Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Tale of Two Emotions

Last night was the Annual Great Chili Cook-off at one of Hubby's churches. It's a fund-raiser for the combined Mission Team who are planning a trip to Haiti next year. It was well attended, not only by both churches but by a dearth of community and area folks.

There were 15 Chili entries in this year's cook-off. You donated some money and then got to sample all of the recipes. At the end of the dinner, you vote for your favorite chili and the winner gets a grody chef's hat with a fake chili pepper and his/her name written on the hat in magic marker.

Besides the Great Chili Cook-off, the Mission Team holds an auction with a real auctioneer and his volunteer sidekick. It's a lot like the stand-up of Laurel & Hardy, Lucy & Desi and well - you get the picture. These two guys feed off each other and it lends occasion for lots of laughter.

This year's fare included several homemade pies which went for $31 - $60; a box of ties for $8; gift baskets for $35 - $50; a Marshmellow shooter made out of PCV pipe for $10; a 2 liter of Diet Coke for $10 (sticker said $1.29) and an grape shipping box loaded with homemade jellies for $20. There was lots of other stuff too.

I laughed until my sides hurt and I cried. But then the crying turned serious when I realized how much I love these folks because of how much they love my husband and D2 and how they love each other.

Not fair.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Four boxes packed. Five broken fingernails. Dining room filled with boxes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Let the blind say, "I can see"
It's what the Lord has done in me!

Hosanna, hosanna
To the Lamb that was slain
Hosanna, hosanna
Jesus died and rose again!

To the river I will wade
There my sins are washed away
From the heavens' mercy streams
Of the Savior's love for me!

I will rise from waters deep
Into the saving arms of God
I will sing salvation songs
Jesus Christ has set me free!

Hosanna, hosanna
To the Lamb that was slain
Hosanna, hosanna
Jesus died and rose again!

Let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Let the blind say, "I can see"
It's what the Lord has done in me!

Hillsongs United
Picture: Women arriving at the Empty Tomb

photo grab:

Friday, March 21, 2008

To Life

Last evening's Seder Service went very well.

Instead of having it in the church, I decided to move it to my empty parsonage (which is attached to the church) where I could use the kitchen and the dishwasher.

One of my spiritual gifts is hospitality. My back and feet hurt terribly today (I've overdosed on Aleve) because I was on them all day yesterday cleaning, washing, setting up, preparing and hostessing last night. I did have several offers for help, but I prefer to do things like this my own way. For me, it's a labor of love.

I discovered dirty white lacy tablecloths in the supply closet. Whisk. Into "my" washer and dryer they went. Came out beautifully!

In the same closet I found a stack of burgandy placemats - enough for a dinner party for 50! And they even matched the fancy pillow I brought from home. Score!

At Wally World, I found matching paper plates, 6oz cups (f0r Matzo Soup), 3 oz cups for the "wine," napkins, forks and spoons.

From home I brought good china for Elijah's setting. It matched the platter for the egg, bone, parsley, horseradish and charoset.

At the church I found serving plates and pitchers that went very well with my china. Into the dishwasher they went.

I made Matzo Soup with kosher stuff I found at the Nearby City store with a Jewish sounding name. Easy enough - except I forgot that the matzos swell up! I was figuring two or three per serving, but most folks only got one! That was all that would fit in the 6 oz serving cup!

The charoset was made with three varieties of apples, raisins, walnuts, honey and grape juice in my food processor.

The Passover Seder plate: SWMNBN brought me a lamb bone - bless her heart. A parsnip was used in place of the horseradish root (not that anyone noticed). The smallest real horseradish root I could find was 3 pounds.

Everyone sat around the tables as I led the service. I understand why Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Last night as I looked over the crowd, my heart was filled with love for these folks who have caused me so much pain, frustration and self-doubt. There was lots of chatter and way lots of laughter.

Everyone complained that the salt water used to dip the parsley in was too salty. I told them we were eating it in remembrance of the suffering the Israelites endured. They suffered for 400 years. We could suffer for a few more minutes until the next glass of grape juice was drunk!

I had to laugh when Socorro (my dear Hispanic friend) said that she "no like the 'rĂ¡bano picante'" (horseradish) because it made her eyes tear up and her nose run. She makes fun of me because I don't like chilis or habeneros because they make my eyes tear up and my nose run!

After the meal I asked if anyone like parsnips. SWMNBN's Wonder Husband loves them, he said, so he got the package!

The kids got eggs full of candy for the Akifomen gifts. They also took home the rest of the matzahs and charoset.

No one wanted to go home. They all stood around and chatted and helped me clean up. It was a very good night. I set out to give them an experience with God and I think they did. A labor of love.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

L' Chaim

We're having a Seder Observance tonight at CINS. It's been a long time (or so they say) since they've had one.

We have 50 people coming. That's just a few shy of a Sunday morning worship.
Curiosity mayhaps?

It isn't going to be a regular Seder Meal, although they'll enjoy Chicken Matzo Soup (made by my caring hands) and the rest of the Charoset. There will even be afikoman presents for the children (I insisted - it wouldn't be a Seder without children!).

During my student pastoring days in seminary, one of the congregations I served was blessed with a Messanic Jew. Murray (good Jewish name!) would wear his yarmulke and tallit and he would sing the blessings in Hebrew from his grandfather's Pesach book. What wonderful memories! What a wonderful sharing!

It's memories like those that remind me of the importance of what I do. Even though this has been such a difficult time in my ministry journey, I am reminded, again and again, that I'm helping to make memories.

Let tonight be such a blessing, God, I pray. L' chaim!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Palm/Passion Sunday

Last night I lay a-sleeping
There came a dream so fair,
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there.
I heard the children singing,
And ever as they sang,
Me thought the voice of angels
From heaven in answer rang.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Lift up your gates and sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And then me thought my dream was changed,
The streets no longer rang,
Hushed were the glad Hosannas
The little children sang.
The sun grew dark with mystery,
The morn was cold and chill,
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Hark! How the angels sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And once again the scene was changed;
New earth there seemed to be;
I saw the Holy CityBeside the tideless sea;
The light of God was on its streets,
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter,
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o'er!
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna for evermore!

Words: Stephen Adams
Music: Fredrick E. Weatherly

(I have a memory from my childhood of this song being sung in my home church by a wonderful man who had a lung removed because of cancer. Even with only one lung, he could sing it loudly, strongly and triumphantly - every year. Thank you for the memory, Mr. C! I especially miss you on Palm Sunday! But I can hear you singing it with the Heavenly Choir.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Five: Time for Palms

I haven't played the Friday Five in quite a while so here it goes:

Mother Laura Writes:

Can you believe Daylight Savings Time is here already? It's hard to get used to the new, earlier onset. My family has been getting up and out a little late and a little sleepy in the mornings.

And can you believe that in two days it will be Palm Sunday for Western Christians? Our Lent is almost over, while our Orthodox sisters and brothers, whose liturgical year follows the older Julian calendar, are just starting theirs. Nicholas did a recent book report on George Washington, and we were surprised to find out that our first President's birthday was originally Feb. 11, since he was born just before the change to the Gregorian calendar. Apparently the change almost caused rioting, as some indignant people were sure that they were being cheated out of eleven days of their lives!

To help you adjust--and enjoy the process--here's a Friday Five about time and transitions....

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

I would like to go back to the Middle Ages. I've always been fascinated with Medieval and Celtic History.

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?

A cure for all diseases.

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?

The future. My childhood was difficult.

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?

Deciding to preach about grace to a self-righteous church.

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week?

Preparing for a Seder meal on Thursday and memorizing my part in the Easter Sunrise Service.

What part do you look forward to most?

I love, Love, LOVE the first service of Easter!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just Rearranging the Deck Chairs

I had my last regularly scheduled Church Council meeting at Church I Now Serve last night last night (I will be at a mandatory District overnight meeting when the next one is scheduled).

She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named showed up - as is her right as a non-voting church member - and was on her best behavior until the end of the meeting when she just had to get some catty potshots in. Whatev.

The Christian Organization across the street who had been renting some church rooms for one of their programs has decided to pull out of the church. Their rent money has been a saving grace for CINS' bank account. I overheard one person say to another, "Well that's an answer to prayer!" Sigh. They still don't get it.

They flipped out when I asked for some Sundays off. I'm entitled to four vacation Sundays (8 services because CINS has both a morning and an evening service), plus I have two Sundays for continuing ed. Add to that Annual Conference which stretches over Father's Day (GASP!) and they were complaining I was going to be gone more than I would be there. One of the Sundays I've asked off is a Sunday they've already have a guest missions speaker coming in. And they weren't too happy when I reminded them I have a parsonage to pack up. Oh well! Life is hard!

And the church is sinking. And while it's going down, you're just rearranging the deck chairs.

Say It Ain't So!

One of the last of my childhood idols has feet of clay!

Dawn Wells (aka "Mary Anne") of Gilligan's Isle fame was busted for pot! At 69! After her surprise birthday party!

"What is this world coming to?" I moaned. Replied D2, "Mom, we're living in tough times."


Sunday, March 9, 2008

It Is What It Is

There's a mixture of sadness and joy in the Chez Grace household tonight. Hubby, with his Wonderful PPRC Chair by his side as moral support, announced his reappointment today at both churches. He made the announcement during the Prayer & Praise Time. At the second church, one of the parishoners stood up and tearfully asked to lay hands on Hubby. The whole congregation moved to the front, pushed Hubby down on his knees, laid hands on him and prayed over him. D2 (who attends this church) said her emotions were under control until this happened and she was so moved to see this outpouring of love for her beloved Dad. All Hubby could say is, "I just want to pray the pastoral prayer!"

Their new pastor and his family were taken in this afternoon. I am very pleased with the Cabinet's choice. He's a country boy, is very relational and out-going. Of course, Hubby's gracious folks will make him and his family feel right at home, but I think it will be a very good match.

It's kinda weird introducing a family to their new home. We've loved this parsonage and it made me feel good to hear NP, his wife and their two children "ooh" and "ahh" over it. I especially appreciated, "Look dear! You've always wanted a former dining room!" and "Wow! Look at the size of this kitchen!" "We've always wanted a fireplace!" "Look at the size of these rooms!" With comments like that, I know they will enjoy and appreciate this home as much as we have.

Sadness and joy. Now comes the time to look forward to new beginnings as God leads us in a new direction.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


It's a go!!!

I am beyond thrilled!

The New Town has THREE clergywomen, one of which (of the Lootern persuasion) attends New Church with her Untied Methodist husband. Gender will NOT be an issue!

It's looking like a good match!

Prayers for Hubby tomorrow. His congregations learn he's leaving tomorrow morning and their PPRC meets with the new appointee tomorrow afternoon. Hardly any time to process stuff. But that's the way the system works sometimes.

Did I say I'm excited???????

Friday, March 7, 2008


Hubby and I have our Take-ins at the two ministries the Bishop and Cabinet have chosen for us this evening.

After a long and restless night, there is a REM song running through my mind that I can't seem to get rid of. I woke up with it blaring through my consciousness:

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it
and I feel fine.

I had a nightmare of the world coming to a fiery end, covered in lava. My family escaped as well as some friends and other people who were unknown to me. We climbed to safety and waited for the lava to harden. I woke up in a cold sweat with It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) going off in my noggin.

As a contemplative, I give weight to my dreams - as bizarre as they sometimes are. (But I'm also cautious to remember that sometime "a cigar is just a cigar!").

The end of the world is symbolic of the feeling of powerlessness. And I do feel powerless in the face of tonight's situation. It's proposed that I pastor another former EUB church. And yes, I will be their first woman pastor.

The lava implies emotions of anger and rage. I am angry about the situation that puts Hubby and I in this predicament. He is so sad about leaving this Charge, I'm angry to think that I may be going right back into the lion's den. I'm angry that the last time I moved Iwas sold a fraudulent line goods regarding CINS.

The survivors, including myself, represent my support system ... Hubby, D1 & family, D2, Son and DIL and friends I could identify. It was a comfort to know that we were all in this "disaster" together.

Climbing to safety represents that I need to look at this situation from a different point of view; that I need a new and different perspective on how I am seeing things.

The fact I survived means my psyche is telling me that I am survivor. Although, I felt helpless at the beginning of the dream, my spirit is telling me I have the will and the strength to go on.

It will be OK.

And maybe the fact I watched the end of Independence Day didn't help either.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How Do They Know?


Your Celebrity Boob Twin:

Carmen Electra

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm Back

Yes, I'm fine!

I've tried to protect my anonymity and one of my postings got me more attention than I really wanted.

If you want to use any of my ramblings and processings on your blog or as a bandwagon to enlist others to jump on, please ask me first!!!

In the larger world of the internet, it is easy to be "just another blog" - but when it gets linked to more widely read sites, the world suddenly becomes smaller. And when it's a more controversial posting, it's easier to pinpoint the location.

I welcome your comments. I welcome your lurkings. I welcome your readings. But please, please, PLEASE remember ... some of us prefer to be anonymous and I hope you will honor that request.