Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the old dog DID learn a new trick!

I am so pleased with my "old dog" Henry. He is a stray who moved into a church member's yard a little over a year ago. They kept him for several months and then proceeded to find him a home. Well, he was the calmest and most unassuming dog. I loved him at first sight not to mention he is my all time faovrite breed - beagle. So, Henry came to live with me. He has been great. He is VERY low maintanence which is a bonus for a busy pastor. Basically, I feed him and pet him once in a while. Sounds like a dog's life, doesn't it! HE has a doggie door so he comes and goes to the backyard when he needs to.

Henry spends his days and nights sleeping. He curls up on his bed or in my overstuffed armchair in the den. He doesn't play with toys or chew bones or anything. He is really quite boring although he will let you play with him and pet him ad nauseum.

Things changed for Henry a couple of weeks ago when a new dog came to live with us. I was sick just prior to this time and I discovered I would really like a dog who would cuddle with me. I was feeling poorly. I live alone. Woe is me, I need a dog to snuggle with. So, I began the search for a dog to adopt. I happened upon the cutest little pomeranian just an hour and a half away. Not far when you consider I live that far away from everywhere! So, Pumpkin came to live with us.

Henry was not too impressed. He looked at me with his sad eyes seemingly asking "what is this little monster?" Pumpkin is a barker and oh my gosh can he jump! He is into everything. I have learned a valuable lesson from this dog - shoes go immediately in the closet. Do not hesitate. Go immediately to the closet with all shoes. Nonetheless, Pumpkin LOVES toys. He chews everything. Blessedly, he chews appropriate things except for shoes. So, he has numerous toys. My kind church members have been greeting the new addition to my family with gifts of toys. I have tried again and again to intrest Henry in toys. Especially now that Pumpkin is on the scene. I don't want Henry to feel left out. My efforts have yielded no fruit.

Or so I thought . . . last night I stepped out of the bathroom after a bath to check on the dogs. They were being very quiet. I was a bit concerned. But the, but there they were both lying on the bedroom floor chewing on toys. I was amazed! I happened to have the camera in the bathroom (I have no idea why it was there.) and quickly took a photo to mark the occasion. I imagined no one would believe Henry was chewing on a toy! I called my mother (I'm so silly.) to report this small miracle. She being just as silly as I responded: "Henry? Henry is playing?"

It isn't much, but I think it a miracle. This abandoned and I think abused dog has learned to play. What a joy! I am really sincerely happy about this advent! I never imagined Henry would come around and discover his inner puppy. But the old dog has definitely learned a new trick!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Last night was our monthly Session (Board) meeting. These things are really a breeze most of the time. However, this time I was requesting some extended leave to manage a little medical issue. I was SO anxious I was literally shaking prior to the meeting. I'm not sure why I was so bent out of shape. This is a great group of people and they have been supportive of me since I arrived here a little over two years ago. Yet, I was scared. I realized when I got right down to the core of the fear I was scared they were going to fire me. Now, what kind of church would fire the pastor for taking care of herself upon doctor's orders? Not particularly rational, I suppose.

Thankfully, the matter was quickly decided in the affirmative and I begin my leave following worship this Sunday. One man even spoke about his wife who has a similar issue and how she did not take time out and it took 7 years for her to be able to work. I told him I wasn't sure they needed to hear this! However, his point was that had she taken time out early on it might not have been such a long time for her to recuperate. I reallky appreciated his supportive nature and comments.

SO, I'm coasting this week. I have a Pentecosts banner to complete and a sermon to write and then I'm outta here! Just like Jesus ascending into heaven I am going to ascend to the mountains of NC to begin my respite at beautiful and soul refreshing Montreat COnference Center. I like to think of it as the Presbyterian Mecca! I look forward to some down time while auditing the preaching conference and staying with a friend. By auditing I have the afternoons free each day. Nice! Then, I'm going the 2 hours to my parents for a long weekend. The driving will be a bummer, but I actually enjoy driving and find it relaxing at times. I have the new Anne Lamott book on CDs and look forward to her voice leading me home. I am really excited and looking forward to the time off. It will be a challenge for me to do nothing for an entire month, but I'm willing to give it a try. I'm hoping to get a good disciplined routine established for myself while out of work - - a life long dream. But, with the ehlp of friends and a therapist perhaps I can do it this go round! I've never had a month to try something before. Wish me luck! I am so bad at disciplined approaches to anything. I am impulsive and spontaneous. I struggle with this as a pastor because I want to portray a calm disciplined approach to spirituality and my life, but I''m thinking it might just not be who I am. Something to ponder.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

later than usual sermonizing

Today is a beautiful sunny, but cooler than days as of late. It is a perfect day for lounging on my new lounge/swing on my back porch. I am waiting for the electricial to come install the ceiling fan I found at a yard sale for only $7 (they swear it works) and my little haven will be complete. This is what I want to do rather than write a sermon. It is hard to have a day off and still need to work. However, what is a day off really? It is so rare that I experience one without at least a telephone call from a church member. Not all bad, I like my church members, however, not the leisurely day I used to have when working a secular job.

Tonight, I have to attend a $50/person hospital fund-raiser thanks to a church member being in charge of the thing. I think I'd rather have my tonsils out sans anesthesia. The theme is "bluejeans boot scoot boogie bash". Clever name and at least a new frock isn't required! I'm hoping to scoot my way out from the event early.

I suppose the smart thing for me to do is to stop blogging and head back home where I might even get a few moments on my lounge/swinig before needing to get ready for the "boot scoot". I want to start reading Velvet Elvis for the RGBP discussion in just over a week. I think I have figured out the rest of my afternoon! I'm finding myself with some time on my hands as I am a bit under the weather and trying to heal. It is a challenge to "not overdo". Plenty of time for reflection and pondering. I'm hopeful I will manage some life changes while out of the usual routine - which realy isn't routine at all! Part of the problem I assume. REST RELAX RECUPERATE the 3-R's of my life these days. It is pretty nice to have some time to do this. My conregation is quite understanding and says they just want me here and healthy so I need to do whatever it takes to get there. Thanks be to God.

I'm bummed that some of the RGBPs are heading to the Festival of Homiletics. It sounds like a wonderful conference. I used my continuing educataion funds this year for a trip to ISrael and Jordan. Great trip. Wonderful experience, but now I want to go to FofH. I did manage to finagle a way to attend the preaching conference at a denominational conference center. I am auditing which cuts the cost practically to nill. I am also staying in a friend's house rather than in conference housing and that will dramatically help the cost. So, this is good. I am looking for some collegial interaction, time with my friend, and a few days in the NC mountains. t is so relazing for me there. That is when I'm not traveling to a youth conference with 10-50 youth in tow!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

glitch in cyberspaceberspace

The past week or so I have been out of touch due to some weird manifestation of cy berspace. I was unable to access anything online save my homepage which was thankfully set on my email inbox. Strangely enough, I could send and receive email but not search the web. Any attempt at searching left the screen white with nothing happening. There was no warning, no hints as to why as in an error message. . . . things just went white.

A friend, a great friend now, spent hours and hours backing up all my data including massive numbers of photos in order to crash the system and reload all the software. He did that to no avail. I got the same response when I tried to surf the web. All this sounds relatively unimportant except for the fact that I do major portions of my sermon research on the internet. I feel as if I have been restricted and shut off from the world for the last week. I am so thankful that I was actually ahead of the game last week and had printed out my sermon prior to the computer going haywire. I was afraid I was going to lose everything on the harddrive.
Today, following hours and hours of tech support from both the computer company and the ISP people I am up and running again. Actually, things are even faster than before which is totally cool! However, I haven't been blogging nor have I been able to get up with the RGBP folks and touch base. Nor, more importantly, have I done much in the way of sermon preparation. There is still the weekend, I suppose!
I am amazed by the techno-geeks who work at technical support. They sit at a telephone and rattle off directions for fixing the most elaborate computer glitches. I am SO visual. I need to see the options before me and chose one. I could never spout off the chain of commands necessary for the computer to rise from the ashes and resume function. Hats off to the "Geek Squad". I am most appreciative of their support this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

Today I preached about mothering. I usually avoid the entire subject because I didn't have the best role model or experience as a child of mothering. However, this year it seemed the thing to do. The entire sermon practically lept out of my head onto the paper so I know it was what God wanted dme to say, but I was surprised. I even had this nice reflective piecee about what I have learned from my mother (Betsy). I need to send her a copy of the sermon. I am awed that I can be in the midst of the emotional turmoil I have been experiencing and the health issues springing up and find my way toward thankfulness and objectivity. Perhaps I am growing in depth.

I'm struggling over a suggestion I had this week from one of my health care professionsals to take a month medical leave from my job. I really am haaving a difficult time w ith work due to my trouble slepping, constant steroid prescriptions which wig you out at times, and fatigue. The break sounds wonderful and I want to latch onto the idea. She even said the time would be a guided process. Sounds lovely. I want to do it, but I am afraid should I request time off it might give people ammunition to ask me to leave. I know I haven't been doing my best at this job as of late. Actually, I have been doing my best, my best is the bare minimum these days. People hae complained that I have not been visiting enough . . . truth be told I am not visiting at all unless someone is ill. I write sermons which are borderline decent and I try to show up at the office most days. I'm not too responsive to people and am very tired and overwhelmed at the thought of work. Yet, I think I am right where God has led me. I like the community. I like the people. I think they still like me. Several have stated that it is not time for me to leave. Yet, with my declining performance and enthusiasm I wonder if the Session will be tolerant of the request for a month off. They have been so patient with me to this point. I guess I wonder if I have pressed the health issue too far since being here. I'm scared to ask for what I need. That is the bottom line.

I want to take the doc's suggestion. I want to work wi th hwer to get myself in a better state of health. I want to go to Birmingham and find out more about my "Syndrome" and how best to deal with it on a daily basis. PErhaps they can talk to me about cop[ing and what to expect. I want to feel a bit more in control. Maybe such isn;'t evern possible.

I'm pondering and mulling over these thoughts.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bored in the southeast

I find I am continually bored. There is not enough to keep me occupied. I try to get a project going to capture my attention - HGTV is a great inspiration for this! However, I seem to get so many ideas that I go shopping for materials and then I don't know which project to start first and I'm overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. Or, not really doing nothing, but doing bits and pieces here and there while accomlpishing nothing of any substance.

Unfortunately, this has eeked its way into my professional life as well. I go to work, late most days, and accomplish very little while there. I take work home and fail to do it. Thus, I am constantly behind and under stress when it is crazy because there is not enough rerally to occupy my time yet, I am bored and doing nothing. It is so silly yet, incapicitating.

I have been diagnosed with a weird ailment over the last few months, almost year actually. I do not have enough fluid in my body. One doc told me it is like running a car with a quart too little oil. The ramification of this is that I can faint if I stand or sit in one position for too long. Now isn't that a great malady for a preacher?! I also have palpatations from time to time which seem to randomly occur and go away as mysteriously as they came. Medication may or may not work. The most wonderful (sarcasm) part of this ailment is the mood swings and anxiety. I turn into a person I like none at all. I am anxious, irritable, and have no patience for anything. This is not the person I know myself to be. I asked the doc why all this is happening. Of course, who knows, right? Things happen. However, her response was that it is probably due to extreme stress I've experienced in the last year or so. My body and coping mechanisms have had enough and the result is what feels to me like a total meltdown. I pray for some resolve, or at least some support. I found a blog on the web for those with this autonomic disorder and it is totally depressing. The folks function very little. The slightest output of energy seems to totally drain them. Many are on disability. I cannot go there. I am a single woman making it on my own and there is no option of not being able to work and going on disability.
I am frustrated and feeling pretty isolated. I think the people who usually support me emotionally are getting tired of my saga. I guess I am on the pity pot today. Maybe tomorrow will be better!