This Journey

Thoughts, rants, prayers, sermons I'll never give and other stuff gathered as I make my way through this life.

January 1, 2014
by Not Fainthearted
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Happy 2014


I’m spending the morning watching the parade, cleaning out my email (and unsubscribing from most of it) and wondering why I haven’t already walked a couple of miles on the treadmill. It’s -4 (with a windchill of -18) so that sort of thing is not happening outside. Spending the afternoon writing thank-you notes and making burritos for the freezer.
Praying that in 2014 we can see the abundance of blessings with which we’re surrounded, the energy to step into the pain and need of neighbors near and far, and faith that we are loved just as we are.

December 31, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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2013 Wrap-up

Christmas greetings and New Year blessings!

DH and I have been married three and a half years now and we’re starting to get the hang of some things together. This year: Newsy Holiday Letters! 2013 has been filled with blessings – twists and turns in the plot line that keep you wondering “What’s going to happen next?” – and lots of opportunities to make memories.

In January I started a three-month gig as interim Music Director at a church in St. Paul (where I’ve been since 2006.) It was an opportunity to help out my friends there and also reminded me that my call was fuller than my “official” job there. DH began his trial retirement, having served his last day at the AF store at the school on December 31.

By February, he had had all the sitting around in the La-Z-Boy I could stand and began his job search in earnest. I continued on as interim music director and began to keep watch for a music director position of my own.

In March, I started teaching an online certification course for the American Society of Training and Development and had a wonderful time through Lent and on to Easter Sunday with the choir at the church.  DH was having some marvelous interviews, which led to an actual job offer! Also during this month, a friend of mine who had been caught in the foreclosure situation moved into the house.

On April 1, the day after Easter, DH started a new job as Community Resource Consultant with CB. CB is the Methodist version of AF. They had also closed all their brick-and-mortar stores but they chose to hire 50 people who would be the face of CB in their larger markets. DH’s job is to call on churches and institutions and basically do the same kind of relational recommendation of resources that he did from the bookstore. The tricky part is that his market is Des Moines, IA. For the first couple of months, he was flying to Nashville for training and helping staff their big regional events (like synod assemblies but they call them Annual Conferences). Of course, he had a great time meeting all these new people and always came home with stories of not only new friends but of all the people he already knew. I started a “short” “easy” instructional design contract in April and also began to provide interim communications support to the Deaconess Community.

In May, DS2 finished his first year at University of Wisconsin, Stout (in Menomonie, WI) and moved home for the summer. He worked for Cub all summer, stocking dairy. DS1 finished his fourth year at Iowa State (in Ames, IA) but stayed on campus for the summer because his job there. DS2 and I built and filled four new 4×4 raised garden beds and I planted way too many tomatoes, along with beans, carrots, cabbage, herbs and all sorts of things that sounded good.

June saw my last day at the St. Paul church as I accepted a ¼ time call to a smaller church in South Minneapolis to be their music director. DH continued to criss-cross the country working Annual Conferences (New Jersey, Iowa, and Oregon/Idaho) for Cokesbury and by the end of the month he was beginning his regular routine of driving down to Des Moines on Monday and back to Minneapolis on Fridays. We found him an apartment down there because Cokesbury wasn’t going to pay for a hotel for much longer.

In July, I started at the Minneapolis church and DH moved in to his apartment in Urbandale, IA, a suburb of Des Moines. The rest of the month is a blur as that “short” “easy” instructional design project was turning into neither of those things. Between that contract, the communications work and starting at Bethel I was working way too many hours and the garden really suffered. Sometime in here my friend found a more permanent housing solution and moved out of our house.

August brought a reunion in Chicago with some of DH’s college friends whom he had not seen in maybe 20 years. I met the other 3 couples and we all had a wonderful time reliving the “old” days. Hey, we graduated in 1972 for gosh sakes! And how about those Northern Illinois Huskies! Another wonderful season of football. That same weekend we also attended a wedding of the daughter of one of DH’s friends from our Lutheran Church in Berwyn. So I was introduced quite a bit that weekend to friends of DH.

Later in that month DS1 moved in with DH for a couple of weeks between housing contracts. All reports are that it was “fine” and they enjoyed ordering pizzas and drinking a couple of beers together at the end of their long work days. DS2 returned to Stout in the middle of August.

September saw the beginning of choir practices for me as well as a trip to Techny, IL for the Deaconess Assembly. DH continued getting to know the people in his market and collecting lots of great stories. Around this time we knew that this commuter marriage thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and I started looking again for a call that would be much closer to full-time and include benefits, with the idea that DH could retire or do something else while avoiding those long drives twice a week.

In early October, DH hurt his back and came home on Thursday to go to the doctor. After an ER visit, an MRI and another doctor visit, we knew that he had a pinched nerve, a bulging disc and another broken disc. He went on short-term disability and I added caretaker and transportation coordinator to my duties. This was complicated by the amount of travel I was doing for the communications work, but we were blessed with friends and other family that stepped in to sub for me.

Early November brought the passing of DH’s former MIL in Indiana. She had led a full life passing at age 97. Seeing that side of the family was especially important for DSS1 and DSS2 as all of the 7 cousins on that side of the family were able to attend the services. DH made the drive along with DSS2 and DDIL2. On the way back to MN the 3 of us even drove through the hometown of LaGrange Park so that DDIL2 could see where DSS2 had grown up.

Also later that month was an opportunity for me to plan, lead and host an ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve worship service. 55 people came for the mass choir – what a wonderful sound we made together even with only a few minutes of rehearsal together. By this time, DH was feeling well enough to come to worship. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner on Friday and DSS2 and DDIL2, DS1, DS2, Mom and Sis joined us around the table.

After Thanksgiving, DH resumed working in Des Moines. He still has some numbness in his leg, but we’re hoping the steroid injection he had in mid December will really kick in soon. DS1 graduated from Iowa State with a Bachelors in Computer Science. He has moved home for the time being while he looks for a job. DS2 is home for Christmas break and is going to Germany leaving January 3 for a 2-week course on injection molding for his product engineering major. He and a friend plan to take an additional week and go to London for some sight-seeing before coming home and heading back to “regular” classes.

After much prayer and conversation, I gave my notice at the Minneapolis church in early December. My last day was December 31 and hope to be approved for “on leave from call” status while I really play the “persistent widow” with synod offices and churches in search of a full-time call that needs both someone care for the worship life of the congregation and general ministry and administration.

DSS1, DIL1, and The Grandson made a move to the Detroit area just after Thanksgiving. DSS1 is now a manager for that area. DIL1 is able to continue with some consulting work as she had been doing research with a team of doctors in Minneapolis. The Grandson turned two December 18 and has all of the energy and more of a busy 2-year-old and keeps Mommy and Daddy on their toes all of the time.

DSS2athan and DDIL2 are in the Twin Cities area. DDIL2 is the youth director at a Methodist church and DSS2 is busy teaching in a charter school with his 30 kindergartners as he has them all day! As they both work with kids of different ages we marvel at their patience!

In March I’ll be joining a delegation of Lutherans from all over the world in a visit to Lutheran World Federation Ministry sites in Nepal. We start in Kathmandu on March 8 and finish on the 21. Getting to and from Nepal takes about 30 hours (about the same as to Holden Village) so the whole trip will be about 3 weeks. During that time we will be trekking between ministry sites that are between Pokhara and Jomsom – a fairly well-known and not difficult nor technical trek. Basically it sounds like 6 days in a row of hiking the harder Holden trails but about 5,000 feet higher (we’ll be between 4,600 and 11,000 feet elevation depending on the day.) And yes, I’ve already started training!!

As we said at the beginning, we are positive that more twists and turns and wonderful memories will be in store for us in 2014 just like they most certainly are for your family.

With gratitude to God for all of our family and friends as well as those people who we will meet this year, we pray for good health and blessings to you and yours knowing that God is walking along with us every day. Make the most of the opportunities you have to make memories in 2014.

December 29, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Faith, theology and where I get my energy (even when I don’t have any)

Frederick Buechner:

“Faith is different from theology because theology is reasoned, systematic, and orderly, whereas faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises…. Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch. Faith is waiting.”


December 10, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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It’s not you. It’s me.

6 months. A typical probationary period. Somehow the institution is always surprised when they’re the one on the receiving end of the “It’s not a fit” speech.

And the bargaining and begging! You’d think I’d feel flattered but the fact it it is just annoying. We all knew this was a not a perfect call to begin with. That’s why it was couched as “come and work with us while you continue to seek a full call.”

I know how this kind of decision by one party can feel like rejection. But there is not just one (or ten) things that can be fixed and it will all be all right and I can stay. It’s a vast complex web of “not quite right” – elements in your control, not in your control and not related to this organization at all. And it all adds up to “really not a fit.”

Last day is December 31.

November 7, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Nov 7 – road trip

DH left this morning for Indiana. His son and DIL arranged a minivan so that he could lay down and rest his back during the 12-hour journey. Turns out that she spent most of the time sleeping and DH rode shot-gun for the whole trip. They arrive this evening around 8pm.

I tried to hold sabbath this evening. It was hard because the ToDo list and the WantToDo list is significantly long. But I needed to just “be” for a while. I watched a couple of Dr. Who episodes and talked on the phone with DH a couple of times. But I didn’t clean, or knit, or work on anything that needed working on. Even this post will be pretty short.

Tomorrow’s goal is to not leave the house. To not get dressed – stay in sweats and sweaters all day. There’s still plenty to get done tomorrow but I don’t want to leave the house. We’ll see.

November 6, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Nov 6 – long day

Got out of bed around 5:45 and started working. I worked 11.5 hours today, plus drove DH to physical therapy and sat through the appointment and home. That took almost three hours. I was up working around 5:30am. Home from choir at 9:30pm. Had a cup of tea and couldn’t get up out of the chair to go to bed until 10:15.

This is what “tent-making” looks like. Most. Days.

I don’t know the answer to the financial crisis being faced by the church, but this isn’t it.

November 5, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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November 5 election day

Today is election day! We have 35 candidates on the ballot for mayor in Minneapolis. This is because we’re going to try Ranked Choice Voting (which I think is a great idea) and because for some reason we have a lot of crazy people in Minneapolis. St. Paul is doing ranked choice voting too, but they have like six people on the ballot. I haven’t been paying enough attention to everything so I don’t exactly know the reasons for this vast difference. I know only that it is another example of usually reasonable people going off the deep end to make a point now and then. Like when Jesse Ventura was elected governor.

So anyway GO VOTE!

I stayed up late last night (got to see my TV Boyfriend Craig Ferguson!) to finish the wedding shawl for SrS’s sister’s wedding. I’m glad I ripped out two blocks of lace and redid it when I discovered I’d made an error that made the regular lace pattern go all wimbly-wombly. I would have worn it that way, (sort of as a badge of honor in my fight against perfectionism or something) but it’s different when you’re knitting for someone else. And for a big event. I’m glad I fixed it. I’ll mail it off to SrS today (overnight express please!!) and she’ll block it.

DH learned yesterday that his former MIL died yesterday. We’d heard on Saturday that she was not eating anymore and not able to sit up. She was 97. So now he is trying to coordinate going to Indiana with his younger son and DIL for the funeral. I’m sad that I probably won’t be able to go. Not sad because I want to go. Not sad because I will mourn her. I didn’t ever meet her. I’m sad because I can’t go to support DH or DSS2.


November 4, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Nov 4-catch up day

Today I’ll play catch up. Punishment for being gone all last week.

Let me rephrase that.

This morning I’ll play catch up. This afternoon I will pretend that DH and I are old and spend all our time going to doctor visits. Because we’ll spend the afternoon going to doctor visits for his back. Just two appointments, really but spaced out so that you wish you could go home, but close enough together that it the distance and time required to do that wouldn’t make sense. So I’ll probably park him at the food court at Costco and run a couple of errands while we’re in limbo between appointments. Or sit in waiting room chairs and work on SrS’s sister’s bridesmaid’s wedding shawl. Or all of the above.

November 3, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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Grateful: Nov 3 2013 edition

It’s Sunday. We celebrated All Saints Sunday at church this morning. But I’m not ready to post my reflections on this past week just yet. Instead a list of things for which I’m grateful this week. In no particular order.

  • The really hard and faithful work of the search committee I’m leading. Their perspectives and ability to articulate the situation well so that the whole elephant can be seen.
  • The friendship and life-work of SrG
  • The ability – physically, emotionally and financially – to be present at SrG’s memorial service
  • Community, and their willingness to show up and be present
  • SrK and SrM – for promising to preach the gospel at my memorial service and not tell irrelevant personal stories that keep the focus on themselves… or to push/shout down a preacher who does that.
  • My DH who managed all week without me – with a bad back
  • That DH’s back is feeling better – even though it’s likely he’ll be off work for a couple of more weeks.
  • For disability insurance that means he gets 50% of his salary after his vacation pay is used up. Which it already is.
  • For new neighbors who already have to put up with so much from my side of the fence (the weeds totally won this year) but who seem to be bought off (for now) by a case of Nordeast beer.
  • For KR who covered my rehearsals this week so that I could be gone and still have the choirs lead worship
  • For the choirs who stepped up and did their best as we’re trying to figure out how to work with each other
  • For DDIL2 who had a birthday and invited DH and me to celebrate
  • That I don’t have to socialize with DDIL2’s parents very often
  • For mild-ish autumn weather and long lasting autumn color here in the Twin Cities

Some petitions

  • That DH continues to improve and can keep his job that he loves
  • That next steps for the search committee are clear
  • For hard conversations/emails I have to send around that whole situation
  • That my role forward is clear
  • That I can pay attention over the next couple of weeks and be gentle with myself
  • As I continue to discern and seek a SINGLE call that not only uses all my gifts, but pays a fair wage and provides health benefits — especially if DH loses his job — at least until the pre-existing conditions clause of ACA kicks in so that we can have coverage without paying COBRA again
  • If that can’t be found, that new contract work comes in because the current contract is about over

November 2, 2013
by Not Fainthearted
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All Soul’s Day 2013

I’m trying to take today as a sabbath or break from all the things I should be doing. Spending time instead on reflecting. There are a lot of write-y things going on in November. NaBloPoMo, Daily Thanksgiving Journals, etc., etc. I suppose even Movember could count in a way (though not something I could naturally participate in). Then there are the other month-long self-improvement projects. #minsgame (decluttering) 30-day plank challenge (healthy living) thanksgiving journals (spiritual practice).

It’s all so much doing. And lately the doing has been wearing on me.

Not much of a post. But better than recent months.


In case you’re wondering what the difference between All Saint’s and All Soul’s day is, this blog does about as good a job as any explaining it . Not that the ELCA does much about the second (All Soul’s Day)and really in the upper midwest, most churches just slide the celebration over to the closest Sunday and cover it off that way – without the pesky nuisance of coming to church for “extra” services.