Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Goodness! Has it really been a year and a half since I posted on here? My, how time flies when you're having fun!

A lot has happened since my last post.

I attended a gathering of my elementary school in July. What wonderful fun, seeing some of the people I hadn't seen in 35 years!

In November I attended some of the festivities surrounding my 30 year high school reunion. Found myself suddenly shy. Not like me at all. But I had a good time reconnecting with some people and remembering things I had forgotten.

In December I turned 49, thus beginning my 50th year.

I have submitted paperwork to apply for ordination in June. Interviews with the Board of Ordained Ministry are on March 4.

I have submitted an application to attend a week long writing workshop in August.

I still need to complete Statistical Tables for 2010. They are due Monday.

One thing at a time...one thing at a time...

My son has a swim meet about 30 miles away at 4, so I'm gonna go now, buy some gas, and get some lunch to eat on the way.

I hope to get back to writing again, but no promises....

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Close encounters of the furred kind...

May 7, 2009:
There’s a groundhog in the grill! And no, I’m not talking about some roadkill cuisine that has just suddenly occurred to me. As I drove into the parking lot of the church as I returned from lunch, my attention was captured by movement in the seventies vintage brick barbecue pit in the corner of the lot. I saw it in time to catch the hindquarters of a very large groundhog turning around and disappearing into the grill.

I thought it was closed. I thought it was concrete on the bottom. I thought the sides were solid brick. Obviously, I was mistaken.

I stepped closer to the grill, and I could see no hole, only the accumulation of leaves from seasons past. I looked down the hillside behind the grill, and saw no signs of the escaping wildlife.

I guess he (or she?) lives there in the inner, hidden recesses of the grill. No fire has touched it in years, so it must be a strong brick house. No fear of big, bad wolves for this little earth-piggy.

Live well, my furry friend, live well.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Septic Tank Pumping Etiquette

I had the septic tank pumped today. I was told they would arrive sometime between 11 and 3, and would call when they were about 30 minutes away.

They called about 11:45.

A nice young man named Tyler showed up at the door. I showed him where the tank was located, told him I thought it was about 1200 gallons, and that we had lived here 10 years and had never pumped it.

He told me he would knock on the door when he was done.

When he came to the door, he asked why we thought it needed pumping. I told him that I knew it had been at least 10 years, and we periodically could smell sewage.

(I didn't share with him the fact that we have houseguests coming over Memorial Day weekend, and Murphy's Law tells us that if it were to fail, it would be then.)

He told me that the level was above the outlet; that he rarely sees them full to that level. He also told me that he pumped out 1500 gallons.

I gave him my credit card, he called in the charge to the office, and offered me some sage septic tank advice. (I also didn't tell him that I had worked in the wastewater business for over twenty years.)

As he left, he reached out to shake my hand.

I found this rather odd, but I shook his hand, nonetheless.

When I went inside, I found the hand sanitizer and used it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Day Off

Today is my day off. My job is 3/4 time, so I try to take Monday and Friday as days off.

Last week, that meant that I spent only about 75% of my available time doing church-y things. Today, I'm pretending I'm doing the things I want to do, like trying to get in to see the chiropractor, picking up the other half of my husband's prescriptions because the pharmacy only handed me one of two on Wednesday, going to Sam's Club to buy meatballs for the church dinner next week, calling the DS to see what he knows that I might not know, getting a start on my sermon since I'll be in a training most of the day tomorrow, and scrubbing the kitchen floor (but I cheat at that since my hubby got me a Scooba for Christmas - I still have to babysit it, though, because it tends to hang up under the cabinets). If I have time I really need to make a jail visit, but I don't quite feel up to it today.

Monday isn't shaping up much better.

Allergies are driving me a bit crazy, so I think I'll take a nap. I can't really do any of this stuff 'til after 8 AM anyway. Later...

Friday, August 29, 2008

First Person, Present Tense

The following is the text of a homily I preached at a nursing home in my area on this week's lectionary text.

Exodus 3:1-15 3:1 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 3:2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3:3 Then Moses said, "I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up." 3:4 When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." 3:5 Then he said, "Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 3:6 He said further, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 3:7 Then the LORD said, "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 3:8 and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3:9 The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 3:10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt." 3:11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" 3:12 He said, "I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain." 3:13 But Moses said to God, "If I come to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" 3:14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." He said further, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" 3:15 God also said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.

This is a familiar scripture to most of us. Even if we haven’t necessarily read it, we’ve at least seen it played out by Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments. We know it and understand it as the call of Moses. Many of you have probably even heard it preached on.

You all know the story. Moses was just walking along, minding his own business and tending his father-in-law’s sheep when he saw a bush burning off to one side of the trail. As he noticed this bush, this fire at the side of the path, he was a little confused, because even though it was burning, it wasn’t being burned up. He decided that he needed to check it out a little more closely, and he had to leave the path to do that.

Often, it seems, God will go to great lengths just to get our attention! For Moses it was a burning bush. Sometimes it’s a lightning strike. Sometimes it may be a serious illness. What lengths has God gone to just to get your attention?

And once God has our attention, isn’t it usually the case that, like Moses, we may have to leave the path we are on to figure out what God wants us to do? God’s path isn’t always the one we have marked out for ourselves, but it seems to me, once we start down God’s path, there isn’t any turning back. We may hit detours and obstacles along the way, but we can always work our way back to the path.

When God saw that Moses’ attention had been caught, God called out to Moses. And when Moses responded, God started talking and didn’t let up. As God spoke to Moses, God began with the proper approach toward holiness – Remove your sandals – you’re standing on holy ground. Now we don’t think about taking off our shoes when we go to church, but we do need to prepare our minds and hearts for any encounter with God. We need to prepare ourselves to be ready to face the miraculous and amazing. When it comes to having a direct encounter with God, we prepare ourselves as best we can, and expect to be amazed.

God continued with the identification of who was speaking, including a short history lesson “I am the God of your father and your ancestors – of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. This was enough to get Moses’ attention, and he hid his face so as to not look directly upon God. Nobody, but nobody feels worthy to look at God straight on.

And then God began to recount how God knew about all that the Hebrew people were going through. God told Moses, "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt."

God knew what was going on with the people. God wasn’t hiding out up in the clouds, oblivious to what was happening on earth. God was keeping track of every person and every encounter and every relationship and every prick and pain of every person.

And that’s still the way it is. Even today, God knows what we are going through. This isn’t just a story of people a long time ago. It’s our story, too.

Some of us may be in Egypt – experiencing suffering and loss of hope…looking for the way to bring an end to the agony, torment and affliction.

Others may be wandering around in the wilderness. Not quite tormented as they have been in the past, yet not really having found the promised land either. Some may be looking backward over their shoulders thinking, “we had it so much better before….Why can’t we just go back? Others may be looking forward, thinking, “I know the promised land is just over the next rise…a few more steps, and we’ll be there!”

Some of us even hear the voice of God calling to us from a bush along the side of the road, and even though at times afraid to face it, are learning to turn toward it to say “Here I am."

And wherever we are in our journey of faith, God knows what we’re going through and promises to be with us on the way.

This scripture offers us God’s promise. It may be a little hard to weed out, but we find it in God’s words to Moses. When Moses asks God what he should tell the people…how will they know that God sent him? God tells him to say: , 'I AM has sent me to you. The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.

Two simple words, I AM – the name of God. These words are a promise.

God’s name is I AM forever. First person, Present tense of TO BE. God - the first being and the last. A person in the man, Jesus Christ who suffered more than we can know or fathom, so much to die for our sins as a living and human sacrifice, and present always with us in the Holy Spirit. A wonderful promise for all times- always present tense: I am. Yesterday: I AM. Today: I AM. Tomorrow, and the next day, and the next – for all generations –present tense: I AM!

This is the God we worship. The great I AM. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the God of our parents, our ancestors, of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. The God of our journey from the land of suffering into the land of promise. The God who created us, who calls us into service, who knows our suffering, who walks beside us even now, and who leads us on to eternity. This is our God, and we Praise the great I AM for all time. Thanks and praise to God’s holy name!

Labor Day Friday Five

It is supposed to also be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the "salt-of-the-earth nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let's have some fun.

1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
Every job I've ever worked at has had both its good and bad aspects. When I was in college, I worked on a survey crew for the railroad. Sometimes our assignments would include inventory activities, and as I walked along the tracks counting railroad ties for miles on end, I remember thinking about how I thought as a child that it would be a really boring job to have to count railroad ties. And it was.

Another place I worked as an environmental engineer enforcing regulations on various industries. It was one of the most polluted places I've ever been. The air stunk, and the groundwater was purported to have a foot of benzene floating on the top. Beyond that, the work environment was also very poisonous, with egos that had to be protected and vicious back-biting. In the two years I worked there, I encountered at least 8 people who have since died of cancer or had other mysterious illnesses. I still credit my former boss with having saved my life by recruiting me away from that hell-hole.

2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.
Gotta be the one I have now! It took me 25 years to finally respond formally to my call, and now that I'm into the third year with my churches, I still have the feeling of "I can't believe they actually pay me to do this!" To get paid to love people and to be loved by them in return while serving God is the most incredible opportunity I can imagine! I get to read at work and visit people in the hospital and set up gatherings of others. I'm having a great time!

3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.
I'm doing it now! (See #2 above). Like I said, it took me a long time to get here. I used to say that when I won the lottery, I would quit my job and go to seminary. The problem was, I didn't buy lottery tickets. I finally decided that I needed to take the Nike approach and "just do it." I used to make a lot more money than I do now, and had many job-related perks, but I'm so glad I followed this path.

4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?
As my first summer out of seminary and the first in full-time ministry, I was looking forward to getting some plans laid out, and my house cleaned, and maybe some start on some other household projects that have been on hold a long time. It was labor that I was actually looking forward to - somewhat.

None of it happened that way. I did get the opportunity to take a road trip with my daughter, and that was great fun, but the work didn't happen. I keep thinking that now that the kids are back in school I can get some things done. We'll see.

5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?
Anticipating. I have a couple of new programs starting up at the churches, and I feel much more organized than I have been, so my hope it that I won't have quite as many things slipping through the cracks due to overload.

Bonus question: For the gals who are mothers, do you have an interesting story about labor and delivery? If you are a guy pal, not a mom, or you choose not to answer the above, is there a song, a book, a play, that says "workplace" to you?

A terribly appropriate question today since it is my dear daughter's 17th birthday. It was a rough 34-hour labor, and then she ended up spending 10 days in neonatal intensive care. Not something I want to relive, but stories aplenty. We ended up bringing her home from the hospital on Labor Day weekend - a major improvement over the previous year when I spent Labor Day weekend recovering from a miscarriage.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rev Gal Friday Five - Date edition

Songbird offered this Friday five:

Here are five things to ponder about dates. I hope you'll play!

1) Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance?

Every few months, I look for that perfect solution. I prefer week at a glance on paper, but I also keep things on my phone/pda, and that seems to be the most current at any given moment. But it offers the difficulty of not being able to see the whole week or month laid out. I can look at it in outlook, but with two offices and home, having everything all synced together gets complicated.

When I work my calendar well, I schedule my time for myself as well as the things other people have me doing...when I don't, I tend to blow off my spare time. But isn't that what spare time is for? I tend to get a lot done just because I do manage time pretty well, but I also tend to over schedule myself and get stressed.

2) When was the last time you forgot an important date?

I really don't recall....I didn't write it down.

3) When was the last time you went OUT on a date?

About 2-3 weeks ago. Husband was coming home from Boy Scout Camp, son was still there, daughter had plans of her own, and my sermon was mostly done before Saturday evening. I called my husband up and told him that if he got home in time, we could go out. He got home in time. We just went out to dinner, but we had both spent the past week with one child a piece and not together, so we needed time to catch up. It was nice.

4) Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated.

I used to have a cardigan sweater with beads and embroidery that my mother hated and I loved, but that was over 30 years ago. I really can't think of anything that I have now that is particularly dated since I tend toward fairly classic pieces and don't get too hung up on clothes.

5) Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em?

I don't know that I've ever eaten one. In 1999 I walked the Disney Marathon, and one of my teammates was a devout Muslim. It was during Ramadan, and he had to do the entire marathon without eating or drinking anything. We were all very concerned for his safety. He finished about the same time as I and when we were on the bus waiting to return to our hotel, I saw him looking out the window, holding a bag of dried fruit and nuts. It was January, and about 5 in the evening in Florida. He turned to me and asked, "What do you think, Kim? Is the sun down yet?" I assured him that I believed that it was, and he began to snack on the fruit and nuts, offering me some. I told him to eat up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And then the lights came back on...

I was reaching for the telephone to return a call about 2:30 PM, and suddenly, the overhead light in my office came back on.

I told the parishioner I was calling what had just happened.

When I finished the call, I checked the hallway....the lights work.

The computer monitor in the secretary's office was on.

The lights in the secretary's office came on when I flipped the switch.

Understand, this church can't really afford to call in an electrician to fix things like this. Perhaps it was the failure of a single phase on the line that just got corrected.

I like to think it was God.

Thanks, God!

In the Dark

I'm sitting here in my office in the middle of the day, working on my sermon, in the dark.

It's probably my fault. Last week when I was here, the central air wasn't keeping up (compressor problem? I don't know,) so I turned on the aged window unit to cool the office. It ran for a while, noisily, but it was helping the temperature improve.

After about 20 minutes, there was a pop, the unit stopped making noise, and my lights went off. I went in and shut off the AC, and decided I needed to look for the circuit box. But then my office lights came back on. I figured it must have righted itself somehow, or maybe it was just a surge from the public utility that shut everything off.

When we came in Sunday morning, the power was off in the secretary's office (there is no secretary), and the hallway. Lights still worked in the bathrooms and classrooms. I found the breaker boxes and flipped all the switches, but the lights that were out wouldn't come back. I tried again this morning when I came in, and still no luck, and now my office lights don't come on either. The wall outlet is good, the phone, radio, computer, and printer still have power, but the only light in my office comes from a very small west-facing window that is well-shaded, and the light of my computer screen.

It's giving me a different perspective on my sermon writing. The scripture is the parable of the wheat and tares. As I began thinking about this, I was thinking about how none of us is really in any position to judge anyone else. We can't tell who is good and who is bad. That is really up to God. That's the way I'm looking at going with the sermon.

But as I sat here in the dark, reading the other lectionary scriptures for the week, and doing a little free association to look for links, I remembered the short story "Revelation" that we read in one of my seminary preaching classes. It was about a woman who was very judgmental and in the end saw a bridge leading to heaven with all kinds of people on it. The author, Flannery O'Connor, actually said that she had written the story about Jacob's Ladder, and that just happens to be the Hebrew Bible selection for this week. Eureka! A link between the two has been discovered! I think I now have my starting point and somewhere to go.

But I'm still in the dark.