Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What's in YOUR handbag?

Saw this at St. Casserole's. Thought something fun and light would help break away the stress from last week now manifested in my lower back.
Or maybe its the meds - the muscle relaxers or the pain reliever.

Here's a fun game!

Tell me what's in your handbag! If you don't carry a handbag, tell me what's in your pockets, messenger bag, backpack, auto glove compartment or that fanny pack you won't stop wearing.

Here's what's in my handbag:
eyeglass case
mini brush,
little bottle excederin
cell phone
bulging wallet
2006 weekly calendar
bank envelope with money
St Francis of Assisi card - left over from a children's sermon
2007 Hallmark freebie calendar
pepper packets in the front pocket
a zip drive thingy
an old grocery shopping list
8 pens
Doctor's office receipt (from this morning)
energency vet magnet (with phone number and address)
3 books of matches ( to light Old Folks Home candle for worship)
2 Dew Kiss lip balm by Avon
a magnifying glass,
a lighter
a pocket mirror
1 hand sanitizer packet
6 pepcids (for Small Town Pizza)
packet mini emery boards
mini tape measure
1 wooden beaded finger rosary
my trusty full size Swiss Army knife (tweezers, and corkscrew included - never know when you need to open a bottle of communion wine!)

So that's what really in there. Amazing that I can get it all in such a little purse and not a tote bag, huh?

Although, I was speeding my way through Advent, I have hit a roadblock. At 11:30 am Saturday, my back give me tinge and it was out. Even when Ben cut his back paw while out in the back yard Sat. around 4pm, (on only who knows what since there's only grass, 2 small trees, and one stone in our yard, aside from my small garden), I could not straighten up and rushed him with a profusely bleeding paw wrapped in gauze to the emergency vet. Normally it takes about 15-20 minutes. I made it in 10, breaking every speed limit!! Cautherization didn't work and they had to knock him to stitch the cut. Now, I have to give him antibiotic every day and take him back to the regular vet on Wed. am. (Like I only have a gazillion things to do at the church).
On Sunday, with the children's program the bulk of the service, I didn't have much to do and I did it all hunched over.
On Monday afternoon I had the cleaning service coming to clean my house after a month and having to cancel last week due to an all day funeral. When i called the Doc for an appointment (the pain was just so horrendous), I could either have Mon afternoon (cancel cleaning) or Tues am. I chose to stay in pain til Tues. I did my home remedy stuff and worked on my Christmas Eve service. (Yea! it's done!!)
Slept on couch with heating pad.
Took all of 5 mins for the Doc to look at me and write out the prescriptions. That was 40 minutes after the time of my appointment. Then there was the drive home and to the pharmacy. Had to wait to turn in the prescription, then it was another 20 minutes. I got to the van, took one of each pill with some water and I was on my way to church. The railroad crossing barriers were down with nary the sound of a train in sight and cars lined up. Finally, after 5 minutes, with no train, someone at the box, raised them.
Even when I raced with the car to get to the Doctor's office, to get to the Pharmacy to get to church, I could only go slowly and hunched over, when I walked. It takes 2-3 times longer to do everything, from showering, to dressing, to fixing breakfast or lunch, like I'm moving in slow motion during this very last week of Advent with so much left to do. I fear some visits won't happen til after Christmas.
Now, if I could just stay awake - my eyelids are drooping, the meds must be working.
God, forgive me for rushing through Advent without honoring the time of expectant waiting. Now, I in my slowness remember pregnant Mary's slowness, the slowness of the journey to Bethlehem, the slow dark night of the shepherds out in the field with their flocks. Bless this slowness to me, O Lord, that I may receive more fully your birth, your coming to me this Christmas. Amen.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Christmas Wish

At this point, I'll settle for a clean house and just a whole extra day to do my laundry and wrap gifts. 2 12 hour days in a row and the whole day tomorrow will be taken up by the funeral. I am so tired today.
I did make it to a parishioner's Tastefully Simple snack party last night. Pretty tasty stuff. I ordered the Garlic Garlic as my early Christmas present. LH will stay away from it as it is really, really garlicky!!!
I did get LH Papal Bull Rub and Kitty My Rib Rub from Old Lutheran.com. We really liked the Kitty My Rib Rub. So, he'll be pleased with that gift.
I'm hoping to make a quick stop to the Pet Store to get the Boys their favorite cookies - they look like Oreo's and sandwich cookies and come in carob, vanilla and peanut butter. I already got them their pupperoni in bacon flavor!!!
What I really want for Christmas is: for God's Spirit to among us and within us as a church to be vital, alive, serving and faithful, that would call up 2 people to serve as Deacons and 1 to serve as Elder. That would not complain when we sing a newer hymn. For some younger families with children to join us as part of Christ's body. for the behemoth pew to finally break or to have casters put on it so it can more easily be rolled for funerals and Bloodmobile. For inspiration and creativity and imagination to have space to be active and flowing.
And I would like a day to just laze about!
What are your wishes for Christmas? Other than peace in the world, our communities and our lives?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Busier Than Ever Advent...

It happened Sunday night. I made my dinner, spinach omlets and toast, cleaned up all the dishes and the cookie cutters from making gingerbread cookies for my dear LH. I get a saddening phone call from an old acquaintance which lasts a bit.Then, I spent two hours in the basement finishing wrapping Christmas presents and packing them properly and addressing them. I came upstairs and finished addressing the few remaining Christmas cards. LH came home from his caroling outing. I made mailing labels for the packages. Finally, sat down to watch the news at 11 pm. After the weather report, I was going to make my way upstairs when the phone rings. This time for me, rather than LH. A parishioner is dying, the family requested my presence. I am so ready for bed after a very full day. I drag myself upstairs and change into a suit instead of my nightgown and 8 minutes later I am out the door at 11:34 pm. I reach the hospital 25 minutes later and found the family and the parishioner (well over 90)would not make it through the night. The two sons did not want to be alone in their vigil. Mom was a tough, strong lady. The night would go on, and on and on. I had the appropriate prayers and scripture reading,we talked. We grew quiet. The sons' eyelids would droop. I visited this parishioner often and she had grown so thin and frail. I wondered whether she would see the end of this year.
It was I who noticed the rhythm of her breathing changed and stopped. The nurse was called in, we had prayer and it was time for the doctor. The one son took off after hearing his mom had passed, just has a hard time dealing with emotional issues. I stayed with the other son while he waited for the death certificate.
I got into the van and drove home in the wee hours of the morning. Traffic was very light!!! I got home at 3:30 and got in bed at 3:45 am! Needless to say, I slept for 6 1/2 hours and didn't get up until 10:30 am.
I hope there won't be too many more of these. There wasn't much I could outside of the prayers and just basically, being there.
The funeral will last most of the day on Thursday. At 9 am the funeral home brings in the casket, which will be open for viewing 1 hour prior to the service. The service will be at 11 am. followed by a luncheon in the fellowship hall. The committal follows the luncheon at 2:30 pm. Thankfully, the committal is short and I can leave from the cemetary from that town.
And this was the day, my house was to be cleaned. Had to cancel because of church schedule problems 2 weeks ago and now again. The house will be dirty for Christmas. We still have a tree to put, string lights on and decorate. I still have the 4th Sunday of Advent sermon, Christmas Eve service to pull together, and the Sunday after Christmas to put together.
You know Edgar Muench's "The Scream", it's really me, in this Advent moment!
I know that God will bring me through. I trust it will be so.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five

Reverendmother here... those of you who read my blog know I have a love-hate relationship with the 24/7 Christmas music we're subjected treated to in stores and radio (in the U.S. at least). It gets too sentimentally sticky-sweet sometimes, yet I find myself unable to resist it. Nothing says "it's Christmas" to me like John Denver and Rolf the Dog singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So...

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
Does Carol of the Bells count, even though I can't sing it?

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better)O Holy Night

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire. Dogs barking Jingle Bells. How annoying is that?!!?

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. I like that it points out that there is a Season of Christmas which lasts 12 days and isn't merely one day and that's it. I never could keep all the maids milking and lords aleaping and drummers drumming straight.

5. A favorite Christmas album
Mannheim Steamroller, 3 Harps for Christmas, Maggie Sanstone,and Ancient Noel and believe it or not, almost ashamed to admit it: Barry Manilow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


"He is the image of the invisble God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers, all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together...For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell..." (Colossians 1:15-19)
Iona has often been described as a "thin place" where the material and the spiritual are closely interwoven, where God comes close and the separation between heaven and earth is as thin or thinner than a sheet of paper.
My short time on Iona (an island and ecumenical religious community in the Hebrides of Scotland) this past fall most certainly was a thin place for me. Iona is a place of pilgrimage welcoming and offering hospitality to people from all corners of the world to this little spit of land in the midst of the sea. The people of Iona live close to the land, the sea and the sky, daily dwelling in and honoring the integrity of God's creation.
Why do I bring these images of this remote, isolated, humble, tiny island into the celebration of Advent and Christmas? Precisely, because these echo the images of the story of Christ's birth.
Christmas is a time when those who are deeply involved with the life of the church and those who are on the fringes find themselves making a pilgrimage back to their home towns, back to their families, back to the church where they grew up. And it is there, at the Christmas Eve services, when that oh-so-familiar scripture is read, the timeless carols are sung, and the candles spread their quiet glow; a peace, a hush, a wonder, a love descends and settles down upon us where hope is rekindled within us. This is our thin place where God in Jesus Christ becomes a human being like us, where the love of God reaches deep down into us and becomes real. This is our thin place where eternity touches the temporal, where we believe again that life is good and a gift to be cherished, where wounds, broken hearts and weary souls can be healed and revived, that hope, for us, for the world, truly is possible. This is our thin place where Jesus, becoming like us, shares fully in all the hopes and fears, joys and sorrows of our lives, to let us know that God loves us, forgives us, makes us whole, desires to give us life in all its fullness. And we believe once more that there is no part of life that is beyond the reach of our faith or of God.
In that little town of Bethlehem, after a pilgrimage to register in his hometown, Joseph and Mary, find welcom and hospitality in a humble stable. And there, the Son of God is born and found his welcome in these simple surroundings. The shepherds make their pilgrimage to the place of Christ's birth, humble folks who made their living off the land with their flocks. And they, in turn, are welcomed by the One who welcomes all to him. In this place, in this child, heaven touches earth, the impossible becomes possible, hope is born, peace sings its presence, and a love so holy infuses all of creation. It is palpable; you can touch it, taste it, feel it, hear it and see it.
Christmas is a thin time and to celebrate it together in church becomes a thin place where God comes to us in God's own Son, Jesus Christ, and touches us in the deepest recesses of our being with love, with hope, with peace and with joy far beyond anything the world can offer.
No matter where you find yourself, physically or spiritually this Advent season, may you begin your pilgrimage to Bethlehem. May you find welcome and hospitality there at the manger, in the presence of the Christ child. May the heartbeat of the Eternal become the rhythm of your own heart and may the holy mystery and miracle of Christmas be with you and dwell within you evermore.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Saw this at Vicar of Hogsmeade:

The rules are:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest!

Here goes:
"Consequently, many mainline pastors are divided against themselves. They try to lead by taking a backseat to others. They want to guide their churches to health and growth, but at the same time they fear being seen as manipulative and coercive. Thus, they end up becoming ineffective and eventually cynical when people don't follow them."

Well, stick this in your hat and see what you make of it!!!!
(Becoming a Blessed Church by N. Graham Standish, Alban Institute)
The GTNG Getting-To-Know-You Meme, holiday edition

Welcome to the 2006 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Ddefinitely, hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? The Elves wrap the presents and Santa puts them under the tree. Santa's too busy checking his list twice to wrap presents.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
We have colored lights on the tree. I like white lights outside, but I also like the colored lights. We have a white twig tree with white lights that we set up and plug in.

4. Do you hang mistletoe on the house?
Yup. It's fake though.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
From now until the week of Christmas. We'll buy the tree this weekend. I'll cajole LH into setting it up one night. Then it sits in the corner for a couple days til the branches drop. Then I coax LH to string the lights on it. It takes one evening to hang ornaments. The next evening to hang the tinsel. The mantle will be decorated this weekend. And all will stay up until after New Year's. The season of Christmas lasts 12 days you know.

6. What is your favorite holiday meal (excluding dessert)?
Pastaetli, a Swiss dish of sweatbreads, veal and 'shrooms in a white cream sauce poured into a pastry shell. Preparing the sweetbreads are alot of work. So sometimes we make it with leftover (frozen and thawed) Thanksgiving turkey and 'shrooms. Tastes great too.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Christmas Eve when my sister and I would recite a German poem and read the Christmas story from the Bible. We did a mini Lessons and Carols as we both played German and English Christmas carols on the piano and our little family, with sometimes my aunt present, singing away. Then it would be off to the 11 pm service.
Christmas day was for opening up presents, eating a traditional Swiss braided bread with butter, lazing about and enjoying a great dinner. Being together as family.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I was crushed when my Dad told me after my 7th birthday and flung myself on the bed weeping for lost magic. My family reassured me about the spirit of Christmas that exists in all our hearts. And Christmas become more spiritual and filled with the fullness of wonder and mystery. Not a bad trade off. Actually, much, much better!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Nope. We wait til Christmas Day.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
With colored lights, decorations from childhood and collected over the years, and with tinsel icicles.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I generally love it. Love to watch it fall, dance and cling. Not to thrilled to drive in it when the roads get snow covered. Sometimes, I even like to shovel it!!!

12. Can you ice skate?
Not really. Never was much good at it, hard to get my balance on that little blade.
I did skate down the church steps two years ago and tore the quad muscle off the knee. I was out for three months! Not quite the way to skate.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
The Lionel electric train from my folks on my 4th Christmas. Still have it. Still works. And the Easy-Bake Oven on my 5th Christmas. Now I use a real oven.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Celebrating well with meaningful worship. Haven't been with my family for Christmas in 22 years, that's the price and sacrifice of being clergy. Have spent part of Christmas Day with LH's family some years. Usually, we're pretty worn out and keep a quiet Christmas Day.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Christmas cookies from parishioners, but mostly I nibble on chocolate!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Since we have no children and we work Christmas Eve as clergy, our one tradition is,
Champagne and Brie on crackers after our last services on Christmas Eve. We usually don't go to bed til well after 1:30 pm.

17. What tops your tree?
A glowing, sparkly star.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
Both! I so enjoy shopping all year, including arts & crafts shows, vacation spots for just the right things I know each particular person will enjoy and use. I delight in watching others open their gifts as well! Just as I delight in receiving and opening the gifts given to me.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Joy to the World! (Sung and played up to speed!)

20. Candy Canes!
Not a hard candy liking person. I may have one little candy cane once at Christmas.

21. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Rudolf, the Grinch, A Christmas Story, and even Elf.

22. What would you most like to find under your tree this year?
Peace in the world. Elders and Deacons to serve the church. Shoes that don't hurt my feet and still look nice. That Sheila Fleet ring I saw in Scotland.

23. Favorite Holiday memory as an adult?
Our midnight Champagne, Brie, Cracker time with LH after celebrating meaningful and well-done Christmas Eve services.

Now it's your turn to share!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Friday Five: Adventually

Although it comes as late as it can this year, Advent is upon us. Some of us grew up observing it, while to others (including this childhood Baptist) it was even more foreign than Lent! Over the past twenty years, I have grown to love Advent as a season of preparation, although as a pastor I find it harder to practice it at home than at church, even when the church might prefer I make it the other way 'round.

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:

1) Do you observe Advent in your church?
Lighting the Advent wreath each week, blue paraments, singing Advent hymns with a Christmas carol also each week with the 2nd Sunday of Advent, the Children's christmas program on the 3rd Sunday of Advent. In the past, we've registered our hope for Christmas by registering in the direction of our home towns (N,S,E 7 W).

2) How about at home?
The candles are aglow in all the front windows of the house and a simple evergreen wreath on the door.

3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?
O Come,O Come Immanual, is one of my favorites.

4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.)
Oh that's easy: Mary was hoping for a girl!!!!!
5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen?
Can't think of one. My grandma would send us one every couple years from Switzerland and we so enjoyed opening up the windows one day at a time, my sister and I comparing what was behind the windows on our calendars. That was way before you could get them here, many, many years ago!!!!