Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A New England Weekend

Last weekend I played 'hooky' from my usual Saturday activities and went leaf-peeping with my wonderful husband. Most weeks Gary, and I do not share a day off ~ my day off being Friday and his being Saturday and Sunday. So this was a special treat!

We planned our day away a week in advance, so we had no way of knowing it was going to rain. Oh well...we went anyway! We drove out to western Connecticut and enjoyed the colors of the leaves through the fog. When we got to Kent we decided to hike up Kent's Falls. It was beautiful. Then we shared a late lunch in a cozy restaurant in Litchfield, CT. It was a great day!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Puzzling

Serving a church can certainly be puzzling. You try to maneuver everything into the right spot in the right order, but you still come up with gaps and holes and pieces that don't quite fit together. Then something comes along that sweeps everything off the table and you have to start all over again. Puzzling.

Maybe that is why completing this actual puzzle felt so good. One thousand pieces that all fit together perfectly to make this beautiful picture. Done!



That is, until this afternoon when I carefully took all the pieces apart and put them back in the box. Another puzzle is waiting for us. I'm glad to have one puzzle done... but I am also glad to have the other puzzle in progress. The one that will never be finished, that is, because the Holy Spirit is is still molding us ~ shaping our edges, rounding our rough spots, transforming us into a beautiful mosaic to the glory of God.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Follow Up

This is a quick follow up on my previous post, "Not Interested." Marian (our parish visitor) and I looked into Otis' situation and found that there was a simple misunderstanding. The day I tried to visit, Otis' regular caregiver was off and the woman I encountered was her substitute. When I came to the door the substitute caregiver didn't know what to do. Although I found her brusque attitude disturbing, it is good to know that she reported the incident to the regular caregiver. When Marian called, the caregiver apologized.

We also learned that Otis is doing well. He is going to group therapy three days a week where he is making connections with other people. His depression is lessening. He also adopted a cat! God is good!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Five ~ Pumpkin Edition

RevGal Singing Owl suggests the following 'seasonal' Friday Five:


1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?


First there was the church Halloween party where we would get all dressed up, bob for apples, eat donuts off strings, and have our pictures taken by Sunday School class. Then, on Halloween night, my Mom would drive me around town to trick-or-treat and we would meet my Dad at the town Halloween party where there would be games and a costume contest. It was a fun time of year.


2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?


Now I don't do anything for Halloween. In fact, Gary and I think we will go out to dinner this Wednesday so as to avoid any trick-or-treat-ers. The door bell constantly dinging upsets the dog and we don't know many of the kids in our neighborhood anyway. I know.... it's sad.


3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?


We have a couple pumpkins out on our front steps. Usually the squirrels end up eating them or they get stolen and splattered in the street! So far, so good this year. We haven't made any Jack O' Lanterns, but we have had stuffed pumpkin and baked pumpkin seeds.


4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.


Yes. As I mentioned, our front steps are adorned with pumpkins. Also, we have some inside decorations.


5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?


No, I don't like to dress up. Maybe something small like a weird hat, but nothing elaborate. But, as you know from prior posts, this does not stop be from dressing up the pets.

"Bat Dog"



Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.



Stuffed Pumpkin


Clean one medium sized sugar or regular pumpkin.


Brown:
1 lb. hamburger
1 lb. loose sausage
1 med. sized onion
1 med. sized pepper

Mix with four or five cups of mashed potatoes.

Add:

1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash celery salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash chili powder

Stuff pumpkin and bake in 350 degree oven for one and a half hours or until pumpkin is cooked. Slice and serve.

Yum!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Laugh or Cry

This is one of those times when I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Some major changes are taking place with our Contemporary Service. People who have been instrumental in forming and supporting the service are leaving the church. Our Praise Band has shrunk to three brave souls. The congregation is beginning to panic. Some are beginning to wonder if maybe the Contemporary Service has run it's course. I have had my moments of panic myself.

But then yesterday I gathered with five faithful and dedicated folks, some of whom came to faith in Christ through the Contemporary Service, who are not ready to throw in the towel just yet. We talked for an hour and a half about our hopes and dreams for Contemporary Worship. We came to a consensus that it cannot continue as it is, which is, I believe, speaking the truth in love. Yet there was a very definite sense that the Spirit was leading us to try a "new thing."

There is still grief over the departure of our fellow church members, the loss of a dream that began six-plus years ago, and the loss of what is and what could have been. But there is also hope and excitement and vision. How exciting is that? Sometimes tears come with laughter, thanks be to God!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Five ~ Food Edition

RevHRod gives us today's Friday Five in honor of the reality show Top Chef. I haven't seen it, but I'll play along anyway!

If you were a food, what would you be?

Probably a traditional New England dish. Something hearty yet not too spicy.

What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where?

A while back I ate at a local restaurant that I heard was great. I'm sure the food would've been good if I hadn't been distracted by the fly that had died on top of my penne pasta. I won't name the restaurant since others have had good experiences there....

What is your favorite comfort food from childhood?

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies. We almost always had them around and they were always delicious. makes me feel good just thinking about them!

When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit?

My stand-bys are Lime Pear Salad (a jello dish with cream cheese and pears) or Pea Salad (canned peas with cheddar cheese, celery, mayo and bacon bits). The Pea Salad sounds kind of gross (at least to me... canned peas?!?), but it is really good and everyone seems to like it.

What’s the strangest thing you ever willingly ate?

I'm a recent convert to sushi. Eating raw fish still kind of freaks me out, but it is surprisingly good.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Playing Catch-up

A fellow UM New England blogger shared the following story on his blog. I had heard it before, but something about it struck me this time:

Ruth Fry was a distinguished explorer who was working in the Amazon with natives as guides and bearers. On one trip, the party made extraordinary progress through the jungle for the first two days. On the third day, however, the natives were just sitting around looking solemn and making no preparations for further travel. The chief explained that the natives couldn't go any further because," they have to wait for their souls to catch up to their bodies."

Morning devotions have become very important to me in the past couple of years. Before that I basically practiced devotions on a hit or miss basis... depending on my schedule or how tired I was at the end of the day. Since I have been regularly reading the Bible, praying and meditating early in the morning I have felt closer to God and more balanced in my work and life. As a result, I think I have come to a deeper appreciation of the needs of my soul.

When reading the story it struck me that on those days I don't do that (yes, there still are some days!), it does feel as though I haven't given my soul that time to catch up with my body. Instead of operating on soul-strength ~ nourished by the presence of God ~ I am trying to operate on my own strength. I can get by a couple days like that, but in the end, it never works out. So all the more reason to stick with my spiritual discipline.

Thanks, ministry and moments in Maine, for the inspiration and reminder!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fall - ing

The past several years I have noticed a change in my spirit during the fall. I begin the fall with excitement and anticipation, which soon dissipates into exhaustion and apprehension. It is not so significant that I would describe it as depression, but it is noticeable enough. Maybe it is the decrease in sun light, the effect of Charge Conference season or stress from upcoming holidays. Maybe it is the let down from the months spent gearing up for the new fall programs. Maybe it is just the way my spirit works.

Whatever the cause, it just seems that it takes a little more effort to get things done. Housework takes longer. Sermons don't come so easily. Sleep is more fleeting. Getting out of bed is a chore.

I don't write any of this to make you feel sorry for me! I write it simply to acknowledge that it has happened and is happening. I don't want to deny it, so I am owning it as my reality. Life is full of ups and downs. Knowing the ups are coming makes the downs more tolerable. At least that's what I'm telling myself. And, as I said in an earlier post (quoting John Wesley), "The best of all, God is with us."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Not Interested!

After seven years of ministry, I experienced a first yesterday. I'm sure there will be many more firsts, but yesterday's first was getting a door slammed in my face. I knocked on the door of a parishioner's home to pay a pastoral call, only to be met by a grumpy caregiver who took one look at me and said, "Not interested!"

Here is a bit of the back story. Several weeks ago I officiated at Dot's funeral. Dot and Otis had been married more than 50 years and never had any children. In fact, they outlived all of their family except a couple of nieces who live several states away. Despite the fact that Dot was on hospice and had been experiencing dementia and failing health for a long time, Otis thought she was getting better. Her death shocked him and he has been severely depressed ever since. So, as his dutiful pastor, I have been visiting him regularly.

Otis currently has 24 hour care, which is good. I hadn't seen Otis in a couple of weeks when I stopped by yesterday to find a different caregiver answering the door. She looked at me suspiciously, which is understandable, so I introduced myself and gave her my card. It was clear that she has difficulty speaking / understanding English. I asked her to tell Otis that I was at the door. Instead she proclaimed, "Not interested!" and slammed the door in my face.

I will certainly follow up on this, but it left me with some questions. Is Otis being mistreated? Was this caregiver trying to hide something? Since he has no family to check up on him, it would be easy for someone to take advantage of his situation. In fact, I suspect that he has few if any outside visitors. What is my role as his pastor? How is my role seen in the community? (In some ways the Pastor's role in the community has diminished over the past few decades.)

I'm sure I am over reacting to a simple misunderstanding, but I can't help but wonder what I would / could do to be a voice for parishioners who have no family to advocate on their behalf. Although Otis has no biological family, he has a church family and that should count for something.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Between

In between posting videos of my cat and participating in fashion shows, I've had a pretty busy couple of weeks. Here is a quick run down:

Attended a District Clergy Retreat
Officiated at two funerals
Suffered through three migraines
Endured the dreaded 'parsonage inspection'
Interviewed three candidates for our church Office Manager position
Went to three doctors appointments
Had two rather stressful medical tests
Found out everything is normal (Thank God!)
Went out on a date with my husband
Visited the Durham Agricultural Fair
Didn't bring home a bunny, even though I wanted to!
Stopped going to the gym
Started back going to the gym
Finished two books
Attended an Ecumenical Clergy lunch
Watched two movies

In the midst of this rather busy time, one thought has stayed with me.... "The best of all, God is with us." (John Wesley's deathbed confession) No matter what life brings, that really is the best of all.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Check out my Cat Walk

It was fun.... and for good cause.

Manchester Area Conference of Churches "Fashion for Good".

PS - This may take a minute to load.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I'm it!

This has been going around with some of the Rev Gals.

Pink Shoes writes, "Consider yourself tagged if you want to play." So I guess I'm it!

This one comes in sets of four. They're a collection of strange little tidbits.

Four jobs I've held:
Genealogist's Assistant
Customer Service Representative
Library Work Study Student
Pastor

Four films I could watch over and over:
Mixed Nuts
Pretty in Pink
March of the Penguins
Miss Potter

Four TV shows I watch (Tivo):
Grey's Anatomy
Brothers and Sisters
The Dog Whisperer
Monk

Four places I've lived:
East Poland, Maine
Bangor, Maine
Holbrook, Mass
Manchester, Connecticut

Four favorite foods:
Chocolate Cake
Lobastah
Corn on the Cob
Fried Dough

Four websites I visit every day:
"The Google"
YahooMail
Comics.com
Bloglines

Four places I would love to be right now:
On a cruise
At the movies
Getting a massage
Hiking in the woods

Four names I love but would/could not use for my children:
Drusilla
Dorkas
Tristan (I would use it, but Gary vetoed it!)
Lucy (Ditto the above)

And you can consider yourself tagged if you want to play!