Thursday, December 28, 2006

Deep. Breaths.

If divorce lawyers hung outside of houses where couples/families are trying to get out the door to go on vacation - they would make a FORTUNE!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Short and Sweet Week Update

I am now on the other side of the funeral and things are a lot clearer now. I mean that figuratively in that I feel like I can see to the other side of Christmas now and literally in that I can now breathe through my nose.

Speaking of the funeral, did you know that when you release doves they are actually white courier pigeons trained to return back home. They also cost $150 per bird. The mother of the deceased was VERY high maintenance and had been driving the funeral director crazy so you should have seen his face when I told him she wanted little messages strapped to their legs and he would have to do that while we were driving 45 minutes down to the burial site. It took him a good, stunned 20 seconds to realize I was kidding.

I also have the "doves" and the reading that accompanied them to thank for the scar tissue I now have in my mouth because that is how hard I had to bite it to keep from laughing out loud.

I have a few things to do yet, but I am starting to really look forward to tomorrow. Advent 4 in the morning with ornaments being placed on the Sanctuary tree so that the ol' timers can get off my back about it being the "ugliest tree we've had in 60 years". And I am not done with it yet, but I am excited about my sermon on the Magnificat. Then we celebrate my Dad's birthday with a yummy meal prepared by TDH. Then Lessons and Carols in the pm... ALWAYS great. It is hard to mess up carols with a raging fire hazard at the end. What says Merry Christmas like the faint aroma of a strand of hair burning?

Thank you all for hanging in with me this week. I hope your weekend goes smoothly and that you are able to enjoy the moment of Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Peace, friends.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dragging You With Me

I realize that I am over-tired right now and I have a cold and I have every reason to be a tad over-sensitive right now but I still hate that this COMMERCIAL made me tear up.

A Day in the Life

Yesterday I experienced...

The First Wave of Last Minute Shoppers
Woe to ye attempting to make a quick run into Wally World!

The Arrogance of Youth
Young man, about two years out of college came into my office declaring he wanted to be removed from the membership roles. On Sunday one of the things I said in my sermon was something like, "...we might not all be able to perform miracles...". Apparantly this offends him. Seems the Pentecostal church he has been attending lately has informed him that we all can perform miracles. How dare I preach against that sacred teaching, although to be honest I was really preaching about hope.

Son, if we all could perform miracles I would have ten fingers.

Middle Age Denial
If you drive a minivan complete with sunscreens suction-cupped onto the windows with a Winnie-the-Pooh theme then the 'If it's too loud, you're too old' bumper sticker really doesn't belong there.

Textbook Grief
Women talking rapidly; men silent and searching for things to do. It breaks my heart every time.

Grace
I have already lost my pre-Christmas massage to the funeral and thought I was going to lose my haircut too, but my cute hair cutter made room for me today. Yeah!

EDITED IN ORDER TO ASK:
Has anyone else noticed their parishioners talking about the morning and evening services on Sunday as if they are one Christmas Eve service with an option on times?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's short... Not really sweet.

What is up with the money-grubbing makers of Black Christmas? Is nothing sacred? Well, apparantly not. I realize that the Lord has bigger fish to fry than a stupid movie, but is this thing really necessary?

If nothing else, please move the ads to later at night so that when we are innocently watching a sports show with The Boy toddling around we don't have to dive for the mute button. That ad is scary.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back to Light and Airy

I am not sure why exactly it is, but my father has never really been able to grasp the concept of what is considered to be a decent Christmas present and what isn't. There are plenty of potential reasons for this:
1) He grew up Jewish.
2) He grew up the son of poor immigrants.
3) He grew up in 'old school' Brooklyn.

I am not trying to insult anyone else in the above categories, I am really just hoping the reason is not 4) he doesn't care enough to get better at it.

How bad can it be? Well, my Mom - who gets the brunt of it - has received everything from nothing (an inspired choice to be sure) to a mechanical rat that sang at a very high pitch an indecipherable Elvis tune... complete with thick rat tail.

One year on Maundy Thursday my Dad and a group of twelve men re-enacted the Last Supper. I don't remember much of it, but I do remember it was well received. I did not, however, realize that they had taken a picture of all of them posing as if they were in Michelangelo's painting. No one knew that until my Mom unwrapped her Christmas gift that year of a framed, poster-sized edition of the faux Michelangelo.

Now I wasn't that old and my sister is five years younger and yet I remember us both shaking our heads and looking at it and him in disbelief and saying, "Oh, Dad..."

Monday, December 18, 2006

And Now for Some Cynicism

So as you can tell from my post below my week has gotten a bit more complex... and that's ok.

Tonight a member of my congregation called and asked me if I could come in tomorrow morning to the hospital and pray with her before she goes into surgery.
Seems like a reasonable request... I guess.

To me it seems to be a bit much since I will need to be in there by 5:45 in the morning and the operation is... wait for it....

...outpatient knee surgery.

Is it wrong that my inner cynic - and tomboy - just wants her to 'man up'?

Where is my Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care when I need her?

so much for light and airy

She died this morning.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Light and Airy; Short and Sweet

A lot of folks who read my blog are clergy or at least heavily involved in the church so for this week I am going to attempt to keep things light and airy; short and sweet. Here is the first installment:

I received one of those annoying email forwards with a joke about a dumb blonde that I didn't think was that funny. It was about a woman buying postage stamps and when asked what denomination she wanted them in she listed Presbyterian, Methodist, blah, blah, blah...

I grunted a bit disgusted at the sterotyping of women and thought to myself, "Yeah, right... who would really make that mistake?"


And then I remembered.

The Countdown

WE SURVIVED!!!

57 people through our house in less than an hour; THAT is why we do it after worship.

must. nap.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

Barry Williams does a guess stint on the Wiggles Christmas special that I watched on the Disney Channel this morning.



7:15am is WAY too early for Greg Brady singing in a gold beaded outfit.

I'm just saying...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fret to the World!

The short version: A young family fairly new to the church needed help with their mortgage refinancing. Due to them both being out of work at the same time they missed a couple of mortgage payments and needed to have a 'loan modification'. This modification required a hefty up front downpayment of $2000. They had $1100.

I did all of the background checks. They are legit. The request is legit. And forclosure on their home was scheduled for - I kid you not - December 23rd.

We contacted local organizations - no one helps with mortgage, only rent (We can discuss that disturbing trend at another time). Our church's own mission fund only approves $500 p/year. They asked if they could borrow the $400 and pay us back in January to get them to that $2000 total they needed.

I asked our stew/fin person. I begged. I pleaded. Her big concern is what if we do not get that $400 back? We are VERY tight on budget, but let's face it - whether I got it from a kind-hearted parishioner or we dug into our plus funds from previous years or asked our own fundraising committee for it, we could somehow get it if we needed it.

On Sunday I preached on the joy of giving. By this time she had seen all of the paperwork and new it was all above board and legit. We had just saved someone's home... for Christmas... for the mere price of $400. But there was no joy for her, only fret.

My heart weeps for this woman who is so focused on fretting over the bottom line, that she has failed to see the joy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Coffee Fellowship Countdown

After worship every Sunday we have coffee fellowship where members of our church take turns providing a variety of snacks and drinks for post-worship enjoyment. In December TDH and I (okay, really just TDH) hosts it... in our home.

We live across the parking lot of the church and we have found it is a great way to get credit for doing an Open House and yet people don't stay that long because they are still in the post-worship coffee fellowship mindset.

Of course, the home still needs to be 'decent and in order' and call me crazy... decorated for Christmas. We are still reeling from the pre and post Thanksgiving week paint project. Finally we have the clutter that created moved upstairs but there is nothing out that even remotely suggests Christmas.

No tree.
No wreath.
No angels.
No lights.
No Santas.
No red.
No green.

Maybe I can just tell them we are focusing on Advent this year.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Pastor's Lament

So there are two parties I wish I could be at this evening. One is a housewarming for a friend 9 hours away and one is a red wine tasting party 20 minutes away.

The first is of course a no-brainer. I'm a pastor. It's Advent. We sent our regrets.

The second was also a no-brainer.
It didn't start until 8.
My sermon wasn't done.
Our regular babysitter is out of town.
A lot of red wines give me a headache.
I don't usually drink on Saturdays before I preach.

So it was the obvious decision to make and yet still a bummer.

Friday, December 8, 2006

RevGalBlogPal Friday Five: Christmas Carol Edition

The revgals are at it again! This time the theme is Christmas carols:

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
Carol of the Bells and The Christmas Song (you know, 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...). That latter one was the first adult Christmas song I knew by heart and when I went to sing my newborn son a lullaby I panicked and it was the only thing I could come up with so I sang it... in February.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better)
Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant and I'll be Home for Christmas by the Carpenters. Karen just sings out that thing so earnestly that even if I am just out running errands when I hear it I think that I MUST get home as melodramatically as possible!!!

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
I believe we've covered this one.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.
There is, but you have to be creative. When I was growing up the church youth group choir led a Sunday evening Christmas-sing-along and one of our traditions was to stand up and hold the numbers as everyone sang through the song. Very fun. Also, just this past Sunday the youth group here went on a video scavenger hunt and one of their tasks was to catch on tape - in playback order - twelve different people singing the lines of the song. The results were hilarious!

And finally, if it weren't for his song then we wouldn't have the Bob and Doug McKenzie's rendition

5. A favorite Christmas album
Well, with a little help from my friends I am getting into Sufjan Stevens this Christmas.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Feliz Kissmya--

Please feel free to view an elongated and far more brilliant version of a Christmas Carol rant over at reverend mother's place.

As for me, I just want to know what it is about Feliz Navidad that makes every radio programmer think we want to hear it at least once an hour? Admittedly I may be taking it a bit personally as my husband pointed out he was pretty sure the dj's were not trying to show just how little 8 years of Spanish One did for me. But leaving that behind for a moment, could there BE a more annoying holiday song than this one. And how repetitive! And how repetitive! And how repetitive!

If you REALLY want to wish me a Merry Christmas then how about shutting the fireplace up! Or buying me an ipod so I can download/upload the Christmas music I WANT to listen to.

Through the day I listen to Yahoo Music. You can either pay for the service or if you are willing to listen to a few commercials you can get 300 hours of it free. They have all kind of Holiday categories: Latin Holiday, Rock Holiday, Christian Holiday, Gospel Holiday, Comedy Christmas, etc...

I chose Traditional Holiday which includes songs like Bing Crosby's White Christmas, Gene Autry's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Nat King Cole's O Come All Ye Faithful and WHAT?!?!?! Brave Combo's Feliz Navidad!

AAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!


What holiday song stomps on YOUR nerves?

Monday, December 4, 2006

Reason #241 Why You Don't Say Everything Out Loud

I was out Christmas shopping today when the store I was in played an advertisement for their own gift cards over the loudspeakers. I was kind of half listening when it said something like, "... they are the perfect gift and can be bought in all denominations..."

For a very split second I wondered what religion had to do with gift cards.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Friday Five: Advent Edition

The latest from the revgalblogpal website via Songbird.:

Although it comes as late as it can this year, Advent is upon us. Some of us grew up observing it, while to others (including this childhood Baptist) it was even more foreign than Lent! Over the past twenty years, I have grown to love Advent as a season of preparation, although as a pastor I find it harder to practice it at home than at church, even when the church might prefer I make it the other way 'round.

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:

1) Do you observe Advent in your church?

Yes... although not as much as my reformed worship professors would like. We light the candles one at a time and when I go lectionary I do stick with the texts and take our time getting to Christmas, but the hymns are another story.

I used to stand firm in the 'no Christmas hymns before the 24th' rule. I threw them a bone by having a hymn sing before worship on the first Sunday of Advent. But the poinsettias by tradition arrive in our Sanctuary the third Sunday of Advent so really what was the sense there.

Then I read an article about relating to the new age churchgoer in attempts to grow your congregation and it flat out said to get off our theological high horses and sing Christmas hymns in December. I gotta tell you, it made sense to me. So now we kind of ease into it and by the third week we are flat out singing it!

2) How about at home?
Advent calendar now and we definitely plan on an Advent wreath starting next year when The Boy can start to be a part of that tradition.

3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?
I love, Love, LOVE O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. The first we sing throughout Advent verse be verse as a response to the Statement of Faith. The latter I have incorporated into Communion this Sunday.

4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.)
Because I get to drink from my flask every time someone asks that question.

Actually in all seriousness the pink candle represents the fourth wise person who was actually a woman. She stopped and asked for directions and in doing so arrived ahead of the wise men and the drummer boy and therefore her presence was never recorded in song.

5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen.
Well admittedly I hadn't seen anything too awful so I journeyed over to ebay where I found this Advent Calendar for horses. Yup, you read that right. It contains "super tasty healthy vitamin treats with cod liver oil." YUM!

For some reason the pictures aren't uploading, but I also found one under the title of "Advent Calendar Rainbow Fish Ocean Beach Sealife". The forgot the words 'reef' and 'jellyfish'.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We Interrupt This Time of Silence...

Please excuse the lack of posts as the author of this blog is in a state of catatonic shock that this Sunday is indeed the first Sunday of Advent. It seems like it was only yesterday that she was proclaiming that next year would be different! No more Advent/Christmas sneak attacks!

Alas, it is next year and yet things are falling into a very similar pattern.

As you were...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Silly Advent/Christmas Diversion

Last year my Christmas Eve meditation relied heavily on silly definitions of traditional holiday symbols. The link will take you to the post, but for those who find clicking the mouse one more time too tedious here are a couple representing both the sacred and the profane:

ADVENT WREATH
Exercise equipment for ministers in both body and mind as they constantly leap and turn to make sure the darn thing is still lit, but has not hit the evergreen part yet which by Christmas Eve is better known as kindling. It is exercise for the mind because they must come up with new answers every year for why one of the candles is pink.

MISTLETOE
Used by teenaged girls everywhere as props for their dreams as they determine how to get their secret crush and themselves under it at the same time. This activity usually ends in frustration for when the two are finally under the mistletoe together the teenage boy is merely looking for some soda and the teenage girl’s parents are watching.
As married adults the frustration continues as husband is still looking for some soda and even if he does see the mistletoe he will take it down and laugh and hold it over his backside.

What are your silly symbols?

image thanks to www.artie.com

Friday, November 24, 2006

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Black Friday Edition

As found on the revgalblogpal website: So this is a "Black Friday" Five (aka Buy Nothing Day) in honor of the busiest shopping day of the year:

1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo?
No.

2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity?
No.

3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything.
The revgalblogpal webring.

4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture?
Good question. I'm going to go with - I think they are a last resort because I have absolutely no other clue what to give someone OR at times the perfect gift because I know that will allow them to splurge on themselves in a store they like instead of guessing on a gift or of course giving them $ that they might feel like they have to be responsible with.

5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a Playstation 3.
There is a special seat in the heavens where these people's souls will sit next to a patient God as she points out to them one by one the children who were starving, the families who were still living in FEMA trailers and the wars that were raging when they decided to punch each other over an overpriced bundle of wires and buttons.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thank You

I wish you could hear my son say 'thank you' in his sing-songy voice. He turns two in February and he has been saying it for a few months now. One of my favorite moments was during coffee fellowship after church, I handed him a cookie and as loud as can be he said, "Thank you!"

I joked with TDH that I considered my parenting to be done since you always want to end on a high note in public. "Good night everyone - my child said thank you in public - my work is finished here! Please don't forget to tip your waitress."

This month has been a struggle for me. I am still struggling with a loss that occurred on Thanksgiving Day 3 years ago. I wish I wasn't, but my body and emotions have told me all month that as far as it is concerned three years might as well be 3 months. For me as I wallow through that kind of 'muck' every little thing becomes a big thing.

I have only mentioned a few here: babysitting parishioners, babysitting parishioners, and oh yeah babysitting parishioners. My friends have gotten bigger earfuls (and email fulls). In my defense it has been a bizarre month of little things gone wrong that add up. But on the other hand - enough is enough.

Today before the hustle and MAJOR bustle in our household as we host 13 for Thanksgiving (6 of them kids) I just wanted to say in my best sing songy voice, "Thank you."


'gif' image thanks to www.artie.com

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Feel Good Tax

I live in a state that for some reason thinks the world would be better served if you can only buy beer by the case. I don't understand the reasoning for this. If someone has a problem, isn't it worse to force them to buy a whole case? The result of this rule for me is that I either have 24 beers on hand or 2.

Bars are allowed to sell 6 packs, but you pay for the privilege. I am talking a cheap domestic beer costing over $6. Ouch. We have family coming into town and I decided I wanted a variety dadgummit and I was willing to pay for it.

So in I went and I actually got a little bit giddy over the selection that was available to me, chose two different brands (ooh, the luxury!) and headed over to check out. And...

I WAS CARDED!!!

It was freakin' awesome!

Now when my aunt was 40+ she had that happen to her and she actually pushed the beer away and said, "Sorry. You got me," and walked out the door. I did keep the beer. I just had this huge, ridiculous grin - asked for bags for my beer (don't want my parents to see) - and walked out the door.

Hey, that kind of feeling is worth paying extra for!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Story for Delurk

I figure if you are being challenged to comment, I should at least try to give you something to comment about.

Recently some clergy friends and I were talking about slip-ups from the pulpit. I remember how just a few months into my ordained ministry I was preaching and trying to paint the picture of a tranquil garden and instead of 'organic flower' I said 'orgasmic flower'. (I may have to erase this post depending on who google sends my way thanks to that word).

I said it, but I didn't dwell on it. I just kept it moving and the service proceded as normal.

At the end as I shook hands at the back door I actually thought maybe I had gotten away with my slip-up when an older woman who struggles with her memory and has her good days and bad days came up to me, shook my hand very enthusiastically and said, "Wow! That just sounds like a WON-der-ful garden."

Five years later that still makes me giggle.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

D'Iberville, Mississippi



The picture above is the wall of water that swept into the coastal towns of Mississippi 15 months ago. Someone accurately described it as 'biblical'. For me it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'storm surge'. To many insurance representatives it is a tsunami as in, "We're sorry Mr. Jones, you have hurricane insurance and you have flood insurance but you do not have tsunami insurance."

Slowly that is a battle the insurance companies are losing in the courts, but when your case is way down the line and you are still living in a FEMA trailer in front of the shell of your home... there is not much comfort to be found in court cases.

My group went down and spent time laying tile, rerouting electric, setting up plumbing, dry walling, and cleaning out homes. Yes, over a year later there were some of us mucking out homes and bleaching walls.

One of the homes I worked in had 10 foot walls and our volunteers were peeling off seaweed that was stuck to the very top of them. They said that this home was absolutely cleaned out. All that was left was the foundation and the wood. The water had cleared out everything - drywall, furniture, memories - everything and left just the skeleton of the house standing.

Other homes weren't as lucky.


And yet there is a spirit in this town like we do not experience in the every day. There is a gratitude and a a sense of camraderie that those unaffected by tragedy rarely experience.

I have quite a few stories to tell. Here is one: All of the work crews would be taken around by bus to their assigned houses. At the end of the day we would get picked back up. Two groups were already on the bus when we stopped to pick up another crew. We watched as the tiny woman whose home they were working on while she lived in a FEMA trailer thanked them and laughed as one of our really tall guys got on his knees in order to receive a hug. Soon she ran ahead of them onto the bus and said over and over again, "Thank you, thank you. Pennsylvania people are now Mississippi people, thank you, thank you!" Then she proceeded to go down the bus and give each and every one of us on it a hug while continuing to repeat that phrase.

I didn't say anything - one cannot speak when choking back tears - but I did think to myself, "No, thank you." For I didn't understand why our help was still needed, until I got here.
I didn't know why I was leaving my family and my responsibilities to spend 4 days traveling and 5 days in Mississippi, until I got here.
I didn't realize how much I needed to be reminded of the good that is in people, until I got here.
I didn't realize how much I needed to work with my hands and see an immediate result, until I got here.
I didn't realize how much I needed to be reminded of the deep kind of faith that exists when people have only had God to cling to and God came through, until I got here.

It is almost a mission trip cliche to say that I received far more than I gave, but cliche or not I am blessed for having gone down to Mississippi. My only remaining question is when are we going back?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Revgalblogpals Friday Five: Giving Thanks Edition

As posted by Songbird...

It's that time of year. In the U.S., college students will be on their way home, traffic on the highways will be at its highest point, cooking and baking will ensue. But before the gorging and napping begins, let's take a moment to give thanks.

Please tell us five things or people for which you are thankful this year.


1) Throughout the year when we do things like this I chide my fellow bloggers when they list family members. I mean duh, of course you are thankful for (fill in the blank). However, it cannot be stated strongly enough - I am SO thankful for TDH.

2) For my son. There is a lot of second guessing the wisdom of being an older parent. But one perk for me is I know I am much more grateful and attentive to the small joys that we experience with him than I might have been when I was younger. I give thanks constantly for this little man in my life.

3) The friends I have that I can be myself with. In this job, those moments are few and far between where I can be myself and laugh and joke hard. And when they happen I cherish them.

4) My Mom. One of the purest joys in life is watching your parent with your child... (not to mention knowing you've moved up the list because FINALLY you gave her a grandchild!) We are so lucky to have her nearby, not just because of the free babysitting but because The Boy gets to experience that really cool connection.

5) Da Beach... absence sure does make the heart grow fonder as when I grew up near it I took it for granted. Now my times there are absolutely cherished and refuel my soul in every sense of the word.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What a Bargain!

I know I owe you all a Mississippi mission post and I promise it is coming. But I am so excited because I now finally know why cell phones have cameras. It is so that when you are killing time between appointments at a clothing store and you actually laugh out loud, you can take a picture and share with others what made you laugh out loud.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Well, duh...

Well, duh...



In other news, Brittany shouldn't have married K-fed (Fed-ex) and recent research shows that cereal gets soggy when it sits in milk.

Elitist Mug

I never make too big of a deal over where I went to seminary. When other ministers ask and I tell them - the older guys especially - either give a cheer or a rasberry depending on whether they went there too.

Whatever.

I will be the first one to admit that their name looks good on my wall, but the diploma itself is written in Latin - they don't even TEACH Latin - and includes ridiculous phrases like 'a woman of blameless life'... I mean, what part of an elitist, dead language and the phrase 'blameless' project a servant leader type image.

Especially around here it is best to have the education, but be where the people are.

But this week I have two session (board) meetings (one of them her's). And on the day I wrote in my calendar 'No Meetings' - so I would save the evening for my family - I have to go and hang out with a parishioner who is bent out of shape in order to keep her and her husband in the church family. (Yes, it's worth it despite these occasional trips I have to make because someone looked at her funny).

So this morning - as the painters rumbled into my home before The Boy even woke up - I stumbled downstairs made the coffee, reached back into my cabinet and pulled out my Psnooty Theological Seminary mug with the greekish/modern logo.

That'll show em'!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"I Feel Blue."

That is a line from one of my favorite Friends episodes when Monica, a pregnant Phoebe and Rachel all end up wearing wedding dresses while drinking beers in order to make themselves feel better.

In related news my "hopefully-future-brother-in-law" is now actually my "future-brother-in-law" and when they come to spend Thanksgiving with us the plan is for my Mom, sister and I to go wedding dress shopping.

Hmmmmmm..............


Monday, November 13, 2006

Say What?

Today at a quarter 'til way too early two painters showed up to paint the inside of the house. So far my favorite part of the morning has been the following conversation with burly painter #2:

Burly Painter #2: I have the paint written down for the downstairs and for the upstairs except for the master bedroom - what are we painting in there?
WS: Oh... you don't have that one?
Burly Painter #2: No... (looks again on his clipboard) no, he didn't write it down.
WS: Well, I know the number, it's 6667.
Burly Painter #2: Oh... do you know the name?
WS: Ummm, don't you guys usually just use the number.
Burly Painter #2: Well, I like to have both just so there are no mistakes. Do you remember the name of what you are painting the bedroom?
WS:.... afterglow.


I might never leave this corner of the living room again.

Friday, November 10, 2006

We interrupt my whining for this important service announcement...

Alright, I know I've missed the boat but this is one political ad I wished had made it to television airwaves instead of the mudslinging I saw.


Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Beat Goes On

What a weird wacked out week of Ministry Minutia (I am too tired to look that spelling up).

I feel like it has been the middle of the week for.ev.er.

That call last night that TDH took? One hour later I gave up and went to bed. Boiled down the issue is this: we say we want to grow, but as our nursery and children's church strains under the pressure of growth the powers that be refuse to open their minds to the idea of a paid nursery attendant. In the meantime the nursery is chaos... and last Sunday the perfect storm of three hyper (undisciplined) boys, an extra long service and our weakest (and most sensitive) leader combined to create chaos. We are lucky no child was seriously injured.

Bottom line for me is that we will most likely either lose our #2 giving family or our #4 giving family having just lost our #1 a year ago. I hate to think of things like that, but when you are $20,000 short on the giving side of the budget with only a month and a half to make it up these things tend to weigh on your mind.

No wonder Jesus just kept on moving - preaching, healing, helping, teaching - and left the church leadership to those who followed. Of course, he also got whipped, scourged and nailed to a cross.

I will become an electrician well before that happens.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Do I Really Have to Love Them?

9:56 pm and someone is on the phone to whine about church stuff... this time to TDH who is our Christian Educator.

How long does it take to become a certified electrician?

Baaaa! I am a sheep


will smama --

[noun]:

A hard-core grave robber



'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com




Good thing I have one in my side yard!

Re-Entry

I have purposefully kept myself from spewing mission trip details all over you... in an attempt to not get obnoxious with it. I am rethinking that strategy. For one, I think it is important that the word get out that the Gulf Coast still needs help and volunteers are about the only place they're getting it. On a more selfish note, I think if I am going to get through Grey November I had better click my heels and think better thoughts (that one's for you, Sue).

One of the challenges of any mountain top experience is coming back down. No wonder why in one of my favorite Peter moments the disciple wants to build a place to stay on the mountaintop. I was careful when I came home to listen to TDH and hear about his week - home alone with a toddler is not quite mountaintop - but it still needs to be heard, respected and applauded. I was pleasantly surprised when I would run into folks from church during the week and they would say, "welcome back" and "how was your trip?"

Then Sunday came and I robed up very excited because a large group of folks from the trip - from other churches - were in the congregation to support my folks because they knew all of them were going to speak and all of them hate speaking in public. I had worked on a Power Point all weekend and couldn't wait to tell folks about our trip and applaud them as well for supporting us.

I was pumped and I came through the Sanctuary door raring to go and ran into, "Pastor will smama. Will you please remove those flowers from the altar they look terrible."



Briefly that ol' pastor's lament streamed through my head - you know the one: children are dying... families have been flooded out of their homes for months... war is raging throughout the globe but yes, I will stop the entire universe in its tracks and remove the flowers of the apocalypse...

Thankfully, I have been reading a blog lately entitled You've Really Got to Love Your People... and so I tried. And on the flower offendee's behalf I will admit they looked terrible. I will also comment that they looked like someone had moved them from their original spot to quick do something and then had merely forgotten to put them back.

An usher overheard and moved them to a more appropriate spot.

Now we don't really have an altar, at best it is a Communion table. Certainly it is treated Holy by at least half of the people as I hear them take a short breath whenever I set something on it. I am sure this was a good part of the reason why she was so taken aback by the flowers, not just that they weren't centered.

So I am wondering how Flower Offendee felt when as part of our presentation I placed two botched plumbing pipes from our trip and placed them there, stuck candles in them and lit them.


Hey, to me they are Holy.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Grey November

When I was a kid I had a piano songbook that had a song for each of the months. The title of November's was Grey November... and that about sums it up for me right now.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Career Change


Today was/is one of those days that inspires serious contemplation about a career change. I have to keep reminding myself that the frustration of the last two days has nothing to do with the actual clergy profession, but instead to do with why I could not work in the computer profession.

Today I actually asked the computer guru who was patiently walking me through endless exercises of dashed hopes if 'reboot' meant to pull my foot and shoe out of the computer.

He didn't get it.

How long would it take me to be a certified electrician?

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Halloween Pros and Cons

I realize this topic does not make me unique in the blogosphere. For the cons you can check out Phantom Scribbler and for the pros you can check out (surprisingly enough) Halloween Lover.

Here is my brief list of Halloween cons:
- The fun and innocence of the event has been long gone.

- Houses that are decorated more heavily for it than they do for Christmas.

- Adult 'sexy' costumes. Halloween is not an excuse to look like a slut under the guise of being in a costume.

- Adults who bring around their infants when there is no older child involved. Is your desire to have me ooh and ahh over your baby in her tiger costume and the demand for me to give you candy for the privilege really worth the whopping cough that is going to keep up you for the next month?

- Teenagers who don't even bother with a decent costume and carry around pillow cases. Guess what, if you are too old to carry around the goofy looking plastic pumpkin then you are too old to be trick or treating.

- Kids who don't say thank you... and the parents who don't seem to notice/care/mind.

- The demanding list of people you "have to go see" because your kid looks so cute in his costume, but of course you know that by the time you cover them all he will have dissolved into a cranky puddle of tears... and so will you.

Here is my even briefer list of Halloween pros:

- The low-key Halloween Open House that friends of ours host. You go sometime during your night. We make it our last stop because everyone strips their kids out of their costumes, the kids play and trade candy and the adults eat chicken corn soup.

- Well of course, my son looked cute in his costume.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

True Love Tapes



One of my dirty little secrets is that I love the tv show Dancing with the Stars. I just think it presents the most bang for my reality tv buck. This year there is the added bonus of watching boy toy crushes Joey Lawrence and Mario Lopez gyrate around the dance floor.

TDH allows me this Tuesday evening fetish and usually places himself in the other room where he can still watch the tv and make the occasional comment without the risk of losing his Heterosexual Man Card.

So imagine my surprise when I went home today for lunch and he put in a tape with all of the dance routines on it one after the other from last week's show. Now, I didn't ask him to tape anything for me while I was away since one of the concesssions I have made to try and cut down on the tv habit is that I don't watch things on tape. If I missed it, too bad. But how could I turn down this truly romantic gesture?

And so I watched and not only enjoyed it, but in doing so gave TDH the justification he needed for having watched the show while his wife was away... you know, just in case they stop by the house to pick up his Heterosexual Man Card.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

9 Days Later...

Being home is good.

St. Casserole is awesome - funny, strong, courageous and wise.

The Boy is at least 3 inches taller and full of hugs.

Thanks for your comments and prayers. Peace.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Gone South


So this will be my last post for over a week. I leave this morning for D'Iberville, Mississippi in order to help in the continued rebuilding effort from Hurricane Katrina.

I am excited and nervous. The bus ride is 20 hours over two days and my small group gets on there last so I am guessing I am going to have to find a way to pretend I don't smell the bathroom. Of course the good news is we will be the first ones dropped off on the way home.

Actually the real reason why I am nervous is because I will be unveiling my knitting project to the public for the first time. My hope is that I get at least a good chunk into it before I screw it up so badly that it needs to receive TLC from my Mom.

As a former Youth Director this will be my first adult mission trip and I am hoping the other folks going from my church will be patient as I adjust to not having to worry about what other adults do. We already had our first laugh over it when I suggested that we meet the group where they are going to initially leave from in order to bond with them. The adults kindly suggested that 20 hours down on the bus would most likely provide enough bonding opportunities thank you very much.

TDH has also been running drills with me:
TDH: "What do you do if during the road trip someone from your group runs across the street to a different restaurant?"
WS: "Um threaten to have their parents pick them up? No, no that's not it - leave them alone!
Let them go!"
TDH: Good. Now what happenes if someone is late for the bus one morning?
WS: Assign them the chore of cleaning out the bus... no wait... it's their problem, not mine.
TDH: Phew, that was close but you got it right in the end.

I am hoping that I won't have to worry about what to do when you realize that people are honking at you because they are being mooned by half of the people in your vehicle (but that's a story for another day).

From what I hear my days will be filled with dry walling and painting although I am hoping to spend one afternoon connecting with a friend who I hear is in need of crucial pastoral support worthy of my time away from my assigned project.

My main job is to keep myself as busy as possible so I don't have time to think about The Boy who I am sure will learn how to talk in complete sentences, begin running 5k's, and rise to the top of his field in chemical engineering while I am away. I am hoping the good-bye at the bus will not be too heart wrenching.


Have a great week friends, Peace.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Job 38 Edition

From the revgalblogpals:

Below you will find five words. 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 or a story.

whirlwind: I think of an older friend of mine who cannot sit still. She is always trying to make things better for all involved and squeeze so many details into everything that things inevitably get lost in the shuffle. Her saving grace is that she has a heart of gold. The saving grace of our relationship is that I don't live near her so I don't have to deal with her boundary stomping on a regular basis. She is a diehard Mets fan and so my heart goes out to her this morning.

foundation:
Sing it with me now! The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord...

lightning:
I played softball in Florida in college and I was always amazed how in the lightning capital of the world, coaches would pay no mind to the fact that they were sending their players out into a flat field with one of them holding an aluminum lightning magnet.

den: Oh how I wish someone with a gift for it would come into our small den and guide me in how to make it look beachy and also be a playroom and a place to keep some things. Right now it is just a clutter trap and it makes me sad. It is wasted space and we need the space.

prey: I, of course, have plenty of things that relate to the other spelling (pray) so let me think... ah yes. One of our favorite cat stories is from back when we had three of them and we were in between seminary and this church. We moved 7 times in a year (I'll give you a moment to reflect on that...). One of those places was a friend's half basement. It was cramped.

I heard the cats making quite a ruckus so I went around the corner to check on them and I was disgusted that they had cornered a bug - a REALLY big bug - and then I realized... it was a mouse.

iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw - iw

Here was the thing that made us laugh. Two of our cats were just going ballistic trying to catch this thing - batting it around, pouncing on it, howling, etc... The third cat was fully stretched out on our bed alternately yawning and looking at the other two with utter disdain as if to say (with appropriate Morris the cat enunciation), "Heathens. I receive my food in a bowl."

Epilogue: For all of you PETA people out there we did manage to 'rescue' the mouse and he was last seen running outside (admittedly assisted by a broom).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Peaceful Monkey Tree

That is the nickname I have given to a children's show on PBS called It's a Big, Big World. Its main character is a sloth named Snook who frankly sounds a bit like a slightly more mellow version of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

I really like the show and admittedly have found the link to the closing song which to steal a phrase from my friend, 'gives me peace'. Check it out.

Try to Touch the Sky

Except for the part about me hanging upside down, it really makes a great 'see you later' song.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Crazy Like a Fox

I don't know about you other pastors out there, but I am used to occasionally getting mail sent to me that is most likely from someone who is suffering from mental illness. Please believe that as someone who served as a chaplain in a mental health facility for a year, I am in no way, shape or form cracking a joke.

I have received everything from scrawled ramblings to a a bound book entitled "The Gospel of Owen." I know other pastors who have received various things like this and I've never really worried about it.

But last week I received something that made me just a little bit nervous. What made me nervous was that the ramblings were written on the back of our church newsletter and then placed in an envelope and sent back to me using the address cut out once again from the newsletter. Huh. Not so random when the diatribe is written on a piece of paper that we most likely first mailed to them.

IT was fairly nonsensical except for one sentence which I can't get out of my head: "A cruel father sacrifices his own son."

I gotta tell you, I never thought of it that way.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ethics 102b - Part II

I wanted to fill in the back story (and the ending) of the post below.

Yesterday I had a bunch of errands to do and found myself at a fast food chain for lunch (I justified this by concluding that their yummy shake would feel very good on my throat). In front of me in line was a VERY pregnant woman lugging her 30+ pound toddler. She came up short cash-wise and so I threw 2 bucks up on the counter. It was too crowded for her to argue so off we both went.

My next errand was the secondhand clothing store. I needed a couple more pair of jeans to bring down with me on the mission trip I am going on at the end of the week. As I tried a pair of jeans I put my hand in the pocket and felt something. All kinds of thoughts ran through my head about what might be in there and I kind of flinched as I pulled my hand out. Of course you already know that I pulled out money and you have probably guessed it was - yup - 2 bucks.

There was a Seinfeld episode once about how some folks just break even when it comes to losing and getting money. I think this was just fun coincidence.

So here is how I handled it. I was buying the jeans so I kept the $2. I admittedly did not put it back in the pocket but rather in my own pocket. If I was not going to buy the jeans, I would have left it in the pocket. That way it could be a pleasant surprise for the next person (kind of like putting pennies on the ground face up so that kids can find them).

Now what if it weren't $2 but was $50? Easy, I would have bought the jeans - whether they fit or not - and considered it a sign from God that I was supposed to also buy the leather jacket that I looked PHEN-OM-EN-AL in but remained disciplined and did not purchase. ;)

And um, some tuna like you all suggested!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ethics 101

There have been a few times in my life where I have faced a minor ethical dilemma and one of the key factors in pushing me to the 'right' choice is what I do for a living.

I have been undercharged for things and corrected them. I have been given too much change and gone BACK in to hand over the extra (laziness not greed was pulling me to the 'bad' choice as I really didn't want to get out of the car and drag myself back into the store).

The one time I didn't do the right thing was as I was being rung up in the express lane with a few items the kid moved the ice cream around the scanner and told me he was pissed at management so I should have some ice cream on him. I had a raging headache and was thoroughly exhausted and remember thinking, "Oh man, why did he have to do this to me? Now I have to do the right thing... but then this kid gets fired... sooooooo..." by the time I reasoned the whole thing out I was already home with my free ice cream.

So my question to all of you is, when you are trying on jeans at the second hand store and you find money in the pocket do you:

1) Hand in the money
b) Keep the money; leave the jeans
or) Get the jeans, keep the money.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick


Has anyone seen Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - the new show on NBC about a show similar to Saturday Night Live? Did you see the second episode which featured prominently a clock that ticked down to the launch of the tv show they were writing and producing? The clock ticked down to '0.00.00.00' and the show began and it went great and then they showed the clock and it was counting down again.

That is what it feels like to be a pastor in charge of Sunday morning worship.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Creature Comforts

Perfect timing by the revgalblogpal Friday Five on creature comforts as I am sick and home for the day (well, minus that meeting at 3... might even shower for it)


1. Comfort beverage
After a long day of physical work: ice, cold beer
After a long day of mental work: red wine
After a long Sunday morning: diet coke
While sicky: ginger ale

One of my comfort foods is Chinese which should be arriving in about an hour.

2. Comfort chair
My friend's big comfy chair that you can curl up in with an afghan (handmade by my Gram, of course) and read a book.

3. Comfort read
Coastal Living which I love, love, love although every once in awhile I get frustrated when people interviewed mention how easy it was for them to create their dream home when he is an architect and she is an interior designer. Uh, ya think?!

4. Comfort television/DVD/music
Notting Hill - it is nice and slow and romantic. I also will watch any cheesy movie they have on tv. My friends and I think they should make a channel which shows a movie in an hour with all of the clips we love and then the final 15 minutes.

5. Comfort companion(s)
The cat. The dog.

And I would be majorly remiss if I did not mention that during tragic times our friends the Onion Rings have called to ask us if we would like them to come up from Scarlett O'Hara's state. The last time we said yes and having them here was an incredibly great comfort.

Off to grab the afghan, the movie and the ginger ale. My guess is the dog and cat will follow!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Back to reality

Well, the giddiness is over. Today I was called ma'am by a guy I am pretty sure was older than me. Stupid mock turtleneck and blazer.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Should be Insulted but...

A church member has been letting us borrow his truck while we try to find a 2005 Honda Accord with under 25,000 miles on it for less than $10,000... or a unicorn, whichever one we come across first.

The truck was at his office so I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and ride my bike over to get it. He is an accountant and I know he is quite busy with some deadlines right now so when I arrived I just poked my head into the front of the office and told the Administrative Assistant, "Tell Jim I took his truck." She looked at me a little confused which I attributed to me being sweaty and wearing dorky bicycling gear and then she moved to get me the keys from under the counter. I waved her off and told her, "It's okay, I already have a key." And I left.

I just got this email from him:
Forgot to tell you when I came out the high school girl came back and told me that “some girl” just stuck her head in the door and said she was taking my truck. Some girl!!!

I know I should be insulted, but just between you and me - I am elated!

Monday, October 9, 2006

More from Random Thought Woman

I have introduced you to her before. Her is my latest phone conversation with her:

ws: Hello.
rtw: I didn't understand what you wanted.
ws: Random Thought Woman? (I knew darn well who it was.)
rtw: When you told us, where do I buy those?
ws: Uh....
rtw: You know in church.
ws: Do you mean the candy for the Fall Festival?
rtw: No the cards for the trip.

And finally it clicked. A small group of us are going on a mission trip to D'Iberville, Mississippi and I encouraged the congregation to bring in Lowe's gift cards for us to bring down with us.

Can you get a D.Min in rural church linguistics?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

An Affirming Flame

I live near Lancaster county. Very near.

The Presbytery has sent out information about prayer vigils throughout the area and other efforts that are being made. At the bottom of the list, this one stood out:
Two funds have been set up by Old Order Amish. They are both through the Coatesville Savings at 1028 Georgetown Road, Paradise, PA 17503. One fund is the "Nickles Mines Children's Fund." The other is the "Roberts Family Fund, for Children of the Roberts Family."

What an incredible testimony to their faith and committment to who it is God calls them to be that they would set up a fund not only for their own children, but for the Roberts children as well.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May, I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair
Show an affirming flame.
-- W.H. Auden

Picture of the Week

This will be the last vacation related post, I promise.

On Monday morning I woke up at the same time I would normally wake up to take care of The Boy only The Boy was spending quality time with Gram at the beach and I was in NYC. So I left a note for TDH and took off for the taping of The Today Show.

I had done that before with a friend of mine and it is pretty fun. All of the segments outside are done at various places around the crowd so the key is to use the time Al Roker is filming his weather in one spot to get a prime front row location in another spot.

The concert series that day featured The Doodlebops; a Disney tv show creation featuring young folks who dreamed of being Broadway or rock n' roll stars but instead are having their faces painted every day and their instruments unplugged so that they don't interfere with the music playback.

Another guest that day was Billy Bob Thornton and my first nominee for Picture of the Week would be the one that happened off camera as Billy Bob ran over to the Doodlebops in order to have his picture taken with them. Iw. To me it was the same as if Pamela Anderson ran over to have her picture taken with Santa's elves.

Some groups should just not intermingle.

I got that picture but only on my cell phone and only from the back (if you happen to have that episode on tape I was behind the Doodlebops to the far right wearing a green hat and a red shirt).

So instead of that weird moment I offer this as my pick for Picture of the Week:

Monday, October 2, 2006

Would that be an irony or a coincidence?

So we had a really great vacation. It included time at the beach and TDH and I went into the city for a couple of days as a belated celebration of our
10th anniversary. My 'hopefully-future-brother-in-law' used his abundant Marriott points to hook us up with lodging at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Then once we arrived we were upgraded to a suite 43 floors above Times Square - A.W.E.S.O.M.E! This upgrade included permission to use the concierge lounge where I handed a certain celebrity a sugar packet AND managed not to ask him if he was wearing purple socks (I am showing my age with that comment).

TDH and I went to see Avenue Q which is Sesame Street for grown ups. We also saw Martin Short's Fame Becomes Me. Avenue Q was great. Martin Short was PHENOMENAL!!! I cannot even describe how incredibly great and fun and hilarious it was.

Here is where the irony/coincidence comes in. Every show, if available, a celebrity is brought up from the crowd to be interviewed by Martin Short's character, Jiminy Glick. A lot of folks have taken the hot seat: Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Nathan Lane, Rosie O'Donnell, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Regis Philbin, etc... On our night it was......... Bill Irwin.

That's right, Mr. Noodle.

I am totally blaming God's unbelievable sense of humor for that one. She just couldn't resist.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Thanks

Hi all. I just wanted to thank everyone for your kind words in relation to the post I wrote right before I left on vacation.

As well as that evening went I am the same pastor who has since lost Tori's phone number (don't worry, I'll get it) and who once tried to let a family know about some arrangements that would need to be made for a funeral for their loved one only to realize with horror that they were not in a place to accept that a funeral was imminent. Not exactly great pastoral care.

Truth is, I think we all win some and lose some; sometimes we get it right and other times not so much. Thank you for the many lessons of compassion and ministry done right that I have gleaned from your own writings. Thank you for your kind comments and thank God for the grace that every once in awhile allows us to get it right.

Peace.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord

Tonight I was going to post Nanny Nanny Poo Poo II because with Session meeting over I am now officially on vacation. YES!!!

And I will get to that post, but I wanted to take some space to reflect on what happened earlier today. I received a phone call earlier this afternoon from the parishioner of a friend of mine in a town about 45 minutes away. The parishioner's daughter lives near me and is dying of cancer. Today she was given weeks to live, could I please come visit.

Many of you who read these posts are clergy so I know you will understand and not judge that although in voice I agreed, my selfish zone was more focused on one final meeting, packing, other minor tasks and getting out of town.

As all of you would do too, I sucked it up and I headed over. I was nervous because when the best club in your bag is your 'sense of humor driver' it is intimidating to think that your visit to a dying stranger may leave you relying on your less trusty 'theological sand wedge' or 'small talk putter'. I reminded myself to be myself and to rely on a ministry of presence.

Once there tension lifted almost as soon as I walked in the room and we talked, we laughed, we cried, we prayed... I cussed. Yup, you read that right. Briefly told, she broke down and wondered what she had done wrong to deserve this and I told her that was bullshit (I of course told her WHY that is bs, but you get the point).

It turns out her step-father was a preacher in a more conservative, evangelical denomination than mine that puts its focus a bit more on works and a little less on grace. She has been to funerals where the deceased were never mentioned, but the altar call was. She doesn't want that. She has been to funerals where the preacher said, "I never met insertname, but..." She doesn't want that.

I told her that I would say, "Tori and I go way back..."

After I left her side her mother followed me out and told me that she would send payment to the church for my time. This caught me by surprise and I of course refused. She insisted and I tried to find the balance between not wanting her to feel as if she had insulted me and not wanting her to pay me money for something I am Called to do.

Finally I told her that if she felt it were necessary she should donate it to her church but "please know that being invited to stand with a family while they are engaged in the biggest battle of their lives and in their time of greatest grief and sorrow is an honor and a privilege."

I meant it. And I wondered as I drove away, how often - even in ministry - do we not only get to have these moments of privilege but do we also get the opportunity to redeem an entire profession... and maybe even the way one dying woman can now look at the One who created her and has loved her and will welcome her.

You're in My House

At 8am this morning a traveling nurse came to our house to do a mini-physical on TDH and me as part of our life insurance policy. We were advised before she came that she would ask us a few questions, do height/weight, take a urine and blood sample, and blood pressure checks.

When she arrived we had both The Boy and The Dog gated in with me in the living room as she walked into the adjacent kitchen. I waved to her and said, “Good Mornin’!”

To which she responded, “Hold on, I’ll get you the cup.”

Turns out she thought I had waved to her and shouted, “Urine!”



What an odd way to welcome someone into your home.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nanny-Nanny Poo Poo

Today I get to meet her and her.

Which takes my list of bloggers I have met up to a WHOPPING: 4

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mother of the Year

Some of you may have gathered that Mother of the Year is probably not an award coming my way any time soon. Some reason why would include:

  1. My husband stays home with our son while I go to work. This in and of itself does not preclude me from the award, but the fact that I am usually okay, even happy with this choice does knock me down in MotY points.
  2. We have determined that for our family's mental health it is best if I do not attend pediatrician appointments. This one severely hurts my chances, because c'mon how many moms out there MISS pediatrician appointments. I just get too wound up and filled with lunacies such as they are only saying we are doing a good job but really they are going to have to take him away OR that the fact that his head measured three inches smaller has nothing to do with the fact that he is flailing away at the nurse taking the measurement but rather that he has some rare strain of head contusion normally only found in a small town in Greenland.
  3. I am way behind on all the things we should be doing in order to have the best possible chance of getting him into Harvard. He has had no lessons of any kind yet, prefers to pretend his crayons are a telephone rather than draw, carefully places his food on his spoon and then proceeds to eat with his other hand, and does not attend any kind of pre preschool. He can count to three by skipping one and then saying two twice. I know what he means, but will the admissions counselors?

HOWEVER, I do think I should be reconsidered for the award because this morning I had the bright idea of washing a used key ring and all of our random keys and I gave them to him as I recognized his love of keys and also his burning desire to hide the keys that we begrudgingly let him play with and then wondered why one of us had placed those same keys in the doggie bowl or underneath the couch or in the (non-burning) fireplace.

No need for an official proclamation or a public award ceremony. The big grin and hug I received and his proud declaration of, "KEYS!" is all I need.

I humbly accept this award for all working moms everywhere and especially for my friend who when she saw another toddler pointing out red, blue and green to her toddler exclaimed out loud, "Oh shit, I forgot to teach him colors!"

Friday, September 15, 2006

RevGalBlogPal Friday Five: Brushes with Greatness Edition

From the now famous revgalblogpals website:

David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so...

1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.
Alright due to being at the right place at the right time I have met a good many professional athletes but I think the majority of my readers will be more interested in the fact that I have been one of those Today Show groupies you see hanging out behind Al Roker as he does the weather. After the show all four of them (Katie, Matt, Ann and Al) went around and had their pictures taken with folks and signed autographs. They all were very nice.

The best story from all of that is a tad on the gruesome side. As some of you know I had an accident in 1999 that resulted in the amputation of my left ring finger. At the time of the Today show my hand was still lightly bandaged but you could see that I had four fingers, not the standard issue five. But human nature being what it is most folks would see the bandage, not take note of the number of fingers present and simply ask, "What happened to your hand?" - including Matt Lauer. When he asked that as he squeezed in for a picture I simply shrugged my shoulders and said I cut my hand while dunking a basketball. He nodded, the camera clicked and he was off to the next cluster of fans.

(Side note: I did not do it dunking a basketball as I am a white girl with a 1" vertical leap.)

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.
Hmmm, good question. I am not really big on the celebrities, but I do feel like I would be a great loyal friend to one and if they ever start hiring those (kind of like they hire publicists) I should send in my information.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.
Alright, this is probably taking this in a different direction than most, but I have often thought that I would like women who are in emotionally and/or physically abusive relationships - because they think they deserve no better or because they think that is all that men are about - I want them to meet and hang out with my husband affectionately known here as TDH. He is such a good man who respects women, supports me and our marriage and is an excellent father. One of the reason I am so happy to have a son is because I know at least one little boy is being raised to respect women.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?
Alright, this is for the sports lovers out there. I have two baseballs; one has all of the signatures of the 1961 Yankees (Maris, Mantle, Berra, etc...) and the other has all of the signatures of the 1978 Yankees (Jackson, Chambliss, Randolph, etc...). I also have a couple of Bucky Dent's and an autographed Mark McGwire rookie card (although I have a sneaking suspicion the signature was forged, not that it matters anymore).

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?
Since it is a big pipe dream anyway, I will stick with my childhood dream of becoming the first female Major League Baseball player.

Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago?
Wow... this list is neverending. I'll start with: Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears and the iwwy husband, Michael Jackson, Fox News talking heads, Barry Bonds, the she-bang dude (American Idol), Nicole Richie, Terrell Owens, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Rick Warren, (that's enough for now, not to mention the sitemeeter hits I may get now).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No Time for the Countdown

In just 8 more days I will go from this:

to this:


And yet the amount of work that I have to complete between now and then has got me so completely freaked out, I am not even enjoying the sweet anticipation of a week away.

If that is not sorry enough, my son now sees me and immediately waves and says, "Bah-bye."

Ouch.

Just thought I'd share... back to work

No Hablo Ingles

In the post below I shared about our service on Sunday and about the silly thing a woman in my congregation said to me on her way out the door. We have all had those ditzy moments where the synapses ain't exactly firing as God intended, but some seem to have more misfires than others.

One of the stories about this same woman that makes me laugh out loud whenever I think of it took place at a pretty stressful time in her life so we'll give her a break on that, but now that we know everyone is ok - healthier than ever even - we are allowed to flat out laugh at this.

She and her two adult children were rushing through the hallways of the city hospital trying to track down where her husband was. As they turned the corner they saw a directional sign in front of them that said: ICU/NICU. She glanced at it and with frustration threw her hands in the air exclaiming:

"Oh great... Spanish."

Even with the seriousness of the situation the story goes that her adult kids doubled up with laughter right there in the hallway.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Learning How the Other Half Lives

On Sunday the person in charge of our denomination's region came to worship with the church. He was invited. I knew he was coming. This is his first Call on the denomination's administrative side of things having served for a few decades in parish ministry.

As we were walking down the hallway I stopped to introduce him to some of our Sunday School teachers and as were about to walk away one of them remarked to me, "You need to stop losing weight, look at you." The rest said similar things and I thanked them and made some comment about how it is all in how you wear your clothes (this is true - I have lost relatively no weight).

After we were safely outside he said, "You know I have often heard female clergy say that they are treated differently but I have never seen it quite like that. They would have never said that to a male."

I just smiled and nodded my head and told him that is exactly why I don't wear earrings.

Worship was a bit different in that as I began to preach I was 'interrupted' by God and sermon time was really a skit I had written. The role of God was played by my father bellowing in his Jewish, Brooklyn accent into a microphone in the back of the Sanctuary. The critics LOVED it! Young and old raved about what a great job my Dad did and they are right. He was perfect for the part.

Hopefully a healthy percentage of folks took home the real message which was that our Sunday School this year has a lot to offer every age. I think most of them will although I am not quite sure what one young woman will take from it since at the back door as she was shaking my hand she said:

"How convenient for you. Since you were interrupted like that now you can just use the sermon your wrote for today next week."

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Few Thoughts...

I am going to pass on the urge to wax poetic about this day and what it means and where I was five years ago. I have a story - I was here and it was only my second day in the office - but my story is not nearly as important to hear as others.
  • A high school classmate that I knew really in name only died in the towers.
  • Seminary classmates brand new to their own calls were faced with visiting young widows and families.
  • One of my clergy colleagues rushed over to the home of one of his parishioners who worked in the WTC and when he walked through the door the wife initially thought it was her husband. Her relief turned to anguish right before my colleague's eyes.
  • My friend was an army reserve chaplain sent to work at the dumpsite and then at the morgues. She will never recover emotionally from that assignment.

Compared to their stories, mine just adds noise.



Friday, September 8, 2006

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Fairly Simple Edition

This Friday Five is Fairly Simple. Name five things you have enjoyed this week.

  1. Blowing off a meeting last night that ended up lasting 5 hours.
  2. Watching how excited my Dad was that he cooked The Boy's meal ahead of time so that when we got there it was already nice and cool. He was just so proud of himself.
  3. Beer, steak and the new NFL season all in one night.
  4. Finding some space to blog. It's been a busy week.
  5. Driving the pick-up truck a church member gave to us to borrow.

Peace friends and have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Not Sure What the Word Is...

Many of you who read this post are aware that I have been pregnant twice, the first time with a daughter. At 20 weeks along in November of 2003 we looked forward to our Monday ultrasound appointment that would tell us whether we were expecting a girl or a boy.

The Wednesday before that appointment I received a call deep in the night that the infant grandson of members of the congregation was rushed to the hospital. His father who grew up in the church was away on business and the mother after placing her son in his bassinet did what all new mothers are encouraged to do... she laid down to get some rest. When she got up not twenty minutes later her baby boy was blue.

CPR. 911. It was all for naught.

He was 13 days old.

Calls were made and services were arranged. It was decided that he would be buried in the the church's cemetary and the service would be on Monday, the same day as our ultrasound appointment.

It didn't take me long to figure out that I would have a hard time presiding over a service with such a tiny casket while being pregnant myself. I couldn't imagine reconciling those images and my heartfelt grief for this young couple with the images I assumed we would see on the screen of a healthy boy or girl of our own. So I changed the ultrasound appointment to the following week.

Hindsight tells us that if I had gone to that appointment I probably would not have been able to officiate at the service having learned that the child I carried was also deceased.

We are all grown ups. We know that in life we rarely get a true happy ending and that is the case here. We have been blessed with a beautiful son and yet there is a part of our hearts that will never recover. The ripples from the SIDS death I described above keep on going as the couple has since divorced and the grandparents no longer come to the church with one of the reasons I think being that seeing that headstone every Sunday is just too hard.

In the meantime The Boy has found a new place that he likes to play... and talk as if to someone... and leave his toys. Eery is not quite the word because it is not as sinister as that. Comforting is not quite the word because there is no true comfort in tragedy such as this.

They say a picture speaks 1000 words and I guess somewhere in there is the right one, but I am not sure what it is...


Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The Real Anniversary

On August 24th TDH and I celebrated our tenth anniversary by going out to Macaroni Grill and going to a movie - Little Miss Sunshine. That was nice.

Marquis

Fbiltb - future brother in law to be

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Well, so much for my aspirations of being a top-notch spy. Apparantly the license plate number I gave the trooper was incorrect. So the woman who hit me is officially off the hook.

If only we had watched the Bourne movies just one night sooner.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Grief Connects Us All

I am always somewhat surprised when the death of a celebrity makes me sad. I don't know these people. I am fully aware that even though I may think I have something in common with them, I really have no idea who they really are as a person.

I remember this when Princess Diana died. I just felt sad. I didn't sign a mourning book or send flowers or anything... I even refrained from buying the Elton John song (seriously, you and Bernie couldn't write a NEW song for the Princess of Wales, even I could have just changed the lyrics). But I digress...

I feel that same sadness today at the news of Steve Irwin's death. I didn't know the man and certainly couldn't understand why he did the things that he did, but it did seem that more than any others he really knew what he was doing. And gettin pierced in the heart by a sting ray seems like such a fluke.

I wonder if his family is grappling with that too... as if they could understand if a crocodile got him in the water or he let a snake get too close but this was so random.

I also hope they keep all the editorials and news shows that read emails away from them. There will be a lot of folks saying really stupid things about how he had it coming because of the way he led his life, but really what do we know about it? He grew up with these animals under his father's guidance and was a passionate conservationist. What seemed crazy to us, might have been perfectly reasonable to a man who had that kind of training.

Mainly, I feel for his 8 year old daughter who has to live with the knowledge that this happened while he was taping something for her show and for his 3 year old son who will not get to grow up in the footsteps of his Dad like Steve Irwin did.

Friday, September 1, 2006

RevGalFridayFive: Driving Edition

... or in my case, Crash Test Dummy Edition.

First my thank you's to everyone who has said a prayer for me and my family whether spoken or unspoken. Thank you. I was trying to keep my post brief (and grateful) yesterday so I did not include a lot of what happened including the rude State Trooper, how absolutely frickin’ demolished our car is, the joys of realizing you have JUST taken collision insurance off said car, and the doctor visit to document my injuries (minor) and get x-rays.

I am sore today, but not any more sore than I have been at other times in my life. I have reawakened some old injuries, but I expect I will be fine.

Thanks again everyone for your comments and cyber hugs with a special thanks to ‘ppb’ for the booby hug.

And now to the Friday Five as presented by reverend mother on the revgalblogpals website (how cool is it to inspire a Friday Five... although next time I hope my Nobel Peace Prize is what does the inspiring, not my latest foible).

Big gentle hugs, soft pillows and heating pads to Will Smama, our resident matriarch and preacher/blogger/procrastinator who was involved in a bit of a fender-bender this week. We're very grateful she's OK, just a little shaken up...In lieu of flowers, I send this Friday Five out to her. Let's all be careful on those roadways.

1. Driving: an enjoyable way to clear the mind? a means to an end? a chance to be quiet with one's thoughts? a necessary evil? the downfall of our planet and its fossil fuels? Discuss.
When we vacation, we drive. I like to drive. I get this from my mother who was always frustrated by the amount of other moms who would sign their kids up to do things, but would not be willing to drive there.
When TDH and I go anywhere I drive, he reads the directions. Occasionally we have been in reverse roles and it becomes clear quickly that we need to switch... immediately.

2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket?
On our back country roads - through farmland, not housing - I speed. Occasionally there will be a State Trooper back on those roads and I am always a bit miffed that they would pick on the locals rather than those crazy truckers on the Interstate. Favorite conversation with a congregation member about one of those speed traps:
HIM: Gotta trooper hiding out by the Smith Farm.
ME: Wow, did he get you?
HIM: Nah, I flew right over him!

As for tickets, yes I have gotten them. All for speeding. Most unjustified... mmmm, hmmm - yeah right.

3. Do you take public transportation? When? What's your opinion of the experience?
There is none available here. This is one of America's biggest flaws. Right now we are a 1 car family and fortunately that is doable for us. But for a lot of folks in a lot of this country there is no public transportation available.

4. Complete this sentence: _____________ has the worst drivers I've ever experienced.
Massachusetts. Now, I grew up in NJ so I know all about offensive driving, rather than defensive driving. You have to be aggressive and you count on other folks being aggressive too. If you are all on the same page it makes sense. But Massachusetts drivers are beyond aggressive and have entered the realm of kamikaze. They just dive across interesections and fly around traffic circles figuring you don't want to get into an accident either.

On the other side of the spectrum you have PA drivers who are too passive (except for the woman yesterday) and don't know how to merge. It is a combination of folks on the ramp not getting up their speed and folks on the highway not moving over.

5. According to the Census Bureau, reverendmother's fair city has the 6th longest average commute in the United States at 29 minutes each way. How does your personal commute rate?
Well, on a good day, if my key works in the church door... 45 seconds. In bad weather, it can actually be faster. Once there was a fender bender in our parking lot that I had to go around so on that day it was 50 seconds. And if I turn around to wave 'bye-bye' to my son through the door it can be over a minute... even 2.

Bonus for the brutally honest: It has been said, and the MythBusters have confirmed, that cell phones can impede driving ability almost as much as drinking. Do you talk on a cell phone while driving?
Yes. But I do not answer my cell phone while I am driving because I realized I was going to ridiculous lengths to pick up the phone. I was not on my cell phone yesterday, and that was the first accident related question the State Trooper asked me. I think it will be awhile before I drive and talk on a cell phone.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sore. Frustrated. Grateful.

I am sore this evening because this afternoon at an on-ramp when I had to brake the woman in back of me decided to accelerate.

I am frustrated this evening because she left the scene and although I got her license plate my guess is she is going to get away with this.

But mostly I am grateful this evening. I am grateful my son wasn't in the car. I am grateful that I can walk to work. I am grateful that the loss of one car won't mean the loss of one income.

We are very lucky.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

P.U.

You know the spread stench is bad when it causes one of the members of your church who is a farmer TO GAG! Note to evil spreader: please refrain from choosing hideously humid and stagnant day to spread your vile potion.

Please go here to see the proper definition of spread.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

LATE Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Back-to-School Edition

Because it was too good not to come back to (for me anyway) here is the revgal's Friday Five:

My late mother-in-law thought of September as the “real” New Year because of the number of programs and classes starting. By Labor Day, school is back in session for most of us in the U.S., although there is great variation by region (my children don't return until Sept. 7th!). To mark this, we bring you the Back to School Friday Five.

1. What is your earliest memory of school?
Nursery School - truly the best two years of my life. I remember trucks, fingerpaint, unconditional love and weak craft projects made in a rush because I desperately wanted to get back to the trucks before the boys took all of the good ones (who knew that these crafts were actually exercises for the small motor skills that I now decidedly do not have). This is also where I was introduced to the wonder that is a Big Wheels. Still my favorite Christmas present EVER.

2. Who was a favorite teacher?
I have edited this question from its original version. My favorite teachers arrived my senior year in high school when the school district started a new program designed to get young people into teaching. The deal was they could come straight in and teach from their majors and they would take teacher certification classes throughout the year in order to complete that part of the process.

So my English teacher graduated from Harvard having majored in English. My Sociology teacher had majored in sociology. My chemistry teacher (yes, I was still in chemistry as a senior - had to take Earth Science twice) majored in chemistry. I think you get the point. I am not sure if the best part was that they were so young and still passionate about what they were teaching or that they were only 4 years older than us so it felt like they totally got us. I worked really hard for those teachers and that is saying something (did you not just read that I had to take Earth Science twice?).


3. What do you remember about school “back then” that is different from what you know about schools now?
Kids. They're just mean. The girls especially. The shift happened somewhere in the five years between my sister and me. Kids were not always nice by any means when I was younger, but there was still an innocence to it. Maybe memory has made things seem better than it was, but it seems like the things that I went through fell under the 'kids will be kids' category whereas now with the internet and chat rooms and permissive parents things are more likely to fit into the 'could be prosecuted by law' category.

4. Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned.
No. But I could sing a song we learned in Spanish called Mi Caballo Blanco . Weird since if I had remembered anything else from Spanish a bit more helpful then maybe I wouldn't have had to take the same level for eight years. That's right... I took Spanish One (uno) for 8 years.

5. Did you ever get in trouble at school? Were there any embarrassing moments you can share?
There is no end to my stories surrounding these two questions. Yes, I got in trouble - nothing major. A couple of stupid fights here, irritating a substitute teacher there... nothing major. As for embarrassing moments - well, how about the time I spent the entire 6th grade square dance with my zipper down? Finally a teacher laughing hysterically told me... about five minutes before my Mom picked me up.

Or another shining moment from my personal lowlight reel: going to the bathroom with no lock on the stall door. The popular girls come in and I don't want them to walk in on me so I quickly kick my foot out to hold the door shut.... only the door kicks open.

Thank you for allowing me to relive that one... think I'll go back to the nursery school memories if you don't mind.