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It was good.

24 Aug
[But now I need some major introvert Lindsay time.]
I’ve spent the last two days visiting my future congregation in Austin.  It was at the suggestion of the council that I visit and get a grip on a few things before diving in and beginning in September.  Wanting to make good on the council’s suggestion and come in on a good foot, I agreed to meet with the current interim, see what he had to say, and stay in the community for a few nights.
The interim showed me points of interest in the surrounding towns and gave me a few tips that he has learned as a pastor at Red Oak Grove.  A few things that he showed me were very helpful. [And a few … well.]  We had some good theological conversation with two very different perspectives – he as a pastor on the brink of retirement and me as one who is just beginning of another generation.  There were moments when I was really excited and moments when I was really terrified about what in the world I have gotten myself into …
A really good moment – despite the surprise of it – was the meet and greet that was planned for Tuesday night.  [I was not made aware that this would even be happening until Monday night – surprise!]  It was at the local pizza place and members knew that they could stop in and meet me – the new pastor – between 5:30 and 7.  Many members took advantage of it and I meeted and greeted until I was exhausted.  [I’m still exhausted!  Four hours in the car alone will be awesome to recharge.]  I got many flicks of the hand with “You’ll fit right in here.  I can already tell!” and only a few comments about my age.  [Unlike the interim who liked to add, “And that was only last year!” to my line of “We sold the farm when I was 16.”]  I think they are right – I think I’ll fit in.  They seem like a really great crew.
Who’s excited?  This girl.  
Now onward to Dawson for a night of gnome friends!  
Who’s excited for that?  This girl.

Up next.

21 Aug
I arrived home and promptly went to bed on Saturday.  I still haven’t recovered in the sleep/rest department, and I don’t think life is going to let me.
I hit the road bright and early tomorrow morning for Austin.  For Red Oak Grove to be specific.  I’ll spend the next three days catching up with the current interim, seeing what he has to say.  The goal is not for him to teach me his way of doing things so I can continue, but rather for me to get a grasp on where the congregation has been and the direction they are currently heading.  I’m hoping it’s a good experience and educational for the future ministry as I step in come September.  I’m not entirely sure what we’ll talk about/do for Monday afternoon, all of Tuesday, and Wednesday morning … but we’ll see.
While in Austin, I’ll be staying the night with jD and Lauren in Owatonna, including a dinner one evening with Paige, another seminary colleague.  I’m pretty darn excited to catch up with these friends and spend time with them.  It will be good.
From there, because I’ll already be halfway and I have the time so why not, I’m going to continue onto Dawson to take in the Taste of Grace, an annual supper held at Grace, on Wednesday night.  It may be the last time in a long while I’ll have the opportunity to visit and after driving to Alaska [remember that?], what is eight more hours?  Take note, Dawson friends, because I hope to see you there!  
After that, I’ll likely drive home through the Cities and make a few stops there, both city and friend-wise.    I’ll return home Thursday?  Friday?  Eh.  It doesn’t really matter.  Until I move on labor day weekend, I have nothing much on my calendar except to pack and prepare for the move.  It will keep me busy enough but to put it off in exchange for seeing far-off friends I am more than willing to do.  On the road again!

the three gnomes.

29 Jul
It’s a tale much like that of the deathly hallows – of an elder wand, a resurrection stone, and a cloak of invisibility.*  But this tale is one of three gnomes with three lessons for ministry.  These three gnomes magically appeared in the pulpit at my ordination, traveling long distances with Pastor Kendall as their guide.
Gnomes are certainly wise creatures despite the bad reputation they seem to gain.  [Something about stealing socks and pulling pranks from within the weeds.]  These gnomes are theologically wise, having much knowledge of ministry and how to be a non-anxious presence in pastoral care and other situations.  As they shared their perfect three tips at my ordination, so they wish to share with you.

The first gnome, on the left, with his finger to his lips, reminds us that to listen is golden.  In ministry – as in all important conversations and in every relationship – it is important to listen.  Listening, often more than talking, is why we have two ears and only one mouth; use them proportionately.  
The middle gnome, with his hands and arms in a gentle shrug, reminds us that no one has the answers.  Not I, not you.  Sometimes – likely more often than we do – it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”  I don’t know why bad things happen.  I don’t know why there is so much pain in the world.  I don’t know where your other black sock went.  shrug.  I don’t know.  And that’s okay.  It’s honest and it’s true and sometimes it’s the best answer to say that you don’t have the answer.  
The gnome on the right, with hands in a prayerful grasp, seek to show us to pray first and speak after.  If you pray before speaking, the prayer is one of guidance and asking for God’s presence within a conversation.  But, if you pray after speaking, the prayer is one of seeking forgiveness and questions of “why did I just say that?!”  Pray first, speak later.  Pray first.
There we have it.  The three gnomes and the tales of wisdom they came to East Koshkonong to share.  Thanks to the three wise gnomes for their tips for ministry and the ways in which they share the life lessons they have learned.  And thanks to Pastor Kendall for bringing them to me and to live forever in my church office.  [Which they totally will.  They will live on a shelf, occasionally on my desk, and be a conversation piece for all who visit.  Major, major creativity points to KLS.  Awesome sermon to bring home the ordination.  Awesome.]

* Harry Potter reference.  Catch up, folks!

a few photos.

27 Jul
More will follow!

laying on of hands.

the dawson sixteen-hours-in-a-car wonderful crew.

molly was my awesome acolyte.

giving of the stole.
a better glance at the stole, sewn by mom.

the ladies served a super classy reception.

with aunt kari and molly bea.

the grandparents.

a gift.

26 Jul
I was showered upon with hugs, prayers, cards, love, and gifts at my ordination.  [yeah, yeah, yeah, lindsay.  you’ve mentioned this before.]  It’s true.  I want to share one of these gifts with you.  It’s one that came wrapped like this:
The same way in which I wrapped Lori’s ordination gift from Grace last year with old, old bulletin covers that still hang out in the copy room.  They’ve come in handy!  [I still remember carrying the ugly, tacky box into Lori’s church and putting it on the floor by all the other gifts.  The preaching pastor for the ordination, one Pastor Mary, was standing nearby and she sincerely complimented me on the wrapping.  “Oh.  Oh!  That’s so nice.  Wonderful.”  Really, Pastor Mary?]
Inside of this box I unwrapped while sitting on the grass outside, surrounded by the Grace folks and others intrigued by such folly [I probably attracted over by reading the card aloud with such emphasis and emotion.], were many things.  Many things.  Not pictured are the gifts from the 50th anniversary of Grace that happened this past June.  A cookbook, notecards, and an ornament.  Super cool.  Then there were these things –
A bat catcher.  Something every church/pastor needs.  [What will I do when I don’t have a Batman to catch the bats at Red Oak Grove?!]

A “cooky” pastry press.  Lynn showed me how to use it.  It’s for ladyfingers, eclairs and more.

A purple gingham apron, a piece of really strange red and green fabric, a purse/pocketbook thing [for church keys, I guess], and a new sewing book.
And, naturally, new cardigans.  Three to be precise.  A light pink, fleece gray, and a knit pink.  They’re only slightly sketchy and likely need to be washed.  [Courtesy of the thrift store in Dawson and excellent thrifting done by the staff.]
Good job, Grace.  Good job.

four pictures.

13 Apr
Four pictures that showcase the joy of my day:

My brother, Ben, on his way back from Alaska via MSP, stopped at my apartment to teach me all about car fuses and replace the broken one that killed my radio, clock, and cigarette lighter.  I helped him find the spare fuses in the fuse box that was under the hood.  I asked, “How do I get it out?”  I had no needle nose pliers in my belt.  [I tell you, the ONE time I’m caught without them!]  There is a tool – a little plastic pincher grabber – in the fuse box to grab the fuses from their places!  Who knew?!  [Okay.  Maybe you did.]  I was certainly impressed.  He changed the fuse but I’m confident I could do it in future situations.  [Maybe.]
A letter from my penpal, C., was found in my mailbox today, complete with a flower!
A box of cakepop chicks and easter eggs sent off to my favorite staff members in Dawson.  Here’s hoping the sugar rush helps them get through the craziness that is holy week in a church.
Excuse me?  Say that one more time, please.  The world’s largest textile garage sale?!  I think I found my Saturday study break!  [I’m pretty sure this is the sale you told me about last year, Karen?  Maybe?  I totally happened upon the poster at a store in Stillwater this afternoon and, boy, am I glad I did!  To think I almost missed it!]

blessed to be a blessing.

3 Apr
*ahem*  My weekend story.
Once upon a Saturday morning, Lindsay drove south to a small country church for an interview.  [Not such a blessing: The iPhone car charger I bought the night before in anticipation of this long weekend traveling about Minnesota somehow blows a fuse in my car.  The radio, clock, and cigarette lighter worked for none of the ten hours I spent driving yesterday and today.  What worked overtime?  My brain.  And the voices in my head.  Not good.  This blog post?  Written mentally on the drive.  My one-page paper due tomorrow?  Not written on the drive.]  The interview went … well.  [Also well?  The fact that I discovered there is a Target AND a JoAnne Fabrics not ten minutes from where I would be living if I were to receive the call.  Score!]  I feel blessed to have reached this point and am so excited to begin doing ministry in a new place.  I’ll keep you posted!
From this small country church, I drove west and north to Dawson dearest.  [Four hours.  Did I mention no radio?]  There was a ticket and it had my name on it.  A seat was reserved for me to see the Dawson-Boyd High School production of Hairspray.  It was magnificent.  Hilarious.  [Enter any synonym for “awesome.”]  Those high schoolers and adults who participated both on stage and behind the scenes are blessed with incredible gifts.  Incredible.
I felt greatly blessed to return to Dawson and be greeted by so many friends.  I honestly cannot tell you how it ever happened.  I spent a year in this place and met some of the most wonderful people.  In that one year, they shared humor, confidence in me, hugs, and loads of love.  I love them to bits.  And miss them bunches. 
As I ran into friends in the rush that followed the end of the musical, I smiled so loudly.  I couldn’t stop as I saw people I didn’t expect to see and received/gave hug after hug.  I caught up briefly on Dawson lives, shared my own life update, and was the butt of [only a few] jokes.  The one that had me laughing the hardest?
     [discussing whether or not I’m going to worship at Grace the following day]
     Sam: You could go in disguise.
     Me: Hmm.  I didn’t bring any disguises.
     Mary:  You could not wear a cardigan.
     [hilarious.  and sadly true.  I had packed a cardigan for the next day.]
I was blessed by former coworkers who opened their home to me.  Again.  I was lucky to have a couch to sleep on in a house that feels like a home to me.  [I think that’s a compliment, Emily!  I hope you take it as such!]  After spending time there dog-sitting Abby, the mischievous lab who played many games with me this morning, and numerous late nights of dinner and wine, it feels completely comfortable and wonderful to return, if only for a short night.  
This morning I worshipped at Grace.  It was the first time I’d been back to the church and, actually, the first time I’d simply sat in the congregation and worshipped.  Kendall preached – after I had a red-faced introduction from the current intern as the returning intern – and it was all about blessing.  Paying attention to the blessings in our lives.  We have received blessings upon blessings, and with those, we bless back.  We bless with what God has given us; with what we have received, we bless others. 

This past weekend, I was so incredibly aware of blessings I have received.  [And then I came back and had to do homework and this group presentation meeting and became really crabby and I should probably apologize again and again to my group members.]  Many of the blessings I was again reminded of are faces, names, and arms that hug me again and again.  [Two examples of many: Custodian Keith.  He and his wife give me a hug when they first see me.  *mingle, mingle*  Keith and Gail are on their way out, and Keith wonders if he’ll see me in church the next day.  I told him I wasn’t quite sure, so he said he’d better give me another hug just in case.  He says, in reference to the staff at Grace, “We were a pretty tight group.”  Aww.  Yes, we were.  Second: A hug, quick conversation, and kiss on the hand from my five-year-old friend, C.]  I’m so incredibly blessed; here’s hoping I take those blessings and am a blessing to others.  Source: 24.media.tumblr.com via David on Pinterest 

In this new week, pay attention to the blessings in your life.  
What/who are they?  AND 
How are you a blessing to others?

dust again.

10 Mar
Ash Wednesday.  The beginning of Lent.  It was on this specific day last year that I think I truly began to live into my vocation, into being a pastor with my whole body and soul.  Something clicked that night last year, something beautiful and yet unable to be completely put into words.  I remember it a year after.

‘There was something cool.  inspiring.  humbling.  to see the congregation worshiping, singing, and remembering that we are dust together.  To see it from a different place – a different physical place in the sanctuary and a different place vocationally – was a gift for me tonight.’ 

I grow excited [can I use the word excited when talking about ashes, dust, and lent?  I’m going to.] to think about next year when I’ll be [hopefully] with a new congregation, new brothers and sisters in Christ, new friends marked with the cross.

where for art thou Gnomeo?

13 Feb
In the course of the last month, I bet I’ve had at least a dozen people email me, post on my facebook, text me, or tell me in person about Gnomeo and Juliet, the animated movie that was released this past weekend to theaters.  I complain not, but just find it humorous how gnomes and Lindsay are forever connected.  I walked out of church today with Mark, the “dad” of my Stillwater family, and he asked if I saw the movie this weekend.  I said I did, gave him my one sentence review, and then he kinda laughed and told me I was doomed to have people connect me with gnomes for the rest of my life.
That’s probably a true story … but not a bad story.  Much of it is probably of my own doing.  (Um, this blog title?  Consistent visits to gnome park last year?  I was in a town where most were so accustomed to the gnomes that when I talked about them, I was laughed at and stuck out.)  My fault.  And that’s okay.
I saw Gnomeo and Juliet on Friday.  Opening night.  In 3D.  (I hate 3D, mainly because it’s more expensive and it can make me a tad sick to the stomach. I didn’t catch that detail when looking at movie times.  Why is everything coming out in 3D now?  urg.)  Three friends and I trekked to the theater and joined families, teenagers, and few-to-no people our own age for a tragic gnome love story.  I’ll be honest – I thought the first fifteen minutes or so weren’t so great.  But then the pink lawn flamingo showed up, a Banana computer, and funny little bunnies hopping all over the place made me laugh.  Probably not as funny as I had hoped, but the cute factor was consistently high.  I give the movie four gnome hats.  (Out of a possible five.  All with a slight bend in them, of course.)
Three favorite things from the movie experience: First, whenever gnomes touched, it made the clinky sound of ceramic hitting ceramic.  Giggle.  Second, the little girl behind us who kept saying, “They kissed!” over and over after Gnomeo and Juliet smooched.  Third, I would not be lying if I said I brought my red gnome hat to the theater.  I would, however, be lying if I said I wore it for longer than three seconds.  (Just long enough to prove to my friends – and those who sat in the immediate area around us – that I do, in fact, have a gnome hat.  Also proven here and here.)

Riverfest wkend.

27 Jun
Oh, the emotions I felt throughout Dawson’s summer festival, Riverfest, this past weekend.

Accompanied: I drove to Watertown on Friday morning to meet up with my friend, Kate, and then we were off to Brookings to pick strawberries. $1.19/lb strawberries! Afterwards, I convinced her to come back to Dawson with me to partake in some Riverfest activities. Yes! She bought pajamas and a toothbrush at Target and then hopped in the car with me; I had a friend to accompany me to the festivities!
Loved: I love walking down the street and having people, especially kids, say, “Hi, Pastor Lindsay” or stop me to have a conversation. It makes me feel like I belong here and that I’m loved … well. At least liked. Err, maybe acknowledged is the best term.
Awkward: Kate and I attended the new gnome unveiling on Friday night and it felt a bit like we crashed a family reunion. I’ve been in Dawson for ten months so I recognize names and know a good number of people through Grace but the roasting and toasting of Dick, the new gnome, seemed like a family ordeal at times. Dawson is kind of like a big family … everyone knows each other and pretty much everyone is related in one way or another. (Below: The new gnome, Dick, only minutes after is was revealed in a very anti-climatic manner with a black garbage bag. Can’t help but say I was anticipating more but, for the most part, the new gnome lives up to my expectations.)

Comforted: We visited Jesus at the cemetery before the fireworks. Nothing like a little high-five action with the Savior.
Disappointed: My decorated gnome did not win. sad face. But at least I entered.
Caffeinated: Both Kate and I bought the reverend gnome mugs. Perfect for coffee. (Apparently there are gnome mugs for nearly each of the gnomes in the park! If only I had known, I would have started collecting!)
Embarrassed: Kate and I entered the two-person blind lawn mower racing on Saturday morning. (I am so not joking right now.) I drove blindfolded and Kate sat behind me and directed me through the course. In my head, the course went right; it was a circle to our right. We started out and I don’t think I was even really listening to Kate who was saying, “Left. Left.” because I thought I knew where to go and that was right. Oh my. Kate didn’t stop me or tap me on the shoulder or anything … so we went in a circle. Our time wasn’t so great but we did make it though without hitting any of the orange markers, even with our detour. Great laughs were had by all at Lindsay’ inability to know which way is left/right and her inability to relinquish control and listen to her eyes.
Fulfilled: Good weekend.
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