Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
D2 is here - she has an entire week off from work. Son and DIL will be returning from a soujourn at her parent's house. They'll leave sometime tomorrow for home. D2's friend Tim will be arriving at some point today. He just got back from deployment in Afghanistan and he's on his way "home" to a new apartment in southcentral Northeastern Really Big State. We're on the way.
I'm planning a big dinner for tonight. I grew up as the oldest in a family of nine. If you count my parents, grandparents, foster brothers and sisters and any neighborhood kids who happened to like what we were having for supper - our dining room table usually had -on average- 15 people around it. It had six table "leaves" and stretched out 12 feet. Our dinners were memorable and served buffet style.
Ten pounds of potatoes. Five pounds of spaghetti. Huge roasts. Ten pounds of hamburger. Lots and lots of home-canned vegetables from my grandparents HUGE garden and slabs of fresh homemade bread and slices of homemade pies, made every Friday. We never went hungry. God seemed to multiply the loaves and fishes.
There are times when I really miss the noise, the laughter, the chaos and the fun of being a member of a large family. And there are times like today when God brings it back to me in small doses as a gift of grace.
ps... Add four cats and a guinea pig to today's crowd!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
And to top off a wonderful evening, there was a tureen dinner downstairs. About 7o people stayed to break bread and eat Ham Loaf together.
I overheard several folks asking why no one had ever thought about doing this before. And I overheard the answer: "I don't know, but I betcha God's smiling tonight!" I like our ministerium. We may not be able to agree on the fine points, but we can all say, "Jesus is Lord!"
Joy, joy, joy!!!!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We've had several (no exaggeration!) "Come to Jesus" talks about this very issue. I've not told the SPPRC about it.
Seems Church Secretary has been questioning the NCDC Staff about the relationship between NCDC Director and a let go employee and then going back to said employee and reporting what's been said about her termination. NCDC Staff goes to NCDC Director and says, "What's going on? Church Secretary is asking us all these questions?"
NCDC Director calls me and asks for a meeting. "Can you take care of this?"
Oy! Any suggestions beside bring in the SPPRC?
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The loan for the new furnances went through and the check came today. The Heating and Plumbing Company took out one of the big, antiquated dinosaurs and installed two new efficient little itty bitty furnance. They installed two for four zone, but Thursday night, only one had to work. SCORE!!! Half of the church done. The other 70's model will be replaced the first week in January with the same amount of fuss (I hope.) The church is looking at substantial heating savings in three years or less.
All the CATC's Christmas events ('cepting for Christmas Eve) have happened. I got a light week.
Hubby and I are going Christmas shopping to Small City on a Great Sinkhole on Monday to finish up. All the presents gotten thus far have been wrapped and put away. Hopefully, we will catch up with D2 for supper Monday.
Hubby found a "cut-your-own" tree farm in Small Town. That's his job. Usually, he and D2 went out and got a tree because they're both real fussy when it comes to Christmas trees, but since she's an hour and half away, that job falls to me. I always opt for the first one I see.
My Christmas cards are all caught up and will be mailed Monday.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
That was really incapacitating.
Maybe I'm bipolar?
Monday, December 1, 2008
And why can't I remember all the good things Wonderful Therapist worked on with me?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Well, the doo hit the fan right.before.church. Most of the choir members are receptive to learning "new" songs. On the Sundays that new music is sung, I try very hard to make sure the choir has the music (music and lyrics) so it can be practiced Wednesday night at Choir Practice. Today, we were going to try 'Heart of Worship' by Matt Redmon (Yeah, I know - "new" music).
Someone came and got me, saying the choir was up in arms. I arrived in the Choir Room only to discover that most of them were happily singing away. Aggie was pitching a fit because the organist was playing the piano.
Aggie, if you remember, is a lot like She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named from the Church-I-Used-to-Serve. It IS all about her and her husband, Elmer. She refuses to play anything but the old standards.
Unfortunately, the computer we use to play CDs imploded right before church. I was going to sing Heart of Worship to an accompany CD, but that wasn't going to happen. Hmmm. Aggie doesn't play "new" music, but Organist (who ironically is the same age as Aggie) can and will play anything. And it's five minutes to Worship. What a time to pitch a fit!
I went back to the Choir and sang with the Choir. Aggie wasn't singing. When the song finished, she launched into the same old song: "NO ONE LIKES THESE SONGS! WE'RE GOING TO LOSE PEOPLE IF YOU CONTINUE TO FORCE US TO DO THESE! YADA, YADA, YADA!! I FEEL LIKE I'M NOT NEEDED ANYMORE!"
Oh, please. Give.me.a.break.
Almost everyone else said, "I like this song! I like to learn new music! I don't know what your problem is, Aggie!"
Her sole supporter said, "We want to sing songs out of the hymnal!"
I gently reminded Sole Supporter that out of the five songs we sing per Sunday, three are old familiars AND they are out of the hymnal. Oops, Sole Supporter.
And I asked the choir what they wanted the most for the church. Almost unanimously, they answered, "Young people and middle-age folks."
AND I once again I reminded them, growth comes with change and change comes with discomfort. These "new" songs are the songs the young, young adults and middle-agers are listening to and singing (Thanks to the scarcity of area radio stations other than the Christian stations.) And it's not about us. Getting out of our comfort zones is the price we pay for evangelism and discipleship.
We sang Heart of Worship accompanied by Organist on the piano and it seems most of the congregation knew it. There were hands being raised and eyes being closing and a sweet spirit filling the church. And I know God was being offered the best we have to give.
Aggie decided not to join in the Passing of the Peace, not even shaking hands with the other choir members. (Insert eye roll here) Whatever.
I will be sad if Aggie and Elmer decide to attend Hubby's church. Most of their friends are there. It's the OTHER UMC in town, but it has no young or middle-aged people. Just a bunch of older folks who don't want to change. He and the associate pastor do a wonderful job of pastoring, but both of them acknowledge that it is just a matter of time before they close, unless Jesus comes back or they decide to change.
This is the part of pastoring I don't like. Interestingly enough, Aggie's nephew has threatened to leave Church-Around-the-Corner unless we start singing new music.
Can't win for losing. This one's in God's hands.
CATC's Visioning Committee (PPRC Committee and key church leaders) have been working on a mission statement for the past three months. They can agree on the bigger picture - it's the finer details they can't seem to agree upon.
We've discovered what our core values are. They're not hard: Love (for God and others), faith and ..... obedience, service, guidance? They've managed to work in the love and faith part, but the ___________________ part, they just can't agree to name it.
This week is the last time to work on it. They have to come to some sort of a consensus because I will be putting it in a larger package (2009 officers, budget, etc) and asking the congregation if they can live with it (if they can't, then it needs tweaked) and then it's on to the next level of planning in the boards and committees.
These folks have been a lot of fun to work with. Even when they can't reach consensus, they're still gracious and friendly. I'm praying it will go through!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Children's Time happened. I talked about the CATC celebrating its 100th birthday. I talked about the changes that have happened in the last 100 years.
Five year old Annie raised her hand.
Now Annie's dad is a high school teacher and her mama is a Lutheran pastor (and fellow Duke grad!). Annie and her brother don't miss a trick.
Me: "Annie, do you have something you would like to say?"
Annie: "No. I have a question."
Me: "OK. What is your question?"
Annie: "Pastor Net, why is your hair wet?"
Cue raucous laughter from the congregation (They didn't even try to chortle quietly!)
Me: "Um. It's not wet, sweetie. I just put styling mousse in it and let it go this morning. Here, you can feel it."
Annie: "Oh. It feels like my brother's. He uses styling gel."
Everyone took great delight in reminding me after the service that, in spite of what I might think, I am not in control. The kids are.
And that's OK with me. These kids have great teachers!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
The EMT that showed up with Big Ambulance Service was none other than Former Partner from Small-Town-on-the-River Volunteer Ambulance Service two appointments ago.
He was there for my first cardiac arrest there too. Also former parishioner. Buried his mama. Performed the wedding ceremonies for his kids. His wife and I supported each other through our diagnoses of clinical depression.
Someone from Small Town Volunteer Ambulance asked me if there ISN'T anyone I don't know!
Old Home Day.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
4 Year Old Granddaughter: "Listen up, everyone! I'm Pastor Net! Get out your books because we're gonna sing 'For the Beauty of the Earth!'
(Everyone sings first verse of the song.)
4YOG: "Now I'm gonna tell you about the Commandments! Number One: Don't shove anybody. Number Two: Don't shove anyone else. Number Three: Don't push anybody anymore ...".
Church Secretary: "Isn't there any other Commandments?"
4YOG: "Oh yeah, there is! Love God and others and don't shove anybody else!"
(At least I know SOMEONE was listening during the Children's Moment and Sermon!) You rock, Morgan!
My birthday was wonderful - even sitting by Hubby in the Imaging Lab of Nationally Famous Hospital. I even laughed at the older (and slightly demented) lady who razzed him about drinking two 20 oz bottles of contrast!
CT scan done, we headed out to Big Store With Too Many Choices to pick up some groceries for D2. Getting Hubby out of there without spending too much was a job, phew! Just the Tyson Chicken strips, Sweetie! Then we headed off across Nearby Small City to D2's apartment.
The Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake was easy to make and very, very good! D2 made us Chicken Alfredo with fresh tomatoes and broccoli - She's getting to be a good cook! She and her father settled down and watched some TV while I fell asleep on our old couch.
We left in a mix of wind, rain and thundersleet. Since she lives right off the shore of one of the Great Sinkholes, D2 won't have to worry about Lake Effect Snow. And since her apartment is about a mile from where she works, she doesn't have to worry anymore about a slippery commute (And neither will her mama - worrying about her, I mean!) Thank you, Lord!
The Interstates were horrible with snow and ice. The town where the CIUTS had terrible roads. But once we headed for Small Town, the snow lightened and it was easier. We woke up this morning to the VFD pager going off with requests for Fire Police to direct traffic around fallen wires and trees, brought down by the weight of the snow.
So here I sit this afternoon. There is a fire cheerfully burning in the fireplace. The cats are sprawled on the carpet in front of it. I'm warm and happy and at peace with life and the world.
Monday, October 27, 2008
- Ministry life still busy. Coming into the home stretch.
- Turning 50 tomorrow. Nope, not upset. Nope, no mid-life crisis. Just gratitude to God for the half-century.
- Hubby has to have a CT scan of his abdomen tomorrow at one of Nearby Small City's major hospitals. He injured himself six weeks ago on vacation in a boogie board mishap. Doc is thinking complications from a bruised or lacerated liver.
- Since we'll be in NSC, I'll be hanging out at D2's place. I'm gonna do her laundry and she's making us supper.
- While there, I'll be making my birthday cake: Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake ... in between loads of laundry.
- Church family had a birthday party for me after worship yesterday. What a great bunch these folks are!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
But, this weekend I am off to the Chautauqua Institute for a weekend of DeColores-ing. Hubby is preaching at the other UMC in town (9:00 AM service), so he's filling the pulpit at CATC.
I am looking forward to some spiritual renewal. Hubby did Koininia a year ago. My parents were very involved in the Cursillo movement during my teen years. I can sing the Rooster Song with the best of them (Is it pee-oh pee or pee-oh pie?) and I've helped make palanca. Now it's my turn.
See y'all on Monday!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I'm not comfortable with compliments. I've taught myself to try and listen graciously and then say, "Thank you. That means a lot to me," without sounding insincere or ingracious.
This year, however, I made myself really listen and respond. Just about everyone who stayed (and most of those who didn't) came up and said things like "I'm so glad you're here," or "You're such a blessing!" or "God really blessed us with your ministry here." And so many "Hugs and Kisses" (hershey's that is) from the children and youth.
Wow! After CIUS, I tried not to take these words very lightly (and I try not to take them too seriously either - but that's my issue).
I am very grateful to be here. These folks are not perfect, but they are easy to like.
I am glad to be here!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I've got my pager.
I've been issued my Turn-out Gear.
I've got the Codes to the kingdom.
And I've been deemed "moral enough" to know which button dispenses the beer on the pop machine.
Monday, September 22, 2008
We had a Church Conference yesterday after worship for the purpose of replacing the 55-year old boilers with newer, more efficient models. The folks were wonderful! There was lots of discussion about the higher utility bills since the Community DayCare moved in a year ago, but even the people who are still not happy about the DC were quite composed and pleasant about it.
Bottom line: We're getting two new furnaces. That was a no-brainer. But it also opened up a discussion about stewardship and finances. And here's where the Spirit is working.
A good friend just retired after 42 years of ministry. He and his wonderful wife moved into the community the same time we did. Church-Around-the-Corner is his home church, the church where he grew up. He's a proven visionary and stewardship expert. Last week he offered to do a Stewardship Campaign for CATC with no previous knowledge of the Boiler Project. He and his wife were in church yesterday and they stayed for the Church Conference. We high-fived after it was over and I am going to take him up on his offer. Since we've been friends for years, we know we can work together!
These folks ARE ready to grow. I'm the thing holding them back because I'm so new here. But the iron is hot and minds are open ... let's go for it!
On another note - we had 35 women turn out for the opening night for our Women's Bible Study. I was expecting about 10! Boy, was I surprised!
Folks have been remarking on the change of atmosphere: More positive, more joyful, more gracious.
Thank you, Lord!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It was a wonderful vacation ... lots of reading, eating and sleeping (yep, that's the order!)!
It was good to be together as family again. As much as I love being alone with Hubby, it is good to have children around - no matter how old they are.
Grandbabyboy had gotten a new CD for the vaca: The Bare Naked Ladies' children's album (Yes, you read that right!) Snacktime. I have earworms from those songs ... Pollywog in a Bog; Here Come the Geese; and the New Alphabet Song. He listened to it over and over and over and over and over ...
I met up with revanne! She was a very gracious hostess and took me on a walking tour of her little coastal town. Her church is very old and the cemetery beside it is incredible! We had lunch at a little local bistro and spent a very enjoyable several hours! Thanks Anne!
The trip home was uneventful until the last 100 miles, which took us three hours to travel thanks to the remnants of Hurrican Ike. We dodged downed trees and wires due to wind gusts of 70 mph. But God is good and we made it home.
Life is good.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Hubby, D2 and I are leaving tomorrow for the Southern State where people cheer on the Blue Devils, Demon Deacons, Wolfpack and (cough) Tarheels and where you can eat ANYTHING on a biscuit.
D1, Son-in-Love and Grandbabyboy will be flying in from New England State.
I've got paints and crayons and stickers and Goldfish and everything needed for an almost-three-year-old!
And, I'm hoping for a RGPB meet-up with Revanne!
Beach, here we come!
Sally (Eternal Echoes) writes: I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.So I bring you this weeks Friday 5:
1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person? Because of my dyfunctional familial upbringing, I learned to keep secrets early. Because I was never allowed to show "negative" emotions (anger, sadness, grief, frustration, anxiety, etc.) I learned to keep stuff bottled up inside.When I was given permission, however, to 'feel' by my therapist, the floodgates opened up; and for a while, I was mess as I struggled to process it. I learned that it's OK to allow yourself to be vulnerable because there is grace and you can be free to be yourself.
2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry? I feel it is important to maintain professionality (is that a word?), but I also believe in the importance to be "real." I haven't a problem in incorporating a bit of fun, lightheartedness and joy into being a professional clergywoman. Life is too short to take yourself so seriously.
3. Masks, a form of self protection discuss... One of the causes of my depression was the issue of personal self and public self. Because of my ACOA upbringing, what you saw is not what you got. My earliest (and longest running) therapy sessions dealt with integrating the two. As a result, I am a whole healthier and happier!
4. Who knows you warts and all? A loving, caring God.
5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
1You have looked deep into my heart, LORD, and you know all about me.
2You know when I am resting or when I am working, and from heaven
you discover my thoughts.
3You notice everything I do and everywhere I go.
4Before I even speak a word, you know what I will say,
5and with your powerful arm you protect me from every side.
6I can't understand all of this! Such wonderful knowledge is far above me.
7Where could I go to escape from your Spirit or from your sight?
8If I were to climb up to the highest heavens, you would be there.
If I were to dig down to the world of the dead you would also be there.
9Suppose I had wings like the dawning day and flew across the ocean.
10Even then your powerful arm would guide and protect me.
11Or suppose I said, "I'll hide in the dark until night comes to cover me over."
12But you see in the dark because daylight and dark are all the same to you.
13You are the one who put me together inside my mother's body,
14and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt.
15Nothing about me is hidden from you!
I was secretly woven together deep in the earth below,
16but with your own eyes you saw my body being formed.
Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do.
17Your thoughts are far beyond my understanding, much more than I
could ever imagine.
18I try to count your thoughts, but they outnumber the grains of sand on the
And when I awake, I will find you nearby.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
FRC is about 12 miles from Small Town. It's an over-the-river and through-the-woods trip.
We filled up on Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip, Chicken Alfredo Penne, Jack Mac and Cheese with Chicken and two little bitty sundaes. Mmmmmm.
On the way back home, we saw a doe eating supper under someone's clothesline. Ahhhhhh. Never get tired of seeing that. Not far beyond however, we saw two guy dressed in camoflage on a camo-painted four-wheeler. The guy in the back was holding on to a regular old lawn mower. They were mowing a field.
D2 looked at me. I looked at her. We both burst out, "How 'bout that Riding Lawn Mower?" We drove home in silence, but every so often a snort and a giggle came out.
Ah, life near a small town in rural NE state.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Sounds like an Arlo Guthrie song, doesn't it?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I made sure he had everything he needed today ... black pants, black shoes, black socks, black belt, zebra shirt and his whistle. I sent him out the door with a kiss and his briefcase, telling him: For Pete's sake, Hubby, remember this is a high school varsity game between the Charter School and the Christian School, not the Olympics. Call a good game!"
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Hubby's church float had a Corn Still promoting ethanol.
Free Methodist had kids "eating" corn and prayers of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.
The Catholic church had a bunch of senior citizens playing cooking utensils in a kitchen band.
The Lootherans didn't have a float.
I thought the Presby's would win it on the "cuteness factor." They had six little kids wearing muffin head costumes, sitting in a giant muffin baking tin. Another cutie was the cook, stirring corn meal in a bowl and "pouring" it on top of the muffin heads in the baking tin which he then "pushed" into the cardboard replic of a wood-burning oven. My heart sank when I saw their float; and right then and there, I was willing to give a concession speech.
But we WON! WE WON!
The trophy is sitting on the Worship Center today along with some of D2's academic awards and some of Son's athletic awards. I'm preaching on "Excellence in All We Do for Jesus Christ" based on the Romans lectionary passage and the Olympics.
Friday, August 22, 2008
What's the theme of the weekend? Why ... corn!
The County Fire Police have blocked off the center of Small Town for the weekend by order of the Mayor and Small Town Police Department. There are corn balloons, corn dogs, chili and corn bread, corn fritters, fried corn, boiled corn and roasted corn-on-the-cob. (There's also hot dogs, sloppy joes, funnel cakes, bake sale items and the like!)
My absolute favorite of the evening was the Bubblegum Machine Dance Factory. The DJ spun really cool kiddie tunes and we did the Chicken Dance, the Hand Jive, the Bunny Hop and Hokey Pokie.
Tomorrow is the BIG parade. Church Around the Corner has a float in it. The Chair of this years' Float Committee is 13 years old. He stood up in worship three weeks ago and announced he was volunteering to Chair, but needed some help putting the float together. He got lots of help! Our float has a working water mill and small grist stone to grind corn (13 year old's idea). Most of our church children will be riding on it and throwing out "Jesus Loves You" bracelets to the crowd. Both the adults and kids will be dressed in pioneering clothes and Psalm 65:13 covers the back of the "mill." We're going to kick some ecumenical church butt (Hubby's church has a nice cardboard corn stalk and loots of hay bales on their float).
And later on tomorrow there's a Chicken BBQ at the Fire Hall; a Jimmy Buffet Cover Band, Pig Roast, Hula Hoop and Limbo Contests at the Small Town Park.
I love this town!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Went to visit a hospitalized parishioner this afternoon. When I got there, her daughter was visiting too. I know Sick Parishioner's parents because they're members of my favorite Mennonite church in the community I just left. Her cousin is still a good friend from the CIUS.
Her daughter asked me if I knew J. I replied I knew lots of J's - could she narrow down the field. Turns out I DO know her J, a pharmacist and her husband who came briefly to CIUS, but left because of how poorly they were treated (not by me ... I visited with her and her hubby when he was admitted to Big Fancy Hospital in Nearby City with a cardiac condition).
Turns out they heard I had moved. They know Parishioner's Daughter who assured them that Church Around the Corner is NOT anyway like the Church I Used to Serve. PD has invited J and her husband to join us for worship! Way cool!
Male Nurse comes in to start IV on Sick Parishioner. He looks vaguely familiar and I greeted him with a generic "hi!" SP said something and I laughed and Male Nurse's head whipped up and asked, "Pastor net, is that you? I thought it might have been, but I wasn't sure until I heard you laugh!"
Turns out I knew him too. Male Nurse was a seasonal camper at Little Bitty Church from two appointments ago. He was from Really Big City where Three Rivers Converge and the sports teams are named for Industrial Workers, Cold Weather Birds and Jack Sparrow Wannabees. He came to church when he was at his camp and LBC's church family and I prayed him through the loss of his job and his parents.
He and his wife sold their home in Really Big City. He went to nursing school and since they liked the area, they moved up here. He works at Little Hospital and she is a teacher at the Christian School. They're looking for a new church family. SP, SPD and I invited them to join us for worship.
Now, what are the odds that all this was accidental?
Toss in the conversation I had with the Presbyterian Elder at the Discount Mattress Store who feels called to ministry and loves to talk about theology ...
How great is our God!
I love this place! I love God!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Tonight, I'm going to lead a Bible Study about the C/church's purpose. They are so wanting to do "ministry," but it's a shot-gun (with an open choke) approach. Just aim and fire. The pattern is way, way wide and all spread out. You can't do ministry that way ... the louder voices get heard whether or not the issues/"recommendations" they speak are truly what needs to be done.
The PPR Chair invited folks to "suggest" ways the church can be in ministry. Of course, the main concern is increasing church membership and attendance, i.e. "survival." I'm trying to tell them that if the church is healthy, then growth is inevitable. "Church Growth" should not be the main focus of ministry.
Their last Mission Statement (done about 20 years ago) is a convoluted, rambling, wordy, run-on sentence. Tonight, we're going to get started on a new one. But first, we need to take a look and listen as Jesus spells out what he expects from his disciples.
The UMC's Mission Statement is "Making disciple of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Our Conference's Statement is "to provide leadership, connection, and resources to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Our Conference's Vision is "to ignite and sustain a passionate, spiritual connection with Christ among all people in [our Conference's area]."
Our Core Value Statement: "Our core value is love: We love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. This value is commanded by Jesus, inspired by our Wesleyan heritage including to spread scriptural holiness over the land and witnessed through our integrity, accountability and inclusiveness."
Lofty words to be sure. I'm not looking for anything this profound, but tonight we will attempt to contemplate, understand and verbalize what Jesus expects us to do as CATC. It's a first step. Then we can plan ministry around what Jesus expects us to do.
Mission Statement making is not an immediate proposition. It takes time, discernment and a lot of prayer. I'm starting a "Pastor's Partners in Prayer," made up of committed prayer warriors, to cover this process in prayer. I've gotten four folks so far to commit to pray daily for the church, me and the church's leaders.
I'm really excited about empowering this church!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
It's County Fair time and Church Around the Corner has a booth with just about every other non-profit in our county. CATC is a little different, however. They're not out to make money - they're out to provide a presence.
With soda going for $3.00 a bottle elsewhere, CATC's booth sells a 20 ouncer for $1.00. Same with water. Popcorn is a quater a bag; 50 cents a box. They also sell double scoop sno-cones for $1.00. But, IMHO, the very best is the Cotton Candy!
I have a new marketable skill to add to my resume: Cotton Candy Spinner. $2.00 for a HUGE bag or $1.50 for a GINORMOUS plonk on a stick! See the picture above? Triple that. No kidding.
I'm really tired tonight. We had a steady business today and I worked seven hours on my feet.
It was pretty neat, too - I saw former parishioners from my appointment before the CIUS. Lots of hugs and catching up!
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The Oldest Attending Member took a header this morning before worship, making a face plant into the hallway carpet. He's lost a lot of weight lately and the combination of ill-fitting clothes and weakness caused his accident. He ended up with a very large wound on the side of his head where his fragile skin tore. The Lay Leader came and got me, alerted the church and we all got to work.
His many friends took turns holding his hands, praying over him, speaking encouraging words of love and support. Others prayed in the Narthex; one called Small Town Ambulance Service and others brought me the first aid box so I could practice my rusty EMT skills.
Ashley, who is a 21-year-old mentally challenged young woman, asked me what had happened to her "friend."
"He has a big ouchie on his head, Ash," I told her.
Ash knelt down and tenderly kissed her friend on his head. "There! That should make you feel better!" she said. Mr. Oldest Attender kissed her hand and thanked her for the gift.
That's OK!" Ashley said. "I love you!"
My heart swelled up and I choked back tears.
After the ambulance crew got Mr. OA assessed and loaded up, his church family lined their way with shouts of love and good wishes.
When it had turned the corner and couldn't be seen any more, we all made our way into the sanctuary for worship. I think God was beaming.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
These folks are just wonderful. Of course, they have their times and their issues; but overall, they are compassionate, caring, FUN-LOVING folks. Compared to the last four years, this is heaven.
Onward and upward!
Monday, July 28, 2008
I have this feeling of impending doom. Like something bad and universe-wrecking is immenient.
No amount of self-talk, rationalization, relaxation and diversional activities are helping!
This is stupid! I am a functioning, relatively normal and healthy human being. There have been no "triggers" to start this behavior. I love my husband. I love my new church family. I love life. Everything - for the most part - is going well.
What is going on?
It has all the hallmarks of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Did CINS have a greater impact on my psyche than I thought?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Yesterday's festivities included a car show, Chili Cook-off and the Volunteer Fire Department's Chicken BBQ. Everything came to an abrupt end when a serious thunderstorm swept through about 1:30 pm.
It was a social event! I couldn't believe how many folks were out and about. Even worship was full!
I've had so many folks say that they're glad I'm here. One of my pastoral colleagues told me last week, "Your folks are quite smitten with you!" I'm quite smitten with them. I LOVE Small Town life!
Two of Hubby churches held a joint Welcome Picnic for him yesterday. They are as neat as Sassy Nance and MA said they would be! Hubby and I had a blast and the folks made us feel right at home.
Hubby is a basketball referee and one of his new parishioners is a fellow co-officiant. She gets a lot of grief from the majority of the male refs (MCPs). Hubby has always been sensitive to her feelings and he's always treated her professionally and compassionately. What a surprise it was to find her and her family as very active church family folks!!!! Her husband is an EMT for another Volunteer Fire Department and he and I had a good time sharing war stories.
My Hubby is amazing! He always treats folks with dignity and respect, because as he says, "It's doesn't cost you any more to be nice." And in the small world we seem to live in, it pays off!
I'm loving Small Town life!
Monday, July 14, 2008
At Vespers last night, one of my new parishioners asked if I had met this young couple. I affirmed I had and asked her to tell me their story.
Long story short, they're moving from a one-room apartment to a mobile home in desperate need of repair. When Loving Parishioner went to visit them after church, she discovered that all they had was one chair in the trailer, no major appliances, and the mobile home is in bad shape. She proposed that I make a "visit" (to talk about the baptism), feel them out and see what the church family can do for them. She said that the good folks at CATC will help renovate the mobile home into a habitable place - with the funds coming from the church; procure major appliances and furniture for them - again from the church and in general, show this young couple they are loved and valued in their church family. Loving Parishioner stressed that she doesn't want them to feel bad about accepting our help. And she's planning a Baby Shower/Housewarming Party for them.
My mission: To see what they need and what the church can do for them without making them feel obligated and intruded upon.
What a change from the last four years! Did I mention that I think I like it here?
Saturday, July 12, 2008
We were treated to a wonderful lecture explaining the history, mechanics, joys and heartaches of training and handling these cool workin' dogs.
Afterwards, some of us got to be found and rescued by them.
Oh - I got to meet some of my new parishioners, too. What is it about Methodists and EMS???????? The service region is our parish??????
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I managed to plead my case with my CPR Healthcare Provider Certification Class. Since AED certification is part of it AND since CATC has a defibrillation device, I can claim it as a CEU! After all, a parishioner may need the 'paddles' applied to them some Sunday during worship.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I needn't have worried. It was riding a bicycle after not riding for years. It just came back and I performed automatically. I passed the written test with a 100% and earned a "good job" from the tester on the practical exam.
This weekend is a Trauma Training Weekend. I can get half of the Continuing Ed credits I need for recertifying. The rest I can take on line. Once I'm fully certified, I can join Small Town's Ambulance Service.
And that makes me very happy! You can get to know a lot of folks in the back of ambulance - and it's a good evangelism tool. The downside? If the patient dies and is unchurched, the funeral director usually calls you because "you had a 'relationship' with the deceased (doing CPR).I like it here!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
They want so badly to do ministry. They want to be the church. They want to be a Body of Christ to the Small Town community. They have a heart for evangelism and people belonging to a community of faith that accepts them! They want to be trained as leaders!
What a difference between Church-Around-the-Corner and the Church-I-Used-To-Serve!
There's a lot to do here!
Monday, July 7, 2008
I am not so idealistic to see there are some issues here. The LayLeader berated the Church Treasurer over his style of reporting the bimonthly Financial Sheet last week after the Council Meeting. I'm not sure exactly what the LL was looking for, but even to my inexpert eye, I understood the report and just how much money is in endowments, designated funds and the general fund ... assests and expenditures. The LL was adamant that if the church was audited, it wouldn't pass muster. He wasn't very nice.
I listened for a few minutes and decided that this wasn't a ditch I needed to die in - at least not this early in my tenure - so I went to my office. After the confrontation was over, the Treasurer came in and we talked for a while. It sounds like a control issue on the part of the LL to me.
Before worship Sunday morning, I visited each of the Sunday School classes. The LL was sitting in a room by himself. He said he was trying to start a Young Adult Class and this was the "Serendipity Class." He couldn't understand why the church's young adults weren't coming; he had invited them and had the Serendipity material (leftover from the 70s & 80s) with which to teach the class.
It was soon apparent (to me) why they weren't beating down the door. Sigh.
Then he started on the Financial Report/Treasurer issue again. I listened for a few minutes, thanked him for expressing his concerns and excused myself.
It IS a control issue.
And I have had my first gender issue. Surprisingly, it's coming from a retired pastor (former EUB) affiliated with the church. It seems he's not going "to sit under the teaching of a woman." So sad.
Anyway, I'm still glad to be here!
Friday, July 4, 2008
We chose my parsonage over Hubby's because this one has a bigger, fenced-in area.
Beagles bark. That's a fact of life. I truly and earnestly believe that God gives beagles a requisite allotment of barks that they need to use up each day. Hubby's dogs are purebred beagles. They bark at everything and at nothing.
Last Sunday (my last day at CINS), Church-Around-the-Corner decided to have an outdoor hymn sing in their pavillion. Amazingly, the beagles were quiet all
throughout the service - until the last hymn.
As my new congregation started the last hymn, Lady and Joey added their voices (aw-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) to the paean of praise. I was told the congregation stopped singing, listened, laughed and allowed the beaglesong to fill the morning skies while the accompanist carried on.
No one was upset. Folks have since told me that we've trained them right as Preacher's Dogs. They were just adding their praise to the Divine for a good move, a great location and people who love huntin' dogs.
Hubby already has gotten numerous invitations to go rabbit and pheasant hunting with Small Town folks.
I think I'm gonna like it here!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I drove the van the half-block to the station about 10:30 Friday morning. I introduced myself and handed the young man behind the counter the necessary paperwork: current insurance and registration information. He thanked me and I turned to go.
I turned around expectantly.
"I'm really sorry, but I need your registration to have your current Small Town address on it. Normally, it wouldn't be a problem, but because your registration says you're from Emission-Test-Also County, I won't be able do it because we don't do them here."
"I just moved in yesterday!" I wailed. "The inspection is up Monday and I need my van!"
He took off his NAPA Auto Parts cap and scratched his head thoughtfully. Then his eyes lit up. "Please come with me, Ma'am!" he said.
I followed him out of the door, around the side of the gas station and into an open door.
"Kristy, this is Pastor Net from the Church-Around-the-Corner. She just moved in yesterday. Her van needs inspected and I need a registration with her new address to inspect it."
Kristy (who is a Notary Public for Small Town) smiled and said, "C'mon in and let's get you fixed up, honey." She hit a few keys on her computer, asked me for my driver's license number and new address. She pressed the Print button and two sheets spit out of the printer. She handed me the new temporary registration form to sign and then gave it to the young man. He grinned, took the paper and said to me, "You can pick your van up between lunch and one."
Kristy gave me the new temporary driver's license form and told me to tell Hubby to stop in and she'd change his and any other vehicles we needed changed.
"Thank you very much!" I told her. "How much do I owe you?"
"Aw, nothing, honey! Welcome to Small Town. I hope you love here as much as I do."
As I walked the half-block home to the parsonage, I was thinking, "I already do."
Monday, June 30, 2008
I lost it again when the choir sang "Written in Red" as their final tribute to me.
And yet again, when I said that if they remembered anything from my preaching, it was all about grace.
And when I held in my arms and baptized a precious 6-week old five-one-half pound "miracle baby," and the thought crossed my mind that I would not see her grow up in this church family.
And when I gave the final benediction.
Goodbye, CINS! I will keep you and your new pastors in my prayers. Be gracious to them!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
See the young man on Son's left? That's Skater Boi. He's our Son's best friend and he spent a lot of his teenage years at our house. His biological dad lives in Florida with his 'other' family. His mom and step-father moved to Las Vegas and didn't tell him until right before the move. He was still living at home and putting himself through college. He's paid for her bad choices emotionally and financially.
He's had a really tough life for a 26 year old. I could understand if he chose to drink and do drugs. I could understand if he was a menace to himself and others, a unproductive member of society. I could readily understand if he chose to be a victim of his circumstances.
But, HE DIDN'T and HE HASN'T. Skater Boi has a deep-set of morals and values, something he didn't get from the 'responsible' adults in his life. He's worked very, very hard ... put himself through college ... has a decent job ... and now ... a WIFE.
I was honored (and totally surprised!) to be asked to dance the Mother-Son Dance with this awesome young man at his wedding to Maddo yesterday. Actually, I shared the honors with Mama Luce - another woman from the same small town who loves Skater Boi as much as I do. She and her husband shared "custody" of SB with us. Mama Luce and I were in tears. After the dance was over and we were sitting back at our table, I looked at her and said, "We did a damn good job raising that boy!" She laughed. We cried some more and hugged each other fiercely, our husbands wiping tears away from their own faces.
You just never know. It doesn't cost you any extra to be good and kind and compassionate and loving and firm and fair. And when you're raising children, what's one or two more? My heart is big enough to love more than just our biological children. You just never know.
Chris (R) Son (Bottom)
I love you, Jason! You have done very well and I am so proud of you! You ARE my son! I know you will take good care of Maddie and Eli!!!
And, if you need us, we're always here for you!
Friday, June 20, 2008
Singing Owl says: I am feeling like playing hooky, and I'm putting off sermon prep till tomorrow. It is a beautiful, sunny day at my place. So come on outside and let's play a summer Friday Five!
This post is loosely based on previous "wordy" Friday Fives from Reverend Mother and Songbird. I liked the results, and so we are doing another word association . Theirs were based on words from a lectionary text. Mine comes from the Lovin' Spoonful song, "Summer in the City."
Think summer......are you there? Below you will find five words or phrases. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem, a memory, a recipe, or a story. You get the idea:
1. rooftop: Micah (my cat) getting out on the deck and climbing the garage roof. He fussed and fussed and cried and cried because he couldn't figure out how to get down. Son eventually climbed up and got him down.
2. gritty: How I feel right now from packing.
3. hot town (yeah, I know, it's two words): Small Nearby City when there is a BIG concert at the Pepsi Ampitheatre on the Bayfront.
4. night: I can lay down my weary head and aching body.
5. dance: "It's a Wonderful Night for a Moondance" by Van Morrison!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The new folks are really shining up their parsonage. New flooring in the kitchen; new flooring in the bathrooms; fresh paint on the walls and a brand new dishwasher. The ladies were cleaning windows when I got there.
I had a lot of help unpacking the van and it took next to no time at all. Three young boys (around 6th grade) showed up to stack wood for the fireplaces. Everyone has been so friendly, nice and gracious!
I really missed the friendliness, niceness and graciousness. This is feeling more and more like the right place at the right time!
Monday, June 16, 2008
Our Bishop rocks! What a difference he has made in our Annual Conference with his "Lighten Up, Loosen Up and Have a Little Fun!" attitude! Our morale - both clergy and laity - was at a rock bottom low when he was appointed our bishop. Now, I look forward to attending AC because it is so upbeat and gracious, so Spirit-led and Spirit-filled! I really do get recharged when I go!
Rev. Grace Imathiu was our Bible Study leader. She spoke on the "Should-be Untitled Parable" (Parable of the Prodigal) and the Raising of Lazarus. Her name reflects her teaching and her joy and bubbly personality filled the room (She is a graduate of my alma mater West Virginia Wesleyan College).
Iowa Conference's Bishop Gregory Palmer was our keynote preacher. He wasn't present so much at the AC, since his Conference has been struck by flooding and he was on the phone and on-line directing things back home. Our AC sprang into action when we heard the news. We took up a spontaneous offering and had work teams formed by the time he left, ready to go to Iowa on his notice. Our Bishop called it "The Second Flood - a Flood of Love."
While making our annual pilgrimage to the Cokesbury display, my eyes happened upon a wonderful preaching robe. The alb I purchased over 20 years ago doesn't fit anymore and my black preaching robe - purchased at the same time - is getting threadworn and tatty. Several Christmas' ago, Hubby gift-wrapped an Abbott Hall catalogue and told me to select a new robe. I looked through it, but never got around to measuring myself and ordering it.
But there it was at the Cokesbury exhibit, hanging on the rack! 30% off! And it fit me perfectly! And here it is. That's not me modeling it, but that's my robe!
In spite of having to power-pack this week, I decided to let God fill my heart and soul and while at AC, NOT WORRY about the 'stuff' awaiting me back at home. I had a blast reconnecting and visiting with friends and colleagues alike!
It has been so long, so very, very long, since I've had this kind and this much joy in my heart! It feels so wonderful!
Even power-packing isn't looking so daunting now!
Blessings! One week to go before moving ...
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Someone else spoke up and remembered our first Women of Faith trip together. They threw ice at me and dumped a full container of ice cubes in my bed. (Guess who had the choice of either sleeping on the floor or in a cold, wet bed because no one else offered theirs in exchange?) And she thanked me for being "a good sport."
Oh - and my gifts: Two balloons and a $25 gift card to the Olive Garden. (At least my friend, Liv, got a $50 gas card from her two congregations!)
After the dinner, as I was preparing to leave church, I had a couple come up to me and told me they would be seeing me at the new church. And I had one of my mentally-ill friends ask if she could attend the new church. Another person asked me to officiate at her funeral because I "totally get it."
Earlier in the day, I had someone remark about my hand-made, prequilted purse and asked if I would make her and her three grand-daughters each one before I left. Huh what?
I've also had a run on baptism requests before I leave. One lady even went so far as to ask if we could sing some familiar hymns on that particular Sunday because most of the family is unchurched and she doesn't want them to feel uncomfortable. (Umm, if they're unchurched, then they probably don't know the hymns anyway?)
What a strange church! I'm kinda of glad I didn't have high expectations of Sunday. If anything I've learned to just let it go.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Hubby had a Mid-Life Crisis a couple of weeks ago. The last time he went through one of these episodes was five years ago. He bought a Camaro.
This time he bought a boat. For fishing. It's only a 14 footer and he got it for a song; however, it's the stuff that DIDN'T come with it that's driving me crazy.
He figured out that he can't put a hitch on his high performance Stratus, nor would the Camaro look "cool" pulling a boat. Nope. It's my van that needs to have the trailer hitch and wiring installed. After all, you can put a lot of fishing poles, ice chests, life vests, lights, fish finders, et al and people in my mini van, so they go fishing with him.
That takes the van out of commission next week.
There is are reasons I chose the van when we were car shopping. I don't like to drive the Stratus or the Camaro - they're both five-speed sticks. I KNOW how to drive a stick (My first car was a VW bug!) but I prefer not to drive one. Also, I have a problem seeing over (or through) the steering wheels because they are both high performance cars that sit low to the ground. In the van, I'm up high and I can see perfectly fine over the wheel.
And then there is the hauling factor. We're moving. I have an office to totally pack up and move next week. And there is Annual Conference. Who bothered to check my schedule while having a Mid-Life Crisis?
I told him when he bought the Stratus that he wasn't using my van to haul his hunting beagles in. Maybe I should have made up a contract that not only included hunting but fishing too.
Damn. I wish I would have thought ahead.
Back to packing.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
As teenage boys are usually clueless and stupid, Drew and Son would vacate the premises for a game of basketball and golf. She would end up in the family room with D2 and I, watching sappy chic flicks, chatting and eating popcorn.
In spite of her dredlocks, piercings and punk rocker clothes, She fit into our family well. We grew to love her and whenever She was in town, She was at our house.
And as teenage boys are wont to do, Drew broke her heart. Drew has always been a playah and he cheated on her. But, our relationship with her did not change because she was a Daughter-and-Sister-of-the-Heart. D2 and I got her through the heartbreak. And we got her through her parents' divorce. She got over Drew, graduated from high school and went on to graduate from college, always keeping in touch.
Saturday, D2 and I had a bet going. She said "traditional." I said, "Non-traditional."
She walked down the church's central aisle, dressed in a beautiful white gown with her dreds combed up into a tiara, to meet her heart's love to "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" by the Smashing Pumpkins tastefully played on the piano. She and Heart's Love lit the Unity Candle to the praise song "You are Holy." She, Heart's Love and the rest of their wedding party recessed to "Trumpets Voluntary."
Their wedding party included HER Best Man (her brother); Heart's Love Matron of Honor (his sister); his Groomsman (her other brother) and his Groomsmaids. She had bridesmaids to round out the courtege.
The colors were aqua, green and black.
D2 and I sat with her pastor and his wife. She is a vital part of their church family and she works as an Occupational Therapist at their school. They said they know a gem when they meet one.
What can I say? I cried and D2 beamed.
Congratulations Heart's Love and FivefoottwoPunk! We love you!
Your Other Mother
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The one guestroom is downstairs. It's already painted blue. I've decided to use a painting done for me by one of my present parishoners (He's colorblind but the painting is of mountains and pine trees). I've got a lot of Boyd Bears, so it's going to be the "Woodsy Room." More masculine.
The other room is upstairs, done in black and white holstein cows. I still have the four poster canopy bed of my childhood (with matching dressers). It's white and in need of some touch-up work (You'd be too if you were almost 50 years old!). I was thinking country feminine:
We met for breakfast and then he took me around to the shut-ins and nursing homebound. Everywhere we went he introduced me as, "This is your new pastor." And everywhere we went, tears were shed and prayers were offered by the two of us.
He also introduced me to the folks we will need to know to make our life in Small Town easier: The mechanic, the postmistress, the waitress at Frosty J's, the Nursing Home Administrator and Chaplain. The Chaplain Hubby and I already know - because these appointments are not that far from where we spent our first appointments out of seminary - 13 years worth. It was good to see him again and to renew our friendship.
In many ways, this appointment feels like "coming home." I know the area well. I know the social games. I know what's important to these Small Town persons. I even know two of my shut-ins well; I've known them since I was a young woman in my 20s. They, however, do not remember me because they are in their 90s and their memories have faded away. But, the personalities I remember of them are still intact.
I am grateful to God that yesterday went well. The people I met were nothing short of gracious and affirming to me. They welcomed me with hugs and dismissed me with hugs and kisses. After being so battered around at CINS, I feel the extent of my wounds and their healing starting to take place.
It won't be all sugar and light, I know. But for now I am at peace with it all.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
We had six cats in our home yesterday and today. Two were mine. One was D2's. One was Son and DIL's. The other two were being catsat by D2 until their owner could pick them up.
Ach! Such fighting and growling and hissing and meowing! I was glad to go to church for a change!
Son and DIL went through the belongings he left with us. Nostalgia! Pictures, books, trophies, awards, his blankie. They took what they could and the rest Hubby and I will take to DIL's parents' home.
My home is a mess. We're moving in less than a month.
My usual high-maintenance folks are vying for last attentions. Tomorrow, I'm packing up my church office because the new Pastor-in-Charge is moving in next week.
I'm feeling a little sad - a very little sad. I wish things could have turned out differently. But, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
Friday, May 23, 2008
It seems She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has already called the male pastor, asking him about his "expectations" of her (Um, how about changing churches?) Since he's relatively new at this pastoring thing, he asked if this was normal.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
And somehow I got signed up for our conference's Archives & History Commission ... Did I do that under the influence of my cough medicine?
How healthy is your church?
I gotta go pack.