Thursday, September 17, 2015


I've been away so long, I don't know what to write. I'm feeling lost--so many withouts at the moment. We moved across the state and it's good. But it meant me leaving a beloved congregation. And not serving a new one. This move has rekicked my grief about mom's death last year into high gear. I'm figuring out how to be this new me: without my mom, without a congregation, without friends, without the familiar, without anyone at home during the day (when I actually am and am not used to). I need to figure out a new life and what that looks like. Here's hoping it will be more for one and also (dare I put this in words) the book I hope to write.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Someone Else

My mom died the end of June. My sister was here while we got the bulk of her apartment cleaned out--though my house is still a disaster. She left mid-July. It was around then that I started exercising--doing Couch to 5k. My husband decided that he wanted us to participate in an 'adventure race' -- canoeing, biking, running. I'm decidedly not athletic; I never have been. I have since been in a canoe, but it had been years. I can't swim and am terrified of water, so I'm really not looking forward to that! Biking--eh. We have a tandem bike that we got years ago and we had done a decent amount of riding. Then we had kids, so haven't done that much. When we got the tandem, it was my first time on a bike since my childhood banana seat bike. I did eventually move on to a bike of my own, but not much. And running--ha!

However, I've been enjoying the 30ish minutes I'm out every few days doing this program. It's time to myself. Which made my husband laugh because I'm a solo pastor of a small church--I have a part-time secretary and a preschool rents space from us. In the summer, most of the time it's me and me alone in the office. In the school year, it's still me alone in my office but with childhood noises from the other end of the building. So it's not like I'm never alone, but running--or at this point--walking with a little running, that's just me--when all I have to worry about is me.

I've watched The Biggest Loser for most of its seasons and have always noticed the people crying--and Jillian or Bob call them out about the tears not being about the exercise.

Last night, I realized that about me. Last night, as I was jogging and struggling, I realized that I'm liking this because it's like I'm someone else. I'm not the person I was a few months ago. I'm so very sad and I miss my mom so much. I'm not the person I was when mom was alive. In every other part of my life right now (work, home with kids, etc.), things are pretty much 'back to normal.' But I'm not--I'm someone else. And doing this Couch to 5k is something someone else would do--not me. I'm going to keep at it though because I'm having to learn to be someone else--a motherless, fatherless child--in all of my life. And maybe, just maybe, this will help me do it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Last Sunday was a particularly difficult Sunday for me. You see, we had guest musicians. Their music style is bluegrass/gospel? I'm not great on my musical genres. This group comes once a year. My mom loved their music. She loved our traditional hymnody too. But this, this first time this group was here and she wasn't. Well, it was rough. Thankfully, they saved "I'll fly away" for their very last song, when I felt more free to let the tears run down my cheeks even as I sang along.

I'm the pastor and didn't really feel like sobbing during worship would be okay. But I also realized that in worship is normally when I can cry. In worship is when I grieve. That's been the case over and over in my life. In worship, I can let the tears spill down my cheeks AND be comforted by the promises of God as I do. But when I'm the one leading worship, I've got to bite my lip and not let the tears keep coming.

Many of my loved ones have died, and I've had those worship places to grieve their losses when they were most heavy. The other losses I still carry, but a tear or a slight catch in my throat is all that usually happens in worship. But Mom, well, Mom's loss is so fresh. And it occurred to me Sunday, that I am so connected to her in worship--especially in this space.

My mom was a model of faith for me. We were always at church--always. She worked there for years, only after having volunteered there for many more. So many of my memories of my childhood involve sitting with her in the same pew. I'm convinced, though she wasn't, that had she been born a generation later, she'd have become a pastor.

And most recently, despite my objections, she joined my congregation 3 years ago when she moved to my town to be caregiver for my children. It cost her a pastor because she had a daughter. But it gave me so much. It gave me my mom sitting in the same worship space as me again. It gave me her faith--her guidance. I was able to ask her opinion about which Bible Study to pick, or if my newsletter article made sense before I sent it to print, or if the creative worship I planned wasn't *too* crazy for my fairly traditional congregation. I was able to see her sharing her faith again and helping my daughter learn to read from the hymnal--just as she did with me. I got to see her faith in action a few more times.

But not that long ago, we held her funeral in this very same space. It was a beautiful funeral--everything I could have hoped for in a funeral. That was the last time she was in that worship space with me.

And so Sunday was just so hard.

Friday, August 08, 2014


I recently saw an image (that I'm not going to take the effort to find at the moment) which pictures "what we want grief to look like" vs. "what grief actually looks like." The first is a nice straight-line arrow. The other begins as a straight-line arrow and turns into a tangled mess. Yeah, that.

It's so true. My emotions are all over the place. I had my annual physical today and the doctor asked about mood. I kind of laughed--I 'have trouble' with all of those--sadness, anxiety, anger, etc. But it's all 'normal.' I really don't think any of them can be solved with medication for me right now. I just need to figure out how to navigate them--because they are all the result of grief.

I miss my mom so much. I miss my dad so much. I'm not a true orphan--I'm 36 years old for crying out loud. I have 2 children of my own. But I feel so alone.

This ministry thing can be a lonely thing anyhow and grief doesn't help. A facebook friend of mine posted an article about "10 mom friends every mom should have" (like who doesn't get grossed out by anything, whose the crafty mom, etc.) Mutual friends started posting about who is which number for whom. And I felt like the left-out, shy junior high girl again, with a hint of jealously thrown in. I had briefly been in a mom's group with these women, but even while I still was, I couldn't have listed anyone who is one of those to me. My mom was my go-to for all of these things too.

And this was not where I intended to go, is what it is.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


In general, I read instructions. I've done plenty of 'build your own' furniture and can't think of any that have fallen apart. I've been known to read instruction manuals--or at least look at indexes when getting an alarm code on my washer or things like that. I even read 'instruction manuals' when I had my babies. Of course, I knew that children didn't really come with an instruction manual, but there were guides along the way. I read about labor and childbirth and breastfeeding and child development and potty training and ... parenting has still been hard.

But not this hard.

The hardest things in life don't come with an instruction manual. I can hardly type the words. I know it's a matter of days before my mom dies. And I don't know how to do this.

I'm figuring out the tasks--push the morphine, push the Zofran, empty the nephrostomy bag, empty the fistula bag, change the fistula dressing, change the diaper, get her whatever she wants to drink or ice chips, cover or uncover her.

But to talk--as she's in and out of sleep, how do I ask the things I want to know that seem so unimportant? Which family line did these old dishes come from? What gospel reading did you want read at the funeral you don't even want but you agree isn't for you--it's for us?

And the simple regrets--I wish I would have pushed you the other day when you were having a good day to record that book for my babies. I don't want them to forget you and the sound of your voice and they have these awesome books that we can record. And now I'm not sure you'll be able to do it.

And we aren't 'touchy' people--should I be now? Should I try to hold your hand or stroke your cheeks or continue to just look at you from across the room?

I wish there was an instruction manual.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Answers and Questions

The situation that was weighing most heavily on me has been resolved (mostly). I have my answer.

Which leads to a question:
Is God going to make good come out of the answer or did God direct us all to answer the question the way we did because that's what God wanted to happen?

I do go back on forth in answering this question--specifically related to this situation, but also in general. I was really struggling and hurting and praying and discerning and couldn't feel good about the choice I thought I was going to have to make. I trust God to make good things come out of and from any situation, this one included. And I can't believe that God is a puppet who directs us to only do certain things--I believe God gave us free will. And yet--I can't help but feel this was the 'right' answer.

I have my answer--an answer that I'm really completely fine with. I'm relieved even. And yet, there's some psychic weight to this situation--some feelings left unresolved, some concern and care for people involved, a bit of 'what might have been,' and a wish that I hadn't had to walk that road.

Answers--questions. It seems like one always leads to the other. I'm generally okay with ambiguity but right now I'm looking for some clarity, something solid. Something light and free because my heart and mind feel heavy and sluggish. I'm not who I want to be.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quiet -- Private?

I've been really quiet here lately. Really quiet.

And I have so much swirling in my mind that I'd like to write about. But I can't get past the fear that people I know beyond the internet (who didn't already know I had this blog) will find this space. Because so much of what is going on cannot be public right now.

Chaos seems to abound in my life right now--and I'm exhausted. I'm tired and stressed and stretched to my limits.

I need someplace to let these ideas out. I need a home for my words. I could write and not post I suppose, but with all going on it seems like a waste of time. Unless I know there are others to here--unless I know that there are people who care.

So--if you think you'd like to read more, comment here please. If I get comments, I'll figure out how to password protect and get that info to those of you who comment.