Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Borrowed Book

I am currently reading the book Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps by Ted Kooser. It was a book originally intended for my Gram, but she died just a few days before the Christmas she would have gotten it as a gift from my mother. Mum then gave it to me and it has been stacked in a pile of books ever since.

For some reason I had been reluctant to read it until now. It is the type of book that Gram would have loved. She would love the imagery and the descriptions of nature and she would feel close to the land where her daughter now lives (Nebraska). In some ways I feel Gram reading over my shoulder as I move through Kooser's illustrations and vignettes.

Mid-may, and all afternoon the goldfinches have been harvesting black dandelion seed, flitting from white puff to white puff, burning those little black pellets of coal. Last winter, they were all in khaki, wearing their army surplus overcoats. But inside each of them, through the winter months, one of last summer's dandelion seeds was slowly coming to life, and each breast wasbeginning to bloom like a bright yellow flower.

Gram loved birds and language and flowers. She helped me to love these things as well. I appreciate the joy she would have found in this book and I feel close to her and I thank God for goldfinches and dandelions and I miss my Gram.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Friday.... errr.... Tuesday Five

Okay. So I am really late to the Friday Five this week. I didn't quite get around to it on Friday, what with getting my hair cut and going shopping! But it was such a good one that I wanted to play anyway. Here goes:

1. Have you ever successfully quit a bad habit, or gotten a good habit established? Tell us about how you did it.

I am quite pleased with myself lately for both my exercising and devotion habits! For a long time I struggled with the "perfect" time to both exercise and do my devotions, only to avoid, procrastinate ~ basically come up with any excuse not to do it. About a year ago I started both exercising and doing my devotions first thing in the morning. I've found that it feels great to start the day knowing that I've spent time nurturing both my body and my soul.

2. "If only there were a 12-step program for _________________!"

Obsessive coaster arranging. I am constantly repositioning the coasters on the coffee table after Gary messes them up. There is a way they are supposed to be. Why don't people understand that?? I know... I have a problem.

3. Share one of your healthy "obsessions" with us.

I am obsessed with getting at least eight hours of sleep every night. After figuring out what time I have to get up, I count backward to make sure I get to bed on time!

4. Share the habit of a spouse, friend or loved one that drives you C-R-A-Z-Y.

Didn't I already mention the coaster issue above!

5. "I'd love to get into the habit of ___________________."

I guess I will answer this a little differently. I think I would like to get out of the habit of making To-Do lists. Now, don't get me wrong. I could never give up To-Do lists completely. I keep my sanity by writing things down. But still, it would be nice to not be tied down to a To-Do list at least one day a week. Sounds kind of like a Sabbath!

Bonus: What is one small action you might take immediately to make #5 a reality?

I'm not sure. I guess I'll have to start a list of things To-Do to give up my To-Do list.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hiking in the Woods

While on a hike in Massachusetts today, Gary and I made an interesting discovery. These twin lady slippers peeked out from the side of the trail to greet us on the way down the mountain. We didn't notice them on the way up. (I guess we were too preoccupied with the steep hike and too out of breathe to look around.) Yet on the way back these beauties caught my eye.

Lady slippers remind me of home. Back at "The Grove" there were usually quite a few lady slippers to be found this time of year.... some alone, peeking through the pine needles where you wouldn't expect them.... others in little communities of slippers.... some white and others pink. My Gram loved to discover them. Of course, there is a law against picking them, so all one can do is enjoy them in their natural habitat, which is just as it should be!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Meeting with the Bishop - Yikes!

Today I have a half hour meeting with the Bishop in preparation for my ordination. Surprisingly, I'm not really that nervous. My senior pastor thinks he will drill me with theological questions, but I'm pretty sure that is not the intent of this meeting! Just in case, my senior pastor supplied me with potential answers to any question the Bishop might ask: a) John Wesley, b) The Book of Disciple, or c) Because you're the Bishop.

As I alluded to before, the thing that has been on my mind most lately is the issue of authority. After the Bishop lays hands on my at my ordination he will present me with a Bible and say, "Krista, take authority as an elder in the Church to preach the word of God, and to administer the Holy Sacraments."

How is this authority different than the authority I've taken as a licenced local pastor and a commissioned elder? What difference will my ordination, and the authority that comes with it, make in my ministry? I'm sure it will make a difference, it will just be interesting to see how this difference manifests itself in my life and vocation.

I think I struggle with authority to some extent because I am an associate pastor. While my yes means yes and my no means no (most of the time), the ultimate authority in my church resides with the senior pastor. Despite the fact that he gives me a lot of latitude in my areas of ministry and allows me space to lead, he is "The Pastor," so sometimes I wonder where that leaves me.

Yet the bishop will lay hands on me and present me with a Bible and I will be ordained and it will be the culmination of many years of hard work and an affirmation of the call I have felt on my heart since I was very young and it will be amazing. And, with God's grace, I will take my authority. And I will see where it leads.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Five Years

Last Friday Gary and I celebrated five years of marriage. Five years! It has gone by so fast. To honor the occasion we spent some time in Boston's North End. We ate at the original Pizza Regina's, visited North Church and just generally walked around. We saw three big dogs playing in a fountain in the park... chasing each other and chasing balls. It was a warm day and everyone got a big kick out of their antics.

Over the past few days I have been reflecting on marriage, my marriage in particular, and the significance of five years. While we have certainly had our ups and downs, fights and disagreements and difficulties, I feel that I have truly married my best friend. No one quite 'gets me' like Gary 'gets me.' Throughout five years we have dealt with some pretty heavy stuff and have gotten through most of it with a smile. For this I am unbelievably thankful.

In my early twenties I was briefly married to my high school sweetheart. While we made good partners to each other in high school, the marriage was a disaster. Looking back, I can see now that we had totally different ideas about life, faith and family. The marriage lasted a little more than a year and left me wondering if I would ever find anyone who would understand and love me for the person God made me to be ~ call to ministry and all!

This experience in my young adulthood gives me a deeper appreciation for the man I married and the marriage I have today. While we don't know where life will take us, it will take us there together with a lot of prayer and hard work and a few laughs along the way. So be it, Lord! So be it!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Liturgically Minded

Yesterday I went shoe shopping. I found a great pair of red sling-backs with a low heel. Very cute shoes! My first comment was, "I can wear these on Pentecost!" Gary's response was that my fashion statements don't have to coincide with the liturgical season.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sleeping Giant

Last Monday Gary and I took a personal day so we could take off and have some fun. The way our schedule currently works, I have Fridays off and I have to work on Saturday (and obviously Sunday). Gary, though, has Saturday and Sunday off. As a result, we rarely have a whole day off together. So this was an extra special day.

We both like to hike, so Gary scouted out a place called Sleeping Giant State Park. It is a lovely place with many trails and Monday was a beautiful day ~ great weather and not too crowded. We hiked up the main trail and at the top of the 'mountain' we found this tower.

We spent some time in the tower eating granola bars and looking at the view. On our descent, we decided to take a different trail... something a little more interesting. Interesting it was! Unlike our climb up, we climbed down over rocks and roots. At some points we could barely follow the trail. We had to ford streams. It was quite an adventure. We met other people along the way who had not expected the challenging hike either. We laughed and warned each other of what they would find down the trail. However, if we had not moved off the main trail we would not have experienced the flowers and wildlife and enjoyed the rush of the river.

Life is like that too, in many ways. (There is probably a sermon in there somewhere!) While hiking along, Gary and I joked about taking the road less travelled. When you stay on the main path, it might be safer, but you don't get the same excitement and you miss some of the scenery. It may be a little more challenging, though. You may get wet feet or skin your knee, but overall it is definitely worth it. (At least it was last Monday for me!)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dianne's Ordination

Last Sunday afternoon Gary and I went to the ordination service of my friend Dianne. Dianne and I went through CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) together six years ago. We became good friends and have kept in touch through the years. Dianne's journey has been an interesting one through the Episcopal Church to the United Church of Christ. She was ordained a United Church of Christ Pastor and currently works as a chaplain in a United Methodist care center. She is a fellow dog lover and I have always thought that we were kindred spirits.

The service (what we saw of it) was beautiful. We got lost on the way, which was the cause of much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the car. We arrived at the church just in time for the ordination itself. The most moving part of the service was the invitation for all present to lay hands on each other so we were all, in effect, laying hands on Dianne. It was an intimate and personal service ~ very different from ordination in the United Methodist Church.

My reflection on Dianne's ordination, though, has caused me to realize that I have not written much here about my own ordination coming up on June 8th. My ordination exam was back in October. You may remember that as being a very quiet time on my blog. I had fully convinced myself that I would not pass my ordination exam on my first try, so when I did pass I was completely unprepared. I wondered, am I really ready? Did the Board make a mistake? Interestingly, I believe I went through a time of shock and then grief when I learned I had passed the exam. Grief may be a strange reaction to accomplishing something I had worked so hard to achieve.... yet what I went through felt very much like grief. Grief over ending my 'time of preparation,' my novitiate, so to speak. Now it is time to take on authority (my authority? the church's authority? God's authority?) and live into it.

Several months have passed since then and now I do feel that the Board made the right decision and that I am ready. Ready for what? I'm not quite sure. But with God's strength and the support of the body of Christ, I will face whatever comes. While ordination in the United Methodist Church does not allow for the collective laying on of hands, as Dianne experienced in her ordination, I know I will feel the touch of all the hands that have reached out to me in love, support and encouragement through the years as I kneel at the altar. It is only through the touch of all those hands that I will make it to that altar in the first place. Thanks be to God!