Mother’s Day, one holiday in the life of a working pastor mom

For me mother’s day is getting up around 6am to help my children get ready for church.

I get their clothing (laundry being the only thing my husband doesn’t like to do AT ALL). I actually had laid out our clothing the night before, but my leggings for under my tunic on a rainy day (which prob doesn’t matter because I’ll be wearing a robe anyway) seem necessary so the dears at church don’t feel cold due to my sticking out legs. I want to wear my tunic shirt though, my parents sewed it for me, and I wore it for Easter but they weren’t around.

Luckily I find some black tights that will do just fine and easily find another shirt for the 5 yr old. He has a lot more clothes then the older ones as he inherits everything. Then and get back to work to get the kids ready.

I tell almost 9 and 5 yr old no electronics this morning (some days its easier to have them distracted, sometime the fight to get off is not worth it)

My husband comes and they give me a gift card, which I sort of saw when 5 yr old accidentally got excited and tried to give it to me when my husband was out of the house, I convince my almost 9 yr old to rehide the gift. Dad explains that I’ve been working really hard and need to relax, because gift cards are not excited for small boys.

Luckily 7yr old boy (who is autistic) sleeps in, so he comes down for 10 minutes of “Scooby Doo Toys” (youtube; because originally thats what he watched on it). I sneak in his meds as he’s watching (the easiest time to do it) quick before we go. I think about that he’s not up during the present time, but it would probably confuse him as its neither for him nor he picked it, plus he has his own present for me, so I decide that will do for his part of the present giving.

My parents come over because they came up from Philly for the weekend, we all went out to eat the night before for mother’s day (with babysitting!) because then I can concentrate on the worship service. Which is beautiful and perfect, but the significance of the day is still real. I think about this as I think of those electing not to mention mother’s day in church, because its a secular holiday and it hurts. I feel uncertain as to letting the only voices being non-church ones is the way to go. But hey, I’m blessed, so I celebrated some Saturday and do a lot of my thinking today.

Then I look for my black shoes. One pair has been sitting in the “shoe bench” cupboard because the ballet straps look just silly with a lot of outfits, but I can only find one (of course). Look in the basement where I foolishly sometimes take off shoes to change to clean pajamas down there, then the upstairs bathroom where I do the same, finally I look under the couch which is miraculously almost clear, but sure enough my other pair of black dress shoes are there.

We get everyone dressed and ready and going out to the car, and I run back in for tampons, because nothing says mothers day like preaching with your period (seriously the things I reflect on theologically are SO nerdy, did I mention I’m still 33 yrs old the Jesus age…yeah I’m obsessed)

We go to breakfast at Panera, like we do every Sunday, its my survival coping mechanism for Sunday.

I ask my mom and dad to pick up 20 carnations for all the women of the church, and then we head off to church planning to meet them. (Yay for help in getting things done)

I’m on my way to church, still thinking about how to mention all those for whom mother’s day is hard. Reflecting, that its most of us. Who has entirely happy memories/associations with mothers day? I’m lucky in my mother and mother-in-law’s support, but my grandmother is no longer around and that makes me melancholy.

Then I’m old enough to know people who struggle with infertility and miscarriage, to know of those who are yet unpartnered and are trying to figure out what to do with their wish for children, I know people in the queer community for whom mother’s day is extra complicated, not to mention mother’s of children who are physically unwell, have diagnoses or struggle with addiction. I also know those for whom their mothers are just bad news. One friend said she finally has been able to admit her mother is a terrible person. I think on my father whose parents were abusive, the grandparents on that side that I never got to know well.

All of this is in the back of my mind and I go to my bookshelf to get The Runaway Bunny to read to the kids during children’s sermon. Thinking on how Psalm 139 is still my favorite, probably because of this book.

Then I do all the things to prep the church that my one faithful guy always does, but he’s out of town. I prep my office to magically transform into the choir room for 20 minutes and fuss all morning with my butterfly stole which now refuses to stay straight as a chain on the back has broken.

I print out the sermon notes, read over the scripture one last time and think carefully about the promise of baptism.

Right before service, my husband and I talk work schedule because the church’s Chicken BBQ is Tues and he doesn’t usually work then, so I have no babysitting. We talk about bringing the kids to the event and under what circumstances he might stay (boys are helpful) go (attitude everywhere) or just take 7yr old autistic child back. We clarify he CAN work Weds which is usually his day off because for once I have no important meetings.

I see a new couple and introduce myself, nope they are here for the cool inclusive-we-ordain-women-worship down the hall. This is often confusing because we also have a female pastor (me). I offer to walk them down the hall. I am trying to look at all of these as a blessing, though I wish we had a cool newspaper write up that drew visitors this week.

I look out, there are about 5 people in church, including my parents. I suddenly remember that Mother’s Day is a low attendance day for my church (in contrast to tradition, but right in line with modern day attitudes). The reminder actually helps me feel like think are normal.  I help with announcements and hear my lay leader jovially wish everyone a happy mother’s day.

Then people trickle in, and we end up with about 20 people, I hear my parents sing during the first hymn and immediately feel like its more mothers day (How do your children say pe-ace, how do your children say hooooommeee…).

We do a litany prayer and my voice cracks on the mother of those who have physical, emotional  or mental disabilities (which I smartly had put in bold as a group prayer). Then I say the part about children who feel motherless for whatever reason by myself (which is not something I feel) and hope its enough for those who are hurting.

I have the children’s sermon and its just two of my three, the other family’s children are NOT cooperating (which I muse to myself is totally understandable holiday are so oft overkill) so I read them the story and say a repeat prayer and send them back to their seats. Sometimes I have the kids give out the flowers, but it feels silly if its just mine. Plus my eldest will end up doing it all, and he doesn’t need the extra attention, even tho he’d love it.

I sermonize, I talk about baptism and God’s role as a nurturing and creating God. I talk about how mother’s day is hard, but motherhood is part of the church’s class. I preach about community and how building community is what faith is about (subtext: belief is one thing, community faith is another). I feel the hope, and talk about welcome as a part of nurturing. I think it was fairly focused, but preaching is an art not a science, so who knows.

During the Anthem after the sermon, I decide to hand out the flowers. One congregant goes and sees her sister who suffers from dementia. She usually has to leave during the last hymn, and I don’t want her to be without a flower. My mom jumps up to help, which is nice.

During the prayers of the people I emphasize those who mothers day is hard, or their mothers are far away.

Then the service draws to a close, I reflect about the balance, the sermon was happy and optimistic but the prayers were more mournful, I wonder if that worked.

We close service, and we pass the peace and go to coffee hour (snacks my kids call it). My parents run to go see my brother on Mother’s day too. Luckily no one is too sad because the kids are overjoyed by the donut holes, I give up trying to monitor how many they are having, seeing that my 7 year old autistic boy isn’t eating too many sweets for once, and is singing and dancing around the sanctuary. I hear a litany of what is being dropped in the entryway (where we now have coffee hour since we are renting out the fellowship hall) and try not to address it, because today is mother’s day.

Then I call for “Messy Church” and find that the family of recalcitrant kids have been refreshed by donut holes and them and another child who was late to church have joined my own for our more informal type of Sunday School.

I take them over to the baptismal font to talk about baptism. Meanwhile my 5 yr old immediately notices I didn’t get a flower (i.e. I didn’t take one for myself) and runs to get me one. Adorable, makes my day.

Then I talk about baptism and am pleased that the kids are super literate about what it is and what it mean. No doubt the involvement in the kids sprinkling all the adults with water as a renewal has helped. They say they belong to God and that Jesus loves us and we are church family. Then I ask if they want to write God on them to show who they belong to (Answer=Enthusiastic YES). I go and write God on the bottom of their shoes and some feet, realizing I didn’t ask any parent’s permission, but figure its harmless enough that its probably ok.  We triumphantly write God on shoes and bare feet and all the kids love it and start telling each other they belong to God. I start to think this has been the most successful part of the whole worship.

Then we go back to show the adults.

I check in with the parents and warn them about the shoes (1 hr later I realize the marker all washed off in the rain grass, but hey) and everyone is ok with it. so I then take the moment to tell the other adults about the great special needs baseball team my 7 yr old just started, crowing with proud that he loved it and it wore him out. (And realize once again what percentage of my time is spent talking about my autistic child vs. the other two, but try not to guilt myself about it)

On the way to the car, I say goodbye to the Nursery Care College Student who is heading home for the summer. Its her 2nd year for us, and she is working out whether or not she can do a 3rd depending on internship. I thank her profusely, as I know I’m the only one who pays her any attention, she’s not a member, just an employee, which is unusual in our close knit teeny church. She does well, and I want to be sure to tell her before she goes. Then the kids outdo me and almost know her over with a group hug goodbye. 🙂 YAY!

Then we hop in the car (with less fuss than usual), and head towards the playground, because now that the weather is nice we are trying to do that after church. On our way we discuss whether its worth going, because my husband has work soon and it will be a short visit. It looks like rain, if it rains would we have missed our chance? What if it rains while are there?

The kids tell us they are expecting playground, and are not asking for electronics, so we decide to go. 20 minutes of play actually works out pretty well. I sit a little and read, my husband catches Pokemon. 9yr old is super happy he hangs our with older cool kids, and no one really touches the oozing mudpie that is usually the sandbox.

We run home, my husband gets some food and goes to work at the library. I get everyone settled with electronics (totally forget to give them more food), read a short story written by 9 yr old. Lock the front door and go to take a nap.

2 hrs later!!! I wake up. Whoa, I must have been more tired than I thought. Shoot, I was going to originally kick everyone off electronics after an hour. Oh well, thinking my menstrual cycle probably has something to do with it. I go downstairs and kick everyone outside. 5 yr old is totally grumpy form lack of food (everyone else probably treated themselves to a snack) and begs for “new” mac and cheese, the one in the fridge will NOT do at this point in life.

I look at the clock, its past 4. I start mac and cheese, but the kids ate that last night, so I look for more supper. The fridge is basically empty and pancakes feel eh! for dinner. So, I decide its mother’s day, its ok to order, I order hibachi.

5 yr old helps to make mac and cheese, meanwhile 9yr old is outside and again playing with older kids (yay), One older neighbor who also is not neurotypical has a cool Motorbike!. 7yr old is ecstatic and dances about the yard because watching the motorbike is amazing.

7yr old wants to ride his bike (which he can get out of the trunk of the car with a little too  much ease). Luckily 9yr old comes in to tell me the bike is out, so I go to watch. (Just got the mac n Cheese finished in time) Bingo! Have worked out with 7 yr old how he can go up and down the duplex driveway hills into the street and have me watch from a vantage point where I can warn/help with oncoming cars when the few come it. Much better than running after the bike which was what I was doing til now (good exercise but the 7yr old did NOT appreciate it). He plays outside for an hr! Kids ask about electronics and I say after dinner.

Go onto phone and fb for first time. Try to do the mother’s day greetings and thank yous. Think about my sermon some more 😛 and how it went because this is what I do.

Have dinner.

Get the gift from 7yr old, its a hand in a HUGE block of ceramic. He fits his hand, I say is it for mama day. He says yes (I’m his “person” autistic kids usually have one main person they connect to) and hugs and kisses me, very happy there is a mama day.

Husband turns on Jim Henson’s Storyteller, because 9yr old is currently into Greek Mythology–going into 4th grade thats when I remember being into it, husband too, it must be developmental.

Surprisingly 7yr old turns off youtube and snuggles in to watch. Its adorable, My husband and I can’t move, he doesn’t get pajama pants and I don’t go to the bathroom for a good hour. Then he settles in, and we go about our usual things as the boy-boys watch.

5 yr old decides to make cookies with me. He has cute new apron of his own side and can read the picture directions. We decided to make baby cookies (not to be confused with babies which 5yr old told me Dada says “No Babies” which is true because dada VERY clearly told boy-boys we are not planning on more child-longs a couple of weeks ago).

Cookies are a success, and as their only 12 of them (24 mini-cookies) we feel ok about consuming them all! 5 yr old is very proud of his cookie making accomplishment.

We watch the shows until bedtime.

Its a long and good day (less meltdowns by boy-boys). And I’m not sure what it means, but for me this is mothers day, here and now, and it seemed important to share it.

#ashwednesday is for….

Ash Wednesday is for when all four of your checks hit after the bank closes but before you can put your husband’s check in, including the really big rent check, and they therefore all BOUNCE!

Ash Wednesday is for your four year old child throwing up all over the house, and not quite getting the try to aim for the bowl or the toilet concept

Its for your special needs kid being better focused in class, even as you worry about his continual bad smell

Its for losing your voice on the night the pastor has to lead service

Its for your eldest who is struggling to concentrate getting a good email from the teacher.

 

Ash Wednesday is to lay out your whole self before God

To confess yourself, not to feel ashamed, but to be able to see yourself as God’s beloved

The very act of owning  who you are and your reality, the act of being you as God’s, frees you to be reflective of God.

I confess myself and seek God…because to me, they are the same thing….

Ps 34:4-5  I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

“If I sin, I pr…

“If I sin, I pray that my sin is to be too welcoming, and to have the door too wide open. Never do I want to stand before God and defend why I didn’t let someone into my community, family, church, faith or life because I kept the opening too narrow. I would rather explain why I let everyone in rather than defend why I kept one person out.”

-Rev. Katy Stenta

Is the Holy Spirit Spiral Shaped?

Holy Spirit, breathe into us your light, your life, stir up hope in us. We confess that we go in circles, trying to find our own way to God, help us to ask for directions, move us on the path towards you Lord, God. Lead us into a spiral, instead of in circles! we pray this in your most Holy Name. Amen

Unknown

StoryTime!

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4 

Once Upon a Time: there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (John 1:1-3) Before creation, there was chaotic nothingness, an empty mess, energy without form. God Took in a deep breath, and let it all out

And Said, Light, let there be Light

And God saw that it was Good.

      Then God took the light and separated it from the Dark. Separate, the light shone within the darkness, and because they were now separate, the light could not overcome the darkness (John 1:1-5)….

      And God came up with names: the light is Day, the Darkness is Night.

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 1st day…

      Then God said, “Let me separate the waters from the waters….and God did this by taking a deep breath, and then blowing a bubble, so that there was water above the bubble and water below the bubble but space inbetween,

and it is in this inbetween space that we love, how many of us our living in-between in some way? Truly, here we live between the waters, and by through and in God’s love, we love. We live in the space between the waters, knowing many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it. (Sol. 8:7)

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 2nd day…

And God said “hmmm, I will gather the waters together, in one place, and let dry land appear.” And it was so.

God named the dry land, earth, and he named the gathered waters seas.

 

And God saw that it was Good.

Then God said, “Earth, you can make food: shh….plants, you can each hide seeds, and Trees can make ALL KINDS OF FRUIT (and it will be delicious) ssshhhhh! And the fruit can also have fruit.

And it was so

The earth became full of food, the plants each multiplied themselves by twenty, thirty and a hundredfold.

And God saw it (tasted, no wait) was Good

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 3rd day…

And then God knew that light must always shine, so he made lights for the daytime and lights for the night time. Ones that can turn with the seasons—for though I am the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8) these can be signs: signs of the seasons, signs of days, and signs of the years. And then God made two shining lights, the greater to keep the day, and the lesser to keep the night, and the stars.

And God saw it was good.

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 4th day…

Then God said, let there be living creatures in the waters of the sea and the waters of the sky: fill it with schools, gaggles and groups and God made multitudes of  creatures fish and flocks of birds could zoom across the sky!

So God created Sea Monsters, and creatures to move together, of every kind, teaming the waters and spreading across the very sky.

And God saw it was good.

And, they were so Good that God’s next words spilled out not as a creation, but as a blessing—Go and be fruitful! Join me in creation! Help me to fill the waters, the seas, up until the sky is overflowing with life. Blessings be on those who live, for they have the power to give life!

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 5th day…

And God said, now to the earth—I want there to be countless variations of life—from those who stampede, to the creeping and crawling creatures. Let there be wild animals all over earth!

And it was so.

And God saw it was Good

And so full of life was God, that God knew what to do next, and drawing in a deep breath, God spoke words that rang with the fullness of God’s being.

      “Hmm….let us create something in our image, something that shares our likeness. They can be the keepers the fish of the sea, the keepers of the birds of the air, keepers of the tamed cattle, keepers of wild things on the earth the keepers of every creepy thing that creeps on the earth.

So God created earthcreatures/humans in God’s own image. In the image of God, God created male, and in God’s image God created female. Male and female, God created them.

Again, God’s voice rang out as a blessing over those beings he had just bespoke. Blessing them, God said “Be fruitful and multiply, Fill the earth and subdue it (with love). And have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.

Then God said… “Look! I have given you all the seeds that grow upon the face of the earth, and every tree with seeds in its fruit…You shall have them all for food! And every beast of the earth, every bird of the sky, and everything that creeps upon the earth, Everything that has my breath of life (Genesis 2:7), everything that I have blown my spirit into—for I have attached the sinews, put meats on the bones, covered them with skin, and breathed the breath of life, and all creatures have come alive and realize I am God (Ez. 37:5-7). Everything that has the breath of life, I have given, every green plant is yours for food.

And it was so

God saw everything God had created,

And God saw it was Good Indeed!

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 6th day…

Heavens and earth were finished, and

And on the 7th day, when God finished his handiwork, and he rested.

So God spoke, blessing the 7th day, on which he did not work, and he hallowed it. The 7th day is a blessing for stillness, rest and creativity. The 7th day was made a day of Sabbath. On the 7th day we practice what all who has breath should know: Be still and know that I am God! (Ps. 46:10)

Because on the 7th day God rested from the work he had done in creation

These are the accounts of the heavens and the earth, when they were created, In the day that the Lord made heaven and earth!!

All things came into being through God, and without God not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in God was life, and the life was the light of all people. (John 1:3-5)

Why?

Because it through our Creation, we Learn about our end. Its through knowing God better, we learn about our true being. God is the beginning and the end, and God began life with Words of Love and through a filling of the void. Though we live inbetween–After God Breathed out the world, and after God Breathed Jesus back in to himself, but before God breathed his entire being into the world. Giving us space to be, space to live, love and breathe, space to become Co-creators with God, discovering and naming the world. We live inbetween, but we know the beginning, and we know the end….it is full of God’s breath, full of the life and light of the world, it is full of love. We are to fill and subdue the world, not with our own ordering and control, but with life! Fill the world with life, light, breath and love! Know God, know ourselves and know the Alpha and the Omega. Pray for the end of the world, pray for the fullness of time, pray for “God’s Kingdom to Come” and rejoice in what is promised to us then.

 

 

 

Did Scrabble an…

Did Scrabble and Ate a Brownie, Haha! Don’t worry Sermon, I’ll find you–I’m sure your cleverly tucked between a national tragedy and 2,000+yr old words about Resurrection and Angels praising God….

Katy’s Wednesday Nights are so exciting

Star Trek and Dr. Who

Having written about Parables and Fairy Tales and the importance they play in defining the universality of the human condition for every particular human–and hence why they are awesome. I feel you are ready for the truth.

Star Trek and Dr. Who are Parables

Not only are they like most science fiction which discusses how the human race will interact with and respond to technological changes in the future (which is a little different than fantasy which explores humanity-exactly-as-it-is-except-there-happens-to-be-magic)…but these are characters whose stories are literally written and re-written from different perspective…

I mean at the end of Season 6 (yes I’m on netflix so I’m behind a season) when time has stopped, a villain offhandedly remarks that Rory is “the one who won’t die” which is so true, (WARNING: SPOILERS, Skip to next paragraph if you care) because Amy and Rory go through 5 different versions of reality to that date, and the timestream so that he is alive again.

Anyway, Dr. Who has similar scenarios played out over and over again with different versions of the main characters–the Doctor and his companion, (or more recently companions). Even building its own mythology (Daleks, MetalMen, Weeping Angels–to encounter again, and again). The goal is the same, humanity is the same, in lots of cases the situations are the same (there is a storyline I call the Space Movie storyline, where everyone dies from something they shouldn’t have touched in the middle of space–this one gets used a lot for the obvious reason that Dr. Who is a first and foremost a Space Adventure).

But we keep watching it, because these are the stories worth repeating again and again!

Similarly, Star Trek has a crew of People stuck wherever they are (usually not at a Space Station) trying to reach home. They have encounters with similar types of beings (Kling-Ons, Vulcans, Robots, and random encounters with unknown species including the ever-lovable Tribbles.) As the characters encounter “the other” they learn to define humanity or even better “lifeforms” in a broader perspective….Even though its filled with tropes like the redshirts 🙂

Each story is a piece of the human experience, and each series can retell a similar plotline with its own set of characters to give us slightly different perspectives. What is maybe the best part is that both series unashamedly state that they are looking into the human condition–there is always a character in Star Trek who is exploring what it means to be human (Data, Seven of Nine, Odo) and Dr. Who is constantly observing and remarking (happy crying, how wonderfully human of you) about it. Thus through the eyes of the other, and the reactions of different characters to different situations allows us to learn more about ourselves!

Thus the tellings,

and the retellings

and the Fun!

That’s why we like Dr. Who, and Star Trek, and Parables, and Fairy Tales

Meanderings…

The snow looks painted.

Spring hinted in the cold and the wet

and the shadows at night pattern the leftover snow, that which hasn’t melted, into paint

and a thousand things flick through my brain, skittering across the blacks and whites

all the things I intend, the dreams I still wish, the responsibilities of the world

why do things only happen when I’m busy? Why do I have so much to get done?

Good problems to have

February is only 28 days, because who can bear for it to be longer

welcome March….