Tuesday, June 30, 2009


"Tomorrow is it, ya know? It's my first day of really working full-time. It is my first day of being capital-G, capital-U Grown Up. And that's weird. And scary," I told my mother, as I packed my cap gun, plastic recorder, kazoo, and yo-yo into a cardboard box. "What if I turn into one of those really serious adults who forgets how to play?"

So, instead of adding my marbles to the box with the rest of my goof-off materials, which are destined for a dusty spot in the back of my closet, I put them in a jar and placed them on my dresser. That way, when I wake up tomorrow morning, before I leave for my first day of work, I'll see them and remember that, while I do serious service all day, I still know how to play. And tomorrow I'll put a bottle of bubbles in my car. Because you never know when you'll be stuck in traffic and need a little floating pick-me-up to share with your comrades-in-vehicles.

While tomorrow is in some ways an official turning point, I have a feeling it'll be a lot like today. I'll wake up, pack paper and pens and a lunch, and drive away. I'll go out into the world, and spend the day loving, serving, learning, talking, praying, and working. At the end of the day I'll come home, play and talk with the people I love, and sleep.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cardboard Wonderland

Bubble wrap pops, are you listenin'?
Out my door, heat is blisterin'.
A frightening sight,
Dust sparkling in light,
Packing in a cardboard wonderland.

Holes in walls, what to do now?
Carpet stained, dare I ask how?
A rolling desk chair,
A sock with no pair
Packing in a cardboard wonderland.

In my new place I won't have this clutter
All my stuff will magically belong
At least that's what I to my father mutter
And hope and pray I'm not completely wrong.

Every corner filled with boxes
And the crowding is obnoxious.
A truck full of stuff,
And it's still not enough
My car looks like my closet sprouted wheels.

This is mad, all this packing
And there's no time for slacking
Just throw it in there
I don't really care,
Packing in a cardboard wonderland.

Later on, I'll unpack this
And I'll wonder where my hat is.
I'll seek unafraid
In the boxes I've made
Packing in a cardboard wonderland.
Packing in a cardboard wonderland!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


This week I attend Annual Conference for the first time in my new conference. I met tons of people, sat through a lot of sessions, and ate several banquets. The experience was surprisingly fun; almost everyone I met was warm and welcoming. Despite some troubling comments during the discussions of legislation, Conference confirmed for me that I am in the right place for my ministry.

On Monday night, I put on my robe, filed onto the platform at Annual Conference alongside my colleagues, and knelt for commissioning. When my turn came, the Bishop and one of my mentors laid their hands on my head, and my mom stood behind me with her hands on my shoulders, and the Bishop prayed for my ministry. My family and the people from the conference who have guided and supported me in the process stood in support. Then the bishop officially commissioned us for ministry. My parents cried. I tried to look serene in light of the somber occasion, but I ended up grinning. As intimidating as these first steps are, I'm joyful.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

RIP Jack

Jack Lemmon, 1995-2009
F.L.Y Car and Traveling Companion

I got the bad news on Saturday morning. The mechanic called and said that the transmission in my 14-year-old Buick needed to be replaced. I didn't have time to get it repaired, and it seemed silly to pay for a repair that cost three times the value of the car. So, I made a very difficult decision: I took a deep breath and told the service people not to bother with the repair. Then I went to buy another car. So, in memory of Jack, I offer this tribute.

Jack was as faithful a traveling companion as a girl could ask for. He came into my life as I graduated from high school, the last legacy of my beloved neighbors. After Harold passed away, and his wife, Betsy, went to live in a retirement community permanently, their daughter decided to give me their car, rather than keep it. So, at seventeen, Jack gave me the independence that every seventeen-year-old girl dreams of. It wasn't exactly the car I'd dreamed of, and I referred to it as a Fogeymobile Land Yacht (F.L.Y. car), but it was a free vehicle when I had none.

Times were not always smooth with Jack. In our first year together, Jack's transmission gave out and the electrical system blew. As a result, Jack gained a last name: Lemmon. The car was christened Jack Lemmon; as a car that was designed for older adults, I named it after an older actor.

On one of my trips back from school, his muffler let go. When I stopped the car at 10:30pm and found that the muffler was dragging against one of my rear tires, I was forced to simply take the muffler off completely, stash it in my trunk, and continue on my way. I felt very independent and empowered.

But perhaps the strangest Jack incident was when I went to pick up my sister at the airport, and Jack decided that he would refuse to shut his back door. Something went wrong with the latch, and it simply would not close. After thirty minutes of struggling with the door, I was forced to grab the rope out of the trunk and tie the back doors together to keep them closed. But, other than a little whistling and extra ventilation in the car, it worked out reasonably well.

That always seemed to be the way it worked out with Jack. Things frequently went wrong, but nothing ever happened at a time when I couldn't deal with it. And Jack accompanied me on great adventures. We traveled all over the Midwest, east coast, and southeast. Jack carried me to and from school, on road trips and family vacations, and on endless errands.

Jack, thanks for the years of companionship and support. Thanks for helping me to learn independence, responsibility, and flexibility. Thanks for your dependability. I'll miss you, dear friend.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Under Construction

I came home this week to find my parents' house in complete uproar due to their current kitchen remodeling project. The first sign of this upheaval was that, upon arriving home at 2:30am, we found the kitchen sink in the front yard. I was shocked by this, but my parents didn't even lift an eyebrow. We continued inside, where I discovered that the entire contents of the kitchen had been scattered about the house. The potatoes and onions, for instance, are currently being stored in the bathtub. The refrigerator has taken up residence in the garage, and the microwave and survival cooking essentials are set up for use in the laundry room, which my parents are calling the "summer kitchen".

This leads to some complications in meal preparation. For instance, this morning I woke up to the sound of electricians in the hall outside my bedroom putting in a new outlet. So, to avoid being seen in my pajamas by strangers, I got completely dressed before leaving my room. I then crossed through the kitchen-turned-construction-zone on my way to the family room, where I retrieved a plastic bowl. Then I went to the dining room to find a spoon, to the laundry room to get the cereal, and out to the garage for milk. I returned to the family room to eat at the "kitchen" table. Needless to say, with only a microwave with which to cook, and said microwave located in the laundry room, we're going out for a lot of meals.

Laundry is more complicated, too. Since the laundry room has become the kitchen, the laundry is now drying in the "laundry annex" (Translation: my bathroom, where the damp clothes hang on hangers over the bathtub-turned-onion-and-potato-storage.) Bizarre.

In addition, they have turned off the central air conditioning in order to prevent the construction dust from getting all over the rest of the house and messing up my parent's allergies. On the one hand, the reduced dust is very nice. On the other hand, it's June, and quite warm outside. This evening my parents opened the windows in hopes of catching a breeze. However, my parents never leave the windows open (because of the aforementioned allergies) so they're very nervous that it will suddenly start raining and somehow the entire house will flood. So, they'll throw open the windows, then decide five minutes later that they've heard raindrops and immediately close the windows again. Open...drip...closed...hot. Open...drip...closed...hot. You get the picture.

Both of the main contractors on the remodeling project, the one for carpentry and the other for electrical, gas, and plumbing, are named Ron. Ron and Ron. This keeps reminding me of Office Space, which causes me to giggle at inappropriate times.

I am contributing to the chaos by attempting to clean out my childhood bedroom in preparation for my big move. So, I'm adding bags of things for the church's thrift store and boxes to bring to my new apartment to the general chaos of the house.

I wish James Thurber were still alive to write about this situation. (Note: If you don't know who James Thurber is, EPIC FAIL for you. Go here immediately and read what is probably my favorite short story of all time.)

I am amazed by my parents' patience with this progression toward entropy. I imagine that my Mom tolerates the mess with an unfailing mental image of the finished product: the completely new kitchen that she's been dreaming about for years. I'm pretty sure my father is getting by on the mantra, "No more electric stove, Advantium for me. No more electric stove, Advantium for me." Could this be an illustration for eschatological hope? Are we in kitchen purgatory?

I'm glad I won't be here for all six weeks of this project.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Transition Notches

Today the church administrator called to ask if I have room in my schedule to officiate a wedding in October. As I listened to her message in my voicemail, my breath caught. I envisioned myself in a robe, joining two people in marriage. This transition from school to ministry has sort of been happening for me in fits and starts. The whole thing will feel totally unreal for a week or so, then something like this will happen and suddenly things click another notch toward reality. It happened in Licensing School when I placed my dripping hand on the head of a baby and said, "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit," and again as I received communion from my bishop. It sank in a little more when I received my degree from the hand of the dean. It clicked another notch as I met with the SPR at the church where I'll work, and as I was introduced by my predecessor as the new associate. Today, with a wedding penciled into my calendar, it clicked in another notch: I'm a pastor.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Family Legacy

I'm on a big family vacation this week with my parents, sister, aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandmother. Last night we had cake to celebrate my grandmother's ninetieth birthday, then we sat around the table asking her questions about the nine decades of her life so far. Some of the stories and observations were new, stories I hadn't heard before. Others were stories so familiar to me that I found myself reciting them in my head in unison with my grandma's voice. I'll probably repeat them someday to my own kids or nephews and nieces.

As I listened to my grandmother's stories, and my family's reminiscences about her, I noticed some themes that stand out in our family legacy. First, our family travels. My grandma's family traveled all over the U.S. Even in the 1930s, when travel was much less common, her family traveled all across the country, from Illinois to New York to Florida. I can't imagine going so far when speed limits were 35 miles per hour, but that's exactly what they did. So, she was simply repeating her own parents' words when she nagged me and my sister to look out the windows of the car instead of reading as we drove around the West.

Another thing that popped out in my mind was education. My grandmother, even as a in the late 1930s and early 1940s completed her bachelors degree. She met my grandfather at the alumni club from their college. Their children and grandchildren carried on that legacy, all of us have completed our undergraduate degrees, and several of us have even further education than that. My grandfather was a teacher for the Navy and the Air Force, and my father and sister both became college professors. My grandmother educated girls through the Girl Scouts, and my aunt now arranges educational opportunities through the Girl Scouts.

But the thing that probably sticks out most in my mind is playing games. Every time my family gets together, we play card games and board games. We're all pretty competitive, but we also never take the games too seriously. Some of my best memories of my family are of laughing around the table with cards in our hands. My grandmother told stories about Bridge and Confusion. My mother talked about accidentally insulting her new mother-in-law's age over a game of cards. My aunt reminisced about her father making a game board for Cutthroat.

So, this week my family traveled to the mountains. We celebrated my graduation and my grandmother's birthday. We played games and laughed. This is my family.