Friday, August 31, 2007

RGBP Friday at Five

I'm playing with the RGBP bloggers this friday - my day off!
I'm heading out for my folks in NC following worship on Sunday.
I'm SO excited to have a short vacation and to see my parents.
Play is exactly what I'm in the mood to do!

1) Share a highlight from the summer.

I think I have 2.
I attended a preaching conference in Montreat, NC early summer.
I just love Montreat and the area. It is so peaceful and beautiful.
I feel each time I roll into the little town that my soul is relaxed.
I can take a deep breath and all is well. It is a bit of an oasis for me.

Secondly, I traveled to Birmingham Alabama to visit a specialist in autonomic nervous system disorders and FINALLY had my little tendency to faint or at least come close to fainting diagnosed! Sad, I guess, that a doctor's visit would be a highlight! But having unexplained symptoms explained is a highlight! I am feeling much better, by the way!

2) Are you glad to see the summer end? Why or why not?

I LOVE summer. I am living in Arkansas and the heat is blazing, not to mention the humidity. However, I like it alot. The summer is far from over hear as temps are still in the 90's with no change in sight. Again, I love it. I am not glad when summer ends. In addition to liking the weather, I like the longer days, and the ablity to live without the extra baggage of sweaters and coats! Also, people are more willing to get out and do things in the summer.

3) NAme one or two things you look forward to in the fall.

Football is big here. High school football is a big deal. LAst year our team went to the state championship and lost. This year they have most of the returning players from last year and have a score to settle. They have won scrimages already and area teams are refusing to play our team because they know they will get beaten. I am looking forward to the regular season starting up next week.

I should be clear that my interest is less in football than in the socializing that goes on at the field. EVERYBODY goes to the games and pastors in town get a free pass to all school events, so that's great FREE fun!

4) Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another?


5) I'll know fall is really here when ......

I'll know fall is really here when the temps get cooler and their is a nip in the air. We are blessed with LONG summers here, as I said and the calendar has little to do with the seasons.

Ahhhh, summer, you are welcome at my house any time!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


My adopted dad was diagnosed with lymphoma last week.

I knew something was very wrong when the caller ID on my cell phone indicated that my dad was calling. First of all, mom usually makes the calls. Secondly, he is an attorney, it was 9:30 am, and he was calling from work. Billable hours and all, you know?!

My instinct was to answer the phone by saying "what's wrong."
I'm so glad I didn't because something was wrong wtih my dad.
I was really expecting him to tell me something about his mother who is 88 years old. Perhaps she had fallen. Perhaps she was in the hospital. Perhaps she had died. It is amazing how many thoughts can go through your head in a split second.

None of my thoughts turned out to be the issue.
Seems my dad's sister was visiting the week before and noticed a bump on my dad's eyelid. He nor mom had noticed it. It apparently didn't hurt, wasn't red, wasn't itchy or scratchy. It was just there. He made an appointment with an opthalmologist who excised the bump. He said he didn't know what the thing was and sent it for pathological study.

The path report indicated the lump was lymphoma.
The opthalmologist wasn't particularly helpful to my dad.
The doc told him to take a copy of the path report to his primary doctor.
Dad asked if he shouldn't see an oncologist. The doc said "yes, you probably should."
"Well", dad responded, "who would you recommend?"
The doc simply made a copy of all the oncologists in town. So helpful he was!

Thankfully, dad was able to get in with an oncologist in only a few days thanks to a friend knowing a friend of a friend . . . you know how those things work.
The waiting continues.
Bloodwork yesterday.
CT scan Thursday.
Oncologist Wednesday of next week.

We should know a bit more following the interpretation of these tests.
Dad is happy things are moving along.
He is perky and positive, sounds great on the phone.
I need to see them. I am hoping on a plane after church Sunday and going home.
I want to look into mom and dad's eyes, hug their necks, and share love in person.
Mom said she would love to have me there to see and to hug.
That made me feel special.
I'm glad it will work out that I will be with them on the day of the oncologist appointment. God smiled on us with this scheduling.

I'm scared he has lymphoma throughout his body and the prognosis is grim.
It seems that this is probably not the case, but tell my heart that.
I am scared, selfishly, I am going to lose the first man I ever trusted . . .the man who has made up for the horror my biological dad inflicted upon me.
Fear of abandonment I suppose the psychologists would call it.
Yep, I'm afraid that this man who taught me to love and to accept love is going to leave me. I want things to stay the same. I want to know that he and my mom are always there just waiting to welcome me home and bestow me with hugs. That's the way we've always done it!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grace (Eventually) book group discussion

RevGalBlogPals is discussing Anne Lamott's latest work Grace Eventually.

I love Anne Lamott and her writing. She is gifted at imagery. I love her word pictures and can simply see what she writes. This was even more true as I "read" the CD version of this book traveling 14 hours to visit my parents in May. It was a treat to hear her words in her voice. I enjoyed worshiping in the same church as she when I lived in MArin County, CA for a year in seminary. I treasure that experience of church. It is an amazing congregation. I was blessed by worshiping as a part of that community.

Here are my responses to the book discussion. . .

1)1. Did Grace Eventually live up to your expectations? Why or why not?

This book actually exceeded my expectations following my reading of Plan B. Like a previous post, I was a bit worried about her with her anger toward Bush.
Plan B was a bit too focused on Bush and hie politics. I understand her dislike (hatred) of the administration, but didn't really want to read so much about it. I was aware of her political agenda and agree, but it was too emotional and LONG. I was looking for more "thoughts on faith" and less political ranting.
This book is more like "Traveling Mercies, I think. I enjoy her candor about all sorts of things and this one was chock full!

2)How much did you know about Lamott and her spirituality before you started reading the book? Were you familiar with the her platform, and did this influence your decision to choose the work? Did the book live up to your expectations of the author? Did it exceed your expectations? Why or why not?

I knew well her stance on things. I attended the same church as she for a year and got to know her a bit through the church.
I almost didn't read this work because of my extreme disappointment in the last (plan b) but found a great deal on the web and purchased the CD version - by accident. However it was a real treat to hear the stories in her own voice, literally!

3. What did you like or dislike about the book that hasn't been discussed already? Were you glad you read this book? Would you recommend it to a friend? Do you want to read more works by this author?

I really enjoyed, maybe that isn't the right word, I was challenged by the essay on "Grace" and the assisting of her friend's death. As a pastor I imagine the day will come when I have to make some similar decisions or at least be aware of someone in this situation. I would probably do just as Anne but not without angst. I thought it a lovely work and cherish the imagery of that couple's love.
I would recommend this book.
I will probably read each new work as soon as she writes it.

4. What do you think motivated Anne Lamott to share these particular personal stories? How did you respond to her "voice"?

I have a sense Anne writes what is important to her whatever the topic. I enjoy her candor and honesty.

7. In one of her chapters, "Wailing Wall," she writes that "anger is good, a bad attitude is excellent, and the medicinal powers of shouting and complaining cannot be overestimated." Do you agree or disagree and tell why?

I think whatever emotion you are feeling is important. One simply has to monitor the expression of said emotion. Anger is a great motivator for change.
I wouldn't imflict my negative attitude on others, but some days it is a luxury to simply be negative!

Shouting and complaining are grat panaceas. I don't shout so much, but when I do it is a great release. Complaining is a constant in my life. I have a wonderful friend and a therapist who both allow me to vent. It is great at reducing my stress. I also like to get it out so that I don't errupt inappropriately in a commottee meeting or at some little old lady who means well, but I just don't want to do things her way!!

9. She writes at one point "I prayed impatiently for patience, and to stop feeling disgusted by myself, and to believe for a few moments that God, just a bit busy with other suffering in the world, actually cared about one menopausal white woman on a binge." What are your thoughts about that?

Waiting impatiently for patience sounds somewhat like the human condition! Who of us hasn't been there?
It is common, even for a pastor to wonder at times if God has the time to really care about my little problems. Thanks be to God that the little problems of mine are precisely God's interest.

10. "I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things," she writes in one of her essays, "that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in silence, in the dark."Do feel the same way about Grace and healing or do you feel differently? If so why?

I think grace and healing are at times pretty magical. I hae been blessed to be aware of some amazing instances of healing or "magical" manifestations of grace through answered prayer.

Other times it is scooch and slog waiting and struggling. The other more immediate and magical experiences get me through the scooch and slog ususally . . .until the slog is too sluggish and I just can't take it any more. Who of us hasn't been there?!

Anne is honest if nothing else. I am always a better more insightful person for her writing if even for just a moment. I'm glad she takes the time and honors us with her bared soul.

Thanks Anne for being you and telling us all about it!!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Feeling up and peppy!

I am feeling really good this morning.
I have worked to get my sermon materials together and to the secretary. This is ahead of the game for me as it is Monday morning. Sometimes this doesn't happen until much later in the week.

Also, I worked hard this weekend on my newly started book. I am working on my I am memoir. It sounds so haughty to me to say I am working on my memoir, but I am. I need to research the difference in an autobiography and a memoir . . . Perhaps I'm actually writing an autobiography and don't know it! I'm up to 35 pages handwritten. I'm so proud that I am stickiing to the project. I've tried this before and not really done much with it. This time is going to be different. Actually, it is already different! The project is getting more involved and requiring more research. Isn't that a hoot that I need to research my own life?! I have kept journals for over 20 years and am using these to fill in the progression of things and details that have long since left my memory.

I'm looking into "official" terminology for some things I've been through as well. I suppose I can educate people through my experience as well as expertise! It is a challenge to put all this on paper, but it feels freeing at the same time. It is nice to have the last 20+ years chronicled all in an organized and succinct manner.
I LOVE organization!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New Ventures

The past couple of weeks have been odd.
I've been extremely introspective and creative.
Generally these characteristics don't manifest in my personality at the same time. I don't know why they don't or have theories as to why they are at this time. The result of all this culminating in my life at this time is that I have started writing prolifically.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to write a book.
The question I had to answer first off was what would the book be about.
I had some ideas, but the two competing ideas as of late have been a book about my coming of age which included abuse, healing, continuing struggles from time to time, and maybe a bit about ministry. The other topic is solely about ministry particularly in a small Southern town. Both OK options. I had thoughts that I would one day perhaps give some serious thought to one or the other and then many years from now at some undetermined time I would get started.

Stranger than all get-out is that I have begin both!!! One Sunday afternoon I simply began writing. I wrote and wrote. The words were flowing, baby! The even stranger thing is that I have continued writing. I am having trouble not writing particularly when I am home. I first began the book about my coming of age. I don't have a title yet, so it is a bit awkward to describe, but the writing is so invigorating and exciting. It is coming together and I like what I see happening. The process is emotionally draining at the same time. I am thinking and reflecting on some difficult times in my life and it is taking its toll in some ways.

I fell almost called to write this book for the mere fact that it might lend a bit of hope for someone else who is struggling with abuse in their life. All is not perfect in my life, but I have made great strides in healing from some pretty severe trauma and people need to know it can be done. Repeatedly I have been told through the years that I should not have survived what I have experienced. I'm not sure whether that means I should be dead or mentally incapacitated. Truth is I've always been hesitant to know the answer so I never asked the question. While being told I am remarkable in that I survived was encouraging it also seemed to indicate that I should be happy with my status of healing at that time. I shouldn't expect too much in other words.

It never occurred to me that healing wasn't an option. I'm doing OK. I have fewer problems coping than many people I encounter on almost a daily basis. I would love to reach a place in life emotionally that abuse and its scars are totally eradicated from my life; but that is irrational. Everything we experience has its effects upon our lives. I am who I am as a result of my experiences: good and bad. So, I want to get information out there that healing and life is possible following trauma and abuse, even severe abuse. I sought such resources and they aren't available. This is my hope - to provide for others what I desired and couldn't find. I'm excited that I am actually taking steps to accomplish a long time dream/desire. My prayer is to balance my writing and the challenge it is emotionally in this case with life today and my ministry. I don't want writing and the past to color the present too darkly.

More later . . .

I'm a fortune cookie!

You Are a Fortune Cookie
You're a rather normal person, except that you have extraordinary luck in life.People want to be around you (even when they're a little sick of you), in hopes of being lucky too!