...save the children's time. Like a knucklehead, I did that. I did tell the kids to keep a reasonable distance from me, however!

Well, we have been traveling through the order of worship the past several weeks with the kids, sharing with them why we do the things we do in worship. It's been quite effective and I think the adults are getting at least as much out of it as the kids. Anyhoo, today we were talking about the offering, so the "Young Disciples' Time" was located at that point in the service. We were having a nice conversation about giving out of gratitude and love for God. All was going just swimmingly until I asked, "Why do we give money in the offering? Is it because it's a our duty?"

Duty.... okay, I know NOW that that is one word you don't say in front of children if you want to maintain any semblance of control. It was mayhem from that point on....especially my 5 year old daughter who was laughing hysterically and saying "duty, duty, bathroom pooty...!"

All I could do at that point was pair them off with ushers and let them help collect the offering!

By the way, the answer to the question I was looking for was, "No, we don't give out of duty, but out of love for God," but I guess don't give God your crap is a good lesson, too!

Now for the latest in my file of crap (or duty!) I don't have time for...

First of all, I may have to eventually fire my Admin. Assistant. It would take too long to give all the reasons why, but I've been avoiding it since I arrived and now it's beginning to bite me in the butt. It's not just me, I am getting calls on a nearly daily basis from folks complaining about her mistakes and lack of professionalism. I hate it. She is a very sweet woman. She and her husband have just bought a house and her 92 year old mother has just moved in them. However, supervising her is taking waayyy too much of my time and, no matter what, things still don't get done right. Also, I have some questions about her integrity. Not big stuff, like embezzlement, but wrongful use of her time, that sort of thing. The latest earfuls I got today was several people telling me that on the days I was sick this week, they couldn't get anyone on the phone after 2:00 pm. hmmmmmmm.....

If there are any Interim pastors out there, please hear me... do your best to take care of obvious staff issues while you're there. The Interim even told me that he left that for me to take care of...grrrrrrr!!!

My plan is, with the Personnel Committee, to do an evaluation of her work and put together an improvement plan that we will share with her. We will meet again with her in a month and if there isn't significant improvement, her employment will be terminated. I can't think of a better way to go about it. I've never had to personally fire someone, so if any of y'all have some wisdom, I'm eager to hear it.

Also, I am going to have to talk with our main children's ministry person about not smoking in front of the kids. GEEZ LOUISE! I can't believe I have to have that conversation! This woman is a rock, I love her. She's on Session, board of Trustees, active in Presbytery. I love her, but when my kids come home from a day at the zoo with her and tell me she smoked in the car while driving them, there's a problem! Please pray that I will find the right words when I approach her.

This is all part of the gig, right? It feels an awful lot like "duty" to me!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Question for you...

What do you do when you are too sick to write your sermon?

Just not sure I'm gonna get it together this week. I've been running a 100-102 degree temp since Wednesday morning. Did go to the dr. yesterday and got some antibiotics because she said my throat was definitely not going to get better on its own. So far, I can't feel any effects from the meds. I hate being sick!

Hope your Friday is better!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Five: the Big To-Do

The list maker in me loves today's Friday Five!

Kathrynzj writes: Greetings from the land of the Big To-Do! It seems like every year I enter into the summer with a growing list of HUGE projects/events/trips that seem to have a permanent place on the 'to do' list. This year I have a huge move pending so that takes up an entire list all on its own, but it doesn't take a big event like that for me to make plans bigger than my summer can hold!

How about you?Is this the third summer in a row you have made a pledge involving your garage and actually getting a car into it?Did you once again miss the registration deadline for the continuing education event of your dreams ?Are you starting to think you couldn't even find the tents, let alone get it together to pull off a camping trip?Here is your chance to get it out into the open and OWN your Big To-Do! Who knows? Maybe making the list will help you move the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-Da!

1) What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do?
I would love to paint my kitchen cabinets and put on new hardware, but I am so afraid of mucking it up. I wish I just had the money to re-do the whole kitchen: floors, cabinets, counter tops, back splash, appliances...but, you know.

2) What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do?
My church is named after the big, important reformer who is having a special birthday this summer. I would love to do something for our Presbytery, but I'm letting myself off the hook because 1) I'm still pretty new here (office isn't even all put up yet) and 2) there is no enthusiasm in my congregation for such a thing. So, this is very helpful...I am officially scratching that off my mental to-do (or "ought-to") list! Yay!

3) What trip is on your Big To-Do?
We are taking the first two weeks in August to go to Colorado, as usual to see our families. However, we are going to first hit Southern Colorado to go camping near the Sand Dunes. We also plan to go to this cool mountainside stations of the cross and also see the Royal Gorge. Then, my in-laws will come to pick up the children and my husband and I will spend a couple of nights at a fancy B&B. Then it will be off to do the family thing in Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins...probably stopping by Iliff School of Theology along the way.

4) What do you wish was on someone ELSE's (partner, family member, celebrity, etc...) Big To-Do?
I wish Dick Cheney's to-do list included getting the *bleep* off my television screen!

5) Getting inspired? What may end this summer having moved from the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-da?
By the end of summer, I seriously would like to get rid of at least 1/3 of our stuff. We have decided to remain in our itty-bitty house, so we need to stop accumulating, which is harder and harder as the kids get older. So, there will be lots of crap...er, treasures available for FREE on the curb at Iris' house this summer!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Iris Is Still Planted

In case anyone bothers to check here anymore...I am alive, just haven't been feeling very bloggy lately. I'm well. The church is great. Lots to blog about, but I probably won't get to most of it.

I'll get around to my usual places again soon to see what you all are up to!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Next Few Days

I have funeral #4 tomorrow afternoon- the woman I wrote about a couple of posts ago. It's going to be a hard one, as the whole church is just devastated, not to mention her family. The cancer ravaged her body at full-speed.

I go up north on Monday for the family funeral. My stomach is in knots just thinking about it.

On Wednesday, I travel a couple of hours away to do the graveside service of my church member.

I pray that we don't have any more deaths for awhile. It's getting to all of us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Sad, Sad News

My heart is breaking for my cousin's 5 year old son right now. His mother, who was only 28 years old, was killed in a car accident early this morning. She and my cousin had not been together for about a year, but they were very good about sharing custody and giving their son a sense of security. In fact, I'm told that the three of them just had dinner together last night.

She even continued to come to all of our family get-togethers. She was a member of the family.

It's just so awful.

Sorry I haven't been around for awhile. I've been down for the count for past week or so. I came down with shingles...ugh.

However, I was recovered enough to go see Elton John and Billy Joel last night. Incredible concert. I haven't had so much fun in a long time. And my husband and I hadn't done anything together for a long time. I wish I could have basked in that feeling longer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pastoral Care Overload

I have another funeral this Saturday- my third one with this congregation. She was a really wonderful woman. She asked me to preach Luke 9:62 at her funeral, which is,
"Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’"

She was a published author and she told me that this verse described "the way I see myself since I began writing." What a woman.

I may have yet another funeral soon- a woman who was a member of the Pastor Nominating Committee who was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer in the middle of the call process. She's only in her mid-50's, but very, very sick.

I appreciate your prayers for these people and their families...and for me.

Did I mention I just began this call on January 1st?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Had Never Been a Field Trip Before...

Last week the daughter of one of my older members called me up to invite me to go to lunch with her, her daughter and her two nephews, all of whom are home schooled teenagers. She said that they had just finished studying the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. (I thought, "um, wow. I had very little notion of those events until...well, seminary!")

This woman and her daughter worship at a non-denominational "Bible" Church and the nephews and their family are members of a Presbyterian Church of America congregation-very conservative, with no women in ordained leadership. Not even Elders or Deacons.

She said that she was aware that these young people were pretty insulated religiously and she thought it would be good for them to have a conversation with a "thinking, faithful person who comes at things from another perspective." Also, she said, "They have never met a woman pastor before." She probably said four times, "We aren't going to grill you!"

Because of the sweet way she asked and because I have a lot of affection for her father, I said I would be glad to meet them for lunch, which we had today.

I met them at Panera Bread and they bought me lunch! Yay! (1/2 Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich and Harvest Orchard salad. Yum!) After we ate and chatted a bit, they began with their prepared questions, asking for my thoughts on the infallibility of scripture, creation, heaven and hell, end times, miracles, interfaith dialogue and the person of Jesus Christ.

I was so very impressed with the respectful way in which they asked the questions and how they seemed to really listen to my answers. Although I could tell that they disagreed with many, if not most, of my answers, they never argued with me or looked visibly disgusted by my more liberal take on things. Actually, I could tell that they were really thinking about my answers, especially as I spoke about my emphasis on the authority of scripture rather than inerrancy.

Of course, they may be praying that I become a Christian someday. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Symphony No. 9 (Scherzo)

I've been a poor blogger, so just for fun, I'm doing this meme I saw at knittinpreacher's place. Play if you want!

1. Put your iPod, ZUNE or other music player on shuffle.

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!

4. Tag friends who might enjoy doing this as well as the person you got it from. (if you like...)

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY? "Xanadu" by Olivia Newton-John (an apt response for not responding!)

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY? “Everyday is a Winding Road" by Sheryl Crow (that's about right...)

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL? "Desire" by U2 (!!!)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE? "Airplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants :)))

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? “Silent All These Years" by Tori Amos (hmmm...)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? "Sunny Day" by Deana Carter

WHAT IS 2+2? “With or Without You" by U2

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND? "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter" by Pearl Jam (sorry, friend!)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE? "Walk on the Ocean" by Toad the Wet Sprocket

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? "Hey Ya!" by Outkast (that's about right...especially the shake it like a Polaroid picture part!)

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? " The Long Way Around" by the Dixie Chicks

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE? "Highway Blues" by Marc Seales

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? "Addicted" by Kelly Clarkson (ha!)

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING? "Since I've Been Loving You" by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? “Sorry" by Push Monkey

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? "You Found Me" by Kelly Clarkson

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET? "I Keep Forgettin'" by Michael McDonald (How convenient...)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS? "Blow Away" by George Harrison (okay, that's so not true!)

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN? "Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles

HOW WILL YOU DIE? "Best of Both Worlds" by Hannah Montana (I guess I die of embarrassment because you now know that this song and "Walk Like an Egyptian" are on my ipod...hey I have a 5 year old daughter!)

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET? "Something So Strong" by Crowded House

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? "Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants (this is true- Presbyterian youth "energizers" can be very funny!)

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY? "Freeway" by Aimee Mann

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED? "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac (huh.)

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST? "Wise Up" by Aimee Mann

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU? "Worlds Apart" by Jude Cole

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE? "City Don't Cry" by Page and Plant

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW? “If You Want Me" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (from the movie "Once"..and yeah, this song answers this question pretty damn well.)

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? "Symphony No. 9 (Scherzo)" by Beethoven- played by the Seattle Symphony

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Quick bullets points...

  • I am still in need of prayers for me and my family. I am so sorry to be vague, but it has to be that way.
  • My installation service is tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it and am so very grateful to those who will be participating. I just wish things were going better so I could enjoy it more fully. Hopefully, I will be able to set all of it aside for an hour and just receive and thank God.
  • First thing Thursday morning, I had a talk with my AA telling her that "shushing" her boss (me) was probably not the best move for her professionally. I am not sure that it is going to work out with her, not just because of the shushing, but because she doesn't seem to have a second gear and it seems like it is such a struggle to get things done on time. I don't want to have to do so much supervision. However, I am VERY loathe to put someone out of work in this economy. Let's hope we'll see some improvement. I'd hate to be an AA. I'd last less than a week, I'm sure.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Unbloggable

Your prayers are much appreciated. Truly.

There is so much that is just unbloggable.

Professionally, everything is going so very well.

Personally, so very not.

ETA: Everything is going well professionally, except I just got "shhhh-ed" by my Admin. Asst. WTH?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Love Jesus, But....

Okay, after a day of inaugaration watching, this is something completely different! It made me laugh harder than I had for a long, long time. Enjoy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's the Little Things Sometimes...

I'm just in my second week in my new church. I'm sorry that I haven't been feeling very bloggy lately. Everything has been going very well- even preaching a very large funeral on my third day!

Two decisions have got me paralyzed right now. It's like my brain shuts down every time I try to think about them. They are:

1) What color to have my office painted and
2) What wireless carrier to go with, and then, which phone to choose. I guess that's 3 decisions!

We've had a "pay-as-you-go" plan for a few years, but now that I'm with a larger congregation as solo pastor, that would probably be more expensive in the long-run. So, I guess it's time for a big-girl cell phone plan. But, I go to the websites of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint...and get so confused. Do I need Bluetooth? A QWERTY keypad?

The truth is that I resent being asked to carry a cell phone at all. I know, it's how the world works now, but I still hate it.

I guess all phones have an "off" button, don't they?