Thursday, December 30, 2010

noticing God moments...

So, in following up with the remembrance of the Holy Innocents, two wonderful moments this past week.

In the Divine Hours, there is usually a hymn for the vespers service.  Sometimes I make up my own melodies, sometimes they fit to other hymns I know.  So far, in the season of Christmas they have all been carols/hymns that I have known....well, until December 28th.  As I peeked ahead the day before, I thought, oh I don't know that one. 
This is what it was:

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.
That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
It's also known as the Coventry Carol.  On the 28th my friends Jen & Eric loaned me The Christmas Cornucopia by Annie Lenox.  To hear about how Annie put together this collection, "full of love" as she says, check out her her official website
She sings the Coventry Carol on this album and it is a beautiful rendition.  My favorite part is that the even through the sorrowful words and remembrance of the innocents, the final chord resolves from a minor chord to a major one. (I think I got the language correct there...) It's that sense of hope and promise that even in the midst of a horrible tragedy, God is still here. 

The second great God moment happened this morning as I was talking with the church secretary.  She was telling me about the two kid cut-outs she took home with her from church on Sunday.  One was her grandson (a student at IU) and the other, her granddaughter (a high school student). 
She called her grandson and told him to swing by the house today and she gave him his cut out.  She told him that we surrounded them in prayer, and she thought about putting it in her Bible and then had second thoughts.  She gave it to him and said, "I could keep this in my Bible, but I want you to know that even when you seem all alone, there is a congregation who loves you and prays for you.  Please take this and put it on your fridge or someplace you can see it and remember us and God in your life."
She plans on giving the other to her granddaughter the next time she sees her.   

Just one more beautiful example of God at work, empowering God's people to share their faith and their love for one another. 

Until next time . . .

Monday, December 27, 2010

remembering in a new way

This past Sunday we remembered the death of the innocents. 
It's a hard thing to wrap your heart and mind around the death of all the little ones in the midst of celebrating Jesus' birth.  And apparently, this is the first time that I have not been on vacation the first Sunday after Christmas, so while we did have a service with lessons and carols, the final lesson was the appointed gospel text for the day...and we all heard about the slaughter of babies in Bethlehem. 

So hard to hear and often hard to comprehend.  As I sat with that text through Christmas Day, I was thinking about my trip to El Salvador in seminary.  One of our visits was to the village of El Mozote, where the population was massacred December 11th and 12th in 1981. 

What remains in my mind is the church in El Mozote. 
As you walk around the side of the church, you enter the Garden of the Innocents.

So I shared the story of this place...of people, and especially the children, who were killed during this civil war. 

I shared that on the side of the church, there are images of children, and below those images are the names of the children and their ages. 

I think part of who we are as church, is to hear these passages and remember that we do not live in a perfect world.  And that part of who we are is to lift up, love and care for the innocents in our families, communities and the world.

Then I handed out little boys and girls, cut out of construction paper...each person in worship was invited to put the name or names of children in their family or community whom they love and care for.  As people were coming up with names, one woman said, I have an announcement...(similar to a children's sermon, once people are involved, who knows what may happen....) she shared that her grandson and his wife shared the good news at Christmas that they were expecting!  It's the first great grandchild! She put baby on one of her cut-outs :)

Then we cradled the 'children' in our hands and prayed for them, for their health, their growth, their innocence, their lives. 

The service was also an opportunity for us, as congregation and pastor, to still see and experience God at work in the ministry and mission that happens through us every day. 

Good things, just like God, in unexpected places. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is wonderful!

Christmas Eve service was complete with candles, smiles, hugs, family and was great to celebrate Emmanuel - God with us - in the midst of our own anxieties and wonders about the future.

Here's the sermon from last night...blessings to all in this Christmas season.  

Christmas Eve
December 24, 2010

Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-20

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 
Can you think back to the perfect Christmas? 
That may be more challenging than you think.  I’m sure we all have memories of those perfect moments, those perfect gatherings…the year of the perfect tree, or presents or meal….but I think, looking back, we see what we want to see. 
We put together the moments and the memories…and sometimes they become their own entity.  Our mind plays tricks on us, albeit in a good way, to flood our hearts and minds with good feeling memories.  

But that may not truly be the way all the former years were…we have a tendency to remember the good times, especially at Christmastime.
But throughout our individual and collective pasts, we have each had Christmases with hiccups, pitfalls, struggles and challenges. 
As I was sharing the news with my mom that I had accepted a call to a congregation in Pennsylvania, she said, well that’s gonna make for a pretty ‘yucky’ Christmas.  (My mom used something stronger than yucky…but you get the idea.)  And I thought to myself…yeah, it will be rough, but so have the past few.  

Our first Christmas together, with me serving as your pastor at St. John’s, I was facing the beginnings of a broken marriage.  My mind and heart were struggling with God, relationships, marriage and why all of it would come to light at a time when we are all to be happy and joyous. 
I needed the Christmas message of God coming down and into a broken world…because mine seemed far from whole.  There was a glimpse and of hope and comfort knowing that God came into a broken world…not to take away the hurt and brokenness, but to be with us in the midst of it. 
Our second Christmas together, was a different story.  Just last year…there was a tension, a new level of anxiety as this congregation faced challenging conversations thinking, praying and responding to decisions made at our Churchwide gathering in August of 2009.  There were people who didn’t worship here last year, because the tension was too much…there are people who were here last Christmas who have since stopped worshipping here. 
The tension was felt and the hope and promise of the Christ child was there in the midst of the angst, struggles and questions about who we are called to be as church.

 In this past year we have changed...while the faces around us may have changed, we continue to be an active part of God’s mission in the world around us. 

And that brings us to this Christmas: the last Christmas we will celebrate together as a congregation and its pastor.  No doubt, there are questions about the future of this place, what happens next?  Underlying that good news of our savior born on this day is the reality of what the future will bring through God in this congregation. 

Can you think of another Christmas, where the future was uncertain? 
Where those hearing the message for the first time may have wondered what the future was going to bring?   

That first Christmas, Joseph and Mary huddled together in a stable…trusting God that this was a part of the plan.  Sure there was comfort in the eyes of a newborn child, but the questions about what this would mean for both Mary and Joseph and for their baby boy, Jesus surely permeated that holy night. 
 They walked and lived in the hope and faith that God would bring peace to the earth through their newborn son.   

The story they lived that first night…was just the beginning.  We know the whole story, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.   

What we know now…that story that we hear tonight, shapes our faith, strengthens our lives, and empowers us to service…that story…gives us the strength to go through that first Christmas when our family looked different, whether a loved one is gone because of death or divorce…we know that Jesus came into this world, to walk with us through whatever we face.  

God with us, Emmanuel, means God is with us, here and now…in the midst of all that we face…death, loss, broken homes, losing a job, a change in what our church looks like, who fills these pews, and who is still longing to hear this message of God come down  - to us – where we are…to be with us…to love us, save us, claim us and send us forth in God’s service.   

The joy of this night, is knowing that we are not alone…that God came into this world, came into our world, on a night, just like this.  To a community and a world that wasn’t perfect…to a community and world that needed a message of unconditional love and forgiveness, just like us, here and now. 
The joy and warmth, we feel in this place, through the Word of God and as we share the peace of God…and as we all are welcomed to this table, to this meal.  This meal…is Jesus presence with us right now.  We eat of this bread…and we taste Jesus presence in our lives…we drink of this wine…and sip from the cup of salvation. 
We know that through this meal, Jesus, God, is with us.  That, my friends is good news of great joy for all people!  God sent Jesus into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it, to save us, to save all of God’s creation!  Think about how awesome that is!  Right? 

Tonight we celebrate that first night, a night, where God came into the world, not in a special, sanitized beautiful maternity ward….but in the muck of an animal’s stable, and he was placed in a manger…in the place where food for the animals would be placed. 

But Jesus came into the world, was placed in the manger…and has become the food, the bread and wine for you and for me, but we are not the only ones who are hungry…this meal is here for all who hunger and thirst. 
Jesus is the bread of life…come down to earth to teach us, love us, save us and feed us for the journey that lies ahead. 
So come, you who hunger.
Come, you who thirst, there is plenty to eat…and plenty to share with those around us. 
And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and let all God’s people say, amen. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

completely humbled

Is it possible to have hopeful and heart heavy moments at the same time?

I'd say yes. 

I had a wonderful visit with and older couple from the congregation today.  Firstly, I had to circle Robesonia in the road atlas for them, so they know where I'll be.  We had a lovely chat, I got to see some of the antiques that the wife has collected..."I'm running out of space," she said.  "Well, after you've been married 61 years, you accumulate some stuff," he replied. (True story) 
I got to dance with him at their 60th wedding anniversary...he's quite the dancer.

He was born in that house, in the living room where we chatted.  He's lived there all his life and while he still works on the family farm (he'll be 90 next year) his son is now his boss. :) 

Over homemade carrot cake, and little glasses of Oliver Blackberry Wine we talked about everything from religion to politics and all sorts of things in between.  I saw where the old wood burning oven used to sit in the kitchen, out the back window you can still see the one room school house he walked to as a boy.  If the walls could talk, I do not think they would have much to add to all that I heard today.  As we sat at the kitchen table, he said we've been kind rough to you the past few years.  I said, well, we've been through ups and downs together...and I've learned alot.  To which he replied, "I admire you."  And at that point I didn't feel worthy enough to sit at their table.  A man, with 89 years of life experience...a life on a farm, no of 7 children, then raising his own children in that house, too.  How blessed am I to share in these amazing moments with people?  This is the man who people worried about when it came to calling a female pastor. (Whether he, the man who was born the year the church was built would be okay with a woman in the pulpit.)

He admires me?  (speechless)

Things I will always remember about him:
He'd sing Holy, Holy, Holy every Sunday if he could. 
He used to ring the bell every Sunday before worship.  If he wasn't going to be at church he would find a replacement and he would call me to let me know he wouldn't be there.
How the week after the congregation took the vote to leave the ELCA (that failed) he said, well, where did the other people go?  If the vote had gone the other way, I'd still be here...
The same pew he and his wife sat/sit in week after week after week. 

What a wonderful afternoon...I wonder if they will ever know the impact they had on my life, my ministry and my faith...

The evening allowed for an amazing dinner with a dear friend and colleague.  She celebrated my joy with me and we cherished the time we have had together...thanks Nan :)

Until next time . . .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Come, Hope of unity...

I can't believe it's already Advent 4. 

While the weeks have seemed to sail by...the days have had moments of quiet solitude and prayer.  It was four weeks ago that I spent an evening with yellow watercolors, a star cookie cutter, scissors and a pen.  And this is what my Advent journey looks like now...

I love that each day, as I honor praying the hours, I have one person or group that I focus on.  During this time of goodbyes, packing and beginning to transition it's been a struggle to get outside of 'me.'  The call process was so God & Holy Spirit led, that I truly felt free to be the me that God has created and called me to be...I told a member in Indiana that I feel God calling me to PA, and she said, "Do you really believe it?"  Yes, I believe it....but it's not easy to share the joy and excitement and new found passion with the people I see everyday.  When I say I feel God in the process, I believe people in Loogootee hear that God is calling me away from here. 

The only way to describe it is bittersweet. My heart is heavy and yet hopeful.

I've been truly touched by comments made by folks at church have been eyeopening and tear jerking.  Not to mention comments made by folks within the community...that's one of the things in this vocation of ministry....not knowing sometimes, until you're gone what God has done through you in a certain place and time.

One of today's heavy moments....finding out an 8-yr-old who I have been drawn close to during my time here, cried when she found out I was leaving....

One of today's hopeful worship, people fill out the 'blue form' (attendance/sign up/prayer request form).  There is a member who when I first met him, people were worried about how he would take to me, if he even would at all.  He had been away from the church for several years, spending most of his time at his mother's side in a nursing home, and he pretty much kept to himself.  My second month here, I presided at his mother's funeral.  He's been hit or miss at church...but more regular as time has passed.  Last winter he removed 6  inches of snow from my driveway, although I wasn't allowed to tell anyone who did it :)  I greeted him at worship today, but he didn't want to talk.  Today, on his blue form, he added me to the prayer list....for my time of transition.

It's a side to him that many people have not seen...but more are becoming aware of....thanks be to God.

Until next time . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

un-lazy sunday

Yesterday was probably the roughest day I've had at St. Johns.  I walked in, knowing that everyone had received the letter of my acceptance of a new call.  I received many tearful hugs, some folks didn't even mention it, and others joked that they were mad.  The rough part was worship.  There was this underlying sense of 'ugh'.  I don't know how else to explain it...I think the 'ugh' comes from the gap between my excitement for the new call and the feeling of loss within the congregation. 

The moment that I teared up was at the end of communion.  The family who lit the Advent wreath also assisted with communion.  The husband and wife (in their mid-late 40's) had their granddaughter with them...I'm not sure of her age, but she's in the ones maybe almost 2? Oh, I don't know....probably the ones...since she had her pacifier and grandpa held her as they lit the advent candle.  Then they came up for communion and since it was by stations grandpa held her in one arm as he held the tray of cups in the other.  Then the three of them came up to the altar.  I gave the bread & wine to the wife & husband, then made the sign of the cross on the little girl's forehead and said, You are a child of God.  God loves you and God blesses you.  And through the pacifier she said, "thank you!"  (I get teary just typing about it.) These are the moments you don't ever want to let go. 

I looked at this family...who have been with the congregation just for the past year...what a blessing it was to marry them, to get to know them...and see them with grandkids. 

After worship we had a brief congregational meeting to elect council members. 
Coming into the meeting we had two blank spaces on the ballot : Vice Chair and Evangelism.

The Chair Person called the meeting to order...and asked for nominations...she is a tough woman, who has been through a rough last few months, and while she is one to always step up to the plate, she is just plain tired.  It took a while, but we eventually received a volunteer for Vice Chair and the woman who assisted in worship that morning volunteered for Evangelism. 

This congregation has the leadership and the people to continue to see ministry happen in this was great to see God working through both of these people empowering them to share their gifts. 

The afternoon was full of housecleaning, singing a cantata at church in the afternoon and watching the Pats do some damage to da Bears.   I was bummed that my dear friend couldn't attend the cantata due to weather, but post-football game, I put up the tree and decorated it and just relaxed by the fire.  All in all, a pretty amazing, emotional day. 

Until next time...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

praying more often, with some guidance.

My advent devotional discipline, which I will honor for the 30 days of December, has been praying the hours.  I had used The Divine Hours by Phillis Tickle in the past, but not for a while.

This year I purchased Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours.  It mirrors the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany section from the Autumn and Winter Edition, but a smaller size so it is easier to carry around during the day. 

Setting time aside each day for morning, noon, evening and end of the day prayer has helped frame my days.  I have also appreciated the time to pray for the person/people/group that is on the star for the day. 

One of the most precious God moments that has happened occurred last week.  I was packing up my things to head out of town for the weekend.  I was heading to a congregation in Pennsylvania for a call sermon and congregational vote.  The wonderful news is that the weekend went well and the congregation extended the call and I accepted.  The star I pulled out of the basket that Friday morning, as my travels began, was the star for the congregation I currently serve.  It was a pleasant reminder that I am the pastor at St. Johns, while that will be changing in the future, I still hold them in prayer especially as we continue to journey through Advent together and begin our goodbyes.

The next month will be full of emotion, challenges, celebrating shared memories and preparing for our paths to go in different ways in the future.  I continue to be amazed and blessed as God presents opportunities and moments that shed light on the ministry that has happened between the congregation and myself.  Today alone has been tearful . . . in a most wonderful way.

I thank God for my time here, for the experiences, for my friends and colleagues . . . for all of it . . . all of you . . . for lifting up my gifts, shaping my ministry and giving me moments I'll never forget!

Until next time . . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

But about that day and hour no one knows...

There I was, yesterday, completely prepared for Advent. 

So I went to bed. It took Marley a bit longer to settle in, since it was the first night with the down comforter.  I do wonder if it drove her nuts sleeping with the feathers.  But after some pouncing, she finally settled in, victory was hers, and she curled up for the night. 

At 6 this morning, I heard some rustling.  Then a light thump, followed by more rustling.  You guessed it, Marley was ready to Matins.  She had the stars out and was sorting through them, deciding who to pray for, no doubt.  I politely told her it was a bit early....eventually she found her way back to her down throne. 

Worship was an intense experience this morning.  With an Affirmation of Baptism this morning, we had an extended family who was there most recently for a funeral.  So, to see that family all together again gathered around the Word and the Meal was wonderful.  The statement of faith that the young man shared was a wonderful expression of his faith journey, especially through the most recent ups and downs in life.  The amazing gift of grace was seeing the young man's mom at worship with us.  (Long story short - recent divorce, painful for all involved, dad & kids worship with us, mom is not a member, starting to see some healing as everyone moves forward.) To see everyone pass the peace and come forward to the table brought tears to many eyes, including my own.  The reminder to me, that this is the table that accepts us, no matter what.  This is the place where we can come broken, messed up, knowing that we may not have handled everything in life just right, but it doesn't matter here.  This meal heals, fills, strengthens and helps us face the realities of living in a broken world. 

Today we could see the brokenness but at the same time, the promise coming in the Christ child, that longing for healing and wholeness that is here...and is coming...thanks be to God.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

soon and very soon

I'm totally ready for Advent. 

The wreath is on the table:

And there is a basket of stars...just ready to be hung up. 
The stars is an idea that I borrowed from the Heidi Neumark, she wrote about her experiences serving as a pastor in the Bronx in the book Breathing Space
She talks about her Advent preparations,
"After the children were in bed, I put up our Advent decorations: the glittery calendars, the Tree of Life tablecloth, the wreath of candles, the lion and the lamb, the bowl of stars, each inscribed with a name of someone to pray for. Every day we hang a star from the light fixture over our table and pray for its namesake as it dances in the rising candle heat." (Breathing Space p.210)

I've got a basket of stars, full of names ready to be prayed for.  Each day as the star goes up, it will hang from the banner that my mom made a few years ago which is hung over my fireplace...I'm sure that light and heat will help all the stars dance. 

I definitely connect with Heidi and the season of Advent.  There is something about the longing for something that we have known, that is missing...for me it's remembering back to Advent and Christmas as a kid.  After Thanksgiving the window candles went up to light up the dark winter nights and the advent wreath was placed in the center of the dining room table.  I miss those days with family.  My family is now in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Indiana...we rekindle those feelings and emotions when we gather together...but being apart reminds me that something is missing. 

Maybe it's more than what's missing.  Maybe it's the longing to recreate those joys and traditions as life goes on.  Maybe it's the longing of feeling God's presence and God's love as we figured out which candles went in which room, as our fingers had little red dots from the prickling of the pine needles as we put together the advent wreath, as we argued over who got to use the candle extinguisher after the meal (because blowing out the candle made too much smoke.)  I mean, who doesn't have a candle extinguisher in their house for the Advent wreath...we're the only ones?  Okay... (For the record, I could tell you just where it is in the house...but I digress.) 

How will God fill the empty spaces?  How will the poor be fed?  What will peace and justice look like in our lives and our world?  I think these are the questions that still urge us to cry out O Come O Come Emmanuel...come into our hearts, our lives, our families, our communities, our church, our world...we, creation, waits with an eager come...we're ready....

Come now, O Prince of Peace,
Make us one body,
Come, O Lord Jesus,
Reconcile your people.
(Come now, O Prince of Peace, Evangelical Lutheran Worship #247)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

what will people remember?

As I'm finalizing details for worship tomorrow (in my head) I wonder what people will remember from their experience at church tomorrow.

While the rest of the church world (or most of it) celebrates Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year, the congregation I serve will be having it's annual Thankoffering Service.  The date for this service was set before I got here....and it it always Christ the King Sunday because it is the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  So tomorrow's service, as last year, and the year before and the year before that and the...(you get the idea) will be a balance of Thankoffering and Thanksgiving. 

The time for the children's message will be used by the Sunday School youth as they reenact the events leading up to and including the first Thanksgiving.  We have 4 scenes, pilgrims, indians (so it says in the script) the mayflower and a paper mache turkey.  As this skit slowly became a bigger production, folks said, oh pastor, you can just shorten your sermon.

The gospel for the Thankoffering service is from John and contains Jesus saying, "I am the bread of life."  Who knows how long the sermon will go, but it will give me the opportunity to talk about the tables we gather around in our homes for Thanksgiving as well as the table we gather around in the sanctuary.  Hopefully it will offer people the opportunity to reflect upon the fellowship around the Lord's Table because the meal is Jesus Christ. 

 (Freshly baked bread for worship in the morning.)

We do not celebrate communion weekly, just the first and third Sundays of the month.  So we will celebrate the Lord's Supper tomorrow, for which I'm thankful. 

Following worship, we will head down to the fellowship hall for a turkey dinner.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, salads and desserts.  Which may lead all of us to sleep through the Pats/Colts game....although I think not! 

Will people remember the children's production? the sermon? the meal?  the second meal?  does it matter?  Perhaps I'm getting too caught up in what I think is important.  I just think there is a fine line between church as church and church as social club/entertainment.  The gathering we do in the sanctuary and the meal that we have in that place strengthens us for service to our neighbors, not just for our own personal enjoyment.  Not that we shouldn't enjoy worship, but there is more to it than that.  It's Christ meeting us at the cross, it's God come down to us, is Jesus as our bread and wine, uniting us as sisters and brothers for service to others....

Sorry if this is a bit preachy, I guess I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the whirlwind that tomorrow will be.  I'm letting it go to you, dear readers, and to matter what happens, even if the Mayflower runs into the pews, God will be there...speaking to and feeding each and every one of us...and for that, I give thanks. 

Thanks for reading....until next time...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More thoughts on SoA

Still trying to figure out why I am completely addicted to Sons of Anarchy.  

I'll admit, I missed last week's episode and I was tempted to skip last night until I had a chance to see the other one, but I couldn't pass it up.  I got enough plot info at the beginning to carry me through.  And I cried at the open market scene as Jax watched Abel with the young couple.  In the moment of that scene you could see Jax's internal struggle for what he wanted and what was the best for Abel.  It was a sigh of tears and a bit of relief when he made his decision, even though not everyone agreed with him.  Well that good feeling lasted for like 30 seconds before the repercussions began. 

In any given moment, you are drawn into a comfortable place, but you know, that it will not last, because BAM you are hit upside the head with some new tragedy.  When tragedy strikes, you are ready for a breath of good news.  You welcome in the good moments, the God moments, when all seems right and good, and then that comfort is discomforted, reminding you of your presence in the world, the broken, troubled, imperfect world.  In that world, we don't always make the right choices, we are torn between thinking of ourselves and thinking of others, torn between what we think is right and what God calls us to do, walking the fine line of simultaneously sinner and saint.  

So, maybe in my everyday life, I'm not hopping on my motorcycle, dealing with local town politics, escaping from lock-down in the hospital and fleeing to Ireland to rescue my kidnapped son...and that has all happened in season 2.  (For the record, I would love to ride a motorcycle on a regular basis and will go to Ireland some day, but the rest of those things are not on my bucket list.)  But everyday we face the challenge of living each day to its fullest.  Sometimes we get it just right, and other times we totally mess it up.  The blessing in all this is knowing that God is with us in the midst of it all, meeting us at the foot of the cross and showing us with grace.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

should be in bed, but...

So facebook sometimes takes away minutes, no who am I kidding, hours of my day.  I am a master of multitasking facebook & either food network or travel channel.

But here's one of the cool things about facebook.  I've had the opportunity to reconnect with people from different times in my past.  I had the opportunity to get to know an exchange student, Thomas, while at seminary.  While he connected with so many of us that year and we said, oh, keep in touch...he had a realistic outlook that it probably wouldn't happen as maybe we would like it to happen.  When people are in similar situations, they feel close and bond, yet when those contexts change, when we are not in created community together, then our relationships will change.

Thomas was so right.  Looking at different friends I have on facebook, that is so true.  It's great to reconnect with people from different times and experiences in my life, but our relationships have changed. There are some relationships that maybe I wish would've turned out differently.  I mean, who doesn't look back and think...what if?  What would my life be like if...?  But that's not how life works, is it?  You could spend your entire life, trying to reach back, to change things, or to just live in the hope that things had gone differently. 

But instead, I've decided to take a different approach.  I'm truly thankful for the times in my life when I had close relationships with many of these people.  Some I am really close to now, and others not so much, but that's okay.   In Eat, Pray, Love one character says to Liz, that person was in your life at that time for a reason...but that time is over.  (Okay, that was a paraphrase, because the book is downstairs, and I don't have the oomph to A) find the book and 2) locate the actual quote.) 

So yes, I am thankful for the times in my life when I have been super close to people, and thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with each of them.  It makes me chuckle when people from different times in my life comment on the same post...(I'm goofy like that)  But yeah, each person, who I have gotten to know for a short or long period of time, has been brought into my life and gifted me with laughter, tears, and lots of memories.

So thanks, God, for my dear friends.  I hope that you keep opening the door to new relationships that let your light shine through others, to lighten my way. 

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

the not so very hungry pastor

Breakfast in Loogootee with local colleagues.

Lunch with more colleagues in Jasper. 

An afternoon homebound visit and homemade apple pie (yum!) with ice cream. (two scoops)

I'm not hungry.  At all.

More important, however, from today was my opportunity to feed people. 
There is something so humbling about sharing the Lord's Supper in the presence of someone's home.  There is an intimate feeling, but also one of the presence of the saints surrounding us as we eat and drink.  We get to share in a meal that has been shared with the communion of saints around the world.  It is a small gathering of the larger church.  Folks are thankful for the opportunity to share in communion.  I'm humbled that I can share this meal with them. 

Just one more reminder that God is always with us...guiding us, feeding us, strengthening us and sending us off in service for others. 

Until next time...

Monday, November 8, 2010

oh, I had a good idea earlier...what was it?

As far as facebook status updates and tweets are concerned, so are the topics/ideas/thoughts on my blog.  Sometime during the day I have a clever thought (who am I kidding) more clever thoughts than I can keep track of, but I don't write them or tweet them at that moment and then they are gone. 

So perhaps my idea for today's blog came to me earlier, but may have changed since then. 

A couple thoughts on God at work in the world today:

Firstly, I had another flat tire on Katarina.  :( Luckily, similar to the first one, it happened while putting the air in the tires.  Perhaps I need a bicycle pumps for dummies book.  I was totally ready for the ride, layered up and everything, when I put air in the back tire, pulled off the pump and the valve on the tube as well...there is nothing as sad sounding as a tire, just before a ride saying, "psssssssssssssssss......" as all the remaining air left the tire...oh well, Katarina heads to the bike shop either tomorrow or next week.  I did the planned ride on my hand-me-down mountain bike. (The hills were a bit different with fatter tires and different gear options.)  But I did ride today :)

The other cool moments, or God moments from today came through phone calls.  The first two were from a parishioner.  I am so thankful for the time that we have to build relationships.  That time spent getting to know one another allowed for communication and heartfelt conversation today.  (Thanks, God, for that...because it was amazing to be present for that person...and to hear back from that person later in the day.)

The second phone call was from a friend/colleague who needed some time and space to vent.  I like being there to listen and to love my friends when they need to just let go. 

Today I've been reminded of the ministry of presence, for folks within the parish and folks in my life.  I'm glad to have been there to listen, to laugh and to pray.  I'm also glad for friends who are there for me, too, offering advice, love and prayers.  You all rock!

Please pray for all kids, everywhere....until tomorrow...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

on the road again

First of all, I am so thankful that I did not set all my clocks back before going to bed last night.  The power went out at just about 2:00 this morning, so there would have been resetting again this morning.  It was out for about 4 hours, so I'm also thankful for the extra blanket that kept me cozy. :)

After worship I enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner (that couldn't be beat) with a hundred or so of my closest friends in Martin County.  I had dinner at the 4-H building with many folks from church and many more from the community.  I'm now in the mood for more pumpkin roll... The post dinner nap was wonderful! 

With the sun out this afternoon, I had planned on going for a walk.  I anticipated the nap, so I was dress and ready to walk before kipping out.  The clothes were not as motivating as I had hoped, though.  I thought, okay, I guess I could walk.  I think post Hilly Hundred I rested, and then, well, it was just tough to get back into the groove.  I've walked a few times, but nothing on a regular basis.  Without a regular exercise routine, I start to not feel too good.  I don't sleep as well, and I definitely do not eat as well.  It's somewhat of an unhealthy spiral.  (Apparently my wellness wheel was out of whack.)

Thanks to my cycling buddy, Carolyn, and her facebook post on an unhealthy exhaust during a run and a reminder that the weather is great and perfect for a ride . . . I put some air in Katarina's tires, filled up the water bottle and hit the road.  The weather was beautiful.  The wind was tricky in some directions, but felt great at my back in other directions. 

Carolyn was definitely the presence of God in my life today.  She was the voice/face/post? of God calling me to get off my butt and get outside.  I'm truly grateful for her motivation.  (She's awesome!)

Until tomorrow, or the next God sighting...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

local is good.

I bought my first Christmas presents today.  I believe this is the earliest I've ever started.  And I'm pretty excited about them, because I was at a one stop shopping event, with lots and lots of different vendors.   Many of the vendors were big business with local folks hosting parties to sell the goods.  Now don't get me wrong, it was a great event...there were door prizes and the opportunity to support local folks within the community. 
My pure joy came from buying gifts that were hand made in Loogootee.  I'm sure my mom and sister will love them!  (After Christmas I'll be able to tell you what they were.) I know I will be making more purchases from that wonderful woman for friends as well as some gifites for me :) Then I'll post details about her work and her products. 

So the other cool part about One Stop Shopping was this cool interaction between a diverse group of women. Young and old, chatting about all sorts of things, even God.  I actually had someone who was sharing a story about how she had gotten back from a 'walk' (probably an Emmaus Walk) and how she was talking with her husband about it, who isn't a Christian.  She was telling him, you can be a Christian and still have a beer.  You don't have to change what you like to do, just let God work through you. 
Amen, sister.

I like it when the preacher hears the gospel message.

In other news, I'm quite looking forward to an extra hour of sleep tonight. 

Friday, November 5, 2010


Not much to reflect upon today, except the relaxation that comes with a day off. 

I was on a mission for new pants...and after stopping at two shops I was disheartened, so I thought, heck, I'll try another day, and I picked up lunch to go (curried chicken salad) & a chocolate chip cranberry muffin .... then I stopped by the thrift store on my way out of town and found two perfect pairs of pants for under $5.  (Less than I paid for lunch & the muffin!)  Pretty sweet deal & I was back home to veg out with Brad Pitt movies for the rest of the day. 

I picked the last of my veggies today, as a true frost is forecast for this evening.

The bowl is full of green tomatoes and jalapeno peppers and there is a large handful of oregano in front.  I think there's a salsa verde in my future...or some spicy fried green tomatoes :)

Thanks be to God for a chance to just relax.  To take time to rest and rejuvenate and make some homemade pizza.  And for the opportunity to pray and mentally prepare for the week to come. 

Thanks to Paula Dean, I have made the tastiest caramelized onions yet.  Her helpful tip, low and slow. The results, onions that were dark & sweet and perfectly contrasted the bite in the goat cheese that topped the pizza. 

All in all, a wonderful day off.  Thanks God.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

nap disorientation.

So, I'm super thankful to wonderful colleagues today.  One who drove and the other navigated, so I was relegated to napping in the back seat on the way home from lunch. And maybe it was the long day, or maybe it was the shiner bock at lunch , or maybe it was just riding in the back of the car that lulled me off to sleep.  Well, I woke up to see the sights of Jasper and when we got back to the church I said my goodbyes, hopped out and got into the truck to drive home.  To my surprise, or shock, even, I had left my cell in my colleague's car!  I was completely amazed that I had done that....(I'm still slightly in shock.) I said, okay God, what's the lesson? 

When I made it home, I had a call from my colleague that she had my cell (one sigh of relief, because, pretty much most of my connections are there) but the garage had been locked, so she couldn't get to the car! I said, no worries, at least the cell is safe, really safe, being in a car in a locked garage and everything.  She didn't want me making the 40 minute drive to her place if we couldn't even get to the phone.  So she'd call when the garage was open. 

I looked at the clock and realized that even if she called back in the next 10 minutes I'd have to rush to her place, pick up the cell, turn around and rush back to make it to the meeting scheduled at 7pm.  So I thought, how important is it?  Really, I can get online at home...I have a land I really need the phone?  I realized I was headed in that direction tomorrow anyway and I could just pick it up in the morning.  I put on the kettle, made a cup of tea and decided to spend my pre-meeting time reading.  My colleague called back, after breaking into her garage to say the cell was now safe inside the house and she apologized for the inconvenience.  I said, no worries, the cell is located (that was my biggest fear, that it had fallen out in a parking lot somewhere) and that I would get it in the morning.

I know God was in all that the kindness of a the space in the afternoon gifted to me not only to nap, but also to sip tea and read....and in the reminder that sometimes I do not need to be connected to the entire world in the palm of my hand. 

If I don't check my email again tonight, that's okay. 
If I miss someone's hilarious status update, it's not the end of the world. 
And maybe my thumbs needed a break from texting. 

I am thankful that it didn't go missing...but that it's missing from my life tonight, that's okay, too.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

becoming more aware...

So now that I've begun blogging (again) I'm noticing God's work in the world more so than I have before.  (Somewhat of an embarrassing confession from a pastor, but it's true.)

Multiple God spottings today. 

This is the one that left me thanking God over and over and over. 
I was headed to Bible study and with just 5 minutes before start time and there was just one person.  I thought, well, there are at least 2 people who told me they wouldn't be here...but some others should show....and then three others showed up.  We were talking and greeting one another when another couple walked in.  It was their first time at Wednesday evening Bible Study...and we welcomed them with open arms.  They shared that they had been attending a Wednesday evening Bible study at a church that is closer to their home, but tonight that study was at the local nursing home, so they decided to join us.  And what a night for it, tonight's scripture opened conversations about seeing outside of our own lives.  When we do that, no matter what stage of life we are in, God's light shines through us and draws out God's light in others around us.  That was so hard for me say as I looked around the table and saw a woman who had breast cancer and still has leukemia, sitting next to a couple with a daughter recently diagnosed with leukemia, and next to them was a couple who had just lost a mother/mother-in-law.

I hope that the new couple (who are members of the congregation) felt the love and support from those who surrounded them.  One question asked how do we, as a congregation, salt the earth/community/those around us.  A participant said, do we do enough?  And the newer couple replied, yes, we've received all sorts of gifts, cards and financial support. 

Through different conversations, smiles shined through and tears were shed and wiped away.  God is at work though each and everyone of us...even when we don't think we've got anything to give.  I give thanks to God for bringing that group to Bible Study tonight...for the open, honest conversation, for the chances to laugh and the opportunity to shed tears.  There was love in that room...I pray that everyone felt God working through them.  

I also saw God at work in the young boy in front of me at the grocery store this evening...he saw I only had two things and offered to let me go in front of him.  I thanked him, but since he only had two things I said he should go...first.   (and sometimes it's the little moments)

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

tears of joy and sorrow?

I can't help but cry sometimes. 

I have the opportunity to be with people during challenging, sad and difficult times.  So I sat with an older couple today that within the last year and a half has become homebound.  They often talk about how much they enjoy visits and especially ones with home communion.  As we prayed before we shared the meal I asked them if there was anything particular or special that we could pray for.  The husband, whose Alzheimer's seems to get worse as the weeks pass, used to tell stories and jokes to no end.  Now he sleeps most of the day, and usually most of my visit.  As we gathered together to pray and I asked if there was anything special...he paused and said, pray for people who don't get out, for those who can't go like they used to.  (tears come to my eyes as I think of him speaking earlier today...) so often when I ask people who or what we should pray for, they most often lift up amazing is that?  That no matter what we are facing, God still works through us and helps us to see beyond our own little world to see the bigger picture. 

Today we prayed for all the sick and all the homebound, especially the couple I with whom I prayed.  We shared the Lord's Supper..we smiled, cried and hugged.  God is with and was with that couple today. 

I am blessed that God ministers to me through the people I'm called to serve. 

Until tomorrow...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bad Girls gone good.

Great conversations with many wonderful different women today.

Today during Bad Girls Bible study we were discussing visiting home-bound members...and one woman said, hey, that would be a great thing for the women's group to do.  We could take turns visiting and bringing communion to people.  Most definitely, I said.  God's work, our hands...naming and claiming the gifts God has given us to minister to others. 

We've had this once a month lunchtime Bible study for just about a year now.  I've either hosted the ladies for lunch at my house or from time to time we got out for a bite to eat at the local cafe.  I love the fellowship that happens around the dining room table, the laughter, the tears and the prayers.  As we finished up today, I asked each of them to promise to pray for each other...I'm sure they/we already do that, but I thought, let's say it out loud.  So we prayed and as people departed one woman said, well, would you all come to my house next month?   I'd have to figure out what to fix, but would that be okay?  Oh yeah, it would!  Then another woman said, well, how about my house the next month?  This woman was attending for the first time today, and has just recently returned to frequent worship with her husband.  How wonderful that she joined us to and is ready to host this group, already.  God is definitely up to something! 

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, October 31, 2010


So, I'm not really sure where October went. 

I definitely wrote letters for at least the first dozen days and well, after that it gets a bit blurry.
So I can't say that 30 letters were written...but alas it's not the end of the world.

I've been thinking for a while about the next 30 days and I have been inspired by three things:
1) a person who in the context of the congregation has people send pictures of times they see God at work in the world around them. 
2) Back in the day, when working with the awesome youth at Resurrection Connection Day Camp in New Haven, CT, Peggy had this thing called "Caught ya being good" she would highlight different cool things that campers did throughout the day.  (what a cool thing)
3) Something I saw in church today.  With less than 5 minutes before worship, I had a moment to talk and pray with a woman who lost a loved one this past week.  As we wrapped up our conversation, another woman walked in and continued to offer words of love, compassion and support...she walked in at just the right time.  It was wonderful to see the Body of Christ alive and in action. 

With those three things in mind...I've decided that the next 30 days will be about seeing God at work in the world around me and telling others about it.  It'll mean blogging more often, which I had missed doing.  I also hope for the opportunity to share with that individual or group that she/he/they are the God's work in the world around us. 

We'll see how it goes.  You'll definitely be in the loop...

Until the next spotting...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

time for bed

Let me start by saying this letter writing thing is great. 

So many moments pass in each day that I, I'd love to share more with that person, tell them how awesome they are... how I appreciate their honesty, their character, their chutzpah, or I just appreciate something they have said or done.  Now I'm actually getting around to it. 

So Omi, if you're listening...I'm finally getting around to notes and thank you notes that are long overdue. 

All you folks who have been reading the blog helped keep me accountable last month for both 30 Days of Biking and Blogging...this month, I don't want to blog every day in case someone who reads is a recipient of a letter...but just to let you know...I've dropped notes to folks in Indy, Terre Haute, the East Coast and just down the road.  I'll post a final list at the end of the month. 

In the meantime, I'm riding the Hilly Hundred this weekend in Ellettsville (just west of Bloomington) IN this weekend.  100 miles in 2 days...and I believe there will be a few hills.  Prayers and thoughts appreciated. 

Oh, this past weekend I went to the IU/Michigan game...and we LOST! Argh...but the stadium was full.

A sea of crimson. 

With our church's Chili Day tomorrow...and breakfast at 6am...I should call it a day.  

Until next time...

Friday, October 1, 2010

the simpson stamps are on a new mission

So I just finished writing a letter. 

This letter was long overdue.  Sent to a friend I met several years ago, who shares wonderful stories with everyone she meets.  Not only does she share stories, but she honestly cares for the people she meets and talks with.  She used to tell people that she would pray for them, but in her honesty, she would often forget to pray for those folks later on.  So now, in the midst of conversation, she will say, can I pray for you?  She stops what she's doing and prays.  She will do it over the phone, or in an email.  She has been blessed with this gift and she is not shy about sharing it...what a gift. 

I think I'm going to like this letter writing thing. 

And for the record, to celebrate the end of 30 Days of Biking, I went for a bike ride :)

Until next time...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

an end to another 30 days

I can't believe phase two of 30 Days of Biking is over.  Without it, I would not have ridden 50 (49.5) miles today.  I don't think I ever imagined riding that distance and next week I'll be participating in the two day Hilly Hundred ride in Ellettsville.  I'm nervous with a side of  excitement.  We'll see how I'm feeling tomorrow as to what tomorrow's ride will be. I did thoroughly enjoy the plateful of kung po chicken & rice that I devoured post ride.  I love the post ride refueling.

Tomorrow begins another 30 days.  Thanks to so many suggestions, I've decided it'll be 30 days of bringing back writing.  For some reason I'm on this letter b kick, but I really like the idea of writing letters and cards and bringing back snail mail for at least the next 30 days.

Part of my inspiration came from, well, a facebook message, the medium isn't what's important here.  Anyway, last month I received a friend request from a former student from an 8th grade English class.  As we have caught up on life after teaching & the 8th grade, he sent a great message about life for him and also impressions that I left with him just after one year of English.  So the upcoming 30 days will include greetings and letters to friends or notes/letters thanking folks for the ways they have been an influence in my life. 

I think the blogging will continue to some extent, although it may not be every day.  Thanks for following & reading.

Until tomorrow...or whenever...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

being aware of what's really going on...

One more day in the month...and I still do not know what my next 30 days will be. If you have any suggestions, I'm open. 

Had a nice & easy 6 mile ride today.  It was a beautiful afternoon, fall has finally come to Indiana. 

I enjoyed a lovely walk after the ride with someone from church.  Of course our conversation led to stewardship & finances and wondering how to let people know what's going on in our congregation. 
I think we need to be more of a presence in the community, but wonder how to jump on board on things already going on...a conversation that will continue, but in the meantime we realized that the community is aware of our presence.

As I sat in my office today, two folks were trimming shrubs & adding mulch around the church and parsonage.  The local florist owner drove by and said, "Wow! It looks great! I can tell that you all love your church because of all that you do!"  The folks said, "Yes, we do.  Thanks!

This past Saturday we had a clean up day and a woman who has been a return visitor on Sunday mornings came to help out.  We kept thanking her profusely for giving her time and talents that day and she said, "Well, I like a church that does more stuff than just Sundays."

I guess people are noticing what God's doing with us and through us in our community.  Maybe it just takes time to see these things happen and help point them out to those around us.  Baby steps.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Great 17 mile ride this afternoon with a few hills that my quads helpfully assisted me with.  They did remind me, however, about yesterday's hills. 

All hills aside, I was passed super closely by two different vehicles today.  One while going around a turn.  I mean, I could have reached out and hit the back of the SUV mid turn. I tried not to tap on the the SUV as I passed it while it was waiting to turn a block later.
The other close call was when the vehicle behind me felt it was necessary to pass even with a car coming upon us from the other direction.  Luckily the road was wide enough. 

Here's the thing though...both of those passes happened in town, on local tiny-ish roads....what's the rush drivers?  Hello?  Really, you need to pass right there and then?  Because when I'm riding on State Highway 50 or 231, the big trucks pass by in the opposite lane...they give so much space, or yield until they can...yet small town, folks who probably have seen me in the grocery store...they're the one's that nearly sideswipe me.  Geesh.  And that's why I wear my helmet...and remain even more alert on the smaller roads. 

Okay, bikermosity rant over. 

I'll save my "Hey, runner...I ride with the traffic and you're supposed to run against it" rant for another day. 

Until tomorrow...

Monday, September 27, 2010

don't go back to rockville

Waste another year...

Today's ride was from Turkey Run State Park to good ol' Rockville.  (Rockville, Indiana, that is...not Rockville, home of the Marching Ram Band, Connecticut.)  It was a good ride.  Some nice straightaways with some nice hills in between.  The ride to Rockville, even with the hills seemed pretty smooth, and when I turned around I realized why.  The return trip the wind was no longer at my back.  Geesh....the straightaways were no longer as nice.  I had forgotten how challenging the wind could be.  Today was a good reminder. 

It was fun riding through Rockville.  I smiled as I passed Rockville Lanes.  I wonder if Rockville, Maryland has a bowling alley with the same name, too. 

I was singing the REM song the whole way through town, to myself of course, because I was already getting interesting looks from the townies.  You think REM has got it right?  I mean, going back?  To me, it's going back to my hometown, which no doubt, helped me shape me into who I am today, but I'm not so sure about going back.  Each time I visit, it is just that.  I love spending time with my family, but I don't have a sense that it is my home any longer.  (That will probably put my parent's at ease, that I'm not moving back in.)  But it's an interesting feeling.  I'm a hoosier now. (wierd, but true.) 
I'm thankful for the friends I've made, for the life transitions I've been through and for those who continue to surround and love me. 

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

time's short.

A quick ride in the basement today...I have a lovely loop down there around the drying laundry and the ever growing pile of recyclables.  It was an inside ride due to weather and time restraints with needing to get to a conference this evening.

Looking less forward to the drive in the rain than I am to the conference.

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

what's in the bag?

After a morning of church landscaping & clean up, I had a great 17 mile ride, despite the wind.  And again, when in the midst of the cornfields, I am fine talking to myself.  When I hit town, however, people look at me funny when I seem to be in the midst of a conversation.  (Must work on that.)

I did enjoy the Hog Roast this evening.  To recap, I went with two older couples from church. 

We began with a few Budlights straight from the keg...while they are far from my favorite, they did help wash down the bbq pork bits, sliced bbq pork, marinated turkey, beans, mac & cheese, slaw, potato salad & deviled egg.  Not to mention the pudding dessert, cherry delight & an itallian wedding cookie. 

As we were eating a fellow joined us at the table.  He had a small brown paper bag with him.  Everyone at the table was curious.  I just figured it was moonshine.  So we asked, what's in the bag? 
He pointed at his budlight and said something to make this drinkable. 
Still perplexed, we waited for him to open the bag...and when he did, it contained a bottle of Guinness.  I've never really thought about adding it to Budlight from a keg, but apparently it ups the drinkability. 

Later on, sitting around the bonfire, the same fellow, returned to share a fancy schmany tequilla.  He said it was $100 a bottle.  He offered sips to the folks I was with, and they asked if I could try it.  He said, sure.  It was darn good tequilla, very smooth.  I introduced myself & said I liked tequilla, he handed me the cup and said, here.  It was a red beer pong/flip cup filled about 1/4 full.  It made for a relaxing evening.  And then the jello shots arrived... For the record, I was not the one swearing in the truck on the way home, nor did I try to open the truck door with the window switch. 

A good night's sleep awaits. 

Until tomorrow...

Friday, September 24, 2010

$40 a Day

With 6 dollars in my pocket I return home from an interesting adventure to Bloomington. 

The original plan was to head there for a doctor's appointment, a bike ride, lunch and some errands.  That was slightly changed when I realized that my credit card was still at home...where I put it after coming home last night from a night of German food and Polka dancing.  A wonderful evening brought to you by the Rathskeller in Indy and the soothing(?) better yet, rocking, sounds of Brave Combo.  You knew it was going to be a great show when on stage before the show you saw a drum set, guitar, bass guitar, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet & coronet, washboard and two accordions (one being a sparkly blue, bought on sale.)  Jen and I danced a bit and realized we could waltz as an older gentleman danced with each of us during the night.  (For the record, I feel the dancing in my abs today each time I sneeze.)

Needless to say, about halfway to Bloomington today I realized I was without the credit I guess I'll get new sheets next weekend :( 

I had $40 cash and a 1/2 tank of gas...let the adventure begin.
Bonus that I do not have a co-pay at the doctor.

I did remember to take my bike, but not my sneakers...needless to say, I only rode on the paved part of the bike trail.  I think that a dirt trail in flip flops would have been an accident waiting to happen, and I would have missed lunch with my good buds.  

Lunch was at Scholars Inn Bakehouse with Jen & Eric...I love the lox bagel is my favorite.  I know I should try new things...but today was a comfort food day.  Now down $11, needed to figure out how the rest of the day would work.  I had planned on getting ingredients for the chicken gnocchi soup I had last week, but nixed that idea and got Aver's take and bake pizza for supper tonight, instead.  (The house smells awesome right now.) Another $14 spent. (& $1 that I put in the local food pantry donation box.)

$14 left in hand...thinking I should save $10 for gas, just in case...

But I got distracted on the way home by the thrift shop.  I spent $3 on albums by Simon & Garfunkel, Queen, Three Dog Night, and a compilation 2 album collection of rock hits. 

I stopped at the gas station and realized that the light was not on, and just $5 would get me back home safe & sound. Which it did, so now I'm going to go put my credit card back in my wallet & have some pizza for supper...and maybe walk to DQ and splurge on a medium size blizzard!  We'll see.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

to vest or not to vest

At least today's ride was outside.  It was running errands around town before the temp reached 95.  It was tough, because sleep has been my friend lately.  The best sleep being just before the alarm goes off as well as the 9 minutes I get between each slam of the snooze button.  So, when you get up at 8 and have some coffee and surf the interwebs for a bit, by 9am it's already 80 degrees and rising.  I guess that's fall in southern Indiana.  It's going to be another straight from summer to winter years...ugh.  Oh how I miss fall in New England, the cooler days, the crisp nights and the beautiful leaves. 

I did get my sermon written this morning a bonus, since tomorrow is my day off and Saturday we have a Work/Clean-up Day at church.  My Sunday morning specials are often a hit, but I panic when the alarm goes of at 5am on Sunday and think oh crap...need to finish that sermon. 

On my nursing home visit today I chatted with the community choir director.  The group is called the Marco Singers.  (Not an ethnic group at all...just the singers in Martin County.) Rehearsals have begun for our Christmas Cantata.  I have a solo, but can't remember the name of the program.  Usually, we dress in red tops and black pants to look all Christmasy.   Since we'll be singing lots of carols, the director thought it would be fun & cute to dress as carolers.  She found and nearly ordered the following vests:

She was on the phone with the order person and said, I don't know how to ask you this...but does that have .... umm.... cleavage?  And the clerk said, you bet it does!  And the director replied...we sing in churches!!!!

Needless to say, we are still working on our outfits.  Have I told you how much I love small town America? I think we'd get a good crowd if we did wear the vests, I'm just sayin...

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a good sign or a mess?

So first an admission...riding your bike in the house may cause injury.  I wasn't feeling too well today, even after a solid night's sleep (which isn't a good sign) so I thought, instead of another ride in the 95 degree heat with a permeating smell of fresh manure on the fields, I took a spin in the house.  I, um, bumped my fingers on the kitchen first injury in 30 Days of Biking.  Oops.  I hope I feel better tomorrow, because I'm itchin for a longer ride. 

I wasn't the only one who was a little tired a Bible Study this evening, but we had some good conversation at the end.

When I arrived at church, the sun hit the glass doors down at just the right angle.  Just below the handles, the long bars across the middle of the door are a series of little hand prints.  Clearly the handles are a little high for the younger ones in our congregation...but that doesn't stop them from pushing the doors open and bringing the gospel into the community.  I guess, though, it's all a matter of perspective.  Because you can also look at the doors and wonder when the windows are going to be clean...I guess you can you decide what you see...

Last night at dinner I heard an interesting comment. "Oh...a screaming kid...that's my least favorite sound, especially when it's a blood curdling scream and that usually comes out of a baby, so I guess I don't really like babies either." 
Not that the sound of babies crying is my favorite noise, but wow, after visiting with Jillian at Riley...hearing her cry was a sign that she had the lungs and voice to cry out when she was uncomfortable.   Perhaps this is a sign that my baby-phobia is fading.  Perhaps I am just thankful for all the kiddos in the world who are healthy enough to cry and who are allowed to just be kids.  I continue to pray for those who are not fully healthy, like Jillian & Kenley, for their families and for those who love them.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

last day of summer...

It was a late night, so I slept in this morning....unfortunately I missed the coolest part of the day for the ride.  So I enjoyed an easy 5 miles in 95 degrees this afternoon.  You know it's hot when the ice in your water bottle melts in less than 15 minutes....  I will ride first thing tomorrow.  Apparently we're having a heatwave.  Just a few more days in the 90s, then it may cool down.  I bought a new pump for the tires today...the brand is Joe Blow. (You can't make this stuff up.) Needless to say it was a smooth ride as the tires were perfectly full. 

I always enjoy a good lunch followed by text study with my colleagues.  One of our topics of discussion was about the upcoming Hilly Hundred Ride.  There is a costume contest as part of the ride.  So, I'm accepting suggestions for a bike friendly costume for the ride. 
Things to keep in mind:
I'm riding a road bike for 2 days.
I will be wearing a helmet. 
Beware the chain and gears.

Here are some suggestions from lunch:
Mrs. Gulch (from the Wizard of Oz)
Any Harry Potter character on a broom playing Quidditch. 
Elliot - from ET - all I need is a red hoodie, and an ET to put in a basket on the front of my bike. (I think there is one at my parent's house, ET that is...I've already got the red hoodie)
A I could have dry ice giving off spray :)
Wearing a sympathy belly and a shirt that says 'Have you seen my daddy?'

I have not decided on an outfit yet...all suggestions are welcome. 

In other news, this season of Glee is already rockin.  and Sons of Anarchy...kicked butt with a cameo by Stephen King...who 'took care of the body'.  :)

Until tomorrow...

Monday, September 20, 2010

them's fightin words!

Today's verse in my Sojourner's Verse & Voice was this one:

[Jesus] called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." - Matthew 18:2-5

I visited Kenley and her family today and Kenley had this to say, "I am a cancer fighter!" 
Seeing kids that are sick just tears at my heart and my sister's too.  She's running her first marathon next Saturday with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Team in Training.  She'll be running in honor of Kenley.  (Thanks, LK!)
To support her team and more research click here: Laura's Team in Training Page 

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

bears and prayers

It was a last minute ride this evening...around the church parking lot.  My only company was the feral cats.  They were cute, and I'm glad none of the black ones crossed my path. 

I always get worried when the phone rings on a Sunday morning...rarely is it someone who cannot come to church ;) This morning's call was from a woman whose 3 year-old granddaughter was just diagnosed with leukemia this morning.  Ugh.  The little girl was admitted to Riley Children's Hospital early this morning, has already had a blood transfusion and awaits bone marrow work tomorrow.  Our congregation makes teddy bears to give to children at Riley...and once a year we get the completed bears and bless them before sending them up.  This morning, as part of the children's message, I invited the kids to the middle of the sanctuary and they held the bear and the rest of the congregation laid hands on us as we all blessed the bear sending our prayers for Kenley, her family, and all who love her.  So many times in worship we speak, pray, or sing in unison...and the voices are all together.  But as we blessed the bear (in true children's message fashion) I said a line, and everyone repeated after me.  The voices were so in sync and so strong.  There was some sense of urgency and concern coming from the congregation that at this moment, today...all that we could do for Kenley was pray for her.  I'm sure there will be times in the future that will allow more hands on ways to show our love and support for the family, but today it was prayer.  An amazingly, powerful experience. 

We are not at a point where we celebrate communion weekly, but today was a communion service...which was the physical reminder of all that God has done for us, with all that we've been through. 

After a wonderfully busy weekend with very little sleep, in combination with an emotional morning, I took a solid 2 hour nap this afternoon.  I remember dreaming, that's how out I was. 

Here's hoping I'm ready for the rest of the week.  While I would love to see who is the better 'Manning'...I may just have an early night. 

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

2000 words...or so...

On 4 1/2 hours sleep....I have managed to make it through a pretty amazing day. 
It began with a fun wake up call/morning conversation. 
Followed by a quick morning ride:

It did not cure the hangover...but it did make me forget about it momentarily :)

Then there was lots and lots of time in the car.  From Indianapolis....through Loogootee and Stendal with the final destination being Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Where a good time was had by all watching IU beat Western Kentucky!  Go IU!

We had great seats, in the shade for the whole game! (bonus)  Good times!

And a blog post just before midnight.

Until tomorrow...

Friday, September 17, 2010

old friends...

Just finished a beautiful 13 mile ride with my friend Connie.  She introduced me to sprints on a bike...yup, I've done them running before, but not on wheels.  Interesting....still debating how much I *love* them.

Other adventures from today include a wonderful visit with my friend Heather and her beautiful daughter Jillian.  Jillian is currently at Riley Children's Hospital and we eagerly await for her to be home with mom and dad.  But it was ever so wonderful to sit and reconnect with Heather.  It's been over a year since we've sat and talked, but it was like no time had passed at all.  She is a dear friend and wonderful mother.  Hopefully our next visit will be sooner than next year!  (ps...It was great to see her hubby Wade on Saturday, which was the reminder that I needed to come up and see her & Jillian.)

So my deep insight for embrace and continue to kindle relationships of all sorts.  For the case of me, today it's is worth it to drive and see them, or call them to talk...but take the time to do so.  I didn't want the time in the hospital room to end...just as I didn't want the ride to end...but luckily time with Connie will continue as we go out on the town. :)

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

feeling yesterday's ride

I woke up and the weight of my legs said, hey, remember riding 20 miles, yesterday?  We do! 
It was a good feeling...even though I was pretty tired.  So my morning outside was a brisk walk around town.  Not a bad way to start the day, especially with the wind gusts. 

The fun part of the day was choosing my new hair length and color. :)  A shorter cut, with sass, and red color.  I love it! 

The ride today was to show of the new do.  It was well received by the folks who saw it.  I did stop in and see some folks and the combination of the walk, the short ride and then a set of stairs and *that's* when my legs really had something to say.  Looking forward to a ride with a friend tomorrow.

I had an excellent dinner with a dear friend this evening.  It is always a blessing to connect with friends, share worries, anxieties, joys and celebrations...and with tasty pizza at Bobe's no less.

And the day ended with the season premiere of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  It was definitely obvious that Coors Light is the official beer of Sunny, but that has not tamed the show one bit.  :)

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

a new friend

"Guess what?" Is something I always ask one of my which she met someone!!!!  (She is always eager for me to be dating someone. I think deep down there is a hope that I will get married and stay in Loogootee forever...)
But seriously, I should have asked that parishioner that question today, because, yes I did meet someone.  Not a dating prospect, but someone who likes to ride.  On part of my 20 mile ride this morning, a motorcycle passed and the rider gave a wave.  I thought, oh, that's nice.  Later in my ride, I hear a vehicle slowing up behind me, which when I do not see any oncoming traffic, I get nervous...I turn and it's the guy on the motorcycle.

We chat for a while about riding and the Hilly Hundred (he and his girlfriend are riding this year).  I tell him I know I'll be ready for it, but I'm not going to race it.  He shares his experience from the first year, that he took off racing through the first day and most of the second.  He got to the final SAG stop and had some chicken and started listening to the live music and he realized, man, I've done this all wrong...Since then, he's done the course at a more relaxed pace.  Nice guy...he passed me one more time...asked how  far I was going and seemed impressed at my distance.  Now I'm thinking, small town...I've definitely been on rides where I've seen the same vehicle several times...but woah, I wish I had the job (retirement?) where I could just ride my motorcycle in and around town for a few hours on a beautiful Wednesday morning.

So yesterday I was thinking about patience....and today I visited a woman in the hospital who fell off a ladder last week.  She shattered one heel, broke the other and has one broken wrist.  She won't be walking until at least one heel heals.  She said, maybe this is to teach me patience...huh, I said, something I need to learn too. I can't imagine

Thanks God, for examples today of where you are in the presence of people's lives.  Thanks, too, for the reminder that life is a long journey....with ups and downs, just like today's ride, where some days I'll be the one wearing or eating the bugs...and other days I'll be the bug.  Where sometimes I just completely feel and share God's grace with others...and days I think I know who should and shouldn't get it.  Well, that's me - simultaneously sinner & saint. 

Oh...I finished a crazy psychological thriller today, The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage. fact, I didn't ride this morning until after I finished it.  I forgot how much I loved to read....I guess I'll be hitting the stacks of books I've owned but just haven't read.  Next up, a read and pass on copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  If you want it next, let me know.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

pastor watches sons of anarchy, news at 11.

And the rides are getting better.  14 miles this morning, granted I have many more miles to add, I pushed harder today and it felt great!  While the days this week have been in the upper 80s the mornings have been perfect for riding.  It gives me hope for the next few weeks and longer rides...

So, I'm sitting here, watching Sons of Anarchy, checking my email...and now blogging...and I get the following in an email.  "I'm looking to meet someone a little less devoted to, I hope that doesn't sound as bad as it appears." 
Well, it doesn't sound that bad.  Perhaps I am a little devoted to church.  Well, it is my job...and my faith...and a big part of my life.  I just think that there is more to me than just my role as pastor.  I am called to ordained ministry, even though it took me a while to hear that call and respond to it.  I just think that that is part of who I am in the real world, too...but not all of who I am.  I mean I'm not out there bashing people over the head with a Bible...but my faith life is who I am.  Last week at the bar someone said, "You're a pastor and you watch (It's Always)'re well rounded."  I know I'm well rounded...and am one sassy preacher...I just wish people could take the time to get to know that about me. 

It's that continual struggle...knowing that I do not *need* someone to be with me or to make me 'complete'. I just believe that God calls us to be in relationships.   But as my dear friend asked me this evening, why are these relationships so difficult?!?!  Well, good question.  I know I need to learn patience...and apparently these things happen when you're not looking, or when you least expect it. 

Ah...another part of my life is out of my hands.  That's nothing new, I just need to remember to let go.  Give it up to God and not try to achieve or reach for things that I think will complete me according to my plan.  Much easier said than done.  For those of you in a similar struggle, know that you're not alone. 

Until tomorrow...

Monday, September 13, 2010

oh deer.

Best ride in weeks! I'm sure it helped a little that I slept in and that there was still a chill in the air even though the sun had been up for a while, but there was something different about today's ride.  Even with the Hilly Hundred less than a month away, I have had a hard time getting jazzed for longer, tougher rides.  I was lacking the oomph, the desire, the drive... and today I realized why. 

From distance running to distance riding I have always enjoyed exercising on my own.  I have a chance to pray, think, reflect, yell, cry, scream and just let the mind wander.  The past few weeks I have spent that time alone thinking about recent losses.  I spent my rides hashing and re-hashing conversations that happened and conversations that I wish had happened.  My mind would take over and try to change the past and I would just get frustrated.  With the frustration I would lack the energy to even bike around town.  It seemed like more of a chore than a joy.  Luckily, my pact with 30 Days of Biking helped me at least get on the bike every day. 

I let my mind go in new directions today...instead of what if...I thought what comes next?  I changed my thoughts/ideas/fantasies (can I write that? anyone else fantasize on the bike? nothing that isn't PG or anything, you know, just let your mind go...i digress) to think about the think about what God had in store for me for the day, let alone the weeks and years ahead.  What new doors has God opened up for me, just waiting for me to walk in...I've not been ready to move forward because I've been looking, longingly backwards. 

I'm so thankful that God is much more patient than I am.  God has been waiting, and will wait, calling, encouraging and eventually pushing me to go in a new direction. 

One of the other surprises on today's ride was the company.  As I made it up a gentle hill, one I've been up many times before I heard some noise to my right.  To my surprise there were three deer having breakfast at a few apple trees.  Two of them stood still but the other ran up the yard along the road, albeit faster than me, and it ran across the road several feet ahead of me.  I've never heard them clop across the road before.  Fun.  

Until tomorrow...