Monday, January 24, 2011

Counseling Session

My ex-husband and I coach our son's sports teams together.

I know.

Last spring was tee-ball, now it's instructional basketball. In both cases my preference was to have someone else coach The Boy (age: almost 6). I figure life as a preacher's kid is hard enough so I thought I'd give the kid a break from Mommy in Charge and instead be Mommy on the Bleachers.

For both sports his Dad signed up to be an assistant coach and both times he was told, "what we really need are head coaches." I think as The Boy gets older the pool of kids gets smaller therefore there are less teams to cover AND the folks who really like to coach tend to be in the older age groups. I can't say as I blame them.

So The Boy's Dad gets pushed into being a head coach and part of that is finding your own assistant coaches. He knows no one around here... except me. And I understand the basics of t-ball and basketball.
And there it is.

It can get confusing, but not for us. We've been in one phase or another of our relationship since September of 1995. It's not confusing for The Boy either, with no memory of us together he just sees it as two people who love him very much both coaching his team. It may be confusing for his current wife, but admittedly that registers pretty low on the 'ask-me-if-I-care' scale.

Sometimes it's confusing for parents.
"Coach J?"
"Yes?""And you're Coach J?"
"Oh, you're married..."
"We're (The Boy's) Mom and Dad."

We've always worked together well - him behind the scenes managing the details and me out front directing traffic. The youth retreats we ran together were great. Our wedding was too (insert snide comment about his current wife being able to tell you all about them both here).

As we arrived to the chaos of the first basketball game of the year I noted that we immediately went into our well-rehearsed roles. He pulled the team with him against the back wall, clipboard in hand, having already separated the kids into teams of 3 so that equal playing time was had by all through the entire season. I took to the court and loudly reminded the kids to dribble (rather than run) and high-fived and explained the substitution formula to the parents.
All goes well but it doesn't take much to see the foundational cracks. Rather than make a decision he ignores it, I then over-function and solve the problem my own way giving no regard to where he fits into the picture. I take what the parents are saying personally and get competitive about it. He makes a placating call to me later to calm me down, but won't say anything to his parents... umm, I mean the parents (ahem).

The details of the break up of the marriage are pretty awful. Suffice it to say that by
the time we got into counseling a few years ago, the marriage w
as already over. In hindsight if we had started sooner we maybe could have made it but it would have taken a LOT more counseling...
or the counselor could have just watched us coach a K-1st basketball team.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It Comes Down To This

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel... so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

It comes down to this... on the Day of Judgment, as I kneel before God, IF I am going to be wrong one way or the other I want the question to be, "Why did you let people proclaim the Good News?" rather than, "Why wouldn't you let the people I Called proclaim the Good News?"

Saturday, January 22, 2011


What's THIS?! Even my DOG is sleeping with another woman?

No worries, it was just for a photo shoot.

Volume I

I've been hesitant to use this blog. To borrow a phrase from a sister blogger, it's not all of me.

I have another blog that began in 2005 and detailed a lot of who I was and where I was then through right before now. There are reasons - good ones - why I left it behind and made the decision for a little less anonymity rather than being surprised when it was eventually found.

My personality is often 'all or nothing' and so rather than do nothing, I left it all behind. But I think I am going to start to pull in some of the pieces from there and place them into here.

If nothing else, I now have a way to procrastinate from sermon writing for WEEKS (months?) to come.

My apologies if you have a blog reader. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011


I want to be focused.

I really, really do.

But all I can think of thanks to a flurry of emails from those attending the Revgalblogpals BE4 is this:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Cabinet

Does anyone remember when the upstairs living space of my then new home looked like this?

It's come a long, long way.

Part of how I got there was by boxing up items that had been out and about in my old home and banishing them to the basement. The idea was that one at a time - and as needed - I would bring them back up. Or live without them and this summer we are going to do a MAJOR basement sort: recycle/rummage/keep.

During this Christmas I found a box that said this:

I was pretty excited because I new it contained one of my favorite pieces, a vase that my Mom bought me years ago. And then I saw the other side of the box which had this on it:

And I just had to smile... because who would put a cabinet in a box?

Actually, I have a group of colleagues and friends who bolstered me through the misery that was the end of Volume I and supported me until I was ready to begin Volume II. Each and every one of them has a life of their own and yet they consistently came to my rescue whether it be helping pick out clothes, painting my new office or drinking coffee and listening. After awhile we began to call them The Cabinet and for my Installation Celebration and the LAST party at the house where I previously lived I presented them all pink t-shirts that had a picture of a pew loaded with purses on the front and this list on the back:








We are mostly still in the same area and we stay in touch and meet up as much as we can, but the greatest gift is knowing that if any of us need it, The Cabinet is there.

Who's in your Cabinet?

Friday, January 14, 2011

RevGalBlogPal Friday Five: Trying to get up Edition

Singing Owl writes: Where I am it is dark, and it is cold, and it is snowing. I really wanted to stay in bed with the electric blanket cranked this morning. Share five things that made getting out of bed worthwhile for you today!

With a groggy-induced headache, massive emails to whittle down and a sermon looming... this is going to be hard.

  1. My dog is in the office.
  2. A reminder that I can get out of bed.
  3. Slowly I am settling the details of the announcement of a staff transition down.
  4. The men's Bible study left coffee cake.
  5. Getting up means that soon I can experience the sweet joy of getting back IN bed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


It was started for your sister.
Of course, as you wrap the handmade blanket around you, you don’t know that.
Nor do you know her.

Born too soon to make it in this realm, she was here long enough for plans to be made and projects begun. A gender-neutral tan and white gem took form in the knowing and loving hands of Gram… then sadly, and carefully, put away.

We gave thanks at the news of your ray of hope on the way, Gram returned to the blanket, all of her love poured into it… occasionally allowing herself to exhale as she continued to create.

Others might protect a future heirloom such as this... but when you reach for it for comfort, as you lie feverish on the couch, we smile knowingly to ourselves and sense another presence.

It warms our hearts beyond words to know that what was once begun for her is now a gift of comfort to you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Yes, You

A sermon for Baptism of our Lord, Year A - Isaiah 42:1-9, Matthew 3:13-17

Every generation has a few movies that define the era of their adolescence. John Hughes was the director of so many of the ones that spoke to many of my fellow Gen X’ers. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink all have a place in the majority of our hearts. But the one that I will actually stop to sit down and watch in all of its rerun glory is Sixteen Candles.

In Sixteen Candles Matthew Schoeffling played a gorgeous and popular high school senior while Molly Ringwald – an 80’s movie icon – played the awkward sophomore with a crush on him. Add in a gawky Anthony Michael Hall and hilarity ensued as Matthew’s character slowly began to realize that being cool, fun parties and a beautiful girlfriend were really not what life is all about. At the end of the movie, as Molly is coming out of the church where her sister has just been wed she looks out to see him, leaning against his car and giving her a cool wave.

It is the moment we have been waiting 90 minutes of riveting drama to reach. He waves to her and she… well, she looks behind her and then back at him and says, “Me?”
“Yes, you.”

I dare say we have all had our own ‘yes, you’ moments. Maybe not in teenage romance and maybe without the exaggerated turn of the head… but somewhere in life we have been chosen and experienced the mix of excited yet disbelieving emotion.

Our Old Testament passage this morning is from the prophet Isaiah proclaiming the better things to come. This is not the usual tone of his rhetoric. Usually Isaiah spend his time warning Israel that doom is near and that they need to change the way they do things, or else. They are not worthy of the Lord who has brought them out of Egypt and they had better shape up.

So when we turn to the first of what are historically known as the Servant Songs of Isaiah and he proclaims that the Lord has said:
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

One can easily imagine the formerly berated people of Israel saying, “Who… me?”

Yes, you.

A similar statement is uttered by John the Baptist whose entire ministry is based on pointing towards the one who is greater than him who is yet to come. In the passage that was read this morning, suddenly the one who is to come is standing right before him and asking to be baptized. The Gospel of Matthew tells it like this:
John would have prevented (Jesus), saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”

That is NRSV speak for:
“Who, me?”
“Yes, you.”

Important to note that the next line from Matthew is, “Then he consented.”

When you are called by God it is okay to be surprised by it, it is NOT okay to hold back from what God is asking you to do. It is not okay to hold back from being who God is calling you to be.

Yes, you.

Today is a special day both in the life of the church universal and in the life of this specific church; Mechanicsburg Presbyterian. Universally Christians celebrate the sacrament of Baptism today. Many congregations renew their baptismal vows and some even get sprayed with water again. We might do that sometime – not today.

We are not stepping too far out of the lectionary box though because we are ordaining and installing elders and deacons and that in and of itself is a celebration of baptismal vows. These folks have responded to the love of Christ for them by committing themselves as officers of the church. God has called them and they have responded.

Our celebration of them and the liturgy that goes with it includes a reaffirmation of their baptismal vows. When you are baptized in the church you – or your parents – are asked three questions. When you become a member of the church you are asked these same three questions. And when you respond to the call of God in your life to become an officer of the church you are once again asked these three questions:

1) Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love? Do you?
2) Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love? Will you?
3) Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world? Do you?

Yesterday I came home from the Officer’s Retreat, grabbed a late lunch and attempted a nap. It wasn’t long before emails started piling in my inbox, causing my iPod to chime, “ping… ping… ping…”
There were so many that I gave up on sleep, grabbed the iPod and started reading.

The emails were tolling for the tragic events in Arizona yesterday.
Representative Giffords, Democratic Congresswoman from Arizona has been shot in the head…
Federal Judge John Roll has been killed…
12 are reported injured, 6 are dead including a nine year old girl…

How do I preach on baptism and not address that the grace and love of Jesus Christ as evident in his shed blood is now intermingled with the blood of an innocent 9 year old girl?

How do I preach on baptism and not address that obeying His Word and showing his love are action verbs, especially in the light of an event that is dangerously close to stunning us into silence and inaction?

How do I preach on baptism and not address that we witnessed the power of evil in this world practically firsthand yesterday - and yet, almost ridiculously, vow to renounce it.

Do you trust in the grace and love of Jesus Christ… do you promise to show Christ’s love… will you turn from the ways of sin and renounce the power of evil in this world?
Yes, you?

Today is not just about the call to ministry of our friends and colleagues. Today is about the call of God on all of our lives. We are all called to live out our faith whether it be as a deacon or as an elder or as a parent or spouse or coworker or caretaker or neighbor or community member.

We are all called to remember our baptism – to trust in the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Do you?
We are all called to remember our baptism – to be Christ’s faithful disciple, showing his love.
Will you?
We are all called to remember our baptism – to turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world.
Do you?

We are called to reflect God’s light in the midst of unfathomable darkness.
We are called to breathe in God’s Word and breathe out God’s Truth.
We are called to be a beacon for the Good News in the midst of all the bad.

And we are Called to do it with the grace and the love that God has provided.

Madeline L’engle famously wrote:
“We do not draw people to Christ
by loudly discrediting what they believe,
by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are,
but by showing them a light that is so lovely
that they want with all their hearts
to know the source of it .”

Remember your baptism.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age…

Yes. You.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Holiday Redux Edition

Not so fast, revgals and pals!!!

Yes, I know it's January and yes, I know some of us are still on a cool sprint after only a brief respite (if that) from Advent and Christmas BUT... before we move too far along into The Next, I wanted to give us a chance to reflect on What Was.

A couple of staff members and I sat down today and wrote down what worked and didn't work during the Advent and Christmas season. There are quite a few things bearing down on us at the moment so it was a discipline to do it, but ten and a half months from now Future Me is going to LOVE that we made the effort.

And so partly to give us all a record and partly to give us all a chance to reflect on the 2010 Holiday Season now that we are out of it, I ask you this:

1) What food item was one of your favorites this year - a definite keeper?
We didn't get to them until post-Christmas but my grandmother's Christmas cookies or Chocolate Chip Merengues (their more official title) are So. Good.

2) Was there a meal or party or a gathering that stands out in your mind from this mose recent holiday season?
Two - the first was that on Christmas day friends invited us to their house. We took them up on their offer and it was a HUGE win. The Boy had a playmate to have a blast with and I had other people to prop me up and offer me food and drink. It was great.
The second was when Songbird and daughter came to town. We celebrated Second Christmas on December 29th without the late night services to go with it. It was so relaxing and so much fun.

3) Were you involved in a jaw-dropper gift? Were you the giver or recipient or an on-looker?
I was unable to give the 'jaw-dropper' this year but I did see the video of my friend's son when he walked in to the room to see his new drum kit. 'Ecstatic' is an understatement.

4) Was there at least one moment where you experienced true worship?
I mentioned in the post below the Longest Night service and once again this was a quiet an meditative service that healed the soul. We are blessed to have an Associate of Music who is beauty on the keyboard and I was smart enough to put plenty of space for music and silence. Gorgeous worship service.

5) What is at least one thing you want to make sure you do next year?
I liked setting apart a few days later for another Christmas celebration where I don't feel like a zombie. I'll have to figure out if it's possible to make that happen without making the rest of my family suffer.

BONUS: What is something you absolutely must remember to do differently... or not at all!
We didn't light the Advent candles well this year. The folks who did it came up during the first hymn, lit them and then went back with their families. It was time-efficient, but not an honor to them or to the symbolism involved.