Wednesday, June 26, 2013

isn't that the way vacations are, too short! We really could have used an extra day or two. 6 days is way too short!
Part of it was, my sister and BIL were out of town when we arrived in the Windy City. I did get to see my niece though later that night. And I was fortunate enough to find lined wool slacks - black & grey - at the Talbots Outlet at a very good price!!!
Then it was up to WI the next morning with a stop at the Outlet Stores just over the IL border. Found a few items at Eddie Bauer and Coldwater Creek. Then onward to our favorite lunch stop - a Greek place just up the interstate - with the absolute best gyros ever, full of tasty lamb/beef.
Onward past Milwaukee and a stop at the grocery store to pick up needed items and then the few miles to the Lake House, where we were wowed by the expansion and remodeled kitchen and new guest bathroom that looks like a contemporary museum. The entry way is all new with wonderful tile floor that has a wood-looking tile running on diagonal two ways with lighter sand colored tile in between. Looks like wood planks intersecting the lighter tile.
It was chilly at the Lake and I saved my walk on the beach for the next day and it was lovely. We did manage to go to the small town with the artsy stuff. We actually bought a switchplate cover and socket cover for our 1/2 bath which I had admired for the past several years. It matches perfectly to out sage bathroom with oak cabinetry. Should have bought them 5 years ago!!!
Enjoyed a wonderful Fish Fry at a local place with my sister and BIL and niece who came up on Friday. The birthday flamingo was decorated not with a birthday hat, but with a mini foam cheese triangle I found at the cheese store!!! It was too funny!!!
My nephew and his wife arrived the next day in time for lunch and my niece's significant other arrived in time for dinner. We were a very full house, but in a good and satisfying way.
The Famer's Market had not yet much to offer, mostly onions, radishes, etc. I did find a Larkspur that I have to plant this weekend.
Dinner was grilled Cornish hens with a cole slaw salad I made, quinoa with roasted egg plant and zucchini which my niece made. So it was a community affair!!!
There was a croquet game over some very rocky, pitted and potholed turf - the construction was hard on the yard and the yard still needs to be landscaped, eventually this fall. My nephew and his wife were behind and decided to just play by wrecking havoc on everyone else. LH and I did manage to win which is unheard of - not for him, but for me. I am so used to losing that I couldn't even believe some of my good shots.
Although it did warm up some, Lake Michigan was still too cold to really get my feet wet and the one day, it got too chilly and choppy to kayak. Guess we may have to head there again, maybe later this year, maybe if we're fortunate enough.
Now, it's back to the holy grind and preparing for the 4th of July and company.
I am so grateful for the time away and to be with my family - nephew and his wife, niece & meeting her guy, my sister and BIL.

Monday, June 17, 2013

That's how it's been in my little corner of the world.
After I returned home from the Presbytery event, I spent a day in the office catching up, and welcomed a friend from my seminary days later that afternoon. She and her daughter left late Friday morning to continue their journey to Michigan. They drove in all the way from Mass. (don't make me spell it!!)
Well, her daughter had a bug which stayed when they left. I was sick and am still coughing. My voice is barely above a whisper.
Last week was council, preparations for a wedding and the supply preacher for this coming Sunday. I had the wedding rehearsal
Friday evening and drove in extra for that and for the wedding on Saturday. I left the house at 11:30 am and returned home at 5;30 pm. Lots of extra time. I was also madly doing laundry for our vacation. I still have to pack.
I'm thinking of only being here this morning as I put in so much extra time last week. In retrospect, I should've taken today as vacation and we could have had an extra day. Had a couple things to do and line up before I leave, so I guess it all works out.
I find that I am just simply tired. Most of it due to the bug and straining my vocal chords. I'm looking forward to seeing my family and a couple good reads along the way. I know this less than a week away just isn't enough, but it will have to do for now.
I need my time away to see a change in scenery, to refresh, recharge, renew. I know that we will visit a small town with some craft shops - there is a new agey crosses the world religions line store that always seems to soothe and speak to my spirit. There is a wonderful pottery shop that refreshes my spirit and delights my eyes and heart.
And of course, some walks along the beach that simply does wonders for my soul. I think it'll be too cold and too cool to actually venture in. I'm hoping just to get my toes wet!!!
Since my niece and nephew will be celebrating their birthdays, I prepared a birthday flamingo (yes, one of those plastic yard ones) and made a yellow birthday hat for it, two different signs - one for each birthday ( one one day, the other the next), and a lei ponytail holder that slips over the neck and worn as a lei!!! I have kazoo's for everyone! I even made two photo albums. I had planned to give my niece and nephew these photo albums around their 30th birthdays. But my niece's 30th got eclipsed by her brother's wedding in England. So, now the nephew is turning 30 and I had to give my niece her's as well. Since they will both have their spouse or significant other with them - it'll be the perfect "embarrass them to death" opportunity!!! Actually, the photo albums were my Mom's. She didn't really keep up with them, but saved their birth announcements, baptismal service, etc.
I supplied a couple extra photos that probably my sister doesn't have in the albums & photo boxes she has for her kids. The photo albums my Mom had were those old ones with the sticky page and sheet that went over the pictures. Not archival quality. My Dad had taken several polaroids and thankfully, they were all in great condition and I was able to peel off the photos without too much trouble. I've known for years that I needed to get those pictures out of those old albums. Finally, accomplished!!
So, as you can see, it's been crazy busy and I am ready for a bit of a rest before the family all descends at the Lake House and it becomes a chaotic something going on every minute weekend with 8 of us all together!!!
May blessings abound in the further craziness that is still yet before me!!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

During this time apart and away, I noticed that prayer I seem to pray most is: "Lord, help me not to screw things up too much."
Along with praying for God's wisdom and help, this is the prayer I pray most often. I think it was having to play piano for the retreat that brought me this noticing. I believe it will be a prayer that I will continue to pray the whole of my life!!!
It has been a hectic time for me as I have split myself between two denominations.
First, was the Lutheran Synod Assembly over a two day period. Hearing what some churches are doing is always inspiring and encouraging. Having a wonderful, gifted bishop re-elected by an overwhelming majority on the second ballot was a great joy.
Although I couldn't vote, I took the voting time as a time to pray silently for my brothers and sisters in Christ known as ELCA Lutherans, for the Synod and for the work, presence and power of Christ to be with and among the Synod and the Assembly and in the voting. It was good.
I also had time to reconnect with folks I've known along the way, clergy and lay alike, from past congregations I have served or congregations my husband has served. It was good. I enjoyed the morning worship and remembering our baptism on the first day.
After Sunday worship, I packed my bags, for a Presbytery-wide retreat on restructuring our Presbytery. It was to be time apart in a neighboring state at a wonderfully, gracious, holy place infused with hospitality by the nuns. Three intense days of reimagining, of worship, of consolation and desolation, of a variety of MB types, and Gallup strengths, and Change Indictors. As with all God's people - a varietal mix and all needed and honored. Together with pastors and ruling elders under the able gifted and affirming leadership of our GP and others, with God's very real presence and the work of God's own Spirit, we came to lift up three legs for our Presbytery to do its work and ministry in a spiritual way rather than the corporate model way. A breath of life!!!
Since not the whole Presbytery could be gathered, we did miss a few folks whose wisdom, insight and gifts would have been welcomed. I continue to be amazed at how gifted our people are and what a forward looking Presbytery this is. We are tired of too much structure that strangles the Spirit to work and to dance among us.
It was a surprise to be asked to play piano for our worship time, since there seemed to be no one else. I haven't really played much in a couple of years. Oh, to get my fingers moving over the keyboard again! I apologized for all the mistakes that would occur and inviting them to sing over these mistakes!!! Actually, since most of the songs were from Taize and contemplative - it made it much easier for me. There was one new song out of our denomination sampler (new hymnal due out this fall), that I was not familiar with and when I asked who was, not one hand went up!!! We give it our best and that is one to try again sometime.
Our last evening after much intensity, a few hurt feelings, although that still confounded me and most others, a spontaneous communion service transpired. One of the groups presenting a skit, brought bread, broke it and passed it out to their group members and then gave their pieces of bread back and made the bread, although broken, whole again. Fractured but back together again. So the bread was there and there was wine.
One of the planning team members who lead worship, was put on the spot, to officiate communion. I suggested a wonderful Taize song as a way to center us for communion - The Lord is my light, my light and salvation, in God I trust. Truly needed and inspired by God's Spirit. We gathered around in a circle and the bread was passed one to another, while the worship leader followed with the cup for intinction. And spontaneously, someone begin to sing that Taize song and we sang it continuously until the last one communed. It became prayer. Not just the usual Presbyterian sing it three times and that's enough. It was beautiful, healing, encouraging. It was the pure Love and utter grace of Christ present and given to us.
There is still much yet before us, but the whole assembly desired a retreat next year with time and space for quiet and renewal, and spiritual direction. Finally, after 14 years, since my certification as a spiritual director, our Presbytery, our people are getting it!!!! To trust the slow work of God, sometimes.
It is exciting, renewing, scary, to create and re-create, to transform, to be more grounded and listening to God and to live into the Mystery and even of unknowing. Terribly difficult for us J's, but something I have been doing these past 14 years. And, it will not be easy, but it will be transforming.
I pray that our Presbytery will continue their journey, grounded in God, open to God's Spirit, rooted in the love of Christ, and willing to go forward in new ways so that the body of Christ which are our churches, and our Presbytery will thrive (and not necessarily in numbers - which is always welcome0 but in depth of discipleship and mission and living into our calling.
It was a rich time away and apart to be a part of both denominational gatherings, to know their similar struggles and their same desire to be faithful disciples and witnesses in this ever changing world and culture.
Thanks be to God who renews, brings life and brings to life more than we can ever imagine!