Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Summary... enough already

I grew up on the shore which means that on Memorial Day there is a parade in various small towns at noon. However, on Sunday everyone is at the beach. The beach clubs officially open for the season on that weekend and folks are setting up their cabanas and lockers while their kids renew acquaintances (why the kids who only lived one school district over from us seemed so exotic and exciting I will NEVER know).

So when we came here the first two Memorial Day weekends I used as an opportunity to enjoy the long weekend with my Mom and sister away from this area of the country. I noticed that when I was away the attendance would not take a dip that Sunday, but I did not think too much about it until at Session someone brought up that they would prefer it if I would stay in town for that Sunday. Oh.
Truly I was glad that they told me instead of letting that fester.

Memorial Day is a big deal here. But, you get that now so let me give you some feedback on this past Memorial Day Sunday.

George W. Stroup, Professor of Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary, wrote an essay entitled "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in the Pentecost 2005 edition of the Journal for Preachers. He writes about the gap often found between clergy and parishioners when it comes to the Sundays around national holidays. His text is Matthew 22:34-40 - The greatest commandment and the one like it.

His point is that we are of course called to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind but we are also called to love the blessings God has given us such as the freedom to worship that God and the men and women who helped secure that freedom. Really it comes down to balance.

So that is what I shared with them last Sunday morning although I opened with some comments about the generation gap. I didn't share all of the points from that post but it did get their attention. There was no denying that even my most avid supporters were on the edge of their seats praying to God that I wouldn't stick my foot in it.

All in all it went well. My last line was the line that God bless America is a request, not a given... and I got away with it!

I kept the plaque dedication, etc... in the service itself. And you know really I think most people get it. Most people are not worshipping our flag or the nation or the government no matter how red or blue they are. Now the two speakers did not necessarily get it, but most folks do and did. For them and for me it comes down to respecting the people who wanted this so badly.

This is getting long and I have more thoughts, but really I am tired of it all and my friends are still here. Plus I have to save something for next year's Memorial Day posts, right?

I did receive two affirmations on Sunday that I will never forget. One from a a retired army officer. He definitely leans WAY left and frustrates the heck out of his fellow military folk who are camped on the right. He is in his upper 70's and flashed me the thumbs up as he patted me on his way out the door to be with his wife in the nursing home.

The next was an email I received that night from another retired miltary man, this one a bit farther to the right although he agrees that we need to keep those durn politics out of the church. He is one that I know the good ol' boys tried to swing over to their side. He joined only a couple of years ago.

Pastor Will Smama,

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your sermon today. It was truly outstanding!

- Veteran Parishioner


I printed out that one and put it in my 'Pat on the Back' file.

Thanks for all your prayers, thoughts and comments. Maybe I should start taking the weekend AFTER Memorial Day off.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

RevGalBlogPal Friday Five: 'This I believe' Edition

The instructions: Name five things you believe--these don't have to be long statements--short sentences, both serious and frivolous.

(My brain is fried so if you don't mind I will lean more on the frivolous side of things...)

5) I believe that no matter what, within six hours from now the worship service will be over and I can go back to hanging out with my friends.

4) Friday night was the most fun I have had in a looooooong time.

3) My toenails look really stupid with lavendar nail polish on them.

2) When they are really, really good friends a week is too short for a visit.

1) There WILL be a picture of red, white and blue plastic flowers on this blog very soon.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More from Random Thought Woman

I am stalling from putting together the Order of Worship for this Sunday so I thought I would give you two of the first things I ever heard from Random Thought Woman (RTW).

First one was at a reception they had for TDH and I on the Saturday before I was going to preach for them and then immediately following they would vote on whether I was going to be their next pastor. RTW walks right up to me and says, "Why don't you have any kids? Don't you like kids?"

The next day in the parking lot as I am getting out of the car - remember with my family's future and 7 years of jumping through hoops and dragging myself through seminary and ordination exams HANGING in the balance - she walks over to me and says, "I don't like them gays in the ministry. How do you feel about that - because I'm against it. I've got an article right here that talks about it and it forgets to mention that God says it's wrong. What do you think?"

I was mumbling something about being more than willing to discuss those things with her over lunch sometime, perhaps after she voted to approve me as their next pastor, when the gentleman who drove us to church that morning mercifully interjected himself so that we all could end the conversation and walk into the building.

Interestingly enough she is probably one of my biggest supporters - in her own way - and she has a heart for the church and the children as big as the sky.

That silly God, she just never makes these things cut and dry, does she?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's Gonna Be a Doozy

We are now into the week of Memorial Day Sunday. I have posted on it here, here and here with my final thoughts on the whole thing soon to come. Until I get those final thoughts organized I thought you would appreciate one more snippet of Memorial Day Sunday sponsored entertainment.

The scene is the narthex of the church which I have just entered at 10:31 this past Sunday morning. Worship starts at 10:30. It is Youth Sunday and the guitarist is fixing a string causing a delay. I have just finished being on the panel for our adult Sunday School class on the topic of tithing which actually became an attack on paying dues to the denomination, then ran home at 10:29 to retrieve my guitar so that it may sacrifice a string and as I stepped into the narthex I was verbally attacked by someone frustrated with the greeter situation (seriously, how hard is it to grab a replacement greeter when there has been a mix up. By the time this guy was berating me two people had already volunteered and were handing out bulletins). I am still reeling from that altercation when I turn and get involved in this conversation with a woman in my congregation who always talks as if I know what the heck she is talking about. It usually takes me about five minutes into the conversation to know where she is headed.

I will call her Random Thought Woman (RTW) and I will be Pastor Will Smama(PWS) - clever, I know

RTW: Pastor ---, next week you can save those flowers just put them in a bag.
PWS: (pause...................................................) What?
RTW: Those flowers can be saved for 4th of July or something. Do you gotta bag?
PWS: (looking at living flowers in the front wondering why anyone would think they would live to 4th of July in a bag) Those flowers up there?
RTW: No! (she waves her hand at me like I am just teasing her) I am bringing flowers next week and I want you to save them.
PWS: Oh, you signed up for the altar flowers next week.
RTW: No, I bought a nice arrangment of plastic flowers for next week and I just want to make sure they don't get thrown out. They are expensive.
PWS: (Densely, I am still not making the Memorial Day connection. I am also quite sure that although God bless her they might have been expensive for her, they are most likely cheap and horrific) Okay... we won't throw them out. You want them saved... so we'll put them in a plastic bag and save them for... Why do you want them saved for Fourth of July?
RTW: 'Cause they're red, white and blue.
PWS: oh.... You know, we will already have altar flowers.
RTW: Well, that don't mind (that's where I live slang for 'it doesn't matter') I think they should go front and center anyway- like on the Communion Table.
PWS: (pause...................................................) No, they cannot go there... but we'll figure out something.
RTW: Right, just be sure you save them so you have them from now on.

Do I have to write a thank you note?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cheaper than Counseling


To the untrained eye this may seem to be just a computer cabinet with a steroid problem. To me it is the all new 'Sanity Restorer - Wire/Clutter Container' complete with flux capacitor.

Apparently I am going through the nesting stage a lot of third trimester women go through about, oh.... 16 months late. I have followed up my office project with home de-cluttering.

The irony is that in our family you would pick me as the clutter-bug first. I tend to leave 'the trail' around the house while my husband keeps his things in "neat" stacks, piles and boxes. And therein lies the problem. Where I will pitch, he will place in a box with the idea that he will see if he wants/needs said item later.

Later never comes.

A few weeks ago, I lost it. I had run into the corner of a box sticking out off a chair one too many times. We have GOT to do SOMETHING!!! And so we found 'something' at Ikea. I spent most of Saturday putting it together and finished off the doors and moving things from the dining room table today. I have learned a few lessons from this:

  1. Do not wait until you explode (duh).
  2. Sometimes I do know better and should push a bit on my ideas and purchases for the family.
  3. Do not rant and rave about needing and then ultimately purchase a big ticket item right around your birthday, 'cause that is all you're gonna get.

I do not care... it was worth it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Words


Please tell us five words you had to think about really hard before saying them out loud for the first time, or that you discovered you had misapprehended when someone corrected your pronunciation.

1) Sean. You know, the name Sean which most folks pronounce 'Shawn' but I always read as 'Scene'. How was I supposed to know that? By the way there is now a Major League baseball player who does pronounce it'Scene' and I just don't think his parents knew either.

2) Celtic. I was WAY too old when I corrected someone who properly pronounced it 'Kel-tic'. I told them the correct way was 'sel-tic' before I could even stop the words from coming out of my mouth. Seriously, if a basketball team is your main point of reference for how to pronounce something (and the person you are talking to just came back from Ireland) it might be a good idea to just keep your mouth shut.

3) 1 thru 3 from sunday, sundae, sunday's list. Halcyon = hal-ick-on... really?

4) Beautiful. A bit of a different take on the meme but I still rely on the written form of Flossie Bobbsey's exclamation when something was pretty. I think Laura Lee Hope wrote it something like 'bee-ay-utiful!" I rely on that to this day to remind me that it is spelled: b-e-a-u-tiful. (By the way the 'Flossie Bobbsey link' takes you to a book with the pictures of Bert, Nan, Freddie and Flossie on the cover and I just want you all to know that is NOT what they look like in real life. ..er, in my mind. Just thought you should know.)

5) Sixth. I cannot say this word.

Bonus wrong word: I only recently learned that the word is 'flesh' not 'flush' as in "I want to flesh out all the possibilities..." So now I really hear it when other people say 'flush'.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jipped Again!

Well, I should have taken her name and number instead of just pretending to because now there is a for sale sign out front.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

D'oh!

Today I went into the city to visit a young couple whose first child was delivered into the world by Casaerean yesterday. He needed immediate surgery and is in the NICU recovering. Two people can visit at a time and the couple surprised me by asking if I wanted to go down with the husband to visit the baby while the wife ate lunch. I was SO excited that right before I turned to walk out the door the wife had to ask me, "Would you pray with us before you go?"

Nice.

I did redeem myself however because as soon as we scrubbed up and walked in the NICU nurse said that she had thought the mother was coming down and had the baby all ready to be held for the first time. The husband said he would go get her, I thankfully had the presence of mind to stop him and say no, I would go get her. With a quick prayer over the babe (eyes open so I could take in this marvelous little being) I ran up and told the mom that she should go down and hold her beautiful baby boy.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Desperation is Motivation for Transportation

The Boy is fifteen months old and doing well. Most of the time I shrug it off, but it bothers me a bit that he will not walk on his own yet. He has toy walkers and our kitchen stools which he will push anywhere and at any time. When he is outside he can go down hills and can push those things anywhere he wants to go. I know he is fine... and yet he will not let go.

Today we had a pediatrican visit where we proved that cognitively he is doing well because he new exactly where he was. For any with sensitive ear drums this was not a good thing. Our pediatrician does a great job with him which sometimes includes a variety of wrestling holds in order to get all things checked. He is not a fan.

The moment of truth came when she had him squawling in her arms after the exam and she said to The Boy, "Let's see how you move when desperation is your motivation."

She put him facing towards me with his feet on the floor.
Once he tried to get down to crawl and she pulled him back up.
Twice he tried to get down to crawl and she pulled him back up.
On the third time when his feet hit the floor he RAN five steps to his Mommy!

He is now zonked out upstairs in his crib... I think I am soon to follow.
My nerves are SHOT!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

THIS is why there is a special day...

Today a woman in my congregation delivered a baby girl. Her husband called and left a message that included the gender, weight (6'12") the height (19") the time (4:04pm) and that "everyone is doing great."

No name.

I guess I will have to call later to find out that information.

Reminds me of when TDH came to church on the Sunday morning after The Boy entered the world. He made the announcement and some other church announcements at Sunday School Assembly - thinking he did a pretty good job of playing it cool - only to be told that his shirt was buttoned wrong.

He fixed it. He went through Sunday School and then stood in front of the congregation at the beginning of worship and made his big announcement and some other church announcements only to look down in the middle of them and see that he must have rebuttoned his shirt wrong because it was still buttoned incorrectly.

In our worship archives we now have a tape that has my husband including in his announcements, "There is something wrong with my shirt."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Six Minutes of Classic Procrastination

Wanna witness the evolution of dance?

I actually stood up at my desk and applauded at the end of this.

A Little Mood Lightener

Your Summer Ride is a Beetle Convertible

Fun, funky, and a little bit euro.
You love your summers to be full of style and sun!



Thanks to Hazlenut Reflections.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Disconnect (in the key of 'me')

I wanted to follow up on the God Bless America post. I began by writing an essay that only enlarged the gaps I was trying to bridge. I realize the fatal flaw was that every time I typed "I..." and then "they..." I was pushing us all farther apart. And then I realized I had no right to speak for "them" anyway. I can only speak for myself.

And so here are some first-person sentences that might help explain why I come at politics, the government and the church from where I do. These are not 'why I am right' statements; they are more 'why I see things the way I see them' statements.

I was born in 1970. I am 36 years old.

I learned about the Greatest Generation mainly from history books, my grandfather's stories, Memorial Day parades and now I am humbled to hear them from the few WWII vets in my congregation.

The history books taught me that Hitler gained his power because sanctions had the German people so oppressed that they were willing to follow anyone. I wonder why instead of sanctions we don't try to change the world with education and food... the sanctions do not seem to work to me.

My grandfather was heavily involved in the Berlin Airlift. He spoke proudly of this.

My aunts and uncles and parents and their friends lost classmates in the Vietnam war. They talked about them in hushed tones or not at all.

I was born AFTER the men landed on the moon. That means there is no moment in my childhood memory where we sat around the television and rooted for America in anything other than the Olympics.

I was born after Kennedy was assasinated and during Nixon. All inherent trust of the government was long gone by the time I was paying attention.

The first president I remember anything about is Jimmy Carter. My first political memories are of people dying in long gas lines and a hostage crisis.

I remember Jimmy Carter being ridiculed and then he went and made houses. I remember Ronald Reagan being heralded and then he went and made millions.

I grew up in the age of attack ads and politicians clearly telling you anything you wanted to hear in order to get your vote. Then they just do what their big corporate donors tell them to.

My television father was Mr. Brady. He died of AIDS.
This does not directly related to the disconnect between myself and other generations when it comes to America's military actions but it does explain in a nutshell why I have issues with any authority figures who are put up on a pedestal for me to blindly follow. I figure they are all hiding something.

I never had to even remotely consider going into the military in order to better my education, career or life.

I never sat in a foxhole with bullets whizzing over my head.

I never had to convince myself that what I was doing was 100% right in order to justify the gun I was carrying and my willingness to shoot it at another human being.

I have always seen clearly the distinction between those who go to serve in a war and those who make the decision that they have to go. The latter group never has to go themselves and their children usually do not have to go either.

I too sat around my television set on September 11, 2001 and wanted to kick some ass.

I paid attention when things started moving towards Iraq and I listened when the president told us about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

I thought there might be other ways to go but I talked with others about the concept of 'just war.'

I feel STRONGLY that this administration lied to us on purpose - it was not a mistake - and that hurts worse than Mr. Brady dying of AIDS.

I am weary of high government officials not being held accountable for their actions and decisions. I am held accountable for my actions so how come the man who gave us the 'bad information' about the phantom wmd's was given the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be given to a civilian?

I am humbled by those who have served in the military. I could never do it.

I am humbled by those who waited (and still wait) for their sons/daughters, husbands/wives, fathers/mothers to come home. I have never had to do it.

I support those who are serving in the military right now.

I do not support the war.

I have learned the mistakes of the Vietnam generation and I can say those two previous sentences with no conflict.

I believe that God bless America is a request, not a given.

Ode to the Suburbs

HEY NEIGHBOR!!! THE BURNING BAN MEANS YOU TOO!!!

But thank you ever so much for rousing me awake on the one morning my son has chosen to sleep in and thank you for reminding me that my lungs and tonsils and those of my loved ones are precious commodities and might be a justifiable reason for us to move away from here.

You have also justified my trip in town for a moment at Target and a latte as I have to leave the general vicinity in order to breathe....

INSERT ENRAGED CUSS WORD (OR TWO OR THREE) HERE!!!

Update: The burning has dissipated and it now smells like spread... much better.




Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Edit the Job Desciption!

More on Memorial Day soon but until then...

As if plumber, secretary, and janitor were not enough additions to the ol' job description I had this conversation on the phone today:

ME: Hello, will smama's presbyterian church.
HER: Do you know anything about the house down the road?
ME: (stunned silence)
HER: It is down on the end of the road, number 28 or something.
ME: Ummm, what?
HER: There is a house down there and I walked up to it and it didn't look like anyone was living in it. I am interested in it. Do you know anything about it?
ME: Oh... um yeah, they have moved to Florida but I don't know if it is for sale.
HER: Well I saw a bird, like a parrot outside and the outside light is on now so someone must be around right?
ME: (I am now wondering if it is my new Administrative Assistant on her cellphone and she forgot to tell me her name when she called so this keeps me from saying anything snide... pity) All I can tell you is that last I heard they moved to Florida, but the property has never been for sale.
HER: Well, can I give you my name and number so you can call me if you hear anything.
ME: Um, sure wait while I get a pen (don't move, wait 3 seconds) Okay, go ahead.
HER: Shirley Bug-a-Boo (NOT my AA' s name), 555-1234. Give me a call if you hear anything about it and I'll keep checking.
ME: Okay... you know this is a church right?
HER: Well, you're supposed to serve the people aren't you?
ME: Sure. Okay. Bye.

If it sells, do I get a commission?

Monday, May 08, 2006

IT'S HERE!!!

Check out the latest devotional from the REVGALBLOGPALS in the sidebar.

ORDER YOURS TODAY!!!!!!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Memories Writing Checks the Body Cannot Cash

Okay, so I promised a post that you could "sink your teeth into" and okay, this one is probably not it. I am working on some thoughts regarding the place of Memorial Day celebrations in worship and as they say on The Dan Patrick Show, I am still "efforting" that one. So in the meantime...

So... our first softball game was last Monday night and it was good to get back out there. We are a co-ed team in a league that does not make such things mandatory so "us womens, we gots a chip on our shoulders..." okay maybe only I have a chip on my shoulder.

I have been into sports for a long time. I have played softball for a long time. I have a decent array of eroding athletic skills. Speed is not one of them.

I am slow. I know I am slow and I have gone through all twelve steps in order to hold myself accountable to how slow I am. "Hello my name is will smama... and I am slow." It is not like back in the day I was fast... no, I have always been slooooow. I have also always been fiercely competitive.

So when speedy, snooty, young gun hit a sky high pop up in between the infield and the outfield did I even for a moment consider letting it drop?
Say it with me slowly, "Nnnnnnnooooooo."

I ran. I ran hard. I ran fa... well, I ran. And then..... I dove.

Incredibly and in a display of the ultimate insult, I OVER. RAN! THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I overdove the ball?)

It hit (smashed) me on the wrist, rolled a good twenty feet behind me and speedy, snooty, young gun ended up on third. My wrist now looks like this (actually right now it looks even blacker and bluer but there are only so many pictures one is allowed to take of one's wrist without garnering suspicious looks from the spouse).








I think I see the silhouette of the Virgin Mary in that bruise. You think I could take a Polaroid and sell it on ebay?

RevGalBlogPal Friday Five: Birthday Meme

1. Favorite birthday cake/ice cream/dessert
Now: Carvel ice cream cake, but when I was a kid I asked for Banana Cake that my Mom made a lot.

2. Surprise Parties -- have you ever given or received one?
TDH gave me one for '30' - I just threw him one last summer for '40'. The only way I pulled it off was by having it in July when his birthday is not until September.

3. Favorite birthday present
Tickets are always good - baseball, concert, etc...

4. What do you think of those candles that won't blow out?
Duh.

5. Best. birthday. ever.
Eh... I am not really into birthdays. They never live up to the hype.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Is she saying anything interesting yet?

In a word: no.

I realize this week's post have been fluffy at best and I promise something you might be able to sink your teeth into tomorrow, but for this evening I have one more frivolous post.

First, I had to share this great sign that my mom and sister picked up for me last time they were hanging out.

I am horrific at all things math. My brain absolutely zones - it is really quite frightening. In fact when my Mom first gave this sign to me I was so busy trying to figure out if the math problems were indeed wrong that I missed the point ("There are three kinds of people...)

It all brings me back to a far more frightening time...

In order to graduate from college I had to pass a math course. After successfully failing "Math for the Liberal Arts" (SERIOUSLY mistitled!) during a school semester I decided my only shot was to take a math course during the summer at a Junior College near us. To open up the College Algebra class the professor asked us what our previous math experience was. I honestly shared that I had made it through High School Geometry and Algebra 1.5 (Note no Calculus even though I was in college prep).

She then put a problem on the board and asked if any of us knew how to solve it. I looked at it and in a rush of memories (post-traumatic syndrome?) I yelled out, "FOIL!"
She grimaced.

I am not sure if that mnemonic device is universal but to me it meant 'First, Outside, Inside, Last' - a handy way to remember how to solve algebra problems that come with parenthesis. My 'kind' professor was quick to explain that this childish device will really only help you if you have only two numbers in the parenthesis and apparantly that is a rare occurrence once you get to College Algebra.

After class she asked me to stay behind and told me that she thought I should drop the course. I think I uttered something profound like, "Ummm, what?" And then she told me that she was going to recommend to the registrar that I be dropped from the course.

Can you do that?

I begged, I pleaded and FINALLY I got across to her that in order to graduate from my four year school I needed this math credit. PLEASE do not kick me out - I need this class. That swayed her. She mumbled something about giving me a chance since I was not there for 13th grade.

I have always felt bad for those who landed in her class and were trying to achieve something more for themselves and Junior College was the way they needed to go.

I studied my ass off and got a 'C'.

For My Sister

I missed this in April, but if you do your date European I posted at

1:23 4/5/06

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Neurosis Continued...

This is the continuation of a neurotic meme...

In the church building when I leave I like all of the light switches to be in the same direction. Since the same lights can be lit from switches on either side of the hallways this delicate balance often gets disrupted. Sometimes I can resist the temptation to go out of my way to get the switches all pointing in the right direction... but only sometimes.


My husband pointed out this one to me yesterday. Rarely can I wear just one shirt. Even with a short sleeved collared shirt I will wear a thin t-shirt (sometimes sleeveless) underneath. I have my reasons but in the end they will just make this post longer than it needs to be and they will not make much sense to anyone else but me anyway.


Any time I get up and out of bed I have to look out our bedroom blinds to see what is going on in the church parking lot. Neurotic mainly because 95% of the time there is NOTHING going on in the church parking lot. TDH will grumpily roll over and ask, "Did it snow yet?"


I think that is it - or at least all I am letting on - unless you want to count the one you can find here under "phobias."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Brief and Random

Happy Tuesday! It was a long and busy weekend (Monday is my day off) and our home internet connection is suspect therefore no posts. However, I did have a few things I wanted to mention:

Yesterday began this year's church softball season. We lost, but had fun. At some point I will write a post about my relationship to softball and really all things competitive and you will then recognize how profound that second sentence (in bold) is.


In my mind I am working on an article to submit to somewhere that is entitled: The Theological Ramifications of Church League Softball (Division 3)


We have a new Administrative Assistant who is and is going to be GREAT. Kinks are still being ironed out of the system from the debacle that is the last two years in our office so when I walked in on Friday afternoon there were almost 100 extra newsletters printed out. What to do, what to do... I felt like a member of the mafia who needs a guy to come in and help them get rid of a body! TDH came up with the brilliant plan to give the extras to our members and have them use them as a tool to invite people to church - either for worship or one of our plentiful May events. So we did! I did it at the end of the sermon... we are just so very clever over here.


After Jesus ate the fish in front of the disciples did his mother make him wait a full hour before ascending into heaven to avoid cramps?


I have seen a neurosis meme going around where you name six of them (only six). I always have problems with memes like these because I cannot think of all of them at one time, but I thought I would throw this one out for you: There is a very, very small part of me (.000000001%) that is suspicious that the people in the pictures we have around our home can see what we are doing... and might spill our secrets at any moment.