Friday, August 28, 2009
Friday Five: I Like Myself
1. I am tenacious. (Yes, I'm also stubborn!) If I think something is right, just, needs to be...I'll hang in there as long as I can to try to get it done. I don't give up easily.
2. I am flexible. Not physically...nope,nope,nope. In life. I can adapt to situations, people, places. And usually I can not only adapt, but I can find something to like and enjoy. That trait has been well-exercised in my life, which has been full of unexpected twists and turns. Someone recently said I was like a "Weeble." Those are toys. "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down!"
3. I can laugh at myself. Essential!
4. I can laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep.
5. I have a friendly smile. (Okay, I was running out of stuff.)
How about you?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The Pajama Farmer
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Little Big Foot: Paint
Pastor Dee Anna grinned as she turned on the ladder where she stood painting the wall next to the ceiling. Like Marla, she wore jeans but her shirt was red and said "Eastside UMC" on the back. "That's a lovely shade of blush you have on your face, Marla, but maybe a bit too permanent to be practical."
As Marla raised her hand to her cheek, Dennis' genial brown face popped around the door frame. "How's it goin' in here ladies? It's been a challenge covering up that bright green color, but Chad and I are about done."
"I woulda been done an hour ago if I hadn't had to keep running to the store." Chad's voice called from the hallway.
Dee Anna climbed down from the ladder as Marla stood to her feet, stretching. "I could use some nourishment, but it would be nice to get Madeline's room all painted before we stop." She bent to pick up a roller. Madeline was spending the night with a new friend from school and Dee Anna hoped that when her daughter arrived home the next afternoon she would find her bedroom looking bright and welcoming with no hint of the dark purple that had made the small room look like a cave.
Pastor Dee Anna Hansen was surprised at how well things were going. When they had arrived there had been plenty of guys to help unload the truck. Madeline had kept Charlie occupied as best she could while the grown ups unloaded their belongings. Dee Anna had been surprised and gratified to see that a sizable portion of her new congregation were there to help out. In the church kitchen, Jim Johnson told her, several women were putting together a soup supper for everyone.
As Dee Anna directed the parade of furniture and boxes from a spot just inside the parsonage door, Marla Whitewater and Lorene Johnson had eyed the boxes till they found the ones marked kitchen. The two of them had the dishes, utensils and pots and pans stowed away in short order. "I don't know if we put things in the spots were you will want things," Lorene had said to Dee Anna, "but it'll be easier rearranging than it would be unpacking a bunch of boxes in the kitchen."
Lee Coats and a middle-aged man named Ted had put the bed frames together. As soon as the mattresses were unloaded from the U Haul, Lee's wife, Mary, and one of the teenagers who Dee Anna learned was named Tiffany, searched for the box containing bedding. By the time all the furniture was in, the two of them had made up both her bed and Madelines with sheets, blankets and bed spreads.
Chad had led a group of young men in dispersing boxes to the various rooms. The whole job of moving all their things from the moving truck to the house had taken about an hour, and in another hour the furniture and boxes were stacked in the right places. Madeline had giggled when she came in to find that somone had even put her giant Winnie-the-Pooh in the middle of her bed. "But, Mommy," she'd said later that night, "the colors in this house are all so...so bright."
Now, a few weeks later, Dee Anna stood in the middle of her daughter's room for a moment, gazing around. It was looking pink--a shade that reminded her of sherbet. She smiled at Dennis and Chad, who had also appeared in the doorway. "I could go for some fish fry. Isn't that what you all eat up here on Friday nights?"
Marla looked at her and laughed, "Now that'd be a sight! The four of us trooping in to the Little Big Foot Diner dressed in jeans and paint splatters!"
"How about I go over to the Lumberjack Drive-In and get a sack of their hamburgers?" asked Chad. "They have the best burgers anywhere around." He glanced at Dee Anna with a small smile, "And besides, they actually sell Dr. Pepper."
A short while later the four of them sat around Dee Anna's round kitchen table, companionably sharing french fries and munching what had turned to be excellent hamburgers. Charlie snored softly from his dog bed in a corner. Most of the house was looking orderly, and Dee Anna confided to the others that she and Madeline were starting to feel at home. The four of them had spent most of the day painting and they were all tired, but it was the good sort of tired that comes after shared physical labor. The chartreuse hallway was now a warm beige, and Dee Anna was happy that Madeline's room would soon be looking feminine and cheerful.
The windows had been left open so the air could dispel paint fumes, but the night air was growing chilly. As Dee Anna rose to close the window above the kitchen sink, Dennis commented, "So, who's painting the wooden pumpkins on that bean bag game for the fall fest? And where are we going to find bright orange paint?"
"We could always send Chad back to the Ben Franklin" Marla said with a chuckle.
"Oh," said Pastor Dee Anna, thinking of the large stash of half empty paint cans she'd discovered in the basement a few days before, "I think I have just the perfect thing. Have any of you seen the orange closet in my bedroom?"
The others stopped talking to stare at her.
"There is at lease a half-gallon of that paint in the basement. It will be perfect for pumpkins."
Friday, August 21, 2009
I'm Employed...and We Heard from the VA
Some of you know that I started a teeny tiny job answering the phone and doing some filing for a couple of hours on Monday morning for a small financial services firm. This has turned into a temporary, full-time position.
How long "temporary" turns out to be depends on several factors that are unknown as of this moment. It will be a few months, anyway. I am still answering phones and filing and doing some data entry, but I am also doing something creative.
The woman who owns the firm, MW, values education for her clients and others too. Several opportunities for this have opened up, and hopefully there will be more to come. I'm developing written materials (worksheets or handouts), advertising stuff, and power points to go along with the various topics in the presentations.
It is good to be doing something creative. It is also good to be working for a woman of great integrity and ethics. Also good to have a friend working in the office too (the one who recommended me for the job in the first place).
No, it's not "ministry" in the usual way we use the word. I'm still working on getting that going. But it is good to be employed!
Several times the boss lady has said something like, "I believe God is going to use the things you are learning here and doing for me for some additional purpose. Meanwhile, you are helping me." I hope and pray that she is correct about that!
And remember when we went to the Veteran's Administration for Ken to get an evaluation? Well, we heard from the VA service rep today. He told Ken that he is rated 100% disabled. This does not mean that he cannot continue his employment, this is just for Uncle Sam's purposes. How much money we will receive is unknown at this point. Ken should find out next Friday.
We hope this means we will soon be current on the mortgage!
Not exciting to be face-to-face with the fact that he is not doing all that well physically, but exciting to think the financial pressure may be easing soon.
Thanks to those who have prayed for us.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
God Loves People
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Comments About Rick Warren
I did not say Rick Warren has never worn a Hawaiian shirt. The thing was that he says he does not routinely wear Hawaiian shirts, and that he does not presently own one. He laughed when he said that newspaper articles keep calling him the "Hawaiian shirted pastor," his point being that articles just quoted each other instead of finding out for themselves. People could say (if there was any purpose) that I am the "long-red-dress-wearing woman pastor" and have a picture to prove it.
As for being what he needs to be depending on who is around him, I seem to remember St. Paul saying something about that very thing?
A weak stand on the gospel? What does that mean? I'm about to get snarky so we will agree to disagree.
I find the current Rick Warren bashing among certain segments of the evangelical word to be ludicrous and to bring reproach on the church, not the other way around. Certain websites even seem to believe he is a sort of anti-Christ. You don't have to be his biggest fan to realize how foolish that is.
Ruth, I say a loud AMEN (what a surprise--not) and CO, I assumed some things too. I found I was wrong. I was impressed with his gracious manner, the civic forums his church holds, the way he reaches out to others...Yep, I think some who villify him are people who have a pretty narrow view of what a Christian looks like. But maybe I am stereotyping again! :-)
As for the fluff factor...well, I am not commenting on "The Purpose Driven Life." That wasn't the point of the post. Was there anything to criticize there? I think so. There was also much to praise. And the fact that so many people did not know the very basic things discussed is in that book is, in my opinion, more an indictment on the pitiful state of knowledge of the average American church goer than of Rick Warren.
Tomorrow I am on to a totally different subject.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I Forgot Rick Warren
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, California, and the author of "The Purpose Driven Life" spoke to us one morning at General Council. I was not enthusiastic about this. The reason why is not really important.
I need to say that I was wrong. It was a terriffic hour or so and I was encouraged and challenged. This man is different than I expected. He says that about 90% of what is reported in the media about him should be taken with a large grain of salt. I believe that. That's because I've been interviewed numerous times for newspaper articles of one sort or another, both as a minister and in other employment arenas. Ken too. I have yet to find that the reported acurately repeated what I (we) said or did. And I'm not a clebrity anywhere exceot in my own home.
Much of what I assumed about Rick Warren is apparently false. He was down-to-earth and not one bit pompous. Contrary to often repeated media reports, he does not wear Hawaiian shirts. He says he does not own one. He was dressed casually, however, which was fine. He lives on 10% of his income and gives away 90%. He did not move into a larger home when the money from Purpose Driven Life started pouring in. He doesn't wear a Rolex. He says a minister should be know for his or her purpose, not prosperity. (Yes!) His car is ten years old. He is passionate about addressing the AIDS crisis in Africa and elsewhere.
I was prepared to dislike him. Instead he won me over. Do I agree with everything I suspect he believes (or doesn't? I'm sure not. But I had to ask God's forgivness for my attitude. You know, we folks in the "church" really do need to learn to cut one another some slack.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Odds and Ends from General Council '09
Lots of Young People
The "Fine Arts Festival" was happening at the same time as General Council. This means that AG teens from around the nation are in the finals of a competition that starts in the local church, goes to the district, the region, and ends up with the finalists at General Council. There was so much energy and fun all around us in the convention center as the kids practiced anywhere they could find an empty spot or corner--a living video here, a solo there, a violin or guitar playing somewhere else. And lots of matching tee shirts with youth group or church names on the back. I also was aware of the diversity I saw among the youth. There were many Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, etc. We are clearly no longer a fellowship of mostly white, rural people. The Hispanic churches account for the largest share of the continued growth of the Assemblies of God.
Something that happened this year that we thoroughly enjoyed was that we had a combined service one evening with the youth. WOW! It was wonderful. Thousands of people singing, worshiping, rejoicing together. Everyone loved this inter-generational service, including the kids. And we got to hear Shane and Shane.
AG culture, that is. Every morning before the business sessions started a pastor had about ten minutes for prayer and a devotion. Not new. What was new was that the pastors who were asked to do this were all WOMEN ministers. Is this a small thing? Perhaps. But it speaks volumes. I could be mistaken, but I think this was a first. And it did not only happen once. If the change doesn't happen with leadership it is not likely to happen. Was it accidental that women were featured in this way? Not likely. Young ministers and minorities were more in evidence as well. The speaker for the evening service that was combined with the youth was a young, black pastor, Herbert Cooper. He was a wonderful (and funny) preacher. Well, I admit it did not hurt that he looked a lot like a hefty version of Denzel Washington.
It seems the Assemblies of God is coming into the 21st Century. The changes have been noticeable in many places (George Wood is on Facebook for example), and these changes were evident at council as well. I was impressed with the overall organization and look of things.
No Longer a Fashion Show
I know this was partly due to Florida heat and humidity, but the clothing was casual. This is a good thing. I mean, I recall times when it seemed that the main attraction of a GC for some people was that they could display their best outfits and jewelry--to such a degree that one almost felt out of place if not decked out. This more casual attitude was evident in many areas, not just clothes. And while the heat played a part, I'm sure, such was not the case when council was in CA or TX. So something else is happening. I hope it means a new willingness to take ourselves less seriously and walk a bit more humbly.
The USA Missions Banquet
Ken and I attend because the chaplains dept. is part of USA Missions. Among other stories, we heard a moving and amazing testimony from a former prostitute, drug addict, abuse victim, single mom with nowhere to go (except to church, evidently) and what happened to her when two inner-city pastors (a husband/wife ministry team) reached out to her with genuine love and compassion. Five years later she is drug-free, employed, and ministering to others. It was such a wonderful story, and the nervousness of the speaker detracted not at all. We gave her a standing ovation (and she cried). What a reminder it was of the reason we do what we do!
George Wood's Sermon About Leah
I have never preached, and never heard, a sermon with Leah (first wife of Jacob) as the central character. Dr. Wood preached a sermon about the legacy of our lives that was truly unforgettable. Was it an accident that the sermon was about a relatively unremarkable (not really) woman? I do not think so. Our new General Superintendent's regard and kindness to women is notable. And along with the women ministers who shared devotions, I think the sermon was very much "on purpose."
When Dr. Wood was elected two years ago it was for only a two-year term since he was serving the duration of the unexpired term of Thomas Trask who resigned mid-term. So this year we had an election again, and Wood was elected to serve a four-year term. Two years ago I heard snippets of conversations about how he was "too old" to take our church in a fresh direction. One young pastor commented in my hearing that Wood would be a good person to serve for two years and help us transition, and that he expected a younger person would be elected in 2009. Well, George Wood was elected by an overwhelming majority on the first nominating ballot. He has won the hearts and minds of just about everyone. YAY!
Our First Woman, and Our First Young Guy
In response to a resolution that passed last time, we elected two additional members of the Executive Presbytery. For the first time we have a woman minister, and a minister under age 40 serving in this the leadership body (a small group). The woman was Beth Grant, who some of you know. I voted for Dr. Debbie Gill, but Beth is great too.
A Disheartening Note
Inexplicably, last council we voted to elect a woman and a young person to serve on the executive team, but an almost identical resolution to add a percentage of women and young ministers to the General Presbytery (a larger body) was defeated because it narrowly missed the 2/3 majority required. Naturally, a similar resolution was offered this year. All of us thought it would pass this time. Especially since when Beth Grant shared a heartfelt thank-you to the assembled voters for electing her, and reminded us of why this move was historical and important. How could we applaud adding women/youth to the executive presbytery and not also add them to the general presbytery? The discussion in the business meeting got lengthy, and many substitute motions and proposed amendments clouded the issue. Long story short, by one (YES, ONE) vote, the whole thing was sent back to a committee for further review. ONE VOTE! Sigh. Next council is in 2011.
I will refrain from comment, because it just wouldn't be fittin'.
Overall, it was a remarkable General Council
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
General Council Update
A sixteen year old named Parker brought the crowd to our feet as he challenged us to effectively resource the next generation of ministers, and our General Supt., Dr. George Wood preached a truly powerful sermon. It was about the legacy we leave behind and was based on someone that I don't think I've ever heard a sermon about in my whole life--Leah (Jacob's first wife). She was a woman who would have considered her life a failure. She experienced much that was unfair, even abusive--and yet Dr. Wood took us on a walk through scripture that showed us how the significance of her life could not be contained, or measured, during her lifetime. I found myself getting teary-eyed more than once. It was good.
Tomorrow we get up early and head out for the start of the business sessions. The resolution I spoke of in the previous post is number five, so we may get to it tomorrow.