A woman's walk through marriage, parenthood, servanthood and the family of God.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Trying this again. Grrrrr.
posted by Stacy at 12:25 PM
This is a test. Only a test. Had it been an actual emergency....
No, really, I'm just trying to see if I added comments right.
posted by Stacy at 8:50 AM
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
I was offered a new bus route today. I chose to take it. It originates out of a garage closer to home so I will gain somewhere between an hour and two of time each day with less distance to travel and no dealing with shuttles between my vehicle and my bus. Yea!!
posted by Stacy at 9:47 PM
Another blow to my youth and a reminder that middle age is just around the corner.
Today's physical turned up borderline high bloodpressure. No need to get alarmed yet. Check it a couple more times this week and if it remains borderline call my primary care physician. In the meantime.....no salt.
Ouch! I love salt. Salt is good. I crave salty things. Always have. Always will. Why, oh, why did it have to be salt?
posted by Stacy at 9:43 PM
Nothing like having to get a physical to motivate a person.
I crawled back on the diet wagon yesterday. A little too late to improve the findings at today's work required physical, but if Mr. Scale can be believed I'm 2 pounds lighter than I was at this time yesterday. I can live with that. And it just might be motivation enough to stick with it.
Exercise is another story. My body sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies in the morning.....snap, crackle, pop! Today it is especially stiff and screaming for ibuprofen, but since my physical will include a drug test I'm afraid to take anything, even my vitamins.
posted by Stacy at 8:25 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
You know, there's a down side to finding out your blog's been linked. Before I knew only my friends and the occasional lost web surfer would be reading my ramblings. Now I just don't know who might be dropping in and I feel like I need to say something profound....or at least highly amusing....here.
I have nothing profound or amusing to say this morning.
posted by Stacy at 8:37 AM
Monday, July 28, 2003
Seen on the sign in front of the local Assembly of God:
"Where will you be seated in eternity: smoking or non-smoking?"
I admit I kinda giggled when I read it, but in thinking about it I'm not sure how I feel about it.
In one way, it does get the point across rather bluntly and maybe reaches some who wouldn't be reached any other way.
But does it trivialize salvation?
And does it add fuel to the fire for those who are already anti-christians/church? "There go those holy rollers again, cramming their religion down people's throats." Does it turn off more than it turns on?
I understand that we have to reach people in different ways than ever before, but I guess there are just some aspects of "marketing God" that I think hurt more than help.
posted by Stacy at 12:41 PM
We drove nearly 2 hours yesterday so Matt could visit a boy who was in his cabin at camp...his personal "mini me." Guess what? The kid wasn't there. This after 2 weeks of "Matt, are you sure he knows we're coming? Did he confirm that with you?" Followed by, "Yes, mother!" A check of his email last night turned up a response (sent Friday or Saturday) that my son the speed reader failed to pick up on. It said simply that Devin thought we were coming NEXT week.
Blown visits and extreme heat and humidity all day aside, it wasn't a bad trip. Tim and I enjoyed getting the chance to visit another church and hearing Pastor Chris preach. He had a great message on revival that talked about God as "Big Bunny Foo Foo." Actually, it was better than it sounds. He explained that real revival is not about having a Bible-thumping-hellfire-and-brimstone preacher come into the church for a one time event that fires everyone up to the point that there is a mad crush for the alter at the end. Real revival is a change in our hearts that happens when we earnestly seek God's face, when we confess our sins (not just the ones we call small but the biggies, too) and humble ourselves before Him, when we turn away from our wicked ways and when we honestly pray for our hearts to be changed and give ourselves up to be used for His purposes.
Stopped for something to eat on the way home and found a flea market to wander through....no treasures found. It was too hot to linger long. Solution? Barnes and Noble! Air conditioning, books and caffeine.....what more can you ask for?
posted by Stacy at 9:05 AM
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Celebrating Megan's birthday today...even though it was yesterday. The family is coming over for pizza and cake. I can't believe my "baby" is 11. There is still so much little girl in her, but sometimes I get a good glimpse of the woman she is growing into and start to feel old. Like last night when she pointed out that she has more hair on her legs than her brother and male cousins...COMBINED! Not really, but it seems like it to her and in her world 11 is late to be starting to shave her legs. All of her friends have been doing it for at least a couple of years. Even though Meg's eager to be hair-free, she really doesn't want to shave. She is afraid of cutting herself. Good fear. I have scars. Man, whatever happened to childhood? Life in the grownup world can really suck so why are we pushing our kids to grow up in such a hurry? I wish I had the answers because in the meantime I'm bowing to the pressure. All of Megan's gifts came from Old Navy. They were having a big end of season sale and I filled up two bags with "cool" clothes (those with the right amount of flare to the leg, allow the right amount of bellybutton to show, etc.) to get her off to a good start in the middle school.
It bothers me that I give in and allow things I'm not thrilled with....like clothes designed to make my 11 yr. old look like a hooker. I try to compromise and find things I can live with and that she doesn't completely hate. I don't want her to have to deal with being a geek or whatever. Does that make me a bad mom?
posted by Stacy at 8:59 AM
Thursday, July 24, 2003
I haven't been able to access Blogger for a couple of days. Problems with my internet provider. I installed AOL 8.0 tonight. Quite a step up as it has a lot more features than Compuserve. I have two free months of service to decide.
posted by Stacy at 9:41 PM
Monday, July 21, 2003
HEARD AT THE GROCERY STORE:
A woman was done checking out and stood talking with a friend. She sent her small daughter to find her father and let him know she was ready to leave. The girl raced off, returning moments later to report that "I found Daddy. He was reading a magazine that had naked ladies with big boobs."
Nothing like kids to keep you honest and humble.
posted by Stacy at 6:17 AM
Sunday, July 20, 2003
I AM PUMPED!! This morning I had the chance to fill in as teacher for the sr. high Sunday school class (man, I miss those guys) and I did a short lesson on serving others......when should we do it, how should we do it, where should we do it, etc. We brainstormed some practical ideas and discussed pros and cons. Then I explained that I wanted to get them thinking because of the changes coming up in the youth program this fall. When they heard that I plan to take them out of the church on Wednesday evenings and have them do small service projects that will begin to form bonds and relationships in the community, they went nuts! They are so excited and really eager to begin. The potential is there for this to be something big. Father, please prepare me to lead these teens and to know and follow your will. Let our group lead the way in showing the rest of the church how you want us to serve your people. Let the heart of Christ be evident in all we do.
posted by Stacy at 5:05 PM
Saturday, July 19, 2003
Do you hear that? You don't hear anything? Then you are hearing it. It is the sound of peace and quiet, of no children in the house or anywhere around. I love kids with all my heart but this week has been a bit much. Not only did we have our niece from out of state staying all week, but with the nice weather it seemed we were extra popular with other cousins and friends who wanted to swim and keep cool. Usually, I love having the kids around but it just seemed like everywhere I turned all week long there was a kid. I don't think I had more than 5 minutes alone....and that only in the bathroom with the door locked. The house and pool/deck area were a disaster and I don't even want to talk about how much it cost to keep them all in drinks, junkfood and popsicles. I hate to say it, but I think the end of my rope was reached because of having our niece here. We barely know her, having seen her probably less than 10 times in her life (she's 12). She is one of those kids that no matter how hard you try you just can't like. I love her, but forgive me, I do not like her and she did absolutely nothing to be likable. She pouted, bragged incessantly about everything and anything, started fights between the others then stepped back to watch, insulted everyone she didn't deem "cool," refused to follow rules, was rude and inconsiderate, lazy and she abused our dog! I have never been so glad to see anyone leave my house. I prayed all week for patience and a better attitude. Patience I got or I would have kicked her butt all the way back home to Delaware, but sadly my attitude towards her remains in the toilet. My one comfort is that maybe it isn't me.....the rest of the family was just as relieved to see her go.
posted by Stacy at 4:42 PM
Friday, July 18, 2003
Last night's meeting did not go well. It went pretty much the way Tim expected/dreaded it would. Sigh. That said, I'm sure the woman who approached the elders will now take her concerns to the next level. Sigh.
I'm off to lose myself in the frivolity of "Finding Nemo."
posted by Stacy at 11:12 AM
Thursday, July 17, 2003
I'm really feeling energized, refreshed and excited following this morning's meeting with the associate pastor, who is my "boss." We planned some great activities for the rest of the summer and into the beginning of Fall, but that isn't what has me excited. It's the new direction he is going to allow me to begin taking the youth in. Right now we have a core group that has been discipled to death, they know and understand the bible and have their hearts in the right place better than a lot of the adults. What I want to do now is teach them to put legs on their faith.....and I've pretty much been handed total freedom to do that. We are going to cut back our Sunday night meetings to twice a month with one being a worship service for the youth with a time of fellowship afterward (our hope is that it will really take off and we can expand to more than once a month and maybe even open it up to those adults interested in a less formal service). Wednesday evenings I'm going to switch the emphasis from discipleship to service. I'd like to see us "adopt" the community surrounding the church and go out into it several times a month practicing servant evangelism and building relationships with the people. In my mind, I can see this becoming a contageous thing that will spread through all of the church. Wouldn't that be wonderful? I'd like to start a Parents' Night Out program once a month that would bring several generations together and offer another place to minister. On a bigger scale, I've been given permission to start planning for a major mission trip in the summer of 2005. At this point I'm picturing a work team made up of youth and adults traveling to our missions in the Southwest to do some major work project. I'd also like to see what some of the other needs are out there and get others in the church behind them so that everyone feels some ownership and participation. I envision a van load of workers and a U-haul filled with building materials and whatever else we learn is needed. Man, I'm excited. I hardly ever run into this attitude of full-tilt servanthood so I'm a little giddy with it! Lord, prepare me and use me in anyway that you will to lead others in serving your people.
posted by Stacy at 2:13 PM
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
I forgot to mention that later this month, probably during the weekend that all of the youth will be away at IMPACT, we are going to take Matt to visit his little buddy from camp at the Limestone-Reesedale church. I am excited to help Matt continue a relationship with one of his campers, but also to see the Limestone facility and meet the congregation. This is the church that I mentioned once before......a congregation of about 85, with half being youth/children, that has built a 1.7 million dollar facility with only $250,000 of debt. I am also looking forward to hearing Chris Murphy preach. I've been curious about the leadership of a man that can mobilize a small congregation to such accomplishment in just under two years. It is so far out of my realm of experience that I can't even begin to imagine what it will be like, though I admit I've been trying. We have also been invited to dinner at the home of Matt's little friend, which in itself should be a wonderful experience. Matt tells me they are freshly returned from living as missionaries in Costa Rica. I have a feeling Tim and I are going to like this church a lot. Too bad it is probably about 2 hours away from here.
posted by Stacy at 9:55 AM
Praying and trying to curb my tendencies to worry and instead place all my trust in God for the future of the church and my life. More support is lining up on the side of the opinions Tim will be representing tomorrow and he has in fact had to explain that this must be done biblically. Only the elders will be present for this initial meeting. If no satisfaction comes from it, then it may be taken before the council and so on. I must believe that this is God's timing and will for the church, that leaders are in place that can (and will) return the church to its right purpose.
In His wisdom, God has sent me an added distraction this week in the form of a visiting niece from Delaware who is keeping me on my toes. Tim is working extra hours at his new job (which he loves) to keep himself busy.....and hey, the overtime will be welcome.
posted by Stacy at 9:46 AM
Monday, July 14, 2003
Poor Tim. A church member called yesterday and asked if she could pick up the other elder and come over to talk about some concerns she has. Most of it turned out to be the same old stuff.....complaints about the pastor and his lack of pastoring skills. No visitation, doing his doctorate work on church time, etc. A big question is what does he do all day. His monthly reports list all kinds of ministries....however he doesn't have anything to do with any of them or attend them. It was brought up that he says he's so overworked that he doesn't have time for more visitations. Most months he makes only a small handful (15 this month was actually high for him) and members are not happy. It is wrong to compare to former pastors, but our former pastor averaged 60 visitations per month and that is what the people expect from their pastor. They want to feel that he cares about them personally and over and over again we hear that is not how anyone feels. The lady actually vocalized the thought that maybe this is not the church for the pastor....something she's been pondering to me for a couple of years. Bottom line? Tim and the other elder said they would sit down and talk to the pastor when he returns from vacation (we feel sure the other elder will call the pastor long before the meeting and fill him in and it will be them against Tim). Tim and I have been down this road before when I sat on council....several times....and it always ended badly.....for us. Tim is sick to his stomach thinking about going through it again. Getting hung out to dry as he puts it. There is one major difference this time. The woman who approached them will allow her name to be brought up and will speak to the pastor herself if she has to, while the last time everyone wanted anonyminity. I keep telling Tim to think about the source of the opposition, the other elder and the pastor, who want to keep everyone but themselves accountable. He is doing the right thing. Someone has to do it and none of those that pastor is grooming to be upcoming elders will do it. He is preparing an army of yes men to surround himself with. He is slowly trying to rid himself of Tim and the others on council who question him. Anyway, Pastor needs to tread carefully. If this woman and her family get upset enough to leave the church it will be a tremendous blow ministry-wise and financially.....it would probably be the straw that breaks the camel's back because they give a LOT and whenever the pastor wants funding for anything they are who he heads to.
I have a real love/hate relationship with this church. I wish we had a strong pastor with real people skills.
posted by Stacy at 9:31 AM
Sunday, July 13, 2003
I nearly forgot.....I ran into Pastor Matt yesterday at the grocery store. Oddly enough playing catch with his wife and a bag of frozen veggies. Anyway, he told me the outreach committee is meeting again Monday evening and they would really like me to be there. It seems that since I spoke up about my concerns about The Rock Show, the rest of the committee has found their kahunas and admitted they are feeling the same way. Time to, as Pastor Matt said, regroup and see where we go from here. I'm wondering if we can handle this in a way that will not completely tick off the guy that's been putting it together?
posted by Stacy at 7:10 AM
Kids surprise you in the darndest ways. We picked Matthew up at camp yesterday and were amazed by the swarming cloud of kids following him everywhere. Apparently during the last week our moody, sometimes surly, always cheeky, teenager found it within himself to be (apparently) one of the greatest camp counselors ever, inspiring adoration from 10-yr-old girls, hero worship from 10-yr-old boys, and admiration from his fellow counselors and leaders. EVERYONE simultaneously wanted him to stay and come home with him.
Just as I was fearing the teenage years and the world had claimed another victim, Matt has found his servant's heart again.
posted by Stacy at 7:00 AM
Friday, July 11, 2003
Struggling with the blues and loneliness this week. The blues are probably the result of the loneliness and the loneliness probably stems from my "world of mostly church people and middle class isolation" (borrowed from the article Blues, Beer and the Kingdom of God). The church can be a really lonely place. I have friends there, but none that I would share the real me with and precious few that would (or do) call to see what was up if I missed church. The work year ended too soon for me to have established firm friendships with co-workers, but I have a few ties and I've been trying to build on those whenever possible. I have watched these people since the first day on the job. They are crude and commit a multitude of sins that would have my church friends up in arms, but they know how to offer friendship on a deeper level. They are honest with each other. They are who they are and there is no putting up of fronts to hide their imperfections. They are a mess, they know you are a mess and everyone is okay with that. I want that kind of friendship again. I am tired of pretending and putting on a happy face at church.....especially when for the most part it's for people that really don't care about me.....especially if I make them uncomfortable with my imperfection and sinfulness.
posted by Stacy at 10:02 PM
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
This was posted at Livingroom, www.livingroom.org.au/blog/:
This is an extract from a great essay on the state of the church in the West that I had emailed to me last year written by a guy named Kevin Ward from NZ. He writes:
"I decided to research the backgrounds of those now attending my church. The results were even more marked than I had imagined. What it showed was that 87.7% of those attending the church had been attending another church as adults before they came to this church. Of the remaining 12.3% who had not attended elsewhere as an adult, 5.2% had gone to Sunday school or youth group at the church, 3.1% to Sunday school or youth group elsewhere, and only 3.9% came from a genuinely nonchurched background. Interestingly the largest group of attenders at this church, 33%, came to it from mainline Protestant churches. I then wanted to find out if this pattern was true of other churches that had experienced growth over this period. I researched 3 other churches that had grown significantly. A charismatic Anglican church, evangelical Presbyterian church, and Pentecostal church. The results were similar with in all cases at least 75% having come from other churches and only between 2.7% and 4.0% having a nonchurched background. Interestingly with the Pentecostal church the pattern was similar to the Baptist church in that the largest single group were those from mainline Protestant churches, in this case 38%. In terms of the percentage from a nonchurched background there was no difference between the Pentecostal and mainline churches.
Since doing this research I have found the pattern is very similar in other western countries. Sally Morgenthaler in the US asks "How do we explain the growth of the megachurch? Simple: musical chairs - church hopping growth. And it represents more than 80% of the people who have come in our doors in the past decade.. The megachurch's feeder system is the smaller church, and disgruntled believers who have quit their churches." In Canada additional research by Don Posterski and Irwin Baker has found that 5.5% of church attenders come from an unchurched background, and that there is no difference between mainline and conservative churches. Finally in Australia the NCLS research has found that 7% of church attenders are newcomers, of which 4% are returnees to church life after a period of time away, and only 3% are actually involved in attending church for the first time. "
Hmmm......so we're doing a lousy job of reaching the "unchurched" at all and the "churched" are running around unhappy trying to find the right church home. See yesterday's post for at least part of "why", in my humble opinion.
posted by Stacy at 5:33 AM
Monday, July 07, 2003
Read this at The Ooze. It puts into words what I've been feeling and experiencing for quite some time.
Blues, Beer, and the Kingdom of God
Written by Joel Kiekintveld
Recently my friend Lisa invited me to join her at the weekly Blues Jam held in a local bar. And so late that Thursday night, I headed down to the bar expecting to hear some good blues in a not-quite-a-dump / not-quite-a-dive bar, meet some new people, and enjoy a beer. My expectations were met. The bar was a nautically themed hole in the wall hovering above dive status by a hair situated in a strip mall. The blues was hot. The beer enjoyed. I met a number of new people. However, I was greeted by another experience that far surpassed all that – the kingdom of God.
First of all, I was shaken into reality by the realness of the people and community in the bar. Having slowly slipped into a world of mostly “church” people and middle class isolation the past few years, I had forgotten the down to earth feeling I had known years past in bars. I watched people come in and be embraced by other patrons. The servers had personal interaction and knowledge of their customers that was closer to clergy than bar maid. All around the room the defenses were down that many of us Christians put up to make people think we are perfect. Stories were told, burdens shared, and care for one another poured out. It was people caring for people in a way the church has long ago forgotten in its rush to provide slick programs and easy answers while making everyone sure that they must look like they have it together in order to fit in.
One of the guitarists in the jam that night was a friend of mine named Bill. Bill is an excellent lead guitarist, but I have rare opportunities to hear him play outside of our church worship band. It was a joy to hear him play in this situation. As I watched Bill interact with the other players and the regulars in the bar, I was struck by his love and care for these folks and his ability to bring his life (one that is full of the grace and truth of Jesus Christ) into this situation in a way that was the living meaning of ‘salt and light.’ After his stint on the bandstand ended Bill shared with our table that Big Jim (who had been singing) had asked him and Glenda (another member of our church’s worship band) to play/sing, “Precious Lord, Take my Hand” at his wife’s funeral the following Saturday. Big Jim’s wife had passed away after a long battle with cancer the day before. Bill was clearly blessed by this opportunity. I again thanked God for the way this man was being used to spread the kingdom of God.
After listening to a few more songs, I left the bar. I thought about my experience there a number of times over the next few days. On Friday night, I ran into Lisa and asked about the funeral. She said it went fine. She also filled me in that Bill & Glenda had played/sung, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” not just at the funeral but at Big Jim’s house while his wife was moving from this world into the next. I was moved in my spirit nearly to tears (though at the time I was working and did not feel the freedom to let those tears go – in retrospect I think I should have).
I reflected more on this situation as I sat in church Sunday morning (I’ll admit it I was thinking about this during the sermon). Here is my conclusion: The Kingdom of God is like the Blues Jam. It is a place where the reality of the human condition is not covered up by a set of un-written rules that keep us from sharing our real lives like in many churches today. Everyone is free to be who they are. Real care is displayed for each other. It is not a place where the standard answer to “How are you doing?” is “Fine.” You’re more likely to get an answer in language that would not be fit for a PG rated movie but is soaked and dripping with the real issues and messiness of life in the human condition. The Blues Jam is a place where a person like Bill can be ‘salt & light’ to Big Jim and his family. If Jesus were alive today, I expect I would find him down at the bar more regularly than at church.
My friend Lisa relayed to me that she was recently asked if she would rather hang out in a bar or at church. Her answer was that she disappeared from church for 6 months and only two people called her to see how she was doing (a fact that saddens me deeply), but if she missed Friday night at the bar her answering machine would be full of people asking where she was and seeking to find out if she was okay. Boy that certainly sounds like the Christian community that we all need.
I think that old hymn needs a new verse, “Precious Lord, take my hand…lead me on to the Blues Jam.”
posted by Stacy at 1:18 PM
Well, we survived the Fourth. Tim and Matt spent the morning getting the deck on the pool.....right up to the last minute when guests were pulling in the driveway. And that was with people arriving about 15 minutes later than expected. Holly came over and helped me set up a canopy and carry tables down from my mom's house. Gosh, was it hot. Over 90 degrees and extremely humid. Just sitting there produced a heavy sweat. Ugh. If my counting was accurate, we had 42 here because Tim's sister from Deleware (and her family) showed up unexpectedly late in the afternoon. The party broke up around 5:00 when black thunder clouds rolled in. All the men pitched in and what took me all morning to set up, was put away in five minutes. The fireworks were postponed.
After a week of praying and debating with myself and talking with Tim, I've decided not to aproach local businesses about purchasing ads in the program for The Rock Show. I am not comfortable asking small local businesses to support an event that is no longer in the community or anywhere close to it. As of last week, the location is now a large church in Plum. A 35-40 minute drive from here. The Friday program begins at 4:00. How are school kids from this area supposed to make it there for that? Maybe I'm being cynical, but I feel the outreach committee of the church is being taken advantage of. Our purpose is supposed to be finding ways to reach out to the community, to get to know them, to create openings to share the Gospel. I admit The Rock Show is going to be a wonderful concert and will probably reach some kids....just not kids from here, which I feel should be our focus. That aside, I just feel the whole thing stopped being about reaching kids when the person in charge started cutting deals to advertise it in areas far outside our community, when he started talking about needing to hire bands with enough pull to bring people from those areas, when the venue needed to be changed because a bigger place was needed to hold all the people and it needed to be closer to Pittsburgh so it would pull people from that area and most especially when it began being billed as "The Largest Indoor Christian Music Festival in PA." Anyway, cynic that I am, I feel like the committee is being used to get work done on an event designed to establish the guy in charge as a major concert promoter......and for the record, the church's role seems to be getting lost in the shuffle. An email that came my way from a youth network said it's being put on by the members of our fearless leader's band. Hmmmm.
posted by Stacy at 9:05 AM
Friday, July 04, 2003
Woke up early this morning, so have a little bit of time before I have to head out to set up tables and such for the 40 or so we're expecting for the picnic today. The forecast is for partly cloudy skies, very humid and 91 degrees. Thank goodness for the pool and the air conditioning that will provide some relief for those who really need a break from the heat. We'll have a canopy and some umbrellas, but this is one of those times it would be nice to have the large shade trees I long for. At any rate......
Enjoy your parades and your picnics and your fireworks and HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY FOURTH!!!
posted by Stacy at 6:47 AM
Thursday, July 03, 2003
By the way......those four bags of stuff I removed? That was after Megan "cleaned" her room.
posted by Stacy at 6:06 AM
My family, who considers me genetically challenged just because I don't share the family trait of saving everything that I come into contact with, should be thrilled. The packrat gene is alive and well in my children. The proof is in the FOUR bags of "stuff" I removed from Megan's room last night while she whined and begged to keep it.