Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Whirlwind

Life is good, please don't get me wrong... BUT my brain is a bit overloaded. Here is an example of a typical thread of thought... sometimes between 2-4am:

I need to go to visit A at the hospital and should do that before going to COM meeting I need to look over my faith statement for that so I don't get surprised by questions on it but really even if I answer poorly I will pass but I don't want to look stupid it's the congregational vote I need to be worried about not COM I hope it's not bad that the vote doesn't happen until 1/11 even though folks will know sometime this week I need to write a draft of that letter to the congregation, contrite and thankful not gloating though do I mention the head of staff bit or just say I am going on staff no they should know and then from there on out I just won't keep mentioning that so I need to write that meeting is on Monday I have a sermon to write too but I am unmotivated by John the Baptist is this a time for a challenging sermon CRAP! I have not written the stewardship letter yet shit what the hell am I waiting for on that i need to do that but I can't focus on it now I am too wiped better focus on some personal stuff I need to do a Christmas gift inventory only 14 more days to mail stuff out why am I so late with that oh right I am waiting on a few more things to come in I have enough for The Boy but what should come from Santa what should come from me glad I decorated for him but now I have all of those boxes to put away but I can't because the basement is wet and the dehumidifier frozen over good thing I saw that before it caught fire when is tdx going to get his #(*#$ boxes out of here I should tell him to do that now rather than waiting until we move I cannot believe I have to rent the manse and wait for a new build to be finished - yikes, started - but it is going to be sweet if it/when it is done but how awkward to start work at the new job and have to commute how is Mom going to get here in time to watch The Boy and take him to school wait a minute I can't worry about that right now push that aside what about working with a staff for the first time in a long time who can I trust what do I preach in January to win them over what about my first sermon the first sunday of Lent I should tell my story to get it out there but no counting chickens until 1/11 the actual vote and first things first which is to have the called session meeting and announce to this congregation and enjoy Christmas together and focus on my job now and I have some calls to make and I need to go visit A at the hospital....

Life is good, please don't get me wrong.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog

As I walk through the final steps towards a new call there is a LOT on my mind. A LOT.
I have been trying to get it all on paper because when there is a lot swirling in my brain it usually helps to get it down on paper and organize it. Sometimes I even break down the 'to-do' list into the days they have to happen. There is actually too much to even get it all down on paper.

Stunning.

Just about everything is a positive, but of course there will be some loss. One of the losses that might need to happen is this blog.
1) I have seen folks get seriously burned when folks find their blogs.

2) My blog is pseudo-anonymous which in my mind means although it wouldn't show up in a search, if you just happened upon it and you know me, you will know it is mine.

3) I don't get too crazy in my posts, but I do use them to be silly at the least and occasionally to vent. If I can't use it - or trust it - to be that kind of outlet for me then I might as well start another one and be totally public on it.

3) I am running low on time to blog now. I am quite sure becoming Head of Staff of a church 5x my current congregation's size is not exactly going to add to my available blogging time.

4) I could see me and the other associates working on a blog for the new church which combined with #3 means even less time for a personal blog.

So... do I stop? Drop? Or Roll?

Stop blogging/twittering here or anywhere as will smama?
Drop this blog from the internet atmosphere or just leave it up?
Roll into another blogging persona using my real name and real church setting like some of you quite successfully do?

I am not expecting you to answer this for me. Just thought I'd think out loud about one particular thing on my mind before I get back to pen and paper and sorting out the rest of the bajillion things.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Kitchen Appliance Edition

Songbird writes:

In a minor domestic crisis, my food processor, or more precisely the part you use for almost everything for which I use a food processor, picked the eve of the festive season of the year to give up the ghost. A crack in the lid expanded such that a batch of squash soup had to be liberated via that column shaped thing that sticks up on top.Can you tell this is not my area of strength?Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?
Ummm, what?

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)
Seriously, what are you talking about?

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?(And isn't that color delightfully retro?)
If this is what I think it is, I like the pretty colored one but chuckle every time I see how expensive it is.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?
Sometimes in my mind I pretend I am someone who would take the time to find the ingredients and make healthy drinks in a blender. Then I remember I don't have one.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?
Other people cooking for me.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?
My oven.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Verdict

Friends.... a fairly large, fully staffed, very healthy congregation is about to call their next Head of Staff.

And it is I.

This means I get to:

  • Use the lessons I have learned here to continue to thrive in ministry and more importantly equip others to thrive as well,
  • Own a home,
  • Move out of the fishbowl life that is living on the property of the church in the manse,
  • Be fully involved in the life of the church but because of its proximity to where I have lived the last 7+ years keep my friends and support system in place and yet...
  • It is far enough away that I no longer will run into TOW1.

There are still some hoops to jump through and the congregation has final say (most likely not until early January) but the committee has chosen me and deep, down in my soul it feels very, very good.

Thanks be to God!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A sign?

When I was a kid I totally thought this was going to be me... except for the Japan part.

Maybe it's a sign.
The committee meets tomorrow night. I'll let you know soon after I do. Probably in the Twitter feeds below before I can get to a post.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Sanctity of Marriage

From a wedding meditation:


The passage in Matthew talks about using our hearts and our minds and our souls to love as God calls us to love. It is the ultimate back up plan, because married life is committed love, it is wonderful love - it is not always easy love. The passage says heart, soul and mind; I am here to tell you that all three aren’t always on board at the same time.

That is why the Song of Solomon passage is so powerful. It talks about a love that is strong and fierce – a love that survives, a love that is worth fighting for through the spats and the selfishness and the tugs put on our lives by the world we live in. So maybe your heart isn’t into it, you darn well better make sure then that your mind is. I guarantee if you tap into one, then the rest will follow.

Today we celebrate all of these loves and lean on the perfect love of our God who gives us the gift of a passion and a desire to be together. The vows you will take are a response to God’s love for you and a commitment to one another. These vows are a declaration of love and the foundation of your commitment to one another.


Above is a section of the wedding meditation I did last year for my sister and now brother-in-law. In this case, the Scriptures they chose were Song of Solomon 8:6-7 and Matthew 22:35-40 but no matter what is chosen I always have two goals to achieve in my wedding meditations.

a) Marriage is an 'all-in' committment.
b) If you treat marriage like an 'all-in' committment, you will greatly benefit from the most amazing relationship you will ever have in your life.

Some may think it is odd that someone who is divorced would think these things are important to include but I was always 'all-in' committed to my marriage. The counselor had to pry my hands from our marriage's dead corpse.

And so as I hear folks in California, Florida and New Mexico among others talk about the sanctity of marriage, I agree with them... but think they have found the wrong place to make their point.

Our entire country needs to stop treating marriage - among other things - like something that is fine when it is easy and fun but easily disposed of when it gets difficult. I am FAR more hung up on that than I am about what genders involve themselves in a committed relationship such as marriage.

I think marriage and how great it can be is one of the best kept secrets out there. I loved being married and during what I thought was our darkest hour I remember thinking that one day we would come out on the other side and be all the stronger for it. Sadly in my case it got a lot darker although I did come out on the other side stronger.... but I digress.

As part of my attempts to be more pro-active I have been pushing some of my own parishioners a little bit on this issue. I ask them what they are so afraid of?

Don't they think God can handle it?

Why are they witholding one of the sweeter things in life from, in one case, their son.

We are a society that seems to want freedom... but not for that guy over there. You have probably heard by now that the great irony of the get the vote out effort in California is that 7 out of 10 of African-Americans voted against Proposition 8. This led Jon Stewart to quip on his show, "Free at last! Free at last.... hey! Where do you two boys think you're going?"

I used to not know where to stand or how to stand on this issue. The great irony is that the conservative, baptist, "family values" family that I once was connected to made the final, convincing argument to me that everyone should have the right to marry the one they choose, and everyone should treat it as a privilege to do so.

Living a Nightmare

On Thursday my friend took his 10 month old to a routine pediatrician's visit. 24 hours later they were checked into the pediatric cardiology unit at the hospital with a son whose heart is badly damaged and needs a transplant.

Very fast and very scary. He is also in between calls - has left one church and has not yet started at the next. They are in the process of moving into a rental.

They have a lot of family around and are in a good hospital system.

Please lift up young 'HT' in your prayers and his family.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes We Can!

The speech from last night. Thanks to MSNBC.

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain. Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.
And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Discernment

I realize posts to this blog have been few and far between. I miss you all.
Full time parenting and full time working have put a new time management spin on my life. Although, if you know who I am in 'real life' and we're friends on Facebook then you know I am able to fit in umpteen status updates.

The real time vaccuum is the job search. It's a weird process because I have spent the better part of my ministry here encouraging honesty and transparency... and then I have to sneak around for a job search. This has been made all the more challenging because the church I am the furthest along in conversations with is only a couple of towns over.

It's exciting and nerve-wracking and calming all at the same time. This weekend my Mom and The Boy and I looked at our first house. I am currently in a manse (home owned by the church) and a move would mean - HAS to mean - that I will be buying a home. Right now the plan is that my Mom will retire and my parents will move in with me in order to be the family support system for The Boy and I. This, of course, will offer up its own challenges, but if I want to make the move to Head of Staff at a large church, there needs to be a support system at home.

Discernment is such an intangible thing. If I was trying to put it in lay terms I think I would say it is a series of hints and clues and signs that lead you to an educated guess as to what the best decision is. Of course, there is also a large spiritual component but I am not even going to try to describe that.

Looking at the first house felt good. It felt like the right move and although it wasn't the PERFECT house, it really helped in starting the process of what could work and what definitely won't. All is to say, as part of the discernment process it is definitely put in the 'plus' column.

This committee comes to hear me preach on 11/16 and then we go out to lunch.
Prayers appreciated...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Positive Potpourri Edition

Some loser did the Friday Five over at the revgalblogpals this week:

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?
Facebook or other ways of touching base with friends. Also, I have re-engaged in a knitting project and that has been fun.

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?
Hopefully nap, but if not playing with The Boy and eating something yummy works too.

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?
Well, The Office and 30 Rock get my full attention. I also like to make stuff in the kitchen with The Boy which I NEVER pre-child saw myself wanting to do... or at least enjoying.

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?
Tonight, things were a bit nutty as my Mom and I were transitioning The Boy from being dropped off by his Dad, dinner and then out to trick or treat. In the midst of organized chaos he said, "You girls are driving me crazy!"
Such comedic timing for a not-even-4 year old.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.
Soft toilet paper. Life is too short to not have cushy, 2 ply.

Bonus: It's become trite but is also true that we often benefit the most when we give. Go ahead, toot your own horn. When was the last time you gave until it felt good?
The knitting project I am working on is a prayer shawl for a ministry that is just getting off the ground in our church. I was given one almost 5 years ago and it meant so much to me. I told The Boy what I was doing, making a blanket for someone, and he said, "For someone who is crying?"
It's a cool project and a fun, soft way to reach out to someone who is hurting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fat Camp

In seemingly long gone seminary days 3 couples headed over to someone else's house over Labor Day Weekend while the owners of the home were away on a real vacation. They pigged out on appetizers from the freezer section, embarrassed themselves by making stupid comments to the teenage ice cream truck driver ("Stay cool" said the overweight, middle aged woman in the bikini top), left weird things in the bathrooms for other to see (apparantly Preparation H is a rite of passage into your 30's) and laughed until their sides hurt especially when the quieter ones finally got in their one-liners ("my wife can...").

Anyone who has left any academic setting where they have found community and steps in the real world knows how much 'fat camp' friends are worth. I remember working in a church in between college and seminary and I stopped coming to worship because I had no one to sit with and no one even noticed. Not their fault, but we all know when we're staff, we are not family.

One of the blessings of having come through a couple of valleys is it becomes clear very quickly who are the friends who wait for you to come out of the hole, who are the ones who are only helpful when you are in the hole, and who are the ones who will walk into, through and out of the hole with you.

These are the 'fat camp' friends.

Not all of my 'friends for the journey' were at that initial fat camp back when my biggest visible flaw was that I had a bit too much weight around my middle to be saying, "Stay cool!" to the 18 year old (by the way, I meant temperature because it was beastly hot but as you can tell from reading, that is not how it came out). Some I have added since then and I am grateful for it. It is also true that since I am no longer a couple, I lost one. That came as a complete surprise.

As I move through interviews the question often comes up how do I take care of myself or how do I hold myself accountable or how do I keep myself going in the sometimes trying atmosphere of the church. I try to give an answer that sounds intelligent. Something like, "I enjoy my family and friends and I have people in my life that I can turn to who will tell me when I am right and when I am wrong. I know who I am and have emotional support outside of whatever church I am serving in and so I am not defined by what certain people think of me."

I say something like that but what I really want to say is, "I have fat camp friends. Stay cool!"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Scholastic Weekly

In mid-March of this year I was phone interviewed by a committee looking for their next Head of Staff. I was heavily medicated thanks to the flu and at my own emotional ground zero. I did perhaps the worst phone interview ever.

One of the questions was what books am I currently reading. I could come up with nothing. I said, "You mean besides Parenting magazine?" Even though at the time I was reading Diane Butler Bass' Christianity for the Rest of Us and Preaching Ethically by Ronald Sisk.

So it happens... but I'm not running for Vice President.

She actually comes off more intelligent in this interview than she has at other times. the 3:54 mark is where you can find the comments I am referencing:


Watch CBS Videos Online

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mending Fences

When I arrived here at the country church that considers itself to have the ability to make friends (our motto is similar to that convoluted sentence and I don't want it to show up on a google search) it soon became apparant that the congregation was indeed friendly... IF you walked through its doors. They were not considered to be so friendly by our immediate neighbors. It seems that some of our heavy weights had pushed the neighbors around in order to get what the church needed - extra land.

The first time I became directly involved in the sins of the past was my first winter here when our snowplower pushed a pile of snow against the neighbors fence, breaking it. I noticed it when I came outside, saw the mid-twenties son of the neighbors outside and called out to him that it looked like we owed him some new fence. He agreed and he was cordial but I could tell there was an underlying tone of something... I just couldn't quite put my finger on it.

I then went inside, hit play on the answering machine and on it was a message from his mother crying into the phone that enough was enough and that the church needed to fix the fence immediately and they were tired of the way we did things around here, etc....

Now at that point I was a novice and I was naive but even I knew that it was not just about that day's snowplow incident. It turned out that a deal had been made between them and a few of the leaders of the church that in exchange for a small slice of land that would enable the church to build an entryway out to the main road, the church was supposed to give them ten pine trees. The family is a tad on the reclusive side and they wanted the church to help them block their property and home from view of the new driveway. The church never gave them the trees.

Of course, it wasn't the church it was the pastor who had retired and two of the big Mucky Mucks, both of whom have since left.

After meeting with them we had the trees delivered the very next day and gave them the wood and fencing they needed to fix their fence (they wanted to do it themselves). We even changed to someone that plows using larger equipment so that they are no longer pushing snow into the fence.

I have seen them a few times walking their dogs along the yard and we have always been friendly, but who knew what they really thought. A few weeks ago I ran into that neighbor at the store and he introduced me to the grocery clerk who he obviously knew as his "good neighbor". That was cool.

Our neighbors all around us have been similarly pushed around throughout this church's history and some of the relationships have been impossible to fix. Stuff like that takes time and they all know that I might be okay, and the leadership NOW might be okay, but who knows what to trust in the future.

That is where my own little ambassador of good will (no pun intended, but it works) comes in. You may be able to resist my charms, but you canNOT resist the dimpled charms of a 3 and a half year old asking you to race him in the parking lot.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Math Skilz

I went to Wendy's for a post-gym snack and their usual daytime cashier was there. His name is Bill and he is nice, efficient, and patient (I have been there with a screaming child). He is also mentally challenged.

Today he gave me my change and for some inexplicable reason I didn't think the change was right even after running it through my head a few more times and so in order to take the honest route I gave him a nickel back and said, "This is for you."

He looked at me funny and put it in his pocket which confused me for about five seconds until I realized that I had been wrong in the math and instead of looking honest... I had insulted the man by appearing to give him a 5 cent tip.

Her name is will smama. She is nice, efficient, and patient (I have seen her there with a screaming child).

She is also mentally challenged.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Choices

In the denomination I currently serve there is an annual nominating process for leaders of the church. There is a rotating nominating committee that gathers to discern who the leaders in the congregation are, invites those leaders to serve and then brings those nominees to the congregation for them to formally vote.

I sit in on these meetings but tend not to say too much. I guide the discernment process but stay out of actually naming names and only on the rare occasion do I actually suggest a name be removed.

One part of my annual pep talk is to remind folks that it is not up to us to decide for people whether they have the time to do the job or not. Sure we may think we know what is going on in people's lives but they know better what is a priority in their lives and what is not. It is not up to us to keep the honor of being asked to be a leader of the congregation away from them because we think they are too busy.

So if there is a good candidate, it is up to them to discern if the health of their youngest child means they should pass on the opportunity. It is up to them to determine how much their extended family will be able to help them in their new role. It is up to them to decide if their older children could maybe use them at home more right now.

Our job is to pray for the roles that need to be filled, pray for the larger body that is to be served, and pray for the candidates for the position as they hopefully make the best choice for their family, for themselves and for those they serve.

But I don't always have to agree with the choice.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vacation Quotable Quotes II

"Mommy, we stop?"
"Yes, Aunt Mary needs to get a ticket." (to enter the parking lot)

"Was she going too fast?"

Guess who was in the car with Mommy when she received her speeding ticket?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vacation Quotable Quotes I

"Mommy pushed me off the swing and then Marfa saved me." - The Boy.

I will let you fill in the story around that one.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Can TASTE It


Dog to vet
Boy and dog to parents
Visitation
Beer with friend
Funeral prep
Packing
Sleep
funeral
committal
luncheon
complete packing
boy and self to airport
land in NE state
drive to 2nd NE state

LOBSTER!

Oh yes... it is going to happen. And maybe even more than once.

C-ya in a week!

Street Cred

Hey all!

Just thought I'd share with my homies that TOW1 has been to church two Sundays in a row now. Last week was VBS, this week was a baptism. And THIS week they actually came in late while I was doing announcements so the entire congregation was able to turn as one, wide-eyed to see how I was handling it.

I handled it fine. Whatever.
I really have no ill-will there any more, mainly apathy with a touch of self-righteous indignation.

Feel free to commence your own indignation!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here's a Spot for You!

As I have alluded to in earlier posts I am working on being a little more present with The Boy. Currently he will tell me to come sit on the couch and I will usually respond with, "just one minute." There will be a pause and he will then say, "Here's a spot for you!"
You can't turn that down, you just can't - and I won't. So I sit and cherish that moment knowing it will be all too soon when I am looking up on the blog just when exactly that was when he used to clear a spot for me on the couch.

In some ways I feel like I am waiting for the Holy Spirit to clear a spot for me in wherever it is that God has planned for us next. (And just a warning, the first person that comments, "patience is a virtue" will be shunned... for life). I trust in the Holy Spirit and I trust that this is not where I am called to be much longer and so like anyone who has decided that their future is not where they currently are I am anxious to move to wherever that place may be.

But Call processes are time consuming and right now we are in the prime summer vacation zone and so a lot of committees have slowed down to a crawl if they are moving at all.

It has been hard to wrap my head around the fact that I already have two strikes against me that I had no part in creating - woman (strike 1), divorced (strike 2). And yes I get that any committee that cannot look past those things does not represent a church I would want to go to anyway - blah, blah, blah....

The thing is I work with these committees and I know even good people are looking for ways - subconcious even - to taper down their lists so that they can focus their time on only the best of the best. I just want a chance to come to the table and talk. Do I think that if I had a more gender neutral name at the top of my resume I would have received more contacts - you DAMN well better believe it!

I am prime age with prime experience and background to make the step from solo pastor to Head of Staff that many men (and women) have made before me. I KNOW men (some of whom I even like) who are younger with FAR less experience who have made HUGE leaps in their careers because let's face it, they looked the part. All the committee had to sell the rest of the church on was their age. With me they will have to sell the church on my gender AND my marital status.

That sucks.

All of that said, and as anxious - and excited - as I am to see what God has in store next for my family, I continue to diligently walk through the process. I pray for the opportunity that I may not even know is about to become available. I continue to keep up the energy level in my current call. And I keep my ears open for when the Holy Spirit in the voice of a committee and congregation somewhere will say, "Here's a spot for you!"

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Just Sayin'

For me personally, the saddest thing about the John Edwards affair is that it never occurred to me that he wasn't cheating. I saw the news today and I thought, "well duh..."

Friday, August 08, 2008

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Summer Memories Edition

1. What is your sweetest summer memory from childhood? Did it involve watermelon or hand cranked ice cream? Or perhaps a teen summer romance. Which stands out for you?

Well there were a few summers of Zen where my family could afford the beach club and those memories are awesome! I would ride my bike in the morning for swim team practice and then hang out for the rest of the day alternating between pool and ocean. This was back when sippy drinks were first starting to catch a clue and so the fruit punch would actually burn your throat! The best memories were after the majority of folks had gone home and the sun was starting to set and Dad would come in "for a dip" after work and cooking on the Hibachi at the beach. Also, playing running bases with the other kids whose families came down to eat. I always thought evenings at the beach club were the best kept secret going.

2. Describe your all time favorite piece of summer clothing. The one thing you could put on in the summer that would seem to insure a cooler, more excellent day.

Ummm.... clothing is so not my vibe but I guess I have a couple of really light-weight t-shirts that are comfie and cool (as in temperature).

3. What summer food fills your mouth with delight and whose flavor stays happily with you long after eaten?
Sweetened iced tea, sweet corn and summer sandwiches (open-faced tomato, bacon and cheese preferably with mayo).


4. Tell us about the summer vacation or holiday that holds your dearest memory.

Well when you live 5 minutes from the beach club there is no need to go on summer vacation but the cousins had a place 'down-the-shore' and those overnights with them were pretty fun; filled with mini-golf, playgrounds and good eats.

5. Have you had any experience(s) this summer that has drawn you closer to God or perhaps shown you (God's) wonder in a new way?

Just the 'one year later' markers that increasingly get easier and have me feeling much stronger. Also, The Boy and his bike.

Bonus question: When it is really hot, humid and uncomfortable, what do you do to refresh and renew body and spirit?

Find a pool, envision the ocean, rest in the a/c.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Stupid Jet Plane

So the nephew leaves tomorrow and there will be okay things about that: back to the rhythmn of things, fattening items I never buy will not be in my home, smaller grocery and gas bill... but The Boy and I are going to be bummed; although clearly we will not be as bummed as he will be and his girlfriend.

I liked having someone else here who speaks above 4 year old level (albeit mumbly). I like laughing at goofy movies and having someone else to 'cook' for. It was fun.

It is going to be really quiet around here except for what I expect to be repeated, "Where's C, Mommy, where's C? I miss him."

Me too.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Can I Plug my iPod Into My Walker?

Actual conversation with my 16 year old nephew who had plugged his iPod into my car.

Him: Aunt Will Smama! You'll know this one since it's from your era and all.
Me: My era? Would that be the paleozoic?
Him: You know what I mean, it's a golden oldie or whatever.
Me: ---deep sigh---

Styx Mr. Roboto begins to play...

Me: Ah yes, I remember the days of yore when we really had to crank the victrola in order to hear the whole song without interruption.

silence.....

Him: Was a victrola one of those eight track thingy's?
-----

Point made.
I'm just not sure by who.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Barricade Edition

1) How do you amuse yourself when road construction blocks your travel?


First, by calming myself down. If the traffic is VERY stopped then I have actually gotten out and hung out with the other folks that ventured out of their cars. If stop and go then I try to figure out the next available option around the traffic.


2) Have you ever locked yourself out of your house? (And do you keep an extra key somewhere, just in case?)
Yes. Right now I have people with extra keys but I really should put one around the house somewhere.




3) Have you ever cleared a hurdle? (And if you haven't flown over a material hurdle, feel free to take this one metaphorically.)
Please. I am the Queen of Hurdles - literally and metaphorically... okay, mainly metaphorically. My advice?
Just. Keep. Rowing.


4) What's your approach to a mental block?
I go on walk about or find a friend to chat with either on the computer or otherwise. A shower sometimes works too.





5) Suggest a caption for the picture above...
"So.... that Hands Across America thing.... that's still going on, right? 'Cause I'm starting to feel weird."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is It Just What It Is?

I would like to say I reject stereotypes. I think most conscientious, free-thinking adults would say they do the same. But those same conscientious, free-thinking adults would also have to admit that sometimes it seems that stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason... which is a cliche, not a stereotype.

Gender roles are a particularly stereotype-laden field of play. Once you add partnership, family and God forbid(!) a sense of call to a vocation in this world things can get really confusing.

I always fought against these stereotypes. I always figured that as long as you had the right balance of qualities needed to make a partnership work, then it will work. For instance my ex, dead m-i-l could never wrap her judgmental, small mind around the division of labor in our household. One time I left her and tdx in the kitchen so that they could talk. I was in our new dining room hanging up a light in the ceiling. She came all the way out of the kitchen to find me up on a ladder, dust raining down on my head as I drilled into the ceiling to ask me where some sort of special cooking utensil was. When I told her I didn't know but tdx was right there in the kitchen and he would surely know she responded:
"A woman doesn't know where things are in her own kitchen?"
I had had enough at this point (there were a lot of these points in our history) and I said, "Don't you get it - I'm the guy, HE'S the girl!"

It seemed witty and smart-ass at the time but now my marriage is over and I can't help but wonder if maybe butting so hard against the stereotype didn't have something to do with it.

The majority of sitcoms portray men as the silly, goofy ones and the women as the hard-ass ones who keep the family running and make the decisions. They treat their husbands like another child. "Just for laughs," I would tell myself as I stopped watching Everybody Loves Raymond for that very reason. Today a sports radio talk show had the two hosts talking about how their wives make all of the decisions in their household - which they are happy for - further playing up the stereotype.

The husband as another child is a stereotype I rejected. The way I sometimes put it post-divorce is that I gave tdx enough rope to hang himself. He chose not to pursue certain career paths, he chose to stay in the home rather than venturing out, he chose to do other things that I disagreed with but those were his choices. I did not think it was my place to manipulate another human being into doing things the way I wanted to do them simply because society says it is up to me as woman to run the house and everyone in it.

Should I have addressed some things earlier that were impacting our partnership and family life? Absolutely. But I wanted him to be the one that made the decisions... and of course now we know he was/is incapable of that.

Each member of a partnership being equally responsible for decisions that impact the household; sounds good, right?

But stereotypes are that way for a reason.
And I just cannot buy in.

As I contemplate the potential for a future (VERY future), healthy relationship I'm just not sure where all of that leaves me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Portal to the Future

My 16 year old nephew is here. I know this because large quantities of food have gone missing and dvd's are being viewed at really random times. Those of you with teenages may be thinking, "tell me about it." We are having a good visit, don't get me wrong, but his girlfriend lives here (he lives in Florida) so I am really not the main attraction.

Once you have a child it seems like everyone who already has one HAS to tell you how fast it goes. And I've witnessed the rapid rate at which my infant has seemingly become a little man. He actually yelled up the stairs the other day, "Hey Ma! I'm going outside!"
I had to hold myself from responding, "Don't forget to take out the garbage!"

I am thankful for my nephew being here for a lot of reasons with one of them being for this brief portal into the future. So don't mind me if instead of doing all of the things on my never-ending 'to do' list I choose to sit on the couch as requested by my 3 and a half year old. There simply is no other choice when he says, "Mommy, I made a place for you next to me."

I wonder if this kind of window of time is part of what had Jesus so frustrated with the disciples and the crowds and the leaders of the day. Who cares about eating, arbitrary rules and yes even family, when the Son of God is only in the earthly kingdom for so short of an amount of time.

This week's lectionary text is Matthew's version of the feeding of the 5,000. Don't send the people away, feed them here. We have plenty. There is no time in this earthly kingdom to waste.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sign of the Times

My five second thought process when I saw this sign at the rollercoaster:
Wow... that's more than a little insulting, oh wait... I'm riding by myself, they don't care if I'm divorced (laugh at loud) that'll blog.





Thursday, July 24, 2008

Catching Up

'Catching up' is my theme this week as I catch up with my sleep, nephew, and you.



a) Catching up on sleep...

Last Friday The Boy came home asleep in the car. There was no waking him up... until 2am when he woke up on his own, came into my room and said, "Mom! Mom! I want to be wake up!" There was no convincing him otherwise. He's three and 1/2 and he had 9 hours of sleep.



My Mom had stayed over since the original plan was that I would leave at 5:30am for the bike ride and in order to keep her rested we went downstairs where I grabbed what naps I could in between requests for a different movie, Cheerios, juice and "will you please play with cars, please."



5am I finally rouse my Mom because there is no way to get out the door without her presence and even though I was up at 2 I end up leaving late which means I end up finally getting on my bike an hour late which I know means I am going to pay for it on the other end in heat exhaustion.



52 miles on the bike, without pushing too hard due to tendinitis-y knees and a fear of not having enough left at the end, translates into five hours on the bike. You never go more than 10 miles without a rest stop so it really ends up being a nice ride but that last hour in the sun and humidity is something I am still paying for. So I am catching up on sleep and energy... still.



b) Catching up on nephew...

My nephew from Florida is staying with me for a couple of weeks. He is 16 so it took me THREE grocery store trips to catch up to his eating needs. It's fun to have him up here and I know it is good for him too as his family can be a little intense (in my opinion). His family was up here last year when I heard the news about TOW1 and in a very odd choice decided to STAY IN MY HOME as tdx and I walked big circles around each other and the life I knew crumbled apart. tdx and nephew's Dad are brothers so that explains the inherited trait of ignoring conflict.

Nephew's sister is the one who once asked me why I was wearing boy shoes.
I was wearing sneakers.

Anyway, nephew and I get along great and so far he has totally pitched in without being asked and is a joy to have around a both dog and boy have a playmate.

c) Catching up on you...
How ARE you? Thank you for continuing to check in here. I have been slowly making the mental transition to returning back to humorous musings and short essays on life as clergy and human being rather than a spew-fest of 'Why My Life Sucks Today'. Still, single-parenting, full-time working, and job searching has taken a bite out of my schedule and I fear blog surfing and posting has been one of the first things to be moved down the 'to do' list.

I miss you.

Some random happy thoughts:
- The weather today is GORGEOUS. Low 80's, no humidity. Thank you may I have another!
- Over $1300 raised for MS. WOW!!! You all are wonderful as I know your prayers were absolutely behind me. THANK YOU!
- I still love my tattoo. Love. It.
- The Boy - even at 2am - is awesome. I am hoping to get a pic soon of the two of us together since that is one thing that doesn't naturally happen anymore.

More soon....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Overheated Update

I am home and reasonably sound. The ride was 52 miles and I did a slow grind of it over 5 hours. The last hour especially was brutal. "Scorching" was the word I heard a lot.

My knees are sore and my face remains hot to the touch and I continue to drink water and yet still be thirsty. These are all things that will pass soon enough.

I will post a more detailed account later in the week but wanted to quickly say thanks!

Peace.
will smama

Friday, July 18, 2008

You're Rubber, I'm Glue...

... what has stuck to me, bounced off you.

Or something like that. I put up the guilt post and now I feel guilty because it actually worked! What generosity you all have shown me and the friends I represent.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

The weather tomorrow promises to make the ride a bear, especially the last two hours of it. I will post about it when I physically can. One of the fun parts of this journey is my mind is free to roam and I usually come up with quite a few posts. This time I will bring a pencil and my BE moleskin notepad to jot things down so I can clear my mind for the next thing.

It will once again be interesting to note what a difference a year makes.

Thanks again all of you for your generosity. I am so touched. Wow.

Please pray for health and safety for all of the riders and a CURE FOR MS!

Peace friends,
will smama

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Guilt (Bike) Trip

Not to channel my Jewish grandmother or anything, but both tdx AND TOW1 have contributed to the ride. What are you waiting for?


Please help fight MS!!!"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Seeds

Hi all (if anyone is left). Sorry about the time between posts.

Right now if you are lectionary preachers or lectionary listeners then you are in the midst of gardening/sowing/farming/weeding and soon, mustarding. They are good solid parables with plenty of room for discussion and pontifications and illustrations. Maybe too much room.

As a former Youth Director I have plenty of experience with seeds that don't grow until much - much - much later. Two of the youth who drove me the most crazy are now pursuing their calls in ministry, one as a certified Director of Christian Education and the other as an ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament. If you had told me this then, I would have scoffed. Seriously.

As I try to be patient with the process of moving from here, the ripple-effect of choices made by others continues to impact the day-to-day ministry and even life that I lead here. I'm ok thanks to a strong support system (you included) but I am also seriously looking forward to serving in a congregation where I am not paying for the sins of others. Or at least not paying for the sins of one who was once my significant other.

Today I needed to hear a friendly voice and so I called a higher-up in my Support System and she reminded me of the parables that we have been working with this month. I have planted seeds here. I know I have, but right now I am not going to see the growth from those. Too many weeds.

Hopefully some day when someone is in the midst of the valley they will remember me and remember that during my own time of major trial I stood up and preached an Easter sermon. Because God is that good even when we don't feel it. Maybe one of the young women in our youth group will head to seminary or the mission field. Maybe someone will remember that God has a sense of humor too.

I know this place has planted seeds in me and I am looking forward to that growth as well.

I just could do without the growing pains.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chip Off the Ol' Block

One of the challenges for me at these Christian music festivals are the speakers. They are good speakers and I know their overall audience is the younger set, not me but still... sometimes their messages just make me cringe. As a Youth Director I was always careful to follow up with my youth about making a decision to follow Christ not just with your emotions, but also with your head.

Simply put, if you are getting baptized every year at the festival, then it's time to rethink what a committment to Christ is.

I brought The Boy up to the stadium so we could eat dinner during the speaker with our group and be ready for the concerts to start. The speaker was hard to see, but there were huge screens on either side of the stage that kept showing close-ups of him. He was a heavy-set man and it was a hot and steamy day so as his message got more intense his face became more and more flushed and part of his hair was wild and crazy and the other part was matted down and he became more and more animated and was screaming his message into the microphone and right when he gave a dramatic pause my son (age 3) declared loud enough for a huge section of people to hear:

"Mommy, this guy is from Crazy Town!"



I couldn't be more proud.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

View from the Other Side

One year ago I came home to a five page letter in my door that would forever change the course of my life. Over the next 365 days I experienced:

deep sorrow

excruciating pain

bitter memories

public embarrassment

loneliness.



I have also experienced:

abounding grace

deepened faith

newfound gifts

restored confidence

hope.



So many of you have propped me up along the way. So many of you have reached out, cried, laughed and rowed.
Thank you.

This past weekend due to circumstances beyond my control I ended up in the last place I thought I wanted to be. Due to a chaperone malfunction The Boy and I spent 2 days and nights at the same Christian music festival that tdx was attending last year with our youth group when I received the letter.

There I was basically shadowing his footsteps from one year ago, sitting on a tarp and a lawn chair with tens of thousands of sweaty, dirty people around me listening to music at mind-blistering levels. This is where he was when he received my voice mail letting him know that I had been let in on his betrayal.

Did he feel relief that I finally knew? Or more turmoil, not because I had found out, but because he knew that I still didn't even know the entire story. Was it a concious choice of his to use TOW1 in order to get out of our marriage so he could be with TOW2? I doubt it and it didn't work anyway because I fought for our marriage until he told me definitively it was over.

And so this is where his part of the story ends.

God is surely in the details as my time at the music festival was well-timed and healing. So often when something happens in the church the youth end up in the dark because the adults around them either don't know what to say and/or don't want to talk about it. My presence with them at the festival gave them the opportunity to ask their questions and talk about their feelings. It gave an opening for conversations about marriage, depression, choices and truth. It also left a door open for future conversations.

As for The Boy and I we actually had a wonderful time together (which if you have gone camping with a three year old, you know is quite a statement!). It was affirmed once again that one of the MAJOR things that has come out of this is that I am a much better mother than I was a year ago. I am far more connected to him and to what he is doing and who he is. This is such a blessing.

There are sure to be more ups and downs as we continue to walk this road. I am bracing myself for the wedding band that I will eventually see on tdx's finger, but I know that will be hurt for missing what I thought we could be, not what we actually were.

I wrote in a previous post about processing and choices. At the concert on Friday night the special guest was someone who was popular with our generation (not so much the youth, but that's another post) and her voice and songs brought me back to dating and the early years with tdx. I basically cried through her entire set, but realized that although they were tears of sadness they were also tears of a well said good-bye. I did everything I could.

I honored.
I loved.
I was faithful.
I fought like hell for our marriage... and he lost.

He lost. His choice.

I came home and scrubbed off the sweat and dirt from the festival and have shaken the dust from my feet of a marriage where I was no longer wanted. Again, his choice.

No one will ever know what chain of events TOW1 really expected to set off when she sent me that letter. At this point last year everyone was reeling and tdx was still holding onto his final secret. What I am sure no one expected - least of all me - was that one year from that awful, dreadful day...

I am the better for it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MS Bike Ride 2008

Please help fight MS!!!"

Once again I am putting my legs, lungs and psyche to the test by hitting the bike for over 50 miles in the middle of July. Most of you know someone who has been diagnosed with MS and it is my hope to help find a cure so that these loved ones no longer have to live with the symptoms and exacerbations that take them away from living the lives they want to live.

Please click on the link above and it will take you to my page where you can donate electronically or email me and I will tell you how to snail mail donations with checks made out to: National MS Society. preacherbloggerprocrastinator(at)gmail(dot)com


THANKS!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Processing

As you can tell from recent posts we are very much nearing a year since implosion/explosion/lift-off to my next life.

The permission to call the tdh I knew 'dead' has remained the healthiest choice for me, but the grieving process has interesting twists to it. For instance, I can grieve the loss of the tdh I knew (or thought I knew) but would you hear through the grapevine that your deceased loved one is now officially engaged? No. I don't think so.

There are a variety of hurts and still more to come, I'm sure. The words from countless funerals sometimes echo in my ears: "We grieve because we are separated from a loved one and separation hurts."

I find it really hurts not during the angry times (see above engagement reference) or the lonely times, but during the memory times. When you have kids especially there are these serendipitous moments that cannot be planned, repeated or captured. Last night, The Boy and I came home at early dusk from a food festival and then planted the last two tomato plants. As I was cleaning up he saw - and gently captured - his first lightning bug. The amazement and laughter and glee and joy and showing it to the dog and bringing it in to show the cat were just awesome. And I found myself saying quietly, "dammit tdh, you're missing this." And the fact that he is missing it because of the choices he made takes the frustration to a whole new level.

In an earlier post I called myself a fool for caring so much about him and choosing to ignore the signs of his bad choices that were all around me. You all were gracious to support me and remind me that choosing to honor my vows and commitment does not a fool make. Maybe I was foolish, but choosing to turn your back on ten years of marriage, walking away from the one person who had your back no matter what, missing memories both big and small with your child who you once thought might never come to be... now that's a fool.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Would Do Such a Thing?

The Boy asked me to draw a picture of Daddy...




I swear I added the horns after he went to bed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How Many Ups and Downs Can One Weekend Have?

UP - We survived our 20+ hours of driving and the woman who was once an acquaintance is now a friend.

down - It should have been only 16+ hours of driving.

UP - I now know how to navigate the southern part of Mitten State when the interstate is closed.

UP - Driving the stick shift VW was WAY fun... just a bit more power and handling than my van.
UP - What began as a good idea quickly became a life-giving idea. Not only were we there to support our friend, but her kids (4 and 1) know us and were quite willing to go right with us and out of the various services that were taking place so that our friend could stay.

down - There is a church board in central Mitten State that wastes time sitting in their new building wondering why they are not attracting young families and all of them are too old to think 'playground' or PUT IN A NURSERY!!!! I was using some very rusty children's ministry skills not to mention every food product I had in my purse.

UP - Managed to put a sermon outline together in the car and it went over pretty well.

down - The exhaustion, stress of outline preaching, battle with poison ivy and baggage of Father's Day were apparantly too much for me to handle because I asked a Mom during coffee fellowship if she could begin the sermon in the back because her baby wakes up from her nap in the middle of the sermon every Sunday.
No really Every. Sunday. And of course they insist on sitting in the front.
Finally I said something - pleasantly - but I shouldn't have. I am basically waiting one more hour so I can call her at a socially accepted hour and apologize with hopes that the apology will both be accepted and that the child will be taken out sooner. Of course, I have a hunch that my 'evilness' was very much dissected during Father's Day festivities yesterday.
It is so time for me to leave this place.

UP - Summer camp in the morning for The Boy today and after drop off I will stop by my friend's house because she returned from Mitten State and is taking today off. Our plan is the gym.

down - TOW1 (remember her?) is usually at the gym Monday mornings. I am there too so I am not sure why I am extra worried about it just because another friend is coming too. Can we wear our pink leather jackets and snap our fingers as we get onto the treadmills? (Answer: No, because there shall be no awkward falling in front of TOW1.)

down - My afternoon of my day off will be spent pulling weeds and scrubbing down the front porch because we host a community concert on the church lawn this Saturday. I guess it will be nice to have the homefront looking nice but it always irks just a bit.

UP - I spoke at a worship service at this church on Sunday afternoon and it went really, really well. The only flaw? I might have actually been too funny. Seriously.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Road Trip

I leave around lunchtime today to drive to 'State-that-Looks-Like-a-Mitten'; about an 8 hour drive.

On Wednesday nights before Easter I would go to the gym with a friend and then afterwards we would go get a drink, a bottomless basket of chips and salsa and I would talk out my grief and sadness.

Thanks to her and all of you, I got better and was able to be there for her when post-Easter we would do the same thing only she would talk out her grief and sadness about her Dad losing his battle with cancer.

He was an otherwise healthy man whose doctors didn't listen when he said he thought the radiation wasn't working and that the prostate should come out. Those of you who have been through this journey know that it is awful, and when someone is healthy otherwise the death process can be absolutely brutal.

Another friend and I had talked about going, but I figured with my schedule there was just no way. It turns out that the reason I was keeping this weekend fairly open no longer exists and so not only can I help make the drive, help pay for gas, etc... but now we both will be able to stand with our friend and her family in the face of her father's death.

Grief and sadness is a journey. There are many more Wednesday nights in our future. I am glad I will be able to be with her in this part of the valley too.

k.o. - Blessed are those who see the Lord face to face...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ditto

So anyone who remembers dressing the little ones in their lives also may remember the balance issues that can become involved when little legs go into little shorts or socks or shoes. The Boy lately has taken to holding on to me and saying, "Mommy, I have you and me. I have you and me."

Soon after The Big Event I wrote that I felt like I had kicked off the bottom of the deep end and although I might go down again, at least the next time I would be closer to the shallow end.

Right now we are approaching one year since my world officially got turned on its axis. I am having quite a few memories of events and red flags that led up to that revelation. Some of them aren't so easy.

For one, I remember being so worried about tdx that when he would come up to bed later than me I would hold his hand, in my mind to be an assuring presence. Turns out rather that I was being a fool. Oh well. There are worse things than believing in your spouse and in the vows you both took.

I'm okay and will be okay, but some of those memories definitely need rowing through and it is at these times that I look at the boy in order to regain my balance and cling to who we are now together and think, "It's ok. I have you and me. I have you and me."
An interesting post from a year ago today. tdx, of course, was the staff member in question.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That'll Blog

I have had that title thought a few times over the weekend and yet can I remember one of those 'witty' narratives? No.

One of the challenges of single parenting/full time working is finding the hours in the day. I know we all do what we have to do, but I still find myself giving homage to those who are doing it with more than one child. My ex-s-i-l does it with 4! This is my excuse for not blogging more often.

I have also noted that the last time I searched for a new position, the search itself was my full time job. What a luxury! A few committees have asked me for so much data in the initial stages that their request in itself has caused me to say, "No thanks" to the position before we even get started in the conversation. One church who was matched with me wanted: 4 sermons (I am only JUST NOW able to record them at church), the last 3 Annual Reports of the congregation, statement of faith, last 3 bulletins, last 3 newsletters and a bio.

I will give them that this is a great way to sort out the folks who are just testing the waters!

In 'The Boy' news... this morning he called me onto the couch in his sweet little voice, "Mommy, wanna come sit on the couch with me?"
I was whipping around the house as I usually do in the morning and at his request started having that internal conversation where you know you have plenty to do, but can't it wait, he won't want you to sit next to him on the couch when he is twelve, etc, etc, etc...

I came over and sat on the couch to which he responded, "Mommy, open the doors and turn on the tv."
I asked him, "Did you ask me over here just so I would open up the tv for you?"
"Yes."

Well, at least he's honest.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cover Letter

Dear Church I Want to Go To:

I have your beloved Associate Pastor. If you hire me no one gets hurt.

Peace.
The Reverend Will Smama


(too forward?)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Late, Brief Meme

This is late and so it shall also be brief...

What was I doing ten years ago:
Recovering from my first year of seminary and gearing up for Summer Hebrew.

Five things on today's "to do" list
Bulletin/Worship planning
Gym
Haircut
3 Team Meetings
Margarita with a friend

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire:
Get some friends and family out of debt and then work with one medical research group to attempt to knock out at least one of the Big ones, probably MS.

Three bad habits:
Chewing on the fingers
Taking things too personally (getting better at this)
Being too hard on myself


Five places I've lived:
Jersey shore
Florida coast
Florida innards
seminary
here

Five jobs I've had:
dish washer
cook
delivery driver
Youth Director
here

The five people I am going to tag are:
Not gonna... it's just too late.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pastor's Hat

One of the struggles for me in ministry is remembering that much like The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, the pastor hat is not one that comes off. A couple of Sundays ago I reprimanded a child out on the playground. That family is now leaving the church.

As one person explained it to me, although I was right, it is not a good feeling to have your child yelled at by anyone and add to that my pastor hat and it is mortifying.

sigh...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pain in the Grass

Allergies... I moved to where I am now and for the first time I have allergies. Mowed grass in particular gives me a headache and so I have kept track.

Monday - neighbor northwest of driveway mows lawn
Tuesday - neighbor north of driveway mows lawn
Wednesday - neighbor south of driveway mows lawn
Thursday - neighbor north of driveway mows lawn (he's old, so he mows it a lot)
Friday - our lawn is mowed
Saturday - neighbor directly west mows lawn
Sunday - neighbor directly west continues to mow lawn

You would think with a cornfield directly east I would catch a break but the above schedule says otherwise.

Can I move now?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Highlights (some higher than others)


There is a young man in my congregation who is ill-behaved. I think most of us at least have one where the truth is there is no other underlying reason for his behavior other than (in my humble opinion) lack of discipline. I HATE that he makes me think along those lines because that is SO Old Guard but dammit, if my kid behaves himself, why. can't. yours?

I am usually pretty easy going about kids and the interruptions that come with kids in worship. A dropped hymnal there, the occasional outburst here... whatever. I would rather have the kids in worship. Great.

In the middle of last Sunday's sermon, a pretty good one by the way, this kid to whom I refer comes running in from OUTSIDE the Sanctuary (so he wasn't even in worship), KNOCKS over the stack of tuna that was in the back, realizes he didn't get them all down so HE KNOCKS THEM AGAIN!!! Then he tells his grandmother who has finally caught up to him something and he runs back out of the Sanctuary.

Insert slow boil here....

I'm sorry. The kid is almost 6. That behavior is just not acceptable.

Up until that point the sermon was pretty good. It echoed what I talked about in an earlier post about coming into the light. Here is an excerpt:
It’s a hard thing really, fully trusting in God. It almost seems a bit unfair that the Creator who expects us to trust built in so much angst and anxiety and stress into the Creation.

I was involved in a wedding recently where the mother of the bride handled stress by taking on more things to do. She insisted on making the cake and doing the flowers and planning the reception and numerous other tasks that allowed her to feel like she was in control.

There is nothing like a list with a bunch of checks next to it to make us feel like we are not only accomplishing things in this world, but that we are controlling them… and maybe even controlling the world.

Another way we seek control is by adding rules and hinting at rewards.

This week began an attempt on my part to control the amount of diapers and pull-ups that are purchased for my household and so the rule has been added, “You must use the potty.” I want control of this situation and so I added a rule and I hint at rewards.
Come and speak to me later if you would like to learn how you too can earn ‘The Big Chocolate.’

We add rules and as Christians we so very often dangle out the reward of heaven as if that is really ours to give. In order to control our worlds we make judgment calls on others – we have to, don’t we, someone has to – think of the CHAOS if we don’t start sorting through folks and letting them know where they should be.

The gay man asks, “God, Father… how important am I to you?”
And there is his name inscribed on God’s hand.


And finally, speaking of potty training, quite a few years ago I taught my youngest nephew the crucial lesson "don't pee into the wind". This past weekend his younger brother passed on this great knowledge to my son:


How cute is that?


Here they are cleaning the pool:


I hope your weekend ended on a high note too!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Staying Present

Although quite embedded in the search for the next call I have been trying very hard to stay in the now and give my current call the energy and focus it deserves.

That said, I am so done with the Memorial Day Weekend Sunday as Sacrament thing.

We are singing three hymns, doing a litany and the rest will focus on lectionary.
This very well could hasten my need to search for the next call!

Speaking of which... I have an idea in my head that related to the post below my goal in my next call will be to make that place a beacon of light for people looking for an open and affirming place to worship. It won't be overnight. My plan is to outlast those who are against such things.

I even know where I am going to do it... if only they would call me for an interview ;)

Probably won't open the conversation with my 'beacon of light' goal though.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Light Vision

I recently heard someone describe the change in their understanding of what homosexual rights should and shouldn't be as coming out of a cave and into the light. He and I both grew up in the Presbyterian Church and we both grew up thinking we didn't know any gay people or as he put it "I grew up not knowing I knew gay people."

My senior year in high school tragedy struck and I learned that not only did I know a gay man, but he was murdered for it. He was our Director of Music at the church and had been very involved in my life and my family's life. The church basically handled it by not handling it and I still have friends from that era who have not stepped into a church since because of the way the youth were pushed aside and questions were not answered.

This was also when I was told that AIDS was punishment on gay people.

Then I went to college and played on the women's softball team. I was still a bit naive as I had to be told that two of my teammates were dating. How did the person who was telling me know? "Because their beds are pushed together!"

Yes. Still naive.

But the thing was I liked my teammates. And those particular two are STILL together... how many of the rest of the college sweethearts on the planet can say that?

I found that as people would tell me that other people were gay I more and more just didn't care and furthermore did not understand why that made a difference. There was one girl on another team who hit on me... I didn't like her, not because she was gay but because she was rude!

Of course, I played on the women's softball team, I had short hair, I loved football... this meant I had to be gay too. And I realized that the only difference between 'them' and me was that I was attracted to men, they were attracted to (in this case) women. What was the big deal?

I don't care.
But I think I am ready to take one more step beyond 'I don't care.'

I am a very visual person and sometimes - okay a lot - I don't get things until I see them. While away on one of my recent trips I watched a gay man rock a baby to sleep and my soul was convicted. I cried then, I cried later... there are tears in my eyes now.

Why are we keeping people who love each other apart?
Why are we keeping people who feel called to be parents away from children who so desperately could use their love and care?
Why are we using phrases like 'sanctity of marriage' while heterosexual people are abusing the privilege left and right.

And we are doing it all in the name of our Lord and Savior?
That CAN'T be good.

And so slowly I find myself moving from 'I don't care' and 'don't ask, don't tell' to 'How can I make a difference'?

I am out of the cave, into the light and trying to figure out which way to turn in order to make an impact.

Thanks mk.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where Ya Been?

Hey. Sorry I went AWOL for a bit. My Mom had some health issues and my plate was just a bit too full. This week I have taken time off in order to commence Potty Training Boot Camp because he can do it, we have all just been a bit lazy and not taken that underwear step.

Today... I used the last. diaper. on. the. planet.
You know... except for night-nights. :)

And that, for ALL of your sakes, will be my last mention of potty training....

Gotta post brewing. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Even if You're Not a Sports Fan...

... this is pretty funny.



Still Better

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the time with my Presbytery's uber-committee. We have a good committee and a pretty good Presbytery and a great EP. As great as he is and as supportive as he is, he is still the EP and the one church's will go to for recommendations so there came a time when he would ask me how I was doing and I would respond a tad (or a lot) more positively than I really was.

Also, in our brief conversations I always got the sense that he wanted me better already and frankly since he was in parish ministry - and successful at it - this suprised me. I am not sure if it is because he was not putting divorce/betrayal on the emotional stress level it is or if he has just not gone through a Loss Valley himself and realized how long it takes. My guess is the former - I certainly didn't give divorce/betrayal enough respect until someone whose own husband died gave me permission to grieve it as if tdh had died. And really, the tdh I knew (or thought I knew) did died. Now I just have to live with his idiot ghost.

Anyway... as I continue to ramble (sorry) yesterday EP sat next to me through the meeting and afterwards he asked me how I was doing and I said, "I am better now than I have been in years."

He grinned huge and said, "It shows" and we moved on to other things.

"Better now than I have been in years."
I didn't plan on saying that. I really hadn't thought about it that way and yet there it was . Almost like my soul blurted it out.

In a way it is a little embarrassing to realize that I wasn't as good as I thought I was. My marriage was not as good as I thought it was. My choice in life partner was not as good as I thought it was.

But in the end I am okay with that because my friendships are deeper than they were. My faith is stronger than it was. And there are things I am doing better now than I ever was.

Truly, I am better now than I have been in years.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Working the System

First, the obligatory baby bunny update: They are fine and growing and almost cute.

One of the 'joys' of life in our particular valley are allergies even for the very young. The Boy exhibited the Claritan classics: itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing. After confirming with the pediatrician's office that it was okay, I picked up children's Claritan for him - grape and chewable.

Getting him to take it was a bit harder than the diagnosis. It is hard for a 3 year old to grasp, "if you eat this, then your eyes won't itch." Although not too fussy of an eater I can appreciate that he was a bit hesitant to put this strange item in his mouth and so for the first - and only - time I offered him a Hershey Kiss for after the Claritan. Eventually this strategy worked. He ate the Claritan in order to get to the chocolate.

The next morning he ate his Claritan, no problem, and same for all of the days since. Last night on our way home from the game he said, "Mommy, my eyes are itchy."
Concerned Parent: "They are? Well, we'll get you into the tubbie and into bed and I think they will feel better."

The Boy: "My eyes are sooo itchy.... I think they need chocolate."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Whole New Season

First, the baby bunny update... they're fine. I checked on them this afternoon and it was apparant that Mamma had added some of her fur and some more grass to their weeded - and therefore exposed - nest. They already looked a lot bigger... almost cute. Not quite though... still a bit too 'slithery' for that.

In other news our church team had its first softball game. If you have been checking in on this blog for awhile you know that
softball is a pretty consistent theme here at will smama's house. This was the first time in a long time that I was on the field without the artist formerly known as my spouse. In fact, here at Friendly Church he was the only manager anyone knew.

We are in a new league (emphasis on fun, not competition), we have new shirts and a new manager. I am even wearing a new number since I figured my anniversary date is no longer a good luck number.

It was fun. The Boy had a blast and got filthy dirty and it is nice to be home post-game and not have to discuss every detail of it for hours on end.

Just one more step in the right direction...

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's Just a Bitty Bunny

And so here is where I admit that flowers, gardens, cute wildlife and seeking healing in dirt don't interest me. I have friends who are not 'whole' until they can get out and be in dirt for the first time in the spring.

Whatever.

We inherited a garden that spits out asparagus and rhubarb automatically and tdx took care of it. Now because I have an inquiring 3 year old I was willing to weed and even till and plant some tomatos, peas and probably pumpkins. Fine.

Today we were weeding and came to an abrupt - and admittedly with a high pitched yelp - halt. For we found these:


In the garden... you know the one with the fence in order to keep bunnies OUT of the garden.
Anyway, I think they're fine. The boy thought they were cool. And now I don't have to garden this summer, right?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

That's a Croc!


Weird how the simple purchase of a designer item can seem like yet another veil lifted... or chain link removed... or whatever. It's really not that dramatic but I did enjoy having the mometary second guess on buying them and then the joy of realizing it was my purchase to make and mine alone.


The Boy loves his as finally I have allowed him to pick out something in his favorite color - black. His next favorite color is purple. Fortunately I didn't have to wrestle with his freedom of choice vs. society's expectations because he saw the black ones first.

We are enjoying a casual Saturday. It's nice.

Also, I made whatever 70% of $110 is in a consigment sale over the weekend. That's enough to go to Disney, right?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Almost

You almost feel bad for him as he drives up in his cluttered car filled with overflow from his one room apartment and remnants of a hotel clerk job at nights.

You almost feel bad as his son jumps out of the car and runs to his Mommy's waiting arms and through the door with nary a wave.

You almost feel bad as he steps into the kitchen and notices her haircut and how she has kept the weight off. And as he casually mentions to the former woman in his life who has completed her masters that the current woman in his life is struggling to complete her AA degree... online.

You almost feel bad as he looks behind her and sees homemade french fries baking and turkey burgers ready to be grilled all from the woman who never cooked dinner and as it turns out not because she couldn't but because she trusted him to nourish and feed the family.

You almost feel bad as he drives past the tree that they planted in memory of the daughter they never really knew and he pauses to see how it's bloomed this spring and as he drives away you almost feel bad as you realize he is crying the tears that you have long since passed. Almost...

But not quite.