Monday, December 31, 2012


Apparently planning to come to a Christmas celebration at my home is hazardous to your health this year.  Sister Best Friend and SBF Husband were supposed to come yesterday-- except SBF Husband was hit by the same bug that wreaked havoc in Brother's family.  Everything has been rescheduled for tomorrow-- we've combined the two Christmas celebrations into one.  I'm looking forward to it, and hoping everyone will be healthy.

Obviously, Daughter was once again disappointed, and once again handled the disappointment amazingly well.  I promised I'd take her to the mall yesterday after church.  She was excited.  So as we were sitting in a restaurant in the mall eating lunch, Sister called.  She invited us to come.  She wanted my help going through some of Mom and Dad's stuff that had been stored in her basement.  I expressed concern about changing plans on Daughter one more time and told her she could talk to Daughter about it.  I handed Daughter the phone, and she thought it was a great idea.  We finished lunch, came home and changed, and headed to Sister's house, getting home at 9:00 yesterday evening. 

Once again, Daughter showed flexibility and didn't complain about a change to our plans.  This has been an amazing visit.  She has matured so much in this past year.  I'm proud and grateful. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Daughter is a master of manipulation and triangulation, so when she has begun to complain about things at her house, I have generally said something along the lines of, "I have confidence in your ability to figure it out."  I've reminded her she has a voice, and encouraged her to use it to advocate for herself. 

She's been here with me for over a week now, and I'm beginning to hear some stories.  They aren't coming out so much as complaints, but as responses to questions I ask after she says something that seems wrong.  Yesterday before supper her blood sugar was 97.  She immediately said, "It's below 100, so I can't take my insulin until after I eat."  I assured her it was okay since her food was right in front of her and she'd be eating right away.  I explained that I made that rule for when she was away so that they wouldn't give her her insulin too long before she ate and cause her to go low.  She said something about them doing it their own way.  I asked for more details. 

According to Daughter, they check her blood sugar and give her her insulin at 5:15 every evening.  They don't give her her anti psychotic until she eats, but they give her insulin at 5:15, even when supper isn't ready or even started.  Some times they eat as late as 6:30.  I was horrified.  She said, "House Manager needs to be there.  She doesn't know what they do when she isn't there.  They don't do things right.  They don't care." 

I really wonder if the staff even cares.  Do they realize how dangerous it is to give her insulin that far in advance?  The insulin is in her blood stream working within 5-10 minutes.  We try to match it to the food.  That is impossible when they give it that long before she eats. 

I'm going to have to find a different house for her soon.  I'm going to be filing a complaint with the state licensing board.  What they are doing is dangerous. 

Oh, Daughter also told me that she's afraid to ask for things because of how mean they are when she asks.  Maybe I should have listened to her stories sooner. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Home Improvements

When I bought my house 2 years ago, the inspector told me that I should replace the range hood with one that vented to the outside, since the one I had recirculated air.  It was a lovely almond color, while all the other appliances are black. 

So yesterday I went to the home improvement store.  I was shopping for new flooring for the kitchen.  The son of the previous owner had put peel and stick tiles over the old sheet vinyl to get the house ready to sell.  The tiles are sliding around, and they weren't very good quality, so there are scratches and holes in the surface.  I'm not sure what I want to get to replace it, and have been pondering various options.  The reality is that I am hard on floors.  I drop things.  The ice maker often has ice that falls out after we've walked away from filling a glass with ice.  So I've been exploring options. 

After getting more confused than ever exploring flooring options, I wandered over to look at range hoods.  I purchased a new black one, and it was installed today.  The old one was vented to the outside.  I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't be, since there was duct work in the cupboard above.  All my appliances now match.  The man who installed it is a carpenter who does home improvements.  I was quizzing him about flooring.  He added to my confusion.  I'll keep exploring.  I do hope to get new flooring in the coming year.  There is always something to be done around the house.  Always. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sleeping In

We don't have anything on the calendar until Sunday.  It's a very strange feeling.  We slept in today.  We have on Harry Potter movie left to watch in our annual Christmas Potter marathon.  I intend to read a book today.  A book that I'm reading for pleasure, not for work.  I don't remember the last time I did that.  Perhaps most miraculous, Daughter isn't complaining about the down time.  She generally hates unstructured time, but she hasn't complained.  I've been plotting my response if she should complain, but haven't needed to use it.  Now I'm off to read a book while Daughter connects with friends on facebook. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


After Daughter's victories of yesterday, today she is handling a new challenge: disappointment.  Today was to be our family Christmas.  We were up early, making the final preparations.   We had to run to the store, and when we got home the phone call came.  Brother's family has been fighting a norovirus since Christmas Eve.  They still can't stray far from the bathroom.  Plus, we are getting lots of snow today. 

I think we will do it on January 1, but Sister needs to negotiate to have that day with her ex.  Of course, she hasn't contacted him yet, and isn't very optimistic.  I told her I thought they could work a trade, especially since it involves the entire family.  I also suggested that the sooner she contact him, the better. 

Daughter cried when she heard we were postponing the celebration.  She said she might as well go back to her house.  She recovered quickly.  We are continuing our Harry Potter marathon and eating.  I have a fire in the fireplace, and Daughter insisted I sit next to her on the couch so she can snuggle.  I'm impressed with how quickly she recovered from the disappointment. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Daughter, like many adopted children, struggles with holidays.  She asks for the impossible, and looks for reasons to explode.  The traditions have to be followed perfectly.  I've worked hard to create traditions:  sweet rolls and egg casserole for Christmas breakfast.  PJ day, where we stay in our pj's and watch movies.  Daughter insists on a ham dinner on Christmas day-- she didn't like my suggestion of ham steak this year rather than buying a ham. 

This year Daughter begged for a puppy-- she'd take care of it, of course.  I pointed out that I'm not home enough for a puppy.  She was extremely disappointed, and wasn't sure she believed me.  I found a recipe online that I decided try instead of the traditional casserole. 

When I called her for breakfast this morning, she was skeptical.  She tried them, and liked them.  Victory #1. 

I purchased her a sweater and top, and when she opened them she was ecstatic.  "This is hip!"  She said this with amazement.  It was obvious she didn't think I was capable of picking out something hip for her for Christmas.  Victory #2

Then she opened the puppy.  While looking for toys for my Short Niece and Baby Nephew, I came across an electronic puppy.  She was ecstatic.  Victory #3.  The puppy has been named Noel and has a ribbon around her neck.  Kitten isn't too sure about Noel, but Daughter is ecstatic. 

Daughter began gathering up the wrapping paper.  Then she looked at me, amazed.  "Hey, I have controlled myself.  I haven't exploded!  I've done well."  Victory #4. 

She changed into her new PJ's, put on her new slippers, and we're now watching her new DVD.   It's as bad as the reviews say it is, but it has  cute puppies, so Daughter is happy. 

Today I have two things to celebrate, Christ's birth and Daughter's progress.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Murphy's Sunday

This morning was one of those day when everything that could go wrong, did.  The really good news is that most people in worship had no idea.  We were later getting to the church than usual because Daughter was slow getting out of the shower, and she took hers first. 

I was late getting upstairs from teaching my class, and the woman who runs the projector was looking for me.  I had forgotten to send her the slide for my sermon.  Unfortunately, I hadn't turned on my computer this morning, so I had to turn it on before I could send her the slides.  My laptop is almost 3 years old now, and it is getting more temperamental.  Outlook had a hard time starting, freezing twice.  The woman came to find out what was taking me so long.  I tried to put it on a flash drive.  The computer wouldn't recognize it.  I tried a different flash drive.   I tried a different USB port.  Finally, Outlook unfroze and I was able to send the slides.  I also sent the ones for tomorrow night and next Sunday. 

I grabbed my microphone and headed to the sanctuary, where the communion servers were waiting for instructions.  Putting my microphone on is a pain.  It's an over the ear one that has a wire that I drop through my clothes and attach to the transmitter which I have to hook to my skirt.  One of the communion servers was straightening my clothes and such when I remembered I hadn't turned on the mike.  I turned it on, and the sound technician came over to tell me the battery was almost dead.  So we had to unhook it and put a new battery in.   Rewired and straightened I looked to the communion table and realized we were short one tray of juice and one of bread.  I moaned, and one of the servers rushed off to fix the additional trays. 

I got up front and the lay leader was missing.  She finally joined me and we began the service-- a couple of minutes late.  Once the service began everything went smoothly, and most people had no clue of the chaos that had reigned before worship. 

We have a number of people who are fighting the flu and various other bugs.  One of the women scheduled to read tomorrow evening is coughing too much and begged off.  I think we've located someone to take her place.  Because the next two worship services are all ready, I'm able to relax, and enjoy real time off.  It's nice.  Daughter and I are in the midst of our annual Christmas Harry Potter movie marathon. 

Friday, December 21, 2012


We have our first real snow.  Yesterday the wind took some of the siding off the church.  We were concerned that the siding was going to damage the roof, we could here it scraping.  None of the property guys answered our calls.  Eventually it fell off. 

This morning when I got up I saw that the wind had blown over the pole with the bird feeders in my back yard.  When the guys came and took out the locust tree, they pulled the pole out of the ground.  Apparently I didn't get it back in very well.  I'm grateful, as it hit the frame between the windows.  An inch in either directions and it would have hit the window, probably breaking it. 

Daughter folded bulletins and newsletters in the office today.  She chose that over the Christmas party at her program.  There were lots to fold.  She did well, and didn't complain.  I took her shopping when we got done.  She's happy.  I have a little bit of work to do on the sermon for the 30th, but everything else I need to do for worship is done. 

I'm going to do some baking and crafts over the next few days.  Tonight, though, is for enjoying another fire in the fireplace and watching It's a Wonderful Life. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Yesterday I was panicking about all I had to get done-- 3 sermons, a newsletter, Christmas shopping, some cooking for the family Christmas celebration.  Then I started thinking things through.  I'll go into the church tomorrow to finish things up, and it looks like I'll have all the sermons done when I leave.  That means all I have to do is the stuff I want to do for our Christmas, and the family isn't coming for Christmas until Wednesday.  Suddenly, the stress was reduced. 

Daughter came dragging off the bus today.  I'd promised to take her shopping today.  I suggested it would be better to relax tonight, and promised a fire in the fireplace.  She asked if we could watch White Christmas, too.  I agreed.  So, we're relaxing.  There is a fire in the fireplace and White Christmas is on the TV.  I could get into this relaxing thing....

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Festivities

I finally did some Christmas shopping this evening.  We had our staff Christmas party today-- lunch at an Italian place with a buffet.  It was just Administrative Assistant, Treasurer and me, but we shut down the office and put up our little sign that shows when we'll be back.  The services are coming together nicely.  Daughter will be home tomorrow evening.  They finally talked to Psychiatrist today, and she cut Daughter's lithium in half.  I need to take her in for another lithium level in a week. 

I'm finding that Sandy Hook is casting a pall over my Christmas preparations.  It is a reminder of the brokenness of our world, and the commentary and posturing since has just magnified that brokenness.  Of course, as I said in my sermon Sunday, Christmas is about God sending light into the darkness of our broken world.  And the darkness will not over it....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blood Work

I received a call from Daughter's doctor yesterday evening.  She got the blood work back, and there were issues.  I wish we'd had the results at the appointment.  Her lithium level is too high, and there are some signs her kidney function is worsening.  Nurse is on vacation, so I emailed Case Manager about contacting Psychiatrist.  She was on it first thing this morning, but I haven't heard what was done, which bothers me a bit.

Daughter is struggling back at the house, and part of me wants to bring her home.  I know, though, that that would not be good for her.  She'll be with me Thursday through the holidays.  Of course, depending what happens with her psych meds, it could be an interesting vacation. 

I'm officially taking the week after Christmas off, except I'm preaching on the 30th.  Our big planning meeting with the two boards begins January 14 and will continue on the 19th.  That is a week earlier than I thought it would be, but that's when everyone could come.  There is a great deal of work to do to get ready for it.  Both Administrative Assistant and I are anticipating doing some work from home that week the office is closed.  I finished writing newsletter articles and communion liturgy today, but still have 3 sermons to write.  I also need to do begin my Christmas shopping....

Monday, December 17, 2012

One Year Later

Last year Daughter missed the open house.  It was a very challenging time for both of us. 

This year, she was with me from Thursday through this morning.  She helped with every aspect of the open house.  Yesterday afternoon she was getting frustrated, but she told me that rather than blowing up she was blowing raspberries.  It worked.  I told her several times how proud I was of her.

We had more people this year, and the house was crowded and noisy.  At one point she was a little stressed, and I reminded her she could retreat to the basement if necessary.  She decided it wasn't necessary, and stayed up to help with the clean up. 

Several members stayed to help with the clean up, which was very nice.  Some of our newer folks were there, and were obviously enjoying themselves.  Several times I asked, "Why did I want to skip this this year?"  It was fun.  Of course, packing 40+ people into my house is not easy, but we managed, and a good time was had by all. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Preaching in the Wake of Tragedy

Today's sermon title was "The Gift of Joy."  Our opening song was to be "He Has Made Me Glad."  I rewrote the sermon, finishing it as I was preaching it.  I also changed the opening song.  I didn't think it was appropriate for today.  Sometimes I know that I am a channel of the Holy Spirit.  Today was one of those days.  I had everyone's attention.  There were lots of tears as people thanked me after worship.  One woman told me her granddaughter's school had been locked down Thursday after a stranger got into the building.  Her granddaughter is in kindergarten.  On days like today, I'm preaching to myself as well as the congregation.  On days like today, it's an honor to be able to point to God.  Our joy isn't the result of a good world.  We have joy because God is good.  All the time.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More Confirmation

Yesterday I got more confirmation that I need to move Daughter.  I asked the medical coordinator last week if Daughter had gotten her blood work done in preparation for her appointment yesterday.  She insisted she had.  She was wrong.  I took Daughter for her blood work yesterday.  The appointment was pretty much a waste.  Except for the fact that I was able to ask her opinion of Nurse's recommendation Daughter see and endocrinologist.  She saw absolutely no need for that-- Daughter's diabetes is well managed-- when her house follows the program. 

Tomorrow is my annual Christmas open house.  There is still lots to do, and I need to rewrite the sermon to address the school shooting and all the issues around it.  The open house will be fun.  The preparation has been frustrating at times, lots of little things have not worked as planned, requiring more time.  I'm looking forward to it, and I think I'll manage to be ready.  I always am. 

Friday, December 14, 2012


Those of us who have adopted traumatized children know that our world is broken.  We know how hard it is to heal that brokenness.  We know that "love and stability" do not cure a damaged brain. 

I don't know the story of the young man who began shooting in a room full of very young children.  I do know, though, that today the world got a glimpse of a very broken young man, and the damage that brokenness can inflict on a family and community. 

It was a reminder of how broken our world is, and in the midst of the darkness, we desperately need hope.  It is Advent, and we are waiting.  Waiting for Christ to break again into our world with the dawn of God's love and grace.  In the midst of our brokenness, that is the source of our hope. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I have long been of the opinion that church office equipment has a sensor that alerts it to the busiest times of the year, and that is when it breaks down.  Yes, it is more than a little paranoid, but it does seem to be an accurate depiction of the situation.  My cell phone had been giving me trouble.  It was almost 2 years old, and the battery life, which was never good, had gotten even worst.  Yesterday morning it began turning itself off.  It still had over half a battery, yet it would just turn off.  I pulled the battery to reset it, but that didn't help.   After the third time, I decided that I needed to replace it now. 

I spent most of the morning in the company phone store.  I was able to transfer the upgrade on Daughter's phone to mine, but it was still expensive.  Then, when I left, I discovered they'd put Daughter's line on it.  I went back, and they got it right.  I knew what I wanted when I went in, and I got there when it opened, but it took time. 

I arrived back at the church and got busy.   I had decided that I wanted to delete a number of contacts before syncing my computer and phone, so after I finished several tasks, I started on that.  Then I tried to sync.  I couldn't get it to work.  I had to stop to go teach a class, and when I got home, I tried again with different software.  At one point I had a dialogue box that was moving whenever my mouse got near it.  It would vanish off the edge of the screen.  I finally restarted the computer, and tried again.  After 3 more hours, of trying, I gave up.  None of the trouble shooting suggestions I could find on line were working. 

This morning was the planning meeting for Daughter.  It went very well.  After Christmas I'm going to go check out a possible home for her.  Case Manager is compiling a list of problems with her current home, and it is a long list.  It sounds like the agency is building a case.  Staff only earns minimum wage, and they will tell the director that they are waiting for her to fire them so they can go collect unemployment....  Daughter had several stories, including that on several occasions staff has left residents in the van with the van running while they go in to various homes/stores on a personal errands.  House Manager acknowledged that there are staff members who don't measure her food if she isn't there to supervise. 

While I'm fighting with electronics and dealing with Daughter's needs, Administrative Assistant  is losing things.  After losing a piece of music earlier this week, she started putting current items in a file folder.  Today she lost the file folder. 

Treasurer is fighting the budget, and is frustrated with some mistakes he made in his calculations last year.  He spent several hours today trying to find the worksheets from last year so he could figure out where he made his mistake.  He hates making mistakes, and was very frustrated when he came in to talk to me late this afternoon.  I reminded him that as humans we make mistakes, and it's okay.

We've also had a steady stream of visitors this week.  People want to talk.  December is hard for many people, and they end up at the church to do something else and then come in to talk. 

Fortunately, we know all of this and so we work ahead.  We have all the bulletins for the month pretty much done.  They just need some minor tweaking and announcements will need to be updated.  Next week we're going to have an office Christmas lunch.  That will be fun.  I'll try to get most of the work done on the last three sermons of the month.  Beginning Christmas Day, the office will be closed until January 2.  January will be another busy month, and I am looking forward to it.  I love my life, even when the electronics are out to get me. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Today I walked into the office.  Treasurer and Administrative Assistant were looking at the computer screen and laughing.  Administrative Assistant explained, "We were looking at this picture you sent me.  We think it's definitely you."  I had sent a cartoon that showed a leader asking, "What do we want?"  The crowd yelled, "A cure for ADHD!"  The leader asked, "When do we want it?"  The crowd pointed and said, "Squirrel." 

I love hearing the laughter, and it is nice that my shortcomings prompt humor and not anger.  Treasurer then reminded me that I have to figure out the breakdown of my terms of call.  Soon.  He's been bugging me for a couple of months.  It needs to be done by tomorrow afternoon.  I guess I'm running out of time to procrastinate.  I'll have to sit down and concentrate on numbers.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Morning

When I pulled into the parking lot a little after 9, there was already a truck in the parking lot.   I went downstairs and found a man cleaning and fuming.  We have a woman in the church who is obviously mentally ill, and has a variety of other issues.  Doctors and medication are against her beliefs.  There are times when she is very challenging.  Yesterday was one of those times.  We had two receptions with food, and she was seen taking a bite out of veggies and then dipping them again.  She also licked her finger and used it to gather up the crumbs on one of the serving plates.  For a variety of reasons, this woman hooks this particular man, and every so often he goes on a rant about how we need to do something about her.  There are no easy answers.  I acknowledged the difficulty of the situation.  We will have to address it, and it will be a situation that will require prayerful preparation. 

By 10:30 this morning 6 people were in the building, there had been several phone calls, and in trying to make a resource available for the first man, I'd had to find the toner and replace it in the copy machine, (which meant I had to locate 2 hidden keys first).  It was busy, crazy, not at all what I planned, and I loved every minute of it.  We're up to 10 people through here on a day the office is supposedly closed.  I love ministry in this place.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I told Daughter I'd pick her up at 7:30 this morning.  A little after 7:00 she called.  The morning staff, who were due at 7:00 and were to pass medications, had not arrived.  I told her they had plenty of time to get there before I picked her up, and it would be okay.  She wondered what would happen if they didn't get there.  I told her I'd give her meds if necessary. 

When I arrived at 7:30, they had not arrived.  The over night staff person was new and didn't know what to do.  She called the manager to get permission to give me Daughter's meds.  By that time, it was late enough that I just took her bin to give her her meds after we got to church.  I drove through and picked up McDonald's for her, and was later getting to the church than I would have liked. 

I'm glad I'd planned on feeding her breakfast and allowed time for that.  Perhaps most disturbing, the other diabetic was eating breakfast when I arrived.  Daughter told me that she always eats before they check her blood sugar and give her her insulin.  Her blood sugars from yesterday were posted-- they ranged from 375 to 71.  I don't think the plan is working.  I do think I need to check out the new house.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


After doing a mental inventory of the food  had in the kitchen, I decided we'd go out for breakfast this morning.  We got to the restaurant, and Daughter began her predictable game, asking for things she knew she couldn't have.  After vetoing various forms of high carb pancakes, I finally said, "Why don't you be grateful I'm taking you out for breakfast instead of trying to pick a fight with me over what you'll eat?"  She got this huge smile on her face, looked down (I hope a bit embarrassed) and picked out one of the options I had suggested.  When it arrived, she refused to acknowledge she liked it, but she sure did have a huge smile on her face after the first bite, and she ate the whole thing.  She was cooperative after that. 

I went to 3 stores today looking for belt for the vacuum cleaner.  I finally ordered one on the internet.  In some ways, it was easier when I didn't have so many stores around, and I'd start with the internet.  When we were out seeking the belt, I told Daughter that when we got home and finished up a few more things, I had a surprise for her.  She said something about taking it home.  I told her it needed to stay at the house.  She looked at me for a minute.  "It's the ABBA dance game like we played at Thanksgiving, isn't it?" 

I guess both of us are predictable.  Either that, or we know one another too well.  She had a meltdown this afternoon because she wants to go to the Christmas party tonight.  I reminded her again why we decided she wouldn't go.  She finally asked if she could take the new game back to her house tonight to share with her girls.  I agreed, and we decided I'd drive through and get her breakfast tomorrow morning after I pick her up.  She stresses out about the staff getting her meds and breakfast in time on Sunday mornings.  With the game and the promise she didn't need to worry about breakfast, she decided it was fine to miss the party tonight.  It's been a good day, and it will be a good evening. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sexting and Happy Accidents

Daughter has a friend (female) who sent her a picture of a man's privates today.  Predictably, Daughter went off, and texted threats of jail.  After I picked her up, another picture came through, with a not very nice message with it.  I responded, identifying myself as Daughter's mom, and telling her to stop.  The response was even uglier.  I went online and blocked her number, and then deleted all the messages and her phone number from Daughter's phone.  Daughter was grateful.  She said she was shaking after she got the first picture.  Talk about triggers for her PTSD.  I'm glad it was a night she was coming here, so I could take care of it.

Last week I got a letter from Social Security scheduling an appointment for the review of Daughter's SSI for today.  I called (twice) seeking to change it because we were supposed to have Daughter's planning meeting today (scheduled months ago).  I left messages, but never got a return call.  This morning, the man called, asking why I wasn't at the appointment (Daughter's planning meeting had to be rescheduled).  I told him I'd left him 2 voice mails.  He apologized, then said, "It looks like this will be a simple one, and we can handle it by phone.  Do you have time to do it now?"  Of course I said yes.   What was frustrating yesterday became a joy today-- what would have taken over an hour if I'd had to drive to the office and wait was done in less than 15 minutes.

This evening I called the man around the corner to get some firewood.  He delivered a load, and I showed him the tree I want removed.  He gave me a very good price, because he wants the wood and needs the work.  All in all, a very good day. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Daughter's Fear

Last night Daughter was worrying about me dying.  She was imagining herself having to deal with settling my estate.  Of course that's an impossibility, but she was frightened. 

This morning part way through my walk my cell phone died.  Daughter tried calling it, then the house phone, and finally the church.  She was terrified.  She called Sister, leaving her a voice mail asking her to check on me.  When I got home, I called her, and explained what had happened.  My cell phone shut itself off this afternoon while it was on the charger.  Daughter called the church when she couldn't reach me on my cell, so I was able to explain what had happened.  She tried to talk me into picking her up.  It didn't work. 

I may be going to the cell phone store tomorrow.  I know how much it means to Daughter to be able to reach me, and I need a working cell phone for me, too. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Gift

There was great celebration in the church office this afternoon.  I received an email telling me a meeting scheduled for next Thursday afternoon had been cancelled.  It would have taken at least 4 hours out of my day, and it's very hard to set that time aside with everything else going on at this time of the year. 

Tonight we are having our Blue Christmas service.  I never know how many to expect for this service, but suspect attendance will be up over the 18 we had last year.  I know of at least 18 people who plan to attend.  We've had a number of deaths this year, and some of our new members have tragic family stories that may prompt them to attend, too.  I hope it will provide comfort to the families who come.  Daughter was disappointed she was going to miss it.  It is a service that she has always liked. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Nice Problem to Have

So today a fair amount of time was spent in the office discussing coffee.  Administrative Assistant and I don't even drink coffee, but Treasurer loves coffee, and has a special travel cup that gets him a discount price on coffee at a local bakery.  He stops by there daily to get his coffee.  He also sets up our two 36 cup coffee pots every Friday.  I plug them in when I arrive at the church Sunday morning.  About a year ago we started having coffee available before worship in addition to after worship.

Recently we have begun running out of coffee.  Attendance is up, which has had an impact.  There are also some people who bring travel cups, which hold more than your typical Styrofoam cup.  So we had quite a discussion about the situation.  Treasurer is frustrated with those who are filling up travel cups, and thinks that's the reason we're running out.  I think it's great-- as it's better for the environment.  

So the discussion shifted to how to meet the growing demand for coffee.  I suggested buying two more 36 cup pots. I did some research, and it takes about 1 minute a cup to brew coffee.  I said we could then plug another pot in at the start of worship, and it would be ready by the end.  Treasurer wants to buy the vacuum pump dispensers, because that's what the high class coffee places have (probably like his bakery).  I checked that out, and they don't hold much coffee.  I told him I thought it would be more work to keep filling them, and it wouldn't solve the problem of needing additional coffee. 

At one point I went and measured water into our pots to see what they consider a cup (6 ounces).  We got on line to check out prices and capacities.  Administrative Assistant searched the files to find out how much we paid for our current coffee pots and when we purchased them. 

It was really rather ridiculous.  Treasurer wondered where we'd store the additional coffee pots.  I have to say, though, dealing with problems caused by growth is wonderful. 

Monday, December 3, 2012


The energy and excitement at the church is building.  Attendance continues to grow, the stewardship campaign has done well, and ideas continue to bubble up all over the place.  The treasurer and finance chair were here this morning, and we discussed several issues.  We agreed to explore a new approach for addressing our capital needs, which has been an issue that we have been talking about since I arrived two years ago.

It is gratifying to see things going so well, and a little bit scary.  I know that it is God at work in and through us.  I don't know where it will lead, and I know there will be some bumps along the road.  There are so many good ideas, and of course, individuals want to talk to me about those ideas.  At times it gets a bit overwhelming.  I'm grateful I no longer have to deal with the stress of Daughter living with me, but I'm finding it hard to do the things I should be doing for her through the day, especially some of the phone calls and such.  Even though she no longer lives with me, I still find being her parent involves a lot of juggling.  Some days I'm better at juggling than other days.  Today hasn't been one of the good ones.     

Sunday, December 2, 2012


We had a wonderful Sunday today.  Attendance was excellent-- we only had 2 chrismons left after the service, so we'll have to make some more this week-- we thought we had enough to last through Advent.  This is the second year we've given beaded chrismons to the congregation as a necklace to wear through Advent and then hang on their Christmas trees.  The program we had this morning went very well.  The people loved it.  A good group stayed to decorate and to share a fellowship meal.

We were getting ready to leave, and one of our older women was struggling with stuff she was trying to carry out of the church.  As I was coming around a corner, I heard Daughter offering to help her carry things.  Then Daughter said, "You're dropping things."  It turns out she had a partial bag of chips she was carrying upside down, and the chips were falling out all over the place.  Daughter and the woman started picking them up while I went to get the vacuum cleaner.  When I came back, she was down on the floor picking up the chips.  I was reminded of Mom, who used to get down like that to clean the floor.  Daughter was telling her that she should go home and we would finish the clean up.  She said, "I'd go home if I could find my keys."  Her small purse was open, and there were no keys there.  I suggested she check her pockets.  She said she had, but she reached in them again, and when she pulled out a scarf, we heard her keys jingle.  She got them out and headed out.  I used the vacuum to get up the rest of the crumbs, and then we headed out, too.

After I dropped Daughter off at her house, I felt this wave of sadness sweep over me.  I was remembering Mom.  This is our 4th Christmas without her.  She loved Christmas, and I find myself thinking of her frequently at this time of year.  I thought it would get easier, but it seems to be getting harder.  I tell people that grief is like that.  It comes up at surprising times.  We are having a Blue Christmas service this Wednesday.  I guess I need the comfort it will provide this year....

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Feeling Old

Yesterday I did lots of baking. It was fun. The good news is that my nurse practitioner started me on thyroid medication when I was in there last time. I have more energy now, and am very grateful. I was delighted by how much I got done yesterday. While baking 3 different things and making 2 kinds of candy, I also completed two loads of laundry. Of course, it helps that the laundry area is in a closet in the bathroom next to the kitchen.

I went to lunch and to see the movie Lincoln with a young colleague.  She is about Daughter's age.  Her mother is younger than I am.  When did I get so old?  It was an enjoyable afternoon, even if I do feel old.  After the movie I picked up Daughter.  We stopped at the grocery store to pick up the items I needed to make macaroni and cheese for the fellowship meal tomorrow.  Tomorrow should be a fun day.  We're kicking off Advent with a program featuring lots of music, then completing the decoration of the church, and then enjoying a fellowship meal. 

No Progress and Progress and Sigh

Phone call number one:   Thursday at Psychiatrist we discussed increasing Daughter's anti psychotic.  She had been on 80 mg, and then a month ago Psychiatrist added another 40 mg pill.  She wanted to take her up to 160 mg, which eventually would be dispensed as 2 80 mg tablets bubble packed together as one dose.  There was a discussion as to whether the pharmacy would take back the current bubble packs and repackage them so there was 160 mg in each bubble.  Finally we decided it would be easier for me to take the current ones and start with a new prescription for the house.  I would know how to make sure Daughter got enough of it while she was with me.  Psychiatrist emphasized again to the house medical coordinator that the medication would not work unless she took the medication with her supper.  So yesterday evening Daughter called me right before supper.  "Did you keep my anti psychotic?  Is that what we talked about yesterday?"

Apparently the staff knew absolutely nothing about what had happened at the appointment with Psychiatrist.  They couldn't figure out what had happened to her anti psychotic.  They were looking for a new prescription, which they eventually found.  Then they couldn't figure out how to give it.  "One now and one at bedtime?"

Finally, Daughter handed her phone to the staff member who was on meds.  I carefully explained what had happened and again emphasized the importance of giving the medication with her supper.  This staff member claimed she understood.  Of course, that doesn't mean the next staff member will....

Phone call number two:  Daughter called yesterday evening and apologized for the earlier call in which she announced she was quitting her program and hung up on me.  I suggested she had contributed to the problems.  She informed me it was everyone else who was being difficult.  I said, "When you are having problems with everyone it is time to look at yourself and see what you are doing to cause them."  She paused, and then said, "Okay, point taken."  She still insisted she was done with her program, and I told her we'd talk about it later.  I see that call as progress. 

Phone call number three:  Daughter called at bedtime.  I asked about blood sugars.  It had been in range at supper time, and then was high at bedtime.  I quickly figured out why.  They may have measured out her food initially, but then they told her she could have more fruit.  Fruit that they didn't cover with insulin.  I think Case Manager is right about moving Daughter. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Not Yet

I don't think the increase in Daughter's medication is working yet.  I had a call from her a little while ago.  Talking about a mile a minute she informed me she was done with her program and she'd go to the workshop 5 days a week.  She said there wasn't going to be any stupid meetings about it and there was nothing anyone could do because it was her decision.  She said that the program is the worst place in the entire world.  I have no idea what happened, because I didn't get a chance to say a word.  After she raced through her announcement, she hung up on me.  I'm grateful she was stable over Thanksgiving, and hope stability will return soon.  Very soon. 

The Next Challenge

Yesterday Daughter had an appointment with Psychiatrist.  She'd stayed up until 3:00 cleaning and organizing her room, and then was up again at 5:00.  At 6:00 she began sending me pictures of her clean room (it does look good).  Case Manager had seen her the previous day, and Daughter had been a bit ugly.  Case Manager got on her about her attitude, and Daughter got mad.  Of course, Daughter called me and told me it was  a good visit.  CM said the same things I would say to her. I told CM that she set limits, which Daughter liked because it makes her feel safe. 

Anyway, Psychiatrist increase the anti psychotic again.  The big news came when CM said she needed to talk to me following the appointment.  She wants to move Daughter.  She said she doesn't see improvement and can't guarantee Daughter's safety in the current home.  While she was there, they gave her 39 grams of carb for supper instead of 60.  Her blood sugars have been ranging from 90 to well over 200.  They aren't always giving her all her meds.  They only got her her flu shot because I nagged (several times), and because she could get in the pharmacy while she was in the building to see Psychiatrist. 

There are other things going on, as well.  Daughter claimed she hadn't been able to sleep all week.  They supposedly do bed checks every 2 hours, but they had no idea if she was sleeping or not.  It's possible that her mania is a result of missing meds. 

I hate the thought of moving her.  I don't know who has a harder time with change, Daughter or me.  CM gave me information about a new home that is just for women that she thinks is very well run.  The owner is an attorney, and this is her third home.  The downside would be that she would be the youngest and the highest functioning resident at this point.  I'm going to call and go visit.  We won't talk to Daughter about it until after Christmas.  I did make sure she will continue with the current CM if she moves.  She needs someone who is willing to get on her and hold her accountable.  She needs someone who will be looking out for her best interests.  It sounds like CM is looking to begin moving the other women as well.  She is discouraging placements at this home.  I did get an email from the regional manager today saying she is resigning.  I find myself hoping that a miracle will take place and that the new person will have a magic wand to fix the place.  I'm an optimist. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012


So last night at dinner I had an idea.  I shared the idea with the study group I led later in the evening, and they liked it, too.  I knew it would involve some extra work, and that I was thinking of it late, so I was a little concerned about what Administrative Assistant would say.  I had a breakfast meeting this morning, so I sent her an email outlining the idea.  When I walked into her office after my breakfast meeting, I asked her what she thought of the idea.  Her response?  "It's great!" 

Yesterday we thought we were ahead.  Today we left feeling like we were behind.  That was the impact of the idea which she enthusiastically endorsed.  I'm very blessed to be working with her. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Gift

My peer group retreat was last night and this morning.  Last night I spent time talking with my colleagues.  This morning we had 3 hours together for worship, reflection and communion.  Our focus this morning was on Advent.  I got back to the church this afternoon, and after figuring out tonight's class, began work on the Blue Christmas service next Wednesday.  I've also edited the newsletter, which goes to print tomorrow. 

That time away was a wonderful gift.  It was an opportunity to breathe and reflect before getting too caught up in the craziness of Advent.  I'm grateful. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Good Beginning

Daughter is going to see the Nutcracker with her program today.  She has seen it with me, and to say she is excited would be an understatement.  She knows and loves the music, and has been talking about this for weeks.  I think the people at her program were surprised to hear she'd already gone to it once.  I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to expose her to a variety of styles of music at various concerts over the years, and she has loved them. 

She was a little teary when I took her back last night, not wanting to leave me.  I suggested that she think about going to the ballet today, and she smiled.  The tears were replaced by joy as she thought about it.  She's also been obsessing on all the details-- does she need to take a lunch?  are her clothes appropriate?  I hope she enjoys the show, and I will confess to being a little bit jealous. 

This will be a good week for me, though for different reasons.  I don't have to write a sermon this week, which always makes the week less stressful.  Tomorrow night is one of our peer group retreats.  I'm really looking forward to the fellowship with my colleagues and the opportunity to reflect on life and ministry facilitated by my spiritual director. 

The board is meeting tonight, and we will be finishing a book we began last February.  We will discuss the progress we've made and the next steps on the journey.  I look forward to another good meeting. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Quiet Sunday

For the first time in a very long time I didn't have any commitments beyond adult ed and worship this morning.  It was rather nice.  It was also another good Sunday.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life here in Capital? 

There was a basketball game early this afternoon, which meant 5 people left early so they could be there.  We have several people who have season tickets for the basketball games.  I'm impressed that they came to worship before going to the game. 

We are in the midst of our stewardship campaign.  It seems to be going very well-- we've had 5 new pledges.  With 10 yet to come in, we're already above last year's pledge total.  Hopefully we will meet our goal this year.  It's exciting to see the church moving forward in such wonderful ways. 

Stress Realization

I looked at my chair with the massager on it and realized it's been a very long time since I used it.  I used it regularly to address the tension in my back and shoulders.  I also had various ways of applying heat to my neck and shoulders.  I haven't used those recently either.  I haven't needed them.  I'm still just as busy.  So what's the difference?  I think the difference is that Daughter no longer lives with me.  I don't have to deal with the drama, and the stress she added to life. 

We've had a very pleasant visit this weekend, thanks to the increase in her anti psychotic.  I know, though, that there will again be times when the medication is off and she is challenging.  For now, I'm grateful for good visits with her and that I don't have to deal with the stress on a daily basis.  I'm grateful that I no longer carry so much tension in my neck and shoulders.  Very grateful. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Time Off

Yesterday Daughter and I worked around the house.  Se was in a very cooperative mood.  I decided I did have to go to the store to get ingredients for lunch for Sister Best Friend and her mom.  Rather than go to the superstore 1/2 a mile from here, I went the back way to a grocery store 1 1/2 miles away.  It wasn't busy, and I was grateful.  Of course, I didn't check my list before checking out, and realized I'd forgotten a key ingredient after I got home. 

Daughter and I watched White Christmas, and then headed to the superstore to get it.  It was 9 in the evening, and I went to the grocery side and only bought the one thing.  The store seemed tired.  I'm sure they were very busy earlier in the day, but it was quiet when I was there. 

We had a wonderful time with SBF and her mom today.  We also got some of the Christmas decorations up today.  Now we're relaxing in front of the TV.  Daughter is so relaxed she's sleeping with her head on my shoulder. 

I'm amazed at how much I'm able to relax and get things done around the house when I don't have a sermon hanging over my head on my days off.  It's been nice to have this time off before jumping into the rush to Christmas.  It's even nicer to have Daughter so cooperative.  She got up from the table and cleaned the kitchen while I was visiting with our company.  I hope she will continue to feel this good. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Fourth Thanksgiving

This was the fourth Thanksgiving since my parents' death.  Mom was born on Thanksgiving Day, so we always celebrated her birthday along with Thanksgiving.  This year I think we were all grieving as Thanksgiving approached.  Sister was really having a hard time, as her ex-mother-in-law died suddenly this fall.  She was close to her, so her death was hard on Sister, and brought back the grief over Mom and Dad. 

Brother prepared Thanksgiving for us, and he lives in the house we grew up in.  It was bittersweet as we turned down that street.  Sister and I were in the kitchen helping with final preparations when she began to cry.  I went over and hugged her, and then Brother wrapped his arms around both of us.  It was nice, the three of us working together-- like old times.  We missed Far Away Sister, who wasn't with us.  She was missing us, too. 

After the hug, things were easier.  When we sat down to eat, it was hot, just like old times.  I told Sister to open the window, just like we used to when Mom turned the heat up to 75.  Brother had the furnace off, but it was unseasonably warm, and the house is small enough the cooking and people heated it up. 

Sister-in-law's family was there, too.  The age range is interesting.  Sister-in-law's mom is my age.  (Sister-in-law is 10 years younger than Brother, who is 12 years younger than me.)  Sister-in-law's half sister and brother are in their early teens.  Short Niece just turned 8, and Baby Nephew is 20 months.  Daughter is closest in age to Sister-in-law. 

A friend of Brother's who is a professional organist was there, too.  He entertained us on the piano for a while after supper.  He left, and Brother got out a dance game for the wii that featured the music of ABBA.  We had a lot of fun with that.  Those who weren't dancing were singing along.  Baby Nephew likes to dance, so he was trying to match the moves.   We were there later than I had planned, and by the time we dropped Sister off and got home, it was after 11:00. 

There is a big box store on the corner, and there had been people camped out there for several days.  When we came by it on our way home, the tents had been replaced by a line that wrapped all the way around the building.  I don't think the store even opens until 5:00.  I do not intend to go shopping tomorrow-- or even leave the house.  The next month is the only time of year I don't particularly like the location of my house.  A mall and a variety of other major retailers are located in the two miles between my house and the church.  The traffic at this time of year can be annoying. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Progress

Daughter called this morning and told me her program was going to a buffet for lunch.  After consulting with Administrative Assistant I called her and asked her if she'd like to work in the church office this afternoon.  The buffet was closer than her program, so picking her up from there would save me time and enable me to work at the office until the work was done.  Daughter was delighted by the offer.  She sometimes has problems with surprises and changes to her routine.

I picked her up and she sat down and folded and stuffed all the bulletins for Sunday.  She helped AA straighten things up in the sanctuary.  She put address labels on envelopes for me.  She did all of this without complaining and worked at a steady pace.  We were impressed and grateful. 

I completed everything I needed to do in order to take the next three days off.  The sermon and PowerPoint for Sunday are ready to go.  I'm delighted.  We will go to a college basketball game tonight with friends, and tomorrow we will pick up Sister and Short Niece on our way to Brother's house for Thanksgiving.  I'm looking forward to relaxing the next few days. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Daughter had a good day yesterday at the workshop.  She'd been insisting she couldn't stay there, so I was delighted when she called and was excited about what she'd done.  I commented on that, and she acknowledged that she was happy.  She said, "The medication is working!" 

I'm relieved. She did well while she was with me, and will be back with me beginning tomorrow afternoon.  I'm actually looking forward to having her here.  It will be a busy few days.  I'm hoping to have the sermon done before I pick her up tomorrow.  I think I got the hard part done today, so it shouldn't be too hard to finish it tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Daughter, like many kids with similar issues, struggles with success.  If things are going well and she is happy, she is frightened, and sometimes will create a crisis just to get back to familiar feelings.  I have told her many times that she deserves to be happy, but it continues to be a struggle for her. 

I have to admit, I'm beginning to understand her fear.  We received 9 new members today, bringing the total for the year to 18.  It's been over 10 years since the church received that many new members in a year.  When I arrived, the church was on a steady decline, and had lost over half their members in the previous 10 years. 

Attendance is also up.  We've run out of coffee the last two weeks.  There is an energy that is amazing.  The noise level before worship is louder, and the fellowship time is longer.  I have another 2 people who are ready to join, and we had a visitor today who is recently divorced and new to the area.  We were able to introduce her to a woman who lives in the same condo complex and is also divorced.  She said she'd definitely be back. 

Today was stewardship Sunday.  We had some new pledges, and a family that refused to pledge last year because they were looking for a new church turned in a pledge card this year (and the financial secretary assures me that none of the pledge cards were blank). 

Exciting things are happening, and I certainly have every reason to be happy.  I'm a little happy, and very scared.  Administrative Assistant assured me that this can and will continue.  I hope she's right.  I wish I had her confidence.  I realize this is God's doing, and I still find it scary.  I understand, now, why Daughter gets so scared when she is happy and successful. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lap Time

I picked up Daughter this morning, and we've been cleaning.  When I finished cleaning the carpet in the family room, and sat down in a recliner.  Daughter came over and wanted lap time.  She's 4 1/2 inches taller than I am, so she kneels in front of me and wraps her arm around my waist.  When she does that, her head comes up to my chin.  It's been a while since she's done it.  Kitten jumped up on Daughter's back.  It was nice, having my girls on my lap. 

I printed out a calendar with the special events coming up this week, and gave it to Daughter.  I told her she needed to decide what she wanted to be here for.  She decided she wanted to be here for all of it.  Wednesday evening we'll be going to a college basketball game.  Thursday is Thanksgiving with Brother and Sister.  Friday we'll be decorating the house, and Saturday I hope to have Sister Best Friend and her mother here for lunch. 

I'm looking forward to the activities of the coming week. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Maybe I Work Too Much

Last night we got home from the church a little after 9:00 p.m.  I quickly realized that I had left my cell phone there, but decided not to turn around and go get it.  Daughter knew it was at the church.   She called on the home phone at 8:30 this morning (the bus picked her up at 6:30). 

"Why aren't you at the church?" 

"It's my day off."

"Oh, I forgot you get a day off." 

I'm cleaning the carpet in the family room.  I know how to live it up on my day off. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Daughter hates meetings.  Especially meetings about her.  We're approaching the meeting where we make her case plan for the year, and she is not happy about it.  Part of the problem is that with the Central Auditory Processing Disorder, she has difficulty following and processing what is being said.  Because she is so articulate, it is easy to forget that her receptive language skills are on the level of a 3 year old. 

She called me this week, furious about the upcoming meeting, and blaming me for it.  She's home tonight, so we talked about it.  It was hard to get her to acknowledge what was bothering her, though she said she couldn't handle choir tonight.  Finally she admitted she was afraid of the meeting.  She couldn't tell me why, she's just afraid.  We talked about who would be there and what the meeting was about.  We considered every one's reason for being at the meeting.  After a while, she got up and got ready to come to choir.  I think that means talking help.  I know the stress went out of her voice as we talked about it. 

Life is challenging for Daughter right now.  She doesn't like it when they get new staff at the house, and there have been a lot of new staff members recently.  Unfortunately, that is not going to change.  I can understand, though, why it would be unsettling for her.  It's too bad, though, that those who have so much trouble with change find the people who are caring for them changing so regularly. 

I'm very grateful she no longer lives with me. It's much easier to deal with her drama from a distance. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Long Days

This week has been a week of long days.  I stayed at the church through supper for evening meetings Monday and today.  Yesterday I was at a meeting all day.  The all day meeting put me behind.  I'm hoping I can finish things up tomorrow so I can have Friday and Saturday off.  I'd like to clean the carpet in the family room Friday.

Daughter seems to be a bit volatile today.  She called me tonight, furious because the meeting about her case plan is coming up December 7.  She was furious with me for agreeing to it.  When I answered the phone, she said, "How dare you!"  I had no clue what she was talking about, of course.  I wasn't very sympathetic.  She will be home tomorrow night.  I can't say I'm looking forward to that right now.  At least she won't be here Friday night this week. 

The last football game of the season is Saturday, but I'm not working it, for which I'm grateful.  I'm looking forward to a Saturday without any church responsibilities.  Of course, that means I have to get the sermon and PowerPoint done tomorrow....

Monday, November 12, 2012


This was the Monday I have two meetings.  Both of them went well, and I'm pleased with some of the guidelines we're making regarding our finances.  The finance committee was very pleased with the stewardship sermon I preached yesterday.  They felt my predecessors weren't willing to preach stewardship. 

Daughter had the day off, so of course she was telling me she wanted to spend the day with me.  She did well, though, only calling once during the day.  

Tomorrow I have an all day meeting.  I've already warned Daughter that I won't be able to take her calls.  I suspect that spending the day in a meeting will mean I have to work at least part of the day on Friday.  Good thing I love my job. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Great Weekend

This has been a good weekend.  Friday I spent making ornaments for the bazaar on Saturday.  Yesterday we had a holiday bazaar at the church.  It was the first one we've done in a number of years.  The crafters who were there really liked it.  A number of them told me they hoped we'd invite them back next year.  We had a good crowd, and it was a fun day.  I enjoyed it, though I was exhausted when I came home.  Daughter ended up hiding most of the day.  It was too overwhelming for her, but she figured out what she needed to do, and was very cooperative when I needed help. 

Today I preached stewardship, which is often hard.  It was very well received.  One member told me it was the best stewardship sermon he'd ever heard.  This afternoon I met with 5 people who will be joining the church next week.  I have 4-5 others who have also expressed interest.  We've had a number of deaths this year, but we will be showing a growth in membership for the first time in a number of years.  Success builds on success, and I'm excited about the opportunities ahead of us. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I had a meeting this afternoon.  It was over 70 miles from  here.  It's a committee that I have found to be exceedingly frustrating at times.  I attempted to redeem it today by meeting Sister Best Friend for lunch before the meeting.  The meeting itself was frustrating, but I think progress was made.  There are some major communication issues in this larger church body, and those communication issues were very evident today.  Over the course of the meeting we realized that we don't know our purpose, and we don't know the purpose of a task force that is working on issues that intersect with our responsibilities.  We were able to state quite clearly that we need to know those purposes.  It will be interesting to see if that gets communicated.

As I reflect on that meeting, I begin to understand why people get so frustrated with the church and with meetings.  It also makes me very grateful for how well this particular congregation functions.  Very grateful. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God's Will

I didn't realize I hadn't blogged since Sunday.  Things are busy at the church this week.  I told Administrative Assistant that this looked like it was going to be an administration week.  We've had a number of meetings, including yesterday morning and again this morning.  We are moving forward in exciting ways, which is fun. 

I stayed up entirely too late last night watching election results.  I am puzzled by the people who prayed so hard for this election and are more willing to believe that God didn't answer their prayers than that maybe the results reflect God's will.  I know it's easier to believe something is God's will when it coincides with mine, but I also know that sometimes God has different (better) ideas than what I have.  I was very pleased with some of the results, and quite frustrated with others.  I trust, though, that God has had a hand in all of this, even the parts I don't like. 

I believe that now we need to come together as a nation, and encourage both parties to set politics aside and work together to find solutions for the challenges facing us as a nation.  They are going to have to make some hard decisions, and we elected them to make those decisions.  They need to stop obsessing over the next election or the latest opinion poll and get to work. 

I also think it's important to remember that there are people who are quite distressed by the election results.  Gloating does not bring the country together.  Neither do cries of election fraud or laments over the death of our country.  I wrote a post on my church blog yesterday afternoon, before the outcomes were known, suggesting that it was time to accept the results as God's will (whatever they might be) and move forward together.  I acknowledged I was writing it before I knew the results because I might be one who needed to read it and take it to heart following the election.  Ultimately, our security comes from God, not the government.  I think we forget that far too often. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Little Things

It's interesting, the difference little things can make.  I like to write notes to visitors.  Last week, I noticed that there was a woman I didn't know in worship.  She rushed past me after worship, so I didn't get a chance to meet her.  She'd signed the friendship pad, so last week I'd sent her a note, saying I'd hope she'd been warmly welcomed and I looked forward to meeting her.  She rushed over and stood in line following worship.  She was delighted to have received my note.  Next Sunday I will be meeting with people interested in joining the church.  All of them have commented on how much my short note meant to them.  I'm delighted. 

It was cold at the stadium yesterday, and I was standing on the concrete for over 5 hours.  I was wearing good shoes with inserts and warm socks, but by the time we left my feet were complaining.  After I got home, I went down to pick up Daughter, and she volunteered to give me a foot massage.  I took her up on the offer, and it really helped.  I was concerned about how well I'd be able to walk today, but my feet were in pretty good shape this morning.  I was able to do my usual pacing during worship with no problem.  I'm sure the extra hour of sleep helped, too.  It really is the little things....

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No, you can't suddenly decide you want to help in the concession stand for the football game 18 hours before the game begins. 

No, you can't take the money you've been saving for months to redo your room and use it to get your hair done. 

Daughter is back to making requests that she knows I will turn down.  She does this every so often just to prove how unreasonable I am.  I've been known to challenge her to see how many things she can ask that will cause me to say no.

Today I'm working at the concession stand for the football game.  She would not be able to handle it-- too crowded, too much pressure, too long.  Next week I'll be spending all day Saturday at a craft show at the church.  She wants to hang out with me.  It could be a very long day.  Very long....

Friday, November 2, 2012

How Much Insulin?

Daughter is doing cooking classes at her program.  The woman teaching the classes means well, but is not very bright.  So today they called me.  They're making omelets and pancakes today.  How many pancakes can Daughter have?  How much insulin does she need.  I explained that it all depended on how big the pancakes were, and I couldn't tell them without seeing the pancakes.  I explained this several times.  I said they needed to read the nutrition information on the mix box and measure things out to determine the carbs.  I explained that she needed to divide the total carbs by 15 to figure out her insulin.  I explained that I couldn't tell them how much insulin because I didn't know how big the pancakes were, and there was a huge difference in the number of carbs between a silver dollar size pancake and a plate size pancake.  I explained it in several different ways.  The staff member's final question:  "So how much insulin does she need 1 or 2 pancakes?"  Sigh. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is It Real?

Daughter is complaining about intrusive thoughts and disturbing images.  She says things keep popping in her head and she can't get rid of them.  I have no idea if she is telling the truth or not.  I'm hoping she's not having these issues, especially since we just increased her anti psychotic.  It's so hard when I don't know whether she is telling the truth or manipulating. 

It looks like I'm going to have to come into the office at least briefly tomorrow.  While it was a productive week, I haven't managed to get every thing done.  We had two major mailings this week.  I wrote the last piece for the stewardship mailing this afternoon.  I had two medical appointments which took me out of the office.  I had several daytime meetings which cut into my writing time.  So I'll come in and wrap some things up tomorrow.  Saturday afternoon I'll be cooking hot dogs in a concession booth at the football game.  I don't want to have to worry about finishing anything when I get home. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thinking and Planning

I can tell that the stress has lessened at the church.  I'm thinking and planning and being proactive about things.  The personnel committee is rewriting all of our job descriptions, some of which haven't been updated in over 10 years.  We're also looking at our personnel policies, which also need updating. 

I told Administrative Assistant that we need to create a work calendar, mapping out the things that need to happen each month of the year.  Today I was working on stewardship material and I also wrote the letter we send out before the holidays to people who have experienced the death of a family member in the last year.  We give them some resources and suggestions for coping with the first holidays after a death. 

Daughter sent me a text telling me I needed to get her out of her house now.  I responded that she needed to take some deep breaths and listen to her music.  I haven't heard anything from her since, which is a good sign. 

It has been a cold, gray day with some rain and snow.  They seem minor compared to what others have suffered through, but it was enough that I decided to come home and start a fire in my fireplace.  Kitten and I are enjoying it.  Now I'm going to do a bit of work on the sermon before I start working on my crafts. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Steady Stream

From about 9:00 to 2:00 I had a steady stream of visitors through my study.  A number of them were leaders with opinions on the phone calls complaining about the statement reminding people to let us know if they are in the hospital or in need of pastoral care.  They were very supportive, and not too concerned about who it was who complained.  Anonymity tends to diminish credibility.

Daughter went to urgent care today for a sore wrist.  I'm a bit concerned that she has found a way to get extra attention by complaining about aches and pains.  We may have to address that when we look at her case plan for the coming year. 

I will not be going home before this evening's meeting.  I didn't get the things I needed get a chance to do the writing I needed to do because of all my visitors.  Late afternoon can be a very productive time as there aren't as many distractions. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Can't Win

A couple of weeks ago someone put a sign in front of the church stating that we don't care for our members who have health issues that keep them from coming to church.  We don't know where it came from, but I was concerned that someone had been hurt by the church, so we put an item, in the newsletter reminding people to let us know if they were in need of pastoral care, and if they initially declined it and then changed their minds they should let us know.  It also said that we don't read minds, and if they don't let us know, we can't minister to them.  The board decided we should include it in the bulletin every week.  So, we put it in the newsletter and it was in the bulletin today.  I just got an email asking that it be removed.  It offended people.  Sigh. 

For a while we were teaching new songs we introduced in worship.  Then people complained they didn't want us teaching new songs.  Today I was told people were complaining because there was a new song in the worship service and we didn't teach it to them.  I didn't even realize that we had a new song in worship this morning.  I thought the songs were all familiar. 

Christian Century has an article in the current issue about health problems in ministers.  This kind of conflicting demands contribute to the stress that takes a toll on our health. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

It Worked

Our work in the basement yesterday did create a spot for me to work on crafts.  I've completed 3 wreaths today.  We bought some storage pieces today so I could organize the supplies.  That has helped, too. 

Daughter had a few minutes of ugliness after the memorial event at the church today.  She was cooperative while we were at the church, so I can deal with a few minutes of ugliness.  We have a mystery dinner at the church.  Not knowing what the food will be or what to expect is really hard on her.  She doesn't do well with surprises.  She told me she wouldn't eat anything.  I think she's made it into something bigger than it is. 

It has been so wonderful to have real time off and to be able to accomplish things here at home.  I'm going to have to paint the rest of the basement now, but not this weekend. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Better Living through Medication

After the increase in her anti psychotic, Daughter slept last night, something she has not been doing.  Today she worked with me in the basement.  She cleaned while I painted one wall.  I painted the wall by my sewing machine mint green.  The basement is unfinished, and I thought the walls were unpainted, but I think they had been painted, but they were dark and dirty.  I also bought some brighter light bulbs, and some pull chains for the lights.  For the first time since I moved in here, I can turn on all the lights in the basement.  The strings were broken on several of them, so I had not been able to reach them to turn them on. 

I want to move the craft things I'm doing for the bazaar downstairs.  They'd taken over the kitchen and family room, and I want to be able to work on them in an inviting area-- or at least an area that is a little less dismal than it was.  In the basement I have a large table and will be able to leave things out without cluttering up my living space.  My main project for the bazaar involves gluing ornaments and such on grape vine wreaths to make candle rings.  They take up a bit of space, so I'm looking forward to getting set up downstairs. 

I still need to get things put away and arranged downstairs, but I think I'm going to like it.  Tomorrow I have a brief memorial service around noon, and then we're having a mystery meal at the church at 6:30.   The sermon and PowerPoint are both done, which means that I have had time to do the things I want to do this weekend. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

News Around Daughter

We saw Psychiatrist today.  She increased Daughter's anti psychotic to help with her volatility.  She said the fall is always a hard time for people with bipolar because of the decreasing light.  Daughter has gained 7 lbs, confirming my suspicions that they are getting careless with her diet. 

House Manager called today to tell me that one of the staff members was assaulted as she came into work the late shift Monday night.  They are installing lights and security cameras around the house, and the women are not allowed to go outside after dark or alone any time.  They are not telling the residents, but they are notifying the guardians, so one of them may tell one of the residents. 

Case Manager told me that Daughter's house has fired five of the staff members.  I knew they had new staff members beginning, as Daughter had complained.  Medical Coordinator has been there almost 3 years, and only one staff member has been there longer than she has.  There are always going to be new people to be trained on how to handle Daughter and her needs.

Daughter is with me until Sunday evening.  She helped me in the yard this evening before choir, so we're off to a good start.  Hopefully that will continue. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Field Trip

Daughter's house took her in separately from the other residents, so she got to her program on time and was able to go on her field trip.  The program director at her program (who hasn't been in this week because she's in training) is the only one who responded to my mama bear email yesterday. 

Daughter texted demanding I pick her up this evening.  I told her no, and reminded her I teach a class on Wednesday evenings.  I haven't heard from her.  I suspect she's mad.  She has an appointment with Psychiatrist tomorrow, and will come home with me after her appointment.  She will be with me through Sunday afternoon.  It could be an interesting time....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mama Bear Time

Daughter called this evening.  She started out mad, and ended up sobbing. 

Every day staff at the house transport the men and women from the two houses to their programs.  Daughter is dropped off last, as she is the only one going to the program she attends 4 days a week.  There have been some issues with her getting their later than the program likes.  I've stayed out of it, because program and house staff need to figure it out between them. 

The program is going on an outing tomorrow, and plan to leave at 9:30.  A staff member told Daughter that if she couldn't get there by 9:29 she might as well stay home because they would all be gone and the building would be locked up.  She told Daughter it was her responsibility to get herself there on time.  Daughter told her she couldn't control the time she got there, and the staff member told her she could. 

Daughter told me about the things that delay them:  the men are still eating breakfast and don't have their lunches ready.  One of the women refuses to get out of the van at her program.   I call Daughter my cuckoo clock, because she watches the clock and is always worried that we will be late.  I can imagine how stressful this situation is for her.  Among the comments she made:  “I’m not worth anything.”  “It’s not fair to put me in the middle.”  “I wish I could get a hug from you tonight, Mom.”  “I might as well stay home 5 days a week.”  “I don’t belong anywhere.”

I just sent out an email, and asked that Daughter not be put in the middle of these situations.  I said staff needed to communicate directly with one another.  We'll see what response it gets.  I also told Daughter she needs to talk to her program director and her house director about the issues.  I wish I could give her a hug this evening. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

So Blessed

I had a board meeting tonight.  We had a lot of business, including by-law changes, preliminary 2013 budget, discussing our response to an anonymous complaint hand written on a yard sign and posted in front of the church, and discussing a chapter of the book we've been reading together.  We were done in 90 minutes.  We deal with most of our business in a consent agenda, freeing us up to have discussions.  As we evaluated the meeting at the end, they said it was a good meeting, in fact, they think our meetings are fun.  They think we are definitely headed in the right direction, and are excited about the future. 

We have had an ongoing battle with a woodpecker, who likes the cedar on a post near the front door.  The property guys purchased a plastic falcon and mounted it on the post.  It kept the woodpecker away for a while, but he must have been studying that falcon, because a new hole has appeared directly below the falcon.  The property guys are stubborn.  They have now found an owl with a motion detector that hoots and moves its head.  One of them had a catalogue page at the board meeting tonight with the owl highlighted.  I find it all very amusing.  Fortunately, they are good natured about it, too.  I suggested that maybe the woodpecker was teaching his children how to annoy them, too.  I consider myself so blessed to be in ministry with these people. 

Figuring Things Out

Daughter moved out almost a year ago.  It's just been in the last few weeks that I realized that means I no longer have to be up at the crack of dawn on Mondays to get her ready for her program/school/whatever.  As a pastor, I have flexible hours.  There are certain times I have to be at the church to lead worship, teach or be part of a meeting, but the hours I spend preparing for writing/preparing and visiting are pretty flexible.  I've taken advantage of that when it comes to scheduling appointments that can't be on my day off, but not so much when it comes to when I get into the office in the morning. 

Slowly, I'm figuring out that I have some flexibility.  Today it was 9:30 when I arrived at the church.  I slept in.  I went for fasting blood sugar, and then I went to a diner for breakfast.  I read material related to Sunday's sermon as I ate.  It was a wonderful, relaxed way to start my week.  Eventually I may get used to this.  Sometimes I'm just a bit slow.  I have a board meeting tonight, so even though I came in later than usual, it will still be an 11 hour day.  You'd think I'd have figured it out earlier-- when I'm going to be at the church into the evening, I can come in later in the morning.  Sometimes I'm slow. 

Daughter called this morning.  She has changed her mind about Friday's field trip.  She doesn't want to go now.  She wants to spend the day with  me instead.  I think it is a good decision.  It would have been a challenge for her to hold it together with a group in a strange place for that length of time.   It also will make my life much easier, as I don't have to worry about getting her back to her house after choir Thursday night or early Friday morning for the trip. 

Both of us are figuring things out.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Daughter's home is going on a field trip on Friday.  We offered her the option of going with them or spending the day with me (her program is closed for an in-service).  I'm somewhat surprised, but she has chosen to go with her house on the field trip.  She found out about it yesterday, and I told her she had until today to decide.  So she decided. 

I wrote an extra verse for a spiritual to fit the theme of the service this morning.  I was embarrassed to see that Administrative Assistant had credited me, and that credit had made it up on the screen with the lyrics this morning.  I was even more embarrassed when someone lifted it up as a joy during the joys and concerns prior to prayer this morning.  I told AA I'm going to write an extra long article now for her to try to fit in the newsletter.  She was amused and totally unrepentant. 

It looks like she has made it through her month of jury duty without having to go in to the court house.  We are both very relieved....

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Daughter called last night, outraged, and demanded I pick her up immediately.  What was it that had her so angry?  They had planned a hayride for all the women.  She insisted she doesn't like or do hayrides, and they were torturing her.  If she didn't go, she'd have to go to the men's house next door, and she doesn't like the men. 

Being the mean mom I am, I refused to pick her up.  I also had the nerve to remind her that she claimed she hated hayrides, and she always had fun when she went.  I told her to cut it out and lose the attitude.  She hung up on me.

She called back later.  She chose to go to the men's house.  She apologized, and said she was afraid I'd refuse to come get her today because of her attitude.  I told her we'd talk about it today.   I'll go get her, simply because it is easier than picking her up before church tomorrow. 

Friday, October 19, 2012


With the stress of the memorial services off of me (though I have short death related services each of the next two Saturdays), my brain is back to generating what Administrative Assistant calls brain flares.  I was working on the agenda for Monday's board meeting last night.   I emailed it to AA to look over this morning and post on the board's secure website.  But then I kept thinking of additional things that needed to be added.  In one of the mails I said it was the final agenda for the next 30 seconds.  After I got home last night I remembered that there had been some visitors in worship last Sunday.  They vanished before I could greet them, and we hadn't checked to see if they'd signed the guest book or friendship pads.  So, this morning I called AA an apologized, telling her my brain was at it again.  She laughed, "I know, I saw all of your emails."  She's going to check and see if we have names or addresses, and if we do, I'll go in and right them notes today.  She had already put stickers with the alarm company's phone number on all the phones....

Two years and I never set off the alarm.  Then I set it off Sunday morning, and twice during choir last night.  That takes talent.  It wouldn't turn off last night, and the alarm company didn't call, and I couldn't find their phone number, and a deputy showed up....  At least AA finds me amusing.  She was directing the choir last night because our regular choir director is on vacation.  Did I mention that AA also has a 2 year degree in music, has studied art, and is a gifted seamstress? 

I left peanut butter out last night.  Daughter claims she hates peanut butter.  She doesn't hate it so much that she isn't willing to eat it straight out of the jar if I forget to lock it up. 

I'm going to do some cleaning today, and I'm also going to make some more centerpieces for the craft show at the church.  I have a centerpiece I made for Christmas several years ago.  One of the women saw it last year and informed me I needed to make more and sell them at the craft show.  I started making them this week, 3 1/2 weeks before the craft show.  They involve using a hot glue gun.  So far I've got blisters on the tips of two fingers and my thumb.  I am so talented-- I can burn fingers, set off alarms, forget important tasks, and complicate AA's day with one hand tied behind my back. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another One

We've had another death.  This one will not be as much work, fortunately.  I'm also grateful that there's been some space between them.  I still remember the Saturday in Tiny Village when I did funerals for two different people--both were at the church and both had meals in the community building following the service.

Daughter continues to be volatile and unreasonable.  I continue to refuse to buy into her drama.  Last night she was complaining about the bickering between two women in her house.  I informed her she had noise blocking headphones and a private bedroom, and she should make use of one of them. She was not happy with me. 

She'll be home this evening, and I'll be bringing her over to the church for choir.  Maybe I can clear off my desk while she's singing....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Chance to Breathe

With the big memorial service behind us, this week it finally feels like we have the opportunity to breathe.  Today Administrative Assistant and I sat down with our calendars and looked at the schedule for the rest of the year.  It has been several weeks since we had (or made) time to do that.  We also went out to lunch today to once again celebrate surviving a challenging time in ministry. 

I've been working on newsletter articles today, and I've mapped out adult education for the rest of the year.  We scheduled communion dates for 2013.  I'm grateful for the time to do this.  We have our work mapped out for the next few weeks, and it really does ease the stress.

This week is the second anniversary of beginning my ministry here.  As I wrote in a newsletter article a little while ago, with each passing day I grow to love these people more.  I'm grateful to be here. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


So yesterday one of the members was telling me how great the hymns had been yesterday, and how well they fit with the sermon.  He went to his small group last night, and they were complaining about how terrible the hymns had been.  He pointed out he had liked them, and that they had fit perfectly with the whole theme of the service.  The response?  "Words only matter in the sermon." 

That is one of the struggles of ministry.  It is impossible to please all the people, yet there are those in the church who expect us to do exactly that. 

Daughter is having problems at her house.  It sounds like staff is calling her on her bossiness.  Every time they call her on it, she calls or texts me, insisting I get her out of there immediately.  She does not appreciate it when I back up the staff.  I'm so glad she doesn't live with me anymore. 

In my ongoing pursuit of balance, I have decided that I will sleep in on Monday mornings.  I got up at 7:00 this morning instead of 5:00.  I think it will serve me well to start the week well-rested.  So far today has been productive, so the new strategy seems to be paying off. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bad Beginning to a Good Day

I got up this morning and came into the kitchen to fix pb&j sandwiches for our lunch.  I had bought a new jar of peanut butter and some low sugar strawberry jam.  They were in a bag under the kitchen table with a few other items.  When I picked up the bag, the strawberry jam was missing.  I went into Daughter's bedroom and demanded to know where it was.  She ate the whole jar during the night. 

When we got to the church, I unlocked the office without turning off the alarm to the office.  Then I couldn't figure out how to turn off the alarm.  I called Administrative Assistant, who laughed at me, and told me how to turn it off before I even asked. 

The prayer class before worship went well.  Worship went well, though attendance was down a bit.  I think some people skipped worship and just came to the memorial service.  It's amazing to me who many people have told me how much they like this sermon series on the Lord's Prayer.  Next week will be the last sermon in the series.  Worship was over at 11:00, and the band for the memorial service started bringing instruments in at 11:15.  We'd told them they couldn't come before 11:30, but they don't listen well. 

The memorial service went very well.  There were over 240 people at the service.  The family was pleased.  I'm glad it's over.  The family continued to be a bit controlling, but we remained polite.  One of the members told me he'd lock up following the service, so I was able to come home a bit earlier.  Some other members had dropped Daughter off at her home. 

AA and I are looking forward to a quieter week.  Of course, the property guys have some projects they will be working on this week, and that always makes life interesting.  We're going to begin work on the newsletter this week.  AA knows she doesn't have jury duty this week, but she has two more weeks she is on call.  She has the bulletins for the next two Sundays ready for me.

This morning one of the men was talking about how the words of the last two hymns were perfect for the sermon.  He commented that the tune to the last hymn was familiar, but not the words.  I told him we hadn't liked the tune that the words were set to, so we had used the metrical index to find a tune we liked better.  He was amazed.  I told him it's easy, but he thinks we worked wonders.  AA thinks we should have let him think it was hard work.  For those of you who don't know, most hymns have there meter listed.  This particular hymn was  That means there were 7 syllables in the first phrase, 6 in the second, and the D means it was double.  So 8 phrases that alternated 7 and 6 syllables.  Most hymnals  have a metrical index in the back, so we looked up and found a list of 7 or 8 tunes with the same meter.  We decided the second one worked well.  Most people have no idea the work that goes into putting the worship service together.  He was right, though, the words to the last two hymns were perfect.  When I first arrived, there were many who couldn't understand why I thought it was important that the hymns and such go with the sermon.  My response was I never heard anyone go out humming a sermon, and so I wanted the hymns to reinforce the message. 

I love my life, even when it is full to overflowing.