Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Five: Seasons Change...

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.)

1. Share a highlight from this summer.

I had a really great summer!

I had a class with Revhipchick and got to know her a lot better.

I had time to read some things that weren't required.

I helped my professor move her office.

I lived vicariously through my daughter who spent three weeks in Costa Rica.

But probably best of all, I had a great time spending a lot more time with my kids than I have in past years. My son went to a camp in mid-Missouri, so we had some good car time together, and my daughter took driver's ed, so we've also had quite a bit of good car time. It's kind of cool that my kids actually enjoy hanging out with me. The week before school started, the kids and I went to Omaha (3 hours away) to go to the zoo there. We had heard it was a good zoo and we weren't disappointed. It was in the high 90's in KC that week, and Omaha was in the low 80's so our timing was perfect. And daughter dear drove the whole trip!

2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not?

Yes and no. I'm glad to be getting back to school where all my friends hang out, but I'm also a little nervous about having more work to do than I have in the past even though I'm carrying less hours. Weird...I'm not sure where that is coming from. I also realize that it is the beginning of the end of my seminary education. I'll be graduating in May. Then comes the big transition of letting go once and for all of the engineering job that has supported our family for so long and relying on God through the auspices of my denomination. God help us all! Maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself. Live in the moment, Kim.

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.

1. A road trip with three of my best buds
to Tulsa for the Stacey Preachers' Workshop featuring BBT and Fred Craddock in mid September.

2. Officiating at my niece's wedding in mid October and then going to my best friend from grade school's annual bonfire and hayride later that evening.

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach)

I'm cleaning house today, but that is mostly because my MIL is coming in tonight to spend the weekend with us. We are also planning to paint the barn Saturday and Monday, and to attend Irish Fest after church on Sunday. Our biggest end of summer ritual is our daughter's birthday which falls on August 29. Other than that, going back to school for all of us is the main thing.

It's funny, the first year I was out of college, August/September hit, and I felt this strange need to go spend exorbitant amounts of money on books and office/school supplies. Maybe that is the real end-of-summer ritual for me!

5. I'll know that fall is really here when __________________________________.

The trees begin to catch fire with all the colors of the rainbow and I can smell that indescribable spicy aroma that I assume is decomposing leaves but has always just meant autumn to me. And I can start comfortable wearing knitted sweaters again.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Spouses of Pastors

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my husband and his role in my career(s). What follows are miscellaneous ramblings on the topic of career, marriage and ministry in no particular order.

Sunday, one of my churches had a potluck in my honor, and one of the trustees rose and made a speech in which he was very good about acknowledging not only me, but my family as well. He recognized that even though I was called to ministry, chances were good that my family had not been, and therefore, he was certain that there were a lot of adjustments that had to be made because the family had just gotten a lot bigger with many more demands on Mom’s time. He thanked them for sharing me with the church and for supporting me in my work.

Then, this morning I read a couple of blogs written by pastor’s husbands:

My husband is a manufacturing engineer. Ministry is my second career, having been a civil engineer for 20+ years. Throughout my career, I have held positions of some authority. We often attended functions related to my job where people would speak to him first (because he was male) and then become very confused when his employer didn't match up with anyone they knew. Most significant was when I worked for a major public works consulting firm, and we were attending a retirement party for one of the higher-ups of the municipal wastewater utility. During the mingling and mixing, someone began speaking with my husband, and eventually asked, “Where do you work?” He said, “I’m with [insert name of major aircraft manufacturing conglomerate well-known in the area].” The person who asked got a puzzled look on his face and said, “Oh…why are you here?” My wonderful husband then replied, “I’m with her. She works for [insert name of well-known local consulting firm].” And I said, “Hi, I’m Kim.” Following some initial awkwardness and continued conversation the person apologetically excused himself and walked away (presumably to remove the egg from his face). We still chuckle over it.

My husband has often played the role of “spouse.” He always seemed to enjoy himself. He’s somewhat introverted, but always enjoyed the free food and drinks. He’ll speak if spoken to, and of course he can always talk about guy things. Most of the professional activities in engineering are “guy things” so he holds his own in conversation. I’ve done less of the corporate spouse thing because his coworkers don’t seem to socialize all that much. Frankly, it’s a role that feels a little weird to me. Sure, I can talk about my children ad nauseum with the other wives, but I do other things, too, like attend seminary, work part-time as a consulting engineer, pastor two churches, and occasionally teach knitting. I’ve never done submissive, shy, diminutive, and retreating very well. I’m pretty WYSIWYG and sometimes a little in-your-face, but in a nice way, and I’ve always worked around men, and am often more comfortable around men than around women. It’s really been only in the last five years or so, since I started seminary and have become more involved in knitting, that I’ve really had many women friends.

And what does the church call the husband of the pastor (other than his name)? At my former church, they called the pastor wives “first ladies.” I found that rather offensive. It seems to give the pastor an authority, that, I’m sorry, I find rather inappropriate in this denomination. I also felted it was very dismissive (is that where “dis” comes from?) and disrespectful (or is that?) of my husband because he was still a member there after I began pastoring elsewhere. Not all of the women who were called "first ladies" were married to pastors at that church. One was a widow of pastor from another denomination, one is the wife of a pastor in another denomination who does interim gigs, so the family remains there for stability. So what should the pastor’s husband be called? One of the bloggers mentioned above suggested “first husband,” but that won’t work for mine because he is really my second husband.

One of my friends has an even more unique situation (though probably less so than we realize). Her spouse is female. It’s not likely that she’ll be ordained in our denomination anytime soon for just that reason, and I guess “first lady” would work, but even so, her challenges will probably be even greater when that time comes. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be called “first lady” if my spouse were the pastor.

So let’s put on our highly creative thinking caps and come up with a name for the spouses of pastors that works in a generic, gender-neutral way.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

In Memoriam

Our beautiful, 13-1/2 year old black lab died today. I worked at church this morning and had some errands to run, and while I was on the highway en route to one of those errands, my cell phone rang.

It was my daughter. The kids were home from school today for a advocacy meetings, and I could tell right off that something wasn't quite right. Eileen was crying and I had a very hard time understanding her. The only word I could understand was "Star." I suspected what proved to be true.

Star's health has been failing for some time now. when she was 8 we had a large mass removed that the vet told us was a very severe cancer. Since then there have been other lumps that we haven't bothered having biopsied. We knew what they were.

When Star was ten, we could see her beginning to fail. Her arthritis was getting worse, but she still seemed to enjoy life. We knew she might not be around much longer so we got another dog to prefill the anticipated loss. We were also hopeful that she might help in the training of the youngster, which she did. Funny thing was, this new puppy took about three years off of Star's age, and she found a new lease on life and what appeared to be new joy.

Over the last few months, we have come out to the back porch in the morning to find "accidents." I had begun to suspect the end was coming.

This morning, it was much worse. I think I knew then that it wouldn't be long. When I told my husband what had happened , he said it really didn't surprise him after this morning.

I have been thinking for some time that we might soon have to make a decision. But Star was still happy. She still ate well, and just yesterday, as we took the three-year-old through his routine of tricks, Star had to show our son that she still had a few tricks left, too. She rolled over several times for him, just to show off.

Star has been my daughter's dog since she was two and a half. We never worried when Eileen would climb trees because Star mothered her so well that if Eileen would have fallen, she would have landed on her whimpering, worried dog. As she got older, many times we observed Star removing burrs from my or my daughters sweatpant legs with her teeth - grooming us as we often did her. Eileen will be sixteen next week, and it's so sad for her to have lost such a good friend, especially so close to her birthday.

Our former neighbor died two weeks ago. He and his wife always spoiled Star rotten while we were at work. I like to think that Guy will take care of our Star puppy now that she is in heaven.

I finally was able to cry a little this evening when the children weren't looking. They had enough grief of their own without seeing mine.

We took her body to the vet to have her cremated. We should get the ashes back in a couple of weeks, and then we will have a memorial service. It was a good thing that the kids and I were home today. It was a very hot day, and the required tasks could have been much more unpleasant than they already were if she had laid there in the yard all day.

The younger dog still hasn't seemed to figure it out. It will sink in soon.

Please pray for my family as we grieve and heal from our loss.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

The ballad of the vineyard – based on Isaiah 5:1-7

To the tune of Barbara Allen (or anything

Come listen, love, unto my song

A song about a vineyard.

A vineyard on a fertile hill

A finely cared for vineyard.

My love he dug and cleared the stones.

He planted only good vines.

A tower to watch over it,

A vat and press to make wine.

He thought it would yield choicest grapes

But all he got were rotten.

So judge ye well, all people here,

Why is this all he’s gotten?


“So I will tear down all the hedge.

The vines shall be devoured!

I’ll break the wall and tramp it down,

For giving grapes so sour.

I’ll make it waste, not prune nor hoe.

With thorns it will be covered!

Through briers thick, no rain will fall,

On this vineyard.” said my lover.


The vineyard is this very place.

The people are God’s planting.

God hoped for righteousness and peace,

Found bloodshed, hate, and ranting.


This is my song, I’ve sung it well.

And now it comes to you friends.

Seek justice, peace, and righteousness

In all the plantings you tend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Praying for you

Yesterday, as I was leaving my engineering job at midday to go to an eye doctor appointment, my low fuel light came on.

I knew it was an ozone alert day, but I also knew that I had a lot more driving to do before dark, and I wouldn't make it.

I also recognize that gas prices are on average a nickel a gallon less in Missouri than in Kansas, so I determined to stop for gas before crossing the state line.
As I swiped my credit card, I saw this little fellow peering out at me.
I have always been fascinated by praying (or is it preying) mantis (What is the plural? - Mantises?). I remember in elementary school how we would have one in a terrarium in the classroom and we would catch grasshoppers at recess to feed them.
This one just looked so friendly, and he was really pretty big - I'd guess about four inches long (that's 10 cm for you metric folks).
This was in a highly industrialized area, with nary a speck of greenspace to be found and a 100+ day to boot! Another indication that God touches us with creation everywhere.
And in that weird state that I was in, (not Missouri, although I was), I started thinking about prayer and how I say that I will pray for someone, and then, for whatever reason, I don't specifically name that person later in my prayers. Sometimes, I forget. Or I remember I said I would pray for someone, but I forget who and why. It makes me wonder if my intent is enough.
I don't really think so. And sometimes, I'll think a prayer quickly and hope I remember it later.
It was interesting I saw this creature when I did, because the prayer chain at my smaller church had just been activated on behalf of the membership secretary's granddaughter who is five months pregnant and had just been rushed to the ER with a 102 degree fever and what was believed to be a ruptured appendix. They were fearful that she would lose the baby. I took the "pray quickly while driving" option on this one.
I talked to the grandmother late last night. The appendix had not ruptured and was removed. A drain was inserted, premature labor had been stopped, but it is touch and go for the next 48 - 72 hours. I wonder if Heather will be on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy?
So how do you keep track? When you say you will pray for someone, how do you remember to? Do you carry a list? Are you surreptitious about adding names or do you just yank out the list and write it down then and there in front of them? OR do you just avoid saying "I'll pray for you" because you know you won't? Comments welcome.

Friday, August 10, 2007

RevGal Friday Five Stress Busting edition

Sally writes: I am off to spend a few days at the beach chilling out after a hectic few weeks and before I head off for Summer School...
So with that in mind this weeks questions are looking at how you deal with the stress monster!!!???
1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ? Hard to say...usually the small stuff. It tends to pile up without me noticing until I get so overwhelmed with it that I'm immobilized. That's when I find myself yelling at the kids, and then I feel bad about it. I feel really good when I can get all those little things taken care of when they need to be.
2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ? Should be exercise, tends to be chocolate, but if the stress is huge, I can't eat. I was just talking to somebody about that this morning. At one point in my life I wondered if anorexia could be physiological in addition to psychological. I was very thin. I liked to eat, but still was always very thin as a younger person. If I didn't eat right when I was hungry, the feeling would pass, and I wouldn't be able to eat when I did get food. Looking back, the time when I experienced that the greatest was during a period of intense stress with a MIL who, suffice it to say, had issues.
3.What is your favourite music to chill out to? Anything on the Windham Hill or Narada labels. Do they still call that New Age music? Please don't tell my fundy friends. I also really enjoy singer/songwriter folk and Celtic.
4. Where do you go to chill? When I need to chill, I prefer to be alone. I try to go to the front porch - one or both of my children tend to follow me there. So I go to pet the dogs. Again, I'm followed. If it really gets bad, I go to the grocery store. They usually don't want to go there with me.
5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk? Definitely an extrovert, but people energize me. To relax, the solitary walk is much preferable.

Bonus- share your favourite stress busting tip! Lying in my hammock, staring at the sky, or as I sometimes refer to it - contemplating the color blue. If I happen to fall asleep, all the better. A good nap never hurt anything.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Fair Follow-up

The Wyandotte County Fair ended on Saturday. I picked up my knitting and that big prize check!

I received 6 blue first place ribbons and two red second place ribbons. Two of the blues also qualified as Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion.

And they got it right! The Grand Champion was the best thing I entered - a circular lace shawl. The Reserve was also a deserving piece of knitting - a wall hanging of my own design depicting images from the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes. Some of my classmates have seen this one.

The wall hanging has another blog-worthy story attached to it, but I'll have to write it up when I have a little more time.

So I can now say that I am an award-winning fiber artist since someone commented on the shawl when I wore it a few weeks back and referred to me as a fiber artist. Also, the wall hanging was truly a piece of art.

Oh, and the big check? $7.25!!!! I'll try not to spend it all in one place!