Friday, July 31, 2009
Tomorrow I pack my suitcase and Monday morning Ken and I head to Orlando, Florida for the Assemblies of God General Council. This is a national (and to some extent, an international) gathering of ministers, missionaries, and leadership. It happens every other year and is usually uplifting and encouraging. Not so much last time.
On the good end, two years ago we elected the first African American to serve as a national executive. We also elected Dr. George Wood, a man I greatly admire, to be our General Supt. Dr. Wood is "older" and some people thought that would mean he would be out of touch with the needs of our church. They could not have been more wrong. Without going into detail, I'll just say that he has a deep understanding of what must change if we are continue to grow, he is a strong advocate for women in ministry (see the link to his article in the sidebar), and he has taken steps to reach out to the younger pastors in the AG. He is my Facebook friend. Okay, I should say I am his...and he is going to Twitter from council.
Still, it was a discouraging council in several ways. The most frustrating moment came during a business session. A resolution had been submitted that would have caused slight change in the make up of our executive presbytery--I mean slight--but would have ensured we begin to practice what we preach when we say we are a fellowship that wants greater racial diversity, that knows our clergy are aging, and that prides ourselves (sometimes) on having women clergy. Had it passed, we would have had a woman, a young pastor, and a person of color sitting "at the table" with the many older, white males. (I love you guys! That is not the point.)
The discussion for and against got heated, made me furious, discouraged many people. I didn't plan on speaking, and I waited for some woman more known to come to a mic--but when none did--and after Ken poked me for the third time...well, up I went and made an impassioned "speech" in favor of the resolution. I took my seat to applause, which had to be stopped since we were in a business session. Gratifying, nonetheless! While the measure gained a sizable majority, it missed the required two-thirds vote by a small number. I was ready to go home right then.
I may not be able to post during the week, but we'll see. (I do not have a laptop.) I am certain that a similar resolution will be forthcoming this time as well. Several thousand people will be heading to Florida in the next few days (I heard an estimate of 35,000). Please pray with me that all arrive safely, that we hear what the Spirt would say to the church, and that God's will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
1) On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being I can’t do this now I am about to jump into a pit of plastic balls at the mini-mall and 1 being I can’t do this now until I can get all of the fonts on my blog to match – where are you?
Maybe a three. Like K's friend, I could stand up and serenade you, and I can roll down a hill if the moment seems to call for it, but I am also way too aware of looking silly sometimes!
2) What is the silliest/most childlike thing you have done as an adult?
Hmmm...I am having a hard time thinking of silly childlike things right at this moment. (I'm on a lunch break.) Maybe rolling down a hill, as I mentioned in #1. One time I recall was with my friend Much2Ponder who blogs at "In Case You Were Wondering." She is more streamlined, so she went further than I did, but I guess length of roll was not the point, just the willingness to do it! Another time I watched some kids sliding down a grassy hill on pieces of cardboard, like sledding in snow. It looked like so much fun I had to try it. I flew down that hill and scared myself spitless, and I only did it once, but it was fun. (It was made a bit more precarious by the fact that I was wearing colonial garb instead of a tee shirt and shorts, but that is another issue.) If I had better balance, eyesight, etc. there would be a LOT more childlike things I'd do. The spirit, indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
3) Any regrets?
Huh? From doing childlike things? Nope. Or the regret was so transitory that I forgot it.
4) What is the silliest thing you have ever seen another adult do on purpose?
Someone who shall remain unnamed danced around the room with a toilet seat on their head. They were sober.
5) What is something you wish you did when you had the chance?
Sing on stage with a terrific band. I was with work colleagues and was too embarrassed, but today I'd do it in a second! Life is short!
BONUS: For our ‘I told you so’ sides – what thing did you skip doing and you’re really glad you did!
I'd rather not get too specific, but it involved flamage.
Monday, July 27, 2009
She and Madeline, along with their dog, Charlie, had left Mrs. Herdon's home at 4:00 a.m. just as the birds began their pre-dawn singing. They had hoped to arrive in Little Big Foot by lunch, but an accident involving two cars and two deer on State Highway 51 had left the road impassable for some time while police cars and then tow trucks arrived. Madeline had cried about the deer.
Just as they'd gotten moving again, a peal of thunder rumbled across the sky and large raindrops had spattered the windshield. The ensuing storm had left them sitting on the side of the road for over half an hour, just one in a string of vehicles, while sheets of rain sluiced down the windshield and pellets of hail bounced off the hood of the U-Haul moving truck. The cab had grown steamy as the humidity had risen, but when Madeline had rolled down the window she'd gotten pelted by small ice balls and had quickly rolled it up again. Charlie had panted and pressed his nose against the side window, and Madeline had groaned that he was filling the truck cab with "dragon breath."
No sooner had they pulled back out onto the highway than Madeline had asked for something to drink. Dee Anna had sighed, but had realized she was thirsty too. It was a relief to see a rest stop sign and Dee Anna had pulled off the highway once again. Madeline had snapped Charlie's leash on his collar and they had happily headed for the dog walking area as her mother deposited two dollars in the vending machine for a Dr. Pepper. "Two dollars!" she'd thought, "why on earth did I not pack an ice chest?"
Now Madeline was at a nearby vending machine trying to decide whether to purchase a bag of M&Ms or a Payday candy bar and Charlie was howling from the parking lot where he stood tied to the passenger-side door handle.
Madeline decided on M&Ms and skipped outside with her purchase. "No chocolate for Charlie" Dee Anna had warned as she'd stretched. She stood near a large State of Wisconsin map near the women's restroom. She noted the bright yellow arrow with the words "YOU ARE HERE." She guessed they'd make it to North Woods Chapel in about an hour unless something unexpected happened. "Expect the unexpected" she thought ruefully as she looked at the dot that represented the town of Little Big Foot.
She saw that there were two lakes nearby. Why hadn't she noticed that before? She wondered absently if that was why the town had so many businesses that appeared to be geared to tourists.
Squinting, she read the tiny letters that identified one of the blue circles as "Big Foot Lake." Why, she realized, it does look a lot like a big foot. Dee Anna looked closer and saw that the small lake also had a vague resemblance to a human foot. She could even see what looked like a big toe. What a coincidence, she thought, two lakes and both looking like a foot. The smaller lake was just on the edge of town and she saw that it was called Little Big Foot Lake.
"Aha! So that's the reason for the odd name of the town. I guess they just named the town after the lake. How odd. I wonder why they didn't just call one lake Big Foot and the other one Little Foot?"
Her thoughts were interrupted by Madeline's voice from the doorway. "Mommy," she wailed, "Charlie just pooped right on the parking lot!"
Groaning, Dee Anna headed for the restroom for some paper towels. "It's okay, kiddo" she said to Madeline. "He's just a little mixed up from being in the truck all day." She dodged a giggling toddler who was running from her distracted mother. "Let's clean up the doggy doo doo and get outta here!" "Doggy doo doo?" asked Madeline with a giggle, "Mommy!"
A few minutes later, with Madeline and Charlie settled on the seat, she pulled out her cell phone and called the church to let folks know they were running a little late. Climbing into the cab after a quick conversation with Lee Coats, she smiled and said, "All righty. Little Big Foot or bust!"
A few miles later she saw that both Madeline and Charlie were asleep, Charlie's head in Madeline's lap and Madeline's head against the window. Well, an hour's nap would do Madeline good, she decided. Her thoughts returned to the map and the two lakes near the town that was going to be her new home. "How odd," she mused once more. I wonder what else is odd about that place?"
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Ken was out of town, so it was Kevin and I who visited the church. Very different in some ways than any church I've been a part of before. Very similar in other ways.
Betsy, the church I visited, after sending in a pastoral resume and application, is right around the corner from the little Episcopal church that I talked to you about in an email. I still haven't been there, and I still know I will...eventually. How strange, however, it seemed that I passed their lovely little building as I was looking for the other church. The town is one that I've said more than once I'd like to live in, and our favorite restaurant is there. Important stuff! LOL
First, the building is a former grocery store, and that is apparent. So no lawn, no flowers, no steeple....and so on. Just a "box" in a parking lot, but nicely painted in green, which went with the church logo (three leaves) and theme of "growing." K. and I sensed a good atmosphere as soon as we got out of the car. People were calling greetings to each other, smiling, walking briskly. We were greeted by seven people between the parking lot and the auditorium, all genuinely friendly and welcoming. There was instant awareness of (the phrase we both used in the car on the way home) "positive energy."
The building was originally designed to be a center for their large youth ministry, and that is still quite evident in the colors and appearance when you walk in, but I think this is a good thing. The entry leads into an inviting "cafe" where many people were having a (free) donut and coffee before church. Again, lots of smiles, conversation, etc. K. and I had a cup of coffee and looked around. Great kids church area...very high tech...but in a good way, it seemed to me. Off to one side near the cafe there is a small basketball court! And video games, ping pong and pool tables, an old pinball machine. Wow!
The "auditorium" (not sanctuary or worship center?) was a little over half full. Someone moved a chair so K.'s wheel chair would not be in the aisle, something he hates, so they made points with K. right off. There was pre service music playing, but very non-traditional, very upbeat praise music. The worship team was YOUNG....really young, but really good. Their worship and media leader is leaving as well as the pastor, so I wonder who will step in? They have a new youth pastor. He and his wife will likely do very well there. I've know them a long time, both attended the AG church we did before we went to Jubilee.
I noted that everything they did seemed to be done well. The words lined up properly on the big screens (oh, of course they had screens!), the bulletin was well-done and colorful and coordinated with the pastor's sermon series logo, no English errors (yay). Everything was contemporary, crisp, clean....and this was good except I found myself wondering if there was any way under Heaven that one could have a candlelight service, an Advent wreath, anything remotely traditional. What I call the "latent Lutheran" part of me would be a bit sad, sometimes, in this auditorium.
There was nothing to indicate that this was a worship space. No symbols, not even a cross, anywhere. But when the worship service began it was "church." Good. Something I liked a great deal was that the worship music included both contemporary praise songs and hymns. Nicely done, and I was aware of God's presence in the place. Very comfortable.
The sanctuary was youthful. At first that was okay, but after a while I found the black and reddish orange walls, the bright yellow and turquoise light panels behind the platform, and the Chinese lanterns to be distracting. The youth group, which is large, does meet in the same space during the week, but I found myself thinking of ways to make the space a bit less garish and still inviting to all. How about shades of green, which would emphasize the theme of "growth" that is part of their mission statement? And I was envisioning a way in incorporate the "leaves" logo into the worship space. Ah, the interior decorator in me is alive and well.
There were many young people, young families, but also some middle-agers and some elderly folks. More than one wheelchair. All in all, it was a very positive experience, though different. Could I be happy there? I think so. I'm okay with many kinds of church experience. Kevin loved the place and wants to go back. :-) He loved the music and the sermon too, though of course their long-time pastor is about to leave.
At one point, however, he looked at me with his hand placed palm-down in front of his face and moved his hand downward saying, "your hope sinks." Later he told me that there were two times he wanted to say something loudly...thankfully he resisted the temptation! (And I knew exactly when those times were, because I felt the same.) Depending on what happens, or doesn't, I may share about that later.
They have received nearly 50 applications. I'm not sure how that all works, since they are a non-denominational congregation.
I think they have a bright future and it is going to be very important who leads them at this point. Praying about that, and for God's will in all of it...
Friday, July 17, 2009
Here is a brief update. I have not exactly received an enthusiastic response to the brochure I made--though I will continue to contact pastors and others. Not sure whether this is a closed door or just a creaky and slow one.
I did have an interview last week for a job that I could do but increasingly feel I should not do. Mainly I'm hoping they just won't call me back, because part of me does not feel at all good about turning down employment of any kind when the mortgage is needing to be paid.
Ken's brother Kevin is here and settling in fairly well. Ken is out of town for a few days but this Sunday Kevin and I will be visiting a church. This is a stable, charismatic, non-denominational congregation in a town fairly nearby (about 40 minutes away) so it would be possible for me to be a pastor there and Ken still to stay where he is as a chaplain. I did not think I would be pastoring a church, but their long-time pastor took a new ministry position and resigned rather quickly....so...
I'm not sure how to feel about this. I suspect that a resume from a female was likely a surprise. As for not being an Assemblies of God church, if they did extend a call to me I would need permission from the district office--no reason to think that would not happen however. I am NOT counting my chickens before they hatch, so to speak, but I decided that "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Ha--no more cliches. Sorry. ;-)
Kevin and I will be visitors on Sunday just to get a flavor of the place. I have been there, but it was many years ago.
If I have an interview I'll let you know.
1. Childhood games?
Growing up in California meant lots of time outdoors. We played the usual stuff, Red Light-Green Light, Mother May I, tag, hide and seek, and so on. My favorite was one we called Statue Maker. Someone turned and swung others in a circle till dizziness ensued, than let go. The idea was to freeze in whatever pose one landed, and then we would guess what the resulting strange pose looked most like--or something like that!
2. Favorite and/or most hated board games?
We didn't play games much at my house, but occasionally we'd break out the Parcheesi board, or (of course) Monopoly. I still remember every American child's first board game, Candyland!
3. Card games?
Card games? Horrors! Cards were evil, don'cha know! I never played with a regular card deck till I was in college. We did play with other types of card decks. See the next question.
4. Travel/car games?
Travelling from California to Texas in the days of no car air conditioning was not pleasant. My sisters and I would pass the time and try to ignore the desert heat by hours of Old Maid (I did not like that one), Hearts, and my favorite--a game I wish I'd had for my kids, Authors. Authors was about famous writers and their works, and the cards featured very nice portraits of the authors. I can still see Louisa Mae Alcott, Mark Twain, James Fennimore Cooper, and I still can list most of what they wrote. Great game! At least the little bookworm me certainly thought so!
5. Adult pastimes that are not video games?
Unlike my family, my husband's family did play games, so when we had children we did as well. Our favorite is an ancient game from China, Mah Jong (nothing at all like the Internet version) and we play with an antique set. Part of the enjoyment of the game is the look and feel of the intricately carved ivory and teak wood tiles.
Bonus: Any ideas for family vacations or gatherings?
So many, but alas, I must get off the computer.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of those faithful to him. Proverbs 116:15
My mother's sister, my Aunt Pauline, has gone to be with God.
The picture above is my sister, Paulette, our Aunt Pauline, and me. It was taken in January when Paulette and I were in Texas and on our way to our mother's funeral. Dear Pauline was sad she could not make the trip, but she was glad we had managed to spend a little time with her. Like my mother, Pauline was one of those wonderful "steel magnolias" that the south is known for, women who are gracious, charming, always ladylike--and strong. I've written on this blog about my mother's Texas family and how influential they were in our lives. They seemed like a Norman Rockwell illustration to us, and now the last one is gone.
My grandfather once travelled on a wagon train. He had a scar on his wrist that he told us grand kids was the reminder of a wound from an Indian arrow. (I was disappointed to later learn that it had actually been caused by a childhood fall into an empty cistern.) During the depression my mother and her siblings picked cotton in the fields during the summer, along with "Papa" and Mexican laborers. Papa, was an astute farmer, however. Over the years he increased his land holdings and eventually became a man of some means. He and my grandmother were the parents of eight children, two boys and six girls. Both boys went off to war in Europe and both came home safe again to "the family."
How we loved our Texas relatives! We were the California contingent, my dad having relocated to work at Lockheed Aircraft during World War II. The family was close-knit, supportive, loving, God-fearing folks. If one was in the hospital or in some sort of trouble, the others were there. The women raised smart children (seriously!), kept clean homes and cooked wonderful meals. Except for my mother, they lived in Texas all their lives. Five of them remained in the same small town.
Pauline loved to paint. One of her paintings hangs in my living room and another hangs in the hallway. Pauline taught Sunday School at First Baptist for decades. She was the best cook I ever knew. My mother was a wonderful cook too, as all the sisters were, but Pauline was a genius in the kitchen. Her dishes were homespun, but they were all fabulous. At about age eight, I ate so much of her tomato soup I almost made myself sick. My mother's recipe box, now mine, contains dozens of recipes that are designated, "Pauline's."
Pauline had married my dad's cousin, "Pee Wee." Pauline and Pee Wee lived on a farm, and after they grew more affluent they turned the little house into a lovely brick ranch-style home. Later, she nursed Uncle Pee Wee through blindness and then a brain tumor, sitting at his bedside for hours as he lost his sweet personality, then his senses, and then slowly died. It was agonizing for Aunt Pauline, as was the tragic and untimely death of her only son. Through it all, she kept her head high. She also kept her faith in God, her love of her family, her pride in her grandchildren, and later great-grandchildren, as well as her zest for life. Her clothes were always lovely and fashionable, her hair "coiffed" weekly at the beauty shop, and her makeup tastefully applied.
Years ago, when my mother got "strange" my Aunt Pauline was the one sibling who really believed my father's heartbreaking and shocking stories of what life with Leta had become, but she never stopped believing the best for her sister. My dad loved her for that, and he stayed friends with Pauline and Pee Wee till he died, even after my parent's strange and sad divorce.
My mother disappeared for several years, a sad and bizarre story. When my late sister, Darlaine, located her in a California "board and care" home, a frail shadow who at aged 55 looked about 95, it was her brother, C.G. who convinced her to come home to Texas. It was exactly the right thing for her to do, and she regained much of who she was, teaching the Bible, leading a prayer group, and working in a little clothing store until (at age 85) she finally retired. Her family had welcomed her home, and my mother was there as one by one her siblings grew older and passed away and only she and Pauline remained. My mother lived in Texas for about 30 years until she finally grew frail and forgetful and came to live with us. Not long afterwards, Pauline relocated to an assisted living facility in Ft. Worth near her daughter, Shirley.
The sisters' last good bye broke our hears as the two elderly women, both still lovely, embraced for what would be the last time. They wept, knowing this. I got teary-eyed too. They had grown very close in their older years, sharing prayer, dinners, shopping and trips to the doctor.
For some time Pauline has lived on "borrowed time." She pulled through things that would have finished off a weaker person, and for several years she lived, unaccountably, with only about one-third of her heart intact. She lost her eyesight too, and she was no longer able to cook or to paint. She told me it was hard to leave her hometown behind and move to Ft. Worth. but she stayed positive, calling my mother at least once a week to check on her and hear the latest from faraway Wisconsin. She knew Leta was "mentally failing" but it still hurt Pauline when she heard of my mother's stroke and subsequent move to the nursing home. No more phone calls.
Recently Pauline had grown more vague in her thinking, but for someone in her nineties she remained remarkably lucid and interested in family, politics, the news, etc. She was sad to be unable to attend my mother's funeral, and Paulette and I cried as we looked at the beautiful spray by my mother's casket that simply said, "Sister." Pauline had won the rather macabre contest as to who would survive to be the last of Papa and Mama's brood.
We have one aunt in-law remaining, but the last of my mother's remarkable family of origin is gone. To the end she remained faithful to God, concerned about her hair and makeup, fashionable, and connected to those she loved. I like to imagine that she is having a wonderful family reunion now.
But to me it feels like the end of an era. How can it possibly be that all of them are gone?
Friday, July 03, 2009
Heart. This is the first thing that came to mind when I was asked to say something about Ken (Bearded Eagle). He is the "mountain" in mountain man, not just in stature but in heart. Royal Rangers is just a part of Kens ministry. Doing God's work is his life, joy and substance. Ken can yell at you and you thought he paid you a complement, and the job was done better for it. I have run into men here in Milwaukee...one asked if I knew Ken George. I said, "You bet I do." The man said, "Commander Ken led me to Christ, and that changed my life. Tell Ken I said thanks." I don't know his name but he works at Sam's on HWY 100 and National, so if you are there and wearing a Ranger shirt he will probably say it to you too.
Most of you know Ken works...as a chaplain counseling both the young and the old men in prison...These men will do anything for Ken, and do it with joy. When you are in Ken's camp you can't help but notice the wooden table, chairs and kitchen sitting in front of his lodge. Most of these were made by...[inmates]. He has made a strong impact for Christ Jesus on their lives also.
Generosity is the next word that comes to mind. When you enter Bearded Eagle's camp there is always a place to rest your bones, sit and talk a spell. His camp has every thing he needs and everything others need. Just bring it back when you are done. Bearded Eagle doesn't bring all these extra things for his use; he brings them for anyone else who needs them. A lot of [the gear that the district FCF] has was given to us by Bearded Eagle. For the past 6 years so much more has been implemented to make our chapter what it is today. Bearded Eagle has the spirit that, "If it can be better, let's do it better and make it better." That is what he has always tried to do and will still do as long as he is able...
Persevere. Some of us will grow old, some gracefully some not. Some of us will never get the chance to grow old. But if you do, look at Ken. In spite of what his body is going through, he still tries to make every event. Ken wore a foot cast most of last year, and he kept up with everyone else--or he was ahead of every one else. (Right now his leg is in bad shape and he needs healing from Jesus so keep him in your daily prayers so he can continue to join us in all of our activities.)
Respectfully Submitted -