Monday, September 28, 2009

It IS almost Halloween

Apparently Zeke is getting in the spirit of the season....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

You look too young ... be a pastor. As the saying goes, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that! It was more difficult to hear when I was a 25 year old student local pastor. I didn't have years of experience to point to back then. Today, as a 34 year old ordained elder, I take it as a compliment. Or, at least, I try to. It is still a little frustrating having moved to a new church ~ in my 10th year of ministry ~ to be asked one of these questions:

"Is this your first church?"
"Are you a recent graduate?"

(To be clear, I don't hear this from my congregation as much as from members of the community, other churches, ecumenical clergy colleagues and people I meet on the street!)

And, truth be told, I don't think I look like a 25 year old seminary student any more. I think I look pretty much all of my 34 years ~ with a few gray hairs peeking out here and there. In fact, I've had people ask me if I have children at the local high school which, technically, I could have.

So this makes me wonder.... How old does one have to look to look old enough to be a pastor? And, not to open up a can of worms, but.... Do my younger male colleagues get this comment as much as my younger female colleagues do? Does this comment just reflect the stereotypes of what a pastor is 'supposed to' look like? And what is a pastor supposed to look like anyway?

For now, I am glad that I can say 'thank you' with a smile when I hear such a comment. "Thank you. I've actually been a pastor for about 10 years. This is the third church I've served."

But I still wonder what's behind it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quote of the Week ~ Faith

"That is faith, I suppose, learning how to live in the meantime, between the last time we heard from God and the next time we hear from God."

~ Renita Weems, Listening for God: A Ministers Journey Through Silence and Doubt

Monday, September 21, 2009

3 weeks or 3 months or 3 years

I've been here in Vermont, now, for almost three months. As I shared before, the house is starting to feel like home. I've made connections with a new doctor's office, new hair stylist, new dog trainer. I'm getting used to my new surroundings. I realized the other day, though, while having lunch with a local clergy colleague, just how much pressure I am putting myself to settle- in.

Rev. Nancy has been in her church for three years. While talking, I made an off hand comments that I will 'know better my schedule in a couple weeks.' She lovingly challenged me, saying that she was just now beginning to feel settled after three years.

I admit that I don't deal well with uncertainty. I like to have things nailed down. I want to have this whole settling-in period done. Yet, uprooting your life ~ settling into a new community and starting a new job ~ are not simple transitions. They are messy and exciting and difficult and take time.

I feel like a broken record, but I guess I just have to keep reminding myself to slow down, be easy, and let it all sink in. Last week I read a great definition of discernment. A pastor posting on a lectionary bulletin board wrote that discerment is , "...sticking to the topic we want to
avoid until it begins to open up for us." Perhaps God is trying to teach me something here..... Let's hope I can slow down enough to figure out what it is!

Monday, September 14, 2009

New. New. New.

Last week we got a few new things. Before we moved here we saved up some money ~ and were given som generous gifts ~ to buy some new things for our new home. Each house is different, so each house requires a few new things! For example, at our last house there was a built in corner display unit with a glass door. This was very handy for hiding breakables from the cat! So one of our purchases was a curio cabinet. Also, our new house has the perfect office / guest room, which required a futon! It was fun to shop for both these things and it just happened that both were delivered last week.

(I also visited by new doctor for the first time last week, which made it a week full of new things!)

The most unexpected new thing, though, turned out to be the purchase of a new-to-us car. After six years with us, our '96 Jeep came to the end of it's road. We expected this would happen, just not this soon. We decided $3000 in repairs was just not worth it. I miss the Jeep, but I am happy to have a new set of wheels, which will (I pray) be a bit more reliable.

One of my Facebook friends wrote, "New doctor! New futon! New car! What's next?" Hopefully nothing! Because along with this latest purchase comes new debt, new monthly payments and new frugality!

Monday, September 07, 2009


Gary and I aren't the only ones who have had to adjust to the move. The boys have done pretty well. Zeke has been a trouper. Besides the five hour drive up, Zeke barely noticed that we moved. As long as he has his crunchies and litter box, he's happy.

Nicky, on the other hand, had a more difficult adjustment. He's still figuring out the house. He gets lost going from room to room and we've had a few unfortunate 'accidents' when he couldn't find the door to let us know he needed to go out. It is getting better, though. He's comfortable in his little basement bachelor pad with his crate and feeding station. He spends most of his day happily sleeping down there.

Bady takes his duties as 'man of the house' very seriously. None of us are happy that Gary is gone four days a week, but we make do. The dogs follow me from room to room like shadows. Zeke curls up on Gary's side of the bed to keep it warm. We all jump on Gary and give him kisses when he gets home. (Well, I don't jump on him, but I give him kisses ~ I'm usually the last in line!) Such is life as the Atwoods in Vermont!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Letting my Soul Catch Up

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Besides moving and starting at a new church, we've had several weeks of visitors, a week of vacation, and the challenge of getting used to Gary's new schedule. Last week, when an afternoon appointment got canceled at the last minute, I found myself collapsed on the couch devoid of all energy. This moment of space in my day gave me the opportunity to check-in with myself. I had the overwhelming sense that I had been going at warp speed for so long that my soul hadn't completely caught up with my body.

I believe the idea that one's soul needs time to catch up with one's physical activities comes out of the Native American tradition. I can't remember where I first read it, but I often think of this exchange. After a day of travel, wanting to know what is next, the Anglo American asks her Native American friend. Her friend replies, "Now we wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies."

I think I am still waiting. That's not to say I'm just sitting around. But I am trying to build some quiet time into my days to connect with my soul and allow myself to absorb all the changes that have taken place. Self-care is a clergy buzz-phrase that springs to mind. Playing catch up, not just with bills and errands, but with the sacred stuff of life takes discipline. So I'm trying to discipline myself in my new surroundings, and not rush ahead so fast that I leave myself behind.