Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DID I EVER MENTION

that God has the most marvelous sense of humor?
Perhaps, in the midst of seasons changing, my leave-taking of one position, and everything going on in the world, a little levity might be in order.
   It was a very hot and dry summer here just south of the North Coast. Many days in the 90's, a real summer. But dry, dry, dry. I had to water the garden and flower beds. A lot. All the lawns in the subdivision were brown - California lawns - well, except for the one fellow who has an in-ground sprinkling system and uses it. It looked something out of the movie, "Erin Brokovich" - where Hinckley is yellow. Hot. Arid.
   One evening while we (LH and I) were eating dinner, there were clouds in the sky but the sun was shining. There were some darker clouds to the North and some to the South, but the sun shone on us.
I remember thinking and probably saying to LH, (more than a few times during the summer), "If only
we could some rain." While I was putting dishes into the dishwasher, and looked out the kitchen windows, lo and behold, it was sprinkling while the sun was shining. I looked over at our next door neighbor's and not a drop fell there. Their deck and gas grill cover was dry as ever. The rain was over my little herb garden.
  Amazing. I ran to the front door and went out on the porch to see the few drops. There was absolutely none at all.
   I smiled and threw my head back and laughed. I could imagine God saying, "Well, you asked for a little rain!"
  And it landed right in the herb garden!
Ha Ha Ha.
   We enjoyed the joke - God and I.
  And it reminded me that God and I are on good terms. When there is humor between us, I know that all is well between us.
   And it was a good joke and full of mirthful delight!
  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NEAR DONE

My interim time here in L church 1 hour commute each way will be over the beginning of October!
They have called a part-time pastor! Yay! They are so ready to move on and into something new.
I am ready to move on. In some ways, I have rested some on my laurels. Yes, there were the challenges of the Lenten Round Robins, but I guess I'm ready for some new challenges. But that is also what causes anxiety in me. New challenges. What will I be stepping into in the next interim? One never really knows for sure. I have been in the lion's den before. Not easy. But it worked out. I couldn't do as much as I would've like in that situation, but I got them through the worst of it and felt I was a non-anxious presence - which may have belied, what I really felt inside at times! Just had to stay centered and grounded in Christ.
   I know this next interim will not last 4 years! I pray it pays a bit more, maybe a little towards pension or medical would be nice. I have been working for 6 years without any pension or medical. A little would go a long way! That's the breaks when working part-time.
   I also am thinking that should this next interim work out (meeting in Sept), it would be in the town I am living in! I have never served a church in the town in which I resided!!! I was always the one commuting, while LH didn't have that far to commute.
   Which leads into the fact that after 13 years of living in our present community, I don't know all the side streets or even where all the nursing homes are. I just take the main drags to go to the bank, grocery store, library, dry cleaners, gas station, stores, etc. We really don't know anybody in town, except for our next door neighbors. Well, LH may know a parishioner or two from his last called
pastorate, but that is it!
    Guess I'll have to learn my way around town! Finally, after 13 years!
   Also, this is a more high church L church. I am a low life - opps - low church Presbyterian! I will
be challenged. I don't chant and they will have to put up with being called, 'beloved of God'. Hope it
doesn't hurt their L sensibilities!
    I will be stretched no doubt.
   I also realized while driving through town the other day, that every church in town (and there are a myriad of churches) I will be the only female, aside from the Salvation Army couple. WOW! It
never crossed my mind before - all the pastors in town are male. (CMA, DISCIPLES OF CHRIST,
AG, NAZARENE, UCC, CATHOLIC, NON-DENOMINATIONAL- 4 at least , METHODIST, EPSICOPAL, and at least two BAPTIST churches). It will be interesting to see how this works out if there is a ministerial or when working with one or another churches for community events or church observances. Hmmmm....been there before!
   Just have trust God and walk in faith as I have done all these years. In the meanwhile, I pray that  God will make me able to serve in ways that bring health and goodness to the congregation, that God's Spirit inspire me and grant me wisdom, that God and I will keep our good humor, come what
may!
   Now all I have to do is exit graciously while honoring this church's grief and mine after 4 years!
Praying about that as well.

  
  

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!