Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Reagan and Addie have sleeping problems - the whole getting to be on time and staying there.
Reagan goes to sleep and often Addie is still bright eyed and wanting to get up.
And so she often goes back and forth and back and forth - to and from the bed and family room.
Last night Alyse spent the night and there were huge sleeping problems. Neither Reagan or Addie wanted to go to sleep in their beds. There were tears and complaints and finally (11 PM) they ended up in Marnie's bed.
Marnie and I heard crying and it was Alyse who just wanted to go home. She missed her Mommy and her Blankie. And so at 11:30 PM Kacey showed up and took her home.
I have distinct memories of being Alyse's age and literally walking home in the middle of the night because I just could not sleep in someone else's house.
But now, my sleeping problems. I count it a victory if I get 7 hours of sleep. Chuck is happy if he gets 5 hours in a row. He frequently wakes up in the middle of the night and leaves our bed to go to sleep in the basement. And we know that there are many married couples that do the shifting beds in the night routine.
There is nothing worse than waking up at 3 AM and wondering if you are going to get back to sleep!
But for me, last night - 7 HOURS! A Victory!
Monday, December 29, 2008
It has been a good time.
What was wonderful for me was that the biggest part of the gift giving was over last Monday and I really felt I had time to spend on Christmas Eve making sure that the servicde was done.
And it is a blessing to do that without feeling rushed. The service was good - even though we had a glitch at the end with the screen frozen. But seeing families together and hearing again the wonderful story of hope, peace, joy and love made me remember that it is all about that.
My family was there in force - all the girls, the grandkids, plus Karen and Paul (Brett's mom and step dad) and Erik and Lindsay (Brett's sister and brother in law) so they took up space in every way. Someone said to me afterwards: "I love watching your family, they are so Rambunctious" (Hmmmmm. what does that mean?)
Christmas Eve night fun afterward at our house with Chuck making 2 fondues and plenty of wine for all. And we played "Seinfeld Scene It" and exchanged a few presents with those who spent the night. I bought Marnie some pJ's that seemed perfect for her - they said "Funny" except - ooops! - they actually said "Bunny!" Am I getting old? Or in a hurry shopping?
Christmas morning we had Cheese and Sausage strata and played lots of games and saw the Benjamin Button movie. It was really a wonderful film - with lots of meaning and great acting and of course, Brad Pitt. What could be better than that?
Friday we said goodbye with linch with Audrey and Caroline and then I had a second lunch later in the day. We met with Lisa, who is a 30 year old cancer survivor from Pennsylvania who has been having chemo this year here in Columbus so that her family could care for her. Our reiki team has been giving her reiki periodically through the year and she was part of Bible study I did last year. She is almost done with her treatment - today she is having reconstrcutive surgery. It was so good to see her - she looks so good. Her hair has grown in and she had on make up and just looks fabulous. Plus she is really like an angel - we have been so blessed by her.
Saturday I went to camp to lead a Bible study on the Demonic Man healed by Jesus as they were spending a day learning about addiction. It is always fascinating to do a "Lectio Divina" and this was no exception. The young people saw so much in the text and it really related to addiction and the way in which there are forces that work against it.
Sunday afternoon we all Lisa a reik treatment to prepare her for the surgery and then I went to a church service as Christ Memorial Baptist Church where Charles Ferguson, our gospel praise service preacher, got ordained. The Baptists do it differently than the Disciples - as went through a process because he now has a church to pastor on Sunday morning. The service was long by our standards (2 hours!) but inspiring. Charles mentioned our church and seemed happy to have us there.
I certainly have a rich and full life - with family and church and everything. But on top of that - Audrey introduced me to a new website which may become my downfall. It is
www.eastoftheweb.com There are games on there and there is a game where you are making words out of 6 letters. Every round is only a minute. Ten rounds is a game - only 10 m inutes and wait - I think I can do better next game - only another 10 minutes. Right? Have I played for an hour? How did that happen? You know.
It's fun. I think I should think about the Bible study I did at camp about the man and the demons. Video games are mine!
But after all, it's the holiday!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
There were 9 adults - Brett, Kacey, Marnie, Audrey, Caroline, Jason, Dawn, Chuck and me and the 4 kids.
We started by playing a new game that Audrey got for Christmas - Jumblaya which I really loved. I hope Chuck and I can find it to buy each other for Christmas.
Then dinner - from boston Market - Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, Ham and my cheesy potatoes. Of course some wine, etc. And some appetizers ahead. It seemed like not a lot of work for Kacey - I hope so.
Then opening presents - lots of presents. Even though we try to keep it down - $20 limit per person - there are still a lot of presents. And a lot of fun.
The kids were great - they would each open a present and then disappear for a while and then come back when it was their turn again.
Then dessert and then we opened stockings. As usual that seems to be the most fun. We each bought something for each person's stocking and did not spend more than $10 for all the stockings. I did all my shopping in the dollar store and had fun getting stuff like - a magic trick for Jason, lotion for Dawn, a Jesus candle for Audrey etc.
I feel so blessed to have a family that really enjoys each other and knows how to have a good time together. I wish I could have stayed longer but I am doing a funeral this morning and knew I had to get home to rest.
The next big Christmas event for me is Christmas Eve worship. Looking forward to that.
The church really looks gorgeous and there is nothing like the end of the service when we all stand together holding candles and singing "Silent Night."
God is good. All the time.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I wrote the letter today and then addressed a bunch of cards and now I am taking time from writing notes on the cards and tucking in the letter.
Maybe all I should do is post the letter
So.....here it is!
There are years when this letter comes early and quickly, but this is not one of them. It is hard to believe that the big day is in less than a week and there is still much to do
As I look back on the past year, there has been much that has been good and fun but there have also been some struggles. Starting there: my sister Ellen was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in April and literally everything has changed for them. We are so grateful for the successful back surgery, radiation and rounds of chemo. And thankful that after 6 months at home recuperating she is able to be back at work. Please keep her and her family in our prayers.
This summer Marnie and Todd separated which has been, of course, difficult for them and for the kids. The good news for us is that we have been able to have Marnie and Reagan and Addie move in with us and it has been a true blessing. Chuck loves having them to cook for and we both love their company. Again, please keep all of them in your prayers.
This fall marked five years of our life here in Columbus and my serving Karl Road Christian Church. And as they say, time flies when you are having fun – and we are!. Chuck continues to stay VERY busy with golf, cooking and doing various projects at the church. I could not have a better “wife.” Life at the church is very rich for me and I am awed by the ministry that happens here. We are now at the place where the building is being used every single day of the week between worship, AA meetings and an after school program. It is exciting and I marvel at what God is doing here.
This fall I also embarked on a two and a half year course of study to become a spiritual director. It means that I take classes every other Saturday morning and Wednesday evening. It has both stretched me and settled me spiritually. Being back at school gives me a different kind of energy and perspective. God keeps showing me that I can trust God with my life, my family and my work.
We look forward to a cruise in February to celebrate by 60th(!) birthday next year. I have invited friends and family to come and so far we will have 24 of us on the good ship “Fantasy.” We have so much to be thankful for – but this certainly is a “biggie!”
I pray that the holidays will be HOLY days for you. May we all continue to live into the life that we have been given and grow and learn and love.
Margot and Chuck
Friday, December 12, 2008
I didn't read the article, but pondered that thought.
And then approached Marnie with a challenge. Marnie has said to me that she wants to lose weight and certainly I do. We have a cruise coming in about 7 weeks and I would love to lose 10 pounds before the cruise. (actually more than that....but let's be realistic!)
So, he is what I proposed. A weekly weigh in - just the 2 of us. And $5 for the week on the line.
Whoever loses the most that week gets the other's $5. I mentioned it to Christy this morning on our morning walk and she and Dawn are in for that too. So now, we are looking at the possibility of making $15 a week if you are the one who loses the most that week.
We are going to try this for 6 weeks. Every week a new possibility!
Pray for me that I win the most money and lose the most weight.
(PS - I am at a disadvantage you know, because I am so old and have old lady's metabolism!)
(PPS - further disadvantage - living with Chuck!)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Yesterday was packed.
First I went to my Wellstreams Class for half of the class. We spent time with John of the Cross. He is famous for our understanding of the "Dark Night of the Soul" which can certainly last more than a night. It is the times when we are struggling and suffering with letting go of our attachments. Some of the things that were said:
- John is for adults - and he learned what he learned through the lens of hsi own suffering
- John articulates grief - and that life can only begin when we topple idols in our life
- John helps us to learn how to become contemplative - to move from simple prayer to deep prayer.
- This process is emptying ourselves of our illusions and those things that get in our way - so God can fill us
- It is a process where we move from relying on outside authorities to get in touch with the God within
- "we have a huge responsibility to form our own conscience"
- John really understands the suffering that purifies - as 2 mysteries are being met - the self and God
- The journey of conversion is to get rid of the false ego so that the true self is going to come into being.
- "God is a mystery to be lived and not a problem to be solved."
It was all a lot of food for thought and much that i have experienced. The truth is that we live in a culture that discourages going deeply into suffering - instead we try to avoid the pain and then miss the meaning.
Anyway, I feel blessed to have this class in this time in my life.
Unforfoturnately I had to leave early to go to do a funeral for an 85 year old man. And it was - as it always is - wonderful to be able to sit with a family and help them through their grief. At my funerals I always will say - that as we remember and celebrate this person - we always have to be open to grieving. These days frequently people want to talk about celebrating and not grieving. I think there is a relationship with John of the Cross!
We had snow and so I rode with the funeral director (slowly) to the cemetary and back and then drove VERY slowly home. Got home just in time to put together a 4 minute talk for the funeral home up the street.
They do a memorial service every December and invite family members of those who have passed away. The service started with a choir from a local church, then I did a brief message about remembering and grieving and trusting in God. And then each family came forward and said the name of the person who had died. There were lots of tears and people would say - "It's been really hard" etc. The room was just so full of sadness. But obvious.y, it is important for us to remember and to outwardly mourn.
This is why my sermon came so hard, I think. The day took a lot out of me emotionally and I really could not get focussed until about 10 pm last night.
But I have to say - it was satisfying to be able to learn and to use what I learn. God is good.
All the time.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
And I think it is time for me to do the same - get a haircut like Katie's.
I am spending more time on my hair than ever and I don't think it looks that good. I dry it and put this spray stuff on it that is supposed to fluff it up
And I don't even know how to do that
So, is it time to get it cut off?
Sunday, November 30, 2008
1. Safe travel as Chuck and I went from Columbus to Oswego, Illinois, to Chicago to Toledo and home again. Beautiful weather and great conditions!
2. Being with my brothers and sister. It is a blessing always to be with the ones I grew up with and "remember when"
3. Going to the doctors with Ellen and hearing that her hemoglobin is good, and her x ray was good, and her cough is not a big deal. She needs to gain weight - and I know she will!
4. Seeing Ellen in her new wig - she looks great and having her join us on a walk around the block. This is great progress!
5. Playing "Phase 10" with Wayne, Gail, Sarah, Ellen, Geoff, and Chuck. I don't even have to win to have fun. Nobody breaks into song while playing games like the Gersens and now with Gail we even have harmony. It was fun having Sarah make fun of us!
6. The Thanksgiving dinner - prepared mostly by Tom with help from Chuck. The two of them in the kitchen are a rare treat. And the meal was great - my favorite was the garlic mashed potatoes!
7. Seeing Brian and Huong and going to lunch at a really cool restaurant in Chicago. ( I had the BEST cream of mushroom soup!) Brian seems happy and hopefully is seeing the doctor he needs for his foot problems. And Huong is beautiful and enjoying her life. Good for both of them!
8. Getting texts from my kids during the holiday. Learning that Lindsay (Brett's sister whose marriage I performed in September) is pregnant! And feeling part of the "sofa king" Mad Gab game even though I was not there!
9. Seeing Harv and Lisa on our way home. Spending time drinking wine in the garage (!) and hearing about Lisa's teaching. She can tell stories that just are great! They seem so happy together. (another successful wedding I performed last December!!)
10. Coming home! Being with a man who is willing to spend time with my brothers and sister knowing he would love to be with his sister. Going out to lunch today with Kacey and Marnie and doing the Thanksgiving recap and then home to a fire in the fireplace. What could be better than that!
Friday, November 21, 2008
I went over there at 7 PM to gr.eet the kids and do some "icebreaking games" and to guide them as we did 2 projects for church. They put together 115 Advent Devotional Guides and about50 candle ornaments for the 30th of November. And then I left.
Kacey and Marnie are going to play games with the kids for the next few hours and then Frank Gonazales will come in and sleep with them. We will go back and make breakfast in the morning.
I can't help but reflect on all the lock ins that I have participated in over the years. The first lockins was in the late 70's I was working with youth in Lebanon Ohio. We did an overnight at the local Y and there was no intention of sleeping. There is nothing like playing racquetball at 4 oclock in the morning.
I remember doing lockins at Northwest Christian Church in the 80's, playing sardines in the church and finding the best hiding places and being up at 3 am and shoooing the kids back into the sleeping spaces.
I did Lock Ins in Zanesville and in Bowling Green. Some of the stuff is the same in every lock in - the rules, the games, the music, the snacks, the pizza, the movies at the end and the hope that the kids will finally sleep. I have had a LOT of fun with kids and the kind of adults that like to work with kids. It can get pretty silly and it is a different kind of fun for me. One year we had a young male youth advisor bring in video games and that was a huge mistake because there is nothing like 6th grade boys with the ability to stay up all night playing games - they were wired!
I started working with youth 35 years ago when Kacey was walking around in a walker and Marnie was an infant. And now my girls have children older than that. It gives you pause!
What was very funny tonight was talking about music and feeling really old because I don't even have or know what to do with an I Pod. But then they talk about the Beatles and Chicago and Journey and the bridge is crossed a little.
Anyway, it is good to be home - but I know that if I were at the church playing games right now I would really be having a good time! Because Lock ins are fun!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
2. Playing wordwiggle on line
3. Reading a book yesterday in one day - "The Cat who Dropped a Bombshell" about life in Pickax with Qwilleran and Co.
4. Talking to Addie on the phone who told me that she loves me
5. Talking on the phone to Susan my best friend as she struggles with issues about her Mom
6. Going to my Spiritual Direction class and talking about why Jesus matters
7. Watching a DVD - "Wordplay" - maybe I will start doing crossword puzzles in earnest
8. Seeing Shane - Chuck's grandson - who is visiting from Toledo. He is the nicest kid in the world! Brought pictures from his summer trip to Yellowstone.
9. Knowing that Kacey and Brett are having a weekend away from the kids in Cincinnati
10. Going to church - I can't help it - it is always my favorite thing.
Friday, November 7, 2008
The last two Thursdays have been a study in contrasts of the my life and what I believe to be the spiritual life.
Last Thursday I was at a Catholic retreat center in the company of 5 other pastors for a "Sacred Pause" - a time to be away from normal responsibilities and to be with God. We had Amanda from Wellsprings leading us - but it was a day with a lot of silence and solitude. It was a great blessing for me and I felt like I truly experienced God's presence and God's word to me. And that word is that I am not called to "serve the church" but to "serve God." ....and How can I do that without days like this - days of withdrawal from the world and retreat. It was wonderful.
Yesterday I went to a BREAD meeting. BREAD is an acronym for "Building Responsibility Equality and Dignity." It is a congregation based community organization that works together on social justice issues in Columbus. Last night our church was one of 5 that joined BREAD.
I had heard about it when I first came to Columbus but the time did not seem right. There is a cost - $750 a year. And it also will mean that we will put together a Justice Ministry Team at our church. We now have the funds and the interest in it. Every year BREAD discerns one issu to focus on. Previously the focus was on reducing the payday lenders interest rates from $491% to 28%. It took two years to get it on the ballot - but on Tuesday our state voted on this important issue. It is amazing how powerful a group of committed people can be.
Last night the 28 churches that were present various topics for the coming year. There were sheets of paper all around the room with suggestions about housing, health care, immigration, crime, blight, transportation, etc. It was overwhelming just hearing the needs in our community and inspiring to know that we are now part of a group that works together to really do something about the systems that create poverty and oppression. And what is especially exciting about this is that it is so ecumenical - Christians, Jews and Muslims. Amazing.
I work on my sermon about faith and what we can do to nourish our faith and clearly my two Thursdays are examples of the "both and" of the spiritual life. We have to take time for God away from the world in solitude and we also have to walk right into the world and the most challenging parts in solidarity with the poor.
I feel blessed to have these opportunities.
Monday, November 3, 2008
It is interesting living in Ohio as we wait for the big day - and it is going to be a big day.
We get ads and more ads on TV, telephone and through the mail.
Many, many people have already voted. Yesterday two women from my church went to vote at 12:30 - and at 5:30 - they were still in line.
I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring.
But I want to vote on election day and I am planning to be at the school at 1:30PM - I don't have a meeting until 7 PM - that should be enough time!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Right now she is cutting something from a coloring book. She is doing it herself. This is one of the keys to her - she is doing it herself. She really likes to do everything herself and often says "I know!" when she doesn't but she wants to do it herself.
I have a distinct memory of her about 2 years ago insisting that she could "do it herself" and put on a sleeper PJ unassisted - and she did it! But boy, was it painful to watch.
Anyway, she read to me a little bit tonight and we did a workbook together and now she got this idea to cut out pictures of a pirate and glue them together and off she goes. She is really creative and resourceful - a creative little girl.
She now has come up to me and says she wants to write something. And this is what she has written: reagan poop
What can I say? She is beautiful, smart and 5 years old.
It has been a real change in our lives to have the girls here but the truth is that it has been a blessing. They are easier to live with than when they would visit for an hour or two.
Today at dinner Marnie presented then with a list of chores for rewards as well as a list of behaviors that will give them demerits. We will see what that will do for them. I think it is going to be good.
I never would have believed that we would all be living together and that it would be going so well. God is good, all the time.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Today my friend Mary Wood came to Columbus and we went out to lunch and talked on the front porch about ministry and life and all kinds of wonderful things.
Mary has been my friend for over 15 years and she is one of the great blessings of my life. We have preached together, led retreats together and put together a Grandparents camp - together.
And it is always fun and creative. She is a great musician and fun and funny.
What a gift to me and to Chuck to see her.
And THEN I got gooooooood news that Audrey is coming to visit in 2 weeks. She will be with us for Halloween and it is going to be great to see her.
God is good. All the time.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.
This service was amazing tonight.
We sang some of my favorite songs - and while we had fewer than 25 people - we SANG these songs and it was wonderful.
Deric brought a choir from Hilltop Christian Church - an African American 7th Day Adventist Church and they were wonderful. Seven women singing "Glory to the Lord" and then another song. And it was just blessing upon blessing for me and all of us.
I had to follow their music with the invitation to communion and believe me, it was done with more passion and more heart than it ever is on a Sunday morning.
And then Charles preached. He had been overcome by what God was doing and somehow he had a sense that someone in our group needed to hear: "Let it Go" and he preached that for at least 10 minutes. And I heard it with issues that had been causing me concern about myself.
I heard him saying "Let it go" and I felt like God was saying that to me as well.
Let it go and let me take care of you. you don't have to pretend - just trust me.
Charles preaching is always much more spontaneous than mine - but tonight more than ever. He ended up preaching that and reminding us that Jesus stops for all of us and will help us with whatever we need.
It was a word I needed to hear and I am sure that many, many of us were touched by this worship service.
God is Good. All the time.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
So they are on the hunt for someone new. I never worked when the kids were this young and watching this process is really illuminating for me.
Marnie is working on this - she has interviewed a couple of people already. And today we both went to see someone. There are all kinds of questions - where the person lives, whether there will be other children for Addie to play with her own age, whether Reagan needs to stay after school and get cared for there or whether she can stay at the same place. And the cost too.
It is a big puzzle. Today the woman we visited was a grandma who started taking care of children when her daughter had her first grandchild. She was very warm and obviously likes kids. We got to see where the kids play in the basement and the schedule. She seems great to me.
Afterwards I thought about how important this decision is. We want these children to be well cared for and loved and safe. If this person works out, she will spend more time with Addie during the week than either Marnie or Todd. She will greatly influence our precious girl.
What a decision it is and it has to be made quickly! I Pray that God will guide Marnie in this.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I thought that right now I would be in my family room with Marnie and Kacey and getting ready to watch the debate.
Instead it is me by myself - I hope Marnie will join me. Kacey is on her way home with Jackson and Alyse. We had church meetings tonight - Kacey, Chuck and I and Marnie stayed home and watched the 4 kids. And Brett was going to come home from Cincinnati and pick up the kids.
Instead Jackson hit his head on a door and had a big big big goose egg. So, Kacey left her meeting and entered into that quandry that all parents have to face at times - is this something to call the doctor about? Is there going to be a concussion here? Or is this just something that go away. She did call the doctor and she is on her way home.
Reagan and Addie are in bed and I am waiting for the debate.
Ellen just called and suggested that we all take a drink every time we hear the word Maverick.
Sounds good to me.
This weekend we will be babysitting Jackson and Alyse on Friday night and Tom (Brett's dad)and Lynne will take them on Saturday night and Kacey and Brett get a whole weekend together without kids.
They need it. It is not easy to parent little kids. MUCH Easier to be a grandparent.
I am so glad that they will get that.
Monday, October 6, 2008
It was the saddest story to me. And unfortunately, completely understandable. We all get so busy and so distracted we can completely miss what is happening.
Right now Chuck is checking over our vans - he quickly drove out of the driveway and forgot that I was parked there and ran his new van into mine - just a little smudge I hope. But it is the same thing. Slow down. Live in the moment.
We all do it. I do it. I get busy, too busy. And don't see what is right in front of me,
Behind me, all around me.
In my class in wellstreams we had a chart describing the movement from compulsion to contemplation - here are some of the examples
Compulsive Living Contemplative Living
control and rigidity Surrender and sponteneity
self absorbed Self aware
Srong defenses Necessary defenses/vulnerable
Dealing with people Relating with people
Inordinate desires True Longing for God
False self Authentic self
Emphasis on pleaure Emphasis on true joy
Past and future oriented Living in the present
Holding on; possessive Letting go; freedom
partially living fully human and alive
We had to reflect on the areas in our lives where we tend to be more compulsive
what characteristics of compulsive living are most alive in us
what characteristics of contemplative living are most alive in us
In a world where we are rewarded for multi tasking, living the contemplative life has to be a choice. It will not come naturally.
But it is what we need. What I need.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Last week we started a 5 week intergenerational program - from 6:30 - 8:00 Pm on Wednesday nights. I could not go last week because I have my class in spiritual direction.
So, this was my first time.
I had heard from Jerry that someone came by last week and needed help with a motel room and Jerry had given him $25. Tonight, that person came back again.
So, I got called out of the program to meet with this person.
We frequently have people come by the church and ask for help. We do not give out money. We do have groceries and sometimes gas cards. Occasionally we might arrange to help with rent or utilities but not on the spot. That takes a couple of days. And my experience is that when we (members of the church like last week) give cash, people do come back for more.
So, I first ended up talking with another member of the church who had apparently given this person help with a motel room and gas for his vehicle in the past two weeks. And I wondered what his expectation was going to be for us to do this week.
What I learned is that this man is the same person who three years ago stole checks from me.
I suspect now that he took them out of my purse at church. At the time, his wife wrote several to check cashing places and one of them called me and I told them that she stole the checks and they called the police and arrested her.
He later called me at home that night to "apologize" and to tell me that he felt bad that his wife was in jail for something he did. But he was on heroin. That was a strange time.
So......here he was at church asking for money! I explained to the member of my church that Ihe had stolen checks from me and I did not trust him and that the church was not going to give him money. I also informed the wife that this man had stolen from me.
It seemed to make no difference to them. They still left with the idea that they were going to help him.
I did not tell him that we had a history - because I did not want a confrontation or another lie.
I just told him that our policy is that we do not give money out - which is true and offered him groceries. Which he didn't take.
Afterward, I keep thinking - does he not remember that he stole from me or was he so high at the time that he doesn't know? Or is he so brazen that he didn't think anything of it.
Very strange. All of it.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Which I watch and wonder why
I saw Grey's Anatomy last night and thought maybe they jumped the shark. Christina was impaled by an icicle I thought - this is nuts! And it looks like there is going to be a flood or tidal wave next week. There was a scene last night where the nurses and the doctors were at the entrance of the emergency room waiting for patients to come. It was nuts - why am I watching this?
The 5 year jump in Desperate Housewives is intriguing. But Susan gets on my nerves in that show. We will see.
And then there is Brothers and Sisters - which I only watch because it is after Desperate Housewives. The people who I don't like on these shows include Sally Fields, Rob Low and Ally MaxBeal (I know that is not her name - but she acts like her) They all get on my nerves. But again, I wonder why I watch.
Somebody help me.
First of all I start every day on MSNBC with Morning Joe and Meka. As a campaign junkie, I often like the discussion. But I must say, that I miss Tim Russert alot. My favorite people on there are Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell. I also like Chris Mathews on that show.
I am a not so secret soap person and if I come home for lunch I spend a little bit of time in Genoa City with Victor and Nikki and the gang. (The Young and the Restless) and sometimes stay and watch a little The Bold and the Beautiful.
Oprah continues to be one of my best friends and I often watch her if I am around and interested. The shows I HATE on Oprah, however, are the "My Favorite Things" shows where everyone is screaming and I am thinking that it is a bunch of priveleged women getting stuff that is free advertising for the companies. It just gets on my nerves.
If there is nothing on that I want to watch - I go to MSNBC for Hardball, Keith Olbermann and now Rachel Maddow.
However, there are some shows I want to watch:
Mad Men is very good - and I really enjoy it when I remember to watch it. I wish they showed it again during the week.
I am a Law and Order watcher - all of them but especially the original. Now that Marnie is living here I have someone to watch with me.
I watch a lot of Bravo - Project Runday, Top Chef, and Top Design are ones many people watch. But in a pinch I can get engrossed in the Real Housewives or New York or California and Tabitha's Salon MakeOver. I also love, love, love the Actor's Studio. The host is smarmy but a lot of times the creative process of actors is something I find fascinating.
I guess that is it. I also watch Scrubs in syndication. I have now watched every episode at least once - many several times. It is definitely an acquired taste - but I think it is so creative and funny!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Last week the power went off at church and at home on the 14th of September. The 15th was the deadline for submitting my sabbatical proposal to the Louisville Seminary. I wrote the sabbatical proposal two weeks before and was very very busy and figured that I would do the submission of it - via computer - on the 14th.
And of course, no power. The power came on at 10 pm. So, I ran downstairs and submitted everything I could - but I got the proposal summary through - but could not figure out how to do the description of the sabbatical itself. And I figured....oh well. At least I knew what I wanted to do.
Well, I got an email today from the seminary saying that the power had gone out there (!!!) and that they were reviewing proposals. I wrote back and explained about my problem and they said - go ahead and re submit!!! Great! It is highly unlikely that I would get the $10,000 - but wow it would be great!
I wrote my letter for the newsletter today and wrote about the healing ministries at our church. Last week we heard that Pat H. has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer (stage one, thank God) and we as a congregation prayed over a prayer blanket for her in worship. And I drove it to her home on Sunday. It is such a gift to be able to do that for people ....a tangible representation of our love and God's love. That is one of our ministries. It meant alot to me when I could have the church pray for Ellen's prayer blanket and I know for many people it has been wonderful. I am so glad we do it.
We also do healing worship services monthly that include intercessory prayers, laying on of hands and anointing. Again - very personal and tangible.
Finally, we do reiki. This month I wrote about it - our "healing hands ministry." I have done four reiki treatments in the last week - one for Lindsay who was getting married and need to de-stress, one for Nancy, who is having leg problems, one for Carrier and her mother who are grieving the loss of Carrie's dad. And for all of them, it just gives peace. And for some, I would not be surprised if there was real healing. I never understand, but I am blessed that I am part of doing it.
The Sabbatical is for me to go around the country and learn more about healing ministries in other churches and the way they do them. (July, August 2010) I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope I get to do it!!!
Monday, September 22, 2008
This is what makes my life always interesting. The two funerals were a study in contracts. One was for a saint of the church who had five children and countless friends and admirers. She died at 86 after a long illness. The church was full and while there were tears and more tears - there was a sense of joy. We were happy to have known her and the stories were just wonderful. I loved it all even though it felt like a great responsibility to do honor to her.
The second funeral was actually a committal service. I was contacted by the funeral home to do it and I said yes. The woman was about the same age and had passed away in a nursing home facility. There were exactly 6 people in attendance at the cemetary. It was the morning after the storm - and there were trees and branches strewn around the cemetary. Very different.
The two weddings were both wonderful in their own way. And different. I attended one and officiated at the other. The first one was at the church and the theme was the OSU Bucks. So the groom wore grey and the bride wore a beautiful white dress with a little scarlet at the bodice and in the train. I loved it. The wedding was very traditional and the reception was at the church. The food was prepared by friends of the mother and served by the women of the church. There was a wonderful cake that was a recreation of the OSU Stadium with a replica of the bride and groom in the middle. It was great. Lots of fun. I know that after the reception there was going to be an after party that was watching the game at a bar. (they lost)
The other wedding was Brett's sister's and I officiated. It was less traditional and more casual and yet elegant. It was in their back yard and every detail was attended to by them. The service itself had the bride and groom saying their vows in front of their pond. Beautiful. The reception was in a big tent in the yard with lots of dancing and drinking and stories. A picture perfect evening.
So, as I write this, I can only say that I feel blessed to be with people in the saddest and happiest times of their lives. I literally get a front row seat to so many experiences and I cherish it all.
I love the fact that brides and grooms these days have to much freedom to do their weddings in ways that suit who they are and that reflect their interests. I pray that both of these marriages thrive.
And funerals can be the most meaningful events in my life. It always makes me think about my legacy and what is really important in life.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
When the storm started the electicity went out in many places. Like the church. I got to church at 4:30 Sunday afternoon and there was not power (electical that is!) I have to confess that my immediate response was that we should cancel church at 5:00 - the gospel praise service. Dawn told me that we should go ahead and do it. And, of course, she was right.
We had 25 in worship - which is a lot for that service and it was pretty interesting considering that our church is all windows and we could watch the trees in the storm throughout the service. it wasd like living out our reality - we gather to worship in the midst of the storms of life. Glad we did that - especially because Nicole joined church that Sunday.
I went home to no power at the house. And it was okay. We got our candles out, found some flashlights and it was really interesting. We spent a lot of time on the front porch watching the storm. And then went to bed and read by flashlight.
The next day we still had no power. I had to visit someone at the hospital early in the morning, so I was able to get my morning coffee there. I did a funeral service and rode with the funeral director to Dublin - a trip that took a long time because there was a tree blocking the main road and many, many lights out. At the church there was no electicity. So, I ended up making some phone calls with the cell phone and finally going home. We managed fine that day and spent time in different ways than we usually do - like talking to each other on the front porch. Something really good about that!
The lights came on at home at 10 PM and I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to the computer. I was going to spend Monday putting together my sabbatical proposal which was due Monday. Unfortunately, I could not do it in that short of time and so, I will do a sabbatical but I will not be eleigible for the $10,000 from the Lilly Foundation. I figure this was still a gift to me because it enabled me to define what I really want to do. (study healing churches)
The church and many, many people still do not have electicity. As I write this on Wednesday morning, I prepare to go to churcha and check it out. We have a program tonight that will be cancelled if we don't. The Columbus Schools have been out now for three days. Very strange, all of it.
The positive part to this experience has been the sense of community that has come in the neighborhoods and everywhere else. On Monday our neighbors allowed us to tap into their generator so that our food in the refrigerator did not go bad. People are helping people with their yard work and just talking about this shared experience.
It is one of those weeks we will talk about for years to come.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We just had a board meeting at church and found out that things are going okay at the church financially. That is always good news.
We are doing some new things which all make me excited in various ways.
We just started our afterschool program yesterday. We are working with the YMCA which is next store and middle school age kids come over after school for snacks and for tutoring. We supply the snacks and the Y provides the tutors. The tutors are really good and it is great to see them with the kids. And I love interacting with the kids. Today we had about a dozen kids and it was just fun for me to be there. I am sure that this is going to grow - what a great start for the church!
We are going to try something really new for a stewardship campaign this year. We will do a big lunch after church that is going to be catered and bring in a guest minister to work with the leadership team on the program. And Daryl's brother Herb is going to be the guest minster which is wonderful! It all feels to good to me. I am excited.
I presented to the board my idea for a sabbatical in 2 years - which would be to go around the county studying churches that are involved in healng ministries. I will be submitting this to the Louisville Seminary program this week to try to receive a grant of $10,000 for the program. It is hightly unlikely that I would get the money - but it has made me do some real thinking about wat is important to me and certainly it is in developing healing minstries.
Finally , I started my classes in spiritual diretection on th 22nd of August and I really really like the readings and the class time. Often, as a pastor, it feels like I am in sales - trying to sell people on the possibility of the spiritual life - let along getting to show them the ways that we all grow siritually. This classis a chance for me to be with people who are all really engaged in the journey itself. I am not in a leadership position - but learing. Learning so much.
Over and over I want to say.... God is good, all the time.
One more thing - our life has changed in a big way in that Manie and Reagan and Addie have moved in. Surprisingly, (I suppose it is surprising!?) we really enjoy having them. Chuck loves cooking for them and we both enjoy their company. The little girls are just a delight. Who knew how nice it would be for us?
We don't know what the future is going to bring, but for right now - it is all very nice. All of it.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Lisa's aunt Margaret Jane passed away Sunday and the family asked me to do the funeral.
So here I am.
12 years ago I did Lisa's mom's funeral and a month after that I did the funeral for her sister. And now this is the third sister. The oldest, Leila, is the only one still living.
I always feel honored to do anyone's funeral. it is so interesting to do what I did today - to spend time with a family who is remembering the life of someone that they loved. Margaret Jane was, like all of her sisters and her mother - a teacher. In fact - amazingly, at one point all four sisters and their mother taught in the same school. They covered 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th grade. That amazes me.
It was a family that valued education and was very intellectual. Margaret Jane was 82 years old and passed away Sunday night as we all would like - in her sleep in her home. I hope and pray that tomorrow the service will be what she would like. Simple but honest about who she was.
And she was, like many women of her time, (and maybe like me) remembered the most for the family that she loved. But I am sure that she touched the lives of more people than she knew.
Certainly Lisa and Brian were among them.
Keep them in your prayers.
(and me, as I am procrastinating in writing the memorial address right now)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
She is taking a Sunday afternoon nap - after preaching this morning. It was a good worship service. Her church - First Christian Church - is a very old building in downtown Knoxvile and you can tell it once was very grand. There is a balcony that goes al the way around the sanctuary which empty at least this morning. I bet this church could hold 400 people, but there were only about a hundred in worship.
it was a very nice worship service. Very meaningful to me and Audrey's preaching was intelligent and authentic and actually made me cry. i think I cried because it is so clear the God is working through her - and it awes me. The congregation obviously loves her and that certainly makes a mother feel good.
yesterday Chuck and I drove to Hendersonville north Carolina to see my Uncle Jim. A long day with driving almost 6 hours back and forth but still it was good to see him. Uncle Jim lives in a beautiful house on top of a mountain and he is still - at 85 years of age - able to keep it up. His friend, Marion, was visiting and we all went out to lunch together. I learned about Uncle Jim's politics and his health and his life in North Carolina. Most of all I learned that it meant a lot to him that Chuck and I took a day and spent time. In the morning before I went I felt like I herd my parents approval of a day like today. it had been 3 years since I saw him last. And it was time. this is what family does.
As i am writing this, I am watching a "Presidential Campaign Focus Group" on C Span.
they are watching snippets of speeches from Obama and McCain and reacting to what they are saying. It is fascinating. As this whole campaign is fascinating. Now that the democratic convention is over I am looking forward to the republican. this woman from Alaska is going to be interesting learn about - she seems so conservative - how can McCain think he is going to pick up any of the Hillary women? I wonder.
Speaking of Hillary, I just finished reading American Evita by Christopher Anderson. It describes her ambition and her fighting nature. I always knew that i viscerally reacted negatively to hillary the fighter. As i read this book I can see that she has been a fighted - no holds barred fighter - her whole life. She is also the master of compartmentalization - being able to put unpleasant things in a box in her mind and then not think about it. I believe that enabled her to say things that were not true with such conviction that she herself believes them. Thursday I watched her give the final New York votes to Obama and I kept wondering "how does she do that?" How can she - after fighting this fight to become the democratic candidate how can she laugh and smile. Isn't her heart absolutely broken? But what I really got from this book was has incredibly ambitious and strong she is. She is not done - I am sure of that. But I, for one, am glad she is not the democratic candidate.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Yesterday we went to her physical therapy together and today we went to the doctor. Chuck and Tom are in the kitchen preparing ribs for dinner. We are going to have Sarah and James for dinner and even Samantha (who supposedly lives here) will be joining us. I look forward to that.
Ellen is doing - as they say - as well as can be expected. There is much to celebrate. First of all, she does not have "cancer brain" as others have described. She is keeping her mind sharp and still very engaged in life. She keeps up with customers through email and actually is doing 2 per cent better in sales this month than this time last year. That is pretty impressive.
She had an unfortunate accident last week when the needle fell out and taxol went into her skin and not her veins. When I arrived she was still icing it (ingeniously with frozen tater tots in a pillow case). After we saw the doctor today, he said it look like she has turned a corner and does not need to do that.
When we went to physical therapy it is obvious how much improvement she has made. She is able to march and lift her legs and walk well with her walker. I can certainly foresee that soon she will be able to manage only with the cane. As we remember the original back surgery, we know that we are blessed that she made it through that so well.
Her spirits are good although she is, of course, bored. She cannot do much except literally wait for her body to heal and for the chemo treatments to come to an end. yesterday we cleaned out her corner of the family room and it is very clear that cards mean a lot to her as they do to anyone who is stuck in this waiting time.
Her address is 503 Arbor Lane, Oswego Illinois 60543
The biggest change is in her hair. She is white. She was going to go natural even before the cancer hit her, but it is a change. She now matches my brothers! With me being the odd one out. I think she look like Jane Alexander - very regal.
Anyway, God is good and God is blessing her as she experiences healing in so many ways. I am blessed to be here.
Keep Ellen and Tom and Sam and Sarah and Sean and family in your prayers. This is not easy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Our theme for this week is "Divinity and diversity." The morning consists of a Bible study, morning prayer (solitary reflection), a keynot presentation, and a small group discussion.
After lunch we have faculty meetings, a "demoi" or committee meeting, free time, and then dinner.
After dinner there is vestpers, a fun activity, a closing circle, snacks and then games and discussion. This hardly explains all that goes on here.
Right now it is 5 o clock. My committee has planned the vespers for tonight and I took a 2 mile walk. And after I write this I am going to go sit in the shade in an adirondack chair and contine reading "Three Cups of Tea" I feel so relaxed because my keynote is over. Audrey and I spoke yesterday about diversity.
The young people here are really impressive. This evening we are going to do a commissioning service for Erin McKinney who is going to be a Global missionary and go to Dominican Republic for a year of working there. At the serive three people will speak about their year of service. Ryan wen to India and worked at a hospice for Aids victims, Christa went to Israel, and Erin went to Paraguay and I believe worked in a school. Then after that year they "went on with their lives" and have surely been influeced by the experience.
In our discussions we have college students, young professionals, and some who are working their first jobs. The conversations are rich. At the same time, they are having a lot of fun. As I went to bed last night at 11:30, there was a game of "Capture the Flag" being started.
So, it is good to be away from the everyday church world and have a new group of people to guide and to learn from.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Next week is Advance Conference and Audrey and I are doing the first keynote together. It is a week about diversity and as the beginning speakers our topic is " Diversity - So What" . So, I have really started thinking about it. I have checked out some websites and would really like to come up with a book to guide us. The Keynotes at Advance (this is a camp for 19-29 year olds) used to be just talks - but over the past few years they have become much more interactive. so, I find myself thinking of activities as much as content. Because the whole week is devoted to diversity, we just have to get the conversation started. So, if anyone has any recommendations for me, send it along. This thinking period is always interesting.
(Audrey is in Atlanta right now taking a course so that she can have standing with the UCC - more options for her for in the future. But it makes it hard for us to communicate!!)
The other thing I am getting ready for is starting my courses in Spiritual Direction. It all starts at the end of the month. I just got my first book in the mail today - "The Art of Theological Reflection" by Patricia O Connell Killen and John deBeer. O boy O boy O boy. I am going to start this right away. Looking forward to it all!!!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
This week Lisa came to visit with Brock and Rachel. Lisa is Chuck's daughter and Brock are 2 of her kids. Rachel is going into 8th grade and Brock into 5th grade.
First it was so much fun having Lisa here. She only stayed for 24 hours but we packed a lot into it. Marnie and Reagan and Addie came to dinner on Tuesday and we ate their favorite meal (Lisa and Marnie's!) Greek hamburgers and onion rings. We played cards and talked and it was great. Rachel is so good with the little girls - I can see that she could end up being a teacher like her mom.
Wednesday Lisa and I went to lunch at noodles before she had to leave. Brock and Rachel are still here. We have done a lot with them. A lot of games, a trip to the fair with Chuck (Grandpa), a trip to Inniswoods with me, mini golfing, dinner at Hooters, and games, games, games.
I realize that Chuck and I have become such a couple that we are boring. It is when kids are here that we get to do "family stuff." and I realize how much I love that stuff. Like cards, and watching TV, and eating together, and just "chilling." These 2 kids are great game players, smart, good sports and great company. Now, they "horse around" a little, but you can't have everything.
We went to the library and Brock picked out 2 books and Rachel got one and I got one and we sat in the family room quietly and read together. Even that was fun.
Tomorrow Grandpa takes them to the zoo while I finish my sermon. And then later on more quiddler, rummy cub, swipe and other family activities. I think I miss having kids at home.
Although........I do kind of miss the quiet!
I have the best of both worlds. (Brock asked me if I got that from Hannah Montana....huh?)
Monday, July 28, 2008
After church - our church service which focussed on love and acceptance and recognizing how God treasures us - I learned about the shootings in Knoxville.
It hit close to home because Audrey is in Knoxville and her best friend attends that church. The reason she was not there was because she was listening to Audrey preach about praising God.
That church was a scene of hate and death. And it is so disturbing. Too much has been written about the way religion can separate people from each other.
the church where the killings happened was Uniterian Universalist - a church which is open and affirming to all people and in the business of working for social justice.
As I type this I am watching TV as they are promoting a piece about a violent standoff in Columbus.
There are no words to express how helpless I feel.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
But she started a series about Episcopal priests in England who were spiritual directors and got me hooked. Some of them that I read were "Glittering Images", "Glamourous Powers", and "Ultimate Prizes". I had not read one of her books for at least 5 years and found in the remainer pile "The Heartbreaker" at Barnes and Nobles.
And so I am hooked. But I find myself reading it pretty slowly for me. "The Heartbreaker" is about a "leisure worker" (prostitute) in England who is having sex with men for money and being used and abused by a woman named Elizabeth. He comes into contact with Carta and then the spiritual director Nicholas Darrow. It is in some sense a thriller as you wonder how he is going to get extricated from this life he has fallen into. It is about "splitting off" the physical from the spiritual, about dehumanization and it is about healing.
The healing happens as Gavin, the prostitute, is treated with compassion and respect and love.
At the beginning of the chapters, there are descriptions of pastoral care that often stop me and make me think. Here are some of them.
"The healing ministry is non-judgmental: those involved in it are encouraged to consider and address their own prejudices and stereotyping to avoid projection of their personal internal codes of behavior."
"Our identity is being forged in the crucible of whatever sufferings turn out to be inexticable from the particular journey of each person....into fulness of life."
"The challenge of pastoral care is to identify with suffering people and to offer companionship on their journey."
I have seen how spiritual direction and pastoral care brings healing to people. But the hardest part of it is to get rid of our judgments and allow ourselves to experience the pain that people carry within them. It is easier to judge and analyze people who are suffering than to stand with them in their pain. But that is when the healing happens.
Anyway, good books for me. I recommend Susan Howatch for a good read that makes you reflect on faith and the power of love.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Bible School is always fun but......every night for 5 nights starts to be a drain.
But today in worship we showed lots of pictures of the kids and it really did feel like a good experience for everyone.
The chidlren sang 2 of the songs from Bible School. Alyse came up front with all the kids and sang with her back to the congregation. Halfway through Kacey came up and turned her around and then she stood there and scowled. What a kid. Afterward Joe DeWitt told Kacey that Jim Morrison (of the Doors) used to sing with his back to the audience because of stage fright. Is that what is going on? There is something funny about all of it.
I preached both the 10:30 and 5:00 PM service because Charles was not here for the gospel praise service. So, I did my sermon with my manuscript and my sermon notes. I think I got a complicment from Deric (who plays the piano) that he did not fall asleep. Hmmm
This morning after I preached someone asked me if I was a stand up comedian (I told a joke!) and someone else asked me if I was a liberal. I didn't know what else to say, so I said YES> And the church needs liberals and concerservatives.
Audrey has been in my prayers all weekend and her senior minister Scott. Scott is in the hospital with blood clots in his lungs. Audrey came home from Mexico on Tuesday to that news as well as a break in at her home and a stolen computer. She preached a funeral on Friday and today. All of which was unexpected. Plus lots of conerns for Scott. I know God is giving her strength to do what she needs to do. It is not easy.
Anyway, Sunday night and I am taking tomorrow off. Praise the Lord!
Friday, July 18, 2008
We had the last program this evening and had a dinner for over 75 people at the church.
It was - however you measure it - a great success.
We did the review of the week and sang the songs and reviewed the themes of every day. It was clear that the kids really learned something.
The best part was the intergenerational fellowship that develops in a church of this size. It all feels good but - of course - tiring.
Kacey and Brett went out for a drink afterwards and Jax and Alyse are over here. Right now Jax is in bed with poppy who is watching a race very loudly. Jax has his pacifier in and I think will be asleep soon.
Alyse is in the prayer room - and maybe she will go to sleep and maybe not. She and I played bunko, war and I tried to teach her a solitair game. It was clear it was too much and at one point she just wanted to be with Jax - who is her security blanket. It was okay.
I was watching her face and she was smiling one minute and crying the next and I knew she was really tired. A long week - but a good one.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
It was - for me - a ton of fun.
I am living ni the best possible world this week. I am doing the thing that I like to do the best - which is leading games. And even better my partner in doing that is Kacey. She is organized! And so, we got together and planned the games and then she wrote up the plans and is making sure we have the stuff and then we get to do it.
When you lead games you get to know the kids and the adults. And watch them having fun.
I laughed and laughed last night.
We try to work into the theme of the day - which yesterday was "Share" - we share with each other. So we ended up playing games like "Share the Cocanuts" (which is the same as "Steal the Bacon." ) So much fun. We had 4 groups of different ages and they all got into it in different ways.
The last group was small and we played the adults against the kids which was a hoot. Kacey and Glenn and I are all competitive and aren't going to let kids beat us. Funny, funny. (we ended up tieing. ....."shared" the victory)
I always have the same feeling after the first day of Bible School - that was fun. can't we stop now? Oh, we have to do it again tomorrow? and the next day? And the next day?
Regardless - this should be a good week.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Busy weekend. Friday night we showed "The Great Debaters" at church for our "Reel Faith"
Only 5 people showed up but it was okay - it was a really good movie. I recommend it. What a feel good.
Saturday morning I did a funeral for a 45 year old firefighter who died of cancer. He was diagnosed less than a year ago and died on his birthday. I spent time with Shelly, his wife, on Thursday and just cried with her as I heard the sad story. It was the biggest funeral I have done since I have been in Columbus - must have been at least 70 vehicles in the procession. We drove past his station. It was all very sad. There was much ceremony with the whole thing. Especially at the cemetary. A bag pipe, a 3 gun salute, the folding and the presentation of the flag. There was clearly so much camaradarie iwthin the fire department. The whole thing was very memorable to me and I felt honored to be able to help out with the funeral.
Saturday evening Chuck and I went to a "Songfest" at New Fellowship Christian Church. It was organized by Deric who plays the piano for our Gospel Praise service. It started at 5 and was over at 8:45. It was an amazing evening - and Deric is an awesome piano player. He could accompany anybody with anything. At one point they brought in Charles Mom Teresa to sing (spur of the moment) and backed by three choirs (again spontaneously) they rocked the house.
It was awesome. So glad we went.
There are times in my life when I am attending events like last night that I just feel blessed to be in ministry here in Columbus. These are experiences I would have never had if I had stayed in Northwest Ohio.
God is Good.
All the time
All the time
God is good.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Because I met some of the Barak Obama's advance team, I found myself curious about and interested in their stories. This documentary followed a young woman with the Dean campaign, an actor who was the "Body Guy" for Wesley Clark, the "Body Guy" and other staffers for John Kerry, a young woman who worked for Kucinich and some staffers for Lieberman.
You saw the crazy schedule and the pressure and the high of this life in the bubble. It really was instant intimacy and they became a family as they worked together. It was mostly young people. As the campaigns folded you also saw their disappointment. For all of them it was really a once in a lifetime occasion. They all respected their candidates and wanted them to win badly. And, of course, none of them did.
What I liked was the risk they took - I guess it is the risk of the young, but I found myself envying the life. The only time I get anything close to that is working at church camp - as a bunch of adults come together for a week for a great purpose. And you do form a bond in that week and have your own humor and goofing around. But you don't get to drink at night :)!
I googled a couple of the people and found out that Marvin Nicholson who was John Kerry's "Body Guy" (Personal Assistant) and learned that he is still at it. He is working for Barak Obama and had a run in with Bill O'Reilly.
Anyway, it is always interesting to get a peek into other people's lives!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Holiday weekend – celebrate the freedom that we enjoy as Americans
And while we may be politically free – but still in some ways bound
Ernest Benn said: “Liberty is being free from things we don’t like in order to be slaves of things we do like.”
How free are we? What is it that weighs us down – that burdens us
Question: What has you heavy laden?
Some suggestions of what can feel like burdens to us – financial – wondering how to make the paycheck stretch – as gas prices go up, food prices go up, health care goes up
Burdened by debt – or burdened by anxiety about debt
We may be burdened in relationships – areas of conflict and misunderstanding
Or maybe – like me – we are watching people we love in difficult situations and worrying for them and wondering what we can do
Burdened by it – because we love them
Concerns about our children and their development
Concerns about our parents and their deterioration
We may be burdened as we face the future for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren
Problems of globalization – war – poverty - – what is going to happen
We may be burdened by our own health problems – physical and mental. .
Biggest burden _ ourselves – "wherever I go there I am"– negativity, depression, perfectionism, guilt, compulsions
Invitation this morning for you – from our Lord:
28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Begin with the verbs – Come ,Take ,Learn
They are not a commandment – but they are an invitation – to all of us who know that we are burdened
1. come to me – come to a person – not to a church, not to a set of rule – but come to a person
2. take my yoke upon me –the word yoke symbolizes religion. The religion of the Pharisees was a thousand rules and regulations which essentially said, “No, no, no, no, no” to everything. Negative, negative, negative, negative, negative. religion. And this is directed to people whose religion has become a burden that does not give life – but wears them down with their inability to live by the rules. When Jesus is saying take MY yoke – he is saying - live in tandem with me totally connected – It is not a religion, but a relationship. do you realize the closeness that you need for that?
3. learn from me – not as a student – but as a disciple – as an apprentice. What does an apprentice do? An apprentice follows along after the person and learns by watching and doing what that person does. Learn from me. Learning means – of course – that you do not know everything. You are cultivating the beginner’s mind.
The Pharisees and the disciples would get into intellectual head games and Jesus would often put a child in front of them
Who gets into the kingdom of heaven – the one who is like a child.
Willing to learn – open to New ways to understand, to think and to do. Learn about yourself.
Try to say this – “I don’t know anything.” (I had the congregation say this aloud!)
Try to think of yourself as an erased blackboard ready to be written on.
Or say – Like the blind man – "I want to see."
Jesus says – learn from ME – learn about who you are in my life, learn about your place in the world through me
Learn that God has an important role for us.
This easy yoke is custom made for each of us – that is why it is easy – it is not one size fits all
It will not chafe and you will not feel burdened by it – it will be like no one else’s
We are part of his eternal design. We learn that – in being yoked to our Lord
That is the invitation for all of us – come, take, learn
And the promise is rest
To take Christ’s yoke means to submit to His person as the one who is gentle and humble in heart. And when you walk and work with this yoke mate, he gives you rest.
How? Because you learn to trust HIM. As you watch Him live a life of trusting God.
One of the best stories of Jesus is when he and the disciples were in a storm on the lake of Galilee and do you remember what Jesus did? He slept.
He slept because he trusted in God’s care for him.
And we can rest for the same reason – we grow to learn that being yoked to Jesus means that we can conquer anything that life hands us.
Jesus said – everything is possible for those who believe
Paul said – We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him
And we find rest in HIM – who loves us
Story about a woman who was running for the bus with two large suitcases
Gets there just in time – gets on the bus and stands there – in the middle of the aisle stiffly holding up her suitcases
Until finally a gentle older woman touches her shoulder and says
“It’s okay honey, you can put them down now – the bus will carry them”
That is the rest that we get – our Lord can carry the burdens – we can let go. Rest for our souls – we can trust the Lord
Understanding the Yoke:
1. Choice – choose to be yoked to Christ. And I have to say that we are all yoked to something.
And it is an image of working with God for God.
We are all yoked to something – whether it is career, financial independence, our family, and often ourselves. Our EGO
That may be the most prevalent and almost subconscious – the idea that it is all up to them.
We can be people who are weary with the burdens of our marriages, or our finances, or our personal issues.
And with our ego – try to take care of it all ourselves.
Richard Rohr writes
“I hope we can say ego is not bad. It is necessary. The only problem is that our culture teaches that ego is the only game in town…..the nature of the ego is that it tries to fix, name, control and insure everything for itself…..the religious version of the ego is that we want to be right and want to be in control.”
We wear ourselves down and out.
Wear the title Christian – but it is a “just in case” faith – call you if I need you – not a yoking
The yoke that Christ has for us is a choice – to choose to be harnessed with HIM and live by his values and live with his people.
And the choice of the yoke is to be willing to be led and to be living at times in waiting for the leading.
2. Authority – Spirituality is very popular these days – but without authority. Deepok Chopra write – “I satisfy a spiritual yearning without making people think they have to worry about God or punishment.” Well, this is about living under the authority of God. Which means being willing to be a servant –
· To love the people God loves
· To go the places God goes
· To be silent when you would rather speak
· To speak when you would rather be silent.
When you are yoked with Christ you give him free reign of your life.
3. Daily – I could preach this sermon every day to myself because it is so easy to fall away from the yoke.
When it is an invitation and not a command, my experience is that we may not notice that we have fallen away for a while at first.
It is when that feeling of being burdened comes upon us that we know that somehow we have slipped out of the yoke.
For me, it is a tightening in the shoulders, maybe a tension in the head and I realize I have gone off on my own again – as if there was no God
Or it may be finding myself starting to judge and criticize others for the way they have not lived up to my expectations – as I allow my ego to take the place where Jesus needs to be.
It is daily – to come again to the Lord, to enter into a life of contemplation and action listening for his voice, looking for his signs and following His way.
Being Yoked to Jesus means that you are back in that place of rest and peace and trust.
End with a story about Randy Reed – a 34 year old steel worker.
He was welding near the top of an almost completed water tower in south Chucago.
He needed some supplies but could not reach them from where he stood, so he unhooked his safety belt and leaned from his scaffolding to grab a few items.
The shift in his weight caused the platform on which he was standing to tolt.
He tried to catch himself but fell 110 feet and landed on a pile of dirt near one of the steel tower legs.
Someone called 911 as construction workers rushed to his sde.
Paramedics arrived quickly, finding him still alive.
They strapped him to a back board and rushed him toward an ambulance.
Randy, opened his eyes, looked at his stretcher carriers and said
“Please don’t drop me.”
Now that is pretty funny – he had just survived a fall of 110 feet, but was concerned about being dropped a couple of feet by paramedics.
Later doctors found that he had only suffered a few bruised ribs.
We resemble that construction worker
We trust God with our eternity
But when it comes to the “small” matters of life we find ourselves worrying that God may drop us.
Life is difficult for all of us and there are times in which we feel particularly weary because of the burdens that we are carrying
May we remember the words of our Lord to all of us
Come to me
Take my yoke and learn from me
For my yoke is easy and my burden light
I preached in the morning about the invitation of Jesus: Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, take my cross and learn from me.
And many people said - that they needed that sermon. Certainly I could preach it every week. The whole idea that God wants us to walk and work with Him and when we do the burdens of life are lifted. But it is so easy to go off on our own and give our egos free reign and then feel so stressed and burdened down by life.
I went out to lounch with Kacey and Marnie which was such a blessing. It has been a long time since we have done that - just the three of us wtihout husbands and kids. It was really relaxing. I love the fact that Olive Garden now offers a "taste" of winefor 25 cents. I think I now have everyone trained to say yes to that - and then I drink everybody else's wine. What a bargain!
Our gospel praise service was great. We had over 40 people and Charles Mom Teresa sang and we had a troupe of mimes perform that were just wonderful. I had never seen this form of worship and it was really inspiring. I feel so blessed that I am being exposed to lots of different kinds of worship.
Our 10:30 service is "blended" which means that we combine traditional, gospel and praise music. Which means that usually someone is unhappy with something. Whenever we do worship evaluations someone complains about wanting more older hymns and someone says more newer music and sometimes the organ is too loud and sometimes the organ is wonderful. But I believe that we are being called to be intergenerational and that is the only way to do it.
I tend to like all kinds of music and wish everyone else did.
The Gospel Praise service is much more lively and uptempo. Deric, who plays the heck out of the piano, takes songs and keeps changing keys and going higher and higher. My sense is that as we are singing, we are going higher and higher too. I love it.
Afterwards we had a potluck picnic which is always fun with this group. I am still getting to know people and to hear their stories. The spirit is so good and everyone is happy to be there.
We are really a church community in formation - very diverse and it is again a blessing to me to be making new friends at this point in my life.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Our mission trip is over and if you were in church on Sunday you know that it was challenging and life changing for all of us. The poverty immersion aspect to the trip enabled us to walk in another’s shoes and experience in a small way the frustrations and the pain of living in poverty in America.
Our team recognized that the causes of poverty are complicated and systemic. We learned that 37 million people in America live in poverty and that many of them are the working poor. They are people who are working for minimum wage which is not enough to live on.
The youth ended their trip by formulating an action plan. Our hope is that we can engage the whole congregation in working together for the poor. Here are some of the tasks ahead:
1. Research poverty in Ohio
2. Learn about who our representatives are and write them to advocate raising minimum wage.
3. Show the Video “Thirty Days” on living on minimum wage in Columbus to the church.
4. Plan and lead worship in October and focus on the needs of children who live in poverty.
5. Commit one Wednesday every month of youth group to a commitment to some activity or program devoted to poverty in America.
6. Do a “Scavenger Hunt” in Columbus to learn about what social services are offering in our city to help people.
This is a beginning for us and I would imagine that it will lead to more projects for us as a church.
What I know is that God’s vision for this world that he created is abundance for all God’s people. May we be open to his leading all of us in working together.
See you in worship,
On Monday we went to the food pantry and picked up a box of food which was ours for the week.
We did work in the building and in the community for which we received money at the end of the day. With that money we were able to purchase meals, showers, beds, coffee, etc. The days began early with our meeting with Deb, the director at 8 AM. After "energizer activities" and worship she gave the heads of the households (groupings of 4 or 5 people) the assignments for the day. At 7 every evening we met Deb to reflect on the day and for some educational activities and worship. The day ended at about 10:30 and lights were out at 11:30. We slept every night but Friday night on a concrete floor.
There is much I could write about this. It was a hard week - physically as we did not eat much. I lost 5 pounds and Daryl from our group lost 14! We did hard physical labor in 90 + degree heat. We walked everywhere we went except for one day when we took the bus and stopped at the wrong place and ended up walking 3 more miles! The director, when disappointed in what we did was often harsh with the kids and the adults.
We experienced economic scarcity, people in authority who were unreasonable, and a complete lack of control The educational component was really good and helped all of us - to understand that was the experience that poor people in America have routinely. We also learned about the working poor and the reality that minimum wage is not enough to live on. We watched an episode of "30 Days" by Morgan Spurlock about trying to live on minimum wage in Columbus.
The result was changed minds and maybe changed lives. I watched the young people respond to this with so much maturity it just amazed me. In our "family" of 5, we literally never heard complaints through all of this. By the end of the week, it was very clear that they "got it."
So I am still tired and woke up this morning dreaming about sleeping on a concrete floor, but I feel and great sense of satisfaction about it. And hope and pray that the young people will continue to implement the plans that they have made for the future.
(I also composed a letter for the director to make suggestions to make this program more humance for young people who are at a vulnerable time in their lives and need a less harsh leadership)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Gillian and Ashley are here right now and they are reading a magazine together. Geoff is getting ready to go on a bike ride.
It is good to be here. Before I left I wrote a list of things I look forward to at the beach and I have already done most of them. We have a disparate group as we often do. Audrey has invited her friend Caroline and her old college roommate Emily and her husband Remy and their child Nico. Gillian has brought her friend Ashley and Dawn and Jason are here with us for the 3rd year.
The conversations are often rich - hearing Emily and Remy talk about New Orleans as former residents, hearing Caroline's perspectives as a Phd. candidate in Psychology, the political discussions as we share differing viewpoints on the news. I love hearing my brother Geoff as he takes an interest in all the young people and their lives in the workplace. With his age and experience he has some wisdom for them.
The little kids bring chaos wherever they are. They came into our cottage this morning at 9 and immediately starting playing golf in the living room as Poppy made breakfast for them. We have a lagoon behind us lots of turtles which are a source of interest. The best part is watching them at the beach as they get more confident around the water. The first day Jackson was afraid to go near the water and yesterday he was in the ocean. Reagan and Alyse have been in the ocean on boogie boards!
What I like the most about a vacation like this is the fact that there is no pressure to do anything but what you want to do and no expectations. And there is an opportunity to be with others and always a time for solitude if you want it. I love starting the day on the deck and I love having at least some time to be sitting at the beach or walking beside the water.
The big question - the vacation question is always this: what do I want to do today?
I start the day with morning pages - a time to reflect on the day before and look ahead to the coming day. At the same time I look at my "regular life" and wonder how I can better balance the work and rest and play that I need to balance. It is an ongoing journey to wholeness.
All I know is that I am grateful to be here and to be with my family and friends.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I started the day at church at 8:00 AM and met Jason here and waited for Wowway to come and put internet access into the building. We waited for over an hour - (wonderful conversation where I got to catch up on what is happening with him!) and finally they came. Three trucks and they hung out in the parking lot and finally we got the word. They could not do it. We are an island with dial up internet. Both the YMCA and Oakleaf Retirement Community are able to have wireless - but we can't.
So, the media did not come here today. A disappointment.
It was okay because i knew I was going to get to meet the candidate. And so at the appointed time I walked over to Oakleaf where he had arrived 2 hours before for my handshake. I brought the book "The Audacity of HOpe" that Dawn brought over. I was turned away at the door by the secret service guy. I explained I was the minister next door, but no dice. So I went back to church and wrote an email titled "disappointment."
Five minutes later I got a phone call from Oakleaf saying "Come on Over" and when I did I was greeted like somebody important!
I talked to the same secret security guy for a while and then Ethan came out and told me that I was to wait about 20 minutes and then go back into the kitchen area to meet the Senator. I talked to some of the residents I knew. One of them said, "I don't know why they brought him here - most of us don't like him." And she also said, "I am afraid of Muslims." And I said - "He is a Christian" and she kind of said - "Well, he is now....." Whatever that means!!!
As I was waiting there was an 80 year old man playing "5 foot 2 eyes of blue" and other songs of the day. One couple was dancing in the corner. John and Annie Glenn were there and people were having their pictures taken with them. I was kind of nutty.
Finally they called me back. And then I waited with a bunch of men and one woman in suits. They were really friendly and accomodating to me. Treated me like I was somebody important.
I talked a bit to Ethan and remarked on the fact that everyone was pretty young who was working for Obama in the room. I asked if he thought John McCain's team was as young. And he said no. He told me that Obama's chief speechwriter is 27 and most of the advance team is in their 20's and 30's. But what struck me was how friendly they were and how well organized.
Then Barak Obama came through the door. He walked right up to me - looking straight at me.
I shook his hand and told him that I represented a lot of clergy who support him and are praying for him. He said, "That's good. I need prayer" or something like that. He signed the book for Dawn and then shook my hand again. He then went over to his people and learned of the death of Tim Russert. As he left, he touched my shoulder and said I should pray for his family.
THEN there was Michelle. I didn't know she was there. And she is beautiful in person! I shook her hand and told her that I was praying for her and that she was an inspiration to me. It was so cool.
I didn't care about the picture - just the contact. And again, if what I see of this campaign reflects him, it means that he is disciplined, organized, and very connected to people.
It was memorable!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
1. Barak Obama is coming to Ohio - to Columbus to ........Karl Road! He is doing a talk on Social Security at the retirement community that is next door to the church tomorrow at noon.
His advance people - Samantha, Brendon and Ethan came to us and asked to use our fellowship hall after the event for the media to file their stories.
We are community minded so - of course. And then they asked if we had internet access (Wowway) and no we have dial up. Would it be okay if they brought in wireless and paid for it and we would have a month of it free. Yes!
So... at 8 am tomorrow I am meeting Brendon at the church with the Wowway person and Jason from our church to install that. And at 2:30 tomorrow I am going over to Oakleaf to shake Barak Obama's hand. They said he would also sign a book - so tonight I have to go buy one of his books. It's the least I can do. I am very, very excited.
And then the questions - what to wear and what to say.....I will let you know about that tomorrow!!!!!
I cannot overstate how excited I am about all of this - like a little kid. As a big follower of the political scene I am so curious just to see the secret service, the media, and of course the candidate himself. It should be really interestind. Would I be as excited if it were McCain or Hillary and the answer is YES - absolutely. They are all remarkable people and it is cool to get to see them in the flesh.
I remember in college shaking Eugene McCarthy's hand, and seeing George McGovern in person and worshiping at church with William Scranton. In Bowling Green we stood for hours to see Bill Clinton come by on his train campaign. I also remember going to downtown West Chester Pennsylvania when Richard Nixon ran for president. I must have been 11 years old!
So, Barak may be a president or maybe not....but there is something special about seeing the people who are running for office in the flesh.
2. I am excited about vacation which starts for us on Saturday. We have made our menu and have started filling boxes with games and food and bedding. It is going to be great. Kacey and Gillian have written in their blogs what they are looking forward to so I guess I will too:
a. Hanging out with my brother Geoff - and talking politics and the meaning of life, etc, etc
b. watching Jackson, Alyse and Reagan at the beach.
c. going out to lunch with my husband - I like the Sunset Grille
d. taking a walk on the beach - whatever time of day.
e. drinking pinot grigio and BL with Lime !!
f. Games of course - we have brought blokus, rummikub, quiddler and cards.
g. reading on the porch (hope we have a porch!!)
h. not thinking about church!
i. morning pages and prayers on the deck with a cup of coffee (hope we have a deck!)
j. conversations with everyone - especially just sitting on the beach and hanging out
k. riding the waves on a boogie board - it literally takes 40 years off of me mentally. I am a teenager in my mind!
l. watching everyone interact, having fun, making memories and just enjoying the blessing of being in that place that holds so many memories.
It is amazing to me that I can remember sitting on the beach and watching my grandmother staring at the ocean with her hands on her hips. And at the time I thought, "I wonder what she is thinking" She was in her 80's then.
Now as a grandmother who goes to the beach, one thing I have learned is that you grow into a greater appreciation of beauty as you get older. And just to be there, to stop and look at the wonder of the ocean takes your breath away.
I am excited!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
No - I am not taking my grandkids yet - I am sort of the assistant director. We just started offering this last year at Camp Christian for a first camp experience for kids who are past kindergaret and 1st grade. Last year we had 7 kids. This year we had 12. That is good growth.
And next year we will have Alyse and Reagan.
One of the things I have realized about myself is that I get great joy in watching people have fun. That is why I have always liked to work with youth and watch them come out of their shells and just enjoy each other. This was so great. The little kids immediately entered into everything. Mary Wood is the director and she is gifted with kids and we just had a wonderful time.
And then I also got to watch grandparents have real quality time with the grandchild. Our rule is one grandparent and one grandchild. We started at 7:oo pm last night and they will end at 6 PM tonight. It is only 23 hours - but it is a long time for a one on one experience with your grandchild. They ate together, did crafts together, prayed together, fished together and swam together. That is a lot of time together without those pesky parents and siblings in the way! We did an evaluation form and the grandparents loved our schedule and I think appreciated that we included quiet time this afternoon.
One of the sweetest things was that Mary asked the kids who wanted to say grace. They all put their hands up. So she picked a little boy who then when faced with the microphone went silent. We waited and then you could see his grandma whispering words in his ear as he repeated them.
It was so cute.
It was also fun to see my contemporaries who are now grandparents. Bob Thornton was there and he is a pastor (retiring this summer !) with three sons who I remember from when my 3 daughters were at camp as teenagers. Now he is there with one of his son's daughters. In October I hope to bring my daughters' daughters. Life just keeps on going!
What a blessing it is to be able to put together a program and then participate in it with my own grandkids!