Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Morning Freeze

Today being the first official day of winter, I'd like to lodge my first official protest of winter:

Enough of the below zero temps already!

Now, I don't mean to be a big whiner, and I have lived my entire life in the northern parts of the USA, but c'mon! -40 windchill?!?!?! Is that really necessary?

I am very relieved to see that the forecast for the rest of the week has us in the above zero temps. Christmas itself should be quite nice, in the twenties. But this is the second Sunday in a row that I've had cancellation in services!

Last Sunday all services got cancelled. Today, it's just the 9:45 service. It's a bummer, because it was supposed to be the Christmas program that Lil' Princess is in, but its been rescheduled for next Sunday. The 11:15 service in the church in the town down the road is still on, and the church 30 miles away is having their Christmas program service at 4 pm today.

The high is supposed to be -5 today. Whooppeee!

It's -14 right now, and I worry about the many elderly folks going out in the cold, about my folks far out on their ranches traveling 30 miles to get to church....

Dad, I blame you that for the big worrying part of my nature, just so you know.

So Lil' Princess and I will bundle up in a ridiculous amount of layers in a little bit, and head to the 11:15 service. Which will probably have 6 people at it. But despite the cold, the Word will be preached, and Holy Communion will be shared, and the Holy Spirit will do it's work. Even on a grumpy heart like mine this morning!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five - Christmas To-Do List

Given the craziness of this time of year, RevGalBlogPals are keeping the Friday Five simple this week.

"Tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve."

1. Mail Christmas gifts - I just have my nephews' gifts left to send, so I'm doing pretty well this year. They are wrapped and in a box, so just need to seal it up, put a mailing address on it, and actually make it to our local post office during the tiny window of time that it is open for business on Saturday mornings.

2. Write sermon for this Sunday - two of my churches have Christmas programs, which will be oh so very cute and inspiring. (Lil' Princess stole the show at rehearsals, her enthusiam is awesome!) I have a part in the services, but don't have to preach. BUT at the third church, which has no children, I am on for the sermon. I am finding it very hard to get motivated to write it, though I love the Gospel lesson. Adding to the uncertainty of it all, the temps are supposed to be between -10 and -17 Sunday morning, with a high of -4 for the day. We usually cancel worship when it gets that cold, since we have alot of elderly folks. So who knows what actually will happen on Sunday?!?!


3. Write Christmas Eve sermon - for reasons I can't quite figure out, instead of a worship service of lessons and carols sans sermon, I created a service with sermon. Fa la la la la, la la la la. Don't get me wrong, I love preaching Christmas. It's just knowing that time is running short, and that Lil' Princess is going to be home full time now...which means I will have a constant little shadow wanting constant attention!

4. Finish baking - I did baking for our open house, but those treats are long gone. Now I need to do some for our Christmas celebration. I don't plan to do a whole lot, since it's just the three of us this year, but at the very least I'd like to get some spritz cookies and candied pecans made.

5. Finish planning our Christmas meals - this is the first year of my ENTIRE life that I won't be celebrating with my family, and won't have lutefisk and swedish meatballs on the table. So, I'm thinking ham, since my family members really like it, and it's a no-brainer to cook. I am planning a special Christmas day brunch that I'm excited about; Belgian waffles with blueberries, strawberries, Cool whip and maple syrup to choose from for toppings. Yum!!!! Add some hot chocolate or hot tea and a long lazy morning spent in pajamas, and I think we will have an absolutely lovely day! (Especially once Lil' Princess sees what Santa left her in her stocking - my girly girl's cup will be running over)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Below Zero

Today the temperature is negative fourteen, with a windchill bringing it down to negative fifty-two.

Needless to say, we're not straying far from home today!

All our services were cancelled yesterday, and Lil' Princess had school cancelled today. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

I find I'm feeling a little stir crazy - after being stuck inside for four days in a row, I am so ready to get out! I still have some Christmas presents to get, so I'm hoping to get away one day this week.

Well, back to Mary Poppins...we're about half way through, so that means we're almost to one of my favorite songs, "Chim Chimmini"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks, One by Three

We're leaving in just a little bit to begin our journey to our friends' house. We'll get 5 hours of the driving under our belts today, and stay at a nice hotel tonight. It has a great pool, with a curly slide, and is next to a mall, and I booked a nicer room than I usually would get (I'm cheap!). Then tomorrow, we get an early start, and finish the last 4 to 5 hours of the drive, and arrive to celebrate Thanksgiving with some dear friends from college, and their three kids. The eldest is my godchild. We haven't been to their home in over five years.

I am so thankful for friends, and the opportunity to spend time with them. These are folks who know us well and love us anyway. Who despite distance, occasional crabbiness on all our parts, and busyness of life, have remained close and dear to us. True friends are precious. You can tell them the most vulnerable thoughts and events, share theirs, laugh, cry, eat, stay up too late, tease each other out of grumpiness, and just truly BE who you are with each other. What a gift.

Heavenly Father, Eternal Mother, I give you thanks for the precious gift of friendship. I thank you for the people who you have blessed my life with, and the lives of my hubby and daughter. Bless them and keep them. Help us to treasure these relationships, to tend them, to nourish them, to never take them for granted. Help me to be open to New friendships in places and people I may not expect or may not be looking for, open my heart and life to the love you would have me share. Thank you for the amazing friendship of my husband, out of which blossomed our love. Keep it strong. All these thing I pray trusting in the work of your Holy Spirit, and joyful in the gift of your Son our Savior. Amen.

I am blessed beyond all measure.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks, One by Two



I am grateful for this beautiful world, this flawed, but gift of a creation that God has placed into our stewardship and keeping...

-for fresh fallen snow glittering in the moonlight

-for Peter the rabbit and his family nibbling at the corn beneath the bird feeder

-for the sunset over the buttes

-for all the national and state parks that have taken my breath away

-for memories of sumac hill, and the joy of growing up in the woods of MN

-for fields of wheat, golden in the sun

-for antelope running gracefully along a ridge

-for all the ways the world speaks life and hope and the presence of God

Mothering God, you brought your children to life, and nurture us under the shelter of your wings. I praise you for the wonder of your created world and the complex beauty of all that you have called into being. Help me, and all of your people, to gratefully and fully take upon ourselves the calling of steward, and deal gently and lovingly with what you have put in our care. Most of all, help us to see not simply that which we can use for our purposes, but that which you have created out of love and joy. Cleanse and renew our attitudes and actions to reflect your will. You are our source, our hope, our eternal Mother. All thanks and praise to you! Amen.

I am blessed beyond measure.

Giving Thanks, One by One

My girl woke up smiling today. She beamed at me from her pink sheets, and had to tell me about the BIG number she knows. She then counted from 30 to 39. Then she told us that in school she learned that another word for a baby pig is a shoat. (sp?)

All this before I'd even gotten a chance to get her clothing out of the dresser.

While we waited for the bus, we wrote our names in the snow using really big sticks, she wanted to use the one that's taller than she is. Then she bounded into the bus, got into her seat, and blew kisses through the window to me.

In this Thanksgiving week, I'm doing some intentional blessing counting here on the blog, and I have to start with Lil' Princess, our miracle baby. After ten years of marriage, a miscarriage, and almost giving up hope, she arrived in our lives, and has been an evolving miracle ever since.

Thank you God for my precious girl, for her love of her family, her wonderful imagination, her enthusiasm for life. Even when she's a grumpy little pain in the morning. I remember so well all those years I begged you for a child, like Hannah, like Rachel, though I didn't have to wait as long as they. All those years you stayed with me and hubby, and now in these years, in the fears and guilts of parenting, you continue to abide and comfort, guide and prod. Help us to be the best parents we can be to this child you have entrusted to our care. Walk with her, protect her, and nurture her flame of faith. Most of all, thank you, thank you, thank you for our girl. Amen.

I am blessed beyond measure.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Five - Mix It Up


From RevGalBlogPals Friday Five:
"In a minor domestic crisis, my food processor, or more precisely the part you use for almost everything for which I use a food processor, picked the eve of the festive season of the year to give up the ghost. A crack in the lid expanded such that a batch of squash soup had to be liberated via that column shaped thing that sticks up on top.

Can you tell this is not my area of strength?

Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:"

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?
I have never had a food processor, and have never really felt a need for one. But then, I am what you would call "domestically challenged," so I wouldn't know what to do with it!

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).
Don't have one...and would probably be scared to use all those extra pieces if I did!

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?
I have a standing mixer, and two hand held ones. They are my workhorses, when it comes to baking time. As the Christmas holiday approaches, and our open house at the parsonage comes closer, they will all get a workout!

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?
I was given a blender by friends of ours about 4 years ago, and encouraged to make yummy drinks with it. Just a week ago, I took it out of the box for the first time. Still haven't used it, but I figure getting it out of the box is progress!

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?
My teapot. A bit battered & scorched, and definitely not lovely looking, but it has heated plenty of water for endless cups of tea and hot chocolate ever since I was first married. My mom gave it to me, and told me it would come in handy. And boy has it ever! I use it almost every day in the cooler to cold months.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?
The gravy bowl that my mom forced me to buy. We only ever use it when my family gathers for Christmas at my house, to use to pour the white sauce over the lutefisk (yuck!). It is NEVER used at any other time of the year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Truth in Advertising



Sometimes when really crappy things have happened to people I've served in churches, there has been that moment when they've looked at me and the questions have been there, spoken or unspoken - "Why has this happened to me? Isn't believing in God good for something? I thought things were supposed to go well for me because I believe in Jesus! What happened?"

Unfortunately, there's some false advertising out there in the Christian world that says, if you just believe the right thing, all will go well for you. God wants the best for you, and if you try hard enough, you will tap into that, and all will be well.

Blech!

I have made a point, especially in confirmation classes and premarital counseling sessions, to make the point that following Jesus doesn't mean that life gets easier. Often it means that it gets harder. BUT....and I go on to share the gospel message of life and hope and accompaniment in this life and the next. And hope that it is heard.

As I've gotten older, I too have experienced moments where I have had conversations with God that begin with something like "I know you never said that this was going to be easy, but..." In a world that trumpets quick fixes, and instant successes, the offer to walk with us and be with us for the long haul is not necessarily comforting to the post-modern's ear. But that is what we as people of faith have to offer.

Truth in advertising!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Purge

Yesterday, I took a deep breath, and I did it.

I gathered up the clothes, shoes, slippers and purses I have been gleaning out of my closet and my daughter's dressor, and boxed them all up. I didn't look back, I didn't mourn, I didn't sentimentalize over special items. I just stuck 'em in the boxes and bags. When I was done, I had one giant box, 4 medium boxes, 2 small boxes, and 2 bags of stuff. Then I quickly stuffed them in the back of my car (had to put the seats down!) and set off for the clothing mission, 24 miles away.

When I got there, I unloaded them, stacked them in the back room of the mission, closed the back hatch of my car, and drove off, without looking back. I suffered one momentary twinge as I turned away, but I kept going.

There were things in there dating back to high school, special shirts from college, clothes I'd hoped to slim down and get back into. There were special little dresses I'd loved seeing my little girl wear.

They are all gone.

And we're...I'm better for it.

Purging hasn't been easy. Getting to this point has been a very long process. My hubby really is the pack rat of the family, but I too create emotional ties to things that are just, well, things. That don't serve a purpose for us anymore. That could serve a purpose for someone else.

I've been reading articles, books, blogs and other sources about living simply, about examining our spending habits and being better stewards, and greener consumers, for the sake of the world. Its a matter of faith, and health, and future, and sanity. There's no recycling where I live, and to get basic necessities, I have to drive 50 miles round trip. So there are a few challenges to this greener, simpler world view.

But there are places to start.

And it feels good to look in my closet, and know that everything in there is something that fits, and is something that I wear. Well, nearly everything. There is that one t-shirt I just wasn't quite ready to let go of...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Page 56

Here's a fun meme I came upon in one of the blogs I regularly read -

Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions on your blog (or facebook wall).
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

It just so happens that the closest book to me at the moment is the Bible - no really! I suppose that's too predictible for a pastor, but hey, it is the best of books! Here's my quote:
"You are still exalting yourself against my people, and will not let them go."
Moses is taking on Pharoah, trying to convince him to let God's people go. A rich story, a troubling one, and one that has given hope to many over the centuries. Nice to be reminded of it tonight!

So, tag you're it! Your turn to try it...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Celebrating All Saints - Three Churches Light Candles to Remember, Each in their Way

At the church with the smallest attendance in the parish I serve (8-15 on a Sunday), I set up a metal decorative plate and votive candles, with a taper candle off of which to light the votive candles. (There is no Christ candle or Paschal candle at this church). The small table is set in front of the altar.

At the second largest church in the parish I serve (12-25 on a Sunday), one of the members made this candle rack for All Saints - lighting candles in remembrance on All Saints is a new experience for all these congregations. Each hole holds a glass votive holder and votive candle. For next year, we are going to find shorter glass votive holders, these were too tall, and made it hard for some to light the candles. The table is to the left of the altar, in front of the baptismal font.

At the largest the largest of the churches in the parish I serve (30-80 on a Sunday), one of the members made this candle rack for All Saints. Since we weren't sure what attendance would be, and how many people would come forward for the lighting, extra glass votive holders and votive candles were placed on the table. The glass votive holders were the perfect size. We used two small Christmas Eve candles with the drip-catch cups for lighting the votive candles. The table is in front of the movable altar in the picture, but for the service, the baptismal font was put in place of the movable altar. (There is an east-wall altar in the back of the chancel)



Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Movie Night


Since we're betting we don't have to get up and at 'em tomorrow, what with the blizzard and all, RevDad and I are actually staying up to watch a non-child's movie. Iron Man, to be specific. It's pretty good, and raises some interesting questions along with offering some bang-up special effects.
What's kind of blowing my mind is that we're actually doing a grown up activity. Together. On a normal day. Not on vacation. Not on a sick day. On a Wednesday night! I didn't realize how much I missed this.
Pass the Cheetos, and snuggle in. There's plenty more movie to go...

Snowflakes Keep Fallin' on my Head

We are in the middle of a bona fide blizzard! The wind is howling, the power went out for a few moments earlier, the heavy wet snow is piling up, and every child within a hundred mile radius is dreaming of a day off of school tomorrow. Both RevDad and myself cancelled confirmation tonight, and are grateful we did! He had to drive 35 mph on the way home, and could barely see the road. I've been thinking about craft projects we can do with Lil' Princess if we are snowed in. One thing we definately will take on is cleaning her room - I'm tired of tripping over piles of books and babies when I walk through her room!

It's actually a nice thought - us being stuck at home together tomorrow. We don't get to hang out together, the three of us, very often. Family bonding time ahoy, just maybe!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Big Night


shimmy shimmy, la la la!!
whoo hoo, zip boom ba!

(dance around the living room)

now I can shut off the TV and go to bed

Monday, November 03, 2008

Elections are Nigh


FINALLY election day is almost here! Our plan is to head to the courthouse after text study to cast our votes. Even though the politicking season has been painful to follow, I find myself quite excited to follow the election results tomorrow.
I am ready for this to be done, for the campaigning to be over, and all of us to move on. And I hopes that maybe, just maybe, we will find ourselves moving in some exciting positive directions once all the votes are tallied!

Correction

So turns out it wasn't overeating Halloween candy that was the problem when I blogged Friday night. As the evening wore on, it became clear I had contracted the stomach flu.

oh yeh

So I spent the night in some very unpleasant ways. Then spent Saturday recovering. Thus far hubby and Lil' Princess haven't shown any signs, thank goodness! It's the bug going around now. One of the local nursing homes isn't allowing any visitors because so many of their residents have it.

So here's hoping none of you get it!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Goodies Can Bite Back!


Uuuhhhhhh.

One of the families in my parish makes the BEST popcorn balls. I have eaten two of them. Plus several small size candy bars. And some Tootsie Rolls. After I'd eaten some pizza for supper. To finish off the food orgy, I ate some tortilla chips with cheese dip hubby brought home.

Uuuhhhhh.

The trick-or-treating was fun until the last 20 minutes or so, when Lil' Princess turned up the whining and exasperating meter to high. Which was a good signal that we were done. She and hubby then enjoyed handing out candy while I recovered my good humor. And ate my way through the rest of the evening.

Uuuhhhh.

I think I will have some very funky dreams tonight!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

BOO!



Happy Halloween!

I hope for you...

lots of giggling children that draw you into their make-believe world for just one night

enough candy left over to tantalize your sweet tooth but not sicken your tummy

a sense of joy in the season of autumn

a small break from the weight of election nattering and economy woes



Lil' Princess and I will be going out dressed as black cats while its still light, then coming home and handing out candy once its dark. She's excited for the Halloween party and parade at school. If I can, I'm going to go over to her school and peeking in for the parade. Too much fun to miss!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Unfamiliar Wednesday


So I'm sitting here watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with my father-in-law and my hubby, while Lil' Princess dreams away. It's an odd feeling to be able to watch a non-children's movie, and know that I don't need to worry about getting anyone up early tomorrow morning. It's nice to look forward to some fun family stuff tomorrow along with the visits I need to get done. We're going to carve pumpkins, and bake & decorate cookies. From there, we'll see what else happens!

Pa-in-law and I had a good shopping trip today, I ended up with two shopping carts worth of stuff at Walmart. The cupboards are full now! It was nice to have some time together, too, just to chat. It was a perfect day to be out.

Grateful for your mercies, your children bless your name, oh Lord!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Unexpected Time

Sooo...the plans were set for this weekend, of taking youth to the Lutheran Youth Organization gathering, leave Thursday early, get back Saturday late. Getting the bulletin done early, and making the copies by Wednesday since my secretary will be gone, and can't do it. Getting my sermon prepped and ready before I go. Hubby's dad arriving today to help out watching Lil' Princess while I'm gone. We're set. We're ready. I'm pumped!

And now I find out we're not going, 'cause sometimes stuff happens. There's no room in the inn for us.

So......

Now what?

I'm bummed, 'cause it was going to be great for these youth to go to this, and I was looking forward to it too, and connecting with other youth worker type people. But I'm also OK with it, 'cause it makes the weekend a lot less stressful.

But it raises for me an important question. Maybe not so fascinating for you, but hey, this is my internal dialoge put to blog, so there. The question is - what do I do now with this unexpected extra time? This little un-looked for section of time in my life that is no longer scheduled away? After spending some fleeting and precious time with my family this weekend, I am reluctant to throw these gifts of time away. So what to do?

I could organize my office and files, which is long overdue, and would make ministry more efficient. I could put in some extra visitation time, which would be greatly welcomed. I could plan All Saints, Christ the King, Advent and Christmas services (they come faster than you'd think). Or I could read one of the theological books I've been meaning to get to, as I'm short on continuing education time.

OR

I could go fun shopping in the only big shopping town in this part of our state, several hours drive away. I could drive seven hours one way to visit friends. I could rake leaves into a big pile and jump in them with my daughter, then go in and drink hot chocolate when we get cold. I could try out a new cookie recipe. I could take a l-o-n-g lovely nap. Oooh, this list could go on and on!

Hmmmmm.......is this one of those times when there is a little devil on one shoulder, and a little angel on the other? Whispering, "Listen to me!" "No, listen to me!"

As a good Lutheran, I embrace paradox in theology and life. Therefore, why not Both/And??? A little work, a little play, and poof! It will be Monday before you know it, and the long weekend will be over. It is nice to have Lil' P home for a few days straight, with a break from school. I want time with her, and I also want time just for myself, along with getting work done.

So. Therefore. This week (besides the bulletins and sermon) I am going to:
1. work on organizing my office (is that noise I hear the sound of my Mother celebrating?!?!?)
2. make a couple of extra visits.
3. go shopping in smaller shopping town only an hour's drive away.
4. play in the leaves and do other fun autumn things with my girl.

There's the plan. We'll see how close reality comes to words on an electronic page.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Render unto...

Time to play this week's RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five!:

"Well, Gals and Pals, this weekend we'll be rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and that has me thinking about coinage".

1) When was the last time you flipped a coin or even saw one flipped in person?
Ummmmm.....I can't remember...oh now I remember! The last jr. high volleyball game I went to, the ref and the two teams flipped a coin before the game started, I suppose to decide who served first.

2) Do you have any foreign coins in your house? If so, where are they from?
Yes, besides Canadian coins, I have a few coins left from my trip to Germany in 1989. A 50 pfennige coin for sure, anyway. Of course, it's worthless now, since the switch to the Euro.

3) A penny saved is a penny earned, they say. But let's get serious. Is there a special place in heaven for pennies, or do you think they'll find a special place in, well, the other place?
Neither! Pennies serve a purpose still, though there is a movement out there to recall them and no longer use them. We have a large wine bottle (actually, an empty Mogan David communion wine bottle) that we put all our spare change into every week, most of which ends up being pennies. Every year we use this haul to help fund our family vacation. It never adds up to more than $100, but still, it's kind of fun, especially for Lil' Princess.

4) How much did you get from the tooth fairy when you were a child? and if you have children of your own, do they get coins, or paper money? (I hear there may be some inflation.)
If I remember correctly, I got a quarter. Which was a pretty good deal, considering you could get a bottle of pop for a dime! (It was such a bummer when it went up to a quarter). We have yet to address this at our home, since none of Lil' Princess' teeth have budged. They should any time, though, since she's gotten to the right age. I'm guessing we'll do a silver dollar.

5) Did anyone in your household collect the state quarters? And did anyone in your household manage to sustain the interest required to stick with it?
No one in my household, but my mom and one brother do. She has most of them, and he has two sets, one for each of his sons. RevDad collected a few when they first started coming out, but lost interest almost right away.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Family Time

Zippity do da, zippity a!

My mom, dad, and oldest brother are at my house right now. My other brother and his two sons will be here in a couple of hours. Tomorrow my sister-in-law will get here.

Whoo hoo!

Pheasant hunting is what has drawn them all here. Some of my wonderful parishioners are letting them hunt on their land, so the guys are pretty excited about getting out there tomorrow morning. Since we won't be able to be together for Christmas, this is really our chance to be together as a family. My oldest brother and my sister-in-law have never been at our house, and we've been here a year now, so it's nice this has all worked out.

I'm just so very happy! And VERY sore and tired from all the cleaning...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blogging for Poverty

There are SO many ways to make a difference when it comes to poverty and all the attendant issues. It can be so overwhelming to contemplate, but if we all take part, if we all commit to taking action, we can make a difference!

Bread for the World
Compassion International
Lutheran Hunger Appeal
Heifer International just off the top of my head.

Your local food shelf, clothing closet, women's shelter, etc.

If we all would commit to giving to one or more of these kinds of organizations on a regular basis, and being vocal about these issues, and encouraging our faith communities and families to do the same, what an impact that would be!!!

Instead of squabbling about all that crap I hear on TV, instead of getting distracted by all the minuetia, lets do what matters!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Are You In?

Bloggers around the world are uniting to blog about poverty this Wednesday in order to raise awareness. I'm in! Are you?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Busy Weekend

Whew.

My first confirmation retreat with this parish is done! It went very well...the kids loved playing the games and learning the lessons in a more relaxed atmosphere. I love seeing them make the connections between God's Word and their lives. And I also love watching them have a blast, totally relaxed and having fun with each other. We held it out at the most remote of my churches, where there is no cell phone signals, and 30 miles to the nearest town. So no distractions!

We talked about the 10 commandments, Moses and the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness, the episode with the golden calf, and a bit about understanding law & gospel. Some of the law/gospel stuff went over their heads, but the rest seemed to make an impact. I even got to teach them some Hebrew!

Now I'm just wiped out. I only had two services today, one got cancelled due to the bad weather and bad roads (ironically, the church at which I just had the retreat), but it was still enough on top of the retreat to make me feel like a limp rag.

But it's a good kind of tired!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Dramatic Skies

Whenever a storm moves in, the skies get quite dramatic out here. You can see for many miles, so you watch the movement of almost an entire storm cell in some cases. This also means that the sunsets can be quite spectacular too. Lil' Princess and I were driving home from running errands one day, and there it was, a small dark cloud with a line of rain coming down. I though it was pretty with the sun setting behind it. Of course the picture doesn't capture it at its best, but it was lovely.

This weekend the forecast says snow, for Friday through Sunday. I'm in bit of denial about that. Especially since I have a confirmation retreat Friday night, and I was hoping to do some outdoor games. I don't know if I'm constitutionally ready for snow. Falling leaves, yes. Cooling temperatures, yes. Light jackets, yes. Snow? Not so much.

Not that we have a choice.

Say, I could probably get a sermon out of that...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday Thoughts by the Window

I love the Savage Chickens cartoons. Whenever I see that a new one has been delivered to my email, I squee.

To the list this particular cartoon proposes I would add "I'm a pastor of a small rural ND parish." Eyes glaze over every time!

I went to a continuing education class at my seminary three summers ago, while I was still at my call in SD, to learn about "PR for Churches." While the whole premise of that class is offensive to some, understandibly, I did learn a few things about making my then congregation more visitor friendly and accesible (without losing focus on the cross).

Anyhoo, most of the pastors at this class were from the metropolitan and outlying area. I found it absolutely fascinating how they treated me after they found out where I was serving (their universal underlying assumption seeming to be that SD is Nowheresville USA filled with people entirely alien to them).

Either they

A) immediately ignored me and anything I had to say from then on

OR

B) took a patronizing attitude towards me and anything I had to say.

I'm sure the response would be even more amplified now that I'm in ND, since by many, this area is seen as the last place in the world you would ever have to want to go. Which is so very, very sad!!! Why do we, as people in ministry, have such deep-rooted prejudices about people, places, and kinds of ministry?? I mean, I know we're just people too, filled with the same foibles and weaknesses, but I have run into some the worst prejudice by those who are called my peers!

So what brought this on, you ask? I was in the Post Office today, which is part of the social center of my tiny town, chatting away with a few people, and it struck me so hard..."these are such good people. People who are doing their best to raise their families and get along. People who are hungry for Christ. People who are hungry to be involved in ministry. And a huge percentage of our church in the larger sense would turn their noses up at them and at this town." The thought made me sad. And that thought reinvigorated my committment to them, and my growing peace with my role amongst them. I can't be all that they want or need, but I can journey with them, encourage them, love them, and together we can live in Christ.

In the end, isn't that what really matters?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pain, thy name is Migraine

Ode to a Migraine

Mindblowing
Intense
Grueling
Radiating
Aura
Irritating
Neverending
Excrutiating

I just want it to be over with, now!!! I hate losing all this time, and time with my family, to grinding pain.

I need to be planning the confirmation retreat for this coming weekend, the National Youth Gathering fundraising meeting with the youths' parents, and getting some visits in. Instead I'm sitting here wishing that my head was disconnected from the rest of me.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Food for Thought

On one of the blog I enjoy checking out - Lutheran Chik - the blogger posted the Incredible Edible Meme. She writes, "This is a list of food and drink that someone -- I forget who -- thinks we all need to taste before we die."

I was intrigued, and read the list. I apparantly am a very sheltered person, because there are alot of things on this list that I don't even know what they are!! Anyway, I've put in bold the items the things that I myself have actually eaten. Consider yourself tagged if you read this! I'd love to hear your comments!

1. Venison. Yum! I grew up eating it, my dad and brothers went hunting every year. Venison sausage and jerky are really good, along with the steaks. I haven't had it in years now, I miss it.
2. Nettle tea.
3. Huevos rancheros.
4. Steak tartare.
5. Crocodile.
6. Black pudding. Ewwwww! No Way!
7. Cheese fondue. What doesn't taste good dipped in warm drippy cheese?
8. Carp.
9. Borscht.
10. Baba ghanoush.
11. Calamari. Good and fun, in a squeeky rubbery kind of way
12. Pho.
13. PB&J sandwich. A staple at our house, especially when it's hubby's turn to cook
14. Aloo gobi. I have no idea...
15. Hot dog from a street cart.
16. Epoisses.
17. Black truffle.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes. Shade Vineyard of Volga SD has some lovely fruit wines definately worth checking out
19. Steamed pork buns.
20. Pistachio ice cream.
21. Heirloom tomatoes.
22. Fresh wild berries.
23. Foie gras.
24. Rice and beans.
25. Brawn, or headcheese.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper.
27. Dulce de leche.
28. Oysters.
29. Baklava.
30. Bagna cauda. Another I have noooo idea....
31. Wasabi peas. Oh yeh, these will wake ya up
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. Ooh yum.
33. Salted lassi.
34. Sauerkraut. Yes, but can't say I enjoyed it all that much
35. Root beer float.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar. Ick!
37. Clotted cream tea.
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O. C'mon! Give me a break!
39. Gumbo.
40. Oxtail.
41. Curried goat.
42. Whole insects.
43. Phaal. ????
44. Goat's milk.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$130 or more.
46. Fugu. Again, ???
47. Chicken tikka masala.
48. Eel.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut. I can feel those arteries clogging
50. Sea urchin.
51. Prickly pear.
52. Umeboshi.
53. Abalone.
54. Paneer.
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal. Unfortunately, yes. Repeatedly
56. Spaetzle. Awesome, especially when made by someone who really knows what they're doing.
57. Dirty gin martini.
58. Beer above 8% ABV.
59. Poutine.
60. Carob chips.
61. S'mores. Bet your sweet patootey! Can't go camping without them
62. Sweetbreads.
63. Kaolin. ????
64. Currywurst.
65. Durian.
66. Frogs' legs.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake. No, yes, yes, yes.
68. Haggis.
69. Fried plantain.
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette.
71. Gazpacho.
72. Caviar and blini.
73. Louche absinthe.
74. Gjetost, or brunost.
75. Roadkill. I don't think so!
76. Baijiu. ???
77. Hostess Fruit Pie. Tried one when I was a kid, and didn't like it.
78. Snail.
79. Lapsang souchong.
80. Bellini.
81. Tom yum.
82. Eggs Benedict.
83. Pocky. Is this an edible hockey puck?
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef.
86. Hare.
87. Goulash. Good hearty stuff.
88. Flowers.
89. Horse.
90. Criollo chocolate.
91. SPAM. My dad's mom would feed this to us sometimes, which was the one meal at her house that I did NOT enjoy
92. Soft shell crab. Not my favorite seafood
93. Rose harissa.
94. Catfish.
95. Mole poblano.
96. Bagel and lox.
97. Lobster Thermidor.
98. Polenta.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
100. Snake.
Bonus round: Most unusual food you've ever eaten: Thanks to my dad, I've gotten to eat foods that are rather unique for some of my friends, though perhaps not all that unusual - cow tongue, cow heart, fresh fish eggs, bear, moose, raccoon, squirrel, and probably a number of others that I have forgotten.

If you're reading this, you're tagged. Bonus points for the most unusual food not on this list that you've ever eaten.

Friday, October 03, 2008

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five - St. Francis of Assisi


This one made me think. Which is good, I've been a bit light in the deep thinking department lately, due to be tired all the time. This week's Friday Five is inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, a man who gave up wealth and privilege in order to live humbly in obedience to Christ and to help the poor. His personal lore also has made him the friend of all animals. Protestants usually run into him as a statue for your garden, and in those parishes that do blessing services for animals. It's a pity that the average pew sitter doesn't know more about saints like him, since his life story is inspiring and actually quite educational (standing up against the powers-that-be for what you know is right). I think we as Protestants need to reclaim more of our heritage when it comes to saints, not for veneration, but for inspiration. Anyway, on with the Friday Five!

1. Saint Francis experienced a life changing call, has anything in your journey so far challenged you to alter your lifestyle?
Our call to North Dakota has been a definite change to our lifestyle! I went from working 60 to 80 hours a week, to a part time position that allows me to be a stay at home mom (which has been a HUGE adjustment). My hubby went from student to his first call, which is going real well. We've gone from a well-populated area with shopping nearby, to a sparsely populated area that requires a lot of travel to be able to buy necessities, much less entertainment. The folks here are teaching us some wonderful lessons about what community can really mean. Life can be really truly hard for folks out here, they all know they can be a moment away from bad news, from every thing changing. There's a sort of spiritual honesty that comes with that here that I am learning from and appreciating. We're redefining what we do for fun, and how we connect with others. Pastoral identity and your role in the community is definitely different from what I experienced before. We've been here a year now, and I can definitely say that this move has been life-changing for us!

2. Francis experienced mocking and persecution, quite often in the comfortable west this is far from our experience. If you have experienced something like this how do you deal with it, if not how does it challenge you to pray for those whose experience is daily persecution?
I have experienced minimal mocking and persecution, it usually is from someone with an axe to grind about Christians or religion in general. I try to be as gracious and calm as possible. I find that if I am genuine and compassionate, and focus on why they are so negative, they either lose interest, or open up. Of course, any negative words I receive are nothing compared to the true persecution Christians receive in other places in this world, who face prejudice, refusal of rights and resources, imprisonment, torture, and death. I do keep these folks in my prayers, but of course I cannot even imagine what they go through.

3 .St Francis had female counterpart in St Clare, she was influenced by St Francis sermon and went on to found the Poor Clare's, like the Franciscans they depended on alms this was unheard of for women in that time, but she persisted and gained permission to found the order. How important are role models like St Clare to you? Do you have a particular female role model whose courage and dedication inspires you? If so share their story....
Wow. Role models inspire, give hope, and remind us that we can make a difference. I am grateful for those I have read about, and those I have seen in action. From days gone by: Dorothy Day, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Mother Theresa, and many more. Role models living: Kathleen Norris, the women pastors who have lovingly and honestly mentored me and shown by their example what it means to love God and love the people as you serve, the church basement women throughout my life who have taught me what faithful hardworking service looks like (with lots of humor thrown in), Grandma Alice who lived as she believed...well, we were supposed to just talk about one, so I suppose I should stop there!

4. Francis loved nature and animals, how important is an expressed love of the created world to the Christian message today?
I think very important. Creation and the stewardship of it has always been a part of our faith, and it is even more poignant today. Even though people don't all agree about things like global warming, we can all agree that we as human beings have a hugely destructive footprint on this world, and that we have to do something about it. Even folks who have been seriously in denial are starting to recognize that things have to change. We as Christians have something important and beautiful to say in this conversation that speaks to these concerns.

5. On a lighter note; have you ever led a service of blessing for animals, or a pet service, was it a success, did you enjoy it, and would you do it again?
I have never done one, but have always wanted to! I have heard humorous stories of sheep pooping all over the narthex, animals getting loose and running free during the service, and a bird getting free, flying up to the rafters, and pooping on the pastor during the sermon. Nonetheless, I hope to do one some day! I'm guessing an outdoor service is the way to go.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Politics

I am sick and tired of politics.

And we still have a month until the presidential election!

My hubby is super into this stuff. He won't get home until 11 pm tonight, but won't go to bed until he's watched the Vice Presidential debate, which he taped. I, who could have watched it, listened in for a few minutes, felt naseous, and channel surfed instead.

Now, I know these things matter for the future of our country. People feel very passionate about the many different philosophies of how one best approaches domestic and foreign policy. What I hate is when they caste those whose stance is different from theirs as evil, as non-human, as idiotic, as unpatriotic, etc. I mean, come on!!!

The commentary on the debate (the little that I have been willing to listen to) has said that overall both candidates did fine. I'm sure my hubby will tell me alllllllllll about the many details, in detail, tomorrow.

Sigh.

I do care about who wins. I think it would be a Definate mistake to put McCain and Palin in the White House. I just think that we should be able to have a more bipartisan spirit as we all seek to make good decisions for our country, and for many people around the world.

But then I suppose that makes me a naive idiot when in comes to how things really have to work. Blech!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wasting time in front of the TV

The original movie version of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is hysterical. Old time special effects, gratuitous shirts-coming-off, stereotypical characters, and a goofy duck named Gertrude who steals the show until its untimely death.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time for an Overhaul

A kick in the pants.

That's what I need.

My house needs an overhaul. My ministry goals and organization needs an overhaul. I need more sleep. I need more time actually connecting with my family. I need to eat better, and get my body moving.

So what's it going to take?

I've found myself really getting into the area youth group I've started, the National Youth Gathering group of kids, confirmation, and going to ball games. The youth have given me energy and enjoyment in what I do, which has made me think about all the other areas that have fallen into apathy or exhaustion.

To-do lists take you only so far. So what's the answer? Besides prayer? And chocolate?

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's All in the Attitude


"And just why aren't you petting me, and lavishing me with the loving attention I deserve?!"
This is our neighbor's cat, Oreo.
I love the expression!
Since we don't (can't?) have any pets, Lil' Princess and I get our animal fix wherever we can. Oreo obliged, to a point.

Friday, September 19, 2008

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five

I haven't done one of these for a while, so thought this would be a good one to jump back in with.

"It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness. And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn. As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:"

1) A fragrance
Hmmm...I don't quite know how to explain this, but fall just smells different. Each season has its own scent, and I always welcome the scent of fall, which is one of my favorite times of the year.

2) A color
There is a hill on the edge of my hometown that looks like a beautiful patch-work quilt in the fall when the leaves change - yellows, oranges, reds and browns of many hues. It would take my breath away every year. The bright reds on the maple trees in particular are my favorites.

3) An item of clothing
I love that fall gives me the good excuse to put on one of my snuggly warm sweaters. I love wearing a cardigan sweater, especially a super soft black one I have that feels like being wrapped in a blanket.

4) An activity
Raking up a big pile of leaves and jumping in it with my daughter of course! Is there any other???

5) A special day
The first day of school. Even though I'm no longer in school, there's something about that ingrained rhythm in our lives. The anticipation of the first day, all the great supplies you had to go shopping for, the chance to learn something new. I still love it, and I'm glad that Lil' Princess gets to be a part of it now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another Full Week

Conclusions Drawn from This Week:

1. If you get the chance to read a story to a kindergarten class, go for it. Their pure joy and involvement in it is good for your soul.

2. There truly is a good reason why the rites and ceremonies of secret societies of organizations like the Masons are not allowed in the church according to my denomination. Just say no! Really!

3. No matter how squirrelly or annoying they may be, take time to really listen to the youths in your life. They're dealing with alot, and need to know you're there for them.

4. Never EVER get into a political discussion with your peers unless you have a graceful way to excuse yourself from the conversation.

5. At least once a week, make someone laugh. It's a good gift to give, and it's good for you too!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happenings

A family of dear friends of ours have come through a tramatic time, and it looks like all will be well. The eldest daughter was in an accident on the way home from work, but she and her 11-week old fetus are OK. She'll have to do PT for a while, and will have pain for a good long while, but she's OK, for which we are so supremely grateful!!!!

This is one of those times I miss being near my friends. I just want to hug them all! I do hope that when they have a baby shower for her, that I can go. I confirmed this sweet girl (I think of her and her sister as my girls), and did her marriage ceremony, and I want in on this baby too!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Royalty Among Us


Introducing...
Peter, KING of the Bunnies!
There are a slew of rabbits around town, but this guy is partial to our back yard. We see him regularly, nibbling on the weeds (the only things that will grow out there anymore) and scampering around the bird feeder area.
Lil' Princess was very concerned about him all last winter, and insisted that we leave food out for him. It was she who named him, and declared that he was the great majesty of bunnyhood. Our neighbors with gardens are less impressed, I'm sure!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Manic Wednesday into a Quiet Thursday

Yesterday was a obnoxiously intense day, so today I'm in recovery. Really. I had four meetings, each of which were at least an hour and a half long and pretty intense at times. Plus I had confirmation. And my hubby came home very upset and angry, so some time was spent talking with him.

So today, I'm exhausted, I have a medium migraine, nausea, and the runs (you really wanted to know that last part!) I have a meeting at 4:30, and Chuck's aunt and uncle are showing up around 4pm. So I'm resting for as long as I can.

The fall schedule has me running crazy. I feel like I don't have time to even think. So much for part time!

Well, enough navel gazing. Time to get back to reruns of Project Runway as I try to convince my body and mind to relax!

Monday, September 01, 2008

How Time Flies

I have been terribly lax about blogging lately. This is because, well, I've actually had interesting things to do and places to go recently! Here's the short summary until I get more time:

We bought a new car in MN this weekend - a Pontiac Vibe. It is awesome!

Lil' Princess is sick with a mystery respiratory illness, and her sleep schedule is all messed up.

Got to hang out with my parents (and my oldest bro!) longer than I had planned, since Lil' P got sick(er) during the trip. Which meant I didn't get to see some friends I'd hoped to see, but it was more relaxing, and so nice to just hang out with family.

I feel about the best I have in about a year, emotionally. I think it's a combination of talking some things out, having the fall schedule get under way, and getting to travel a bit this summer.

RevDad is exhausted from a busy weekend, but grateful that we're home. He and our girl are playing Barbies in the basement, and re-bonding.

So there ya' are. We're home. Tomorrow will be a busy day. Gotta get ready for hosting text study, which means I should bake something yummy, and read the texts before tomorrow morning!

How do muffins sound?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Reality Nite

Ah yes, my one night of guilty pleasure, of tv with no redeeming value! Lil' Princess was exhausted from school, and actually went to bed without a fight, so I was able to watch my shows in peace for once.

Shear Genius - The Finale; it was down to the top three. They had to come up with a story of a life of a woman, and show this story through the hairstyles using an 18 yr old, a 30 yr old, a 45 yr old and a 60 yr old model. For me, the winner was clear. Charlie is an excellant hairstylist, and he had a good story, but his styles made his ladies look old. Nicole did a nice job, but once again showed her inexperience. Dee just did a wonderful job, and I totally agree with the judges choice of her as the winner!

Project Runway - I love these challenges! Tonight's was taking car parts and using them to make an outfit. How hysterical, and what a chance to be innovative and think outside the box! As usual, Blayne annoyed the heck out of me. Most of the designers seemed to have fun with it, and rose to the challenge. I agreed with the top two, they did amazing things with car parts! Leane deserved the win. The bottom two ended up there because they were designing with judges past critiques in mind instead of the present challange. So glad that Kief is finally out, because he showed minimal range. Fringe seemed to be all he was able to do!

Another intriguing week. Now I have to find a show to replace Shear Genius!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Long Road

Things have really picked up. It's been a quiet summer, but now ministry situations are coming out of the wood-work.

A suicidal member who refuses treatment, and his confused and hurting family who don't know how to deal with him (adult children).
It is SO frustrating that we have little to no mental health professionals and support out here. Folks with issues go untreated for years because of ignorance about these kind of issues, and when they finally do recognize they need help, the options are very limited. There are generations of depression and suicide in many families around here, but no professional help. The local pastor is as close as it gets to help, and we're not trained to give what many of these folks really need!
The son of the man who is suicidal doesn't want to talk to dad because of the hurtful things that were said and done in the big episode that happened before the sheriff's deputies hauled the dad away. And I'm trying to talk to him about his father having an illness, and about the son needing to talk about his feelings, so that he stays healthy. And he's looking at me like I'm speaking a foreign language. But by the end, he'd come to an understanding of what I meant, and what was going to be helpful during this tough time.

Oh Lord, be with this man, his two brothers, and their mom! And be with their dad, help him to seek out the help he needs.

It's going to be a long road.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Some thoughts about the day

It was a GREAT day at kindergarten for Lil' Princess!

And I only cried a little when I left the school. RevDad was fully stoic and tough. My wonderful RevFriend boosted my spirits over Chai tea, and helped put it into persective.

The year of Christian education got launched tonight with the Confirmation program parents' meeting. It went well, and it feels kind of exciting to be diving into the fall schedule.

Here we go!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tomorrow...

...my baby goes to kindergarten.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Van Has Landed

We have landed.

Whew!

It was a long trek, a good one, and it's good to be home. We saw our parents, did a quick celebration of our anniversary, did some errands that had to be done back in the "old home country" and then took the long road back.

As always, we wish we had more time, wish we could have seen some friends and more of our family, but we take what we can get. It was a quick respite before the insanity of fall schedules and Lil' Princess going to school begins.

So tonight we settle in, get reacquainted with the home turf, and get ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.

I have several conclusions from our whirlwind trip:

1. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee is obnoxiously fun. And a great way to celebrate our 15 year anniversary!

2. A day and a half with each set of parents is NOT enough time. It was all we had, but still. You need to take the time.

3. Go to St. John University near St. Cloud MN. Ask someone how to get to the swimming beach. Find the walking path that goes around the lake, out to the chapel. It's worth it. Beautiful, life-affirming, God-present, delightful kind of stroll that restores one's soul.

4. A good way to deal with the frustration of road construction while on long trips is to use it as a prayer discipline. While in sight of any orange cone, barrel or sign, be in prayer. When you see road construction workers, pray specifically for them. Many have a tough, thankless job.

5. When the trip home gets long, list all the things you were blessed by during the vacation. Then list all the things you are looking forward to when you get home. You'd be surprised how this can liven up the conversation, and where it can take you. And how it can make the miles fly by for a little while, at least.

6. Be gentle to each other. Everyone's tired and out of sorts to some extent. Wait to deal with BIG stuff until you've slept in your own bed at least one night.

Well, there's my travel-worn wisdom. May your miles fly by, your worries be few, and your happy reunions many. Good Night!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wow! Did you see that?!?!

It's been wonderful to watch gymnastics and swimming tonight on the Olympics coverage. We are all in awe of what these athletes are capable of...

We are just glued to these games. It will be challenging on us to be traveling these next few days, since we don't want to miss our nightly viewing!

Sorry, just don't have time to say much now. Don't want to miss a second!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Guess Who's Coming for Dinner

My aunt and uncle are visiting today through Wednesday morning, which rocks. We haven't gotten to spend much time with them for years, so its so good to have them here. Besides being my godparents, they are also a lot of fun.

My uncle has already charmed Lil' Princess with his goofiness and antics, watching him tease her just like he used to tease me when I was little was priceless. He tried to convince her to call him "Uncle K the Great" but instead she has declared him to be "Uncle K the Silly" much to my aunts delight! We gave them the tour of the church, down town and took them out to eat, then had a nice time chatting the evening away. I'm just so glad to have visitors!!!

Tomorrow I'll take them to see the other two churches and visit the cool odds 'n ends store here in town. After that, we'll just have to wait and see what they are interested in doing. There aren't a whole lot of options, and most of them require alot of driving, so we'll see if they want to travel, or if they'd rather hang out and talk. I'm just so happy to have the time with them, I'm willing to go with the flow.

It's so nice to have something to look forward to as I head to bed and think about tomorrow. Happy dreams!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

All Eyes on China

The glory of the games!

We're enjoying watching the Olympics at our place. We let Lil' Princess stay up late to watch a majority of the opening ceremonies, and have had the TV on much of this afternoon. She's asked alot of questions, and was impressed with some of the gymnastic events in particular. RevDad was on the swim team in high school, so he's kept an eye on the water events. I just love it all! I totally buy into the whole package - nations coming together, united by the love of athletics and excellance, celebrating what brings us together.

Now, there are plenty of politics swirling around these Olympics. Because China is hosting, and have a terrible history with human rights violations, plus the whole Tibet issue, there are those who are calling for the public to boycott the games. Others are ticked with how NBC is handling the broadcasting of the events.

I'm just glad in our fractured world full of sound bytes, violence and reactionary thinking, that we can still come together for something better. We can all still agree on some ideals and seek to attain them. We can recognize excellance and celebrate it. We understand sacrifice for something greater. We empathize with defeat, we rejoice with triumph. For a small window of time. we can actually focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us.

For me, the Olympics are about hope.
And some kick-butt athletics!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thought Provoking

"I have a priest friend who points out that the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty"
quote from Ron Hansen, from 'An Interview with Ron Hansen - The risks of writing' by Amy Frykholm in the August 12, 2008 edition of The Christian Century.




"It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings."
--Wendell Berry



These are a couple things that made me go hmmmmm today.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Reality Show Nite

I'm still recovering from yesterday's migraine, so it's been a quiet day. It's nice to end an off day with the shows I've been looking forward to since last Wednesday.

Project Runway - Design the type of outfit Olympic athletes wear in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.
It was fascinating to watch their thought process. I mean, this is for the Olympics, and over half of them are pretty much avoiding the athletic and American aspects of the design! It was truly odd to realize that some were absolutely ignorant about (or ignoring) who their clients were meant to be. I totally agreed with who they chose for the top three and bottom three, and can go along with who won and who was auf'd. The bottom two - a purplish/blue cocktail dress with red piping and a creamy striped dress with little dark cardigan - both deserved it, I thought.

Shear Genuis - The big challenge was to style the hair of a dog and the hair of its owner in a way that both complement each other.
The stylists pretty much freaked out at this one, and I don't blame them! They don't know anything about dog grooming. The winner did do an excellent job of making both the woman and her dog look great, and they looked like a matched set. And I was absolutely thrilled when the stylist who (in my opinion) should have been kicked off WEEKS ago finally got the boot. Yay!!!! She was almost always worst in the challenges, she almost always blamed someone else when the judges didn't like something about her hair-do (tonight, yet again, she blamed the client!), and yet has managed to make it till now. I would have been seriously ticked if the guy who was up on the chopping block with her had been the one to go, he has shown such great possibilities.

Another night of guilty pleasures is over. Now I've switched it over to the movie version of Pride and Prejudice, to watch Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy discover that struggle and challenge makes the coming together that much sweeter.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Blech


Migraine day.

Sink hole of pain.

Can't think clearly.

Just want it all to be over.

Coherent thought maybe tomorrow.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Stormy Thoughts

I am considering walking on water.

I mean, not me doing that nifty little miracle, but the Gospel lesson for next Sunday that recounts Jesus walking on water. And Peter trying to. And going all panicky. And having to get fished out by Jesus. (Me? I'd still be clinging to the boat, freaking out)

So I was looking around at my usual internet spots for inspiration to prepare for tomorrow's text study, and came across a blog that had a link to a Casting Crown's song. This is a Christian band that I'm not all that familiar with, but I was touched by the song, and thought, "Hey, I'll check them out on YouTube, and see if they have something that connects with this Sunday's theme." Aren't you so glad you get to hear my internal dialoge?

Well, I just finished about 30 minutes of listening to their songs and BAWLING my eyes out because they are so incredibly moving and I'm such an emotional rollercoaster this week (you girls all understand). Their songs are so powerful, about forgiveness, and crying out to God in our pain, and not being judgemental, and not shutting out people who aren't like us, and so on. Powerful! I have so been out of modern Christian music ever since my daughter was born, so they were new to me.

I don't think my foray into YouTube necessarily helped me with walking on water, but it definately touched me in a deep soulful way tonight. Which walking on water certainly did for Peter. And for the rest of the disciples for that matter! There's one Casting Crowns song, Praise You in this Storm, which I think will make its way into my reflections this week and perhaps my sermon this Sunday.

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

Chorus:
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away

Chorus

I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

Chorus

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On all things Vehicular

We are in the middle of the great vehicle debate.

The good old family van needs to be replaced, because it gets terrible gas mileage, and it's starting to show warning signs that age is catching up with it.

So here's the debate, condensed;

Me: Gas prices aren't going to get any better, so our priority needs to be something that gets great gas mileage, but is roomy enough that we're all comfortable riding in it.

Hubby: I still want something that has plenty of room for us to haul things when we go on trips, or do one of our big restocking shopping trips. We'll miss having the room to be able to haul stuff and fit in extra people. Plus it would be nice to be able to have towing capability, if we're going with a smaller vehicle than the van. If we need to haul something larger, then we could hook up one of my dad's small trailers to it.

So what should our compromise be? Any suggestions???

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Great Escape

Project Runway - Episode 3

Let the controversy begin! I DO NOT agree with the judges' decision on tonight's episode, and I am sure the blogs are absolutely buzzing tonight with peoples' opinions and disagreements about it. The designers were sent around New York with cameras to take pictures of things that inspired them. They had to choose one picture, and design an going-out-on-the-town outfit inspired from the picture. Some of the pictures were amazing, and showed some pretty good photography skills, actually. It was interesting to see what they found inspiring - graffiti, clocks, tiles, grating, lights of traffic, etc.

The winning designer created a dress from some absolutely hideous fabric, mainly teal with magenta in the pattern. And sticking out from one hip was this bubble of magenta tulle. It made the model look lop-sided, and silly. The outfit I was rooting for had beautiful gray and black graceful petal layers on the skirt, and a black top that was very elegant and fit perfectly with the skirt.

The loser designed an asymetrical black dress with some Carmen Miranda fruity colored ruffles that ran across the breasts and down the front. I was a bit surprised that they auf'd her over the designer who created an outfit that is the definition of boring and matronly, but since they were both bad, either could go in my opinion.

Well, there's my escape for the week. Swirls of fabric, a whole lotta personalities, and a string of outfits that I would never wear!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Admit it, I'm a Worship Planning Geek

Tonight we had the first Worship planning meeting since I've been in this parish. I've been going it alone up till now, so it was a relief to get others' perspectives on worship, and hear some excitement about doing new things. And hear some ideas take flight in ways I could have never envisioned on my own!

What seemed to get the motors really revving was when I mentioned that October 5th is World Communion Sunday. Boy, did the ideas start flowing! They want me to learn about how other countries "do" communion, and maybe incorporate a different tradition into our communion that day. We're going to have some great congregational music from around the world, we're going to have the kids make decorations for the worship space and design the bulletin cover, and see if we can get some info and decorations from a local retired pastor who was a missionary in Africa for over 30 years. We're going to try to really build this up, and get folks excited. Since this synod's connection with our Companion Synod in Africa is extremely minimal, I thought I'd try to get some info about it, and do some educating about it.

So we're off to a promising start, just as long as we keep good communication with the whole parish about what we're doing and why, and make sure we keep everyone involved. Yay for worship planning!!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Modified Pastoral Evaluation Form - for anyone who finds it helpful!

Pastoral Evaluation


Please use this scale when considering the following statements:
5 – Very Good
4 – Good
3 – Adequate
2 – Only Fair / Not So Good
1 – Poor



PREACHING
__________ Preaches well, God’s Word is made alive and related to our life situations
__________ Is faithful to the teachings of Scripture and makes good use of tools for Bible
study
__________ Expects us to participate in the life and mission of the church
Comments:







WORSHIP LEADERSHIP
__________ Leads worship services well, comes through sincere and genuine, easy to
understand and follow
__________ Provides variety in our worship life, is sensitive to our needs when introducing
changes
__________ Counsels with families about the meaning of Baptism before a child is baptized
__________ Meets with couples before marriage to help them begin life together with God
Comments:







PASTORAL CARE
__________ Is sensitive to people, alert to our spiritual needs, and responds quickly when
there is a crisis
__________ Is a good listener, one who can be trusted with a confidential matter
__________ Provides a counseling ministry within the limits of her ability
__________ Visits regularly the sick, the dying, and the bereaved
Comments:







LEADERSHIP
__________ Works well with leaders of the congregations & encourages them as they do their
work
__________ Coordinates, advises, and evaluates what’s happening in the parish with the
parish leadership
__________ Is involved in the community or other activities outside the congregations and
encourages members to do the same
__________ Helps encourage and motivate teachers and other workers for parish ministry
Comments:







GROWTH
__________ Works to sharpen own skills; seeks to grow in those areas where we need strong
leadership
__________ Follows a regular program of prayer and devotion for her own spiritual growth
__________ Takes commitment to own family seriously, takes time off
__________ Keeps parish leadership informed about plans for her own personal and
professional growth
Comments:


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
__________ Teaches and empowers others to teach adult education classes, retreats or other learning opportunities; makes classes interesting and informative
__________ Teaches and empowers others to teach child and youth education classes, retreats or other learning opportunities; makes classes interesting and informative
Comments:

Sermon Thoughts; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Excessive, ridiculous, out-of-bounds, over-flowing, beyond abundant.

That is the kingdom of heaven.

Mustard seed - this teeny seed turns into a rough, dry looking small shrub, that spills many many seeds around it to propigate new plants. How can this become "the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." This becoming of a small humble unwanted weed into something grand says miracle, and how God starts works with the small and humble to make his kingdom known.

Yeast mixed in flour - the absurd amount of bread made by the woman reflects the abundance and fullness of the kingdom

Treasure hidden in a field -great joy in discovery and overwhelming response to that joy that the kingdom inspires.

Pearl of great value - selling everything in order to obtain that which is precious. That is how important the kingdom is for us.

Net thrown into the sea - everyone is drawn into the kingdom, none are left out of that net. It is only at the end of the age that the separation comes. All are given the invitation, all are given the chance.

The great irony in this story is that Jesus asks his listeners "Have you understood all this?" and they answer "Yes."!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fun with Chickens



So what did you pick???

Friday Five: What you positively cannot leave home without!

This week's RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five question is: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?

1. Cash - you just never know when it will come in handy. There are times when credit cards just aren't a good idea, or aren't accepted. Plus, it's a bit of a secrity blanket, you feel ready for anything!

2. Something to read - if there is a moment of down time, I NEED something to read, no question. Or there will be trouble! Yes, I'm addicted to reading...

3. Extra undies - I think I learned this from my mom. You always bring an extra pair of panties, just in case. 'Cause you can put up with a lot, and face a lot of unexpected troubles, as long as you have fresh undies in the morning! (or is it just me?!?)

4. Camera - those photo ops show up sometimes when you least expect them. And even if you don't end up using it, it doesn't hurt to bring it.

5. Shoes for every occasion - I know, it often makes no sense, they take up way to much room, and you don't end up using them all, but I just can't not pack them.

There's nothing particularly odd or cool that I routinely bring with me. Though my husband and I used to travel with his brown teddy bear pillow and camoflage blanket from the guards because they were comfy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday Reality TV Binge

Wednesday is turning into my big TV night. First Project Runway, then Shear Genius. I think I dig these because they are all about creative people trying to excell in their talents. With some personality clash-drama thrown in!

Project Runway - the designers had to use "green" fabrics chosen by their models, to create cocktail dresses specifically for their models. It was tough for them, since their models (who don't know any better) chose fabrics that didn't go together, or not enough yardige of fabrics, or the exact same fabrics as other models. Some rose well to the challenge. Others, definately not so much. No strong personalities have emerged yet...but its still early yet!

Shear Genius - A very moving episode. For the big challenge, they had to style wigs for women who have alopecia (sp?). A couple of them really connected and felt for these women, and threw themselves whole-heartedly into it. It became less about a self-focused competition and more about helping some women who have suffered. My big frustration is that one of the stylists is constantly among the worst, places the blame on everyone else, and has yet again squeeked by and not been eliminated. Urgh!

Sigh. Now to wait a whole another week for the next episodes. How will I manage it??

Oh yeh, I have a ton of ministry work to do. And house work to do. And Barbie/princess games to play.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday's Text Study

This coming Sunday - 9th Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 3:5-12 Solomon asking God for the gift of wisdom
Psalm 119:129-136 "When your word is opened it gives light..."
Romans 8:26-39 "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?"
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 Multiple parables about the kingdom of heaven

This morning's text study worked on the many parables about the kingdom of heaven in Matthew, and the richness of concepts and images in Romans. The one sentence we all seemed to focus in on was Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." This is a radical statement to make, when faced with the realities of life many face - hail, drought, divorce, cancer, dementia, car accidents, our country still at war and many of our young people serving in dangerous places, rising gas prices, and this list goes on. ALL things work together for good?

Yes, these realities are hard and harsh. Yes, we deal with serious issues. But they do not define us, nor do they have the last word. The good news is "I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." God is active and alive in our lives, loving and supporting us through everything, no matter what. Nothing can stop that good!

Those are the early thoughts for this week. Some good directions, that will take some hard work and lots of thought. Let the pondering begin!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Diagnosis, and a Great Jacket

The diagnosis from the doctor for Lil' Princess' alarming spreading rash: Fifth Disease.

It's a relief that it's just a mild rash illness which apparantly is a common childhood illness now (I don't remember it from my childhood). It should clear up in about a week. We've been enjoying good health for a while now, so it took us by surprise when this nasty rash started showing up. Now that she's going to public school this fall, we really should get ready for just about every bug and germ there is. Yuck!

Such a day. RevDad and Lil' P got some bonding time today with the doctor visit and hanging out this afternoon while I went shopping with my Revfriend from down the road. She needed to do a major supply run, but her vehicle has become unreliable, so I drove and got to have a fun day with my friend. Herbergers has a 70% sale on right now, and I found the sweetest little jacket. It looks great, fits great, and I got one in black and one in a gray pattern for a total of $25!!!

All in all, it was a good day. I'm grateful.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hail, hail, go away, come again...well, never!

This weekend a hail storm went through south of here. It took out various fields in its wake, a number of which belong to members of one of my congregations. These are their southern fields that were actually doing well, in contrast to their northern fields which have not received enough moisture and have basically crisped up in the sun. So a good number of them just watched this year's profit disappear.

In commenting to one of them that farmers are the world's biggest gamblers, this life long farmers wife replied that one time she told her husband that they should take the money they put into the fields every year and blow it in Vegas. At least they would have fun losing it.

They're solid people, taking it is stride. This is not a new situation. But still a tough one.

One family has it particularly tough. The dad is in Minneapolis, struggling for life. He's waiting on a heart transplant. They put in a pump, but the doctors estimate that it will only hold him over for maybe six weeks. His wife and three grown kids made the long trip and are there with him. While they're gone, the hail storm went through, and the folks at church tell me that it wiped out almost all their fields. Talk about hitting you when you're down.

Life is tough out here. It just is. And no one tries to pretend otherwise. We're all a storm or a bad choice away from losing everything. It's a very bare-bones, honest, simple way of seeing the world.

I still struggle with it. The emptiness, the loneliness, the harshness. I don't call my friends hardly ever anymore, 'cause what am I going to say? Compared to what other people have to deal with, what point is there in their having to hear the broken record of my depression, my loneliness? I've got a job, a home, a family. We have food on the table, clothes on our backs, and enough money to pay for what we need. Guess this weekend has been a reality check for me. Sure I'm in pain, but what's that compared to losing your year's income? Watching your husband or dad struggle to hold on to life? Waiting for a heart that may not come in time?

Dang, this is a dark post. Guess it reflects my thoughts these days. I've really been struggling this summer. I'm so unhappy here. I feel trapped. I feel alone. I just want to go home. But where is that?

ENOUGH with the downers! The Pity Party is over. Here's hoping tomorrow is a better day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Saving Power of Humor

I signed up to get a daily Savage Chickens cartoon in my email, and I've enjoyed their offbeat humor. My current world/ministry is usually lacking humor that could be called offbeat. Eccentric, yes. But funky offbeat no.

When I got this particular cartoon recently, I about snorted my milk out my nose. Just had to share!!!

If you don't get it or think its stupid, I'm so sorry, I just can't help you. You need some intense twisted-humor therapy. Begin by viewing all the Monty Python movies. For the religiously, scripturally inclined, start with "Life of Brian." Trust me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fierce!

The day has has finally come! Not THE DAY when Christ returns in glory, of course. But the day when Project Runway Season 5 begins!!!

I have been a faithful watcher from the very beginning, my first guilty pleasure in reality television. And I was sooooo pleased that for the first challenge, they brought back the grocery store shopping trip from the first season. Just imagine, the materials for you to construct your outfit have to be bought from a grocery store! I was disappointed that most of the designers just bought table clothes and modified them...not very original. Only two of them actually used food items, which is a bummer, cause that's the fun part!
But nonetheless, I enjoyed the episode, and am ready for another fun-filled season. I can already tell that a couple of the designers are going to drive me crazy, and that a few of them are going to be a blast.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Getting Caught Up

Halleluiah! I'm connected!

The past few days our internet service has been spotty and difficult, and I've been unable to access Blogger. I think I started going through serious withdrawal!!

Our excitement from this weekend was going to a rodeo - and we're talkin' the REAL thing. Never saw so many spurs, giant belt buckles and cowboy hats in my life. Lil' Princess and I enjoyed it while RevDad had to help his youth run the concession stand. They sold funnel cakes, and oh, Yum! Hot oil fried, powdered sugar covered heaven!

There were a few tough moments at the rodeo, one of which we did witness. While we were there, they were herding a bronc back into the corral after a bronc riding event, and it ran full speed straight into a metal fence. It was knocked unconscious, and died later. It was tough to see it happen, I'm glad Lil' P was looking away at the moment. Later on, after we left, a cowboy got gored by a steer. Glad we missed that.

Yesterday's sermon went really well, I'm pleased to say. I used a dead potted petunia (one that had died before I had gotten it planted) and talked about God's extragent grace and about how we are to grow and bloom in faith. The dead petunia was a good visual for what our other option is for our faith if we resist growth. What was great about it, was that they were actually open to hearing about how we can encourage others in their growth of faith. Usually they tune out when I start talking about sharing our faith, but something about this Sunday's Gospel, and the growth/seed imagery connected with them. Yay!

Today was get-serious-about-cleaning day. Now that we're going to be around home for a while, its time to take care of all those jobs that we've been avoiding. So today I took on our bedroom, while Lil' P played Cinderella around me (I got to be the Grand Duke. When she switched to Cinderella II, I got to be one of the ladies-in-waiting. Lucky me!). I've come to the conclusion I should clean under the bed more often. I sneezed for a good minute after sweeping under there!

Now I'm enjoying internet computer heaven while Lil' P and RevDad watch WonderPets. Aahhh. For the moment, life is good.