Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This was one of my Christmas presents from our children.
It can hold a WHOLE lot of songs.
I may never resurface.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Full House

I love a full house! I just love when our home is full of laughter, noise and company!

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

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture,
in the Body and the Blood
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of Light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.
At his feet the six-winged seraph; cherubim with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the Presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
"Alleluia, alleluia!
Alleluia, Lord Most High!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How Great Our Joy!

Despite feeling really crappy and not being able to be "Narrator 2," I went to Small Town's first Ecumenical Christmas Cantata. There were over 25 community choir members from five churches. Held at Small Town's local Catholic church, it was standing room only!

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


What do you do with a Church Secretary that you really like, is very creative, manages to get all her work done even with lots of visiting and phone calls, but doesn't have a filter between her brain and mouth and doesn't seem to get the concept of "What happens between the Non-Church Daycare Director and Staff stays between the Non-Church Daycare Director and Staff?"

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

Home Stretch

Coming down the home stretch! I feel unusually good - not overstressed or over worked! Yeah!

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.

Looking good!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I'm back in my right mind again. I don't know exactly what happened. I had a extremely stressful day, but I've had days like that before without this kind of reaction. And I take my medication faithfully. Something depleted the old serotonin and dopamine rather quickly.

That was really incapacitating.

Maybe I'm bipolar?

Monday, December 1, 2008

I've Often Wondered ...

... why some individuals are so resilient and others crumble in the face of adversity? Why some folks see the glass as half-full while others, looking at the same glass, see it as half-empty? And why do some persons see life as an adventure, while others see it as a challenge?

And why can't I remember all the good things Wonderful Therapist worked on with me?

Friday, November 28, 2008


Make the pain go away!

I HATE depression!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Three feet. That's how much we've got right now. Three BIG feet of snow.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bound to Happen

Remember these folks?

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.

Mission Statements

Why are Mission Statements so hard to write?

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

Kids Ask the Darnedest Things

I decided to change it up this Sunday since it was a very special Sunday. So, instead of dragging out the hairdryer and curling iron, I decided to go with styling mousse and towel-dried hair. I was pleased with the results!

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?"

Blink, blink.

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

Tired but Full

Church-Around-the-Corner's 100th Birthday Celebration is officially over. My feet are tired and sore, but my heart is full to running over.

What a wonderful celebration!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Beginning of the End! Yeah!!!!

Tonight is Church-Around-the-Corner's Charge Conference. Yeah!
Tomorrow starts the weekend celebration of its 100th Anniversary. Yeah!
We have all kinds of wonderful events lined up: Chicken & Biscuit Dinner, addresses from former pastors, programs, a big worship service on Sunday, exhibits .... This has been years in the making.
And in two weeks, Stewardship Sunday and that program will end!
And hopefully, church life will fall back into some kind of a normal routine.
Off to clean the parsonage so's the former pastors and spouse can walk down Memory Lane!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Life in a Small Town

Small Town's Garbage Truck has one of these hung on its grill.

Nope, not kidding.

The garbage collectors are nice guys with a BIZARRO sense of humor.

I love it here!

Deja vu All Over Again

First cardiac arrest call in Small Town.

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.

Political Elections


Sick of political ads, speeches, infomercials and mud-slinging.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Imitation is the 'Best' Form of Flattery?

Overheard at Church Secretary's family dinner last Sunday:

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!

Birthday Day Update!

If it's October 28th, it must mean that "first" snow has fallen by now! True to tradition, we had 2 inches of the white stuff on my birthday ... and we don't live in a snow belt anymore! (They got 8" - suckas!) Lake Effect!!!!!

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.

Thanks, God!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Update Dots

  • 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

Monday Musings

Thoughts on the weekend ...



... WOW(!!!!!!!!!!) is the only word that comes to mind.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Lull in the Action

I promised myself that THIS TIME I would give myself some breathing room. Somehow, I find myself with more things to do than hours in a day. The last three weeks have been an almost nonstop marathon. It can't be helped - this is stuff that pastors have major responsibility for.

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

It's Nice to be Wanted

Church-Around-the-Corner threw a "Pastor's Appreciation" fete after worship last Sunday since I will be away at Koininia (Cursillo, Walk to Emmaus) this weekend - at Chautauqua Institute, no less!

I digress.

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

A Full Plate and the Gravy's Dripping Off

It's very busy around Chez Grace. Charge Conference preparation, 100th Church Anniversary Planning, Stewardship Program, All Saints Sunday prep, visiting, counseling, grant-writing and turning 50 in 22 days.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Officially Official!

I had my interview and I am an OH-FISH-AL member of the Small Town Volunteer Fire Department.

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

Monday Musings: Satisfied

I'm truly enjoying this appointment so far. The honeymoon's over, but these folks are not malicious or hurtful in their dealings with me or each other.

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

OK, So He Got More of My Genes

Yes, this is our Son.
Yes, that is a carp skeleton hanging on the sign.
This picture is supposed to be in a promotional governmental brochure
for our state.
It is entitled "Dedicated Biologist."
I call it "Gene Pool."

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety Jig

We're home from the beach!

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

We're here!

After spending Saturday night at Son's and DIL, we arrived yesterday at The Beach to find D1, SIL and (almost grown-up) Grandbabyboy already here.  Our New England Yankees had to pack and leave in the dark because of a power outage from Hanna.

Hubby and I haven't seen GBB in about six months.  Since he's around adults most of the day, he's 2.11 years going on 21.  He speaks like an adult, but acts like a typical three-year-old.  His mama was a strong-willed child, too.  Snerk.  It comes around.

The folks on the other side of the duplex have a little girl around the same age.  She's a real cutie and GBB just loves her.

The fam are all down cavorting in the waves and I'm enjoying a cuppa in silence, thanking God for family time, traveling mercies, a good night's sleep, english muffins, SIL's strong, hot coffee, free WiFi and D2's new Apple Computer.

Life is good!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Southern Bound

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!

Vunerability Friday Five

I haven't done a Friday Five in quite a while. And since I'm looking for a reason in procrastinating in packing for vacation, I'll bite.

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.

Psalm 139:1-18

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Life in a Small Town

So, D2 and I decided to eat out at a famous restaurant chain after Hubby left to go dove huntin' and we dropped off Son and DIL's cat at the prearranged rendeavous point.

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


Elmer and Aggie were in church today. We shook hands and were cautiously cordial.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Channeling the Questing Parson ...

... and She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

"Pastor, we need to have a heart-to-heart talk," said Aggie, the pianist for Sunday morning worship. "You may have noticed that Elmer and I were not in church on Sunday. That's because we were out looking for a new church. I don't like the changes you've made in the morning service. I don't like playing those new songs like "This is the Day" and "His Name is Wonderful." I don't like that you've asked us to learn new songs like "In Times Like These." We never sing the old songs out of the new hymnal anymore.

"And I certainly don't like your preaching. You make the Scriptures too modern and you certainly don't interpret Scripture like Jesus would have. Besides that, you get out from behind the pulpit and move around the congregation. Pastor Wilbur never did that! He stayed put.

"And to tell us that since Children's Church program has been let go because the teacher has done it for years and wants a break, you want folks to donate school totes and coloring books and crayons! Let them kids sit up and pay attention! Better yet, work to find another Children's Church teacher. Those kids are too distracting to stay in church and they bother the older members anyway.

"And don't get me started about using that newfangled screen and hanging movie projector. Everyone needs to learn how to read the music and that can't happen when the words are the only things on the screen!"

"I like being up on that podium with the organist and you and the Worship Leader, but I'm not going to put up with these changes. Elmer may be your Lay Leader, but he doesn't like any of it either. I think we'll be looking for another church."

Pastor Net leaned back in her chair and quickly asked herself, "What would the Questing Parson do?" And it came to her.

"Well, Aggie," said Pastor Net, "I'm not going to stand in your way if you and Elmer feel called to find another church. Might I suggest a small, dying church whose congregation has never wanted to change. Since they will be few in number, they would appreciate your gift of music because they cannot afford a paid pianist. And they will tell you how thankful they are to have and just how wonderful you are. Since they'll be older, they'll want to sing all the old songs at the slower tempo you're so fond of playing. And since they know they're dying, they will not want to be joyful, but will be sad, serious and somber. After all, they're going be meeting Jesus sooner than later.

"Better yet, you and Elmer can give them palliative care until they close the church. And when the last one's gone, you can move on to another church with like-minded folks who don't want to change because they're only in it for themselves and content to live in the past."

Aggie puffed herself up like a frazzled goose and spun around on her heel and out the door.

Grayhaired Secretary leaned back in her desk chair, looked into Pastor Net's office and pumped her fist up and down in the air.

(I was praying about how I could remove Elmer from his LL position. He has a small, narrow mind and it IS all about him and Aggie. He's killed or been run out of every Sunday School Class he's been involved in because he hogs the conversation or turns it to himself. And I didn't have the heart to tell Aggie her services would be curtailed because we're starting a Worship Team with the blessing of the Organist!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Life in a Small Town

I submitted my application last week to Small Town Volunteer Fire Department & Ambulance Service so I can serve the Small Town community as an EMT. I got a call saying that I needed to be "interviewed" by one of the Executive Board members to ensure that I was "morally fit" to be a VFD member.


Sounds like an Arlo Guthrie song, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reminders of First Days

A nostalgic wave comes over me this time every year. Remembering the first days of our children's school years. 'Nuff to bring a tear to my eye and a catch in my throat.

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!"

Ah, the first day of the refereeing year. Pardon me whilst I find a tissue.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Our church float took First Place in the CornFest Parade yesterday morning in the Church Division and tied for First Place with the Amway Store's float in the overall judging.

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


It's CornFest Weekend in Small Town! The whole town has turned out for this annual festival honoring ... corn!

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

Accidental or Incidental??

It's a small world, after all ... a small, small world.

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

Life in a Small Town

Hubby heard this conversation between an eight-year old boy and the young man's father while he was downtown at the Small Town Super Market last night:
"Dad! Look! There's the guy that lives with our pastor!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Has It Been that Long?

When he calls me "Baby," my heart still skips a beat.
Hubby & net

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


It's official! I have been reinstated as an EMT by the State Department of Health!

Bring it on!

Let's Get This Party Started

Tonight, Church Around the Corner's S/PPRC meets for the second time. Last month's meeting was a listening post of sorts. They talked, I listened. And if you remember from my previous post, they had a lot to say.

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


God is good. Life is good.

That's all I need to say!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fair Time and New Skills

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

Church Family

Have I mentioned just how wonderful my new church family is?

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

A Little Less Anxious

Thank you all for your support and comments! I am feeling some better this week. The CRNP at the Family Practice said to take my vitamin and calcium at least four hours after I take my thyroid medicine and see if that helps. Thanks Anonymous - I didn't think of that.

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!

Problems with Sitemeter

For all you all who can't access blogs because you get an error message saying that Internet Explorer cannot open the page: Delete your Sitemeter! There is a major issue with it!

Monday, July 28, 2008

What Is It?

For the last several days I have been overcome with this irrational fear and anxiety - to the point where I am withdrawing and avoiding everything and everyone. I can't go upstairs to bed in the evening because I am afraid "something" will happen while I'm asleep. I go downstairs on the couch and I doze off and on because I am afraid to close my eyes.

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

Where Will My Help Come From?

Unbloggable stuff happening. Feeling anxious and panicky.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Musings

This weekend was Celebrate Small Town Days. On Friday and Saturday, Small Town was One.Big.Yard.Sale. It made giggle to think that everyone was just swapping "stuff" - one family to another. And our Amish neighbors were out in force!

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

On a Mission From God

Yesterday morning, a young couple came to worship with the good folks at CATC. Although they weren't here last Sunday, they are regular attenders. He is an unemployed elementary school teacher, totally seeing impaired with a service dog. His wife is a homemaker (for now) and they have a two-week old baby girl. They're not from around these parts. They want their daughter baptized.

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

It's A Dog's Life

Last night's EMS Continuing Ed seminar was one on EMS & working with Rescue Dogs.

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

Hee Hee! I Can Talk My Way Out of a Paper Bag!

Our Conference is getting really fussy about clergy doing their CEUs (Continuing Ed Units). We're supposed to be doing 6 CEUs per year. The DS has the final say on what constitutes a CEU and for how much credit.

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

Like Riding a Bicycle

I started the EMT recertification process today by attending a CPR for Healthcare Providers. I have to tell you, I was feeling really intimidated because it's been two years since I've had to remember these skills.

I was a volunteer EMT for 11 years in another Small Town about 33 miles from here. This Small Town doesn't have a paid service either - it relies on volunteers and these days EMS personnel in our part of the state are at a premium. I've always loved EMS and I did miss doing it in my last appointment.

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


First PPRC meeting tonight since moving in. Whoa! These folks have a lot to say because they haven't been allowed to express themselves in a very long time!

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

Monday Thoughts

My first Sunday went well at CATC. The servcie and sermon was well-recieved (I thought) and folks were warm and welcoming. In so many ways, it feels like "home." I love small town life and ministry and I think (and pray and hope!) this will be a good fit.

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

Vignettes from a Small Town - Part 2

My husband is a beagler. He has two beagles - seven-year-old Lady and her three-year-old 'puppy,' Joey.

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

Vignettes from a Small Town - Part 1

My van's inspection was up at the end of June. After moving on Thursday, I called the local gas station and asked for an appointment to bring it in. "Tomorrow will be fine," I was told. "What time would you like me to drop it off?" I asked. "Oh, any time will be good!" was the reply.

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.

"Ma'am. Ma'am!"

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

Knocking the Dust Off My Shoes

My last Sunday at CINS went pretty well. I held it together until the Children's Moment when I lost my composure talking about how "friends are friends forever." These kids have been so precious to me. Together, we've raised over $500 for the UMC's "Nothing But Nets" anti-malarial campaign.

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

We're Here!

We're here! Hubby and I have spent the last two days moving to new Small Town with a lot of help from our friends, both old and new. The old friends packed the U-haul at our old parsonage and the new friends unpacked the furniture and boxes at our new house.
These folks are so much fun! They are constantly teasing and picking on each other in a good-natured, light-hearted way. All of our congregations have just showered us with support and good wishes.
I think I'm going to like it here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

See Ya On the Other Side

I will be going off-line for a couple days.

We move tomorrow to new Small Town!

She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and her Godly Husband will NOT be at CINS my last Sunday! Party on!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mother of the Groom

Tomorrow, our Son and Daughter-in-Love will celebrate their first anniversary. A year ago tomorrow, I danced with my Son at his wedding.

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.

Skater Boi (top) Mike (L)

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

Friday Five: Word Association

I'm taking a break from packing. Since I haven't played a Friday Five in a while, this is the almost perfect excuse!

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

Check That One Off the List

I packed up and cleaned out my Church Office at CINS today. Rather than drive all my stuff 16 miles north and then take it south next week, I decided to drive it the 16 miles south to New Church on a whim.

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

Home Again

Home from Annual Conference.

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


Off to Annual Conference. Be back Sunday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Going Away Party

CINS held a Going Away & Pot-Luck Luncheon after worship for me on Sunday. It was weird and more than a little disconcerting. There were no chairs left, so I sat on the stairs and ate my plate of food. After the food was eaten and the obligatory cake was served, the Church Council Chair announced a "roast." No one said anything for a long, long time until PPRC Chair said she would remember our "kitchen table chats, where we usually ended up crying."


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

That God! What a Kidder!

Hubby, D2 and I went to his Other Church's Reversed Progressive Dinner last night. I warned them all that it had not better be a cry-fest!

The night was so much fun! We started at the church for dessert; went to a house for grilled steak (Mmmmmm!); went to another house for homemade Mac-n-Cheese; to yet another house for salad and bread; and ended back at the church for hors d' oeuvres.

I "won" a ceramic white elephant for best delivery of a joke. Actually, it was a reminder of the annual White Elephant Party Other Church holds. That's one of my favorite functions to attend as 'The Pastor's Wife.' What a wonderful way to remember them! Now, I gotta pack it and move it.

The folks gifted Hubby with stuff he will need for his new boat. What a surprise! What a bunch of dear, dear folks! He got life jackets, life preserver seats, oars, a marine battery, oil, a fishing pole big enough to catch a whale and other gew-gaws he needed to make it lake worthy.
They surprised me with a sizable gift certificate to the Nearby City Mall because D2 had told them I wanted to buy a "nice suit," but with all of the other expenses, I had not been able (My suits are at least 15 years old). All I want is a nice, fashionable, versatile suit for funerals, special preaching occasions, etc. Now, I can get one!
We cried, but it wasn't a cry-fest. I am going to miss these people. They are good folk.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Keep Breathing


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

Can't I Just Leave???

We are moving in less than three weeks. Next week is Annual Conference and I will lose four days. I promised the new pastor I would have my church office packed up and out so it can be thoroughly cleaned for their arrival. Lots and lots to do. Hubby isn't helping pack. I think he's still in denial.

All of a sudden, it seems everyone wants to invite me to lunch or dinner. In the four years I've been at CINS, I can count on one hand the number of times I've been asked to eat with parishoners. Why now?

I hate this part of the closure process. Not only do I feel overwhelmed by the amount of labor and switching things over in moving, but now I feel obligated to accept all these dinner invitation so THEY can have a sense of closure.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Daughter of a Different Mother

She came into our family about 12 years ago, introduced by one of Son's best friends, Drew. She was Drew's girlfriend and since Drew hung out at our house, he figured she could too.

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

Home Decor

In our new parsonage, we will have three bedrooms - the master bedroom belonging to Hubby and I and two guestrooms.

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:

Like this:

And this:

I could so easily make a pink quilt and canopy with a John Deere theme! What do you think?


I spent yesterday with the pastor I'm going to replace. He's a delightful man, so caring and humorous. He tells wonderful stories and he is trying to make the transition as smooth as possible for me.

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

I Should Be Packing ... But

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
Created by OnePlusYou -

Take THAT, Captain Picard!

Back to packing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Just Keep Smiling

Yeah. This is what I feel like ... just keep smiling.

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


I met with CINS' new pastors this afternoon. We talked for four hours. I tried to keep things positive but realistic.

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.

Lordy, lordy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety Jig

Hubby and I just completed our Natual Church Development Coaches Training! After three days in a numbing, mind-blowing, too-much-information-at-one-time and too many off topic discussions, we are certifiably let loose on unsupecting congregations! Bwahahahaha!

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.