Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I walk into a church - especially a Presbyterian one - and I belong. I understand the rhythms of the liturgical seasons (not to mention knowing what liturgical means), I know why on the second Sunday of December a church may not be singing Christmas hymns, and despite the creativity they offer, I cannot help but shudder a bit when a screen descends from on high.
I admit to finding it confusing when I run into folks who have no idea what all of those things are. I get that a lot of folks aren't going to church any more, but when I see people come into church (usually for a baptism) who clearly have no idea even how to fake it, it stuns me. And as I commented at Jan's post, when I have a Sunday off I don't go out to breakfast or the Farmer's Market or anywhere, because I don't want the confirmation of just how irrelevant who I am (minister, the ultimate Church Dork) is.
Is what I do in any way, shape or form relevant or am I just being paid to produce a habitat for the endangered Church Dork species?
More importantly, how do I do a better job of relating to the world and the people in it, not in the name of proselytism but rather because the world is a better place when we take the time to know one another and understand one another.
It's taken me a long time to not be even a little bit ashamed of the whole Church Dork part of my label. But I think more importantly,the challenge is to not let this part of who I am keep me from learning about who other people are.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
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Off to softball....
Friday, June 25, 2010
It's possible I may have a bad attitude about the arrival of summer. On the eve of the Solstice I left for a mission trip to a town in Maine bordering Quebec. Beset by a swarm of bloodthirsty black flies, and a "classic allergic reaction" according to the PA at the Urgent Care, I had to return the next morning to a week of Benadryl and ice packs. (If only I had known about Bug Band *before*...)
But I don't want that to ruin summer for the rest of you. So I invite you to share five things you love--or don't--about summer. The tone is up to you!
I grew up by the ocean so for me 1-5 and beyond is The Beach. BUT... not necessarily for the lay around and burn to a crisp qualities of it, but more for the other details that cannot be found anywhere else.
1) The smells. Even the diesel engines of fishing boats as they head out for the morning is a good smell. The stench of an extreme low tide in the marshy part of the bay? Bring it on. And that sweet, salty air? mmmmmmmmmmm. I remember driving over to the beach from seminary in February and my husband wondering what had gotten into me as I took deep whiffs of VERY cold ocean air.
2) The sounds. Not just the consistent yet individual sound of waves hitting the shore, but the sound of the pebbles or shells bumping up against each other as the waves rolls back from whence they came. Boats heading out of the inlet and then back in. VERY happy children running past on the boardwalk or beach. The pitter-patter of the sand pipers as they run in and out of the water.
3) The food. I have a strict seafood rule which basically comes down to this: unless your state has a border with the ocean, I'm not eating seafood there. And so all cholesterol counts are laid aside when I travel to the ocean as I indulge in all kinds of succulent offerings from shrimp to lobster. Of course, there is other fare at the beach to be had as well - gourmet hot dogs, french fries with vinegar, pork roll sandwiches and rolls with butter (those last 2 are NJ things, no wonder we lead the way in the obesity of America charts).
4) The feelings. As I mentioned in last week's Friday Five I have to keep a tight rein on my every day schedule and so while on vacation at the beach the feeling of freedom from that schedule is greatly appreciated and enjoyed. At the beach there is plenty for The Boy to do and so there is far less pressure to keep things 'at the ready' other than food and drink.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We moved from 'the country' complete with vast fields of corn and other produce (not to mention manure). I always thought the great irony of the country was that there was SO much land but not really any place to play. But when we drove home at dusk during the summer months and looked out at the fields they looked like they were coated in pixie dust. And in the dark evening, while walking the dog up and down the driveway, the trees sparkled with their yellow, pulsing decor. There were lightning bugs everywhere.
The move plunged us from hectic to controlled chaos as two households combined into one, Gram left in the midst of it to meet her new grandson, I continued to work in a new Call full time and The Boy adjusted to life in a new space. My dad was in the house for a month and then his health prevented him from returning.
In the midst of it all I took note of the lack of lightning bugs, but had no time to think about it or search them out. Every day was a merciless checklist with 'pass out cold' written at the bottom of each day.
As we approach the one year mark in this home our lives continue to be busy, but I would hardly use the word 'hectic'. We've even voluntarily added more chaos to our home, with the addition of a puppy to go with our veteran dog. A puppy's high energy requires more walks, the longer the better and I have been pleased to note that the lightning bugs are back.
And I am grateful to be in a place to notice.
(And how weird is that when I sat down to write this post, that obnoxious 'Firefly' song came on the radio.)
Monday, June 21, 2010
On a bike ride this past weekend I was having flashbacks to the posts I previously would create in my head while riding 50 miles to raise money for MS research. And so as I was riding through the countryside I attempted to push my brain past 140 characters.
I have a lightning bug post, that is a disaster, none the less I will probably post it at some point, as I try to get some of the writing rust off. I have some thoughts on families and who I consider to be in mine - also one for another day. I have the sermon I wanted to preach on Sunday, but the Spirit said 'no' so I'm hoping to at least get it written down somewhere. But I also have a lot of 140 character (give or take) thoughts that crossed my mind over an hour of bike riding...
- What masochist road designer had all of these steep downhills end at stop signs?
- I need to get my home life as organized as my professional life is, but I am not a full on 'J' (myers-Briggs) and I need a place to let my p-ness hang out ;) Can I possibly be happy if I only do that on vacations?
- My friend is arriving at the end of the month and needs some major TLC, but she is only in my presence for 24 hours. What is the best way to pamper her and give her some space to rest as well.
- I can't believe it's only been 3 years since I came home to that awful letter on my door. 3 years... wow. Just, wow.
- The good news here is I can tell I am lighter on the bike than I was on the first ride of the season... still, pretty sure Lance Armstrong doesn't hit his belly with his legs (d'oh).
- When I first started riding my bike I wore shorts over my bike shorts and a t-shirt. Now I wear a bike shirt and bike shorts. It's not that I look any better, it's that I just don't care... and quite frankly, no one is looking at me anyway.
- No one is looking at me anyway. Am I ok with that? I guess I have to be. Besides, more than another life partner what I really need is support staff.
- I'll just keep telling myself that lie, maybe eventually I'll believe it.
And then near the end of the ride....
- Wow. This is going really well. I feel great! Maybe I should add the extra loop BAM!!!
sh*t. Flat tire.
Friday, June 18, 2010
1. Do you tend to be a late person or one who is timely, arriving on time or earlier? On time or early is my norm although I have been able to let go of some of the pathos I had attached to that.
2. Have you forgotten anything of importance lately?
The most recent one was forgetting just how long it took to get to the airport, get the car parked, check a bag, etc... Stuff like that happens to me when I am going somewhere without The Boy in tow. It's like my brain checks out due to lack of responsibility for the sweet child holding my hand.
3. Is procrastination your inclination? Why or why not?
Hmmmm, I guess it is my inclination but I have gotten EONS better at taming that beast out of sheer necessity. As a single parent and Head of Staff the only time I have to get things done is when I am looking at it square in the face. That said, I am doing a Friday Five with a sermon still to be written, but this break in the action was written on the schedule.
4. Do you like schedules or spontaneity? Which works best for you?
I am so scheduled now because it works for me. My Mom and I have a calendar meeting every week and I actually write out my days 2-3 at a time before I go into them with the time accounted for - including breaks to write the Friday Five.
So, when I am vacation I am all about spontoneity. And if YOU want to plan what I should do next while I am with you on said vacation, by all means go right ahead.
5. How do you stay on track with the various things you need to, people you must meet, etc., etc.?
Calendar. EVERYTHING goes on my calendar and it has to be a big calendar where I can see things at a glance in detail - the whole month. I tried to convert to using an electronic one and it just didn't work for me. We also use Google calendars to keep me, my Mom, The Boy and his dad all on the same page.
BONUS: Whatever comes to mind about forgetfulness or lateness.
I struggle with those who are consistently late because I think it is a sign of disrespect. You may not mean it that way - and certainly there are exceptions - but this is how I interpret it.
This was a MAJOR and consistent issue in my marriage. And that is all I'm going to say about that. ;)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I revisited my previous blog recently and was reminded that not everything was a heavy diary of what was going on in my life. There are a variety of things on it, from the sacred to the profane. There is a community created via blogging and I miss it.
One of the things a lot of us did was the 100 things meme. I found it on my blog from early September 2005. I cut and pasted it below and the 2010 updates are in bold.
1) I am 5’10”
2) I have hazel eyes.
3) I have been married for 9 years. Separated for 3, divorced for 2. I originally did this meme 2 years before life imploded.
4) I don’t often get mushy.
5) He is truly God’s gift to undeserving me. Ummm, about that...
6) I am often humbled by it.
7) But even more often take it for granted. It is true this played a role, but c'mon.
8) I have 10 toes.
9) And 9 fingers. Just glad with my recklessness I still have 9!
10) Kids always notice this.
11) Most adults do not.
12) My wedding rings got caught on an immovable object. foreshadowing?
13) My finger was not.
14) Life certainly goes on, but I still miss it.
15) My nieces and nephews think it’s cool. Those kids were on his side. I miss them.
16) I wish it hadn’t happened.
17) It is not the worst thing that has happened to me.
18) I can’t share yet but to say…
19) My first is actually my second.
20) Drastically changing tones – I love sports.
21) Playing ‘em and watching ‘em.
22) Because of where I live I am trying but I still say,
23) NASCAR is not a sport. I have quit trying.
24) I love football.
25) The NY GIANTS are my favorite NFL team.
26) The Chicago Cubs are my favorite baseball team but
27) I really just love baseball in general.
28) Especially the playoffs.
29) Although I stay up way too late to watch.
30) And drag around basically during the entire month of October.
31) I played flag football in seminary.
32) And loved it more than any of my classes.
33) Me having a Masters degree in anything is proof that God exists.
34) And is further proof that this truly is my Call.
35) Despite the current condition of this week’s sermon.
36) I have a dog. 2
37) And one cat. 4
38) I used to have 2.
39) For awhile we had five.
40) But that was short-lived.
41) And crossed the line from pet owners to
42) Wacky couple with the five cats! the cats are my Mom's
43) I have one sister.
44) She is younger.
45) And funnier.
46) And reading this J
47) I was mean to her growing up.
48) Now I’m sorry.
49) But also happy to have the sermon illustrations.
50) But really sorry.
51) I played softball in college.
52) You know how good guys look in baseball uniforms?
53) Women do not.
54) It’s a hips in polyester thing.
55) I learned the bigger the boobs
56) and the butt,
57) the farther the ball goes.
58) I hit no home runs then.
59) But since having a child probably could now. Nope. Still can't.
60) If the boobs and butt thing were the only requirements.
61) I am an extrovert.
62) In a lonely introverted solo pastor setting. No longer! Full staff, full house, full heart.
63) I look forward to the day when I once again work with a staff. YAY! (And extremely interesting that I wrote that all the way back in 2005 when supposedly all was well. Hmmm....)
64) I grew up on the NJ shore.
65) But I was never a beach bum.
66) I took it for granted.
67) And now I miss the sounds and the smells.
68) I like it most off-season.
69) I have a secret desire to learn how to knit. I now know how to knit.
70) But I am embarrassed to ask my Mom to teach me. She did!
71) I think I’m the only woman on the planet who doesn’t really like chocolate.
72) I’m sorry.
73) Just think that’s more for you!
74) I majored in Religious Studies.
75) But wished I didn’t.
76) Seminary was a repeat of a lot of it.
77) So I should have majored in Sociology
78) Or Psychology
79) Or Business
80) Or Theater instead.
81) I had AKMA in college.
82) And Seminary.
83) If you know him
84) You envy me.
85) If you know me.
86) You pity him.
87) In high school I rang hand bells for my church.
88) It was a big deal then.
89) Sometimes it bums me out that no one really cares now.
90) We were really good.
91) Toured this country and
93) Oh well.
94) I don’t read as much as I should.
95) My best friends are a favorite side dish.
96) I have a pak n’ play in my office. No longer. I have a LOT of artwork by a 5 year old.
97) And very often my dog. Not as much, but he's been here some.
98) I am hooked on other people’s blogs. It is a great way to keep in touch as well as be challenged to see things through other people's eyes.
100) My sermon still is not written. Still true. Very true.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Is it possible that in our attitudes we have become worse than Simon? Not just rolling our eyes at those who seek truth and forgiveness but actually blocking the path with walls of finger-pointing, eye-rolling and shame?
If we say ‘yes’ to those who are used to hearing ‘no’ – what will our friends think, what will become of The Church?
People…. could leave.
So we leave the door propped open, allowing them to be on the outskirts of the party… find their own way in… if they must. But we are sure to keep our distance.
As they reach for their alabaster jars of questions – full of passion for the Truth – we keep them from the feet of Jesus deeming them unworthy. “How dare they approach. Don’t worry Jesus, we’ll protect you.”
For when we distance ourselves from them, we distance ourselves from Jesus himself.
“Jesus offers forgiveness and acceptance that lifts the heavy burden of shame, allows the forgiveness of self, and offers the freedom of authentic life lived in love and gratitude[i].”
When we stand in the way of someone else, we also deny ourselves.
And so I ask each and every one of us gathered in this room – what is it going to be?
Do we languish in the order of the day, carefully marking what looks right and must be wrong or do we dive at the feet of mercy; pouring out love, erring on the side of grace?
When we ascend to the throne and Christ looks at those who are gathered at his feet will our backs be turned, so concerned with guarding Him that we forget to love Him?
Or will we be there pouring out our love and trust; bathing in God’s faithfulness and forgiveness, not caring who else may be splashed in the process.
And if it is the latter….
If the choice is made for love and trust; for faithfulness and forgiveness…
How beatiful the jar…
How sweet the ointment…
How pure the love that will be bestowed upon us as we hear the words….
Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
[i] David L. Bartlett & Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. Feasting on the Word. Year C, Volume 3. (Pastoral Perspective). p. 140.
Friday, June 11, 2010
For this Friday Five let's ponder the various ways we work out (or not), physically, spiritually, and/or psychologically.
1. Do you work out physically, spiritually, or psychologically? (I'll let you define what that might mean to you)
Of the three, working out physically is where I am the strongest. I try to exercise every day in some way, shape or form. On a good day that includes treadmill and some work with weights (believe me, you could not tell this from looking at me). I also play softball (not exactly physically daunting, but an athletic endeavor none-the-less) and have signed up to ride my bike to raise money for MS research.
2. Are you more inclined to join a gym, or a book club?
Gym. BUT, I am trying to make a concerted effort to read more in an effort to exercise that part of my brain more.
3. Are you more inclined to read self-help books like Gail Sheehy's "Passages" or spiritual books like Richard Rohr or Theresa of Avila? And if so, what is your favorite?
Ummmm... I said I was reading more, but I'm not there yet (::bowing head sheepishly::).
4. Are you a loyal fan of a sports team? Or do you join the bandwagon when the local team is winning? And, if so, which one?
I have gone from being a rabid fan of all things sports to re-prioritizing my choices. When it is a gorgeous October Sunday afternoon and you are inside flipping between 3 football games instead of enjoying God's Creation, it's time to regroup.
That said, I am still a NY GIANTS fan and the year I made the proclamation that I was unplugging from the world of professional/Division I football is the year they last won the Super Bowl. And so yes, you'd better believe I watched that year.
I also will turn on any baseball game that I can find and enjoy the addition its presence adds to the rhythm of my evening. If the Mets are on, I tend to root for them.
5. Or do you lean more toward having a favorite theologian/Spiritual writer or self help author and if so, who? And, why.
Please see my answer to #3 (::bowing head sheepishly::).
Bonus: What was the last play-off series you watched and did your team win?
It was probably the World Series, and at that point I was returning to my childhood roots and once again rooting for the Yankees.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Friends, there are many, many reasons why this is a Good thing.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
She is on Oprah today (10/5) and I of course was immediately turned off by someone who left a committed relationship and then questioned if she went on the journey and then wrote a book or if the journey was for the book. You have answered that.
I wish I could make money off of my midlife crisis.
That was my opinion in October 2007; approximately 3 months since the first crack of infidelity appeared in my marriage and 10 or so days since the second crack caused the whole thing to come tumbling down.
You could see why I may have been a little bitter.
In hindsight, and after actually reading the book (duh), what I respect the most about Elizabeth Gilbert is not that she left the marriage, it is how she did it. According to her it was not that she just didn't want to be married any more, it was that her life was suffocating her. No one should suffocate in the name of keeping up appearances.
My own spouse became so swallowed up by depression and fear of conflict and family of origin issues that he could not look himself in the mirror, let alone me. And so to get out, he turned to others to force me to make the decision for him.
Elizabeth Gilbert didn't do that, and I can respect that.
If nothing else my life post-divorce has taught me about the gray areas to be found in love and life. I wonder how many couples/families walk into church on Sunday morning with their bright smiles and 2.7+ kids hoping no one can tell how empty they are inside. I wonder if everyone was told the world would end in 24 hours, whose arms they would run towards.
Mostly I wonder how to teach and lead others (and myself) to the most authentic life in Christ possible. And if we can't even be authentic with ourselves - including naming what we need to breathe and who we really love - how can we be authentic for God?
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked this book better than I thought I would.
When this book first came out and Liz Gilbert (I am using the more familiar 'Liz' because that is what she uses in the book) was doing Oprah and other junkets I was in the wrong place to be excited about a book written by someone who had left her marriage. Having just been the one who was left behind minus the publisher sponsored year-long trip to exotic places, I believe the word 'bitter' could be used appropriately.
My curiosity about the book remained and as I healed and gained peace and energy in my new life I allowed myself the rare treat of buying a book to read in a college town's quaint bookstore. I am glad I did.
Her journey through a year of healing was profound at times and downright hilarious at others. I found more in common with the first third and therefore enjoyed it the most. Although I have never been to Italy I can certainly find a common chord with healing through eating. I have less in common with meditation and yoga or finding a Brazilian soulmate in Bali (althouth I am open to the idea).
As I am not one who can read more than one book at a time, I am glad I took a break from the ministry-related fare I have lined up on my bookcases. And maybe I won't wait three years before I read her latest about marrying the Brazilian soulmate.
View all my reviews >>
Friday, June 4, 2010
I am for that. In theory.
If you are one of these poor souls sent out on this particular mission, here are a few Do's and Dont's. You can take them or leave them:
DO continue to take my prompts for you to continue talking about yourself so I don't have to delve too far into me. Well, that is unless you actually want to get to know me.
DON'T respond to the answer of the question of what I do for a hobby (in my case, softball) with, "Oh, that's different."
DON'T roll your eyes when you put together that I am divorced. You don't know my story.
DON'T respond to my lighthearted comment that I am hoping to ride out the honeymoon phase here as long as possible with, "Well, that has to be almost over now, doesn't it."
DON'T make it so hard for me to communicate that I actually have to say, "Please hear what I am saying."
DON'T respond to your own realization at the amount of staff who are here and the size of the congregation and how I look to you sitting before you with, "Well how did you manage that?" (I swear I was 'this' close to channeling Erin Brockovich, "They're called boobs, Ed," even though clearly (I hope) that is not the case here.)
DON'T go on and on about how I should hold onto ministry as long as I can when I get to retirment age when a) I probably won't have a choice due to lack of funds both national and denominational and b) when so many of your colleagues are doing that EXACT thing while fresh talent is left to wait in the wings, making coffee lattes at Starbucks while they wait for someone to have the guts to tell the 78 year old it is time to step down.
DO continue to included the follow up advice to the above which was, "Unless you have a great reason, something you are hot for, to retire."