Tag Archives: Canada

A Season of Thanksgiving

Standard

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada and for several years I’ve practiced what I call a Season of Thanksgiving.  A season that goes from Canadian Thanksgiving through Americian Thanksgiving.  We have much to be thankful for and it seems like thanksgiving just get’s lost between Halloween and Christmas.  Even when we are in the midst of our own dakness or dispair there’s something to be thankful for – for we worship a God who grants us grace and unconditional love every second of every day.  So I challenge you to join me in my thanksgiving journey.

Today I start off with a thanksgiving that just sort of fell into my lap last night because off facebook.  When we served in GA I was a member of a knitting group that meet every Friday evening to knit, crochet, (sometimes spin yarn) but always share together.  Share lifes joys and lifes sorrow.  We were an ecclectic group – I’m still not sure how to describe us other than a group of compassionate fiber loving friends.  I’m thankful for all this group of ladies did for me while I lived in GA but more specfically I’m grateful for the opportunity to reunite with them next weekend.

Every year at the agriculture center outside of Asheville there is a fiber festive that is miainly hand spun and hand dyed yarn.   Booths full of roving for spinning and felting and every tool imaginable to fiber loving people.   I’ve been a couple of times and ran into folks from my GA group but never have I stayed with them but this year that’s changing.  I’m going up Friday evening and coming back Saturday.  Im super excctied after the exhauusting weeks we’ve had arouund here it will be nice to just hang with some good friends and make some new friends.  

So today I’m thankful for fiber loving friends from GA!

Advertisements

#RallyRevGals — The Heathered Edition

Standard

Have a case of the Augusts? Not ready for the program year to start? Thinking about how you can’t save the world, or even your little corner of it? RevGals can’t fix it all either, but we can give you a reason to post to your blog!

The #RallyRevGals Blog Contest will run from Tuesday, August 18, to Sunday, August 31. 

To be eligible:

be a member of our webring,*
1. Write a blog post about a woman who has been a positive influence on your ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor),
2. Use the tag/hashtag #RallyRevGals in your subject line as well as categories or tags on your blog,
3. Share the link in the comments on this blog post, in the comments on the accompanying Facebook group post, or on Twitter (be sure to use the hashtag so we can find your blog post).
4. Everyone who participates will be entered in a random drawing for three prizes from our Cafe Press store.

 

Here are two more women who have rallied around me and supported me in different times and stages of my ministry.  I call it the “Heathered Edition” because both of these women are named Heather.   

Let me begin with my best friend from college and my Maid of Honor.   She came from a much more conservative church tradition than I did but it never stopped the two of us from being great friends.   During our college days we did lots of things together and I can’t even begin to imagine college life without her constant presence.  She encouraged me to be the best that I could be.  If I struggled with something academically she was there to see if she could help.   She was present at my recitals and cheered me on – even when I made plenty of mistakes and was far from perfect.  She hugged me as I cried and began to grieve the painful childhood that had haunted me.  She drove 7 hours to be with me as my church blessed me and sent me off to seminary (my home church was in Western Canada and seminary was in the Eastern USA) so this was a big move for me.  But as we sat alone perhaps in the last moments we had before I moved she handed me a card and what was in that card was her tithe from her summer job.  I was completely blown away because I knew she struggled with me going off to ministry as she herself had never had a female pastor and her tradition wouldn’t have allowed for one.  Yet she believed in my call so much that she would give her tithe to me to help with my ministry costs. This was one of the greatest gifts I ever received and one that I will never forget.  An act of stepping out in faith on her part.  She later flew to North Carolina to be my Maid of Honor and honored I was that she would once again take time and her resources to make this trip. My biggest regret is that we’ve lost contact over the years.   Regardless, she definitely rallied around me and sent me off to begin my pastoral ministry with blessing, love and support.

My encounter with the second Heather came much later in my ministry.  I was already ordained and we crossed paths at a Moravian Women’s Conference held on the campus of Wake Forest.  It started out as me supporting her as she explored her own call to ministry and I was with her that week when she received word that she had been accepted at Duke Divinity School.  The encouragement and support I offered to her soon was being offered back and became a mutual relationship.  We were blessed with the opportunity to travel to Prague and Herrnhut (the motherland of the Moravian Church) together as we were both delegates to a Worldwide Moravian Women’s Consultation — Valiant Women in a Violent World.   It is this trip that brought us closer.  When you travel with someone at that level you either know you are meant to be great friends or mere acquaintances.  Obviously, we discovered and developed a deep friendship.  We’ve never lived in the same city so email, Facebook, text messages and phone calls have been our means of communication but those means have been enough to sustain a friendship that is dear to my heart.  When Heather was ordained a few years ago, I was so excited – I hadn’t experienced that excitement since my own ordination and I was blessed to be a part of her ordination service.  I loved her so dearly that I even read scripture from Ruth (long story behind that one)!   The past few years since her ordination have only deepened our bonds as we share moments of ministry – even though we serve in very different settings.  She is a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and I serve in pastoral ministry.   We both share a passion for raising awareness of mental illness in the church and teaching the church how to embrace and care for people who suffer with this often lonely disease.  But beyond that she’s been there as I’ve struggled with my depression and just a simple text or Facebook message from her can put a smile on my face and gives me reason to go on.  

Both Heather’s have been major life lines when I’ve needed them most.  I know that their relationships were and are a gift of God and I’m forever grateful for that.  I wouldn’t be half the pastor, mother, wife, or child of God if they hadn’t been there to rally around me and at times giving me the opportunity to rally around them.  For true friendship comes from mutual rallying.  Thank you God for these women who have greatly changed my life, may I be to others as they have been to me.

Another Year

Standard

It’s hard for me to believe that today is the last day of being 40.  Turning 41 seems like a bigger deal than turning 40.  I guess because I feel as if I have been through a year of physical challenges and the emotional ones that go along with it and at some level hope this isn’t what all years will look like.  But I’m taking this day to begin a New Years resolution of sorts – making changes in the way that I handle life around me.  Some of those changes may be a bit scary and some of them come with a sense of relief.  If I want to live another 40 years I know that it’s time to put into practice some of the very things that I tell those I pastor on a regular basis.  It’s time to do some things that refresh me and allow my energy and God’s love and grace to flow throw me.  

During the past year my life seemingly fell apart, childhood trauma hit me again and this time as a flying brick coming out of no where.  I wasn’t expecting it to rehaunt my life but it did and it forced me into a major depressive episode which led to new meds and a new therapist.  It also was the leading cause in a medical leave of absence from the church I serve.  One of the toughest things I had to do was to stop being a pastor to others and allow some to care for me.  It wasn’t long after my return to work that I had a hysterectomy and appendectomy – another tough and emotional event.   As my 40th year was drawing to a close I returned to Canada to officiate at my grandfather’s funeral.  This proved to be a time filled with great blessing and a time of sadness as I learnt new things about my family of origin and yet was blessed with a reunion of sorts with my Aunt, Uncle,and cousins and got to meet an Aunt I’d never met.  I hope that these new and reformed relationships will grow as time goes by. I celebrated my 16th year of ordination and thus faithful service to the Moravian Church – service to a God I love and a church I deeply appreciate and care for.  

So today I spent time not only looking back over the past year but more looking into the year that lies ahead.  This morning I spent some time with my counselor and I can’t begin to emphasize how much of a life saver she was as I travelled through this past year (and I can’t help but say if you are considering getting a counselor – do it, it just might save your life too but at the very least it will enrich it).  This afternoon I’ll spend some time learning about continued ways to serve the church and this evening will be topped off with some time of doing what I love to do most knitting!

As I enter a new year of life I pray that I may more fully become the person that God created and continues to create and call me to be.  I know that takes a commitment on my part to tend to myself – my whole self- body, spirit and mind.  I make this commitment and look forward to watching the ways that will help me to grow.  I look forward to creating more (hopefully finishing my first knitted sweater), coloring more, taking time to take more pictures and letting the spirit recreate and create a new in me.  I certainly look forward to enhancing my ability to minister and going on my first cruise in February with other revgals.  Lastly, I look forward to a more uplifting year filled with the peace and hope that comes when claimed as a child of God! 

 

My First July 4th As A Citizen

Standard
Image

Still a Canadian — waiting for the oath!

Wow, I’ve been a citizen for just over 2 months.  Since my home country was Canada, it didn’t seem weird to have a national Holiday in the first few days of July.  As Canada celebrates their independence as a country on July 1.  So on July 1, I proudly wore a Roots Canada t-shirt that said “Roots Canada since 1973”  on so many levels thats awesome.  My roots have and will always be in Canada the place of my birth, which also happens to be 1973. Today, July 4, I wore a t-shirt (church member gave me in honor of my citizenship) that had red,white and blue fireworks on it.

I thought it appropriate for me to share a bit about my journey into the United States and my journey to citizenship, on this Independence Day.  I entered into the US in August 1995.  I had recently graduated from The University of Lethbridge with a BA – major in music, minor in Education.

My journey into the United States brought with it an independence of sorts for me personally and allowed me time for healing and growth.  I arrived in Bethlehem, PA to attend Moravian Theological Seminary.  I knew no one and all I had with me was what fit into the back of my parents van (they accompanied me but left a couple days after, leaving me alone and without transportation).  On top of some injuries I was dealing with from a recent car accident (before I left Canada) I knew NO ONE and was left to find my way. Find my way around Bethlehem, a new school, and a new medical system. Good thing I felt called to ministry and I could rely on the my faith and my God to help me get through those lonely first days.  Even in the midst of such change – I sensed a peace I’d never felt before.

Seminary proved to be an amazing time — meet some of my best friends and of course the first person I met on the first day of class became my husband between our middler and senior years.

So up until graduation I was in the United States on a Student Visa.  During my senior year, following my husband and I accepting a call in south Jersey, we began working on a “green card” or permanent residence card.  The Moravian Church at that time had an attorney who handled all the work for us.  All we had to do was attend a hearing of sorts.  The Immigration Officer was very pleasant and my residence card was granted and eventually renewed.

As we moved from call to call, it was my responsibility to notify the INS within a short period of time.  I admit, I was late on doing it a few time but it’s hard to remember something that is out of sight.  Then along came 2013 — and I knew that i had an important decision to make – did I renew my green card or did I apply for citizenship.  The cost of renewing my green card was $450 and for citizenship it would be $680.

I decided that it would be better stewardship for the church, if I would become a citizen.  They then would just have to pay one more time and have it be a done deal.  Not to mention I wouldn’t have to worry about of keep up with changing my address for the IRS and carrying such an important document with me at all times.  I also knew that it would be highly unlikely for me to move back to Canada.  That independence that I got on a personal level had allowed me to grow in many ways and returning home would be difficult.  I also felt that if I where to encourage church members to vote, I needed to practice what I preached.  (IMPORTANT NOTE:  I NEVER TOLD THEM WHO OR HOW TO VOTE BUT SIMPLY TO VOTE)!   

So in early 2013, I began what I thought would be a long process — the good news is it went rather fast.  There were lots of papers to filled out and documents to be found.  The instructions on the Homeland Security site were at times a bit confusing so the church hired an attorney for me to have email conversations with.  Thankfully, she sent me a list of what forms needed to be filled out and what needed to be sent.  And I was mighty thankful that my littleman’s birth certificate was sealed over and we were listed as his parents because there would have been plenty more forms to fill out in addition to sending a certified copy of the adoption decree.

In early March a letter came from the Immigration service requesting me to be present at the Charlotte processing center to have my biometrics done.  It also stated that if I were late they would consider my application abandoned.  Charlotte is only about an hour and forty-five minutes from me but I decided I would get a hotel in order to ensure I would be there on time.  Well all that happened but the sad part is the taking of my biometrics took less than 10 minutes. But their quickness allowed a little side trip to Ikea 🙂

It was about 2 or 3 weeks and another letter from Homeland Security came asking me to be present at the Homeland Security office on April 18 for my interview and citizenship test.  That didn’t leave me much time to study for the test — oh I hate tests. So again, we headed down the night before to ensure we were there on time.  This time they told me it would be about 2 hours and no electronic devices were allowed into even the waiting room (which annoyed my husband as he couldn’t read on his kindle). I studied the book that they gave out and was so annoyed because I kept getting dates mixed up.  There were 100 questions, the interviewing officer would ask 10 and you had to at least get 6 right (yes it was an oral exam, which made it harder in my opinion).  I couldn’t tell you what questions my immigration officer asked that day because I was really stressed out.  He kept telling me to relax, I was from Canada, knew the language and everything was going to be fine.  Which it was, I was with him answering questions and signing paper for about 15 minutes.  They I was told to wait back in the waiting room and a senior officer would come out and talk to me.  I was back in the waiting with my husband all of 5 minutes and she came and told me that I was approved for citizenship and I should report back there in one week to participate in the swearing in ceremony.

Then along came April 25, 2013 – the day I took the oath and became a citizen.  My Mother-in-law, father-in-law, my little man, our un-official adopted daughter, and my husband were present for the special moment.  There were 80 of us there to take the oath from what I’d say about 50 countries (they do a naming of countries present and ask folks to stand, at the beginning of the ceremony)/  I don’t know all the countries but remember them calling, The Congo, Iran, Great Britain, Jamaica, Mexico, and of course Canada.

Image

My First Picture as an American

In addition to the calling of countries, the ceremony consisted of the singing of the nation anthem, a slideshow set to “I”m proud to Be An American” with pictures from all the major glories of the nation, the administration of the oath, the Pledge of Allegiance, a video message from President Obama, and a couple of closing remarks.

The oath has some strong words and implications, I’m going to share it with you all in just a few minutes.  I wonder how many Americans are familiar with it and would be willing to take it themselves.  While saying the oath there were two officers on stage and the one actually administering the oath got distracted and began to say the wrong words.  She then stopped and the two officers had a conversation that led to one of them leaving the stage and going and having a conversation with on of the applicants.  Later when they handed out certificates of citizenship they did not give that one out.  I don’t know what happened but it reminded me of how serious and critical the oath is to one becoming a citizen.  The Oath can be found here.

I’ve had mixed emotions about becoming a citizen and I don’t think I’ve figured them all out.  But it was a joyous day to have my family of choice there with me and after having lived in the United States for close to 18 years it was a step I needed to take.  I admire all those who take the journey of becoming a citizen and I encourage those who are citizens to help and encourage those who are not.  And if you are ever asked to attend someone’s citizenship ceremony do it — words can’t describe it’s awesomeness.

As we celebrate America’s independence, I too celebrate my independence!  I’m grateful that God called me into ministry and has continued to work with me, molding me and forming me!

Image

My blessed family — Love them all. Guess they can’t say they live with an Alien anymore! 🙂 God is so good!