So I thought I’d tell some stories about the things that I did from my list.

I have been to the highest point in Florida… but that’s not really a mountain.  The mountain I am thinking about is in South Carolina at Camp Awaninta.  We went there with youth group a few times for the end of Mission-fest.  That was one week in the summer when we’d gather to do in-town mission work in the morning and then have devotions and fun stuff in the afternoons and evenings.  Then at the end of the week we went on a trip someplace fun.  We went to this camp at least 3 times.  They had all sorts of fun stuff to do and then we went whitewater rafting.  They have a zip line and a hummer ride and a ropes course.  It was always a lot of fun.

At the top of one of the mountains they had a cross that you could climb up to, and benches to sit and think and pray.  There was a steep face of the mountain that is clay and then a back way that was more like a nature trail.  So we climbed up the nature trail way and we decided we’d go down the steep way.  I don’t know who’s idea it was but it was not a good one.  We started out walking down but the momentum was so great that at about half way down you couldn’t help but run or fall down.  The only problem was that… you know… mountains end.  And boy did I see it coming.  I came running down full tilt this steep hill, I took one step onto the leavel ground and my body kept moving down that incline right into the clay.  And right in front of my group.  And to add insult to literal injury, I had to go to dinner with my red-clay stained outfit.  Man.

hill

Pieces of her story

October 18, 2008

I had two errands today.  To go get some jalapenos and to mail a few things that I didn’t put out in time for the mail carrier to come get.  I planned to drive through Sonic after the post office for a vanilla coke with a side of jalapenos (homemade salsa is addictive.)

So I got to the post office a couple minutes after it closed and had to go through that drive through too.  That of course meant that that I missed the last pickup too so my mail run was for naught.  But there was this woman standing on the curb by the post office exit. She’d been standing there the whole time I was in the parking lot and had a carry-on size piece of luggage.

I pulled up to turn on to the street and she looked at me and held up the sign she had in here hand.  It was written on ballpoint on a sheet of loose leaf.  The wind was strong enough that the paper was flapping so that the only thing that I could read was “for food.”  It’s getting cooler but I’m still wearing shorts and she had on a winter coat.  She looked like she could be someones grandma.

So I decided I’d go to CVS instead of Sonic and pick-up some trail mix for her along with my jalapenos.  When I pulled back around she was gone from the post office.  And then I looked around and she was sitting on the window sill at the convenience store next door, with her coat on her bag, smoking a cigarette. I didn’t stop.

Thing is, I don’t know what she really needs, or what the right thing is to do. Maybe I’ll hold on to the cranberry trail mix so I’ll have a better plan next time.  And I don’t mean that “dang, I was dooped and now I’m stuck with the cranberries.”  But she is a person, with a life, and a family, and a story and obviously a difficult one at that.  And I can’t do anything that will make a real difference, or not be patronizing.  Or maybe it is that I’m unwilling to.  All I have is the fragments that I gleaned from observation of this women, nothing that tells me anything about who she really is.

—————-

Stephanie had the youth do an exercise a few weeks ago.  They all started by making bags to give to the homeless with a granola bar and a Vienna sausage and an apple sauce.  They then had a scavenger hunt to look for their dinner.  Everywhere they went they were turned away until they found the homeless bags that they had made waiting for them in the sanctuary.  And man did they not like that twist.  Apparently not everyone like Vienna sausages like I do.  But it’s obviously no grand gesture to give away the food you’re not willing to eat.  It humbles you a little, and makes you think about person-hood apart from status and possessions.  So even though I got to be the one denying my spaghetti to the youth, I think I learned a lesson too.  Because today I felt a little something extra. And it wasn’t good.  I think that’s called empathy. And praise God for that.

Soul-Pastor

July 14, 2008

Being a single girl I am wont to seek out or be given advice about finding someone to marry. This usually comes in the form of books, articles, blogs, and the occasional sermon. When this is coming from a Christian source a nearly universal point is this: Soul mates don’t exist so stop looking for one. God did not create one special person for you. Get real about what truly matters, and butterfly feelings are not it. Are you at the same stage in life, do you have the same priorities, do both want children? Those are the questions that matter. Things that you’ll have to ask to find out, not receive in a lightning bolt of harp music revelation. And Vance takes it one step further. He says that Americans (westerners) think that the key to a successful marriage is compatibility (hey aren’t there 40 dimensions of that or something?) when really it is commitment. That’s why arranged marriages can work, because love can grow out of strong commitment.

But these Christians aren’t taking their own advice when comes to hiring staff and selecting leaders. They are looking for their soul-pastor. The one who can say that god directed there life’s journey right to this moment and this church. The one who felt a calling from age… well the earlier the better. And then they have the compatibility check. You need 3 years of experience, killer guitar playing ability, and super organizational skills. Don’t get me wrong these things are not unimportant, just not most important. The most important thing is commitment.

A few weeks ago I applied for the youth director position at Saint Paul’s (In the UMC we call them that not “pastor” unless they are ordained. And I would have said soul-director but the pun just was not as good.) Here’s what I want them to know.

Dear Saint Paul’s UMC, I can’t tell you that I have always wanted to be a youth director, or that working with youth is my life’s passion. The fact is that I even made some unwise decisions that lead me to a time now when I need a job. We seem compatable but other people may look more so, I can’t help that. But here’s what I can offer: my love (I love you already, you are my church,) my respect, my faithfulness, and most of all my commitment. So Saint Paul’s, will you hire me?