Saturday, June 30, 2007

Yay, Me!

It's a day of blog programming here at Skdo's!

With the help of a new friend, I was able to tinker around until my blog shows up on my profile. Then, I finally cleared the annoying bright purple line from the header and the thick, ugly brown line from the footer.

Then, if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, I was finally able to figure out a way to extend the tan background on the sidebar.

Doesn't take much to make my day...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lessons from Archery Camp

After the first day of archery camp, Minky jumped into the car full of excitement. “Every shot was a bullseye, Mommy!” he embellished. “I love archery! I’m really good at it!”

The next day, Minky’s brother joined in the fun. He had been absent the first night with a bug. After that night, Sony was thrilled by the experience but Minky was out of sorts. During class, the coach had sought me out to find out Sony’s experience level because Sony, a beginner with two less days of experience than Minky, was actually nailing bullseye after bullseye. Sony was a natural. Minky had gotten wind of the converstaion and had now decided that he hated archery.

“I stink at archery,” he told me the next day during a walk, “I’m no good at it.”

With the love of a mommy I responded, “But you loved it on Monday. You said you were really good at it.”

“Yeah, well…” Minky responded, “that was before Sony came. He’s better at it. Compare me to him and I’m no good.”

While Sony often lives in Minky’s shadow because Sony is a low maintenance, easy going kid and Minky is more high strung and demands more concerted effort and attention, Minky often lives in Sony’s shadow when it comes to academics. On that second day of camp, Minky had discovered that Sony could be good at something other than spelling, reading or math. His discovery of Sony’s natural archery talents had caused his own archery spotlight to dim - at least as far as he was concerned.

“Compare me to him and I’m no good,” Minky said. I responded as only a pastor-mommy could. I responded with God talk. “I don’t want to compare you to anyone, Minky. I want to celebrate how much fun you have when you do archery. It doesn’t matter if somebody is better at it than you. God created you to be you, not to try to be like somebody else.” Years of therapy conversations came pouring out of my mouth – it wasn’t until my 30s that I began to understand and attempt to grasp the message I was sharing with my usually-wise-beyond-his-years 8 year old. I can only hope that the words were planted deep inside the core of who Minky is and that he might already be on the journey of loving and accepting himself as made in the image of God. That's the bullseye I pray for him to hit.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

200 Posts

Here we are – 200 posts! Since my 100 post commemoration was so well received, I'm going to do another 100 post milestone: 100 things I've learned since ordination. I'm guessing I've probably learned 200 things but 100 seems good enough. We'll begin where we left off, and it will have to be a running list because I can’t seem to come up with 100 things just now.

100 things I've learned since ordination:
  1. Bringing your dog to work will offend the sensibilities of some quilting ladies.
  2. Bringing your dog to work will make the secretary's day...and the dog's.
  3. The church staff members are my greatest supporters and cheerleaders.
  4. You will have favorite parishioners. Just try to not let it show.
  5. As Brink of Disaster once said, "The problem isn't that your church members expect you to work 24/7...the challenge is that you love the job so much it's hard to go home."
  6. At first, being on call 365-24-7 seems heavy and demanding. After awhile, you get used to it.
  7. My boys are amazing PKs. They have graciously become used to hanging out in the ICU waiting room at the local hospital when I receive an emergency call and they have to tag along.
  8. If your husband commutes, does not attend church, or does anything out of the ordinary, people will talk.
  9. People will drive past your house to see where the pastor lives.
  10. People will notice if (a) a neighbor mows your lawn or shovels your driveway, (b) you finally remove all your moving boxes off the front porch, and (c) your child spray paints your driveway and front porch bright blue.
  11. The amount of automatic respect afforded a small town pastor is mind-blowing.
  12. I have come to treasure and love my faraway friends more deeply.
  13. Being a big city girl in a small town is not all bad, but, yes, sometimes it is the pits. Especially when you need a Target fix.
  14. Being able to walk to work affords me the luxury of 10 uninterrupted minutes each way.
  15. You know you hit too many library book sales in seminary when your pastoral library does not fit on the same shelves that were sufficient for your predecessors who had been in the ministry far longer than you.
  16. A passing and seemingly innocuous environmentalist comment at dinner will send the church ladies scurrying to the kitchen to cross “styrofoam cups” off their shopping list.
  17. Following well loved predecessors is actually a good thing – people will instantly respect and love you unless you give them reason not to.
  18. I never could have predicted how deeply a visit to the Castle would restore and renew me.
  19. To some people, your first name is now “pastor” whether you like it or not.
  20. When you worship on vacation, you will turn in unconscious response when a parishoner calls out, “Pastor!”
  21. The amount of junk mail sent to churches is horrendous. Plant a tree a month during your entire ministry and you may just be able to put a small dent in the number of trees killed for the junk mail crossing your desk.
  22. Having your long-term predecessor in the congregation can actually be handy, especially when your most immediate predecessor assigned a lay person new to the congregation to be in charge of the church database (and thus determining things like newsletter recipients, active and inactive members, etc.).
  23. I’ve always treasured and loved my husband, but I’ve come to appreciate him even more in the last few months.
  24. While parishioners will basically respect your privacy, somehow they will all come by your home on the days you choose to not get out of your PJs.
  25. Teaching confirmation is more fun than anyone should be paid to have.
  26. Some colleagues will treat you like you know nothing and will label your words and actions as “typical first call” acts. This says far more about them than it does about you.
  27. Assuming your gut resonates with the insights, rely on the wisdom of your text study and area colleagues and seek their input when you have no idea what to do.
  28. First call is like parenting: remember to check your actions with your gut and to follow your gut over some generic suggestion in a book.
  29. There will be times when you wonder what the heck your predecessors preached, taught or said. Hold your tongue and listen instead of responding. Chances are what they preached, taught or said was misunderstood and is not what was actually preached, taught, or said.
  30. Express appreciation and say “thank you” far more than you think is necessary.
  31. Constantly remind people they are treasured, loved and held by a gracious God.
  32. Those who reject the message above just need to hear it more.
  33. When your husband suggests that EVERY box be unpacked within a month after the latest move, STOP HIM! Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200. Bad idea. You will still have crap all over the house, it just won’t be in boxes.
  34. Buying a house that needs a little work and a little redecorating is great, but becomes a burden when your husband is away 4-5 days a week and you’re working as a pastor.
  35. When people share news with you, keep in mind they may be exaggerating. Grandma may very well not be on the brink of death, the parking lot may or may not be “full of nails” from the recent re-roofing efforts, and not everyone is reacting to your latest sermon, hymn choices or movement of the baptismal font.
  36. You will learn to embody grace when expected to participate in the ecumenical services led by area colleagues…especially the week the local fundy pastor is in charge.
  37. In the past four months, I’ve continued to see that my Buddhist husband is still a “better Christian” than many of the Christians I know.
  38. Rats actually make amazing, lovable pets.
  39. Let the machine screen all calls.
  40. Never read unsigned notes.
  41. Don’t think about it, just live it. You can think about it later. (This was my brother Mark’s preordination wisdom)
  42. The laying on of hands is almost as cool when you’re one of the pastor’s doing it as it was when you were the recipient.
  43. There is a lot of weird piety at work in the world.
  44. I have come to appreciate the love, forgiveness and grace of God in new ways.
  45. Voicing the realities of pastoral life is freeing.
  46. My super awesome Spiritual Director is essential to my sanity, sense of self and sense of identity as a beloved child of God.
  47. I always thought I’d have a way with depressed parishoiners, having struggled with depression personally. Instead, I have found it draining and disheartening. I continue to work on this one…
  48. The scrapbook store in the large town about 30 minutes away is full of crabby employees. The one in the small town about 15 minutes away is AWESOME!
  49. When we adopted our dog, I intended to walk him everyday. Instead, I have found that his ready smile and patient laying-at-my-feet is an embodiment of God’s grace (photo by Minky).
  50. Getting out of town once in awhile restores my soul and my perspective.
  51. Keeping up on my blog and finding time to write is not easy.
  52. According to a parishoiner's Islamic son, it is Islamic practice to not shake hands or have bodily contact with anyone who is not immediate family.
  53. My altar guild ladies love that left over communion bread turns into "Jesus sandwiches" in our home each Sunday afternoon.
  54. Attempting to preach and lead worship after walking to church in allergen-laden air is incredibly difficult.


Today is Saturday. Saturday has always been one of my favorite days.

As a kid, Saturday meant watching cartoons as my working-outside-the-house mom frantically cleaned the house from top to bottom. After Looney Tunes, my mom, sister and I would go grocery shopping at Fred Meyer, and I'd try to talk Mom into buying me all sorts of unnecessary snack food, toys and stuff.

As young marrieds, Rab and I would sleep in late then go to the buffet at Szechuan West with Honger and Beachball. We'd rotate paying for one another, based upon our paydays. Life was good.

Nowadays, Saturday mornings are my one sacred time. Barring a funeral (I've yet to do a wedding), it is my time. Rab comes home on Friday nights and takes over the parenting tasks after I've lived another week of single motherhood. Rab makes breakfast, plays with the boys, tends to the pets, and I...well...write my sermon, catch up on blog reading, catch up on other reading, stay in my PJs and watch bad TV. Today's selection is Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Believe it or not, I've watched it before - it's surprisingly full of theological themes. And it's funny.

Once the sermon is complete, we usually do some family type thing. We've become particularly adept at having our family type thing involve the need to go to the nearest city.

So here it is, another Saturday morning. The sermon has not yet been written, the movie is still playing, and life is good.

Friday, June 22, 2007

All Hail the Goddess!

Minky bought some long balloons today and has been blowing them up and creating swords and crowns. At one point, he came into the room waving a balloon and said, "All hail the ninja!!!" Then he ran out laughing and came back in with the balloon on his head, yelling, "All hail mighty Minky!!" Then he ran out, moved the balloons into a Miss America-style swag and stood on the bed yelling, "ALL HAIL THE GODDESS!!"

Sony and I began cracking up and Sony pointed out that a Goddess is female. Minky looked perturbed, walked off shaking his head, saying, "I had no idea...."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This actually happened awhile back, but I keep forgetting to blog it.

In conversation with Minky's psychologist, we decided to become more and more clear about consequences. When something great happened, we'd point out how it was a positive consequence from a good decision or action. When something crummy happened, we'd point out the situation that precipitated it. The week went on and we weren't sure if all our talk of consequences was sinking in.

Then I saw Minky out on the porch hanging around the mailbox. Something seemed a little off. I went to see what he was up to. The cat was locked in the mailbox. Yes, you read that correctly.

When I asked what was going on, Minky said that he had tried to pick the cat up and the cat growled at him using "a bad tone of voice and naughty sounding cat words." He thought that the cat needed a consequence.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A weed or a plant of beauty?

Attention all botanists!!! What is this organic gem growing all over my side yard?

(Thanks to all who commented. I now know I'm blessed with hollyhocks along the side of my house.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Evolving Definition of "Home"

7:00 a.m. came far too early this morning. I really did not want to leave my cozy, warm bed. Rab had come home Thursday night (yep, you guessed it...sick kids AGAIN!), so I had the morning off from any and all mom jobs. I stretched out with the bulimic, queeny cat and caught up on frivolous Today Show news. Before I knew it, it was 7:45, then 8:00. Finally, I got out of bed to begin my day.

8:30 found me on the road to the Castle. I went to meet with my SASD (Super Awesome Spiritual Director). As I reached my beloved second home town, fog blanketed the Mississippi River. Clouds filled the sky as a light Oregonian mist dotted my windshield. And, somehow, I did not experience that sigh of relief known as, "ahhh....home." I thought that was a bit strange. It was also a bit unexpected.

I don't think it had anything to do with the fog itself. I think the fog was a sign. The canvas previously painted as "home" was being obscured. While parts of the old painting may even still remain, the overall picture has changed. The details and the characters and the clarity are now a blurred shadow.

After spiritual direction and a wonderful lunch with Small Town Girl, I went about town running errands. I went to the Castle bookstore - the rest of the Castle was an empty shell - a campus in the summertime. As I headed to the stores, I still knew all the backroads. I still knew which stores to hit first in search of the items on my list. It was all familiar, but it was no longer home. It was only home-ish. A lukewarm, gray-like familiarity without all the benefits and joys, without all the people that used to make it home.

As I drove into Jerusalem this evening, nearly 12 hours after leaving. The gray, heavy clouds remained in the sky. The roads were especially dark and gray, having just received a shower of raindrops. Yet, miraculously, the sun shone brightly through the layers of clouds. Everything had that fresh, just-rained smell and outlined look. I drove past Joyous Volunteer's house and once again admired her porch. I drove past the local Piggly Wiggly. I drove by our local pharmacy, the Hilarious Methodist Organist's and by my Mobil station (not just any Mobil Mobil station). And as I turned at the station, somehow, I knew...I was home.