Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ten Things I Love About Summer

1. I love the way the sun shines and the special shadows it creates.

2. I love homemade ice cream. Of course I can make it any time of year, but we make it so much more when the days are hot.

3. I love sitting on the porch, watching the children play while we cook on the grill.

4. I love fresh fruit: peaches, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, Mississippi watermelon.

5. I love the longer days.

6. I love the Farmers' Market and the produce it has to offer: butterbeans, pink eye purple hull peas, corn, cucumbers, TOMATOES are my favorites.

7. I love a salad we make with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced onion (recipe follows).

8. I love the College World Series--game three in the championship series is tonight. Geaux LSU.

9. I love shelling peas while watching baseball on summer Saturday afternoons.

10. I love to have herbs on the porch and flowers in the yard.

Tomato-Cucumber Marinade
Layer in shallow glass dish: 2 medium tomatoes (peeled, sliced)
1 medium cucumber (peeled, thinly sliced)
1/2 medium onion*, thinly sliced & separated in rings
Combine: 1/2 cup salad oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. tarragon
1/8 tsp. pepper

Beat well with whisk or mix in blender. Pour over layered vegetables; chill, covered, 5 to 6 hours. Drain, reserving marinade. Pass if desired.
* I use either red onion or the sweet Vidalia onions available only in the summer.

Pastor Margaret

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yesterday was the day of a called Committee on Ministry in Memphis. The one piece of business on the agenda was to interview a candidate being called to be an associate at one of the larger churches. She is a recent graduate of Princeton Seminary, but probably in her early fifties, having had a career in counseling, teaching and spiritual direction. COM always asks questions in Bible, theology, worship and sacraments, polity and pastoral care. Her answers to each of them were the best I've heard since I've been part of the committee. What a pleasure to welcome someone into the presbytery with her convictions, her experience and her commitment to serve! I especially was pleased to her answer to the question I asked on pastoral care with older adults in the church.

As usual, a few more pieces of business had found their way onto the agenda, but they were quickly handled--all except one. A minister member of the committee pastors a church whose Session has recently voted to leave the denomination. He had asked to say a few words, both about the decision and in response to one member's e-mail stating her objection to his serving on the committee until his transfer takes place. After his initial statement, we had opportunity to respond or ask questions. I have great respect for this pastor and said so. He probably has the most theological mind of any committee member and has the abiblity to get to the heart of any matter. I listened with great sadness as he told how/why the Session has come to their decision, as he almost tearfully spoke of his position and as he told us of the young woman associate, recently ordained who has decided not to transfer her membership to another denomination. I left the meeting with a heavy heart.

Some are willing to pay the price to act on their convictions. Others remain silent and hope the disagreements will just go away. Still others keep praying, fighting from within for the purity of the church. We are among the latter, but still sad.

Pastor Margaret

Monday, June 15, 2009

In case you didn't hear, the news on my bloodwork last week was good. I had gone to Corinth on Monday to have blood drawn and expected to return on Friday to see the doctor. Wednesday one of the assistants called to say I didn't have to come in unless I was having any problems. My CA125 has gone down another three points--still not within the range my Sacramento doctor wanted it to be, but well under the number that causes alarm. I feel extremely blessed.

For the past couple of hours we have been glued to the TV--except for the time we took cover in the bathroom. Sirens alerted us to the fact of a tornado warning and the city has had some severe weather, but no tornadoes. A strong lightening strike knocked out the computer at the emergency center downtown, so that put an end to being alerted by sirens. I understand now that we are expecting a severe thunderstorm warning to be in effect a little later and that it will possibly bring damaging hail. Have I told you before how much I hate bad weather?

I was supposed to drive to Humboldt for a monthly Session meeting, but called the Clerk and advised him to postpone it til next Monday. It is such a joy to be in the pulpit on a regular basis and to be personally and pastorally involved with a congregation. Every day I am thankful for everything I learned at Fair Oaks and every day I feel this empty spot in my heart because we are not there. Yet, we are content because we know God brought us here.

Our oldest grandson was thirteen yesterday. Bless his heart. He let us hug and love on him and he endured endless stories of the day he was born. He and his dad, along with 16 other young folks and 3 other chaperones, left this morning for a Middle School church conference in Cleveland, TN. After church yesterday Sarah left for a week of church camp at the Presbytery campsite. We are aware that the weather system affecting us is also affecting the area of the state where she is. Our granddaugter in North Carolina left today for Applacian State in the northwest part of the state to attend an academic type camp that she was invited to attend. It's hard to realize how independent they are becoming, all the more reason to be constant in prayer for them.

The best news we have is that Marty is expecting their second child on Christopher's first birthday. She is doing well, just has morning sickness at all hours of the day. Please pray for a successful pregnancy and delivery next January.

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This has been a season of planting for us. After having the raised bed in the backyard cleaned of several years of neglect, we have had a good time planning a colorful layout and getting the flowers in the ground. We walk out almost daily to check their progress, willing them to bloom. We also faithfully water and feed on a regular schedule.

Coming from the neighborhood post office yesterday afternoon we noticed a yard full of day lilies for sale and that began conversation on how they'd fit into our yard. When we got home I went on line to check growing requirements and this morning Tom was ready to start preparing a bed--until a heavy downpour put a stop to that plan. For the first time in all our years together we have both actually enjoyed working together in the yard and one of the rewards of retirement is having the time to sit on the back porch and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

It has also been a season of planting in ministry. The continuing process of creating a colorful yard that will be enjoyed by us and visited by birds and butterflies is not unlike the process we take in ministry. A goal is established--make disciples; plants or seeds are selected--truths from God's word; seeds are sown, plants are planted by different methods--preaching, teaching, pastoral care; in both instances we nurture with food and water and we pray for results. God is the one who brings forth fruit; we reap the rewards. We have both been rewarded with a warm reception by the Humboldt congregation and I have gotten words of encouragement and the promise of prayerful support. "For everything there is a season."

Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My "new" relationship with 1st Presbyterian, Humboldt gets in full swing this coming Sunday. For the past two Sundays I have been back in town teaching Sunday School and finishing up the Gospel of Mark. And on the other days I have been asking God for wisdom and discernment and planning a series of sermons.

The church is very small (120 members), warm, friendly and they have welcomed us with enthusiasm. I'm sure there are family connections, but I have yet to learn who is related to whom. The Book of Order defines various formal relationships pastors have with churches, but my relationship with Humboldt doesn't fall within any of the definitions and it could change to include more responsibility later. Right now I'll be in the pulpit on Sundays, moderate the Session once a month, be available to provide pastoral care and try to help them move forward as they seek a full time pastor. It's a new experience for me, one that both is exciting and humbling.

About five years ago the church moved from an historical old building in the downtown area to a brand new place on the edge of town. The new facility is really beautiful and includes space for a weekday pre-school. There are two glaring problems: the debt incurred is large for a congregation of its size and one elder said to me that the congregation seemed to have lost their focus in the move. It didn't help that right before the move the pastor who had been there about thirty years retired and the new pastor wasn't anything like the old one. I'm guessing that not enough time lapsed between pastors for grieving and acceptance of loss of one and preparation for the other. Whatever has contributed to their situation is in the past and now it's time to look ahead. I covet your prayers in this ministry opportunity God has given me.

Pastor Margaret