Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Five: Seasons Change...

Reverend Mother over at RevGalBlogPals laid down the challenge for the Friday five; It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.)

1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!)

It was on our vacation to the Smokies. It was after the long climb up Clingman's Dome with the kids. It had taken a lot of effort to the top. The kids had complained the whole way up, even though we had taken rest stops. We got to the top, and what a view from the top of the observation tower. It was a beautiful clear day to be able to really see the Smokies. It was worth the walk up. Unbelievable, Awesome moment. The kids were excitedly chattering and, looking from one side to the other. While I had vertigo at the top, and set down to enjoy the view. (Thought you would like that last part.) All the way down the mountain the kids were chattering about the view, the scenery. MC and VISA can't pay for that, and no money can buy that.

2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not? What end to Summer are you talking about? It is still hot as hades here and will be for awhile. I will however be glad when it is finally over to enjoy a little respite from this unbearable heat.

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.
I am looking forward to an end to this unbearable heat. I am looking forward to the changing of the colors. I am looking forward to being able to be outdoors more.

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach) Hadn't thought about that one. Mmm, usually it is going through the kid's summer clothes, culling them out and beginning to get more of their fall school clothes out. But I suspect they will be wearing their summer clothes for awhile.

I'll know that fall is really here when the spiders are out making their spider webs that I walk through on our trail, the leaves begin to change, its not so hot, there is a little more breeze in the air, plus everything in the church cranks up, all the conference reports are due, and I have my yearly evaluation.

Here is my bonus; Last night SEC football was on TV, LSU beat Miss. St.;that means college football is here and that means Fall is here! Yea. (I'll just pretend it isn't as hot as it is.) (Just so nobody is mad at me; Louisville won big time, Rutgers crushed their opponent and Boise State was unstoppable.)(Monday is the Bowden Bowl, FSU vs. Clemson. Saturday's big games are Georgia Tech at Notre Dame and No. 15 Tennessee at No. 12 Cal. While around here the big question is this, can Alabama, Crimson Tide do any better under its new Coach, Saban and will they beat Auburn this year? Second, will Auburn win its opener against Kansas St? And in my backyard the question is will the UNA Lions continue their winning ways? One more thing Virginia Tech plays its opening game this weekend, it will be quite different this year after last year's shootings. Okay enough football.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ministerial Integrity Workshop

I just spent 2 and 1/2 days in training on Ministerial Integrity in Birmingham, AL. I was training to be a trainer and presenter on our conference Ministerial Integrity Team. We were fortunate to be taught by Marie Fortune and her colleague Luis A. Carriere from Faith Trust Institute. Perhaps you have read some of their books, seen their videos and materials due to your denomination or conference teaching Ministerial Integrity. I have already been through our conference education twice now or more. I also taught the material for South GA and SAL/ West Florida UMC conferences in the late 80's and 90's. At that time there were a large number of suits happening in different denominations and conferences that led them to do something about it.

It is sad that even today there are cases of betrayal of trust by clergy and other church staff. But being aware that the church is one of the places people who are perpetrators use to get to their victims is important knowledge. Marie also said that now that Clergy have been educated and that there are guidelines, that they are seeing clergy who cross the boundaries and their excuse is that the rules don't apply to them. So now there are savvy offenders abusing their power and position. It is an issue that continues to plague the church, a place that is suppose to be safe, and a place of trust.

We reviewed the North Alabama policy and procedures as well. Marie says that we are on the right track. I think you can have the right stuff in place, but it is also in the implementation of the policy and procedures. The Bishop we have now has a policy of one strike and your out, whereas that has not always been the case. And initially I think some of the action on the conference's part was to protect the conference and the institution, not the victim(s). But I do see a change in that. I hope we get better and better at this.

I am not even go into the Roman Catholic thing, that's a whole other ball of wax, that could take pages to write about. It is enough to look at our own situation and seek to do the right thing in our churches and our denominations. I believe we have a biblical and theological mandate to do so.

One of the things the Ministerial Integrity workshop does is also have you look at how you are taking care of yourself or how are you not taking care of yourself, as that can become a set up for burnout and then acting without thinking. Although, I am doing a pretty good job taking care of myself according to my score, there are some areas I can work on, and I know it. For five years I was isolated as a female clergy person from peers. I try to keep good boundaries and not make laity my friends, yes I am friendly though. I worked hard at seeing people, friends in other places. I am now in a somewhat isolating situation again, and it reminds me I have to work just as hard at taking care of my relationship needs as before. During the past few days I was sitting with and conversing with some of my peers and realized I need to be intentional as I can to get with them. One of the things I shared at the workshop was how important revgalblogpals had become to me and the relationships I had made with people I connect with through the internet. Marie and Luis affirmed that and said that that is a lot of what our present generation was doing.

If you ever get the opportunity to hear or learn from Marie Fortune, all I can say is take the time. And if you want to learn more, read articles, get information and be inspired you can go to their website Faith Trust Institute. It is a wealth of knowledge.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Anne Lamott & her recent book

I love the book discussion group that happens once a month at RevGalBlogPals. It has challenged me to read some books that I might otherwise miss. I had the privilege to host the recent discussion on Anne Lamott's book Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith. It was the first of her books to read. I liked it so much I bought the other two; Traveling Mercies:Some Thoughts on Faith, and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I plan to read her others that she has written as well.

Lamott has an interesting way of saying things and writing.
"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Traveling Mercies
"Laughter is carbonated holiness." (Plan B)
"I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things," she writes, "that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scotch, on the floor, in silence, in the dark." Grace (Eventually)
"There is not much truth being told in the world. There never was. This has proven to be a major disappointment to some of us." Grace(Eventually)
What she does write about in these series is about her recovery, her parenting, her faith, and God's grace. Now don't we need to hear about that more with such honesty and realism. Some of what she writes will make you uncomfortable, it did me. But perhaps we need to be a little uncomfortable.

I invite you to go over to RevGalBlogPals and read the book discussion that is going on over there about this book. And go get the book and read it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

edifying Friday five

Sally at revgalblogpals sets the pace for this Friday Five: "I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5."

Name a

1. Book I'm thinking, I'm reading

2. Piece of music good music, it doesn't matter if its country, rock and roll or classical as long as it is well done.

3. Work of art I love art, I am moved by art, I am using art now as a way to pray.

4. Film I am a visual person, and I like films.

5. Unusual engagement with
popular culture: Dance, tattoos, body art and cine'poems

That have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
Engagement? I have to be engaged? I have to engage myself? I have to allow myself to be engaged? Be in the world but not of the world? Get out of my Christian bubble?
I am having trouble writing this, as I am trying to multitask at the same time. Sorry I wasn't more specific.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On a sadder note of news items

Christianity Today also reported at its
Weblog: Juanita Bynum 'Battered' by Bishop-Husband Outside Hotel

1. No charges filed in fight between prominent preacher couple
Juanita Bynum is one of the most prominent female preachers in America. Her husband, Thomas W. Weeks III, founded a series of churches called Global Destiny. The two married in 2002 in a televised ceremony; her ring famously sported a 7.76-carat diamond. But the couple has apparently been in for a rough patch lately,and they met at an Atlanta hotel to try to reconcile. It apparently didn't go well. At 4 a.m., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, a physical fight broke out and a bellman had to pull Weeks off of Bynum. "She was bruised up and battered," a police officer told the paper. "She had purple bruising around her neck and upper torso." No charges have been filed against Weeks, the paper reports. (Associated Press) carried a report too.

I don't know either one of them, but it does say to me it doesn't matter if you are a Christian or a Preacher, you can have problems too, and you can be the abuser or the abused. The Atlanta Constitution now says that charges have been charged by Bynum against Weeks.

It has been sad to watch and read the unraveling of Michael Vick's life and career. It has made me sick to know about his involvement in Dog Fighting.

ow New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury defended Michael Vick, calling dogfighting a sport and comparing it to hunting.

Marbury spoke Monday about the federal dogfighting conspiracy charges against Vick while promoting his basketball shoe in Albany, N.Y.

"I think it's tough," Marbury said, according to Albany TV station Capital News 9. "I think, you know, we don't say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors."

On Monday, Vick said through a lawyer that he will plead guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. He also faces possible prosecution in Virginia.

"I think it's tough that we build Michael Vick up and then we break him down," Marbury said. "I think he's one of the superb athletes, and he's a good human being. I just think that he fell into a bad situation."

Uh Stephon, Hello, it is not a sport, it is a crime. It and cruel to the dogs. Don't you watch Animal Planet and their Animal Cops?

Haven't you seen them rescue dogs who were being trained to be fight dogs? And don't you know that there is a strong connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence. Rethink your position Mr. Marbury, go out on a call with the Humane Society and find out the truth. I know you are standing up for Michael Vick, but you are standing on the wrong reason. And frankly we didn't break him down, he did it to himself and allowed himself to make the choices he made and to be with the group he was with. I went and looked it up, dogfighting is a felony in Alabama.

Here is a hard working Female Pastor

I could not believe my eyes when checking out Christianity Today, that they had an article on a Female Pastor and her churches, plus that she is United Methodist.

But here is some of the article and the link to it.
I admire this woman!
And kudos to Christianity Today for carrying this article.

After the Fire
A Methodist pastor and her two congregations discover hope amid the ashes of adversity.
By Ken Walker

After experiencing events during the past year that are best described as miraculous, Methodist minister Julia Bolling knows something about the power of prayer.

Bolling, who also works as a part-time hospital chaplain, serves a United Methodist church in Huntington, West Virginia, and another in Glenwood, about 20 miles northeast of Huntington. After conducting Sunday-morning services at Guyandotte United Methodist, she leads evening worship at Glenwood United Methodist. With fewer than 15 members in June of 2006, the latter congregation was already struggling. Then a fire gutted the sanctuary.

Investigators believed the blaze was the result of arson. But what seemed like a death knell sparked a series of developments that are leading to renewal within this country congregation.

Miracles keep coming

All these events have encouraged Pastor Bolling, who has been in her two-church position since June of 2004.

"The congregation at Glenwood has taught me a lot," she says. "They have accepted this tragedy. They're puzzled, confused, and hurt, but they're not angry. They said, 'We've got to pray for whoever did this.'

"It has brought everyone in the church together. It has brought the whole community together."

I have not had to minister to a church that has experienced this kind of tragedy. I have heard good and bad things can come from things like this. The church I attended while in Seminary burned a couple of years after I had been gone. It was arson. It was really a hard time for the church.

We have a church in our district, that burned. It has been a struggle. Then we also have a church in the South West District that burned and seems to be handling things well. Of course we are also notorious for the two young Birmingham Southern (A fine United Methodist College) Students who burned churches in rural areas and have been sentenced this year.

I can only imagine what it is like for these church members and for their Pastor to make their way through after the fire. I would think it is possible, but difficult.

Interestingly enough, I did not find one news item at the website nor the West Virginia Conference website about these churches and their Pastor.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not ticks, but chiggers

To follow up with the tiny tick story, I have been meaning to write this, and other posts. I meant to play the friday five and didn't. I have had a lot of meant toos, and get around to its as well. However we had a death that took place that took lots of my time with the family and the situation.

I got all the tiny ticks off that day. Bob went out and mowed the path. Since that day I have been wearing long pants and my hiking boots. They seem to be attracted to light clothing and shoes. Bob did find one tick on him the next day. But you know what I found later, was chiggers. I have chiggers from that walk, all up and down my legs. I am miserable from the itching and the tiny bumps. Been using a lot of benedryl and steriod cream. It is starting to feel better.

But the chigger bites got me thinking of things that get "under my skin". I read where the chigger doesn't actually get under your skin, rather they attach and inject a fluid into the tissue which dissolves it. The fluid injection causes welts to appear which may last for two weeks, and some people are very allergic to the fluid. But none the less, it does feel like something has gotten under your skin, and you can't get it to stop itching. I have to live with these welts for 2 weeks? yuck. I haven't had chigger bites in a long time. Oh well.

But it got me started thinking about though the things I let get me "under my skin". You know what I mean, things people say or do. My kids know how to get under my skin quicker than anything. I also let people who say they are going to do things and then don't get under my skin. I let those who know something that needs to be done, and then put it off hoping some one else will do it get under my skin. Next thing I know I got a lot of things bothering me, causing me to itch and be uncomfortable. I wish I didn't let people's words and actions get under my skin so much, but they do.

I have been trying to practice that principle of letting them go to God and and letting their behavior and actions go to God and not let them bother me so much. And I have been trying to practice the principle of not worrying so much about these things and how will they get done, and when will they get done, and will I have to do it myself. It is very hard to do. But I think it also involves the principle of speaking up about the behavior and the effect it has on persons, me and others. Saying it in a way that states that, and letting it go.

Some people exhibit an allergic reaction to the fluid of the chigger which may result in severe swelling, itching, and fever. I think some of my "allergic reaction" to people who get under my skin is related to some of my issues I have not finished working through and am presently working on in therapy. I often have what is called post traumatic reactions to things, and it takes me awhile to sort through all my feelings and reaction. I am working on these things so I don't have such allergic reactions. I can't really tell you what all I am doing presentl y but it involves some body work, journaling, art, meditation, imagery. Yes, that is work and time and energy, but it is time, work and energy well spent.

Many years ago, when I was dating my husband and we were getting closer, my parents were coming for a visit and to meet Bob. Well, the day before they got there I had the worse case of hives. I had not had them up until that time. I was so anxious about their visit and their meeting Bob that it got under my skin, and my nerves went into overtime work. Needless to say I got through it, and the hives went away. But one of the things I was having to do at that time with my parents were setting boundaries, healthy ones. As I have set healthy boundaries with them, I have been able to set healthy boundaries with myself and others.

I just thought I had to be a wide open person, and give people anything they wanted or needed. And that I had to put up with whatever people did or said. I don't. Healthy boundaries are a part of not letting people get under my skin. Perhaps I am now in a time of setting healthy boundaries for myself in some different places in my life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tiny Ticks

I was going to write more about my books I am reading, but this came to me this morning as stirring something in my soul .

Bob and I have been making a concerted effort to get out and walk everyday in the woods behind our house. We do as soon as he comes back from dropping the kids off at school, before the heat becomes unbearable. We take the dogs cause they love it too. When we come back we look for ticks. Monday I had one on my leg, but not Tuesday. Today though I kept feeling something crawling on my legs, but couldn't find it. Finally I saw little dots appear on my shorts, and realized they were little tiny baby ticks, some call them invisible ticks. I ran got a credit card to scrape them off.

Now I am not good at making metaphors or similes, but it made me think of the little things I let pile up in my room, my office, my house, until they are big mounds of stuff to clean up. And this led me to think of the little things I ignore in my own life, my emotions, my spiritual life, my habits, that eventually pile up and get the best of me. And get between me and God, me and my relationships, me and myself. I then have to go through and do a thorough house cleaning. Instead if I had taken care of the little thing in the first place, I wouldn't have to be putting major energy and time out on the this huge pile of junk, clutter, weeds, mess whatever you want to call it. If I had spent that time in prayer and meditation to begin with. If I had not eaten the first bite. If I had acknowledged and dealt with a problem, conflict, anger in the first place.....

I am not a disciplined orderly person, it takes me work to be one, but I have realized over the years it pays to be one. I won't be able to get all these ticks the first time, but they certainly they have my attention and I'll be on guard for them. I remember one time two of our dogs got loose and ran away into the woods for almost a week. Finally found them, they were covered in burrs, ticks, fleas, you name it, and stunk to high heaven. It took us forever to get all the present stuff off of them, and then to get the ones that kept cropping up later as well.

I am now going to get these little baby ticks off to the best of my ability, so I don't have a bigger mess later. I am not going to take my first bite, I will spend time in prayer and meditation this morning, I will pay attention to my feelings and acknowledge and deal with them as needed. Just for I am not having to clean up a bigger mess later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monday doings

  • Got the title to my Honda Odyssey today, its now officially paid off. No more big car payments. Now will it last. I really put the mileage on it while living in Wadley. It will have to last, I am not buying a new car for awhile. I don't seem to be putting as much mileage on it these days. But most of all, thank God it is paid off.
  • Kids are really enjoying being back in school, can you believe it? The girls already have homework, but not Zach yet. He was jealous that he didn't have homework. Bob tried to explain it to him, that it will come soon enough. Katy goes around singing "I am happy, I love my school. I love my teacher. I love my desk. Happy happy Katy." Kara just cannot say her teacher's name yet, but she'll get it. Zachary thinks that his teacher is beautiful and wants to marry her.
  • Our one day VBS is over. It was a great success. The kids had a great time. In fact everybody had a great time. I am not sure if the adults had more fun or the kids. We had a big water slide out front for the kids to slide on at the end of the day. It was a sight to be hold and in fact cars were slowing down to get a look. We agreed it was good PR. I think we are going to do it this way again. We have all been talking about what a fun good time we all had getting ready and doing it. In fact I used it in my sermon Sunday. They did a great job. We had men and women working it. And we had a good group of kid, especially the older age group. Yea!
  • Sunday I preached on Passionate Spirituality from the NCD eight characteristics of a healthy growing church. In the end people came up and were talking about the sermon. Like I said I talked about how God was in the planning, the day of VBS. People were grinning while I was preaching. The Grand niece of two of our members came and played violin for our special music. She listens to U Tube, teachers herself the piece and then plays it. What a gift, and she is only 11. She did a great job.
  • One of the revgals talked about de accumulating from their library books they were no longer using. I really need to do that. I still have some from college and seminary days. But it seems like in the major changes in ministry in the last couple of years, I have bought a lot of new books. I can't keep up. I am slowly finishing ones I have bought and planned to read like, "They Love Jesus, but not the church". I really like that book, it has inspired me more to try to get out of my "Christian Bubble" into meeting people who are not church goers. I read "The Secret Life of Bees" which I also really liked. It got me looking for the Black Madonnas. It is interesting the different ones and different theories surrounding them. I am about to finish "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Berg. I like the eat part in Italy, although I would probably gain more weight than she did eating like she did. I had trouble reading about her time in India, its foreign to my world. I am just getting started with her time in Indonesia. But I had to remind myself she was in a time of seeking. But a lot of what I read these days are about NCD, trying to understand it, and how to implement the findings for our church.
  • Last but not least, my back has been giving me fits for about a week. Lots of Ibprophen, heat, massages, and stretching. It gets better, and then starts back. I don't know what I did, but this is for the birds. I told one of the church members, if it doesn't get better this week, I am going to go see the chiropractor. I am walking around like a stoved up ole woman. My kids even told me I was old the other day. Thanks kids.
Well thats all the news from Lake Wilson, where all the women are really good looking, the men are too, and the kids are really above average!

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Friday Five: Busting the stress rocks!

I loved this picture that Sally put up for the Friday Five over at RGBP's, so I borrowed it. And this is what she offered:
I am off to spend a few days at the beach chilling out after a hectic few weeks and before I head off for Summer School...

So with that in mind this weeks questions are looking at how you deal with the stress monster!!!???

1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ? Both, The little things pile up and get too big, and the big things are always big. But in a way it is my perspective of these things and what is inside of me that gets triggered, whether I am negative to myself or get into "stinkin thinkin" as I call it or haven't been spending time with God.

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ? How about reading a book, taking a hot bath, talking with someone who cares, prayer and meditation.

3.What is your favorite music to chill out to? Anything that says rest and relaxation, but sometimes something to dance to as well sets me free.

4. Where do you go to chill? Mountains and/or beach.

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk? You know in my maturity, (I was going to say Old Age,) I have grown to appreciate both.

Bonus- share your favorite stress busting tip! Hot bath with soothing oils or bath salt, a book, a drink, can be cold or hot, some nice music and NO KIDS! (I don't do candles, have burnt myself or the cats too many times.) My really favorite was that we had a hot tub at our former house in Columbus, and we would go out at night and get in it and relax. Waah I need I want my hot tub back!!

Let us know in comments if you play and we'll trek on over. Sure why not come on over and relax. I'll run purchase a portable hot tub to use. ("Now where is that money to pay for it?" "Oh I can put it on credit, you say." "What and give myself more stress? No Way!)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wedding pictures as promised

This is the mother of the bride in blue and the future mother of two brides to be in the green, me.

This is the father of the flowergirls, can you believe it, he can still wear his suit that he got married in. Not Fair! Not fair at all!

Here are the darling flowergirls of mine..... aren't they just beautiful! And they did so good in the wedding. They stood up there so solemly and turned their little baskets upside down emptying every last one of the flower petals on the floor. But isn't that what they were suppose to do with the flower petals?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Were having a heat wave....

Today the weather channel, and my google weather bar are flashing warnings about a major heat wave in our area. I didn't know we were ever out of one. But this one is apparently worse.



Well we live in an Urban area.




I am glad they added that part about pets. I sent my pet (Hubby) out to mow the yard this morning since this warning was made. I didn't want him to suffer heat exhaustion. I have a church member who didn't pay attention to the heat nor the symptoms and became very sick. He since has had a lot of problems, and can't do the kind of work he like to do. So please pay attention and be careful out there. I guess if the kids go out at all it will be to play in the pool. I guess our pets will mainly be staying inside. I guess I'll do my walking early in the morning or at the gym.

So a word of advise, be careful out there if you go out at all.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I bloggeth something

Yea, verily there comes in ones life a time when they just cannot bloggeth.
They sit with hands poised on the keyboard, but no words come forth, no meaningful thoughts, no funny happenings. Thou then step away from the computer to think about it, eat something, drink something, pray, clean up the bathroom, play with your kids, hoping that the word will come.

Sometimes writing sermons are like that, the first words, thoughts, feelings just don't come. It is a struggle to come up what to write or say. you feel like the Holy Spirit has failed your or the connection is not there. So you readjust yourself, try to reconnect if the connection is down, and hope you come up with what will sound meaningful.

But there is something different. The blogging world are people I don't see face to face. The people who read our blogs are not people we know.

So I force myself to bloggeth something. So I bloggeth that we are back down in the area where I served as Pastor for five years. My girls are flower girls for their former baby sitter who is getting married. My girs are so excited, my boy is jealous. The wedding is not in the church I preached at, but the church the groom is a member of, it is bigger. I am not the officiant, its Baptist, his pastor is officiating. I get to sit and participate. It feels funny to be back here after a year. Can't say why exactly, but I'll write about it later.