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The State unemployment office’s website… June 29, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in unemployment.
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…has had the same status message on it since the day I filed…”Payment has not been made on your claim due to a pending issue regarding your separation from your employer.” Well, since it’s been well over two weeks now, I called in a little while ago to find out if they could give me any more information. The slightly hassled-sounding customer service rep said that a determination was made today and the letter has been mailed, and that I should received it by Monday. I asked if he could tell me what the determination was, and he said he does not have that information, but the letter will explain everything to me. I asked what I need to do when I receive the letter, and he said if the determination was in my favor, I will receive compensation for the last two weeks as well as the upcoming week, and that if I was denied then I have the right to appeal. So, the waiting is almost at an end. I’ll know on Monday if I need to grab the first call center job that comes along, or if I can afford to hang out for a little bit and see if the parish would like to take a chance on me. Oh boy…it’s gonna be a long weekend.


RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Gifts and talents June 29, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.

Sally says:

Our Circuit (Methodist) is having a “Gifts and talents day” tomorrow- we have a minister visiting from another circuit who has modified the Myers Briggs personality test and added a few things of his own to run a day where we get to look at ourselves in the light of giftings and of the whole church. The idea is to encourage everyone with the news that there is room for you in the ministry of the church- and perhaps to discover where that ministry might be…..

It should be an interesting day, and one where I hope people will leave feeling encouraged and challenged…

So with gifts and talents in mind here is todays Friday 5;

1. Personality tests; love them or hate them?

Heheheh, I like the ones that go around as memes on the Internet…not such a big fan of the real things. I think this is because my personality doesn’t really fit into the test’s categories. I have been labeled both introverted and extroverted by the Myers Briggs. I happen to think that this is because I love people, but I don’t like crowds, and it doesn’t gauge the distinction well.

2. Would you describe yourself as practical, creative, intellectual or a mixture ?

Practically creative? I think it’s not so much that I have these fantastic ideas all on my own, but I can take someone else’s idea and expand it or scale it down to fit a different sized group or a different place. I can take a 2 week Vacation Church School curriculum designed for preschoolers to 6th graders and modify it to take place over 1 long weekend and involve entire families. I don’t think I’m intellectual at all. I will never be able to explain theology to others. I can digest what theologians have written, but I’m always seeking how it applies to real life, so I guess we’re back to the practical part of my nature again.

3. It is said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame; have you had yours yet? If so what was it, if not dream away what would you like it to be?

Oh, I had it all right…for being a regular juvenile delinquent, and that’s all I’ll say. It’s 15 minutes best left in the past.

4. If you were given a 2 year sabatical ( oh the dream of it) to create something would it be music, literature, art…..something completely different…share your dream with us…

I’d love to learn to paint icons. I think this would be a good fit, since I’m not innately creative, and icons are very highly stylized. Or maybe I’d invent a new flavor of ice cream! Or perhaps I’d try throwing pottery…or all of the above? 2 years is a LONG TIME.

5. Describe a talent you would like to develop, but that seems completely beyond you.

Playing the guitar. Oh, how I’d love to play the guitar. My fingers are too clumsy though, and I rebel against anything that involves practice!

Bonus question: Back to the church- what does every member ministry mean to you? Is it truly possible to encourage/ implement?

Well, being as I’ve yet to really be on the delivering end of parish ministry, I’m going to be idealistic and say that every member ministry means encouraging every member to identify and use the gifts they have been given to work for the building up of the Body of Christ in their churches, their communities, and the world. Possible to encourage? Definitely! Possible to implement? I can’t really say. When it comes right down to it, you can’t MAKE people do anything, and in every place, no matter the size, there are always going to be people who come to church because it gratifies THEM to do so, not because it glorifies God. Oh, that sounds so cynical.

travelin’ thru June 28, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in ministry, unemployment.

Pronunciation: -‘di-p&-tE
Function: noun
Etymology: from its possession by the heroes of the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip
: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this

So, I was obviously having somewhat of a “dark night”. I do that, you know. I use this blog to write the most awful things about myself, things that are hyper-critical, things about the very worst parts of my personality. And when I re-read them a day later, I think, “Wow, that chick needs to let up on herself a bit.” I mean, seriously, who is NOT guilty of wanting to do all the right things and in the right order so they can get the right result? The key is that, despite yesterday’s post to the contrary, I really, really am aware that I’m NOT in charge of this process, that’s it’s NOT about me or the things I do, and that the outcome is NOT in my hands. Look, I have a family. A family that I have to help support, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Whatever vows may or may not lay in my future, my FIRST vows are to my husband and the family we have made. Trying to enter the process at this time, when I’ve just lost a job I thought I was good at and my head is spinning with self-doubt, makes about as much sense as The Princess’ comments that she is not responsible for the dumb things she does because half her genes come from her biological father (who is a no-good, very bad guy, trust me – but it’s still an argument that lacks logic).

My mom called to talk about plans for this weekend (husband has a 3 day weekend, so we’re going down to see my folks and The Princess), and I told her a little about how tired I am of not being able to figure anything out, how tired I am of not knowing the reason I do anything or where I’m going…I really would have gotten on a roll, but…well, my mom is not one to have sympathy for anyone having a pity party! She has a very low threshold of tolerance for people who view themselves as victims of anything, whether that be a system or a conspiracy or their own poor choices.

I told her that I wondered about whether or not I have an authentic personality, or whether I have a tendency to put on an act. We talked a little bit about introverts and extroverts, and I told her I’ve been questioning my motives a lot lately. I said that there is something not quite right to me about the fact that I’m the one who wrote the job description for the youth minister position, that at the time I did this that I had no intention whatsoever of pursuing the job, that I viewed my role as someone who would perhaps sit on a search or a hiring committee…and that now that I happen to conveniently be out of a job, I’m going after it. I told her I had hoped to finally enter the Diocesan process towards priesthood this fall, and that now I don’t have any clue what I’m doing. After I had blurted all this out, almost exactly in one big rush, kinda how I just typed it, she said that she knows that I know that sometimes there is no good explanation for what happens…but that perhaps, just perhaps, losing my job with DHS might turn out to be a bit of serendipity. And then, as a joke (I think?), she said that she believes it’s imperative I take some time to do some real parish ministry before I enter the process, because it will wipe away any vestiges of idealism I might have!


Pharisee June 27, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in ministry, unemployment, vocation.
1 comment so far

“Patience is a mild form of insanity disguised as a virtue.”

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about this discernment process of mine, and how it sometimes seems like I have been continually frustrated at every turn. Insight comes in fits and starts, and nothing happens when I want it to. I have been guilty of approaching the process with a checklist of things in my mind that I must do before the next step can be reached or I can talk to the next person up the ladder. Timing is not my strong suit – I keep trying to “jump the gun”, figuratively speaking. I’m a complete control freak, and I’m constantly rebelling against the notion of “God’s time”.

Throughout my journey to hear and understand this call, a call I have been aware of since the age of 6, I keep running into “not now”, “not yet”, “we don’t know you well enough”, “you haven’t lived here long enough”, “you need to read some more”, “no, you need to read some more by THIS theologian”, and “you need to be in spiritual direction”. Throughout all this, I have still needed to engage with my family and my employers and my community, and it hasn’t been easy. No matter that I have denied it when asked, no matter that I have openly said to a priest that I know I need to have patience, the fact remains that I have had a timetable in my head for how and when I’m supposed to be accepted into the Diocesan aspirancy process, when I will finish, when I will go to seminary, and when I will be ordained. I have treated this discernment process and this journey with a mind-boggling lack of respect – as though ordination will be my REWARD for reading the books and talking to the people and doing what I’m told.

I have had so many neat experiences since I moved to this state, but I haven’t appreciated them for what they were, because I was too busy thinking about how they would look when it came time for me to go before BACOM (the committee who decides who gets to go to seminary and who doesn’t). Someone said I needed to consider about a year of spiritual direction before I pursued priesthood, and so I connected with a perfectly lovely spiritual director…but I couldn’t have a conversation with her without mentally calculating when my year would be up and I could go to someone and say, “Look what a good priest I’d make – I’ve been in spiritual direction!” Another person said I needed to read Marcus Borg, so I’ve read ALL his books. I’ve become involved in the ministry of lay reading and the Benedictine spirituality group, and have arranged a visit to our local Benedictine monastery for our group, knowing all the while that everyone will enjoy themselves and learn a lot, but it’s really going to look good for me. I have taken an awful lot of pleasure in people telling me they enjoy how I speak and how I read and they enjoy my insights when I share something with them. In short, I have been a complete Pharisee.

Does this recognition – that I have been somehow seeking recognition – completely invalidate my desire to serve the Church? Because it’s still there, at least as far as I can tell. But my motivations have not been…pure. I love lay reading. I love Benedictine group. I love Red Plains. I enjoy and learn from very conversation I’ve had with my priests and with my spiritual director, but lurking at the back has been that ulterior motive. And that makes me feel ashamed.

As I have written about before, when we first joined this parish, I went home every Sunday and cried. I cried because there are no kids and no youth at this church, and no one would talk to us because they didn’t know us, and it broke my heart to think my son wasn’t going to have the wonderful experiences I had growing up in church. Somewhere between last October and today, things have changed. I “grew a pair” and asked if I could bring something for people to eat for the coffee hour after service, since I don’t drink coffee. And then I brought food again the next week, and the week after that. This led to the establishment of the Guild of San Juan Valdez (Patron Saint of Coffee Hours – cute, eh?) and a schedule for who would bring snacks when. I gritted my teeth and volunteered to serve a two year term on the vestry, and this led to me asking where all the kids in this church had gone, and then to the vestry approving a job description I wrote up for the position of Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and agreeing to part with enough money to hire the same. Which then led to the rector asking me if I was considering the job for myself, to which I replied, “NO WAY”. I grew up with a mom who was the Director of Religious Education for our parish, and I saw the garbage she had to do when she couldn’t find volunteers. Besides, it would interfere with my timetable. I wouldn’t be able to try and get into the aspirancy program this year if I took that on. AND, I had a job already.

And then, all of a sudden, as everyone knows by now, I DIDN’T have a job anymore. My degree isn’t in social work, which rules out any further employment in social services. My prior work has all been clerical or administrative in nature, and so I could pursue another job like that – low pay, but low responsibility, too, something which would still give me plenty of time to read and which would not present any time-related obstacles to trying to formally enter the two year aspirancy process this year, or…or I could kiss my timetable goodbye once and for all and consider a position that would teach me the real nuts and bolts of what parish ministry is all about – the youth ministry position I persuaded the vestry to approve all those months ago…a position I COULD DO, because I have desire and creativity and organizational skills. I anticipate the person who takes on this position will need to commit a minimum of one year to recruitment before active ministry involving formation, worship, service, and social activities can even begin, and then once that does happen, the next few years are going to be spent getting the parish invested in the health and growth of the program, so that the person who implemented it COULD leave…if they wanted to say, pursue a call to the priesthood. This idea shreds my timetable to bits. Little, tiny, microscopic bits. It commits me to staying in this town at least two years longer than I had hoped. And I can’t get it out of my head.

So, I went and talked to the boss man, Father J, and he said he had always thought I was a natural for the job, and that he had considered asking me several times but dismissed it immediately because I already had a job. So, I clued him in on everything that had happened with that. We discussed some of my ideas, and expectations, and how long I was willing to commit, and if there might be any potential conflict because I had written the job description and I serve on the vestry. He said he would talk to the senior warden and get back to me, but that he was so glad I came in and said I was interested, because now he was excited, and gee, he doesn’t GET excited.

So…what have I done now?

My Project 365 photoblog isn’t getting NEARLY enough hits… June 23, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in weekly slideshows.

…and that makes me want to pout, so I’m going to start posting the weekly slideshows that I post on MySpace here also…enjoy!


I had to go to court last week… June 22, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in life, unemployment.

…because I had gotten a speeding ticket, and I was really embarrassed, because I had to go back to the town I used to work in. It’s a very small town, with one associate district judge who hears everything in the county: traffic court, civil cases, criminal matters, and of course, juvenile deprived cases where I, as a representative of the Agency, used to stand before him and ask to have children taken into State custody. Well, obviously word had not reached him or the assistant District Attorney about my termination a few days previously (I’m surprised, gossip travels lightning fast in that town and half the time people know what’s going on with you before YOU do), so when he called my name and I walked up, he started laughing and said “Shame on you!” He then asked the ADA if he had any problem if he dismissed the ticket and ordered me just to pay court costs, and the ADA said he didn’t have a problem with that. The judge then jokingly sentenced me to “lifetime employment with the Agency.” It was all I could do not to cry, and some of the people sitting in the courtroom were my former clients, so I said in a very low voice, “Your Honor, I no longer work for them.” Both the judge and the ADA looked at me and raised their eyebrows, and the judge said, “Really? What happened, did you quit?” I said, “No, Your Honor” and kept my eyes on the ground. It was open court, so he shrugged his shoulders and said he’d find out the story soon enough he was sure, and sent me into the next room to make arrangement with the court clerk for payment. I went in, and the clerk asked me what the judge had said, and I told her he said to dismiss the ticket and have me pay costs. So she wrote me up a payment plan that stated I would have to pay a total of $175 at the rate of $50 per month, and I went on my merry way, trying to figure out where to come up with an extra $50 a month and resolving never to set foot in that town again.

Well, this morning, I checked the mail, and there was a revised payment plan from the court with a note from the judge written on it. He wrote, “Hope you’re holding up”, and the new payment plan says I owe a grand total of $20 by July 25th and then the ticket will be dismissed.

I don’t know what to think, except to be really, really thankful.

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Hot Town, Summer in the City June 22, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.

reverendmother says:

…or town, or suburb, or hamlet, or burg, or unincorporated zone, or rural area of your choice—pretty much anywhere but the southern hemisphere, it’s summer. (Australians and others, consider this an invitation to take a break from winter for a while.)

1. Favorite summer food(s) and beverage(s)

I hate using the stove in the summer and would really prefer to live off sandwiches, salads, and the grill. Alas, all we have is a charcoal grill, which is a real pain in the rear, and my husband doesn’t think it’s dinner if it doesn’t involve pulling something out of the freezer to defrost. Not that I’m a vegetarian by any means, but I could definitely do without having to do this EVERY NIGHT. As far as favorite foods, well, I love a good tomato and onion salad (with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper) and pink lemonade, but not together, I don’t think – too much citric acid!

2. Song that “says” summer to you. (Need not be about summer explicitly.)

When I think “summer”, I think about all the heavy metal power ballads I loved when I was 14 and 15. Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Damn Yankees, etc. I think my fav was a song called “I Remember You”.

“We spent the summer with the top rolled down
Wished ever after would be like this
You said, “I love you, babe” without a sound
I said I’d give my life for just one kiss
I’d live for your smile and die for your kiss

Remember yesterday – walking hand in hand
Love letters in the sand – I remember you
Through the sleepless nights and every endless day
I wanna hear you say – I remember you

We’ve had our share of hard times
But that’s the price we paid
And through it all we kept the promise that we made
I swear you’ll never be lonely…”

3. A childhood summer memory

Oh, definitely playing on the Slip n’Slide in our yard…and the burn felt when I hurdled down that strip of yellow plastic when it wasn’t quite wet enough! Ouch! And then there was the time when my little sister and I were in the backyard pool, and I said something mean to her, and she picked up the pool skimmer off the side and hit me in the nose with it! I got 4 itty bitty stitches across the bridge of my nose and a fabulous story to tell for the rest of my life! (Love you, sis)

4. An adult summer memory

Labor Day weekend in 2001. My family and my husband’s family were gathered together at his parents’ house for a cookout and we made it public that we were going to be married. My parents, who had a slight “heads up”, brought my grandpa’s 50 year old Crown Royal and we all did celebratory shots. That was a great day. 🙂

5. Describe a wonderful summer day you’d like to have in the near future. (weather, location, activities)

We have an old friend coming to visit on Sunday, and she and her son are going to stay with us for a couple of days. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding and kind of disappeared off our radar after our son was born because she was going through a lot of upheaval in her own personal life. We’ve recently reconnected and I’m excited to get to meet her son and hear how her life has changed. The temperature is supposed to be in the 80’s with some rain, so maybe we can sit on the porch and share a few wine coolers.

Optional: Does your place of worship do anything differently in the summer? (Fewer services, casual dress, etc.)

We have two services on Sunday, and we (the vestry) are tossing around the idea of combining services for the summer. We’re a very small church that is financially struggling, so I think it makes sense…but there appears to be a lot of fear that if we do this, some people, who are extrememly attached to the 8:00 AM Rite I service will walk ( and of course, take their money with them). I also think it would be a great chance for 8 o’clockers to get to know the 10:30 folks and vice versa, but our rector says you can’t force people into communion with each other and that people are more likely to leave than go with change. I haven’t been a member of the church very long, and it makes me very sad to think that people would walk away from the Body of Christ rather than tolerate change. *sigh* I don’t know. I’m glad it’s not my decision alone.

I did my first go-round as a lay reader this past Sunday… June 18, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in ministry.
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…and it was good! I was really, really nervous, but I think I did okay – whenever I looked up, I just focused on the face of someone in the back that I didn’t know! Afterwards, a lot of people told me I did well. I don’t know if that was because I really did well or because they could tell it was my first time and my voice was a little trembly! In any case, I tried very hard to focus on the fact that I was engaging in ministry to others through my reading of these words (hard to do when scared of messing up!). Our rector was on vacation, so we had Morning Prayer instead of Eucharist, which means I read all the readings, Gospel included.

I’m no scholar. I’ve not been to seminary, and I have no higher education in religion or philosophy or homiletics or hemeneutics or anything else. When I blog about what I felt about a particular reading, it is only my own thoughts, so if I get details or historical facts wrong, I apologize in advance!

The theme of the Scripture readings was the source of and proper use of God’s gifts to us. The Old Testament reading was the story of David taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be his wife after having Uriah killed, and the prophet Nathan coming to David to basically tell him “You’ve got it ALL, thanks to the LORD. What do you think you’re doing here? Like being king gives you the right to say when someone’s life is going to be over? Being king gives you the right to forget where everything good in your life comes from?” I remember hearing this story in elementary school religion class as a kid and making the connection that “having it all” didn’t really have anything to do with money or houses or things or, in David’s case, wives or kingdoms. Instead of being grateful for the many blessing that had been bestowed on him, David wanted what was not his, and so he misused his gifts to take what he wanted, others be damned. The Gospel reading was the story of the sinful woman who came into the house where Jesus was having supper, and she washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, and then she anointed him with an expensive perfume. Jesus’ host in this passage violated the customs of the day and committed a crime against hospitality by not welcoming him unreservedly into his home. He was, at best, a grudging host, a rich Pharisee who invited Jesus to eat in his home for some unstated reason, but it certainly doesn’t appear that it was because he genuinely desired his company – perhaps it was because he was someone who was garnering attention at the time. The common thread has to do with how we respond to generosity, and whether or not we even recognize the ordinary and everyday things as the gifts they are. David responded to God’s generosity by trying to get more than was his due, and who among us can say we haven’t ever done the same? The sinful woman, who did not experience generosity or love or care or forgiveness from her fellow human beings, presumably because her sin was the kind everyone knew about and talked about, nonetheless humbled herself before Jesus to show him true hospitality. The woman knew she was doing wrong…and David had to have it pointed out to him by a prophet, and yet…and yet – God’s response was the same! “Now the LORD has put away your sin, you shall not die.” “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

The theme running through my posts about unemployment… June 17, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in unemployment.

…for the last few days has been this: I want to know the truth. The reason I think I was fired and the reason that I was told why I was being fired are two completely different things, and…well, let’s say it has been causing me some cognitive dissonance. Well, yesterday the answer became clear to me, and even though I’m still upset about the loss of the job, the clarity is a good thing.

This comes from the state’s Employment Security Commission’s booklet Information for Workers who are Unemployed. Page 11 has a section called What can keep me from receiving benefits? And the answer to my question is number one on the list, right there in black and white.

“You may be monetarily eligible for unemployment benefits and still be denied benefits for other reasons. Below are a few reasons for which you may be disqualified or found ineligible for benefits. You may be disqualified if you:

  • Were discharged or fired from your last job due to misconduct.”Hello…I can’t be believe this didn’t occur to me on the first day. They are trying to keep me from qualifying for unemployment by saying I was a discipline problem and that I had attitude. These issues, if they can be proven, would definitely qualify as “misconduct”. “She made a bad judgment call while her supervisor was on vacation and not available for consultation” would not qualify.

    I don’t think they can prove misconduct. The best they can do is prove that I was talked to in March about not obeying a supervisor’s instruction in February. That being the case, it will be interesting to see how they explain why they waited until June to let me go. When my husband was discharged, his county director attempted the same thing, accusing him of insubordination and failing to obey an instruction, which is misconduct. But they weren’t able to prove it was ever addressed or that he was ever warned about his actions, so he got unemployment. Maybe I will be lucky as well.

    To tell you the truth, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the agency isn’t able to flat out forge some official looking written reprimands with my signature on them. But I’m not bitter.

  • RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Books, books, books!!! June 15, 2007

    Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.
    1 comment so far

    Sally says:

    “I’ve just returned from a meeting in Cambridge so I’m posting this late here in the UK (it is 3:45pm).. because I took the opportunity of a free afternoon in Cambridge’s wonderful book shops… I only bought a few- and they were on sale- very restrained for me!!!

    So with my head full of books I’ve seen and a long wish list in my mind, I bring you a Friday Five on books!!!”


    1. Fiction – what kind, detective novels, historical stuff, thrillers, romance????

    I like coming of age stories and stories about families, especially problem families and problem children, stuff with characters I can relate to, you know? I also like supernatural fiction with vampires and wraiths and other types of ghoulies, stuff like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels by Laurell K. Hamilton, and of course, the Harry Potter books…I like Stephen King, his suspense more than his horror. Then there is the other side of my personality that thoroughly loves “chick lit” stuff like Bridget Jones, The Nanny Diaries, Running in Heels, etc.

    2. When you get a really good book do you read it all in one chunk or savour it slowly?

    Definitely all in one chunk. I no longer have the ability to stay awake all night reading, but when I wake up, I will grab the book up from where I dropped it on the floor as I was falling asleep and I will continue reading every chance I get during the day until it is done.

    3. Is there a book you keep returning to and why?

    Douglas Coupland, Generation X. Actually, I return to all his books over and over again. Some critics have called him my generation’s JD Salinger, but of course, he has been far more prolific that the author of Catcher in the Rye. His stories resonate with me. They are full of characters who are rarely successful by society’s definition, but when they ARE, it almost seems accidental and they are quite bewildered by the whole thing. They are full of pop culture references (he wrote one book called Girlfriend in a Coma that was full of lyrics from 80’s band The Smiths slipped into the story) and address what it has been like to grow up in an era of relative peace and prosperity while being parented by people who huddled under their school desks for air raid drills and were lectured about “The Red Menace”.

    4. Apart from the Bible which non-fiction book has influenced you the most?

    Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk. This book that chronicles her time with Benedictine monks and her journey as an oblate let me know it is possible to be both contemplative and in the world (in the world but not of it). I read it at a time when I was dangerously close to abandoning anything spiritual within me and acceding wholeheartedly to the secular world, but it put me back in touch with my own mustard seed of faith.

    5. Describe a perfect place to read. ( could be anywhere!!!)
    In a chair hammock, but since I don’t have one of those, I usually settle for the couch or the bed. Boring, I know.