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
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.


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?