Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Bon Bons

I just received one of the best gifts that I could possibly receive this time of year. No, I didn’t get enrolled in the "Jelly Of The Month Club" (the gift that keeps on giving all year round) It was much better than that. And No, I didn’t get a $500 Visa Gift Card. (it was even better than that) It wasn’t even a 50 inch, High Definition, Plasma Screen TV (believe it or not, it was even better than that).

So what was this great gift, you might ask? Thank-you for asking, I’ve been dying to tell you!

My daughter Terri just called and said that she was starting to make Peanut Butter Bon Bons, Whoo hooo!!! … What are Peanut Butter Bon Bons? … You don’t know what Peanut Butter Bon Bons are? (I know you were wondering)

Ok, for all of you folks from the foreign land of Ohio and those of you who haven’t been educated in the finer things of life. Peanut Butter Bon Bons are similar to what you would call “Buckeyes” (Isn’t that a football team or something?)

Anyway, let me say that Peanut Butter Bon Bons have always been my favorite Christmas candy. My Mom would always make them for me every Christmas and except for the problem which developed when, much to my chagrin, she would use up my entire stash of Peanut Butter and I would have to go without Peanut Butter for as many as 3-4 hours before she could go to the store to buy another jar, (I know wasn't that awful?) Peanut Butter Bon Bons represent some of my fondest memories of Christmas. (In case you were wondering, my Mom solved the problem in later years by buying her own jar of Peanut butter and leaving mine alone! :)

Terri made her first attempt at Peanut Butter Bon Bons a few years ago. I couldn’t believe it when I tasted them. I tried one, then another… then another… They were… different than what my Mom made. Here, let me try another one… wait a minute… is it possible?... Could they possibly be the best Peanut Butter Bon Bons I have ever eaten? … Maybe I should try another one… Yes, I think they are. Terri had managed to do something that I didn’t think was possible. Her Peanut Butter Bon Bons were better than my own Mothers… They were the best ones I have ever eaten in my life and believe-you-me, I have eaten a bunch of them.

Then last year, she came to Christmas with another batch. She apologized and said that they didn’t turn out very well, and she didn’t have the time (or money) to correct the “mistake.” She figured that if we didn’t eat them, we could feed them to Odie. (Yes I know, you shouldn't feed chocolate to dogs) I'll let you tell that to Odie!
So I tried one, a little bit apprehensive about what to expect, and… wait a minute… let me try another one… is it possible…? I think Terri defied the laws of physics (or at least cooking) and did the impossible… these were even better than her first attempt. What she thought was a mistake, (the center was softer and gooier) actually made them even better.

So now, I can’t wait until Sunday (which is our family Christmas) While the rest of the world waits for Santa Claus, I will patiently wait for Peanut Butter Bon Bons:) Does life get any better than that?


Monday, December 14, 2009

In The Bleak Midwinter

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the music. There is just something incredibly special about Christmas music. Perhaps it is the fact that we only sing it at one time each year, perhaps it is because of the memories that it represents, or maybe it is just because it is so awesome:) Whatever the reason, it is something that I look forward to all year.

Last night was the Annual Christmas program at Oak Grove. I was so proud of the kids and the choir last night. They did such a great job. I know that I am probably pushing the envelope a little bit with these folks, and I know that I am doing things that may be unfamiliar and I am certainly introducing them to songs that haven’t necessarily been a part of their Christmas repertoire, but I had two goals as I entered this season of Advent. The first was to learn about and be faithful to the rich Christmas traditions of Oak Grove and Fountain churches, and the other was to introduce them to the songs and traditions that are close to my heart.

So it is in that same spirit that I share with you today one of my favorite Christmas songs “In the Bleak Midwinter.” As with many of my favorite songs, it is not the best known or most popular, but I think that you will agree that it is very beautiful. Also, if you are not familiar with them, let me also introduce you to “The Choirboys” You have got to love those beautiful rich angelic tones, unfortunately Mother Nature sees to it that they won’t sing those soprano parts for long. Enjoy listening to one of my favorite Christmas songs.


Friday, December 11, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, at least that is what the song says. As for me, the jury is still out on that one. It is certainly one of my favorite times of the year, and I can say that I look forward to it every year, and I have to admit that Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year, it is also my favorite worship service in the year, so all in all I would have to lean in the direction of most wonderful time.

With that being said, it is also the most stressful, the busiest, the most challenging, as well as emotional time. Everything seems to be compressed into this brief period between “Come Ye Thankful People Come” and “Silent Night.”

Today I have to put the final preparations together for Sunday’s worship services and Oak Grove’s Annual Christmas Program. Tomorrow will be spent ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at Walmart, an afternoon outing with the youth, a graduation party, and finishing the day back at Walmart ringing the bell. So, I guess if it needs to be done for Sunday, I had better get it done today.

I will have to put a little more thought into this most wonderful time of the year thing. For right now, I am holding on for dear life, praying for a quiet New Year:)


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch!

Two days in a row, I’m on a roll now. Let me address a couple of questions that I have been asked.

1.“Have I still been swimming?”

Well, yes and no. I have run into a bit of an obstacle. I have been dealing with bronchitis/ sinusitis/ coughing/ yucky/ stuffy /headstuff / cheststuff (I would call it Hymunglifungli) since about the first of October and that has put a definite crimp in my desire to go out at 7:00AM and swim. But I haven’t given up and I am finally going to break down today and go see a Doctor (Yes, I am actually going to go this time) and see if I can’t get over this stuff once and for all!

2. “How is Andrew doing with his drum set?” (Or how are his parents coping?)

Our little drummer boy is doing very well. He continues to play quite regularly, much to the chagrin of his parents (and the neighbors) He has only broken one small connecting piece which Ben was able to replace quickly over the phone. The replacement piece was metal instead of plastic. I think that the company has had that problem before. He has yet to break a drum head or a stick, which if you watched him play you would be amazed at how hard he hits those things. I wasn’t sure that the heads would survive the first hour, but so far so good.

As for his parents, I think that they are suffering from premature, drum induced hearing loss. Their nerves are a little more frazzled than normal, and they have had to spend $150,000 on attorney’s fees to fight the lawsuits filed by complaining neighbors (Well, maybe I exaggerated on that one:) But all in all they seem to be holding up well.

3. “What are our Christmas plans?”

Oh my, that is a tough question. Let’s see. On the 13th Oak Grove has their Annual Christmas program, the 20th is our family Christmas and Fountains Annual Christmas Program. Christmas Eve we have a 7:00PM service at Oak Grove and an 11:15 PM service at Fountain. Sunday the 27th , after church, we are planning on going to Illinois for a few days and other than a thousand other little things to do between now and then, that is pretty much our Christmas plan:)

Well, Bible study starts in an hour and I haven’t had a shower yet, I better get busy! Have a great day and do something today to bless someone around you:)


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ok! I Hear You:)

Ok! Ok! After some significant prodding, I will try to get back in the saddle again and be more consistent with my posts. In reality, it is actually a good thing that I haven’t been posting much lately. As you remember, I started this blog because of the extreme stress that I was under last year with my final year of seminary, a trip to El Salvador and the Commissioning process and writing seemed to provide an outlet for all of that overwhelming stress and frustration. A good friend recently described that sensation this way, “Not knowing whether to scream or puke.” (Boy can I relate to that) In addition it connected me with some wonderful people who provided me with the words and support that I needed to get through what was arguably the most difficult and stressful year of my life.

Now, after our move, we have really begun to settle into our new home and church family and to be honest, right now I really feel in a good place spiritually, physically and emotionally. The churches are going well, lots of things happening, the stress is at a minimum, the challenges are not too great, and life is good. So, I just haven’t felt that compelling desire to sit down and pour out my thoughts.

What I didn’t realize is that there are people who actually enjoyed reading my rambling thoughts and sometimes obnoxious diatribes, and believe it or not, they actually miss it. Who would have thunk it? So, I will do my best to sit down and just get back into the habit of writing and realize that I am truly blessed with a good life and friends who care about me, even when I am rambling and obnoxious, which people who know me would say is most of the time:)


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Better Hold On Tight!

Have you ever had the experience of simply watching and witnessing as the Holy Spirit works? I very much have been sensing that movement of the Holy Spirit here recently, and right now, I am doing my best to either hold on tight or get completely out of the way.

I have been spending a little time here recently reflecting back upon the last four months that we have been here in Corydon and I see some very exciting things going on. So, this morning I thought that I would share with you some of the accomplishments that I have been witnessing.

Initially we began two Bible studies, one for each church and I was astounded that the attendance at Oak Grove was around 25. That attendance has continued every week ranging at the lowest of about 20 and the highest of 27, with the total attendance at Bible study between the two churches averaging between 30-40 per week. The awesome thing is that many of these people have NEVER in their life attended Bible Study before. (That is good for me because if they don’t have anything to compare it to, they have no idea how unorthodox I really am as a teacher:) Now we have added a third Bible study which meets here at the parsonage on Wednesday morning. This has been a great deal of fun so far and may prove to be my favorite study of the week.

Both churches have also started choirs in the past few months. It has been awesome to watch as people who have never been in choirs before settle into the routine of rehearsals and performance. Last week both churches stepped out of their comfort zone and participated in the monthly Community Hymn Sing, which was hosted by Oak Grove. Both churches did a totally awesome job and the church was completely packed. (Now that we see what that looks like, it gives us something to shoot for)

Oak Grove has even taken the excitement of the choir to a new level and one of the members made arrangements to have choir robes and stoles donated to the church and this Sunday they will sing in their new robes for the first time. How cool is that?

Oak Grove is also the proud owners of new United Methodist Hymnals which had the potential of being a major obstacle and stumbling block. The last time they bought hymnals was almost forty years ago. But instead of creating controversy, it was an awesome blessing, so much so that I am pretty sure that we will be ordering new Pew Bibles next week because “the new hymnals make the old Pew Bibles look so awful” (The Lord sure works in mysterious ways)

Oak Grove and Fountain came in first and second in our ministry cluster Chili Cook-off

Between the two churches they raised over $5000 in their respective annual dinners.

Oak Grove will be replacing the very old picture of Jesus, which is now the focal point of the sanctuary with a very large handmade wooden cross, donated by one of our expert wood workers.

We are working on putting a large cross and flame (The United Methodist logo) on the front of the church. (How radical is that to actually identify our church as United Methodist?)

We are adopting families to help for the Christmas Season, shoe boxes for Children, donating to Community Services, working with Ronald McDonald House, Christmas programs, adding services on Christmas Eve…

Well, you get the picture. Right now I feel a little bit like I am just along for the ride. Most, if not all, of these projects are being driven by laity within the churches. The Holy Spirit is working very hard here in Corydon, I just pray that I can stay out of the way and let God work:)


Friday, November 6, 2009

Be Strong!

I know, I know, I did it again, I went a very long time without posting something. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on posting anything today, but I stopped by my blog this morning for the first time in quite awhile and I read the heartfelt, passionate comment left by my good friend Nancy on my last post and she inspired me to begin writing again. I encourage everyone who hasn’t done so already to go back and read what she wrote.

I don’t think that Nancy would mind me saying, but I have known her since I first started seminary and she is someone who I have always had great love and respect for, even though we are different in many ways. (I couldn’t have made it through “World Religions” without her:)

The reason that I was inspired to write today is because what Nancy shared is an example of the daunting challenge and sometimes seemingly hopeless isolation felt often times by myself and most of my clergy friends, as they seek to do the will of God. I read what Nancy shared both with a sense of joy and with a sense of sadness. The joy comes from knowing the great work that she is doing and the sadness is felt as I come face to face with the obstacles that someone who is truly called by God is facing. The most profound sadness is that Nancy isn’t alone in her challenges. I can name dozens of pastoral colleagues and friends who face horrendous situations in churches out of really no fault of their own.

These pastors, just like Nancy, are doing what God has called them to do, and bearing fruits of that effort, often in spite of the continuous roadblocks and barriers thrown up by the leadership of the churches they have been appointed to, and that leadership could be the actual elected leadership or those who simply meet out in the parking lot for the meeting after the meeting.

I was inspired to write today for one reason, and that is the desire to lift up all of those friends and colleagues who are struggling against all odds to do the work that God has called them to do.

When Moses delivered his final charge to Israel before they crossed the Jordan River, he said, ”Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

When Joshua began to lead the children of Israel, the Lord said to him, Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

When David charged Solomon before he built the first temple, he said, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.

I don’t know if you caught all of that or not, but in every one of those passages where the people are told to be strong and courageous, there is also the promise of God’s presence.

It is the presence of God that makes God’s people strong. It is God’s presence that enables you to continue moving forward when you get down and discouraged with what is happening in your life and in your ministry.

The next time you feel discouraged I want you to remember...

“That Noah drank too much, but God used him anyway.
Abraham and Sarah were too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young,
David had an affair and was a murderer
Isaiah preached naked (I wouldn’t recommend that one)
Jonah ran from God,
Zaccheus was too small
AND Lazarus was dead!”

Be Strong you who labor for the Lord!

Be strong all of you who labor in God’s fields in hopes of an abundant harvest
Be strong all you people of God and know that God is with you in this place, and know that God will grant you peace.