Saturday, July 09, 2011

Life Changes

Today I filed the necessary paperwork to retire as active clergy within my denomination.  Normally, they require age 65 (2  years away) or 25 years of ministry (one year away).  However, because I am not currently in a ministry position, nothing appears on the immediate horizon, and Ben's career will keep us local for the next three or more years, I asked for advice from the higher ups.  The response was an offer of early retirement.  That means I will be able to continue weddings and funerals and occasional duties with no particular responsibilities.  It gave me kind of a funny feeling, but all in all it is the best course of action at this point in life.  I will still be doing some ministry work in the local church, but with no specific time requirements.  Is this a sign that I am getting old?  I sit wondering how this will affect my life.  I guess I will find out.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rampant Homophobia - ONE

I have just about reached the end of my rope reading all of the posts that display homophobia masked as personal preference -- statements that are somehow allowed to stand unchallenged and acceptable.  In this post, Ted Nugent (apparently a self proclaimed expert on gay issues?) calls gays the most protected class in the country.  What a load of ignorant crap!  The most protected class in America is heterosexual middle to upper class Christian white men.  What?  Oh yes!  Now, there are not a lot of laws defining and deliniating the rights and acceptability of this class of people, but the protections are so culturally entrenched that laws are not necessary to protect them.  The "power" group never needs to singled out in laws in order to enjoy rights and protections of society.  The civil rights issues of the 60s and 70s never touched this "protected" class -- they had all the rights just by being who they were.  No special legislation was required to "give men the vote."  This class is never singled out for ethnic or religious profiling.  A HMUCCWM (acronym for  heterosexual middle to upper class Christian white men) is free to marry the person (a woman of course as defined by the H part of the group name) he chooses, and all rights, priveleges, protections, and recognition of said marriage is automatically granted. 

Mr. Nugent goes on to offhandedly perpetuate gay stereotypes by saying, "If the NBA had any true gay convictions, the NBA should host a Homosexual Night. During halftime, the homosexuals could come down on the court, hold hands and prance around the court to music by the Village People. The NBA could then give each homosexual a pink basketball as a symbol of solidarity."  Mr. Nugent -- most gays watching NBA basketball do not hold hands and prance around; many people (even some of the HMUCCWMs) enjoy and dance to the Village People.  Further, why in the name of common sense, would any of us want a pink basketball?  It might clash with our carefully selected fashionable basketball viewing outfits after all.

While I give Mr. Nugent absolutely no credibility, this post just plain pissed me off (pardon the term).  It is just one more example of ignorant, stereotyping that is allowed to go on unchecked.  I am a believer in free speech, and people have the right to say whatever they feel (even if it is stupid, mean spirited, rude, or hurtful); however, I believe that that the reach of that free speech protection should stop short of allowing someone to unfairly bash an entire segment of society (no matter how "protected" that group" might be perceived to be.)

I intend to post and comment on such outrageous but hurtful baloney from time to time and I encourage Musings readers to do likewise.  Until we stand up and speak out, these lies will continue; as long as they continue, we will not be free or fully included in society.  Let's hold the institutional bigots accountable and stop the hate.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Life's Journey Continued

First off, Happy Easter all!  It's been a while since I've posted a life update because there was no news to be told.  Finally, today, Ben got word that the potential new post in this area was a 99% (+/-) done deal beginning sometime in the fall.  The diocese is trying to put together some kind of finances that will allow us to stay put and to wait for this position to come to fruition.  This is extremely good news, because in part it means that we do not have to terminate our lease early and that we do not have to move in the immediate future -- thank God.  Today was the last Sunday service at his church, and it was kind of joyful and at the same time kind of sad.  There were smiles and Alleluias with occasional tears.  So, tomorrow we begin emptying our storage unit and bringing things home (unmoving -- if there is such a word).  Time to put the house back together at least the next 10 1/2 months left on our lease -- and maybe longer -- hooray!   Thanks for bearing with us on this weird and taxing journey.  Stay tuned for future updates as they become available.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Government Shutdown?

We are about one day from a potential government shutdown that is no one's fault but all of those who are playing politics rather than doing the jobs with which they were charged by the voters.  Thankfully, Social Security and Medicare will continue.  At least they aren't leaving seniors hanging in the wind.  Then there are the "non-essential" government workers who will be furloughed -- therefore, no pay!  That is sad and not good for the economy.  A couple other things, however, bother me a great deal more.  There are those workers deemed "essential" - military, TSA, border patrols, etc.  Those folks will be expected to work, but will not be paid.  Isn't that called SLAVERY?   Even more upsetting than this travesty is that Congress -- where the blame for this potential shutdown lies -- will continue to be paid!   This strikes me as being "government ABOVE the people", a phrase that, to the best of knowledge, does NOT appear in any constitution or other founding document.  If there is to be a shutdown -- and if Congress is deemed "essential" (something that could well be called into question), then make them work without pay -- I bet they would quit the bickering and get down to business and would find a way to compromise on the budget very quickly. 

Monday, April 04, 2011

Updates from Lake Up in the Air

Well, we are well on our way to packing and storing our lives and about to relocate to stay with friends hundreds of miles away while seeking direction for our lives.  My mind and heart were resigned to this process, but God isn't finished yet.  Today, Ben got an email from his Bishop's office asking if he would be interested in doing an interim assignment (about 18 months) about 30 miles from where we are currently living.  Half our stuff is already in storage, plans are made, direction was set, but this sounds like a real possibility.  It is also a full time position.  It would allow us to stay where we are, to complete our lease (and save the 2,500 dollar early termination fee), it would allow me to become more active in my church in this area, it would broaden Ben's skill set for future assignments, and so on.  Tomorrow he will be in discussions to learn more about this potential assignment and will soon make the decision to pursue it or stick to current plans.  So, until a decision is reached either way, all packing and moving to storage stops.  SO -- as we were just staring to get some direction, a huge gust of wind has whipped up to change the weather.  Guess we will stay tuned for God's leading.  You stay tuned to and I will bring updates as they become available.  Fun, eh?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

And the Hunt is On

Well, the hunt for the next move has begun.  This weekend I sent a pulpit application to a city in the SW part of the country.  The church seems to be in good health and of a size that I believe is a match with my ministry.  Ben has updated his information and placed it in the church's system for placement.  I have also requested an application packet from another church -- this one much closer to our current location (and also much colder area than the SW). 

Tomorrow is the meeting at Ben's church where they will vote to close --with the last service most likely to occur on Easter.  Once the vote is taken and everything is public we will be able to have all information out in the open and as public as we want to be.  It's been weird having to be cautious about where and with whom we could talk about this stuff.

I've been in the business of packing boxes, sorting stuff to put in storage, to donate, or to keep with us.  How do things seem to multiply so fast?  We've moved 5 times in 5 years, and every time we get rid of a bunch of stuff -- yet it seems that every time we move, the size of the move grows.  It's spooky.

And that's the way it is ths fine Saturday morning!

Friday, March 18, 2011

They are Multiplying

As our time here begins to wind down, I have begun packing boxes in preparation for the next big chapter in the Perils of Pastoring series of events.  This morning I began packing books -- just the ones in the house so far, and it seems that the more boxes I fill with books, the more books I find to pack.  What are those nasty tomes doing in those bookcases?  I can hardly wait to start attacking the bookcases in Ben's office -- OH NO!  Did you know that professional movers add approximately 25% to their estimates for clergy moves -- mostly because of books?  I'm beginning to think it's time for e-readers.  Think of the money that would save on moving and how much space, paper, and ink.  But, alas, reading an electronic gadget is just not the same as holding a book or even as seeing them in their shelves just calling out to be held and read.  I guess we bite the bullet and keep on packing.  Hopefully, there will no naughty book shenanigans in the boxes.  Well, enough of this -- guess it's time to find another box and load it up.  Stay tuned for further adventures.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tons of Boxes

The moving of "stuff" has begun.  We have a bunch of boxes to load, but no doubt will need many more.  We have moved most of the Christmas stuff to the storage unit, along with some boxes of items that have not been used in the past couple of moves, but are things we want to keep.  Hopefully, Ben's car will be out of the shop in the next day or so, since we can load a lot more boxes in his than in mine -- cut the number of trips to the unit.  The upshot of all this post is that the house will be in total chaos for the next six weeks.  Safety tip -- Night lights prevent tripping over boxes and assorted items that are not in the usual places.  I know what obstacle coursed feel like.  EEK!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking Forward

The transition continues.  Today was our time to go rent a storage unit so that our entire lives can have a place to stay while we regroup.  Can you imagine shoving all this crap into a 10X15 space and driving away?  We have moved some of the Christmas stuff (some folks think that we could fill that whole space with Christmas but not quite.  Now it's get the boxes, pack them up, move stuff to the unit, figure out what to store, what to get rid of, and what we need to take with us during transition time.  Fun fun fun.  Anyone want to come help, sort, pack and toss?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Never Ask "What Next?"

The saga here in crazyland continues. Between churches about to close, a car accident, family trials, and a lost job, last night we got a call that Ben's dad is in the hospital.  Not sure exactly what's happening, but BP dropped dangerously low.  He is in ICU on antibiotics and we are waiting for phone calls advising us whether to stay here and wait or make the cross country drive to be there in case something happens.  It never stops.

Also, the other day we got a notice from the apartment complex about our "options" for early termination of our lease -- none of them very pleasant.  There will be a visit to the office to discuss these "options" and to see if there is something else that can be done to ease the pain of moving.

Life goes on -- and on -- and on.  I wonder what might be in the next chapter, but I'm surely not going to ask the question "What next?".  Surely as I ask, I may find out -- and I may not like the answers.  I will wait and see how the next few days unfold.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

What Next?

This thing called life just gets more and more funny.  Ben is losing his church, we will be moving, uncertain times ahead, and today I was informed that my secular job is no more!  Guess that will sit well with the family members who thought it horrible that I was going to "quit my job."  While I was not totally surprised by my release (I was told of such rumors months ago though I was assured by two supervisors that my job was secure -- even as late as last week), it came as a bit of surprise at this moment.  Now the dilemma is this"  Do I apply for unemployment and hope i get it?, 2) Do I look for a throw away job here to hold me over for the short time before we leave the area?, 3) Do I go ahead and relocate, find a job, and wait for Ben to join me when his work here is done?, or 4) Do we just say screw it?

With all that has been going on, I am beginning to feel a bit like Job.  However, like Job, I am not ready to curse God and die.  I am ready to let God know that I am not amused, that I am even angry.  But God is still in control.  Who knows what's next?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Another Twist

Well, the roller coaster has gone in a new and uncharted direction.  I mentioned in my last post that we were going to relocate and live in Ben's parents' basement for a few months while we sort out and discover the next step in our journey.  Well, all was fine until Ben's sister heard about the plan.  She decided that the stress of us being there would "kill Dad."  She enlisted the support of the other two siblings, both of whom have called to let us know what a bad idea it would be.  Never mind that each of them have done the same or similar thing over the years.  Now, I will grant you that Dad is near 90 and stresses about everything.  However, if I were a parent of these "caring" children, I would be sadly disaapointed. Each of them responded based on what one of them thought, and none offered any viable alternatives or offer of help in the situation.  Because they all think that our plan would "kill Dad", they have effectively cut off this move as a possibility, no matter how willing Mom may be because, God forbid, if we go there and something happens to Dad (whatever the cause) guess who will get the blame.  So now we are back to square one -- stay tuned.

From the Roller Coaster

Happy March everyone.  As usual, I have been lost in Facebook land, but there some things that simply cannot be posted there due to excessive visibility.   Enough apology; now on to the news.  Some of you may know that Ben and I were finally able to take a real vacation.  Spent 10 days heading south with stops along Florida's east coast, a couple days at Universal, Key West, and back up the gulf coast and home.  It was a wonderful time to just enjoy each other and not worry about anything.  Well -- as idyllic as that sounds, it was the proverbial calm before the storm. 

We returned to the land of snow to discover that Ben's church is nearly broke -- I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that, after meetings and worry, it appears that the church is to be closed most likely by the end of April.  There is no pastor's income beyond that point -- that means that our household income will take a hit in excess of 50%, plus Ben's insurances and such will all vaporize.  NOW -- when we moved here just one year ago, he was looking forward to his three year contract with this church, so we signed a two year lease on our apartment, which now we cannot afford.  On top of all this, my secular job is in a precarious and uncertain space right now.  Things look pretty grim, we are stewing (or "futzing" as Ben calls it) over the situation.  What do we do?  Do we stay here, go get minimum wage jobs and try to muddle through until a church comes open?  At the beginning, we had no visible options -- the question was really,"WTF do we do now?"   As we began to brainstorm, we drew a few possible options and are somewhere near finding the next step in this uncharted yet strangely familiar territory.  It looks as though each us will be exploring options for ministry -- whichever denomination blinks first gets us.  However, that search will take time and as we determined, we cannot afford our rent on what we would anticipate as "bridge income".  So it appears that he at age 46 and me at age 62 will be placing our lives in storage and moving along with the cats to his parents' basement.  Thank God they are willing and welcoming.  It is a bit embarrassing and demoralizing, but it is a temporary step and I think it will fit the need for the near future.  From there, we can both find some kind of jobs (unemployment is lower there than here) and focus our position searches.  This also gives Ben a bit of much needed down time from the church gig after the stress and abuse he has encountered in this part of his journey.  So, dear readers, it appears that we will soon be moving again (the 5th time in 5 years), and I am just really getting over the previous moves.  We have made this place home, and I rather enjoy it.  This once again proves the temporary nature of life.  As we wind down this chapter of the book, I wonder what will be in the next chapter?  We are free at this point to re-locate just about anywhere that God may lead us.  If you know of a healthy, vibrant Episcopal, ELCA, or MCC seeking a pastor, drop a line.  Who knows?  We might be coming soon to your neighborhood!  Be afraid, be very afraid.  I promise more frequent posts as our future begins to unfold this unwritten chapter of this unending saga.