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.