Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween = Inclement Weather

I can't remember a Halloween where I have not needed:
A. rain jacket
B. hip waders
C. down jacket
D. skis

Why is it that this day always seems to hold rather terrible weather?

Perhaps it does draw back to the original understanding of All Hallows Eve. Where the spirits would wander the earth in anticipation of All Saints Day. It's like they would come early to the party, check out the guest list, and catch up before the actual formal festivities began.

I've seen enough fantasy movies that tell us the weather brings with it tidings... sometimes fearful ones, think of fog rolling in, thunder clouds suddenly gathering, and like today: snow falling.

If I was a more superstitious person... but in this line of work, who isn't at times?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Searching for meaning... picking up pieces

Our hearts are breaking again...

Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of a young woman in southern Minnesota. Which echoes the horror felt only two months ago by another community in northern Minnesota.

Perhaps as we get older, and we just get better at picking up the pieces, and holding them out to God to reform and reshape.

The hardest part is helping those we love do the same. The woman in southern MN was a close friend of my brother's. And while he isn't a stranger to grief, my heart still breaks for him. It can be a tiring exercise... moving from funeral to funeral, saying goodbye to friend after friend.

May we all sense God's peace in this troubled world.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Five: Pumpkins and Apples

Singing Owl writes....

All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is near. As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. We didn’t yet worry about razor blades in apples or popcorn balls or some of the other concerns people have with Halloween these days. Halloween was a chance to be mildly scared, and better yet, to dress up and pretend to be something we really weren’t.
Let’s talk about that a bit, but then let’s add in some food ideas for this year. Where I live the leaves are falling, the temperature is chilly and pumpkins are for sale everywhere, along with many kids of apples. What's more, the "Holiday Season" will soon be upon us. ACK! I could use a new idea for dessert. So, here we go…

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
Of the three children, we all started with the "beginner" halloween costume- which was a rather scary clown outfit. With a little of mom's eyeliner and shadow, we were set for our trick or treating adventures. After a few years, our parents would switch off- one would go out with us and the other would dress up and do a theme as they handed out candy to kids.

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?
Since we don't have children, the dog refuses to be dressed up, and we live in a rather remote area, we don't celebrate much. But I still buy candy in hopes that we will get some brave souls... the ones that make the drive to the pastor's house.

2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
Definitely caramel covered. Definitely.

3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
I gotta carve at least one pumpkin a year... but I'm not the most artistic of carvers. So on Halloween sales last year, I got a carving kit with real nifty designs! Carving begins this weekend!

4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
Like my sister, I am only allowed to decorate one month before the holiday. So I will often do a general fall theme of colors and candles- not as much the halloween stuff, though... see #3- no one to see it!

5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
I've never been much for dressing up. Perhaps it is because now people ask to borrow MY work uniform -the collar shirt- to dress up. It's an interesting thing to now become a costume idea. I suppose it is a bit like being a superhero...

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.
Pumpkin Soup. (For more details, email me) Take a moderate size pumpkin, clean it out, rub with veg oil, salt and pepper inside. Place in a sheet pan with lip or roasting pan. Fill 3/4 full with chicken broth and any other yummy soup-like ingredients:carrots, celery, onions, cooked chicken, rice, etc. (best to partially cook rice or grains before adding).
Then place in oven at 325-350 for at least 1 1/2 hours- or longer. Serve the soup out of the pumpkin, scraping the sides of the pumpkin to add the meat. Makes a great center piece as well as a meal!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday sermon procrastination

Oh the dangers of facebook and myspace... they take away valuable time from blogging...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fear factor foods...

I was reminded this weekend that I did try one of the more disgusting things in this world -

A little over a year ago, a group of us were traveling in Peru where we tried the local delicacies of cuy and chicha: Guinea pig and a fermented corn beverage.
The guinea pig was a little tough and not too remarkable.

I nearly gagged when I learned that the fermentation process involved old women spitting, yes spitting, into the great big vat of liquid as they prepare it.

I still shudder a bit at this... but am somewhat proud of myself for trying it. I can handle anything, right?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Five: Homage to the Top Chef!

This Fall Rev Hrod's family has been energetically watching Top Chef on the Bravo channel.

The winner for this season was Hung. Not the fan favorite, but he won fair and square. In his bio, he says if he were a food "I would be spicy chili - it takes a while to get used to, but once you eat it you always come back for more!" With that in mind, here is this week’s Friday Five

1. If you were a food, what would you be?
Hmmm... this is kind of a tough one. I think there should be online test for this... but if I had to be a special secret ingredient for Iron Chef, I would probably say: the avocado. While I don't believe i am the world's most perfect me, I think the avocado is the world's most perfect food. It is great for protein, vitamins, minerals, good by itself or mixed up in things. Plus, where else do you get to each such beautiful shades of green?

2. What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where?
After months of living in Russia, we left the country to renew our visas in Estonia. Tallinn is an ridiculously charming city. In the town square, we sat down to a lovely meal of fresh greens, a good red wine, and a beautifully prepared steak topped with roasted pears and Gorgonzola cheese. Might have been the fact that the waiter actually wanted to speak English with us, that we were welcomed as foreigners or that fresh greens and pears were actually available and affordable. We still talk about that meal...

3. What is your favorite comfort food from childhood?
Rolled out shortbread Christmas cookies. They are fabulous. 3 ingredients: butter, sugar and flower. Mix together, roll out, make crazy cookie cutter shapes, put on pan and douse with various colored sugar crystals. The whole house smells like butter for days. And they literally melt in your mouth. Cookie making was an all day affair at our home growing up, and I loved the family effort it encouraged.

4. When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit?
Wild Rice salad. It's not as dowdy as it sounds... but the key: hand picked, hand parched wild rice. Seriously. It's worth the cost. Nothing is as good. Toss the cooked rice with lots of freshly chopped vegetables like bell peppers, roma tomatoes, red onion, carrots, etc. and some good balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yummm (plus it can sit out for a while without too many fears....)

5. What's the strangest thing you ever willingly ate?
At an Armenian restaurant with my sister and brother, we ordered an appetizer plate (we had no idea what was on it... it was in Armenian!) Set before us was a beautiful mix of pates and spiced meats. We all enjoyed the thinly sliced meat and onion dish on flat bread until my sister exclaimed... "I know what this is: It's tongue! I can see the taste buds!"
Needless to say, we didn't eat much of it after that...

Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal?
A really, really good glass of red wine. Either a bordeaux, pinot noir, or malbec (these days, anyway)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is love all we really need?

Today I had a visit that just knocked me out. I am still wondering so many things about pastoral care, about my role as pastor and spiritual guide. And I am, in essence sad.

For this evening, I counseled a woman to leave the marriage I blessed not even a year ago.

She feels like a failure. Her husband feels like a failure. They both are squeezing so tightly and looking in such different directions that I wonder how I didn't recognize this during the pre-marital counseling.

So, in essence, I feel like I have failed both of them.

I couldn't, in good faith, counsel the woman to stay in this marriage that keeps her bitter, angry and tormented.

But a small voice has me wondering if I should attempt to preserve the institution of marriage as much as possible. Is that my call?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Holy Grounds: Rainy Sundays

The past few weeks have left a mark- so it wasn't a surprise that I woke up at 3am this morning worrying about the worship service where:
A. we were trying something different, again. (would people walk out again?)
B. We have started another "low attendance season" aka. The hunting seasons begin...
C. the vocal complainers would be present and looking for their "suggestions" to be implemented.

Yeah, I worried about that for about an hour or so. Climbed back into bed, put my cold feet on my husband (he's still pretty good about that, maybe after 5 more years of marriage though..) and proceed to have scary dreams about the service.

Really scary.
Like showing up naked and forgetting the sermon - scary. (which is worse? Hard to say)

After a swift make-up job to mask those eye bags, I was off to church- adrenaline flowing.


It all went well. No one walked out. (of course certain people didn't show either... their loss) A couple of duck hunters actually arrived (promises of good food in the freezer!) and complainers were (for the most part) satisfied.

But the thing that still constantly amazes me is how I always love my job during and after worship. The people, the hugs, the prayers, the songs, the conversations, the children, the grandparents. All of them served me today in reminding me that God is still calling me to this life of mine.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What you didn't learn in seminary could fill a library...

This job can really get to a person.

It is a ridiculous notion that 1 person is expected to fill the needs and expectations of a multitude of individuals, each with a differing priority agenda, and fill them now.

I know pastors encounter this regularly, but it still doesn't seem fair. They never trained us for this in seminary. If they did, would we still go out to these calls, bright eyed and filled with hope and Gospel? Maybe...

Through all this, I have found colleagues that often find themselves in the same predicament in this little community. This has been good. And many of them, my congregation members, so it deepens our understanding of ministry.

Jobs I now empathize with: school principals, hospital administrators, funeral home directors, and union leaders. (this is a short list, but it is a small town, after all)

The problem arises then, when even through our mutual experiences of unreasonable expectation and entitlement, suddenly, the collegiality and friendship is taken advantage of. The exact same behavior we lament over together is used against a colleague and it forms a wedge between community leaders.

And the whole community feels it- and is paralyzed to do much about it.

Sometimes I wish we had a support group for this. Perhaps a leaders anonymous. LA. A 12 step program which helps us understand the power we have in this community, how to manage it, how to understand our abuse of it, and ultimately realize that it is not ours to control.

How can we find Grace in positions of power if we are so weary from the onslaught of raw human need and unreasonable entitlement?