Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Five: Companions on the Way

Songbird says: Dante had Virgil as a guide. Before he had younger siblings, my oldest child had an imaginary friend named Patrick. Betsy had Tacy. Laura Ingalls depended on her brindle bulldog, Jack. All of them were companions on the way.

As we take the beginning steps of our journey through Lent, who would we take as a companion? Name five people, real or imaginary, you might like to have with you as guide or guardian or simply good friend.

Mary Magdalene: During Lent, I like to read the gospels and imagine events through the eyes of one of the disciples. Usually I have chosen one of the Twelve, but this year I chose Mary.

Henri Nouwen: I am in a funk right now and Nouwen is always helpful for reminding me how loved I am by God.

My pastor-mommy friend: I have a friend in my Presbytery who is my age and is someone with whom I can be real. We talk on the phone at least once a week, but I am hoping that we will get together a few times face to face during Lent.

Mother Teresa: In 1994, during my Senior year of college, I travelled with a group to Calcutta to work in the Missionaries of Charity's ministries among the "poorest of the poor." I had the incredible blessing to meet Mother Teresa and, as you can imagine, it was one of the defining moments of my life. (I promise, Hipchickmamma, I will blog about it all one day!)

Sister Mo: When I returned home from Calcutta and began my last semester of college, I was in a bad way. It's always overwhelming when you're on the verge of graduating and launching into something else. I was overwhelmed by all that; however, I was also really needing to process my experiences in India and I was beginning to sense that the denomination that nurtured and raised me was not to be the one in which I would remain.

So, on my Spring Break that year I went to a Roman Catholic retreat center in a nearby town to pray, reflect, and rest. The director of this retreat center was Sister Mo. She met with me everyday I was there, usually in the hot tub, which was very cool. I didn't have the vocabulary for it then, but what she was doing was spiritual direction. Her ministry to me made a huge difference in my life.

I am now in the first year of Spiritual Director training. This week, we are practicing journaling as a form of prayer. In our class on Tuesday, we were asked to choose someone who had influenced us spiritually and journal conversation with them. At first, I thought that this was just cheesy and wondered how it could be considered prayer. I am sometimes incredibly suspicious and resistant. However, this turned out to be one of the most meaningful prayer forms we have practiced thus far. I never would have connected what I am experiencing now back to that time in my life. If you are up to reading it, I would like to share with you the "conversation" I had with Sister Mo that day.

Mo: Would you like to join me in the hot tub?

Me: Oh- that would be wonderful.

Mo: I remember chatting with you here back in 1994- you were 21 years old.

Me: Yes, I came to this retreat center for some solitude and prayer during my Spring Break my senior year.

Mo: Why did you come here instead of heading to the beach with your friends?

Me: I needed some time to reflect. I was conflicted and overwhelmed spiritually, physically and emotionally. I needed to get away from my "normal" life for awhile.

Mo: Why was that?

Me: I was about to graduate with a degree in Bible and Religion. I felt called to be a pastor, but I wasn't sure I would be able to do that in my denomination. Also, I hadn't "recovered," so to speak, form my trip to Calcutta to serve with the Missionaries of Charity. Meeting Mother Teresa and doing the work there had been THE highlight of my life, thus far. However, seeing the immense poverty made me feel that everything I was doing here in the States was unimportant- sinful even.

Mo: Wow- you did have a lot to process. Now you're here in my hot tub again 13 years later. How is what you're experiencing now similar to back in 1994?

Me: hmmm..... Well, I feel like I'm on the verge of that "next step." I'm feeling like what I'm doing now is unimportant, superfluous- perhaps even that it's sinful for me to be doing what I'm doing. pointless- worthless.

Mo: Back in 1994, how did God speak? What did God communicate to you?

Me:That in my life and ministry, then, I was being called to finish school and continued to get prepared. God told me that there was a wonderful opportunity just ahead of me. God said, 'Be patient. you'll see!'

Mo: What is God saying to you now?

Me: God is saying, "I have called you to be where you are now. Finish your work with diligence and faithfulness. There is another wonderful opportunity just ahead- you'll love it. I will bless you and your family. Be patient. You'll see!"

Mo: God is good, all the time.

Me: All the time, God is good.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Square One

I've just told the PNC I spoke to on Tuesday night that I am not the one they are seeking. I feel very good about this decision. The kaleidoscope keeps turning and, for the time being, this piece of the mosaic is staying here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I never thought I would feel a sense of peace and relief from someone losing their job, but I do. It feels awful to admit that I am glad that someone now has to go job hunting. But that's the way I feel, especially since this termination is about, say, two years overdue.

I used to be very lukewarm about the topic of church members working as the church administrative assistant. No more! It is much too painful and much too hard to end the employment if things aren't working out. No, you have to have someone in there that sees the pastor(s) as the boss with no role confusions.

She has been given more than ample opportunity to improve her behavior, particularly her insubordinate attitude towards the pastors. I didn't realize how worn down I was feeling by it until Tuesday night's Session meeting when we were discussing her termination. When asked my thoughts, I started crying and told them that I hated going to the office because I felt abused. Now it's done and she won't be there the next time I go in.

So, I drink a glass of wine tonight and breathe a sigh of relief that no more will I have to endure in the office:
  • temper tantrums when I want something changed in the worship bulletin,
  • having everything I write for the church newsletter rewritten in the way she thinks it should be,
  • not being able to use the second church phone line because she's on it half the day,
  • having things "lost" or "forgotten" because she didn't want to deal with it,
  • and especially, being treated like I'm a stupid, irresponsible kid.

I truly hope she finds a great job where she can use her considerable skills and where she gets to be the boss. Maybe now I won't get sick to my stomach just thinking about going into the church office.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I've Slept On It

This morning, my husband said to me, "I didn't say anything to you last night, but when you came out of our room after the phone interview, I could tell by your body language that you weren't very enthusiastic." He's right, I wasn't. Part of it was that I felt I rambled through the interview, but also I didn't feel that "spark" that I feel when I'm really clicking with people.

They seem like a wonderful congregation and it's in a beautiful location. I am concerned about several of the questions they asked me in the vein of "What are you going to do to attract new, younger members?" In my first call, I found out after I arrived that the underlying, unspoken expectation was that my mere presence as a, then 29 year old, young pastor was going to attract hoards of young families to the church. Of course, they weren't willing to make the changes necessary for that to happen and disillusionment set in.

I'm going to spend some more time in prayer.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Motor Mouth

I just rambled my way through an hour and a half phone interview with a PNC (Pastor Nominating Committee.) I think it went all right, but there were times when my mouth kept moving when my head was saying, "Okay, you can shut up now!"

Need sleep.

Monday, February 12, 2007


You go, Dixie Chicks!!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Five: American Idol

Songbird says: Yes, it's true. I've been watching Season Six of American Idol with my daughter, our first time dipping into this particular well of pop culture. In the spirit of believing you can do anything, as the auditioners so clearly do, please fill in the following five blanks.

1) If I could sing like anyone, it would be Sarah McLachlan.

2) I would love to sing the song "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N'Roses. It's got a beautiful melody AND it rocks!

3) It would be really cool to sing at Red Rocks in Colorado. It is the best place to see a concert!

4) If I could sing a dream duet it would be
with Elton John of the '70s, dressed up as Donald Duck!

5) If I could sing on a TV or radio show, it would be the finale of "Thirty-Something Idol." You know they're gonna have it!

American Idol is one of my many guilty pleasures. However, I've stopped watching this season because the "auditions" have been particularly mean spirited, IMO. I'll start watching again when the talented folks start competing.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A New "I'm Sick of Being a Fat, Fat Fatty" Blog

When I had my little health scare last month I wrote about getting real about my health; my weight in particular. Several people e-mailed me to say that they were ready, too. So, I created another blog dedicated to support in this endeavor and invited those who e-mailed me. This blog is private, as I'm not sure I want to broadcast my weight and measurements for the entire blogosphere- just a small corner of it! So far, there are three of us contributing to this blog. Cool.

If anyone else is interested, e-mail me and I'll send you an invite.

For once, it'll be great to be a loser!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It Begins

The Pastor Nominating Committee of a church two time zones away wants to have a phone interview with me. This is the only church I've submitted my PIF to since I began sensing that it was time to move on. This area of the country was not even on my radar, but I liked reading their Church Information Form so much that I decided to throw my hat in the ring.

I have two competing desires right now; the desire to stay and the desire to go. I desire to stay here because I do still love my congregation and my family loves this city in the Bible Belt. My son is in a great school where he is in a Spanish language immersion program. I am very reluctant to take him out of that great opportunity. There are absolutely no PCUSA churches in this area (except mine) that are looking for a pastor right now. Even if a pastor decided to leave tomorrow, it would be a year or more before that church would be ready to call a pastor. I know in my heart that God is calling me to go sooner rather than later.

I have no idea if this church that wants to interview me is my call or someone else's. The only way to know is to talk with them, have some serious heart to heart talks with my husband and pray- a lot.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I'm Back

I guess it was a bit mean of me to write a post like my last one and then drop off the face of the earth! The day after I went to the ER, my computer had to go to the repair depot for the third time in a month and it took for-ev-er to get it back.

I am feeling fine now. Thank you to everyone who e-mailed me to check up on how I was doing. You make me feel so loved. I missed my blog friends! *sniff*