Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hair appointments, the least of it

Since writing about making hair appointments, I've thought about what makes me feel grown-up. I mean, by all practical purposes I am. I was mistaken for the mom of a confirmation student this summer, after all... (which would have required me to have been a mom at 17, biologically possible, but there's where the possiblity stops).

I know that age is a state of mind and that we settle into groups based less on calendar age and more on similar interests and location and perhaps the age of our off-spring. I know that there are 22 year olds who run companies and 65 year olds who work for an hourly wage at the big-box store.

But it's those little moments that jolt me out of my day-to-day thinking that I'm, oh, I don't know, 22? 23? Even though my education and my child should be the big things that remind me that when I really was that age, seminary and kid(s) were far, far, far from my mind.

Like making hair appointments in advance. Realizing that those just might be fine lines around my eyes -- the kind of fine lines that one could buy expensive creams for, if one were so inclined. Noticing that I really can't stay out like I used to. Being concerned about things like pensions and life insurance and saving for education (even though our student loans are, well, still loans). And this week, hearing my husband say in conversation, "Well, our mortgage broker thinks...."

So, what are the little jolts that remind you of your place in life, young or not?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Still learning

It never hurts to remind myself that I'm still learning as a pastor, that I don't know everything. Of course I fight that kicking and screaming, because if I did know everything, well, at least more than I can claim to know, wouldn't things be a lot easier? Granted it's not like I've been at this 40 years, but it seems part of our nature to want to know as much as possible as quickly as possible.

My DH, who is infinitely wiser than yours truly about *most* things, once said to me in one of my fits, "I don't want a chaplain or a pastor who has learned everything." It was a humbling moment for me, as we stood eye-locked before I walked out of our apartment, bound for CPE. I remember not slamming the door as hard as I'd thought I might.

So, this weekend I learned something about ministry. I'm working with a colleague again, except this time I'm the resident "senior." I'm thinking a lot about what it means to truly share ministry and what that actually looks like, how it really happens, and what collegiality can be, should be, could be. The process is exciting and scary and invigorating and has a lot of potential for creativity and growth, for all involved. What I learned didn't come from that exciting new development in my ministry with these dear people, but will certainly have great impact on it and how I see staff ministry.

I left the hospital Saturday afternoon in the driving rain, having sat with a woman whom I have come to care for deeply. She and her family are treasures for many folks and I feel blessed to count myself among them. No one -- none of the experts or doctors or caregivers or the cadre of nurses, herself included -- knows what's wrong, only that there are many things, all happening together. I don't know if she is dying, or not. And neither do they.

But as I drove away thinking about the inevitability of all of our deaths and the subsequent funerals and services, it came to me that she's not *mine* to bury. Whether I preside at her funeral or anyone else's, these aren't *my* people any more than they were the previous pastor's or the next. These are God's people, and God will be there regardless of my presence or claims.

I'm still learning. I'm still learning. I'm still learning. Thank God, I'm still learning.

Friday, September 22, 2006

RevGal Friday Five and a Bonus

(Flashback to me as a wee one)
1) Are you a baby about small injuries?
Um, somtimes? Other times I don't even notice the 6-inch bruise on my leg until it's purple.

2) What's the silliest way you have ever hurt yourself?
Actual injury: I sprained my ankle in college walking across a parking lot. I was on crutches for 10 days in January, in MN.
Simple silliness: Fainting when I got my ears pierced.

3) Who took care of your boo-boos when you were a child?
Probably my mom.

4) Are you a good nurse when others have boo-boos?
I think so... though I have this issue with hearing about injuries, which is worse in my mind than actually seeing them or being part of them.

5) What's the worst accidental injury you've suffered? Did it require a trip to the Emergency Room?
I tipped a table saw over onto myself when I was 3 or 4 (it wasn't running). One of the guide poles broke into my arm, requiring stitches (only 3!!).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fall Love

There are things I like about each of the seasons, so it's always difficult if I have to pick a favorite in one of those "get-to-know-each-other" games. However, when we're in the midst of one of the seasons, or it's just starting, then I'm completely entrhalled with that given time. Today was one of those brisk fall days that made the leaves crunch under our feet and I put on a sweatshirt and made the Kidlet wear a hat (which he kept on, amazingly) and I loved fall today.

The leaves haven't really started changing, and admittedly we don't live in one of the classic leaf-looking places, but that time isn't far away. Some of them have fallen and rustle on the sidewalks or against each other. I love that there are pumpkins for sale and that soon children will start to carve them and folks will roast the seeds (mmmmmm... roasted pumpkin seeds).

People are returning to a routine, and that includes church. Our attendance was nearly double the past two weekends from what it had been most of the summer, which makes me both sad and excited. I've been a little afraid that the folks who hadn't been around for the summer were going to stay away on a more permanent basis given the transition we're going through. Apart from any sort of political issue, worship has had an energy and excitement that it's lacked.

All of this to say that today I really love fall: the brisk weather and the kids walking past our house on their way to school and the pumpkins on steps and the apples in the orchards and the people in the pews.

Friday, September 15, 2006

RevGal Friday Five

I read the Friday Five this morning and didn't really feel qualified to play. I've thought it about it all day and decided to play anyway.

David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so...

1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.
I've been in the presence of many famous people, but actually met very few. I had the honor and privilege to meet Paul Wellstone, may he rest in peace. Barbara Brown Taylor, Leif Enger (Peace Like a River). Oh, and I was very, very close to Joyce Carol Oates and was so in awe of her. I kept repeating in my head, "I took a whole class on her. I've written papers about her writing. There she is."

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.
Hmmmm.... Natalie Portman. Or Dr. McDreamy, whose name I've somehow forgotten.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.
My dad. It's so cheesy, but he's one of the coolest guys I know. Down to earth, great sense of humor, very laid back, and he knows lots and lots of things -- both practical things like how to change the oil on your car, and also brilliant out-there scientific things that he's able to explain to the average folk.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leif Enger (see above)

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?
Writing a really great book. More likely? Being married to my brilliant husband, who I'm convinced will somehow manage to rock the world in his own sweet dorky way. Of course other days I'm amazed that he's even able to walk himself to work.

Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago?
Donald Trump

Monday, September 11, 2006

Writing/Not Writing

I feel like I haven't written much recently. In some ways I've slipped back into the old me from my pre-blogging days in which I'd think things like: "I should journal." And for a few days I'd walk around with these brilliant little vignettes rumbling about in my head to write down and never did. They died in my head or I forgot to ever sit down with my journal or I would sit down and nothing would come or I wouldn't have the right pen or the right cup of coffee or I'd see a friend ambling down the street and decide that talking with her would be far better than writing anything down.

When it comes to blogging I've managed to maintain a somewhat regular pattern of posting. Maybe because my handwriting never matters or I can do this at all hours of the day or because sometimes people leave comments and my ego likes that, my desire to belong needs that.

When writing block hits during sermon prep, I often sit down and simply start typing (rarely do I write sermons long-hand, though occasionally it happens), often with a string of words that start: "I don't know what to say to these people this weekend and I'm not even sure that I want to preach but if I did it certainly wouldn't be on this passage from Matthew/James/Isaiah/name the identified lectionary text/Stewardship/Evangelism and I don't want to preach this because I really want to say..... but I'm afraid that I'm not brave enough." It's my own little slice of pre-sermon therapy that at least gets me to acknowledge what I'm afraid of and often when I get done spewing all of this onto paper, there's a decent sermon mixed in once I take out all (most?) of the stuff about me.

I need to write, I've discovered. It's balm for my soul and without even realizing it I'd let it slip away, not only from me but from my identity. Calling myself a writer always seemed silly, and grandiose, and far too vulnerable to be safe. As a woman who stands in the pulpit or wanders around the chancel, weekly, I feel vulnerable weekly, sometimes daily. I think I dropped the mere idea of writing because it was simply too much. Melodramatic? Maybe.

When friends from my former life asked if I still wrote, I'd hem and haw and mention sermons or newsletter articles. I'd try to explain how they were my creative outlet, but in their eyes I could see that they saw through my words. I've had a few writing gigs over the past year or so, for denominational publications or for preaching resources, and I've written some pieces for the RevGal devotional books. These pieces clearly come from my identity as "pastor." But they have opened me a bit, and I find other things rumbling about in my head, that occasionally find their way to paper or to this blog.

I still don't know if I'm claiming writer. Usually I just list it as one of my hobbies, like gardening or walking, neither of which have gotten much use recently either. However, in a conversation with a dear friend the other day, she called me a writer: "Yeah, but you're a writer," she said. She threw the statement out there lovingly, like a gift, and has probably forgotten it, but clearly I haven't.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Occasionally I can't sleep.

Tonight's one of those nights.

Night before last was another.

I'm tired, but can't seem to shut my mind off long enough to drift off to sleep. I do various things on nights like this: write things down, take a warm bath, drink some milk, maybe some wine, I read, do logic puzzles, work a sudoku or two, pick up my sleeping child, pay bills, read blogs, dream about the future ... I try relaxation techniques and sometimes they work.

Sometimes I just lay in bed, not sleeping. That's less fun when DH starts snoring, but sometimes it's peaceful.

I think about worship and calls and family and taking trips and planning stewardship.

I pray for my parishioners as they come to mind and remember that I need to try to call one of them again tomorrow.

I think about my friends in their many and various places and locations, and how I miss them -- for the ones about to give birth and those who still have months to go, for those who have calls, are waiting for calls, are discerning calls, and for those who don't want their call anymore, for the newly married and soon-to-be married and those who struggle to be still married.

Lord, hear my prayer.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


If I were to do a series of posts on things that make me feel like a "grown-up" this would feature prominently. I really don't see doing a post-series, but the little startling moments that make me feel grown-up are interesting to think about.

I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow, which is always a delightful experience -- and an appointment I've been looking forward to for quite some time. That's right, I made an appointment to get my hair cut.
More than a day in advance.
More than a week in advance.
Ok, honestly? I made the appointment when I left the salon after my last cut, 8 weeks ago. I used to ridicule women who did that (in my mind), thinking, "How are you going to know when your hair needs to be cut? What if you get bored between now and then?" And then I became one of them. Because while I made silent fun of them, they seemed so adult, so put-together. And while I might venture into the land of feeling like a grown-up.... put-together? Not-so-much!!

Monday, September 04, 2006


It's raining, or projected to rain, all day here. We don't mind the rain, really, but it sort of eliminates a lot of the ideas that we had for today's entertainment. And, because we realize that everyone else is trying to get out of the rain, many of the other options for going somewhere become overwhelmed with people. And, because it's Labor Day, many of our favorite outings aren't an option, like the library.

I feel horribly uncreative on days like this -- surely we can do something with our family that doesn't involve going to some sort of attraction, right?

I'll let you know what we discover.

Good news: I've brought us up-to-date on clothing mangement for the kidlet. We're ready to transition to the next size and weather.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Five

Life in the fast lane (red because don't red cars get stopped more often?)

In honor of Will Smama and her recent fender-bender, this Friday Five has been created for her "in lieu of flowers."

1. Driving: an enjoyable way to clear the mind? a means to an end? a chance to be quiet with one's thoughts? a necessary evil? the downfall of our planet and its fossil fuels? Discuss.

I love to drive. Always have. Long trips, short jaunts about town, you name it.

2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket?
On the interstate or the open road I drive a little faster than the speed limit. But just a little. I had the same idea about local roads until last fall when I got a ticket. My first one ever. I didn't even know what to do when the officer approached me.

3. Do you take public transportation? When? What's your opinion of the experience?
It's not convenient at all to do so where I live now on a regular basis. The 'burbs are built on the idea that everyone has a car. However, in other places and times I have done so for daily commuting and it's been a good (relatively) experience. Vacationing in places like Boston and DC make the use of public transportation essential.

4. Complete this sentence: _____________ has the worst drivers I've ever experienced.
Hmmmm.... I grew up in a really small town (no stoplights, not even a stop sign on the main street) so I feel with some confidence that small towns often have bad drivers. But that's only based on recent visits back to said small town and my realization that I simply don't know how to drive in that setting anymore -- I don't know everyone's car so can't anticipate that Elmer is going to the hardware store and will be turning left. I live in a major metropolitan area now and there are certainly enough bad drivers populating this area, too. Sorry, I can't pin down one location.

5. The 6th longest average commute in the United States is at 29 minutes each way. How does your personal commute rate?
Currently my commute rocks. 10-15 minutes each way, all local roads so length of time depends on stoplights and trains.

Bonus for the brutally honest: It has been said, and the MythBusters have confirmed, that cell phones can impede driving ability almost as much as drinking. Do you talk on a cell phone while driving?
Um, yeah. Not every time I get in the car, but if I know I'll be in the car awhile, I use it to catch up with friends who are out of state or my mom.
I was not on my cell phone when I got a ticket, though.