Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five: Fork in the Road

Singing Owl is at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

What a question Singing Owl you have asked and a great picture to go with it.

My Forks in the Road

Being a Methodist Pastor means I move when appointed by the Bishop and the Cabinet to serve at a different church. Each church I have served has been different. I just moved in June and am in transition in a large church from serving small churches for the last seven years. It is challenging, exciting, demanding and fun. It has providing lots of opportunities for new ministries, working with people of all ages, creativity, synergy, learning, and a deepening in my spiritual life. The last appointment was a difficult one and so this is refreshing. But even the last appointment grew me as a minister as I allowed God to work in me. I enjoyed the small churches for who they were, the intimacy, the quite times and slower pace.

ThThey too were willing to do new things as God called them into new vision for being the body of Christ. I had moved to these small churches from what in the Methodist Church is considered a large church but compared to this church is medium size. I loved serving there because it was growing, lots of families, young people, the energy, their missional nature, the contemporary church, and the opportunities.

2. Adoption We have adopted three kids. Each child we have adopted has led to fork in the road, whether to adopt this child or not. We had tried for years to get pregnant, quit, and became content with being childless. With the move to Huntsville, we found out about adoptions from China and that the age limits did not effect us. We could have stopped with our first who was a baby at that time, but we adopted the next two. However we chose to adopt older children who had “special needs”, because we felt led to and wanted to. Having adopted older kids who had cleft lip and cleft palettes, meant taking paths of spending time in hospitals, Doctor’s offices, speech therapies, and with teachers. Being adopted when they were older meant they came with emotional and behavioral needs which meant lots of work on our part, lots of love, patience, therapies, medication, time with teachers and counselors, reading books, learning how to deal with their needs.

3. There have been other forks, but the above seem to make more than five. I’ll just say getting married was a big fork. Going to college and then Seminary were forks in the road for me. Doing Clinical Pastoral Education and training for Pastoral Counseling/Marriage and Family Therapy were forks in the roads of my life. All along the way there have been people who were there for such a time to be part of my life, to be a sign post, help me on my journey, way in the balances which way to go, encourage me, or walk with me.

So what about you, what forks in the road have you taken?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Five: Taking a Break

For the Friday Five: Songbird tells us that “Where we live, it's February School Vacation Week!Yes, that's an odd thing, a vacation extending President's Day. But it's part of our lives here. Some people go South or go skiing, but we always stay home and find more humble amusements.”
In that spirit, I offer this Taking a Break Friday Five. Tell us how you would spend:
1. a 15 minute break Tea or coffee anyone?
2. an afternoon off Nap or a hike or play Wii depending on the weather.
3. an unexpected free day I am out of here or veg out.
4. a week's vacation Funny you would ask we finalized the place we are staying for Spring break which is in two weeks. And it looks a lot warmer than the skiing winter break picture on rgbp’s. (Hint, Hint can you say sunny Florida.)
5. a sabbatical Get out of here, are you kidding me? You aren’t. Well let me go to Oxford then. I did have a Seminary Professor who took his sabbatical making pizzas at Pizza Hut.
That does sound intriguing, with a whole lot less mental stress.

Bonus question? What break would I really like to have? A whole weekend, although a three day weekend or one of those four day weekends would be nice to have.

It's possible the coffee is a hint at my interests...) I know what you mean Songbird. Today, I got to have coffee at Starbucks with some friends. It was really nice.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wii Fit/WIISpiritual Fit

I gave in or caved in and bought the WII Fit even after Hassleback complained about how it ruins kids self esteem. I not sure where she got that. But I like it. I didn't like what it had to say about me. It is honest, didn't mince words about my shape and fitness. Yes, I am obese. It keeps telling me I am unbalanced, I could have told it that. I have always run into doors. It makes me work, and yet have fun. The worst thing it told me was I was 6 years older than I am by WII Fit standards. But it is the truth. In the last years, I have not excercised regularly at all. And well it shows. But I like doing it and I will keep doing it. I like having my trainer, she keeps encouraging me and challenging me.

It made me think about my own spiritual life. How fit am I with that? Will WII come up with a WII Spiritual Fit that tells me I am out of shape, have sinned, didn't read my bible or pray? Will it have my own Spiritual Trainer who encourages me to read the bible, pray, meditate, be still and know that I am God, tithe, be missional, love others, or witness? Will it say I live a balanced Spiritual life between being and doing? That may not be such a bad idea.

(That's not my cat on the WII Fit balance board, but my cat could use it.
Actually this one is from Flickr)

So how Fit are you? How fit is your spiritual life? Do you Wii Fit?

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's day

Its President's day here and the kids are at home.
Oh goody its a play day.
Our son's family will be headed back to their home today.
Wah, we have had a great time with them.
The kids have really gotten along with each other and played well.
Having the boys here has been good for Zach especialy.
He has really enjoyed having boys to be active with and not just the girls.
Wish we were closer.
I have today off, so I'll be enjoying the kids too.

Since today is President's day, I wanted to include the Daily thought I send out to friends, family and church members. Today it has quote from President Abe Lincoln, a scripture, prayer and blessing to go along with it.
Hope you have a happy President's day today as well.
Today might be a good day to pray for our President and our former Presidents as well.
But let's also prayer for the leaders of other countries too, especially those we consider "our enemies."

Thought for the day
After he had been elected president, someone asked Abraham Lincoln what he was going to do about his enemies. He replied, "I am going to destroy them. I am going to make them my friends."

Scripture for the day
Romans 12:20 "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Prayer for the day
Lord, remember not only the men of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have bourne be their forgiveness.
Source: Found on a scrap of paper at the liberation of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany

Blessing for the day
Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire
To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire;
Blest that abode, where want and pain repair,
And every stranger finds a ready chair;
Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crowned
Where all the ruddy family around
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale;
Or press the bashful stranger to his food,
And learn the luxury of doing good.
Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveler

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's day '09

We are furiously cleaning the house in anticipation of visitors today.

Our son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, boys are coming today.

They were suppose to come in December but were delayed. So we are very excited.

We get to have Christmas, Happy New Year and Valentine's Day all in one visit.

Fortunately I am not preaching Sunday, however I am teaching a class.

I am so fortunate to have 4 human valetine's and 4 furbaby valentine's that I live with.

I am also blessed with lots of other people in my life that I love and am loved by.

I got a sweet valentine call from my mom today. And good news, my nephew, Michael is home from serving in Iraq as a Marine. Yea. What a great Valentine gift.

For this day, here is a Valentine gift to you of a thought, scripture, prayer and blessing. Hope it is a day full of love for you.

Love is much more than a sentimental feeling.
It is putting someone else's welfare ahead of your own.

Scripture for the day
1 John 3:16 (Contemporary English Version) 16We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That's why we must give our lives for each other.

Prayer for the day
Lord, Let my heart be the vessel of God's Love.
Let my thoughts be the blossom of God's Love.
Let my words be the expression of God's Love.
Let my actions be the fulfillment of God's Love. Amen David Ridge

Blessing for the day
May you be blessed with
warmth in your home,
love in your heart,
peace in your soul
and joy in your life.

Happy Valentine's day

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Memorable pets

My son's tiny beloved lizard, Elf, is looking and acting strange this week. His skin/scales are quite dark, and he is lethargic. We are adding vitamin drops to his lettuce and spinach and hoping and praying that he is just getting ready to shed his skin--but it's too soon to tell. Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her precious Molly, the amazing dog who is well known to readers of her blog as a constant sacrament of God's unconditional love. So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known.

Here are my top five pets of my life.
1. First is Shasta; a sweet cat who has been gone for sometime now. Shasta was my first cat that owned me in Birmingham. She and her siblings was found in the woods and was living in a foster home. She was the sweetest of the group, so I chose her. But I had to be approved before I could adopt her. Luckily, I was approved and we have had a wonderful 18 years together. Not only was she sweet, but she was playful and enjoyed the outdoors. She was able to go with the flow of my life and many moves. When I moved to Columbus and met Bob. She was the one who fell for Bob first and approved him for my husband. She and Bob had a great relationship during her time on earth. We almost lost her by accident once though. Bob had been up in the attic doing some work, and came back down the ladder. Unfortunately he forgot to check if any of the cats had gone up the ladder too. After awhile we heard this pitiful meowing and started looking everywhere for where it was coming from. Finally we pulled down the ladder and there she was. It was a hot summer day, and the heat in the attic had gotten to her. Bob quickly got her and started pouring cold water over her while she stood in the tub. Fortunately, she survived. Even as old as she got, she accepted the other pets we would bring home to live. She also accepted Kate when we brought her home as a baby from China. Kate loved Shasta and really misses her. Her last act of love to me and the family was her death. We knew her death was coming, she had gotten frailer, skinnier, and less able to eat and take care of herself. I was gone to be with my mom during and after her surgery. While I was gone she decided to die, and so she went outside on our back porch and died. As I write this, I am crying because I miss her sweetness and her presence.

2. The next pet is the one living with us now. Her name is Tygger an 11 yr old cat. She and her two siblings were found out in the woods at Fort Benning. They were dumped as three day old kittens. They all three were adopted by me and two of my friends at that time. The vet did not think they would survive, but they have and from those scrawny kittens have grown into huge cats. Although when we were bottle feeding our kittens, Tygger almost died. Unfortunately, I had accidently bought a bad can of kitten milk. But fortunately the Emergency Vet saved her. We had a big black female lab at the time who adopted her as her baby, by licking her, nestling her and watching over her. I think her mothering was the big reason Tygger survived and thrived. Since she was bottle feeding, I took her to work with me, almost everywhere. People fell in love with her and worried about her. Well, now we have a mixed up cat who thinks she is part cat, part human and part dog. She has not been so good about welcoming other kittens or friends that come to visit. But she has welcomed the kids and most of all taught them to love and be gentle with others and themselves. I guess she has taught me that too. Our black lab has since died, but she has taken up with the other two dogs who like to lick her and play with her. She is learning to accept our newest young cat in the family as well. She also saw me through my dad’s dying and death. She was with me. When my mom comes to visit, she loves to be with her. She is a sweet lap cat and loves to kiss. And she loves Bob as well. Can you tell that Bob is a cat person? But Tygger does not travel well, and does not like vets and lets it be known.

3. Blackie was the big black lab I mentioned in Tygger’s story. We adopted her from a family whose dog had puppies. She was actually the runt but as cute as she could be. We had a foster child at the time, and it had been suggested to get him a dog of his own since we already had a dog. Blackie was actually part lab and some kind of retriever. She loved to swim in the water. She was typical lab in that she dug holes in the back yard, chased wild life, ate through our house, and any stuff animals. It two years for the brain fairy to come visit her to get her to calm down. She turned into a big hunk of a dog, but more like a gentle teddy bear. But I can tell you I always felt safe with her around when I would go hiking or walking. Blackie was there when we brought home Kate and Kara. We weren’t sure how she and Kate would do, but Kate was giggling and laughing over her, and Blackie was treating her like she was her baby. I wish I still had Blackie for who she was, she always made my day better. She lived 14 good years.

4. Ivanhoe was a male English setter who stole my heart in a pet store. He was the last puppy left and looked so lonely. I got him and immediately went to the vet, because I could tell he was sick. Well it turned out he had parvo, but we were able to nurse him back to health. And what a healthy dog he became. He too loved water, long hikes in the woods, and sleeping on our bed. He ruled the roost. Whenever Bob and I would kiss or hug he would get between us. He also loved chocolate. One time I had baked a pan of brownies for a bake sale, and left them on the cooling rack. That silly dog was able to reach up there and get those brownies. He ate every one before I discovered what he had done. He also loved to run, and if given a chance to get out the fenced in yard would take off. She did it several times, but we were always able to find him. One time he had run so far and so hard he had run the pads off his paws, was covered in ticks, briars and stickers. He was laid up for sometime, but we finally got all the stuff off of him and his pads healed. He never ran again after that. But when we came back from my dad’s funeral he was gone and the back yard gate was open. Blackie stayed home. We think because he was a hunting dog, that some hunter took him. We lived in the country and there were leased lands near us to hunters. We always said that if some hunter got him, he would be a hard dog to train to hunt, he would be gone in a minute, and “say bird, what bird.” I don’t know that I ever got good closure on losing Ivanhoe. And he has a special place in my heart.

5. The final pet was Bat Man. Bat Man was a cat that came to live with us because his owners, our friends, couldn’t have him where they were moving to. I was a teenager, and somehow or another that cat took up with me and slept in my bed. He went anywhere I went including to the swamp and to the woods. He was a great hunter, and would bring back his catches to our front step. We would go out in the morning and there would be blood and some kind of dead animal out there. We called it, his bringing his offerings to the altar. He was such a good tempered cat and very friendly. He got his name because he had a black mask and cape. We always had to sing the Bat Man theme song when we called him. When I left for college, he got quite depressed except when I came home for visits, then he would be happy again. He wasn’t fixed so he got into lots of cat fights and you could hear him and the other cat fighting and yelling at each other. He died when I was gone to Seminary of old age. He was a wonderful cat to have in my teen age years. He heard all my secrets, listened to me and loved me when I was going through those hard teen age years.

I have had lots of pets over the years and they all have a story to tell. Right now we have Lilly Bear, Kodah, who are dogs and then two cats, Tygger and Miley. And they are making stories of their lives with us now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A time for courage, a prayer for courage

As the recession deepens in our country, it is a time for courage.

As people lose their jobs, their homes, their savings, and their retirement funds, it is a time for courage.

As churches face drops in giving and tithes, it is a time for courage.

As we have to say no to our kids, and no to ourselves, it is a time for courage.

As we cut back, sacrifice, and pay off bills, it is a time for courage.

Our country has gone through recession, inflation and depression before, they were times for courage.

Our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, Aunts and Uncles lived through those difficult times, and it was a time for courage.

But where does our courage come from, when we perhaps are new at facing such difficult times?

Where do we find this courage to cut back, say no, sacrifice, or face losing our jobs?

We can turn to those still living who went rough such times and ask for their wisdom, knowledge and experience.

We can look within and dig it up from that place deep within.

We can read stories of courage.

We can read the Bible which is full of stories of courage.

We can pray.

Yes, I know courage doesn't pay the bills, or feed the kids, but it something that keeps us going, doesn't give into despair, hopelessness and helplessness. And for that I believe this kind of courage comes from God.

So here is a scripture verse and prayer for courage:

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

We take a moment for silent, private prayer. . . .


For all those who face a new week with fear, or dread, or hopelessness.

For those who live with illness or pain, physical or emotional.

For the lonely, and anxious, and worried.

For those who have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, or their retirement funds. (my addition)

For those who must don a veil of cheerfulness, respectfulness, or energy to get through the day.

God, please give us courage.

at A Different Street by Satchel Pooch

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lights Out

Yesterday, in the middle of the day, the power went out in the church. I worked for as long as I could with the Laptop on battery. Finally, I went home when it became clear the power wasn't going to come back on for some time. We don't know what happened or why the power went out. We have emergency lights but not a backup generator.

I came back last night to teach a class, and the lights were back on, but the building was cold. That told me it had not been on long.

It got me to thinking about my own life, and when the power in my life goes out. Do I have a backup generator for my life? Am I connected with the source of energy for all life, Creator God?
Am I using up all my energy on all kinds of things except for those places I need to be spending my energy? Do I even have emergency lights in my life? How can I do a better job using my energy more efficiently? How can I make sure I am connected to the source of energy?


We bought a WII for Christmas for the family, and have been playing regularly since then. We took it along to Grandma's for the holidays and now Grandma wants one. I am saving money for that gift.

But we have a great time playing. It has especially been good during these cold days. The favorite game, hands down: bowling,
second; golf,
third; baseball,
fourth; tennis,
Who is the top player and winner? It's a tie between Bob and Kate.

A word of advise, don't play WII with your slippers on while playing on a wood floor. I took a nice fall doing that yesterday. We were playing the bowling game, and some how or another, my feet went out from under me and there I went, bam. Nothing broken, just a good laugh for the kids. Oh and I got a spare.

I ordered the WII Fit and am waiting on it to come.

Anybody else WII?

Monday, February 02, 2009

It's Ground hog day

LOL. I always loved this day, although it never really effected where I lived, considering I grew up in Sunny Florida, and lived most of my adult life in the Sunny South. today, the prediction was for snow, that's a joke, there was no snow, but there was rain. I look out my office window and it is a beautiful sunny day now. It is not coled, but comfortable.

I read that Punxsutawney Phil says it is going to be six more weeks of winter.

There is apparently a Ground hog in Huntsville, AL. Although we probably don't check to see if it saw it's shadows. Although I see that the Bham Zoo did check with their groundhog who also said 6 more weeks of Winter.

I have kept up with how cold and miserable people in the midwest and East and North have been. I noticed that they had the movie "Groundhogs day" on TV last night.

For Christians February 2 is Candlemas Day, a festival that celebrates the presentation of Christ in the Temple, Jesus’ first entry into the temple; and it celebrates the Virgin Mary’s purification (40 days after Jesus' birth.) The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus was met by Anna and Simeon. Simeon held the baby Jesus and called him a Light to the World.

Ritual purification stems back to a Jewish tradition that women were considered unclean after the birth of a child. For 40 days for a boy, and 60 days for a girl, women weren't allowed to worship in the temple. At the end of this time, women were brought to the Temple or Synagogue to be purified. After the ceremony women were allowed to take part in religious services again.

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.

I find it interesting that on the day of Mary's purification she is then allowed to
go worship at the temple after being purified. On this day, they bring Jesus to present to the Lord. On this day there is also an older woman Anna, a prophet, who as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. I wonder what it was like for both those women that day? I wonder what went through their mind as they both saw each other? I wonder what all Anna did say, we have what Simeon said, but not the words of what Anna said. We have the jest. What did the old woman say to the young mother about being a young woman, a mother, and a wife? What did the young woman say to the older woman or even asked her? What did God have in mind in bringing these two together at this time? What effect did this have on Jesus' life and ministry? And why was this included in the scriptures? What does it say to us today?

Ground hog's day or Candlemas day, I hope it is a good day for you.