Monday, May 21, 2012

The End.... At Least for Now

After much thought, prayer and consideration I have decided to discontinue blogging at 'There is a Day.'  It has been a wonderful journey, first with 'Adventures of MinLib' and, later, with 'There is a Day.'  I went from blogging quite regularly about life, ministry and pets to blogging only sporadically these past couple of years.  Through this blog I connected with the RevGalBlogPals and became a ring member.  That was a fruitful connection that I will continue to appreciate.

My blogging energy has shifted focus lately.  I now regularly blog at two different places:

FUMC Pastor's Blog
The Bady Partnership

My Pastor's Blog contains reflections primarily for my congregation around issues, events and ideas that we are pondering.  The Bady Partnership reflects my work around healing from trauma and my research and reflections in the area of PTSD.  It also celebrates the work I do with my Working German Shepherd Dog, Bady. 

If there are still any 'There is A Day' readers out there, thank you for being part of the journey.  Much of what I enjoyed sharing here I now share on Facebook.  I'm not saying I won't revisit 'There is a Day' if a compelling reason arises in the future, but for now I am closing my browser and stepping away.  Blessings to all!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kitchen Remodel: Parsonage Edition

Each of the three parsonages we have lived in have had their good points and their bad points. Our first parsonage had a great, new kitchen, but the rest of the house needed a lot of work. It was also located on a very busy street and trash would routinely accumulate in our yard. Our second parsonage was in a very quiet neighborhood and had a big fenced in back yard that the dogs loved. It was a nice house, but never really felt like "home" to me. There was something about the layout that didn't work for me. Also, the kitchen was.... okay. It was a step down from our previous kitchen, but everything worked.

Our current parsonage is in a great neighborhood. The backyard could be bigger according to Bady. (He never gets a full-on run while chasing his ball.) I love the quirky-older-house quality of this parsonage. There are nooks and crannies and nothing feels cookie-cutter about it. It has felt like "home" from our very early days here.

The kitchen, though, was the sore spot of the house. The cabinets were original to the house and the doors were starting to sag on their hinges. The bottom cabinets had no 'bottom.' Anything on the bottom shelf of the bottom cabinet was actually sitting on the floor. The floor as also original to the house complete with seam down the middle and nasty scuffs. The Trustees tried to spruce things up before we arrived by rehanging the cabinet doors and doing some painting, but the kitchen was clearly the saddest room.

Still, I don't write any of this to complain because we were certainly content with the kitchen as it was. Being adaptable is part of parsonage living. We just figured we were destined to so-so kitchens after our first parsonage kitchen jack-pot. And there is so much else that we love about this parsonage that the kitchen didn't seem like that big of a deal. Sure, we would occasionally complain about the squeak of the cabinet doors, the 'antique' range and I was annoyed that the kitchen floor never looked clean, but still.... there are a lot worse things than an out of date kitchen.

And then...... in a surprising turn of events our Charge Conference voted to designate some money from a recent bequest to renovate the parsonage kitchen. The demolition was on Monday! Now our kitchen looks like this:

And soon it will look completely different! This is the first parsonage renovation project we have lived through. It is rather stressful having all the kitchen stuff stashed everywhere but the kitchen and having contractors in and out, but it is also exciting. The projected completion date is a week from today. I just hope we don't get too spoiled for our next parsonage :)

I'll update with "after" photos soon (hopefully)!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Random Reflections: 37 Isn't So Bad

I turned 37 on Thursday. I remember when my parents were 37 and they seemed so old. (Sorry Mum!) I guess it is all a matter of perspective, though. So far 37 has been pretty good. I worked on Thursday and celebrated in the evening with cake and ice-cream after Gary got home. On Friday we went the new indoor water-park at Jay Peak where we floated on the 'lazy river,' relaxed in the hot tubs, tried out the water-slides several times, and just generally had fun. It was probably a birthday celebration more suited to a 12 year-old than a 37 year-old, but I don't care. It was great!

And speaking of being 12 years-old......... Last Sunday I had someone tell me that I look like I could be 12 years old. I'm sure the comment stemmed partly from the fact that I don't fit the stereotype of what a pastor is supposed to look like. Ever since I was appointed to my first church at 25 I've been fielding comments about not looking 'old enough.' I've been told I look like a teenager, etc. But really, 12 years old??? Perhaps I don't look 37, but I certainly don't look 12. When I was a new pastor at 25 I didn't think I would still be hearing comments about my age when I was 37.

But, anyway, I am 37 and I went to the water-park for my birthday and it was fabulous! Happy Birthday to me :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Speaking out about Trauma

About a month ago I spoke at our Chittenden County Domestic and Sexual Violence Legislative Forum. The audience was made up of about 100 community members and 15 of our state legislators. I spoke for about 10 minutes from the perspective of a survivor of assault and sexual violence. The purpose of the Forum was to raise awareness of the issues of domestic and sexual violence among our legislators as they head into their 2012 legislative session. (I blogged about this previously at The Bady Partnership.)

The process of preparing and delivering the speech took much more out of me emotionally than I ever expected. I've talked about my experience of trauma with friends, family and congregation members on many, many occasions. Even so, in the week leading up to the Forum I began experiencing nightmares, insomnia and dissociative feelings associated with flashbacks. These old, familiar feelings rushed back reminding me of what it was like when I was in the midst ~ and at the worst ~ of my PTSD.

While the possibility of pulling out of the speech did occur to me, I decided to continue. While the PTSD symptoms were painful, I was not scared of them. Giving up would be giving in to the trauma. I felt that it was important to tell my story and, hopefully, make an impact. I gave the speech on January 30th and it was an amazing experience. It was difficult to share some of the more intimate details of my trauma and recovery, making myself vulnerable to a room full of strangers. I was helped by great support from church members who prayed for me and attended. Gary took the day off to be with me.

In some ways I feel like my story is out there in the world now. It's out there to, hopefully, help someone else in some way. When the legislators are making decisions about bills related to sexual and domestic violence maybe they will think of me. Giving the speech also gave me the opportunity to speak with other survivors and hear pieces of their stories.

I had hoped that after I gave the speech I would go back to feeling 'good' again, but it took some time. In fact, I think it has taken me the whole month to fully recover and feel back to my new-normal, healthy self again. Thankfully Bady and Gary and friends and family have been with me, supporting me, along the way. I am thankful that I had the opportunity and that I took it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seven Random Happy Thoughts

Happy Day :)

1. I made chocolate chip cookies today. Two batches! I hadn't made any cookies since our marathon cookie bake-off before Christmas. We like to freeze them (and eat them frozen or dunk them in hot chocolate), so the two batches will last quite a while. And the house smells delicious.

2. I felt the Spirit move among us in worship yesterday. I love when that happens!

3. I'm keeping up pretty well with the PT exercises for my knee. Last week my therapist told me that she is seeing improvements and I am headed in the right direction. That was good motivation to help me keep up with these 20-30 minute exercises 3 times a day.

4. Bady let me sleep until 7:30 this morning. Yay!

5. Yesterday, thanks to talented and creative members of our congregation, we had a Mardi Gras party after church! It was a great celebration with good food, fellowship, decorations, and community building. I love to see the Narthex packed with people having fun and in no hurry to leave.

6. I've discovered 'Downton Abbey' through streaming Amazon video. It is so good! I'm trying to savor the episodes and not watch them all at once. One a week will last me for quite a while, but it's tempting.....

7. Belated Valentine's Dinner a Leunig's Bistro was fabulous. I'd never had Gnocchi before and I discovered that I really like it. (And the scallops were cooked to perfection!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ministry Musings: The Good and The Difficult

There are some really great things about pastoring. I love participating and leading weekly worship services. I love preaching and all the preparation that goes into it. I love working within a community.

There are also some really difficult things about pastoring. There are the long and, sometimes, unproductive meetings. There is the administrative work that needs to be done for the denomination. There are those times when beloved community members get sick. There are the celebrations of life that are a privilege and a great responsibility.

Since I have been a Faith Church there has not been a lot of illness or many deaths. In two-and-a-half years of ministry I can count the number of funerals I have officiated here on one hand. (That is compared to the average 12 funerals a year at my previous appointments.) Perhaps I am a little out of practice. Still, I wish there didn't have to be any.

But I guess the good comes with the difficult. One of the best and most awe-inspiring things about being a pastor is being welcomed into the life of the congregation. With life comes joy and growth along with pain, illness and death. I'll take the difficult along with the good, because it is all a gift. But that doesn't make the difficult any easier.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February Funk

I feel like I've been in a funk the past couple of weeks. It's nothing serious. I just don't feel like I have much motivation lately. My get-up-and go got-up-and went! I expect this kind of funky-feeling in November when the days are getting shorter and winter is making its arrival known. For some reason I by-passed the November funk this year and it popped up in February!

It probably has something to do with my knee problems and the fact that winter hasn't really arrived. Last February I spent most of my free time shoveling, so I didn't have time for a funk and I was getting plenty of endorphins from all the exercise. It may also have something to do with my Dad's birthday on February 7th ~ the second birthday he has not been around to celebrate.

Today has been a good day with a trip to the gym, a movie this afternoon, cupcakes in the oven for tomorrow's church pot-luck and an interesting recipe to try tonight. I've also got some work for The Bady Partnership to keep my busy this evening. Hopefully my February funk will be short-lived. I'm noticing already that it is staying light much later. Dare I hope that Spring is just around the corner........

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Random News: My Knee!

Last week I started Physical Therapy on my knee. This came about after an unsuccessful skiing trip in January. I had been noticing some pain in my knee while running on the treadmill and going down stairs but it all came to a head when I put the ski boot on and was immediately unable to walk. Yikes!

My Physical Therapist is very nice. She certainly put me through my paces! I have several exercises to do each day to strengthen the muscles around my knee with the ultimately goal of guiding my knee cap into a healthier place.

I'm glad to be getting treated with the hopes of avoiding a larger problem down the road! It is a little frustrating, though, since jogging is now not recommended and it is something I have really enjoyed. Maybe I will be able to start again after my treatment. This is also a reminder that ~ turning 37 next month ~ I am getting older!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Bady Partnership

I would like to introduce you to my new blog, "The Bady Partnership." (I will keep up my occasional blogging here. The Bady Partnership is a new adventure.)

As you may know, I am a survivor of assault and sexual violence. I've shared bits of peices of my story here over the years. My journey of healing has been a long one. I've been aided along the way by supportive friends and family, my faith and my German Shepherd Dog, Bady. After I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, many of the struggles I experienced began to make sense. When Bady came into my life, seven years after my assault, I was at the end of my rope. Bady provided me with the sense of security I needed to heal. (I often say that he restored my false sense of security.) He gave me space to work through my trauma issues. While I will never by completely free of PTSD, I now live most days symptom free.

The Bady Partnership is the beginning sketches of a dream to help other people who have experienced violent or life-threatening assaults and sexual violence find healing. Our way-out-there dream is to one day become a non-profit agency to facilitate canine partnership for people with PTSD, provide education about Rape-Related PTSD and explore other avenues of healing, including recreational therapies. The blog is an opportunity for me to begin to articulate the vision and share what I am learning about PTSD and it's treatment.

As a Christian and as a pastor, I see this as an important ministry and as part of my larger call to ministry. Jesus came so that we all could live abundantly. Abundant living is difficult when one is dealing with the effects of trauma and trying to manage PTSD symptoms on a daily (or hourly) basis. I've identified three passages from Scripture as my focus passages for The Bady Partnership.

For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.
~ 2 Timothy 1:7

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. ~ John 15:11-12

God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. ~ Genesis 1:25

Check our The Bady Partnership when you have a chance! Then let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ministry Musings: Disciplines

Last week I attended the New England Conference Pastor's Winter Gathering. It seemed to come quickly on the heels of Christmas and I was feeling a little stressed about going. I am so glad I went! The topic was "The Art of Spiritual Growth." We had several speakers who talked about spiritual growth from different perspectives: music, art, spiritual disciplines, self care, etc. The whole event was enlightening and the opportunity to fellowship with colleagues was renewing. There were two gems in particular that I took away from the event that touched me personally at this point on my journey:

1. Disciplines are things that we do for ourselves. Lately I've embarked on some new spiritual disciplines. For the most part they have been fruitful. However, during those times that I've 'slipped' I've felt guilty about it. This reminder helped me to know that guilt is so not the point. My disciplines are things I've decided to do to help me draw closer to God. There are going to be times when I slip and forget and that's okay. Tomorrow is a new day with a new opportunity to do something beneficial for myself.

2. The second gem is similar. One of the workshop presenters is a colleague that I deeply respect and consider to be a way more spiritual person than I am. During his workshop he presented his daily discipline and made it clear that he practices that particular discipline five days a week. The other two days he does another discipline ~ or none at all. I've bee struggling with those two days and how to live out my spiritual disciplines on the weekends (Friday and Saturday for me). If he can give himself a break two days a week I think I can too!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Fabulous Furries: Best Picture of Zeke Ever

Zeke isn't know for being particularly photogenic, but this Christmas Day picture does capture some of his best qualities. First, you can see that cute little black nose that usually blends with the rest of his fur. Then there are his big, beautiful, amber eyes. For a 16 year old cat, I think he is looking quite dapper! (From this picture one might even mistake him for a friendly cat.)

Zeke has been with me since before seminary. He has accompanied me to each of the churches I've served. I've been with Zeke longer than I've been with Gary! Most of the time he doesn't seem like an "old" cat, but at 16 I know anything can happen. I have to admit that the possibility that Zeke won't make it to see 2013 has crossed my mind. We've joked that Zeke will out live all of us out of spite, but I suspect that won't be the case.

So I am happy to have the good picture of my cute but elderly little man. 2012 may be the Year of the Dragon, but in our house it will always be the Year of the Cat!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fun with the Family: Merry Christmas

The lead-up to Christmas felt especially hectic this year. I ended up making several pastoral visits in the two weeks leading up to Christmas Day. These visits were important both for me and for the people I saw, but also took big chunks out of my available time. I also found there were a bunch of little things that needed to be taken care of at the last minute ~ both Christmas related and not. I put in more than a few very long days and skipped going to the gym more than I would like to admit. Having Christmas fall on a Sunday just added to the, um, excitement.

Even so ~ and maybe because of it ~ Christmas was wonderful. The Christmas Eve services were spirit-filled and celebratory. The Christmas Day worship was, as one parishioner aptly put it, filled with love. And in the midst of it all, I got to spend some great time with Gary and the furry family members.

After the Christmas Eve services Gary set up the tripod to try to capture our yearly holiday photo. After a busy, exhausting day this about sums it up. I love the smiles on our faces. (Well, Zeke isn't smiling, but.......)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Advent Expectation

I seem to be a little out of practice for Advent. Last year I missed Advent with my congregation since I spent most of it with my Dad in the days before his death. Dad died on December 18th and I didn't return to worship with my congregation until the Sunday after Christmas. Liturgically I went from Christ the King Sunday to Epiphany. Everything in between was a blur.

Spiritually I also missed out on Advent. It was difficult to wait with anticipation for the birth of the Christ Child while I was also anticipating the death of my father. Even so, I was able to draw the connection that, even in the midst of death and despair, Christ comes. A week after my father died we celebrated the birth of the savior of the world. That is the good news. Christ comes.

So this year I am trying to be present in Advent. Even as the Christmas tree and lights and cookies remind me of hospital beds and visiting nurses and funeral directors, I know that Christ comes. In fact, Christ comes right into our living rooms whether they are filled with presents or littered with medications and oxygen machines. Christ still comes.

This is the good news.

Monday, November 07, 2011


I'm feeling a little low on spiritual-reserves lately, so it is a good thing I am getting away for a Spiritual Renewal Retreat this week. I am headed to the Weston Priory for a couple of days of quiet time to renew my soul and restore my spirit. I hope to return filled and ready for the Advent season.

It is easy for me to neglect this renewal time and think I can get by on empty for just a little longer. In fact, I am having trouble remembering the last time I got away specifically for spiritual renewal. Sure, I've taken vacations and attended continuing education events, but spiritual renewal is something different. Spiritual renewal is a specific and deliberate set-aside-time to spend with God. I feel blessed to work within a denomination that recognizes the need for such time. I am grateful to serve a church that encourages me to spend the time away from them to renew myself so I can be a better pastor.

So I wonder what God will have in store for me this week in the quiet moments we will spend together. I have a couple of books to bring and some writing I would like to do, but I am also looking forward to just "being" for a period of time. Just being and listening and opening myself to that still, small voice.