Thursday, December 24, 2009

Year in Review


Dear Friends,

In a few days, 2009 will end and I left these resolutions undone:
write a letter to the Christian Century
make diligent effort to change lifestyle*
be attentive to what is in front of my face

I did accomplish these things:
remove large grass area in front yard to decrease water use
change laundry habits by hanging out wash to dry outdoors
try several different ways of sermon prep
increase activity in Presbytery without moaning
cook more meals at home
complain ferociously about the Mississippi heat
heave out stuff I don't need
watch 220 episodes of "McCleod's Daughters", an Australian TV program

I fought with Year B lectionary texts weekly and learned to like Paul again while pining for the Lukan texts. I found great beauty in reading prayers whether in the Book of Common Prayer, Book of Common Worship, Karl Barth's prayers and the Oxford Book of Prayer. I read books about the emergent church and church history along with
pastoral care books on weddings and older congregations.

I did not blog much in 2009. I spent more time working on my crafts and projects, more time reading and staring out the windows. I feel I had less to say this year than any other.

I traveled to Arizona for the RevGalBlogPals BE.2, to the Festival of Homiletics in Atlanta, to see my lovely little sister and lovely sister-in-law and to Cursillo. I drove to the School of the Arts many times to fetch LD and to watch her perform scenes. I drove the 93 mile round trip to Little Church over and over again. That's a lovely drive!

I spent time considering the implications of post-denominationalism in a small Southern town where mainliners are the tiny minority. I wondered why hatred of clergywomen in leadership is increasing world-wide. I despaired over the continuing problem of homophobia everywhere. I noted the lack of civility in public. I measured my idealism against the reality of a cynical world and voted again to be idealistic regardless.

One of my cats learned to sit in my lap. Another cat fell in love with me again and is nicknamed "Shadow" because I appear to be his only comfort. My dog growled at me when I suggested she be bathed and I had to re-double my efforts to win her trust again.

Our LS entered his senior year of college. Our LD began her senior year of high school. Both showed lovely gains in maturity and both held on to childhood ways so that I was surprised by them everyday. Mr. C. and I learned to enjoy our empty nest for this second year.

My favorite read of 2009 is Stig Larssen's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and his second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I wish the publishers of the third book in the series would hurry up and make it available in the States.
You are surprised I enjoyed these two violent novels but the characters and setting charmed me. I winced and grimaced at the violence finding myself praying for anyone who experiences torture or lives with dramatically mental ill family members.

I'm ending the year reading "The Help" about maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the early Civil Rights years. I cannot stand this book. I lived through those years although I was a child and lived up on the East Coast. But, I knew the racial codes and I witnessed second-class (or worse) treatment of Blacks. I'm about 3/4 through the book and if there is not a GIANT redemptive ending, I will be huffy and crabby.
I suppose the book is better for those who are clueless about Jim Crow laws, White Citizen's Councils and the like but the stories of "The Help" leave me feeling drained. Like the stain of racism will never be removed from this state which may be how it goes. If you ask me the reasonable question, "why don't you put the book down and quit reading it?" I'd answer, "I'm such a Calvinist I can't let alone the things that trouble me until I work out why and I don't like 'wasting' books.

In the Garden, I had good luck with planting flowering vines from seed, learning about miniature roses and just how wonderfully Gerber Daisy's work in our courtyard clay pots. I pruned, weeded and planted to my heart's content this year.

I went through the most through medical physical of my adult life and survived. If I can figure out why the hospital pathologists are insisting my insurance company isn't responsible for paying for biopsy results, I will be finished with the months long extravaganza of doctor's visits. I'm doing great, thanks and am grateful.

My friends took on new jobs, moved away from stinky jobs, took on new projects and showed how brave and smart they are everyday. I'm proud of them. They made me laugh,
get teary and feel that I could not find greater companions than I have now.

I end this year waiting for the birth of Jesus tomorrow, planning my sermon for Sunday and looking forward to more time with both our children next week. I wait for my favorite bird to visit in a few days so we can go look at improvements on the Coast since Katrina, eat sandwiches, admire cats and the dog and sew/knit on the sofa while watching movies.

Blessings to you all,

St. Casserole

*of course this is the weight question but isn't interesting except to me

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Comforting the Goat

The Methodist's put on a show for their children Sunday night. Sheep, a calf, goats and the Camel stood across the street from my house ready for the children. No person was near the tents as I cooked supper. I heard the bleating of the little goat. All alone in the big tent with UPS trucks and neighborhood traffic speeding by, the little goat cried loud enough for me to hear him above the din of cooking and NPR on the radio.

I gave up. A lonesome and fearful lil' goat sounds like a child in trouble. I left the house, crossed the street to comfort the goat. He jumped down from his perch on a hay bale and leaned against my knee. His heart was beating fast as he quieted down. I stayed with him until a Methodist appeared.

For a City gal, helping a goat is a rare pleasure.

Love,
St.Casserole

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Reading

My Presbyterian Outlook subscription expired sometime in 2009.

I can't recall exactly when. I have a pile of subscription notices asking me to renew. Each notice was placed in my "get to sometime" stack in my filing system without engendering any desire to write a check for another year. Sorry, but the Outlook's lifeless black and white covers of odd pictures, along with editorials I found tiresome, never-used International Bible Study lessons and a back page of pastoral ending and beginnings of people I don't know just wore me out.

My first subscription to the Outlook began as a freebie for seminarians. In the late 70's I was interested in the magazine. Over the years, and especially in the last five or so years, I read fewer articles. I began throwing away copies after glancing through the pages. I should have known what this meant.

Loving magazines is part of my DNA. Throwing away copies is not a good sign. As the child of a father who kept stacks of Life, Saturday Evening Post and National Geographic on bookcases in his workshop, I value the printed page. National Geographic's from the 1920's survived past his death in the 1980's and were thrown out, mostly intact in the mid-1990's when my parent's home was sold.

All magazines are troubled these days. I'm sorry about the hard times of magazine publishing. I doubt many will return when the economy improves because we've learned to get our content from the internet. I think I kept up my subscription to the Outlook because I want places for people to start conversations and discuss ideas about the Church. The Christian Century fits my needs in this arena.

But, I feel odd about putting an old friend out to pasture.

Yours,
St. Casserole

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How About This?

Saw this on Metafilter today. Quite the discussion for a PC(USA) pastor to read before cooking a Thanksgiving meal.

Your thoughts?

St.Casserole

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Home Again

I'm home! The 2009 NYC Eat&See ended Monday with safe travel home. No worries with travel from NO to Newark this year. The City surprised us with temperate weather in the '50's unlike last year when we felt like Artic explorers.

We saw "Shrek" (ok, but wind and burp noises made me sorry for the parents who took lil kids), "Next to Normal" (Sunday matinee and I'm sitting through a MUSICAL about suicide, depression and mental illness?)and "New Moon" (ok, I had to force my travel buddy to go to this movie). "Shrek" is a Disney production with bright sets, imaginative costumes and lots of LOUD music. "Next to Normal" was extraordinary because the sad themes really do work with good music, lyrics and acting. Going on a Sunday afternoon felt like a bus man's holiday for me. I understand why the play won awards. The set looked like other metal staging I've seen but functioned more gracefully.

The busy streets of the Theater District didn't sound as loud as we remembered. Then, we saw all the signs warning drivers to limit horn use and we realized this program worked. Not much blasting of horns until the weekend when visiting drivers came into the City.

We ate steaks at Uncle Jack's, Chinese Fusion at Shanghai Moon, split a corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie Deli, went to Sarabeth's and I searched for the red velvet cake cupcake at Macy's ( the store changed cupcake bakers so the cupcake I bought wasn't much). I had a lovely omelet at Le Bonne Soupe and five (count 'em) gingerbread men from Au Bon Pan (not at one time, calm down!) Travel Buddy loved the cheesecake at Juniors.

As for shopping: there was a bit of that. We went to the Greenflea at Columbus and 77th, the Garage and the nearby outdoor flea market. We went to Macy's, Bergdorf's, and Henri Bendel's, Lee's Art. Barney's windows weren't ready but we loved seeing Macy's Christmas windows.

What did I come home thinking? How glad I am to see the City and then return home to the silence and clear night skies of home. And seeing my people again.

Things OK with you?
St Casserole

Friday, November 06, 2009

Older People Sour-age



Pastoral issue here, Gals.
Personal experience tells us that older folks often think the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Everything is getting worse. Kids are horrible. Food doesn't taste as it did. Violence reigns...
Not all older people are sour about the future but many are. Like the ladies at the bridge table yesterday who asked,"do you know anything good?" I started naming good things like sweet parenting I observed, lovely cool weather, people being kind to each other. No matter what I offered the ladies retorted with negative words.
I took a deep breath then said, "I hear people over 40 often think the world is going to hell in a hand basket." No one smiled.
I suppose I'd be crabby about the future too if I depended on Fox news for my worldview, picked friends who were fearful and negative, read the mailers from the insurance industry about health care and looked at my stock portfolio everyday.
Yep, the world is in trouble. This is not new. Every generation sees the world as a troubled place.
Can we bring the theological idea of grace to the table?
In the midst of a confusing world, grace offers acceptance, welcome and a view of the kindness of God to each of us. Grace allows us to savor the blessings, cope with the difficulties and remember what is important.

Love from St.C.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Forgot


to tell you: I shopped IKEA! In Charlotte! I saw the pieces teh internet IKEA hacker's use!

And, Target opened a store within 20 miles of my home!

Retail Joy!

I shopped Talbot's Petites*! Clothes fit and are beautiful!

While traveling to IKEA, I heard my seminary classmate, Lib McGregor Simmons, preach on Joshua 6 on the radio. Lib is pastor of the Davidson College Presbyterian Church in Davidson. She did a great job on a passage I was glad to leave to my betters.

St.Casserole, Herself

*LLS commented Petites in my size resemble a square shape but did so in a manner that implied she was just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here I Am


Took a week to drive to and from NC to see LLS and LSiL. Wonderful visit with lots of talk. Gorgeous cats to admire, too. We ate NC barbeque, heard Annonymous 4 at Duke Chapel, went to a Goat Farm for rescue cats and LLS suggested going to garage sales! She loves me.

Cursillo last weekend. Lovely. Fun. Laughing and talking.

Now, I have ear ache and sniffy nose. Rats!

Haven't blogged since 9/28. Still not sure I have anything to say this season.

St.Casserole

P.S. I think this Pearls Before Swine cartoon panel is hilarious!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just Today

I learned that my ridge potato chips are "a healthy snack" and "good for me". I ate the rest of the bag because I am a good American consumer. The chips are regular grocery store brand of non-health food type.

Even better:

The lady at the quick stop told me she couldn't worry anymore about Obama's health plan. "It is in God's hands", she said with frustration. "I'm 62 now and when I turn 65 the Government will make me go see a hospice counselor to discuss my suicide."

What?

"It's in Obama's plan" said Quick Stop Lady.

I told her, "I've read most of the plan and that's not in it."

"Oh, Yes it is! These Christian lawyers came to my Church and told us all about it."

I'm curious. What did the Christian lawyers say?

St.Casserole, wondering why minimum wage/no benefits people are terrified of Health Care Reform

Monday, September 14, 2009

This Week in My Heart

I'm home today while the Air Conditioning Guys install a new unit for the kitchen/family room part of our home. The weather is hot, steamy and miserable from days of rain followed with this morning's scorching heat. We've struggled through two days of "too hot to use the kitchen" and "too hot for good humor". By this afternoon, we'll be cool again for family room life.

I ran errands this morning to be home for the AC Guys. I arrived home to find the mailbox overflowing with college ads (for LD, the High School Senior), two bills and THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY.

I sorted the mail, threw another load into the wash and wandered off to read the new mag.

I turned to Gordon Atkinson's When Members Leave. He's got that right.

The next article, Life Expectancy: On Not Praying for a Miracle by Dayna Olson-Getty blew me away. She writes about her pregnancy with a baby with acrania, a birth difference where the skull does not form. She writes, "We can expect that if he makes it through birth, our little one will live for just a few minutes or hours".

With real honest words, Olson-Getty describes the planning she and her husband are making for their baby.

This article is part of the picture of why I am a Christian. To live our lives, with honesty and realism, to be faithful to God while enduring what makes no sense to many while living into a future with God, this is what is beautiful and weepy about faith.

If you got your September 22 issue of the CENTURY, read this article. If you don't subscribe, consider ordering a subscription.

Thank you, God, for people of faith. God bless the Olson-Gettys,

St.Casserole

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day It's Time!

Happy Labor Day!

May all of us have work to do, do it well, and find meaning in our work.


It's time to put up your Summer whites. Put away your white sandals, white purses,
white belts and all white accessories.

Put away your white linen slipcovers, sisal rugs used indoors for Summer and clean your ceiling fans.

Here in the Deep Hot South, Fall begins with Labor Day even if the expected high today is 88.

We do Fall fashion by switching from white linen clothing to dark colored linen clothing.

No more wearing of seersucker suits and white bucks, as of today.

Roll out the wool carpets, put up the Summer rugs and try to decide how you can wear a ladies suit, in a dark color, to a football game without melting in the stands.

No more Cajun Shrimp OPI nailpolish (or other Summer colors) at the Pedicure Parlor until Spring 2010.

Tough rules.

"Winter Whites" aren't believable until January and remain suspicious even then.


Must go fold up the linen slipcovers. Later, Tater,

St.Casserole

Friday, September 04, 2009

Update September


*The City finished the front yard drainage repairs this week. We are pleased the chunk of driveway damaged by the two pine trees falling matches our original driveway. The brick work and new drainage form are beautifully formed.

*Little Church is in an excitement spurt with Fall plans. I'm loving seeing the congregation working on projects, looking beyond our restoration repairs and thinking of mission.

*I could use a break. I love preaching but have been hitting it week after week for weeks. Ordinary Time does this to me each Summer. No surprise that I'm looking forward to my visit with LLS/LSiL, a Cursillo retreat and my NYC Pilgrimage this Fall.

*From what I read about H1N1, you either have it if you have the flu this time of year or you don't have it unless you are sick enough to go to the hospital/ER. What do you think? Mr.C.'s been home this week on Tamiflu and is much, much better today.
LD may have it but may just have a cold from exhaustion at Art School. I'm doing fine and BETTER stay well.

*Why do people think prayer doesn't work when they don't get immediate results of what they've asked for? Prayer is part of a relationship with God. God isn't Santy Claus handing out treats whenever you ask.

*Preaching on the Book of James is aging me. Really. Forget Song of Solomon. It's not happening.


Wandering off for Another Cup of Coffee,

St.Casserole

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sickness

Poor Mr.C. woke up Monday morning feeling rotten. He went off to work but returned home feeling full of achy pains, feverish and giant coughs. Now he's on tamiflu and sports drinks. His fever is gone but the aches (relieved by Tylenol etc.) remain. He is being a good patient but is restless to return to the office. Dr. says, "No". He's got to stay away from the general population for at least another day.

I wouldn't mind prayers for him and for me. I feel fine but sure don't want to go through flu.

Thanks,
St.Casserole

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Camille, Forty Years Later

The local paper chronicles Hurricane Camille's 40th anniversary today. Go here and look for the gallery of pics.

Hurricane Camille touched me as a teen. I was miles away, up East, but my mom was away visiting my older sister in New Orleans. Early Sunday morning I answered the phone to hear Mama breathlessly telling me that she was o.k. and not to worry. I didn't know New Orleans was threatened by Camille nor did I have a clue about hurricanes. I thought hurricanes happened to other people, not us.

90 miles away from Mama, my future husband started out of his broken neighborhood to walk 2 miles toward the beach to see his Aunt Deedee and make sure she was OK. He climbed over downed trees and power lines to her home. Her house was gone. She made it to safety but her property was rubble. Mr.C. heard a voice calling him and looked up to a surviving tree where a man called out for cigarettes. The man tied himself to the tree to keep from being swept away by the storm surge. Hours later, thirsty and exhausted, he wanted smokes.

Later, Mr. C. realized his Beatles albums were destroyed. I love this story because it shows the proportion of loss perspective.

Years later, my Garden Club held the annual memorial for Faith, Hope and Charity, the three women found after the storm (172 people died) and never claimed. Look at the pictures to see these graves. 40 years later, no one has stepped forward to identify these women as kin. Look for the pictures of Wade and Julia Guice.

The Civil Defense Head Wade Guice was our neighbor in Biloxi. The real estate listing should have mentioned our proximity to the Guices because we got early warning of storms if we drove by the Guice home and saw their porch chairs turned to the house wall or (gasp!) taken indoors.

For thirty-five years, Camille was the worst storm for the Gulf Coast.

St.Casserole

Saturday, August 08, 2009

John Wesley's Feline Fan


"Mr.C., whatever you do, don't let Sister (the Dog)out! The Methodists are having a funeral and there is a wedding at the Presbyterians!"

Living across the street from a Methodist Church and catty-corner from a Presbyterian congregation, some discretion is advised. For example: don't sit in your lawnchair popping ice cubes at passing cars when the Methodists are having a function. Don't cut the grass or play lawn croquet while the UMC's get together for a funeral.

Mr.C. said, "Where is Andy?"

Ah, the rub. Our cat Andy panders after the Methodists. We are a Calvinist household a beacon of Reformed constraint amidst the Baptist majority of our neighborhood. Except for Andy the Cat. Andy loves the Methodist Church.

He crosses the street to sit in their church yard. He's gone into the sanctuary several times, most memorably during a wedding as the wedding director held the door open for the Bride to enter for the processional. Minutes later, a well dressed woman in very high heels shooed Andy out waving her program.

Who knows if Andy is over at the funeral right now? Maybe he knew the decedent or her people. Maybe he's just visiting with the funeral director, a poplular man who knows everyone in town.

I presented Calvin's view of scripture, the Church, and governance to Andy. He turned away and began a lengthy cat bath. I read several of Calvin's prayers to Andy. He closed his eyes. Great! He's moved by Calvin's piety. Nope, Andy took a nap.

No matter how passionately I plead Calvin's case, Andy pays no attention.

Andy loves John Wesley. Andy loves listening to the Methodist choir practice. He loves the Methodist church children.

I question my effectiveness as a leader and teacher when my own cat eschews John Calvin to warm his heart (and paws) at the Methodist Church.

St.Casserole

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Several Things...


A man describing his family, bemoaning how they turned out, said, "they coulda done anything and they went trailer park".

The Little Church kitchen is finished! We moved the kitchen from one room to another during our hurricane restoration. We have new cabinets, stove, sink and refrigerator to use! Looks great!

All is quiet on the Presbytery front as pastors disappear on vacations. We didn't renew our EP's contract in June. I'm watching how this staff hole works out.

My Summer reading is as varied as a garden. Junk, beach reads and heavy going literature all together in a stack of books. Love it!

Our home driveway is a big mess as the City repairs our Katrina damaged drainage.
So far, so good in their repairs. The worst of it is how often City crews repeat repairs like digging up a driveway portion only to repair it and dig it up again. Thanks to our Councilman, we are getting a more complete repair than the City planned.

I'm assisting a guest preacher this Sunday. I'll do the liturgy, he will preach. I cannot seem to remember this and keep going to the desk to write a sermon. I am a habitual preacher, I admit it.

The Great Heave of Clutter continues! Making progress! After the Dining Room lamp collection heave, I'm heading to the bookcases...

Glad to be here,

St.Casserole

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Whew!


I'm thinking about:

*being a lousy blogger.

*the thrill of seeing our drainage damage from Katrina repaired! Driveway is a mess!
Landscaping in peril of giant equipment, but City warned! Catch basin to keep us from flooding from the Church Across the Street who elevated their parking lot asphalt so our lower lying property gets their water!

*only a few more weeks with LD before she begins her last year of High School at art school.

*getting rid of anything in the house I don't like looking at anymore!

*the utter wonder of Ordinary Time or Sundays After Pentecost, whichever one follows

*swimming pool converted from chlorine to saltwater, yippee!

*having an Icee on a hot day

*everyday is hot this time of year

*the groups coming to help with Coast rebuilding, even now! almost 4 years later!

*Governor's convention on the Coast this week! looks like a Republican love fest, thanks to our Governor

*prayer and more prayer for ailing pals, worried pals and grieving pals around the planet

*finding three pairs of Ferragamo sandals, all new, at the Goodwill....in my size

Love to you,

St.Casserole

Saturday, June 27, 2009

For Historical Record

June 25 was the 31st anniversary of my ordination to the Word and Sacrament of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (now the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and...

the formation of the Anglican Church in America in Bedford, Texas.

When I complain that battles fought 31 years ago continue today, believe me.

Jesus, won't you come by here,
Jesus, won't you come by here,
Now is such an easy time,
Jesus, won't you come by here.



St.Casserole

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Not Really A Sizzling Topic Here

Dear World,

What's with Episcopalian and Anglican white guy eyebrows?
Giant wild eyebrows distract.
Do the men think the untended eyebrows show status?
I see the eyebrows first, then hear the words through the eyebrows.
Rather than looking cool or more-concerned-about-holiness-than-grooming, wild eyebrows look affected.
I'm not posting pics of the offenders. You may search for the new head of a new group of Episcopalians (are they "real" episcopals if they ignore the Bishop?) and at our Anglican leader across the Sea.

St.Casserole

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hot Summer, Did I Mention it's Hot?



Hot and dry here on the Coast. If I'm not outside watering plants I'm inside cooling off from watering plants.

E. says hot dry weather heats up the Gulf for a GREAT hurricane season. Fabulous!

Yesterday, the temps "felt like", as they say in weather reports, 107 degrees.

I scramble to get my errands and scavenging done before 10am. in the morning.

Can I get another complaint in this post? It's hot.


Crabbily yours,

St.Casserole

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Opossums and O People!



Early this morning, I heard an opossum scream in a neighbor's yard. Opossums are good pals because they eat pests. Unfortunately, they make a miserable scream noise when frightened. The sound reminds me of a human scream for a microsecond until I recall I'm listening to a prehistoric marsupial who does not want to harm me. "Leave ME Alone!" is the subtext of the scream.

Good neighbors in the yard. Loud screaming when disturbed. Reminds me of O People in congregations who respond to fear by screaming.

If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, then Opossums are the wheels who get attention. Same with O People who raise their voices when feeling uneasy.

I leave opossums alone. I move closer to O People to determine what is upsetting them and to reassure them.

Screamers aren't attractive. Look at the opossum picture. I walked out to my driveway in Biloxi years ago and almost fell over an opossum. Yuk! I ran in one direction, Ms. Opossum sped off in the other.

O People screaming attracts attention but doesn't do the o person much good. Go find out what is going on and begin to deal with the problem. If O people feel heard, they scream less. If O people get appropriate (not fearful) attention from you, they may learn how to express their fears without screaming.

St.Casserole, still learning

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Why do I go to Estate Sales? See video. From Apron Thrift Girl and Retro Renovation.



St.Casserole, surrounded by treasures

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ze Laziness


I'm afraid I've caught a serious case of Ze Laziness. It's not my fault.
It's early Summer here with breezes catching the gardenia bushes' heavy scent.
The sky is soft blue with tiny puffy clouds.

I'd better sit on the back porch with a book. All. Day.

Yours,
St.Casserole

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Festival of Homies!

I'm driving towards Atlanta this morning. Going to see my Cheesehead and others at the Festival of Homies! Happy about this.

If you are a RevGal going to the Festival, give me a shout out! Shout "RevGals Yooo Hooo" when you can so I can find you.

I have red hair and carry a sewing bag. Look for me. I'll be confused and following Cheese around. She's taller than I am and wears good shoes.

Traveling mercies to all going to the Fest,

Love in God who loved us first,

St.Casserole

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why I Live Where I Live



Pelicans fly over my house.


St.Casserole
Wondering How God Does So Many Beautiful Things

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Verbena, the V.A.T., is Back!

That's the news here. Verbena is in the courtyard.

St.C.
Watching for Signs of Spring/Summer

Monday, April 27, 2009

State Holiday

Today is Confederate Memorial Day in Mississippi.

That's right, State offices, the Courts and Banks are closed as we recall those who died in the Confederate Army.

What year is this?

I have people who fought in the Confederacy which seemed to them, like a good idea even a noble idea.

That was then. This is now.

I do not believe in slavery, breaking up the Union or mint juleps (nasty! way too sweet!)

We cannot re-write history but it makes no sense to celebrate being on the losing end of a War for the right to own human beings.

We are the poorest State in the Union but we shut down the State for this holiday.

I'd like us to put this holiday aside.

St.Casserole

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Oh, Hey!

Anyone still there?

The BE 2.0 was fabulous. I loved seeing all of you and missed those who couldn't come to Arizona.

We've received five new members in the past six months at Little Church. I'm enjoying the new members enjoying the congregation.

We had ten people at Sunday School this morning. I recall when attendance was 2-3 including me.

LD and LS finish up the school year in a few weeks. Both have long papers to write before end of term.

Mr.C. and I married 28 years ago today. We married during the regular Sunday worship service. I've never heard of anyone doing this. Have you?

The hydrangeas are blooming. The cats are fat and happy. We describe Sister the Dog's breed as "A/C Lab" because she prefers being indoors with us during hot weather.

You doing OK?

Glad to be back,
St.Casserole


(Pic is Bidden or unbidden, God is present, looks like from Wild Goose Studio.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Few Thoughts


Wouldn't it be great if we could count on our Government to act better than the citizenry? I'm thinking of the Feds not allowing prisoner Paul Minor time out to go be with his dying wife. Mrs. Minor died Monday. What was the point of making sure he couldn't be with her?

For a happy Holy Week, listen to Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon on audio CDs.
Lovely to hear Father Tim and his childhood friends speak. Scripture, beautiful quotes and Grace on a 10 CD set.

In the book, Karon writes about Father Tim, "He liked being in a place where everything from forgetfulness to homicide could be blamed on the heat." Holly Springs is a real town in north Mississippi.

From Mr.C, often quotable, "The difference between art and crafts is art makes a statement, crafts do not."

And from Suz, the Garage Sale Genius, about a poorly told story, " the E.O.H. is missing." (E.O.H. = element of humor).

I'll be AZ tomorrow looking at an unfamiliar desert world and seeing many of you. To those who won't be there, I'll miss you. Next year? Please say yes.

St.Casserole, looking for my phone charger and Mom Jeans

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fear: It's Everywhere


This NYTimes article makes me feel ill. Not because I don't believe the article, but because I know it is true.

If all we have to fear is fear itself, then I'm getting afraid of the level of fear and anxiety I see around me.

We need strength to be available to those who need us. To offer companionship through these times.

Lord, help us not smite those who put odd apocalyptic spin on current events. Amen.

Hope, trust and humor help us. So does a listening ear.

Holy Week, it lasts a month,

St.Casserole

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Garden Report

The Southern way of gardening says, "don't put your seedlings and young plants out until Good Friday." I put out a few plants mid-March because the weather turned warm.

It's chilly here at 42 degrees this morning.

The azaleas are finished blooming although I have a few still showing flower. The Bradford pear bloomed several weeks ago. The magnolia trees are full and ready to bloom, but not yet.

In my courtyard, the wisteria from the grounds of the College of Preachers at the National Cathedral survived the winter and is leafing out mightily. Mr.C. can't stand wisteria because of the invasive tendencies but enjoys I brought home as seed Summer before last and planted it in a large clay pot.

My hydrangea are coming out with leaves. Gerberra daisies bloomed through the Winter with 7 blooming right now. The purple mandivilla survived Winter with some freeze damage and is blooming again. The bridal wreath is going strong, too.

A pot of tiny purple flowers with yellow centers emerged from Winter sleep.

My soil is improving with added topsoil and fertilizer making a great day for all the weeds. My weeds changed with the new topsoil and the blow around of Katrina. I wish I knew all of their names! One weed looks like a giant heather with a pod crown and must be part of the Scottish heather family. My version isgrand but it's a weed.

I'll try to wait until Friday to put out the seedlings and small plants but Holy Week isn't a great time for gardeners who are preachers.

How's it growing at your home?

St.Casserole, delighted with dirt

Thursday, April 02, 2009

If your mind and heart are full of concerns about people, and you've prayed your early morning prayers, the best thing to do is pick up A Wrinkle In Time to read.

Really.

Here and There,

St.Casserole

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Slow Blogging

Felder Rushing, our native Gardener and teacher, touts "slow gardening" as the way to go. "Put some lettuce in a pot", he says, and watch it grow.

I'm into slow blogging during Lent. Not that I didn't slow down in the pre-Lent weeks, too.

I'm busy with Little Church, children and home. I'm reading more. Seems like sermon prep is part of every day.

I am moving into new terrain this season.

Yours,

St.Casserole

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh No! Not Again!

A barge hit one of our important bridges.
Go to the Gallery to see the pictures.

What a mess! Hurricane season begins AGAIN in June.

Arghhh,

St.Casserole

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm blogging less and less. I'm busy with many activities.


And, I don't have a verger.




If I had a verger, I'd blog more.

Where is my verger? I need one. I'm serious.


St.Casserole, working under difficult circumstances without a verger

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Invention Needed

I live among oak leaves, pulled weeds, grass clippings and pruning debris. I am determined to have the best yard mulch possible to cover my plantings to conserve water.

Here's what I need: a chipper shredder machine.

I wish our neighborhood would buy a machine to loan out to neighbors.

These machines are gas powered.

Even better, I want someone to make a stair-stepper exerciser to power the chipper shredder.

If Dr. Joe Stirt of Charlottesville, Va. can use his treadmill to work on his blog, why can't my feets power a chipper shredder so I can recycle plant material into lovely, lovely mulch?

It takes oatmeal to power my imagination,

St.Casserole

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Language of Ministry


I'm concerned about a colleague who is missing ques from his congregation.

He's got a vision of where the church should go and a plan for getting there.

Too bad the congregation cannot hear his vision. It's bad for the colleague who finds the congregation frustrating and confusing. He is critical of them and not happy. The congregation sees him as friendly one day and aloof the next day.

If he speaks to me about the situation, I suggest he pivot to another direction to share the vision. Push less and listen more, I suggest to him.

When I hear complaints about his ministry from his congregation, I remind them that he needs to hear from them about the issues. Talk to him, I suggest. He wants to do well in your church as much as you want the church to do well.

I think I know what is going on. The pastor wants to prove something. Maybe he wants to prove his competency or brilliance as a leader. He came with a mission. But did he listen to understand the congregation's understanding of mission? Does he know the language of this congregation or has he been busy teaching them his ideas?

Balance. Discernment. Listening. Trust. We need all of these gifts in ministry.

I can speak to this issue because years ago, I went to a family type church run by one family who called me only because no one else would go there as pastor. I saw the church as a great white field ready for harvest. I saw the growth potential and the mission possibilities. I saw a new heaven and a new earth.

Great for me! No one else wanted growth. Growth meant accommodating people outside the accepted "family" of the congregation. No one wanted mission. Mission would mean giving to others when the congregation's needs were greater than anyone else according to them.

I became frustrated. They became hateful. It was a PAR-TAY of bad communication.

I did not listen to them. They did not listen to me. I had too much energy for a maintenance congregation. They had too much unease with my gender to accept me. I was not blue collar in their eyes. It was a mess.

My colleague is in a similar situation without the class issues. He has cultural dis-connect with them as a non-Southerner. He doesn't listen. They can't hear him.

This is on my mind,

St.Casserole Photo from I Can Haz A Cheeseburger/lol cats

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Being Civil in an Uncivil World

I'm adding to the "why pay attention to a blowhard" conversation going around about Rush Limbo by commenting here. Not sure if this is a good idea. I like the days when it was clear to everyone that Rush was just a voice selling ad time.

It is kind of the RNC Chair to apologize for remarks, however true the remarks are, to Limbo.

To quote Thumper, "if you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all."


St.Casserole

Monday, March 02, 2009

Before Worship, Please Do Not Fall

down the floor vent hole.

Especially if you are wearing vestments and visiting with visitors.


Watching the Pastor fall backwards into a deep hole* in the floor is upsetting and should not be used as an evangelism tool.

I'm O.K. I have a perfect bruise above my knee (that's where my leg stopped going through the building), scrapes and cuts. I can walk, talk and didn't use language unbecoming a minister at the time of the accident.


One almost-new-member took me to the bathroom to help me unfurl my shredded stockings and try to keep the blood off my alb. She used her R.N. skills to advise me on what to do about tending the wounds but my mind was on my broken shoe.

Dang! I ruined a pretty pair of preaching shoes.



Gals, learn from me.

Keep out of construction areas in your church unless you keep your eyes open and your feet on solid floor.

Love,
St.Casserole

*Little Church is a raised wooden framed building, no basement, open foundation.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On the Way to Little Church

Driving to Little Church under clear blue skies, I saw:

-6 shiny brown chickens enjoying their escape from the yard

-a dead: opossum, raccoon and snake

-one very unusual motorcycle

-a herd of goats

-several pastures full of cattle

-the old man in overalls walking along the road

-green fields, burned fields, empty fields

-two garage sale signs

-a flock of buzzards

I organized my sermon again. I listened to "Speaking of Faith" on Public Radio. I felt content.

St.Casserole

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our presbytery offers a lay pastor program for elders who wish to serve churches as lay preachers. We are building a faculty and seeking students to have a new class this year.

If you read the Book of Order, the description of ruling elders is clear. The ministry of teaching and ruling elders is similar reflecting the reformed tradition of priesthood of all believers and clerical/laity equity.

Part of me thinks it is unnecessary to designate some elders as certified lay pastors. All elders should be prepared to assume the duties of that office. In reality, I know not all elders receive the preparation needed. Elder training in congregations varies from not much, if any, to a year's worth of Saturday meetings for study.

The new student roster may include a person who is not an elder. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of providing CLP preparation to someone who has not been called to this work through the congregation and who has not been ordained. The person may decide not to participate, so my concern may be moot.

The new class of CLP's will study preaching, teaching, theology and pastoral care. Along with these classes, they will begin to form their pastoral identity where they see their faith being transformed into the role of pastor. This formation will help them realize the resources they have in one another and as a group.

Having a student participate who has not yet received the approbation of God's people as an elder will detract from the purpose of the group.

One of the weaknesses of this presbytery is the fluidity of rules. While this may allow grace to flow at times (cannot think of an example here), we never know what is going on. One pastor's reception into the presbytery happens with little "vetting" or comment; another pastor goes through the pit of hell on the floor of presbytery. One pastor is allowed to make decision contrary to the B of O and our presbytery manual. Another pastor is criticised for not following the guidelines. Makes no sense to me.

Presbytery should allow us to work together without chaos. Should, but doesn't.
Whoever has the biggest voice or assumes the most authority or has the largest congregation, greatest age or whatever determinant, gets to pick the rules.

My "fairness meter" beeps incessantly.

St.Casserole, call me an Old School Presbyter

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What I Saw Yesterday


*dead craw fish thrown out on the tarmac at the Quick Stop

*bumper stickers reflecting the driver's resistance to our new President

*temperature of 70 degrees in February

*two words I did not recognize in Whistle the Cat's subscription to The New Yorker in a review of Hedda Gabler with Mary-Louise Parker as Hedda: crepuscular and termagant. The reviewer, John Lahr, used both four words apart. Thanks, Mr. Lahr, I enjoy unfamiliar words.

*crepuscular means resembling twilight. For you Twilight fans, Hey! thanks for dropping by. crespuscular sounds like a medical condition gone awry.

*termagant refers to an overbearing, nagging woman. Great. What's the word for a flustered, incapable man?

*Our early blooming azaleas are. How about that for a sentence? Camellias are finished, tulip trees are beautiful.

*Five days of moderate temperatures bring out the carpenter bees.


Love,

St.Casserole

Monday, February 09, 2009

New York Times has NEWS

Good grief! Here goes ecumenical relations

St.Casserole, speechless

Read The Associate

A friend said to me when I couldn't remember something, "well, you are busy upstairs". Is this why I couldn't recall which year I met Mr.C?


Last night, I wandered toward Mr.C. thinking about how fortunate we are. We've been married for almost 29 years. Our courtship was brief because when I met him, I waited only 6 weeks to ask him to marry me. But did we meet in February of '80 or '81? Somewhere in those days is an anniversary of our meeting.


Mr. C. says it was '80. I couldn't get my mind around that but I know I was the minister for his law school graduation. When was that I asked? December of '80?


This means I prayed over John Grisham's law school graduation ceremony. They were classmates.


I can remember the cute outfit I had on, some kind of Harris Tweed blazer which was right in style in 1980 and preppy enough to hurt your teeth.


As my conversation ended with Mr. C, I forgot about the 29th anniversary of our meeting and pondered why I hadn't put together that I prayed over John Grisham. I've read his books for years.


Which means, as I see it, another reason for all of us to read The Associate, Mr. Grisham's new book.


Yours, but I won't remember it,

St.Casserole

Friday, February 06, 2009

How to Have a Happy Life


Stop the tyranny of Cat Parties! Put the cats and dog outside of the bedroom. Make sure the lock catches when shutting the door. Sleep well without: cat fights, dog snoring, dog jewelry jangling and cats wandering up to see if you are sleeping. Move legs freely without dislodging cats who complain.

Ignore meows, woofs and notes slipped under the door by cats who "just want to talk".

Relish sleep.

St.Casserole, rested and ready for the day

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

From the Local Newspaper

The Mississippi legislature is discussing a bill to allow the adoption of fresh or frozen embryos.

From an obituary: "This is a homecoming celebration, please dress appropriately."
(awkward suggestion, like asking for funeral expenses, but needed in an area where people wear shorts and flip-flops to funerals)


The day is brilliant blue and very cold for us at 29 degrees. Adventure Cat shortened his morning walkabout to 15 minutes.

St.Casserole, fascinated by the World

Monday, February 02, 2009

I Need Help Finding A Primer on Pastoral Care for Lay Adults

I'm teaching a lay ministry program in the Spring on pastoral care.
Can you suggest a basic primer on pastoral care for a varied group of adults? Many are educated, as many are high school graduates only. All are active in church.

Thanks, I need suggestions!

St.Casserole

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ministry Things

Do not forget to take up the offering. If a church member waves a check at you, consider that you may have forgotten.

Take all food offered to you. If you have a new or newish car, please do not bring home a crock pot of hot soup. Just don't.

If you forget where you are in your sermon, you are in trouble. Look down at your outline and begin praying.

Even if the Holy Spirit is watching your back, wearing your chasuble inside out will show.

Pick a few hymns the congregation knows. Just a few. No one is asking you to be perfect.


Arghhh,
St.Casserole

Friday, January 30, 2009

People in Trouble? Call Them


Here's some advice on being a pastor:

If you hear a colleague is in trouble, call them. You don't have to do a gossip monger on them, don't even mention the trouble. If they want to talk about it with you, they will bring it up. But call them. Don't leave your peeps out to dry in misery.

If a local official or neighbor or whoever gets indicted. Call them. Write a note if you'd rather do that but get in touch with them. Let them know you know they are in trouble and you are praying for them.

It doesn't matter if you think they are guilty. An indictment means the grand jury says they need to be in court. Grand juries present one side of the issue, the defendant doesn't get to present his/her side.

Probably you don't know anyone in jail. Think about how isolating and miserable it is to have your name in the paper as an accused.

Our Mayor is indicted. His wife, too. I doubt they did anything wrong but the Grand Jury handed down enough charges to scare the skin off an elephant. People are judging them without knowing the case. The couple have elementary school children. Once the government decides to move on you, you are in big trouble. I think the Mayor's troubles are a technicality without any thought of fraud. Whatever is going on, anyone who knows the Mayor needs to hand him support rather than allowing him to dance in the wind, friendless and pronounced guilty.

Come on, reach out to the troubled.

St.Casserole

Friday, January 23, 2009


Oh! Now I understand. I thought we were a charm worn on a cat's collar used in a game like marbles.

Oh!,

St.Casserole

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wonderful Day! 2

In 1993 on Inauguration Day, I dressed nine month old LD up, got fixed up myself and sat on the sofa with her to watch Bill Clinton's first Inauguration.

Clinton's election made me happy.

Today, LD is off at Art School, I'm at home with cats and dog. I'm in my flannel jammies transfixed by history unfolding on my TV.

Wish we could hear TD Jake's message at the private worship service. He's articulate and smart.

I hope Michelle Obama's outfit is lined with thermal something for warmth when the ceremony moves outside.

I am having a happy attack.

St.Casserole

Wonderful Day!



Wonderful Day! I'm watching the Inauguration at home today. The cats all have new collars to celebrate. Sister, the best dog Nanny in the world, is spiffy in her new collar, too.

I have hope. I want to be part of the change. I want to see the United States realize progressive government.

When you hear the crowd roar in Washington, listen for my voice in that mix.

St.Casserole

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Young Clergywomen

Preacher Coffee Group this week discussed the good influence of the young clergy in our conferences, presbyteries, etc. We have one just-about-30 year old who drinks coffee with us. We consider him a treasure.

Rev. Bird Dog said that when he was a young pup preacher, the old guy preachers made things difficult for him. They lied to him, let him know he knew nothing worthwhile and used him for scut work. He says he vowed to never do that to a younger pastor.

I witnessed similar stuff as a young pastor. Older preachers made it clear that I needed to "apprentice" for years before anyone took me seriously and because I was a woman, my sojourn as a scut worker would last longer. I vowed to not treat younger colleagues like this.

When I preach about Samuel's call tomorrow, I'll reflect on his prophetic ministry even though he was young. "Even though", as if God recognized age as a blessing! Age doesn't mean much with second career pastors and the absolute brightness of so many of the young clergy I meet.

Summer before last, I went to the Young Clergywoman's Conference at the College of Preachers. That conference is in the top two continuing ed. events I've ever attended. I have great confidence, respect and hope for young clergywomen. Second career gals, too, impress me.

I want a young clergywoman nearby with time to talk with me. Lord, send me one, ok?

St.Casserole

Friday, January 16, 2009

29 Degrees


Computer probs fixed~!

Cold here! 29 degrees outside. Cold for us! Hope bugs die! Kill all mosquitos! 55 degrees yesterday! Turned on heat! Cats on bed! Wearing fleece now!



Happy!
St.C.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Waiting for Repair Person

The computer fix-it person arrives this morning. He'll pull wires, type in commands and wave a magic wand over this machine.

I'll be doing laundry, reading the book open on the kitchen counter and looking out the windows.

Together, we may get the 'net/computer/bloggage up to speed.

Until then, I remain,

St.Casserole

Monday, January 05, 2009


There is a long stretch of state highway to LD's school. This four lane, mostly without traffic road goes on forever. The road is lonely day or night. Gives me the creeps but the alternative route takes about 20 minutes longer. I do not want to drive this stretch alone at night and I am a brave woman.

The new semester began today so LD stocked up on school supplies, more shoes, junk food for the dorm and new make-up. The kids dress like kids and most do not wear make-up although the town around them is filled with beautifully made-up groomed women who believe "a woman without jewelry is like the sky without stars." I'm talking really Southern dressed up women. I pulled my hoodie over my head, put on sunglasses and kept quiet.

I'm glad to be home but I miss LD.

St.Casserole

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thinking About 2009



I'd like to see the Northern Lights. This pic was taken in Tromso, Norway from Information Jack's blog.

I want a satisfying way to relate to Presbytery.

I want to explore flexibility in my sermons but not sure what I mean by this yet.

Is this the year I write a letter to the Presbyterian Outlook? May.be.

I want five wooden pallets to build into a compost container for my back yard. I know where to get the pallets but need a truck to bring them home. I'll use one for the base, four for the sides and leave the top open. I'll staple chicken wire inside the container so water flows through it. I want good compost to add to my flower beds to limit how much watering I do to keep plants and shrubs alive.

This is the year to finish Little Church repairs and restoration. Really.

What is someone of my generation supposed to wear? I hope to discover the answer this year.

More peace, less poverty. More food for more hungry people. Health care for everyone.
Education for life for everyone. Encourage the Arts. Recycle more. Give more. Garden more. Read and study new areas of interest. Support the new President. Pray for the world and my backwater portion of the world.

Kiss cats on the head.

Read Calvin through the year to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of his birth.
Sit down with LLS and explain everything I know about Calvin to her without jumping up and bolting from the room.

Love,

St.Casserole