Sunday, December 31, 2006

Resolutions and a Good-Bye

So today, we are saying good-bye to an old year as well as to an interim pastor.  Today was Pastor Phil's last day with us and on my part, it was met with many tears.  I was once okay with good-byes, but ever since my father died eight years ago, saying good-bye to anyone has been nearly impossible for me. 

We managed to coerce him into singing the sheep song for us one more time and the praise team performed "Friends" as the offertory.  After Sunday School, we presented both he and his wife with prayer shawls.  I know that they will be back to visit, but I sure will miss him in the interim.  I'm not so much sad that he will no longer with us as a pastor (though as far as pastors go, he is amazing) but I'll miss him as a friend. 

And the New Year

I'm not sure as to why I make resolutions.  Maybe it is so that I feel as if I have a game plan, even if I don't stick to it.  But I am going in with the best intentions and we'll see what happens.  Some I'll share with you and others I won't and at the end of 2007, we'll see how we end up.

1) Drink water: I could say "drink more water" but a tablespoon would be more than I currently drink.  I generally start the day with coffee, and then have one or two Diet Pepsi's before the day is through.  So, though I'm not drinking soda with lots of sugar, or even drinking lots of soda, my water intake still sucks.  I'm going to do better.

2) Go back to Curves: Really need to get back there and stick with it.  The goal is three times a week.

3) Private

4) Spend less money: I can hear the Brit applauding from here when he reads this.  I don't think I'm a frivilious spender, but I also don't hold back if there is something I really want (We're talking small items here; ie, yarn, a book, etc).  I'm going to do better and only give a treat now and then.

5) Knit myself some hats!  With the Christmas knitting done and only one more project that I promised to participate in, I am then going to do a little selfish knitting.  One of my favorite thoughts about knitting was hats, because like my father, I have a big head, so finding hats that fit is always a challenge (my head is proportinate by the way.  I don't want ya'll thinking I'm some kind of circus freak).  Now, I could knit hats to fit and felt them even!  How many hats have I done for myself in the year and a half since I started knitting?  Right.  Nada.

6) Write more: Whether it be blogging, or story telling, I want to write more.  I haven't given up the dream of being published, even though I am not quite ready to completely commit.

7) Private

Last year in review

I gave a lot of thought to what the lessons were from 2006, but fact is, not too much significant happened this year.  There were no major changesm either good or bad, so there were only a few things I could think of that really were any kind of impact.

2006 was a year of healing spiritually
The split in the church occured at the end of 2005, so this year the congregation of CELC healed.  We were blessed with faithful, good people, and a wonderful interim pastor.  I've made some amazing friends in church that I didn't know all that well before when we were so much larger.  All in all, the journey has been amazing and we are now getting ready to embark on a new chapter with our new pastor.

2006 began a knitting group and some new friends
When Lisa and Micki hooked up, a knitting group began.  At first, the only new folks for me were Micki and Sheri, but now we have added a few others to the group, including a few sisters from Shepherdstown.  This group is one that I look forward to every month, even when nearly everyone is a more advanced knitter than I am.  The ladies there are a wealth of not only knitting, but of wisdom in general.

And honestly, that may be it, but sometimes an uneventful year is a good thing.  I've had years I could hardly wait to get over with (like 2006 is for Shell and Robyn) and years that were incredible.  This year was just quiet with no major upheavals, which turns out, was a bit of a blessing for me.

So, onward and upward!  I have many pictures to show you; from Christmas and our open house, once I get them downsized to fit on here.  In the meantime, happy New Year to all of you!

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas (horror) Story

I hope that everyone had a very merry Christmas! 

I am not a huge fan of Christmas day; I do, however, adore Christmas Eve.  I love the anticipation, and the carols sung in church.  There is just something very magical about that day of the year and it doesn't matter if it is raining or snowing or if the sun is shining; the day just reeks of pure intrigue for me.  Yesterday, however, someone(s) tried to ruin that for myself and for Aaron, though I am pleased to report that it was foiled in the end.

A bit of history

Back in 1980, I was the new kid in town, having just moved here from southeran California.  I didn't really know anyone in school and then one girl latched onto me.  For the sake of this story, we'll call her Psycho Mom or PM for short.  It didn't take me too long to discover that PM really didn't have any other friends; in fact, she was often teased or ridiculed by the other kids.  It didn't take me too long to discover why.  PM was odd.  I mean, really odd.  I ventured into friendship with her tentatively and as most teens do, I spent a couple of nights at her house from time to time.  There were times that she was perfectly, or at least realitively normal, and then there were other times when PM would be trying to convince me that while I slept, she had been busy levitating herself across the room.  I, of course, did not believe this and to this day, I don't believe this, but as I said, she was odd. 

The one positive thing PM did do, was to introduce me to her church, which is now my church as well and has been for twenty-five years.  My parents soon followed me to her church as well.  PM and I started high school and beings I was not "odd" and I was rather outgoing, I soon found myself with many other friends and started to pull away from the "supernatural" PM.

One day, my mom ran into PM's mom while out shopping.  PM's mom proceeded to lament to my mother about how her daughter, PM, had no friends and no one liked her and PM was miserable and hated school.  My mother promised to talk to me to see if I could help at all.  I have always been a bit of an adopter of strays (cats in need, kids in need, you get the picture) so when mom told me about what PM's mom had said, I agreed to take PM under my wing and I did.  That was when my high school life became a rollarcoaster. 

PM could be a really good friend when she took a notion to do so, but when she wasn't taking that notion, she could and would do things that would cut me to the quick.  As teens we are in a process of learning the ways of people and life and PM quickly taught me all about trust...or more like, who not to trust.  She would say terrible things about me to my friends, knowing that they were going to tell me what she said.  Once PM walked up to a boy I had liked for the better part of a year and planted a kiss on him right in front of me.  Beings she was the school whackjob, he was horrified, but again, the stunt was carefully orchestrated just to hurt me.  What makes it all even more shocking is that she referred to me as her best friend (I'd hate to imagine how she treated enemies.).  Each time PM would do something hurtful, a day later, she'd come begging my forgiveness and I'd take her back.  Finally in my senior year, I called it quits with her permanently.

We graduated high school and moved ahead, neither of knowing what the other was doing with her life.  PM actually married long enough to have a daughter (we'll call her PMJ or Psycho mom Jr) before divorcing the husband (who by the way is a special kind of weird all by himself).  When I returned to my church after a long absence in young adulthood, PM was no longer attending there, but after the split in the church, she returned with PMJ, who is now about ten.  Aaron has carried a small torch for PMJ desipte my warnings.  From what I had gathered about PMJ, she was an odd duck as well, which was bound to happen as she lives with mom.

The Story

Aaron had made PMJ an ornament for Christmas that said "I love you, PMJ".  PM and myself have a strained relationship at best.  Though we only see each other at church occasionally (I attend first service and sing on the praise band and she attends second service and sings in the choir) conversation to this day is kept at a minimum between us.  I have not been fond of Aaron's crush on PMJ, but it was, after all, only a crush.  After all, he is only eleven.  But knowing the weirdness which is PM, I did not think Aaron's ornament was a good idea, so I ventured out to the mall before Christmas to a little ornament place and purchased a $13 ornament that said "Aaron" and "PMJ" and in between their names was the word "Friends".  He was happy with it and I was resting easier about his gift to PMJ.  I will now relay the events of yesterday as they became known to me.

The Brit did not attend church yesterday morning because we would be attending the candlelight service that night, but it was a combined service and both the praise team and the choir were singing, so I took both boys and headed to church for 9:00 Sunday School.  Aaron had his gift to PMJ in his hand when he headed to Sunday School (they are in the same class) and I headed to the santuary to rehearse.  After rehearsal, I went into the office and Sandy, Aaron's Sunday School teacher and a good friend of mine, was there running off some copies for her class.  I asked her if Aaron had given PMJ the gift and Sandy smirked and said "yes".  When I asked what was wrong, Sandy told me that PMJ had said something to him after opening it that had upset him, but she didn't know what was said.  I rolled my eyes, only able to imagine.  Aaron is pretty backwards and awkward around girls, and though annoyed that maybe he had gotten his feelings hurt, I didn't think too terribly much about it.  When he appeared for church, he seemed fine and he was going to run the powerpoint for the opening song.  He was sitting in the first pew with me directly behind him.  Just mere minutes before the service was to start, PM comes up the aisle, choir robe billowing out behind her, she puts her finger in Aaron's face and says "No physical contact.  PMJ did not appreciate being tackled."  Then without a word or a glance at me, his mother, she turns on her heel and heads back. 

I was flabbergasted.  Fact is, had I had time to collect my bearings she would have gotten a mouth full, but I was so shocked (as history repeats itself and PM has always loved to shock me with her behavior) that words failed me.  I looked at Aaron after she left and said "What did you do?"  He muttered something about them playing a game and PMJ getting knocked over.  Though not angry with Aaron, I told him he was to stay away from PMJ from now on.  Period.

I seethed through the service, but smiled the whole time as PM was sitting up in the choir loft looking like the sour puss that she is and I was not about to let her see me angry or upset.  So, I smiled the whole time.  After church, a few people who had witnessed PM's attack on Aaron were questioning me about what had happened (PM has no friends in the church, so situation is still normal...everyone finds her very odd) and I helplessly told them what little I knew.  Then Sandy's husband told me that he had been present for what had occured.  It seems the kids were playing keep away with a stuffed toy and two of the boys (Aaron being one of them) were behind PMJ and she got knocked over.  It was not intentional and no one was hurt.  Again, I rolled my eyes.  Then I asked Aaron what PMJ had said to him when he gave her the ornament.  Her words were "I'm just going to smash it when I get home."

Now, had I known this when PM came forward to make her little diva scene before church, I would have had ammunition about how maybe Aaron didn't appreciate her daughter's lack of manners and grace when receiving a gift.  I struggled all day yesterday with whether or not to confront PM at church that night and I decided against it.  Though if she ever pulls a stunt like that again, she is going to have me and a Brit in her face.  If PM ever brings this up to me again, she is going to get told that if she has a problem with my child, she is to speak to ME and not to wave her stubby little finger in my child's face.  The only thing that saved her last night was that it was Christmas.

Aaron was in tears after the service over PMJ's words to him, but I had a chat with him that was perhaps too honest.  I told him that it wasn't really PMJ's fault; that she had weird parents and that is who she is learning from and that unfortunately, she is already taking after her mother.  It's a shame really that the unhappy teenager that PM was at one time, is going to repeat on her daughter.  But already, PMJ is learning mommy's way of biting, hurtful words and actions, which will probably leave her with very few friends as she gets older.  Aaron seemed better after our talk and was fine by the candlelight service where he neither looked at nor spoke to PMJ.  In all honesty, despite the fact that he got his feelings hurt, I do breathe a sigh of relief at knowing that the "little romance" is over.  There was no way I would have been able to stomach the inlaws.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Sunday School Program

This past Sunday was our annual Christmas Sunday School program.  Watching the program from a pew, I was reminded of how blessed we are, given that a year ago, many of us had our doubts as to if we, as a church, were going to make it.  Our youth were so few, you could count them on one hand.  The sanctuary was pretty empty and everyone was feeling pretty apprehensive. 

Now, here we are a year later and take a look at our "few" youth now!

We have totally grown in the past year.  Everyone very much enjoyed the program.

Pastor Phil and Carol played the grandparents in a skit done by the elementary school kids.

These are a few of their "grandchildren", including my oldest in blue, black and white coat.  He's grinning because the little girl he is looking at is the love of his young life.

Amy gave us a beautiful rendition of "Away in a Manger".

What our preschoolers lack in number, they make up for in adorableness.  They sang "The BIBLE" and were loved by all.

Our teens did a wonderful job with their skit, all of them playing a part of an object at Christmas time with their own spin on the personality.

I'll continue tomorrow with the retirement dinner we held on the same day for our beloved interim pastor.  *sob* we only have him for two more Sundays!

Hi! Remember me?

Okay, so I've been really busy!  I can't believe that I blogged for thirty days in a row and then pretty much disappeared off the face of the blogospeare!  I'm still trying to catch up to Christmas, which is still somewhat in the lead!

But, back to business.  On December 9th, our little knitting group had a little Christmas party!

The sisters really went through a lot of trouble for us to make it a special day!  They are some wonderful ladies!

We had decided that instead of exchanging gifts within our knitting circle, that instead we would give gifts to our hostesses.  We had all bases covered, from herbs to candles to cards to even a sweater and treats for Annie:

to some yummies for Molly, the rabbit:

Dear little Molly lacks ears because when she was a wee baby her mama had them for lunch apparently.  But she is the cutest sweetest little bunny, so she had to be included in the day's festivities!

Here's a few more pics from the day:

This is the Deb (on the left) and Liz.  Deb just joined our group in December and she pitched right in to help me with the still unfinished cat.

Kelly, with Annie of course, and Sister Mary Martha.

Sheri and Liz watching as gifts are opened.

Robyn and Micki look on.  I'm not sure what Micki is looking so pensive about, but it is apparently not something that is troubling Robyn.

Sister Mirium and Sister Mary Martha check out their loot.

The food was good, the company was wonderful and I think a good time was had by all.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The holidays are not really Christmas

It almost makes me crazy that Christmas becomes such an insane time of year and no matter how much I state in the middle of July that I am going to start my shopping NOW, December 14th still finds me scurrying from store to store, grabbing last minute gifts that I have put off, wondering when on earth I can get candy finished off this week because next week I need to start baking and knitting until my fingers cramp on two scarves that I aspire to have completed by Monday.  (And wow, was that not the longest sentence EVER???). 

So yes, I have been caught up in all of this, giving myself tension headaches and wondering how on earth, I, as one woman, can possibly get it all completed by December 24th.  I get some help, but not enough to really lessen the burden and I hate thinking of all of it as a burden anyway.  And when did Christmas get so hectic?  Why am I stressing out about "Do I have enough gifts for <insert family member's name here> or do I need to buy them something else?  And "Oh, I just know I'm going to forget to buy for someone and did I buy enough Christmas cards?  Did I forget to post one to someone that I should have?"  Why does it all have to be so BUSY?  The world will not end tomorrow if something doesn't get completed.  And since when did Christmas become about how many gifts you get someone?  Why can't it just be simple?

The first Christmas was filled with simplicity.  A little baby born in a stable, and shepherds and wise men coming to honor him because they wanted to, and not because they were afraid of what anyone would think if they failed to show up  at the party.  The wise men gave him gifts and didn't expect anything in return and I'm not sure that anyone brought homemade chocolates or cookies. 

I don't think that little baby born in that stable ever intended for us to become so incessantly insane when remembering his birthday.  I think maybe what he intended was for us to "be still" and right about now, that sounds like a really good idea to me. 

Stillness.  Stillness in knowing that no matter what happens that it will all turn out perfectly in the end and it has nothing to do with how much we accomplish at Christmas or any day of the year for that matter.  It doesn't matter how much time we spend working, or baking or shopping or parenting, or fretting.  Doesn't matter.  He loves anyway and it will all work together for good.

Now, how simple is that?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The big news

So, remember the secret?  Today is the day and the news is that we now have a permanent pastor!

This whole thing has been so amazing.  Our new pastor was our seminarian either three or four years ago before any of the conflict ever began at the church.  We all loved him and were sorry when his time with us was over.  The feeling was entirely mutual as he hated leaving us, and any Sunday he was free, he would come and pay us a visit.  One of these visits occurred amidst all the turmoil and he sat in on one of the Sunday school classes where they were teaching the "Evils" of homosexuals and women pastors.  He was very upfront about what he thought of how and what they were teaching (just as a reminder, I am not "for" homosexuality.  I am for not judging and loving everyone as Jesus taught us to do). 

Despite all the conflict, when our former pastor retired in 2004, he told him that he didn't know how he could leave this congregation.  After the split in the church, this man continued to show up on our doorstep from time to time.  He was still in the seminary and his presence was still very comforting to us.  He was there for the yard sale and for our healing service.  I was told by our interim pastor, that the one thing this pastor said he needed forgiveness for during our healing service was that he had been unable to do more (to maybe stop the split from ever occurring).  There was really no more that he could have done given the fact that he was still a seminary student.

When we began the Call process, knowing that our interim pastor would be going back into retirement after Christmas, we very much wanted this man, who would be graduating January 2007.  We spoke with the Synod who told us it all depended on where he was assigned (he could have been assigned anywhere in Maryland or Delaware).  Several weeks ago, we got news from the Synod that he had been assigned to our area and our Call committee jumped at the chance to interview him.

After the interview, the Call Committe unanimously voted to recommend him to become our new pastor, to the Church Council.  The council also interviewed Mike and then the council unanimously voted to refer their recommendation to the congregation.  Letters went out informing everyone of a special  The congregation UNANIMOUSLY voted this pastor to become our new pastor!  I literally had tears when the verdict came back only moments later.

God has brought us full circle and I can't help but to look back on all the amazing things he has done.  Four years ago, when we first met pastor, no one knew the terrible things that would occur within our particular body of Christ...except for God.  He already knew what would happen and he planted a seed in all of us with our new pastor.  Three years later, the vote to leave the ELCA fell twelve votes (you know what just now strikes me about that?  Please don't think I've gone off the deep end....twelve disciples).  The old council resigned and people left the church.  Some wonderful people who had felt persecuted before the vote, returned to the church after the split and a new, strong council was formed.  The former secretary chose to leave as well, giving me, without a job, an opportunity for a wonderful job.  Pastor Phil stepped forward out of retirement, asking to come and be our interim pastor and what an incredible blessing he has been.  The church united and we have truly become a family.  We had a successful annual yard sale, an abundant VBS and have started up a prayer shawl ministry that has been so well received.  Our choir and praise band grew once more, replacing those that have left. Now, our church....Christ's church...has unanimously voted in a new pastor, which to me, truly shows how united we are.  We all are on the same page and want the same things and we are allowing God and not people and opinions to guide us.

God is good...all the time.

Friday, December 8, 2006

A Quickie

I am still around, but every spare moment has been spent knitting the kitty for Paula for Christmas.  Tomorrow my knitting group has their December meeting and I need help/moral support for assembling this thing!  I just knit the last stitch at 11:05pm!  I promise to post pictures of the kitty regardless of what it looks like when assembled (I have a retardo kitty phobia).

The holidays have obviously hit as I have been insanely busy and I venture to say that most of you have been too!  It's been: work, leave work, run errands (Christmas shopping, stamp buying, grocery shopping etc), come home, clean up house, cook dinner, clean up dinner, knit. That has been my life this week.  There is also still more candy to make, cookies to bake, presents to wrap and shopping to complete...oh yes, and we still need to get a tree! 

I'll be here when I can be!  In the meantime, ya'll be careful out there...some of those shoppers are nuts!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Picture overload

As promised, church pictures (whether you care what it looks like or not )

This is the front of the santuary obviously all decked out for Christmas.  I also give  you a close up of our nativity, which I love:

If one object would come to mind when I think of Pastor Phil, it would be his guitar:

I love to walk in on Sunday mornings to see this sitting up in the front, because I know he is going to play and sing with the children for the Chat with the Children.  I am so going to miss this man when he leaves us at the end of the month.

I took a few pictures of our Christmas window dressings and one turned out kind of dark and the other much lighter.  I actually like them both and couldn't decide which I prefered.

Okay, as I have resolved to spend the evenings knitting Christmas gifts, I must run!

Monday, December 4, 2006

Reindeer Games

Yes, I finally did take a day off from blogging yesterday.  I had to break the cycle and it took a lot of work for me to do it.  I actually wanted to blog despite having worked most of the weekend, but I knew it was simply a whirlpool I was caught up in, so I forced myself not to do it. 

Yesterday, we started on the traditional Christmas candy making because nothing says "I love you" to friends more than homemade candy (Well, maybe other things do say it better, but for blogging purposes, it's my story and I'm sticking to it.).

We did chocolate creams, vanilla creams and raspberry creams yesterday, but we still have more to make.  They make nice small gifts for people you don't really exchange with, by putting 4-6 pieces in a Christmas-y bag tied with a pretty ribbon.

JJ was on hand to help where Aaron opted to stay outside playing with the hellions kids up the street.  The Brit finally sent these children home because they were determined to wrestle and everytime that happens, someone gets hurt. 

I have more potential good news that I'm still keeping a secret until I can clarify the rumor tomorrow.  Though I would very much love it to be true, I'm not convinced that it is, so we'll wait on that one. 

I'm in a good place at the moment.  It seems that when church life is going well, most of the rest of my life goes well too and yesterday, we had 5 people come back to church who had left over a year ago when all the trouble was at its worst.  The folks who returned yesterday were not the trouble makers, but maybe some of the folks who followed blindly or simply left before the vote because of all the tension.  One of the women said she had been to the "new church" but she couldn't handle hour long sermons and that she didn't like change.  I smiled and told her, "Well, we're pretty much the same here."  And it's the truth. 

A few of us got to talking today during our prayer shawl time about some of the things that went on while the other group was at the church.  The weirdness of it all still astounds me and I compare it to being under a controlling dictatorship.  Those of us who wanted to stay with the ELCA would be followed around the church if we were trying to talk to someone, and some of the "leaders" of the other group who attended the first service would then stay for the second service, standing in the back of the santuary like guards to make sure that nothing was being said about their plans to leave the ELCA.  Those examples are only the surface stuff; the weirdness went much deeper.

Remembering all of this feels like images from another life.  Now, when I walk in there on Sunday, there are warm greetings and smiles.  There is a feeling of family that was never there before.  Everyone is so much more relaxed and happy and financially, we are doing very well (The rumors coming from the other church is that we will be closing our doors the first of the year.  Yeah.  Okay.).  The Holy Spirit is present in that place and it fills me with much peace.  The church was decorated for Christmas yesterday and I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Christmas at the park

So, tonight we drove over to the park with the new camera to take a couple of pictures. They had luminaries up and burning and all the lights were on, as well as the Christmas tree on the lake:

The Brit took the pics tonight as it has gotten cold and there was no way I was getting out of the car.  The boys were along for the ride.

He even looks full of himself, doesn't he?

Upon arriving back home, we took a picture of our house:

I do love all the lit up houses at Christmas! 

Friday, December 1, 2006


So, would you believe that I'm having separation anxiety...from my BLOG??  I've been sitting here at the computer for the past hour, arguing with myself.

I feel like I'm forgetting to do something....cats have been fed, meds have been taken...oh, right!  Blogging!  I don't have to do that today (insert tiny happy dance)!  *surfing continues and I find myself going to read the blogs of bloggers I met during the month of November.  Some of them have written entries today*  But I don't have to blog today.  It was not in my plan to blog today.  I've just blogged for thirty days....IN A ROW and I don't have to blog today!  Wow, it's 11:30...if I were going to blog today, if NaBloPoMo were still going on today, I'd only have thirty minutes left to get a blog submitted....BUT, I don't have that pressure today!  No blogging required siree....

Yeah, right.I never said I was mentally stable.

We took the kids to see "Happy Feet" tonight.  We all loved it!  Adorable!  We went in celebration of Aaron making the honor roll!  This was my C/D student last year in elementary school!  I'm very proud, very impressed and the Brit and I wanted to make a definate big deal about it, so dinner and a movie and he'll get the skateboard he has wanted.  Kudos to him!