What’s in a Name?

Titles are funny things. For instance, if one is ordained as a Reverend and then earns a Ph.D or other Doctoral degree, one gets to be known as Rev. Dr. Never Enough. Yes, certainly you are a doctor of theology, dreamology, delusion, or whatever you choose to call it, but you shall always and forever be Reverend first. I have always hated name tags, especially when they include titles. I realize that we have earned them, we have gone to school for a thousand years, and will be paying on the school loan until after we die. A year ago I was rejected for a job in Upstate New York, only to get the next one that came along and I have found contentment. This job comes with a title, Pastor Meg. I certainly have been called worse. With that title comes great responsibility (great movie line, right?)!

My life is no longer my own. I cannot just run into the grocery story anywhere, because I am probably going to run into someone from my congregation, and ducking them is not an acceptable practice. Okay, I might have done it once, twice, no more than a dozen times, I am certain. I only duck out of fear. You see, I have a recurring nightmare that I am out in public without pants, and I am not quite sure how that happened. So until I figure that one out, I shall continue to duck, but I digress.

My life is no longer my own. It is’t okay that I swear, especially in public. People pay attention to the clothes I wear. They comment on them. Sometimes the ladies in my church remind me that I have a new top on. I do not drink anything of the alcoholic variety in public, or at a parishioner’s home. I don’t want to give the wrong impression to anyone. Once people find out what I do for a living, they decide to tel me when was the last time they were in church, the reasons they haven’t been to church and often promise to come and visit. Let me say something about that- don’t promise something just to be nice, becuse I have expectations for people. I expect that if you give me your word, and tell me you are coming for a visit or you are going to do something, you will.

Being a pastor has been one of the most difficult and rewarding things I have ever done in my life. I don’t regret it for a moment. In the 9 months I have been here, I have officiated 6 funerals, and 1 wedding. I know more things about people’s lives than I ever cared to know, things I wish I did not know, but I am honored to be trusted, none the less. People let you into those deep, dark parts of their lives, where no one knows the pain they have experienced, and no one goes without an ingraved invitation.

Please, continue to call me Pastor Meg, for as long as you wish. Some day I might get around to making it Reverend, but then again, maybe not. What’s in a name? Certainly, there is much implied in the title added to mine, and that is okay by me.

Just a Glimpse of God

If you believe that everything happens for a reason, that there is a destiny to things, even if you don’t believe in God, you should continue reading.  Since I am going to assume that you have read a blog posting of mine before, I am a going to assume that you know God and I are well acquainted.  (But, you know what they say about assuming….you make an ass out of you and me.)  Moving on.

This summer I drug my way through a chaplain internship wondering how on God’s green earth was this going to benefit me?  What was I going to get out of it?  How would this help me in ministry?  Well, there was the first part of the problem, the me and I statements that tend to rare their ugly heads.  I was looking at this as a requirement for school, the final requirement actually, in which I was not allowed to work for eleven weeks because I would be spending 40+ hours per week at the hospital as free labor in the chaplain department. (Not a good attitude to have.)

I met death head on.  In a few cases I got kicked out of the room, because the chaplain is the last person they wanted to see.  But for the most part, I got people asking questions that I could not answer, such as why.  Why me? Why us?  Why my child?  I saw suicide, accidents, cancer, and more dying children than one person should ever have to face in their lifetime.  And do you know what happened?

I BECAME A BETTER PERSON BECAUSE OF IT!  Before that happened, I had to get over myself, and my issues, and move on.  Open your eyes, there is so much this world can teach you.  There is so much good you can do in the world, and it won’t cost you a thing, except maybe a moment of your time.  Each and every one of those people I was with had a story to tell me, even though it wasn’t always using words.  I will think about that summer for the rest of my life and remember the brief glimpses of God that I saw in every one of the patients that I encountered.  What are you going to change in your life so that you don’t miss the glimpse of God?

Rick Warren on his late son: “Matthew was not afraid to die…he was afraid of pain”

Rick Warren’s response to his son’s question, why can’t I just die is painful. We lose too many people to suicide every year. Some call it selfish. Some see it as escape from pain. It makes me hurt deep within. I weep for the parents that bury their children. Having spent time as a Chaplain Intern, I saw the effect first hand. It might provide a way out for the victim of suicide, but it destroys those left behind. There are more questions than answers, and I don’t pretend to have any of them. But if this describes you or someone you love, please get help. It is never too late to ask for help. It’s not about judging someone or trying to “fix” someone, it’s about meeting them where they are, and loving them, no matter what.

Piers Morgan

Less than six months ago, well-known American evangelical Christian pastor Rick Warren lost his son to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an emotional and heartbreaking end to a life defined by battles with mental health.

Joined by his wife Kay, this evening Warren joins “Piers Morgan Live” for the couple’s first media appearance since Matthew’s passing, describing in great detail the demons their son battled:

“Matthew was not afraid to die. He was afraid of pain. I remember 10 years ago, when he was 17, he came to me sobbing,” reveals Warren, offering an absolutely heart-wrenching story about his late son. “He said, ‘daddy,’ he said, ‘it’s really clear, I’m not going to get any better. You know, we’ve gone to the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best treatment therapists. Everything … prayer, everything you could imagine … good support.’ And he says, ‘it’s real clear I’m not going…

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A Crazy Little Thing Called CPE…

“Only Christ could have brought us all together, in this place, doing such absurd but necessary things.”–Kathleen Norris

If one were to write an essay about what one did over their summer vacation, anyone who read mine would ask for a do-over.  For eleven weeks I wondered semi-purposefully around St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, as a Chaplain Intern.  This was the last requirement for my master’s degree.  That’s right, me, a master’s degree.  The term “Intern” is used to mean unpaid, as well as clueless.  So six strangers set out on an adventure to discover who we really are, who God wants us to be, and how we respond to tragedy and help others deal with it.

 CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education, might be genius, but if you tell my supervisor, Sister Barbara, I said that I will deny, deny, deny.  First of all, Chaplains don’t go around trying to save people’s souls or waving Bibles at people.  I saw Bibles in the hospital while I was there, but they were not carried by Chaplains.  Chaplains have very difficult jobs, and are some of the strongest people I have ever met in my life.  Consider that they are meeting people at some of the most difficult moments of their lives.  We (they) are not there to take the place of your pastor or shove Jesus down your throat.  We are there to meet you where you are, not to judge.  I found that to be the most beneficial thing I could ever do.  Somewhere during the process of 400 hours in the hospital, you find yourself changing.  I had stood at the side of the bed with enough people as they had taken their last breath, watched family members agonize over what course of treatment to take with their loved one, that I figured out what was important.  For me; 

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind

2. Live until you die

Indeed, it is absurd that one should ever hear the following statement from a child, “I don’t want to die.”  What is more absurd, is that the statement requires a response, not because it is a fear, but because it is reality.  It is absurd that parents should have to bury their children, because that is not the natural order of life, now is it?  So often I heard “It just happened so fast.” or “If we just would have had more time.”  No one ever say, they should have worked more hours at the office.  I heard their regrets.

Do you have regrets?  Well, you aren’t dead yet; so, live.  Live until you die.  Come together with fantastic people like I did and do absurd things.  Grow.  Learn.  Challenge yourself.  Do those things that are hard, and sometimes hurt like hell.   Live until you die and hopefully you won’t be disappointed at the end, I know I won’t be. 

People Change

Sunrise At Galilee

People do change; not very frequently, but every now and again something so profound touches a person’s life that they can no longer remain who they were. I am one of those people. The person who I previously thought that I was, no longer applies. On December 28, 2012 she boarded a plane for Israel, and she allowed herself to be immersed in a country. She forgot to be afraid of everything, and so she hiked the Wadis and the Tels, swam in the Dead Sea, and went exploring in the torrential rain. She made new friends. She let someone in her life; when he asked her what was wrong and actually wanted an answer, she gave him one.

What comes next? I haven’t a clue. I keep moving forward, but I am forever unpacking my journey to the Land we call “Holy.”

Me and Mellencamp

Well I was born in a small town………not by choice
And I live in a small town……and I am ready to leave
Prob’ly die in a small town…..not if I can help it
Oh, those small – communities……are killing me!!!!

All my friends are so small town……no offense to you if you love living in small town USA
My parents live in a same small town……Rugby makes them happy, and that is fine, for them.
My job is so small town……well, it’s Indianapolis but you get the point!
Provides little opportunity, hey!……Mellencamp left and now he’s dating Meg Ryan! Can’t I go too?

Educated in a small town…..Thank you Hauser High School.
Taught to fear Jesus in a small town…..Not a bad thing at all!
Used to daydream in that small town….I used to dream about leaving!
Another born romantic that’s me…oh, aren’t we all?

This is where Johnny and I differ….
I know where I come from, and I love where I came from and the people that made me who I am today, but I never felt like I fit in when I was here. To be quite honest, I think that is my problem. I have been looking for a place all my life that felt like home, and for me, there isn’t one.

The thing is, I want something different for my kids. I want them to feel connected. I want to feel like they belong somewhere. So, I may just have to suck it up and live the small town, fish bowl life style for them.

Everyone has a story

I went to pay for my daughter’s violin today. No big deal, like every month, I walk in to see Mr. Pickett. He doesn’t call you if you are a few days late, because he is far too busy to do that. No, he counts on you to be a responsible person. I was the only one in the music store today, and he and I were chatting and he was telling me about a mission trip this man went on.

It seems he had met a gentleman who was going on a mission trip several years ago when he came into the store to buy a trumpet. The man knew nothing about trumpets. He didn’t play the trumpet, nor did he know anyone who did, but when he was packing for this mission trip he couldn’t shake the need to he had to purchase one. So he did. The man went off on his trip and went to several churches in South America taking the trumpet with him. No one in any of the churches had any need for a trumpet until the final church he visited on his final night there. After the service, the man noticed a boy speaking to one of the interpreters and the man walked over to the interpreter and asked him what he was saying. The interpreter told the man who the young boy seemed to think the man had something for him. The man walked back to where is guitar case was sitting and picked up the trumpet case sitting next to it. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he handed the trumpet to the boy who was also sobbing. He said through the interpreter, “I’ve been waiting. God told me you were coming.”

See, everyone has a story!