Thursday, November 17, 2016

CRUNCH TIME

Indeed, it is Crunch Time. Thanksgiving is just a week away! Advent starts a week from Sunday!
I am caught up in a whirlwind of activity.
   I have council Monday night and thankfully, folks were ok with cancelling Tuesday evening Bible Study. Tues is my pick up the turkey and veggies and make stock and rice night. I simply can't be up til 1 am and be in the office the next morning. I am getting too old for that kind of thing.
   I will have to clean house this Friday, declutter the dining room table, pick up a couple of items so that I will be ready for two days of prep and cooking and the day of Thanksgiving. It will all get done and happen.
   Then there is the yearly Christmas letter and cards to write and send. The German one takes at least a couple hours to write.
   Gifts need to be wrapped, packaged and sent.
   Worship services to plan and prepare for. This year being a wee crazy with Christmas eve and Christmas Day service since Christmas falls on a Sunday. We are inviting kids to wear their pj's and adults their Christmas sweaters! It will be a bit less formal and probably shorter than an hour. I don't anticipate there will be many in church.
   Christmas Eve will be a variation of Lessons and Carols and I will do my special communion - with bread in the manger - praying and hoping the visual will touch people as to the gift of God's love come to us, given to us, the life, love, hope, joy and peace and the giving of Christ to us and for us.
   On the third Sunday of Advent, the Bishop will be preaching and presiding and I will be more nervous than normal! It's not every Sunday that one is graced with the Bishop's presence. I have helped with the cooperative confirmation service at which the Bishop presided, but I was just one of many pastors taking part in the service. This is more shoulder to shoulder. I pray I won't goof up on anything that evening. The service will be Saturday and they are cancelling Sunday morning so that everyone will attend Sat. evening and stay for the potluck dinner.
   Then, of course, it'll be New Year's day - and I have to make sure I have all the star words to give out. That will need to happen before long.
    Sigh. I know it will get done, but it is a daunting list and a daunting time.
    I need to remember to pace myself and make space for God to be a part of it all. I will make it through by the grace and help of God.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

RAINY AUTUMN DAY

It's a rainy autumn day and I am back stateside after our trip across the pond and a well-earned, well deserved vacation!
  I did most of the driving in our rented Peugot, which actually I kinda liked. It handled real well. I drove more than I had expected. I did make it up to 140 kph on the Autobahn. We were fortunate to have visited a few Luther sites - although we didn't make it to Eisleben - thanks to all the detours of road construction that weren't necessarily really well marked and losing time by driving through Luther country!!! We did enjoy Wittenberg very much - lovely old town. Unfortunately, the Luther house was closed - which we knew before we left - but it was awesome just to see the outside and know the Luthers lived there. We strolled around Wittenberg which is very stroll friendly and besides
the church, we poked in some shops. Wartburg Castle was also an amazing place. Take the tour, it's worth it otherwise you just see the Luther Room and don't get to see the other parts of the castle. As with all museums, historic sites around the world - you get dumped into the gift shop at the very end!
   Leipzig is a big city and our hotel was on a tram line. Thanks be to God! Parking is horrendous in Europe. We took the tram in and had a marvelous day at St. Thomas and St. Maria churches. St. Thomas is where JS Bach was the organist and my favorite composer. It was a wonderful church with 2 organs. We stayed for quite a while soaking up the history, atmosphere and of music, that transcends time and still touches lives today. Mendelsohn was also composer in Leipzig and there is a statue of him as well. LH bought me two Christmas presents from St. Thomas Kirche!
   We ate well - guess Europeans haven't learned portion control! We never really had a bad meal. Lots of venison as it was game season, and some wild boar. Across from our hotel in Leipzig was a Lebanese restaurant that had the most scrumptious gyro so wonderfully seasoned and different from the ones here.
   In Eisenach, I had a meltdown when I mistakenly drove into the humungous parking lot of a Bosch factory, ran into construction traffic on the way to Wartburg Castle, and then when I should have
turned left into our hotel (there was a sign that had an arrow and 50 meters) but LH said to keep going. You couldn't see the hotel from the road at all. We had seen it when we entered town from the Autobahn. The road looped back to the autobahn and we took the other road and there was the hotel on our left. They had no restaurant, this being the budget hotel with rooms like a dorm room, so that
meant I had to drive back into Eisenach, whose old town is full of one way streets and no parking.
I said that we would stop at the first place we saw. Well, the first place was Burger King - not happening, the second place was a pizza joint - not really. Then I followed a parking garage sign that lead to a small parking garage. The side street was under construction and gravelly. We walked along it and onto the bigger street and lo and behold, a restaurant. There was a huge fountain in front of it.
It was a bit Italian with homemade noodles. LH had liver and onions and I had pork with a gorgonzola b├ęchamel sauce that was to die for. I would've licked the plate if it wouldn't have been gauche!!!! Bellies full we headed back and found the hotel, no problem.
  We spent a day in Luzern shopping and walking, we went up on the Rigi the next and got the panoramic view of the Alps, we spent a day in Alsace - Riquewhir - a lovely old, historic town full of shops, pottery, wine tasting, and restaurants. We enjoyed a cousin gathering of 34 related cousins and many were not able to attend. We ate well with lots of talk and family history until the restaurant kicked us out!!!!!!!!
   I spent a an afternoon with my closest cousin and her husband and enjoyed out dinner and time together.
   We savored fresh croissants, Buenderfleisch (air dried beef) Langjaeger (a jerky sausage), baked perch, and all good things. Shopped for chocolate and cheese.
   Spent time with my godmother and marveled at how much older we are all getting.
   So much has changed in 4 years and 6 years since I was last there. A lot more traffic and lots of
buildings. It was a bit sad - as it Switzerland is losing some of its charm. I did get to hear cow bells and that was just what my soul needed. Everything is so expensive. Germany and France were
 a bit cheaper.
   Now, it's starting a new L church as their interim - just 7 minutes door to door! But they want 3/4 time at 1/2 time. It will keep me busy and on my toes.
   All is well. All is good. I have been refreshed and renewed and back to driving where I know where I'm going!!!!
  

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

SO LOVED

Never have I felt so loved by a congregation than L church. My last Sunday was a week ago Sunday, Sept. 25.
  To my surprise, there was a thanksgiving for conclusion for interim time that the council president fashioned from sources because she wanted more than just the denominational one. All council members took part at various places in the sanctuary.
   Following worship, I was expecting cake and coffee, but there was a hot lunch with chicken, green and wax beans, roasted potatoes, salad and rolls. The council president who bakes made the most beautiful cake and it tasted as delicious as it was beautiful.
   The council president presented me with a copper faith bracelet, a CD of  thanks and well wishes by members of the church and even some nursing home and homebound folks. I couldn't watch it for a few days and had the Kleenex box handy. There was a candle - in the four years with them I burned through a candle at council meetings! There was a card full of cash. There was a table of gifts. And lots of cards. I was sent home with a meal for LH and I, lots of stuff and, more love than I have ever experienced being just an interim.
   I might have expected this at the end of a called pastorate, but for an interim? I was blown away and deeply touched and truly moved. I do feel that I left them better than when I came to them. I pray it continues to just get better. I will miss them all and do miss them.
  It's moments like this that makes up and over for the really crappy ones and makes me feel as though I was about the right things and have touched lives with the heart of Christ.
   Since, then, I had to write a newsletter article for the other L church, I will begin serving the end of Oct. They wanted an Oct newsletter article before I even started. I also officiated their Sat. evening
worship as they were in a bind with no one. In a way, it was good I did, so I see how it is done.
   This past Sunday, I was finally able to worship at M church on World Communion Sunday. I just
felt I needed to be in a faith community celebrating communion. Well, the senior pastor was thrilled and had be preside over communion. Fine. First time in worship with no clue as to how they do things and I'm presiding at the Table!! It all went well after a quick tutorial before worship. There were 2 services with Sunday School inbetween. I got 10 minutes earlier than I had been and got home 20 minutes later than at L church!!! It was a very service with a baptism, receiving new members and communion. I was  tired.
   Did I mention that I started getting sick on Tues and couldn't make it in to M church on Thurs. Spent the day on the couch and slept a lot. I'm still coughing and still a bit stuffed up.\
   So, since I left my position, it's been just as busy as ever.
   Next week - vacation! 2 weeks! Out of the country! No cell phone!
   Now if only LH doesn't get too sick - he's stuffed up now too - we'll be good!
  Loved. Loved beyond measure. Loved beyond being just a mere interim. I feel so blessed!

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!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

TRULY HORRIFIC

I ponder these horrific events in our world. It greatly saddens me what one human being can do to another. What legion of demons has engulfed this one, to do such an atrocity?
I have no answers, only grief for a lost soul, and all those sunk in grief for a loved one gone from
their lives. I pray for the survivors, for healing, for the grief-stricken, for comfort, for God to make God's presence sensed and known, to hold all in God's love, to bring some measure of peace to a senseless act as they all are.
  And I sit with this all, a heavy heart within. And I listen in the silence, in the aftermath, for God's
voice in the shattered stillness, in the most broken of hearts. Speak, Lord. We are listening...

Monday, May 09, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE: TIMES THEY ARE A'CHANGING

For this Friday Five we are to name 5 transitions in our lives:

1. Gearing up for Pentecost Sunday and Ordinary Time and leaving the Easter season behind -
    all the wonderful appearances of the risen Christ. It was as if Jesus stayed around long
    enough to truly convince his disciples that he had indeed arisen from death. Now, he
    leaves them again - but sends God's Spirit to empower, guide and direct them. I enter
    into a new church season.

2. Preparing for my niece's wedding - she will be married and moving ahead in her life with
    her residency and new husband. I wonder if she will still call me once in awhile or if that
    will fall by the way? We've had some good conversations and I think I was able to share
    some wisdom with her. Hope that may still happen.
   

3. Looking forward to family time together and transitioning from normal time and duties to
    vacation days and just savoring being with my family. (Probably easier once the ceremony
    is over - since I am officiating)

4. Wondering how much I will be at L church and knowing that I will be moving on to
    another call - somewhere, sometime. It's been 3 years and 8 months at this interim. I
    and they are ready to move on. Hope this candidate works out for them and I pray that
    God has another position for me in the near future that will work out well.

5. Slowly feeling my age? With LH turning 60 this year, the realization is slowly dawning
     that I, too, am starting to stare down 60 as well - and then, what, 10-15 years more?
    It is a bit daunting and unsettling and not sure when we can ever retire. In some ways,
    I'm ready now - so that I can do some other things. However, unless we win the
    lottery that won't be happening any time soon. Still beginning to reflect on this time
    and age in my life....

IT'S MAY!

May has arrived -
   and I have been busy, working on my niece's wedding ceremony and message. Putting together
a little thing for the "Family Dinner Night" (or the traditional Rehearsal Dinner).
   I have been working ahead on my sermons, to lessen the time crunch while I am gone.
  Synod Assembly is this Fri/Sat. so I lose the weekend
  wrapped and packaged my Grandniece's birthday gift to be sent as soon as we return from
  the wedding
  got my hair colored and cut
  pedicure will be this Saturday afternoon
 slowly thinking what to pack and take with me
 still have to dig out sandals in my closet - I just know they are on the bottom of a pile of shoes/sandals
wrapped a special "Mother of the Bride" gift for my sister
sent a dual graduation card to my niece - who just received her MD degree and this coming
   weekend will receive her PhD
 have some bills to pay
 this morning we hung the colored crepe paper streamers (red, orange & yellow) on the 6
 kinda posts along the wall aisles of the sanctuary for Pentecost Sunday
   still have a June newsletter article to write
 Church council meeting this Sunday after worship
  have to contact the pulpit supply for his first reading choice
  did manage to squeeze in some weed pulling
  planted a couple of hardier herbs
  stupidly put 4 peat pots with teeny seedlings on the patio table which the wind blew away
   and only the basil and either tarragon or cilantro kinda survived - went to store and got
   more tarragon and basil seed - two weeks til germination, and then they have to grow,
     before being planted. I probably won't have those herbs til the end of September
  waiting for the hummingbirds to arrive - usually they are by now
   thinking I've way more to do than time to do it!
I'm looking forward to June and being able to catch my breath!
   But it is all good and full of goodness - so I will manage it all, by the grace and help of God and maybe some fire and power from the Holy Spirit!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

A NON-TRADITIONAL SHOWER

So, last weekend, over the 9/10th, I drove to Chicago, all by myself! I took Thursday off, and despite some rain and flying flakes, made really good time.
  Sad to see the Talbot's outlet store go - 5 mins from my sister's house. I will miss sometimes snagging a great deal on something.
  Spent Fri. am getting a most wonderful massage from my sister! I need more work on my neck
and shoulder though. Sigh. Too far away, for another massage.
  Went to the designer outlet mall. Disappointing for us plus size gals, absolutely nothing in my size.
And still expensive. Did find a pair of sandals, and a ridiculously overpriced costume jewelry necklace at Nieman Marcus - but it good wrapped in a Nieman Marcus box! Dinner was with the
future in-laws at the best Chicago deep dish pizza place. Mmmm....
   I arrived in Chicago with more baggage than I care to admit. One person, one mini-van, 1 suitcase,
1 carry on, 2 bags of shower gifts for attendees, 2 bags of shower gifts for bride-to-be, 1 box of sugar cookies, 1 shopping bag with wine, flowers, Belgian truffles, 1 gift bag for sister. The middle of the van was full!!!!
   So, Friday night, my niece and her intended opened their shower gifts - contained some pottery that I was not going to lug around Chicago all day long! I kept a couple smaller items for Sat.
   Saturday morning, I packed a foldable tote bag with a change of clothes for going out, the two bags of gifts, 1 bag with shower gifts. There was also a bag of snacks - cheese (which I sliced up0 crackers, grapes, nuts.
  Off we went, with my sister driving 5 of us into the city for our first activity. Which by the way,
was changed the day before due to the instructor being ill. Frankly, I think the substitute activity was an ever better hit. The car being parked in a parking garage across the street from the restaurant
where we would eventually have dinner, the Uber driver picked us up and drove us to a little
wine shop. All 10 of us gathered there for making a candle from a wine bottle and imbibing as we
learned and did. They even served little flatbread pizzas for us to munch on, since it was noon.
A great time was had by all and we each left with a wine bottle candle we made.
   We had to scurry since the next event followed immediately and our Uber driver got us to 1/2
block to the building. With traffic heavy and slow, we popped out and hoofed it to the red awning historic building and old elevator with a gate. We found the room and in it was a mocked up
old EL rail car from which we would have an hour to escape - stop the train, defuse the bomb and get off. Well, one of the gals once worked for UBS and bombarded the guy with a ton of questions regarding strategy, working in groups or a single group and communication. Finally, she asked what
the success rate was in getting out. I couldn't believe that it was only 18 percent!
   Into the rail car we went, for the fastest hour in my life. These gals were so quick and smart, and
there was constant activity and calling out clues and figuring out the padlock combinations, and
putting clues together. I admit I was not the greatest of help until near the end. There was one
last padlocked cabinet. I was handed a set of keys to open it. I glanced at the padlock which was a Master, and looked at the first key, and thought this one will fit it and it did, revealing the wire
bombs. The green wire identified, there was one last key to the door of the rail car and we
escaped with 34 seconds to spare! We were ecstatic! we conquered! We did it!
  My head was spinning from the chaos of it all and so we headed to a bar just a few doors down.
It was full. at 4 pm on a Sat. and the place was full and it wasn't the only bar. Eventually we snagged
a table and even near the end enough chairs. Refreshments and some appetizers for everyone. It was
the noisiest place ever. I guess that's what regular folks do in the city - the spend the afternoon in
a bar with friends! who knew?
   My niece opened her gifts and everyone got their shower party favors that yes I had been lugging
around all day.
  From there our next Uber driver got us to the restaurant for dinner - where we met the groom
to be and his dad. My BIL arrived about 40 minutes later - traffic being so heavy.
   We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a small Cuban Restaurant that was darn near as noisy as the bar
and it wasn't even our table of 15!!! Dinner lasted nearly 4 hours.
   Then it was over to the garage for our change of clothes bags.
   A 5 block walk in a New York minute to the hotel my niece was spending the night at, and a
quick change into clothes.
   We went down to the Hotel Lobby and garnered two tables and several comfy chairs. The other
gals drifted and we all had a night cap. Us, older folks, decided that at this time 12 midnight, we
were too tired to go out after all. My niece said the lounge was just 5 blocks away - but in reality
it was a mile away. We left it to the young ones and headed home.
   I think I crawled into bed at near 2 am, utterly exhausted.
  Thankfully, we slept in Sunday morning and headed out for brunch. 3 people, 2 bloody Marys, 1 Mimosa, 3 coffees, 2 Crab Eggs Benedict, 1 Traditional breakfast (eggs, sausage, toast) and a side
order of bacon and $70.00 later, we were full and headed home for a very leisurely afternoon of
doing nothing.
   My niece and her intended came by late in the afternoon (for dinner, of course!) and told us
that even they didn't make it to the lounge! They just stayed in the hotel lobby and for another round or so of drinks!
   I left Monday morning and had a good drive back.
  What a whirlwind weekend! I think it took all of last week to truly recover. I can't imagine what the wedding weekend will be like! Pure and utter craziness, but goodness in celebrating and family
being together.
   I think I'll try to work in an extra nap or two before hand!

FRIDAY FIVE - UNFINISHED THINGS

Many things need attention but this Friday Five* focuses on 5 unfinished things:

1. My sermon for this coming Sunday. God grant me wisdom and insight.

2. The wedding sermon and ceremony for my niece in May. Still largely not together. Bits
    and pieces are there.

3. The pile of clothes that need to be bagged for donation. Yikes! That was to be a Lenten
    act of stewardship. I blew that one big time!

4. Hemming my husband's linen pants for said wedding.

5. Finding sandals/shoes for the wedding that aren't a mile high and won't hurt my bunions
    and feet, look cute and go with the dress. (This one may be a feat in futility!)

6. There is so much more - something for the potluck at the UM church Sat. evening, cleaning
    house, wrapping my great-niece's birthday gifts - she'll be 2! Graduation card for my
   niece with a check for getting her MD/PhD. Getting the van washed, an oil change needed as
   well. And getting gardening work done and stuff planted in the midst of all going on.


*I am well aware this is Monday. I worked on my sermon and liturgy for Joy Sunday on
Friday morning, ran errands, tweaked a memorial service sermon. On Sat. I did grocery
shopping, filled the gas tank of the van, and officiated a memorial service, gathered items
needed for Joy Sunday - made a poster, got costumes, giveaways, cloths, my red nose, etc.
I ran around all Sunday morning, let worship, enjoyed the church brunch, drove the hour
home, filled the gas tank and plunked down for a nap. So Friday Five is late!!!!


Thursday, March 31, 2016

POST EASTER

What a glorious Easter we enjoyed - after, after all the mid-week Lenten services; preaching 7 times
in 5 weeks, and Maundy Thurs and Good Friday and after all the preparation and Sundays in Lent -
a gloriously joyful Easter! The sun shone brightly and we were at 70 F. It couldn't have been a
better day to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
  I did manage a nap on Easter afternoon.
  But what has been most surprising is how tired I have been this week - especially Monday and Tuesday. Even today I am dragging and am ready for a snooze. Sigh. I suppose all the busyness of
all these past weeks has come to a hilt.
   But now, I am consumed with getting the next Sundays together, my niece's non-traditional shower gift items together and her diploma cookies.
   The shower is next weekend - yay! I'm ready for a mini-vacation, but I know how busy it all will be that it won't be a bit restful. Plus the 7 hour drive to Chicago and back. I still have the gift bags to put together, and gathering up the shower gifts into a bit tote bag and pulling out my suitcase. I don't even know what I will be wearing.
   There will be a meeting Monday night of our Lutheran cluster churches. It is further away this
month and I will just plan to leave by 8:45 pm and hope to be home by 10:30 pm. Then I am at the
Methodist church on Tuesday. And Wednesday at the Lutheran church with a Music and Worship meeting that night which I pray will be done by 7pm, so that I will be home by 8 pm, able to last
minute pack and get a good night's rest for the long drive on Thursday.
   I am anticipating a massage from my dear sister, which will go a long way to help come back from the stresses and lack of time since November.
   All around me I see signs of new life - itty bitty leaves on the potentilla bushes, tulips with buds soon to open daffodils still blooming, anenomies & hyacinths blooming, trees starting to bud out and bushes beginning to wear spring green. The garden will soon be calling to be weeded and planted and
a stack of egg shells are waiting to be crushed into garden adding calcium for the tomatoes. I, too, long for new life - more joy, less responsibility(my middle-name), and just stretches of time to
breathe, to think, to relax, to dream, to read, to just be...
   It will come, I pray, in June!
   I still have to plan for the wedding ceremony in May and get the sermon and service together.
  I celebrate that my niece got her first match for her residency, that she laid aside her own want
and desire to have a different first choice and consider the need of her intended - she is growing up
and maturing. I celebrate that she defended her dissertation and passed and can now look to her two graduations - MD & PhD, and her new life together with her soon-to-be-husband.
    But for now, a deep breath, and just a wee space to recover and refresh, before the next round
of craziness!
   I am thankful for a most glorious Easter and that all went so well. Thanks be to God - for new life,
for forgiveness, for the hope in which we live and breathe, for a love so deep, so great.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

LENTEN DAYS

Lent arrived quicker than I would have liked. Lent is going quicker than I would have thought!
Six purpled weeks and I am still planning for Holy Week and Easter.
  This year the Lutheran Cluster is doing a round robin for mid-week services. That means each week I am preaching the same sermon at a different church using the Evening Prayer Service which I am not chanting. The topic is the covenant of baptism - focusing each week on a different part of the
promises we make at baptism. I picked my week and was told that the focus was servant leadership following the example of Christ. The gospel reading was part of Maundy Thursday's reading. I just couldn't get past preaching two Maundy Thursday sermons. So I changed the reading to Philippians 2:5-11 which talks about Christ becoming a slave (servant) emptying himself and dying on the cross.
When the bulletins arrived, my part then was worded as it is in the ELW - caring for others and God's creation. That is not necessarily the same as servant leadership.
   I fumed. I muddled. I had something sort of worked out in my head. And then the focus changed.
What would I do?
   And in the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday - with a funeral thrown in - I was stressed. I needed
to come up with a sermon. My neck got sore again. About a week and a half ago, I tossed my head, and near fell to my knees for the pain of it. That was a stupid thing to do! Ouch! Last Saturday, morning I worked on that sermon and it came together - somehow the two joined - serving after the
example of Christ caring for others and God's creation. And then wonder of wonders, my neck pain was totally gone! As if that one sermon, was causing all the pain and once written and put together, healed my neck. I am grateful. I felt as though a burden had been lifted from me.
   But now, lies before me, the rest of Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. I have ordered wildflower seeded crosses to give out on Easter Sunday as we look for signs of life around us.
   I have something partially together for Maundy Thursday. The rest of which I am working on.
Good Friday remains a mystery at the moment!
   In the midst of all this, I am to plan the wedding ceremony for my niece and godchild which will happen May 21st. I need to give them some options for vows, etc. I have part of a sermon worked up and will have to finish off.
    The shower will be April 9th - and I am providing the party favors. Thankfully, my niece wants things simple and not a formal blown out bridal affair. The wedding is a simple outdoor ceremony and party with barbeque. She doesn't have a bridal gown - just a nice dress. So, that helps.
    For the bridal shower, I went to three craft stores looking for lavender paper bags with handles, none to be found. There were purples ones in a pack of multi-colored bags. So, on-line I went and found some. Ordered. Done. I will need to fill little plastic purses with lavender M & M's the week after Easter and put the cute heart-shaped murano-like glass compact mirrors in the bags. Cookies are ordered and everyone will get the most delicious frosted sugar cookie in their bags as well.
I have to wrap all the shower gifts as well. I will do a little at a time since I have several items.
    Somehow, it will all get done and in-between I will get the rest I need. I figure between now and Pentecost, it will just be a non-stop marathon just like from November until January. And already
half the year will be gone! Yikes!
    This would be the year with the early Lent!
    Oh, and since my niece is graduating with an MD/PhD just before her wedding, I am putting
together Diploma Cookies and taking the can with for her shower. These are Pirouline (rolled hazelnut/chocolate wafers) with a string of red raspberry licorice tied around them. I figured
red raspberry would taste better than strawberry with the chocolate and hazelnut. Thankfully, there
is a bulk candy warehouse in Cleveland - not far from the other church I serve - where I found the
licorice.
    My Lent is full, filled to overflowing and I am trying to keep my focus there. That is my Lenten
disciple this year - only I am often distracted by the wedding stuff. I am thankful for God's grace that forgives and will bring through - hopefully as sanely as possible!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE - ANIMAL EDITION


So the challenge for us this week is to write about animals. OK and I know this is two days late.
pent Friday cleaning house and Sat. running errands and prepping for Sunday, but here we go anyway:
  1. Tell us about an animal you know: perhaps one of your pets, or the pet of a friend or family member, or the cat that hangs around the church.
           Our greyhound, Renoir, is our 5th grey. He has the softest coat of any grey we've ever had. He is white with brindle patches and the white is kind of diffused next to his brindle patches which is how he got the name Renoir. It was also the only name he reacted to! He is the laziest grey ever. Mostly content to lay in his bed. He never runs laps or plays with toys. He does like food and is always in the kitchen when I am checking things out and always interested in getting a tidbit. He is a good, but quiet grey and has a serious nature, but very loveable!
      
  1. What’s your favorite real animal? Walking stick bug? Penguin? T-Rex? Echidna?
              That would be dogs! Although I like otters a lot too.
  1. What’s your favorite fantasy/mythological animal? Unicorns? Hippogryphs?
            That would be a Pegasus - a flying horse. Always thought they were cool.
  1. What’s your favorite fictional animal – Scooby Doo? Garfield the Cat? Grape Ape?
            Probably Lassie - a smart dog that could find its way home, loyal, trustworthy and good.
  1. What animal best represents who you are today, and why? Is it an animal that exhibits fierceness? Or one that’s loyal?
               My animal totem has most often come up as a turtle. Slow, steady, determined,
               with a bit of a hard shell but soft on the inside. Able to navigate land and water.
               Will stick its neck out at times and can disappear into its shell. There are other
               attributes, but I can't remember them.

Obviously, since all the questions are numbered one, I had some trouble with this one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A NEW YEAR

Yes, a new year! I survived Christmas and New Year's. I had two services Christmas Eve and finally arrived home at 11:45 pm where LH greeted me with brie and champagne! Traffic was a bit heavier this year due to the mild weather.
  Christmas was a lazy laidback and quiet day.
  On Saturday I promptly got sick and gave up my dinner.
  On Sunday, I cleaned two bathrooms and napped for an hour. I did other preparations and rested in between. I was totally wrung out. My niece and her intended arrived and we spent 40 minutes introducing the dogs to one another. Since they came a bit later, appetizers were dispensed with and I made chicken curry, couscous and spinach au gratin. Brownies were served for dessert. I really wasn't all that with it.  They opened gifts and played a couple rounds of Jenga and then off to bed.
   On Monday, I was starving at 6 am, so I got up at 6:45am and ate some breakfast and had coffee. I really couldn't wait for the others. On Sunday all I had was a piece of bread, and some curry chicken, a spoonful of spinach, and a spoonful of couscous. I was also feeling a bit better. I made multigrain blueberry pancakes for the company and LH. LH slept in while my niece and J came down. Had great discussion about the upcoming wedding in May.
   They left near noon while I had a vet appointment at 12:15 which I made that morning since Jazz had a lump in his cheek and wouldn't let me touch it on Sunday. He had an abcessed  tooth and on Tues early morning, I took him to vet hospital for a dental. They took most of his molars and he's healed up now.
   On Sunday I received word on the death of a parishioner and the funeral was 12-31. Most of the day was spent at church. When I got home, I made brownies for dessert on NYD and mixed meatballs for our midnight snack. (There's also champagne and panettone)
   On New Year's Day, I made eggs benedict for LH and I, although he poached his own eggs when he finally came downstairs. I cleaned bathrooms again and prepped for my SIL's who came to
celebrate New Year's Day with us. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon, snacking, talking, trying to Skype which didn't work out, opening gifts and having a ham dinner.
   On Monday, Jan 4th I had a meeting and didn't get home til 10 pm. A meeting on Wed. evening and was home by 8:30 pm.
   It has been non-stop, except for a few hours here and there to nap and recharge.
  My star word for this year is:JOY!
    I was hoping for a more complex word. I have always had joy in my life. But perhaps, in these
months, I haven't felt it like I should. So perhaps, God, in God's great wisdom gave me this word to help me reclaim the joy in my life - lately it's been all about duty and responsibility. So I will look
for those things that bring joy to my soul, laugh more, and just savor the joy of the Lord.
   In the meanwhile: Lent is coming. I have put together a Giving Calendar, working on the church
women's retreat (Feb.5 & 6), and trying to work up Ash Wednesday. Then I need to work on a
sermon for the every Wednesday round -robin preaching at 5 different Lutheran churches. 1 sermon preached 5 times in 5 different churches. And two of those churches have a noon and evening service and we are to do both. Ughhh...and then there's Holy Week and Easter to plan and prep.
   I get tired just thinking about it all. JOY!
   Perhaps, summer will ease things somewhat. One can hope and dream.