Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

The dog boys got these Santa hats for Christmas from Stephanie, Jake, Katie and Fizzy. Bady wouldn't sit still long enough to a picture, but Nicky seemed to enjoy posing! Look who sneaked into the picture, though, without my even knowing! Zeke wasn't going to let the dogs get all the attention.

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

First Snow

Our boy Bady certainly enjoyed his first Connecticut snow! You'll get a glimpse of Nicky, too. Nicky, however, thought the snow was 'old news!'

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five ~ Countdown to Christmas

RevGal Songbird writes, "There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones. So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve."

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

Something Has to Give

With Christmas preparations, Charge Conference and many (many) pastoral concerns in the congregation, something has had to give and I guess it has been the blog. I haven't posted or been inspired to post much in the past few days. I will post a brief gratitude list and hope for more inspiration in the days to come!

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

Quote of the Week ~ Advent Conspiracy

Going along with last week's quote, here's video on our Christmas observance. Another must see!

Advent Conspiracy: Watch the video on the home page.

Let's all be part of the Conspiracy! Just imagine what we could do....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Turkey Day Race #2

This was our second year running the Turkey Day Race! This year we made it in 64 minutes. (Gary could have gone faster, but he didn't want to leave be behind. Awww... what a nice guy, huh?)

Here's a picture of me "trucking" along.... apparently being chased by a devil and an angel!

(Thanks, Edith, for the photo!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quote of the Week ~ Presence

It's been a while, but I am back to blogging! I'll write more about my Continuing Education experience in a later post. For now, I'd like to share my quote of the week. This quote comes in the form of a video which is a must watch.

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

Special Day

Yesterday was a very special day. I was blessed to baptize beautiful Katherine Grace. She was gorgeous in her long baptismal gown and it was a joy to see her whole family gathered around ~ along with her entire church family. She is a well loved little girl and our newest sister in Christ.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Journey

Next week I will be attending a continuing education program on Mediation Skills. It is a Monday through Friday 8:30 - 4:30 class. From what I've heard, it is quite intense, and certainly life-changing, but completely worth it. The physical journey involves a plane ride, a rental car, and a hotel for five nights. Being somewhat of a homebody, I'm not so excited about this solo travel, but I'm sure I'll make some friends once I get there. As for the spiritual jounrey, who knows where that will take me! In the meantime, I've been reading Tim Keel's book Intuitive Leadership (recommended by scituatedrev). These lines spoke to both my excitement and trepidation!

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

Walking on Water

The blogs have been quiet lately because I have been busy waking on water. Believe me, it's not as easy as it sounds! It takes a lot of energy. In fact, the past two days I've just been resting up from the experience.

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

Friday Five ~ Busy Edition

RevGal will smama writes, "As I zip around the webring it is quite clear that we are getting BUSY. 'Tis the season' when clergy and laypeople alike walk the highwire from Fall programming to Christmas carrying their balancing pole with family/rest on the one side and turkey shelters/advent wreaths on the other. And so I offer this Friday Five with 5 quick hit questions..."

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

Quote of the Week ~ Back to the Desert

One more quote from the 'desert.'

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

Invisible

This week I attended our monthly local clergy gathering. It was there that I had an experience I can't seem to get out of my mind. I tried to forget about it ~ pass it off as no big deal ~ but it's still there. Since I had been unable to attend last month, this was my first meeting of the new program year. Most of the regulars were there, but there were a couple new people. There were no official introductions (I assume those happened last month), so after a time of chatting I caught the eye of one of the new people, stuck out my hand and said, "I don't think we've met. I'm.... "

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

Doing Our Jobs

Yesterday evening was SPRC meeting. I arrived at the church about fifteen minutes early to prepare, center myself and unlock the doors. When I pulled up there was a man (a stranger) standing in the church parking lot. It was dark. He had a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, partially obscuring his face. (It was windy.) He had most likely simply arrived early for the Boy Scout meeting, but there was no way to tell for sure.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Reconciliation

My quote this week comes from Rueben P. Job's Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living. My cluster group is reading this for discussion. I thought this section was quite thought provoking, and appropriate in these weeks before the election.

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

Equality

Last Friday the Connecticut Supreme court ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage to same-sex couples. I celebrate this ruling and am proud to live in a state that affirms the rights of all people. Two other states have done the same ~ Massachusetts and California. California is in the process of voting on whether or not to remove the right of same-sex couples to marry. My blog-friend (and fellow UMC pastor and daughter of my mother's good friend), Molly, wrote this great post on why she supports same-sex marriage.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Desert

I've been spending time in the desert lately ~ or at least the with desert mothers and fathers. In fact, it seems like whatever book or journal or devotion I pick up, it has something to do with the desert. I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be learning, but I will keep praying and reading. For today, here is some advice from Anthony, desert father of the 4th century.

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

Ooops.... Friday Five on Tuesday

I'm way behind on my RevGals reading, so I'm just now getting to last week's Friday Five! I thought it was a good one, so here goes.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Norms

I've been reading Discerning Your Congregation's Future by Roy M. Oswald and Robert E. Friedrich. I'm not really in a place to begin such a process, but I'm trying to learn more about visioning, strategic planning and long term planning. One part of the process they outline focuses on norms. They write:

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

One More Face...


This face, however, may be a face that only a mother can love!

Monday, October 06, 2008

This Face, too...


You have to admit, this face is pretty darn cute too!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

This Face


Who wouldn't love this face?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Final Wishes

One of the side benefits of reading Kate Braestrup's book Here if You Need Me was a conversation Gary and I had regarding our final wishes. Not to get morbid, but it is essential to tell your loved ones what you want to happen upon your death. Most importantly because it lessens the stress for those you leave behind. If you are clear about your wishes, they don't have to guess what you would have wanted.

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

Grace Returns

Several months ago I wrote this post about a cat that appeared out of the fog and reminded me of the gift of grace. After being away for a while, Grace has returned. He accompanied us on our walk tonight and has been visiting several other dog walkers in the neighborhood. He likes to stroll along a couple paces behind, but not quite out of site.

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

Quote of the Week ~ When We Die

Kate Braestrup, author of Here If You Need Me, and I were at Bangor Theological Seminary at the same time. That isn't to imply that we were friends or that we even knew each other. Yet, because of her particular story, I probably knew more about her than she knew about me. Her husband, Drew, was a Maine State Trooper who was killed in a tragic accident. He was the one who wanted to go to seminary. She went instead.

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

Suddenly September

I find myself looking at the calendar and noticing that ~ suddenly ~ September is all but gone! What happened to this month? Sure, there was Spirit Sunday, resumption of committee work, and clergy gatherings of various kinds! This was our first full month with Bady home and Katie Grace's first full month in the office. The days have gotten shorter and the nights cooler. Leaves are falling off the trees in cascading colors. Fall is fully upon us.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Daily Vows

This prayer is posted on the bulletin board above my desk so I can see it everyday. I'm not sure where it comes from, but it describes how I seek to live my life with God's help. (Needless to say, it's not an easy way to live.... that's where grace comes in!)

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

It Must Be Love













Our trainers told us that it will take a while before we truly bond with Bady, especially since he wasn't a puppy when he came to us. But it looks like love to me!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sad News

I got some sad news last night. The amazing counselor I have worked with over the past four years died. Saying that she was my counselor does not seem like enough. She was also a spiritual director, a life coach and an inspiration. She endured her own experiences of trauma and used those experiences to help many others, including me. She also shared spiritual insight from her Quaker and Native American traditions.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Saint Catherine of Genoa

I am reading a small book titled Women Mystics edited by Carol Lee Flinders. These mystics have inspired and awed me and caused me to scratch my head.... huh?? Yet their faith and devotion is unquestionable. Here is an excerpt from the writings of Saint Catherine of Genoa.

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

Grumpy Day

Today is 'one of those days.' I just feel a little bit grumpy. Nothing seems to be getting done 'right' or on time or the way I would like. I'm running late. And my allergies are acting up. I can think of more things to add to my to-do list than I could possibly cross off.

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

Five on Friday

Well, this isn't the official Friday Five, but it is five things that are on my mind this Friday!

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

My Challenge for The Challenge

Our church newsletter is called The Challenge. Here is the article I wrote for the October edition. I took a risk and, after much thought, decided to disclose some of my personal struggles as a way to draw attention to the seriousness of violence in our communities and in our world. I would be interested to read your thoughts.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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 South Church, I was the victim of a violent assault. It took me many weeks to recover physically from the assault. It has been a process of years to come to terms with it emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. I thank God each day that I am surrounded by loving friends, family, pastors, and counselors and am blessed to serve a loving congregation.

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.

On a somewhat related topic, several of you have met my new companion, Bady. Bady is a 14 month old German Shepherd Dog. After experiencing several triggering events this summer, it was suggested to me that some sufferers of post-traumatic stress do well with companion dogs. These dogs are trained to accompany their owners in their daily life and work, providing companionship and peace of mind. It is my hope that Bady may some day be certified as a therapy dog and accompany me to hospitals and nursing homes, but that would be down the road. At this point Bady is still in training ~learning what it means to be a pastor’s dog and companion at home and at church!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quote of the Week ~ Job versus Work

I am still (slowly) making my way through Belden C. Lane's The Solace of Fierce Landscapes. I'm enjoying it greatly, even as I read it in bits and pieces. Here is something to ponder from the chapter "A Reflection on Work."

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

A Survivor's Journey

I learned of this amazing story while listening to "On Point" on NPR the other day. As a fellow survivor, I honor the courage and strength it took Joanna Connors to write this piece more than 20 years after she was assaulted. It is a long story, but powerful and I would encourage anyone to read it. At the bottom of the first screen there is a box titled "In this Package" that will guide you through this feature.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Being on God's Side

Despite doing a fair amount of reading this week, I wasn't particularly inspired to share anything here until a parishioner passed me this quote written on an index card:

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

Brotherly Love

Okay, so they are not best buddies yet! But the three of them did occupy the same space long enough for me to take this picture. That's something!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Five ~ Labor Day Edition

RevGal Singing Owl writes about Labor Day, "It is supposed to...be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the salt-of-the-earth nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let's have some fun."

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

Quote of the Week ~ GSD (German Shepherd Dog)

Taken from The German Shepherd Dog by Diane Morgan:

"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

First Day of Work

Bady arrived home on Monday evening. Today was our first day of work together! This is my new view from my desk. I couldn't have asked for a better first day. Everyone was very interested in him and asking questions. Truth be told, we didn't get a lot of 'work' done, but that's okay. We look forward to a life time of ministry together. What a good boy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quote of the Week ~ Thinking

My quote this week is from Thomas Merton. Today I finished A Thomas Merton Reader. Merton has been part of my daily devotions for quite a while. Each day I would read a page or two during my prayer time, and with 516 pages, it has been a long journey.

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

Friday Five (on Saturday) ~ Transformations

RevGal Mary Beth suggests, "For this week's Friday Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way. Bonus: Give us your favorite activity that is made possible by the coming of fall."

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

Quote of the Week ~ Gardening

I just picked up Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food life. (I know, I am a little behind the times.) I am still at the very beginning of the book, but I really appreciated her discussion of the spiritual aspects of gardening. Gardening is investing in the future. Why can't it also be a spiritual passion and discipline? My Grandmother would have certainly agreed!

"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.)

Amen!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Our Own Address

Something exciting happened this year. The town assessor came by and gave our little cottage it's very own address. In celebration of this milestone, (and for my Birthday) my Dad made us this sign.

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

Table Grace

The theme for Campmeeting this year was "Table Grace." Our preacher, Rev. Catherine Howe Anderson, spoke on the different Scriptures where Jesus joins friends, sinners and others for meals. She related Jesus' experiences to our everyday life and brought the theme home. In addition to daily vespers, we shared our family table graces with each other and even created some original ones.

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

Quote of the Week ~ Scars

I am back from a wonderful and exhausting week in Maine. Campmeeting is always so much busier than I think it will be! I did manage to do some reading, though, and my quote this week comes from my vacation reading! I will write more about our vacation later, but for now here is my quote of the week:

"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

Quote of the Week ~ Purgation

Since we will be away next week (and I won't be bringing my computer!) I thought I would share next week's quote a couple days early. This statement gives me hope and lifts up the truth of the Apostle Paul's affirmation from this week's lectionary, "...all things work together for good for those who love God..." Even when it seems like we are going backward, God is there working to bring us to an unexpected new place.

"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

Friday Five ~ Packing Edition

RevGal, Singing Owl, brings us this week's Friday Five:

"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

Discovering God's Miraculous Power


"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

Quote of the Week ~ The Real Deal

I almost forgot, but here it is! My quote for this week:

"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

Friday Five ~ What's in a Name Edition

RevGal RevHRod gives us our Friday Five this week:

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

Bady


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

Quote of the Week ~ Anxiety

I hope to institute a new weekly feature on this blog... the "Quote of the Week." It will be taken from something I am currently reading that strikes me in a particular way. This week my quotes (I have two) come from the book Creating a Healthier Church by Ronald W. Richardson.

"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

Friday Five ~ Summer Camp Edition

RevGal Mother Laura writes, "We're settling into our new new apartment, and after a lifetime at Montessori Katie is having a fantastic summer at YMCA day camp. Meanwhile, Nicholas is packing up for a week at Camp Julian, shared by the Episcopal dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego. His lists of supplies and rules--except for the ropes course available to the teenagers and the ban on IPODs and cell phones--bring back memories of my own happy times at Y camp Ta Ta Pochon, funded by selling countless cases of butter toffee peanuts. So, in celebration of summer, please share your own memories and preferences about camp."

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

Honeymoon Revisited

Last Friday Gary and I went to Newport, RI to celebrate July 4th. This was our second time in Newport. We spent several days there six years ago on our honeymoon! It was fun to revisit some of the sites we saw back then. It was also fun to think of all that has changed ~ how much we have grown together and learned about each other ~ since those days.



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

Best Buddies

For seven years we have lived in a house divided ~ the upstairs for the cat, the downstairs for the dog. Rarely did the two ever meet. In fact, during their odd encounters early on fur would fly, furniture would be overturned, and someone (usually me) would end up with an injury. This led to fewer and fewer attempts to help them get along. In fact, we pretty much gave up on the idea.

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

Wounded Yet Healing

For various reasons I thought this would be a good time to revisit The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. Here are a couple pieces of wisdom I gleaned:

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 Grace

Welcome to the world Katie Grace! Your arrival has been much anticipated!

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

My Furry Friend

The Animal Blessing was truly a blessing. We had several dogs and one cat in attendance. (No reptiles or tarantulas!) Everyone behaved themselves and the rain held off until just after the service ended. It's hard to believe that this was out 4th annual Animal Blessing. One man commented that it was just in time, since his pooches' blessing had almost expired. I think I like the animal blessing service because it is a joyous occasion, and always a little bit unpredictable!

One parishioner liked it so much she even wrote about it on her blog. Check it out!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Animal Blessings

This Sunday is our annual Service of Animal Blessing. It is such a treat to gather with friends (new and old ~ two and four-footed) to celebrate the creatures God shares with us. As any one who reads this blog can tell you, I think animals are one of the most wonderful blessings in life. My boys give me great joy.... and we are even thinking of adding another four-footed friend to our family.

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

Taking up Space

For the first time in a long time I missed the majority of Annual Conference. Personal reasons (unbloggables, as one blogger calls them) caused me to arrive late and leave early. Yet, I was blessed by the time I spent did spend there. I was able to attend some sessions, process with the clergy at the Ordination Service, and catch up with some folks over meals. For me (and I'm sure for many others) Annual Conference is a homecoming of sorts.

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

The Visible Community

A few posts back I was celebrating a friend's baby shower when I wrote these words, "What do people do ~ where do people find connections ~ when they are not part of a community of faith?" These words came back to me when I was finishing up Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship a couple days ago. In one of the final chapters Bonhoeffer writes about the "Visible Community." I love the first line, "The Body of Christ takes up space on earth."

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

Practice What I Preach

Here is a paragraph of one of my recent sermons based on the Matthew 6:24-34 passage:

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

Summer Summer Summer

Hot Cup Lutheran got tagged with this five part meme. It looked like fun, so I decided to do it too!

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?

Fresh corn-on-the-cob

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

Old Friends

In my last post, when I wrote that we visited 'old friends,' I did not intended to imply that the friends themselves were old.... only that the relationships have been longterm! I have know Dave since high school, but Julie I have known a bit longer. We met during Story Hour at the library when we were two years old. We went to elementary school together, kept in touch during high school and college, and now see each other when we can ~ living three states apart and having busy lives.

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

Friday Five ~ Week Late Edition

Since Gary and I enjoyed a mini-vacation this week (and I am a week behind on my Friday Five anyway) I am going to do last week's Friday Five just for fun!

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

WOW

Here is a shout-out to Rick who is on the planning team for the New England School of Congregational Development which will take place November 6-8. This year the theme is WOW ~ Walk on Water. Rick has been working hard on a promotional video for Annual Conference. Check it out! I've been asked to be on the Worship Team and I am (to use a Maine expression) 'wicked' excited!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Surprise!

Last Sunday we threw a surprise baby shower for my good friend who is expecting. It was particularly fun since it really was a surprise. Some 50 church women were able to pull it off without spilling the beans. There were a couple close calls, but we did it!

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

Moooo

Lately Gary and I have been purchasing our milk from a local dairy. Town Farm Dairy produces certified organic milk. It is a small operation with room for about 35 cows. We are thinking of taking a trip there to visit the cows that provide us with our milk!

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

"Younger" Clergy

Yesterday I spent the day with several of the other "younger" clergy in our Conference. It is refreshing to know that I am still younger, if not young! And, by the way things looking with the demographics of our Conference, I will be "younger" for several more years. In order to give it a more precise definition, one of the organizers of the event said a "younger" clergy is anyone who plans to still be in active ministry in 2040. God willing, I guess that includes me.

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

Nothin' Better

Yesterday was the best kind of day-off. It was raining, so I felt no pressure to go out and do anything. It was rather dreary outside, so it was easy to sleep-in and even take a nap in the afternoon. I did, however, get a couple things done. I made chocolate pudding from scratch. I read about Eustace getting turned into a dragon and back again in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I listened to my three Swinging Steaks CDs. I watched two episodes of Monk.

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

Glide Memorial UMC

During our day in San Francisco we visited Glide Memorial UMC. It was my one request and I think I freaked-out our traveling companions a bit! Glide is located in a rather tough part of town, but that is the point. There were people sleeping in the doorways and panhandlers on the corners surrounding the church. We saw some pretty desperate looking people. Yet Glide's mission focus is on helping those in the community who are struggling with homelessness, poverty, drug addiction, joblessnes, etc.

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!