New

=Originally written on January 9=

Today was the first day with our new pastor.  It was pretty fantastic.  I almost cried twice (well,my eyes welled up one of the times and I had to bite my tongue to keep from completely losing it, so I guess I really cried once and almost cried once).  While he was preaching, I got this overwhelming sense that he just fit…like he had been part of our church family forever.  I could feel the hand of God in all the things that have happened over the past four and a half years (and even before) that brought us all to this place.

Then while I was singing a hymn that I knew by heart, I was looking around the congregation (that grew by about 50 people today) and could see people smiling- seeing the people who have brought us through the hard times with vision and passion – seeing the people who haven’t been a while but were ready to recommit to being a part of the church family – seeing the regular visitors who have kept coming over the past few months even though we’ve been in transition   I could feel the excitement in the congregation. I could sense the Holy Spirit moving and calling us all into this new time together.

My cup runneth over…Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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It’s funny to me how finding a new pastor is like dating.  The PNC (Pastor Nominating/Search Committee) made church profile about us and posted it to the PCUSA website.  Then it gets matched with pastors who have filled out personal profiles.  Just like eHarmony, right?!  Then the PNC gets to see their matches and rate them, talk to some of them on the phone, video chat with others, and then decide which ones they want to meet in person.  Then they make their choice and propose (or, you know, extend a call).  If accepted, you get married.

And I realized something this morning:  just as when you find the person you want to marry, they aren’t perfect (sorry Russ), but they are perfect for you…the PNC’s task is not to find the perfect pastor, but to find the perfect fit for the time and place and people they will serve.  I think our PNC really did that…they went out and found a pastor who was a perfect fit for our church for our time.  It’s pretty incredible.

I just hope all the excitement and anticipation doesn’t set people up to put him on any pedestal or to expect perfection or for him to immediately fix everything that’s wrong….though I have given him my list of things that need fixing.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

 

good, bad, and ugly

Today started out not so great, then it was awesome, then it was horrible, then it was good.  I can’t decide whether my first day back at work was a success or not, so I decided to go with the point system and see if it comes out in the positive.

Piglet and Baby B woke up at 5:30 this morning.  -20 points

Piglet went back to bed until 6:10; Baby B went back to sleep with the help of a paci until 6:50.  +10 points

Piglet got up on the WRONG side of the bed and had at least three meltdowns before 8:00. -10 points

Russ and I did not communicate about our morning schedules and wanted to shower at the same time.   I had hoped to leave at 8:00, but wasn’t able to get in the shower until 7:50.  -10 points

Even with the late start, I was at work by 8:30 with all of my baby gear moved in and set up by 8:45.  +15 points

Baby B was an awesome work companion so I had a really productive morning – it actually felt good to get back in the swing of things and feel a sense of accomplishment that didn’t involve cleaning the house.  +15 points

Baby B and I left work and picked up Piglet to head downtown for a hearing screen because hearing loss is one of the possible side effects of the viral meningitis that he had at four days-old.   Our appointment was at 3:15.  We parked in the parking garage and walked over to the hospital.  Piglet was awesome considering the long walk from point  A to B, and we made it to check-in at 3:00.  +20 points (I was actually thinking on the way over there that it had been such a good first day back at work and I started planning out the happy rainbows and butterflies post that I would write about being a working mom).

We got checked in and followed the signs to pediatric audiology by 3:15.  At 3:20, Baby B woke up and decided he wanted to eat.  NOW.  -5 points.  There was another couple in the very tiny waiting room and I didn’t come prepared to be modest, so we made our way to a secluded hallway for Baby B’s meal.  He ate while Piglet played with her stuffed puppy.  +5 points.  Then he spit up on my arm, my shirt, my pants, Piglet’s arm, his arm, and the floor.  -5 points.  Then we went back to the waiting room.  At 3:40, Piglet decided she needed to potty.  The closest bathroom was way down the hall by the elevators.  -10 points.  We got back to the waiting room and had to wait and wait.  -10 points. But Piglet and Baby B were both really good.  +5 points.

At 4:10, we finally get called back.  I thought we would be good to go…both kids were being well behaved.  Baby B was happy and calm because he had a good nap on the way downtown and just had a good meal.  Then the dr. tells me that he has to be asleep for the test.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  This is information that would have been really helpful ahead of time so that I could have planned better.  He had just eaten, so I couldn’t feed him to get him to go to sleep, and he wasn’t really tired because he had been asleep for a while.  GREAT.  So I try my darndest to get Baby B to sleep by rocking and swaying and shhhshing.  But he’s not really one of those babies who likes to be put to sleep, he prefers to chill in his bouncy seat or crib and slowly drift off to sleep, which is normally really handy…but notsomuch in this instance.  And to make the situation more fun, Piglet had had ENOUGH of being calm and quiet and patient by this point and begins to get really rowdy.  When I try to tell her to be quiet and use her whisper voice so Baby B can sleep, she says “NO” and talks even louder.  Every time I tell her to do something, she says “NO”, and  I get more and more frustrated with her and totally embarrassed in front of the doctor who must think I am a horrible parent who can’t control their kid.   -50 points

I was almost in tears because I felt so helpless and out of control.  I was five minutes away from just leaving and not caring what the hearing screen had to tell us when Baby B slowly closed his eyes and went to sleep.  The test only took five minutes and we were out of there.  I made it back to the car, strapped both kids in, put the stroller in the back….then realized that in my haste to leave, I had forgotten to get our parking ticket validated and I didn’t have any cash.  awe.some.  And by awesome, I mean it really sucked and I started crying and trying to call Russ to figure out what I should do, but he didn’t answer.  -25 points.

Option A – Make the 10 minute trek back to the ENT department to get validation

Option B – Try to find an ATM

Option C – Risk it and try to cry and beg and plead for mercy from the parking attendant

I went for Option A and got both kids back out of the car.  The only good thing about this was that Piglet and I had had our come-to-Jesus-meetin’  when we got to the car and she shaped up and was great on the walk back over.   When we make it to the ENT check-in desk, I realized that they closed at 5:00 and there was no one to be found.  It was 5:05.  -25 points

So we went back to the car and decided to go for Option C because there was no way I was dragging two kids all over the hospital looking for an ATM.  I had the tears and excuses ready and was even ready to play the minister card and flash my fancy dancy clergy hospital badge.  We got to the parking attendant and I told our sad story, and she responded simply “We take debit cards now”  +5 points (this might get more points if I wasn’t so darn frustrated at this point).  I had been texting my mom this whole time with updates because she was sitting at out house waiting to take care of the kids while I went to a meeting; when I sent her this update about the debit cards, she responded with “OMG” – the fact that my mom used this phrase = +5 points because it made me smile.

I get to the street and realize that I am leaving through a different side of the garage from where I came in and had no idea where I was.  I sat there trying to figure out whether to go right or left, then realized (thankfully) that it was a one-way street.  Right it was.  I drove for a while hoping that something would look familiar.  Nothing did.  I tried to call Russ for directions since this was his neck of the woods, but he didn’t answer.  -5 points.  Then I remembered I had a navigator on my phone who was able to direct me home. +10 points.

We get back on the interstate and I know where I am.  It was 5:40, I had a meeting at 6:30 at church, but I thought I could still make it.  Then there was rush hour traffic.  But we still made it home by 6:10, but then I remembered that Baby B needed to eat.  Arrive at meeting at 6:40, not too bad considering.  Then I found out the meeting started at 6:00, and I still had spit up on my shirt and pants.  -10 points.

The meeting was actually a series of interviews for our new secretary, which went really well.  +15 points.  We still have to check references and follow-up, but it sure is promising.  So at least the day ended on a high note.

Alright, so if my math is right, the day scores a -80….not so good for the first day back at work and balancing the worlds of mom and minister.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.   It IS the senior fellowship covered dish lunch day, so that’s worth at least 50 points.

hi ho, hi ho

We went back to our church on Sunday for just the second time since Baby B was born, a trial run of sorts to see if we could make it by ourselves with two kids.   It was great to see everyone and be in the familiar space and to worship without any responsibilities, but it was a big fat reminder that I only had one more week before I would once again be full up with responsibilities.

One church member passed me the peace of Christ, then said “Have you enjoyed your time off?  You really look refreshed” which is an odd comment for a woman with a six week -old and a two year-old.

Does this mean A) I’m really lucky to have a super sweet boy who sleeps well and is really laid back, B) The ninth month of pregnancy was really rough, so the last time this person saw me, I looked really rough so by comparison I look refreshed, C) Being a working mom is exhausting and the break from one job was good for me and therefore I look refreshed, D) Working at this church at this time in its life has been stressful so the break was refreshing, or E) All of the above?

While I’m looking forward to being with these people again and brushing off my ministry hat, I am not so much looking forward to work and the stress and responsibility that comes with it.  This feeling of dread is intensified by the fact that within my first month back, I will be preaching three Sundays, leading Rally Day celebrations, kicking off Sunday School, and kicking off youth group all while holding down the fort while the head of staff goes on a three week vacation.  Oh, and the secretary resigned effective this Thursday, so I’ll be holding down the fort all by my lonesome…all while also taking care of Baby B.  I think I may need to be medicated to get through it…too bad Russ can’t write prescriptions yet.

I am glad that I will be able to bring Baby B with me to work for a while like I did with Piglet, but I am also sad and nervous because just in the past two days he has really started to be aware of his surroundings and interact with me with all sorts of cute oohs and ahhs and smiles and laughs…how I am supposed to get any work done with that going on in my vicinity?!  He is totally content to hang out in his bouncy seat or playmat chatting with the animals and toys, but I will get jealous of the toys and want to play with him myself.

Why does it have to be so hard?  But for good or bad, the time has come…it’s back to work I go…

survivor

I have now survived back to back to back weeks of vacation, VBS, and Montreat at 7-8 months pregnant.  Now it’s onto three days of single motherhood as Russ honkers down for the last few days of studying for the boards.  THEN it’s relaxing and enjoying the calm before the storm.

But for now, I want to take a moment to share a few bits of wisdom I picked up about being 7.5 months pregnant at Montreat.

  1. You must do the modified version of energizers.  I felt like I needed one of those workout videos with the woman in the back doing the modified, AKA easier, version of all of the exercises.  I was afraid that I just might Numa the baby out.
  2. You must walk VERY slowly from point A to B.  Not only do cracks and debris need to be avoided, but walking fast in the mountains leads to lots of pain later.
  3. Naps are a necessity.
  4. Hula-hooping is not possible, even if you were once a hula hooping champion.  Attempting this, however, provides lots of laughter from bystanders.
  5. People are really nice to you when you look like you are about to pop.
  6. Going to bed at 11:30, 12:30, or 1:30 six nights in a row is NOT a good idea.  Especially when you have to be up at 6:30 with a 2.5 year-old and have to get up 4 times a night to pee and have cramps from walking around Montreat (see #2).
  7. Anderson is HOT.  This is almost unbearable.  Fortunately, I found out (thanks to Pops) that they have ice at the desk in the lobby.  Slowly consuming a cup of ice make the experience much better.
  8. The pews which are “older than your grandmother” have a pregnant sitting limit.  After 45 minutes, I had to get up and walk outside to give my back a break.
  9. Montreat at 7.5 months  preggo is much harder than Montreat at 6 months.

People said I was crazy or brave to go this far along in my pregnancy, but I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything…plus  Montreat weather is much better than Lowcountry weather…not excited to return to 95 and humid today.  ug.

    Russ in a dress

    Two years or so ago, in a youth ministry committee meeting brainstorming ideas for fundraisers, Russ said that he thought we should have a Womanless Beauty Pageant.  His dad had been in one at his home church (I’ve seen pictures, he looked EXACTLY like his sister, crazy).  I was hesitant, but slowly the idea caught on among the youth, and before I knew it we were planning our first Womanless Beauty Pageant.   The youth chose a date and the pageant format.  They decided who the judges would be.  They made a long list of men that they wanted to ask to be in the pageant.

    I began to panic two weeks ago when VERY few men were willing/able to be a part of this spectacle.  Even Russ who HAD THE IDEA said that he wasn’t going to be in it.  But slowly but surely, nine brave and secure contestants stepped up to the plate, including Russ (I had to remind him 104 times that it was his idea and we wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for his idea in the first place).  And oh my goodness gracious – it was the most fun.  I haven’t heard a group of Presbyterians get that rowdy in a long time (since seminary perhaps).

    The youth are forever indebted to these men who went to goodwill to try on dresses, practiced walking in high heels, painted their own finger nails, recruited our Mary Kay member to do their make-up, created lovely female characters, and went ALL OUT to make sure the audience had a good time and that we raised money for the youth.  I think it is especially humorous that when asked to pick their pageant name, THREE of the contestants chose Daisy – apparently that is the southern idea of a proper pageant name.

    I was able to see the contestants get ready, so I knew what was coming, but seeing/hearing the audience reactions as each beauty stepped out of the doorway and headed to the stage was absolutely priceless, especially because our contestants were so into their characters with struts and hair flips and high pitched voices.   They began by introducing themselves and telling a bit about who they were.  Next the question round elicited responses to questions such as: “What is your idea of a perfect date?”  “What are your favorite traits in a man?” and “If you could get away with a crime what would it be?” (This last question got my favorite answer…all of the contestants began to harass/hit on the host and the answer to the question was “stealing your heart, baby” – quick witted those ladies).

    Then came the talent portion – there was cornhole, balloon animal making, poetry reading, cheering, jumping on a pogo stick, “singing”, magic, “dip art”, and juggling a soccer ball while wearing heels.  All awesome.  The judges had a very difficult job with so much beauty and talent up on that stage.  But alas, they did choose their top three.

    And you wouldn’t believe who won Second Runner-Up:  Nixie Knockers, the soccer juggling, bearded pregnant contestant.  Also known to you as Russ:

    I am sad that I really didn’t get a good picture of the full get up.  I’m afraid that Piglet may need therapy after this whole experience.  She was very concerned that he used her little soccer balls for boobs and a ball she wanted to play with for the belly.  At one point she ran on stage, lifted the dress, and birthed the baby ball.  This is the point when I cried I was laughing so hard.

    Good Times