Saturday, June 30, 2012


I've sorted through the camping gear, and now we're packing for our conference.  Kitten has been delivered to a member who will spoil her and love on her (and thinks we're doing her a favor by letting her take care of her).  I've mowed the lawn.

I'm ready to start packing my clothes.  I'm looking forward to the conference, and beyond that to our camping adventure.  Sister and Short Niece are going to join us for a night, which will be fun.

We've had the heat, but fortunately were spared the storms that have done  so much damage across the country.  Tiny Village is without power, and since they are on wells, that means they are without water.  I'm glad we're here. 

Friday, June 29, 2012


One of the gifts of vacation is the opportunity to step out of the challenges of daily life and gain some perspective.  This is supposed to be my fifth day of vacation, but it's only the second I haven't gone to the office, and I did have a conversation with Administrative Assistant today. 

It wasn't hard to recognize that I spend too much time and energy on church stuff.  I am going to spend some time pondering how to place some limits on my work life an carve out more personal time.  Maybe I'll even take a class that's not connected with my job this fall.  I think I'll go explore the options....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

To the Church

I sat in a restaurant most of the morning working on my Bible Study for the conference next week.  My computer was not being very cooperative.  I finally gave up and went over to the church.  My computer was happy to be plugged in to a power source, mouse, and keyboard.  My desk gave me more space in which to work.  Administrative Assistant helped with some of the preparation.  It was a good decision, though it did mean today wasn't really vacation. 

I spent some time this morning reflecting on the balance in my life, or maybe I should say, the lack of balance.  I didn't make any firm decisions beyond recognizing I need to spend some more time reflecting on what kind of balance I want and how best to achieve it. 

One of the questions I'm asking the participants in the Bible study is, "Where do you feel most at home?"  I realized for me, I feel most at home at the church.  Now I have to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Phone Calls and a Stop in the Office

I don't like making phone calls.  I know it sounds weird, but I have never liked making them.  Obviously there are times when I can't avoid making phone calls, but if there are alternatives (like email) I'll take them every time.  So the last week my major accomplishment has been making a bunch of phone calls I'd been putting off.  The majority of them were made today.  Here's some of what I've accomplished:

  • Reduced my trash service to save money.
  • Changed my newspaper subscription to online only.
  • Called the cardiologist's office about their failure to get prior authorization for my stress test (is getting an insurance denial for an expensive test part of the stress test?)  They are looking into it.  (Note to SBF-- I know you warned me.  I told the doctor that it had to be pre-authorized.  He promised to take care of it.  You can say I told you so-- I didn't call the insurance company to make sure he'd done it.)
  • Called and found a place to replace the glass in my fireplace door (to be paid for by the chimney sweep, since it broke right after they cleaned it). 
  • Called tech support about Daughter's dead computer.  Also called about the broken mouse button on mine.  Called a shop 50 miles away that can do the repair on mine under the extended warranty.  I consider it a major accomplishment that I arranged repairs on both with less than 45 minutes on the phone.  My hope is that I can drop my computer off at the repair shop, do some shopping, and go back to pick it up with only one trip to the city.  The repair shop was willing to work with me on that. 
It feels good to have gotten these things off my to do list.  Some had been there for several months. 

I managed to stay away from the church for one full day before I went in.  I stopped by this afternoon to drop off Daughter's computer.  Administrative Assistant will stick it in the box they're sending and send it off for repairs-- I have everything delivered to the church because that is where I spend the majority of my waking hours.  I also dropped papers into the recycling bin in the parking lot and dropped off some things that belong in my study.  She filled me in on all the news: 

  • We're up to 24 registrations for day camp.
  • They cleaned out a Sunday School room that was being used for storage and organized a storage room.  We need the additional space for Sunday School this fall. 
  • She found a great picture of me for the brochure I thought was done last week.  She's continuing to play with the lay out and improving it.  Our goal is to have it ready to distribute at day camp.
  • Work is progressing on the apartment building that is going in next to the church.  They started clearing the land last week, and did it in record time.  This week they're moving dirt.
While I was there I got to hug the mother of a young man who has been battling cancer for over 2 years.  The latest news was not good.  She was surprised (and delighted) to see me.

I also talked to a couple of the men from the property team.  Our pond has been reduced to a mud puddle by the dry weather.  They were considering renting equipment to do the digging they need to do to fix the drain in the pond.  They were discussing who was better equipped to drive it.  I can see them all having fun with a new toy.  Hopefully they'll be done by the time I get back.  I also hope the new HVAC unit for the sanctuary will be installed while I'm away.  Hopefully I will be able to stay away for longer than one day this time....

Navigating Pre Vacation Nerves

The time prior to vacation has always been challenging for Daughter.  She needs structure, and finds the unstructured time of vacation challenging.  This year when I started seeing the pre-vacation acting out, I sought to change the pattern.  I suggested she make a list of the things she wants to do and the camp food she wants me to make while we're on vacation. 

She has embraced the challenge.  I just got of the phone with her, and she was frustrated because she hadn't been able to do an internet search yesterday.  I reminded her I have some tourist information here at home, and suggested she take that back to the house iwth her tomorrow.  She jumped all over that idea.  She's excited.  I think it helps that we're going back to the same state park-- it removes some of the stress from it for her.  I also think she's looking forward to extended time with me.  She appreciates me more now that she doesn't live with me all the time. 

The growth I see in her is pretty amazing.  She asked if she coud go spend a couple of days with friends it Tiny Village.  I told her that the fact she still wasn't trustworthy around food was an issue, and reminded her she'd taken a banana one night when she was here recently.  She said, "Point taken."  She dropped the request. 

She is working on a list of the things she needs to pack and getting them ready.  I have to say, I'm impressed and pleased.  Now I need to get on with my list.  She may actually be ahead of me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sleeping In

I slept in today.  It felt good.  I've been very lazy today.  That also feels good.  I have a number of things I need to get done this week, some of which can't be put off-- like getting ready to teach my class and checking out the camping gear we haven't used in 3 years.  But I decided I can have a lazy day.  It's allowed.  After all, I am on vacation. 

Daughter called a little while ago.  She has grown so much.  My mantra, "I have confidence in your ability to figure it out," has had an impact.  I no longer get the crisis, "come rescue me" calls.  She was frustrated with a staff member, but she'd figured it out.  I'm proud of her. 

I got an email today about happenings back in Tiny Village.  Sometimes, they are hard to read.  But just as Daughter can figure things out on her own, so can they. 

Monday, June 25, 2012


The funeral went well this morning, and now I am on vacation-- sort of.  I came home and mowed the lawn, then showered and ran to the bank.  This evening I'm going to a restaurant across town for supper.  The restaurant is donating a portion of their proceeds to an organization several of our members are beginning.  It will be fun.  I like both of these women-- we'll go as friends. 

I had a conversation with the woman who finally saw a Psychiatrist for her Bipolar.  Her General Practitioner is even dumber than I thought.  He claims that Bipolar is one of his specialities.  He told her to take the antidepressant he prescribed at night, because it would help her sleep.  Psychiatrist explained that she should be taking it in the morning, because it would prevent her from sleeping if taken at bedtime.  He also told her it was the wrong medication for her.  She's going to start reducing that and begin on something to help with her moods.  She really liked him.  He is seeing her again in 2 weeks, and told her to call if she didn't see improvement in a couple of days.  She is going to start looking for a new GP.  Yeah!

I've also been exchanging emails with the woman who is coordinating the traveling day camp we're hosting the first week in August.  I think it's good that I'm coming back a week early so I'll be here the week before day camp begins.  We've hit a few bumps all ready, and I'm sure there will be more as day camp gets closer.  The woman who is coordinating it is a retired Christian educator, so she knows what she's doing.  I'm grateful she was willing to take this on, especially with some of the challenges that are arising. 

For the rest of this week I'm going to be working in the yard, getting our camping gear sorted and ready, and preparing my class for the conference next week.  I'm looking forward to it.  As I was mowing today I was thinking about the fact that two weeks from today, we'll be camping, for the first time in 3 years.  I'm really looking forward to it. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vacation Countdown

I have the next 4 Sundays off, and I'm looking forward to that.  We did a drama in worship today, based on the story of David and Goliath.  King Saul, David, and David's older brother, Eliab, all reflected on the story.  The man I'd recruited to play David was fantastic, and he energized the other two.  In his reflections, he was talking about how he always got stuck tending the sheep.  He had the congregation completing the sentence for him, "I had to go tend the ....."  He put some humor in it, and the congregation loved it.  I loved it, because it was a reworking of something I'd done 3 years ago in Tiny Village. 

Our AV guy installed a splitter and brought his laptop today.  It's much easier, now, to leave a picture on the front screens and use the rear screen a teleprompter.  I think I'm going to try to do things like this more often.  The congregation loves it, and because I have to have them written ahead of time, it means I don't have the sermon hanging over my head all week.

Daughter is in her stress out to vacation mode.  At lunch we talked about it some.  She thinks it's going to be very different since she no longer lives with me.  We talked about all the things that would be the same.  She called this afternoon, upset about the way two of the other women in the house were bickering.  I identified the real issue as vacation stress, and she talked about it some more.  I suggested she make a list of all the things she wants to do while we're on vacation, and also to think about camp foods she wants to make.  She got excited, and hung up to go make a list.  It could be a long week....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Equipping and Walking

There is one particular staff member at Daughter's house who probably shouldn't be working there.  A couple of months ago she borrowed a pair of Daughter's sweat pants, and didn't return them until Daughter reported her to the House Manager.  When she returned them to Daughter, they were dirty.  She told Daughter she better wash them. 

Thursday when Daughter was here, she asked if I'd make strawberry pancakes for breakfast Friday.  I said I didn't know if that would work.  She told me that when Staff Member had picked her up one day she'd stopped at her mom's house because she was hungry.  She came out with strawberry pancakes and ate them as she was driving Daughter home.  Daughter said, "She was swerving all over the road."  She also complained about this particular staff member going into her room and using her straightening iron.  I told her she needed to tell HM.  She told me she was afraid to, because Staff Member would yell at her.  I told her to tell HM about her fears. 

It was hard, not stepping in to rescue her, but I decided I needed to equip her instead.  I'm not always going to be around to defend her, so she needs to learn to speak up for herself.  I'm trying to equip her to be her own advocate.  She says she told HM.  I hope she did, and I hope that if Staff Member doesn't get her act together quickly, she'll be fired.  It doesn't sound like she has much sense.  In fact, I think Daughter might have more sense than she does, which is scary. 

This morning was my third walk of the week with my friend.  We go to wonderful parks and walk through the woods, enjoying nature.  We certainly don't walk quickly, but we were counting the turtles sunning on branches over the pond today.  We saw a number of frogs in the pond, too.  Their camouflage is amazing, so we had to be patient and look carefully.  We only saw one deer this morning.  Evening is a better time for seeing deer-- when we walked Wednesday evening we counted 8 or 9.  We pigged out on wild blackberries along the trail.  We saw lots of rabbits and squirrels and one snake.  Fortunately, we didn't see the skunk another walker warned us about.  We don't walk quickly, so we were passed a couple of times by the same people, but we sure do enjoy our time in the woods.  I think we walked over 3 miles today.  It took us 90 minutes.  It was a wonderful morning to be in the woods.  I'm grateful she has invited me to walk with her. 

Friday, June 22, 2012


I went into the office today to finish some things up.  I had forgotten to get information to the lay leader for worship Sunday.  I had some paperwork to fax to my insurance company about Daughter.  I sent my broken GPS to amazon and hope to get a gift card for it.   I convinced Daughter that violence wasn't a good response to people her

And I worked on the memorial service for Monday.  It's not quite done, but I made good progress.  Administrative Assistant did some research and gave me some dates about marriages and deaths (the deceased was twice widowed). She also called the funeral home and got directions to the cemetery around the construction on the main route into this neighboring suburb.  We are doing the interment before the memorial service.  Of all the funerals I've done here, only once has the funeral director called me to confirm my availability and go over arrangements.  I find that very frustrating. 

I'm all ready for Sunday, with my material printed out and in the notebook.  I have to finalize the memorial service, but it's almost done, so it shouldn't take too long.

We have begun having coffee available before worship.  We figured out that I could plug it in on Sunday morning since I'm the first one there.  We also figured out that  Treasurer could set it up when he's in the office on Friday.  At first he'd stick a post-it note on my study door to remind me to plug it in.  A couple of weeks ago I told him it wasn't necessary, I had done it enough I would remember without the note.  Daughter was disappointed the note wasn't there.  I explained to her that Treasurer and I had decided I could remember without the note.  She was not convinced.  I told him about our conversation, so last week there was a note on my study door asking Daughter to please remind me to plug in the coffee.  She was delighted.  There's another note on the door for her this weekend.  She will be pleased.  I reminded him that he'll have to get someone else to plug it in for the 4 weeks I'm gone....

Daughter is bugging to come here tomorrow.  I told her I'd probably pick her up after supper.  I don't have to be up quite as early on Sunday if she is here. 

I intentionally didn't pack the things I need for the conference yet.  I'll need to lock up the church on Monday, and I don't want to rush everyone out.  I will retreat to my study and gather my things for the conference while the people are visiting after the service.  We aren't having a meal, just a reception.  I won't worry about how long they are staying if I have some minor things to do to keep me busy in the study. 

I'm almost on vacation.  Almost....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Final Push

I'm on the final push to vacation, trying to get things done here at the church so I can be gone for four weeks.  I made good progress today, but there is more to do.  Tomorrow I'll come in and write the memorial service for Monday.  I may jot down some thoughts about September.  I still have to prepare for the class I'm teaching at the conference....

Administrative Assistant assured me I'd recover some of my missing brain  cells while I'm off.  I hope she's right.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I read a devotional about sabbath this morning.  Sabbath is time to stop all work and rest in God.  As I reflected on it, I realized.  I don't do a good job of taking sabbath time throughout the year.  Especially during the school year, I work too much and relax too little.  Summer is my opportunity for to slow down a bit and relax.  It helps that the days are longer, and the other big difference is that I'm home in the evening.  Instead of spending at least 3 evenings a week at the church, I'm only there for the Monday evening meetings.  I like having my evenings.  Yesterday I came home and mowed the lawn before supper and after supper I went for a 4 mile walk. 

The slower pace also means I'm more likely to get a full day off.  Saturday I was free to enjoy time with a friend and then later, with Sister.  After the memorial service on Monday, I have 4 weeks of sabbath time.  I'm looking forward to the time to be refreshed and renewed.  I also know, though, that I can't expect 4 weeks of sabbath in the summer to carry me through the rest of the year.  Before I move into fall, I need to figure out how to schedule sabbath time during the busiest times of the year.  There's a reason that God made that one of the ten commandments.  I think I need to rediscover what a gift it is, all year round. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I've been working on my health by doing more exercise lately.  I've been walking, working in the yard, and exploring qigong and yoga.  Yesterday and today were my first attempts at yoga.  It went better than I thought it would.  I was pleasantly surprised. 

I do think the exercise is helping.  I went out and mowed the lawn when I got home.  The heat index was 94.  I stopped for breaks and to drink cold water, but it didn't take as long as I thought it would or wear me out as much as I thought it would, which is good, because I'm walking later this evening. 

Daughter is calling less and is happier when she calls.  She had an experience with a male friend she didn't like much last night.  He was having a "birthday party" and wanted Daughter to come.  I have meetings on Monday evening, so I told her I couldn't help.  I looked at the flyer she had, and told her I didn't think she'd like it.  It was a car show with a DJ at a bar.  Apparently this man's step father is the DJ. 

She arranged to get there with help from her house.  She called to report in last night.  He was drinking, which she didn't like.  She was the only person he invited.  When she got ready to leave she gave him a hug and wished him happy birthday.  She reports he pushed her down and kissed her neck.  She said she didn't like that.  I pointed out that it wasn't a party, it was a date.  I don't know if she knew she was the only person invited.

I do know that she handled the entire incident remarkably well.   She was concerned about seeing him today.  I suggested she tell him she wasn't interested in a boyfriend.  She seemed satisfied with that.

Monday, June 18, 2012

So Much for Plans

I came in this morning, determined to do some writing.  Then the visitors started.  When one man came in, he said, "I'm the next one through the revolving door."  So while I haven't gotten the writing done I had planned, I've had some wonderful conversations.  I've dealt with some administrative matters-- both for the church and my own personal stuff. 

I've had a conversation with Daughter's Case Manager about Daughter's desire to change her day program to a sheltered workshop.  I've visited with my favorite 3 year old.  I'm grateful that this last week before vacation is flexible enough that I can enjoy these interruptions and the opportunities they bring. 

Have I mentioned recently how much I love my life? 

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I'm now on the countdown to vacation.  One more Sunday.  Next Sunday we're doing one of my infamous dramatic Proclamations of the Word.  The text is the story of David and Goliath, and David, King Saul, and David's older brother, Eliab, will all offer their thoughts on the story.  I recruited my actors, and we had a rehearsal this afternoon.  This morning our AV guy told me he'd ordered a new piece of equipment, a splitter.  At some point we figured out that it was nice to turn the rear screen into a teleprompter.  To do that now, we have to have someone freeze the front two projectors, which can be a bit tricky.  AV guy thinks this will make it easier because he'll be able to switch the rear projector to a different computer that will give us much more flexibility.  He told me he sees the trend, and decided to prepare for it.  The congregation does love it when I plan a service like this.  I love it because the Proclamation for next week is done, so I can concentrate on the memorial service and other projects this week. 

It has been a long day.  We had a board meeting right after worship and approved the purchase of a new HVAC unit for the sanctuary.  It was warm enough in the sanctuary this morning to underline the need.  I took Daughter home after lunch, and then led worship at the retirement center before the rehearsal.  Administrative Assistant and I were standing in the parking lot talking when some members drove up and demanded to know if we ever go home.  We laughed and said we don't. 

I was reflecting this morning on how my life has changed since Daughter moved out 7 months ago.  I was able go have fun yesterday without worrying about her.  I have a freedom I hadn't had in 22 years.  I like it. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Fun Saturday

I met a colleague for lunch at a historic restaurant I hadn't been to in over 30 years (it's close to the town where I went to college).  We had a wonderful conversation, and I learned that she had a foster son for a while.  Like me, she didn't intend to be a parent, but took him on a temporary basis because she had met him in the course of her ministry.  She had him until he turned 18....

Then I met Sister at an outlet mall for shopping and supper.  It's always nice to spend time with Sister without our daughters around.  Tomorrow is Sister's birthday, so I took her out to eat in celebration.  Daughter called while I was at lunch I told her I was in a meeting and had confidence in her ability to figure things out. Apparently she figured things out, because she hasn't called back.  I'm enjoying the freedom to do things without having to worry about Daughter and her schedule.  It's a nice change.  I think I've finally reached the point that I don't feel guilty about doing it, which is nice.

It has been a fun Saturday.

Friday, June 15, 2012


As a rule, I never criticize any one's doctor. I know how important it is that people have confidence in their doctors, and I don't want to undermine that.  There are exceptions, though.  Over a year ago one of the women in the church told me about being diagnosed with bipolar 9 years ago.  As I listened to her story, I realized that she had never seen a psychiatrist, and her primary care doctor had prescribed an antidepressant for her.  I also realized that she was having spells of mania.  She would go on shopping sprees, or get up in the middle of the night and start cooking, and various other things that screamed mania to me. 

I encouraged her to ask her doctor about a referral to a psychiatrist.  I explained that she might need medication to level out her mood and prevent the manic episodes.  She talked to her doctor, several times, and was told that the medication she was on was the only one she could take and she was at the maximum dose and there was nothing else that could be done.  He refused to give her a referral to a psychiatrist.  I suggested she talk to her psychologist, but he was unwilling to refer her, too.  The last time she filled in for our pianist it was obvious she wasn't in a good place. 

Her husband has been coming to worship alone the last few months.  I knew that meant she was in a bad place.  I also knew that she needed to see a psychiatrist, and she knew my feelings on that.  A week and a half ago she called me.  She was desperate.  She wasn't able to sleep and was in a bad place.  She wanted the name of Daughter's psychiatrist.  I explained that Daughter's psychiatrist only dealt with people with developmental disabilities. 

She wanted me to refer her to someone.  I told her I didn't know anyone here, and suggested several resources, including a member of the congregation who works as a case manager with the elderly.  I suggested she would be able to give her the name of a good geriatric psychiatrist.  I saw her husband on Sunday, and he said she'd called, and had an appointment for April.  I could hear the defeat in his voice.  He'd been encouraging her to seek a psychiatrist for years, and was very frustrated with her primary care physician. 

This afternoon I was in the house cooling off and taking a break and the phone rang.  It was the woman.  She told me she was going to see a psychiatrist.  I didn't say anything about my conversation with her husband, and said I was glad she'd found someone.  She then told me about all the calls she'd made in search of a psychiatrist.  There was the one with the appointment in April.   There was one who didn't seen anyone over 65.  There was one who had to check out her insurance.  Then she tried this one, who was one of them recommended by the member with connections and also had been recommended by the office of the psychiatrist who wouldn't see anyone over 65.  She told the office assistant her story.  The office assistant told her that her primary care physician would refuse to work with them or give them her records, because he didn't like psychiatrists, but they'd still see her.  She told her that she needed more than an antidepressant to control bipolar.  She said, "That's what my pastor said!"  Office Assistant told her her pastor was right.  She has an appointment on the 25th.  She called me because she was so excited that she'd managed to get an appointment.  She said she felt like a huge weight was off her shoulders.  She wanted to thank me and share her good news.  She's been averaging less than 3 hours of sleep a night.  She falls asleep fine, but then wakes up with her mind racing and has to get up and do something. 

I suspect that I hear more of these stories and have more credibility because the congregation knows about Daughter's struggles.  I'm glad that our struggles have opened the door for me to minister to people struggling with their own mental illness or that of a family member.  There are some doctors, though, who I don't think should be practicing medicine.  I can't believe he refused to refer her.  She refuses to blame her doctor.  "Maybe I didn't communicate well with him about how bad it is."  I know she's asked multiple times for a referral.  Now that she's found a psychiatrist, I'll go back to biting my tongue and not undermining her confidence in her doctor.  I hope and pray that this psychiatrist will be able to help her.  I cautioned her, though, it was a first step and would take time.  I hope she'll be patient with the process.  Of course, when you're manic, that is a challenge, to say the least. 

Another Day in the Yard

I've been working in my yard again today.  I was reflecting on how grateful I am that I purchased a house with a yard rather than a condo.  The yard gives me something to do and gives me so much pleasure.  It's like a bit of vacation every week as I spend time outside enjoying nature.  I don't think I'll ever have everything I'd like to do out there done, but perhaps that is a good thing.  I continue to make goals and have things to look forward to.  I can't complain about that. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


One of the members told me she wanted to talk to me about forgiveness, so this afternoon I went to see her.  She told me about her estrangement from her daughter.  She talked about the hurtful things her daughter has said to her.  She told me about her difficulty forgiving her.  As I listened, to her describe her daughter, there were so many things I recognized.  I suspect her daughter has bipolar, and is self-medicating with alcohol. 

Now my member is in her 80's, and helping her understand the reality of mental illness is challenging.  I assured her that this wasn't her fault, and that I suspected her daughter had a chemical imbalance in her brain and was self-medicating.  She knows some of Daughter's story, and I was able to tell her I understood what she was going through. 

I could tell she was still struggling.  Finally I asked her, "When your babies were sick and screamed all night, keeping you up, did you forgiven them?" 

"Well of course." 

I went on to suggest that her daughter is sick.  It's a bigger illness, and her screams are longer and hurt more, but they are still a result of her illness.  It clicked.  We prayed for her daughter, and I gave her suggestions for continuing to pray for her daughter, but I think (hope) that I gave her a new perspective.  Maybe now she can begin to forgive and heal. 

Summer Slowdown

I'm in that time moving toward vacation when I'm tired and don't want to work.  I'm finding it hard to stay focused, and have to push myself to get things done.  My vacation time will begin after the memorial service on the 25th, but there's much to be done before my vacation begins.  It helps that Administrative Assistant is back now.

The wooded lot next to the church was cleared this week in preparation for a senior citizens' apartment complex.  It will make our sign and building more visible, but it also takes away a natural area that was home to the deer.  AA and I have worried about where our deer will go, though we still have woods behind us and on the other side of us. 

Today I've done some work updating brochures.  We're hosting a day camp in August, and I want update information on the church to send home with the kids.  It's time to begin looking toward fall, but first I need my vacation. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

She's Back!

My Administrative Assistant is back from vacation.  Yesterday she was in the office, but I wasn't due to an all day meeting.  It's good to have her back.  We're trying to get everything scheduled that needs to be done before I leave for 4 weeks.  The next week and a half will be busy, but we'll get it done.  The calendar is filling up quickly.  I've warned her that she'd best rest up while I'm gone, because when I return it will get crazy as we prepare for fall program.  I'm excited about the opportunities ahead of us. 

Daughter seems to be in a good place right now, which is good.  I'm not getting many phone calls, for which I'm very grateful.  Life is good. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I promised an elderly woman that I would do her memorial service when the time came.  This woman died on Sunday.  Her close friend and executor has scheduled the memorial service for the first day of my vacation, more than 2 weeks after her death.  I asked if it could be any earlier, since that was the first day of my vacation.  The response was that that is the day that works for the woman's close friends, and the service could be brief and early.  I guess my schedule doesn't count.  I have to call the executor, but am waiting.  I'm tired, and I need my vacation.  I can tell I need my vacation because I'm very angry right now.  I fear if I call the executor, I will say things that aren't appropriate/helpful.  Hopefully after some time to pray and do other things, I will be able to call her and be pastoral. Hopefully.  I do find myself wondering, though, why my schedule wasn't considered in the scheduling of this service.  I also find myself wondering if maybe it was, as this is the same woman who scheduled a memorial service to take place while I was on vacation after Christmas.  In that case, I volunteered to give up a day of vacation, because I knew that family members would be in from out of town and it would be difficult for them to come before or after my vacation. 

Sometimes ministry is hard.  Especially when I'm tired and in need of a vacation.  I'll do this service, and hopefully I will get in enough prayer before hand to let go of my resentment. 

Monday, June 11, 2012


Two meetings tonight.  An all day meeting tomorrow.  The good news is that after this week I won't have many more meetings before vacation begins.  While for the most part the meetings are worthwhile, I will be glad for the break.  In one of tonight's meeting a man who has been overwhelmingly negative acknowledged that we have done a good job and made progress on one of our goals.  I don't think he complained the entire meeting.  Things are going well at the church, and it's good to see the progress.  Of course, as our ministries grow, so do the meetings involved. 

In addition to the meetings, today was a day of pastoral conversations.  I think I had 6 or 7.  All of them were good.  With all the meetings and all the conversations, though, I didn't accomplish my other goals.  I was trying to listen to a podcast about this Sunday's Scripture lessons.  I think I had to restart it 3 or 4 times because I kept getting interrupted.  That's okay, though.  As a wise old pastor once said, the interruptions are our ministry.  Lots of ministry going on today. 

Daughter had a good day, too.  The two conversations I had with her were both upbeat.  She called a couple of other times, but I was busy and told her she'd have to call back.  She doesn't like to hear me say that, but she does understand.  Life is good. 

Early Morning Text

Daughter got her hair cut on Saturday.  Hair has always been in a big issue with her.  She is biracial, I am white.  I find that African Americans sometimes criticize the way I do her hair.  When we were in Inner City, I had women in the church who were willing to guide and teach me.  Since then, I've been pretty much on my own. 

Her first psychiatrist when we were in Tiny Village was Jamaican.  Her last appointment with him was the day he got on her about the need to take better care of her hair.  She was 9 years old.  When we were in Inner City, she wore her hair in multiple braids, like  most of her classmates.  She didn't want multiple braids once she was in a majority white school.  I began pulling it back in one or two braids, and often by the end of the day her hair was looking a bit ragged.  At the end of the long day, he told her she was a big enough girl to take better care of her hair.  I was the one who took care of her hair, and she was very sensitive to criticism of it.  I found a new psychiatrist for her.

When she went back to her house yesterday afternoon, her hair was beginning to poof a bit.  She had not had any of her wraps to wrap it Saturday night after the beautician straightened it (just with a straightening iron).  When she called me last night she was upset because she said the staff (all African American) were criticizing her hair and said she should have had it relaxed.  I asked if she was happy with her hair.  She said she was, and I told her that was all that mattered. 

This morning she sent me a text message with a picture of herself.  It said, "They cant judge for who i am or what i look like because i am strong and beatiful."  It made my day. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Don't Worry, Your Brain Will Be back Tuesday."

Administrative Assistant has been on vacation this past week.  She was back in the office for one week before she left again.  This morning before church I was getting questions and such, and one of the women comforted me with, "Don't worry, your brain will be back on Tuesday."  While I do have a brain without AA, it doesn't function as well as it does when she is here.   I am very blessed to be able to work with her. 

I took Daughter home a little while ago.  It was another very good visit.  She has matured so much.  This morning she packed up my computer while I was doing hair and make-up.  I like it when she takes the initiative to do something that she knows needs to be done.  Yesterday she cleaned out the insulin pouch without me asking and got it ready for us to go out. 

She will be here for the choir picnic this year.  Last year she missed it because she was at camp.  One of the women told Daughter she would be willing to pick her up and bring her to the picnic.  I'm grateful. 

AA will be back in the office on Tuesday, but I won't be in the office because I have an all day meeting.  Two more sermons and my vacation begins.  I'll be ready!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Identifying the Issue

After running around this morning, this afternoon I wanted to take care of the remnant of the lilac bush in my backyard.  I asked Daughter to help.  She did, but had an attitude.  She told me she was about to explode.  I had her come sit by me and talk to me.  She said she didn't know me anymore, I didn't seem like her mom.  She expressed resentment over the time I spend working in the yard.  She told me I was too old to be out there working.  She insisted that working in the heat would give me cancer, especially if you have diabetes.  She insisted that scientists had proved it.  

Finally the real issue came out.  When I'm mowing the lawn, I miss her phone calls.  I can't hear my cell phone.  She panics when she calls the church phone, the home phone, and the cell phone, and I don't answer.  She then worries that I'm dead or something.  This has only happened a couple of times, but it terrifies her.  I promised her that next time I would text her before I started mowing the lawn, and tell her what I was doing and when she could call. 

After addressing the real issue, she was able to get back to work.  We didn't get the job done, but I'm satisfied with the progress we made. 


When we lived in Tiny Village, it was 10-12 miles to get a tank of gas or loaf of bread.  Now that we are in a more metropolitan area, everything is closer.  This morning I decided I wanted to run some errands on the other side of town.  That always seems like it is so far away.  I was surprised when I looked at the odometer and realized it was only 12 miles. 

Daughter is with me this weekend, since she chose not to go to the big dance last night.  She got a hair cut this morning, and then helped with recycling.  I don't know if I'll be able to convince her to help in the yard or not....  Right now she's taking a nap.  She really is much more pleasant to have around now. 

Last night I took her to see the new Madagascar movie.  I'd promised a movie the night of the dance if she chose not to go.  I let her pick the movie.  Yesterday was the last day of school, and we went to the 4:05 movie.  The place was packed with children.  While it wasn't my choice, it was a cute movie. 

I'm enjoying my weekend with Daughter. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Adventures in Gardening

I discovered that slugs were eating my strawberries.  Yesterday evening I placed an aluminum pie pan with some beer in it among the strawberries.  I was amazed at the number of dead slugs in it this morning. 

I have two lilac bushes in the backyard that are not blooming.   I don't think they get enough sun.  One was huge.  I spent time today cutting them both down.  Daughter helped me with the clean-up, though there's more to do.  Cutting them down was the easy part....

My garden angel and her husband, A,  came by.  He cut down a large limb I had been working on.  He was the second man to attempt to finish it, and both complained about the difficulty of it.  They were both on a ladder.  I was working from the ground with the saw on my pruner that extends.  It made me feel a little bit better about not being able to cut all the way through it. 

A also hung some brackets up high in my garage.  I have placed a pipe and the poles form my volleyball net up there.  He looked in the attic and confirmed that the vent above my stove does exhaust to the outside.  My current vent fan isn't connected to it, and at some point I want to change it.  My five foot step ladder and my short stature are such that I couldn't do these things on my own.  A also got up on my roof to sweep off the pollen and leaves the large locust tree in my backyard had deposited up there.  He expressed concern that they were damaging my roof.  I had been pondering getting the tree removed because it is so messy, but this settled it.  As big as the tree is, it will still be cheaper to remove it than replace the roof.  My red bud tree should get healthier when it's not in the shade of the locust tree.  I think the new exhaust fan for the kitchen will have to wait.

While A was doing the tasks with his ladders, his wife spread 6 more bins of mulch in the back yard.  I've been filling my trash cans with the mulch they shredded after our spring clean-up day at the church.  Two of the men with trucks have been willing to transport the full bins for me.  I could still use several more loads, and I'm grateful that they're so willing to lend a hand.  I love my house and gardens.  It's a blessing to be able to spend a day working in them, and I'm grateful for those who are willing to lend a helping hand.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Letting Go

Daughter had an appointment with her  primary care physician today.  House staff was supposed to pick her up from her program and deliver her to the appointment.  I was going to meet them there.  I arrived 15 minutes before the appointment, as requested.  Daughter called and announced they had just left.  They were on the other side of town.  Then she called and said they had hit a detour due to construction. Then she called and asked which way they were supposed to go.  I had no idea where they were. 

They were late.  I asked the staff member if she knew what refills/orders Daughter needed.  She said, "I don't know.  They just told me to take her to her appointment."  I was very frustrated, to say the least.  However, I decided it wasn't my problem.  I let it go. I considered telling them I'd handle the appointments in the future, but decided against that.  It's not my problem.  Daughter is healthy, that's what matters.

She did well with the news her camp was cancelled.  She was disappointed, and was appropriate.  I told her today I was proud of how well she handled it.  She called at one point last night an told me she needed a hug.  I pointed out that she could ask one of the women for a hug.  She has been comforting one in particular.  I suggested she tell R it was her turn to comfort Daughter.  She wasn't convinced.  I reminded her she had Grandma's quilt, and if she wrapped herself in it, it was like Grandma and I were hugging her.  That seemed to work.  At least she didn't call again after that.... 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cardiologist and Camp

I saw the cardiologist this morning.  He said my tests didn't show any problems.  I'm grateful.  I don't have to go back. 

Daughter leaves for camp Monday.  She's getting rather anxious about it.  I received a message this morning telling me she couldn't live at her house anymore because the women were driving her crazy.  Earlier this week it was her program that had to change.  She is very much in the moment, and when she gets frustrated, she immediately demands a change.  I'm pondering if I can convince her to wait some period of time before demanding a change.  I ignore her requests, because I know they reflect momentary frustration.  I'm not so sure Case Manager has figured that out yet.  I responded to this morning's text by telling her it was good she'd get a break when she went to camp, and that we all need breaks occasionally.  She hasn't replied, probably because by the time I was free to respond it was no longer an issue.  Sigh. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Neighborhood RADs

This evening I was sitting in the family room in the back of the house, and the doorbell rang.  By the time I got to it, no one was there, though I saw some girls running down the street.  My phone was ringing, so I shut the door and went to answer the phone.  I didn't get there in time, but it was Daughter, so I called her back.  The doorbell rang again, and this time they leaned on it.  I opened the door and it was the three young girls I'd seen running away.  One of the girls said, "I know you from somewhere.  I don't know where, but I know you," and gave me a hug.  I mentioned the mentoring program the church is involved with for at risk kids.  Her face lit up, "That's it!"  I'm the official story teller for the twice a year parties we have at the church with the kids.  They wanted my teenage daughter.  I explained Daughter wasn't a teen, and is only here once a week. 

I suspect they are the grandchildren of a woman I met shortly after I moved in.  She is raising them because their parents can't.  They are in our mentoring program.  I suspect they are RAD, and there may be some issues from prenatal exposure to drugs.  I'm grateful I'm through that stage.  When we lived in Inner City, the summer school teacher released Daughter early. On my way to pick her up, I saw her walking up to a strange house.  Fortunately I was able to stop her.  I talked to the teacher the next day, and asked her not to release my 7 year old daughter early unless I was there to pick her up.  I feel for the grandmother. 

More Growth

Daughter called me a little while ago.  She went to the thrift shop today, and bought some things she'll need for camp next week, including a swimsuit and flash light.  I'm impressed, and grateful that I don't have to purchase them.  She continues to run hot and cold.  Yesterday she was upset about minutiae.  Today, we're having more adult conversations without attempts to manipulate. 

I told her about the skunk that's been hanging around the house, and she was interested in my schedule.  She wasn't insisting I come rescue her.  In fact, she sent me a wonderful text this morning:

"How is your day going? you were right. with your love i would have a good day. thank u mom and god bless you."

It's wonderful to see her acknowledging my support.  I haven't wasted my time. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Three More Sundays

I can tell it's getting close to vacation.  I'm tired, and it's getting harder to motivate myself to get much done.  I'm down to my last three Sundays before I have four Sundays off.  I'm done teaching until fall.  The big project for the summer is going to be updating publicity pieces, like our brochures and the website.  However, I'm having a hard time motivating myself to write sermons right now, which makes starting on those other things rather challenging. 

This morning I went to the hospital for a member who was having surgery, and waited with his wife so she wouldn't be alone.  Since I came into the office I've had a steady stream of visitors.  They've been a welcome distraction from other things.  We have received three bids on replacing the furnace and air conditioner for the sanctuary.  I've had two conversations about timing and funding that project.  One of the men who has been doing some historical research brought me in an annual report from 35 years ago.  The church was growing then, and he pointed out that they were focused on the same things I've been encouraging the board to address.  He saw this as confirmation I'm leading them in the right direction.  It was a good conversation and a good recognition.  It doesn't change the fact that I'm tired, though. 

In a few minutes, I'll head home for a couple of hours before coming back for this evening's meeting.   I have 6 more meetings before vacation.  Some of them will have some pretty significant business to discuss.  I hope I will have something to offer.  Right now, though, I'm tired.   Vacation is coming, and I need it. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Daughter's Growth

Daughter decided she did want to spend the day with me yesterday, so I picked her up, and we had a good day seeing the sights here in town.  She has grown and matured so much.  She was patient, didn't make demands-- in fact, I don't think she asked me to buy her anything all day.  It was a long day, and she didn't complain at all.  There were some things we had planned to do that we didn't get to do, and she was okay with that. 

She is needing less direction from me.  I don't have to remind her to do things.  This morning she packed her stuff and got it into the car without me saying a word.  She has lost enough weight that some of her jeans were falling down, so she brought some home a couple of weeks ago.  I promised her I'd put elastic in the back waist band to make them fit better.  I haven't finished them yet, and she hasn't complained.  In fact, she told me not to worry about it, there wasn't any rush. 

She really is doing well, and I'm proud of her progress.  She will be going back to the adult special needs camp a week from tomorrow.  She's very excited about it, and has requested help figuring out what she needs to pack.  Life is good. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ceiling Fan and Dreary Weather

I think I've figured out at least part of the mystery of the ceiling fan.  When the light switch near the garage is in the off position, the ceiling fan is on.  When it's up, the ceiling fan is off.  Why it works this way, I don't know.  What I do know is that if I want both the light and ceiling fan on, I need to turn the light on in the dining area.  It's nice the have figured that much out, though it still makes no sense to me that the fan can be on when power is supposedly off....

It rained all day yesterday.  While that was good for my garden and budget, since the sprinkler system didn't need to run, it means I wasn't able to get out and work in the yard yesterday.  I missed that time out working in the sunshine.  I still haven't decided what I'm going to do today.  There's a festival/event in Capital today, but it would mean being outside, which is good and bad.  If the sun is shining, I'd get my outside exercise in the walking.  If it rains, I'll get wet.  It's not going to be very warm today, so if I get wet, I'll be cold.  The sun is shining right now, so I'll probably look at the weather forecast and go.  It will be good to be outside and active. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Surprising Progress

There is a tourist event in our community tomorrow.  Last year Daughter and I participated and we both really enjoyed it.  I offered her the opportunity to go with me a gain this year.  She declined.  It's the first time she has turned down an opportunity to spend time with me and get away from her house.  That's definitely major progress.  I'm surprised, and a little disappointed.  I will go alone, and I will have fun.  I won't have to listen to her complain.  Of course, last year I was pleasantly surprised because she didn't complain....