Tag Archives: pastor

One Should Never Say Never…..

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It wasn’t long ago that I was on a boat with 48 other Revgals and during an ice breaker sort of activity, these three questions were asked:  Do you have a tattoo?  Would you consider getting one someday? You will never ever get a tattoo?  If you know you me you know where I fell into that group back in February — I would never ever get a tattoo.

Tattoo’s were not overly attractive to me (for the most part) and I was deathly afraid of the pain they would cause.  I respected and loved others who had them but I was certain that they were just not for me.  In addition to these reasons, I had nothing I thought that I wanted imprinted on me forever for everyone to see.

Then a couple of weeks ago both my husband and I stumbled along the semicolon project.  A project that seemed to fit my life in more ways that I can count or describe.  I suffer from clinical depression, extreme anxiety, and Fibromyalgia.  All of which can often just build upon each other and cause my depression to take me to deep dark places and often lend me to think about putting a period in my life.

Yet I also worship and serve a loving God that is with me always and has saved me from putting a period and placed a semicolon on more than one account.  I know in my head I have much to live for and be thankful for – a beautiful little boy (ok not so little at 9 but still my baby), a loving husband, wonderful friends, a calling to live my life as a servant to a God who sent his only son so that I might have life and life abundantly.

I have taken my experiences in childhood and my depression and tried to allow them to help me be a better pastor.  All of which help me empathize and at times truly understand on a deep level what the people God has allowed to cross my path are going through.  I can at times share my experience and it helps them know that they are not alone.  I’m also an advocate for better mental health care and have preached sermons where I point out the church’s difficulties caring for and understanding mental health issues and the way it affects the whole family not just the person suffering. I in no way believe that God caused me to suffer as a child, to have depression, anxiety or the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.  I do, however, believe that God can and does use these experiences to enhance my call as pastor and as a person who lives in a world inflicted with the darkness and pain of childhood mistreatment, depression, anger, violence, pain and the list could go on and on.  I can often sense one’s pain and am for the most part able to sit with them as they share or struggle to find God in the midst of their own experiences.

My husband has been extremely supportive of me for almost 20 years of knowing each other (it will be 20 years that we meet and started dating in about a month).  When he read about the Project Semicolon, he knew exactly that we would be doing this for my birthday.  His passion and support were what made me consider getting a tattoo.  If he was willing to have a semicolon permanently placed on his wrist in support of my daily struggle then why shouldn’t I be willing.  Not only will it serve as a moment by moment reminder to me to take a deep breath and even pause and remember that God is God and with me always; that it’s not time for my story to end but continue, it will also serve as another way to be an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention as I share the story of why a semicolon.

Here’s pictures of my forty-second birthday — a day I will never forget.

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#RallyRevGals — The Heathered Edition

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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.

#RallyRevGals — Peggy Edition

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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.

I couldn’t narrow it down to just one woman who has helped me along in my 16 years of ministry, so over the next few days I will be blogging about a few more.  But here’s today’s special woman who deserves to be upheld as someone who cared and countinues to care for me as a pastor and a person.

In every church we’ve served I’ve found that there are a couple of lay people with whom I develop a special bond with.  Usually that bond is strenghtened by their witness to me and their unconditional love and support of me as their pastor.  It’s not that they wouldn’t be honest with me but perhaps it’s because they are honest – honest with constructive criticism and honest with compliments and words of encouragement.  There was always a feeling I had that this person had my back and was praying for me. 

 As I mentioned thankfully I’ve had this at every church that my husband and I have served but a few stand out.   One of those is a lady named Peggy.  Every Sunday Peggy and her children and grandchildren where in church I knew that I would be given a hug that would fill me with the energy and the joy that I would need to face whatever may come my way till we meet again.  Along with that hug were words such as “I love you so much”, ” Your prayers are so special and sincere”, ” You have gifts for ministry and I’m glad your my pastor” etc.   We all long to hear those words but we also recgonize that being ordained and thus behind the pulpit often set us apart from hearing those words that help sustain our beings.

My bond with Peggy I believe is unbreakable.  I haven’t been her pastor in close to 10 years but her family and my family still maintain contact (her daughter and son in law are our littleman’s Godparents) and in many ways I see her as an unofficial grandma to my littleman.  I’ve sat with her through declining health of herself and her husband.  After moving away I returned (within the boundaries set and with permission) to help officiate at her Granddaughters wedding, her husbands funeral and sadly her son’s funeral.  It’s just not every day that you can do those things but when some people ask you know in your heart your meant to be there and woulnd’t be anywhere else.

Peggy is a special lady and although she is now limited in the ways that she can serve I know that she serves a risen God with a servants heart.  Every pastor should be blessed to have a Peggy in their life.  Peggy has ralleyed around me and help me to remember at times why I do what I do and who it is that I serve.  I’m so blessed to have her in my life!

 

 

Another Year

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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! 

 

Sabbath between Meetings

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So I had roughly 40 minutes between meetings today and wasn’t sure what to do with my time.  I knew it wasn’t enough time to get back to my office and do anything and I couldn’t grab a snack because my next meeting was a lunch meeting.  I guess I could have sat in my hot car and responded to email’s on my phone but instead I remembered there was a park across from the restaurant that my next appointment was at and I could sit there and read, write and/or pray.  So I headed in that direction.

What a gift that decision turned out to be.  I found a delightful bench in the shade with this waterfountain in front.  Water is so soothing to me and I love to listen to it bubble and fall.  I sat there for a bit and took the opportunity to read both the daily text and a section of a book I’m reading for counseling — focusing on being in the present and the connection between mind and body.  I prayed I would continue to be present for my next appointment and then my hospital visit that would follow.  I prayed for grace for myself that I would begin to accept myself in all my bodies glory and limitations.  

Before I knew it my 40 minutes had passed but I felt renewed and refocused.   I felt alive and fresh in ways I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t accepted this gift of sabbath in the midst of the craziness of my day.  I’m reminded that God gifts us with moments like this often but we often fill those moments with acts of busyness instead of allowing God’s presence to penetrate our lives.  In addition to the gift of sabbath I believe I’ve found a new favorite spot to be quiet – it’s close to home and has water features and is super quiet – I susect it’s underused but will certainly become more used by me. 

Thank you Lord for these unexpected but much needed gifts. I enjoyed basking in your love.

Love and Friday Five

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It’s Friday Five time over at RevGals — well I’m a day late but never to late to play.  Today’s theme is love and here’s what they say about Friday Five over on the revgals page:

Hello Gals and Pals,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I know that some (a lot) of you are digging out from snow and ice and lack of electricity. We feel for you, and love you! Some of you have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. ‘Nuff said. I happen to enjoy Valentine’s Day in spite of having exactly one date ever on VD (before I was married). I love celebrating Love! So, all that is to say is that our Friday Five is to tell us about five random things that you love.

 How in the world can I limit all the things I love to 5?  Well here goes, in no particular order and I’m taking the first 5 that come to mind, now that doessn’t mean that I love these 5 more than what my next 5 might be ~ just 5 loves of mine:

1.  My Boys — my 40 something boy and my 8 year old.  They take care of me when I’m not feeling well and they plot against me at other times.  In fact they are the ones behind my valentines diner that you see pictured above.  Both of them bring such Joy to my life each day and I thank God daily for blessing my life with them.  Guess i love them so much that they tend to appear in most of my blog posts.   

2.  I love being a pastor (most of the time).  You know it’s not a job but a calling when you truly love doing what you do and when the thought of not doing it any more brings great distress.  Certainly there are times when I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into and then I remember that I haven’t gotten myself into anything that it is God who has called me and with God’s help I’ll find my way out.  Then there are times that I know I’m standing on sacred ground and am blessed beyond measure to share in the holiness of folks lives.

3.  Chocolate – I love Chocolate.  I especially love chocolate and almonds.  That’s some yummy stuff and that’s all I can say because now I want some and theres none in the house.

4.  I love the color PINK.  It makes me happy.

5.   I love fiber — not the fiber that you eat but the fiber that is used to create beautiful, unique creations.  I’m talking fiber that is spun into yarn and some woven into fabric.  I have plenty of both but tend to use the kind that is spun into yarn because I also love knitting.  Speaking of which, I’ve got some projects that are calling me name.