Saturday, August 25, 2007

Muffins – A Meeting – A Blanket – Coffee – and Lunch

The first half of my day was spent in a planning retreat/meeting for a community organization that I have been involved in for many years. I am interested in education for women and equity issues and have been involved with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in every city I have lived in since graduating from Seminary. My involvement gives me a special connection with other like minded women.

Well a few days ago, I had made a huge batch of Morning Glory Muffins to fulfill the muffins that a parishioner had bought at the annual Potato Bake and Auction fund raiser. I made a triple batch and have been sending muffins to school with my husband and to work with my husband and I took the bag of leftovers to meeting, thinking they’d go good with coffee. When I got to the meeting all to drink was water and iced tea. Passed the muffins around and they got eaten. One person commented that they looked healthy but I felt that I almost had to convince folks that they weren’t as healthy as they looked.

Why don’t people want to eat healthy muffins? Muffins are notorious for being high in fat and these had their fair share of oil in them, but what threw people were the carrots. These Morning Glory Muffins need a little cream cheese glaze or frosting and they would be better than carrot cake. I get a thrill out of sharing muffins with people, but I also want to feed people with good and nutritious food too. I think my Morning Glory Muffins are a good balance of nutrition and decadence. Yes, they have too much sugar, but they are full of fruit and veggies and I used part whole wheat white flour.

The planning meeting was good. Over the years I have noticed a parallel between evangelism discussions in mainline congregations and community organizations. Both groups lament that they can’t get younger members. Both groups lament that membership is dropping off and that if it doesn’t recover they will have to close. Both groups struggle with similar financial issues that relate back to organizational maintenance and mission. I was amazed to hear the phrase; “each one bring one.” I thought to myself, ‘I’ve heard that before,’ ‘easier said than done,’ and ‘gee that sounds like evangelism, wonder what model?’ Most regular folks aren’t good at spreading the word – regardless of what that word is – the mission of a community organization or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Or is it that that regular folks do spread the word but the people being spread to aren’t open or interested? Not much we can do if the human heart isn’t receptive to a message.

The room we were meeting in was cold and if you can believe the wisdom of the public library, the temperature is controlled from the downtown administrative offices. I wasn’t the only person who went out to my car for a blanket. My aunt will love the story of how I actually got to use the circa 1940 car blanket (cars in the 1940s had terrible heaters). The blanket was a wonderful connection to my aunt and the other women that are important in my life – especially appropriate since my meeting was for a woman’s education organization.

And again the nurturing power of coffee was a part of my morning because when we took our break because it was so cold, one of the women went to buy coffee for those wanted it. It was wonderful to have coffee in such a setting and the warmth of the coffee was reflected in the kindness of the person who went to get it for us. It made my day.

Lunch was from one of my favorite places to have a catered lunch, the Classic Cookie Cafe. We all had so much fun that we took the ribbons from our boxes and wore them in various ways, some as head bands, some as bows in their hair, some as neckties. The ribbons of our lives bind us together.

So home I went after the planning retreat – to continue cleaning and reflect on connection.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stuff - The stuff inside and the stuff outside

Today is the second day of my vacation and I've done a pretty good job of decluttering and deep cleaning my kitchen. Anybody want some circa 1970 plastic thermal glasses? I remember taking them from my mom's estate five years ago. Since then they have been moved from an apartment to a house and have sat unused in a kitchen cabinet. Not worth anything on Ebay so off to charity or freecycle.

Mostly what I've done today is think about the lectionary Gospel lessons from the past two Sundays. The stories in Luke 12: 32-40 and Luke 12: 49-56. Since I don't have to preach on Sunday, I don't have to write a sermon for Sunday, reflection on what I have shared with my congregation and how that applies to my life is the order of the day.

These have been very personal texts to me since my family has accumulated so much stuff in the past five years. I am almost embarrassed to say that we bought our house in order to fit furniture we inherited from family. My house is much too big for my family (a husband and two cats), and as scripture reminds us in very subtle and real ways, the more you have the more you are responsible for, for to whom much has been given, much is required. I'm beginning to see the wonders of simplicity, not just for the benefit of less to be responsible for but for the benefit of ones mental sanity.

Ultimately I realize that most of this stuff is that stuff. Now the really big questions, does it enrich my life? Does it help or hinder my relationship with God? So as I scrub and sort and toss these are primary questions.

Dealing with the stuff we have accumulated through life that stuff can choke out God in our lives if we let. And like an astute parishioner said to me leaving church, a parishioner that does not have the clutter or hoarding problem that is often found in many who survived the Great Depression, "I have stuff (in my heart) to deal with," and so do I - which I openly admit.

And so this pastor who is on vacation is so grateful so have been spending time thinking about the past two weeks as I've been dealing with all the material stuff that has accumulated in my house. Some of that stuff is also connected to the stuff in my heart that I have to deal with, but knowing that God has a solution...a deeper relationship and connection with the Holy makes this decluttering all the easier.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Confessions of a Workaholic

I'm scheduled to begin two weeks of vacation tomorrow. Right now I am protesting and saying I have too much to do to take a vacation. This is definitely going to be a working vacation, because I am going to attend some community related and church related meetings, but according to my contract, I have to take time off from my work - so I scheduled two weeks two months ago and then planned to visit my aunt. At this time, my vacation is more scheduled than some of my work weeks have been this past summer, although being the pastor of a small church and working to compete my thesis for a second master's degree has kept me busy. If I'm lucky and manage my time correctly, I just might get that thesis completed during these next two weeks. My big goal is to get my house cleaned so I can host a birthday part for my mother-in-law the day after I get back from visiting my aunt.

Of course I want to have time to sit on my porch and drink coffee and eat a few muffins. Muffins in my estimation are the greatest food ever created. I bake muffins about once a week and I may even post a recipe or two on this blog. If I wasn't a pastor and the coffee shop/food service/restaurant business wasn't so cut throat, I'd love to run a muffin shop that serves excellent coffee.

I've not blogged before and I'm not sure if I'm going to like blogging, but it just seemed like the thing to start doing as I begin my vacation.