Monday, October 01, 2018

WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?

It was a busy summer and only had a breather the beginning of August.
  Now the hectic fall season in the life of the church has begun - Confirmation Classes, Evening Bible Study & Early Communion Classes for the month of October. Plus, 2 non-member weddings where I
play the role of wedding coordinator only - mikes on, lights on, doors open and locked, etc. putting in more time than for which I am getting paid.
   The church has been struggling with major deficit, giving is down, attendance is not what it has been. I fear that folks have lost hope in their church family. Oh, there are some very committed and involved people, but they can't do it all. The church continues to reach out in the community with their monthly free community dinner, participation in First Friday, Scare on the Square for Halloween, Candlelight Walk in Nov with a chili dinner, our organist planning another Christmas Concert in December.
   Now we enter the season of Stewardship (which really is all year long). And there is not enough money coming in to meet shaved down monthly expenses. It breaks my heart. I have spoken of the joy of giving and all that, but it changes not. I will keep at it and then there will need to be the conversation of continuing until there is no money or closing up.
   LH and I had a week away taking a trip to Iceland. It was amazing, wild and untamed. The mountains and landscape is mostly volcanic. The rain comes and goes as does the sun. The wind seems to be near constant. (course we had 2 days of high wind warnings.) It was ruggedly beautiful. We stayed on the coast, a lighthouse was our neighbor and, bless my soul, we caught the Northern Lights two nights in a row. How utterly amazing, splendorous, captivating! It was worth freezing in the wind!!! We drove the Golden Circle, spent a day in Rejkeyvik (pardon the spelling), drove not quick to Vik (too long a drive) and saw black sand beaches, spent relaxing time in the Blue Lagoon,
drove to a really neat waterfall and thermal springs. Saw fish drying on outdoor racks. Ate plenty of lamb hotdogs and fresh fish and lamb. Did a lot of walking and driving. Am grateful for the opportunity to visit Iceland (although it is very expensive) and thrilled to have seen the northern lights.
   Now comes the business and craziness of church life in the fall. May my memories of Iceland serve to bring me through this time and may the ancient Icelantic symbol of guidance bear me through so that I do not lose my way or my bearings through this busy time and season.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

THE GRACE OF VBS

It was indeed, a full week of VBS - two evenings at L church, 2 mornings at M church, and Friday evening (my day off) at L church. I just couldn't abandon the kids!!!
   At L church the second night of VBS coincided with our monthly free community dinner which
serves not only the indigent in our community but has included, widows, widowers, one man with a wife in a nursing home, and a few senior couples who all like to eat together. So, although we may have begun this ministry and mission with one need in mind - it has flowered open to include those whose needs we didn't originally know to serve.
   Well, there was an older woman there that night and saw the kids eating dinner too, for VBS and
asked if her granddaughters could stay to attend to VBS. She was given a resounding YES! So, those girls were with us the rest of the week. They were visiting from out of state, had something fun and
interesting to do in the evening with other kids. Grandma got free entertainment in the evening for her granddaughters, and a bit of respite. The girls had such fun and enjoyed VBS so much, that grandma told me, they just jibber-jabbered away on the phone with their mom!!!
   Remember those twin boys that were a handful? Well, they have vision problems and also
most likely ADHD. On Wed. evening, the bible lesson person had set up 4 little orange cones and a small soccer  ball that they kids were to lightly tap around the cones. She chose one of the twins to
start - the boys aren't very athletic - probably due to their vision problem. He struggled some but
we encouraged him. His twin was next and had problems also, but encouraged him. When the next
child went up, those two twin boys - shouted his name, and go and yay! They cheered every single child in the group as they took their turns. They were the cheering section and got the others to cheer for each one. The very gift of encouragement displayed, given, lived and offered. They have that gift of encouragement a thousand-fold! I had tears in my eyes! What a gift they gave each child as they
cheered them on. They tried harder and did better because of all the encouragement they received.
I believe those twins taught us the lesson that evening! What if we encouraged others in that same way in our own lives? What if we encouraged our parishioners that way? Hmmmm….Who were the ones who encouraged us? How do we live the gift of encouragement given to us?
   What a grace unfolded in VBS! God is full of surprises even in the most unlikely persons!
   On a side note, I would encourage manufacturers of VBS materials - no matter which company -
that most kids, even in a week, cannot perform the songs and dances that are choregraphed mini
Disney numbers. Are you for real? Come on! Make the songs simpler with less wordy verses, a
catchy refrain and bit less choregraphy. Keep it simple so they can learn it and perform it. Even M church with 107 kids - didn't get the movements down and lyrics down in the week. (They used a different program than L church). The kids just ended up bopping to the music. In an effort to make the music jazzy and modern - you have left most kids behind - who aren't able to replicate the video.
Retool and rethink your music sections!
   I am ever amazed at the grace of VBS whether 20 kids or 100 kids - all the learnings, seeds of faith planted, fun, and the way God ever continues to be a part of it all and working ever in our midst.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

MANIC MONDAY

It's just another manic Monday...as the song goes, so did my Monday. Back from a short vacation, I was in the office catching up and working on Sunday's service. The secretary tells me someone wants to see me - an indigent seeking money. I inform him of the two services in town and give him directions. Back to work. Then the secretary tells me that the parishioner who died while I was on vacation is being buried at the national cemetery at 1;30 pm. I call the widow, did she want me there to do the committal service, yes she would. I check with her son who had made all the arrangements and didn't want to step on the toes of the pastor who did the funeral service.(the son's pastor). Nope, that pastor wasn't going to be there, and yes, they would like that. So, I gather up my things, drive home, gulp down some lunch, change into clergy duds, and off  I go. Despite construction on the way, I had no delay through town and got to the cemetery too early. The group ahead was escorted out. I stayed to the side and noticed a car ahead of me also stilled pulled over, then the woman looked oddly familiar. One of our parishioners who was related to the deceased (which I didn't know). Finally all had gathered at 1:15 pm, then we waited until 1:30 pm when we were escorted to the shelter for the military farewell and the committal service. I was watching the clock a bit as I had a scheduled appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Although it was all fairly short, I had to follow folks out and all the way through town, get home, change out of black (it was near 90 degrees that day) and put on my linen dress and other sandals, fill my water bottle with ice and off I went. I was to be at the doctor's office (part of a major clinic) at 2:45 pm for a 3 pm appt. I got there with a couple minutes to spare, got checked in and had to fill out a form and then waited...waited...finally got called and put in an exam room. The nurse did her routine, then said I needed to get my left foot xrayed
there for better viewing than the ones I brought in. After another wait, I was taken for the xray, then back to exam room to wait and wait some more. My husband calls, where are you? I'm still at the doc's office, well, his car is ready to be picked up after a side mirror replacement, can you drive me?
They close at 5 pm. Don't know, haven't been seen and it is 4 pm. Finally the doc comes in and shares the disheartening news - not as minor as I thought. Major foot surgery, collapsed metatarsal arch, bunion and fix two toes. Out for 6 weeks - crutches, walker, etc. Need to do a CAT scan yet on the foot. Sends nurse back in to schedule CAT scan and give me 2 metatarsal pads. Off I hobble to the car, a little dazed. Drive home and it is 4:45 pm I honk as I pull up the driveway. No response. I open the door of the house and yell for LH, no answer. He must've gotten a ride from the fix-it place.
I refill water bottle with fresh ice and off I go to church for VBS opening night! I get there at 5:15 pm and thinking I got there with 15 minutes to spare only kids were already eating. They started at 5 not 5:30! (That was a mistake on a sign - and now they start at 5:30 pm) I eat my chicken nuggets and tater tots and we're off. I am the guide leader for the 1st & 2nd graders with two twin boys who are
a handful. I know why Mom signed them up - she needed a couple hour's break!!!! Go through all the stations and at the close 8:10 pm, I'm off to Walmart to replenish snacks for our DD group of 3 who are working at the church all July - weeding & cleaning mostly. I supply a snack for them - nutrigrain bars, granola bars, muffins etc. I also needed to pick up 4 gallons of blue raspberry punch for VBS.
I load up the snacks and find the juice - it's refrigerated! I don't have room in my fridge for 1 gallon jug let alone 4. So, I drive back to the church to drop off the juice in the church fridge. I get home, and a little after 9 pm. I wash the coffee pot and a couple miscellaneous things, put my foot up for an
hour and the make my salad for the next day's lunch. At 11:20 pm I am off to bed, exhausted.
I am thankful, I was able to officiate this parishioner's committal as I felt so bad at his death while I was gone - it was sudden and unexpected. I am thankful for all the children who are taking part in
VBS. I am thankful that I know what is wrong with my foot since December when I injured it running through an airport terminal. It has gotten worse over time. So, inspite and despite all the
mania of Monday, I am thankful and grateful, especially the God was with me throughout the day, and for a blessed night's sleep!
  Tuesday morning was VBS at the other church! Tonight, another round of VBS at L church and tomorrow morning the last day of VBS for me at M church! Always a busy, blessed time with VBS!



Wednesday, May 02, 2018

SPRING HAS FINALLY SPRUNG!

Yay! Here it is May 2nd and finally, there is sunshine and warm weather. The Bradford pears burst into full bloom yesterday and it is a lovely sight to see them line the long street in our subdivision.
That didn't happen last year due to a late frost, but this year they are glorious; a showy white.
  I haven't done much in the flowerbeds or garden because its been so cold. I have pulled some weeds, many more to go, and grass that needs to be dug up - why does it grow where it shouldn't and doesn't grow where it should? - and planted a couple hardier herbs - curled parsley, tarragon, rosemary and got carried away and planted the dill. I'm not sure the dill made it. I have to put in the crumbled egg shells and top it with Sweet Peet - best compost ever.
  I'll need to pick up a couple more herbs and my tomato seedlings, plus plant my flower seeds.
 Sigh, all in the month when there is so much going on.
 I make a list to remember everything I need to do in a triage fashion.
  Friday - raffle drawing for lift ride at church - should be there 8:30 pm at our downtown First
               Friday - need to call winner immediately since the lift ride is 1 pm next day.
              Sat - at church 12:30 pm, to meet the mayor who is doing the first lift ride at 1 pm,
                      roofer will stay a couple hours and offer lift rides for $5.00 to see town from
                     on high. I may just do it - for the once-in-a-lifetime experience but am a bit
                    scared of heights!
         Tues - Lunch Bunch at M church, need to cook chicken taco meat Monday evening
         May 12 - Car Show at church - stop in for lunch, see some cars, & take a swing at
                        smashing a car
       May 13th - Mom's Day, Grad recognition - wrap gift, sign card, bring in Teacher Thanks
                          gifts, bring in paper tea cups (presently cutting them out - then folding, cutting
                          slit, and putting a tea bag between the cups and threading the bag tea onto
                          the front of one cup, then glue dotting the tea tag to the cup and glue dotting
                          the folded cup together) why do I find this stuff and then spend time doing it
                         all? Because I love and care!
       May 20th - Pentecost and Confirmation - would love to hang strips of  red, yellow, orange
                          crepe paper but haven't figured out where and how - since this is a cathedral
                          church. Make up gift bags for confirmands and sign their cards.
 Somewhere along the way, I need to reschedule my massage, and I'm due for a pedicure, maybe after I clean house next Friday!
    May is a busy month in the life of the church, in the lives of people in the church, so much
going on in the schools as everything comes to a hilt before summer break.
   But it is a beautiful time of year and I am savoring green grass, the flowering trees and all that's
finally coming into bloom - COLOR! How it brings the soul to sing to see it all!
    In the busyness of all you are a part of this month - look around you! See the color, notice
what is blooming and growing, let it fill you, speak to you of new life and energy. Be grateful
and appreciative and feel blessed.

Monday, April 09, 2018

EASTER SEASON

Thankful that I survived another Lent, Holy Week and Easter!
  I promptly got sick Holy Saturday and managed to get through 2 Easter services with a breakfast in between. Came home exhausted and slept on the couch! Our Easter dinner got put on hold for a couple days, as I just didn't have any appetite.
   Went to the Doc on Monday (after cancelling a long awaited massage) and have an upper respiratory virus. I took Tuesday off since I was sick all morning long. Can't make any visits or else I will infect the frail and elderly.
   I did make the Tuesday evening Bible Study to finish up the 7 Deadly Sins.
  This Sunday was Joy Sunday and it took everything I had to have the energy to do it. This virus is going to take some time to get over. But it went well, except for the acolyte who fell asleep during worship! Never have I had that happen! I had to really prod him awake for the sharing of the peace!
    Things will be in Easter season mode until May 6th when the Bishop will preach & preside - he's not known for short sermons!
   Then there will be Confirmation on Pentecost Sunday, May 20th. Just two girls this year.
  The Youth (well,, 4 of them) will head to Houston for the ELCA Youth Gathering the end of June,
then VBS when they return. Oh, and the town parade before the Youth Gathering.
   The church has a car show the Sat. before Mom's Day and I just have to put the themed raffle basket together.
   The church roof repair is costing an incredible amount and we are trying to find creative ways to raise money. We did a Lenten Challenge of each day in Lent - 10 cents on day one, 20 cents on day two, thirty cents day three, etc. The last two weeks of Lent were the most challenging. Those who tried it, raised $82.00 in 40 days! We have raised over $2,000.00 through the Lenten Challenge.
Our next push is a raffle ride on the roofing lift to see the town from a bird's eye view. We've even got the Mayor to go up on the lift. It's off to a slow start.
   Any body have any ideas for future fund raisers?
So, there always seems to be something happening.
 Sadly, we have no real Sunday School and young families are lacking. It is a real shame.
  The church participates in most First Fridays which our town is doing to bring people to downtown business. That has gone well. And our monthly free community dinners are going well also and meeting a need.
   All good, blessed and wonderful things.
  Me, I'm just tired. I think it's mostly the virus at this point. Hopefully, this too, shall pass, and I can enter new life before the Easter season is over!
   Spring is late this year. Too much cold and snow or snow flurries. March was like February, and
April has felt like March. Maybe, one of these days, it'll warm up and spring will bust out all over!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

ANOTHER YEAR OLDER

Celebrated or did I, my birthday this past Sunday. So it was a work day, with worship and confirmation class. I did enjoy a nap that afternoon! LH bought me a bouquet of red roses on Saturday and there was a frozen chocolate cake in the freezer which he thawed. We went out for
dinner on Friday night after I cleaned house most of the day and ran two errands.
  Saturday morning I ran to Kohl's since I had a $10.00 free card from Kohl's and bought a new bra!
Not too exciting but practical. I did manage to find birthday gifts for my great-niece and great nephew and even a Christmas gift for him come Dec. I shop all year round and try to get the best bang for my dollar.
  Then had worship Saturday night.
  The best part about my birthday, was the bluebird who sat on the shepherd's hook, that holds bird feeders, in the morning. I hope it portends happiness for the year. Late afternoon, I heard and saw the first redwing blackbird of the season in our birch tree and in our neighbor's maple tree. Sure hope he doesn't regret coming up north this early, even though yesterday was over 70 degrees. It's getting colder even as I write - afterall it's still Feb.
  Today will be the first Lenten service and luncheon. It is a bit rainy/drizzly and grey and about 50 degrees. Hope we get a good turn-out. I fixed up my sermon a bit so it isn't as bad as I perceive it
to be - hopefully!
   As I live into this new year of my life - I pray, that God will provide another position when this
one ends. I pray that I will serve faithfully and with imagination and wisdom and zeal. I find I get more tired after a long day.
   I'm beginning to think about no longer dying my hair as of next year's birthday and go grey. I'm tired of the mess of coloring my hair. But how old will it make me look? Next year, I enter a new decade and my sister will have a biggish birthday - think retirement age or what used to be retirement age. Thinking of ways for us to celebrate - any ideas out there?
   Well, duty calls and I have to set up things for worship. May Lent unfold with blessing to bring us all to new life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

JUST TIRED THINKING ABOUT IT...

Yup, just thinking about Lent is making me tired this year.
 I have already contacted 4 downtownish churches in town to do a mid-week Lent service and lunch and got them all scheduled - not always a minor feat!
The L church is always host for the 5 weekly Wednesday noon services. I worked up a liturgy to use each week - this would be so much easier if there was a handy resource! I have made a list of hymns (we sing 2 at each service) that could be used. Hard to choose one of the hymns without knowing what the other minister will be preaching on. The theme is Living a Holy Lent. I will focus on living more green. Hopefully, there will be a focus on prayer, generous giving, fasting, etc. Will be interesting to see what they latch onto. I'm hoping the SA will not ramble too long this year. The service is usually about 25 minutes long - so brief messages - and he went on and on and on, preached for about a 1/2 hour and some folks had to get back to work. (And yes, he was told how short the services are!)
  Have put together the Ash Wednesday service which will be held jointly with our Episcopalian neighbors across the large community parking lot. The good father will preach at both noon and 7 pm services. I preached last year. For the Call to Observe a Holy Lent - since it is Feb.14th - everyone will get a post-it heart on their bulletin and write on it their commitment to living in Lent - forgo
negativity, fast complaining, walk 5,000 steps a day, etc. We will gather them and stick them on the altar - a rending of our hearts and not our clothing.
   I burned some palms last Friday since it was such a gorgeous day and have some fresh ash. I still have to order the bread for communion and bring in an extra chalice and a couple napkins to hold the bread. (notes to self!)
   Since the L church has had to do some major roof repair, there will be a church dinner and presentation on the cost still needing to be covered. Thus, was born the Lenten Challenge!
What Lutheran doesn't like their coffee? So, we have coffee cups with lids that will sport a label
with the Lent Challenge and a calendar of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday as Day 1, Feb. 15th as Day 2, etc. all the way through Holy Saturday. The idea being to put in 1 dime on Ash Wednesday, on Thursday to deposit 2 dimes, the next day 3 dimes, and so on throughout the 40 days.
By the end of Lent it is about $80-$81.00 that has been collected. If 20 people do it, we will have raised $1,600.00 already. I didn't want to make too oppressive because by day 20 and beyond you are putting in over $2.00 & $3.00 a day - but it all adds up. I'm hoping that they'll see how a little can truly add up, engage in generous giving and a Lenten discipline and to live into a challenge. We shall see what happens. One can do the same with nickels or pennies - just a lesser amount.
   I still have to work on my Lenten midweek message. Mulling it all around in my head.
  We are one week away from what will be a very busy and tiring season, but also very full of grace and blessing.
   Have to start working on Holy Week, Easter Sunday and of course, Joy Sunday - the Sunday after Easter. Hmmm...maybe right after I take a quick nap!!!!!!!!!!!