Tag Archives: RevGalBlogPals

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.

 

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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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Having a Kiddo in the Hospital Is Harder than Hard!

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So over at Rev Gals here is their Friday Five for this week (and yes I realize it’s Saturday)!   On RevGal’s it reads and asks us to respond to the following post:

Hospitals are very much on my mind, because my husband Chuck is having his second knee replacement on Monday. We will be there very early in the morning because he is the first surgery of the day at 7 am.

So consider your experiences in the hospital in your various capacities: being a patient; parent, child or spouse of a patient; chaplain; minister; or visitor. In what ways have you experienced your times in hospitals? Think of 5 ways and share your blog address in the comments section when you play.

  1. I remember being alone with a toddler and having been to the ER for two nights in a row because as a mom I knew something was wrong.  And more than the heart burn that the dr diagnosed it as the first night.
  2. I had someone with me the first night but my husband was away as dean of Laurel Ridge so it wasn’t easy for him to get home either night or for the week that would come.  But the second night I feel blessed in some ways because the doctor working on him had a aha type moment and tested his pancreatic enzyme levels.   And yup that was the answer to the problem.  My little guy had what we thought at the time Acute Pancreatitis.  I remember that I was devastated when they told me he would be admitted for at least a week.
  3. As a pastor I knew that they don’t admit adults or children without it being a serious issue and I was scared for his life and didn’t know what to do at midnight alone with my very sick child.
  4. Thankfully my mother in law came down from Winston-Salem (a 5 hour drive) the next day to be with me and offer me some support.  The whole thing brings tears to my eyes still.  Because other than her, one friend, and daily or multiple times a day calls from my hubby (as cell service would allow) I had no support.  No church members visited or offered to bring anything.  I felt alone a lot and all I wanted to do was cry but knew that would only get my little man a little more worked up.
  5. I remember the nurse on the day we were leaving telling me that little ones that come in with numbers that high usually don’t leave.  Meaning you guessed it they die.  I’ve never forgot it and remember it every time that the doctors fear his pancreatitis is flaring because it’s not longer acute but chronic.
  6. What parent wouldn’t be freaked out and exhausted from not getting much sleep ( sleeping in bed with their little one for a week) and wondering when he was going to start to feel better and when they would stop giving him morphine and give him real food.   But as you can see from the pictures below he did get well and we did have some play time so to speak.

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Views post surgery

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I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as i thought I would with a week off my feet.  You see my mind hasn’t been able to focus much more than to color a bit off and on and to re-read parts of on of my new favorite books.  I’ve been blessed with lots of flowers two sets you see above and lots of wonderful food.  So not only have I been taken care of but my boys have also.  

Let me explain the pictures above — the top left corner is me holding my new favorite book.  It’s a book put out by REVGALBLOGPALS and is short essays about the joys, challeneges and even the laughable moments of ministry.  If you are a femaile in ministry, support a female in ministry, are a female thinking about ministry, or want to know what it’s  like to be in ministry this is a candid book about life as a female minister and you need to get your hands on a copy and start reading it.  The picture next to that is my big new boot that is my latest and greatest fashion accessory for the next 6 weeks or so. It’s not the greatest but life could be worse and once it’s gone so shall all the pain that came from my bunion.  Then there’s the two pictures of flowers that loved ones have shared with me.  Next comes coloring — one of the few things I’ve been able to focus on.   I got me a new set of markers — i love these pens/markers and 10 colors weren’t quite enough so as a surgery gift I bought a set of 20.  Something that even my littleman is enjoying as I attempt to write this blog post.  So in between the flowers and the new markers is a stainglassed butterfly I’ve started to color.  I’ll try to remember to post the finished product but please don’t hold me to that because I’m not that clear headed these days.  Now give me a few days and Ill be able to take on the world.

Thanks for the many ways you have cared for me and my family during this surgery.  My husband told me last night he was mighty impressed with how well I was doing — so I say lets keep that up!  Until next time, blessings, my friends.

#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!