Saturday, January 14, 2012

Better But Not Perfect

Last night Slinky was out until 9:30 when it got really cold. I had gone to bed at 7:30...wiped out from the fiasco the night before. I let him in and hoped for the best. It was not to be. He barked for an hour and finally I got up and moved his cushion into the garage. He didn't like it at all but it was 40 degrees in the garage. So he should have been fine. He slept until 1:30 AM and then he started barking again. I got up and let him out and while he was out doing his thing, I moved the cushion back into the utility area. When I let him back in, I told him to go to bed. He evidently did not want to go back into the garage so he went to sleep.

I slept until 5:30 and then got up and brushed my teeth, made up my face and dressed. By then, he knew I was up and began whining for his breakfast. I came in and fed him, let him out to do his thing and now he is back in the kitchen while I am making my chili for the lunch following today's Martin Luther King service. I am to do the invocation and also the blessing for the offeratory.

In about an hour, I will meet my brother-in-law for breakfast. Then I will go see Phyllis and come back and dress for the service. It starts at 11:00. I want to take the chili in about 10:30.

This organization I belong to was one my husband, Bob, had an interest in. PINCH stands for People for Institutional and Community Harmony. It's goal is to bring the races here together as friends and to work to insure justice for the black community. They don't always get justice.

Until the big flood of 2007, they segregated themselves mostly on the east side of town where they were more comfortable among their own. The flood caused the homes on the entire east side of town to be bulldozed. They were contaminated, not only with oil, which had escaped from tanks at the refinery nearby, but also with the raw sewage that came down the river to Coffeyville from Independence upstream. The Independence sewage plant was inundated too. So the smell in our entire community was like a huge pig pen. The hospital was full of people who had been exposed to all that bacteria. The refinery and FEMA bought those homes and between FEMA and the refinery, the homes were then destroyed. The residents were then forced to move in among the rest of the community. PINCH was already formed before that situation occured. They helped those folks to assimilate. We lost about a thousand people who moved away or into the countryside after the flood. That showed up in the 2010 census.

I have made friends with about a dozen black people...who by the forget the color of their skins when you become friends. Who cares? We have worked together now trying to bring peace and justice between the races for six or seven years. Once or twice we have had to mediate with the police department on their behalf.

Once a year we have a huge community pot luck dinner. We meet once a month to discuss and make plans for that, plan the Martin Luther King Day festivities and just plain study and fellowship.

By time to leave, I am hoping it will be warm enough to put Slinky out. It's supposed to get up to 48 degrees today. I will be gone for quite awhile. I always help clean up afterward.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday At Last!

Last night I got little to no sleep. Slinky evidently slept so much in the kitchen in the daytime yesterday, that he could not sleep last night. He whimpered or barked all night and nothing I could do would shut him up. He finally went to sleep or at least quieted down about 4:30 this morning. I am wiped out today. I will try to get my cookies baked this afternoon after work. It is 19 degrees so there's no putting Slinky outside. While I'm at work he will have to go in the garage. He did fine in there yesterday and it's a lot warmer then outside.

I am doing laundry and running the dishwasher this morning. So I will empty everything and fold the laundry before I go to work.

Tomorrow, I will probably go to breakfast with my brother-in-law, get my chili going, go out to see Phyllis and then get ready for the service at 11:00. I hope I can get some sleep tonight.

More later...

My brother-in-law called after work and we planned to eat lunch together. Afterward we went to buy gas for my car. Now, I am resting up and getting ready to bake my cookies. I may make brownies instead. I will check out my recipes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Knew it Couldn't Last

It's 22 degrees today and will only get up to 30 all day. It also rained freezing rain all night and that turned to snow so we have about an inch of nasty wet snow on the ground.

It is supposed to warm up later in the week.

I went to bed at 9:00 last night. Slinky came in after the freezing rain started and slept in the utility area of the kitchen. He woke up at 1:30 needing to go out. The cold air must have woke him up because he barked wanting "out" every 15 minutes until 2:30. Then I came in (for the fourth time) and bawled him out and told him to "go to bed!" Finally he settled down but I was wide awake. I finally took a sleeping pill to get some sleep. I have to work this morning. I finally got up at 5:30. I only got my bed made and still have to brush my teeth, make up my face and dress.

All I have to do today after work is make my cookies and that could wait until tomorrow.

The Slinky saga continues...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Again

This was quite a day. I worked this morning and then went back to Independence to get my hair done this afternoon. I had an hour before my appointment so I ate again at Big Cheese. Melissa and her family were there so they invited me to eat with them.

Then I got my hair done.

This may be the last day for awhile that Slinky can go outside in the daytime. It's supposed to be COLD tomorrow and an inch of snow is forecast for tonight. So for the four hours I'm at work tomorrow morning, he may have to spend it in the garage. In the afternoon I will have to bake cookies for the dinner following Saturday's Martin Luther King services. So he can be in the kitchen with me while I do that.

Early Saturday morning, I will make chili. Then I will have breakfast with Bob A. The service starts at 11:00 AM. I hope it warms up by then.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Busy Tuesday

Today will be fairly busy. I baked my two cakes yesterday afternoon late and after they cooled, I iced them. Phyllis F. brought me hers while I was mixing up mine so I have three now. I will load them into the trunk of my car in a little while and pick up Bob A. at 10:30 to deliver them to Independence by 11:00.

In the meantime, I sold another book on of Leslie's textbooks, and will run that by the post office. I also got a check from my oldest son yesterday and while I'm downtown, I will deposit it into my savings. He's a sweetheart!

I also spent the evening writing postcards on my computer and addressing them. One of my classmates called yesterday afternoon. Several of our classmates had called him wanting to talk to him about having a small class reunion this fall instead of next year. (our 60th) We are dropping like flies. We lost six this year. Altogether, we've lost 96 since our graduation. I sent postcards to 25 classmates that live in the immediate area to invite them to a meeting at my house on January 20th to discuss the possibility.

I've heard from only one who didn't want to do this. All the others, about a dozen, that I've heard from so far are in favor. We'll know more after we find out how many workers we would have to put it together. We actually just thought we would meet some Friday evening for dinner, each of our own expense, and then the next evening, a Saturday, we would meet at the box room at our stadium and have dessert or cookies and coffee and watch a football game between our home team and another from there. We've done that twice before and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. We also discussed inviting the class just ahead of us who haven't had a reunion since their 50th. I would have to have some addresses for them though to invite them.

Anyhow, I will know more after that meeting on the 20th.

Then tonight, I will have to put Slinky either on the patio or in the garage while I'm at the library board meeting at 5:00 and the foundation meeting just following it. I won't be home until 7:00 and I'm not sure how cold it would be for him outside. He may have to spend a couple of hours in the garage. It's not as cold.

Slinky slept well last night. He only woke me once to get out to pee and then went right back to sleep when I let him back in. He is lying here at my feet on his cushion right now..very content.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday's Sermon

“Lord, Speak to Me”

January 15, 2012

Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1–20

Exploring the Scripture:

The opening scene of 1 Samuel 3 reveals an old priest and a young boy in the roles of mentor and apprentice. In earlier passages we find that the young boy, Samuel, has been dedicated by his mother to the Lord when she handed over her son to the care and tutelage of the old priest Eli. We also discover in the preceding chapter that Eli’s sons, also priests, have disgraced the office of priest and the family name. Because of their sinful ways the Lord is preparing to punish the entire house of Eli. As Eli’s house falls from power, the apprentice, assisted by the mentor, will be called to assume their roles of leadership and power. Samuel’s leadership will change the course of history for the Israelites.

Today’s verses are 1–10; however, it is important to be familiar with verses 11–20. Verses 1–10 alone depict a nice story involving a little boy, a grandfatherly figure, and God’s gentle call of the boy. However, in verses 11–20 this nice story becomes one which will denounce the current religious leadership structure and challenge Eli and Samuel.

Samuel is sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant, most likely because Eli’s health would not permit him to do so. The priest may have slept next to the Ark to tend to the lamp nearby. It is also suggested that the priest was to be near the Ark to hear when the Lord spoke. The writer states, “The lamp of God had not yet gone out.” This may simply be an indication that it was near dawn and the lamp was not yet extinguished after burning all night. But more importantly, the writer may be signaling that there is still hope of the Lord speaking.

In verse 1 we read that it was rare for God to speak in those days. It is assumed that the behavior of the house of Eli was a major reason God was not being heard. When the writer says, “The lamp of God had not yet gone out,” it is intended to plant a seed of hope. Hope was not yet lost; there was hope that the Lord would soon speak a new thing. That is a primary thread of this story: a God of hope speaking and doing something new.

During the night on three occasions the Lord calls Samuel, but Samuel believes it is the voice of Eli. Only after three calls does Eli realize it is the voice of the Lord. Eli then instructs Samuel how to respond if the Lord calls again. Ironically, the message Eli helps Samuel receive from the Lord is a message of condemnation toward the house of Eli, but within the message there is new hope and new possibilities for the Israelites.

Samuel is being called into this role not because of family lineage or because he is of the “right” political stripe. Samuel is being called because God does not always call the expected ones. There are many stories of God doing a new thing, bringing new hope and calling those who are not expecting to help usher in that new hope.

There was no doubt a desire to hold to the old ways, particularly for those who had been taking advantage of others through the now-corrupted priestly system. To bring about a new hope in that environment required courage on the part of Samuel; it took great courage to relay God’s message to his tutor.
We have been called to courageously challenge systems and cultures of our day to bring about new hope and God’s peace.

But as we learn from our story, it was not God’s refusal to speak that kept them from hearing God’s voice, it was the people’s refusal to listen. If we are listening, God speaks new things to us in the midst of struggle and uncertainty.

How do we know when it is God speaking—that is the first question.

I will never forget the sermon Seventy Harry Black preached at one of our reunions years ago. It impressed me with its message. He told of a conversation he had with his then teenaged daughter. He was concerned that she might be led astray and become involved with drugs and/or illicit sex. He cautioned her to listen for God’s voice as God attempted to lead her into the best paths for her well being. He warned her that there were many voices in the world today that might be confused with God’s still small voice. There was the voice of alcohol, drugs and illicit sex, that sometimes lead to a person’s eventual destruction,. Those louder voices can sometimes lead us in the wrong direction as they are able to drown out God’s still small voice.

So how do we know? The voice of God could be our imagination. The first requirement then is to check it out. The writer of First John advises us to, "…test the spirits to see whether they be of God." (I John 4:1). The first test is truth. God is the God of truth—all kinds of truth.

Whenever we experience a sense of calling from God, we generally receive that experience with a degree of ambiguity. There are some markers that we look for in the process we call "discernment."

The primary marker is the presence of peace. Do we sense the presence of deep peace, even if there is conflict or threat overshadowing the circumstances?

Whenever we are trying to discern the will of God, we should quietly sense the quality of our deepest being. Wait patiently. Sense whether there is peace or confusion, consolation or desolation. Then we should do our best and just trust God.

The central focus of our faith is the belief that God has entered into conversation with us. The challenge is to be open to what God is trying to say to us. That is not always easy because we are bombarded with messages from many sources. Is it the voice of tradition or the culture around us that often tires to say that anything is o.k. if it feels good, rather than an authentic word from God?

Determining that requires us to develop a stronger sense of spirituality. The deeper we go on our own spiritual search, the easier it is to hear the message. This search involves a lifetime commitment. The joy of the journey into the awareness of the presence of God is that more and more we discover what God wants us to do with our lives. We are being addressed. God is waiting for our response.

Another way to check things out is to listen to the voice of conscience. There is within each of us a sense of moral responsibility. One way of judging right from wrong is to ask the question, "How would I feel if every person in the world practiced the same code of ethics that I do?" That’s sometime scary.

Perhaps the most important check on whether God is speaking is the Law of Compassion. Jesus gave us the supreme demand, "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36) Whenever we are confronted with a human being in need, for instance, we can be sure that the call of God is there for us to do whatever we can to help. As individuals, and as a congregation, I see us trying our best to meet legitimate need.

In our Christian faith, we believe that Jesus set for us the pattern of a life lived in devotion to God and in dedication to ministering to human need whenever it confronts us. As we search for truth and open ourselves to God's presence in prayer and meditation, we will discover more completely what God is trying to say to us.

Last year, as I was struggling to recover from my loss of Bob and as I was praying for light, something new came into my consciousness. It suddenly occurred to me how tenuous life really is and how much older I was getting to be. How much longer, I asked myself, am I going to be as healthy as I now am?

I had to wonder where on earth God was going with this. I just put it out of my mind.

Then at reunion that year, Karin Tillery asked me if I was getting tired of the responsibility of being pastor. I told her I had very good health but just recently been troubled by the awareness of my age and mortality. She asked me if I had considered someone to take my place as pastor. She made a couple of suggestions. But those she suggested had awesome responsibilities already.

Then one night as I was pondering this quandary and praying for light, I suddenly was made aware of Melissa’s call to priest. Melissa had just lost her mother and was also building her medical practice so I wasn’t sure the timing was right and I pushed it out of my mind. But time and again, this call came to me and finally I realized I had not recognized the voice of God in it. I was depending on my own intellect and powers of reasoning. I was not listening for God’s voice. When I finally realized what I was doing and decided to act on what God was leading me to do, I felt a tremendous sense of peace, relief and certainty.

Our congregation needs to be mentoring new leaders and I was ignoring God’s still small voice telling me that. I sent in the paperwork for Melissa’s call and had a long telephone conversation with headquarters about it. It was approved and finally, I called Melissa and asked her to have lunch with me. Over lunch, I told her of the call. She was not at all surprised.

Next Sunday we are about to consummate that call with an ordination.

I am asking Leslie to mentor Melissa. Not only are they long time neighbors and friends, but also Leslie has been a priest in the past and can be helpful to be a mentor to Melissa as she assumes more responsibility as a priest.

Another blessing to the congregation was the transfer of membership of Johnna. Johnna has been a real blessing to the congregation. She is our only teacher. A teacher needs to be a trustworthy confidant. I am positive Johnna has those qualities. We are blessed with many workers in our congregation. Now we do have younger people coming up that can step into leadership roles. God is aware of our needs and will always try to speak to us to help us meet those needs.

But that does not only happen to lead groups or congregations. As we found in our scripture story and my own experience, it also is helpful in leading confused individuals into the right paths for their lives.

God loves each of us. And God wants the very best for each of us. As we continue on our individual journeys in life, let us always be prepared to listen for God’s still small voice.

Another Good Night's Sleep

Maybe there's hope for Slinky to sleep through the night after all. He was in the house last night until time for me to leave for my meeting and it was 50 degrees on the patio so I put him out. I got home at 9:00 and he was sleeping soundly out there so believing in the old axium "let sleeping dogs lie", I left him there. When I fed him I had given him a Benedril too. About 11:30, he began to bark and knowing it was supposed to get COLD last night, I got up and let him into the kitchen and told him to "go to bed". He did. I never heard another peep out of him until 4:30 this morning when he needed to go out to pee. I went back to bed until 5:00 and so did he. Oh, if he would just do that every night! Is that too much to hope?

Today I don't have a lot on my plate. This afternoon I will bake my two cakes for tomorrow's dinner at the First Christian Church in Independence. I need to run to the market to get another icing or make up my own. I could make my own. I believe I have the makings. It's supposed to get up to 50 degrees again today so Slinky can go outside later.

Our guest minister for next Sunday had to cancel yesterday with an emergency so I will have next Sunday's sermon too. I will need to work on that today. I roughed it out last night.

Tomorrow morning I will take the cakes I've collected to Independence and eat lunch up there at Big Cheese. Bob A. will go with me to help me take them in. Tomorrow evening I have a library board meeting and also a library foundation meeting. I agreed to take minutes at the foundation meeting. The board meeting is at 5:00 and the foundation meeting is at 6:00. That's tomorrow.

Wednesday, after work, I will go back up to Independence and have my hair done.

I am trying to simplify my life this week since later in the week I will need to make cookies for Saturday's Martin Luther King services. That Saturday morning, I will make a pot of chili for it too.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Sunday

Last night Slinky slept outdoors. It didn't get any colder than 28 degrees but when he went to bed it was 56 degrees. He barked for the better part of an hour until I finally went out and bawled him out good. Then he quieted down and went to sleep. I didn't hear a peep out of him until 5:30 this morning. Then I had made my bed and made up my face and dressed so I came in and let him into the kitchen. He's had his dog food and oatmeal now and is lying here on the floor on his cushion perfectly happy. I got a good night's sleep again. It's stayed warm so far but the cold weather will come next week.

We will have our budget meeting this morning at church. We will have to cut some programs. We were $2660 over budget this year. It will be a hard meeting. Then I have the sermon.

We will probably all go eat somewhere after church. We usually do. Then I will come home and do my letters and later on this evening go to Wanzers for the Living the Questions group. A rather typical Sunday....except for the business meeting.

Update!! The CFO contacted me last night to say her formula had entered one huge expense, the building's insurance...twice. We are just a little over $600 over budget. I can live with that. I was quite concerned that we were living well beyond our means.