Friday, January 28, 2011

Faith vs. Stubbornness

We had our annual congregational meeting last Sunday. We are experiencing what most faith communities are: a decreasing membership which, in turn, means decreased giving, which in turn means, we can't pay the bills. For my entire church-life, we have always passed a deficit budget. How that can even be presented as a viable option, I have no idea. Anyhow, this year proved to be no different. However, the very shocking thing was that $5,000 in unpaid 2010 bills were included. Again, how that can even be presented as a viable option, I have no idea. Something is wrong. Seriously wrong. And the leadership does not/refuses to acknowledge this fact. Needless to say, I opposed the passing of the budget.

So, because I am who I am, I raise the question..."What is the plan? How are we going to meet this budget?" The response I received was less than adequate. Our pastor related all of the things that we have been doing, i.e., continuing our mission, praying, reaching out to others. So, here I sit in another congregational meeting with still no answer. Fortunately, one of my former youth group kids spoke up and called them on not answering the question. Again, avoidance.

Speed up to the "open house" portion of the agenda. I calmly asked, again, what the plan was to increase our membership and to pay our bills. I made my point very clearly and precisely. All to no avail. I was met with, "God will provide." "God will be working through us to increase the membership." "We can do more." At this point, something stirred in me that I was not prepared for. Out it came. I voiced my concern that we have been talking about the same things for 3 years now and we have not had any movement. I must have been speaking Greek because no one in leadership could give me a straight answer. So, after asking the question, "What is it about our congregation, our ministries, our building that makes people not come back?" I was asked, "Would you like to research that?" To which I replied, "no, you don't want me to do that. I can rattle off 10 things right now and it wouldn't be good." (side note: we did that a year ago and nothing came of it) And the response, "Maybe you should take a break and come back refreshed and renewed." That did it. Out the door I went.

I fully understand that God will provide. I get it. I have been a recipient of that deep faith. What I don't understand is how someone can blatantly ignore what is going on around them and have no clue that in order for us to actually receive those provisions from God, we must be prepared. We aren't. That's my point. The line from Faith to Stubbornness has been crossed. Faith is believing in what you can't see. That doesn't mean that you ignore reality and what's going on around you. It doesn't mean that you can't make a plan. It means that you must be prepared for whatever you will be given so that you can use those gifts to their fullest potential. Stubbornness has come to live in our congregation. The refusal to acknowledge the financial crisis we are in, the refusal to acknowledge the decreasing membership, and the refusal to acknowledge that a plan is needed are all examples. We need to push Stubbornness back out the door and restore Faith.

With God all things are possible...or are they?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Ok, I am trying to resolve this feeling of remorse I have. It’s not about me, it never was. I just happened to be the person in the line of fire. The straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak.

When I was promoted, I apparently inherited some time from one of our Service Support staff. Nice lady — a little goofy — but, all in all, nice. She is supposed to set up for the tours we do of our facility. One tour, once per month. It’s never more than making coffee, getting danish, putting out soda, etc. Seriously, it’s not that hard. I’m loving life, for once, I don’t have to do this stuff. A perk of the promotion.

Well, last week she comes to see me. She plops herself in the chair and proceeds to sigh and say that she’s “giving up the tours.” She has spoken to her immediate supervisor (one of the VP’s) and he says OK. WHAT? Seriously? Amongst the sighs is the explanation — I’m physically exhausted. I can’t lift anything. I can’t even stand to walk. I have a very over bearing mother… this point, I stopped listening. I told her that I needed someone to do the set up for Friday and we could figure something out for the next one.

I take this tidbit of information and proceed to email my old supervisor who is the head of HR. She, in turn, without speaking with me (which I asked her to) goes to the VP and asks him what’s going on. So, I get an email back from him that she’s going to trade a task with another Admin person. Seriously?

So, I get an email today from Ms. Sigher who asks about the juice situation. I tell her that I don’t know but that I would check and bring it down to her office. She says okay. So, after lunch I do. When she sees me, she lets out this huge sigh and TELLS me to take it downstairs. Um…..really? I say that the room where it needs to go is being used. She sighs again and points to a spot on the floor and says, “Put it there.”

I leave, stop at an office down the hall and I hear her let out a yelp. I don’t go to see what’s going on. A couple of minutes later, I get a phone call from one of the other Directors…she tells me that I pushed Ms. Sigher over the edge. Seriously?

Now, here’s the issue. I am normally patient. I can handle a lot of things. It takes a lot to get me frustrated and a lot for me to even show that I’m pissed. Well, I guess I really couldn’t handle all of the sighing and drama and looked like I was pissed. I felt bad. I feel bad. But, seriously, if you’re that bad off….GO HOME…..TAKE SOME SICK TIME….FOR GOD’S SAKE, STOP SIGHING! (I think that’s what set ME over the edge.)

This isn’t about me. This is about her. I just happened to be the one in the line of fire. I’ll get over it but, in the meantime, who’s going to set up for the tour on Friday, dammit?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Funky Town

Yep, that's exactly where I am...right in the middle of FUNKYTOWN. I'm in a funk that won't quit. I hate it. I am usually a positive person and don't dwell on lots of negatives but, as of late, it's becoming harder and harder to find the positives. I hate when I get like this -- it doesn't happen often and doesn't last too long either. Why am I dwelling here? There is a lot going on in my pea sized brain at the moment.

Father's day is coming up -- next Sunday as a matter of fact. Friday, June 19 will mark the 5th anniversary of my dad's passing. Yep, that's right...he died just before Father's Day. I've been dreaming an awful lot about him lately. Last night's dream had us attending a conference -- something the two of us had done quite often together. He was to check into the hotel before me and we were to meet up. I'm not sure exactly who I was in the car with but when we pulled up to the hotel there was a huge line. I saw my dad, clear as day, at the counter. He was wearing his white and tan short sleeved collared shirt, his trademark sunglasses, and his gold watch. He saw me and waved then disappeared. I called his cell phone -- I can't believe I actually remembered the number in my dream. Couldn't connect. I dialed again. Again, no connection. I got in the elevator and finally got to my room -- he had been there but was gone. I woke up.

I really miss him. A lot. There's so much I want to say to him. There's so much I want to tell him. There's so much I want to ask him. I am still slightly angry that he left me so soon. I didn't even get one last hug. Everything I have done in the past two weeks has reminded me somehow of him.

I will get through this...I always do. But, right now, it hurts and I just want him to come walking through the door or call me. In my head I know that's not going to happen but, in my heart, I pray it will. I will go visit -- he's buried about 3 minutes from my house -- and tell him that I love and miss him.

Rest in Peace, Pop......

Below is the eulogy I gave...........thanks for taking the time to read it.

As I was thinking about how to start to explain my dad, I thought about a Father's Day story my niece, Kyra, wrote about my brother, Costa. The title of the book is "My Dad is Awesome." In it, she says that my brother is as strong as a gorilla, that he can run like a cheetah, is great at throwing, can sing, and isn't afraid of the dark. Coming from a 7 year old, that's pretty profound. The more I thought about what she wrote, the more I thought about my dad.

He was as strong as a gorilla in so many ways...from the hugs that he gave you every time you saw him, to the emotional and spiritual strength he gave when you talked to him. And we all know that dad was always on the run...whether it be from one meeting to another or from one family or friend's house to another. Dad was always one to listen and give you an opinion...and sometimes that opinion would throw you for a loop.

One of the greatest joys that Costa had was that of music. He taught us from a very early age to listen to and enjoy a great variety...from classical to his all time favorite, Motown. He wasn't afraid to sing his heart out and let the music take him away.

I can recall one very dark and stormy night just shortly after I had moved into my house. The electricity was off and I was searching for candles. As I found the candle and lit it, my dad popped into my mind. Not 30 seconds later, he called and asked if I was ok. I told him what was happening and he asked me if I had candles. I said, "Of course, Dad, they're lit." He said, "Good, that me there, protecting you from the dark."

That's how dad was. All I needed to do was think about him and very shortly after my thought, he called. The same was true for him...I got a feeling that he was thinking about me and I'd call. We often talked about that and came to the conclusion that we had been given that gift of "knowing" from my grandmother. That feeling of needing to check on each other grew stronger as we shared many thoughts, ideas, and conversations about our spirituality among other things. I related a story on Tuesday evening that when I had finally decided to go back to school, I called dad and told him. First, he told me that he was proud of me and that it was about time I just did it after being out of school for 12 years. He then asked me what I was getting my masters' in. When I told him that I was pursuing my master's in Pastoral Care and Counseling, he started to cry and told me that was the best news that he had heard in such a long time.

As my brother and I drove home from Indiana, we had a wonderful opportunity to share our thoughts and feelings with each other. We talked about all of the things we learned from our dad. One of the greatest things junior learned was to treat others as you would want to be treated regardless of race, color, or creed. He instilled in junior a sense of work ethic and was a strong sounding board when it came time to make some big decisions. Along with that, Dad was the "go to" guy for explanations about politics and world events. When junior went to Puerto Rico for the Biddy Basketball championship, Dad was right there along side of him as a chaperone. He instilled the passion to always give more than you receive and was never afraid to jokingly use Bill Cosby's line, "I brought you in, I'll take you out."

One of the positive things that came out of this experience was the presence of our family with us physically and in spirit. As my brother and I spend our last moments with our dad, he had a look of peace and comfort on his face. As we were holding his hands and expressing our range of emotions there was a very slight tap on the door. As we raised our heads, the hospital Chaplain entered the room. As she gracefully began to console us and ask us how she could help us in our time of need, we noticed her nametag and were immediately comforted and knew that Dad sent Callie to be with us.

Our dad touched so many lives and was blessed by so many lives. A testimony to that was the loving support he had from his Indiana family as they shared their thoughts and fond remembrances on Tuesday evening. We learned that Dad did so many things that we were unaware of and he always put others before himself. He lived to be a servant of God and always asked how he could make things better for those around him. We learned that our dad questioned what his legacy would be. We know that he was passionate about whatever he was doing and never asked for anything in return. Our cousin Dianne summed it up beautifully -- pay it forward. Keep the legacy going and know that Costa will always be with your mind, in your memories, and most importantly, in your spirit.

We would like to share some words of wisdom from our dad as he traveled on his spiritual journey. God is in control of all things and will prevail. When you ask God a question, listen to the answer. Learn from your mistakes. Be truthful. Be honest. Trust God. Be patient. Ask for help. Give thanks and praise. Let the butterfly be, keep your faith and trust in God. Think positive. Stay in the moment. Time is precious and so is life. One thing is for sure -- there is a God and he takes care of business!

Friday, June 5, 2009


So, it's a rainy Friday here in the suburbs of Philadelphia (or, Philly as it's better known). It's a little chilly but I'm okay with that. This week has been very busy. I am mentally exhausted and now have a slight headache. Ugh!

I am in the process of negotiating new office space. I really need to get out of the toxic environment that I'm in. I can't remember if I blogged about it recently and am too lazy right now to check. Anyhoo -- my new space is in the education wing of a church. It has a door and a lock, a nice big window with vertical blinds, cushy carpeting, and I'll be the ONLY person using it. It needs some cosmetic work but who cares? The people at the church were so excited and happy that I would be bringing my "ministry" there. It's so nice to be wanted and supported. I'm hoping to be seeing clients there on July 2 but I'm not sure that will happen. Say a prayer that it will. I still have to meet with their Church Council which, in my past experience with church council, may be a challenge. But, I will face it just as I've faced it in the past and God will guide the conversation as He sees.

I just finished up two days of Disaster Crisis Outreach Response Team Training. I will be on our county DCORT team and have volunteered to be contacted should a crisis arise where our services are needed. I'm pretty excited to be a part of this but really hope that nothing happens where we'll need to be deployed. All of this "disaster" talk got me thinking -- I am in no way, shape, or form prepared if something should happen. I think I will start to assemble a "to go" bag just in case. I don't know about stockpiling food, etc just yet. They kept talking about what the responder's family will need when the responder is deployed. A little depressing considering I'm the only one in my house. I have no dependants. I have no spouse. The only one I have to be concerned about is my cat and my neighbor can take care of him.

So here I am again faced with being a "one" in a world of "twos." Really stinks. Some days I am okay with being alone and other days I'm not. It's been on my mind quite a lot lately. Probably because I'm not getting any younger and wonder who will take care of me when I'm old and feeble? Not that I plan on being old and feeble any time soon but the reality of the situation is that it's me, myself, and I. I'm wondering if the fact that I turned 40 a few months ago has anything to do with this latest perseveration? Probably. Who knows?

For now, I'll continue on my journey and pray that something exciting crops up. Until then it's life as usual.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Oh What A Beautiful Morning..........

I'm sitting here listening to the there anything HAPPY going on in this world? Between false accusations, nuclear bombs, over reaction to the latest supreme court nominee, and rising gas prices I just want to watch cartoons! Gone are the days when we watched Wile E Coyote open his packages from ACME in an attempt to capture the Roadrunner.

I was listening to Ben Stein giving his commencement address at Liberty University (I think that's the name) this morning. He said that all of us have been touched by the holy (ok, so that may have not been the word but's close) and that we should treat each other with that in mind. It was so elementary but had such truth to it........we don't treat each other as we should.

I believe that if we all started adopting this viewpoint, there would be a lot more happy stuff going on in the world.

Ok, I'm stepping off of the soap box to get ready to go to church. Today we celebrate Pentecost.....the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus. Today is also my Godson's confirmation. I'm so proud of him.

This is the day the Lord has made......let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Show Me Da Money Part Two

In my email this morning, there were two emails from the chair of the committee. He forwarded me the correspondence between the current treasurer and the Dean of our conference (who happens to be a friend of mine). Basically, the email to the treasurer said that she wasn't doing her job and that the committee decided to search for a new treasurer. It was a bit harsh but he got to the point.

She replied back that she was sorry that the committee felt she was unable to do the job....blah blah blah.....excuses abounded. She then said that she would get all of the information together for me. How in the heck did I get to be the designated person to get the stuff? My name wasn't even mentioned in the emails.....

Anyhoo....I'm glad that the two Pastors intervened and that she was responsive. Now I'm interested to see how long its going to take to get the stuff. I'm giving her two weeks then she will not be happy with my attitude.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Show Me Da Money

Everyone who reads me knows that I am very involved in my church and church activities. With that involvement comes sitting on committees and having to deal with lots of people about lots of things.

Every year, for the past 20, I have gone on retreat with about 300-400 other people -- mostly teenagers. For about the last 15 years or so I have been a part of the steering committee for this retreat. We've gone through many changes over the years but the core group of us still remains. This past Fall, one of our group members unexpectedly passed away. He was the treasurer. He did all sorts of things we didn't know until we had to find out for ourselves. It has been a learning experience for all of us to say the least.

When we opened the bank account a million years ago, I was one of the signers. No big deal....he kept everyone informed. It ran like a well oiled machine. Until now....We have someone who stepped up to be treasurer. NICE! We thought everything would be taken care of. I'm still on the account.

You wouldn't believe me if I told you that over the past several months I have called her over 50 times, sent about just as many emails, arranged a few meetings and spoken with her daughter about 10 times. Guess what??? I have yet to have contact with her. I don't know how much money is in our account. I don't know the status of the old account. I don't know if the offering money was ever sent to the intended recipient. I don't know who submitted receipts for reimbursement. Hell, I don't even know the stinking account number.

So, I raised my concerns at the last meeting we had. They were shocked when they heard all of the things that have been going on. I told them in no uncertain terms that I WOULD NOT continue this way with my name on the account and if they didn't do something about it quickly, we were going to have a serious problem.

We shall see where this ends......I should have known that this no-communication thing would be a problem based on previous experiences.

I'll keep ya posted on this's going to be a doozie!