Some Things Take Time…

2015-06-25 11.15.29“Some things take time…”

That’s what came to mind as I walked down this lovely sidewalk, shaded by wisteria vines. I knew how many years it would have taken to get these lovely, mature plants to grow over this arbor.

Years. Years upon years!

Someone watered, pruned, trained, tied and retrained vines for many, many years. The result is a beautiful and cool walkway from one building to the next in an otherwise hot, asphalt-and-concrete neighborhood.

Someone had the vision and motivation to persevere with a labor of love. Someone moved past weather challenges, pests, and leaf blowing. Someone knew it would be worth the effort.

As I walked under it, enjoying the way the breeze played with the leaves, I thought of many who have gone before me in ministry. Men and women, who, even if we are poles apart theologically, contributed to the body of knowledge that I studied in seminary. Professors and writers who created the grammar texts and lexicons that I struggled through for language class. Philosophers and academicians who argued finer points of theology.

So many people… 

I meditated on the great “faith chapter” of Hebrews 11. An ode to the men and women who believed God would do as God said, whether or not it seemed possible. Their faith and trust in God’s truth and direction took over for their doubts and frustrations…

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

I walked beneath this shady arbor and gave thanks for my foremothers and forefathers of the faith. For as I watch society change before my eyes, I know theirs is a heavenly witness, whose praise to God joins mine.

Whether it is a societal growth in understanding racism, or accepting social change, God’s justice prevails.

Thanks be to God!

FRIDAY FIVE: Fast and Furious Cuisine

I’m hosting the Friday Five over at RevGals. Play along if you’d like!

kitchen tools

I know RevGals is not a cooking blog. But, I also know that we clergy balance multiple tasks, roles and responsibilities. And many of us want to keep eating healthy and serving with stronger, healthier bodies. At the same time, unless you are living with a personal sous chef, you’re throwing dinner together in between afternoon office hours and evening meetings, sometimes with a little homework and soccer practice thrown in the mix. So, for this week’s Friday Five, tell us:

1) What’s your tried-and-true recipe for picky eaters?

Well, to be really honest, back in the day it was either ramen noodles (I’d add chicken bits) or nuclear orange macaroni and cheese. Eventually I stopped making a “kid meal” and an “adult meal” and the default food was always peanut butter sandwiches. It took a while, but eventually they learned to try and like just about all the food groups (which are chocolate, pasta, butter and bread… hahaha) They grew up to now eat a wide variety of foods… so really, it’s small potatoes.

2) Breakfast for dinner: totally cheating or a lifesaver? Discuss.

Pancakes and bacon make an AMAZING dinner! No discussion.

3) Go-to casserole for potlucks, new parents or your family’s favorite?

Probably I would do my BBQ meatballs because they can sit in the crockpot for a few hours while I finish up the rest of the dinner (a salad, fresh bread and some kind of dessert, usually chocolate.)

4) Favorite take-out place, preferably with a drive-through? (Let’s be real!)

Right now I’d say is an Indian restaurant. I love their Chicken Korma Kashmiri. Little bits of fruit with a zingy sauce over the chicken and rice with saffron. MMMmmmmm…

5) ‘Fess up! What’s your “bad-for-me-but-super-easy” dinner?

Steaks on the grill, bag of salad and potatoes in the microwave. Seasonable vegetables when we have them.

BONUS: RANDOM!! REVGALS version of “CHOPPED” episode, starring you, the tired, harried, cook and pastor who has to feed everyone and get back to church for a meeting in 45 minutes… What would you make with: 
a can of garbanzo beans, chicken breasts, radicchio, sweet bell peppers and some “Testa-mints”?

Watching CHOPPED is a hobby. Mindless, fun, and I actually learn something. I learned most of all that I don’t want to compete on it. WAY above my skill level. I might quality for “Worst Cooks in America” though.

Honestly, I’d like to do a pasta dish, but if Scott Conant is judging, then I can’t make pasta. So I think I’d create a garlic and garbanzo puree, chicken breasts sautéed in an Italian seasoning mix of some kind, make a hot salad by grilling the radicchio with the peppers and make a vinaigrette with the Testa-mints.

HOPE

Friday Five: Rivers in the Desert

 

HOPE

stands in the middle of the rush

of anger

of fear

of weariness

of selfishness

of pain

and says,

“I will survive this by walking through it with You, Lord.”

And as I breathe

and pray

and speak peace

I will remember

that the hate I hold

(even in the silence of my heart)

and the words that I speak

(or mutter under my breath)

spill over

into the minds

and attitudes

around me.

From the depths I cry out…

“Forgive me. Change me. Bring your Peace to our world.”

Amen.
 
 
 

for Charleston
for grieving families
for healing

FRIDAY FIVE: Blooming things

This week I’m hosting the Friday Five over at RevGalBlogPals. You’re invited to play along in the comments if you’d like. :)

We often encourage each other to “bloom where you’re planted.” I like the symbolism, but realized that RevGals and Pals hail from all over the world! What blooms in Maryland may be far different than the flowers in your part of the world. So, to celebrate our diversity, show us five plants that bloom around your home or neighborhood. I’m looking forward to seeing the wide variety of beauty we have among us!

Right now in my back yard, there’s …

Peonies

This peony bush is from a start that was one of my grandmother’s. I love the way the blossoms open so wide and full. They attract all manner of bees, ants and hummingbirds.

2014-05-23 05.38.08

Grandma’s Peony

Roses

The Chicago Peace rose is a tea rose. It starts with a dark pink bud and the leaves turn from pink to peach and the blossom opens. This bloom is from last year… this year’s blossoms are just beginning to open!

Peace Rose

Peace Rose

Wisteria

We have a pergola that shades our back patio from the summer afternoon sun. The wisteria vines are slowly beginning to grow over the top and across the rafters now.

2014-05-23 05.38.45

Wisteria blooming on the pergola

Irises

More flowers from my grandmother! I’ve been dividing and moving the rhizomes as they are rapidly outgrowing (and overcrowding) their flower bed!

2014-05-27 21.35.50

Grandma’s Irises

and Clover!

I have the kind of yard that sprouts crabgrass, dandelions and clover. Obviously, our latest tenants in the warren out back are partial to clover! I love that they nibble off the stem from the plant, and then slowly chew down the stem until the flower is consumed last. (I guess it’s the rabbit’s version of slurping spaghetti?)

NomnomnomCLOVERnomnom

NomnomnomCLOVERnomnom

Fields of Grace (and dandelions)

dandelions2

A carpet of dandelions covered the fields. It was stunning. Field after field with the rich spring green grass and dots of yellow blossoms.

I have never really minded dandelions. They are bright, cheerful and persistent in growing and blooming. I will dig them out of my flower beds but I don’t kill them off in my yard. For many seasons, there were many little bouquets of dandelions, violets, and clover, carefully collected by small hands, and proudly displayed on the dining room table. Now, of course, it’s hip to let them bloom because they’re good for bees. 

Years ago, a former neighbor spend many an hour walking back and forth across his yard, trying to zap every single dandelion with weed killer. Then a windy day would re-seed his yard with the seeds germinated in mine.

He scowled at me one time and said, “Wouldn’t you like to grow some other kind of flower?”

I just laughed. Dandelions in small, chubby hands are a sweet gift. I’d never kill them off.

Now those hands are grown up and the dandelions are a weed of choice by the rabbits who have taken to using our yard as an extension of their warren. One evening I sat and watched a pair of rabbits hop from blossom to blossom, nibbling up the long stems to the sweet flowers. (Saving the best for last, I guess.)

I love my roses, wisteria and clematis. I savor the first peep of my snowdrops. I enjoy seeing the flowers from my grandmother’s garden, the peonies, irises and lily of the valley, when they reappear each year.

But yes. I’ll keep the dandelions, too.

A Riverside Chat: Or How The Reverend Crankypants Got Her Groove Back

I took a break from a staff retreat today and headed down to the Potomac River. It’s been many months, but I knew that getting a chance to sit near the water would do my heart good.

I was a long ways from the riverbank, when I could hear the rapids. I found a rock and sat and breathed deeply. The rushing of the current over the rocks was so loud it pounded in my chest. All the “stuff” that was annoying me, making me sad, and giving me all kinds of heartache melted away.    In the presence of such power, I found some perspective.

falls1

There are no obstacles in the presence of such power. Even a large rock or branch will not stop the river’s flow. It moves on, works around, pushes, smooths, and travels past.

So God and I had a little Riverside “chat” and I agreed to listen, bend and be moved… and not impede the Spirit’s flow. As a result, I had a better afternoon. (Though, I will be honest, there are things that should be best experienced with a pitcher of margaritas. Like karaoke. Just sayin’.)

I Held a Hand

hand Photo Credit: © 2014 Carodean Road Designs, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

I Held A Hand

I ended my week
in a quiet space,
music softly playing
and the afternoon sun
playfully dancing on the walls.
Sleepy, drowsy,
my patient slept,
unaware that I sat
praying, singing, reading Scripture.
I held a hand,
not knowing if my presence registered
at all.

In the quiet,
the soft light,
the songbirds outside
sounded like trumpets.
Eyes opened, blinked,
“I hear the birds!”
A smile crossed my patient’s face.

“Yes!” I replied
“I think it’s a robin!”
“Robins! I love to watch them hop!”
Just as quickly,
The recognition faded,
eyes grew vacant,
the body relaxed.

I sat beside my patient
softly praying
and waited for that next glimmer
of the person that was.
And still is.

FRIDAY FIVE: Whatcha Hauling?

This week, I’m hosting the Friday Five over at RevGals! Play along if you’d like!

purse

My coworker looked over with amusement at my purse. It was stuffed to the brim so that I had both hands free to carry a large vase of flowers. We both began to chuckle as I kept pulling out items I needed: communion wine, computer charger, hiliter, tissues, rescue inhaler, and finally my phones (yes… I carry TWO!) It felt like I was carrying Mary Poppins’ carpetbag!

Sometimes, as pastors, chaplains, moms or just itinerant workers, our purses and backpacks do become “carry-alls.” So this made me wonder: what are you carrying around that perhaps you could unload or set aside? Please share:

1. Physical: What do you ALWAYS carry in your purse/wallet/coat pocket/backpack?

I always have tissues and my inhaler. (And my wallet and phone, of course.)

2. Whimsical: Is there a surprise inside? What’s among the unusual items?

My husband got me a “multitool” that is on my keychain It looks like a crazy kind of spork. It is a screwdriver, bottle opener, thread cutter as well as other functions.

Practical: As a chaplain, I always have some breath mints and tissues. How about you?

YUP. ALWAYS have a mini box of Altoids.

Spiritual: Share a question or lesson from your spiritual life that you’re puzzling about.

I continue to wrestle with why human begins try to kill each other to the point of genocide. It makes no sense to me. I worry about the fact that we have yet to learn that this is not the way we are meant to treat one another.

Virtual: Anything you’d like us to help you carry? Or maybe you have a picture, quote or story to lighten another’s load? 

Winter was a long time leaving but it has indeed FINALLY left! here’s a picture of our back yard this week, full of green, flowers, and SPRING! Hang in there, your season of life will change. And all shall be well.

bunn

Blog Tour: There’s a Woman in the Pulpit

It’s hard to believe, but almost ten years ago, I began a journey towards becoming a pastor. At that time, I had only met a handful of women pastors, and NONE of them were in my denomination.  I learned from them, laughed with them, cried with them… And they challenged ME to consider becoming a pastor too.

I was a little surprised. Pastors are wise. They have mumbo-jumbo-big-words Bible knowledge. They prepare all those sermons with Greek and Hebrew and quote commentaries. They handle public speaking, difficult questions, and emotional life events. They didn’t get vomit-inducing stage fright. (Guess who did?)

I called myself “a worker bee.” Though I avoided ministry areas like teaching children’s Sunday School, I had served on worship teams, sang in choirs, planned large events, organized service projects, created devotional guides, and organized small group Bible studies. I was busy serving God and I loved it. There were no women pastors in my church. There were “directors” and “leaders” who were female. But no “pastor” titles for what I thought were clear, God-given reasons.

And then the Holy Spirit got a hold of me. And She nagged. Reminded. Shoved possibilities under my nose. Made me laugh, cry, and worry that I was “doing it for myself.” Alienated me from friends and their families because I was “going outside of God’s will” for my life. pheeto

Still I pressed on. I cared for my family and household, kept writing and serving. And kept blogging. I finally did an internet search for “women in ministry” and “women pastors.” And I stumbled onto a blog ring in its infancy, RevGalBlogPals. There was humor, heartbreak, support and a huge welcome. I started as a “blog pal,” and slowly but surely made my way a few years later to “Revgal.”

In the early stages of my blogging, I was moderately anonymous, as were most of the Revgals. Slowly, as my pastoral identity took shape, so did my public identity as a blogger. I began to meet people who said, “Oh! I read your blog!” (And yes, I did wonder why… but I did as my parents taught me and said, “oh, thank you!”)

Last week our RevGal book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpitwas released. After a busy Sunday, I stopped for a pedicure (a self-care practice I learned from my RevGal compatriots) and started reading. Faces that I had “met” on Facebook came alive with their stories, reflections, prayers and humor. I felt again a surge of thankfulness for their authenticity and vulnerability.

The book is a collection of vignettes around the common themes of ministry: calling, sacraments, death and dying, church administration, families, and life in the “real world.” More than once a lump rose in my throat and I brushed away tears. I chuckled and commiserated. These are my sisters-of-a-different-mother. I am so grateful that their words are published for you to read, too.

We are so very different. We serve in small churches, large ones, in church administration, in hospitals and hospices. We are robed and non-robed, liturgical and free worship, lectionary preachers and topical preachers. We are a collective voice that reaches far beyond what we know. We inspire one another. We challenge each other. We bring a prophetic voice to the conversations around race, politics, class and gender identity.

As our public identity grows, so does our clout. The book reminded me again that our visibility in the world, beyond the church, in the marketplace, homes and hospitals, means that “pastor” and “preacher” are no longer a male-only words. We are role models, and perhaps we are just beginning to realize how that makes a difference for our children.

Last weekend, I officiated at a funeral for one of my hospice patients. The small gathering, just a  few dozen, shared stories and came together around a sweet, sad memorial service. There were several children present, and their noise really didn’t bother me. I reassured each parent that not only was it OK that they were there, but that their presence reminded us of the legacy we leave. We metoodemonstrated to them how we support one another in times of celebration and times of grief.

At the end of the service, one of the girls ran up to me and gave me a hug. She beamed at me and said, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a preacher, too!” With her mother’s permission, we did a quick selfie, and I felt the warmth of God’s approval flowing gently around my shoulders.

This future preacher reminded me that it is our presence, as women, as pastors, as role models, that contributes to the sea change towards women in leadership. As I grow in wisdom and understanding, may I never forget… I stand on the shoulders of women who blazed the trail ahead of me. And I help define the path for future women in ministry to serve, God willing.

Disclaimer: I have written one of the essays in this book and received a free copy as my compensation from being a contributor. Otherwise, I receive no financial reimbursement for my efforts.

There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments and the Healing Power of Humor. Edited by Rev. Martha Spong. Foreword by Rev. Carol Howard Merritt. ISBN 978-1-59473-588-2 Available on-line from Skylight Paths or via the RevGalBlogPals page.