Monday, February 28, 2011

The end of another month.

I did walk outside every day this month :) Some of the walks were shorter than others.....
I am truly looking forward to March.  31 days to play and adventure in the next month. 

This past week when I was getting ready for the company to come install the blinds, I had to move a whole bunch of packed boxes...I jokingly wondered how many boxes I still had to unpack.  Now granted, there are a bunch in the basement with kitchen stuff that won't be unpacked until the kitchen is finished, but not counting those I have 31 boxes to unpack.  Weird, right? 

It should be an interesting month...some boxes will be a mix of all sorts of goodness....others just workout clothes....which I still need to find a dresser for.  So perhaps part of the 31 days will include accessorizing the house with more storage units from fun places like antique shops and goodwill ships. 

I'll keep you posted and maybe even post some pictures and hopefully at the end of the month, the house will be unpacked....

Until next time...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

belly laughs.

Thankful for the opportunity to laugh today....and here's an attempt to share that joy....

Worship @ 10:45....the third service with the bulletins printed upside down.  It was operator error...when the printing you could either read it on your head or just flip it over...

We had to tweak the slides for the hymn of the day, because in the ELW Praise to the Lord the Almighty has two versions.  The left side of the page is with the music and the right side of the page is just lyrics...and it was lyrics on the right side that I wanted to use...but the other number was in the bulletin and on the between the two services today, a colleague updated the slides. 

We have the children's message, then begin the hymn of the day with one typo after the first verse we sang praise to the Lord the Almihhhty The lord of creation.

And it just went goofy from there....There was a typo on every slide...after a few I got the giggles and so did the senior pastor....he said, I just want to see if you can still preach...then another typo...and I just keel over laughing...I can't keep it in...and neither can he...I'm not even looking at his family, thank heavens...because they sit in the front row and lost it too! Then my colleague snorts....probably because praise was spelled priase twice on the same slide. I can no longer keep myself if I was together up to that point...
Finally 4th verse....make it through two lines...and head to the pulpit to preach....and I think okay...this has always been my favorite hymn...bust out the final few lines and regain composure and you're good...and bam...I have to sing about the poeple. I'm standing in front of everyone...and I'm like no way....
The hymn ends....I'm in the pulpit....and I just look, take a deep breath.....and laugh...and everyone laughs....then I try to pray and it took a few breaths to get focused...I've never laughed to the point of tears right before preaching....

Luckily I made it through the opening prayer and was able to talk about how comforting Jesus words are when our bulletins are upside down...and when there are like 7 typos in the hymn of the day....and the sermon went smoothly from there. Phew....

Here's the rest of the sermon:

February 27, 2011
Epiphany 8A

Isaiah 49:8-16a
Psalm 131
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Matthew 6:24-34

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 

What a comforting passage from the gospel today, right?  Do not spend time worrying…those little details are being taken care of.  Do not worry about tomorrow…

Don’t worry…or as Bobby McFarrin sang in the 80’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy. 
In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry, you make it double, so don’t worry, be happy. 
Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style, ain’t got a girl to make you smile…but don’t worry, be happy. 

Don’t worry…be happy…but as soon as we hear this passage…we begin to worry.  Isn’t that the case?  That as soon as you’re told not to think about something….bam! You can’t seem to get it out of your mind. 

Yet, Jesus encourages us, tells us, not to worry.  Wouldn’t you like to live a life with no worries…a life with no stress, easy days, everything you need is right there for you…it almost seems as if this worry free life is some place removed from life as we know it.  That it is unrealistic. 

Unrealistic….that’s how it is for one familiar character who tries to live a worry-free life.  Perhaps some of you have seen the movie The Lion King?  The future King, Simba, faces a tragedy in the loss of his father and pretty much runs away from life as he knows it, where he bumps into two new friends…Timon & Pumba who teach him their motto: Hakuna Matata.  Which means, no worries.  They tell Simba to forget his worries and troubles, to just enjoy the carefree life that they live and love. 

So that’s what Simba does, he leaves the life that he knew, for this care-free, easy living with his new best friends.  No worries…what a great life to live, right? 

But for Simba, he lives this life because he chooses to leave the past behind him.  He chooses to walk away from his responsibility as King of the jungle.  He doesn’t want to worry about how others will see him and what they will think of what he has done…so he pretty much begins a new life. 

Now here’s the thing, I think we, too, have that tendency to be like Simba…we long for a life with no worries, anxieties and stresses.  And from time to time we have the opportunity to get away….to vacation, to be away from work, school, and sometimes we get away from family and loved ones, just to be able to breathe and find ourselves.  Which can be a good thing, but not a permanent thing. 

  How can that be…in the world in which we live.  Don’t worry…be happy….that can sound shallow, frivolous and unrealistic.  How are we to live lives that are worry free?  

It seems like an impossible task. 

But Jesus knows us….and Jesus reminds us that living lives of faith does not mean a simple care-free life…like the one that Simba

We still face setbacks, delays, failures, frustrations as well as joys, triumphs, victories and accomplishments. 

The point Jesus is making is that when our lives are focused on God’s call for each of us, then we have no room for worry.  Because it is all in God’s hands….and we are assured that we can handle whatever may happen to us…because God is in control and God’s faithful people belong to one another.  We are not alone. 

In God’s community, people look out for each other and share what they have; people take what they need and leave some for others.  In God’s community we think about each other…we think about our neighbors, their needs, worries and anxieties. 

God’s community is here and now. 

Few of us are exempt from worry and anxiety.  Most live with chronic anxiety, and we are scared of everything…of losing our homes, our jobs, not having enough for retirement, caring for our children until they reach adulthood, and sometimes helping to support them after that, avoiding danger and fear of terror attacks.  Those who have little, fret over having adequate shelter, food and water; finding a decent job; taking care of their families; having enough money to survive.  All of us – rich and poor – privileged and exploited – have legitimate reasons to fret and worry, even through we know such actions do not change the realities we face.  

Jesus understands this; his call to worry-free living is not based on unrealistic views of the world.  His words are for those who understand that God will not leave us without resources or support.  We can face life with all its uncertainties and contingencies with the assurance that we are not alone – that God hears, sees, and cares about us and our situations.  “Don’t worry, be happy,” because God is in control. 

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.  

Folks at the end of worship asked if we did the bulletin and the hymn on purpose... :) yeah, no.... :) just a few God moments of pure and utter joy....

After worship, we got news that a parishioner....passed away this morning....the highs and lows of ministry continue...but I am truly thankful for the joy that we experienced in worship....and felt free to share....for that strengthens us for the rougher, tougher times ahead.  We were reminded in our worry-free lives of faith that the sorrows and struggles do not leave us...but that God doesn't either....thank heavens.

Until the next set of tears....from joy or sadness....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

single much? good friend sent me some articles to muse about today....

This was the first one:
This was the second one:

Please check out both of them...
And now, here's mine:

Out of the two...I like the second article better...reason 7 is the one I like....

Reasons 1-6 probably relate to me in some shape or form...but here's the thing about the first 6. I am convinced that God loves us and created us in God's image, granted, we're not perfect, but nor do I think we need to completely change who we are to be 'marriage material' for someone else. And granted, this is coming from someone who is in a very good place in life right church, new peeps, and new location...lots of new, open doors...but the first 6 reasons seemed to be things that a woman should get over and fix about herself so she's ready to be married. It seems that marriage was the sole 'goal' of that woman. and that worries me too...the willingness to change just about anything about yourself so you don't end up alone.

(Welcome to my soapbox)

At this point....marriage is the last thing on my mind, it only entered it today because I'm meeting with a couple tonight for a pre-marital session and because my friend sent these links, which, by the way, I'm glad she did.)

This is what I shared with my friend Connie, who sent me the links. 

Both are good reads and I think the most important thing to remember is that you and me...we are not either one of these women. We are Connie and we are Jen...we are who God created us to be! Not always single...not always perfect....not always happy :( but always who God created us to be. And maybe I'm overly optimistic...but I love what I do right now, and God's joy is shining forth in my vocation, in my biking, in my trips to the my texts to my friends...and I believe some fella is going to see that joy and want to share it with me...

And in the meantime...I will have the days when I check my cell and think...well, crap, I emailed Phil from Philly 2 days ago and nothing....maybe I wrote the wrong thing....I will check and double check to see if the email went through...I will wonder why I haven't heard from him, then I will criticize myself, and blame myself for something that I typed that clearly gave him reason *not* to email...and then eventually, I will move on...and I will remember that gosh, until he at least meets me....who is he to know who I truly am? So I breathe...and hang with the cat, text my bff Connie to cry, bitch, pray or smile...and continue living.
While I can take some ideas and opinions from others about why I am single...they do not know me, who I am and the life I have lived and continue to live...but God does know me....since I was in my mother's womb...and God continues to be with me...through healthy relationships and unhealthy ones, through marriage and through divorce...ever empowering me to share God's love through the relationships I am a part of for how ever long they last. 

Thanks for reading.
Until next time...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

too busy?

So, I was thinking to myself this evening, as I headed to a parishioner's for dinner that I had a pretty productive day...for a Sunday, even.

Both services went well this morning as we welcomed in new members and celebrated a baptism :)  Worship itself was jam packed, but it was still worship.  I'm blessed to hear my colleagues preach!
In between worship, more relationships were built and conversations were had about revamping my kitchen (insert uber-excitement level here).

After worship I enjoyed a very spicy gumbo and some jambalaya as I gathered with some of our youth heading to the national youth gathering in NOLA in July 2012.  I'm very'll be my first National Youth Gathering! :)

I had some down time this afternoon, so I mended the hem in a jumper, did several loads of laundry even made a spinach, feta & mushroom frittata for quick dinners before evening meetings this week.

On my way home from dinner I realized that I hadn't walked today.  drat.  I took the trash out...but that wasn't that far.  Oh well, one down day isn't a bad thing.

I think more importantly is the thought that as I came home from dinner all I wanted to do was put on the fox Sunday cartoon lineup.  Then I remembered that I don't have a cable hook up or dish set up yet.  So I put on the radio, decided to blog, and will curl up with a book before bed.  I've gone a month without tv.  I've been watching movies and shows on dvd, but that's been it.  I'm seriously debating what kind of hook up to get and what I really *need*.

I wonder if with a decent antenna I could get at least local channels on the tv upstairs and perhaps with internet, netflix would suffice through the wii....but once I get to the cable/dish pages...I get overwhelmed....then I want the food network, fx, bravo and the travel channel....but I don't think I need them.  I've been fine this past month without...I think the next 30 days could be an adventure without tv...saying it makes it seem tough...but I've gone the last almost 30 days without.  I watched the superbowl at a party, with the youth group and am working my way through the early seasons of Seinfeld.  This could be my time to actually watch LOST. (I didn't watch it the first time around.)

Who knows...when I've had a heady day at work, or a late day, just vegging is nice, but if I had more access to tv, it would be on much more often.  I've got another week to debate the next 30 days...but what's another month without cable?

Until next time . . .

Friday, February 18, 2011

perfect day

Today was just amazing!

For the record today's walk was only two blocks...but more of that later.

It could have something to do with the fact that I was in bed by 9:30 last night.  A solid night's sleep is the perfect lead in to a day off. 

I made it to the market this morning while it was still overcast, yet already 50 degrees :)

After that, I got Katarina ready for the first ride of the season.  It was 60+ degrees and sunny!  A beautiful day for a ride.  I made it out to the local lake, even though I underestimated the hills.  It was a challenging 16 miles, but I'm ready to be out there on a regular basis...and to get some gel-butt-pants. 

So my walk was just a short one, because I walked to the local sandwich shop for a cheese burger and fresh onion rings :) Soooo delish!  I enjoyed them with a magic hat #9 on the back porch in the sun.  And read for a while, before curling up for a nap.  I woke from the nap to have the cat curled up with me, too. 

Just a wonderful day off...which has me ready for another busy week...but thankful for the respite :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

memory lane

Today I got to walk in some old and familiar places. 

It started with a trip to the congregation where I did my internship.  While it's tricky to see the church in the middle of a main thoroughfare, the bell tower does let people know it is a church building.  You might be surprised that it's a Lutheran church with St. Francis of Assisi on the side.

It did make for a perfect setting in the yard for the blessing of the animals service, though. 

I got to help out with organizing food for the monthly food pantry, just like old times.  I can't believe it has been five years.  It was nice to catch up with some folks and to remember such the important role they all played in my development and growth into becoming an ordained minister. 

After chatting for a bit, I drove around the old neighborhood.  I remember driving the church van for senior trips and trips in that same van driving through the local projects picking up eager kids for the after school program.  Some areas looked like they hadn't changed in five years....others I barely recognized. 

I had the chance to walk in a place that brought back fond memories for me, as well.  I strolled along the river by the Reading Public Museum.  Most Fridays on internship, I'd meet with several colleagues and we'd walk and talk for an hour or so...just building relationships, connecting and supporting one another.  It was such an invaluable part of my year here...that I still keep in touch with many of those amazing women. 

Along the walk I enjoyed the view of the water:

Thanks to a grandmother trying to keep up with and slow her granddaughter down, she pointed out two sets of wind chimes in the trees.

There was just enough wind to provide a soft, low hum as I passed under. 

So glad I had a chance to revisit some of the old haunts today...and thankful for the connections that began near here.  I had a chance to think about what I have been through over the past 5 years...I love that line in the song 'Watershed' by the Indigo Girls..."every five years or so, I look back on my life and I have a good laugh..."

I don't' know if I had a good laugh today...I definitely had a good smile, or two or more....and the chance to see some growth within me and the world around me.  So much has happened...and so much continues to happen.  I'm truly thankful that God has called me to a place that is somewhat familiar to help me remember who I was, but yet continues to open new doors, new opportunities and new relationships to continue to work through me to help me be who God created me to be.

Until next time...

Friday, February 11, 2011

here comes the sun

What a challenge to walk outside these past few's been darn chilly or darn dark. 

I had a chance to get out this afternoon and it was beautiful!

The sun was shining, the wind was barely blowing...and it was great to just get out of the house.  I was thankful for the weather, for life in general, for friends old and new and all those in between. I was thankful that I was able to enjoy a day off with time to myself, time at the market and time with good friends. 

Many people have talked to me lately about happiness....that I look happy...that they can sense my happiness.  I am truly happy right now.  I had not realized how not fully happy I had been, until situations and locations changed.  I shy away from saying I was unhappy...because I didn't feel unhappy.  Maybe things weren't perfect, but that was okay.  But maybe I was unhappy, but I didn't realize it. 

I'm in a good place right now.  Sure, I'm enjoying the honeymoon period of a new job, embracing a new place to live and explore and celebrating the ample opportunities to reconnect with old friends now that we are physically closer.  It's easy to be engulfed by people who are welcoming and excited for me to be here and who are ready for new beginnings.  I know it will not always be this smooth and this happy...but here's hoping, right?  I know the road isn't always smooth, but I'm enjoying the ride right now...I think holding in the back of my mind that life isn't always perfect, easy and fun.  Knowing that in our lives and in the vocation of parish ministry, tough times are always there.  But at the moment, God's light is shining through me, allowing me to love and be loved through this transition.  Having awesome friends and colleagues both far and near is a huge part of that. 

I've also taken time recently to celebrate the small things that bring a smile to my face. 
That may be dancing in the dining room (that has no curtains) to that new Paul Simon song or my favorite 70's disco hit.
It may be knowing there are fun socks on my feet, like these, from today's walk:
It may be striking up a conversation with someone at the market about the weather or the orange juice.  
Or laughing when you realize the cat has gotten her mouse toy into the oven...

In these fun, happy times, I thank God for the smiles that surround me and for the opportunity to laugh.  Thanks, God, for the ability to dance, sing, laugh, smile, to be with friends or strangers, and to truly be who you created me to be.  (and thanks, in advance - and in looking back - for sticking with me during those really crappy times, too.)

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

stair stepping...

Today's winter walks consisted of multiple sets of stairs.  I had the chance to visit folks in two different hospitals, so I took advantage of using the stairs in the hospitals and parking garages to get a 'walk' in without being blown off the street. 

The wind that was howling this morning, is still going...Blow, Spirit, Blow.

I'm always reminded when running or on a bike how strong the wind is...and as fellow bikers have pointed out, you can't see it coming.  For part of your ride or run, you feel great!  It's like you're unstoppable...having the wind at your back is a powerful thing.
Then you turn a corner and BAM! you can't seem to move forward.  If you are, it's at a much slower pace than the previous leg of your trip.  
When we remember the spirit and winds moving over the waters at creation.  When we think of the wind and flame of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost I can't help but think it's a wind like this.

I'm sure when the Holy Spirit is blowing, it is little like a cool, gentle breeze in the summer time.  I picture it as a gusting, strong force that means business.  And to me, if you're going where the Spirit guides you, it'll be much easier than going against it.  Just try walking into that wind. 

But so often I'm plugging through life forcing myself against the wind, against the Spirit and against my better judgment by trying to do what I think is right.  So many times I think I can handle it...I've got this, I know the right choices because I'm one smart cookie.  But if I'm going against where God is calling me to go....then it is a struggle the whole way.  I don't know why I enter into the struggle, maybe it's a reminder that I'm not in charge.  Maybe I do it just for the challenge. And maybe I do it, because it's who I am, it's who God created me to be...and thanks be to God for being ever so patient with me...watching me get blown off course and waiting for me when I'm going in the right direction again. 

I just hope when it comes to the congregation that I'm going the right way...and encouraging them on the right path...

Until next time . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

salt, light and a cat

So, I will let you know that I have been walking every day.  I should get to bed soon because it's tough to get up in the morning and walk, but I've been doing it.  Had a lovely walk with my mom this weekend as we navigated around icy walkways and roads. 

I even got a walk and a nap in yesterday between church and the youth super bowl party. (win, win, win.)

Yesterday's gospel lesson was about salt and light.  I preached about the use of salt and seasoning our communities...I thought alot about salt this past week with the amount that was heavily sprinkled on the ice all over the sidewalks and roadways.  I was hesitant to use too much on my food today, careful to use just enough to enhance the flavor and not overpower it. 

I shared salted and unsalted pretzels with the kids during the children's sermon yesterday which we snacked on later at the party.  Yum.

With the coming of spring and the changing of the seasons, I'm looking forward to the sun coming up earlier.  With the majority of my bedroom windows on the east side of the house, my room is the first one to get the rays of sun.  Not to mention, it will be easier to get up when it's not darkish out there. 

So, I go home from church yesterday and saw the light on in the basement.  I asked mom and dad about it and they hadn't been down stairs at all.  I opened the door to see the light bulb on....and pull string wrapped around it.  I unwrapped it while Marley was watching and she immediately jumped at the string as soon as it was within her reach.  Apparently, she played with and pulled the string hard enough to turn on the light and to have the pull string wrap around the light bulb. 

I have 'some cat.'  I was wondering if she was letting her light so shine before others that they may see her good works and glorify her father in heaven....or if she just doesn't like how dark the basement can get.  When I was home after the game, she hopped on top of the fridge and knocked down her cat treats.  It's like she owns the place....I wonder if I should submit this to cat fancy or the Lutheran. 

Until next time...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

struggling with the darkness...

It is good to walk first thing in the morning, especially when the day is going to be a full one....and especially good when you wake up in a grumbly mood.  Had the alarm set for 5:30 with the plan to be on the road at 6am.  Well, it's still winter...and yes, still dark at 6am.  So I hit snooze...and thought, okay, walking by 6:30 will still give me a decent walk. You guessed it, still dark.  (more grumbling.)  The additional grumbling was probably due to knowing how full my day would be and how hard I try to squeeze as walk into the afternoon, but often things just pop up....a meeting, a hospital visit, a phone call.

At 6:45 it was light, so then I had a new set of grumbles...I should have gotten up at 6:30 and gotten ready so when was light enough I could be on my way.  Anyway, by 7:04 I was all bundled and on my way.  At first I was going to shorten my loop for fear of getting into the office late, but I decided to do the whole loop.  Which probably makes a better day for anyone I interact with, since I grumbled through most of my walk just in a funk...which would have been worse if I had cut it short. 

20 minutes I stopped... and breathed...and prayed...the funk lessened but was still there...I have no idea why. 

It took me a while to shake the funk...but this view helped:

It gave me a fresh start.  A new perspective.  It took me outside of myself.  There are bigger goings on here.  This world isn't just about me.  God created me to be my funk and in my be part of this beautiful creation.  Thanks God, for getting me up out of grumbly as I see the world as only you can make it....and to share that beautiful moment with me. 

Until tomorrow...

funky connection

This is my post (as well as I can recreate it) from yesterday.  My internet connection had the hiccups and I couldn't even save my blog mid blog.  Oh well. 

Yesterday was a walk in an ice globe.  Everything was shiney, the ground had some slick spots and I met some interesting people.

One woman, who I nearly surprised, because she was shoveling with her back to me...said her day was going well.  She clears the sidewalk in front of many properties...and she was ready for the ice.  She had shoveled well the night before and salted alot!  That made the ice really easy to get off the walks that morning.  She would follow her shoveling with more salt.  She seemed pretty pleased with her work. 

Moving along, I realized that at some points it was safter to walk on the road, facing the traffic rather than risk walking on solid ice.  A woman and her son warned me to be very out for the plows, she said.  I said I would...and I would be careful and move to the sidewalk as soon as it was safe. 

Then I met a man who was not very excited about this winter at all.  'I'm sick of this shit.' he said.  'Last year I lived in a condo and didn't have to worry about shoveling and stuff...and we had like no snow!  This year I move home, and it's rediculous! I'm sick of this! Next year I'm buying snowblower...and then it probably won't snow!'  Best of luck, I said with a smile. 

The rest of the walk was fairy quiet, except for the crackling and falling ice.  Which began to make me flinch as the walk went on for my fear of being hit in the head from ice falling off the wires or trees.  On flinch I nearly had my hands over my head beacuase it was so loud...then I laughed when I realized it was two kids on some sleds....ooops. 

I was well warmed up to de-ice my truck at the end of the walk...which was coated on one side and the top, but not the other...weird. 

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

another month, another adventure

Well, February is here...and while I had many suggestions for what to take on for the next 28 days, I didn't settle on anything until this morning. 

Perhaps next month will be 30 days of hulahooping, trampolining, dodge ball, belly dancing, thumbwrestling, origami, or yoga.  For the next 28 days I will be winter walking. 

An idea suggested by a follower of 30 Days of Biking, if he or she could bike 30 days, why couldn't they winter walk for 28 days?  I figured, I need to get out and explore the area and get my heart moving everyday, why not make a commitment to walk everyday in February? 

A few things that don't count:
1) My commute to work.
2) Walking around inside the house. 
3) Taking out the trash.
4) Just walking to the bank/post office/library, because those are places I already walk to. 

Today's walk was a nice one.  When I first headed out there was misty precipitation and almost warm outside.  While we have ice warnings, the snow on the ground wasn't slick yet...and I stayed away from places that were cleared but looked slick.  I did wear my bright yellow raincoat, which I was truly thankful for because at some point in the walk the precip picked up...and then began bouncing off my arms and head.  That's when the slickness picked up. 

I was thankful for the hood, which reminded me of summer.  The sound of little bitty ice bits bouncing off my head sounded like rain on a tent...a very soothing sound for me.  I got to thinking about how when the snow is clear these routes will be great for spring and summer bike rides. 

Here's a pic from today's trek:

It may be nice to see the transition from winter to spring in the pictures this month.  Yet as I look out my window now, I'm a bit worried as to what tomorrow may bring, seeing the trees glisten with ice on their branches...but tomorrow is another day and some sort of walk will ensue. 

Until safe out there!