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


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!