Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I am happy to say that my first weekend at Trinity was ah.may.zing. 
The uber-cool part about that has to do with the fact that I spent my first weekend at the Harrisburg YouthQuake with 418 middle school youth....30+ being from Trinity. 

On Friday evening as youth and their parents congregated at the church, I thought to myself, "Woah, self, what is going on here...all these parents are trusting that you are a responsible adult and you are ready to journey with this motley crew for the weekend. Can this really be happening?!?"

I asked two of the youth at the start if they would help me out.  I said, "I'm new here and here we are in a group of hundreds of youth that I've never met before.  Please let me know if I accidentally sit with the wrong church group.  You can point at me and laugh for a bit, but then, please come rescue me."  They said, okay...and kept a good eye on me all weekend. 

Luckily for me, the rest of the youth did the same.  I tried my hardest to learn names (thankfully there are several Katies) of both the youth and adults with us for the weekend.  I danced my heart out, ate like a middleschooler, prayed, and laughed so hard that I cried. 

One of the many highlights from the weekend included our first 'celebration' or big group gathering.  As the music was rockin, we began to sing and dance, and one youth looked at me and said, 'You look happy.' I smiled back and said, 'I am happy!'  And that's when I realized what was actually happening...God's love, joy and grace must have been emanating from me and I hadn't even noticed.  I was purely happy realizing I was singing and dancing and celebrating God's presence in the lives of every youth and adult in that room.  I though to myself, "Self, God has called you to this place.  God has gifted you to be present with youth in their faith journey.  God has prepared you for this place and brought you here."  As those thoughts swirled around in my head, I thought too, about my call to ordained ministry.  While I completely love spending time with youth, I feel called to preach and preside at Holy Communion.  I thought about how to share/transform/express the energy in this place back in the sanctuary at Trinity.  And not in a separate youth service sort of way....but in the presence of the services that are already in place. 

Sometimes I feel that I am gifted with energy and passion and I'm not afraid to use it...but in my previous call, even as people complemented me on that energy, when it wasn't being reciprocated (especially in the worship setting) I began to get drained...I think it was easy for the energy to flow this past weekend, because it was flowing in and out of people all around me. 

My mom and I talked (when I was home a week ago) about passion and energy in worship.  It is definitely there, but how do you capture/encourage/express it in a way that welcomes others to do so as well? 

Food for thought, I guess....and speaking of food....I had a great Italian meal last night at this hole in the wall place just on the edge of town.  Luckily I was invited with a few folks from church, one who is a regular...She gave us the following helpful hints:  They make their own dressing, so if you get a salad, get the house dressing. (done) Also, they do have whole wheat pasta even though it's not listed on the menu...just ask.  I look forward to exploring many of the other locally owned places in the area. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

following my life in a truck

It could be that Monday was the longest day in my life so far.  Technically it wasn't longer than any other Monday, but boy did it seem like it.  As of 6:30am most of what I saw for the next 13 hours was the back of a 17ft. UHaul truck which held all of my I had pretty much all day to reflect upon my last Sunday in Loogootee.  Well, the first three hours in the truck were spent singing duets with Marley.  While she isn't really one for Copacabana, we rocked it out to I can see clearly now...
The refrain went something like this:
It's gonna be a bright.....mrow.
Sunshiny day. 

After the valium kicked in, for the cat, not for me, the meows mellowed out and she no longer attempted to open the carrier.  The quiet gave me all day to think about what God was doing in my life...and when I began to think about it I began to be overwhelmed.

It all began Sunday morning.Worship was wonderful...some tears during worship, but some smiles too.  We began with the Thanksgiving for Baptism and I was able one last time to sprinkle the congregation with water from the font.  I, too, was reminded of my baptism as the acolyte made sure I didn't miss out. 
I truly broke down when it was time for the Godspeed and Sending part of the service.  In a similar pattern to the installation service, I went from the font, to the table, to the pulpit and to the congregation to, in essence, give back these sacred places the congregation had entrusted to me as their pastor.  It was at the end, however, when I stood in the middle of the sanctuary and asked them to lay hands on me and bless me on my way that I couldn't stop crying.  A youth member up in the balcony even stretched out his arms during the blessing.  I know there were lots of tears and hopefully some closure for our time together.  I know there will be a time of grieving for them and for me, but we have had the opportunity to truly say goodbye to the mission and ministry we have done together.

We then headed downstairs for tasty fried chicken, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, salads and desserts...I did not leave that place hungry :)   I received two pictures...from different folks.  In both of them I'm making funny faces....hey, at least I wasn't shoveling food into my face, which is usually my MO.  As people headed home, there were teary hugs and last minute waves.  It was sad to walk out of that sanctuary for the last time. 

I am very thankful for the Loogootee folk who helped load the moving truck that afternoon.  One person arrived and was grumbly.  He wasn't gonna lay a hand on my stuff until the folks from PA showed up.  I thought to myself, that's okay, you don't have to help, the other folks here volunteered to be don't have to be here.  I tried to shake it off, but it bothered me because the last thing I wanted to do was put these people out.  The truck was loaded in 2.5 hours.  (Not too bad) 
As folks left the house, the one who came in grumbling, gave me a big hug.  I was about to say thank you, and he began to thank God for my presence here and to ask God to guide me on my journey....(tear)

A few hours later the PA crew arrived. They were ecstatic that the truck was already loaded.  We ate some pizza, watched Marley and called it a night. 

Because, we were gearing up for the 12 hour journey the next day. 

I'm still amazed and completely gracious that these 4 fellows drove from Pennsylvania to Indiana and back again in 2 days.  The crew at the house in Robesonia had the truck unloaded in no time at all. 

All my stuff is in one room as the extreme parsonage makeover crew does as much work as they can.  There is cleaning, painting, hardwood floor finishing and carpeting all to happen over the next several days.  I did a quick walk through on Monday night, but couldn't remember much of it Tuesday morning after a solid 11 hours sleep.  I almost cried in the house when I saw all these people and all the time and effort they are putting in to turn this house into my home.  Marley and I are graciously staying with the Vicar until the house is ready.  While Marley was a little freaked out after a day in the carrier in the truck...she had a fear of ceiling fans the first day or so....she is becoming more and more comfortable here. :)  I'm happy to say, she'll reside with the Vicar while I head to see family for the weekend.  (yet another moment of God's grace)

Yesterday I saw my office and the corner is full of pantry items...canned goods, paper goods, cat food and enough diet coke to last quite a while. :)  The grace continues to abound. 

I was able to have lunch with the cluster group today and to see folks I met on internship.  It's great to reconnect and feel comfortable even in a new place and in such a transitional time.  I am still excited, anxious, and sad in this transitional time, but God is present in the midst of it.  Marley is settling in...I'm beginning to get my bearings...and there is a long road ahead with great ministry opportunities and places to see God at work in our lives and in the world. 

In the meantime, with proof of new residency from the Post Office, I decided to get a library card.  :)  I'll register the truck and get a license next week...but for's books, cat and family. 

I'm thankful for all the folks in Indiana who helped me get to where I am today...both personally and professionally.  The last 3 years would have been impossible if God hadn't placed you all in my life. 

I'm thankful that I have some down time between calls to visit friends and family and to start unpacking my stuff.  And truly thankful for the open arms in Robesonia...just waiting for me to get here so we can begin ministry together. 

Until next time...

Friday, January 7, 2011

more great moments

'Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had.'

Oh, sometimes the Muppets just know how to put our thoughts into words. 

It's been an amazing week of goodbyes.  Here's the challenging thing that I've found as the one who is leaving.  It's hard to see one person who knows this is the last time they will see you and then turn around to someone else who you know you will see at least 3 more times before you leave.  It's weird. 

I have been blessed with multiple meals and times with colleagues this week alone.  I can't believe that just 3 years ago I didn't know any of these people.  I realize how important fellowship, support, laughter and tears can be.  I'm truly thankful that I've had the time to meet and get to know some amazing folks.  They've seen me through some great times and some rock bottom moments. 

One of them gave me a hug after worship at our ministerium on Thursday and said, "The first time I met you, I gave you communion.  And now today, I gave you communion."  I love that the Lord's Supper has bookended our time together in this place.  I know that we will stay in touch through facebook and still continue to laugh and journey together...but our time in Indiana is over.  It began with the nourishment through bread and wine, it brought us together...and now it sends us on in different directions. 

Tonight, a bunch of us gathered around a crazy amount of mexican food and very cold (nearly slushy) brews.  I'm sure it could have been a time to be sappy...but we just continued to make more fun memories.  We laughed just as much as usual and truly enjoyed the company of one another.

While there are some folks who are not so happy that I am leaving...and they have let me know it...there are others who have still welcomed (in the past few weeks) the opportunity to spend time continue to celebrate and enjoy the time that God has given to us to be together.

I think, too, on the way home from dinner, that it really hit me that I have accepted a call in Pennsylvania and am moving on Monday.  (woah) It's pretty amazing when you stop to think about it how life happens.

Until next time . . . 

Monday, January 3, 2011

a tent peg, a hammer and beef stew...oh my.

January is the next 30 days...which allows me to reflect upon hellos and goodbyes and living in a transitional period of endings and beginnings. (Thanks, Peggy)

Today was the last Bad Girls' Bible Study for me.  What started last year as a Bible Study around home cooked meals at my dining room table has blossomed.  The women today thanked me for starting this 'new/different' study.  In December, the women decided to take it on the road.  Now they travel to the homes of different women in the group and continue the study.  One of them said the other day, "Well, that's something we can continue on our own."  Exactly.  God is at work in these women, building new friendships, supporting and sustaining each other and their lives in faith. 

The beginning came in two forms today...
Firstly, I received an email that the first floor of the new house has hardwood floors in the living room, dining room & front entryway :)  The person spearheading the home preparations is excited to turn the house into a home for me...and the energy is contagious.  :)

Secondly, I received a letter in the mail today from a future parishioner.  We haven't even met yet, but she is excited to meet and is hopeful for our future together.  She send me wishes and prayers for a smooth transition. 

There is an amazing balance of goodbyes and hellos, of endings and beginnings.  All truly an emotional roller coaster, but I'm learning how to hold on when things go up...and just let go when the drops come. 

I spent this evening taping up boxes and working on the farewell and godspeed portion of this Sunday's service.  It's going to be a tearjerker.  Two people asked me today to not make it a sad service.  I know the Spirit will be there...and I'm praying for God to give me words of remembrance and joy as we worship together for a final time. 

Until next time...

PS. The quote of the day Sunday went to the acolyte when he said, "Yay!"
Context: He handed me a piece of bread, and said the Body of Christ given for you, I said, Amen.  And he said, "Yay!"  I nearly choked on the bread...but totally loved his enthusiasm and joy in the moment.  :)