Tag Archives: RevGals

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! 

 

Organizational Style – Friday Five Style

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What a fun Friday Five over at RevGal’s this week.  Being organized is something I long to be but never quite acheive.  Everytime we move I vow it should be different here but after a few months some rooms are unorganized again — it’s like some rooms are just bound to be a chaos.  So if you feel like playing along with this week’s Friday Five please do but let me know in the comment section.  Who knows maybe together we can all have organized dwelling places – here’s what it says and the challenge on the RevGals sit:

“My daughter told me that she and her partner have different ways of organizing: my daughter puts it all in a pile, while her spouse files it. My daughter is definitely connected to me, as I tend to be a stacker of papers, photos, letters, books, clothes, etc. I am wanting to get rid of some of these piles, which I periodically do. Instead of rearranging them, I need to recycle them. So for this Friday Five, Let’s look at our organizational skills and/or clutter:

1. How do you organize? Is there a difference with various objects?

2. Do you have any cluttered spots in your office or home? Describe.

3. What do you organize well? And not?

4. What do you wish to de-clutter?

5. Accomplishments in organizing or de-cluttering:”

 

Here are my attempts of answers:

1.  My organization tends to differ from room to room, depending on what is in the room and what the room is used for.  However, generally I tend to organize things with like items.  For example legos are together and an attempt is made to go by color with the bricks and like items with each other (wheels with wheels etc).

2.  There are several cluttered spots in my home and office (which is in our home).  Mostly the clutter comes in piles on my office table and the spot where we keep stuff from Littleman’s school (work, take home papers, stuff from his Tuesday folder).  And the garage/laundry room seems to always be out of control – not to mention littleman’s playroom.

3.  I think for the most part my yarn and my sewing/craft room are organized better than anything.  My yarn get’s the cedar closet on the level we mostly live on.  It’s organized by fiber content and then some is organized by project or with matching skeins.  I could live in this closet I love the colors!  Likewise my sewing/craft room which is on the lower level or basement is usually organized like item with like item or material by fiber content or season.  However the disclaimer for this room is that it often gets items dumped it in when there seems to be no where else to put it.  So every so often I have to sort through a pile or two.   What don’t I organize well?  Certainly Littleman’s things especially clothes and toys.  I tend to have clothes sorted but never want t part with them. Which is beyond crazy I know because he’s never going to be that small again and I can’t keep them forever (maybe this blog post will inspire me to do something with the baskets in his room).  As for toys, similar things happen, I don’t want to get rid of them because they have such happy memories with them.  Not to mention the fact that as soon as I think I can get rid of them, he pulls them out to play with.  His playroom (along with the family room) are filled with toys.  Time to declutter those areas but who wants to help?  

4.  What do I want to de-clutter?  I think that answer came out in the end of #3 but in order to do that I need to have a couple of days where I have some energy and perhaps a little help not to mention for them to be littleman free.

5.  Accomplishments — well thankfully as a pastor I’ve moved enough for us to declutter every now and then because of weight restrictions on the move.  So well my house isn’t up for Better Homes and Garden or HGTV it’s not up for Hoarders either.

 

Themeless Friday Five

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It’s Friday which means over at Revgals it’s…Friday Five time, here’s my attempt this week:

Hi gals and pals~~

Happy Friday to you! I don’t have a theme this week, but just a variety of questions for your writing pleasure…

1) How are you? What’s taking up your mind-heart space these days?

2) It’s St. Patrick’s Day on Monday~~will you celebrate or give a nod to it?

3) My colleague is a voracious morning reader of blogs, online news, articles, etc. What, besides RevGalBlogPals, do you look at frequently, if not daily?

4) I got nothin’ here. This is a free for all. Just tell us something!

5) Use these words in a sentence or two: map, magazine, sing, baby sloth, knit, penguin, love, weep, mountain, and messenger bag.

Have fun!

1.  Having just had a hysterectomy I’ve been thinking a lot about babies and how I will no longer be able to give birth nor was I ever able to give birth to a biological child.  Certainly adoption is a birthing process of a different kind.   

2.  Is there an official way to celebrate St. Patricks Day?   I guess some drink green beer and eat special food.  I’ll likely just wear soemthing green and send my littleman to school wearing something green.  

3.  I certainly check Facebook and Ravelry (a knitting and crocheting social network) multiple times a day.  I also daily turn it the Moravian Daily Text as my devotional guidance for the day.  I’m not much of a blog reader, unless someone links to one on Facebook or on Revgals and then I often read them.

4.   Most people know I love to knit but I also love to take pictures.  I wish I had the time and money to take some classes and if ever I am not a preacher a photographer I would like to be.  Pictures are beautiful expressions and stories.  I wish I had found a good Lenten photo a day practice to participate in.

5.  Wow this is a tough one. ….. Here goes my try…….. I set out today with just a map, magazine and some basic knitting supplies tucked in my trusty messenger bag, I quickly found myself heading towards a hiking trail on one of the local mountains – I weep as I climb as my heart is heavy.   Coming to a clearing I find that love has replaced the weeping and I knit a baby sloth and a penguin as I sing with a lighter heart.

Movies

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Over at Revgals this week the Friday Five is about Movies.  The author writes:

Recovering from a wee surgical procedure this week, and in the wake of the Oscars last weekend, I’ve been mindful of movies in all their assorted incarnations. For today’s ff, I hope you’ll share with us some of the movies that tickle your fancy!

1) Is there a film that so captured your imagination that you couldn’t stop thinking about it? In what way(s) did it affect you?

2) What religious/spiritual film has touched you? This could be something overtly thematic, like The Last Temptation of Christ, or something more subtle, like Enchanted April.

3) When the going gets tough, is there a film you turn to for distraction and/or to help shift your mood?

4) What is your all-time favorite movie?

5) If you were to choose a film for viewing and discussion with your congregation, what would you choose?

Bonus: If your life were to be made into a feature film, who would you want to play you?

Don’t forget to share the link to your blog in the comments if you play, and remember to visit other blogs to share in the fun.

 This is a little tougher for me as I haven’t traditionally been a movie person.  I often find it hard to sit still for a movie and would rather engage somewhere else.  But that being said I have watch some movies and will give this a Friday Five a go:

 

1.  Ladder 49, I have a passion for how firefighters work together and so often put their lives at risk to save another.  I first saw this movie not long after leaving a call where I was also volunteer fire chaplain.  It made me remember with fondness the times I had with each of them and their families.  Yet at the same time gave me renewed awe for the job they do so selflessly.

2.  CAMP :  Inspired by true stories

3.  Disney Movies and My Best Friends Wedding (Saw it the week I was to marry my best friend as an escape from the growing tensions that surrounded family dynamics.

4.  Antowne Fisher

Jerome Davenport:
“Who will cry for the little boy, lost and all alone / Who will cry for the little boy, abandoned without his own”

Antwone Fisher:
“Who will cry for the little boy, he cried himself to sleep / Who will cry for the little boy, who never had it for keeps / Who will cry for the little boy, who walked on burning sands / Who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside a man / Who will cry for the little boy, who knew well hurt and pain / Who will cry for the little boy, who died and died again / Who will cry for the little boy, a good boy he tried to be / Who will cry for the little boy, who cries inside of me”

Jerome Davenport:
Who will cry for the little boy Antwoine?

Antwone Fisher:
I will, I always do.

5.  Toss up between two:  Camp (as in the one listed in #2) it just goes to show that a little bit of love can go a long way.  the second movie would be CyberBully which could serve as a great way for young people to share with adults how tough life can be and hopefully have the church surround them and promise their support.