Archive | November, 2011

a weekend without sermon writing means –

30 Nov
Well … first, I have to write my sermon tomorrow during my work day.  But I think it’s completely feasible!   Ideas have been shuffling about my head for a few days; they now need to find their way to the paper.  There are no meetings on the calendar for my Thursday so I hereby declare it an office day of sermon writing and ADVENTure preparing.  With a work-free weekend, I will be happy and –
I will finish decorating my Christmas trees.
I will make this for a dinner.  If only it’s the tiniest bit as delicious as the Thai pizza I had at Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage before flying home in August.  [And while we’re on the subject – remember when I drove to Alaska?  One of the best weeks ever.  I’d do it again at the snap of the fingers.  I think about it all. the. time.]
I will clean the house.
I will figure out how to check out ebooks on my kindle from the Austin Public Library.  [Currently enjoying Little Women for the first time but I’m anxious for something a little faster moving.]
I will begin my Christmas cards and shop etsy-style for gifts.
I may rent a redbox movie.  The Green Lantern, perhaps?
I will finish a batch of cakepops and deliver them to Paige for her house walk tour.  [I should probably drop a business card off with them too?  That means I need a name – help!]
I may make this to keep the backseat of my car Mabel-hair free from this point on.  [It’s pretty disgusting right now.]
I will sleep and veg an appropriate amount, along with a few rounds of cardio and yoga.  
It will be a fantastically wonderful weekend.  I can’t wait.

the lovely list.

29 Nov
Things in the life of lindsay are quite lovely these last few days.  
I came home after a day of work yesterday and for the first time in months, I had the energy to do something instead of sit in front of the tv and veg.  It was a good day.  A good night.
There are three different Christmas soap scents in the two bathrooms and at the kitchen sink.  Little things like Bath and Body Works foam soap make me happy.
Big Bang Theory season four on dvd.
Broccoli stir-fry.

Christmas lights on trees. 

A member throwing her arm around my shoulders today and telling me, “You’re doing a good job, kid.”  [I could do without the kid part but I’ll take it.]
The return of the ADVENTure during the Sunday school hour on Sunday.  I love my Advent calendars and the crafting that comes along with the event.
I changed up some liturgy in Sunday’s service to no negative comments.  I’ll take that as a small victory.
I think all those things they say about when-you-exercise-you-feel-better is right on.  I stopped my gym membership [“I want to quit the gym!”  I was Chandler without the screeching.] because the fifteen minute drive one way wasn’t happening; back to the living room with p90x.  It kills in such a wonderful way.
My Christmas cards arrived from my favorite quality paper store, Paper Source.  I love sending and receiving Christmas mail, and can’t wait to put that stack of red envelopes in my mailbox to send out.
Listening to Sermon Brainwave, a podcast on each Sunday’s Bible lessons.  Four of my seminary professors banter back and forth and give me sermon ideas.  It makes me smile.
Once I leave this coffee shop, I’m going to Staples to buy packs and packs of cardstock.  I love paper.
Baby Jesus hasn’t been stolen.  yet.

#bakeoff2011 results

28 Nov
I know you’re wondering.  You’re really curious.  I’ve kept in suspense long enough.
How did #bakeoff2011 go?
My entry was low quality.  It was store-bought dough and frosting.  The goal was to do something as easy and as quickly as possible the night before I drove home.  I didn’t have the creative energy or time to do anything real extensive.  
I made these.
Can you tell what they are?
It’s okay.  No one else could either.
It’s a thanksgiving plate.  You’ve got your turkey, your mashed potatoes, peas, and cranberries.  The plate would be round and likely make more sense but it couldn’t be a circle.  That was a part of the rule.
But in the end, it didn’t really matter.
Because my opponent and sworn bake-off enemy, Connor, didn’t bring anything!
And that, my friends, is how my crappy, last-minute, not-homemade entry won the sixth annual Thanksgiving day bake off of 2011.

Molly the crazy.

26 Nov
What do you need to know about Molly?  She’s my cousin.  She’s in sixth grade.  She’s crazy.
Emma, Molly, and I braved the stores on Friday after the crowds had mostly dispersed.  I always like to see what dvds are on sale [since I have no satellite or cable, I justify the cost of buying tv on dvd] and this year I needed bath towels.  It was time to retire the purple ones I still have from when I started college nine and a half years ago.  But all in all, nothing too crazy.
Except Molly.
We walked into Target and Molly, holding a flyer in her hand, began screeching, “It’s here!  It’s here!” a la the Target jumpsuit commercial lady.  People stared and laughed.  She did sit-ups on the red ball too.
We stopped briefly at Best Buy and as we were leaving saw a vending machine for the largest gumballs EVER.  Molly wanted one and Emma gave her the seventy five cents she needed.  She gnawed on that thing for a good hour.

Whenever the three of us are bumming around stores, our usual lunch stop is Jimmy John’s.  Molly hopped in a booth as I ordered, Emma joined her, and then I told Molly I’d fill her soda.  She wanted Dr.Pepper.  I went for Diet Coke.  Somewhere between the fountain and the booth, I forgot which was which.  I handed one to Molly and told her to take a drink to see if it was right.  Uh huh, she nodded.  Five minutes later, I get around to taking my first drink from my cup … of Dr.Pepper.  Molly, Molly, Molly.  Spitting of soda on Emma ensued.  Chunks of slim #1 flew about.  Shenanigans, I tell you.  
Later, we stopped at the good old Piggly Wiggly for a few groceries.  Molly happily took the kiddie cart and wheeled it around the store like a mad woman.  Watch your heels, people.  [Doesn’t her face resemble an angry bird?]

To summarize, Molly is crazy.

And I love her for it.


22 Nov
It’s official.  So official that it has its own hashtag in the twitter-verse.
Year six.  Here we go.  Those born on December 8th [my 18 year old cousin, Connor, and I share the same birthday] are matching their baking and creative skills against one another once again.  Any and everything more you want to know about this year’s bake-off can be found in the following photos of my iphone screen:


20 Nov
Sunday.  Sunday.  Sunday.
Church at 9am.  I started with a joke today.  It felt right.
[Dear Noah,
We swear you said the ark wasn’t leaving until 1.
The unicorns]
Har.  Har.  Har.
Then I challenged the congregation to share the peace without touching each other.  They weren’t allowed to shake hands.  They thought it was cute but it was probably the novelty of it.  I don’t think they’ll think it’s cute next week.
Then hello sermon number two.  I had to preach this evening at an ecumenical [read: Lutherans and Catholics] Thanksgiving service.  To heck if I was able to write it while still thinking about my Sunday morning service.  It’s not how I work, folks.
Sermon writing intermission: Mabel and I walked out to the dumpster to throw something out.  I opened the lid of the dumpster and a terrified cat jumped out.  Mabel chased it and treed it.
Print sermon.  Smell something foul.  Find Mabel had gone number two on the hardwood floor of a spare bedroom.  That’s a first.  [And hopefully a last.]
Paige and I had a date to meet at 4pm at one of jD’s church.  It’s church dinner season in Minnesota, donchaknow, and Aurora Lutheran was hosting an oyster stew and chili supper.  We had kept it a secret that we would be attending and surprised the bowtied pastor at the door.  He convinced me I wanted to pay two extra dollars to try the oyster stew.  I tried.  And soon traded the bowl in for chili instead.
From there [and after requesting that our server tell Lauren in the kitchen that we were highly unsatisfied with our food to get her attention – the perfect ploy] I drove to Blooming to prepare for this Thanksgiving service and the preaching of the sermon I was really unsure about.  Lo and behold, it proved true again that any sermon I think is terrible is the one I receive the most positive feedback.  [Unless of course everyone was just super nice to the new girl.  That is also possible.  Pity compliments are always a possibility.]
Long Sunday, folks.  Long Sunday.  A long Sunday to be followed by three long days of busy, busy work in order to prepare to take off for Wisconsin on Thursday for a couple days.  Here we go.
[You can be the judge yourself.  Below is the sermon I thought was mediocre but highly complimented by others.  Pity praise?  You decide or can jump on the boat of pity.]  [It’s a joke, folks,  I’m not really that down on myself or think that everything said to me is a lie through other’s teeth.]
What do you see?  It’s like that popular children’s book Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? The book goes through different animals of different colors, teaching children about animals and colors and patterns.  Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?  I see a red bird looking at me.  Red bird, red bird, what do you see?  I see a blue horse looking at me.  And the pattern continues.  Maybe I should ask you –  people of God, people of God, what do you see?  We likely haven’t seen any blue horses lately so our answers would be much different than the book.  And I would add a second question on the next page – What do you do when you see?
It kind of goes without saying that what we see makes all the difference.  What we see shapes our outlook and our behavior.  If we see snow on the ground outside, we put on our boots.  If we see someone crying, we comfort them.  If we see the stoplight turn yellow ahead of us, we use the brakes on our car.  And if we saw a blue horse like the one in the children’s story, we might be speechless.
What we see makes all the difference.  People who wear glasses know this.  People who have been subject to unfortunate eyesight loss know this.  I wear contacts during the day and so, come night, I take them out and put on my glasses.  I go to bed, putting my glasses on my beside table.  Always in the same place.  One morning, I woke up, grabbed my glasses, put them on, and went about my morning.  I turned on the light in my bedroom and turned on my computer.  Something wasn’t quite right.  Was the light not working properly?  It seemed awfully dark in my bedroom.  And my computer screen was hard to read.  I blinked over and over, leaned in closer to the desk and realized my eyesight was terrible.  Why couldn’t I see?  What we see makes all the difference and at this point, I couldn’t see like I should be able to and my behavior reflected that.  I became a bit crazy, a bit fearful, wondering what could be going on.  I took off my glasses thinking, maybe, just maybe, they were really dirty and needed to be cleaned.  In my morning fog, my still half-awake state of mind, I pulled off … my non-prescription sunglasses.  They weren’t the right glasses at all.  What we see makes all the difference.
In verse 14 of our gospel reading, Jesus sees the lepers who call out to him.  And when he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’  In these times, if a leper was healed, it was a priest who had to certify that the person was clean once again before they could become a part of the community once more.  And as the lepers went as Jesus said to them, they were made clean.  Jesus saw a need and acted to meet it. 
Likewise, then one of the lepers sawthat he was healed and turned back.  Because he saw that he was healed, he praised God and thanked Jesus.  What the leper saw affected his behavior.  When the leper saw that he was healed, he didn’t just celebrate his good fortune on his own or with the other nine, but turned around with gratefulness. 

In both [of these] cases, seeing means more than just physical sight – it means on the one hand perceiving the opportunity to be merciful toward another, and on the other hand the recognition that God’s mercy has touched one’s life.

It’s not only what you see but it is what you do when you see. 

When Jesus saw people in need, when he saw people on the outside, he acted.  Jesus restored them to fullness.  With the healing Jesus pronounced upon the ten, those ten lepers would no longer need to live outside of the community.  Those ten lepers would no longer need to cry out, “Unclean, unclean” if someone were to approach them.  Christ invites them into a wholeness of life once more, into a lifemuch unlike the one they were forced to live before.  And the one who returned recognized the mercy of God that had touched him and made him clean; for that, he was grateful.

Seeing can make all the difference. What do you see?  Make sure you are not wearing your sunglasses instead of your prescription lenses and take account of what’s around you.  It’s not even always about what we see – it’s what we feel, touch, and smell.  Are you aware of what goes on around you?
Take account of the people around and the needs that are present in our lives and the lives of our neighbors.  Jesus saw the need of the lepers – people cast outside because of a disease.  What needs do you see?  What do you perceive about the world around you?  Around us?
Let’s take our community of Blooming Prairie as context.  Some people might guess that the needs in our community are small.  Blooming is a small and proud community; the kind where people know people and directions are given by landmarks instead of street addresses.  Yet, there are still needs present in this community and in communities around us.  It’s true that sometimes people in need simply do not catch our attention. A coworker we label as crabby may be struggling with a difficult family situation, and we might learn that if only we ask. Who notices an international student far from home and family, or the person separated from family during the holidays? Other times, we simply pass by people whose lives are a day-to-day struggle to survive. There are people who need care, families who need help, and people who may simply need to feel that they are loved.
Remembering also the tenth leper who returned to give thanks once he saw he was healed, let’s touch on his reaction to what he saw.  There’s this second part of seeing and acting present in the text.  What do you see for which you can give thanks?  How do we live grateful lives in response to how we see God is working in and through us?  In this season of thanksgiving, we focus on the gratitude piece.  I asked the confirmation students at Red Oak Grove to put together a wall of thankfulness.  Everything from friends to pets to family to music to chores showed up on their lists.  I would wonder what you see each and every day – this season and throughout the year – for which gratitude is a wonderful and proper response. 
Remember the big question is this – what do you see and what do you do when you see?  If you go home with one thing stuck in your head, think about what you see and how you act.  Do you see the need for food shelf availability and purchase extra food items at the grocery store?  Do you see a lonely neighbor in need of conversation and so you knock on her door?  Do you see the blessings of parents, children, and friends in your own life, and make them aware of the gratitude you have for their love?  Do you see God healing someone you love and thank God in prayer and praise? 
As we read this text and as we are a part of this thanksgiving, soon to be advent, and upcoming Christmas season, perhaps what goes forward with us is that faith is a way of seeing.  Believing in Christ calls us to open our eyes and employ all our senses to the world around us.  Which of our neighbors need assistance?  How can we help?  What are our blessings for which to be grateful?  A rabbi says it this way – “Religion is not primarily a set of beliefs, a collection of prayers or a series of rituals. Religion is first and foremost a way of seeing. It can’t change the facts about the world we live in, but it can change the way we see those facts, and that in itself can often make a difference.”
If we believe that faith is a way of seeing, what we see should lead us to act.  Reaching out, helping others, and making a joyful noise in response to God’s mercy and grace.  Thanking and praising God along the journey.   What do you see and what will you do when you see? People of God, people of God, what do you see?  Amen.

BP vs. DB

19 Nov
I went to the semi-final football playoff game at the Metrodome today.  Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks vs. Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms.  While I sat on the side of the team where I now reside, deep down I cheered for the team across the stadium.  Talk about conflicting loyalties.

It’s not that Blooming Prairie isn’t awesome or that their team didn’t deserve to win.  They have worked extremely hard and have had a great season.  They’ve broken records and the town united over the team going to state.  They’re awesome and great and are made up of wonderful kids.  Totally.
Maybe there is something to be said that the amount of my life spent in Dawson at this point still outnumbers the amount of time I’ve spent in the Blooming community.  There’s probably something to be said that my coworkers at Grace who remain dear friends all have kids who play on the team.  There’s likely also something about my own safety, after receiving threatening text messages about my allegiance to DB.  [one guess who was behind those]  Nothing against Blooming Prairie but my connections with Dawson are what they are.
I also think this – there is so much truth in this article, written about the small town pride of Dawson, that has to do with why part of my heart still resides in Gnometown.  There is just something about Dawson … 
Congrats to the DB football team as they advance to the final state game next Friday at the metrodome again.  Likely another week of nerves and excitement for that small town with such a big heart; a heart worn on the sleeves of Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks apparel.  
[ … so I’m fairly certain I can still legally and without consequence write such posts because no one from my new congregation reads this.  To my knowledge anyways.  None of them are friends with me on facebook so I don’t know how they would have ever come across it.  If there are any BP fans reading and I offended … well, let’s talk.]


18 Nov
I put up a Christmas tree tonight.
I’m taking nods from my mother and now have two.  I purchased one at Target today for a good [cheap] price.  It’s going to be my crazy out-there color-coordinated tree.  My second tree – to be put up while watching Elf one of these nights – will be the traditional tree of ornaments from my childhood.
I know, I know.  It’s not even Thanksgiving.  However, I feel great about my decision because I will be gone next weekend [who is going to eat turkey at grandma and grandpa’s?  this girl.] and by the time I would put it up upon returning here, it would easily be December already.  I feel good about this.  Judge me if you want.  [but please don’t.]

thankful with scones [3].

17 Nov
I’m being unconventional.  [That’s code for lazy and procrastinating.]
I didn’t say thank you with paper this week.  I said thank you with lemon scones.  These lemon scones.

I said thank you to Marilyn, the administrative extraordinaire at ROG.  She’s awesome.  She puts together the bulletin and listens to my questions, my tears, and my outbursts.  Marilyn has had a bit of a crazy week and another crazy one ahead of her as her husband has surgery.  I figured scones were necessary.  We had a staff meeting with a scone and coffee, and I sent the rest home with Marilyn.  She deserves them and more for all she does for me and for the office.  
In other Thursday news, I think I might have pink eye …

dr. knock-me-down and how I learned to stop crying and embrace the party rock.

16 Nov
*cue refrain*
Sunday was great.  [Church was … meh – I blame my own preparation – but it was followed by an afternoon of the Blooming High School musical and local church potato supper with two lovely congregation ladies.  That was followed by Mabel and I trucking to O-town to hang out with the first-year-first-call groupies and having great conversation about Catholic pre-marital counseling.]  
Then Monday kinda sucked.  Tuesday morning wasn’t a whole lot better.
If life and work could stop being such a roller coaster, I would greatly appreciate it.  
I felt knocked down on Monday.  I’m facing fears of change, trust, and lots of different emotions that I can’t even name at this point.  It’s hard to know how to go forward without experience or much confidence on my end.  I cried, watched Dawson’s Creek, and ate a fruit smoothie to nurse my sore throat.  [you may play your sympathy music here.]  Bottom of roller coaster.
I started to go up on the ride yesterday.  I embraced the party rock and began my day with a blow-dryer-loud-music dance party for one in the blue bathroom.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t cry when I got to work but that also doesn’t negate the power of party rock.  An afternoon of tea and website conversation continued the climb.  A night of nothing.  Literally nothing.  Needed.
Welcome to Wednesday.  Another party rock morning.  Naomi Circle meeting at Perkins.  Good.  Nursing home communion visits.  Good.  Dorcas Circle meeting at church.  Good.
It was a day of great stories.  Stories of second chances, long lives, and how God works through all of it.  Stories of going home from the nursing home after a two month recovery.  Stories of being married for 71 years.  Conversations about deep roots, good soil, and necessary silence.  
And then confirmation.  My confirmation group of four is beyond awesome.  They’re engaged, ask questions, and – dare I say? – a bit excited to be bringing their Bibles each week.  Tonight we talked about what we’re thankful for, the movie Serendipity [one could say there are likenesses to, oh, Isaac and Rebekah?], and the relation of music and faith.  
One of the confirmation gals also said she is working through the Bible reading plan that I stuffed in the bulletins last Sunday.  [Yes!  At least one!  And a youth at that!]  As we reviewed what we learned last week, I asked a bunch of questions about Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac.  This particular gal wanted clarification on whether it was a lamb or ram given for sacrifice in the binding of Isaac.  I told her to look it up and asked her where she would find the story, hoping she would be able to give me the book name.  “Genesis 22?” she asked.  Yes!  Yes!  “I just read it yesterday,” she said.  “It’s on the reading plan.”  Yes!  Yes!
Up and down.  Up and down.  Tomorrow is first call colleague group over lunch [up] and a day of two sermons on my plate [down].  There will also be cleaning for a visitor this weekend [Adam!] and thoughts of a state football playoff game at the Metrodome on Saturday morning.  [Blooming Prairie is playing – guess who? – Dawson in the state playoffs!]  Up and down.  Up and down.  I’m holding out for less dr. knock-me-down and a little more party rock in the next days.
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