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9 Jan
My work week has been a rollercoaster and, frankly, I’m not thrilled about it.
Sunday was fine.  Back from vacation.  Feeling fresh.  I think people learned a little about epiphany.  Linda, a member who wrote a book about her life with polio and keeps a blog, actually wrote about the service in a post.  Check it.
Monday sucked.  My to do list was long, I felt swamped, and found my list of to do filled with menial tasks that seemingly lacked ministry.  Figure out who needs keys for the church.  Buy a dvd player for the church.  Phone calls.  Newsletter.  I was just crabby and it made for a bad day.  [Then I kickboxed, made pad thai, and watched The Bachelor so there was improvement.]
Tuesday was good.  I had a productive office morning/ministerium meeting in Blooming and then was off to Austin for visits – some really profound, holy visits.  My first visit was to a man who is dying.  He was tired, laying down, and had “taken his ears out.”  The family said I could go in a say hi and to communicate they handed me a white board and a red dry-erase marker.  I would write on the board, show it to him, and he would nod or give me a hand gestures.  It went something like this: Hi.  It’s Pastor Lindsay. / Would you like communion today? [nods yes. give communion.] / The body and blood of Jesus given for you. [nod.] /  We are praying for you. [gestures to hold my hand.]  It was a pretty holy place.
Today was not horrible … but confirmation – my beloved confirmation – threw me for a loop tonight.  We hadn’t met for actual confirmation class since the end of November; maybe our rhythm was just off.  But between one of the kids making a gay joke [I might have jumped on that a little too harshly.], cell phones, secrets, and just gross disinterest [I may be slightly exaggerating.], it was so frustrating.  I made me completely question what the hell I’m doing for structure and how badly I’ve screwed it up.  [Of course I immediately blame myself.]  Shit.
But hey – if the course of the week continues, tomorrow will be awesome.  Here’s hoping.

we threw marshmallows.

14 Dec
You know I like my confirmation kids a’ight.  I invited them over for a Christmas par-tay tonight.  Party at the parsonage!  That’s where everyone wants to be on a Friday night, right? 
Apparently, my confirmation kids agree.  They came over and we played Minute-to-Win-it games.  We ate pizza rolls and decorated ninjabreadmen cookies.  The party was supposed to end at 8:30; they called their parents and grandparents to change their pick-up until 9:30.  We had Elf to watch.

a thankful november: first graders.

1 Dec
I know it’s December.  December 1st.   I KNOW.  Calm down.
I was going to write this yesterday but I didn’t get home while it was still yesterday.  Lefse making went late last night [and was awesome.]  More on that to come.  [Three batches, four friends, two griddles, and no catastrophes!  There is a movie title in there somewhere.]
But before the lefse making began, I went to my Friday afternoon gig – helping first graders with sight words.  It’s super fun because we’re starting to get to know each other.  I walk in the rooms and they wave.  Before I leave the room, they yell in unison, Bye Ms. Stolen.  They tell me stories about their elves on the shelves and show me their candy cane picture proudly.  It’s fun.
My favorite part is when they have to make up sentences with their sight words.  For some reason, I think I would struggle with the exercise.  I don’t know why but I’m always amazed at how fast they are.  And how fun the sentences are.  And how they smirk when they say them.  My favorite?  The word: old.  The sentence: you’re old.  smirk

a thankful november: tator tots & two year olds.

1 Nov
Happy November!
[It’s November.  When did that happen?  Okay, fine.  I know.  It happened today.]
In an effort to become a more regular blogger once again and in light of the thankful hearts that are shared this month, I, Lindsay, pledge to blog on a [nearly] daily basis something for which I am thankful.
[Did you get that?  Mouthful.  Nearly daily basis?  There may be a few holes due to being away from computer, not for lack of being thankful.]
A thankful November.  I tried to be creative with the title.  Thank-vember?  Novemb-itude?  Then I gave up.  Onto the important part –
Today, November 1, I am thankful for tator tot casserole and two-year olds named Jackson.
I went over to a family’s house for supper tonight.  They are parishioners and ones I sadly haven’t gotten to really know in my year here.  Their second child is being baptized at the end of the month and baptisms are always my pastor excuse to invite myself over.  Their two year old is pretty subdued in church.  He’s a great kid.  Put him in his own territory – his own living room – and high on sugar from yesterday – watch out.  He was running around, making awesome dramatic facial expressions, and making slurpy noises when he wanted more to drink.  Absolutely hilarious.
It was great fun for this pastor to eat in a house with a crazy two year old.  I usually sit on my couch watching television while I eat; this was a great change of pace.  And we had biscuits with dinner.  Carbs.  [Yum.  Something I don’t buy myself.]
And so today, I am thankful for tator tot casserole around a table with fun parishioners and their crazy two-year old.

whose mom are you?

26 Oct
Hanging out with first graders is fun.  It was my second time volunteering at the elementary school, my every Friday gig.  Today, the refrain I heard over and over was, “Whose mom are you?”
I told one little red head boy with Ron Weasley-like facial expressions that I was no one’s mom.  That I was just a friend.
He scrunched his face up and asked me again, “Whose mom are you?”  
I’m not a mom.  I’m just a friend.  Is that okay?
Ron Weasley-like facial expression.  No response.
Okay.  Can you go and send Lily out to meet with me now?

We worked on sight words.  That use is a tough one.

let’s not jinx it –

20 Aug
– but life in ministry is pretty good right now and I owe it to day camp [among other things].  
First of all, day camp gave me a chance to do what I really love.  Plan a whole bunch of crazy things for kids to do.  And then do those crazy things with them.  It gave me the opportunity to get to know some of the youth at ROG a bit better.  Day camp made me happy.  [I had lunch with my synod friend, Karen, today.  She told me, It was great to hear you so excited about day camp.  And she’s right.  I was excited.  And that is great.]
Second, day camp got me mucho brownie points with the congregation.  The older members LOVE seeing kids at church.  They are, after all, the future of the church.  Older members were astonished at how many kids came and they ate it up.  Yesterday was a wonderfully affirmative Sunday at church and while not all of it was related to day camp, a lot of it was.  The people are excited that the kids are excited.  And that makes me excited.
Third, day camp has given energy and excitement around children and youth ministry at Red Oak Grove.  [I should add day camp AND the national youth gathering of last month.]  I met with a few parents and interested people in working with kids and they are on board with what I have to say.  I think they are learning to trust me.  Not to say that all of my ideas are the right ones or that I always know what I’m doing, but seeing the success of a few things in the past has given me a bit of clout, I daresay.  [We talked about my want of a youth space.  A youth room.  They’re totally on board.  I could carpet that room for you, said one member.  Make it more cozy and a more welcoming place.  Yes!  Deal!]
Ministry is good and it only took me a year of being here and a day of day camp to say that.  
Here’s hoping it continues.

day camping.

17 Aug
Day camp.  R-to-the-O-to-the-G-style.  [which, for those of you who don’t know, is awesome.]
I may have panicked the day before, needing to schedule the day, buy supplies, and find some adult helpers, but it came together [as it always does].  I managed to pull nearly everything together in time which was good because on Wednesday morning, seventeen kids showed up.  Ranging in age from 4 to 8th grade, we were [mostly] ready for a day of fun.
Our theme was feet, taking a nod from Joshua 1:9.  [a la ‘be strong and courageous, not frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you every step of the way’]  We tie-dyed socks and painted our feet to create a new banner for our worship space.  Relay games, fun snacks, and crazy camp games filled more of the day.
My favorite part of the day?  The seventh and eighth graders who signed up – there were three – signed up under the title of “counselor.”  Being so last minute, there was no training involved for their role.  I told them that they would participate along with everyone else but I might call on them to do a few errands or help with activities throughout the day.   Emma, Alec, and Elly were awesome counselors beyond my expectations.  These three had all spent a week at Good Earth Village as campers this summer and they had an idea what counselors do at camp.  They led younger campers around by hand.  They taught their favorite games from camp.  They led small group time with great leadership.  High fives and $5 gift cards to DQ for these awesome kids!
A couple kids told me, “We should do this like five times a year!” I don’t know about that, kids, but we’ll try it again next summer for sure, and maybe for longer than just a day.  The kids loved it, and I did too.  It fed my soul to plan and be a part of this.  Good day.  Good day.
prepping socks for tie-dye.

teamwork to pull apart a frozen tshirt.

a confirmation end.

17 May
Last night was the bittersweet last evening of confirmation for the school year.
We begin every night with sharing our highs and lows – things that have gone well for the week, and things that have not been so great.  I think three out of the four seventh graders included a low that confirmation was ending.  They ask to stay later.  They wonder why confirmation classes don’t go through the summer.  They like confirmation.  It makes me melt.  
And, last night, things felt sad.  These seventh graders were really sad that it was over.  It felt like we should have ended with a group hug or something.  I promised that we would try and have a few confirmation get-togethers this summer and they liked that idea.  Honestly, I’ll be sad too.  [Though also a bit excited to have my Wednesday nights free.  Hence the bittersweet.]
For our last night, we had pizza [including a s’more dessert pizza] and went on a culminating Bible knowledge-esque scavenger hunt.  We chatted a lot and we prayed.  And I invited them to fill out some casual evaluations.  Ready to see a few samples?  This was the last question and you may need to refresh yourself on this background story first.  It seems I will never live it down … also, these kids just really like ninjas.  


6 Dec
I survived my first funeral at ROG.  Shocking?  Not overly.  I expected I would survive.  As nervous as I become for things like this, it went well.  [I think.]
I greeted family members, introduced myself, and was chatty.  Shocking?  A little bit.  The introvert was pushed to the side, as she needed to be.  But, boy, was I tired afterwards.
I turned on the corded microphone in the pulpit before reading the gospel.  Shocking?  Yes.  Literally.
We’re having microphone issues right now, as in my Britney Spears mic is at the shop.  I’m using a corded mic [in the pulpit] and the lectern mic primarily.  I walked up into the pulpit, had one hand on the metal reading lamp and put the other on the microphone to switch it on.  It was like I had put my fingers in an empty light socket.  [… which yes.  I’ve done before.]  I was zapped!  It was more than a carpet static shock but not enough that I swore or had any sudden movements.  After it happened, I remember thinking to myself, “Can I still stand?  Can I do this?”  A woozy second or two and I was fine.  I read the gospel.  Preached a mediocre sermon.  And survived.  My hand tingled for a couple hours afterwards.  
I spent about 20 minutes sitting in the empty sanctuary after all of it with a third grade grandson of the deceased.  Shocking?  Nope.  It was the right place for me to be.
I’m never sure where to sit during the coffee/cake time following a funeral.  I don’t need to sit with the immediate family – they have other people to greet – but often times they are the only people I know besides the women in the kitchen.  Today, I gravitated towards the kids.  There was a group of four grandchildren sitting at a far back table.  I joined them as that awkward pastor they don’t know.  Plus, none of them were drinking coffee so their coffee pot was full and in need of a drinker.
Later, as people began saying goodbyes downstairs, I walked up to the narthex and was going to go into the sanctuary to clean up my papers/books/etc. I started walking down the aisle and heard someone talk to me from behind.  It was a third grade grandson who had been in the group I sat with earlier.  He was asking me a question.  I answered and then kept walking.  He asked another question.  And another.  And soon we were both plopped in pews, on either side of the aisle, facing each other and talking.
We talked about everything.  How to outrun a cougar.  [You can’t.]  How he wants to go to Africa with a monster truck on safari.  [A silly boy.]  About Chicago, where he used to live.  About his older brother who died four years ago from what sounds like a suicide.  How he once told this guy about Jesus.  [His parents are pastors in the Salvation Army, which includes a theology of “saving” people.]  “I’ve never talked to a pastor like this before,” he said.  [I took that as a compliment.]
Soon, his sixth grade sister joined us.  “I was surprised.  You did a good job up there,” she told me, pointing to the pulpit.  We talked more about how they fight a lot as brother and sister [he bit her yesterday], about what will happen tomorrow at the cemetery, and the fact that the hotel they’ve been staying in does not have a pool [gasp].  
Soon, their parents were ready to leave.  We walked out of the sanctuary together and the sixth grader gave me a hug.  Sitting in that sanctuary with those kids after the funeral of their grandma was exactly where I needed to be.  Amen to that, Holy Spirit.  

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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