Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five--Home Edition

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first?
My living room. It's comfy, but it's currently decorated in hand-me-down chic. It could probably use a bit more of a theme than it has at the moment.

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home?
Couches seem to have a wide variety and range of hideousness. Sometimes they're so bad they're fabulous, but mostly they're just awful. Anything orange in combination with flowers and/or plaid just doesn't do it for me. Also, the downstairs bathroom in my house on internship was PINK! Pink fixtures, pink tiles, pink flooring. Some people like pink, I don't happen to be one of them. I always showered upstairs in the blue bathroom (same deal up there, but I actually like blue...)

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach?
My sister is the decorator in our family. I'm kind of content to live with what I've got since I don't have the eye for much. I would like a new bed at some point. And I would love to have a place with lots and lots (and lots) of really nice bookshelves.

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why?
Neither. It's fine. Could be better, but I've lived with worse. I wish it had a dishwasher. Oh! Add that to #3.

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do?
I live in an apartment and I rent. I'm not sure I'd be allowed to do much. So...all new furniture, new towels, new sheets, actual art for the walls. Bookshelves! Can I spend it on books with which to, ahem, decorate the shelves?

BONUS: Why do you think there was such a surplus of ugly bathroom tile colors showcased in all homes built from the 1950's right through the early 80's?
I have no appropriate answer for this. It seems to just be the way the universe aligned during those decades.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I love to read. I'm sure I've mentioned this in other posts. If I haven't, I'll say it again: I love to read. I read more fiction than non-fiction, although I'm trying to read more non-fiction. I have friends and colleagues who love to read deep, dense books on theology. They read them, they understand them, they even like them. I am not usually that person. When it comes to some of those books I feel like I'm wading through them, struggling to figure out what they're telling me. It takes me a long time to get through them, and when I'm done my usual first thought is, "huh?" Then, sometime later, you know, like 4 years or something, a light goes on and I understand what I read in that book. There are things from seminary that I'm just now realizing I actually understand. I used to think I was a pretty smart person. Then I went to seminary. Anyway, I'm realizing that I much prefer books on spirituality and theology where those really smart people who can read or understand the deeper concepts of theology write about their experiences and put those concepts into context. I don't always agree with these authors, but I appreciate their writing styles. Lately I've been reading several authors that are engaging, funny and practical about their faith. They make thinking and talking about God seem very simple, easy, practical, down-to-earth, even interesting. As a pastor I would like to be more like that. It seems like these past months I've had people in my office complaining about this or that, and we talk about it, but very rarely do they bring up God in these discussions. And I'm sad to admit that I don't bring God up all that much more often. I read these books where people have actual conversations about God and it doesn't seem strange at all. Actually, sometimes it does seem strange, but the authors manage to acknowledge that strangeness and make a point about it. I wonder if those conversations in my office might go in a different direction, if I or the other person might come out of them with a different understanding, if God were brought up. If how we understand our faith were brought up. I do work in a church, after all. It shouldn't seem that strange a concept.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Annual Meeting Follow-up

The annual meeting is over, and despite being THREE HOURS long it wasn't terrible. Not as good as we had hoped, but not as bad as we'd feared, either. And I still have a job, as does the office manager, so that's a relief. Thanks for the prayers and good wishes, they definitely helped. Oh, and I didn't throw up. :-)

Enough of the business stuff, let's talk about random stuff:

My 5 year old niece has skinny jeans. She looks adorable in them. I'm still sad they're making a come-back, though. Really the only people who can pull them off are approximately the size of my 5 year old niece.

It's snowing today. Slow, lazy flakes that look pretty out my window. I just wish the heat would kick on in my office so I can be warm while I watch it snow.

My newsletter article still isn't done. It's partly done. I need to finish it by today. It might not have much of a point...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Annual Meeting

In approximately 12 hours we will be starting our annual meeting. I'm very nervous for a variety of reasons. I might throw up. Thank goodness I don't have to preach. Prayers are greatly appreciated.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Five--Winter Blahs

Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?

Right now I'm less in snow country and more in gross-muddy-slushy-ice-frigid winds country, but here are 5 things that are moderately successful for me in combating the winter blahs:

1. Sunshine! It doesn't happen often, but I try and soak it up as often as it makes a brief appearance (which was aprox. 15 minutes yesterday). I know people have the sun lamps, but I've never tried one. I just wait and hope for the real thing. I also like that the light lasts a little longer each day and try to relish each extra couple of minutes.

2. Crocheting. I crochet more in the winter than the summer. I like to have big projects like afghans that keep me warm while I'm working on them.

3. Netflix. I like to watch a movie while I'm crocheting. Sometimes I make good choices, sometimes I wonder what the heck I was thinking, but it's nice to have the background noise.

4. Books, blankies, beverages. Some days I like to snuggle up on the couch with a good book, a snuggly blanket and some coffee or tea or hot chocolate. These are the days when I can relish that I don't have to go outside into the yuck.

5. Flannel or fleece pj's. I don't know if this one counts, but pretty much the first thing I do when I get home (on nights when I don't have to go back out) is put on comfy pj's and warm, fuzzy socks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Twice in the last few days I have had people tell me that they wish I were the only pastor, that they like me more than the Senior Pastor. I don't like this. Affirmation is good, but not this way. This way is awkward and uncomfortable, and well...icky. One of the comments was well-intentioned, but I'm not sure about the other one. I tried to repsond appropriately, but I'm not even sure what appropriate is in these cases. Sometimes life is very confusing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


So, all week I've been having a terrible time waking up in a timely manner. I hit snooze forever and finally drag myself out of bed when I absolutely have to. This morning, when I should be able to sleep in I wake up at 7:23. The universe is messing with me... :-)
In happy news: This morning I tried on a pair of pants that haven't fit in forever AND THEY FIT! I don't know why, I haven't been working at it or anything, really. But they fit! Still a little tight, but they button and everything. So very exciting. For those of you who know the story, these are the pants of poetry legend (hence the color of today's entry!).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday 5--Things About Me

I'm still not entirely over the crabbiness of earlier, but thought I would take a moment to do the Revgalblogpals Friday 5. I'm still horribly uninspired on my sermon, so this will be my break from that:

Whether it's new friends or new loves or new employers, what are five things people should know about you?

I might be unhealthily addicted to my nieces. Even when they drive me slightly crazy I still find them endlessly fascinating and absolutely adorable (most of the time). Not everyone I know has to love them like I do, but they need to at least have a decent appreciation of them.

I often come across as bitchy. Sometimes I am, but there are other things that contribute to this perception: I can be really quiet. I process internally, so it takes me a long time in group settings to be able to contribute to conversations, especially if I'm uncomfortable. Because of this I've been accused of being "stand-offish." I also grew up in a family that avoided confrontation. In order to deal with confrontation I have to work myself up to it, so I often seem angry when I'm not. It's hard to explain, I guess. I'm working on it.

I have a strange sense of humor. Some people get it and some people don't. It's gotten me into trouble. Oh, and I also think I'm way funnier than I come across in this blog, but maybe that's just me.

I've had several friends in my life that I've met and had an instant connection with. It's like we've known each other forever. I count myself exceptionally lucky to have that, and them.

I'm a procrastinator. Sometimes it's because I really am trying to avoid something. Other times, I just have to think about something for what seems like forever before I can do it. Still other times fear causes me to put something off until the last possible minute. I'm basically an organized person, but I definitely tend toward procrastination.

Yoga (or the lack thereof)

Generally on Fridays I do the Revgals Friday 5, but today I'm feeling slightly annoyed. It's budget time, as I've mentioned, and things are progressing but still stressful (as I imagine they are in numerous churches across the country right now). I'm trying not to worry about it. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I'm less successful. Anyway, the church has a yoga class every Friday, and this is one way I count on to take an hour during my week to stretch and center myself. Oh, and find muscles I never knew I had, but that's another story. :-) Today, about a 1/2 an hour into yoga I noticed someone outside the fellowship hall. I went out to see if he needed anything and long story short, spent several minutes being chastised about the budget. And it was about things I really have no control over, so that made it worse. After he left I went to my office and cried. So much for the centering of yoga. The timing of it just seems slightly funny (and by funny I mean annoyingly ironic). Shortly after the crying someone else came to the church and she and I had a nice conversation that helped get me back from the edge of annoyed. I'm grateful for those people in my life. As much as I understand the frustration of the first person who chastised me, I wish I had a better way to handle those situations so they don't throw my whole day off balance.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Remembering Ellen

My mom's cousin died yesterday. She's had Alzheimer's for a long time, and hasn't recognized anyone for a very long time, so in some ways it's a relief, but it's still making me very sad. She is one of my favorite people from childhood. Here's what I remember: She was the most Norwegian-looking person I knew. I don't exactly know what this means, but as a kid when I would think of Norwegians I would think of Ellen. Her mom is my grandmother's sister and they were like me and my sister: one blond and one brunette. My family is more brunette than blond (except of course for my sister), so I suspect this was where my ideas of her Norwegian-ness came from! Every year we have a family reunion and every year Ellen would make the best chicken and noodles. Others have tried, but it's just not the same. I usually only saw her once a year, but she was one of my favorite parts of those reunions. I wish I could figure out how to tell the story of her shooing drunk trespassers who stumbled into our reunion, but I don't know how to tell it in a way that would do it justice. It's become one of our family "legends." My mom was her flower girl, and I loved looking at those wedding pictures as a kid. Fabulous dress. She was a wonderful person and I will miss her very much.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Apparently I missed all of the excitement around here yesterday. When I came in last night for board and council meetings I found out that there was an attempted robbery at the credit union next door yesterday afternoon. No one was hurt, thankfully, but the police called the church and told the staff to lock down the building. Then, according to the paper this morning, the guy led the cops on a chase up by my apartment. Not right by my place, but in the general area. Scary.

It's annual meeting time here, which means budget discussions. Last night's council meeting was 3 1/2 hours. Overall it went well, but I can't help but thinking while I'm sitting through those conversations that they'd be doing OK if they hadn't called me. The shortfall for last year is basically a good chunk of my salary. Now, I can be rational and reasonable and think all sorts of CPE thoughts about not bringing my own crap into the situation, but it's hard sometimes not to feel guilty. Or to worry that I'm soon not going to have a job. Or to have those stupid voices that insist on popping into my head to say that the church would be better off with someone else or no one as the associate pastor. I try to kick those voices on a regular basis, but they're sneaky little bastards.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Visitors From Afar

I guess 80 miles isn't exactly far, but my 3 year old niece thinks the drive is REALLY long. She and my sister are here and spending the night. They got here about noon, we had lunch and then went shopping. The niece's new favorite word is "why?" She followed my sister through Target today saying why why why why nonstop. The sister is really patient. I thought it might drive me slightly crazy after awhile, but I also thought it was fairly cute. She's currently going through a twirly dress phase. Everything has to be "down to there," meaning long, to her ankles, and it has to twirl appropriately. So we spent quite a bit of time in the mall this evening waiting as she tried on dresses and spun around in them to see if they twirled properly. She finally settled on a pink Easter dress and she's going to wear it to church tomorrow, with tights and a shirt under it, of course since it's cold. Oh, speaking of outfits, she dressed herself this morning. She showed up wearing a turquoise, navy and white striped shirt with black Christmas pants that had red, white and pink candy canes. Over all of this she was wearing a jumper dress made from 2 kinds of red gingham. She's a stylish one, let me tell you!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Five--Pancakes

Last week Sally gave us a beautiful, spiritually reflective Friday Five, so it's time for something light and fluffy (literally). It's inspired by the fact that as I write this my dear spouse TechnoGuy, with the assistance of daughter Ladybug, is making a batch of chocolate chip pancakes with two Christmas presents. One is the Knott's Berry Farm mix which came along with jam, boysenberry syrup, and biscuit mix from my aunt (we ended up with two sets, since my parents passed theirs on to avoid sweet and carb-y temptation). The other is the large size Black and Decker electric skillet he was thrilled that I got him online -- our trusty wedding present normal size one still works at going on 20 years, but the Teflon is getting worn, and he wanted more cooking space. So pull up a chair to the kitchen table and tell us all about your pancake preferences.

1. Scratch or mix? Buttermilk or plain?
I don't make them often, but when I do I make them from scratch. Doesn't make sense to buy a mix that I rarely use. I'm allergic to white flour, so I always make whole wheat.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?
Pure and simple, but I think that's mostly laziness. Or lack of additional agreements. I like chocolate chips or blueberries, I just rarely put them in.

3. For breakfast or for dinner?
Either. But I don't like anything that heavy first thing in the morning, so I guess it would be more of a brunch preference.

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish?
My family likes peanut butter and maple syrup. It's been passed down from my grandfather, and more than one spouse marrying into the family has been completely grossed out by it. It's so yummy, though! You need lots of milk to go along with it, though. I like either bacon or link sausage as a side dish (may as well clog all of the arteries while we're at it!)

5. Favorite pancake restaurant?
I don't believe I have a favorite. I think the only one I've been to is IHOP. Clearly I need to branch out in my pancake eating...

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I drove home from the church today a little after 5:00 and it was still mostly daylight. This might not seem like such a big deal, and it's not like it doesn't happen the same way every year, but today it struck me. I'd gotten so used to driving home in the dark, and it was lovely to have that little bit of extra light. I've been talking with the preschoolers about Epiphany during chapel this week. We've talked about how the wise men followed a light (the star) and found a different kind of light (Jesus). They like to talk about Jesus, and they got star stickers to wrap things up, so they were happy. The drive home was kind of my chapel as I reflected on the light and how the days getting longer always fill me with hope this time of year. And yes, I'm wearing my star sticker as a reminder of that.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I am not currently under my desk sobbing, so today went better than it might have. In fact, it went pretty darn well considering the potential for awkwardness/meanness. It was still fairly awkward, but things went well, and I think I did OK in a pastoral sense. "The Issue" has a tendency to spawn parking lot conversations and seemingly ordinary things turned into huge issues, so I suppose there is always the chance that something will come up later to cause problems, but for now I'm celebrating the fact that nothing went horribly wrong today. And that there's chocolate in my office. I take my celebrations where I can find them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


So, I did pretty well at holding the annoyance at bay yesterday, especially considering it was my day off and I kept having to deal with stuff I shouldn't have had to deal with. Most of it was out of my hands, so I took care of what I could and tried to let the rest go. I think I did a fairly good job of the letting go part. Then I get to church this morning and the first hour was one thing after another, all dealing with "The Issue" and most seeming to imply that I'm incompetent. It's frustrating and I've moved on from annoyed to PO'd, which I'm working on calming down. I think I'm on top of the situation, but we'll see how the day progresses. And tomorrow is the day that could either go really well or could find me crying in my office, possibly hiding under my desk. Should be interesting. To complicate things further, I slipped on the ice and fell in the parking lot yesterday. I have a lovely bruise on my thigh, another on my calf, a family of them on my knee, and I'm stiff and sore all over. It could have been worse, and I'm grateful I didn't break anything. Must have been the day for it, though, because both the 5 year old and the 8 year old niece slipped and fell yesterday as well. Ah, winter.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Today I'm feeling slightly annoyed. It's a very long and convoluted story involving personnel issues, family/church dynamics, emotional manipulation, other pastors, church building use, scheduling, personalities, and vacations all topped off by my whoppingly fabulous cold. And really, I think it's the cold that's making this feel more annoying than it actually is. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely annoying aspects, but most of it is out of my control at this point, so being annoyed doesn't really help. Which is what I keep reminding myself, and it's helping. I will do what I can, try not be too annoyed with the stuff I can't control, and hopefully make it through the week without too much conflict. In good news, my voice is a bit better today. In great news, I didn't wake up until 10:50 this morning. I can't remember the last time I slept that late. I feel slightly decadent. Must have needed it, but it's weird, because the day's already half over and I've only had 1 cup of coffee and no breakfast.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today went fairly well considering I had no voice. I sounded terrible and I felt worse, but the morning went OK. Thank goodness for assisting ministers who were willing to step in and take over parts of the service so I didn't have to talk as much. I can't imagine the sermon was much fun to listen to, but I got through it both times with a minimum of coughing. Confirmation was also interesting. I wasn't sure how the inter-generational stuff might go, but it went fairly well, and I made them do some of the talking (thanks to everyone who gave suggestions). I think it would have been easier to plan, but the current Confirmation topic is the Theology of the Cross. It's not the easiest subject to explain, and I have no idea how much they retained. I'm looking forward to worship notes the next couple of weeks to see what kind of insights they have. Now here's hoping this cold departs and my voice comes back.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


The last couple of posts have been looking ahead and looking back, which is appropriate for the New Year. I'm not feeling that introspective today, so here are some random thoughts on a Saturday morning:
  • It's back to being cold. Yesterday it hit almost 40 and rained. Today it's 9, but the sun is shining!
  • I watched the movie Labyrinth last night. I remember watching it as a kid and thinking it was scary. This time I was mostly frightened by David Bowie's wardrobe.
  • Lovely MT winters dry out my skin. It's so dry right now, despite the application of moisturizers, that I think I could sand things with my face. Woodwork, anyone?
  • I have a cold. I feel fine, mostly, but my voice is going. Again. Another Sunday where I'm going to sound either like an adolescent boy going through puberty or someone who has a 900 number on the side... And SP is gone, so I'm preaching, presiding, and teaching Adult Forum/Confirmation.

And now back to the sermon. I had a friend recently tell me that she thinks it's funny how I "procrastinate God." Sheesh, when you put it like that...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Five--New Year

As we look back we may come to understand how God has worked in and through us in joy and sadness. how we have grown against what may seem impossible odds. As we look forward we may do so with expectation, and we may do so with fear and trembling. As we look back and forward in New Years liminality I offer you this simple yet I hope profound Friday Five in two parts:
First list five things that you remember/ treasure from 2008
1. Niece time
2. My ordination and the ordinations of 2 dear friends
3. Starting my first call
4. Fabulous trip to New York to spend time with my aunt
5. Celebrating/mourning/walking with so many friends through so many different things happening in their lives during this year.
Bonus: Yurt!!
Then list five things that you are looking forward to in 2009
1. Completing my first year of ministry, and hopefully benefiting from having some history in this place
2. Graduation from high school of a dear young woman (although this one also makes me feel old since I used to babysit her)
3. The completion of my brother's house project/saga
4. Spending time with family and friends
5. Births of several babies (friends' babies, not mine!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day

I wasn't even sure I would make it to midnight last night, but it turns out I didn't go to sleep until 3:00 am. I can't even remember the last time I was awake that late. I spent the evening with parishioners, and had a lovely time. We played rockband with the kids and everyone found it extremely funny when they had the pastor sing Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation." It was pretty funny, actually. The more times I sang how I didn't give a damn about my bad reputation the more I giggled. We also played 2 games of trivial pursuit. My team won one and lost one. That's actually the reason for the late night, as the 2nd game seemed to take forever, so it was after 2 before I got home and then I couldn't sleep. After last night and yesterday's post, though, I do have a resolution that I'm going to work hard at keeping: I need to more firmly engage the filters between my brain and my mouth. I spend a lot of time alone, so things that are fine to think or say in my own apartment aren't always so great when blurted out in public. I didn't say anything too crazy or stupid last night, but there were a couple of moments when I thought, "did I just say that out loud?" Hopefully no one was offended.