Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm Deb, she's D...

My best friend in high school had a name that stared with "D". As we were attached at the hip for almost 3 years straight, people always saw us together. I became "Deb" and she was "D". Regularly people would misname us, calling me "D" and her "Deb". We were always quick to reply, "I'm Deb, she's D..." (or vice versa). Almost 10 years later we are rarely in the same vicinity and no one post high school knows us together, or the distinction between D and Deb. On occasion people shorten my name to "D". I know it's been years and they are no longer confusing me with my high school companion, but I still catch myself wanting to say, "No, she's D, I'm Deb."

Today I received a follow up email from a colleague and co-alum from Candler, in his email he said, "Thanks, D - I contacted Megan. See ya in R-lands." I know it's an obvious nickname for those unfamiliar with my 'other half', but it's just one of those things.

So, for the record, I'm Deb, she's D, even if you don't know D, I'm not her. =)

And the pressure mounts...

I mentioned a few days ago that the time is drawing near. As such, the pressure is mounting. I'm at the stage where everything feels overwhelming. There are baby blankets to finish, boxes to pack, ministries to hand off, a senior pastorate to prepare for, my office to pack, and a separate move day to prepare for the things from my brother's.

I think overwhelmed might even be an understatement. I mean, it's nice to have books and things in place once you're there, but in the meantime, organizing and sorting and all that good stuff feels suffocating. Provided Wesley is a good and healthy fit, I'd be totally down with staying in one spot for awhile.

It's probably time to just suck it up and pack a box or two so I can know I'm at least one step closer. Yikers man!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sangria recipe

My home church is working on a cookbook as part of their centennial celebration. My parents thought I should submit my sangria recipe, but then thought too many people would not understand the preacher having a sangria recipe. Yesterday I was writing out recipes for a friend's bridal shower and gave her the one for Sangria, and then Peacebang mentioned it on her blog and so, I decided it was a sign that I should share it with you!

1 bottle red wine (any type should be fine, I buy it cheap because the flavor morphs with the other ingredients)
2 liters clear soda (7up or sprite)
1/3 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
2 oranges, washed and sliced (with peel on)
1-2 apples, washed, cored, and sliced (1/2" size)

Mix wine soda and sugar in a large pitcher. ***Note: the sugar will make the soda fizz, add it slowly! Add chopped fruit and cinnamon sticks. Refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving. Lasts 7-10 days in the fridge.

**If you use up the liquid but not the fruit, feel free to simply add more wine, soda and sugar to the same fruit and let the flavors mix a couple of hours (if possible) before serving.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mule Days

Memorial Day weekend has always been "Mule Days" for me. When I think of the holiday in late May, I never think "memorial day holiday", I always think "Mule Days." I did, after all, grow up in the "Mule Capital of the World." As a local, I marched in parades, I sold cokes in the grandstands, and I attended rodeos. As a teen and college student, unless I was working at Mule Days, I avoided it (along with the crowds) as best I could. Now, I have a friend in town and so we are "doing Mule Days." We've been the fairgrounds, visited the animals, studied the difference between a horse, a mule, and a donkey, watched the parade, run into old friends, and even visited the local bar.

Top 5 reasons not to go to your local small town bar...

5) All elements of fun, flirty, and anonymous evaporate as soon as you walk into the door, making the whole experience just plain weird.
4) You've always associated said bar with "low class", it's weird both to see people you know and generally think well of and to know that others are seeing you there.
3) Weird men leer at you.
2) Old men think it's okay to give you a little squeeze, even when they don't know you from Eve.
1) Your picture was in the local paper (as the guest preacher) and now you have a beer in your hand.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"They must have seen the flier"

This week(end) I came home to have some vacation, share Bishop with my best friend from seminary and her daughter, and to preach at my home church as part of their centennial celebration. My brother had been here last week and part of his advice was, "be prepared for the media onslaught." "The what?!" I replied. "The media onslaught. They put my picture in the paper and so everywhere I went people were telling me they saw me in the paper and that they'd come on Sunday to here me preach." "Great....I'm glad they couldn't get my picture to come through on email!" "No, they did. And besides dad had a couple choice ones picked out if they couldn't, one included you puckering I think..." "Even better. I'll look forward to that then."

So now I'm in town and someone says, "Hey, I saw your picture in the paper." Not a big surprise there, but my mom was there and it hadn't been in Thursday's paper, so she thought the person might be confused. "They must have seen the flier," she says to me. "The what?!" "The flier. There are fliers." "Where?!" I didn't get a clear answer to that one.

As strange and weird and over-done as it feels, it kinda makes me feel like I'm a big name. I'm not, but when you're from a small town, everything is a big deal. Here's to small town notoriety. I guess...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The time is drawing near...

Nope, I'm not claiming to be an end of times prophet. (Though I am a fan of behaving, loving, giving, struggling for justice as if it's tomorrow and not for 2000 years at the same time). The time for moving is drawing near. I know, it's still 5 weeks away, but, I leave for a week of vacation, am home for a couple of weeks and then a week of conference, then the final packing of boxes and then moving day. It's all happening so fast that my head is spinning. Monday the moving company delivered 80+ boxes to my door so I could get to work.

I already have a good 15 or so packed in other rooms. The race is on and I have way more work to do than I would like to think. Thank God for conference movers who will haul boxes downstairs in 100+ degree heat!

If you're in the packing boat--all my best! (I'm trying to be super organized so pretty much anyone could pick up a box and know, more or less, where things should be put away, and I'll still be able to find stuff when they're done).

If you're not in the packing boat--enjoy it!

Barring the worst appointment of my life, I'm ready for the itinerant system to leave me be for awhile.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title!

What David says here really resonates with me. Sometimes I get so tired of the rules, the channels, the structure, the rigidity of the institution of church that I simply want to throw up my hands and walk away. Period. Bureaucracy is not fun in my mind. I hate channels, and committees are making me crazy. What I'd really like is for us to have honest conversations that are straightforward, heartfelt, and merciful. Sometimes I really care about the resolutions and rules we set up, because I see them as a representation of us, and I want them to actually be representative. Other times I feel like I'm stuck in a room with a bunch of rule-mongering Pharisees and I want to stand up, like so many others, and say, "Can we just get on with the business of being the church--living as disciples who act with mercy and claim Christ as their Lord and Savior? Really, is it all that difficult? Won't it all just fall into place if we do that?!"

I guess the CPE version of what I'm saying here is, "I'm tired. I'm worn out. My patience is low, and it makes it really hard to take all of this in stride."

So, I'm taking a vacation. Well, a part of one anyway. I will be preaching at my home church in the middle of it, but hopefully that won't rob me of the fun and relaxation I hope to enjoy otherwise.

And this is coming from me, who takes sabbath weekly, and is pretty rigid and ridiculous with her sabbath rules and boundaries so as not to forsake her "non-work" day. So, I guess the second CPE tidbit here is: PRACTICE SABBATH!!! TAKE A DAY OFF! No work. No work calls. No work reading. No office visit. Nothing related to work. (whether you work in the church or not). Take a sabbath. God orders it for a reason--and it's not so you have another rule to feel guilty about not following, it's so you can preserve your sanity. So, take your day of rest! Religiously.

babies galore

I said before that October was baby-making season. I have at least 8 friends/family that are due between June and July. As such, I've been making blankets. One has already been delivered, a couple are yet to come. But these are the ones that are done so far (minus the one on the left that needs its binding finished). I've had fun picking through fabrics and figuring out which patterns to use. It has meant I've been procrastinating on the quilt for my bed, but it's been way more fun to do projects for others than one for me, especially when theirs get done so much faster!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Yep, I'm that far behind

It has not been until this last year that I actually started to catch up with the modern world. Seriously, I've always been cool with being decades behind as far as technology is concerned. But, within the last year I got
  • a laptop computer
  • a digital camera
  • an ipod
I know these items are pretty everyday for most folks of my generation, but I've been way behind and today arrived the most recent purchase--the ipod.

Despite the fact that it took over an hour to figure out why it wouldn't load my music and to them make play lists so I could add music, I am now the proud owner of a functioning ipod. It's fabulous! Partly because it simply blows my mind to think that what takes up 3 shelves of space for CD cases all fits on something smaller than a credit card. Seriously, does that not blow your mind?! Okay, you're probably over it, but I'm not. I think it amazing!

The next feat will be figuring out how it actually works with my car (that came equipped) and if I need to go to the store for a zillion connection cords or whatever.

Then this summer, it's a new phone (my contract's up) with blue tooth--also compatible/built into my car.

This nerd of the 20th century is taking strides my friends, taking strides!


The other night I had the privilege of attending a friend's med school graduation party. It was fabulous, his parents put on quite a spread. There were probably 100 people there, including a handful of us who had worked in ORL (Office of Residential Life at UCLA) with him. Most of the guests were Vietnamese, and most of the older adults primarily spoke Vietnamese. I was glad to be assigned to the ORL table with others I knew. It was interesting to me that the only non-asian folks were at the ORL table. I wasn't surprised per say, but it was just a stark difference from the rest of the room. It reminded me of how mono-cultural our lives can be. We grow up in a particular neighborhood with particular people and as a result, much of our lives follows a similar pattern of homogeneity. I know folks who grow up in urban situations often have a different experience of diversity. But I'd venture to say that for most, if the lines aren't racial/cultural, they are economic.

In the past, I've been tempted to argue "but I had ________ friends." And yet, while I had friends from a variety of cultures growing up and even more so in college, I've never been to a wedding or funeral, or even a baptism, bar mitzvah, or quincianera for someone outside of my culture. (And it has been interesting to attend Christian weddings with non-Christian friends and explain the traditions to a Hindu and a get to see the beauty of some of the traditions and the odd quirks of others). It was amusing as we sat around the table that night and learned more about what a Vietnamese wedding would be like, we also ended up sharing what would be different at a white wedding, Jewish wedding, or African American wedding--those things that are particular to a culture/religion/region. We talked about dollar dances, wedding registries, family style vs individually served meals, father/daughter dances, jumping the broom, breaking the glass, the electric slide, and more.

In the midst of our story telling, a good friend shared about her experience of going home with me for a ministry approval with my church. My town, at least when I was growing up, was composed of whites, native Americans, and Latinos. There were just a couple of Indian families, and Asian families, and there was one African American family. Yes, just one, and they were new to town, at least by small town standards. My friend is African American, as was my DS, and so at the meeting my mother cautioned her not to be surprised if people thought the two of them were related. She just about rolls on the floor laughing when she tells the story of us going to visit a friend, who ended up not being home, and me walking right in, walking past the barking dog, leaving a note, and then encouraging my friend to go ahead of me as we left. The implications of what that might have looked like to a stranger had absolutely no effect on me. She urged me out the door first and we went on our way.

As we continued sharing, the doe-eyed third year kept asking questions of those of us in the "real world" and she asked me if going to UCLA had been a culture shock. I told her it was more because there were more folks living in the dorms than in my entire town and surrounding area, but that I had participated in a program over the summer (that works with minority students, in which I theoretically did not belong) and how I really had to deal with my racism and later that summer, when someone close to me came out, my homophobia. My good friend commented, "I didn't know all that! Man, you've come a long way!"

Gratefully, yes, I think I have. And I am particularly grateful for my experiences in ORL, where I really was merged with people from all kinds of backgrounds, and was also forced to deal with other prejudices so that I could be a better RA to all of the people on my floor. Sort of like a hospital can be a great equalizer of persons (rich, poor, black, white, male, female, young, and old, you see them all in those gusty gowns, with bad hair, stuck in the limbo of waiting for a diagnosis or a bowel movement to be released) ORL is a great unifier of persons--bringing folks together, forcing us to live together, to deal with conflict, to have fun together, all in the name of higher education.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I used to think that love never ended. That once I loved someone, I would love them forever. I even said that to a boyfriend in college. That wouldn't have been a big deal except that we had only been together for 2 or 3 weeks and for all intents and purposes I was "in lust". But whatever, that's water under the bridge. The point is I thought that love was permanent, not that you didn't have to work at it, just that it persisted.

In college, maybe early seminary, I read "The Five Love Languages", which I've posted about before. After reading that book I came to think that first we feel loved by someone (that's what we mean early on when we say, "I love you" what we really mean is "I feel loved by you."), and then as we progress in our relationship we learn to really love them (as in the verb: to love, the action of loving, showing love, etc). In addition to distinguishing between feeling loved and actually loving someone, I also came to figure out that in the sense of feeling loved--that can end. Others around us can stop showing us love, and in turn, we stop feeling loved, and in many ways that's what folks mean when they say, "I don't love you anymore." (I don't feel loved by you anymore).

Clear as mud?

Good. So the next stage was when I was in seminary and lots of folks around me were getting divorced. One friend who had been married for 30+ years and had tried to work through her husband's affair, and then another friend who had been married for 25 years and they had "drifted apart". After witnessing their pain and the dissolution of their marriages, I started to believe that love can end. Love ceases. People grow apart. It can all fade away.

Recently, my faith in love has been restored. I won't go into details because it would take far too long and most of it really isn't your business to know anyway (no offense intended), but at the end of high school and early in college I basically lost 2 of my closest friends. I had been friends with both of them since I was very young and we had gone through school together, academic competitions, musical performances, cheer tryouts...these two friends had been with me, in some form or fashion, for years. Then, for a variety of circumstances (completely unrelated) our friendships were broken. We stopped speaking. Letters, emails, calls, they all stopped.

In both cases I had *caused* the break. But in neither case had I tried to be malicious or hurtful. In fact, in both cases I had wanted to protect the welfare and interests of my friends. For years I have held the hurt of two broken relationships, as well as harbored guilt for what I had done. I also was torn between whether I had actually done something wrong, and if in fact I wouldn't do it all over again if the same circumstances presented themselves. Neither situation was simple. And the best course of action had been cloudy at best, but I had followed my heart and tried to love them even through tough circumstances.

Losing these friendships meant a lot to me. I know that high school friends are *meant* to be lost as we grow and develop and move on from adolescence. But I also know that these two people were not merely friends, they shaped me and my experiences with them, in many ways, made me the person I am today. There are others from my past that I don't miss. Others I don't even remember. But these two are special.

Today they are women. Women with careers and partners. Women with stories I have never heard, and probably never will. But today, nearly 9 years later they are both back in my life. The healing has been gradual, not all at once. For one it began with a brief online conversation a few years back when another friend was getting married. For the other it was a wave across campus, then cordial hellos, and now real conversation.

I am not, and probably will not be, best friends with either of these women. But these days, that icy silence, the festering wounds, the deep resentment--they are gone. We can talk, laugh, and reminisce and it is good. It is not perfect. But it is good.

I can't even express in words the gratitude I have for the way these women have drifted back into my life and for the forgiveness they have offered.

That may seem like a long random tangent from my beginning thoughts on love, but really, it comes full circle, for where before I had believed that love could end (and probably even believed that the love between these friends and I had ended), now I know that I was wrong. For these women and I have been apart and there has been no time, no opportunity, to rebuild the love shared between us, and yet, my love for them is strong. It is immense and overwhelming, for love never died. Love endured. Through silence. Through unanswered calls and emails. Through anger and hurt. Through bitterness. Through personal growth. Through transition into adulthood. Through absences and distance. Love endured.

"Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag and it is not arrogant. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." ~1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Quote of the Day

"The only people I know who do not have problems are the people buried at the nearest cemetery. Sometimes, I am not so sure about them. When I walk by late at night, I hear the mutterings and murmurings. Whole, healthy people have problems. It is not the absence of problems that makes us whole and healthy. it is the presence of strengths for living that help us have the capacity to solve some of our problems and have the ability to live beyond the rest of them."
--Ken Callahan "A New Beginning for Pastors and Congregations."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Scripture and Hymn Stream of Consciousness

I shall not want
lead me
guide me
heal me
show me
use me
mold me
make me
shine on me
shine on me
Shine Lord Jesus
The Lord is my shepherd
he is the good shepherd
he knows me
he sees me
good and bad,
God knows my heart
The Lord is my shepherd
the good shepherd
my protector, my shield
lead me, softly and gently lead me
calling, O Sinner come home
Come home. Come home.
Ye who are weary come home.
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
calling O sinner come home.
I am the way, the truth, and the life,
there is not way to the Father except through me
I am the path you shall follow.
I am the way.
I am the truth.
I am what is real.
Unequivocally right.
I am the life
in the beginning was the word,
the word was with God
the word was God.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Congregational tips

A few weeks ago I went to lunch with a handful of parishioners. Preparing for my move, I asked what stood out in their minds about former pastors they had had. In other words, what had they done well and what had they fumbled? What were the things that carried over in the long term? It may or may not be worth much to you, but I figured I'd share their thoughts. (in no particular order). Things they valued in a pastor:

  • Welcoming
  • Warmth
  • Deeply religious
  • Make the people learn about the Bible
  • Share background on the scripture passage
  • Patience
  • Compassion
  • Creativity
  • Listening
  • Does not air dirty laundry
  • Avoids politics
  • Builds up the people
  • uses humor in preaching
  • Eye contact
  • openness for people to share
  • Storytelling
  • visitation
  • knowing when to stop
  • contemporary preaching
  • spirit filled

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spiritual assessment

*Right before lent I was in a spiritual funk, if that's what you call it. While leading a prayer workshop, I had others write prayers, I wrote the following:

Lack of focus

Are these symptomatic of my broad-scale spiritual state? God is this momentary?

Have I become unfocused, bored, and inattentive in general?

Is the kink and pressure in my back symbolic or representative of a kink and impositional pressure in my spirit?

How is it with my soul? Really? While I feel balanced and good, am I really?

How can I focus my spirit? How can I garner new energy? How do I garner something even from the obvious, boring or lackluster?

What is God saying to me right now?

That I am ready for a new challenge in my faith walk00that it's time to step it up and move to the next level.

What is the next level God? What does that look like? How do I get there?

Deep breathing
time in the Word
dedicate prayer time and use the book ends of prayer

Clear your head. Dedicate your heart and press forward.

You're too critical, it impairs your ability to receive from others with grace.

Lighten up!

Be gracious, even with your peers.

How can I lead if I cease growing and learning?

Listening for God's voice:

On guest preaching

The truth is (well, at least my truth is) when I'm a guest preacher somewhere I want to preach the "right" word--the exact message that the people need to hear. But really, that notion is distracting and I can hunt and hunt through scripture for the "perfect" passage. But the reality is, if we are faithful to the living word of God and seek God's guidance, any word we preach can be the word. Now, that doesn't mean that those who hear my guest sermon will leave having heard the best sermon ever, but it does mean that if they open their hearts and I've opened mine and we all open our mind and seek God's guidance, we will hear a message God has for us. It may be simple or may be completely transformational, either way, if we open ourselves to hear from God, we will hear from our Lord, and that, at least from my perspective, is enough.

On hiring staff

With the dissolution of the associate position at my church, there's been much talk about who will oversee my main ministry areas. We've talked about creating positions, hiring folks, and moving toward new areas of ministry.

I talked with a mentor of mine today and as we talked about hiring new positions, he said it is important to focus on 3 things:

1) clear job description/expectations
2) clear interview questions
3) references

Too often in the church, things just happen, or we go with a default person b/c no one else seems to want the job, or we act too hastily, or....

But for people to really do the best job possible, they need to know what is expected of them and to have accountability in that. So in hiring folks, for there to be greater results (especially in creating a new position or reformatting an old one), it is essential to be very clear about what is desired/expected.

In creating clear interview questions, it's very helpful to ask not just "what would you like to see happen?" (b/c it's very easy to dream up and idealize), but to ask "tell me a time when you....(started a program, inherited a weak ____________, had to train someone, had to reprimand/correct someone who worked under you or with you...)" You want concrete examples of what the person has done in the past because past behavior is the greatest predictor of future behavior.

I could come to you with a whole host of ideas, but if I have never instituted a program, or planned and implemented an event, or supervised others, there's no guarantee that I will be able to (there's no guarantee that I won't learn and be able to do it, but that will require much more supervision from someone who has...)

As for references, it's important to get outside perspective. What has the person done well? What are his/her strengths? weaknesses? why did he/she leave the last position (paid or volunteer)? Are there any red flags we should be aware of? (Note: we sometimes shy away from asking the hard questions or questions that would imply doubt, but often those who make referrals will not share red flag/difficult information if they are not specifically prompted...)

One final thought: Just because you know and like someone does not necessarily make them the best candidate, and just b/c you aren't super keen on another does not mean they can't do a wonderful job.

Do I sound that stupid?!

I got a notice the other day from my credit card company. They were offering greater rewards for my valued business...a lower APR, bigger spending limit, or more bonus points for purchases. So I call. I ask the guy what the specifics on each of the incentives are and he tells me I could increase my spending limit (not needed), decrease my APR to either 10.9% or 9.9% for a couple months and then it would go to a variable, or I can get X many more points for grocery and gas purchases. So I ask what the difference is between the 10.9% option and the 9.9% option. His response, "one percent." Thanks. That was helpful. No, really, I can do the math, I promise.

Me: I mean why would I choose 10.9% over 9.9%?
Him: Oh, well, I just thought I'd throw both options out there.
Me: Is this a trick question?
Him: No. I'm sorry.
Me: (laughing too hard to actually give a real response) Who in their right mind would opt to pay more when they don't have to and there's no other difference between the two plans? (still giggling) I'm sorry.
Him: That's okay Ms. C. Do you know which one you'd like?
Me: (This man is too much). Yeah, I think I'll go with the 9.9%

Product shout out

Who would have thought that the barkeeper's best friend would be mine too? The other day I got a cleaning bug and needed new Ajax/Comet. I went to Lowe's for some other items and they had "barkeeper's best friend". It's non-toxic and biodegradable so I figured I'd try it. I went home to clean the dealie-boppers (that's an official term...I should know, I worked in hardware for 6 years) that goes under your burners on the stove. I used some steel wool and the Barkeeper's friend and voila! My dealie-boppers are now good as new! Props to the barkeeper!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Prayer of my heart

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Blessed be the Lord, who has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusts. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

You did not give me a spirit of fear O God--let my confidence rest in you. Wash my heart in peace. Show me your grace God. help me to see your people as you see your peole00with clarity, love, compassion, and understanding. help me to see not just actions that hurt and offend but also where the person is coming from: motivations, hopes, wounds, and expectations.

Protect me Lord from invasion by the enemy. May your blood be my shield against all evil that comes my way. Help my focus stay true to you and the calling you have placed on my life.

Strengthen me that I may act with integrity and honesty and that in so doing I would glorify you and be an example of a faithful and humble servant who is gracious and forgiving even in the most trying of circumstances. May I not stumble. May I sing praises to you Lord Jesus all the days of my life.

In the name of the one who was and is and is to come. Amen.

Food for thought

Have you ever thought about how when you take the "high road" you have to first climb up to the high place? Taking the high road is not an easy or simple undertaking. It requires commitment, stamina, endurance, patience, and a vision for the bigger picture.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And that's what it's all about

It has been one of those weeks. The kind where you deal with everything you wish you didn't have to as a pastor--bureaucracy, manipulation, half-truths, and legal issues. I have been super overwhelmed and busy that I can't even think of writing a post. Well, I could, but mostly it would be me sorting through my issues, which isn't exactly what I want to be posting. But today was a good day that reminded me of why I do ministry. We had a good Bible study this morning, I crossed a ton of items off my to-do list. I enlisted new leaders for our youth group, I visited a woman who is in a rehab center and tomorrow will help her find a place to be since her insurance is running out. And I got to teach a study that went well (especially considering the fact that I didn't know I had to teach until last night and I didn't know what I would teach until this afternoon).

I have this thing where I feel like everything I know everyone else knows already. So I rarely feel like I have anything to offer. I know it's weird. I don't know why it is, it just is. So tonight I tentatively prep'd my study on spiritual gifts imagining everyone raising an eyebrow and looking at me like I'm an idiot for covering things so mundane. But, instead, no one in the group had ever done a spiritual gifts inventory and people interacted well and hopefully learned something. It was fabulous and filled me with joy--Oh yeah! that's what my call is about! That's what happens when I actually do what I'm called to do rather than second guessing people and muddling through the mire that has been coming my way.

3 cheers for living your call: Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The $5 campaign

I am working with a group of folks on fundraising for next year's Katrina relief trip. We are already scheduled to go (Pasadena and Riverside districts), and we know that much of the funds are running out. Samaritan's Purse (Franklin Graham's organization) was donating some $20,000 per house ($55,000 for a whole house, start to finish with permits etc), and they pulled out at the end of April. Red Cross gives another $10,000 (I think that's the right number) and they are scheduled to pull funds at the end of the summer. Nevertheless, there are still at least 40,000 families/households in Mississippi living in FEMA trailers. That's a lot of displaced families. That does not include those folks who are in their homes, but their homes are not fully refurbished, or those folks that FEMA refused to help. In essence, the need is still great.

So, we're trying to do some organizing. This year, we were able to leave about $9000 cash to be used for families. This coming year we'd like to be able to take at least $55,000 to pay for one full house for a family. A team of us from our two districts is brainstorming, meeting, and trying to figure out how we can best do that.

Last night I had an idea. There are some 90,000 members in our annual conference (more or less, and no they are probably not all active...) and if each of those people gave just $5 we could raise $450,000--enough for 8 houses. That's one house per district. That's not a lot to ask. If everyone who is currently at General Conference were to give just $5, we'd have enough for another house. Do you see how simple that is?! $5! Just 5 measly dollars. I know the economy's tight these days and every little bit counts, but 5 dollars is not a huge sacrifice so that someone can have a home.

Despite my excitement at how easy it would be to raise enough for 8 houses, I was a bit discouraged thinking about how simple it is, and how simple it would be for us to do SO MUCH GOOD around the world--nothing but nets, hope packs, new wells, vaccinations, food for families, shelter. If we did the $5 campaign for just one year and IF, yes I know it's a big if, but if everyone actually gave their $5 (just in our annual conference) we would raise $5.4 million dollars. How amazing would it be to do so much good in our world?! And that would just be us crazy liberals out in California and the beach dwellers of Hawaii.

On a final note, as I listened to General Conference the other day and thought about our fundraising, I had the hair-brained idea that each of our districts (throughout the denomination) should donate enough money to fund an entire house. Wouldn't that be incredible!?! The people of the United Methodist Church living what they believe, restoring devastated areas and all with just $5!