Saturday, September 30, 2006

Where's the party?!? RevGalBlogPals Friday Five on Saturday night

Friday Five: Groups

Reverendmother here...

Last night was the second meeting of the Night Owls, a new women's circle at the church I serve. It's a nice group--we're getting to know one another and figuring out the format and flow of the evenings.

Night Owls ... my kind of group, maybe I'll start one at my church.

And speaking of groups...

1. Tell us about any group(s) you currently belong to. (e.g. book club, knitting circle, walking buddies, etc.) Groups to which I belong: small clergy group, Ministerial Association, Jr High Band Boosters, Soccer mom, Emmaus, PTA (at 2 schools), do small group projects for PhD classes count?, online Fantasy Football

2. Do you feel energized or drained by being in a group situation? If the answer is "it depends," on what does it depend? I love groups. I love people. Energized big time. I'm the one that wants to go out to eat after the planned group thing is over 'cause I still have energy and, truth be told, I'm not done being with people yet.

3. Is there a role you naturally find yourself playing in group situations? That is, do you naturally fall into the leader role, or the one who always makes sure the new person feels welcome, or the quiet one who sits back and lets others shine, or the host? I very often end up in a leader role. I also am pretty good at including new folks in the flow of the oldtimers conversatons. On rare occassions, like Halley's commet rare, I'm quiet. But even though I'm not often quiet, I am great at making sure other's shine. For host type activities, I recruit the women of the church 'cause I'm really bad at all that host stuff -- too froo, froo for me.

4. Handshakes vs. hugs: discuss. This is my "it depends" answer. I prefers hugs most of the time but there are a few folks who make me uncomfortable. I try to be sensitive to the preferences of others. And I know that some folks who live alone only get hugged at church. The other thing related to "it depends" is: with Rheumatoid Arthritis, sometimes handshakes hurt my hands terribly.

5. Ice breakers: a playful way to build community in a lighthearted manner, or a complete and utter hell of forced fun and awkwardness? I love ice breakers! I know that is it pure unadulterated hell for some folks but it gives me an excuse to meet them.

Bonus: If you answered "playful and lighthearted," share your favorite ice breaker. My favorite is People Bingo. 24 squares of opportunity for sharing personal trivia and meeting people!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


So I am so tired from this incredibly full day. But I just have to post this before I go to bed.

I will be 40 in about a month. I really want a party! In Februray, I even put "Vicar's party, FLC" on the church calendar without talking to anyone about it. I really want a party!

So finally in May, I talked to my sister and one of my best friends. My sister is "in" but the friend is overwhelmed with other things. So in August, my sister (who by the way lives out of state) says "get me someone at church. We'll work together and we'll throw you a party." Great! except for the part of me that is so anxious about even thinking about asking anyone at church. Now, I really think there are people who would do that but I've been in churches (yes, more than one) where that would have been one more reason to be ugly. So I'm a little anxious because of past history not because of this church.

During lunch today, with a group that I usually join on Sundays, I finally "laid it on the table." The response was immediate and so positive and one person even said, "You should have said something earlier!" So there are 3 people who are "in" for the party. One of them is out of town right before the event so she said, "I can't really be in charge but I'll help." Little did I know ...

We had the churchwide picnic today. It truly is one of my favorite things at this church. They do a great job of inviting others and including them. There is an egg toss (40 people played), water baloons, volleyball, horseshoes, lots of visiting and a great time. This year the church provided drinks, chicken, and dessert. I sat in on part of the meeting where they planned the food. The dessert was ordered from Costco -- a vanilla cake and a chocolate cake. They called me to the table so I could pray and we could eat. As I got to the table, there was an announcement: The Vicar's going to have a birthday in about a month and we're going to sing happy birthday before she prays. And then they showed me the cakes that both said "Happy Birthday Rev Vicar" with a cool stylized cross and rose.

"I-can't-be-in-charge," who will be out of town in a month, ordered those cakes two weeks ago. They were in the refrigerator at the church even as I finally found just enough courage to ask for help with a party.

God is good. I am blessed.

And we're having a month of partying!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

RevGalBlogPals friday five: Boo Boo (as opposed to Bam Bam)

Friday Five: Boo boo alert

After a tumble in a parking lot the other day, I'm sporting a lovely abrasion on my leg--so attractive. It's the same leg I hurt when I fell off the same pair of sandals on the same sort of uneven pavement in Edinburgh last month. Will I ever learn to wear less dangerous shoes and/or pay attention to where I am going? As I drove home to take care of it I called my husband and said, "Boo boo alert!" Here is our Friday Five on that subject.

1) Are you a baby about small injuries?
I happen to have Rheumatoid Arthritis so small injuries are either an annoyance or an injury waiting for a growth spurt.

2) What's the silliest way you have ever hurt yourself? For a period of weeks, there were several times when I was getting something out of the refrigerator part while someone else opened the freezer door above. Raised up and hit my head. Damn that hurts. again. damn.

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

4) Are you a good nurse when others have boo-boos? If it's a real injury/illness, I'm terrific. If you just want attention, I'll give you a phone card to call someone who cares. Unless you confess you just want attention, then I'll give the attention -- just don't mess with me about it. The truth generally works really well on me.

5) What's the worst accidental injury you've suffered? Did it require a trip to the Emergency Room? The worst injury for me was when the cartilage in my "bad" knee was torn for me while playing basketball. I got one of those cards that said, "Go to surgery. Directly to surgery. Do not even bother with the ER. The ER can only drain that knee and say that looks bad while giving you a prescription for pain killers. What you "kneed" is surgery."

Friday, September 22, 2006

training the trainer

So I am 5 classes from finished with coursework for the PhD -- counting the two I'm currently taking. Both of the classes this fall are really Master's level so there's extra work for me. Okay. No big. Both of them are also 100% online. Way cool. Let's me work on school stuff whenever. Even from the church office sometimes.

But one of the classes is requiring me to observe 3 events. Okay, so I jumped on that quick and found events that are free and during school hours. No cost, no childcare. Way cool, again!

The first observation had a small class, maybe 6 of us. The instructor looked very familiar to me. As I'm trying to figure out who she is, I'm also trying not to embarrass myself because I can't think of exactly from where I know her. Turns out we have had several doc classes togther and share the same advisor. Her class was lively, professional, and informative. She did a great job, I wasn't bored, got my certificate. Win all around.

My 2nd observation was today. Not quite the same experience today as the first observation. There were co-trainers. The lead had a very think accent and communicated well anyway. She was appologetic for her accent but I think she was pretty clear. She told about coming to the Training Place a few years ago to learn English and now teaches there. She was professional, on task, good examples, etc. During the break, someone in the bathroom was talking about how hard it was to understand her; I couldn't disagree more. Yes, she had an accent and always said childrens instead of children, but understandable and warm. Good information with personal examples. She seemed approachable and connected with the class.

But the co-trainer. The co-trainer is a social worker and I don't think he had ever taught this before. He referred to a list of feelings on a page he had copied out a book but didn't have copies for everyone and never actually named any feelings! In the midst of saying we need to name our feelings! AUGH! In the face of this incongruity, I was doing everything I could to be quiet. Meanwhile, like a snob, thinking, "I can do better than this."

Then, ... then, ... he said something that I almost couldn't stay quiet for: we should never guilt or shame our children. WHAT? He said it again a slightly different way. Then he said it again. I was silent, at least externally. Then this woman started asking, but really not asking, about how guilt and shame for children comes from Catholics. Okay, silence is now history.

I say something like, "Wait. I think there is a big difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is about doing something wrong. Shame is about being wrong. There's a huge difference between choosing the wrong action and being the wrong person. You have to learn to make better choices and there are consequences for bad choices. That's different from being told "you are bad" or "you are an idiot." Those are about who you are not about what you do. Shame is about who you are. Guilt is about what you do. They are very different and I think we need to be careful not to roll them together. And I don't think the Catholics have a lock on any of that. I've seen plenty of folks from all kinds of backgrounds that use shame in a bad way."

The leader guy with the Social Work degree continues with the "we can't guilt or shame our children because it messes them up for life. They won't have a good self-esteem if we guilt and shame them." okay, so my body was still sitting there while my brain went out the door. Just nearly started playing Majong on the PDA. In a communication class, I felt quite unheard.

Now, I'm really clear that shame is inappropriate in raising a kid. I agree that giving messages to kids that tell them they are bad (rather than they are good and made a bad choice) will do serious damage.

But I'm just as clear that a good self-esteem with no guilt looks like some pathologically messed up person who feels no remorse, blames someone else, and is convinced of his/her own brilliance.

Friday, September 15, 2006

well behaved women rarely make history

Here's to making herstory

Governor Anne Richards

Brushes with Greatness Friday Five From RevGalBlogPals

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 once stood next to Troy Aikman waiting to be seated at a restaurant. On the same day, I shook hands with Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jimmy Carter. For church circle famous: I've met Will Willimon, Fred Craddock, Walter Brueggeman, and Brian Wren. And Building 429 had a concert at our church where they signed autographs and talked to everyone who wanted to talk.

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.

Diane Rheam, J. K. Rowling, and Madeline Albright.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.

Sr Mary Irene Nowell -- she wrote the commentary for Tobit in the New Interpreter's Bible and was my first college Bible professor at Benedictine College.

When, with fear and trembling, I went to her office and told her that maybe instead of becoming a Medical Doctor, maybe, maybe, God was calling me, her response was, "Well It's about time you figured it out!" She helped me stretch and grow in ways I didn't know until much later. I regularly use some of her examples even to this day. You can read her vocation story here.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?

Steve Largent, Kenny Loggins, Charles Schultz, Brian Wren, Andre Reed, all 4 guys from Building 429

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?
If I'm gonna be famous: first clergywoman pastor of a megachurch in the South

Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago?
Tom Cruise. I used to love him but now ... shut up already

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Charlie Brown has never knowingly taken steriods

Okay, so I love the Peanuts and this is SO wrong .... hilarious, but wrong ...



- - - -

(Court reporter's transcript.)

- - - -

DISTRICT ATTORNEY OTHMAR: Wah wah-wah wah, wah, wah wah-wah-wah wah?

CHARLIE BROWN: I'm sorry, sir, but I didn't knowingly lie to the grand jury.

D.A.: Wah-wah-wah-wah?

BROWN: I did not knowingly take steroids, sir. Period. Snoopy gave me something to make me throw harder, but he said it was flaxseed oil and vitamin drops. I was tired of having the ball hit back up the middle and all my clothes torn off.

D.A.: Wah wah wah-wah?

BROWN: He's my dog, sir. He said he got the stuff from Woodstock.

D.A.: Wah wah wah-wah?

BROWN: A little yellow bird, sir.

D.A.: Wah wah-wah wah wah wah-wah wah wah wah wah-wah-wah wah-wha-wah wah wah wah wah?

BROWN: Yes, sir.

D.A.: Wah wah wah wah-wah-wah wah-wah?

BROWN: We were boyhood friends, sir.

D.A.: Wah wah-wah wah wah wah wah wah?

BROWN: My head's always been this big. Ask Sally. And I'm not going bald; I've never had more than three hairs, sir.

D.A.: Wah-wah wah.

BROWN: What's backne?

D.A.: Wah-wah wah-wah wah.

BROWN: Gross.

D.A.: Wah wah-wah wah wah.

BROWN: Greenies? Sure, there were amphetamines, but we didn't know they were illegal. Linus said they'd help us play with more pep. We only took them once, and then after the game we went back to my house and everybody started dancing crazy while our catcher played the piano.

D.A.: Wah-wah-wah wah wah-wah wah-wah wah.

BROWN: I play for the love of the game, sir.

D.A.: Wah wah-wah wah?

BROWN: Yeah, we've lost a lot of games over the years.

D.A.: Wah-wah wah. Wah-wah wah-wah wah wah wah.

BROWN: Who told you that, sir?

D.A.: Wah wah-wah wah.

BROWN: Hey, no way. You can't believe anything Franklin put in that book. You all are ... you're stupid blockheads!

(The courtroom erupts in a babble of wah-wahs.)

D.A.: Wah-wah-wah wah wah-wah wah. Wah.

(The witness begins to cry.)

BROWN: Have you ever seen our team, sir? We're hopeless. Just hopeless. The right fielder spends half the time in the infield trying to talk the catcher into going out with her. Our first baseman carries a blanket onto the field. My dog is the shortstop! He's the definition of "all field, no hit," and you don't even want to touch the ball after he catches it with his mouth. Have you ever lost a game 60-0? We needed a competitive advantage. I was sick of all the attention going to Peppermint Patty. Peppermint Patty's so great. She's so wonderful. She's been on the juice for years! Why do you think Marcie always calls her "sir"? Her testosterone levels are through the roof. But no one says anything because she's a girl. Franklin, Marcie, Pig-Pen ... they're all on the stuff.

D.A.: Wah wah-wah wah.

BROWN: I don't think so, sir. This is a witch hunt out to get Charlie Brown, because Charlie Brown is a boy.

D.A.: Wah-wah wah wah wah wah wah-wah wah-wah-wah.

(The witness holds his head in his hands.)

BROWN: Does this mean our one win has to be forfeited?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

So true, so true

Truth: if it hadn't been chocolate, I wouldn't have posted the results

You Are Chocolate Ice Cream

Dramatic. Powerful. Flirty.

... and youth minister, too

It's been a very long time since I had direct responsibility for the whole youth program in a church. Our's is not large but we just added 5 very active (in the life of the church as well as in life in general) 7th graders to our youth group; 6 girls, 1 boy. Funny, the Sr High is dominated by boys with only 1 girl. So we're small but on the cusp of opportunity so I am anxious about not letting the opportunity pass. So I am now adding youth to my Sunday routine.

This week we talked about God's gift to us and how we can be a gift to others. (From Pictures of God by Mark O(something I can't remember, published by Youth Specialties)). For the closing part of worship, each one finished the sentence: I am grateful to God for the gift of ...

For the most part the answers were typical for jr high, friends, family, passing a test, my dad not freaking over the 62 in Spanish (and dad is a native Spanish speaker). After my week of interesting email and the realization of "there's no one else to lead youth and we can't afford to lose these kids because no one will lead," I was feeling a lot tired and some overwhelmed by all the "stuff" of ministry.
As I listened to their responses, I was figuring out my own. The ending I chose was, in part, a reflection of the day because more people than usual commented postively about the sermon or gave me a compliment. Those supportive gestures helped with the feeling of being overwhelmed. So, I said, "I'm grateful to God for the gift of people telling me I'm doing a good job." And there was a chorus that immediately replied, "You're doing a good job."

Those inattentive, distracted, full of diversions, oblivious, hazy, preoccupied, unobservant jr high spoke ... and I heard God's voice. Yes, I do believe God works in mysterious ways. And God works in and through us even when we don't know it. Thanks be to God for jr high who might really be paying more attention than it looks like!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

too big or not too big

I just dropped SportsQueen off to catch the bus to the Jr High volleyball tournament that is 3 miles from her school. We live between the two schools but coach wanted everyone to ride the bus to the tournament. Duh! If I were a Jr High coach, I would too.

SportsQueen is at the point of life where her almost constant desire is to stand next to her mother saying variations on "look how tall I am." I suspect that before she becomes an "official" teenagers the height battle will have been lost by this one who gave her birth.

Last night, she fell asleep in my bed watching TV. I went to bed quite late and there she was. I tried to wake her enough to find out if she really wanted to sleep in her bed and ended up getting her awake enough to move over. Good enough.

I distinctly remember our pediatrician (who I think is wonderful) firmly instructing against children sleeping with parents. Okay, so I understand the reasoning, I just disagree with the absolute position. I have no intention of sleeping, or not really sleeping as the case really is, with my child or children on a regular basis. But I'm also not going to adamantly demand to sleep alone when I have a child that needs some snuggle time.

SportsQueen really likes sleeping spread out all over her bed and rarely sleeps with me. But, truth: I love that she still wants the affection and nurture of her mother even as she moves into that space of creating her independence.

Even when she's bigger than I am, she won't be too big to snuggle with momma.

Friday, September 08, 2006

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free RevGalBlogPals Friday Five

This Friday Five is Fairly Simple. Name five things you have enjoyed this week.

Okay, so in a week where an angry email was sent by a church member to an inappropriate group and another church member answered not quite in kind and where the second candidate offered the youth position said, "No." Five things I have enjoyed has taken all day to think of. Good thing somebody asked the question, or I might have missed out on the blessing.

1. I enjoyed the ability to handle the Entertainer's not-so-good-asthma day without any hassles about "where are you?" or losing money or taking vacation time.

2. I enjoyed going to the local church supply place with the bonus of getting my cool new preacher shirt.

3. I enjoyed SportsQueen's reaction to the WOW dvds that I plan to use for youth on Sunday night to help expand their Christian music experience and worship time.

4. I enjoyed the Entertainer's gift for saying just the right hilarious thing at just the right time. She cracks me up!

5. I enjoyed finding the right size Levi's at Costco while buying a replacement phone for the one that crashed and having enough money for both.

Bonus enjoyment: feeling a little less isolated because of the sharing of RevGalBlogPals in this cyberconnection.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

gen-x clergy and isolation

I was reading the UM Reporter when I found the article below. Very often, Andrew Thompson says things that I wish someone had said earlier but the larger church often has been slow to recognize what younger clergy see as obvious. I was nodding my head about the isolation and relationship building.

When your calendar is already bursting where do you put time for relationship building? Yet, how can you survive without the relationships that sustain and nurture your soul? I've got the questions, anyone else got some answers?

GEN-X RISING: Gen-X clergy struggle against spiritual isolation

By Andrew C. Thompson
Special Contributor


It is the plague of our generation.

No, not physical isolation. We are around each other as much as we ever were. It's a spiritual isolation.

The kind of isolation that comes from living in a world that moves too fast for the human heart to keep up. The kind of isolation that we try to combat with TV, the Internet, cell phones, PDAs, and iPods. Or through losing ourselves in our work. Or through masking our stress with more traditional, chemical outlets.

Isolation is a problem for all of us. For young clergy, it can be deadly.

I spoke recently about pastors' experience of isolation with Eric Van Meter. Eric is a 32-year-old pastor in Little Rock, Ark., who spends a lot of time thinking about the challenges Generation-X clergy face. The experience of isolation among young clergy is near the top of his list.

I asked Eric what he believes is the most difficult challenge facing Gen-X clergy today. "I'd call it the sense of floating that many of us have right now," he said.

"On one hand, we have a church that is just beginning to wake up to a looming crisis in leadership, as pastor retirements flood through the denomination in coming years. [This] sets the churches on edge and places a burden of expectation on younger clergy.

"On the other hand, many Gen-X and Gen-Y clergy are still discerning their calling, unsure if professional ministry in the UMC will be their lifelong vocation."

The itinerant system means that younger clergy often move more frequently than their older counterparts. Eric points to the difficulty this creates in allowing young clergy to "form solid relationships within the community."

While the itinerant system itself may not be the root of the problem, there are consequences associated with it. Eric specifically mentions "isolation, transition, lack of peer group, the generation gap between young pastor and older congregation, and the gap between a young associate and a veteran senior pastor."

Gen-X clergy also serve congregations that are simply much busier with other activities and obligations than they have ever been. Paradoxically, local churches are busier than ever while congregations seem to be less cohesive. Pastors always seem to be doing "ministry on the run." And that is chronically exhausting.

To avoid career-threatening burnout, young clergy need to be grounded in a nurturing peer community. For United Methodist pastors, this has traditionally come through connection with other pastors of the annual conference. But the pace of ministry makes such relationships more difficult now.

Eric realizes this, and he is trying to do something about it. During their probationary periods, clergy are brought together for workshops and retreats as a part of the ordination process. But after ordination, there are no such formal structures for mutual support and fellowship. So Eric decided to create some.

The practical steps he has taken sound commonsensical: an overnight retreat on a beautiful mountaintop, frequent contact through an ever-growing e-mail list, and a fellowship dinner for Gen-X clergy during annual conference meetings.

But these are also the building blocks of a connection, in its true Methodist sense. Our connection is not by virtue of the fact that we all serve churches with the name "United Methodist" on the door. Instead, connection comes through relationship. And relationship has to be nurtured and cultivated in intentional ways. When it is, a network of relationships can grow into a real community of love and support.

Eric hopes that just such a nascent community is forming among the young clergy of his annual conference. Attendance at fellowship events is climbing, and the Gen-Xers of the conference are getting to know one another better.

"There's no substitute for time together," Eric told me. Conference staffs might try to put programming initiatives together for clergy development, but Eric contends that such things are "of secondary importance to building relationships."

Those relationships -- and the community they create -- have the power to banish the demon of isolation. In that sense, Eric's work is profoundly important for the spiritual health of young clergy in his annual conference. We can only hope that there are others like him elsewhere in our great connection.

The Rev. Andrew C. Thompson is an Elder in the Arkansas Conference who is working on a doctoral program at Duke Divinity School. e-mail:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My newest clergy shirt

It says: Live your life so the preacher won't have to lie at your funeral.

I bought it when I went to the local church place to get stuff to be the interim youth minister. So now I have up to date books with funky jr high type games tied to scripture and lesson stuff.

I'll wear the shirt for the white haired folks.

I'll use the books to be the not really cool but kinda cool preacher who does youth. WHOO HOO!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Life in the fast lane RevGalBlogPals Friday Five

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane,everything all the time

Friday Five: life in the fast lane

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.

There have been times when driving was a way to clear the mind. However, since my last church out-on-the-edge-of-the-earth (the closest
hospital was an hour away), my driving desire has been more than satisfied. Thank you Siruis for providing music and NPR (and anything else I want on radio including NFL) without static or changing the channel -- worth every penny for me!

Now that the other parent lives about -- Will & Grace, Mad About You, SpongeBob Squarepants, Hannah Montana, and Numb3rs -- away, driving is a necessary evil every other week during school.

2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket?

I drive the speed limit in neighborhoods and school zones.

Otherwise, I am a speed demon. I have so many tickets that I have stories about the best and worst versions of defesive driving.

3. Do you take public transportation? When? What's your opinion of the experience?

Although the Hogwarts Express has regular routes just past the parsonage, believe it or not, I live in the largest city in the U.S. that does not have public transportation. Rumor has it that originally those in charge opposed public transportation because then "the poor people" wouldn't want to live here. Sad but true. I'd ride if I could.

4. Complete this sentence: _____________ has the worst drivers I've ever experienced.

Los Angeles -- I think they lost their angels before they got their license to drive.

5. According to the Census Bureau, reverendmother's fair city has the 6th longest average commute in the United States at 29 minutes each way. How does your personal commute rate?

Currently, my commute is awesome -- like not even a full mile!

However, the commute to deliver children... that's a whole different story.

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?

I regularly talk on the phone as I drive down the Interstate through the sparsely populated area. I sometimes talk on the phone driving "in the neighborhood." When I'm fighting traffic, it's way too distracting especially if children are present.

Soft places to rest and good pain killing drugs for Will Smama may your pains disappear as fast as the gas in the tank of my car.
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