Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Clinging to the Oar

Imagine something bad happens to you.
Really bad.
And in order to survive it you need to have time away from it.
So you go to work... but it's there.
You go to the gym... it's there too.
You turn on the tv.
Yes. It's there too.
There is no break.
No respite.
No room to breathe.

At what point do you break?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

When You Lose Your Sail, Row.

As some of you know I hung out for a couple of days down in Hot-lanta with the following:
Cheesehead
Questing Parson
Quotidian Grace
Reverend Mommy
Songbird
St. Casserole
Take My Hand
Mary Beth

It had only been a bit more than a week since my marriage had visibly unraveled and needless to say I was in need of a little TLC. There are not too many groups I would have trusted with my fragile psyche at that point but I had met Songbird and St. Casserole already and knew that this cyber community could be trusted both over teh internets and in person.


At the end of their board meeting and before the big event planning meeting on day 2 I was moving my stuff into the group and St. Casserole was talking. Now you have to understand that if I stopped at full attention every time St. Casserole was talking I would still be in Mississippi from my mission trip in October! So I was surprised when Songbird directed me to get my stuff together and sit down and listen.

As you know St. Cass is part of a family of survivors. More than once storms have come in and ravaged family holdings and businesses and boats and more than once they have picked up and rebuilt again. Whenever things seem particularly bleak they have a phrase, "When you lose your sail, row."

It is this phrase and their signatures that were placed on an oar (a St. Casserole garage sale specialty) and given to me to help keep me afloat.

As the shock of this whole thing has begun to wear off more than once I have felt like I have lost my sail and more than once I have appreciated this phrase and the visible sign of my friends holding me in prayer. And more than once I have been reminded to row.

This oar is on the living room mantle, front and center, placed immediately below one of my favorite pictures of the ocean.

Some day I will remember how to sail and the oar and the reminder will no longer need to be front and center in my life. But for now the friends and the oar are surrounding me and The Boy, keeping us afloat.

Thanks.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

tired

Officiating a wedding at 2.
Trying to care.
Numbness wearing off.
So very sad.

Counseling begins Friday.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

About the Hugs

Alright, before I start to bruise from the shoulder chuck things, I feel like I need to explain about the hug issues.

The truth is, I am terrible at hugs.

For one, I am taller than a lot of women. So when we hug I either a) crush their earrings into the side of their skulls, b) inadvertantly give them an up close moment with 'The Girls' or c) all of the above PLUS if they are wearing perfume I end up reeking for the rest of the day.

For two, what I REALLY don't like are hugs that are used by women instead of a handshake. I save my hugs for friends. If I am just meeting you or we are mere acquaintances, I don't need to hug you. There is a pastor here in the area that totally epitomizes this. She hugs me to make herself feel better. I KNOW it cannot be for me or because she actually thinks we are friends.

For three, well I really am terrible at hugs. A perfect example can be found in my hug history with Listing Straight. A few years ago she invited a group of clergy women over to her house for lunch. After the lunch we all started to single file it out of her house and the woman in front of me gave Listing a hug.

I remember thinking to myself, "Oh great, it's a hug thing" and gearing up and giving her a hug. To which she then said, "Okay, not everyone has to give me a hug." So the women behind me got out of it and I looked like a total hug schmuck.

We overcame that and became better friends and then she left and then we went to visit her and I actually spent way too much time thinking in the car: Do I hug? What is the etiquette here?

Here is the answer: If you are holding a child, never - EVER - hug. I ended up doing this awkward backwards spin move as she went to hug The Boy (who was in my arms) and I went to hug her. If we were in a competition to come up with a new square dance move we would have won first prize.

It was soon afterwards that she and I agreed that we are 'shoulder-chuck' friends and then she came up with the symbol - ]*

So please, don't apologize for giving me cyber-hugs. If you see me and you have walked with me on this particular journey, please feel free to give me a hug (although maybe not for 5 minutes like Cheesehead did when I saw her in Atlanta).

In the end it is all about showing each other we care so whether you (ws) or ]* the point will come across and no offense will be taken.

Peace, (((friends)))).
]*


The Straw

You are looking at the straw that broke the camel's back.
I wanted to set my phone on vibrate.
Instead I 'locked' it.
I never set a 4 digit 'unlock' code.
The default code doesn't work.
I have tried every number combination I have ever used.
I have tried every date combination that means something to me.
I have spelled out names.

I. am. done.

addendum: REVEREND MOTHER SAVED THE DAY!!!!
(not to mention my psyche)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Just. Keep. Breathing.

Sometimes I get tired of having to step back and think 'now how do I model a Christ-like response to this' when really all I want to do is yell, scream, spray graffiti on cars and get a rebellious tattoo.

As for The Boy... well, he is a treasure. We are so incredibly blessed to have this little guy as a part of our lives. He is laid back, handsome and eager to learn and interact. I have seen some of the signs I was told about - he is a bit more clingy when dropped off even with familiar people and occasionally he asks the heartwrenching question, "Where's Daddy?"
But I have been told that I have barely disappeared and he has recovered from his clinginess and playing as normal. And really he gets to interact with his Dad a lot more than he was when they were both home together. And both parents are going out of their way to reassure him that we love him and that he makes us so very happy.

It's a busy week even without the new childcare issues to contend with. I had a funeral today and another one just around the corner as it is only a matter of time. There is a wedding on Saturday with the accompanying rehearsal and of course those dadgum parishioners are looking for yet another sermon on Sunday.

For now I am biding time before nap/quiet time and gearing up for having to go to the grocery store tonight - BLECH!!!!

Do they sell tattoos there?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Updates

The Lutheran Pastor - You all are right, of course, this was not about me. It really was not even about the family. She is no longer even at the church in question as that church and four others were invited to vote on whether they wanted to consolidate or not. Three agreed to consolidate, two did not. She is now one of the pastors at the bigger, consolidated one. The church of the deceased is one of the stubborn ones that will soon disappear due to lack of funds and any members left above the ground.
I am sure she is still hurt and a tad defensive over the whole thing and who can blame her. She also happens to be the exception that proves the rule: everyone has a sense of humor.

The Ride - It went great. I could not believe how strong and good I felt on the bike especially in contrast to last year. Rather than being passed, I was the one passing.
I did struggle a bit at first emotionally because TDH and I would usually ride the first section of those things together. It was the same feeling as I just had when I went to look up the url for last year's post and saw some of the things I wrote about him a year ago. What the hell happened?
Anyway...
The GREAT news is that so far I think I have raised $905 and I wouldn't be suprised if a little bit more came in. I am going to wait until the end of the week to send in the money folks gave me at church today.
Which brings me to...

Church Today - The support was amazing. Before the pastoral prayer I took joys and concerns as usual and then I read the letter and we moved into a time of prayer. You could hear an audible gasp when I hit the line about TDH moving out of our home. I then paused a bit before the spoken prayer trying to give it a little time to sink in.
I had already told Session and a couple of the pillars. I wanted both groups to be ready to throw full support behind my family rather than be in the shock phase with everyone else.
A few of the toughest emotional points were:
* Preaching while watching TOM (not tdh) struggling emotionally through it. The sermon was about how being Christians does not keep us from sinning or being sinned against but rather impacts how we handle it. TOW was in the nursery.
* Reading the letter.
* Being hugged by one of my gruffest, most conservative (meaning we disagree a LOT), most old-school members. In fact he went out of his way to hug me. Later on he asked me about my Dad and at the end of a few sentences I just sighed and said, "I'm so tired." He grabbed me and pulled me to his side and said that I needed someone to lean on and I should lean on the church for awhile.
I mean, wow. Of course when someone like that cares for you like that it also makes you realize just how much crap you're actually in!

You all have been amazing and I promise I really am trying to move away from these 'woe is me' posts, but I thought some of you might be interested in how some of these things ended up.

Peace, friends

Saturday, July 21, 2007

At the Tipping Point

So the ride went great, and I'll fill everyone in on that soon enough. Thank you all for your sponsors and prayers.

I just have to tell you what happened after we got home.

To set the scene you must know that with everything else that is going on my Dad had to go to the ER today. The doctors think it was a bad reaction to a new blood pressure medication. He is staying overnight, but things looks good there. Really, he's fine.

I finally return home to over 500 people and their cars on my lawn and banjo-filled music that is not red. These concerts happen three times a summer.

The Boy is overwhelmed so we hunker down inside and I check email. There is one from a pastor in the area who says that she is not "mad or territorial" but noticed that I am doing a funeral for someone who was a member at her church. What is my connection?

I email her back a bit of the backstory and tell her that the deceased sisters asked me to do it. They didn't tell me of their sister's connection with this woman's church.

Well apparantly this other pastor is both mad and territorial because she responds:
"Should I perhaps have been contacted re. the funeral, as I am her
pastor, or was there some good pastoral reason for not doing so? In any case, I trust that the funeral will be an occasion of grace."

I explained to her again that when I asked the family did not mention her or her church's connection with their sister and then I added:
"Except for the swearing, most funerals I do are an occasion of grace."

I think we have found the proverbial straw.

A Break from our Normally Schedule Program... Thank God!

I am on the MS Ride today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Letter I Never Thought I'd Have to Write

Beloved Children of God,

At the regularly scheduled Session meeting on Thursday, July 19, the Session accepted the resignation of TDH from his positions both as elder and as paid staff. We are grateful for his services in both capacities.

Throughout his life TDH has struggled with depression. While he is not and never has been a danger to others or himself we have agreed that while he works toward a place of health it is best for him to not be living in our home.

I am 100% committed to our marriage and I hope it goes without saying that we remain committed to the loving care and nurture of The Boy.

We are truly blessed to be a part of This Church and the surrounding community. You have all bolstered us with your prayers and support before and I know you will do so again. Thank you for the many ways you are the body of Christ.

Peace be with You,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One Foot in Front of the Other

Well the church board was overwhelmingly gracious and understanding. I knew they would be. All agreed that a letter to the congregation mailed on Saturday, echoing what I will say on Sunday, would be appropriate.

Now I just have to write it.








And I thought a sermon was hard.

Quotes

Family Quote
So far the best quote I have heard trying to explain why this is all really such a stunner comes from my sister. Someone was telling her that everyone has their dark side and she said, "You don't understand. This is as if Mr. Rogers had done this!"


Lyric Quote
Our situations are quite different obviously but I am getting a lot out of the Dixie Chick's Not Ready to Make Nice from their last album. Here's the chorus:


I'm not ready to make nice,
I'm not ready to back down,
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should



This Sunday's Scripture Quote
I feared that preaching on gossip knowing what I know would be a bit too 'Dimmesdale-esque' (don't mind me as I invent a word) so instead of James I am going with a Psalm and 1 Peter.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills -
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

The Lord will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
The Lord who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
the Lord will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

I Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith - being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you belive in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


Board meeting tonight. I'm tired already.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

She So Funny

Some of you know that rather than lectionary, my congregation has been working its way through Year of the Bible. We have assigned readings each week and I have been preaching on something from those assigned readings.

This Sunday I will be telling the congregation that TDH has moved out of the house. They will not be getting all of the details but of course people are people and so tongues will wag.

Because of God's truly unique and varied sense of humor one of the passages I could select to preach on - believe it or not - is James 3... taming the tongue.

I sure will have a lot to think about on my 50 mile MS Ride.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MS Ride

Well, the schedule pretty much got obliterated by weeks 2/3 but one thing remains the same. My friend and many of your friends and loved ones still have MS.

So, on Saturday I ride. Would you like to help the cause? Please click on the link: MS Ride

Peace, friends.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Silver Lining

One of the real tragedies of life's tragedies is that Hallmark and other card companies insist on making cards that read "the Lord must have a plan for you" or "this will only make you stronger". I remember after the hand accident getting a LOT of these type cards and being ever so grateful that I still had the finger I needed to tell the card what I thought of that theology.

Do these things make us stronger? Hell yes! Did the Creator of Her beloved children decided to take my finger in order to make me stronger? Um.... no. Would you do that to your child?

The same goes for our current challenge. However, I do feel very strongly that the Lord does have a very specific silver lining to all of this in mind. There is one thing that this loss of family rhythmn and partnership plus about 1,000 other things should lead to.

It is time for a new vaccuum cleaner.

TDH comes from a frugal (cheap) family and he has an absolute inability to throw out large appliances. We have four vaccuum cleaners. 4. And they all suck for various reasons... none of them being dirt from the floor.

I want something lightweight.
I want it to do the dang job.
And I want it easy to empty.

Vaccuum cleaner lovers, I KNOW you are out there!
What is your dream rug cleaning machine?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wiping the Slate Clean

I have an anonymous blog. However, if anyone who knew me in real life came across it, it would not take them long to figure out who it was. Therefore I have removed a few of the posts that give specifics about what has transpired the last 2 weeks (2 weeks already?)

I did cut and paste all of your comments as I treasure your support and this community.

We drive home tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Healing Space

I am getting some good face-to-face healing time with a variety of friends. I am so blessed. Sunday morning was spent with Listing Straight and her family. Then worship led by her in the Southern Presbyterian Mecca which brought a lot of memories of youth ministry days gone by. One thought I had was that I need to return there more regulary - small group leader? worship conference?

Now I am in Atlanta splitting time between seminary friends and the revgal Big Event planning team. It is good to have the mind active planning something I believe in and then go 'home' and be with my friends who know both me and TDH.

The Boy is hanging in there. I now pray to the gods of the portable dvd player and the creators of Little Einstein. His favorites and there is less guilt because there is music and art education involved.

One foot in front of the other!

Back to planning with songbird, st. casserole, cheesehead, reverend mommy, quotidian grace, mary beth and questing parson too. How sweet it is.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Theory

The symptoms of chronic depression may come and go, with periods of depression alternating with periods of no symptoms at all. Chronic depression usually begins gradually, with vague feelings of sadness that gradually build in intensity. The individual may begin to have difficulty sleeping, or want to sleep more than usual. He or she may experience changes in eating habits, feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, low energy levels, restlessness, loss of interest in normal activities, decreased sex drive, feelings of guilt for no reason, difficulty maintaining relationships, and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases, the individual may have thoughts of death, or may attempt suicide. People with chronic depression have at least two of these symptoms for a period of two years or more. People with chronic depression are generally gloomy and extremely critical of themselves and others. They are usually seen as extremely negative people, who seem to expect failure and take no pleasure in anything.

Please pray for TDH. He is lost and no one can help him but himself.

Monday, July 02, 2007

life

In that analogy where life is compared to a roller coaster, which part is supposed to be the fun part - the excruciating, slow going up where you are waiting to fall or plummeting into the abyss?

Just wondering.

[Gil has been complaining about his complicated life; Grandma wanders into the room] Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Gil: Oh?
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
Karen: I happen to LIKE the roller coaster, okay? As far as I'm concerned, your grandmother is brilliant.
Gil: Yeah if she's so brilliant why is she sitting in our NEIGHBOR'S CAR?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Today's Sermon Ending

Most of us have experienced dark hours where our friends are the ones giving us light to help get us out. It’s good to be loved. God created us to be loved. There’s nothing to compare with loving and being loved. And God is the source of love.

Sometimes family and friends let us down.
God's love endures forever.

Oh, how He loves you and me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me, ...
Oh how He loves you and me.


In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Odd Prayer

Today I give thanks for a brain that is able to compartmentalize and pray that none of the compartments springs a leak.