Wednesday, November 22, 2017

IS IT THE SEASON ALREADY?!!?

Hard to a believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving!
I have already cooked up 2 kinds of rice and made fresh turkey stock. Tonight I will make the stuffing, dessert and spinach dip. That will leave the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy for tomorrow, plus sanitizing bathrooms, putting out towels, cleaning clutter off the kitchen table and back of the couch.
  This will be a more casual Thanksgiving since we'll eat in the kitchen. All good plans go awry sometimes. Our dining room floor is not yet installed. Oh, the flooring arrived 6 weeks ago, but the installer is so busy, we had to wait til after Turkey day - until Dec. 13th.
  In the meantime, all the china and crystal is boxed up and all my large boxes are being used.
 So it will be everyday dishes and flatware for dinner. I did purchase fall leaves placemats to
dress up the plain table. I'm hoping that all will be done and moved back in place for a grand
new year's day dinner in our new dining room!
  Advent begins next Sunday - that short 4 weeks before Christmas. Along with 2 services a week and 2 Tuesday evening Bible studies, there is one potluck Sat. eve at L church, one lunch potluck at M church, 1 staff Christmas party for M church at home of a staff member. It all falls from Dec. 8th-12th. Oh, and the church council bring a treat on Dec. 18th.
  I still have my German Christmas letter to write. Print off both English and German, address and mail them along with Christmas cards.
  I have 3 boxes of gifts to wrap and send for family.
  And...it's our 30th anniversary. We will spend our anniversary on Grand Cayman in the warmth and sun and surf while I try not to think of everything that needs doing that I left behind. Sigh. I hope that I can center and settle my spirit and heart to be in the moment and enjoy this time away with LH.
  In this season of waiting and anticipation, I am going crazy! Deep breaths - breathe out the stress and deep breathe in the peace of Christ.
   This is one of the craziest, busiest Advent seasons ever. And not even our home is a put together
sanctuary of rest and peace.
I trust that somehow by the very grace of God, I will come through it all and everything will get accomplished if a bit late. Prayers are much appreciated!

Friday, October 20, 2017

FUNNY...I DON'T FEEL THAT OLD

Twice in the space of the week, I was reminded that I am near "elderly" and given a "senior" discount. Funny, I don't feel that old yet.
Last Friday, I went to the pharmacy at the local grocery store to get my flu shot. Afterall, I am constantly going into nursing homes, hospitals, and shaking hands on Sat. evening and Sunday mornings. I figured I ought to get the shot. Well, lo and behold, when I asked if the shot was a double strain, I was informed that it was the four strain shot. "When you are 60, elderly, there is a mega
flu shot." Thanks a bunch! Now, I am approaching elderly. Funny, 60 doesn't seem that old anymore and most 60 year olds are an active crowd. I am not there yet. I have more than a year to go. I am not elderly, thank you very much. I am middle-aged. Mature. Well, at least most of the time!
  Then, on Wednesday, I stopped at Kohl's to pick up a rectangular serving dish to put my apple strudel on for my husband to take to the church he serves for the Reformation Dinner & Movie (Rick Steve's The Reformation). I had $15.00 in Kohl's cash and there was a white porcelain FoodNetwork serving tray that was on sale. When I checked out the cashier gave me the "senior" discount of 15%.
The dish cost  me $2.48! I don't know what qualifies at Kohl's for "senior" status - some places it's 55 years and up and others, it's 60 plus. I got it any way. Apparently, Wednesdays are senior discount days at Kohl's. Who knew?
   I don't have gray hair yet. Well...I do, but I color it as close to my natural brown with red highlights. There can be a wee bit of gray at the temples when the dye starts fading. But it's not that noticeable, I think. I'm not full of wrinkles - although I have some - laugh lines. I body lotion my neck every morning so it doesn't look too turkey-like. I know I'm not 40 any more, but really, I don't think I look 60 already. At least not most of the time I look in the mirror. I still feel 45 inside.
I'm not ready to be 60 yet. Give me that year plus to go. I just don't see the 60 look yet.
   The woman who gave me the flu shot was no spring chicken, but the checkout gal at Kohl's was younger. Maybe, I look old to the younger folks. I just don't see myself there yet. Or am I fighting it?
Sigh. I've always accepted the age I am, except when I was younger and always wanted to be older.
I think a person live their age and be proud of it. But this 60 thing is a bit unnerving, maybe worse than 50.
  Well, if they want to give me the discount, I'll take it. But inside I know, I can still be young, and am still middle-aged. I am not yet "elderly." For gosh sakes, elderly is like 80. And I have a lot of living yet to do before then. Good Lord willing.

Monday, October 09, 2017

TRICK OR TREAT

Take your pick - trick or treat!
This is a busy, crazy month for moi! I have Bible Study every Tues. evening and this month,
Early Communion class on Wed. evenings, for the month. Tomorrow is the potluck lunch at
M church - Tailgate Party - is the theme since the Indians are in the playoffs. I'll be making my
spinach veggie dip, and fresh veggies. I figured we needed something healthy along side all the carb laden dishes that will be there. On Thursday morning at M church I will be leading a study lesson for the one women's circle stepping in for the education director who will be out of town.
Next Wednesday evening is a Reformation Dinner at my husband's church (which I will miss since
I have early communion class) and am making an easy apple strudel to go along with their bratwurst dinner. This Saturday morning, I will need to make communion bread for the upcoming early communion class.
On Sunday, Oct. 29th from 3 pm- 6pm, I will be at the church by 2 pm, will be our Reformation Walk sponsored along with 3 other L churches nearby. There will be 7 stops with folks in makeshift costumes as tourists arrive in Wittenburg. They will get a german lesson with Luther's teacher, make
a pretzel in the Café which will get baked and they can eat, Tetzel will be selling indulgences, one
can nail a thesis to a door, meet Martin & Katie Luther, learn and color the Luther Seal, and sing
a verse or two of "A Mighty Fortress". I have put together props, made signs for all the stops in an old script, and even have some items for costuming certain characters. It has taken much time and
organization but it should be fun for the whole family.
   In the midst of all this, we are working on our dining room and getting new flooring, a paint job, new light, etc. So, I am in the process of boxing up the entire contents of our china cabinet - 1 complete set of china for 12, along with crystal beverage and wine glasses for 12, some champagne
glasses, another set of dishes for 8, fondue dishes for 6, and an assortment of glass serving plates and bowls, and a couple antique bowls. Yup, I must be totally bonkers! I have about 1 more box or two to
go, and then everything will need to be washed before going back into the cabinet. The dining room
table legs need to be removed in order to move the table out of the room and the china cabinet will
also need to be moved. We bought sliders hoping that once the cabinet is empty, we can carefully
slide the thing into the family room. This is a monumental undertaking at one of the busiest times
of the year. Everything will need to be put back by Thanksgiving!
   So, take your pick - is this a trick or a treat? I'm hoping that when all is said and done it will be
a delightful treat that will last for a long time!
   May God help me maintain my sanity!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

WEIRD WEDDING

It is just as I suspected. A. Weird. Wedding. Never in my life....I guess there is a first for everything.
I arrived at the church just a couple minutes past six pm for the 6:30 pm rehearsal. The church door was opened and all these cars already there.
The pastor was in the sanctuary with the family and friends. I said hello, and was a bit surprised that so many were already there. He replied that the bride wanted to start at 6 pm. Well, thanks for letting me know, as the host pastor!
   I asked if he had the order of service, since his church was doing the bulletins. When we met a month ago, I emailed the pastor - that I would do the welcome, the congregational response - with words all typed out and the congregation's response in bold, and that I would do the prayer of the day.
I never heard back from him. Not even an acknowledgment that he had received what I sent him.
Now, since I am part-time, I confess that I never emailed him again as I have been busy.
  So, he hands me a bulletin and says he hopes he spelled my name right. Now, I know my last name has 4 syllables and is also the name of one of the disciples, but it is spelled the way it is sounded.
I look at it and see Pastor (First Name) Greyhound. What the? He automatically assumed because greyhound is part of email address that that was my last name, although I said my name verbally when we met a month ago. If he wasn't sure, he could've 1. emailed me back asking how to spell my last name, 2. called the church and asked the secretary.
  I've been called: Rev. Sweet Cheeks, Rev. Hard Nose and now: Rev. Greyhound!
  He didn't include the part of the support of the congregation with congregational response. Now I will have to give them the response verbally to repeat. (Stupid)
   The service is a mish-mash of all kinds of stuff. There is not one scripture lesson, there is absolutely no message to the couple regarding marriage, relying on Christ, that we love because God first loved us, etc.
   The Bridal procession is exactly as I feared - the love song from Beauty and the Beast. (Yuck!)
   When I suggested to the Maid of Honor that she may want to be ready to hold the bridal bouquet during the vows (normally the couple holds hands, looks at each other as they repeat their vows), the pastor said they would be facing him while saying the vows. What the? They should be looking at each other and making these solemn promises to each other, not the darn pastor! I always tell the couple to look at each other, they are making these promises to each other and not to me.
  Then everyone gathered sings, "In Christ Alone."
  There's the Ukranian Hand Tie - looks like a table runner wrapped around the couples joined
hands and then they walk around the altar three times.
   The exchange of rings.
   And then it all sort of ends with a prayer by the bride's father, pronouncement and kiss.
   It is totally weird and if there is no scripture or message, why not get married outside?
  I wonder where this pastor went to school - some bible college and no seminary education - although he is 50 ish.
    There seems to be a consumer mentality with all this. We're renting the church, so we should be able to use any and all areas (now also using our gathering space for appetizers and drinks - which was not part of the original bargain) and do whatever we want.
   Non-member weddings are thankless even if the church gets some money for it - just not worth the hassle, the time, and the demands.
   Then, as it neared the end of the rehearsal, the groom's mom asked if I would be coming to dinner - I thought she meant the wedding dinner and I replied that I had a worship service. No, she said, the rehearsal dinner. (by now it was nearly 8 pm), I didn't know I was even invited and replied that I had already eaten (which was true). The rehearsal dinner was at some Christian Church a bit out of town.
I don't think so. I am merely the hostesses, making sure all things for the service are ready and doing my bit part at the beginning.
    Oh, and there is glitter all over the carpets, sanctuary floor.
    I'll be glad when it's 6 pm - the wedding ceremony over, my worship service done, and I can clean up from worship, and go home! I will even be gracious not to embarrass the pastor and simply introduce myself as "Pastor Barbara of (Blank) L Church." I won't even get into the last name part.
God give me strength and help me be gracious and bite my tongue!
  

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

BUSY

Yup. Busy. Busy with the start up of a new program year at the church. Today after working at M church it's off to the L church for a Finance meeting at 6 pm and leading Bible Study at 7 pm. A very long day.
  Tomorrow at L church have to pick hymns, write sermon and children's sermon, make a visit.
  This weekend is the 'thankless wedding". A non-member of an independent Baptist Church who are very conservative - wife to obey husband. The young gal is kind ditzy. She can't make a decision without her family or groom's family. She wanted her pastor to marry them. She is awed by the cathedral church setting and needed a church large enough to accommodate all invited (their church is too small). Although we have a great pipe organ that fills the sanctuary, she is merely having the piano with a couple classical pieces, a hymn, and a couple of Disney love songs! (ughhh) I am playing gracious host. I will welcome, give a statement, the prayer of the day and give the promise of the gathered congregation - that they will support this couple. Then I can sit and watch it all proceed.
I don't believe there's a message - she said she just wanted this hymn sung. They will do a Ukranian hand tie instead of lighting a unity candle (which is ok). But the whole ceremony is weirdly put together and it will be fascinating to watch unfold. I will open the church an hour before the wedding at 1 pm, get everything ready, be host and part wedding planner. The service is at 2 pm, our Sat. evening worship service is at 5 pm and so I will be there the whole time and get things set up for our worship service to follow. The reception will be in the social hall, so parking will be at a premium for our worshippers. I don't know who's locking up, but I will be out of the church at the end of cleaning up for worship. That's 5 hours of my time, plus 2 hours Friday for the rehearsal. I am only part time.
   I am not looking forward to this wedding.
   Oh, and the latest is this: the family wants into the church Friday at 9 am to decorate the church,
probably Social Hall as well as Sanctuary - which is ok because after rehearsal we will be free and clear to go.
  However the twist is: they want to be at the church Sat. at 7:15 am to do hair, make-up, and get
dressed. Did I mention the wedding is at 2 pm? I don't know, but usually it's an hour for hair and
1/2 hour for make-up and 1/2 hour to dress. Or am I unrealistic? Whatever are they going to do for
6 hours? Wash their hair in the church bathrooms? Who wants to lug all that stuff to the church
and remember to clean it all up and remove it? I don't want our ladies bathroom filled with junk
for our worship service. As it is, they are not using the downstairs ladies bathroom with large area
and mirrors. They are using the parlor with no mirrors, how will the bride check herself? They
blew off our suggestion of downstairs and will use the parlor. The bride is quite a ditz.
    The reception should be over and all cleaned out by 9:30 pm.
   I don't think the church is getting compensated for an entire day of facilities usage, yes for
a few hours, but this exceeds normalcy on so many levels.
   The lighting in the bathrooms isn't even that good for make-up. Maybe they're bringing in their
own lighted mirrors. I just don't see how this will happen and only a couple of gals can be in front of the bathroom mirror at a time. I certainly would want to do all that in the comfort of my own home or hotel room and not a squirrely mess in a church bathroom.
    I am not looking forward to this wedding.
   Fortunately, the church secretary is here on Friday(my one day off) and will open at 7:15 am Sat.
and lock up at 9:30 pm Sat.
   If I never do another non-member wedding again before I retire, it would be a good and wonderful
thing. They are the most thankless, time-sucking ministry I do, and even worse, when their own
clergy is a part of it, and I am just a gracious host, running around making sure the sound is on, and
everything is working, etc.
   I wish it were next week and this entire fiasco was over. Pray that I may be gracious and not roll my eyes too much or noticeably during the service.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

SO FRUSTRATING-

It's so frustrating when making visits to elderly members in assisted living or nursing homes and they get moved. Moved where? The facilities, due to HIPPA laws, can no longer tell me, where said member may have gone. I have had to wheedle info out if the person I was visiting had been taken to the hospital. They aren't even supposed to tell you that.
  So, the standard response is to get in touch with the family. Easier said, than done!
  In the case of the latest person, a woman in her 80's who had been a member of this particular M church from her marriage on, taught Sunday School for years, especially the little ones, and raised four boys with not the most supportive husband (at least parentally speaking, and not the most giving of himself person to her as a partner in life), being involved in church and after her husband's death, finally, giving something back to herself, travelled with the pastor or former pastor to Russia, China, etc., has been at a certain assisted living place for as long as I have been serving as visitation pastor of M church. Over the past year, I could see the decline in her cognitive abilities and that she has lost some weight. She's had memory issues for the past 3 years. She can no longer work on puzzles like she used to, she reads but I'm sure her comprehension is low, and she was not one to take part in facility activities. She enjoyed walking, lots. She used to walk outside for an hour at a time. In the winter, she's walk the hallways. Then it got to be that she just walked the hallways all year 'round.
Now she hasn't been walking all that much.
  With vacation and other visits, I didn't get to see her in July, unusual because I'm there every month.
So, on Tuesday, I go to see her, only she's not there, her name was taken off the door, she disappeared just like mist.
  Now this facility also has a memory care unit and I'm thinking she might have been moved into there, indeed, I was anticipating that would be happening. But, no. The desk lady said that if that was the case, they could tell me that. She is not here and I should contact the family. Great.
   Her family doesn't attend church - although all the boys were baptized, went to Sunday School here, and were confirmed. They have a faith background. Surely they knew all their Mom did in teaching Sunday School and all the group trips made with the former pastor. But they don't attend church anymore.
  And it never occurs to them to let the church know where their Mom is, that perhaps, they felt she needed better care or a memory care place that offered her more. I can understand that, but let her church know.
  Children of parents need to let the church know where their parent is currently residing. How can we visit that person, or bring them communion if we don't know where they are at? Even memory care patients can often still recite part of the Lord's Prayer, or remember the taste of bread and wine, or find comfort in the words of institution or a verse from scripture.
   Auuuughhh...how frustrating it is. They might not think much of faith for themselves, but at the
very least honor your parent's faith, know that faith still means something to them, to be connected to their church family, to be connected to God.
   Call the church. Let the church know where your parent is. Help us to continue to include and serve your parent in whatever capacity they are in. We can deal with it - better than you can!
   Sigh. I ended up finding the daughter-in-law's address because she has an unusual name on the internet. I hate doing that. I'm disturbed at how easy it was to find her address. I will be sending
the family a card, requesting where their mom is. We'll see if they call me or the church. I hope they will understand and let me know where she is. We had built up a relationship and she doesn't really get any visitors aside from them from time to time.
   I pray for this woman, I do.
  But mostly, I simply ask that when you move a parent - from their home into a facility, from one facility to another, call your parent's church, let them know so that we can still minister to them, no
matter what stage they are in. It is so simple really. If you love your parent, you know that faith is
important to them, even if it isn't to you. That is but one aspect of loving and caring for your
elderly parent as you make sure they get good care or are surrounded by familiar things, or when you make doctor's appointments for them, or bring them a new pair of slippers that function better for them. Honor and love your parent by letting the church know where they are at, understanding that church and faith in God was an important and often, vital, component of their life.
  Off to make another visit...hope they are still in the same place!
  Oh, and leave your contact info with the church, in case, something happens, or we notice something, and can let you know.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

SUMMERTIME-VBS TIME

VBS began Monday evening at L church. I helped serve fruit drinks for supper, and helped with the ketchup dispenser for the hot dogs.
  After dinner, I was put to work making yarn pom-poms that would become aliens. We made them ahead for the younger ones. Then I stapled 2 foam bowls together to make a space ship - must have
made about 12 of them. Next, three of us were asked to unroll cotton balls! Unroll a cotton ball? I never knew they could be unrolled. Not as easy as it may seem. Some went fairly well and others ended up in two pieces. We only did half the bag of 400 and there's at least a couple more bags to
go. Looks like I will be at it again tonight as this is for Thursday's craft. Who knew in seminary that
I would be unraveling cotton balls as part of my ministry! At the very least, I know I am doing it for the children in VBS - that they will be amazed at the wonder of the universe when they work on this craft and the wonder of God's love for them, and our love for them. Unravelling cotton balls with an involved member of the church and the council president made for good fellowship. It's amazing sometimes how the simplest, silliest of things can end up being a true ministry. God is always
in the unexpected, in the simple, in the ordinary doing God's thing with us and through us. Nothing is ever too silly, too small, too ordinary, too simple for God not to accomplish God's good work of making God's love, presence and good news in Christ Jesus known, to bring forth hope, peace, grace, forgiveness, blessing, life - new and eternal. It is an awesome thing to see unfold, revealed before one.
It also reminds me of God's delight in the unexpected, in the very small and simple, and of God's mighty sense of humor. "Here, I am, in this little, simple act of unraveling cotton balls. What seems
small and silly to you, is of great significance to others, makes myself be known and discovered, and every act contains great love."
  So, I look forward to unrolling those cotton balls this evening! God is there in the midst of it all.
  Next week is VBS at the M church, but I will  be there just on Tues. morning as we leave for vacation on Wed. I've been asked to help prepare snacks for 101 kids that day - grapes and something else. Yet, another, simple, ordinary act full of love and fellowship, profound with meaning, and full of God's presence!