Friday, November 28, 2008

things I've done

Picked this up on 'Processing Counselor's blog'
Green is my color

Want to play? Copy and paste. Pick a color for the things that you have done.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis,not - but have caught grasshoppers.
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon (and have no desire to!)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run - not within my competency
32. Been on a cruise
if 4 hours to the Apostle Islands counts!
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - lots 0f times!
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - Does Iowa count?
35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business - made money on e-bay for a few years.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
65. Gone sky diving
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - I've started again after 10 years

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - not my toy, but I've saved other peoples!
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar- ugh!
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - depends of definition of famous? Henri Nouwen?
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

100. Ridden an elephant

Got 52 - with some stretching I could tag a few more.

Friday Five

From Rev. Gal Blog Pals -

Phillipians 1:3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

"I'm musing about giving thanks for people today, partly because Americans celebrated our annual Thanksgiving holiday yesterday (I try not to just make this holiday "turkey day" even though its main feature seems to be eating till one is nearly comatose) and partly because I read the above verse this morning. It started me thinking about individuals in my life for whom I give thanks. For this post-Thanksgiving Day Friday Five, share with us "Five People For Whom You Give Thanks to God" and maybe tell us why they are significant. "

My Five:

1. Roger - he was the best for me at a time when I really, really needed it. A father-figure and a mentor, challenging and counseling and showing the way. My own Priscilla (Acts 18:26) who taught and even better showed how Christ lives in a life. His marriage has been a model for mine.

2. Ministry Partner - I am just blessed to be working out this example of working together in ministry. I know very few people who have really experienced this kind of respect and trust in their working situations in ministry. I suspect we were separated at birth - the brother I should've had.

3. Little Sister - wow, that mind goes places I can't even fathom, and she's always present for me. Love it that she's only 4 hours away now. She's the one who doesn't see me as a pastor but just as me. We are aging well together.

4. Dear Son - this is a hard one because we have such a history - and I continue to worry and be hurt at times. But I am thankful that he's in our lives. Being his mom has forced me to grow and to grow up. I've had to learn patience and letting go, protection and vulnerability. I work on the love thing - how to love without allowing that love to be manipulated. I work on the pride/legacy/hope thing - how to lean into the future without assurance of how things will turn out.

5. Aquila - the eagle. He's still there for me. He has lived through so many changes and new versions of me, and still hangs in there. I know his sadnesses and hold them gently. He is like that eagle - very solitary and stern and unique. It's been quite a journey - this marriage. May we have many more years.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

little things and thankfulness

I could grouse about the continued series of little things that have gone wrong, that end up being something I have to explain. Since I do not throw others under the bus, I hem and haw while protecting my staff. But I am so tired of finding something new everyday.

At the same time I had the Thanksgiving services and my sermon had the point that one can find thankfulness where 'the world' sees only complaint.

so. . .
I am thankful my attachments are being stripped off my e-mail messages, because it means I have a computer.
I am thankful that the mistakes made are only for this week, because next week is a new set of problems.
I am thankful that I have someone else to protect, because it means I have others working with me.

I am thankful I have a 5 hour drive tomorrow, because it means that my in-laws still want to get together and include the outlaws, too.

I am thankful that my husband takes off once a month on the weekends, because it means my husband still can visit his mother.

I am glad that my son is grumpy with me, because it means we're still talking.
I am thankful that we
argue about his plans and job-hunting and all that, for the same reason.

I am thankful for:
  • Public libraries
  • days above freezing
  • my partner in ministry
  • Little sister and the good work she does in a field that is so esosteric I can't come close to understanding it
  • velour sweat pants
Have a blessed Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

are you a . . .

this is interesting . . .

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Marilyn!



It's about responsibility, I swear! I was sure I'd be a sensitive Ingrid.
Now, along with Cheesehead in Paradise, I'll really have to worry about my pjs.

I can't get back to the site to copy the rest of the results.

Monday, November 24, 2008

jangly today

I'm feeling jangly today - if that's a word. Like my nerves are too sensitive. It's in part because I've been listening a lot, been professionally present, so to speak, and now I'm just stretched out. I'm an introvert, and I've been in those places which took much out of me.

Sometimes being the pastor is okay, and more and more I can roll with the demands. Today it was hard. Not in major ways, but today's issues took me back to CPE (ick!) and the demand of being with someone without answers.

And I can feel it physically, dry eyes and upset tummy and gut and tight muscles. I think it is not just today, but the last few weeks.

Right now I'm at the quiet place an hour or so before the last late worship service of the weekend. Tomorrow the calendar is clear. Maybe I should not say that - because something will happen!

When you know people know you too well. Someone showed up with foot all bandaged up. "What happened?" I asked. "Bunion surgery," she said. "Ooh, " I said, "My doctor has hinted at that for me." Foot-surgery-husband "look at her feet, she's got them on both sides!, both sides of one foot!' A new hazard of being the one in dress shoes - people can see and comment on your feet, on your bunions!

And I'm going to avoid bunion surgery if I can!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

a principle

I believe I heard this from preaching professor Gaylord Noyce. (that places and dates me, for those of you who recognize the reference!)

'Every sermon is heretical'


the sheep and the sheep

the original core of my message for Sunday - I'm leaving out the borrowed stories

Yes, the title of this sermon is “the sheep and the sheep”. I wasn’t going to call anyone a goat. In fact, that’s one of the sticking points for me about this story of Jesus’. Who, really, should be called the goats – the folks on the left? Is it for me or you to say? Well, today, let’s think about the sheep. Let’s think about the right hand.

. . . a story or two about seeing Christ in neighbor.

Now us Lutherans, we worry about whether we’re getting convinced that our works will save us. Works don’t save – only Jesus can save. That’s our mantra. And that’s still true, even in this story about the sheep – those who will inherit the kingdom. They are blessed, not because they did the charitable thing (and were proud of it) but because they loved, because they had mercy, because they followed the lowly path of their Lord.

They aren’t inheriting the kingdom because of what they did as much as because of what they saw, how they saw the world around them – especially other people – they saw them as fellow sheep.

The sheep see differently than the goats. Those in need are not a nuisance, but a question. Good things in their own lives are not seen as something to be kept, but as resources to be shared. Their own identity is not about doing the ‘right thing’, it is about being merciful, being open, always relying upon the surprising wideness of God’s mercy, learning daily that they are stewards, not owner, of all they possess.

In these days we are learning a new/old lesson. We have relied, for a time, on the easy ways to be charitable – we have given from our bounty, quite rightly – an example of this has been the interest from endowment funding all sorts of great endeavors. All the sudden that bounty isn’t abounding any more.
Here is the challenge – can we still practice ‘seeing like sheep’ even when our own resources seem smaller? Can we remember our neighbors, our ministry, our outreach, our call to see Christ in the least of these – even in these days when we are anxious and troubled?

. . . another story about sacrificial love for neighbor

Followers of Christ have a heart for those in need. We see Christ in the poor and in the suffering of the world. We see fellow sheep and enter into their need and try to serve them, and something extraordinary happens.

They also see Christ in us! Surprise! “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came too visit me. . . . Just as you did it to these least of these, you did it to me.”


The ending needs to be improved.

Surprising - after this busy, busy week, sucked into the less significant details and petty feeling-traps of day to day administration - I'm feeling the Spirit in this reflection. This text has always been a difficult one for me - I sense it is so significant for Matthew - really the high point and conclusion, but I have not know what to 'do' with it.

For this time, for this place, this is something they need to hear.

Thank you Lord, for being present for me today.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


At another meeting tonight I looked back at the last 7 weeks - 49 days. I have worked 27 evenings. Every one of those evenings I have not been at home for dinner. I have worked 15 of the last 28.

I have not had a complete day off - without either writing a sermon, making phone calls, responding to hospital/nursing home requests, doing a wedding, funeral, attending an educational event, writing for stewardship, e-mail responses to stuff at the office - during those 7 weeks.

Tonight we (MP & myself) were asked - not in front of everyone, but by one person - 'are you getting your time off.' and in one breath we both said no. MP has had longer days - up to 16 hours, he figures. (he starts earlier than I, but doesn't make me feel guilty.)

So tomorrow. I could write the sermon, but it is to be my DAY OFF. So the bad habit could be to write on Saturday. A good habit would be to study on Monday, think on Tuesday, write on Thursday. Well, we know how that goes.

That is one of the sub-reasons for my growing 'blues.' I'm not in control of my schedule.

my book club

My book club -
Peace Like a River - Leif Enger
Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time - Michael Perry
Our Lady of the Lost and Found - Diane Schoemperlen

Each book has struck me as deeply spiritual and in some way - reflects the Story.

Monday, November 17, 2008

so true!

At Savage Chickens this morning!

So True

I used to work for Prod3000!
He was a senior Pastor!
He was always there before anyone else and I often heard - "I would have spoken to you about that but you weren't "in" yet."

At the same time he would go away every afternoon and no one could reach him after 12 noon. (I think he read too much Eugene Peterson and truly thought his call was to be thinking deeply for 4 hours every day. Of course, thinking deeply happened on the golf course and at the gym, etc.)

He would come back to the rest of us slug-a-beds, who had not been at work at 7 a.m., and throw out brilliant ideas and we would go - huh? where did that come from?
We were to be team players, but he was the only one with any ideas about the team. And I was the worst player, since I questioned him.

(I shouldn't be too hard on him - this does mean he was in the office for 5 to 6 hours a day. Just at times when no one else was there. And when he never needed to talk to others. Or let them know what he was thinking, planning, etc. It was all in the mystery, I guess.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


A full Sunday.

It was a full Saturday as well. I reached the office just in time to speak with the funeral family, and was going to then spend some time doing calendars and tweaking the sermon for 5:00 p.m. But in the midst of the conversation I was called out to the nursing home to visit with someone there.

Did that - returned just in time to get the heat on. Burned a CD of church music for the lady in the nursing home. Worship. Stopped back at nursing home. Got home.

Today went the same way. Lots of things stacked up. Two trips to Work Town. I really want a day off. A real day off.

Here is my sermon-ette (somewhat edited)
November 15, 16 – FELC - Stewardship, week two – the Magnificat –
Mary’s Song, Our Song – “He has done great things – He will do great things”
Praise and Trust (reversed order from Trust and Praise – review of past through Praise leads to trust in regard to the future)

Most of us won’t be in Mary’s situation. In fact, I suspect none of us will be exactly – angel visitation – miraculous motherhood – all that.

Most of us won’t be in Mary’s situation – but we can learn from what she says here in her great song. For that is what the Magnificat – the “magnify the Lord” poem really is – it is a song. It is a song of praise, and of trust.

Mary praises God for what has happened to her – even for this surprise movement of her life.
She looks back and connects that with thanksgiving for all God has done in the past
– then looks forward to the future – exclaiming with trust that as God has supplied in the past – God will be present in the future. “He has done great things – He will do great things

Please realize that Mary is living in a time that was not especially optimistic. For her people, the Jewish people were living under a foreign occupying power, the government was in the hands of corrupt pagans, the very religious establishment was full of strife and competing voices. People who went into debt would go into prison, and slavery was a reality all around. Life-spans were short, and illness, accidents and violence were never far away.

So young Mary discovers she is pregnant when she should not be. She flees to see her elderly cousin Elizabeth. It is during this visit that she discovers she can sing, that she has something to sing about. You see, Elizabeth herself is pregnant and knows that something wonderful is happening with these two unborn children. It is God’s Work.

And so Mary can sing the praises of God. She can look back over centuries, and generations and see that God’s hand has never left – God’s will has been done.

Mary’s song, the Magnificat, is her song of faith. In it Mary tells us what God’s people believe. She expresses her commitment to fill her role in a way that glorifies God and advances the kingdom. Even though her life was filled with anxiety – personal anxiety about this child in her womb, what people would think, what her betrothed would do – she could sing. Even though her land was filled with anxiety – would the crops be good, would the taxes not go up, would there be work tomorrow – and even greater political issues – will there be a rebellion, a war? Even though – she could sing.

Praise and Trust – she sings praises because she knows what God has done. Praise teaches. Praise teaches what God is about because praise tells of who God is and what God has done.

And trust. Mary sings trust because she believes that what God has done in the past – God will do in the future. So we are called to sing – as the people of God, as the brothers and sisters of Mary – we are called to sing songs of Praise and words of Trust.
What shall we say in praise of our God?
God has given us a Word, a scripture, one that we may take for granted, but that is always there, ready to be our companion.
He has protected our ancestors, to bring us to this place, this country, this state, this corner.
He has provided us with a great house of worship, through the sacrifices of those who have gone before.
He has given to us a community of faith, as flawed as any, but one with a great, deep heart.
God has come into our lives as a Savior, Jesus the Christ, both an example and a power for us.

That is a lot to praise.

Now, we may find ourselves saying, in the depths of our heart – but things aren’t all that good – for me. We might find ourselves saying, what has God done for me?

Look again at Mary’s song – it is one of whole-heartedness, really of throwing oneself upon the mercy of God. It is about both praise and trust – personal trust in this God.

What I am saying is that is what Trust is about. In times of anxiety, real trust in the real God is an act of real faith. And that’s what we need now. Trust in the God who has brought you here.

Trust in the God that Mary sings of - even here and now God is acting in this place, even here, even now. Yes, we spoke about money earlier today. The money is a necessity and a symbol of our commitment what we want to be – a living, active place where God can be known.

Praise God and trust in him – trust that your contribution, your commitment to this community, is part of the on-going mighty acts of God our savior. Amen.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

daily saturday

There's a difficult funeral coming up. And the weekend worship work begins in about 4 hours. I'm already dressed for work - leaving Aquila at home to be domestic.

On my e-mail I receive the weekly update from Religion and Ethics Newsletter, and usually zip right through and delete it. Today I stopped. They have the transcript of an interview with Kathleen Norris - her new book, the first in years, is called "Acedia and Me", I guess. Interesting conversation which opens some doors for me, personally.

Questions about my interior life like: Why am I avoiding the scriptures I claim to love so well?
What has happened to my prayer life? How are life and love and this power beyond me active in my life?

Questions about my pastoral work: How am I addressing this 'acedia'? Hiding in details - what is the whole? Public persona - private person - how are they connected? (which is the theme of this whole blog, in a way)

Today the e-mailed scripture was Psalm 90, which Norris quotes. It caught my attention because of the info I had received about the difficult funeral. Anguish and resignation and prayer for re-shaping, all in one poem.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding with steadfast love. (excuse the gender - it's from the memory of the sung text).


Friday, November 14, 2008

head down

It's been a head-down week. That is, a time to just keep on and not do much reflection. I look back and wonder where the time has gone.
  • detail work on stewardship
  • trying to figure out if it would be better to change to my husband's health plan
  • meetings, meetings, meetings
  • detail work on worship - planning services, calendars
  • calls on the phone, calls at homes, hospitals
  • coaching dear son on life after the girlfriend
Finally Friday and His Majesty is gracing my lap and only now thinking about Mary's Song, which is our -off lectionary - text for Sunday.

I've been using the phrase Trust and Praise as a summary for this week. But I realize that I should reverse the order. Praise and Trust. Praise is remembering - as Mary remembers all the great things God has done for her! (Mary seems to be referencing the miracle within her - and connecting it with all God's acts in the past. Mary personalizes the past as benefit to her personally) . And Praise, connected to remembering, brings us to a place of trust in God's guidance, presence, mission. This is especially important in time of anxiety. (and there will be anxiety since this weekend's presentation of giving goals).

Mary is wise. She looks back and treasures. She looks forward and embraces. She does it all in love. And that is wisdom.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

little things

It's the little things that get to me, and keep me going.

  • Sniping on staff. Just stop!

  • A lady saying - I've missed you - of course you can come out
  • Another one reminding me, tomorrow is the 'lunch thing' - please come

  • any conversation about visibility
  • knowing some meat has spoiled because I haven't been home to cook it

  • Spending a couple of hours creating a thanksgiving liturgy
  • being on a staff ministry and trusting the others.
  • starting to slow down on the details -

And I have to remember - don't feel guilty for taking care of myself!

I did promise that I would take a retreat and spiritual direction this month. I promised my spiritual director. I had better start planning soon.

Friday, November 7, 2008

stewardship and stuff

Working on a stewardship message for the newsletters that will go out at the end of November. Yes, we work well ahead of it.

This post here at A Church for Starving Artists (on Trinity & Community) caught my attention. I wish we had that kind of expansion of ministry going on. It is what should be going on - a way to catch the Spirit and create places for the Spirit to work in community.

I come from a tradition where Worship - the community at Worship - has been considered THE big event, the core, the significant time. Because of that my tradition has been slow to understand the power of small groups, of interpersonal relationshps and the intensive but somehow light touch of true personal discipling. We may seen these things happening, we may have personally experienced them, but we don't have ways to incorporate those practices into our Church Life very well.

We are still blocked by the centrality of Word and Sacrament - and define that as THE preaching and THE Sunday community meal.

If I were asked why this is so - in truth, I think it is because we are tired. Most pastors I know, seem tired, even if they won't admit it. Many of my laity are tired, too tired to engage in our community. And I think our theology is tired - not wrong, not outdated, and certainly not false or anything like that - just tired and unhappily stuck to that 1950s model of being church.

This impacts with stewardship - here we are, by necessity, asking for money and commitment, but we are tired and don't really know what we are commiting to. And those other arenas for growth - for what JanE called community in Trinity - are not developing as they should.

It would be stewardship to:
  • admit we are still healing
  • conceive of healing things to do together as individuals in community
  • Open the notion of greater connection as a good thing
  • Ask what folks desire (and listen to the little heard voices)
  • Discuss the shift from maintenance (do we really need airconditioning) to mission (how is God working in this place)
  • Reflect on what leadership is about here
and there's probably more,

Each one of those bullet points has so much behind it. So much history, personalities, hurts, social pressure and community issues.

Back to the 'stewardship' message. It's interesting to veer away and come back, because I never know were I'm going to end up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today is a mental health day. My noon appointment cancelled and I just stayed home. Of course, I haven't totally not worked - sent some stuff out on e-mail, but mostly it was just me time.

And about time for me time - I have a headache which comes and goes (a weather headache, I think), and my blood pressure is up when I took it with my home kit. I've been suspicious about the BP and hesitant to start charting it.

Last winter when I really set myself up for burnout my BP went way too high. Medication change may have helped, but more likely it was just slowing down and dealing with the stress better.

And now I'm noticing that kind of stressed-out, unappreciated, grumpy attitude is more common than not. Time for deep-breathing, remembering it's not about me. Time for prayer and for knowing that God's in control. Time to distance myself from snarky co-workers and petty agendas. Time to do some deep thinking.

Time for a mental health Weekend! No sermon this weekend means Friday and Saturday are mine too!

And the new bed comes tomorrow.
And the DS has become my yard boy and is doing all the hard work outside.
And I am still knitting.

I can handle those things.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

at work, but . . .

One of my stressors is the length of some of my days. I am often here in Working Town 10-12 hours. Today it will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at least. No going home at all, it's too far to drive back and forth and wastes too much time and gas.

One of the things I've realized is that I have to take down time. It's tempting to keep plowing through - keep reading that book there, writing that report, preparing that class, prepping that sermon.

But really, in any other job, I would get a lunch and dinner break, and coffee breaks.

So I will push back the guilt that says doing crosswords in the office (as I was caught doing last Thursday at 5:30) is something inappropriate.

Hurrah for computer games!

P.S. I voted. had to balance head and heart. It was hard. Two weeks ago I wasn't going to vote in the presidential election at all. Our congressman will get re-elected, so the presidential election is the only real race on the ballot. So I cam to a decision, and I'm not sure about it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday after

Three computers. Three people. Each on a computer. Within 12 feet of each other. It's the new version of reading in the same room, I guess.

I'm blogging and reading blogs.
Dear Son is looking at skateboard videos - Mom- look at this guy fall!
If you've never seen a skateboard video, you've missed an authentic America artform -
Kinetic street ballet. With amazing crashes.

Aquila is checking on obituaries.

We are a fun family.