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Archive for January, 2015

I must say that surgery is an interesting thing.  I don’t like being the centre of attention, which I know is weird, given what I do for a living.  Having the doctors, nurses, techs and whatnot ensuring I was cared for was strange.  I’m used to doing the caring, not being cared for.  My friend drove me to the city where I was having surgery, 45 minutes away.  He was allowed to wait with me before I went in and he prayed with and for me, and the doctors, nurses, techs, and everyone involved at the hospital.  I felt remarkable when he had finished.

The nurse who was preparing me for surgery heard the prayer and cried.  We told the doctor he had been prayed for and he was delighted.  The entire team did an amazing job, even the anaesthetist with no sense of humour.  I commented that the table in the operating room looked like it could be used for crucifixion and he stared blankly.  Which was okay.

I remember the lights in the operating theatre, I remember the IV in my arm.  I remember a mask going over my mouth and being told to breathe deeply.  And then I remember being asked if I was thirsty…and was I ever.  I had a sip of ginger ale and it tasted like the greatest thing ever.  I was parched for 3 days.  Gatorade and water with some tea fixed that.  I felt numb for a couple of days, other than when I stood up or sat down.  Then I cursed.

I am now 8 days since surgery and I’m feeling okay.  I still use pain meds in the day time.  I am standing for longer periods of time.  I am making progress and feeling better.  And tomorrow I go back to work.  Which I am very excited about.  I know it will knock me sideways, but at least I will have done it.  Moving back into the work world and Church land slowly is what I need to do, and am doing.

I am thankful for the surgeon and the doctors.  I am thankful for the nurses and staff who cared for me as a person, not only as a patient.  And I am especially thankful for my friends who rallied around with food, prayers, gentle hugs and care. I never realised how much I am cared for.  Now I have a better idea.  And it warms the cockles of my heart.

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I have never had general anaesthetic before.  Pretty amazing given my age (47).  But it’s true.  I am scheduled for surgery on Friday and I’m nervous about it.  Not nervous about the procedure, the surgeon has my complete faith and he knows what he’s doing.  I’m not nervous about dying, because I’ve made my peace with God and am ready for whatever comes my way.  I am nervous about the anaesthetic and my reaction to it.

I’ve been preparing this week by eating a bland diet.  Drinking lots of water and herbal tea.  Detoxing the processed crap from my diet.  Breathing better.  Getting things in order at the Church for Vestry.  Asking a friend and Deacon to take the services for me so I don’t have to worry about presiding service less than 48 hours after surgery.  I’m even staying overnight at a friend’s house for a couple of nights to make sure I have someone with me.  Another friend is moving in to look after the dogs so they are cared for.

The massive anxiety I have been carrying was lessened significantly when I decided not to work on Sunday.  I know it’s our annual meeting and that’s a really big deal, but so is my health.  The work has been done to get everything ready; well, as ready as things can be for this meeting.  We must remember to leave room for the Holy Spirit.

I will be spending some time at the Church this afternoon putting things away as the office is a pigsty right now, sorting things out, finding files, filing them, etc.  And once that is done I will breathe a great sigh of relief.  I have full trust in our Wardens that they will do a fantastic job of Vestry.  I’d like to be there, but I don’t have to be there.  Vestry happened before I came to my current parish and it will happen again when I’m no longer there.

I have done what makes me comfortable.  I have organised as best I can.  The rest I leave in capable hands.  And it will be what it will be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to refill my water bottle.  🙂

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It is true that I am my own worst critic.  I don’t hold anyone to the same standards I hold myself.  The last few days have been unbelievably difficult, and I’m not really sure why.  I am scheduled to undergo laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery (gallbladder) on the 23rd of January.  We have our annual Vestry meeting on the 25th.  I have no idea what kind of reaction I will have to the surgery, so I am attempting to get as many things done, ahead of time, as I can.

This includes putting together the Vestry book.  Organizing baptism meetings, pre-marriage counselling, pre-surgical appointments, pastoral visits and bulletins.  Oh, and there’s writing homilies.  Right now the pile of things I need to do feels overwhelming.  Between that list and the housework, child-care, spousal support, I am having difficulty seeing daylight.  And my  motivation has dissipated…in other words, my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone.

I am beginning to think that my work/life balance is off-balance again.  I haven’t even sat on my yoga mat in weeks.  I am not drinking water like I was doing.  I’m not eating properly.  In short, I’m not caring for myself.  And that’s wrong.

Tomorrow I am meeting a friend for coffee.  I haven’t seen him in years.  This week was his birthday so we are meeting for a birthday-week hot drink.  I’m excited to see him as he always fills my day with light.  I have a list of errands I’ve been putting off all week, mostly due to weather.  So after I see him, I will get my list of things done.  And in the afternoon I will set a list of priorities, and put them in proper order.

Lists and organization soothes me.  I cannot work in chaos.  So I plan, prepare, clean, file, dust, organise, and while I do this I breathe.  I’ve not been breathing properly for awhile.  All shallow breathing.  It’s affecting my sleep patterns and my mental health.

And I have decided that instead of wishing my life away, starting tomorrow, a fresh new day, I am going to put myself higher on my priority list.  Do what is right for me, instead of giving myself what is left.

And while that will mean a trip to the grocery store, which is always an emotional land-mine, I have a list and a plan.  So I’m ahead of the curve already.

Starting tomorrow, I will get it right.

And, exhale.

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Once a year the Congregation gathers to pass a new budget for the year.  We gather to share our stories because I find looking at numbers on a page does not inspire me.  I want to know the story of the people I serve and after 7+ years in the congregation, I know many of those stories.

We compile our reports into a Vestry book that each parishioner receives.  A copy also goes to Church House so the Bishops can read them.  And they do.  When I arrived at this church the reports all seemed to revolve around money and the lack thereof.  While I understand that I am the largest expense, it’s also difficult to truly “record” what it is I do.

I find myself uncomfortable when I look at the numbers for attendance.  We are growing; we are attracting new people and families every year.  We have children coming to Church…not every week, but they are coming.  Many of our new members are active in the congregation and to me, that’s an exciting thing.  On the down side of that, our congregation is aging and many of the workers from years past are dying.  They are dying faster than we are attracting new members.

It would be reasonable to lament our shrinking numbers, our decreasing donor base, but instead there is a feeling of great hope in the congregation.  We are active, we are alive!  We care for each other and we share our stories.  But that isn’t measurable, which can be very frustrating to people like me.  I see numbers on a page, but those numbers themselves, don’t tell a story.  We need to add a narrative piece in order to balance the measurable and the immeasurable.

Last year’s Vestry was a challenge.  We had two sections of roof that needed replacing.  We had fewer members than the year before with four well-known and well-loved members dying through the year.  Parish Council brought the budget to vestry and it was projecting a deficit.  A decision was made to lower our Diocesan Apportionment and raise our budgeted givings.  At the time I wasn’t sure we could do it.  I prayed that we would, but honestly, I wasn’t convinced.

When we sat down, as a council with our treasurer and looked at the amount that was given by our congregation I was astounded.  We surpassed the originally budgeted amount by $10,000.  Not only did we meet the newly forecasted amount, we surpassed it.  AND we paid more Apportionment than the modified budget.  Not 100% of the full amount, but closer to 80%.  And that was a huge feat.

As I reflect on where the congregation is now, as compared to where we were when I arrived, the change is phenomenal.  The tone of the congregation is that we can do it.  We want to be vibrant and a necessary part of the community.  We have learned to trust each other again and not fear the stranger.  In short, we have learned again to be a family.  None of that is measurable in black and white, but it is emotionally and spiritually measurable.

This year’s Vestry will have a different tone than that of year’s past.  We will be concentrating on our abundance and celebrating our accomplishments.  We will encourage the congregation to give with all they have; through prayer, attendance, financial support and ministries.

We have learned that we are better together; and together we can change the world!  What a journey this has been and will be as we go forward.

Thanks be to God!

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