Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Merry Christmas everyone! May you have a celebration filled with the presence of Christ and sharing in the presence of the ones you love!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
My pre-holiday cold put me behind, so there are many things I need to accomplish by Christmas Eve! Luckily none of these things involve shopping..... well, unless you count grocery shopping. Anyway, here goes:
1. The Christmas Eve sermon needs to be started and finished. At least I have a theme. I will be reflecting on the carol Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming. Did you know the original had 22 verses? I promise I won't make my congregation sing them all.
2. I definitely need to find some time for wrapping. In fact, I may try to do some of that tonight!
3. I guess it is time to put up the Christmas tree. No glass ornaments will be going up this year because of the new 'puppy'.... so the tree decorating will probably involve making some paper ornaments.
4. Sometime this week we need to make our annual trek around the neighborhood to deliver our holiday breads and, hopefully, some Christmas cheer. This is a fun tradition and the only time all year we get to see some of our neighbors.
5. It would be nice to catch up on my sleep before preaching the 11:00pm Christmas Eve service. I'm not sure if I will be able to do this, though.... with everything else on my to do list!
Monday, December 08, 2008
Things I am thankful for this Monday:
1. A husband who will take a vacation day to do Christmas baking, shopping and wrapping.
2. A friend who will just listen, even when much of what I say does not make much sense.
3. A dog who will lay on the floor by my feet through a three (yes, three!) hour Charge Conference meeting.
4. A congregation that is willing to welcome a dog to the Charge Conference meeting!
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
(Thanks, Edith, for the photo!)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Gift of Presence
Matt, Farrah, Melissa and Ben challenge us to celebrate Christmas in a different way. I thank them for their effort to share this message. While I am still out at the mall and shopping on-line, Gary and I have talked about ways we can celebrate Christmas more intentionally. I certainly feel a tension between honoring the true meaning of Christmas and making Christmas special for the children in our lives (i.e. full of gifts under the tree!). During this Christmas and Christmases to come, I hope to move more toward a more presence-centered celebration. I invite you to check out this video and join the "Gift of Presence" movement. Thanks Matt, Farrah, Melissa and Ben!
Monday, November 24, 2008
This was the first baptism I've officiated at where I have had such a close relationship with the family. I held Katie just hours after she was born. I've seen her grow and change these past five months. She smiles when she sees me. I'm her "Auntie" Krista.
I have to admit that coming down the chancel steps for the baptism my knees were shaking. The hymnal trembled in my hands as I asked her parents and sponsors the historic questions. I think I was nervous because I wanted all to go perfectly for this little girl and her family. Upon reflection I think I was also awed to be in the presence of such love and grace... God's love, experienced through the movement of the Holy Spirit and in the embrace of God's people, is truly amazing. So thank you Katie Grace. Yesterday was a day I will never forget.
Friday, November 14, 2008
When a person decides to embark on a journey, he or she begins an undertaking whose destination and outcome is often as unpredictable as it is unseen. In fact, not only do we often not know where we are going, we do not know who we will become or whether we will even recognize ourselves at the end of our paths.
Please pray for me as I embark on this spiritual, as well as physical, journey!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Okay, so I haven't actually been walking on water. But I did attend WOW ~ Walk on Water ~ The New England Conference School of Congregational Development. I had the pleasure of being on the worship design team. It was great fun and I got to work with lots of interesting and creative people. Paul Nixon was the keynote speaker and shared with us many insights and ideas.
I'll be back to blogging soon, but my activity may be spotty for a while. Next week I head off to the Lombard Mennonite Peace Institute Mediation Skills Training for a five day intensive class. I'll post when can!
Friday, October 31, 2008
1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?
If I'm just a little bit fried I find it refreshing to cook dinner or take the dogs for a walk or read a good novel. It is nice to just get 'out of my head' for a while. If my brain is totally fried vegging out zombie-like in front of the TV has been known to be healing!
2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?
Go to bed early! Get up late! Have dinner out and go to a movie or just hibernate in the house without answering the phone. Baking is fun, too. As an introvert it is important for me to have a few hours each week when I don't have to have any sort of human interaction or contact.
3) Do you have 'stop everything' TV programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?
I thank God for the inventor of the DVR! There are several shows I like to watch, but almost all of them are on past my bedtime. (Yes, I go to bed at 9:00pm!) But with the magic of the DVR, those shows are at the ready when I've had one of my totally fried brain days! And I don't even have to watch the commercials! A few of my favorites are: Brothers and Sisters, Grey's Anatomy, Law and Order: SVU and (lately) The Biggest Looser. As for books, when the latest Anne Tyler book comes out ~ I'm there!
4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?
Gary and I shared a good laugh a coupe days ago. It was over something funny Bady did. (I can't remember exactly what right now.) When they are not being annoying, the pets supply endless comic relief.
5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not?
The thing that comes to mind is coffee. While I can and do drink cheap coffee, first thing in the morning I love my Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla. The day just doesn't seem right without it.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, "Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office; I fast a little; I pray and meditate; I live in peace; and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?" Then the old man stood up and stretched out his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, "If you will, you can become all flame."
Friday, October 24, 2008
This is where I was totally shocked. The man took my hand, glanced at me briefly and began a conversation with someone else while I was in the middle of saying, "I serve at....." I felt completely and totally dismissed. As our gathering went on, I noticed that this man's focus was mostly directed at the other men in the room. To him, it seemed to me, the women were invisible.
Even after the official gathering concluded, and we were getting ready to leave, he went out of his way to say good-bye to the man I was giving a ride home to.... completely ignoring the fact that I was standing next to him.
While I have certainly experienced sexism, this was my first experience with such, seemingly, blatant sexism from a colleague in ministry. In my mind I tried to make excuses for him ~ perhaps he doesn't realize he is doing this ~ maybe it's not as bad as I think ~ he's new at this gathering and might be uncomfortable ~ maybe he is not used to dealing with women on a professional basis. But even if those things are true, it is not an excuse. And if he dismisses his colleagues like this, I wonder how he treats his female parishioners.
So, my question becomes, what do I do at our next gathering? Do I hold my tongue? Do I challenge him? Do I subtly try to draw his attention to the gifts and graces of his female colleagues in the room ~ myself included? Should I speak with the other females in the group to see if they felt similarly? Is it worth it to put myself 'out there' when I could be seen as the one with the problem? Any thoughts?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In the past (due to my history and ~ yes ~ the fact that I am a woman) I would not have gotten out of my car. I probably would have left and come back closer to 7:00 when people would have started arriving for the meeting. However, this time I had Bady ~ German Shepherd Dog extraordinaire. As we got out of the car the stranger said, "Nice dog." I smiled and said, "Thank you." Bady looked at him and gave a nice 'big dog' bark. Nothing threatening, but it was as if he were saying, "Don't get any ideas, Dude. This is my Mumma." We then walked ~ calmly and assertively ~ into the church.
At a busy church, situations like this come up all the time and I've always struggled with them ~ strangers in the parking lot ~ strangers in the building. Let's just say Bady got a few extra kisses and some peanut butter in his 'kong' last night. Because he is doing his job, I am better able to do mine.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I frequently receive mailings from denominational groups that appear to be intended not as much to nurture and heal as to divide and conquer. So often the rhetoric seems more like gossip than truth telling in love, aimed at discovery and mutuality. The division, partisanship, and sharp criticism, not only of positions but also of persons, have not strengthened denominations, communities, congregations families, or individuals. The louder our voices and the more strident our rhetoric, the weaker and more wounded we ourselves become. Our witness to the redeeming love of God loses its authenticity and its power as our unwillingness to be reconciled continues.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Connecticut is just entering into the debate that may or may not lead to a similar vote. So far there have been angry letters to the editor and people protesting the ruling in Hartford. I thank Molly for her insights and hope that I may be so eloquent in describing my position to friends and parishioners if I find myself in a similar situation. For now I celebrate marriage equality in Connecticut and pray that this spirit of equality spreads.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Believe in the Lord and love him. Keep yourself from impure thoughts and fleshy pleasures. Pray continually. Avoid vanity. Sing psalms before sleep and on awakening. Hold in your hearts the commandments of Scripture. Be mindful of the works of the saints so that your souls, being put in remembrance of the commandments, may be brought into harmony with the zeal of the saints.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
RevGal Mother Laura suggests, "... share your experiences with the exciting, challenging world of business travel...."
1. Does your job ever call for travel? Is this a joy or a burden?
My "business" travel is mostly for Annual Conference and Continuing Education events. Most of the time travel is within New England, but a couple times I've been able to go a little further. In 2003 I went to the School of Congregational Development in Washington D.C. In 2005 I traveled to the National Pastor's Convention in Nashville. Both were great! In about a month I am heading to the mid west for a mediation training institute offered through the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. I can't wait!
Since my business travel happens relatively infrequently it has not become a burden. I would say it is a joy. At least it's a change of pace.
2. How about that of your spouse or partner?
Gary has yet to join me on a 'business' trip. Next month he will be staying home to take care of the dogs and cat. If he did come, we would have to pay his way. But that's okay! We'll save his time off for exotic vacation travel!
As for his business travel, most of his travel is day trips. However, he did have the chance to go to a conference in California last summer. It happened to fall during Campmeeting, so Ben and I stayed here in New England while he enjoyed the other coast.
3. What was the best business trip you ever took?
My trip to the National Pastor's Convention was a lot of fun. I heard lots of amazing speakers, got the chance to experience new forms of worship and explored a little bit of Nashville. It didn't hurt that the hotel was really nice and I had a room all to myself! (See below!)
4. ...and the worst, of course?
Well, the Washington trip was good. I learned a lot and got to hear Adam Hamilton speak. The accommodations at the hotel were nice, but I was trying to save money by sharing a room with 3 other women that I didn't know very well and.... well.... it just got.... crowded.
5. What would make your next business trip perfect?
Smooth air travel, nice hotel, the chance to grow in my faith and ministry skills and the opportunity to make new friends!
Thursday, October 09, 2008
All of us - all parts of our congregational system - think, feel and act the way we do as a result of our interactions as members of this system. Family systems therapists refer to 'family strategies' which largely go unnoticed by outsiders and that frequently are unstated and not always understood by participants themselves. Nonverbal exchange patterns between family members in particular represent subtle, coded transactions that may transmit family 'rules.' Norms are those unwritten psychological rules that govern the way any human community behaves. They are generally unconscious, especially for people who have been part of the community for a long time. People are not trying to keep 'secrets' from one another. Norms simply are by definition unconscious and therefore unspoken.
This made me think about those unwritten rules that operate within our congregation. How do these influence our interactions? Our ability to get things done? Our relationships with each other? Norms are not necessarily bad, but they can become unhealthy if they are used to ignore or cover over issues that should be dealt with upfront. And how do our norms either welcome or exclude new comers? Is our process open and transparent or would a new member of the Administrative Board wonder why we do things the way we do? Thoughts to ponder....
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
So despite the fact that we are relatively young and, hopefully, have many years left together, Gary and I have given some thought as to what we would want at the end of life. Here are some of my requirements:
~ I want the disposition of my body to be done in the most environmentally friendly way possible. No embalming. No fancy vault-like casket that will preserve my remains forever. Cremation would be my choice. I want to go back to the earth ~ ashes to ashes, dust to dust, or something like that! I don't have a strong preference as to where to scatter my ashes, just somewhere beautiful and peaceful.
~ I don't want my family to go broke in the process. Please, no talk of "only the best for Mom." As far as I am concerned, the best would be for my family to celebrate my life by living. No limousines. No visiting hours. Just a nice Memorial Service at whatever church I had been attending followed by a reception in the Fellowship Hall. A good, ole Methodist collation with lots of food and lots of laughter.
~ As for the service, I only have two requirements. I would like to be there ~ my urn, that is. To me, there is something about being brought back to the church, surrounded by the community of faith, one last time. And Marching to Zion has to be the final hymn ~ clapping and all!
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I'm not sure why he was gone or why he has returned, but it is nice to have Grace back. Or maybe , like the Prevenient Grace he reminded me of in the first place, he was there all along but we just didn't realize it.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
In her book Kate writes about the loss of her husband and our modern culture's view of death. In carrying out Drew's wishes she wanted to be as close to the process as possible, which goes against everything our society tells us about death. She writes:
Modern culture does not encourage us, let alone require us, to take care of the bodies of our dead, any more than we are required to take care of our loved ones as they give birth or suffer or die. Instead, we are offered the expensive illusion that through a mortician's skills the bodies of those we love will remain. There will be roses in their cheeks, chemicals in their systems, and thickly padded coffins to preserve those beloved limbs from the saprophytes that would otherwise claim them. Your loved one will never be dirt, they say.
Kate knew that Drew would want to be dirt... would want the stuff of his earthly existence to go back to the earth. I thoroughly enjoyed this courageous book by my classmate. Drew's calling became her calling and she is in the midst of very important work as chaplain to game wardens in Maine. I also thank her for pointing out what I see as the absurdity of our society's views on death. More on this later....
Friday, September 26, 2008
I like September because it means a return to the routine and ~ while a break in the routine is nice now and then ~ I am really a person who thrives on routine. For now dinner is in the crock pot and a chocolate cake is cooling on the stove. I will put an extra blanket on the bed tonight. I'm enjoying these last few days of September and my routine ~ a routine including my regular day off. May you be blessed by these warm days and cool nights and may your routine bring rest and moments of peace with cozy blankets, hot meals, and, of course, chocolate!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I vow to offer joy to one person in the morning
And to relieve the grief of one person in the afternoon.
I vow to live simply and sanely,
Content with few possessions.
I vow to keep my body healthy.
I vow to get go of all worries and anxieties
In order to be light and free.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
One of the most important things I learned from her was to look inside myself for the tools to deal with my trauma. If I said that she had given me the tools she would protest, saying that I had found the tools within myself.
One thing she did give me, though, was the idea that ultimately led to the arrival of Bady. She said that sometimes the tools come from within, and sometimes they come from outside, but they are all God given. I know that I was just one of many clients, but maybe ~ in the words of her tradition ~ a tiny bit of her spiritual energy is blessing Bady now.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Pure love does not attach itself to pleasure or feeling, bodily or spiritual. In the same way, a spiritual attachment that seems good is dangerous. It can mislead the Soul into attaching itself not to God but to those pleasurable sentiments; he who seeks the naked love of God must flee these sentiments. Bodily sentiments, by contrast, are obviously opposed to the Spirit, and the appearance of being good is not as persuasive - that is why they are less dangerous. Spiritual pleasures, however, are something of a poison against pure love of God. They are more difficult to eradicate once we become attached to them. Not to understand this is to be barred from the one perfect Good - God pure and naked.
Monday, September 15, 2008
But doesn't it feel good. To just have a regular grumpy day, that is. In fact, it is refreshing. It's a gift. I know I must be emerging from my summer-time dark night of the soul when I can thank God for a regular old grumpy day!
Friday, September 12, 2008
1. Yesterday I gave the invocation at a Community 9-11 "Hero's Tribute." I was a well planned and very well attended event. In my prayer I spoke of peace and compassion and remembrance. My question, though, is how do we balance remembering the victims and honoring our heroes with continued calls for retribution and revenge? After seven years and over 4,000 military deaths we still, in some ways, seem consumed with anger. How do we.... can we even... move past this anger to embody peace in our world community?
2. While I was at the 9-11 remembrance, my amazing and daring husband took both dogs (Nicky and Bady) for a walk... by himself... at the same time. Wow! I couldn't believe it!
3. I am all about Obama, but I still find myself oddly drawn to and curious about Sarah Palin. I can't stop reading about her, even though much of what I read I find appalling. Has anyone else had this experience?
4. I actually put "Visit the Farmer's Market" on my calendar for tomorrow. If we are going to start eating locally, we better be willing to get our butts out of bed to see what is actually available locally!
5. How did it get to be September? Is Sunday School actually starting THIS WEEK? Is our Consecration Sunday REALLY only six weeks away? And, most importantly, when will the new season of Grey's Anatomy begin?? If you know, please clue me in!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Two statistics always catch me off guard. It does not seem possible that:
~ One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
~ An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year.
While I do not know the particular trauma of domestic violence, I do know the trauma of assault. Several years before I came to
Yet, like many survivors of violence, I continue to deal with the post-traumatic effects of the assault. Several months may go by without a triggering event, but then something can happen that causes me to re-experience the trauma as if it were happening for the first time. I don’t write this so you will feel sorry for me. That is not my intention at all. My intention is to underscore the effects of violence and affirm that it can happen to anyone. I would not be surprised if someone reading this letter has had a similar experience.
While I completely support Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wonder if every month shouldn’t be “Violence Awareness Month”? As Christians we need to take a stand against the many ways people perpetrate violence against each other. The effects of violence are long lasting and shape not just ourselves but our neighborhoods, our communities, and our world.
A favorite verse of mine reads:
For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Violence begets fear, but love is more powerful than fear. Let us not be afraid to stand up against violence in our homes, in our communities and in our world. Let us use our best thinking and our best loving, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, to spread peace.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The jobs of people in ministry suggest their being "in control" of sacred things. Yet the monk, the priest, the teacher never do more than skirt the truth. They mask as much as they reveal. For them, the need to distinguish their jobs from their work is absolutely necessary; otherwise they run the risk of idolatry. I love my job, but I do it well only so long as it remains secondary to something else.
So, regardless of your vocation, what is that 'something else' for you?
Friday, September 05, 2008
My story is different than hers, but resonates with much of what she writes ~ the feelings of pain, the wanting to forget, the fear, the sense of shame. I pray that as my journey continues I can be as strong and brave as Connors. In Part 1 she writes about her story:
When I decided to tell it publicly, I decided I would have to tell the raw, uncomfortable and sometimes painful truth. All of it, including things that I never spoke of before, the feelings that make me look bad. If I held back, then telling wouldn't help anyone. Including me.
Click here to read it in its entirety.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I do not boast that God is on my side, I humbly pray that I am on God's side.
~ Abraham Lincoln
May we all ~ Democrats, Republicans, Independents ~ do the same this election season.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
Luckily I haven't had too many really bad jobs. Truth be told, I haven't had all that many jobs at all. I pretty much always knew I wanted to be a pastor. All my other jobs were basically a means to get to that end. There was the 'temp job' to took over seminary Christmas vacation one year. It was a great opportunity, but came at a really bad time in my life. It also coincided with the Ice Storm of '98. I quit after two days!
2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.
Besides being a pastor (which, in my most opinion, is the most awesome vocation) my job as a work study student in the seminary library was pretty good. I liked the work and, as a bonus, I met my husband, who was the library assistant at the time!
3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.
I would love to be part of a new church start. Other than that, I would have to say that I am doing exactly what I love to do. I feel blessed.
4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?
We took a one week vacation to camp this summer. Honestly, I came back to work more exhausted than when I left! But it was still nice to get away. I am hoping for a few "daycations" this fall just to get out with Gary and the dogs, go for a hike, relax.
5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?
I am such a creature of habit that I am actually looking forward to getting back to the more 'regular' fall schedule. Is that totally sad??
Bonus question: Is there a song, a book, a play, that says "workplace" to you?
I read Dilbert everyday. Even though my workplace does not resemble Dilbert's situation at all, there is still something true in that comic strip ~ funny, and rather disturbing, yet true. Does that count?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
"Always remember that you are the leader of the pack, or family group. This is what your dog expects, and if you are not the leader, he may decide to take over. German Shepherd Dogs are not wimpy, and they have been bred to take control of sheep. This is why it's important not to be a sheep!"
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
This quote is for those of us who think too much:
"You have called me here not to wear a label by which I can recognize myself in some kind of a category. You do not want me to be thinking about what I am, but about what You are. Or rather, You do not even want me to be thinking about anything much: for You would raise me above the level of thought. And if I am always trying to figure out what I am and where I am and why I am, how will that work be done?"
Food for thought :>)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
In some ways this fall feels very much like past falls: Sunday School begins. Stewardship Campaign kicks-off. Charge Conference looms large. But there are two particular transformations I'm looking forward to:
1. The arrival of Bady. I will have to be transformed from an average pet owner to a super pack leader in order for this partnership in ministry to work out. Our transformation from strangers to partners is coming slowly, but it is coming!
2. Lombard Mennonite Peace Center Mediation Training. I'm attending this fall and am excited to learn more about my leadership style. Hopefully I can build on my strengths and shore up my weaknesses and be transformed in the process.
As for my favorite fall activity: Hiking as the trees make their transformation from greens to golds and reds and oranges. Fall reminds me that we all have to potential to be transformed.
Monday, August 11, 2008
"Gardeners are widely known and mocked for this sort of fanaticism. But other people fast or walk long pilgrimages to honor the spirit of what they believe makes our world whole and lovely. If we gardeners can, in the same spirit, put our heels to the shovel, kneel before a trench holding tender roots, and then wait three years for an edible incarnations of the spring equinox, who's to make the call between ridiculous and reverent?"
(Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.)
Saturday, August 09, 2008
In case you are wondering, the name of our cottage is, "The Little House." Long before it was moved to it's present location, I called it "The Little House." Since it is only two rooms and a loft, the name remains quite appropriate. As you can see, the cottage name is connected by our names. Zeek is the only one who didn't stay in the cottage this year.
So we have now been christened with our own name, sign and address! It has been a big year for the (part-time) residents of 2 Miller Dr.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
It was quite appropriate considering that we shared several meals together as a camp. We began each meal with a shared grace. I have to admit that the table grace is not a regular part of our home life for most of the year ~ I say 'most of the year' because when Ben comes for his visits he reminds us to say grace. We keep track of whose turn it is and share the table grace responsibilities. Perhaps we will make it part of our regular daily life from now on ~ even after Ben leaves. While I consider myself generally a thankful person, saying grace before a meal is an important reminder that all we have comes from God.
Now, here is a favorite table grace of mine... sung to the Superman theme song:
Thank you God for giving us friends
Thank you God for giving us family
For the food we eat
For the friends we meet
Thank you God... do do do do.... Amen,
(My thanks to my friend Stephanie who taught me this grace! Unfortunately the blog medium does not allow me to show the motions!)
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
"Why did Christ keep his scars? He could have had a perfect body, or no body, when he returned to splendor in heaven. Instead he carried with him remembrances of his visit to earth. For a reminder of his time here, he chose scars. That is why I say God hears and understands our pain, and even absorbs it into himself - because he kept those scars as a lasting image of wounded humanity. God has been here and has borne the sentence. The pain of humanity has become the pain of God." Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In His Image
No one gets through life without a few scars. Sometimes they are on the surface and sometimes underneath. If I didn't believe that God hears and understands the pains of living, life would be unbearable. Yet ours is a God who suffered. And I give thanks that ours is a God who keeps his scars.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
"The way of purgation involves an entry into what is unnerving, even grotesque in our lives, into what quickly reveals our limits. It seems at first like most beginnings in the spiritual life, a mistake, a false start, an imperfection in God's planning, a regression in our own growth. Only through hindsight do we recognize it for the unexpected gift that it is."
~ Belden C. Lane The Solace of Fierce Landscapes
These past couple of months have felt both like a mistake and a regression in my spiritual and emotional growth and health. Yet there is good news. In the process of letting go, I am making room to accept ~ even embrace ~ a new way of life. I'm beginning to glimpse that unexpected gift. Sometimes it is blurry, sometimes it is beyond my sight, but I know it is there.
Friday, July 25, 2008
"What are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?"
Since we are currently in the midst of packing for a week long vacation to our little cottage in Maine, this Friday Five felt very appropriate. We leave on Sunday after church, so most of the packing must be done by tomorrow night. Between Gary, Ben, me and the dog (woof!) we have a lot of stuff to bring. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily, because of gas prices) we are bringing two cars!
1. My pillow...I can get by without it if absolutely necessary, but if at all possible, I bring it. It is about 20 years old, flat as a pancake and not pretty at all, but it is mine and it helps me sleep better.
2. Earplugs. When going away, even to a familiar place, you never know what you will encounter. Last spring, at camp, we welcomed the day with a woodpecker pecking an aluminum ladder at 5:00am. The earplugs didn't completely block out the noise, but helped dull it enough so I could sleep!
3. Blistex. I firmly believe that for each person there are a few specific things that help them to 'feel human.' Blistex is one of those things for me.
4. Advil. Staying up late. Getting up early. Not drinking enough water. Forgoing exercise. All those things lead to headaches, headaches, headaches. It is sad to say, but I probably end up taking more Advil during vacation than any other time.
5. Books. There is nothing better than vacation reading. It guilt free reading, as far as I am concerned. Novels, magazines, anything goes.... Now I just need to find a good book (alongside my Bible :>) to pack for next week. Any suggestions?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
"Cooper Hall" has been turned into a Science Lab. "Scientists" are walking around with lab coats and beakers full of "gack." There is a "Mad Professor" loose in the building.... And all to help us discover God's miraculous power. Yes, friends, we are in the middle of Vacation Bible School!
One of the small scientists running around is our boy, Ben. He arrived on Saturday for his five week visit. A nine years old, we wondered if VBS would still be cool. Apparently it is, praise the Lord! He has even been helping out in the afternoons as the station leaders prepare their activities for the next day.
Today we are going to meet "Dewd" who helps us remember that Jesus gives us the power to be brave. I think it is pretty brave of us to have 70 kids in the building for the whole week, but our leaders are doing a great job ~ just proving that discovering God's miraculous power is cool at any age!
Monday, July 21, 2008
"In any case 'the death of the old man' is not the destruction of personality, but the dissipation of an illusion, and the discovery of the new man is the realization of what was there all along, at least as a radical possibility, by reason of the fact that man is the image of God."
~ Thomas Merton, The Recovery of Paradise
Merton does not use what we would, these days, consider inclusive language, but his point is a good one. So many people think that to become a Christian is the death of self. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, through faith in Christ, we become more and more ourselves, discovering what was there all along. We become who we were truly created to be in the image of God.
Friday, July 18, 2008
So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog?
Krista is my first name. Beth is my middle name. KristaBeth was an easy choice! I do think I have more than the 'usual' attachment to my middle name. There are a community of people in my life who know me as KristaBeth. My Gram was one of those people. In fact, I once seriously considered changing my first name to "KristaBeth." Ultimately I decided against it, but it still brings me joy when I see one of those folks from my growing up years and they call me 'KristaBeth.'
As for "Adventures of MinLib," Gary and I came up with minlib as a code name for ourselves several years ago. It is just a silly way for us to describe the joining of a minister and a librarian! Interestingly I've met several pastors who are married to librarians ~ one right here in town! I guess it is not so unusual a pairing after all.
Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there?
No, my blog is pretty much an open book.
What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun?
I love "Pink Shoes in the Pulpit" and "holy trouble" by my fellow RevGals!
What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals blog of course!
I enjoy reading blogs from fellow pastors in my conference. There is "scituatedrev" by Rick and "Forward on the Journey" by Allen. Other than that, I pretty much stick to the RevGals!
Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why?
Gary first introduced me to the world of blog readers. He thought I would like it, but I was skeptical. Once I started reading a few blogs on a regular basis, I decided I wanted to start my own. It was only after I started blogging myself that I found RevGals. Once I found the RevGals community, I was hooked. I guess the short answer is that I got into it a little at a time. Now its hard to believe that I've been blogging for almost two years!
Bonus question: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends? Where are some of the places you've met these fun folks?
I do know some of my blogging friends ~ through conference connections and as friends. I've never had a specific blogger meet-up. Maybe it's time!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I've mentioned him several times, so I think it is time that you see him! This is 'Bady' our German Shepherd. Isn't he handsome? We went for another training session last night and Nicky came, too. Nicky is (as we knew) quite anxious around other dogs, but it could've been worse. He did try to bite at Bady and nipped our dog trainer instead. She didn't write Nicky off as a hopeless case, though, which is the good news. We will just have to bring Nicky back several more times before Bady comes home. Bady will have to learn to give Nicky his space and Nicky will have to learn to tolerate Bady. In the midst of this, Gary and I have to maintain that non-anxious presence. Not easy!
But for now we are enjoying getting to know Bady. Each time we see him more of his personality shines through. The plan is that he will be my partner in ministry ~ accompanying me to the office and generally being my shadow. He is eager to please and will make a wonderful addition to my life and our family (no matter what Nicky says :>).
Monday, July 14, 2008
"The more sense of self we have and the more we experience ourselves as competent people, able to deal with the world's challenges, the less anxious we are." p. 49
"The job of effective church leaders is to help keep down the level of anxiety in the emotional system of the congregation." p. 51
Anxiety is a hot-topic for me these days. Because of certain personal circumstances, I am feeling much more anxious in my daily life. I am trying hard not to let this anxiety filter into my work. For the most part, in my dealings with the congregation, I think I am able to be that non-anxious presence.
In fact, I am consciously trying to draw on that non-anxious energy in another area of my life ~ dog training. Our new dog, Bady, and I are going through a series of training sessions. Since dogs can sense our energy, I can't approach this anxious. I have to project calm, assertive energy.
We each experience this calm assertive energy in different ways. For me, I feel at my calm, assertive best when in the pulpit. As I go into each training session I try to channel that energy. Hopefully Bady and I will come through this nurturing each other's calm, assertiveness ~ able to face the world's challenges and make life as a whole less anxious!
Friday, July 11, 2008
1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?
Camp Mechuwana was my summer camp destination for many years ~ first as a camper, then as a junior counselor, and, later, as an adult counselor. I attended a variety of camps, including music camp and swim camp. My first year (as a nine year old, I believe) I was completely and hopelessly homesick. It was so bad that my mother had to come and spend a night with me. Somehow my parents convinced me to go back the next year. Miraculously my homesickness subsided and it just got better every year!
2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?
I guess camping is just in my blood. My family would go on a camping vacation every year when I was growing up. I still remember the green tent that was our 'home' rain or shine. Remembering those days bring my heart a lot of joy. I haven't done much 'camping out' as an adult. Maybe it's time!
3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?
Yes. Yes. And Yes. As I mentioned above, I went back to Mechuwana (our United Methodist Camp in Maine) as junior counselor and as a counselor while I was attending college and seminary. Since being a pastor, I've counseled at Camp Aldersgate, our UM Camp in Rhode Island. Camp Counseling is a lot of work (and, as an introvert, I tend it find it exhausting) but the rewards are many!
4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?
There was the time I was camp counselor and fell asleep during 'quiet time'. When I woke up, all my kids were gone! Turns out I slept through quiet time right into craft hour. All was well... they left for crafts without waking me. (But still, I probably shouldn't talk about this if I ever want to be camp counselor again!)
5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.
I am a C. I am a C-H. I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N. And I have C-H-R-I-S-T in my H-E-A-R-T and I will L-I-V-E-E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y.
If you know it, sing along!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
It is hard to believe we are six years older. (Although the pictures testify to that fact!) Yet those six years have brought us places we never could have imagined!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
That was until two weeks ago. After seriously considering it, we decided we couldn't bring another dog into a house divided. If we wanted to look into adding another furry friend to the family, the two furry friends who already live here would have to get along! Imagine our surprise when they joined us for breakfast, and even shared some breakfast themselves!
I attribute some of this change to my own growth and maturity. In the past, when we tried to bring them together, I would anxiously hover over them to make sure 'nothing bad' was going to happen. This time we decided just to let them be. They were able to work out their differences and are now, if not friends, typical brothers.
This whole process made me think of the church and how our attitudes affect the possibilities before us. If we go into something thinking 'this will never work' if probably won't. On the other hand, if we have the attitude that the next project or program is an adventure, an invite the Holy Spirit to be part of it, who knows what could happen. Hopefully it won't be seven years in the making!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
He [sic] is called to be the wounded healer, the one who must look after his own wounds but at the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others.
It strikes me that we often take seriously the second half of that sentence and not the first. Yet without looking after our own wounds, we will not be effective in healing the wounds of others. How often do we tend to our own wounds? Or do we instead think we don't have the time or money or that they are not really that important anyway?
This is exactly the announcement of the wounded healer: "The master is coming - not tomorrow, but today, not next year, but this year, not after all our misery is passed but right here where we are standing."
What is this but the good news? We are all wounded in one way or another, and the healing part is not always easy, but we are not alone.
Nouwen writes about the leadership we practice as wounded healers... it is grounded in the historic Christ-event which is understood as a definitive breach in the deterministic chain of human trial and error, and as a dramatic affirmation that there is light on the other side of darkness.
Thanks be to God!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Katie arrived on Wednesday, June 25th! As this was her actual due-date, she is quite punctual. I was her very first visitor. Gary got to see her later in the day. I think she is absolutely gorgeous. Katie is also a very generous young lady. She bought me my own frame that says, "I love my Auntie."
Katie has her own bog. You can find it here. She has been quite busy in these first few days in the world, but I am sure she will be updating it soon.
We love you Katie!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
One parishioner liked it so much she even wrote about it on her blog. Check it out!
Friday, June 20, 2008
I didn't expect to run across an example of the joy animals can bring while I was reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Yet, there is was. Corrie, in solitary confinement in prison for helping the Jews in Holland during World War II, writes:
And I was not alone much longer: into my solitary cell came a small busy back ant. I had almost put my foot where he was one morning as I carried my bucket to the door when I realized the honor being done to me. I crouched down and admired the marvelous design of legs and body. I apologized for my size and promised I would not so thoughtlessly stride about again.
After a while he disappeared through a crack in the floor. But when my evening peice of bread appeared on the door shelf, I scattered some crumbs and to my joy he popped out almost at once. He picked up a heroic piece, struggled down the hole with it and came back for more. It was the beginning of a relationship.
This just reminds me how God can bring hope and comfort in the most unexpected ways.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
And speaking of the Visible Community..... as I hid out on the balcony with some friends during a session, I looked around at those seated on the Conference floor and thought ~ this is indeed the Visible Community taking up space on earth. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. We get bogged down in all sorts of ways. But we are the Body of Christ claiming our space in the world. Both a comfort and a challenge ~ Thanks be to God!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
In the next chapter entitled "The Saints" Bonhoeffer discusses the idea of sanctification as a personal matter as opposed to the work of the community. "If we regard sanctification as a purely personal matter which has nothing whatever to do with public life and the visible line of demarcation between the Church and the world, we shall land ourselves inevitably into a confusion between the pious wishes of the religious flesh and the sanctification of the Church which is accomplished in the death of Christ through the seal of God."
I truly believe in my heart (and not just because I am a pastor) that one cannot be a Christian without being part of a community of faith. Christ's body does take up space on earth. It is where we work out our salvation, share the sacraments, receive and give the means of grace, and practice living more and more like Christ. It is also where we are sent from to go into the world as Christ's hands and feet (and ears and hearts and mouths). It is in community that we are reminded we are sinners, celebrate our forgiveness and share with each other the signs of Christ's peace. None of these things can be done in isolation.
That is not to say that it is easy to be in community. It may be a lot more pleasant to sit at home in the air-conditioning watching a worship service on TV and not have to deal with the lady behind you singing off key or the kid in front of you who won't settle down or being asked to serve (again) on the Administrative Board. But isn't that what it is all about? An imperfect community going on to perfection. The community ~ visible ~ taking up space ~ right before our eyes.
Friday, June 06, 2008
I guess it really is obvious, isn’t it? Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about… he always does. There are still going to be natural disasters and unmet bills and new gray hairs when we look in the mirror. We are going to have fears and uncertainties and anxiety. But we don’t have to allow worry to zap our energy or stunt our growth or rob our creativity and passion. We don’t have to take our worry more seriously than we take the promise of the Gospel. On his deathbed John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, said these words which have given me comfort in tough times: “Best of all is, God is with us.” Best of all is, God is with us. When it comes right down to it, that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?
Now the trick is to practice what I preach.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
1.) What first tells you that Summer is here?
Outdoor Worship in the Sonrise Garden... We hold our Contemporary Worship outside all summer (weather permitting) and our first Sunday outside is this week!
2.) Name five of your favorite distinctively Summer habits or customs.
~ Eating dinner on the patio
~ Wearing Sandals (particularly my new red ones)
~ Peach Festival!
~ Listening to the Cicada songs float down from the trees
~ Hiking with Gary
3.) What is your favorite smell of Summer?
Grass freshly mowed
4.) What is your favorite taste of Summer?
5.) Favorite Summer memory?
Campmeeting with Becky... going to Range Pond.... staying up all night talking in the loft of her camp... being best summer friends.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Especially for me, as an only child, it is great to have such a long time friend. (Julie, as it happens, is an only child, too.) In Julie's little daughter I see Jules herself when we were five and playing with dolls, making up stories and using our imaginations. My mother said she always liked to have Julie come over because we would go off and play for hours by ourselves and she would never have to entertain us!
All those years ago I bet we never could have guessed how our lives would turn out. Me as a pastor living in Connecticut... She with her career and family (including three beautiful children). Yet we can still reminisce about Barbie Dream Houses, our 'Ghost Detection Service,' elementary school music lessons, and 8th grade "prom." Here's to old ~ ahem ~ longterm friends!
Friday, May 30, 2008
RevGal Sally wrote last Friday:
It is a holiday weekend here in the UK, and the weather forecast for much of the country is not good!!! But we can still dream and so with that in mind I bring you this Friday Five.
1. Getting ready for summer, do you use the gradual tanning moisturizers (yes gentlemen you too can answer this!!!), or are you happy to show your winter skin to the world?
I have used the gradual tanning moisturizer, but it seems to be more trouble than it is worth. I am proud of my white skin ~ with no sun-spots it just means it's healthy.
2. Beach, mountains or chilling by the pool, what/ where is your favorite getaway?
I like going to the beach, but one afternoon is usually enough for me. I'm not really into swimming and I can only sit in my beach chair for so long. If I had to pick from the list provided, the mountains would probably be my first choice. However, I like vacations that offer a variety.... some time on the go, some time to relax... different sites to see and experience. We just got back from a trip to our little cottage in Maine. It was fun since we got to relax, see old friends, and spend sometime working outside. (Although the mosquitoes were vicious!)
3. Are you a summer lover or does the long break become wearing?
Break? What Break? Are some people getting a break? In some ways summer seems busier than the rest of the year ~ or at least busier in a different way. The heat does get wearing, though. When the heat and humidity are oppressive it is hard to get anything done! And, unfortunately, I am not a big fan of air conditioners.
4. Active holidays; hiking swimming sailing, or lazy days?
As I mentioned above, I like a little bit of both. It is nice to get out and try some news things, but also have time to polish off a good novel or two.
5. Now to the important subject of food, if you are abroad do you try the local cuisine, or do you prefer to play it safe?
I'll try a few things, but I won't go overboard! I HAD to try the San Francisco Clam Chowder last month when we were out there and it was fabulous .... and the Jamaican Jerk pork was great in Jamaica. But I don't tend to stray too far from what I know and love.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Being at the shower drove home to me what it means to be part of a community of faith. My friend is a transplant to Connecticut. Most of her family lives out west. Even though her family was not able to come, she was surrounded by the love and care of her church family. There were women there who could have been her sister or mother or grandmother or maybe even great-grandmother. And they were all so happy to be part of her special time. What do people do ~ where do people find connections ~ when they are not part of a community of faith?
Family will be flying in from across the country in a couple of weeks for another shower. I get to join in that one, too, and I'm sure it will be great fun. I feel blessed to be part of it all ~ one of the many people who is anticipating this baby with lots of love ready to share. In related news, the most exciting thing for me this week was getting to feel the baby move and feeling the push of a little foot! How cool is that?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This is really the first step in what we hope will be a more conscious effort to eat locally. Over at holy trouble Molly posts frequently about her efforts at sustainable living through her garden. Recently Allen wrote about the local crop of fiddleheads in Maine. We aren't gardeners, and we don't have a crop of fiddleheads to pick on the side of the road, but we do want to be more conscientious about what we eat and where it comes from. Eating locally is healthier because the food you eat is fresher! It is also better for the environment because the food is not transported across the country.
So we will start by meeting our happy Connecticut cows. We will feast on Connecticut grown peaches. We will shop at farmer's markets. In doing so I hope we can honor God and the earth... and hope that Connecticut develops some delicious winter crops... I don't have many good recipes that involve snow!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
It was nice to gather to simply share lunch and meet each other. While I knew most of the people in attendance, there were a few new faces. As for the program, I'm not really sure what was gained besides a deepening sense of fellowship. The Bishop joined us for the day and shared information about General Conference. He communicated some of the visioning work done in our Conference around growth and growing-edges and asked us to reflect on it. Personally I didn't feel particularly inspired by this format. Although I probably could not have articulated it before the event, my real interest was in hearing the concerns and joys, challenges and celebrations of my fellow "younger" clergy. Where do you connect with God? Where do you feel the most pain in ministry? How do you juggle family and the church? How can we support each other?
There was some talk about continuing the conversation. As many of us traveled significant distances to get together, it is impractical to think that we would be able to meet on a regular basis. The development of some kind of on-line community was suggested. I offered to put up a "Younger" Clergy blog (with help from others) which will be linked to the NEUMC wesbite. While I am a big fan of on-line communities, I wonder how much a NEUMC "Younger" Clergy blog will be used. I'm not intending to be pessimistic, but the truth is we are all so busy.
Perhaps the blog will be a place to begin to ask the questions I mentioned above. Perhaps not. Either way, I'm willing to give it a try. I do think, though, that we need to find ways to connect and get real with each other and form some kind of supportive community. We have the next 32 years together in ministry so we may as well make the best of it!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Okay. So I wasn't all that productive. But it was a really nice day to just relax. Hopefully next Friday will be sunny so I can work in the yard, plant some flowers and take Nicky for a walk. But yesterday was just what I needed at just the right moment. And when that happens, there's nothin' better!
Friday, May 09, 2008
While we did not get a tour of the church, we did find a nice man who showed us around and told us a little bit about their work. Glide Memorial UMC has a budget of $15 million. That is mind blowing enough, but think of 90% of that budget going to mission in the city. That makes me think of our budget and what we are doing with the money we have. Our church budget is, admittedly, nowhere near $15 million, but still ~ where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.
Here is a picture of me standing in the hallway of the church. Just from my brief look-around, I would say they are definitely living out this slogan. I hope I can too!