Thursday, July 31, 2008


Tomorrow is August 1st which means I'll have been at my first call 3 months (in the grand scheme of things: no big deal, but on a smaller scale, where did those 3 months go?). At any rate, I'm fast reaching that place where I can no longer play the "I'm new here" card. For some things I'll still be able to pull that one out, but for others I need to actually know what the heck I'm talking about. I don't know what I'm talking about. Except that I do. Sort of. Maybe. I'm an I on the Myers Briggs, which means I think a lot before saying or doing things (and yes, I know, sometimes I should think more or make sure the filter is engaged before speaking). For the most part, though, I like to think and ask a lot of questions, maybe read some books, talk to other people, read some more books, ask a few more questions, write 100 or so pages of notes, and then possibly read just a few more books or resources before jumping into things. That doesn't work in ministry. I know this, but it doesn't stop my natural inclination to procrastinate by reading or writing or asking more questions. I had a long conversation about youth and family ministry today with another pastor, and it turns out that I have a lot of good ideas, that I actually do sort of know what I'm talking about, which is good considering that this is one of the things I'm responsible for in this call. My big hurdle is taking what I know and putting it to use. Where to start? How to use the systems already in place? How to overhaul systems that aren't working any more? All of this writing and thinking (and procrastinating) lead up to one conclusion: I like to do things right. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but I know that I'm not perfect, so I'll settle for doing things well, as long as they're right. Dumb, huh? I know that I'm going to fail, and I know that I probably need to fail at a few things in order to learn from them. But I'm a perfectionist and I don't want to fail, or if I am going to fail, I want to make sure I do it RIGHT so I can learn from it. Yep, I know I have a wacky sense of perspective. These are things I've known about myself and worked on for a long time, and it looks like I'm going to continue working on them for some time to come. But for now, excuse me while I go read a book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Police Report

See? It's not even good graffiti. Which I know isn't the point, but still, if we have to get tagged, couldn't they at least put some artistic effort into it? I went in today and filed the police report. It was relatively painless, but I was still somewhat resentful that I had to go in on my day off. I realize that ministry isn't a 9-5 job and I often have to be places on my day off, but to go in for this is just annoying. Once again I say, little punks. So we'll paint over it and I'll pray that those responsible find more constructive ways to spend their time.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


The church was tagged with graffiti last night. Again. This is the 2nd time this summer. The extra bad part was that we had a youth group from MN staying at the church on their way to Lutherhaven and their church van also got tagged. I know it's not my fault, but as a host, I feel really bad. What a crappy thing to happen on a youth trip. And I'm old, because I actually found myself uttering the phrase, "little punks." So this week I get to file a police report. Oh the joy and rapture...


It's been a very busy weekend. Thursday we had a staff meeting/retreat at my house in the afternoon. It wasn't supposed to be at my place, but things happened and SP asked if we could move it my apartment, so I spent Thursday morning frantically cleaning. On the plus side, I got caught up on cleaning that I've been putting off for awhile. Thursday evening I headed off to the parents' house for a couple of days. My aunt was here from New Jersey, so I had a nice visit with her and some lovely niece spoiling time. Saturday started with the ordination the new pastor at my home congregation. She asked me to be the assisting minister, which was really nice, but also a little odd considering I'd never met her until Thursday. So the ordination was lovely, and fun to be at one so soon after my own (which was also lovely, but definitely a blur). Soon after the service was over I got in the car and headed back home for a council retreat at SP's house. I got there late, but had a nice time. We played this game called Kubbs (I'm not sure of the spelling). The council president had her 2 kids there, and they talked us into playing. I'm still not sure of all of the rules, but it involves throwing sticks at blocks of wood. It's actually a lot more fun than it sounds. So, as soon as the BBQ was over I ran to the mall, bought a card and headed off to a 50th wedding anniversary for a couple in the congregation. They had a luau theme. So, one more social event, one more plate of food, and one very tired pastor. Yep, after 3 official events in one day I was ready for bed. Instead I came home and finished my truly mediocre sermon, then spent the entire night having dreams with the phrase "the kingdom of heaven is like..." running through them. Today was the typical 2 services and then me trying to recover from yesterday. Ah, the joys of being an introvert!

Monday, July 21, 2008


So the weekend wasn't all musicals, we also went and got tattoos. We'd gotten 2 together many years ago, a third one later (me in TX, RAZS in MT) and decided we needed one more together. So off we went to be tattooed by a man named Cyrus. Cyrus didn't say much, except to comment that he doesn't think I'm demure. See? Even total strangers don't think I'm demure. Sigh. Anyhoodle, here's a picture of the newest addition. Please ignore how fat my foot looks, and the yellow marker left over from marking where the tattoo would go, and the chipped toenail polish, and the tan lines from my Keens, and how HAIRY my toes are.... Sheesh. Oh, and RAZS got a strawberry on her foot. Beatles reference. I don't have a picture, though.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Musical Extravaganza

After getting home from camp on Friday I did laundry and cleaned my apartment some because my very bestest friend was coming to spend the weekend. We decided awhile ago that we should have a musicals weekend. The marathon needed to be at my place, because we would have driven her poor husband insane if we'd done it at their house. The musicals were fun and silly and cheesy, but even better, I got to spend lots of time with one of my favorite people. We share a brain, so it's very easy to talk about anything and everything because we often know what the other one is thinking. We laugh a lot when we're together and we're very silly. I need that every once in awhile. Of course, I can't believe she made me watch Grease 2, but I still love her anyway. :-) Today I am grateful for good friends and silly moments, good weeks at camp and happy swimming time with fun five year olds, beautiful lake views and lots of good girlfriend time this past week.

More Camp Stuff

Well, despite having to wake up to that "awful" view every day, this past week at camp went really well. I was a bit leery about going because they fit me in kind of last minute, I didn't have any kids there that week (well, one from our church, but she was off-site for the week), and I wasn't assigned a time to do worship. So I wasn't sure exactly how the week would go, if I would be bored, or what. There were 7 other pastors there, so I knew I'd have plenty of people to hang out with, but I wasn't sure about the rest of the week. It turned out that it was a nice time. I did a lot of walking, which was great, and very helpful in getting my pants to hopefully fit again in the near future. I helped another pastor with worship on Wednesday morning. We did a puppet show, which was a lot of fun (at least for me, and hopefully for the kiddos as well). I helped with the hunger drama, and I did one of the pastor hot seats. The easiest question to answer was "what is your favorite color?" Some of the harder ones were "why did Jesus have to die on the cross" and "why didn't God send Jesus sooner instead of doing mean things in the Old Testament like the plagues?" I had a fabulous fellow pastor with me for the hot seat session, though, and I think we did an OK job of answering the questions. So the week went well, but at church this morning it felt like I'd been gone for a month instead of a year. Why is that? Anyway, maybe I'll go to camp again next year. Maybe some kids from my church will even go with me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


So this was the view I spent the last week gazing at. the view from the deck of my cabin. I know, don't you just feel sorry for me?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Camp Songs

I'm at camp this week, and I'll post more later, but I just wanted to comment on worship this morning: We sang Give Me Oil in my Lamp, and then someone suggested this verse: Give me cheese for my nachos, God is Macho Macho Macho. I think I might have left my jaw back at the amphitheater where we had worship. That is NOT going to make my top 10 list of best images for God... Oh, and it rhymes, but at least oil and lamps go together. :-) I'm off to text study, and this internet connection is a bit dodgy (but hey, some is better than none!), so more reflections on camp another time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Five--Summer Camp

1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?
I went to VBS every summer as a kid, but that was before it was referred to as "day camp." The summer before my freshman year in high school a week at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp was required for confirmation. I'd never been and wasn't too keen to spend a week with strangers, but it was required, so off I went. Mostly it was fine, I have vague memories of the other girls in my cabin. The memory that sticks out, though, is finally getting up the courage to speak during bible study (I was painfully shy) only to be told that I was wrong and basically stupid. Didn't speak the rest of the week, never went back.

2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between. I loved camping with my dad and brother as a kid. We hiked in and spent the night, fished for supper. I was totally spoiled, though, as my dad did all the prep work and carried most of my stuff in his pack. As an adult I also got spoiled because the trails person took care of all the prep work at the camp I worked at. At any rate, now I have very specific requirements for what I think I need to take camping, and I don't have any of it, so I haven't been camping in a long time. And car camping always seems like cheating...

3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?
I worked 2 summers at Christikon, one as a counselor, one as the assistant cook.

4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?
Sleeping under the stars is always cool. During staff backpack when I was a counselor we woke up on the 4th of July to several inches of snow. There's not much worse than climbing out of a warm sleeping bag to go trudge through the snow. Winter camping would not be for me!

5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.
I don't have a favorite camp song, but I do have a favorite camp song word: Flubbahubba. The counselors who have done VBS the last couple of years have several songs which include that word and I think it's really funny. But then, I don't get out much!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Self Care, or Lack of Same

In seminary there were lots of conversations about self-care. They happened in classes, with my spiritual director on internship, with colleagues, with friends, with professors. You get the picture: there were lots of conversations on this topic. Usually they followed the same pattern as we (whoever the "we" might have been) discussed ways to survive first call, ways to maintain proper boundaries, ways to take care of ourselves throughout our time as pastors. The basics go something like this: Find a circle of friends/colleagues outside of the congregation where you a) don't have to be the pastor and b) can vent or rejoice about your job to people who aren't your parishioners. Have hobbies and interests outside of your job. Maintain proper boundaries with parishioners, especially where you might have a dual relationship of some sort. Find a spiritual director and/or a good counselor. Exercise regularly. The list goes on, but you get the idea. It makes sense, right? So during classes I diligently took notes. During conversations I contributed my own thoughts and nodded wisely as people added their ideas. Last November at First Call Theological Education we had the self-care conversation again. I knew the drill. I said the right things. I took more notes. In June at Synod Assembly I attended the mandatory boundaries workshop, and yep, you guessed it, we talked about all of this again. Here's the thing. It makes perfect sense, I understand the concept, I know what I should be doing. I can have conversations about this and know exactly what I should say or what people might suggest. Here's the other thing, though. I'm finding it less than easy to implement these things now that I'm in my first call. I have absolutely no idea how to go about making new friends or finding a support network outside of my congregation. My natural inclination is to hide in my apartment when I'm not at the church. I can barely afford groceries, let alone a spiritual director or therapist. E-mail and phone calls help, but it's not the same as having one or two really close friends that I can call to hang out with. Our new administrative person is fun, but there again is that whole, pesky dual relationship quandary. On the plus side, I am exercising regularly. Oh, and I hate it. Where are all of those fabulous endorphins everyone's always talking about? Mostly I'm just bored and wishing I could read and walk at the same time. Apparently when it comes to self care I can talk the talk but I can't come close to walking the walk. Sigh.