Monday, August 22, 2016

Olympic Disappointment & Inspiration

Beyond the disappointment of the NBC broadcasting which has never equaled ABC, the whole Ryan Lochte thing is an embarrassment and disappointment.
   Really, Ryan, you embarrassed your teammates, the whole US Olympic delegation and most majorly - your country. Making up some cockamamie story is sophomoric. How old are you? Well into adulthood! You got drunk, did something totally stupid and dumb, and then made up an awful
story that looked badly upon the Brazil and its people. (Granted they deal with enough crime, and bad press as it is).
   Why couldn't you just be honest and take full responsibility for your drunken behavior and actions?
   Then you flee back to the States, leaving your teammates in Brazil to face the music. You hire an
attorney to write an apology, dye your hair back to its natural color to look like the innocent boy next door, and then you don't have the courage, moral fiber, or decency to admit you LIED. No, you had to call it an "over-exaggeration." How stupid do you think we are? You LIED. No over exaggeration with that! Just say you lied. Man up and admit it. Then get on with the rest of your life, having learned some valuable lessons.
   I hope you don't represent the US again in any international competitions. You are a major embarrassment. I don't feel sorry that you are losing your sponsors. That's what happens when you LIE and do dumb things. Take responsibility for yourself, your actions and your behavior.
  Sorry, had to get that off my chest. There is altogether too much "spin" from media, attorneys and politicians. Just.be.honest. Don't deny. Don't lie. It's pretty simple.
   On the other hand, I was most impressed with Abbey D'Agost (?) can't remember the spelling, so sorry. She was the runner who tripped over a fallen competitor and then helped her competitor up so they could finish the race together. Now there's a true Olympian. She should be on a box of Wheaties! Sponsors should be knocking on her door. No, she didn't win the race or medal. But she finished the race showing compassion and sportsmanship that so many don't show. She is epitome
of true sportsmanship and the epitome of Olympic Spirit. I hope to see more of her and hope that
sponsors will come knocking at her door. She inspires. She encourages. She is an example to all young, aspiring athletes. She is an inspiration and example to all current athletes. Abbey will
probably be overlooked by sponsors since she didn't win (and oh, it's all about winning isn't it - well look at the embarrassing Lochte!). But they should snap her up! Because she is one we all can
look up, and say that is the best in human spirit. This is what sports and the Olympics is all about -
yes, one wants to win, but sometimes its about much more - personal bests, and being an upstanding
human being.
   The Summer Olympics are over for another 4 years. I pray that the next group of athletes already
preparing and practicing will take these examples to heart and lift up the world by their actions
instead of embarrassing nations by them.

  

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

AUGUST

Ahh, August. Hard to believe it is already here. August means that summer is dwindling down and families are preparing for the start of a new school year.
   My time at L Church is dwindling down. The pastoral candidate will preach on the 21st with a congregational vote to follow. I will be leaving sometime in September.
   There might be a new L church to serve closer to home, which would in a way, be nice and I won't have to contend with the hour commute one way, and put fewer miles on my van which has enough miles for a van twice its age! Fortunately they are mostly highway miles.
   There will be some grief as after nearly four years I have come to love and know these folks. But it is time - time for them to move forward into something new, time for me to move on also into something new.
   I will miss the L cluster and the neat things they try to do together - Lenten Round Robin with all our churches, some joint services - Epiphany, Ascension, etc. and joint confirmation classes which
I have been a part of and enjoyed even though it meant long Sundays. It was good to get to know these wonderful L pastors and all they do and how they serve.
   I will miss the cookies of the baker here at this church. They are the best iced sugar cookies I have ever had.
   I will miss the choir here - small but talented.
  I will miss seeing the Reservoir I cross on my way here and Lake Milton.
  I won't miss some of the traffic through Akron - especially now until I leave. Carmeggedon has
just begun in Akron - with bridges being rebuilt and lanes and ramps closed. It will be a veritable
nightmare.
   I will miss the homebound folks that I visit regularly and bring communion.
  Sigh. It is part of my journey to move on and along. Even our Lord had no place to rest his head, and was ever on the move. This has just been a more prolonged rest along the way.
   I am grateful to the Lord that I have been able to serve here and for these 4 years of employment - even if it was without medical offset or pension. LH and I have managed. Grateful that LH has
insurance and he gets pension, even if the medical costs us as much as our monthly mortgage!
    Being a "tweener" or interim is always wondering what comes next and trusting mightily in
God that there will be another congregation to serve and to prepare for new pastoral leadership. It
also means trusting God that my gifts and what the congregation needs will work together well.
Moving on the next church is always stepping into the unknown. I try not to be too anxious and
spend much time in prayer in preparation.
    August will most likely go rather quickly and slowly I will begin to move things out and
celebrate with L church that their interim journey is ending and a new beginning is before them -
full of hope and possibility.
   I pray for a good ending here and new life that awaits them and even me!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE: SOUND

Today is all about sound.
  1. What sound is soothing to you?
           The most soothing sound is waves lapping the shore - either a lake or ocean.

2. What sound do you find irritating?
            Fingers on a chalkboard - uhh, just awful.

3. What sound makes you happy?
             Cowbells clanging as the brown swiss cows graze on an alp. I miss that sound
             most of all.

4. What sound immediately gets your attention?
             A siren, especially when I'm driving. I want to make sure I can pull over and give
            them the right of way.

5. What is your favorite sound to make?
             I think that would be singing with a congregation. I don't sing real well but if everyone
             around me is singing I will join in. I do love to sing hymns for they touch my soul
             and offer one way to praise God.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

SUMMER

We have celebrated the 4th of July and I am wanting to play hookey - it is summer afterall. And it will be a long summer without our annual trip to the beach in WI. A looong summer. There are 5 Sundays in July - I'll be preaching every week.
  I miss the summers of my youth - when the days and weeks stretched near endlessly before me. And there was freedom - freedom to ride our bikes to the playground, to the library to pick up fresh books to read and return before the due date those already read, and to the pool to swim in the glorious water!
   There was freedom to play outside after our chores - dusting, or helping clean house, or doing yard
work. There would be a weekend in Chicago with my Aunt (a nurse at Northwestern) who lived across from the John Hancock building and the adventure of travelling by EL into the city, being met
by my aunt, stopping at Marshall Field's - at times having lunch in their restaurant, stopping at Kroch & Brentano's  - the forerunner to Barnes & Noble and Border's, riding the bus, walking on Michigan Ave, going to the Art Institute, having dinner at Don the Beachcomber's, swimming in Lake Michigan and spending an afternoon at Oak Street Beach - complete with  picnic lunch and cool straw mats to lay on that rolled up into neat little, lightweight rolls we could carry!
   There was the camping vacation every year - often to National Parks - the Smokey Mountains, the
trip to Florida - stopping at Lookout Mountain and Rock City, the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Big Sur, Glacier, Banf, Jasper in Canada, the trip around the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, Gettysburg and Williamsburg, and Washington DC. Family time, sitting around a campfire in the evening, roasting marshmallows, being in nature, seeing historical sites, always an adventure. Learning and seeing so much, appreciating our diverse and great land and respecting nature - keeping mindful distances with the wildlife, being quiet
so as to see the wildlife - and we were rarely disappointed, not littering or defacing anything. The
land is sacred, the land is ours, it is to be preserved in its natural state for all time - for future generations to enjoy, to marvel and be awed by.
    And this summer, for the first time, in ages - no vacation for me, for us. It will be a working summer. Sigh.
    I may take 2 days off from the one interim position, but will still have the other visitation position
for 2 days that week. Plus, I still have to write a sermon. Not much of a vacation by any stretch of the
imagination.
   I could so use 10 days or two weeks to unwind and simply rest, and do some fun things - check
out local and historical sites, try a local restaurant, read and soak up the nature and scenery of
a new place, any place.
   My long-term interim is slowly drawing to a close - the candidate will be at the congregation after
the middle of August and by sometime in Sept. I will be done there and with the long commute.
   But in the meanwhile, I miss going away, I long for a day of no responsibility, to refresh my
spirit, to rest and relax. Maybe, I'll take part of an afternoon off  - and just play!
  

Monday, June 20, 2016

CELEBRATION TIME!

Today, this morning, we on the North Coast are standing taller, holding our heads up, walking with more spring in our step, and bursting with pride and disbelief. No longer are we "the mistake on the Lake"mere fly-over country. We are champions! Finally, after 52 years, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won the NBA Championship! We have won a major sport championship! 
   Although, NE Ohio has walked down this road many times before - this time it's for real!
  Watching the crowd in downtown Cleveland last night, like a mini- Times Square on New Year's Eve - folks were just milling around. It was as though we didn't know what to do - because we
actually won!!!!
   After the bitter betrayal of LeBron James when he left for the Miami Heat - he was so hungry for
an NBA win - and the burning of his jerseys, when LeBron tasted that victory - he wanted to bring
that home. And being the good-hearted Midwesterners that we are - we welcomed him home and
forgive him the great hurt he caused this area. And we got so close, we could almost taste victory - but as always - snatched away from us, or we choked and couldn't get it done. But last night, we did.
We got it done. And there was no victory more exquisite for LeBron than winning the NBA Championship for his home team and home town! Not even the win while part of the Miami Heat
could ever compare to the win last night.
   And historic it was! No team in NBA history after came back from 3 losses to win the whole enchilada!
   How incredible it was for the underdog to pull it off and finally, finally, win!
  This is big for Cleveland, for NE Ohio! It is a shot in the arm. A trophy hard won. We are on the map! We are Cleveland!
   Make no mistake, in the grand and ultimate scheme of things, it is still just a basketball game. There are far larger and ultimate things of which to be concerned in God's good world. But for now,
for this moment in time, we bask in the glow of sweet victory, we taste what hasn't been savored
in 52 years. And it is wonderful! It should have been declared a state holiday with everything
closed so that we could experience what a win is and means!!!!
    I hope that this will bring good things to this area of the country. That Cleveland can look
ahead to a bright shining future, no longer slumped over, apologetic for making their home
here. May NE Ohioans realize that victory and winning is possible. Hard work and perserverance
in the face of naysayers can culminate in a win!
    Today, we celebrate!
    And although, God is more concerned about greater things than a mere basketball game -
championship or otherwise - I think, that there is delight - in the against all odds, in the little
guy triumphing - that pleases God!
    We are Cleveland! We are Cleveland - at least for this one brief shining moment!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

TRULY HORRIFIC

I ponder these horrific events in our world. It greatly saddens me what one human being can do to another. What legion of demons has engulfed this one, to do such an atrocity?
I have no answers, only grief for a lost soul, and all those sunk in grief for a loved one gone from
their lives. I pray for the survivors, for healing, for the grief-stricken, for comfort, for God to make God's presence sensed and known, to hold all in God's love, to bring some measure of peace to a senseless act as they all are.
  And I sit with this all, a heavy heart within. And I listen in the silence, in the aftermath, for God's
voice in the shattered stillness, in the most broken of hearts. Speak, Lord. We are listening...

Monday, May 09, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE: TIMES THEY ARE A'CHANGING

For this Friday Five we are to name 5 transitions in our lives:

1. Gearing up for Pentecost Sunday and Ordinary Time and leaving the Easter season behind -
    all the wonderful appearances of the risen Christ. It was as if Jesus stayed around long
    enough to truly convince his disciples that he had indeed arisen from death. Now, he
    leaves them again - but sends God's Spirit to empower, guide and direct them. I enter
    into a new church season.

2. Preparing for my niece's wedding - she will be married and moving ahead in her life with
    her residency and new husband. I wonder if she will still call me once in awhile or if that
    will fall by the way? We've had some good conversations and I think I was able to share
    some wisdom with her. Hope that may still happen.
   

3. Looking forward to family time together and transitioning from normal time and duties to
    vacation days and just savoring being with my family. (Probably easier once the ceremony
    is over - since I am officiating)

4. Wondering how much I will be at L church and knowing that I will be moving on to
    another call - somewhere, sometime. It's been 3 years and 8 months at this interim. I
    and they are ready to move on. Hope this candidate works out for them and I pray that
    God has another position for me in the near future that will work out well.

5. Slowly feeling my age? With LH turning 60 this year, the realization is slowly dawning
     that I, too, am starting to stare down 60 as well - and then, what, 10-15 years more?
    It is a bit daunting and unsettling and not sure when we can ever retire. In some ways,
    I'm ready now - so that I can do some other things. However, unless we win the
    lottery that won't be happening any time soon. Still beginning to reflect on this time
    and age in my life....

IT'S MAY!

May has arrived -
   and I have been busy, working on my niece's wedding ceremony and message. Putting together
a little thing for the "Family Dinner Night" (or the traditional Rehearsal Dinner).
   I have been working ahead on my sermons, to lessen the time crunch while I am gone.
  Synod Assembly is this Fri/Sat. so I lose the weekend
  wrapped and packaged my Grandniece's birthday gift to be sent as soon as we return from
  the wedding
  got my hair colored and cut
  pedicure will be this Saturday afternoon
 slowly thinking what to pack and take with me
 still have to dig out sandals in my closet - I just know they are on the bottom of a pile of shoes/sandals
wrapped a special "Mother of the Bride" gift for my sister
sent a dual graduation card to my niece - who just received her MD degree and this coming
   weekend will receive her PhD
 have some bills to pay
 this morning we hung the colored crepe paper streamers (red, orange & yellow) on the 6
 kinda posts along the wall aisles of the sanctuary for Pentecost Sunday
   still have a June newsletter article to write
 Church council meeting this Sunday after worship
  have to contact the pulpit supply for his first reading choice
  did manage to squeeze in some weed pulling
  planted a couple of hardier herbs
  stupidly put 4 peat pots with teeny seedlings on the patio table which the wind blew away
   and only the basil and either tarragon or cilantro kinda survived - went to store and got
   more tarragon and basil seed - two weeks til germination, and then they have to grow,
     before being planted. I probably won't have those herbs til the end of September
  waiting for the hummingbirds to arrive - usually they are by now
   thinking I've way more to do than time to do it!
I'm looking forward to June and being able to catch my breath!
   But it is all good and full of goodness - so I will manage it all, by the grace and help of God and maybe some fire and power from the Holy Spirit!!!!