Sunday, February 26, 2006

Friday Five Two Days Late...

Hi, my name's Rainbow Pastor, and I'm a procrastinator. ("Hi, Rainbow Pastor.") (Shamelessly stealing from LutheranChik)

Five friends, in no particular order:

1. Old Friend (OF)! I've known this friend since 3rd grade. Sometimes we've been closer, sometimes further apart, but always we've stayed in touch and been friends. She's been with me through some bad times--my parents' divorce, my serious childhood illness, my own divorce--and some wonderful times--my coming out, my college years, seminary. She's always there for me, and I've tried to always be there for her. Her brother passed away recently, and she commented to me that I was her only friend who really knew her brother--she had met all her other friends after the brother moved away, out of state, so they never met him, or knew him. I need to call her and see how she's doing...

2. High School Friend (HSF)! I've mentioned before that we were very close in high school, then lost touch after I graduated, then got back in touch by God's grace last year, and actually had lunch together (with his partner of 25 years and their son) last month. He's one of those friends where you pick up the conversation where you left off, whether it was a week ago you talked or fifteen years. Songbird's PB friend's mother reminds me of HSF's mother--I always felt she didn't quite approve of me, and I don't know if it was because my parents were divorced, or because we lived in the apartments (low cost housing...) or because she had a suspicion about HSF's orientation, and "knew" there was potential for disaster in our relationship (of course, what she didn't know was that I had no interest in HSF "that way').

3. Coming-Out Coach! COC had gone through the same experience that I had (marriage for 20-some years, parenthood, divorce and coming out), only about five years earlier. He was very shy, but his roommate (very gregarious) got to know me and COC began getting together on a regular basis. We both had Mondays off, so we'd go shopping in the afternoon, have dinner together and see a movie. He talked me through more grief and struggle in one night than most therapists see in a week! We rarely talk anymore, but he was one of those "for a season, for a reason" friends. I will never forget him and will always be grateful for his love and support.

4. Germany Friend (GF)! We had so much in common--a call to ministry, spirituality that was not totally comprehended by our spouses, children of the same age, and the military (she's former military, my then-husband was in the military). We talked and laughed, we did all the fun girl stuff (shopping, watching chick flicks and eating chocolate, cooking huge meals), she held me when I sobbed with post-partum depression (having gone through it herself only three months earlier), our families shared holidays together, and we talked theology for hours. But when I cam out, she had nothing more to do with me. Her emails (the few I receive now) have to do with my son (who is still friends with her children) and are cold. We meant so much to each other, it is a grief to me that we are severed.

5. Constant Friend (CF)! We met in seminary, in a Systematic Theology class. I had known him earlier, as a friend of a friend, but we hadn't really gotten to know each other. Then a group of us gathered into a study group for the Systematics class. Besides being a great way to study (probably the only reason I passed!), we came to know each other very well. CF wasn't the one who knew all the definitions, but he came up with the questions we knew we had to answer. Then when I faced a minor (although it seemed major) crisis in my first congregation, he was there for me in a way even my then-husband was not. He prayed with me, he had his prayer group pray for me, and he kept in touch with me all the way through the crisis. He was one of the first people I came out to. When he moved across the country to be with his partner, we kept in touch, and DP and I visited him for a week of luxurious spoiling (see blog on trips). Again, we don't talk every day or even every week, but when we do, our connection is still clear and strong.

And there are others--my sister, my mom, DP, PF and APF...many more. I thank God for the blessing of these friends every day.

Too Much to Do, or Procrastination?

Well, it's not quite what I was looking for, but I think it might help.
Quotidian Grace and I have been struggling with the time-management-to-prevent-burnout thing. There are some suggestions in this article from the Washington Post (and I do hope the link works, I don't use links often, so I am no expert at it). Some of it seems pretty obvious once it's mentioned (like much advice...)--say no, block off time to do certain tasks. The email one may really help--I tend to read emails immediately as they pop up. This can really contributes to my procrastination!

Procrastination and too much to do. I'm beginning to see a relationship here. I think one thing I do is delay doing the difficult tasks (or the ones I feel less comfortable with) by doing the other ones, which may or may not need to be done just then. So I end up with things done, but not the tasks that really needed to get done--they are still waiting. SO I feel like I'm working hard, but I'm really spinning my wheels.

Hmmm. I think I've hit on something.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Going Down For the Third time....

Help! I'm drowning!

Does anyone have a good resource for time management? I need it desperately!

I've been keeping track of my time the last few weeks as an exercise. I discovered I've been spending about 35-40 hours a week on church work. Now, that's not bad at all if it's your full-time job. But I'm paid for 20 hours a week. Period.

I'm pulled several ways. One says that this is my calling, my life's work, and that I shouldn't even be keeping track. It's all for God's glory, right? Another way says that the labourer is worth her hire, and I deserve to be paid for my time and work (and I also need to eat and pay rent and have lights and heat and an Internet connection...). A third way says that I could do so much more if I had the freedom of being paid full time and was able to do all that I want to do (and I don't want to give 40+ hours on a regular basis until I'm paid for 40 hours on a regular basis, because why would the congregation pay for what they already get free?).

So. I'm working hard, doing good stuff, we're making progress on all fronts, and I'm genuinely glad to be here and working with these wonderful people. How do I balance all that I need to do (personal prayer/meditation time, worship, education, outreach, nurturing leadership, administration, etc.) without neglecting anything or over-emphasizing something else? Some weeks it seems like I just get one fire put out when another one blazes up, and I never get to the other things (professional reading, telephone calls to shut-ins, a day off for me) that I want/need to do as well as the usual (plan worship, write the sermon, visit the hospitalized, lead Bible study, etc.). And the bonfire I have to put out aren't bad things--they are often wonderful things, like weddings or looking for new space.

I'm working on saying no, and on telling people "I can't talk right now," and so on, but that doesn't always work, either. Delegating only works when you have someone to whom you can delegate a particular task. I am very careful to not overload people, as this church has a history of burning people out by asking them to do too much. So I often end up doing things that "ought to be done" myself, because there is no one to whom I can delegate.

This is not my first church. I was an associate pastor for two years, then led two churches (joint charge) for a year, before I arrived here in River City. Before that I was working part-time, running a house, and going to seminary part-time. I'm not exactly a novice at organizing my time and getting things done. It may have to do with the size of the church and what the pastor has to do. With the larger churches, I had committees of people who would do things like taking care of getting the palms for Palm Sunday or share teaching the Bible study or organize the retreat.

Isn't it ironic that the larger the congregation, the better-paid the pastor, and the narrower her/his focus is?

I really don't mean this as a whine, and I hope it doesn't come across that way. I want to do as much as I can--create worship, write sermons, visit, call, lead--and as well as I can. So what is keeping me from getting organized enough to get it all done?

I'm asking this as a genuine question, as I said. If anyone has a wonderful resource that helps set real priorities and stay on track, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Winter Olympics Friday Five

1) Which of the Winter Olympic sports is your favorite to watch?
Hmmmm. Probably the figure skating events--like dance but not quite. Also, I did learn to ice skate as a kid (one of my few athletic accomplishments), so I have some idea of the difficulty of what they are doing. And, before you ask, no, I did not wear one of those short floaty skirt things.

2) Do you speak Snowboardese?
Nope. I love the sound of it, though (there's something seductive about jargon, even if you don't have the slightest idea what it means).

3) Define Nordic Combined. Don't look it up. Take a guess if you must.
Um. I think it's a skiing event. I took one skiing class, and after they had to shut down the ski lift (the ponta lift) because I got stuck and couldn't get off, I never tried downhill again.

4) Curling. Please discuss.
OK, I must be becoming Canadian by osmosis, because I actually think it's kinda cool. There's as much thinking and strategy as there is athletic skill--a thinking person's hockey, maybe.

5) If you could be a Winter Olympics Champion just by wishing for it, which sport would you choose for winning your Gold Medal?
Ski jump. I'm terrified of heights, and this way I wouldn't have to actually go up that high and jump into thin air, with no parachute or net or even ski poles to catch me...ohhh, my palms are sweating just thinking about it. It's like a bad dream where you're falling off a building or something...
Ski jump. No need to actually jump. Gold medal. I'm sooo there.

Servants

I visited one of the members of the congregation today—a true pillar of the church. That term is often used for someone who gives enough to pay half the pastor’s salary, or single-handedly runs the annual Church Fair, or always provides the goodies for Sunday coffee. This wonderful lady does none of those things, but she is, nonetheless, a pillar of the church. Everyone knows her, she talks to people I don’t get to (and people who are too timid to talk to the pastor), and she really listens to what I say in sermons (I get some of my best feedback from her). She takes on small tasks that other people don’t even realize need to be done.

Her health has been declining lately, and she’s understandably depressed, afraid of losing touch with her friends now that she’s virtually housebound, fearing becoming a burden to her partner, and generally feeling that life is over at far too young an age.

What can you say to someone in her situation? She’s far too sophisticated and smart to be calmed by platitudes, and her fears are realistic. I can’t sit there and say, “Things will work out,” or “well, at least you’re still here.” That’s not helpful to her (or to me).

So we talked about what she can still do for the church, even at home, and how we can get her to church with her medical equipment-who has a van or station wagon we can use? Who comes from this end of town? What does the church need done that she can do from home—phone calls? Care notes written?

She wants to be a part of the church she has loved and needed for so long—and which still needs her. She wants to serve.

The congregation has also been involved recently in fundraising for a young man who was shot in an apparent hate crime (the police think so, but it’s not being prosecuted that way). For various reasons, his health insurance is not covering all of the expenses. So the community-—his friends, his co-workers, his family’s friends and co-workers—-have stepped up to fill in the gap. Word of the incident has spread far and wide (thanks to the Internet) and donations have come in from all over the region. There have been fundraising events, coverage on TV and the radio, and newspaper stories.

So how do we serve each other? Do we make phone calls? Do we send donations to a young man we've never met? What does it mean to serve one another in love?

Every one of the people at the fundraiser last night was serving that young man. Every call made by my parishioner is service to a fellow church member.

Go now, to love and serve God and your neighbour.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Surprise!

Your Inner Child Is Surprised

You see many things through the eyes of a child.
Meaning, you're rarely cynical or jaded.
You cherish all of the details in life.
Easily fascinated, you enjoy experiencing new things.


Found this at Following Frodo...

Like Gord, I'm not sure about the whole "inner child" thing, and I don't really think I'm all that surprised. On the other hand, it is true that I'm not cynical. Some might even call me naive, but I really do prefer to assume that people are doing the best they can and don't act maliciously on purpose--even though I know it's not true.

I had an appointment this afternoon, I have a Board meeting tonight, two appointments on Wednesday, and one appointment on Friday... Busy week. I'm keeping it cool tomorrow, though--Valentine's Day, I make no appointments so I can get home to DP on time! We're having pot roast for a special dinner--her favourite!

I've always liked Valentine's Day, from the time I knew what it was. Mom used to get my sister and me a box of crafty things so we could make Valentines for the family--doilies and construction paper and feathers and glitter and so on. We had a great time. Even when I was older, and there was the whole girl/guy/guy/girl thing (pick your combination), it was a lot of fun. Plus I love chocolate and red-hots. Through university, career, motherhood, second career, it was always fun for me.

I only had one bad Valentine's Day. It was shortly after I came out and started divorce proceedings...I was depressed anyway, and living alone--I didn't get to see TO often enough, stresses were building in the churches I was serving, and the whole world felt grey, Valentine's Day or no Valentine's Day. To my horror, I actually broke down and cried a few days beforehand in front of one of my closest friends. He proved his worth as a friend, however, by not running away or brushing off my pain or pretending it would all be fine. He hugged me, gave me a Kleenex, calmed me down... and called me later that night to be sure I was OK. He even sent me a Valentine's card! Funny how a simple piece of cardboard can cheer you up so well! My mother and sister sent me cards, too--appreciated beyond words!

And then on Valentine's Day itself that year, I met DP--and the rest, as they say, is history!

Happy Valentine's Day and lots of chocolate to all!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Farewell Friday Five!

1. How do you say goodbye to someone you will see again soon?
“See ya!”

2. What is your favorite foreign word for "goodbye?"
German—“Bis Spaeter!” Literally, “until later,” so, “See you soon!”

3. Have you ever planned a special farewell for someone, or had one planned for you?
A couple of times. When I left the church I had belonged to for a long time for my internship and then ordained ministry, they invited me to preach, gave me a lovely stole (which is my “special occasions” stole), and had a reception after church. When I finished my transfer process from the UMC to MCC, and came to River City, the congregation I belonged to during the process had a special blessing-time for me during the last service. Both were very special times of recognizing what we had been to each other.

4. What is the hardest goodbye you have had to say?
To my father when he died. He did not believe in an afterlife, and so for him his death was the end. It was incredibly painful for me to see him dying, and thinking there was no more—and knowing I could not change his mind. I had tried and failed several times.

5. What is the most romantic goodbye you have seen in a movie?
Rick’s farewell to Ilsa in “Casablanca;” Lara and Yuri’s farewell in “Dr. Zhivago;“ and Vivian and Cay in “Desert Hearts.”

And a Bonus question for Musical Theatre geeks: Which Von Trapp child would you like to be in "So Long, Farewell?"
I can’t even remember all their names, let alone who had which line!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm It!

OK, LutheranChik meme-tagged me. Here goes...

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

1) Anastasia
2) Haligweorc
3) Topmost Apple
4)LutheranChik's "L" Word Diary
5)Rainbow Pastor

Next, select five people to tag:
1) Walk Humbly
2) Dylan (and her Grace Notes)
3) Friday Mom
4) Rebel
5) Rev Mom

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I had just been fired (one and only time in my life), and I took the time to think about what I really, really wanted to do with my life, not what someone else wanted me to do. Best thing that happened to me, to be honest, though it hurt like hell at the time...

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Learning to speak Canadian, eh?

Five snacks you enjoy:
A. Chex mix
B. Chocolate mint cookies
C. Apples with peanut butter
D. Cashews
E. Maple pecan frozen yogurt

(hmmm, I'm seeing a nut theme here)

Five songs you know all the words to:
A. Both Sides Now
B. Blowin' in the Wind
C. Giant (Melissa Etheridge)
D. Alleluia (kd lang's cover)
E. O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing (joke, actually; it has a million verses; but I know the first four in the United Methodist hymnal)
F. Raining Men (The Weather Girls)

Actually, hymns probably shouldn't count for pastors...and notice I didn't (really) include any)

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
A. Pay off all my debts
B. Invest a chunk for retirement and for TO's university
C. Buy a house DP and I can live in the rest of our lives
D. Pay lawyer's and Canada Customs and Immigration's fees to get "landed immigrant" status
E. Write a healthy check for the church's building fund

Five bad habits:
A. Procrastination
B. "Eeyore" thinking (i.e., jumping to the worst possible scenario; AKA Drama Queen)
C. Swaying while I preach
D. Slouching
E. Nervous giggle

Five things you enjoy doing:
A. Reading
B. Researching a topic to death
C. Writing
D. Browsing in a bookstore or library (see A)
E. Canoeing

Five things you would never wear again:
A. Hip-hugger jeans
B. Platform shoes
C. Choker necklace
D. Plaid
E. Hot pants/short shorts

(only five? What about peasant blouses, bell-bottoms, big earrings, macrame belts and bandannas?)

Five favorite toys:
(Snicker)
A. my Personal Digital Assistant (especially since I found the Lectionary to upload to it...)
B. my laptop
C. my car (VW Jetta wagon...sigh)
D. my glass-fronted bookcases (no, really--there's something very satisfying about seeing my books through glass, all safe and dustless; also protects my rainbow-coloured feather boa from the cats)
E. my coffeemaker (don't laugh; it turns off automatically, I can adjust the heat on the warming plate, and I can set it to start brewing in the morning while I'm still sleeping...)

Thanks, LC--that was kinda fun!

Your turn!

Juggling with Sermons, Worship Planning, A Seminar and a Membership Class

I know it's not quite the "done" thing to admit it, but--I'm reading a fun book! It's a wonderful historical fiction novel, part of a series by Dorothy Dunnett. The title of this one, the second in the series is Queen's Play (as in chess moves, not as in a drama for the stage). Anyway, the main character just did some serious juggling--with knives, eggs, a key, a vase of water, and some other varied objects.

I sympathize.

I spent the weekend with my extended family, celebrating a high-numbered birthday with my mother and all of her eight (8) siblings, and all but one of my siblings (and didn't we talk about the absent one?), and other assorted family and hangers-on. It was a great time, actually. I get along well with most of my aunts and uncles, and of course my sisters are my sisters. Much talking, laughing, arguing--er, disputation...the usual family sort of thing. DP was a bit overwhelmed at times (having been an only child), but she handled it well.

It was also a mini-vacation of sorts--no email, no phone calls, no preaching on Sunday (two weeks in a row, my vocal cords praise me)--and we stayed in a hotel, so we didn't have to make beds or cook dinner either!

And then I got up this morning, started up email, and listened to the voice mails. Boom! Back into the cyclone!

And that's what it feels like, or (to mix a metaphor) trying to pick up the reins again and get back into the rhythm of the congregation. It's not just the get-up-make-coffee-let-the-dog-out-let-the-dog-in-feed-the-dog-take-a-shower-go-to-the-office routine either. It's remembering what was going on with all the projects--the new search for new space for the church, the seminar I'm planning for March, the membership class later this month, the history panel last week that was taped and now needs to be edited, worship planning for Lent, working on the sermons for February--all of which I had going before I left. Now I have to get back on board with all of that. You wouldn't think I could forget it all in the course of four days, but apparently it's possible.

The problem is not doing all these things, or keeping track of them--I did that before I left for the weekend (and with a bad code, too -sniff, sniff). It's getting back into the rhythm without impaling myself on a knife or dropping a vase on my head.

And a-one, a-two, a-three...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blah Blah Blah...

The US President gave his State of Union speech lest night. Sigh.

At least he recognized that the war is costing real people their lives. He had the widow and parents of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq in the gallery, right behind the First Lady. A couple of years ago, I remember being scandalized that he didn't even mention the war...let alone recognize the soldiers who were over there. I'm no hawk, but as an ex-military spouse (in a previous life), it rankled.

And his tired rhetoric about judges who "legislate from the bench." They interpret the law--that is their job.

And more of the same on the domestic wiretapping. I watched the speech on a Canadian network, CTV, and their camera zoomed in on Hilary Clinton, who was shaking her head ruefully. I am not always a big fan of hers, but she had it right this time.

And where did he get his figures on new jobs? The count must include seasonal (holiday) work, part-time, temporary, everything they could scrape together. We sure aren't seeing it in the part of the US closest to me! Right across the river, people are desperate for jobs, any jobs--and another large employer in the area just announced a plant closing...thousands more people looking for work. Lots of jobs? Show me, Mr. President.

What makes me angry is that the President can't seem to understand that the people who disagree with him do so with as much (if not more--but I won't go there) integrity as he defends his position. They are not all timeservers and politicians looking for a boost in the polls. I'm sure some of them are, but so are many people in the administration. But listening to him, his opponents are all manipulators of Machiavellian proportions. He demonizes them, which serves no-one, not even his own aims.

Feh. I'm going to go read something uplifting, like "Antagonists in the Church" or today's paper.