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Showing posts from 2009

Discernment, Yet Again...

I'm once again deep in discernment. I have an opportunity for a retreat in April, which I must apply for by the middle of this month--if I am accepted, I will be informed by mid-December. What a Christmas gift that would be!

Part of the reason, the format, the purpose of the retreat is pastoral renewal. As followers of this blog know, I've been struggling with what I should be doing and where, for a while. My call to ministry is still clear--what's gotten murky is the direction or focus of my ministry now. Do I stay here in River City, encouraging the growth I'm seeing in the church here? Do I go back to grad school for that doctorate I've been toying with for a couple of years now? Do I change directions a bit and look into community work, working in one of the community organizations? I just don't know and my thought/prayer/hope is that the retreat would assist me in the clarification I need. I do know that the thinking I have been doing in order to write th…

Shoes!

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1. What is your favorite footwear at this time in your life?
They’re the shoe everyone loves to hate…my crocs. Although my leather clogs are a very close second. I like the comfort and simplicity of clogs—just slip them on. 2. What was the craziest shoe, boot, or sandal you ever wore?
My sister had a pair of knee-high suede embroidered boots back in the 70s that I used to borrow every once in a while. They were two sizes too small but I loved them. 3. What kind of shoes did you wear in your childhood? Typical saddle shoes, as I recall. Tennis shoes/sneakers were for gym class, sandals for the summer.
4. How do you feel most comfortable? Barefoot, flip-flops, boots, or what?Socks at home. Out and about—clogs. Although I do love my boots.
5. What kind of socks do you like, if any?
Ankle high socks—the crazier the better!Bonus: Anything you want to share about feet or footwear.
I think I need to revamp my shoe collection. Mostly a variety of clogs and clog-styles, with a bunch of pumps and a coup…

RevGals Friday Five: Touching the Holy

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After a loooong hiatus, I am attempting to get back into the habit of blogging!

So I begin with an easy one, because topic was given to me!

1. A place that holds a special memory?
There are several. The deep cut in the nature preserve I practically lived at when I was young; the chapel at my favourite retreat centre; the baths at Bath, oddly enough—the undercroft, with the votives to Minerva, whose spring it was. Not so oddly, but sadly, Auschwitz and the former synagogue in Krakow.

2. A song that seems to usher you into the Holy of Holies?
It’s a moldy oldy, but perhaps that’s why songs and hymns like this become moldy oldies…”Is It I, Lord?”

3.A book/ poem/ prayer that says what you cannot?
The Prayer Jesus Taught Us (aka The Creator’s Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer). It is so complete and entire.

4. How do you remind yourself of these things at times when God seems far away?
When I don’t even have the words to express how I feel, the Prayer Jesus Taught Us is always there.

5.Post a picture/ poem …

Calling

I've been thinking about calling, and ministry, and specifically my call to ministry, in response to reading William Willimon's "Calling and Character."

What I know about my call:
I could not refuse it--although I tried to channel it into other directions for several years (several committees in the local church, choir, writing, etc.)
God called me, not a particular local church or denomination; if one would not, could not accept me, that did not invalidate my call; it simply meant I was meant to serve in another.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important to me than my call, my ministry. That doesn't mean I don't have balance in my life. But when it comes to life decisions, I cannot allow anything else to divert me from the fullest response to my call that I am capable of--not relationships, not fear, not finances, not other people's opinions of me... I gave up many things to respond to my call, both before and after I came out and left my denomin…

On the Journey XV....and probably last.

Medical followups and such..

I had my first post-treatment mammogram on Monday, then a follow-up appointment with my medical oncologist on Thursday.

The mammogram was clear, praise be to God.

The cehmotherapy did put me into early menopause. I could do without the mood swings and hot flashes, but I wouldn't want to have done without the chemotherapy, so I'll take it!

I'll be going back every three months for a while, just for follow-up and making sure all continues well.

In physical terms, I am getting back to normal. My hair isn't back to the length I would like, but that's just a matter of time. I have heard several times that it looks good at this length. That ma be true, but it's not where I want it, it's not the image I have of myself, so yes, I'm going to keep growing it. I have a photo of myself taken back in the summer of last year, and that's my benchmark--y hair then was a good length, a good colour. That's my goal for my hair, my appearanc…

Sunday Morning Praise

My daily bread...



Thank you Amanda....

Sunday Morning Psalm

Blogging the Unbloggable...

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How to blog the unbloggable…

At my denominational conference in July, one of the preachers spoke of asking God for what we need. She said (at least, this was my understanding) that too often we don’t dare to ask for what we really need, requesting half a loaf when we are hungry for a whole one. We may do this because we think we don’t deserve a whole loaf; or we may think that if we only ask for half a loaf, then we won’t be disappointed; or perhaps we think God doesn’t deal in whole loaves. This is especially true, she said, of pastors—we who are so busy taking care of others (our congregations, our denominations, our communities, our families, our partners) that we do not take adequate care of ourselves.

I thought about that a bit.

I had felt for several months that I had no clear channel of communication with God any longer. Earlier in my life, when I had been at a crossroads or in doubt as to what I should do, I could open myself to God and feel the divine guidance—not always right a…

OK, OK, So It's Been Two Weeks...

I definitely need to get this back in my routine again...

I'm finding it both interesting and difficult to preach off-lectionary. The topics are vital and absorbing--God, the Bible, salvation, faith, worship and so on--and while it is a challenge to preach away from the lectionary and all the supports for that available--the commentary, conversation with friends who are preaching on the same texts I am, the online resources--it is a good stretch foe me, and, as they say, "a learning experience."

I'm to have an article published in a scholarly journal! Peer-reviewed and everything! I sent off my final draft this week--let's see what the editor does to it now...

Living Spring and I had a wonderful conversation earlier this week. She gave me a resource, and a couple of solid suggestions that felt so right I knew I had had them in mind before she spoke them but did not have the words--she gave me the words. We have agreed to talk on a regular basis--apparently she foun…

Contrary to Popular Reports, I Am Still Alive!

I have been incredibly remiss in keeping this up to date. I have no excuse, none whatsoever.

The trip to Capitol City of Capitol Cities was a blessing. I reconnected with so many people, spent time with TO and others whom I love, worshipped in the church that supported me through my transfer, and realized how much I love that city. Quite a week!

And back into the maelstrom!

As part of the revitalization/renewal project, now that we are staying open, I’m throwing the lectionary out the window and focusing on the foundations of Christianity—Christianity 101 if you will. Because the congregation is generally fairly small—c.15-20 in worship—we will do as much discussion, if not more, than I will preach. We’ll be doing the house church thing twice a month now. We’ll be discussing things like salvation, and faith and the nature of God, and the Bible, and worship… And I want the congregation to discuss and come up with what they believe, not what I’ve told them, or what they think they should …

Busy? What's That?

I am off again this afternoon on my trip to Capital City of Capitol Cities, having been home barely 48 hours!

Our church's regional conference was amazing. It was a little difficult for me, as Strong Heart has begun seeing someone, and they were there together at the conference. But she had told me about it beforehand, the three of us are comfortable together, and she has made it clear that she and I are very close friends, we will continue to be a part of each other's lives, and her new interest is very willing to accept that. So the best part of our relationship remains strong--the friendship.

And I have to say, the rabble-rouser in me is pleased that we (the three of us) rattled a few cages over the weekend, by being close, spending time together, not creating drama--in other words, acting like adults. We shared time in worship, in retreat and at meals--and let it be seen that, gee, we like each other and can spend time together.

Besides that, I also enjoyed getting to know s…

Up and down...

Much has happened, some of it unbloggable, some important at the time and minor now, some of it providing fodder for thought, some to celebrate…a mixed bag.

I’ve been gifted with a trip to Capital City of Capital Cities, to visit friends and TO. Rejoice, again I say, rejoice! I will have a week to do little but visit loved ones, catch up on their lives and catch them up on mine, spend time with a couple of emerging friendships, and relax. Praises for friends and a capable Board (which allows me to be out of town for a week and over a Sunday without heartburn)!

I have also been gifted (or will be) with the means to take care of some debts. These have been eating at me, and from time to time keeping me from full focus on ministry. This gift, totally unexpected and completely selfless on the part of the giver, will free me from some mundane worries. Praises again!

And one more gift—a friend is sharing her cottage with me for day tomorrow. I hadn’t realized how much I needed a day complete…

Psalm 130, John Rutter

An amazing setting for the Psalm this Sunday--one of my favourites. This is by John Rutter. And my thanks to my former choir director, Joche, for turning me on to Rutter!

Flip Flops

Wow, I am glad this is an anonymous blog! Well, there's a few of you who know who I am, but none who are directly involved in the church...which is a good thing today.

I'm feeling very ambivalent.

We've been struggling here ever since I can remember, but it got very bad--or I looked at more closely--last summer. I had been feeling frustrated and tired for a while, but thought it was more related to working two jobs, being involved in a new relationship, and my community work. I had tried everything I knew and several things that were suggested to me, and they simply were not working. The church was not only not growing, it was stagnating a bit; and everyone in leadership was wearing two or even three hats, nad beginning to burn out. We simply did not have the human resources to carry out our mission.

I began questioning my abilities as pastor, even my call. What had I done wrong? Where could I have done better? How could I fix my mistakes? Should I be a pastor? Should I be a…

Dry Bones (sermon draft)

Ezekiel 37:1-14
The hand of God came upon me, and brought me out by the spirit and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. God led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. God said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then God said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of God; thus says the Holy One to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am God.” So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then God said to me, “Prophesy to …

Aren't They Lovely?

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This is the poster, in a wonderful digitally-cleansed version, of the poster I mentioned a couple of posts ago. It's in the frame shop, costing more than it should, but wow!

Walls and Windows

Will you pray with me? God of today and yesterday and tomorrow, bless us with grace and understanding and hope; give us courage and strength to hear your word, your message for us, not only in these words spoken, but those left unspoken; today and every day. In all your names, amen.
Ascension Sunday—it’s not one of the big holidays of the church, not like Christmas and Easter, or even Pentecost or Ash Wednesday. But there’s a lot we can learn from this story, about how to hear Christ, how to behave in the world, about relationships.
Doesn’t this scene seem a little strange? Christ is leaving the disciples, forever this time—they will never see him in the flesh, in solid reality, again. But he doesn’t seem upset about it, or concerned about this huge task he’s just given them. They don’t seem terribly sad, either. When Christ begins to leave the disciples, he isn’t offering them more advice, or saying, “Oh, one more thing!” He’s not ignoring them, either. And they aren’t weeping an…

Random musings and catching up...

Bits of this and that...

I've been meaning to write a review of a great book I read, Four Seasons of Ministry, by Bruce Epperly and Katherine Epperly. They compare a pastor's career to the seasons--first church pastors are in the spring, with everything fresh and new; then as a pastor progresses, she moves into summer, when they cultivate the crops, so to speak; then as they move into fall, they harvest the fruits of their labours; in the winter of retirement, they benefit from the work they have done earlier. The writers dont' pay enough attention to the slightly different trajectory of second-career pastors, I think; and in their references to "family, partners and loved ones," they tend to leave out those of us who are single, especially in reference to where pastors get support and how they take their Sabbaths. But those are minor. One of the themes I really appreciated was that of setting patterns of prayer, study, rest, and retreat early on, and how those ca…

On the Journey XIV

Hmm, those Roman numerals are starting to get complicated!

I have finished radiation (as of a week ago) and so am done with cancer treatment!

I'm feeling conflicted, to be honest. On the one hand, I am celebrating the end of chemotherapy and radiation--no more abusing my body in the name of saving it. On the other hand, I'm feeling a bit worried--what do I do now? When I was in treatment, at least I knew I was dong something about the cancer. But that's all done, we've done what we can until and unless it shows up again. I don't know why I got cancer, and therefore I can't do much to prevent it--and might not be able to, even if I did know. So I'm at loose ends.

I'm continuing to heal though--the burns and sore places from radiation are pretty much gone. I still have yucky nails and tingly fingers from the Taxotere. I have my compression sleeve for the lymphedema and it seems to be working. And my hair is growing! I actually had it trimmed last week--clea…

Le Monks de St Francis de la Sissies...

And here's one just for fun... WARNING: Finish drinking coffee and other beverages before viewing...

Palestrina's "Adoramus Te" performed by Further Along

The harmony on this gives me goosebumps. Simply lovely.

Easter Sermon Procrastinating....

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I really should be writing the Easter sermon...and I do have a lot of notes and a pretty good idea of what I want to say. I'll get to that in a moment. First, an update--it's been two weeks, how did that happen?

Strong Heart was called to the congregation where she was candidating--no huge surprise there. I pleased for her, although amazed at her energy. She'll be there only on weekends, driving almost three hours every Friday night and another three hours Sunday night; her weeknights will be taken up with preparing sermons, Bible studies, worship etc, and she's continuing a project with Sister City church.... I would not be able to do it, even when I'm healthy!

I'm beginning to work back into the community groups, committees, etc. People are wonderful, bringing me up to speed, asking me to take on tasks again, re-integrating me into the group. I'm able to put more energy into sermon prep and worship planning, too--both of which make me feel that I'm ear…

This and that...

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I have become very lax about blogging--a combination of low energy and nothing really to say right now!

I'm feeling pretty well. Completing the chemotherapy has made a huge difference in how I feel. My hair has begun to grow back--it's about 1/4 - 1/2 inch long. Sort of duck fuzz. If it were a bit warmer out, I'd be tempted to go without a hat. As it is...Winter is not over in River City!

However... I've developed a condition called lymphedema, or LE for short. What is lymphedema? I hear you saying...

Short course:

Part of breast cancer surgery (whether lumpectomy or mastectomy) involves removing one or more lymph nodes from under the arm, to see if the cancer has begun to spread (they did find cancer cells in one of the 20 nodes removed in my surgery). The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, which filters and clears toxins, infections, and general junk out of the body. When lymph nodes are damaged or removed, other nodes generally take up the slack. In cancer tr…

And another update...

And there are other things going on in my life besides my cancer journey!

First and foremost, Strong Heart and I are changing our relationship to one of friendship. Our relaionship as partners was very deep and special, but it was meant only for a certain time, and that time is over. She is beginning her own ministry. Not that she didn't have one before, but now she is ordained and will, in all probability, be serving a church of her own before too long. The churches of our denomination are spread widely apart--the geographical distance between us will be even greater than it is now We have always agreed that our ministries, our calls, come first. I'm feeling that my time in River City is drawing to a close, and so I will probably be moving elsewhere at some point in the near future as well.

But one of the best parts of our relationship has always been our ability to share, to be open and honest and clear about our thoughts and feelings. This has helped us in coming to terms wit…

On The Journey XIII

Two days away from beginning radiation...

I'm scheduled for 35 treatments (5 days a week for seven weeks). It seems like a lot, but it's pretty standard for someone with my kind of cancer--grade 3 (very aggressive) and triple negative (not receptive to hormones, thus no hormone treatment like tamoxifen is possible for me after radiation). This is, basically, our one chance to hit the cancer and hit it hard--if there's any still there after the chemo. We don't know, can't know (there's no test to see if you have any cancer cells floating around in your body), so we have to do all we can.

The procedure itself is like getting an xray. I'm put in position (the techs are guided by the tattooed dots I received during the planning session back in January), which allows the radiation beam to be tightly focused on just exactly where the tumor was, and thus affect the rest of my breast/skin less. The beam is switched on for a few moments, then off. And that's it. …

On the Journey XII

I am DONE with chemotherapy!

My last treatment was Wednesday morning February 18th! It went well--no problems with access or reactions or anything like that. The oncology nurse, Betty, apologised that they were out of their "last treatment goody bags," and told me to be sure and get mine when I come back for my port care appointment next month. Apparently there's bubbles to blow and nice scents to put on (since you're asked to refrain from perfum during treatments). Goody bag? Heck, I'm just glad it's over!

The next step is radiation treatments. These are external beams of xrays used to kill any other cancer cells. Some of the treatments will be spread, to get the lymph nodes under my arm. Others will be more tightly focused, on the area where the tumour was.

I'll get a dose every day, five days a week for seven weeks, so 35 doses total. The last five will be "boosts," or more intense doses.

Side effects are skin irritations (redness, swelling, itc…

On the journey XI

I have ben very remiss in my postings--I do alogize!

I had chemo #5 of the 6 doses yesterday. This is the one that makes me very fatigues--Taxotere. Other side effects are dehydration, lowered blood cell counts, bone pain, difficulty eating (loss of appetite, odd tastes, dry mouth, etc.)and hair loss (well, I had the last with the other meidcations as well). My mom is here this time and helping out with those things that need to be/should be done around the house but that are difficult for me to do--vacuuming, dusting, etc. She's also a hugs help in cooking when I just don't have the energy to get up off the couch. She brought a ton of food with her--a pan of mac and cheese from my sister (best ever!), a chicken casserole, brownies, stollen, plum pudding, cinnamon rolls and banana bread, not to mention a bag of Hershey's minatures (yes, we're taken care of in the carb department!).

I feel very lazy, to be honest, sitting here on the couch with my laptop while Mom is cle…

On the Journey X...

The last couple of chemo treatments have really hit me hard. Fatigue is becoming a way of life.

However, today I was able to feel a bit more hopeful. I had my radiation consult, and have learned that I will need 45 doses of radiation...that's five days a week for seven weeks. On the one hand, it seems interminable--it's longer than Lent, after all!--but on the other, the side effects and logisitics are so much more do-able, to me, than the chemo, that I will be glad to deal with them! Get up and be at the clinic every morning at 7 am? Sure! Use special lotion? No problem!

The side effects are skin irritation and fatigue, with a slight possibility of arm swelling (lymphedema). Those are, to me, something I can handle. I know the fatigue may get to me, and, given the schedule, probably right around the time I most need energy--Palm Sunday and Holy Week. But I can start working on things now--work ahead for once in my life--and hopefully stave off some of that. And of course I hav…