Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cupcake Surprise

That, my friends, is a chocolate-filled sweet potato cupcake, and it's delicious! I would've never thought to put sweet potato in cupcakes, but it is surprisingly delightful. I got the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, and made a succesful batch this weekend. The chocolate inside is a nice addition, but I think they'd still be good without. And I think they're actually better with vanilla icing instead of chocolate. (As a choc-o-holic I can't believe I just said that, but it's true.) I've been wanting to try these out for a while, but I was laid up with a sinus infection for a while and I also didn't really have an occasion to make them for, until this weekend. My friend Mindy invited me for dinner with her and her family, and it seemed like a good excuse to make some cupcakes. Spending some time with them was a nice addition to a great weekend, when I had time to catch up on errands and things around the house that had piled up while I was sick, and also spend some time relaxing with some movies and a book or two. It was just what I needed after a super busy week last week that I struggled through while I still wasn't feeling 100%. And now I feel ready for this last week before Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

So Long, November

I haven't felt much like blogging lately (as noted by my lack of posts this month), but I didn't feel like I could let the whole month go by without a post. I'm not going into any details, but things at "work" have been pretty stressful and I've been putting in a lot more hours than usual, which is another reason I haven't been posting. I'm hoping that will change soon. In the meantime, I did have a really good Thanksgiving with my family in PA and Ohio. And I finally gave in and bought myself a Kindle (especially when I remembered I still had some money on a Target gift card). I'm pretty excited to play with it.

Monday, October 31, 2011


If you've seen the tv show Gilmore Girls (no longer on tv) you know that the fictional town it's based in is called Stars Hollow. It's a VERY small town, where everyone knows everyone, there are events and traditions that happen every year, and they have regular town meetings to make decisions about these activities. There have been quite a few times since moving to the small town where I live when I have felt like I live in Stars Hollow. One of those times was the other night when I went to a bonfire co-sponsored by the town and the county parks department. It reminded me of the annual Firelight festival on the show. Probably one of the main differences though is that we have a very limited number of businesses that are open all year, since we have such a large summer population. I don't recall much mention of Halloween on the show, but I imagine it would be a fun community event in Stars Hollow. Here, we sign up to be a house for trick-or-treaters. I debated it for a while because in my adult life I don't get too excited about Halloween and trick-or-treating. I'm not necessarily against it, and I know it's fun to dress up, I just think maybe we could be doing something different than spending money to get kids all jacked up and fat on candy. So anyway, despite my feelings to the contrary, I decided it would be a good way to participate in the community, so I signed-up and bought some mini bags of pretzels to give out. They came in a pack of 35. And I had less than 10 kids come to my house. Three of them were kids from the church, and one of them was surprised that I live here (at the church) so it may have been worth it just for that and the opportunities for other community families to see the fun, youngish, female pastor. Worth it? I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dinner Guests

Last night I had one of my local clergy colleagues and his wife over for dinner. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while, and I'm kind of embarassed it didn't happen sooner, but I'm glad it finally did. It was great to get to know each other better and share stories. And it really helped to know that I am not alone in the challenges I face, because I've been facing some big ones lately. I enjoyed cooking for some people (instead of just myself) for a change. I didn't make anything too fancy or complicated, but it turned out well. I did salad and turkey chili, which I've made before. But I also tried some new things. I made homemade biscuits, and a pear cranberry crisp. The biscuits tasted great but I cut them a little small I think. The pear crisp was reallllly good, definitely one to make again. It's amazing the difference sharing a simple meal can make.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cranberry Craziness

Yesterday I was getting my hair trimmed and my stylist told me about a Cranberry Festival that was going on this weekend in a town not tooo far away. She warned me to get there early if I decided to go. I didn't have much else going on this weekend and got my sermon done early so I decided to head out there this morning. I didn't get up and going too early this morning so it was at least an hour after the festival opened, and wow were there a lot of people there already! Despite fighting the crazy crowds (seriously I could not believe how many people were in this teeny town!) I had a good time browsing through tents of crafts and handmade items, and got a few things for myself and a few Christmas gifts. I enjoyed some funnel cake, cranberry ice cream (never had it before) and pumpkin fudge (all very healthy choices - haha). I also tasted some wine from a local south Jersey winery and bought a few bottles to bring home. I stopped at a few stores on the way home to get a few more crafty things (got some ideas at the festival), some baby gifts, and a storage bench that I've been wanting to get for the foot of my bed for a long time. I think it was a successful outing!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baby Steps

So even though I have some ambitious cooking goals for this month, I decided to start off easy and just try some basic things that I've just never made on my own before. The wheat bread I posted about earlier this week that I tried in my breadmaker and then finished in the oven turned out ok, but a little on the dense/doughy side. I'm guessing because even though it had risen pretty well in the machine it got condensed again a little when I transferred it to the oven. So it's edible, but not great. I've been eating some of it, but I think some will probably end up feeding the birds. ;) The next thing I tried was meatloaf. I'm not sure that I've NEVER made meatloaf before, but if I have it's been a loooong time. Because I don't eat beef, I made it with ground turkey, and instead of making one big loaf, I made two smaller loaves so I could freeze one. I think it turned out pretty tasty. Another recipe I tried was for baked apples and butternut squash. I LOVE butternut squash (and just discovered it maybe two years ago), but I decided to adapt this recipe a little and make it with sweet potatoes instead. It reminded me of the side dish my aunt always contributed to Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious, and gave me plenty of leftovers. It also gave me some more confidence that I can adapt recipes when needed. I'm definitely not someone who can just make up a recipe or throw stuff together and have it turn out great, but at least I know I don't always have to stick with the recipe exactly as written. I will probably try this last recipe again in the future with the squash instead of the potatoes, but for now I have other plans for my butternut squash!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Try, Try Again

Today I tried using my breadmaker for the first time to actually bake a loaf of wheat bread. I've used it before, but just to make dough. Unfortunately, something happened and the machine either burned out or blew a fuse or something (still trying to figure that out) and I couldn't finish the baking cycle. It appeared that it had mixed everything together and the dough had risen, and it just needed to be baked. So I tried taking it out of the machine and putting it in the oven to bake. I'm not sure yet whether it worked, I think I have to wait for it to cool to test it. I also started a new knitting pattern today. I have some friends who I need to make some baby gifts for, and I decided to try some new items/patterns instead of making the same stuff I always do. In the (unlikely) chance that they read this, I'll have to wait until they get the gifts to post about them more specifically. These two things I've tried today are very small in the grand scheme of life, but it got me thinking about willingness to try. I think that maybe a big reason so many people are afraid to change or try new things is because of the possibility of failure. Nobody likes to fail, myself included, but if we live our lives out of fear we miss out on endless potential experiences. I think most of us could probably work more at trying new things, large and small.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thinking About Food

So I just spent an awesome few days talking and learning about ethics and theology related to food production and distribution and hunger, visiting farms, and hanging out at a lovely camp in the woods with some old and new friends. I already had an idea for what to try through my blog this month and after my retreat I'm even more excited about it. I'm going to spend the month doing a lot more cooking and trying out new recipes, especially for produce in season. I know it's not realistic to try a new recipe every day or even every other day, but I'm going to try as many as I can this month. I already have several books and recipes sitting on my shelf and my mom just happened to recently get me a subscription to "Healthy Cooking" magazine, so I shouldn't have a hard time finding ones to try.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting Away

I'm still frustrated, and also now really tired, of the behavior of some people. I know I need to try to resolve some issues, and it's causing me some stress and I'm not looking forward to it. But in the meantime, I'm going away this weekend for a continuing education retreat. I'm really looking forward to it because some of my seminary friends will be there and we're going to spend time visiting different farms and other sites and discussing/learning about food production and how it relates to hunger/poverty. It's something that I already have an interest in and this will help me learn even more. And it will be a nice distraction for a few days. I wanted to post before I went since I won't be able to for a few days, and therefore this will be my last post for September. I clearly didn't post every day in September, but I did better than 50%, or about every other day, so I think that's pretty good considering I was lucky to post once a week before this month. I still plan to write more about my marathon experience, and I'll be sure to write about what I experience this weekend. For now, I'm off to the great outdoors!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Everything I Need To Know...

Sometimes people just make me crazy. I have a career/calling which requires that I interact with people a lot. Most of the time I don't mind. I do need my alone time every now and then, but generally I like being around people, learning their stories, building relationships, etc. Often I can just shake my head or let things go when I don't agree with people. But there are times when I just don't understand people. I believe in treating people well, in being polite, in using manners. Clearly I'm not perfect and I don't always treat people the way I should, but I try. And I know it's the right thing to do. I do not understand people who don't seem to care about another person's feelings. First, all human beings are connected. Second, if a person believes that we're all created and loved by God, then that gives us a responsibility to care about other people. So I REALLY don't understand "church people" who are rude or just downright mean to other people. Why can't we all just be respectful adults? There's that book or saying or something, "Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten." I think some adults, if they're going to act like children, should just go back to Kindergarten and re-learn their manners! I apologize for my rant, but I need to vent my frustrations.

Monday, September 26, 2011

#2 Is In The Books

I've been a little MIA from the blog lately (not too good for the posting every day - oops!), but it's because I was away at my parents' and aunt's houses, and focused on preparing for, and then recovering from, the Akron Marathon. I'll write more about it in another post later, but for now I just wanted to post that it went really well. My official time was 4:06:14, which was 14 minutes faster than I ran Philly last November, and 4 minutes faster than my goal time! YAY!

Monday, September 19, 2011

mmm Panera

I should've written this post a lot earlier in the day, because I had a longish meeting this evening and now it's late and I'm tired and don't feel like writing much. But I wanted to at least post something because I didn't yesterday. And I didn't yesterday because it was a long day. A pretty good day, but a long one. I started with the two Sunday morning worship services, then led a memorial service, then drove to Trenton for the Synod Ordination Service. (Four worship services total!) Ordination services are great to be part of because they remind me again why I do what I do, and its always exciting to be there to support other new pastors. I also got to have dinner with my friend Ray, and had a nice time catching up with him, and enjoying Panera, one of my favorite places. I really wish there was a Panera close by where I live. Anyone who has ever been to Panera with me only gets one guess what I had to eat!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Today did not start out as I planned. I had planned to get up early as I've done just about every Saturday for the last few weeks and months and go for my "long" run. But as I was waking up I heard the wind blowing around a lot and decided to wait to go later in the day. So instead I started my day by watching some tv in bed, and then having some coffee and breakfast and doing some reading. Then, as I planned to do after my run, I worked on my sermons for tomorrow (the regular morning worship and a memorial service). I got my run in right before lunch, since I only did 8 miles today (not really very long compared to my other long runs, but I'm tapering back now for the marathon). Finished up my sermons and some stuff around the house in the afternoon, and then ran some errands at Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond (I heart Target!). I was seriously craving chocolate today, so I picked up a brownie mix. After I had dinner, I made the brownies, and then later had one with ice cream for dessert. Along with some wine. :) What a great to unwind at the end of the day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Clean House

I had another fairly uneventful day off today, but I do feel like I accomplished quite a bit around the house. I finally tackled a few little projects that I've been meaning to do for a long time. I also gave the house a good cleaning, including finally sweeping out my garage, which I haven't done since I moved here. I know that none of these things are really that exciting, but I do feel very satisified when I accomplish tasks like these. I also got a nice run in: I wasn't sore from yesterday's Body Pump class, the weather was perfect, and I was pleased to find out afterward that my pace was faster than I thought even though I didn't feel like I was pushing it. My marathon is a week from tomorrow, so I'm really hoping these good running feelings stick around for a while. I also did some reading today (working on "The Help", pretty good so far), watched a few episodes of Grey's Anatomy, and came up with an idea for something I might try next month. I know I've missed a few days of posting this month, but I feel like I've done better that I thought I would. And half the month is over already!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Girl Power

I am part of a group of women clergy (mostly Lutheran) in NJ who get together usually about once a month, except during the summer time. So today was the first time we had met since May and it was so good to get together and see the other ladies again. It reminded me that I am so thankful for this group. As we listened to one woman who is going through a difficult time right now, I was reminded of how much this group helped me when I was struggling earlier in the year. We are in different places on our life and ministry journeys: where we live, our ages, our health, our living and family situations, our ministry experience, all of these things bring variety to the group, but yet we still can listen and support and laugh and comfort and pray. We share the fact that we are all women in ministry, which is not always an easy thing to be. Some days I don't want to be (in ministry). But this group helps remind me why I am.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Busy Days and Book Club

This week has been full with ministry, running and working out, and errands. I don't have much to write about today, I've been going all day and I'd rather spend the rest of the night relaxing and reading. I wanted to post something though since I've missed a couple days lately. I didn't post yesterday because I was having problems with my wireless internet connection... problems that I've been having most of the 14 months I've lived here. Verizon FINALLY sent a technician out today and he actually ordered us a new modem (which I'm pretty sure we deserved a year ago)! I hope this solves the problem.
On an exciting note, I've been talking with some women about starting a book club in the area and today we set a date for our first meeting next month, and picked "The Help" as our first book. Since it's so popular right now because of the movie we thought it'd be a good one to start with. Hopefully everyone can find a copy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

New (Pink) Kicks

One of my other purchases of the past few days was two new pairs of running shoes. The general recommendation for running shoes is that they should be retired after 500 miles. The website I use to keep track of my runs allows me to enter the shoes I use for each run and therefore keeps track of their mileage. I'm around 450 on both pairs of shoes I currently use, and less than two weeks away from my marathon now, so it was time. I want to use one of the new pairs for the race, but I need to break them in a little first. I've run in Saucony brand shoes for several years now and have been pretty happy with them, so I bought one pair of Saucony ProGrid Guides and decided to try something new for the other pair. With the assistance of the salesperson at the running store, I went with Asics Gel-Kayanos for the other pair. The unfortunate fact of both of these pairs is that they're pink. And there were no other color options. I am not a big fan of pink. The 2 pairs of Sauconys I'm running in now are blue, which is my favorite color. I even tried on another pair that were also pink. Apparently pink is the color for this year's shoe models. At least they're only really accented by the pink and are primarily white and gray/silver. I took a little jog around the store in both of my new pairs of shoes, but I'm looking forward to trying them out for real.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Books, Books, Books! (and my 100th post)

I have made several exciting purchases in the last few days, the most (in quantity) being books! First, I received a package of six books from Alban Institute publishing company. This organization exists primarily (in my understanding) for support and continuing education for clergy. When I realized I was nowhere near spending the amount I am allotted each year by the congregation for books, I went to their online store. I kept finding more and more books I thought would be helpful, so at some point I had to stop myself. I chose ones on a variety of congregational and clergy issues, and I think they'll all be useful. Yesterday the local library was having a book sale so I stopped by and picked up four more books (but for only $3.25!). And today, I met my friend Elizabeth for dinner and then stopped at Borders for their going-out-of-business-sale. I had a hard time limiting myself again. I think at one point I was holding nine or ten books, but I narrowed it down to four (all, ironically, from the "religion" section). These were all 70% off, so while I spent about $22 on these four books, I saved about a total of $48 off their original prices! Besides the fact that I'm a pastor, I think it probably says something about me that all but one of these fourteen books are faith related. The other one is a book on quilting. I think I need to make some room on my bookshelves! :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

Today I tried a Body Pump class for the third time (second time at my gym), and I decided I like it. I wasn't sure before, probably because strength-training has never been my favorite thing to do. But I need to do it, and I get bored doing the same machines at the gym all the time. Body Pump provides a nice challenge and opportunity to change things up with my strength routine. And I do like the whole "community" aspect of a class, a group of people struggling and growing together, encouraged by the leader. Even though I was tired pretty much all day today (no idea why) I actually felt better after the class, and still had energy to get in a run.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Coffee Break

Today was a pretty normal day. I did a lot of work in the office, and had meetings for both a wedding and a funeral (memorial service). Is that ironic, or just part of "the job"? It was a fairly full day, but I appreciate those sometimes because it usually means the day goes fast. In the middle of the day, I stopped by my local coffee shop, which is conveniently about a block from my house. It was nice to get some of their tasty house roast and sit on a bench outside the shop for a few minutes and just take a break. Sometimes it's the simple things that make the day better.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

GG Makes it All Better

Today was a little hard because I had to do the funeral for the church member who passed away last week. I was feeling lots of different things, which is not unusual. But after a long morning and afternoon of preparing, presiding, and lunching, I needed to do some relaxing. It rained practically all day today, so it was a good day to come home and snuggle up on the couch and watch some Gilmore Girls. It definitely made me feel better, although I didn't get a whole lot done the rest of the day, I felt ok with that since I already had a pretty full day, especially emotionally. This was the second day in a row I didn't feel like running. That happens every now and then. And while I was able to get myself out the door yesterday, it just didn't happen today. It's not something I want to get in the habit of doing, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it because missing one day every now and then isn't really going to impact my training. And now to bed, so I can get my butt moving tomorrow!

Monday, September 5, 2011

And So Begins the Evacuation

About a week and a half ago, with the threat of Hurricane Irene looming, a mandatory evacuation order just about emptied the island (there were a few brave -or crazy - people who stayed). Today was the unofficial end-of-summer evacuation. While there will still be some who come down to their summer homes on the weekends through September and maybe even October, and the snow birds who don't fly south until winter, Labor Day marks the time for many when they close up their island homes and head back to work and school in north Jersey, New York, or Philly. Many businesses will remain open, with more limited hours, through the fall, but some (like the market up the street) are strictly Memorial Day to Labor Day. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this in another post, but for now my bed is calling me, and I wanted to be sure to post something today since I did miss yesterday. (But hey, 4 out of 5 days isn't bad!)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Twenty. Miles.

Today I ran 20 miles. Isn't that enough? Really? Did I have to do anything else today?
Ok, I did a few other things, but nothing really extraordinary besides the running 20 miles. This was my last really long run before my marathon in three weeks. It was encouraging that I felt pretty good for most of it after having a pretty crappy long run last weekend. I'm grateful that I've been able to do several of my long runs with my friend Mindy. It definitely makes the time and miles seem to go faster when you have a friend to talk with. I'm a little concerned that I won't have a friend to run with at the marathon, but I think I'm just going to try staying with a pace group, so that should help. It will also help that I will have some family there cheering me on!

Friday, September 2, 2011


This was one of those Fridays (my regular "day off") that I spent mostly doing pretty boring stuff around the house like cleaning, because it was one of those crazy weeks where I let all of that stuff go until today. I interspersed some fun things into my day to help me get through my to-do list: I watched a few episodes of Gilmore Girls (from seasons 3 and 4), read a little, spent about an hour and a half on the beach, and baked some cranberry-orange bread and (homemade) granola.
I finished my latest book before going to bed last night: "Does the Noise in my Head Bother You?"- Steven Tyler's memoir. It was... interesting. Aerosmith is one of my all-time favorite bands, in the top 3. I learned a lot about the band and it's members, and learned that Steven Tyler is probably a musical genius. I also learned that's he's probably more than a little crazy, and learned way more about the drugs they did than I ever needed to know. If you like biographies and/or rock bands you would probably like this book, but be warned that it would probably have the equivalent of an "R" rating for a movie: there's a lot of harsh language and I found some of his comments offensive.
Now I'm close to finishing another book (fiction) that I had actually started before, but had to put aside when I got Steven Tyler's book from the library. I plan to read a bit more tonight and go to bed early, so I can get up early for a long run in the morning.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

30 Days

It's the beginning of a new month, I always have intentions of blogging more often than I do, and I know a fellow LTSP alum who uses her blog to attempt things for 30 days. These are the reasons I have decided to attempt to blog every day for the 30 days of September. I'm honestly not sure how likely I am to accomplish this goal, but it can't hurt to try, right?
Today was a pretty rough day. One of my parishioners passed away today. He was 91 years old and lived a good long life and I have hope in the resurrection and his health was basically failing for the few weeks, so on the one hand, it's probably a blessing. On the other hand, he was a wonderful man who was loved by the community and the congregation and I had formed a good relationship with him over the past year. He will definitely be missed.
I was also looking forward to a visit from my cousin's family this weekend, and she told me today that they're not going to be able to come now, so that bummed me out even more. They're going to try to come another weekend instead, so I hope we can work that out.
On a positive note, I tried a new class at the gym today! One of my friends in Bville talked me into going to her "Body Pump" class at the YMCA the last time I was home, and it kicked my butt, but I appreciated the challenge. I try to weight-lift/strength train twice a week, and sometimes I get bored doing the same routine all the time, so I decided to try the class at my gym. I'm sore, but in a good way, if that makes sense. And I still had enough energy to go for a run afterward. And then I rewarded myself with a milkshake. ;)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How I Spent My August

+ Attended a week of Confirmation Camp (along with one of the youth from my congregation). + Celebrated my 30th birthday with two parties: one in western PA, one in NJ. + Presided over my first wedding. + Attended a Phillies game. + Saw a few sunsets while enjoying free concerts at the park aboard my friends' boat. + Read some books. + Spent some time on the beach. + Ran over 100 miles. + Survived my first earthquake AND hurricane.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Full Swing Summer

The fact that we are about halfway through summer already seems ridiculous to me. Why is it that the summer (my favorite season) seems to fly by while winter (my least favorite season) drags on and on? It's now less than a month until my big birthday. I think I'm starting to dread it less because I'm making lots of fun plans and I've been practicing saying that I'll be 30, to get used to the idea. (I know, it's not old, but it's a big deal for me.)

Some of the things going on at church this summer have been the annual picnic, a trip to Six Flags with the youth group, the start of our summer surf movie series, and (going on this week) Vacation Bible School. This is the first time this congregation has ever held VBS so it's been a learning experience, but it seems to be going pretty well so far. The general atmosphere of the congregation seems to be more positive than it was over the winter, which is good. Realistically, it's probably at least in part due to the season (who doesn't like warm weather when they live at the shore?), and the fact that there are more people around in the congregation, and people are generally more distracted with summer visitors and activities. I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts!

My parents came for a visit last week, it was nice to have them here. And my mom helped me paint my bathrooms, so it was pretty exciting to get that accomplished. One more step completed in the transformation of the bathrooms. I got new towel rods that I plan to put up this week. That will be it for the guest bath, but in the master bathroom I still want to paint the vanity and medicine cabinet, and change the decor theme with new curtains and towels, and some new wall hangings. I hope to finish this all by the end of the summer. I also plan to continue doing lots of reading on the beach.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ode to my feet

As the weather warms up in the summer, I free my feet from their usual cute flats and boots and the occasional heels and my go-to footware 90% of the time becomes flip flops. (Don't worry, on days I walk a lot I wear cushioned Tevas or my Chacos). As a kid I used to run around barefoot in the summer all the time (and miraclously only stepped on a bee once), so my feet like to be free, and I like them to be exposed to the air. Even if that means getting funky white-striped tan lines. I also like being able to see my tattoo on my right foot. What I don't like though is how generally not nice-looking my feet are. In part due to my barefootedness and probably mostly due to all my running, I have lots of callouses and the occasional blister. In fact my big toe on my left foot has a permanent callous from the new blister that forms just about every time I go out for a run. As nasty as they are though, I am proud of my feet. All my blisters and callouses and scars are like battlewounds from all the miles my feet have endured. I am grateful to my feet for carrying me through those miles and pray that they will stay strong through the many miles to come.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I was out at a local restaurant for dinner last night. Just like there are people who live on the island seasonally, there are also people who work here seasonally. My server last night was one of these and she admitted to me right from the beginning that she was new. This gave me a whole lot more sympathy for her than I may have had as she was not the greatest at her job. As I interacted with her and watched her serve other tables as well I was brought back to about 8 years ago when I was working as a server at Bob Evans. And then I got to thinking how being a restaurant server was good preparation for being a pastor. Both require a lot of remaining calm and polite and listening to complaints and apologizing for things that are often not your fault. Both require regular interaction with people. Both require confidence. Both are primarily based on serving. I know it's not really possible but I think it'd be good if everyone could experience working in the food service industry at some point in their life. It certainly has made me much more understanding and appreciative of those who serve me in restaurants. And who knew that all these years later I would realize that it taught me how to be a better pastor?
(PS - tip your waiters and waitresses well!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Holden Village

Retreat: (1) an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable, (2) a place of privacy or safety, (3) a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study or instruction under a director

All three of these definitions of the word retreat are appropriate explanations of what I did while on vacation at Holden Village in Washington. In previous posts I've alluded to both personal and professional issues/anxieties I had been experiencing before vacation, which, now that I've returned, have not been completely resolved. I have to admit that some of the appeal of vacation was the opportunity to retreat: withdraw from difficulties. The beauty of the time spent at Holden Village, a place where I had no access to the phone or the internet, meant that it was also a retreat: a place of privacy and safety. It might have been the first time since I started my call when I felt that, for an extended period of time, I was genuinely relaxed and allowed the freedom of not even thinking about the congregation. (There were of course times I thought about it a little when people asked what I did and I talked about being a pastor, but I didn't have to WORRY or plan.) It was also a time of retreat: prayer, meditation, study, and instruction. I did a lot of reading, some for fun and some related to faith and leadership. I learned how to weave on a loom. I did a lot of prayer/meditation/worship. And I was involved in discussions about living learning communities. I enjoyed my experience at Holden so much, that I didn't want to return to NJ. But I obviously did return, and now I'm trying to adjust to post-vacation work and life, while still reflecting and appreciating the blessing that Holden Village has been (and hopefully will be) in my life.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Got Mountains?

Awed. Refreshed. Excited. Renewed. Blessed.

These are just some of the things I felt on my two-week vacation to Seattle and Holden Village. My appreciations of both city and "the outdoors" were satisfied by these two very different, but both very awesome places.

Seattle adventures included Pike Place Market, the art museum, the library, the Space Needle, the Experience Music Project, the Fremont Troll, Theo Chocolate Factory, Jimi Hendrix's grave, REI superstore, Luther's Table, a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, Sunday morning worship at Our Savior Lutheran Church and Sunday evening compline at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral.

Holden adventures included getting there (car, boat, and bus!), relaxing, eating, meeting people, reading, relaxing, worship, hiking, weaving, viewing the Royal Wedding, napping, conversation, ice cream, and more relaxing.

This is my brief review for now, but there will be more to come. In the meantime, check out to read Mandy's review and see more pictures.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

April showers

I have come to the end of another busy week, but it was one that has left me feeling much less frazzled and much more positive than I have after some other weeks this month. I can't believe we're almost in May already, but I'm pretty thankful for it, to be truthful. A good portion of the end of March through April was pretty crappy, and I'm ready to move on. I have a new car that's working great so far (and getting great gas mileage, woohoo!), I had a nice visit from my parents and I will see them again soon, we're in the season of Easter and focusing on resurrection, I accomplished quite a bit this week, and I'm only 3 days away from the start of my vacation, and one week from Holden Village! I am now in the last few days of working to make sure everything that needs to be done before I leave gets done, both for work, and for my trip. I was able to make a lot of reservations/plans for the trip this week and I'm feeling much better about it (I was getting pretty nervous last week). Now I think I will spend the rest of my evening catching up on some TV shows and perusing my Seattle guidebook.

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Life

Well I made it through my first Holy Week as a pastor. It was tiring and a little stressful at times, but there were also moments, usually during worship, where I was still able to focus on the meaning of the days. My parents were here for a long weekend and though I was working for a lot of it, I was grateful for some family time to distract me.
In my sermon(s) on Sunday, I asked the people where they are seeing resurrection and new life in their lives and in the world and others around them. Often, the words that God gives me are ones I need to hear probably just as much as the people I preach to. So I am trying to look for new life as well. Even though I've had uncomfortable moments and frustrations with some people lately, I've also noticed there are people who have been making extra efforts at being positive and supportive. These are people showing me new life. Today I was able to take a day off to recover from all the extra work of last week, and it was a great day. I treated myself to breakfast out, did a little shopping, stopped for a quick visit with a friend and did plenty of relaxing. I saw new life today. I am hoping this day refreshed me enough to work hard the rest of this week, to get ready for vacation next week!
Where do you see new life?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Letting it out

My life has been a rollercoaster these last few weeks, and it has felt like one LONG, continuous, tiring ride that has had a lot more scary and upsetting moments than fun moments. I don't mean to be a downer, I just want to be honest. And I hope that putting some of my feelings out here will be cathartic and helpful. Personally, my car saga has just been exhausting and ridiculous (it's almost funny how many loaner cars I've gone through), but I'm in the home stretch. I put a deposit down on a new car, one that was coming in but not on the lot yet, so now I'm just waiting for it to get here so that I can actually hopefully feel some excitement. Between the car payments I will now have and the amount of taxes I owe that I was not expecting, I have had to adjust my financial plan. But crap happens, and I will just make some changes and deal. I recognize that I could be in a far worse financial position. I am so grateful that I have a steady income. I have also had a lot of emotionally draining struggles within my congregation, some that have been building for a while and I think it all just came to a head within the last week or so. It's been really hard. But I think I'm at least learning from all of it. And I have some goals and things to focus on moving ahead. And Easter will be here soon! :) And then vacation soon after that! ;) I've also seen and felt God's presence during some of these really difficult times... in positive comments and support, in friends, in meals shared with others, in Scripture and prayer, and through running. :) And any of your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Lazy Song

Today I don't feel like doing anything. I just want to lay in my bed. Don't feel like pickin' up the phone, so leave a message at the tone. Cause today I don't feel like doing anything, nothing at all. (Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song)
Bruno Mars is one of my favorite newer musicians. I've liked almost every single he's come out with, and his latest single is fun and probably a little tongue-in-cheek. And today, it has been my theme song. I think everyone has days every now and then when they just want to be lazy, myself included. But today especially I really felt like doing nothing. In spite of my lack of motivation, I did get some work done today, but it wasn't easy. I just felt SO. TIRED. I think all the driving of the last couple days caught up to me. And I'm pretty sure I was also recovering (emotionally) from the car accident I had yesterday. Yeah. Thankfully, I am fine physically. And I didn't cause any damage to the car I hit (because it was a van). But I did do a decent amount of damage to the front of my car (hood, bumper, headlight). It was so stupid, I wasn't doing anything wrong, I just couldn't get stopped fast enough. It really was just an accident. I took my car in today and will hear back in the next day or so about the prognosis. I guess because it's old there's a possibility it might have to be totaled, but I'm really hoping that's not the case. I think she still has some life left in her! In the meantime, I'm driving a rental. I have a Jeep Patriot for now (because the options were pretty limited), which I have to admit is a pretty sweet vehicle, but I will probably end up trading it for something smaller with better gas mileage. So now I'm gonna try to relax, get to bed early, and hopefully feel better tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Weekend Away

In January I started thinking ahead over the year to try to plan out my vacation time. I had some vacation time already planned for May and I wanted to spread out my Sundays off through the year if possible. I decided with the busy seasons of Lent and Easter I wanted to take a weekend off before May, around this late winter/early spring time. Lutherlyn, the camp I attended as a kid and worked at as a counselor, has several off-season retreats, and at least a few of them are related to crafty things and often attended by my friend Mandy and her mom. I found out that they were having a "Mystery Quilting Retreat" the last weekend of March, and confirmed that Mandy would be attending, and decided to sign up and use it for a Sunday off. I decided to make it a long weekend, and I headed home to my parents' on Thursday, and then made my way to Lutherlyn Friday evening. Unfortunately Mandy had caught the flu and spent all day Friday in bed. She was feeling better by Saturday though, so luckily it was only a 24-hour thing (as of this posting, I am still feeling ok, and hoping I avoided catching it!) and we were still able to spend some time together, even though she wasn't feeling 100%. Her mom and I each worked on the mystery quilt project, and Mandy worked a little each on a t-shirt quilt, some placemats, and a stuffed rocket (see below). The way the mystery quilt worked was that we received a list of how much fabric to get and how to make the first cuts, all before we got to the retreat. Then we received clues every so often, and you work one clue at a time and when you finish it you move on to the next clue, so that you don't know what the completed quilt will look like. And everyone can work at their own pace. Even though I waited until I was at the retreat to cut any of my fabric, I was still able to catch up to about where most of the women were. The first few clues involved a lot (a LOT) of tedious cutting, sewing, cutting, and squaring, all to make the small squares that will be put together to make the blocks. You can see a lot of these squares in the picture below. Out of 9 clues total, I only made it to clue #5, but because of all the prep work, I think most of us ended the weekend around the same place. I was able to complete one block, and put enough rows together to complete 7 more blocks when I put those rows together. Then I can move on to clue #6! My completed block is the last picture below. I wasn't expecting to complete a quilt in one weekend, so I still feel pretty satisfied with what I was able to do, and I look forward to continuing to work on my quilt. The weekend was a nice break from the normal, and a great time at a place I love with a good friend. It was also nice to see my parents for a few days, but the time definitely went too fast, so I am looking forward to them coming out to visit me for Easter.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rant and Rave

As I've mentioned previously on my blog, I am part of the South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble. Because this is the first time I've been playing my saxophone regularly since college it's in need of a "tune-up". I took it to the closest music store at a time when I knew I would be missing the next rehearsal, so I thought it would leave plenty of time to be repaired. When I turned it into the store they told me that they don't do repairs in-house, they send them out, but that it typically only took a week, or maybe two at the most. I was also told I would receive a call from the repairman with an estimate. This was February 15th. A week or two goes by and I haven't heard anything, so I call the store and ask about it and they say that it still hasn't been returned and assure me again that I will receive a call when it's ready. Another week or two goes by and I call again and get the same answer again. Finally, a few days ago, I reach the point where it has been a MONTH and I have heard NOTHING. So when I call the store again I ask for the number of the repair place. I'm given the number for another music store that this person said does their repairs. I call them, and the person I spoke with has no record of my instrument! She assures me she will look into it and get back to me. I call again the next day, they still don't know where it is, and I'm told they're pursuing some different possibilities and they'll let me know. I say, I'm a little confused as to how a saxophone can just be lost. She thanks me for my patience. Grrrr. When I speak with the woman again the next day, she explains that they do repairs for rental instruments, and that there is a different person/place who does repairs on owned instruments, and this whole time she had been assuming I had a rental instrument (even though I definitely said MY saxophone). So at this point, I call the music store that I originally took it to in the first place, and after asking a lot of questions, he finds the record of my sax being brought in, and gives me the correct name and phone number of the repairman. I call him and leave a message. After no response, I call him again (today - over a month after the store first took my sax) and he answers and says that he hasn't had it, the store has had it this whole time and he was on his way to pick it up. WHAT?!?! He called back later in the day with an estimate and said it will be back at the store next week. Clearly, either there are totally incompetent people working at this music store, OR I was lied to several times (or both). Absolutely RIDICULOUS.

I have great friends. I am lucky to have them. I am thankful for the ones who stay in touch regularly and especially for those who have visited me. This is because maybe 95% of my friends live more than an hour (and most several hours) away from me. It's been hard out on here on the island, especially this winter. It has helped me to discover that maybe I'm not quite as much of an introvert as I thought I was or used to be. I need social interaction! And I've learned that making new friends as an adult is not always the easiest thing to do. Especially when most of my life revolves around my congregation, and I need to have some friends outside of that group of people. Well I think I have finally begun to find that. I have made some new friends recently that are (amazingly, for this location) around my age, and have given me reasons to get out of my house and laugh and have fun. Yay!

And now, in honor of Saint Patrick and my Scotch-Irish heritage, I'm going to enjoy a beer. Sla'inte!

Monday, February 28, 2011


I realized that today is the last day of February and I haven't posted at all this month! I have thought about posting several times, but I guess I never got motivated enough to write. As for how I filled my time this month, it was pretty much life as usual. Pastoring, trying to spend time with friends when possible, cleaning/organizing, taking care of my dog, going to the gym, reading and knitting. I hosted a Super Bowl party for some friends at the beginning of the month. Even though the Steelers didn't win, it was a good game, and I was glad to be able to play hostess. I also hosted some close friends from seminary for a visit just this past weekend. It was really nice to have visitors in the winter! As for crafty things, I haven't had the sewing machine out in a while, but I'm looking forward to a quilting retreat at the end of March. And in the meantime, I've been able to complete several knitting projects that had been laying around unfinished for a while (one since last spring, yikes). And as for reading, after I finished the Harry Potter series (and subsequently watched all the movies) in the fall, I decided I wanted to read through the Chronicles of Narnia series by CS Lewis. I am sure I have read at least one of the books in the past (when I was much yonger), but I know I haven't read through the whole series, so that's my current reading goal. Health and fitness-wise, I've been pretty consistent about getting to the gym this month (or outside on the few warmer days) and running 3-4 days a week and strength training 1-2 days a week. Now I need to start focusing on increasing my mileage, since I haven't really done any long runs all winter. And finally an update on my home organizing/de-cluttering plan: I've made it through the kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and 2 bedrooms. I only have 2 spaces left to tackle, but they may be the 2 most difficult: the garage (primarily storage) and the 3rd bedroom/office (also has a closet full of storage). Wish me luck! ;)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Looking through a new lens

It was time for an upgrade. I decided to use some money I received for Christmas and buy a new camera. As much as I would have loved to really upgrade to one of the SLR professional cameras, I had no idea how expensive they are until I started researching them. So I decided to stick with the model I already had (Sony Cybershot) and just upgrade to a newer model, with more megapixels (I went from 6 to 14). I haven't played around with it a whole lot yet, but I was excited to discover that there's a setting that automatically puts the camera on whatever setting it should be for the picture I'm taking. For instance, when I was taking pictures of the lighthouse, it switched to landscape setting. I just took my new heading picture today. I decided my blog needed a new look, and a new picture. And as long as we're stuck with snow and winter I might as well look for the beauty in it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Looking for some help

So there's something I've been struggling with lately and I can't figure out what to do. So I thought I'd write about it here to send it out to the blogosphere and hope for some responses. My problem basically boils down to the fact that I've been tired a lot lately and have a really hard time getting myself out of bed in the morning. I'm a relatively healthy person, and I may even be in better shape physically than the average person (I did just run a marathon!). So why am I so tired? And most nights I'm getting around 8 hours of sleep (there are some nights when I have trouble sleeping, but they don't occur that often, and it's usually just the first few hours I'm in bed, and not all night). So I always have great plans when I go to bed to get up early and workout or get other stuff done and I set my alarm and it goes off in the morning and I hit the snooze button. I've never really been a consistent "snoozer" so how did I get myself into this habit, and more importantly, HOW DO I GET OUT? The last several years I haven't been that fond of winter, so could this possibly be something that is caused by winter? To be totally honest, I'm not opposed to counseling, but I also don't want to jump into that if it's not necessary. Any ideas on a simple way to get myself out of bed in the morning and not hit the snooze several times (I do know that's not quality sleep I'm getting while "snoozing")? I did sign up for a spinning class at my gym one morning and got up when I needed to for that. But that won't work for every morning. Can anyone help?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Looking Ahead

I'm not really big on new year's resolutions. I understand why people are attracted to the idea of having resolutions at the beginning of a new year and viewing it as a time to start over or try new things. But I also know that many of these resolutions aren't successful. So I "resolved" a while ago to make goals and try new things any time during the year that I feel I should. I've posted on here about some of the past goals I've made, and I did recently make another one. I'm going to spend time during the next several weeks simplifying and organizing my "stuff". I value living more simply and keeping my life organized. I've never really had a lot of clutter, but there are always things I could do without. So inspired by the desire to simplify, a book I picked up at a book sale last summer called "Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff" and a book my aunt showed me over Christmas called "Throw Out 50 Things", I am going through each room of my house and getting rid of what I can and reorganizing where necessary. So that I'm not overwhelmed or rushed, I plan to do one room a week. I started this week with the living room and have been pretty successful so far, getting rid of some books and magazines, a board game, a few old video tapes and doing a little re-organizing of the bookshelves. I purposely started with an easy room, and hope to be able to keep it up when I get to rooms like my 3rd bedroom/office where I had shelves put in the closet to hide a bunch of clutter. ;)

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Look Back

2010 was a pretty big year for me, with some major life successes and transitions. In an effort to help me remember what happened, and to not let the "small" things get overshadowed by the big events, I took a look back over the year and recorded a month-by-month review. I won't bore you with that detailed review, because I'm pretty sure there are some things on it that will only be meaningful to me, but I thought I'd post my "summary" by season.

2010 Year in Review:

Winter (including some events at the end of 2009)
Celebrated the wedding of two seminary friends, survived "Snowmaggedon" parts 1 and 2 in Philly, began my final semester of seminary, learned I was assigned to NJ for my first call
Spent some time at the United Nations for a class, saw my college touring choir perform, attended two Phillies games, went sailing with friends, ran in the 10-mile Broad Street Run with 30,000 people (and 2 friends), attended the wedding of two more seminary friends, graduated from seminary with my Master of Divinity degree
Attended my 11-year high school reunion (yeah, weird, I know), moved and began my first call as pastor of a Lutheran congregation in NJ, attended my friend's baby shower and my cousin's daughter's 3rd birthday party on the same day, celebrated the birth of my cousin's second daughter, celebrated my 29th birthday, went tubing and parasailing, attended two Lakewood Blue Claws games (Phillies farm team), enjoyed visits from my parents and from friends
Began rehearsing with the South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble (the first instrumental ensemble I've been in since college), Ordained as a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, officially Installed as pastor of the congregation I serve, enjoyed more visits from my parents and other family, spent time at home with my mom as she recovered from hip surgery, and completed my first marathon in Philly