Monday, June 30, 2008

picture from Flickr

Pink, yellow, green.

Colored marshmallows are tonights snack.

The smell, color, taste, all bring back one of the few memories I have of my maternal grandmother. She died when I was four, so I have only two primary memories of her. One is that whenever we visited her, for a special treat she would give me a little tupperware cup filled with colored marshmallows. This was special, because we didn't get them at home. I would suck on each one, until it melted in my mouth. Each was a fruity sweet treasure, and Grandma was the smiling, hugging purveyor of this treat. I'm thankful to have such a tactile memory of her.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy Jig

Official Post-Vacation Tally:
-oddly shaped sunburn on my upper shoulders.
-scattering of mosquito bites (only a couple on Lil' Princess, thank heavens)
-small bag of laundry (yay for vacationing at Mom and Dad's place!)
-large credit card bill, mostly for gas
-6 books read
-bug splattered windshield to be cleaned and many bags to be unpacked
-content family, happy to be home and together again. And a pretty relaxed momma.

It was a good week at Lake Woebegone, my home town. Hung out with my big bros, and sis-in-law while they were around. Played with nephews. Teased my parents. Ate some REAL cookin' for a change (don't moms rule!). Played in the lake. Read. Took pictures. Talked. Tickled. One of the highlights mostly for the male contingent was the fishing. My dad delighted in taking the guys out, my nephews couldn't get enough of it!

Have to share one of the funny/fun afternoons. My big bro took my other bro, my sis-in-law, two nephews, Lil' Princess and me all out in the boat. (WAYYYYY too many people for one fishing boat, let me tell you, especially when there are a five and six year old involved). We went a fishin'. It was funny! My sis-in-law had fished the day before, and it had been YEARS since I'd fished, so she took it upon herself to teach my girl. It was cute!
Here the two of them are discussing the finer points of not dropping the rod in the water:
Yes, that's my girly girl in the Dora hat and the Disney princess life jacket. After a while she and her six year old cousin got sick of waiting around for fish to nibble and thought it would be way more fun to pull reeds out of the lake to see how long they were and what slimey things might be on them.
So here are the two aqua explorers:
A big highlight of the week for me was surprising a classmate of mine from seminary. She serves a parish not far from where my parents live, and I saw in the local paper that she was having a kind of "chat with the Pastor" get together on Friday at the local coffee shop. So I showed up and shocked her socks off! No congregation members showed up, so we spent 3 hours getting caught up. It was lovely, and exactly what I needed. I hadn't really felt relaxed or rejuvenated until after that morning. What a joy to reconnect, and find out how other classmates are doing after all this time!
Unfortunately, RevDad was not able to come with us, he had to work. While we were away, he got food poisoning, and spent most of his time horribly sick. His chest aches and he's talking in a whisper because of the hard and heavy vomiting he had to do. So instead of getting a break from us and getting a little manly mini-vacation, he was sicker than a dog, and looks like a truck ran him over.
Isn't that just life, though? Never what you expect it to be. Tomorrow comes quickly, and I have a huge to-do list awaiting for work and around the house. Lil' Princess begins swimming lessons. The time at the lake will quickly become a distant memory. But, ohh, what a pleasant one! One that we treasure.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Good, Full Weekend


Settling my posterior into the couch feels so good! The big centennial weekend is OVER!

Everything went smoothly yesterday for the town's celebration, we had huge crowds for everything, and I think everyone is really relieved that it's over. The parade was a hoot! We had 97 entries in it, everything from floats, to tractors, to classic cars, to a horse and buggy. The golf cart we rode in was actually decorated very well, and we had a blast riding in it. Lil' Princess and I shoveled out a lot of suckers and bubblegum for the hundreds of spectators while RevDad mastered driving the cart. We had one scarey moment, a little girl, maybe 2, ran straight out in front of us to grab some candy. We screeched to a stop at the same time as the girl's mom grabbed her. Yikes!

I got to quick run to my church 30 miles away for a committal service, then scoot back to town just in time to go to the variety show. There were some wonderful acts, but they packed three hundred people in an un-airconditioned gym on a hot day. We just couldn't last through the whole thing! So Lil' Princess got more time in the big air inflated jumper games (it was cooler standing in the glare of the sun, than in the gym!)

Today was the church's big celebration. I found myself quite nervous about it, more than I expected I'd be. 250 to 300 people showed up for the service, we really packed them in. The Bishop spoke, and two visiting pastors helped us with communion. (It was frustrating, we sent letters to all these former pastors, only four let us know they couldn't come, and the two who did come never contacted me. I didn't even know they were here, until one of my parishioners told me this morning that she'd seen them on Saturday. I sent her to ask them to assist with communion when they arrived, since I didn't know what they looked like.) I preached a short sermon after doing a children's sermon. The children's sermon was the best, it was great to have such a big group of kids! They really got into the book I read them, and you could tell that all the adults were just entranced by the whole experience. We had some absolutely gorgeous special music by the son-in-law of a member.

This evening I had the family prayers service for the family of an elderly lady who died this week. Tomorrow morning will be the funeral, and then Lil' Princess and I will head out to my parents place for a rest time. I'm ready for it!

It was a much anticipated weekend by many, and a good one. And I'm grateful that it has drawn to a close. Bring on the vacation!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Five, Word Association

Here's this week's RevGal's Friday Five:

Think summer......are you there? Below you will find five words or phrases. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem, a memory, a recipe, or a story. You get the idea:

1. rooftop
Growing up, my brother and I would sneak up on the roof of the house when our parents weren't looking. It was a beautiful view, and the breeze was so nice and cool on a hot summer day. Plus it was fun to run around on a roof and defy gravity and be death-defying! Then our dad would spot us, freak out, and make us come down.

2. gritty
The mixture of gravel, sunscreen and bug spray that we would be coated with after a day of swimming and biking on those long summer days. My mom would just groan at the sludge at the bottom of the bath tub.

3. hot town (yeah, I know, it's two words)
Living in Minneapolis/St. Paul area when we first married, surrounded by asphault, concrete and millions of people during boiling hot summers. Sometimes we went to lame movies just for the air conditioning and to get away from people!

4. night
Crickets, the drone of mosquitos, the cooler humid air, the rustle of night animals, stars coming out, settling in on the porch with some iced tea

5. dance
Our girl, Lil' Princess, who dances through each day!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Small Town Shopping

This is one of my most favorite stores EVER. It looks modest from the outside, and well, on the inside too, but the hospitality and interesting variety of items that can be found can't be beat. That's the joys of small town life, there's no cookie cutter shopping experience here! You'll be invited to take a seat, have a cup of coffee, chat for a while, and before you know it, you'll find someone you're related to. And find a unique or practical item you can't live without! I have spent many enjoyable moments here, and Lil' Princess loves it when the owner's friend's dogs are visiting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Upcoming 15 Minutes of Fame...Kind Of

Imagine this:

A golf cart, decorated with tag board signs and some streamers

RevDad at the wheel.

Me and Lil' Princess riding in the back with buckets of candy at the ready.

Yep, that would be the float representing the church in this Saturday's parade!

And who said ministry wasn't exciting and glamorous?!?!?!?

A Fun Explore Day Remembered

The last time my parents visited, I took them to one of the more scenic spots in the area to explore. You can see far out here!

Mom contemplates nature. Or maybe just how far down the drop is! Our area has such diversity in geography, and some areas of quite stunning beauty. Most non-natives have no clue about that fact. But I'm learning.

It was so much fun to go out on the rock outcroppings and see the great views. It made my mother AND my daughter nervous, so I didn't do as much of my usual mountain goat rock hopping as I usually do. But it was a beautiful day, and a fun explore for us all. And even better, no rattlesnakes or mountain lions showed up to spoil the day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weather Wishes

Watching the news footage of the flooding in the Midwest makes your stomach sink. So many homes and businesses destroyed, and so many more communities are endangered. And there's little that can be done.

The irony in this is that out here, we're actually getting a little moisture, and celebrating that fact. After years of drought, the world is green around us, at least for now. BUT not that many miles away from us, they have received alot less moisture, and are browning quickly.

There's just no telling, I guess.

This weekend are some big festivities in town, so we're all hoping for clear skies. There will be a parade on Saturday, and since the congregation I serve in this town is celebrating a big anniversary this weekend too, I suggested to my leadership we should have some sort of entry in the parade. So they have a committee working on it. (I have a sneaking suspicion that I will end up either driving or riding on this float, so I'm hoping especially for no rain!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Big Announcement

The big announcement for today comes from Lil' Princess:

"I don wanna play t-ball anymore."

And she meant it. It took 10 minutes to get her out of the car when we got to practice this morning, and then she refused to take part, and instead crouched down and refused to move or speak to anyone but me. So we left.

So I guess that is that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Day Comes to an End

The setting sun is making the bricks of the church glow a warm yellowish orange, as if they are reflecting the warm rays. It has been a day full of bright colors and warm sunshine, only the second day thus far that really feels like summer.

RevDad has enjoyed his Father's from Lil' Princess and I, a key chain that says "World's Greatest Dad" and a cake that she and I baked for him. His afternoon appointment got cancelled, so he has been able to be home enjoying time with Lil' P. Some folks at the church found a baby owl between the church and parsonage, so our neighbor is trying to nurse it. Lil' P is entranced with it, and insisted he come and see it, after they had a nice long walk.

I'm relaxing to Masterpiece Theatre, "A Room With a View." It has just the perfect mix for relaxing as far as I'm concerned - humor, romance, earlier century English literature and the assurance of a happy ending after suffering. Aahhh, I can feel the stress of the day fading away.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Vacation Dreams

I'm yearning for a break, for an evening where my only "to do" is to walk down onto a dock and watch the sunset. Ah, restful bliss, how I yearn for thee!

Vacation Bible school program was awesome yesterday, the kids were pumped, and we all enjoyed a fun ending to the week. Lil' Princess refused to cooperate during practice, but jumped right in at the program, and had a great time singing and doing the actions. She proudly showed her daddy her classroom, and all her projects. Then it was time to really switch gears, and get ready for the prayer service that evening. It went smoothly, and the sisters seemed to be getting along better.

The funeral was this morning, followed by lunch, and then burial in a town an hour's drive away. All went fine, it just made for a l-o-n-g day. The family seems to be doing all right with each other, and came together for the events of the day. The grandkids are pretty young, and a couple of them took it hard, and cried during the service. It was pretty heartwrenching to look out and see these sweet little girls crying their eyes out for their grandpa.

It was good to come home and hug my girl. Now that she is bathed and tucked into bed, I need to come up with a message for tomorrow. Something coherent and meaningful would be nice! I have a few ideas, but I'm just so exhausted. Some vacation time is overdue!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Beachy Friday Five

At the RevGalBlog we are invited, "in honor of summer, please share your own beachy memories, plans, and dreams with a "Beach Trip" Friday Five."

1. Ocean rocks, lake limps? Vice versa? Or "it's all beautiful in its own way"?
I grew up on a lake, and loved it. Well, I was never fond of lake itch, but other than that, I have wonderful memories of long summer days playing on the beach and in the water, taking swimming lessons, my brothers playing "Jaws" and scaring me, swimming out to the far swimming platform, and jumping off the diving board (I was never brave enough to actually attempt a real dive). It was wonderful! On the other hand, the two experiences I have had of the ocean were awful. In both cases, they were miserably hot, overcast, humid days, and there was nothing beautiful about the beach or the ocean. So I guess I really can't give a fair judgement!

2. Year round beach living: Heaven...or the Other Place?
As a native Minnesotan, I think it is in my DNA to crave a house on a lake. I don't know if I'd want to live there year 'round, I got to do that for a year when I was growing up, and there are definite downsides. But I do dream of walking out a deck in the early morning, cup of tea in my hand, looking over the lake, listening to the sounds of the natural world.

3. Any beach plans for this summer?
In a week and a half, Lil' Princess and I will be at my parents' place for a visit. We look forward to dipping our toes in the lake, fishing with Grandpa, and playing with her cousins on the beach. That will probably be our only beach time, sad to say!

4. Best beach memory ever?
My dad's parents lived on a lake. We grandkids LOVED playing on their dock and in the lake. They didn't have a nice sandy beach, it was all rock, but we just had some of the best times there, probably because we were together as a family, and because they were wonderful grandparents.

5. Fantasy beach trip?
I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. Maybe someday?!?!

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what the beach means to you.
In the "Ya Ya Sisterhood" series of books, there is a part that talks about what it was like when the girlfriends and their kids spent time at the lake. (I can't remember which book it's in). But the author's description of how relaxed and joyful they were, how their true selves were able to emerge and be comfortable at that place, reminded me of what the lake has been for me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wind-blown Day

How the wind blows, so strong in its flight.
The flower pots are frail victims to its force.
I'm glad for strong walls, strong arms around me.
The wind speaks as night draws its dusky blanket.
We fall asleep to its lonely call.

It was a good day at VBS, though the children weren't able to play outside due to the strong winds, and intermittant rain. They are excited about tomorrow's program, and chose their favorite songs with enthusiasm. Even my group of older kids were pleased to choose the song that just they will sing, and got into practicing the skit that they will be performing along with the 3rd and 4th graders. Tomorrow should be a hoot and a half!

This evening I traveled to one of the nearby towns (nearby out here means it takes 30 minutes to get there) to make a visit at a nursing home. One of my members is dying, a woman in her 90's. She was awake and alert, but struggled to be able to talk. We had a good visit none-the-less. She has been a delight to get to know these past months, and she still has some of that sparkle, even as life slips away. The doctor doesn't expect her to live more than a few more days, so we'll be having her funeral next week probably.

When I got home, I got the last details for the funeral this coming Saturday. It's going to be a long one, with family speaking, lots of special music, and three congregational hymns. I keep praying the wind will blow me some inspiration to speak to this hurting family in a way that can help with some healing.

Now to sleep. Tomorrow is another impossibly full day, that I'm not ready for.

Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Big Finale

Well, tonight was it. The Big Finale. Richard, Stephanie and Lisa duke it out for first place and the title of Top Chef (along with $100,000). I have to admit, I've been rooting for Stephanie from the beginning, she's been consistent, talented, and very decent to those working around her. I've enjoyed Richard, with his quirky take on cooking techniques and sense of humor. Lisa's defensiveness, negativity, and tendency to stab others in the back have made me a bit ticked that she made it to the final three.
So who won?
Stephanie!!!!! Yay!!!!!
It was a nice end to a long hard day. Sometimes the nice, talented, hard-working, caring ones win. How very very lovely.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

VBS 2.0 Day Two

I got the word late last night that the gentleman from the parish who has been dying of cancer passed away yesterday. He lived many years past what the doctors predicted, but of course it is still tough on his wife and kids. They loved and truly admired him.

So today I worked VBS, then met with his wife and three daughters late in the afternoon. It was tough, because it was obvious that there were some HUGE issues going on in between the daughters. The issues were unspoken in our meeting, but hung heavy in the atmosphere, in the looks, the sighs, the body language, everything. The youngest daughter has taken the reigns in the decision making, the middle daughter is trying to keep everybody happy, and the oldest is frustrated and resentful over it all. And the wife is staying out of it, just trying to survive in her grief. They would have been married 43 years tomorrow. I tried to make sure everyone was heard, and that I connected with all four, but it was a struggle.

So we'll finish with VBS on Friday, cancelling the VBS potluck & program for Friday night, since the family prayer service will be then. The funeral will be Saturday morning, which should give us enough time to clean up after the Bible school stuff and get the church ready.

So how to encourage family reconciliation and bonding, honor this man's memory, and proclaim the Gospel, in the short bit of time I get with them all together? I have some praying and pondering to do in the midst of chasing after kids this week.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Yet another VBS Day 1

Here we go again, VBS Version 2.0!

I freaked out for the first half hour, not knowing how this particular church runs things, but after that, everything fell into place. It actually went really well, and we all had a great time! I teach the older kids during the two lesson times, and they were very responsive, and enjoyed themselves. I get to be the crazy Professor Wilma in the daily skit during opening time, so the kids are having a great time teasing me about that. I am also the leader for the song teaching station, which went OK, considering I haven't learned the songs and actions yet. We're going to have a program on Friday, so I need to get my act together and make sure the kids know the songs.

Lil' Princess enjoyed the day. One of the leaders brought her granddaughter, who is about her age, and they bonded immediately. They loved the music, the crafts, and recess. The short movie they watched scared them a little, but otherwise they were happy. This church's VBS runs 9am - 2pm, which gets a bit long for the little ones. She was a little testy by the end, but rallied when we got home.

The VBS we're using is Group's Power Lab, their new resource for 2008. We've had to adapt it, since our group is very small, but the kids are loving it, and all of us leaders are finding it easy and enjoyable to use. The experiments are fun, and the themes capture the kids' imaginations. I especially appreciate that it has age appropriate stuff for ALL the ages we've got, 4 yrs old through 7th grade. Many VBS's don't work for the older kids, they're only geared for the little ones. My bigger kids, 5th grade through 7th, really like it, and made a point of telling me today that they appreciate that we got one that works for their age too.

When I got home, a migraine set in, which didn't surprise me that much. It's a stressful time right now. So I'm letting the TV stay on to keep my girl busy while I ride out the pain. I hate doing that, but sometimes you just gotta go there. RevDad has his VBS this evening, so I'm on my own. At this moment the Wonderpets are on, which I normally find bearable and a bit sweet, but right now it's nauseating. The lesson for this episode is: sharing. They've got some baby sea lions to save, who are having trouble sharing a fish, and they're in danger of falling into the deep water on a dangerously windy day. You really wanted to know that, didn't you?!?!

Tonight, and the next few nights, we host some camp counselors that are helping lead the VBS at RevDad's church. So I'd better make the beds in the guest room, and finish up the cleaning hubby has been working on. Too bad I won't be much of a hostess tonight, but I'll try to make up for it the rest of the time. Come to think of it, they'd probably appreciate just being left alone to relax after the full day. So I won't feel guilty!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Thinking About the Week

Tired, tired, tired...

Today I managed to pull out a good sermon (if I may toot my own horn, several members called it "inspiring") while doing three worship services, visited a member who is sick, did a nursing home service, and visited a member in the hospital. And now I need to prepare for tomorrow morning's VBS, which I've had NO prep time for as of yet.

And I just want to go to bed. Now

This is going to be another week of push, push, push. I need to visit another member who is dying, and help his family plan the funeral. I need to finish planning the church's anniversary worship service. I need to plan the music, the skits, and the older kids' classes for Mon - Fri VBS. I need to meet with the women to plan the reception for after the anniversary worship. And then there's the endless usual ministry and home tasks that need to get done.

It's a challenge not to get overwhelmed. I need to stay focused, and calm. Dealing with depression makes this all the more challenging, because it makes it harder to see solutions and feel positive about what I am capable of doing.

So here we go. Take it piece by piece, and day by day, and sleep when I can. Sounds like a plan!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Another Week, A Hard Week

It's been a LONG week. Helping with VBS, then spending the weekend at our synod assembly.

And now I've got to write a sermon for tomorrow.

But all I can think about is the parish meeting we had Wednesday night, before we left for the assembly. It became clear that the honeymoon period is over. I'm a little stressed over this, because their critiques have me stuck between a rock and a hard place. I don't spend enough time with them between services, because I have to get to the other services. I'm late for services, because I spend as much time as I can talking to people at the previous church. So people aren't happy. And I'm frustrated that no one talked to me face to face about it long before now, but instead this is coming up at a parish meeting apparantly months after the complaints started.


Let it go, and focus.

Monday, June 02, 2008

VBS Countdown

Day 1 of VBS is over.

I have survived!

There's four days of VBS this week where I assist teaching 4-6 yr olds, then five days of it at another church next week where I solo teach 4th-7th graders.

In case you were wondering, yes, I have lost my mind.

The challange this week is that the curriculum is geared to a much older group, so we're having to do some MAJOR adapting as the camp counselor I'm assisting and I go along. For example, for one of the Bible studies for today, we were supposed to read the story of the unjust judge and the widow out of the Bible, then discuss the nature of the two different characters, and then how God might be like the widow in the story. I know ADULTS who couldn't handle that conversation, much less 5 year olds! So I was scrambling to come up with stuff, while the counselor freaked out a little. Fortunately, I can think on my feet, and come up with fun stuff for kids, thanks to years of After School Klub at my former parish. (a program which rocks, I miss you kids! I miss you Deb!)

So tonight I'm brainstorming ideas of what to do with them tomorrow. The story we're covering is the parable of the owner of the vineyard, who pays all of his workers the same wage, whether they were hired in the morning, or late in the day. The topic is fairness. There are two Bible study times, the first is 35 minutes long, the second is 45 minutes long. (again, not the best for 4-6 year olds!) I'm trying to come up with some simple games and stories that highlight fairness. I'm pretty worn out, though, so the old gears just aren't moving that well!

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I'm feeling absolutely uninspired tonight. It's been a good day, lots I could talk about, but the words just won't come tonight.

I'm tired. I'm overwhelmed by what's coming this week, and next week. And the week after that, for that matter.

I want a beach, a lounge chair, a great book, and a fruity drink. And no responsibilities for a month.