Monday, July 30, 2007

Here's the view we saw Sunday afternoon of the Pass Christian harbor.
We drove along the beach highway to the new BSL bridge. It's durn remarkable to see this giant bridge re-built in less than two years. Two more lanes will open in the coming months. BSL shows areas of recovery, then places so pitiful that you wonder how the residents can stand living there.*

We stopped at the Mockingbird Cafe for a sandwich but the kitchen closed earlier in the afternoon. I stared at the table where I sat with Songbird when she visited. Outside on the porch, I looked at the will smama table confused that someone else sat there. Go home and get your own table! That one is the will smama table, girlfriend!

Traveling back toward home, we stopped at Shaggy's in Pass Christian. Sitting on the breezy deck beach side while listening to music made me feel NORMAL for the first time in months, maybe almost two years.

Look out to the Gulf and the beach, things look normal. Not touched by a killer hurricane. Look to the north and you see signs of ravaged homes, broken riprap and destruction.

Felt like a vacation,

St. Casserole

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lord, give us a full measure of your grace today. Amen.

Blessings to all you Preachers, worshippers and those unable to worship in community.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Look at this scene from my bookcase. Andy (grey), Whistle and Fish (gingers) and Molly the Berner are all together. I need a Golden Lab like Sister, the Nanny to the Cats to finish the scene.

Oh, rats! I wanted to say something deep and meaningful in case some visitors floated over from the UM publication. Cannot thing of a single weighty thing to say.

St. Casserole

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Letters From Readers

Dear St.C,
Hi! Why do you have bandages on your feet? What's with the Barbie bandage on your little toe?

Dear Concerned, If the fire ant bites weren't bad enough, I decided to follow the adage, "if you want to forget about your troubles, wear too small shoes". Those cute sandals, really Cheesehead Worthy Cute, hurt my feet. So, I applied antibiotic cream and bandages. I cannot help it if the smallest bandage turned out to be a pink floral Barbie band aid. Thanks for your concern.

St. Casserole, Sir:
What CHRISTIAN CENTURY article have you most enjoyed, and or been intriqued by in the past two weeks?

Dear Wondering, The 10 July issue by Scott Bader-Saye, "Security Check Does God Protect Us" grabbed my theological and personal ears so that I've read the article three times and am considering adding it to my "Articles for Elders" (where I pass on worthy readings to my leadership).

Dear Rev. Mrs. St. Casserole: Didn't you have two rather large calendar chunks today? Are you sitting at home blogging rather than tending to the Lord's Bidness?
I know it's Summer but are you modeling good use of pastoral time today?
---Righteous and Expecting You to Exibit Righteousness, Too

Dear Righteous, Bingo! Yes, I turned aside today from two worthy activities. I woke up with a Grand Sick Headache which caffine, breakfast, activity and meds could not remove. Feeling that a drive West to one activity and North toward another would make me use all those cute airline barf bags I collect, I stayed home. If you have a problem with my decision, please come closer so I can put an industrial vise on your head while clamping your stomach and making sure you felt like a clammy, pitiful reject from life. Ok?

Thanks for all your letters, folks. That's all for today. Many thanks for the photo of an overburdened Mail Wagon in Cody, Wyoming.

St. Casserole
Fish the Cat is home from the Veterinary. His total hospital stay was one week including two days in Louisiana where he had surgery to repair the fracture in his leg.

The three pins and bone graft need quiet, restrained time to heal. He's in a mid-sized pen in my study. Post-op instructions mean he'll stay in confinement for six weeks. The size of the pen allows his brother, Whistle, to sleep on top of the pen. Whistle likes to be near his brother.

Fish has an Elizabethan collar to protect him from biting his tiny leg staples. He hates it. When I checked on him this morning, he'd pawed the collar off but hadn't taken out stitches.

Fish is eating and drinking just fine. Being confined is not fine.

Thanks to all of you who pray for Fish's healing. He's home, not happy because of the pen, and learning to adjust to life without his cast (4 months!).

Ever the Nurse,

St. Casserole

Monday, July 23, 2007

I Learned Something New Today

I bought Subway sandwiches for lunch today. Not my favorite place to grab a sandwich but a big favorite with Mr. C. and LD.

The manager let the young man making my sandwich that "you put three black olives on a 6" sub; six black olives on a 12" sub".

I love black olives on my Subway sandwich. Often, the black olives are the only ingredient that makes those bland sandwiches taste good to me.

Subway is stingy with black olives and now I know why.

St. Casserole, always learning

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I've been preaching for many years. I know more about preaching than I did ten years ago, but I still find the entire process of sermon preparation, exegesis, writing, revisions and delivery mysterious.

There are some Sundays where I am fully with my listeners. They follow my voice so throughly that I am not sure that they breathe. I would never say this about myself if I didn't have many Sundays where I think I have wasted their time and mine by even attempting to proclaim and witness to God's Good News through a sermon.

I moved from a full manuscript in the pulpit to a detailed outline to a shorter outline and then on to five words on a note card before me.

At the past two Festival of Homies, I've noticed that the Big Name Preachers appear to use a full manuscript as they preach.

Considering this a discipline I might want to re-visit, I've preached from a full manuscript last week and today.

I felt constrained. I felt that I was falling for that hubris of loving my own words so much that I had to repeat what I've written rather than respond to the movement of the congregation.

I will use a full manuscript for the next two Sundays to see what I think about this process.

It would help if the congregation gave me any feedback at all about the last two sermons. They didn't say anything about the delivery but, as they graciously do, either asked more about a certain point or commented on an illustration.

I'm going to the Young Clergy Woman's Conference next month at the College of Preachers in Washington, D.C. I will keep my ears open for how I may evaluate my sermons to improve as a preacher. I'm reading Anna Carter Florence's new book, too, in preparation.

Despite the frustration of never feeling that I am a good enough preacher, I do like the mystery of preaching itself. One never seems to master it. There is no perfection or ending of one's abilities to talk about God through a sermon. I like this.

Looking at the picture of me illustrating this post, do you think I need a haircut?

Peace to You,

St. Casserole

P.S. If any of you wisegals make a crack about my attendance at a Young Clergy Women's Event, I'll.... well, I'll... OH RATS JUST DON'T MENTION IT TO ME, OK?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I promised myself I'd be finished with my sermon (Mary and Martha. Again? So soon after the last time???), worship bulletin and prayers so I can stop everything when the truck arrives with the new Harry Potter book.

Instead, I'm looking around at a messy house wondering where to find a shovel to clean up the junk.

Not sure what to do with myself today.

St. C.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Two things:

a. Internet access is sketchy. Third world country areas lose access when it rains.

b. Fish is in Louisiana facing having crossed pins put in his fractured leg along with bone grafts to help him heal. He left today. I'm praying for him, the surgeon and all hurt animals everywhere.

c. I can't check my email, so if you've sent me a message, I haven't gotten it.


St. Casserole

Sunday, July 15, 2007

All day long, I heard people talking:

my son waking up angry and loud
my husband talking
the Church School class talking
the visitor who got tangled up when he realized I was the Preacher not the pianist
the sound of my voice as I preached from a full manuscript
my daughter snapping an answer at me
the sounds on Weekend Edition NPR of women musicians from Detroit with their raspy voices
the woman at the Bookstore saying to her man, "No! I'm not buying a comic book for you, not for a 25 year old man!"


St. Casserole

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rainy afternoon here. Hot as fire outside but becoming cooler as the rain hits the steamy earth.

Thank you, God, for Wendell Berry, W.H. Auden and Mary Oliver. Their work comforts me as I sit inside today.


St. Casserole

How I Feel About Dillard's

A tiny blurb in the Construction Permit section of the local paper says that is doing 15M in repairs on the hurricane damaged store here. Great.

Dillard's is an o.k. department store. It carries a few nicer brands that we are unable to get down here, pre- or post-hurricane. To find Cole-Haan, Eileen Fisher or a big cosmetics counter, I went to Dillards.

I'm angry with Dillard's. It's been almost two years since Katrina. The big store was damaged. Do you think that Dillard's had the marketing sense to contact it's Gulf Coast customers? Nope. Nada. Why haven't they attempted to keep our loyalty or interest? Did they send updates on their rebuilding progress? No way.

We Gulf Coast customers are nothing to Dillard's. Otherwise, the store would have reached out to us with coupons to use in Mobile, Jackson, etc. or contacted us about SOMETHING.

On the way to Atlanta, I stopped at the Oxford, Al. Quintard Mall Dillard's. This was early in the day on Monday. A good saleswoman helped me in the Eileen Fisher section. Later, I stopped at another Dillard's, right off 1-20 or 1-85 (can't recall), and wandered through the shoe department. No one spoke to me the entire time I shopped.

When the 15M Dillard's opens, I'll think long and hard about shopping there.

St. Casserole

P.S. Perhaps this dept. store rant has no place on a wildly serious blog like mine, but SOMEBODY should tell Dillard's that they are careless with customer loyalty. So, I just did.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tired but Happy

Great drive home from Atlanta today! No rain, clear roads and several audio books kept me awake. Those young RevGals stay up LATE! Late, I tell you!

The Big Event planning team worked hard to get our ducks in a row for an event next year. The RGBP Board met to handle bidness (Southern for "business").

I loved seeing my RevGals. Great, loving group!

Glad to be home. Glad I stopped listening to Dean Koontz's FACE audio book. Ewwwww, such cruelty and meanness in his stories. An Anne Tyler book kept me company for hours. Can't even recall what the title of the book is.

Worn-out and Happy,

St. Casserole

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Having a wonderful time with the RevGals in the Atlanta area.

So busy laughing, I can't write more,

St. Casserole

Friday, July 06, 2007

Why I Live Here

I live here because:

Mr. C. grew up here. I crack up every time I hear one of his old friends call him by his childhood nickname.

Women dress up cement goose statues with Lil costumes. They compete over whose goose has the cutest outfit.

Our children learned to sail here.

I can see the Gulf of Mexico everyday.

All parts of this community need good, insightful, honest help to improve.

I grow tropical plants, almost year round.

I can smell salt air when I step outside. I hear seagulls sing often enough that I don't notice them. Pelicans fly in formation overhead.

This state has the worst health and education statistics in the nation. As I said, every area of the community needs help. We don't run out of necessary things to do.

Mr. C. lives here.

Just thinking about my blessings,

St. Casserole

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Remembering Rusty 1986-2005

Rusty, that great ginger cat, died two years ago today. His obituary appears here

LD and I took donations to the Humane Society in Rusty's memory this afternoon.

His gravesite is a sunflower bed now underneath the bird feeders.

I'm thankful I had him as my cat.

Just Remembering,

St. Casserole

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I Can't Believe Someone Would Hurt My Friend!

My friend is hurting. I can't stand it!

I'm praying. Please pray, too.

St. Casserole

Whistle looks out the window. Sister looks at the camera. Fish hides under the covers.

This is life at my home today.

Come on over!

St. Casserole

Monday, July 02, 2007

And now, a few house-keeping details...

Krylon H20 spray latex is drippy, stinky mess. I bought it, on sale, instead of the greatest spray paint for outdoor wood, wicker and metal: Rust-oleum American Accents spray paint. The small wood table looks terrible with this paint!

This time next week? I'll be away from laundry, cooking and hurricane debris. My major responsibilities will be to hold the President's purse and share creative ideas with the group.

How hot is it? A dense wool rug, soaking wet, dried in my court yard in about 7 hours. I live in high humidity country so I'm surprised.

Is it going to rain? Yes, any minute the dark skies will open to soak us.


St. Casserole


Top Ten Things Pastors Long to Hear

Ruth A. Tucker, Left Behind in a Megachurch World (Baker), is quoted in the June 26 issue of the Christian Century magazine. Her list includes, "#4 Do you mind if I bring all the ladies in my garden club to church next Sunday?".

Heres my list:
1. Mrs. White and I want to come to your house this week and do some yardwork. Do you mind if I bring Uncle Peter who taught Norm Abrams everything Norm knows about carpentry with us? He'd love to do some fix-it projects.

2. We're concerned about all this talk about other denominations. Let's have a festival celebrating the great mission work of the P.C. (U.S.A.) Our committee wants to organize it. You just show up, ok?

3. I've scheduled the music until next March for worship services. Do you mind if we have guests from the Met Opera, Allison Kraus's people and some others as special guests? They want to come worship with us.

4. I hope you don't mind but I sent several of your sermons to John Knox Press and they say they want to publish them along with your essays.

5. I think we need to schedule new member classes more often. We've got a long backlog of people wanting to join the church. Same with baptisms.

6. I want to help you with your vestments. Could you give me a list of things you might enjoy? Could I donate liturgical pieces for the sanctuary too?

7. Your sermons make me think. Could you make your sermons longer?

8. Have you lost weight?

Readers, do you mind finishing my list?


St. Casserole