My dreams came true on Sunday.  I’ve wanted a dog since I before I can remember.  And now, not only do I have the cutest dog in the world – I also have the smartest.  Her name is Hershey, she’s a one year old Labradoodle.  And she’s taken over our house.

On top of having another somebody in the house to take care of, and another somebody who loves me unconditionally – I now have somebody who NEEDS me to take them on long walks and maybe even RUN!  My legs are sore already.  I am a flabby flabby girl.  But not for long…

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Totally straight up stole this from a bloggy friend…  “A post I recently read claims that the average American adult has read only six of the top 100 books ever written. I’m not sure who put this list together, or what (if any) significance there is in the numbering…”

The Rules:
1) Look at the list and put one * by those you have read.
2) Put a % by those you intend to read.
3) Put two ** by the books you LOVE.
4) Put # by the books you HATE.
5) (NEW RULE) Put ! by ones that you have seen in movie form
6) Post. (Don’t forget to tag me.)

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen %
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien **
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte %
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling ** !
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee**
6 The Bible **
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte *
8 1984 – George Orwell*
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens*
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott*
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller*
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien**
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger *
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger **
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell %
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald*
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy *
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams !%
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky %
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck *
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll %
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame *
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy %
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia- CS Lewis (! for the PBS versions – have read the first two)*******
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis**
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini **
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden ** !
40 Winnie the pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell* !
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown** !
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez *
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery *
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding*
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan *
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens*
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon **
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck *
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding%!
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville *
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens*
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett **
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath *
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens*!
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker!
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White *!
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad *
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery **
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams **
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas !
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare *
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl ** !
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Thirty-nine is my score, though I must confess I counted Atonement, and I’m technically in the middle of reading it this week.  And it definately would not make my Top 100.  hmm.

Yes, I’m still around.  Just lacking motivation to write…

I’m beginning to dread getting the mail at the church each day.  What was once exciting opportunities to read new information and to check out what sort of things this congregation gets in the mail, has become incredibly frustrating.  I’ll divide the mail into 4 catagories.

1. Things I just need to give to the secretary (checks from parishoners, etc.)

2. Things I need to respond to asap.

3. Junk mail from organizations I have no interest in connecting this church to

4. Synodical mailings and ELCA mailings full of exciting ministry ideas and good stuff that I JUST CAN’T DO!

For example, I have received a ton of Fair Trade stuff, a ton of Bread for the World Stuff, an Appeal to adopt an ELCA missionary, Lutheran World Relief info, and local shelters seeking help…. ALL THIS WEEK!  How do I sift all this stuff and introduce the congregation to the global needs without overwhelming them, cause I’ve only been here for 3 months?  I keep filing stuff away to use later, and it makes me feel bad – this is all stuff that I would love to be involved in…

I think at the root of it all, it just makes me feel like I’m a bad pastor.  Like I’m taking the time here to post on my blog as I try to come up with something to teach two kids for confirmation and something to teach 5 adults for Sunday School and something to preach to 50 people – and I should be doing all that plus feeding babies in Africa, advocating for women’s rights, and fair trade in developing countries, writing thoughtful letters to missionaries, attending a synod stewardship meeting, and cleaning the freakin’ library at the church. All this afternoon.

I was watching Oprah yesterday.  It was a special about Mothers who, under pressure to be the perfect mother, get overwhelmed and accidentally leave their children in the car for eight hours or unattended in the bathtub…  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and not nearly perfect enough.  I suppose this is the time when I remind myself that God doesn’t need me to be perfect, God needs me to show up and try.  Here I am God – which of the aformentioned 18 things on my mind should I try first?

I am finding that the less confident I am in people and their ability to grow and change and mature – the more confident I am that God’s will be done.

The Things Parishioners Say:

Woman in her 70’s: Good morning Pastor – now don’t you gain an OUNCE!  You are so beautiful and slender!

Me: Um.  thanks?

I am realizing that seminary did not really prepare me to be a pastor.  Seminary prepared me to preach and to teach and to “do things” at the church, but there’s a hell of a lot more to being a pastor than “doing stuff at the church.”  I think that being a pastor is a little like getting married.  Four years of “dating” the church and “dating” the position of pastor doesn’t really prepared you for the reality of being married to it.  You date someone and you know that you love them more than anything else or anyone else; you love them enough to need to spend the rest of your life with that person.  And you get married, and it is wonderful and mostly everything you ever hoped it could be – but you still feel woefully inadequate for the position of wife.  (Note: This is only loosely based on feelings I felt in my own first year of marriage.  Mostly based on the feelings I am currently processing about first call.)

I don’t believe that seminary prepared me to really be a pastor – but I do believe that seminary taught me many things and made me brave enough, with God’s grace, to try…

So I have this really embarrassing problem. Just became a situation this past weekend. It’s a personal thing and a health thing, but it’s stigmatized… I cannot tell anyone at the church – at this point in our newly formed relationship, I don’t know who I can trust just yet. But two weeks into my ministry here, it’s kind of a pain and it’s preventing me from totally throwing myself into work at the church. Husband is away for the week for work and I thought that I would just be totally busy at the church…

On top of my “little problem” I woke up this morning to find out our basement in our new house was slightly flooded. Really not what I wanted to deal with, going on very little sleep, and not being in a very good mood in the first place.

How do you deal with personal things that may be interfering with your work, but you can’t really explain it to the church, or don’t really want them all up in your business? I want to be honest with everyone, but I just don’t feel like I can be…

It’s been one week at the church.  I’ve visited folks in the hospital, I’ve had a council meeting, I’ve met with our organist, I’ve preached, and for the first time, I presided at communion.  It was a powerful Sunday morning for me.  Not only was I slightly nervous, but the service plans for being outside were foiled by the hefty thunderstorms in the area.  The service was in our fellowship hall, which had the same sort of informal, “kid-friendly” VBS service they were looking for…  And it was 95 degrees in there.  I foolishly vested and wore my stole, looking pretty and official.  And as I stood behind the altar, sweat was pouring down my back… phew…  yuck…

So the next thing on my list was the clean out the pastor’s office.  Nobody had used the office for anything other than a storage bin in a few years.  To be honest, it was absolutely disgusting.  I vacuumed and dusted and washed and threw things away.  There were quite a few spiders evicted from their homes.  After a full day of cleaning, I left to run an errand before going home.

As I’m driving across town, chatting on my phone (I know, I know…) to another pastor friend about the state of my office, I smell something bad.  I was just starting to complain about somebody burning something in town, when I looked down at my feet.  Smoke.  Lots of smoke swirling around my feet.  I let loose a string of expletives and barely formed words as I told my friend that my car was on fire and threw the phone in the passenger seat as I looked for a parking spot.

$391 dollars later, I have my car back and my own friendly, neighborhood mechanic.

Life got in the way.
I got too busy.
I had nothing to write about.
Blah, blah, blah.

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted last, and what a year it’s been!  Husband and I now live in small Pennsylvania town and I am a pastor at a small Lutheran Church.  I have a new blog, because I have a new life.  Totally.  Well, same husband, but everything else is different!
The church is small right now, but all signs point to possibilities for excellent ministry in this community, despite the fact that the congregation has had a few challenging years recently.

Being kind of in the middle of nowhere – though an hour from somewhere – I find myself seeking out colleagues and conversation partners…  Must be time to visit with the RevGalBlogPals once again!  I’m a newbie.  I started my call about a week ago.  Isn’t there some sort of instruction manual that should have come with this congregation?

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