Monday, February 26, 2007
It was a busy weekend. Working Friday, Saturday and Sunday for extended periods of time. Saturday I was lucky to teach our 2nd Grade Lord's Prayer class, and thanks to the hard work of the parents and SS teachers they all had it memorized beforehand. I was so impressed and I could tell they were proud of knowing it. And they had some profound answers to my questions about prayer, and they were quite delighted when I confessed that I am and have always been a horrific speller.
Saturday afternoon was spent safe inside watching the snow pile up. We had food and plenty of fun stuff on Tivo and it was a great time to sit and reconnect to the dear husband who I hardly seem to see. I'm always so thrilled to be reminded that when we have time to be together, we connect as we always have. The connection, the love, and the joy in being married to him has not faded and that is a blessed thing.
Sunday was practically a snow day at church, with just a handful of people making it out into the snow storm to make it to church. We had about 30 kids rather than the normal 80+ and were short quite a few teachers so we punted and watched Veggie Tales and had some social time together. It was nice to have a day to not be caught up in the details but be thankful that we were all safe from the snow and wind and together in grace.
Later that afternoon, after the roads had been more suffiently cleared, we had our Family Water Park event at a local indoor water park. It was nice to see all the snow outside and yet be warm and toasty and floating down a lazy river. I even had the guts to try their bodyboarding ride thing. And too my surprise I was pretty good at it. At least good enough to go several more times. I even got onto my knees on my last attempt, though I had many spectacular wipeouts to my name as well. Surprisingly fun although i am glad that their are no pictures to document it!
Today is a day off, and it has been spent nicely. I went to the dentist and now have clean smooth teeth and no new cavaties to report. I had a long lunch with a book and a chocolate mint shake which has left me in a tranquil and relaxed mood. I know that there are lists waiting for me tomorrow but right now I'm not going to concern myself with them. Tonight I have bell choir but after a relaxing day that doesn't seem like a chore.
Also, last weeks random act of hatred has gotten me thinking about dreams and calls and plans for the future again. I'm still ruminating but expect a post from me sometime along the way as I try to work out what's next after Chris finishes school. It is all a little scary to consider at this point, but also there is some excitement there as well. We'll just have to see how that develops.
Love to you all out there in blog land. I hope you find a bit of perspective today. I know a good weekend helped me tremendously.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Leadership needs to be stronger in [children's ministry]. Also experience with children is a must. It is hard to lead if you don't have children or experience with children.
Now I realize that it is true that I don't actually have children (and thank you for pointing out such an obvious flaw in my character), but clearly I wouldn't have been hired if I didn't have experience with children. I mean, I know that this is most likely from a family doing nothing to help the situation and who is content to complain. But I don't think that anyone who has seen me interact with children thinks that I lack experience. Of all my flaws I really don't think that is my main one.
(And what does this mean for our Youth Pastor who is single in his mid 30s with no kids...but maybe the same doesn't apply to men.)
Now I'm all paranoid...are people out to get me? Several others referred to the previous children's director fondly and others expressed the need for more adult volunteers (HELLO? why doesn't anyone say yes when I ask then. Do you think I don't know that?!). Sometimes ministry is just so catty and cruel. I know it is a random act of hatred and I shouldn't take it too seriously but I'm getting really sick of having to exude positivity while parents refuse to take responsibility and blame me instead.
I'm going to go home and cry now, and possibly eat ice cream. I guess I'll have to come in tomorrow and finish the rest of the work on my desk but I just can't get it done right now.
* Coordinate with your ash crossing partner in advance so that you say the same variation, otherwise you will overhear him in the middle and lose your train of thought and mumble through one or two until you get your groove back.
* Many people could stand to wash their faces more often.
* It can be hard to commune with an ash covered finger, especially if it is your dominant hand. Aka...little communion cups and my left hand are not a great combination...but I manage to drink without spilling I'm sure I just looked ridiculous doing it.
* I'm apparently more addicted to computer games than I thought. At the computer today my brain is saying things like..."come on, one game won't take too much time." Is it Easter yet? LOL. I'm determined to make it though.
* Cleaning for 15 minutes is a good thing to take on, but it more productive if you don't leave it til 11:30 at night.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Here we are again, Ash Wednesday. In many ways it is my favorite church "holiday." I identify with the need for introspection and setting aside time to renew a relationship with God, even if I so often fail in my own attempts to do just that. Today I'm on ash duty - crossing the people who are coming to worship tonight. I'm a bit nervous, I want to remember my line, but more than that I am cautious about how my line will come across.
There have been times in my life when that phrase is a comfort to me. It can be an acknowledgement of our sinfulness, something I think we are so quick to forget. It is a universal statement, true of all of us, regardless of where we are in our lives and what are own struggles are at this point in our lives. It is an equalizer. It is a time to think of all of us on the same journey toward Easter, with the same need of Jesus' gifts to humanity. We all would fail to live up to our potential without Jesus' actions for our sake.
But there are also times when there is an immense void in those words. Those times when you are caught in your own problems in such away that you can't see a way out and you can't see a way in for God. When these times of emotional isolation come, this phrase does not seem universal but instead statement directed at us alone. It can come across as a condemnation from God directly.
But there remains hope, for the ashes on our forhead are not placed their haphazardly. Instead they are put in the form of a cross. Not only does it remind us of our own sinful nature and our universal human failings, it also reminds us that the ashes aren't the only cross we bear on our foreheads. For we have already been marked by the Cross of Christ. This cross we do not see so easily as our cross of ash, but the promises within it last longer than the ash upon our head. We are children of God through and in our baptism. We may be dust, but in the end we are dust chosen and loved by God. We are some lucky dust indeed.
In the spirit of Lent, I have picked my give up/take up list for the season. I had a lot of trouble coming up with this one. Selfishly, some things seemed too unrealistic and too hard. Others I felt too deeply to give up. But I think I've found a balance that will be challenging but not so hard that I resent taking these burdens on. In fact, I've already done the thing I'm giving up today but I'll start now and assume that God's grace can cover me for the morning. "Technically" I hadn't given it up yet.
Computer games, solitiare included. I should be much more productive at work, or blog a lot more, one of the two.
1. I'm going back to the gym. At least twice a week (I think I can start with that). We're at the point were we need to use it or lose the membership anyway, so this is a good one to do.
2. Cleaning. I'm going to actively clean for at least 15 minutes each day. This doesn't sound hard, but I anticipate that this could me the hardest one on the list.
Wish me luck. I'm feeling very meditative already for the season and hope that this Lent brings me closer to my God and my calling here at church. Sometimes it is hard to see the forest in all the trees and I really need to reconnect. I hope Lent can be a time of connection for all of you.
Almighty and ever-living God,
You hate nothing you have made and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may obtain for you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
L: I wonder if any one has read my last blog. I don't have any comments.
C: Maybe it is because your blog is boring.
C: Well, boring is the wrong word I suppose...but you lack the big draws...like babies!
L: So can I get a baby?
C: You have cats...
Monday, February 19, 2007
Yeah, sometimes I feel like that, especially lately. Sometimes it feels like I'm not capable of making all of these adult decisions or handling all these adult pressures. It is days and weeks like these that I really wish I could be coloring or watching cartoons than all of this real life stuff. I suppose this latest episode of Big-syndrome began when our easy chair broke. Chris and I had the 20+ year old hand me down furniture from my parents and one of the chairs finally died. The couch was losing stuffing at the arms where the cats liked to claw at it, and the other chair had a big rip in it: it was time to look for new furiture.
So the search began. Some were expensive and ugly, some were cheap and ugly, some were nice and expensive, some were pretty but poorly made, there were so many options it was easy to get overwhelmed. Finally we found a store going out of business with prices at 40-50% off. That definately helped, as did my co-worker telling me that they were a great store who was going out of business because the owner wanted to retire and for no other reason. So we bought a sofa and a chair-and-a-half with ottoman. We ended up buying the more expensive set we were looking at because it was better made and more comfy and we did get a good price on it - even if it was more than we were going to spend. But we did it - we made a big furniture purchase. Even though I don't feel nearly qualified to make any furniture decorating type decisions we made one and the new furniture is so comfy - albeit a bit larger than the room should have but it does work. That was Thurs...
Friday I went to my eye appointment. I need glasses and need to wear them whenever I am on the computer or reading. My vision is fine but it is something to do with my muscles and my tendency to cross my eyes when they get tired. The eyes have to work too hard to focus I guess. So bring on the glasses...and the costs... Another adult issue and expense on top of feeling poor from buying furniture. Wasn't I playing Barbies last week? (With my friend who just had her third baby...eep! - Congratulations to Tiffany and baby Cecilia though!)
The day continued helping my MIL and SIL get ready for her sweet sixteen birthday party. I stayed over Friday night to help with the all day festivities on Sat. My SIL had planned the whole thing and it was an awesome day. We had a scavanger hunt around town, a Bunko game (very fun), breakfast, lunch and dinner with 8 teenage girls. MIL had 4 college guys come sing acappella to SIL at dinner and it was a hit...an embarassing, videotaped hit. But the guys were cute.
It was strange for me at the party. I was a guest and a host, a child and an adult. I did all the spa stuff with the girls, and helped set up lunch. I drove them around and sat at the girls (kids?) table at dinner. I was in both worlds and not quite a part of either of them. It was much like being a teenager at family gatherings. Being older than all of the siblings and cousins I was always wanting to distance myself from them growing up, but I couldn't hang out with the adults either. I was in between. It was the same thing.
Oh, and on the way to dinner MIL crunched my car with her minivan. It was a complete accident and she feels terrible but it was another adult thing. I'm feeling overwhelmed by all these adult things. Taxes are coming up, the loans are piling up, and work just gets busier. How did I come to be an adult, especially since I still feel like I'm posing. Maybe by pretending to have it all together and being able to handle all these adult issues I really will be able too?
I came home Sat night to a sinus-infected husband and an empty refridgerator. The refridgerator is still empty but I did manage to convince husband to go to the doc and I took the car in for estimates. But still...are you sure I'm qualified for this whole adult thing? I was really good at homework and cartoons...I'm not sure about the rest yet.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~ 1st Corinthians 13:1-13
Arriving to work and finding roses waiting for you always puts you in a good mood. Happy Valentine's Day everyone. I wanted to find a love poem to post but they all seemed so specific to particular types or expressions of love. In the end, Corinthians said it best. I hope that you all feel love today.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
(Disclaimer: I'm not an ordained pastor nor really a preacher, just a lay church worker)
I've been asked to do a sermon for Lent during our mid-week noon service. The theme of these sermons is going to Being Still and finding God in the storms of life. So a tie-in to Psalm 46 with a each specific sermon being about a biblical character as well as real life experience. I'm assigned to do the Old Testament woman.
In looking at my options I find myself drawn to the likes of Sarah, Rachel and Hannah because they are certainly representative of the major issue for women in the OT: having children. These are women who were faced with Barrenness and ended up having children. Their stories are hopeful and inspiring and real.
Now, most of you know that Chris and I are not at a stage where we are trying to have kids yet. But, I have been a witness and supporter of many friends who were and are trying to get pregnant. Many of these friends have had trouble concieving for a variety of reasons and have gone through a wide variety of infertility treatments during their process. I have seen their pain in this process and the more I go through adult life the more I see people struggling with this on a daily basis.
The Bible has stories that relate to this. It isn't an old problem or a new one but a continuing issue of women: trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant, having children. It is a defining role and have seen my friends feel broken by this pain - physically, emotionally and spiritually.
So part of my would like to be able to preach on these women during lent. To bring up these pains in church and maybe even try to determine where God could be in these storms. But, this brings me to the question: Can I relate in a meaningful and sensitive way to an issue I don't have real experience with?
I sent an email to Mel of Stirrup Queens a blog about infertility and miscarriages and a resouce for many areas and issues relating to it. I asked her a few questions and she agreed to post my questions in this post. So far it has been a mixed result about whether I would even be able to preach in a meaningful way to many of these women. But it has also been extremely telling to see how hurt the church can make them feel.
So I am posting the main question here too, to those who may know me or to those who know the pastoral call...Can I take on something like this with compassion?
Part of me feels called to talk about this pain having witnessed it...and part of me is fearful that I will alienate people further. I know that is a risk with every sermon, but I don't want to make it worse for those who are already in pain.
So what do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The 50 Book Challenge 2007
1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling*
4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett*
5. Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
6. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
7. The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
8. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
9. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
10. The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
11. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
12. On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
13. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
14. By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
15. Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
16. Digging to America by Anne Tyler
17. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
18. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
19. The Guy Not Taken: Stories by Jennifer Weiner
20. The Children of Men by PD James
21. The Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
22. These Happy Golden Days by Laura Ingalls Wilder
23. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
24. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
25. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
26. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
27. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
28. Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
29. Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
30. Gentlemen and Players: A Novel by Joanne Harris
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
31. The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs
32. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
33. High Five by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
34. Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
35. Seven Up by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
36. Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling!!!!!
38. Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel by Judith Merkle Riley
39. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
40. To the Nines by Janet Evanovich
41. In Pursuit of the Green Lion: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel by Judith Merkle Riley
42. The Water Devil: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel by Judith Merkle Riley
43. Dune by Frank Herbert
44. Amsterdam: A Novel by Ian McEwan
45. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
46. Stardust by Neil Gaimen
47. Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell
48. The World According to Garp by John Irving
49. Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett
50. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
51. Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
52. Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
53. Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
54. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
55. That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis
56. Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
57. Thin Places: Where Faith Is Affirmed And Hope Dwells by Mary Treacy O'keefe
58. Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich
59. Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik
60. Antigone by Sophocles
61. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
62. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
63. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
64. In her Shoes: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
65. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Monday, February 05, 2007
1. Holy Fools by Joanne Harris
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
5. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
6. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
7. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
9. Oh, My Stars by Lorna Landvik
10. The Tall Pine Polka by Lorna Landvik
11. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
12. Why do Men have nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg
13. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
14. Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
15. Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik
16. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco
17. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
18. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling*
19. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.R. Rowling*
20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.R. Rowling*
21. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
22. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
23. The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease
24. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
25. Saturday by Ian McEwan
26. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Mongomery
27. Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Wiener
28. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
29. Genesis Code by John Case
30. Anne of Anvolea by L.M. Mongomery
31. Anne of the Island by L.M. Mongomery
32. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.R. Rowling*
33. Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Mongomery
34. The Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
35. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
36. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien*
37. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicole Kraus
38. Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Mongomery
39. Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Mongomery
40. The Lutheran Handbook on Marriage by Gloria E. Bengtson and Laurie J. Hanson
41. Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
42. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J.R. Rowling*
43. Rainbow Valley by L.M. Mongomery
44. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
I suppose that 44 isn't a bad total, but it is depressing since I consider myself a reader. I didn't think it would be so tough, but life gets busy and complicated and before you know it it is January again. I'm on my 7th book for this year already and plan to make it. I started strong last year too though. Hmmm. If you have any book suggestions I'm open to them. I read just about anything. I'll get the current list up as soon as I can and keep updating that throughout the year. Perhaps some accountability will help this time around.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Ok, so I'm really sick of most things at the moment. I've been working like a madwoman this week (I'm in the office and it is supposed to be my day off, and tomorrow will be spent running church related errands.) Last weekend I was on a council retreat where we talked about all our hopes and visions for our church and how we want to get more people involved. This week...guess who is two teachers short for my SS rotation which starts on Sunday? Oh heck yeah, its me. Despite weeks of calling, emailing, calling, emailing and calling some more. I'm getting really really sick of the perpetual begging to get people involved with their kids Sunday School. I'm sick of that damn brick wall that seems to keep me from getting any meaningful work done because I'm always on the frickin' phone calling for more volunteers.
Sunday is also Camp Sunday which involves the signing up for various summer activities. I know that I'll be short staffed once summer comes again too. It is a perpetual cycle of hell and phone calling. Meanwhile, the good ol' rev, the senior pastor wants me to start doing parent groups and leading adult ed opporunities to create more of a relationship with the parents. I would LOVE to be able to do this (ok, maybe LOVE is a bit strong) but seriously it would be great to do, if it weren't for the fact that I'm already working on days off and all the time to get everything done as it is. If I had people say yes sooner or more often it might be different. Grrr. Don't you get it people. These are YOUR kids. YOU got them baptized. YOU think it is important to bring them to Sunday School. But will YOU help out. Heck no, being on the damn Hockey booster club is more important. Or even going out for brunch. Or whatever the heck it is you do when you drop your kids off on Sunday morning.
(Please keep in mind this is general bitching and I really do like most of the parents I work with and see, but like I said...I've hit a wall today).
It feels like I am talking to that damn wall all the time. Not that it responds to me either but it is more reponsive that the people I'm calling. Listen, i get busy. I do. I get tired and stressed and wanting time away from your kids. I'm not asking for much. 4 hours over one month? Then loads of time off. Not that hard. Sigh.
In the meantime, I work and then I go home and watch Chris do homework. I really want a life but my schedule has been so weird I don't know if I can sign up for anything much. Nor do I know where the money will come from. We're going to go furniture shopping this weekend because one of our chairs finally died and the other chair and couch aren't far behind. I don't know if we'll find anything though.
My friends are all busy whether they live in town or not and I'm feeling kind of lonely. (Blogging to a brick wall?) I would love to be able to see more folks but they have their own lives, husbands, friends, babies, etc. Sometimes it sucks to be an adult. (P.S. I don't really hate my life but I am frustrated today.) Don't you wish you could go to school and the hardest part about your day would be getting to the swing first at recess, or multiplication tables or whether or not there was a snow day. Where you got to see your friends and have sleep overs and go to the movies and not worry about money, time, or Sunday School teachers.
Blech. Damn that wall.
Anyone want to teach Sunday School?