Saturday, December 8, 2012

Origin of Christmas Traditions

Visual History of Christmas Traditions Infographic by Balsam Hill

Christmas is celebrated in a multitude of rich and cherished traditions. This illustrated timeline, brought to you by Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Company, captures the flow of some of the most popular Christmas traditions and figures throughout Christmas History.



Thought this was interesting.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why People Leave Churches

I think this just about sums it all up, however, it doesn't negate the pain and frustration the pastor and staff feel when someone leaves.  This summer has been a tough one for us.  People don't want to be honest and real and when there are only 30 people in the room, they feel exposed.  When are we gonna stop playing church with each other and start being the Body?  When are people gonna start loving each other to the point where they can be honest and open?  When is the Church gonna start taking care of it's leaders?  I'm not sure it can......

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tap, Tap, Tap......

IS THIS THING ON?

I am 99.9% sure that Pastors often feel (maybe even 99.9% of the time) very alone in this world.  It's hard to have deep friendships, hard to trust, hard to forge relationships due to past wounds and fears that people will stab you in the back (as they often do).  For me, feelings of abandonment bring forth the need to belong to something outside of the church walls without having to put my "pastor" hat on.  So I went and did something a little not-wallflower-me-ish. (Yes, it's a word!).  

I started a Bunco Group.  Yes, dice.  Yes, a monetary pot that one wins at the end of the night (some might even call it....gambling!!).  And guess what, I didn't invite my church gal-pals.  On purpose.  Yup.  I felt a twinge of guilt over that fact for about 20 minutes and then it subsided.  If I'm to be "salt and light" to the world and tell people about Jesus' amazing gift for them, how on earth am I to do that if I trap myself inside the walls of a church service or at church socials?  Bunco is giving me an opportunity to take my "Rev. Hat" off and have a little fun once a month.  And guess what?  I enjoy it :)  I have a Facebook Page for our local community that has over 25 women and most of them have no clue who I am or what I do.  The ones that do still want to play! LOL

However, being in the "real world" is not without it's dangers and strange moments.  My "Rev. Hat" brings weird reactions and emotions out of people when they realize that you are a member of the....wait for it....dum, dum duuuuuummmm....FEMALE CLERGY.  People are predictable.  At least when they find out what my chosen calling/profession is.  They start fidgeting and then begin telling me about their last visit to a church (which was somewhere between 5 and 20 years ago) and how they know they should get back there soon.  Some even ask me what time our service starts on Sunday and where we are located.  I've learned not to get my hopes up on actually seeing them that following Sunday (or ever), so I'm convinced it's a "gap-filler" of our conversation.   Some start to repent for smoking or drinking or the divorce they had.  Then, in an instant, they clam up.  They don't know what to say.  I mean, after all, how does one talk with a representative of God?  "She knows all of my dark, deep secrets right?  She has a direct connection to the BMUS (Big Man Up Stairs), doesn't she?"

Although I would love to say that I've got an "in" with God, I just want to put it out there that I'm as human as anybody else.  Yes, I call Jesus "Lord" and yes, I technically "work" for Him, but I --- hard to believe --- am NOT perfect.   FAR FROM IT.  Ask my husband and my kids.  Ask our congregation.  Ask my sisters and my parents.  I sin just like everyone else.  I stumble, fall, get mad, get jealous, have a hissy fit, feel entitled, get bitter and whine and cry better than most 2 year olds.  But, I guess, most people don't see that side of me and it must be tough to figure out how to converse with someone of the clergy.  Not that this is anything new for me.  I've been an "official" pastor for over 9 years now.  But it just makes me uncomfortable at times to have to carry the conversation because others clam up.  Maybe I'll ask them if they've ever played Canasta....

  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Church = Small Group

And then there were nineteen ....19!

6 of them were my family.  Pathetic.  I swung into an uber- funk this morning and got mad.  I got mad at the church.  I got mad at the devil.  I got mad at God.  I admit it.  Furiously, fuming, raging pissed off.  God, how on earth are we supposed to pay our obligations as a church and how is Joe supposed to support our family if no one ever shows up? I know that summers are hard.  I realize people have things to do.  But honestly?  I want to sleep in on Sunday mornings.  I don't want to have to deal with the heat of the unconditioned gymnasium.  I seriously questioned God this morning as to what we are doing wrong and if it's time to finally throw in the towel.

I found this quote by John Wimber today -
        "Individualism erodes our sense of being part of a covenant people and family. Gods idea of Church is family.."

So, perhaps we don't understand what it means to be a covenant people.  Perhaps, in this individualistic society that we live in we don't get family.   I don't know why the other 30 people who claim that we're their church home didn't show up today, but I do know something.  THEY MISSED OUT ON GOD.  We did worship, we prayed, Joe preached.  Then God showed up.  Every person in that room, except Joe, received a prophetic word from the Lord today.  Every person went home knowing that God loved them and was there with us.  Every person, hopefully, left a little more encouraged than when they came.  I'm grateful for those who did make the effort to be a family today.  I don't know how we're going to pay our past due bills or buy groceries this week, but I do know that God was with us and He loves us.  Guess I'll have to rest in that covenant for now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mosaic Homeschooling

I jumped onto the bandwagon and started my own blog for homeschooling. I've also got a Facebook page. Let me know what you think! Thanks! :) Mosaic Homeschool blog Mosaic Homeschool on Facebook

Friday, June 29, 2012

19 years ago....

It just dawned on me that 19 years ago today I was in pre-term labor.  I was having contractions and taking meds to keep things in check.  After all, my very first bundle of joy wasn't due until August 12th.  These were just Braxton Hicks, right?  I called the ob/gyn to make an appointment because the contractions were about 15 minutes apart, but when I lay down they seemed to calm down.  Being a first timer, however, I didn't want to take any chances.  Sure, we did our Gamper classes (sort of like the Bradley method) and we were pretty well educated on what to expect (or so we thought), but I worked in Itasca, a north-western suburb of Chicago, and lived in Marengo (not a north-western suburb).  The drive between the two was an hour in good traffic.  I needed to be sure these were Braxton Hicks.  The ob's office called me back and told me to come in the next morning.  I put on my work clothes and headed to the doctor's office, fully intending to drive out to work after my exam. The doc checked me and told me that it was just Braxton Hicks.  He said I wasn't dilated past 2 and but that I had to call work because he was putting me on bed rest.  I was to go straight home and put my feet up.  On the way back home to Marengo, while driving down Rt. 176, my water broke.  All over the place.  It was gross and I was not happy.  Yuck!  Hello, panic!!  I guess my little bundle had other plans!

This was pre-cell phone era, so I had to rely on a public payphone to contact my husband and to call the doctor's office back.  The closest phone was at a golf course in the middle of a corn field.  After being questioned by the old guy behind the desk if it was a long distance call, I was given permission to use the club house phone (he was a bit oblivious to the fact that I was in labor and leaking all over his pro-shop floor!).  I called the doctor's office and Joe.  Needless to say, the receptionists at both locations were a lot more panicked than I seemed to be.  The doctor's office told me to come back in immediately and Joe only had 5 minutes to get on the next train out of the city or he'd have to wait another hour.  Time was ticking and the baby was kicking :)  When I got to the doctor's office his staff was literally waiting for me outside in the parking lot.  They then told me to drive to the ER.  Um, hello?  Drive?  So, as a Gamper mom, off I drove!  Needless to say, I was whizzed into the hospital and checked, rechecked and placed onto a gurney in an ER pod.  After about 45 minutes and a lot of blood pressure checking, they rolled me into the helicopter (headed for Rockford Memorial) as Joe drove up into the parking lot.  I think the helicopter ride scared me a lot more than the idea of pre-term labor!  What a trip (too bad I didn't get to see anything - I was laying on my side with a huge helmet on my head).

Luckily for me, Emy was not so determined to leave the warmth and comfort of her pre-birth home that afternoon and she held in there.  Rockford Memorial was convinced that I was going to stay on bed rest for 3 -4 more weeks while Emy percolated inside my womb, but that girl was anxious to make a grand entrance.  At 11:31 the next morning, my 4# beautiful baby girl entered this world and life hasn't been the same since. Although I tested negative for Group B strep during my pregnancy, Miss Emily was apparently covered in it from head to toe and the lab discovered that it had been inside my placenta.  I was told by the nurse that if we had gone full term her chances of being born alive were very slim.  She spent some time in the NICU, but she overcame the obstacles and was a little trooper.  God's hand was on her and He was (is) so good to us!

As I look back on the last 19 years of her life, I am so overjoyed at the woman she has become.  She loves the Lord, she is loyal and trustworthy, she works hard and loves deeply.  She has high hopes and dreams and big big goals for her life.  I know that she will be everything that God created her to be, and I am so honored and blessed to be her mom.  Happy Birthday to my beautiful princess!  I pray and truly hope that this year is your best one yet <3

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Parched

"You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1
This pretty much sums up how I've been feeling lately.  Parched, dry, empty, frustrated, nothing left to give away, absolutely nothing.  Just going through the motions.  Albeit, I go through them with disgust and much breath-holding, but, I get up and put my "everything is fine" face on and move on.  Yes, I know it's a pity party. Yes, I know God is bigger than my problems and can pull me through.  Yes, I hope that things are changing and everything will turn out OK.  I know God is with me.  I know this is an attack.  I know we're on the cusp of something big that we've been waiting a decade for.  I know things are always darkest before breakthrough.  I am so thirsty, so parched.  I long for more of Him.  I long for more Holy Spirit in my life.  I long for things to get easier - to feel the constriction in my chest to let up every time opposition comes.  I long for the nightmare we're in to stop and for God's mercy to abound.  I speak with the miniscule mustard seed that I have left of my faith to the mountain....move!  Jesus, send the rain!