Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Motherhood and Ministry

I have not been blogging as actively, as you may have noticed. I do go through weeks where blogging once per week is about all I get to. This most recent stint has been due to pastoral care emergencies/ tragedies/crises. I have not spent this many concentrated hours in tears and prayer for such circumstances in a long time- perhaps ever.

Last night, I was at the hospital with a family and a friend of a woman who had nearly succeeded in her suicide attempt. After I got home around 11:15, I sat on the sofa with munchies watching TV, winding down. I did not get to sleep until after midnight. After a somewhat sleepless, allergy filled night, I awoke this morning to several hours of catching up on email work. By lunchtime, I was tired!

So, I treated myself to a nap. I got into bed and slept for two hours. It was heavenly.

God bless my children- they just want to be around me. My oldest is able to contain herself when she knows that I am asleep. Not so for my son. The minute Ray got on the telephone, he took advantage of his opportunity. He dashed into the bedroom...and began throwing up on me. Apparently, his mad dashing caused him to choke on a wheat thin. He flung open the door, ran over to me, and began wretching. Poor guy. He was sobbing. My sheets needed washing. I needed washing. He only needed a new shirt. Neat little guy he is.

So off we went to the bathroom. I just got into the tub because that was about all I had in me. Ray came in, fresh off the telephone, to report another tragedy. Yet as we sat there, in the bathtub, with me covered in regurgitated wheat thins, and my son in my lap, all I could do was laugh! God works in mysterious ways.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Motorcycle Tractor...

There is an epidemic in Cecil County- of children riding four wheeled vehicles, without helmets, up and down our streets. Ever since we moved here, when Shannon was 15 months old, I would say to her as one rode past "you're never going to ride one of those." I now say it to both of them.
Kids in elementary and middle school ride these, without helmets, and without regard for traffic on the street. Several months ago, I watched a 9 year old boy (no helmet) come around the corner of his yard so fast, he went up on two wheels. I thought we were all about to witness his death. Turns out he rides like this all the time.
So you can imagine my inner joy when she began a sentence last week by saying "Mom, you know those things I'm never going to ride?" (She has now taken to calling them "motorcycle tractors") She then talked about how dangerous they are for kids, and how kids don't even wear helmets.
I am so enjoying this part of parenting where everything I say is taken to heart without resistance. How long does this last?
Honestly, I just can't understand why parents let their kids ride such things. Look at this kid in the picture... can she even ride a two wheeler?
Fisher Price and other toy companies sell these things! Ugh.
I was browsing the Internet and read again about how dangerous they are. "Currently, riders under the age of sixteen make up 33 percent of ATV deaths, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)" reads one article. The American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommends that children under 16 be prohibited from riding them. Between 1997 and 2001, in just two states, NC and PA, 70 children under 16 were killed. Apparently, helmets offer less than usual protection for these type of accidents, because very often the ATVs flip on top of persons, crushing them.
I'm trying to imagine being at the funeral for my own child, crushed by an ATV. The thought of my own child's funeral is horrible enough, but to think that I had in any way contributed to their death by failing to protect them would be perhaps more than I could bear.
I don't think of myself as terribly overprotective. I know life is full of risks, and that I cannot protect my children from everything. They need to learn how to live in this risk filled world. But there is a line between allowing them to explore the world with some measure of safety, and allowing them to take unnecessary risks.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'm off...

It is an absolutely beautiful spring day here in Maryland. What a gift that I am leaving for the beach this afternoon, to spend an evening with some church staff. Tomorrow, we have big plans to sit on the beach and do worship planning. How better to plan worship than to glory in God's creation as we prepare? (And perhaps how thoroughly distracting- but it sure sounds great, doesn't it?)

Then it is time for Annual Conference at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (no beach there, unfortunately). Every June, pastors and other church folks from every church in our geographic region (Conference) get together for worship, ministry reporting, planning, and voting. This year has an added once in four years bonus- we will be voting for our delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. General Conference is the international body that sets all of our "laws" and social stances, meeting in 2008 in Texas this time. Jurisdictional Conference is where Bishops are elected. All of the women Bishops in our Northeastern Jurisdiction (Maryland to New England) will be retiring this year; it will be a pivotal Conference. But then I guess they all are.

I'm really praying that Conference will be a blessing, and truly a time of "Holy Conferencing" as we Methodists like to talk about it.

Until next week....

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Plan B

No matter how much I work on my sermon during the week, I always finish it near the last minute. As I am finishing my sermon on Saturday night, I have come to some conclusions.

1. On Friday, as I was choosing to do other tasks instead of finishing my sermon, I became aware of one of my subconscious thoughts. "I know if I put off my sermon, it will still get done." So I think that my putting off finishing until the last minute is something of a warped attempt to put hours into the week!

2. I have decided to try, try, try to accept the reality that this seems to be part of my creative process. As I let it percolate all week, its brewing. It would seem that I need the time to let it simmer until it is forced out of me by a deadline. I am trying very hard to love this side of my creative process, but truth be told, I loathe it. Why, O why, is this process so impervious to my attempts to finish sooner?

3. I am so grateful to work with folks who are as comfortable as I am with last minute preparations. I am surrounded by such folks. Thanks be to God. As I was going over tech details with the tech lead for Jacob's Well tomorrow (that would be about 13 hours from now) she asked me about plan B if plan A for getting her the file via a two person delivery process doesn't flow. I told her I have a back up file here at the house, and my husband will bring it in the morning. Then she pointed out that plan B is usually me filling in, in some completely unplanned way, and we had a good laugh. I thought about the Sunday several months ago where I arrived to Jacob's Well to find the power in all of the Chesapeake City area was out. God took care of things just fine. I even received a note from someone who said how blessed they had been by that service in the dark with acoustic music and no visuals. God has such a sense of humor.

So here's to plan B. As I preach on Trinity Sunday, I do with the deep suspicion that the Holy Spirit is more about plan B than plan A anyway.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Turn of Phrase

I read a blog post last week (by "gord") reflecting upon Pentecost and language. In it, he noted that language is always evolving and changing.

I notice this particularly in my favorite kind of colloquialisms- the kind my father uses. He uses expressions like:
I haven't seen one of those in a month of Sundays!
Tube steaks and whistle berries (referring to hot dogs and baked beans)
Take the old shoe leather express
Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades
Seeing through rose colored glasses
You let the cat out of the bag!
Strike while the iron is hot
Happier than a pig in mud
Take 40 winks
Uglier than a mud fence
The elevator doesn't go all the way to top
A few sandwiches short of a picnic
Dead as a door nail
There's more than one way to skin a cat

It seems to me that these sorts of expressions are a dying art, which makes me cherish them.

I have also been thinking about the power to remember great one liners. I would really like to add to my lexicon several great theological colloquialisms. I think pastors who are especially gifted at championing vision and mission in a local church tend to have this skill down. They have a set of phrases that repeatedly and effectively express fundamental truths.

So, I am compiling a list of great one-liners that I want to use often. Here goes:
1. God does not call the qualified. God qualifies the called.
2. There is no such thing as a perfect church...b/c churches are full of imperfect people
3. God did not create emotions so we can pretend like we don't have them. (I think that is my only original composition)
4. Grace received and not passed on loses its power (that's John Wesley, except he says "efficacy" instead of power)
5. Our fundamental Christian identity is "I am a baptized child of God"
6. The role of the pastor and leaders is to "equip the saints for the works of ministry" (Eph.4:12)
7. "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness" (2Cor.12:9)
8. There can be no resurrection without death

That is my starting point. I would be interested to hear from others about favorite phrases that encapsulate Christian belief/doctrine/practice into a phrase that's easily heard and understood.