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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: new gnome.

27 Nov
There was a package on my doorstep today.  It came from Alaska and had a gnome inside.
See, my brother, Ben, went to the local library book basket auction.  [I guess it’s a thing.]  There was a gnome basket for auction; it’s the one he went home with and the one he then transferred to a box to send to me.  There are gardening tools, seeds, a book on container gardening [perfect for me!], and a new gnome.
I was digging through the box, pulling the items out one by one and excited about the contents.  Whoever put the basket together for auction is awesome and quite possibly my long lost twin.  I set the heavy gnome on the counter.  I shall call him Gandalf the Green.  He has a walking stick. 
I kept going thru the box contents and found one last book.  It’s then that I realized the error of my ways – my gnome collecting ways.  That one last book?  How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will).  Shit.  My gnomes are going to kill me.
My collection of gnomes?  People sending me new gnomes for my collection?  And those poor people in Dawson, surrounded by gnomes!  I suddenly was aware that I wasn’t simply gathering cute and innocent gnomes in my corner curio cabinet.  I’m freakin’ helping them achieve their evil endgame by bringing them together.  The dark one is gathering all armies to him.  It won’t be long now.  He will soon be ready to make his last war that will cover all the world in darkness.  [Just a little LOTR for you.  To make Gandalf the Green feel at home.]
Needless to say, this package from my brother may be more than simple thoughtfulness and fun.  This package will help me survive the inevitable garden gnome attacks. 
This package may save my life.  

a thankful november: babies.

17 Nov
It seems I’m surrounded by babies.  All my friends have babies or are having babies.  [I don’t.  But this isn’t meant to be a lament … moving on.]  And I’m thankful for them.

I like babies.  I always have.  The joke in high school was that I was going to have, like, eight babies.  [I haven’t.  But this isn’t meant to be a lament … moving on.]  I love holding them and dressing them and playing with them, she says as if they are dolls.  I know they’re not dolls.  

Babies are on the brain because yesterday I packed a box with two quilts inside to send to Montana.  I am thankful for babies because they give me a quilting purpose.  I am thankful for babies because these particular two baby girls fulfill a mommy and daddy dream for two of my favorite people.  I am so thankful that this pair of baby girls were born early this morning, healthy and beautiful!  I can’t wait to meet them.

a thankful november: today.

12 Nov
It’s Monday.  Nobody likes Monday.
But today was a good Monday for this pastor.  It started with quilting with the ladies, and by quilting I mean I had coffee with them and then, of course, potluck lunch. I brought cakepops to share.  I had many in-depth conversations about cakepops.  It’s cool.  I like to talk about them.
A communion visit and then coffee with my mentor?  Good.  Conversation with seminary roomie via mobile?  Good.  Good news via text from a pregnant friend in Montana?  Good.  Council meeting?
Council meetings typically leave me in tears.  I’m usually frustrated at my inability to lead.  They’re long.  Sometimes respect for each other isn’t there.  But tonight – it was good.
How did that happen?
First, we started with worship.  I normally lead devotions [read: lame] but tonight I wanted to give them a sneak peak at Holden Evening Prayer, a service we are trying during Advent this December.  The council didn’t seem entirely thrilled – especially the men – but they stuck with it.  It took a half hour – much longer than typical devotions.  I wondered if they hated me for it.
But I think they were okay.  Then I presented them with a possible mission statement for Red Oak Grove.  To get to it, I made them play hangman.  They guessed letters and I filled them in to get Gathering in grace, growing in faith, going forth to serve.  They humored me and then we had a decent conversation about the statement.
THEN the meeting was about to wrap when someone spoke up.  This person is one in charge of the church’s seminary endowment fund.  [a fund of money we can’t touch but to support future pastors in seminary with the interest gained.]  No one is using the fund right now.  Maybe our pastor could use the interest gained this year for her seminary loans?  It’s not much, she said.  It didn’t matter how much; I was humbled at the thought.  
We held hands [yeah. we do that.], said the Lord’s prayer, and the meeting was over.  The meeting was just over an hour.  That’s at least thirty minutes shorter than usual.  And then Paige posted this photo from last night on facebook.  Thankful for the feet of friends [and the rest of their bodies, too].
Good day.

a thankful november: childlike surprise.

3 Nov
I went to Austin today to fetch sewing machine needles [it was a dire situation; my last one had snapped mid-quilt] and to return library books.  Oh so exciting, right?  I went to the fabric store.  La di da.  And then I went to Target because Target is right next to the fabric store and why oh why would I not go inside to see their fall decor on clearance?  [scored: a black metal jack-o-lantern lantern for 70% off]
Next I drove downtown towards the library.  As I drove past the Hy-Vee and neared my turn, in the open part to the my right was a hot air balloon.  You know – giant.  ‘uge.  I thought, well, that’s cool but nothing much beyond that.  I’ve seen that before.  Kept driving.
I returned my library books and as I was walking to my car again, a stranger – an older gentleman – was a couple cars away from me.  He yelled to me, Look!  A pie in the sky.  I first I thought, wow, this man is crazy and yelling about pie.  I followed his finger pointing to the hot air balloon, now floating above Austin.  Okay, pretty cool.  I smiled at him and said something lame about it taking off from over by Hy-Vee.  He said again, It’s a pie in the sky.
He was so surprised by the sight.  He was so excited about it that he shared it with me, a perfect stranger, in the library parking lot.  But he wasn’t the only one taken by the balloon.  As I drove away thru downtown, people had spilled out of the VFW and other businesses to stare up at the pie in the sky.  [This makes Austin seem pretty boring, if people go out of their way to watch a balloon.  SPAM, we need some excitement.]  
It was like a small child seeing Christmas lights, or an airplane fly overhead, or the delight a kid gets from seeing polar bears wrestle at the zoo.  If only things surprised us like that more often, eh? 

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.

To Linsay. From Gpa.

3 Aug
I don’t want to be that person but I would just like to say that if my Grandpa Sid were to enter a cute grandpa contest – is there such a thing? – he would probably win.  Or at least medal.  For example –
He came to visit me in Austin with my Aunt Peggy at the end of June.  He met Marilyn in the office and after he left, she told me, “What a cute grandpa.  You tell him that.”  I told this story to Aunt Peggy and she reminded me of a story from years ago.  Grandpa had been in the hospital for many weeks with pneumonia and the day he was released, a nurse came to say goodbye.  She was off-duty.  And she brought her family.  To meet Geeps before he left because he is so cute.  He woos his nurses and not intentionally; he’s just that cute and smiley and soft-spoken.  I met his hospice nurse while I was home this past week; she left and said, “I just love coming to visit you, Sid.  You are so sweet.”  Bottom line: he’s cute.
Cuteness amplified is how he has always spelled my name wrong.  For as long as I remember, birthday cards, Christmas mail, and anything I received from Geeps that he has made [a spice rack lazy susan, a coat rack, a toolbox] has my name written as Linsay.  It’s cool.  The d is kinda silent when you say it.  He has phonetics on his side.  [Even if you disagree, don’t argue.  It’s cute.]
When I was home to see him this past week, I was instructed to pick out a birdhouse.  Grandpa is handy and always creating, whether something from scratch in the work space in his garage or refurbishing a gas pump.  In the last years, he has made numerous bird houses with all sorts of widgets and gadgets on them.  They’re really quite funky and awesome.  I chose one made from barn board, and one with things like a pocket watch, a toy tractor, and pocket knives attached to the sides.  I will treasure it.
Before I left with the birdhouse, I asked Geeps to write on the bottom of it.  His signature “To Linsay.  From Gpa Sid.” with the date in his scripted cursive writing.  He’s so dang cute.  Overalls and all.

On a day like this – part two.

2 Aug
Today was a pretty awesome day.
Honestly, likely the best work day I’ve had in weeks.  Maybe months.
I feel a little guilty that this best-day-ever wasn’t spent visiting the elders of the congregations.  It wasn’t spent in worship with the members of Red Oak Grove.  It wasn’t even spent in conversation with anyone in the congregation.  But it was a necessary ministry day of big picture thinking.
It was a confirmation planning day with my imaginary coworkers, jD and Laura.  [Imaginary in that they are not technically my coworkers, wish as I may.  Not imaginary as in I made them up and talked to the wall all day.]  jD and I met at Red Oak Grove and skyped with Laura, a pastor in Hutchinson.  In a morning, we planned confirmation for the 2012 – 2013 school year and it will be super great.  I even ordered the curriculum today.  [A season of Freaks and Geeks.  That’s right –  you’re curious.  Too bad I can take absolutely no credit for the idea.]
Laura had to depart after the noon hour [I hear she was off to a meeting with you, Pastor Lori!] but jD and I continued our staff meeting over lunch at Applebee’s.  Another goal of ours is a joint confirmation retreat to kick off the year.  Schedule planned.  Details on paper.  Calendars filled out.  Super productive.
This isn’t the first time a day of planning has been a highlight.  Check out this post, a blast from the past of over two years ago.  I just get giddy with excitement about long-term planning with other people who are also excited about ministry possibilities. 
Right.  So let’s think about why this call might not be a great fit in the long run for Pastor Lindsay … but for now, here’s to continuing big picture thinking and making time for visioning with adjunct staff.  PL needs that.

gospel messages.

4 Jun
I felt preached and ministered to twice on Sunday and neither was the sermon in worship.  [gasp.  yeah.  a pastor just said that.]  These were both gospel messages I needed to hear.  
The first was during worship.  If you are in the Dawson community, you know but if you’re not, you likely don’t know the talent and awesomeness of musicians at Grace.  Two of them together sang a song during the offering.  And not just any song – a song they wrote.  Deep gratitude to Jacob and Kelsey [who also happen to both be children of internship coworkers] for sharing this message and sharing their gift of words and music.  I needed to hear it.  I think my purpose needs a little realigning … but not necessarily by me.
The second time was just as I was leaving gnometown and saying my final goodbyes.  [It sounds like the bachelorette.  You did not get a rose.  Say your final goodbyes, says Chris Harrison every week.]  Sharon – who was the chair of my internship committee while I was at Grace – reads my blog and knows that it goes on spurts between depressing and super depressing.  She gave me a hug and then she said something to the tune of you are wonderful.  remember that.
I’m so keen on showing and telling everyone else that they are enough just as they are and created by God … but I often forget that applies to me too.  Sharon, in that graceful way, reminded me.  Another gospel messenger at just the right time.  Thank you, Sharon.  

vacation: post two.

4 Jun
I write from the crazy world of Joe & Amanda – a world filled with laughter, inside jokes, and quoting obscure youtube videos and snl clips.  I arrived around 8pm and we had a lovely dinner of lasagna followed by ice cream with homemade cookie dough [sans eggs] balls.  [Enter ball jokes here.  They ran amok.]  And there was coffee.  J&A sure know how to welcome a friend. 

 You should know that they are very hospitable people and always have been.  It’s even to the point where Joe checks under the guest bed for monsters before we turn in for the night.  He says he scared them away but if they come back, I’m supposed to go get him and he’ll get his monster spray.  Thanks, Joe.

This night in Sioux Falls comes after another lovely day in Dawson.  I worshipped at Grace [with tears in my eyes more than once – for missing the community and for the gift of simply being able to worship] and spent a long coffee hour chatting with Batman and his wife.  I had lunch at Kendall & Emily’s and spent a few hours with Karen and her family.  We went for a walk around Dawson and talked sewing.  Karen passed on an awesome book written by her sister-in-law.  I see summer projects in my future!
The last order of business in Dawson was one more graduation party.  Counting the table I shared with organist Chris at the party, I connected with every one of my wonderful coworkers from internship this day, plus many more awesome congregation members.  There were more hugs.  More come back soon!  More wonderful gnome support.  It’s still hard to leave but I was so thankful for the opportunity to visit, even if so shortly.  There’s no place like gnometown.
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