Saturday, February 27, 2010 the cold

In the winter of our discontent, which goes on and on and on. Today's amusement has been looking at rental properties in the South, for "the five year plan" Ha--we will not--I repeat not-- be here for four more of these winters! This one and the next because we must and then we will see. That and continuing to dream about the Texas road trip keeps us sane as we look at the piles of dirty snow, and and shiver in the still single-digit temps and wait for the Spring that seems like it will never come.

The sermon is done, so we can go play today. The plan is to deliver a birthday cake, run some errands and go to a play tonight at the local college. That sermon was a bit of a struggle. I ended up going more with Father Abraham and a nod to the Gospel. That wasn't where I started, but it's where I went, so maybe it's where I was supposed to go. I'll take that and assume some Spirit at work.

Tomorrow we are discerning two new people for our ministry team, one for youth work and another for evangelism with young adults. This is sort of a leap of faith as neither population is very present among us at this point. So it's kind of an "if we build it they will come" proposition...and this is truly what these folks are feeling called to, so, we will listen, discern and off we go.

We'd like to take Gladys the Mini out for a spin, but she really does not enjoy ice and snow on her skirts. Getting to her in the back garage would require some heavy lifting, and R would have to clear some significant ice humps in the driveway to make way for her ladyship. She really is not a winter car, so maybe not this week yet. *sigh* Back to the practical pickup.

R and I are also meeting with our organist tomorrow to choose our "coming and going" music for the wedding. One more thing off that giant checklist. It gets smaller every day, as do the number of days I have to accomplish it. I'm starting to get a little anxious about things. The big one is "what if ________ does not show up." And on any give day it's fill in your favorite blank...the caterer, the DJ, the cake. There are some people I have no worries about, and they are truly the important ones...the GROOM for one! TBTG :) I also know that my clergy gals will be on board as will my faithful Soul Sisters to witness and attend. So the important things will happen. It's more the feeding and entertaining of the multitudes at the after-festivities that are giving me the 4 a.m fits at this point. So I have set R to work on dealing with the DJ (that is the guy that worries me the most for various reasons) and calling back the caterer as he has a personal contact there. I have the invitations ready to roll...they go out Monday, and I will go see the cake lady and the florist soon. The liturgy is coming along nicely, the service booklet is almost done, the readings and hymns are chosen, I just have to finalize the last few things there and it's off to the printer. Whew! When I decided I wanted a "real" wedding, I had no clue how much stuff there was all involved....and this is really just a simple little thing for the most part...a wedding liturgy, a little dinner and a party for friends and family to celebrate the whole thing. I have actually found myself thinking "I will be glad when it's done" and then feeling bad about even having that thought about my one and only wedding.

An additional concern we are having is R's dad. His health continues to decline and the family is pulling together to keep him living independently as is his wish. Please keep him and them in your prayers.

So we trudge on (because that's what you do here in the back end of trudge) and wait for things to melt and warm. The Almanac says March promises more cold, more snow, but the local forecast says the next couple weeks might be a little warmer. In the meantime, we remain hopeful that Spring will come, as it always does.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Honeymoon Plan

Whether it's the counter on the blog ticking away the days, the unrelenting grey of winter making us want to run away from home, the fact that the stove shorted out and we needed to buy a new one in the midst of planning a wedding and we needed a good distraction, or the fact that people keep asking, "so what are you two doing for your honeymoon?" R and I decided that today was the day we were going to decide exactly what it is we are going to do for our wedding trip! We had options. Mexico was one, and was originally the one we thought we were heading for. We have been offered the use of a time share any time we want in Puerta Vallarta as a wedding gift, and all we need to do is get ourselves there. But May does not seem like the ideal time to go to Mexico. NOW would be the ideal time to go to Mexico, but I don't think it would be quite proper for us to go on our honeymoon eighty some days before the wedding. So we are thinking that we will save that generous offer for next winter when we simply can't stand it here anymore and take a great winter vacation.

Which left us with the question of where to go and what to do at the proper honeymoon time. But, the plan has been made! We are doing what we love most....We are taking a road trip in Gladys the Mini Cooper! We are going to go see Jimmy Buffett on the 20th of May.....drum roll Woodlands Pavillion in Spring, Texas.

Now of course what this means is that we will be passing through Dallas-Ft. Worth, and hanging around near Houston and Galveston for a few days. And R being the great guy that he is says, "It would be great if you could catch up with some of your friends while we are there!" We plan to leave here on May 17th and mosey down for a couple days, stay for the concert and then mosey back for a few more getting home around the 24th.

This just feels like the perfect plan. Road trips are really our thing, we love travelling in Gladys, Jimmy concerts are special for us, and as a bonus I might get to have a meet-up or two. Does it get any better all in one trip! R just went on line and got the concert tickets, so it's official.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Five: Happy Lent

Sophia brings us an F5 about Lent:
1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday this year? Any memories of memorable celebrations past? I actually had kind of a different Shrove Tuesday this year. While R and the "Men of St. J's" were hosting the First Annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, I was off playing hostess to the speaker for a work conference we were hosting the next day, who just happened to be a grad school classmate of mine whom I had not seen for fourteen years. Needless to say, there have been a lot of changes in our lives in that time and we had lots of catching up to do.

2. How about Ash Wednesday, past and/or present? It was pretty low key this year. While I participated in the liturgy with the two other priests on our team, this year I didn't preach or impose ashes. It felt odd not to do that after the last two years that being such a powerful part of the beginning of Lent for me. Lent itself is already feeling laden with the death of our friend, concerns about R's dad and a host of other concerns.

3. Does your denomination or congregation celebrate "this joyful season"? Any special emphases or practices to share? We are having weekly Wednesday night book discussions on the book Blessed is She: Living Lent with Mary. It's written by Tim Perry, and draws from the Gospel of Luke to "reflect on a Lenten Mary who teaches the meaning of discipleship." We'll end the evening with a service of Celtic Compline. Since St. Patrick's Day falls in Lent this year, on March 17 we're going to have a a Celtic Eucharist celebration on Wednesday night instead. We also participate in the ecumenical "Soup and Sermon" series that happens every Wednesday at noon during Lent. I am up the last Wednesday this year to preach.

4. Do you have a personal plan of give-ups, take-ons, special ministries, and/or a special focus for your own spiritual growth between now and Easter? I go through this every year at this time! It's always a combination....and it's always a bit of a struggle to figure out. The theme of our Ash Wednesday sermon this year was "it's not about me" and we were reminded that our spiritual disciplines and practices are to prepare us to go out into the world and be Christ to others. That was a good reminder. I am trying in my own prayer life to sit more quietly before God, to take a little more time each day to just "be." To help in that effort I'm using the Journey to the Cross from d365 every morning on my computer. The Lenten meditations for Week One and every Sunday turn out to be written by Brian Prior, our very own newly consecrated Bishop, a fact that I was delighted to discover on Wednesday when I logged on. I'm also doing daily meditations from the 2010 Lenten Meditation book put out by ERD that we were given at Bishop Brian's consecration last weekend. They are short and succinct but offer good food for thought.

5. What is your dream for the image of Christ coming to perfection in you, the church, the world? How can we support you in prayer? peace, justice, tolerance, living the promises we make in our baptismal day at a time, one relationship at time, here and now, where we are. Yep, that is all. That is enough. Pray for that.

Bonus: Song, prayer, picture, etc. that sums up your feelings about this liturgical springtime.
Maybe later.......

Monday, February 15, 2010


There was more to yesterday's post, but blogger decided not to save it for some reason. I had come back after we gathered. My thoughts of course were with G and her family. As we sat and talked about her I got a fuller picture of who she was. Generous, full of life and love for all of God's creatures. She was one of those people who saw what needed to be done and just did it, quietly and without fanfare. The posts on her CaringBridge site reflect many of the lives she touched. She will be missed by many. She will be taken off life support today after arrangements are made for organ donation. Of course. A final act of generosity. It fits.

Life. G's and dad's and the pastor and his wife that lost theirs in the accident....all of our lives, precious, long or short, we don't know. It can be so fragile. It's the only one we have, with now the only time to live it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Weekend

This weekend has held a lot of miles and a lot of feelings. Friday morning R and I took off for the Big City. We had some wedding-related things to do....getting him measured for his wedding finery, picking up his ring....and Saturday was the consecration of our new Bishop. All of these things very happy, joyous and celebretory. The trip up was good overall, the weather cooperated, always an important thing this time of year, and we enjoyed the time together to talk and "just be." It was marred only by one thing....we saw the tail end of what looked to be a really bad car accident. Semi vs car at a foggy intersection. Today I read in the paper that both of the people in the car were killed. A seventy-nine year old pastor from the small town near where it happened and his seventy-eight year old wife.

The Consecration was amazing. We had a great turnout, the liturgy was solemn and joyful all at the same time. The music and prayers represented the flavor of who we are as a Diocese as well as I think a bit of who our new Bishop is. There was everything from Lakota chant and drumming to Hmong singers to contemporary Christian music, traditional hymns and Shubert.

Immediately after the Consecration R and I jumped in the truck and headed off again to his dad's. His health has been declining for a while now and he had decided not to go to the annual President's Day gathering, so we were off to spend the rest of the weekend with him at his place, make sure he was getting some good meals into him, had his fridge stocked with leftovers and was good to go for another week.

As we were finishing the lunch dishes today I got a call from a friend. A mutual friend of ours had a stroke last Monday and has been in ICU all week fighting back. Today the news is that she is losing the fight. She apparently had another stroke and has little brain activity as a result. Her parents were on the wrong side of a closed freeway (blowing snow) and were struggling to get here to make the most unimaginable decision a parent could even have to make, to remove her from the life support. A group of us will gather later this afternoon to pray for her, tell G stories, offer each other some comfort.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And Now....

There has been no more news from L. I doubt that I will hear anything from him for awhile. The cell phone is D's...she may call if she thinks of it, but they are focused elsewhere. On getting her well, getting him settled. I am just hoping it all works out. Trying to trust that it will.

It's been a process for sure. Exhausting for all of us who just work in the wings. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to live his life. Or many of the folks I encounter who are out there at the margins, who live step by step with things always hanging just in one balance or another. People who just can't ever seem to get ahead, to see ahead, to think ahead sometimes too. R and I have both been dealing with folks this week who have made choices and had circumstances that make us both just shake our heads. "Will they," we wonder, "ever learn from things that happen? Ever make better choices?" It is a hard hard world sometimes. It makes me tired to live side by side with some folks in it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

And Then....

So this morning L and R met with L's PO, who sounds like he is going to be great help to him. R called me to get some names and numbers for L and filled me in. The Salvation Army is still closed for the weather, but the PO thinks he can find him some shelter, and also is willing to run some interference with D's folks to see if they would be willing to house them, just until they can get up and running. That would be the best gift of all to these two, given all the struggles they have been facing. So despite a rocky start, and given that it's still bumpy....L is looking like he might be doing ok off there in his new town, with at least one new person in his corner so far. R is driving back on much better roads than she went in on. So for today....all is well. Thanks be to God.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Mercy, mercy, mercy

Well, L has had quite the day, and it is not over. The good news? He is out of jail. The bad news? Still homeless. My congregant picked him up this morning as arranged and they got on the road. The bad road. Icy, blowy, slick....And they made an unscheduled stop at his mom's, somehow. He can be very persuasive. My congrgant called me from outside the house. "They are fighting in there," she said, "I don't think it's good." Clearly not. But while we were trying to figure out what next, out L came from the fray, bearing his winter coat and some other things. The next call was a few minutes later. The younger brother had told him D was not being true. He "had proof" and L was prepared to believe him and pitch the whole plan. "No, I told him....plans are made, plans are set....and it's not that simple. You must go. R has given her day to take you on these awful roads, she needs to get you there and get back....pull yourself together here." (or something to that effect). "Ok, Rev Kate," he sniffs, "I'll go."

Hours pass with no word. No news, I think, is good news. Mid afternoon, I get the bad news....the Salvation Army has closed early..."bad weather." He has nowhere to go. D is, for some reason in the hospital for two days. R is done like an overcooked steak after driving 30 mph for 150 miles, and she hasn't been able to find a replacement to take her shift at work. "What do we do now?" The local PD are not happy with this development, a homeless guy on their doorstep...or helpful. "Go back where you came from," they tell him. "You should have made your housing arrangements before you got here," they say. (Umm, never mind that he couldn't make any calls from the jail because it was long distance!) "So" she says, "having no real choice here, we are hitting the road for home." After I mutter some unkind words about the Christian charity level of these PD folks, I tell her, Ok then, do be careful," and sign off. But then, at the last minute, L remembered his PO to whom he had already been transferred in the new town. They were able to contact him and have some reason prevail. For one thing, he agreed that it wasn't safe for either of them to go driving back across those roads tonight. She was able to find someone to work for her, and the last I heard, the two of them were staying the night in one of the local motels and trying the Salvation Army again in the morning. To be continued....

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Winter...Coming and going

After the Friday Five I guess maybe my thoughts really did start turning to ways to stave off the winter gloomies. As we were walking into the grocery store together yesterday and talking about what to make for dinner, a sign advertising rib-eye steaks caught my eye. "Look, " I said to R, "they have steaks on sale, we could grill out!" Now mind you, it was about 25 degrees at the time, and a light misty snow was falling. But the idea grabbed us both, and as soon as we got home, while R was blowing out the driveway, I got after the back steps and the grill area and got it all dug out and ready. As I was taking off my boots, R came in with a look that told me his brain had been busy while he was out there with the snow blower. "I have an idea," he announced. "Let's try the hot tub." "Seriously?!?" "Sure, why not?" So, while the grill heated for the steaks, and the snow lightly fell, we steamed away in the tub. I had kept it full and heated this winter with the thought that "maybe one day" we'd give it a try. I think we have a new winter pastime! It was such an incredible thing to be sitting there all warm and cozy looking at the piles of snow in the yard and the huge icicles hanging off my roof. Getting out was not at all the torturous experience I expected either. I was so toasty from the tub I didn't even notice the cold air!

We enjoyed the grilled steaks, too. It was hard to get the gas grill to heat up, though, so today we went out and got ourselves a little charcoal grill so we can cook out anytime we want. If spring can't quite get here soon enough, we will just have create our own good times and as Jimmy Buffet says, take our weather with us...only the best kind though!

On another note....please pray for a "good weather Monday" and safe travels for L. My congregant is taking him to his new hometown in the morning when he gets out of jail. He is still unsure of where he will go for sure in the long run. The Salvation Army is helping out for a few nights, he will be connecting with social services from there. But the weather here is not looking very nice tomorrow and she has to get into town to get him out. So I am being pretty specific in my prayers tonight...good roads, no winds, safe travel tomorrow. Please and thank you.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Five: Staving off the Gloom

Sally says: "Candlemass is past, and Christmas is well and truly over, here in the UK February looks set to be its usual grey and cold self. Signs of spring are yet to emerge; if like me you long for them perhaps you need ways to get through these long dark days. So lets share a few tips for a cold and rainy/ snowy day..."
1. Exercise, what do you do if you can't face getting out into the cold and damp? The treadmill at the Y is becoming my new friend. I decided I simply had to get more active so that I could keep indulging in all the great food that R cooks for us, and getting out and walking Maggie is just not an option when its snowy blowy and slippy. So I've been challenging myself to go faster and farther while listening to an assortment of upbeat mystery music R downloaded onto my i-pod.

2. Food; time to comfort eat, or time to prepare your body for the coming spring/summer? Oh food! My never-ending love-hate relationship, now complicated by the fact that I am being regularly fed by a truly fabulous cook! In the past, dinner was toast, cereal, it's more likely to be real food, good I want to eat! But there is this pretty dress I need to wear in a 99 days that must fit!!!! So therein lies the battle. And it's complicated by the fact that it is winter and I think there's something genetic in those of us in the colder climates that just wants us to bulk up for warmth in these winter days!!!

3. Brainpower; do you like me need to stave off depression, if so how do you do it? Oh yeah, the SAD bug bites me every year. I have been known to say that I've thought it would be perfect if I could go into hibernation right after Christmas and wake up, oh maybe around Valentine's Day. I try to remind myself a lot that it is the SAD brain talking when I feel negative and cranky and hopeless about life and the world. I try to get lots of rest and generally take better care of myself than I used to, I try to be grateful, to escape with books and movies and silly addictive computer games, and other positive pastimes that make me feel better about life and myself. I count the days till Spring! Oh, and eat chocolate as necessary.

4. How about a story that lifts your spirits, is there a book or film that you return to to stave off the gloom? Anything fluffy and escapist will do. Love stories, things with happy endings. I love the Jan Karon series and like to either read or listen to them and return to them now and again to revisit the lovable, quirky characters in Father Tim's world.

5. Looking forward, do you have a favourite spring flower/ is there something that says spring is here more than anything else? I love the daffodils. They are so bright and brave and cheery. And of course around here, tulips are often the first hardy things that appear, so we start the tulip watch right after the robins show up. That reminds me, I have heard a few birds the last couple of mornings. It's been quiet out there and its nice to hear them again, even if I do think sometimes they are asking one another what they were thinking to move here!

Bonus; post a poem/ piece of music that points to the coming spring......

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Prayers for L

Well it's down to the wire and it's prayers or nothing. L gets out of jail on Monday and as of today he has nowhere to go to. The plan for he and his girlfriend D to stay with her folks in the town a few hours away has fallen through. She is there and they want to be together, but mom and dad have reasons why he can't stay with them....good and reasonable ones in the big picture, but not so good for him right now. I've been making some calls, but all the programs there have huge waiting lists, or he doesn't qualify for one reason or another. She's been asking friends, but all their couches and spare beds are full. There is just nothing breaking. And the situation on our end is no brighter at this point. It is, as they say, complicated. We really don't have a place or funds to house him for more than a couple nights either. He does have a ride to get there. The best hope would be for one of D's friends to come through with a place...just till they can get on their feet. That's my prayer today, and it's a big one.