Tuesday, December 30

looking ahead

A new calendar year is just around the corner, and while I am not one for making resolutions (because I generally am so bad at keeping them), I am looking ahead to what 2009 will and may bring (at least the first half of the year):
  • a new doctor! I have finally made that appointment and will see the new doctor early in the year
  • a new spiritual discipline - I'm praying my way through the church directory - seven families a week. I'm sending out a postcard the week before, letting them know that I'll be praying for them, and asking them to let me know if they have prayer concerns. (I hope that I stay focused on this throughout the year...I tend to start things like this strong and then get distracted by a new idea)
  • a new apartment - probably - after being burglarized twice during my time here, I don't feel safe; also, I'm in a downstairs apartment and not close to much, so I am looking to change that. We'll see what happens.
  • the end of my thesis journey!...please, God. I am oh, so close to being done, and am in the midst of scheduling my committee (please let Marty say Feb 13 works for her!) and should be working on that rather than writing here; but I am determined to be done by the deadline (which happens to be Feb 13...and then filing by April).
  • A return to the TA role - my adviser has asked me to TA the intro to worship class, which I have done thrice before. I am thrilled to keep in touch with the seminary and academia in this way!
  • Graduation in May!! I could graduate twice...we'll see.
  • after March, I'll be into the "seconds" at ALC - 2nd Palm Sunday, 2nd Easter, 2nd Memorial Day, etc. It'll be nice to have some history in this place and not be on the deep learning curve the whole time.
Now, for what I hope I'll do as well
  • I need, need, need to spend time, energy and focus on my health. I need to focus on better nutrition and moving my body more. So simple, in theory, so complex in implementation. I've discovered that living alone makes it so easy to slip into bad habits and stay there. No one to notice (or nag) if I eat cookie dough for dinner or read that hour in the AM instead of walking.
  • I also need to get back to ND this summer - see family and friends. Greta's death, and talking with my aunt, Thelma, solidified that. I'm contemplating a road trip visiting friends along the way...again, we'll see.
well - that's what on my mind tonight. I hope that the two of you that read this have a very Happy New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 28

sudden sadness

So...in between the two services this morning, I drove home to pick up Dad for the second service. When we arrived at the church, I had a message on my office phone from my dad's sister, Thelma. The sister between them in age, Greta, died unexpectedly this morning. We were able to catch Thelma on her cell phone as she and her husband were driving to Bismarck, and now we wait for her return call with more information. No details were known about Greta's death when we spoke with Thelma, and of course no information about services. I'm hoping that the timing of the service lets me take advantage of cheap, cheap flights from Cali to Bismarck (a rare thing, indeed, and even rarer on short notice)

So, we're sad in this place - Dad is the oldest of the four siblings, and was close to his sisters, so even though he won't talk about feelings, I know he's sad and all of that. He flies back to ND tomorrow (has always been the plan) and I may be seeing him much sooner than thought.

Friday, December 26

Revgalblogs Friday Five

It's Boxing Day! Whatever that may mean to you, I invite you on this day to simply share five things that today, December 26th, will bring for you.

1. Christmas Dinner (pushed back one day due to the chef's sheer exhaustion Christmas Day).
2. Thinking about Epiphany sermon...can I use the powerpoint again? It was a hit Christmas Eve.
3. Reading and relaxing
4. Bagging/boxing leftovers and doing dishes from dinner (yes, this year the chef does all of that)
5. Relaxing and reading.

sigh...it's not such a rough day after all...especially since #1 and #4 are done, done, done.

Wednesday, December 24

Happy Christmas Eve

So, I'm snuggled back in bed (I love laptops!)...considering my sermon. I'm going with a "hook" discovered just yesterday (thanks semfem!) - about seeing yourself at the manger. We often talk about seeing ourselves at the cross, but at the manger is a new idea for me. We have screens and projectors in ALC's nave, so a few weeks ago I put together a powerpoint of nativity images, from different times and locations. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but now I know. Now, however, as the last minute rapidly approaches, I have to practice in the space with the remote control, make sure the images I have chosen actually show up OK (we're having color issues with the projector) and also practice the timing, and make sure I have good notes. Ugh. It's a lot.

So, I'll go in early afternoon, do that; prep and serve at the 5PM Children's worship; run home, get Dad, return for 7PM worship; return Dad to apartment; return to ALC for the waiting period, and then the 11PM service; return home to sleep; get up and do Christmas. Sr. Pastor has (semi-reluctantly) given me permission to not make an appearance for Christmas Day service (he took off Thanksgiving Eve, so it seems fair to me - also, we have a guest preacher, so having two presiders seems a bit over the top). So, unless the guilt overwhelms me, Christmas Day will be spent in flannel pants, opening gifts and eating the traditional family meal.

Happy Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas to you.

Saturday, December 20

the begging plant

so...a few posts ago I posted about the plant that wouldn't die. I came into work recently to find it clearly needing water, and how did I know? what was the subtle hint? (scroll down a bit...)

yep - that'll do it. even I, the worst gardener ever can't miss that. Best of all, I dump some H2O on it and in a few hours is perky and happy again. I love this plant - it makes me feel less like a plant-serial-killer.

Friday, December 19

revgalblogs Friday Five

There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

1. write sermon
2. cut more ribbons for the little dudes to wave at the processional during the 5PM service
3. pick dad up from airport
4. clean apartment
5. write, write, write on the thesis

Tuesday, December 16

contemplating Christmas Eve

I preach Christmas Eve. That's fine - I preached the same on internship. It's not the fact that a bunch of people will be there that has me wondering what to say - it's the old problem of how do I make this new? Most people come to church on Christmas Eve to sing songs, light candles and feel good about the world at least for a short time. I guess I see my challenge as breaking into that, a bit, to get people (or at least some of them) to be struck by scandal - God as a human, God as a baby, God in a humble stable, born on a trip. (BTW, if Joseph had family in Bethlehem, why weren't they mooching off of relatives for a place to sleep?)

Anyhoo...I wonder what to say. What will be the "there"? (do the hand gesture here, jprgmeck) I have a powerpoint of nativity images that I can run during or after my sermon...or both...but I'm not sure what the hook to the images will be. I'm thinking something about seeing the familiar in a new way (I have a variety of images from around the world and throughout time)...but I'm not sure.

I continue to ponder it in my heart.

Sunday, December 14


the young man mentioned in my previous post died this afternoon. He was at home, as he wished. His family, a hospice nurse and a Stephen minister from the family's church (who is also a family friend) were all present around his bedside. It is also his 19th birthday.

I start crying when I think of this. It is just so sad, and it was such a gift for him to be home with everyone there surrounding him as he died. But, he was only 19...and only 19 for a few hours when he died. It just sucks. There are no words that will make this better for anyone - the blessing is that he was tired of the hospital and the tests and the transfusions, and he is done with all of that. 

I trust that God is present with this family, and I pray for peace and solace for them as they approach Christmas and the months and years to follow without this funny, smart and amazing young man in their daily lives. 

Saturday, December 13

saturday, part 2

sometimes I wonder what God is up to in the world...if God is up to anything, even. The younger sibling of the victim of the abuse I've posted about - this 18-year old is dying. He had aplastic anemia. At the time of the trial in October, he had started chemo, and because no bone marrow donor was available, received a cord blood transplant. The bone marrow has not started done what it was supposed to, and he decided to check out of the hospital and spend his last days at home with his family. His 19th birthday is tomorrow, and with all this family has been through, it seems just too much to deal with this, too. As a parent, how do you watch your children go through so much that you can't fix, when all one wants to do is make it better.

So, prayers for this family are appreciated. I know God is in the midst of all of this - it just irritates me that this family has so much piled on them.


this morning began with a couple hours of laying under my down comforter, in my cozy bed, reading. Ah....bliss. Then, I was off to a sorority alumnae gathering where there was good food, good company, and much laughter around the ornament exchange (where I ended up with the coveted martini shaker and glass set...which came from Crate and Barrel, but I can't find it on the website, so I'll post a picture later). This is my first real foray into a sorority alumnae group, and am enjoying it. I am meeting all sorts of women that I otherwise would not have a chance to get to know.

Today's gathering also provided the opportunity to work on the non-committal, non-judgmental "hmmm", whilst nodding and inwardly going "Eeek!!!" One woman there told me her son and daughter-in-law work for Campus Crusade for Christ in Florida, and that she works for a research/lobbying group affiliated with Focus on the Family. I tried my best to look neutral and say only "hmmmm" when she explained that her company's work is to get "family values" into the state laws, perhaps thinking that as a pastor I'd be into that. I did manage to not cringe, run away screaming, or pleasantly say "what exactly to do mean by that?" I just stood there, nodded, and hmmmm'd.

Now I'm at the office, hoping that here I can get some writing done (I'm sooooo close to being done with the thesis, but can't work at home), and then it's broomball tonight with the youth group....maybe. Yesterday I had a migraine headache and I still feel crummy and have also started sneezing and my nose is running....so, if they have enough drivers, I just may head home, get some rest and hopefully beat this bug back.

Now to the writing...I can do it - yes, I can.

Friday, December 12

rev gal blogs friday five

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family?
Hazel - I think my mom's were close to this color.

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
I wouldn't change 'em - in the right light they match my hair.

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
glasses and contacts (no, not at the same time). I'm kind of indifferent at this point. I do like shopping for new frames, though.

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?
I've contemplated....a lot. I've also contemplated the lack of funds available for said surgery.

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?
I'm an eye-to-eye person, when possible and appropriate.

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.

For whatever reaon, "Jeepers, Creepers" was the first thing that popped into my head - (see video below for a good rendition by Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden)
Jeepers, creepers....whered ya get them peepers
Jeepers, creepers...whered ya get those eyes
Gosh oh, git up....howd they get so lit up
Gosh oh, gee oh....howd they get that size

Golly gee...when you turn them heaters on
Woe is me...got to put my cheaters on

Jeepers, creepers....whered ya get them peepers
Oh, those weepers....how they hypnotize

Jeepers, creepers....whered ya get them peepers
Oh, those weepers....how they hypnotize
Where did ya get those
Golly whered ya get those
Where did ya get them there eyes

Tuesday, December 9

because I'm not in the mood to work

Your Quirk Factor: 50%

You're a pretty quirky person, but you're just normal enough to hide it.

Congratulations - you've fooled other people into thinking you're just like them!

Monday, December 8

motivation: zero

I have no desire to be at the office today. I would much rather be on my couch with a book, or my cross stitch, or watching DVDs. We haven't seen the sun for a while, so that's probably part of it. I also had a loooonnnggg day yesterday, so that contributes; and in general, I'm just kind of tired. I don't have anything pressing on my plate, and I could work ahead, but I'm not in the mood. Let's face it, the mood I am in is sleepy, lazy, unfocused. Blah.

Friday, December 5

rev gal blogs friday five

"Imagine a complex, multi-cultural society that annually holds an elaborate winter festival, one that lasts not simply a few days, but several weeks. This great festival celebrates the birth of the Lord and Saviour of the world, the prince of peace, a man who is divine. People mark the festival with great abundance- feasting, drinking and gift giving....." (Richard Horsley- The Liberation of Christmas). The passage goes on, recounting the decorations that are hung, and the songs and dances that accompany the festival, how the economy booms and philanthropic acts abound....

But this is not Christmas- this is a Roman festival in celebration of the Emperor....This is the world that Jesus was born into! The world where the early Christians would ask "Who is your Saviour the Emperor or Christ?" And yet our shops and stores and often our lives are caught up in a world that looks very much like the one of ancient Rome, where we worship at the shrine of consumerism....

Advent on the other hand calls us into the darkness, a time of quiet preparation, a time of waiting, and re-discovering the wonder of the knowledge that God is with us. Advent's call is to simplicity and not abundance, a time when we wait for glorious light of God to come again...Christ is with us at this time of advent, in the darkness, and Christ is coming with his light- not the light of the shopping centre, but the light of love and truth and beauty.

What do you long for this advent? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What is your prayer today? In the vein of simplicity I ask you to list five advent longings....
  1. for my brother and his unit to be safe in Iraq
  2. for friendships to bloom where I am currently planted
  3. for inspired writing to happen in order to finish the d@#% thesis
  4. for healing - for me, for others
  5. for eyes to see and ears to hear what God is saying

Thursday, December 4


so this morning went OK - two people from the congregation showed up, and I had a long conversation with a random person. So, I count it as a success. 

a short time ago, in a courtroom in Kansas, the perpetrator of the sex offense that I wrote about previously was sentenced to 59 months in prison. That is 4 years, 11 months. That is a long time. As I've said, I'm glad I don't have to make that decision, and I trust that the judge did so with thought and consideration for the facts of the case. My heart breaks for his wife and family. My heart has broken many times over for the victim. This is just a messy, messy thing. I don't, even a little, celebrate this sentencing, but I also recognize that it is likely the right thing, and that his actions do have consequences - it's just that these consequences bleed over and affect many, many other people. Prayers for peace are raised up today.

coffee shop ministry

so, I've started this new thing today. Every Thursday morning I'm going to show up at a coffee shop for a few hours in the morning and see who drops by. I've decided to read something overtly theological (or even the Bible - gasp!) and just be - say hi to people and just be present. We're posting the schedule on the congregation website, because the prime reason is to go where people are in the morning and be present in a way that allows them to drop in while they are already out and about. 

here's the hitch. A month ago I started asked people where they are in the mornings on Thursday. I've asked in several venues...and not one person has responded. So...for December I chose my own coffee shops in the general vicinity of my apartment and that are convenient to the rest of my Thursday morning. I had a number of people say "what a great idea!"...but not one person emailed me or wrote me a note letting me know where they are. I imagine that I'll continue this even if no one ever gets on board - I like being out of the office - and while I'm not in a clergy shirt this morning (no time to iron and be at Starbuck's by 6:30 am), I'm contemplating doing that to increase my visibility...or maybe not. We'll see. As I write this, maybe I'll just go through the directory and figure out where people live, ask people where they work, and then make my own choices from there. Like all kinds of ministry - it's a work in progress, I guess.