It is the sign of the end of Summer…

Image result for beginning of school year

…when all the big box stores put out school supplies. I love school supplies! I taught high school but I was like an elementary school kid when it came to supplies: I wanted the newest pencils, erasers, notebooks, folders – anything. And I especially love when it was Batman, Pinky and the Brain, and other newer characters: MINIONS!

And I do still get excited but I have moved on to just admiring, buying for the local school supply drives. I instead head to the sharpie section and stock on fav colors or get the newest collection.

I am going to be more proactive this coming year to let teachers know they are not alone – ever. Gratitude and appreciation is not shown enough. Shouldn’t be just an appreciation lunch at the beginning of the year, a single prayer during worship but it should be continous support through our prayers, keeping up with what is happening in the world of Education – like the appointment of someone who is NOT a supporter of public schools but is THE authority of Public Education in our government –  being present at school functions whether we have children in the schools or not, volunteering to read, to assist, to mentor or tutor – whatever we are able to do to let teachers and staff know we are behind them.

Rev Thom Shuman, a Presbyterian minister in the PCUSA, is a writer of poetry, liturgy and insight that is inspiring and instills reflection of one’s self that I have encountered in very few writers. He posted this observation today and I shared it on facebook but it got me thinking and lead me to write(haven’t written anything for a long time)

Here is Rev Shuman’s post from Wednesday Aug 9, 2017:

Here is the thing about teachers.
A teacher will never blow her own horn but will place musical instruments in the hands of kids and melt their hearts.
A teacher will never strut his stuff butwill take a bus load of kids to an afternoon ballet and years later watch the boys who sat on the back row snickering and rolling their eyes play the sharks and Jets in the High School production of West Side Story.
. A teacher will never make a scientific discovery but will introduce a microscope to a bored kid who 20 years later will discover the key that unlocks the door of her grandmother’s prison called Alzheimer’s.
A teacher may never write a great novel that will hand poetry and fiction and biography to a generation who will.
A teacher may not change history but will help her students discover the past so they can understand today and make tomorrow a better place.
So let’s stop making teachers our scapegoats, our pinatas, our bullet points in a political platform. Let’s start supporting them and caring for them and encouraging them and praying for them. Why not fill a box with school supplies and drop them off to a teacher? Why not become a volunteer in your local school? Why not give back to the teachers who have given so much to your community?
Because here’s the thing about teachers. They teach. And if they ever stop then everything else will stop as well.

Thank you Teachers! And I will do better by you –

Learning New Skills

I have signed up for a challenge: to learn to use a different type of preserving method each month. January it is marmalade. I am going to attempt to do this but in a small batch. And may even let others try it!  But this is what life should be about: learning new skills, traveling to a new place, working with people on a new project.

So keep a look out here as to my progress in preserving. Hope it goes faster than the unpacking of boxes – still have a few to get organized into the new home. Along with getting ready the garden beds and chicken coop.

And just in case you would like to join the challenge, here is the place to go:

Food in Jars Challenge 2017

Have a great 2017 and learn a new skill!

2017 – Wow, made it!

This is the article I wrote for our January newsletter here at FPC, Higginsville, MO. It has been an exciting 8 months and if the devil doesn’t spoil things(which is possible when you are doing God’s work and listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit), it is going to be an exciting year.

Still trying to be a gardener and small farmer, I am getting better. It takes time just like all skills. But I thought I did pretty good writing this and thought it might inspire others – improve ourselves, our relationships and world one step at a time. So enjoy, learn some about what is happening in my part of the world –

   HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Who is ready to make some resolutions?!  How about just make one for January, then for February, etc. Small goals some a feeling of accomplishment will happen. Same goes for the Congregation of FPC. Right now for January, the Session is going to seek advice to renovate the kitchen as they have been talking about for awhile. January will also see the save the date mail out got to members and friends of FPC for our 175th Anniversary in June. Also our Souper Suppers begin and will need all hands on deck to provide meals for our community. We will have the Sunday night slot again on January 22 at 6 pm.

February will be a focus on how to utilize the green space behind the parking lot into a possible Community Garden. Many grants are out there and deadlines come up in February or open to apply. FPC will also approach FFA, 4H, Boy and Girl Scouts and the neighbors who live within walking distance of the church to partner with us in providing fresh produce. Will also look into scheduling workshops focusing on gardening, composting, preserving and canning. Souper Supper this month is on February 19.

March begins the Lenten Season with Ash Wednesday on March 1.  This is another time of reflection and how we can better serve and follow the example of Jesus Christ. The last Souper Supper is March 26. This month plans for the Anniversary Celebration will be finalized and flyers and banners will be created and publicizing will begin.

Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Resurrection will be our focus with the Chancel Choir Cantata, Men’s and Women’s Holy Week Breakfasts, Maundy Thursday Service and Communion around table in the fellowship hall, Good Friday Cross Walk. This is the April activities along with preparing for the Anniversary Celebration that will begin in June on the 25th.

And that is just the beginning of the year of 2017! Within this time period Bible Study will happen on Sunday morning at 9:30aqm, second Tuesdays for Presbyterian Women and a possible special Lent Study – more on that later. Worship on Sunday mornings beginning at 10:45am, Vespers on first Sunday night of the month and Mid-Week Morning Prayer time for not just us but also for the community.

So, within the activities, we will be the disciples and ministers that this community needs.  Our Mission projects to fund the Food Pantry: garage sale, Souper Bowl, etc; Cherith Brook and Festival of Sharing. Christian Education Team will be strategizing in ways to engage the youth of the community, especially those who are unchurched.  The Session (they don’t know this yet) will also begin strategies for Spiritual growth and Evangelism to our unchurched community. This takes time for we want to meet needs that are relevant for the those we need to reach.  First Presbyterian will continue to be a congregation that seeks to be a beacon of hope, compassion and a community of faith which will not condemn but show compassion, grace and acceptance no matter how our views differ.

May God bless you and your family this coming year. And remember, make your resolutions about how you can change the world by how you change and transform yourself to reflect the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, being empowered by the Holy Spirit!

September – again?

Been awhile since I have written ANYTHING! Keep saying I am going to be diligent and do this, make it a habit but sometimes when I need to write, I don’t want to do so. Because some of the issues are just painful: like hating my job(not the call I have now-it is a blessing!), family being buttheads(not all the time but once in awhile), friends are too far away to just drop everything and visit because you could really use a neutral ear and a pitcher of margaritas and lots of laughs!

So to update my followers and friends who do not know already, I am now the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Higginsville, MO. Loving it but still adjusting: Had to move twice so I am still unpacking and finding space for everything, new budget since my salary is lower than before, maybe I can get some real gardening done-have access to lumber(thank you landlord’s son!) to create some garden beds, and making plans for a chicken coop. All the while I create liturgy(thank you Rev Thom Shuman! love your work) and sermons for worship, now I am teaching two Bible Studies(love it!), have a Sunday evening Vespers once a month and weekly Wednesday morning prayer time.

Seems to be busy for me but it is the coolest ever! Because I don’t do all of this alone: this is done by a team of us taking care of the community.  So as I write this, I am basking in the blessings I received from worshipping with this community. The choir, the media team, our organist and Andrew. They all come together to bring the worship experience to life.  It is not just any one of these folk but all in bringing glory to God and showing how much we and are in awe of the grace and mercy of our Creator, the salvation we receive from the Jesus Christ and the power given to us through the Holy Spirit to bring hope to our community even when we ourselves deal with “stuff”.

Wow, kind a sermon going on here! LOL! Happens sometimes, stuff starts flowing and so it has to go its course.  Just like I am doing now – I have just looked at the clock and I so need to get home – and become some kind of domestic goddess. Fancy name I give myself when I need to sweep the floor, get dishes done that can’t go in the dishwasher, change bed sheets, etc…. <sigh> … a superwoman’s job is never done!! Which will make my mother and sisters really laugh out loud because they know I HATE doing it.

So to all of from me – have a blessed week and hopefully you will get to read another blog in less than a year – LOL!

keep-calm-and-have-a-blessed-week-yall

PS – Also remember the families that have lost loved ones the day of Sept 11th and since because of 9-11.

Don’t Owe it To Your Child –

I am not a parent, but I teach children and have heard many even say “But I deserve this?” or “what do I get for being good?”  My answer – no you have received your reward of me being proud that you behaved as you know you are suppose to do. Here is a more comprehensive list and I so agree with it – so my friends who are parents and grandparents, stop being guilty.

(from http://www.foreverymom.com/these-10-things-you-dont-owe-your-child-are-totally-spot-on-boom/)

10 Things You Don’t Owe Your Child

1. Children are not entitled to rewards for good behavior. When you walk through the store and your child behaves while you are shopping, you don’t “owe” them a toy for good behavior. They behaved. That’s GREAT! Done deal. This one drives me nuts! I would say to my child, “Thanks for being so well-behaved in the store today!” They say, “Your welcome, what can we get?!” After many lessons, they are learning. Life is not a hand-out. Sometimes you just have to do what is expected of you. Now, after teaching them, I can reward them once in awhile and not have to continually hear them asking for a reward.

2. Children are not entitled to be the best athlete in school.  Children walk on the field or the court and expect they will have the skills and talent of a pro-athlete. What they don’t realize is that good athletes work hard.  If they work hard and practice their skills they will reap the rewards. The rewards do not necessarily mean professional sports though. Skill and talent doesn’t come automatically and it doesn’t come without hours of committed practice.

3. Children are not entitled to every possession they want!  First, let’s help them appreciate the things they have. Learning contentment is another hard but important life lesson. Next let’s teach them the value of what it is they want. Teach them how to save their money for it. They can earn it. You don’t have to buy it for them because they want it now. Give them a chance to want it for a little while. They may discover if they wait that they didn’t really want it that desperately.  They will also learn patience. Your children will appreciate the item even more!

4. Children are not entitled to popularity. There is no rule that says they will or should have a playground full of friends. Everyone is different. Teach them that sometimes a few really good friends is better. Popularity is not the most important part of life to strive for. We would never wish for our children to be without friends, but they need to learn how to make friends and be a good friend in order to have them and keep them.

5. Children are not entitled to a gourmet meal. We work hard as parents and there are a lot of aspects to running a home. You may not have time to make a 7-course meal when all that is said and done. Parents don’t have to feel guilty about that. Do the best you can to provide a healthy balanced meal for your family. Teach your children to respect that. Let’s teach them how to help make those meals! This is a win for everyone!

6. Children are not entitled to a maid. Our job is to be the parents. We are not the cleaning service. Let’s teach our children how to clean up after themselves and how to do simple chores. Let’s teach them that chores do not always mean a payment when they finish. This teaches them responsibility and ownership for their things and their house. Everyone in the house can be responsible for helping to take care of the house. These skills help them in school also.

7. Children are not entitled to fast food service. Patience is a very hard thing to teach children and even adults.  A child’s request to you for whatever it may be, does not have to be fulfilled immediately. Sometimes it is a good lesson for them to wait patiently. Teaching children to wait is a life-lesson. There will be times in life they will have to wait, so they might as well get used to it!

8. Children are not entitled to pass to the next grade. Our children are all brilliant, kind to others, and selfless, no doubt. We all want to believe that about our children. We know our children. The teachers also know our children. Children may think this, but they are not given a free ride to the next grade level. It is not an automatic pass at the end of the year. Having their hinder in their seat every day is not enough. Children have to work and learn the information necessary to get to the next level. If they don’t put in the time or the work, it is not a free pass. There are students who don’t do their work or don’t think it matters if they get an A or a D on their homework. It matters if they don’t have the skills they need for the next grade!

9. Children are not entitled to win every game. We do not need to let our children win when we play games with them. We can keep score in a game and have a winner and, yes, a loser.  Children can learn at an early age how to be a gracious winner and not a sore loser. We can teach them that they won’t win every game. We also teach them that we don’t stop playing games because we might lose or because we lost a last game. Competition is a natural instinct but learning how to lose is a lesson we have to learn at some point in life. This lesson will carry through our entire lives. If they learn this early on, adjusting to what life throws at them will be much easier.

10. Children are not entitled to be right all of the time. Everyone wants to think they are right ALL the time. Whether we are willing to admit it or not…we are not always right. Similarly, children are not always right and they need to be taught that they are not. It is our responsibility to correct them when they are wrong. They will make excuses for their behavior or they will argue about why they are right. As parents, we need to curb this behavior early and teach them that it is okay to be wrong and how to admit to being wrong. It’s a hard pill to swallow, even for adults. If we don’t teach them this lesson they become disrespectful to anyone who tries to tell them they are wrong about anything. As a teacher, and the wife of a teacher, I know how disrespectful children can be when they are told they are doing something wrong. Children may be entitled to their opinion. However, let’s teach them how to voice it respectfully and at the correct time!

Children ARE entitled to parents who will teach them the difference between the things in life they have to work for and the things in life that are given freely.

Found a gem…

One of my favorite series from the BBC is Inspector Morse.  Police drama set in Oxford, England, Morse is the atypical Inspector: he loves opera, good wine & beer(Bud Lite not one of them), good book and crossword puzzels. Not only entertaining but educational in the arts. It was only on for 7 seasons from 1987 – 2000. Series at the BBC are much different than here. But I digress – while watching an episode, his Sargeant Lewis recites a quote: treat triumph and disaster the same. Morse says, “Kipling”, and of course if watch many of these Lewis is not as familiar with writers as his boss. But the quote intrigue me and so with the help of Google, I found where it is from and it is a wonderful poem that should be studied further. Not sure if I will do it but finding it is a start. So here is Kipling’s poem IF…enjoy! If—  BY RUDYARD KIPLING: ‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies If you can keep your head when all about you       Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,     But make allowance for their doubting too;   If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,     Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,     And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;       If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster     And treat those two impostors just the same;   If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken     Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,     And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: If you can make one heap of all your winnings     And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings     And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew     To serve your turn long after they are gone,   And so hold on when there is nothing in you     Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,       Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,     If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute     With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,       And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175772 So don’t discount television shows, some you do learn something. A more up to date is Big Bang Theory. Funny as hell but it does use and makes the sciences so cool! Since the arts are more my area, I haven’t looked up any vocabulary because most I can pronounce much less spell.😁!

Ash Wednesday 2015

This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.  (Isaiah 58:6-7, The Message)

For this coming Lent – think about what you can take on as well as what you will give up(fasting).  For example – giving up Facebook – take on more prayer time/scripture reading when you would be on Facebook.  Add more volunteer time to the local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, reading books to children at schools, visits to assisted living and nursing homes…

Giving up is great but if we go back to that habit unchanged, what’s the point?  If we do not have a transforming of our lives because we giving up a bad habit, why did we give it up?  If our relationship with God is not strengthen then we have wasted a lot of out time not eating that wonderful chocolate we had left over from the Valentine Day’s sale or keeping up with friends sharing their witty musings they found and shared with us.

So as you “contemplate” in these last hours before Ash Wednesday what you are giving up, make sure you add in some relationship building with God and your neighbor.  Or make an appearance in worship, Bible Study or even start your own Bible Study, struggle with the hard questions with others – they probably have the same questions.

Whatever you do, make this a time of reflection, most of us don’t do it enough, including me.

“BUT what are you giving up?” As of this writing, I don’t know.  I still have today to figure it out.