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Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Extra: Managing Advent

More of a tree than you'll find at my house.
Last month in a Monday Extra, we invited you to share a way you would take care of yourself or make things easier for yourself in this incredibly busy season.

How's it going out there?

What's dislodged when push comes to shove?

How do things look on the home front?

Are visions of finished sermons dancing in your head?

Re-visit your pledges in the comments, or make new ones. Inspire us!

23 comments:

  1. It's going sort of roller-coaster-ish. The past two weeks have been a slamfest, but this one is relatively light (I'm whispering that as I type, in case God says "Oh,she needs a little excitement.") I have said no to several things, because I am fighting a cold and remarkably I don't feel guilty. Way behind the curve on Christmas gifts, mostly because the adult children haven't given me any ideas for them. Ah, well, they will get what they get. I think this afternoon will be wrapping and packing the gifts that need to be mailed, and purchasing grandkid gifts online.

    At church, everything is planned and ready to go. At home, the house is decorated, and we are only hosting one party, a champagne and chocolate reception for my lay leadership and staff.That's manageable.

    Sermons? None this Sunday for the Children's pageant/lessons and carols service, and the one for Advent IV will be on the third trimester of pregnancy and the visit with Elizabeth. Christmas Eve? Puppet story at the early service, and I haven't a clue what I will say for the 10:30 pm service.

    Now, the work on the DMin stuff, that's another story...

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  2. Trying to "let go" of events from yesterday. The music was just plain awful. Long story and probably not for blogging. There was no mistaking the wrong notes and the dirgy tempo of the hymns. All I could do was close my eyes...and pray!

    They do an annual Advent event which is designed around "Invite a Friend" type thing. 8 time they have done this and I do not think one change has been made. They serve prime rib. I've suggested for the last three years we need a "kid's menu"...nope...nada...

    Goodness...get the Grinch out of me...lots to do this week.

    Thanks for "listening"



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    1. Oh. . . BTDT - yesterday! I am introducing Advent hymns, one a week, to counteract the Christmas songs. The organist's response to unfamiliar music is to play it as slowly as possible. Think of 6:8 "Prepare the Way, O Zion" as made up entirely of whole notes.

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    2. I'm twitching, just thinking of it. We had a couple kinda slow hymns too, but nothing too bad.

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  3. shoveling today. haven't had a funeral for a couple of weeks, and I think we'll be okay with Advent if we don't have any more.

    still trying to figure out Christmas eve/day preaching.

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  4. I've mostly been managing all right, with occasional flashes of panic. Realizing this morning that there are only 2 weeks left has been a bit of a reality check, both workwise and homewise. Yikes! Also I'm coming to terms with the fact that I have 5 books to read for my next DMin class, which starts in less than a month. Guess I know what I'll be doing over Christmas vacation....

    In terms of what's getting dislodged - I'm letting go of a bit of my loftier goals, like writing my epiphany sermon this week (since we'll be on vacation the week before I preach it), cleaning out my basement (ha! what was I thinking?), knitting colorwork mittens for my babysitter. There are probably a few other unrealistic goals I should let go of, but I haven't come to terms with that yet.

    In terms of self-care, I've committed to the following:
    - run 3x/wk (this is a more realistic goal than my usual goal of 4-5x/wk) - I think this will be a sanity-saver
    - book a massage
    - stop drinking Diet Sunkist before bedtime, because the caffeine is interfering with my sleep (it usually doesn't, but caffeine+stress=problems)
    - PRAY, even if it's only for a few minutes

    I also try to take a few minutes each night before bed to turn off all the lights except the ones on the Christmas tree, and take a few deep breaths. In preparing for my sermon for yesterday, I revisited an old sermon on John the Baptist and found this quote:
    "Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes." - Etty Hillesum

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  5. Last year, here or somewhere else, someone mentioned that small churches are often not that busy during December -- which has proven to be the case for me. All of our regular meetings have been cancelled and we have no extra services, so I am focusing on sermons for Advent 3,4, and Christmas this week so I can finish them up and plan most of January 6 next week, and then have a real 10 days off after Christmas. If folks stay healthy (always a big IF), it should be a slow month.

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    1. I had been feeling guilty for not being too busy. Thanks for posting this.

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  6. What gets shoved by the wayside are elegant meals! (as if they ever were) Lots of soups and frozen quiches (the latter are individual sized from Trader Joes). Lots of bag salads with grilled chicken on top. Unless I can throw it together in 20 minutes and be out the door in less than an hour, it doesn't happen. (And now that everyone in my house can read and operate a microwave, I have a WHOLE lot less guilt.)

    What else doesn't happen? Regular exercise, which is HELL on my diet and waistline with all the cookies that make their way to my office.

    Here's a question -- what do you DO with all of the sweet stuff that people give you? There's only 4 of us and we would have to each eat a dozen a cookies a day to keep up with all of the benevolent cookie bakers... HELP ME JESUS I LOVE COOKIES

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    1. My dad is a pastor too, and also a marathon runner, and this was one of my first q's for him when I started as a minister. He said, "you smile and say thanks take them home and throw them out." I guess he's from the "throw it in or throw it out" school :b

      I love cookies too, but luckily have a well-publicized allergy to chocolate that saves me from a lot of baking...

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    2. I am in the smile graciously, take it home, and throw it out camp. There are only a few things I'll actually eat--everything else I look at for a day and then get rid of. Though God help me if someone brings me one of the 3 things I really love, because I'll eat the whole batch before they ever get home....

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    3. We had a cookie walk last Sunday, and I took mine home and put them straight into the freezer. We're dreaming of an Epiphany party, they'll come in handy.

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  7. After a busy weekend (Christmas Concert Saturday night, House Church training Sunday after worship, Sunday night meeting) I am guarding my day off today. Still in my robe. Just finished the Sunday NY Times, and soon to go for my run.
    Going to get Christmas Eve plans finalized this week and try to get as much done as I can before my kids are done with school for the break the next week.
    Scheduled the choir's Christmas Cantata on the 23rd, so I won't have to preach that day. But it is also our Longest Night Taize service, so working on that this week.
    Thinking of all of you. Good luck to those for whom Advent hymns are new and torturous for people. My congregation, thankfully, has finally embraced (most of) them.

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  8. My mini vacation with my husband was scrapped in favor of a massive house cleaning to get ready for our Advent Open House. I didn't get to see the movies I wanted to, but I can't believe how my stress level has gone down in a clean house! And we spent the day together cleaning which was surprisingly relational. My beading trip is cancelled as well since that's the weekend we get to host the visiting pastor from Cameroon.

    Instead, I am following a couple of advent devotionals - busted halo's Advent Surprise Calendar has been especially meaningful. Fortunately the guest preacher has the sermon for this week, so I hope to have some time to get a leg up on Christmas Eve, and Blue Christmas.

    I feel a little stressed but it's a expectant happy stressed - does that make sense?

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  9. How am I doing? I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and it hit last week, like a wall. Boom! This is my 7th Advent as an ordained pastor and I'm trying to see my SAD as a blessing. I have limited energy. I spend time in prayer & reflection with my full-spectrum light (my happy light). Yesterday afternoon, after leading a lovely service in the morning, I caroled shut ins with a small group, for over 4 hours. I have no energy today, but I have a wonderful memory. No tree yet, Christmas cards will be mailed before Epiphany. We avoid malls - and have to drive about an hour to get to one anyway. We don't have outside lights up yet, but will put them up this week, when it stops raining. Though our neighbor's lights will come down before New Years, our stay lit through Epiphany. How do I feel mid-Advent? Kinda out of synch and that is ok.

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    1. Avoid malls is essential for this introvert!

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  10. It's my last Sunday in my church this week. Then I have 3 weeks off before starting in the new place (I'm attending on Epiphany, but not preaching--my official first day is the 7th). To put it mildly, I am completely overwhelmed. Thank God I'm not moving (only becoming a commuter). I don't think I could take it.

    So, I'm compensating by not setting an alarm in the mornings. I wake up when I wake up. There's an evening event every night this week, just as there has been for the last two weeks. So therefore I'm sleeping in. Even if it does mean running around like a crazy person the rest of the day, at least I got some sleep. (or that's what I'm telling myself...)

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    1. Not setting an alarm sounds like such a sane approach, even though it means running frantic the rest of the day.

      Blessings on you as you navigate this transition!!

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  11. I'm pretty much frantic. Two weeks from tonight, at the end of the late Christmas Eve service, I will lock the church, leaving my key and driving away for the last time. I'll have all three of my kids with me (yay!), and I am going on to happy things (more yay!!!), but those include packing up my house, closing on it, etc, and there are a lot of details still needing to be managed. I'm also wrapping up a semester of teaching Introduction to Worship, which means two more classes, lots of papers to grade, and grades to post.
    And although I am the one telling you all to take care of yourselves...well, I'm trying. I'm taking long lunches with old friends, because I'm leaving the area where I've lived for 25 years. And I'm over-writing old sermons (can't quite use them as they are, but they provide a template). And I'm taking peppermint bubble baths. And I'm trying to get enough sleep, ish.

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    1. Oh, Martha, that is so much, both in the Big Picture and in the details. Deep peace to you in these days.

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  12. Oh, Teri and Martha, what HUGE weeks lie ahead for you. Prayer for some time to pray with the concept of "what's coming" for the calendar year as well as the church year.

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  13. Thanks, Robin and earthchick. One class left, and it holds two student presentations and needs time for a course evaluation, so I am almost done there. All the pieces are falling into place, as long as I keep myself in one piece.

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  14. Not to bad for me. Liturgies prepared and going to print (we don't have modern things like data projectors!), a wonderful Advent carol service last week (so proud of our enthusiastic but not too melodious choir), sermons gradually getting thought out. On the other hand an awful church council meeting tonight - I had hard things to say to them and not that well received. As a result it is 1am and I am so bored with trying to sleep that I'm up doing this. Tomorrow begins my home communions to the housebound. Lay ministers do it during the year, but I'm expected to take to all of them before Easter and Christmas. Not a great idea as then I lack motivation during the rest of the year! Add to that that the powers that be in the diocese keep dreaming up last minute meetings and services that we just don't have time to slot in at this stage!
    But -- the baby is coming!

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