Author Archives: pastorkellymoore

The Many Ways We Grieve

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No one ever told me grief felt so like fear.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

My husband’s father passed into the more immediate presence of our Lord and Savior at the end of October. His death came after a diagnosis of Lung Cancer that had metastasized to his spine. A short 7 weeks later we would no longer hear his laughter, witness the love he had for his grandsons, the love he had for each of us as children, or the precious love he held for mom. We would no longer be able to hear his great stories or listen to his wise advice and constant encouragement. Near the end of his life last hugs were given and last I Love You’s said.

I called this great man Dad – not out of obligation because I am married to his eldest son but because he truly was my dad. He in so many ways, more ways than I can count embraced me like a daughter – something that was not an experience I really had before. I believe, he looked out for me, loved me, cared for me, encouraged me, and challenged me to be the best I could be.

I haven’t talked much about the role he played in my life or how his death impacted me. I’m not completely sure why – I know that it came with a great amount pain and rawness on many levels. In addition to not feeling this level of grief before, I quickly learnt that grieving is very different when you have a young one who is also grieving deeply and needing a mom and dad to help guide him. Being sure he had the support he needed often was the priority. I never wanted him to fear death. However, I do want people to hear clearly that I did have places I could openly grieve and continue to have those people and places in my life.

When I read that quote above by C.S. Lewis it was as if it were written for my son. Written for him in the sense that he has been afraid of how his Gramps death will impact his golf skills and game, fear of how things will happen now that this essential person was missing from the equation, and sadly fear of so many elements and things. Being a double PK (a pastors kid, who has two parents who are pastors), he has attended many many funerals and has grown up with hearing us talk about death, scripture, and faith. Even though he knew plenty about death, Gramps’ death rocked his world (as it should have) and opened many profound questions about life and death and the role that God plays in each. However, as C.S. Lewis indicated, grief felt like fear, to my precious child.

Last week, we enrolled him in a camp at our local hospice that was held at the K.B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Winston-Salem, NC. Although I can still sense and even see in his eyes much fear, there also seems to be a different level of processing going on within him. He’s by no means over his grief and I’m going to say all fear is gone within him. What I will say, is he is taking new steps and I’m incredibly proud of him for stepping out in faith. He’ll always have Gramps in his heart and carry precious tender and funny memories, as he himself travels through life.

In closing, I share a couple of things, Never be afraid to seek help as you grieve – it’s lonely enough, reach out to a qualified therapist or to your local Hospice. My experience as a pastor is that hospices are not only a provider of care as one comes close to the end of their life but they offer a multitude or resources to help loved ones relearn how to live. I feel certain that resources are available not only for children but for adults as well and these resources are indeed life sustaining and life giving. I know for certain that the K.B. Reynolds Hospice Home does offer resources for both adults and children and you don’t have to be grieving the loss of a loved one whom they cared for – they see the importance of grief work in general.

The pictures below are of the closing portion of my son’s participation at Camp Carousel. They wrote a message to their loved one’s and placed it in the butterfly tent and then blew bubble’s upward.

Friday Five

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I know I’ve been MIA and I’ve had good intentions but for a number of reason’s blogging has fallen by the way side.  I wish I could be more intentional about it and quite frankly wish I was a better writer – maybe someday both of those dreams will meet up and I’ll be flying!  Until that happens it will likely be the occasional blog post and maybe a blog post that is  published with far from perfected grammar.

That all being said I love most of the Friday Five’s that RevGalBlogPals’ encourage us to reflect upon.   It’s great to have a topic and have 5 points to blog on.  It gives me focus and encourages me to process and think.  So I’m grateful for those that take that responsibility on and am sorry when I don’t always get to blogging about it – I often find it Tuesday and remember I never got to those Friday Five topics.

This week this we are asked  to consider this:

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Those were the words that Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren when she continued to read a letter written over 30 years ago by Corretta Scott King.

What happened to Sen. Warren resonates with many of us. As female pastors, we need to persist when we are cut off during conversations, patronized, or told that our ideas are trash.

What are five things you do that help you persist in the face of disappointments, discrimination, and criticism?

Wow, what  potentially loaded questions and my mind goes in every such way when I think of  all my possible responses.  I think these are the best fives things right now that help me persist in the face of disappointments, discrimination, and criticism (disclaimer: they may be different tomorrow or they may be different depending on the circumstance).

  1. The introvert in me retreats deep with in.  I try to process it all, from every angle, then I process it some more, and some more.
  2. When it comes to criticism, especially if it’s not constructive or done in love, I take it extremely personal and therefore honestly self implode while digging my heels into the ground – ready and super determined to stay the course.
  3. I can’t believe it’s already number 3 and I haven’t mentioned my strong desire to inhale chocolate.  There has to be some serious healing factors in that stuff, I know they are always studies coming out about it but seriously they should do one on the effects chocolate has on decreasing the stress level of clergy (especially females ones).
  4. I unload on my counselor who I at least see weekly if not more.  An amazing gift she is to me and ultimately to the pastoral settings I find myself in.  She deserves some sort of medal for having to deal with some of the things I find myself sharing with her.  For me, it frees me to be more persistent in the face of disappointments, discrimination (especially sexism) and criticism.
  5. Once all of those things have been done I might be ready to face the world and attempt to find friends, colleagues, folks with the same passion that can come together and somehow persist through an issue together.  With the hopeful end result of finding some release from disappointments, helps end the stigma and pain that comes from discrimination and insight and honest feedback from criticism.  Hopefully, leading to a path of change.
  6. Okay so once again I’m stretching the concept of Friday Five and that’s to say Chocolate helps keep me grounded (did I mention that?) and so does doing something with my hands – knitting, sewing, coloring, playing with Crazy Aaron’s Amazing Silly Putty or something like that.

After these things I maybe am able to persist more pastorally, lovingly, compassionately and persistently.

For more information about the amazing RevGalsblogpals please visit their blog.

A few missed dance moves; Yet Grace Abounds!

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First I can’t believe how long it’s been since I blogged – I need to find a way to keep up a better schedule.  Secondly, I was blessed to preach at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mt. Airy, NC back in early June.  It was my first time presiding at a worship service of an ELCA church never mind serving communion.  Despite a few missed dance moves and being in the wrong spot for the part of service – this was a giving community that extended much grace to me.

img_1259I preached here following a previous Sunday when I was told I couldn’t really preach, so my nerves were off the chart, yet once again – grace abounded.  I think my sermon was well received and I felt more prepared to preach in a denomination different from my own tradition.

I say that the Lutheran (ELCA) has dance moves not out of disrespect but out of my tradition where there is no specific place you need to be as you lead worship- anywhere is fine, except for during communion and baptism.  For communion we are behind the altar or better known as the communion table and for baptism we gather around the baptismal font which is always placed at the front of the church.  I quickly learned that this is not the way you do it in an ELCA church.  I think I got most of the moves correct, except I did the prayers of the people from the pulpit.  Yet no one rebuked me, instead they just offered words of encouragement and said they hoped I would be back someday to share the gospel with them again.

Now the (I know it’s out of sync, but I promise I followed the service as it was supposed to be)  liturgy and I’m not sure where to stand so I just stood in the middle of the chancel area.  Thankfully, one of my best friend’s husband img_1260
is a Lutheran so together we were able to format everything to fit on my iPad and he gave me some insights into how things should go (he now answers his phone when I call, “Hello, Lutheran Help Line” or something along those lines).

img_1261I serve as Chair of the Lutheran Moravian Coordinating of our Full Communion agreement so it was such a blessing to participate in a worship service where I was not only able to preach but to serve the elements of communion.  Our document Following Our Shepherd to Full Communion allows us to both serve and receive communion in either of our denominations.  We often share pastors and interims, when they might not be available within our own denominations or when an outside denominational partner maybe able to tackle something we may not be able to do ourselves.  Basically, we share resources as well as the table that our Lord has prepared for all of God’s faithful children.

I couldn’t thank St. Andrews more for giving me this opportunity.  This blog would not be complete without the acknowledgement that I wouldn’t have had the right clerical garments (other than a collar) if it weren’t for my revgalblogpals friends — Lynette made me a beautiful stole (and one for my husband) and Emily gave me a cream/white robe that she no longer needs.  Nothing I asked for but given out of love and grace.  Grace definitely was the gift of this experience for me.

You Can Never have to Many or to Much….

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Friday Five Edition

“While packing up my mother’s apartment a few months ago following a stroke, I discovered a side to her of which I had been previously unaware. While I wouldn’t go so far as to label it hoarding, she did have an excessive number of certain items among her things. Office supplies ranked at the top.

For today’s Friday Five, share with us what sorts of things you keep in a stash, or are always certain to have on hand. You know, just in case. (Wink)” revgalblogpals

 So it’s sometimes hard to be truthfully honest about the things that we stash up.  Especially since the Bible tells us that “we are not to store up treasures on earth that are vulnerable to moth or thieves.”  (Matthew 6:19). Yet the reality is most of us do store of things.  Now the things I store aren’t likely to be top priorities of thieves but perhaps by moth.   So here we go:

1.  I love to have a stash of yarn and by stash I mean a cedar closet full of it and baskets scattered around the house full of it.  I also must admit that most of it isn’t yarn that you buy at Walmart or a big box store, it’s yarn that comes from local spinners, dyers, local yarn shop (Knit One Smock Too) or dear friends who appreciate the fact that I’m a bit of a yarn snob.

2.  I also love to add to my collection of fabric.  However since I’ve started knitting more than sewing, that desire has slowed a bit but I can never pass up a good deal on fabric and I often find myself carefully feeing and perhaps foolishly buying fabric that may or may not get used in my lifetime.  Hey by the time my daughter and son sort through our stuff that fabric will be cool again because it will be considered vintage (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Since my daughter sews she will hit a jackpot.

3.  Coloring books – I know they are all the rage these days but I love to buy coloring books aimed at adults (more complicated than Elmo coloring).  I have so many that even if I colored two pages a day (and really who has time for that?) I will still have enough to last a long time.  Will that stop me from buying ones that speak to me, absolutely not.

4.  I to store up office supplies.  In fact one of the major office stores used to have a commercial about the time school was to start that had the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with a parent zipping around the aisles purchasing their children’s school supplies.  Well that would be me but not for my children for me.  I could get lost in an office supply store for hours at a time — likely the reason my husband now usually accompanies me.

5.  Pictures would have to be my fifth and I’m not even worried about printing them out.  Digital cameras make it easy to store up pictures.  When I noticed that my year old MacBook Pro was running a little slow (which is unusual) I was a little perplexed.  Until I opened IPhoto and realized I had 18,000 pictures and that did not date back to my 10 year old son (those had already been transferred to a thumb drive).  Guess no one has to get rid of those but me and I’m super fearful of one method failing so I’m backing them up online and on a hard drive.  I’d say I have a problem with pictures collection.

6.  For the bonus:  I store up blog posts in my brain that never make it onto my blog because I wonder if they will be good enough or could I express my idea as well as the other’s who blog.  So I store them up and think maybe one day I’ll blog about them.  Yet instead of blogging about them I just keep adding to my list.  I doubt I’d ever have the time to blog them all – maybe one day I’ll get them out and see what happens.  Maybe if I just keep doing it (blogging and writing) both will improve, just maybe.

Mixed Emotions

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Today was the birthday of Joe’s Uncle, who died two or three years ago.   He and his wife had no children, so they treated Joes family almost like their own children.   I to mourn his death and remember fond memories of him.

Today also,marked the due date of the baby I carried the longest (14 weeks).  It was my second miscarriage and I had just stopped holding my breath hoping that meant this was a viable pregnancy.   But just two weeks, into my second trimester, I would find out otherwise.   My heart was torn up and I felt so broken.

I remember our late night visit to Women’s  Hospital in Greensboro because of some severe cramping and some traces of blood. We got to the hospital and the mid wife on call for our Drs office was awaiting my arrival.

They took us back and the first sign of concern was not being able to hear a heartbeat.   Several people tried and couldn’t find it.   So then came blood work and an ultrasound.   Which concluded the baby had indeed died.   Surgery was scheduled for Tuesday – so I would have to wait for over 24 hours before they would perform the surgery.   It was the longest day of my life, spent in bed.

My D&E was scheduled on my MIL’s birthday.   So this baby is meant to be remembered.   I had a total of 7 miscarriages and several years later would have 1 more.   Following the loss of the first 7 I began to suffer from infertility.   I did the specialist at Duke thing and we tried meds and finally I said stop – I can’t handle this any more.  I would wait, full of stress and anticipation, to see if I had conceived each month – when I did I sort of distanced myself from the pregnancy.  Hoping and praying that between, before , and during each of my checkouts that I would get confirmation that everything was alright (that never happened).

So my main mixed emotion is the grief  and pain that I still feel (everyone else has moved along in their life).   I suffer and am down each year at this time.   Yet on the flip side I know that if I had carried to term  any of those pregnancies – my current littleman, who is adopted, likely wouldn’t have been with us. The simple thought of what his life might be like if we hadn’t signed papers choosing to make him our son, is extremely scary.  He could be deceased, addicted to drugs, homeless or in the social services care department and bouncing between foster parents home.   With us he has a house, food, toys and unconditional love.

So today we honored Uncle Steve, I grieved alone, and yet was thankful for a child whom I believe was a gift of God.

Miscarriages are kept brushed under the rug for the most part, yet for women the grief is real and painful (and sometimes the dad also).   I think we need to, as a church at the very least, find ways to help parents process the loss of a child before birth or at birth, we need not be afraid of it.   Great healing could occur if only we gave the gift of listening and honoring their loss.

Today was indeed a day of mixed emotions and I was grateful for the most part  that I could just stay in bed and rest.

As a challenge I encourage folks who have suffered miscarriages to share their stories and those who have not to be good listeners and offer love and support – don’t let us suffer alone anymore.   Lastly, when gathered as women talking birth experiences be mindful that this can trigger emotional responses from those for whom would never experience birth pains and breast feeding options.

Let us bind together and turn a once taboo subject into a story and journey we are willing to take with someone who’s had suffered a great loss.

It’s Still Friday and I’m Playing…

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In this week of the world spinning off into melt down; and fear and mistrust being the dominant emotions, let us create a wee pool of loveliness….
On Tuesday on the Facebook page a thread of fluffy kittens and heartwarming YouTube clips was started to bring a little light into the darkness, this has brought laughter and feel good goose bumps to many.
On Wednesday this week, many Scottish Gals gathered in Edinburgh for a festive lunch and a time to catch up. We were celebrating a new call and a new job and an imminent wedding amongst other things, and it was a lovely, fun, noisy time!
For Friday Five this week, let’s keep the light, love and laughter going with a random selection of things to make your heart sing:
  1. Music: a song or orchestral piece that stirs your soul
  2. Indoor Place: have you got an oasis at home that you can hide away in?
  3. Outdoor Space: is it water, hills, woodland? Is it the fresh country air or the bustling city?
  4. Picture: this may be a piece of art, something you created, something someone gave you…
  5. Person: do you have a go to person, for when the world is crowding in?

The title might catch some off guard but the reality is, it’s usually Saturday before I get around to playing the Friday Five with the rest of the Revgalsblogpals — so it’s a major event that I’m actually playing on time (well at least in my time zone).  So here we go:

  1.  Music:  being a music major there are lots of pieces of music from many genres that speak to my heart and stirs my inmost being or my soul.  However,right now what I need most is, the reminder that God is always there no matter where I may find myself – emotionally, physically, geographically, and /or spiritually – the song would  then be Always There  by the Canadian Tenors.  Perhaps not the best video but one can be found here.
  2. My indoor oasis: wish I could say it was my sewing room but it only seems to be a cluttered mess where everyone dumps things.  So I would say my office.  The space that’s mine, filled with things I want on the walls, a nifty cart from Ikea filled with coloring instruments, and of course the bed of my favorite 4 legged family member – Amos.
  3. Outdoor Space: any place with a water fall or the sound of water.  Water moving is very soothing for me and I think very majestic.
  4. Picture:  oh another tough one.  I could choose so many.  To play nice I won’t sit here and list or show all my favorites (but maybe a few).  However at the top of the list is the set of 4 prints that a photographer took when my little man was just a month old.  They are in black and white and have various amounts of me in them.  They are all small and framed together – the first you can clearly see my face and my hands holding his head, the second you see just my black shirt and my cross necklace and a close up of him cuddled close but facing towards the camera, the third is a side view of both of us and he is so expressive as he turns his head towards the photographer, the last you can just see my smile and again I’m holding him outwards with my hands under his head.  I can only imagine what I might have been saying to him but it clearly shows the bond that God placed between us – as child and adoptive mom.  To top it off it’s almost 10 years ago, where oh where has that time gone? (I’d show you the picture but then it would be a copyright breech so you’ll just have to use your imagination).

4b.  Second Picture: A mosaic in the form of a heart.  This was given to me by a lady in the first congregation we served.  I doubt she knew that 16 years later I would still cherish it — it reminds me of the fact that my heart is so broken at times, yet God can and will help mend it, molding it, glueing it back together all by the means of  underserved yet granted grace, mercy, and unconditional love.

5.  Person: I have different go to people in different settings.  Or maybe I wouldn’t call them go to people in the terms of telling them what’s on my mind but people that help me be centered and know I’m safe, God usually provides that for me — and no words could describe my emotions, my fears when I don’t have that person.  However, my always, always there for me person is my best friend.  Never lived in the same town but always just a text, a call, an email, or even a Facebook post away.  Some of you may have seen she was just named Dean of Faculty at Pittsburgh Theological School .  We share a lot in common but most significant is our passion for better mental health awareness and care within our churches and the world around us.

 

From Curtain Rods to Grave Markers

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Julia reminds us of today’s blogging task:  “NaBloPoMo Day 5: I had a little furnace mishap at church on Sunday. What’s something you’ve done for your work that wasn’t exactly in the job description?”

Our first call was to a relatively small church in Cinnaminson, NJ.  The church had it’s own grave yard but most everyone was certain that most of the plots had been used.  However, it wasn’t long until we found out that one of the grave plots was purchased for a long time member who was extremely inactive and who had recently died.  Well we kinda found out that the grave digger was planning to come later that afternoon and dig the grave.  We had no idea what to do — so we do what most would do and call the chair of the trustees.  He tells us that there is a map with dimensions and names for the graveyard in such and such cabinet.  Lo and behold this person did indeed have a plot.  So we pondered how we would be able to tell the grave digger where to dig.  The chair of the trustees wasn’t sure what to do either.  So me in my infinite wisdom said wait I’ll grab my sewing meaning tape and we can find something to mark off where we measure.  Joe goes to find something in the shed to use as markers and I run into the parsonage and grab my tape measure.  We meet back at the grave yard, with map of the graveyard, sewing tape measure and a couple of broken curtain rods to use as markers.  I’m sure we looked like a bunch of crazies out their in the grave yard and I’m thankful no one saw us.  However we did get that grave measured and marked and the grave digger was mighty impressed when he came.  I however, recall nothing after that — I’m not even sure if we did the service.  I was just relieved to have the graveyard stuff settled.

BTW this is also the church that had one of it’s tombstones was featured on the cover of Weird New Jersey