Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tag - You're It!

I love playing games. I think I miss playing the most being an old grown-up. I hope when I get even older, I will once again enjoy playing games. But occasionally we have an opportunity to play games as adults. Those that can be posted on G rated sites are even better.

Tag was especially one of my favorite games as a child. I still love the laughter and giggles it provokes as children play this game, although I am not able to run with them much any more. This is the game that I find myself in the middle of in cyberspace! A dear friend of mine, CurtissAnn Matlock, tagged me in her blog, Pressing On.

The idea of this game is that you are tagged and you have to answer the following thoughts, fill-in-the-blank style.

Fill in the following blanks:

I THINK -- until it hurts sometimes.

I KNOW--I am loved, by God and those around me, and nothing else really matters.

I HAVE-- a fabulous family and a great vocation.

I WISH-- I could go on vacation.

I HATE-- those who hate. (Seems fair doesn't it.)

I MISS-- not owning my own home, and having a place to call my own.

I FEAR-- not much, but I really wouldn't want to test the theory.

I FEEL-- great and overwhelming love and contentment.

I HEAR-- the fan going on my husband's side of the bed and my daughter singing VBS songs!

I SMELL-- body lotion

I CRAVE-- times of solitude and peace.

I SEARCH-- for new ways to share the gospel.

I WONDER-- about a lot of things!

I REGRET-- nothing. Everything, good and bad, that has been in my life has made me who I am today. And I love who God has made me to be!

I LOVE-- God, my family, my friends, my life.

I ACHE-- for those who do not know the love of God as I do, for those who are struggling with troubled minds and spirits, and those who need encouragement.

I AM NOT-- Wonder Woman. Thank God!

I BELIEVE-- in God, Jesus, the Spirit of God and that humanity was created in the image of the divine.

I DANCE-- whenever I get a chance!

I SING-- lots of things! I make up songs too! One of my favorite things with my daughter is to make up new words to old songs.

I CRY-- hardly ever. Generally, if not for the usual reasons of saddness, out of stress and frustration, but still rarely.

I DON'T ALWAYS-- feel like being a pastor. (Shhhh, don't tell anyone!)

I FIGHT-- for those I love. Fiercely!

I WRITE-- what I am truly feeling inside, and what I believe will be beneficial for others to read, whether, now or at a time in the future.

I WIN-- about as often as I lose (if we are talking games), and I don't think there is a winner in any argument, unless the two sides can reconcile.

I NEVER-- uhhhh. Never say never.

I ALWAYS-- try my best.

I LISTEN-- to God as best I can.

I CAN USUALLY BE FOUND-- depends on the time of day.

I AM SCARED-- for my children's future. I hope they do a better job with the world than we did.

I NEED-- to know my family loves me, and that's about it.

I AM HAPPY ABOUT-- a lot of things. I am happy I have my family. I am happy I am in my current location. I am happy the VBS program is tomorrow night!

I IMAGINE-- a world of peace, even if just in my own little world.

I tag Michelle who blogs on Scribbit, Jeremy at Hacking Christianity, and David at Deep Calls to Deep. If you guys have time to play, join in.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weddings and Other Craziness

For those of you who listen to the weekly podcast of my sermons, there will not be one today. Rather than sermonizing this morning I listened to a concert by Jamey Denison. It was kinda nice to be able to sit in the pews this morning. You see, I had one of those busy, not-a-chance-I-could-come-up-with-a-sermon weeks.

Last Sunday was my son and new daughter-in-law's shower at my church, and my family came up to share it with us. Then this Thursday we drove to the other side of the state for his wedding. Friday we went to my sister's house to stay before my nephew's wedding. We laughed at high fuel prices this week. (Of course, it was the insanely hysterical laughter one hears when someone has gone just a tad too close to the edge.)

My son is married. I have a daughter-in-law. Wow! This takes some getting used to. Of course, we had over a year to get used to the idea, but there is something kind of odd about it actually happening.

Interestingly, I did not cry at my son's wedding (not that I am a real crier, but I thought the possibility was there.) It seemed I was too distracted, and the overall mood of my son's wedding was casual, relaxed and laid-back. Definitely not weepy stuff. Lots of laughter and a jovial atmosphere.

At my nephew's wedding however, I got a little misty. I seemed to have nothing better to do than to sit in the pew and reflect on the past 21 years. You see my son and nephew are six months apart in age and more or less grew up together. I guess the reality of my son getting married hit home when I was watching my nephew's mother getting emotional.

Of course, the issue isn't really that he is married, it is that he's a man now. Of course, he has been out on his own for sometime, but he was my baby, my first born, my son. Now he is her love, her partner, her husband. Of course, I know he will always be my son, but he is now too so much more. I wish them both much love and happiness.

My favorite picture of the happy couple.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


With a little incentive from Michelle Mitchell’s blog called Scribbit: Motherhood in Alaska, I am posting today in response to her writing contest on Wonder Woman! I thought it would be fun.

Growing up, there were many superheroes to pick from. There was Superman, Batman, Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk and of course, Wonder Woman for us girls. Then there was the “new” type of superhero in the Six-Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. Later for some of our children came, He-Man and She-Ra, The Transformers, PowerRangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the list could go on. We see that the love of the superhero continues on today with the new movies that have come out in recent times; remakes of Batman, Spider Man, Hulk, and now…Hancock.

There seems to be some inherent need for a superhero in humanity. Those characters that, though tragically flawed in some way, fight for the rest of us to have a better life. Superheroes have some special talent or ability that enables them to perform and function on a level the rest of us ordinary folk never attempt; however, inspires children to emulate.

This is nothing new. For many women, the woman of Proverbs 31 does the same thing. This capable woman makes the fabric and other textiles for her family by sewing, spinning, dyeing, and trading in fabrics. She not only whips up tasty dishes for the family, but she also plants, grows, gathers, and prepares it for cooking. She is administrator, landowner, buyer, merchant, viticulturist (one who studies vineyards), and philanthropist. She is intelligent, shrewd, gracious, wise, ambitious, kind, industrious, and attentive to detail. She does this all with no sleep and purely for the sake of her husband and family, her ‘tragic flaw.’ Obviously, this was the first Wonder Woman. Apparently, King Lemuel’s mother did not want him to find a real woman as she is describing what even she cannot hope to become.

Women of all generations have felt the need to be this type of superhero because this capable woman wasn’t presented as a fictional character, but rather that ideal to which we should all aspire. Over the generations we have seen women struggle under the burden of work and family with precious little help. There always seemed to be that woman living on the street who made the rest of us look bad; like Brie on Desperate Housewives or Martha Stewart. Bless their hearts because they too seem to be caught up in the “must-do-everything” rat race.

Many of our daughters have given up on this ideal and are rejecting this superficial type of superhero. They are seeking their own way, and not trying to be the ideal woman and ideal man all rolled into one. And I for one say, “you go girlfriend.” However, I don’t think totally rejecting the ideal that the woman of Proverbs 31 is entirely the answer, because nature abhors a vacuum. We will begin to have a generation (and do already) of those young women who think Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie are the “ideal” woman. So what’s the answer?

Maybe taking pride in ourselves is the answer. Obviously, whatever the woman of Proverbs motivation may be (yes, I am aware she is fictional), she had pride in herself. It takes pride to function in the man’s world of the time as competently as she did. It takes pride in her abilities, her skill, her knowledge, and her accomplishments. Her family was important to her, so that was her strength and her weakness; as she didn’t seem to take time to take care of herself.

We can learn many things from Wonder Woman and the Woman of Proverbs 31, but we also need to learn that we are not superhuman. No matter how good our intentions might be, we cannot continue on with our work if we are not taking care of ourselves. So, today, take a moment to reflect on what you do to nourish yourself body, mind and spirit. How do you take care of you?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Support Group for Parents of Adult Children

Okay, so I have been talking to numerous people whose children are 18 or older. Whether they are 18 or 48, parents of these children spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out how to have a parent/child relationship with children, who aren't children. New parents of those cute adorable little babies are told that children do not come with an instruction manual and you will mess up from time to time. Overall, however, this does not generally do any kind of long-lasting, permanent damage to our children.

As the children get older, my general advice is "children are a gift of God. Repeat as necessary." When they are teenagers and the throes of burgeoning independence consumes a good deal of energy, there is still territory that is familiar because you and your child have grown together.

However, I am finding, with myself and my friends who have adult children, parenting, or rather non-parenting, gets tougher. You have been charged with raising these children from the total dependence of an infant to a completely self-sufficient adult-ish person.

Some parents have adult children who claim to want to be "independent" and yet totally rely on their parents to take care of them. These poor put upon parents are expected to do everything from their laundry to paying their bills. In this case, the importance of setting boundaries comes into play. Children should be given their independence and this involves taking responsibilities. Of course, there is nothing against parents helping out their children if it does not become a relationship of co-dependence.

Other parents have children who tend to learn life lessons the hard way. You want to help and can't. You still have a perspective of experience and, well....worldly knowledge, and you tend to see all the pitfalls and other traps life tends to spring on you. Yet, you cannot say anything. This is a totally frustrating place to be. You can see, maybe not with any clairvoyant accuracy, but you can see down the road ahead of them in ways they cannot. Yet, the most you can do is try to ask them pertinent questions to try to get them to see these obstacles for themselves.

The truth is, there is no instruction manual for infants, and there is certainly no instruction manual for adult children. The Bible tells us if we raise our children in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it. It says nothing about early adulthood. I have found praying is the best way. I feel better when I pray for my children, because I know that as much as I love them and want the best for them, God loves them and wants them to have life abundant even more than I do.

I guess for all you parents of adult children out there, this is what has worked for me. Even when it doesn't seem to be working, and I cannot figure out what to do, it offers me comfort. I hate that my children have to make mistakes to learn things, but of course, I did and God brought me through, so I can trust them to God.

How are you coping as a parent of an adult child?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Still fussin' over women in the ministry

Jeremy Smith's blog "Hacking Christianity" had an interesting post "Silly don't you know? The Spirit gives you wings! It discusses the Episcopal Church in America having a female presiding bishop and the Church of England voting to approve female bishop's. (What is the world coming to!) There was a quote from the Telegraph (UK newspaper) from a supporter of the decision:
A couple of hours ago, the Church of England decisively severed itself from its Catholic roots. By voting to ordain women bishops without significant safeguards for traditionalists, it reasserted its identity as a Protestant Church. Whether it will be a liberal or conservative Protestant denomination remains to be seen. But any hope of unity with Rome and the Orthodox has gone forever.
The gist of the rest of the post is that we are working too hard to hold on to our roots when the Spirit gives us wings (who needs Red Bull!) I have a bit of a different take.

We are not trying to hold onto roots but rules. The founder of Christianity, the Christ himself, included women and many other marginalized that the religious powers-that-be of the day excluded. Once the Christians were no longer persecuted and became a church of the state, the religious once again fell into the same ways of their predecessors and excluded women and other marginals.

These are not roots but arbitrary rules. Jesus had no problems breaking every arbitrary rule he came up against.

Women have heard God speaking to them always. Why cannot they not also hear the call to ordained ministry, including being bishop, that their male counterparts hear.

What do you think?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Music for Worship

Recently, and truly ever since I have been in a church (quite a while), I have always heard someone have something to say about the music in worship. I remember when the "new" songs were written by the Gaithers! They are pretty much old stand-by's now. I remember several of the dear old church mothers and fathers commenting on how the "new" music did not 'inspire' them or was conducive to worship the way the older, more cherished hymns were.

Since entering ministry, I have heard many of the same types of comments. Actually, most of the comments I have heard generally travel to me through 'others' rather than directly from the horse's mouth. Comments like, "can't we sing some of the older songs, rather than all these 'new' songs" or "what another new song!" Not many times do I hear, "I really like all the new music in worship!" Truthfully, the music we sing in worship is by no means considered 'new' by any standards, most of it written over ten years ago. Keep a car that long and see if you feel it is 'new.'

Recently I read this letter:
"I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday's new hymn - if you can call it that - sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this - in God's house! - don't be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need."
And then this letter followed shortly after:
"What is wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new hymn. Last Sunday's was particularly unnerving. The tune was un-singable and the new harmonies were quite distorting."
Amusing little notes aren't they? Truthfully, I must 'fess up. The first was written in 1863 and the song they were complaining "sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon" was Just as I Am. The second hymn which was "un-singable and the new harmonies were quite distorting" was What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I found them on Dan Kimball's blog called "Vintage Faith." If you click on the title to this blog you can read his article.

I guess it just goes to show you that people have complained about the music in worship for longer than we care to remember. Maybe if we just stopped to listen to the beautiful words which the writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, use to minister to people's hearts in ways ordinary spoken words cannot, then we just might accidentally be blessed by this "new music."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Gentle Messiah

Sermon from 07.06.08. Beginning of a sermon series entitled "Journeying with Matthew's Messiah."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Too Busy?!

I have had two very different conversations with people in my congregation. The first said that s/he was worried that I was taking on so many new things that I would soon 'burn out.' The second thought that I should take on something else. Tell that a mixed signal or what?

The fact of the matter is there are a great many demands on those in ministry, and many more things that we 'ought' to be doing, but it seems to get the back burner. I find in my ministry that I tend to be 'doing' more and ministering less which bothers me.

I am well aware that I need to set boundaries for myself, and I do try, which is why the second person mentioned above got a resounding "NO" to the new request. However, I feel that there is so much to be done, and there doesn't seem to be anyone but me to do it. As a result, things that truly are pastoral responsibilities are falling by the wayside. And I look longingly at Adam Hamilton's post on sermon planning as a fairytale that doesn't come true until you have slayed the mighty dragon of "involving laity in the ministry of their own congregation." I have not apparently learned how to slay that dragon yet.

So, if the laity do not step up, what is the answer? Do I let things go? Continue them hoping the laity will pitch in and help? Or something entirely different.

Any comments would be welcomed.