College Kids

You may remember I was talking about what a good time I had with some kids from one of the local colleges on Wednesday evening.

I was telling my knitting club about it yesterday morning, and one of the members told this story. He was the president of that college, and had been a professor at one of the women’s colleges in the northeast – Vassar or Wellesley, or Smith – I forget which. Anyway, he and his family had been invited to dinner in one of the student dining halls, and they were leading the way down the stairs, past the girls waiting in line, and into the dining room when he heard one of them whisper, “Look! Real people!”


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I had forgotten how insulated college kids can be. Wouldn’t it be nice if churches could provide some mixed age groups instead of dividing Sunday School into “College Age”, “Young Married”, “Empty Nesters”, and “Golden Age”. Church might be the only place college-aged adults have an opportunity to talk and socialize with “real people”. Age division might be okay occasionally, but it shouldn’t always be the norm.

If breaking those age barriers in Sunday School is too difficult to begin with, I’ll bet a mission project would be a great place to start. Or how about having a “Micro Mission Trip” one Sunday in the place of Worship?


Yesterday and today were really busy.

First we started out with a trip to Key Peninsula for a Cottage Meeting for Bethany Presbyterian Church. After wonderful growth, both with adults and children, over the past couple of years, we have realized that God is probably calling us to do something, and we’re not sure what it is. By wonderful growth, I mean we have gone from an average attendance of 73 to an average attendance of 102 in worship on Sunday mornings. That is a year-long rolling average, so it’s quite a jump.

We have also gone from one or maybe two kids (ages 3-11) to a crowded chancel for Children’s Sermon. We’re still not to the place where we can split the Sunday School class in two, but we’re almost there. So we’re doing a lot of listening to the congregation, and trying to give everyone an opportunity for input. Another really amazing thing – we completed about 75% of our last 5-year strategic plan – and it’s time for another one.

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We came home and I had lunch while Big Al had a “wonderful” bowl of chicken broth. He had a colonoscopy scheduled for this morning so he couldn’t eat anything solid yesterday.

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I scurried over to the library at Lillian Pratt for our monthly Book Club meeting. We read Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. Everybody said they had a hard time getting into it initially, but once they got the storylines sorted out in their heads they were really impressed with it. Our ratings ranged from 3.5-5 out of 5, and several people said they would read it again, and recommend it to their friends. I was glad about that because I was the one who had recommended it originally. Even people who had a hard time following the stories said that her choice of words and her sentences are so beautiful it really doesn’t make much difference whether you like the story or not.

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In the evening I went to Centering Prayer at Bethany. Unfortunately, I was the only one there again this week. It may be time to put this particular activity at the church to bed. If I’m going to be the only one, I can do it just as well at home.

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Following that, I went to the inaugural meeting of the Tacoma Worship and Arts Collective. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, but I was invited by the preacher, and I thought it would be interesting. They had to change the day from Thursday to Wednesday at the last minute, so no one else from Bethany was able to come (choir practice is on Wednesday evenings).

As I said, I had no idea what it was going to be, but when I got there I was at least 30 years older than anyone else in the place. Several of the participants were students at the University of Puget Sound, and the organizers were young ministers. They made me feel welcome though, although I didn’t really have an “art” to offer. I did say that I had a pretty good ear and a decent eye, so I would be glad to help by serving as a loving critic.

The idea of the group is to develop some new Worship resources – three of them had guitars and one was an excellent pianist. There were also a couple of writers/poets, and a couple of girls were interested in drawing and painting, and there were a couple of photographers. We were sort of feeling our way this first time, and we were asked to “create” around a theme of chaos and order. It was probably too large of a concept for an initial meeting, but we had a good time, listening to the guitarists jam, and talking about what was meaningful in worship now. Folks are supposed to finish whatever they started working on last night and bring it to the next meeting in a month. We shall see.

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This morning, we were up early (6:30 a.m.) to take Big Al to the Digestive Health Center. We got there about 7:30 and by 8:00 they were taking him back for the procedure. By 9:15 they called me back to talk to him and the doctor, who said he was fine (Praise the Lord). There was one tiny polyp and one small polyp that he removed. Much better than the first time when there were so many polyps the doctor wanted him back every year for three years. It’s been three years, this time, and, depending on what the pathology report shows he can either go three or five years before he has to have another one. They say they quit doing colonoscopies when you get to be 80 years old, so he may only have to have one more! I had one when I turned 65 and could have Medicare pay for it, and they told me at the time that I didn’t have to come back for 10 years – so maybe I can get off with not having but one more. Fingers crossed.

Just a Quickie

I went to Pierce County Hunger Advocates monthly meeting last night. We are registering voters at the local food banks, and we have been surprised and pleased at how many folks are already voters. Our next big push is the “Offering of Letters”.

You can watch Bread for the World’s movie A Place at the Table on Netflix if you have a subscription.


On Friday, Robert Reich’s new documentary Inequality for All is coming to a theater near you, and Netflix will have it available as soon as it is out on wide release. You can put it in your Netflix queue now.


Both of the movies are also available at Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

I saw this on Facebook today and it seems particularly a propos for our Advocacy group.


Today our Tai Chi instructor was back from an extended study leave, and it was good to be back to live instruction instead of watching a DVD. I really appreciate her and how she helps us all improve and enjoy ourselves.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to a Cottage Meeting to talk about the direction of Bethany Presbyterian Church. That should be interesting.

Saturday and Sunday

I spent the better part of yesterday at Northwest Tacoma FISH Food Bank registering voters. We didn’t have too many takers – most of the people who came in said they were already registered. The ones who weren’t either didn’t speak any English (we have a large population of Ukrainians here), or they were had been incarcerated for a felony. I was able to tell a couple of them that they were eligible to vote if they were no longer under the control of the Department of Corrections (no longer on Parole, and not on Probation). One of those fellows, who said he had never been convicted – just accused – back in 2000 and spent 2 weeks in jail before he got out with no probation or parole – thought he would never be able to vote again. In Washington, at least, the denial of voting rights ends when incarceration, parole and probation end, so EX-felons can vote here. I love this state. Capture

Representative Derek Kilmer – D-Wash 2 – dropped by the Food Bank (presumably to apologize for the actions of the House of Representatives in cutting funding for SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)) and to work for a while as a volunteer. He’s such a nice fellow and really interested in the problems of his constituents. Capture

The Oregon Ducks had a by-week this week, so I was able to go to the Food Bank without feeling deprived of my Ducks. And, while they haven’t moved up from #2 to #1 in the polls, support for Alabama at #1 seems to be eroding! #GoDucks Capture

And how about them Cowboys! The game wasn’t broadcast on the West Coast, but they won 31-7 over the Rams. Maybe Big Al is right, we jinx them when we watch.


Nah! I’m still going to watch when I get the chance!


We spent most of the day today running errands.

First we went to lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant – Silk Thai


I went in and ordered and Al went next door to the Papa John’s to see if he could convince them to send our pizzas out with a driver who knew what he was doing (or at least with one who knew how to read his iPhone map). We’ve had problems the last couple of times with the driver wandering desperately around the north end hunting for Franke Tobey Jones. As if the pillars with the name wasn’t a tip-off.

Entrance to Franke Tobey Jones


From the restaurant, we went to the Toyota place because my key fob has been telling me its battery is low. We got the battery in the fob changed and proceeded on to buy a suit coat for Big Al to wear to the wedding. He has some nice looking black jeans (that really look more like trousers) and he’ll wear those with the coat since he is simply not shaped like dress pants are cut. He always looks pouchy and uncomfortable, so he’s just going to wear the suit coat with what fits.

From there we went to BevMo (a cut-rate liquor place) that is significantly less expensive than most liquor stores.

Then we struck off across country and went to Trader Joes since that’s the only place Big Al is able to get really little, little green peas. The ones we get in the grocery store are as big as garbanzos sometimes, and he is NOT fond of them. I don’t like little green peas at all, but he likes them in ramen soup, so that’s his poison.

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening at Presbytery meeting. Unfortunately Olympia Presbytery is still fighting the fall-out from 10-A. I’m surprised that there are as many Presbyteries in Western Washington as there are, and all of them are pretty small (of course, anything looks small compared to Grace Presbytery – both in terms of distance and number of churches). Olympia Presbytery has 45 churches compared to over 350 in Grace Presbytery. They seem to have a plan to streamline and a fairly new Executive Presbyter who is trying to keep them outward and mission-focused instead of concentrating on how it used to be. At least they are giving the Holy Spirit an opportunity to do her work.

I’m reading Pastrix by Nadia Boles-Weber.


WOW! I’ve been her fan for several years now, and I actually met her and heard her speak in Dallas. Go get it now! She really tells it like it is, and she doesn’t care who she offends, but the Spirit is strong in her.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Northwest Tacoma FISH Food Bank registering voters. Somebody said Representative Derek Kilmer, (D-Wash 2) will be coming by (probably to apologize to the folks there for the stupidity of the Republicans and their action yesterday on Food Stamps.)


I Love my Life

I had lunch today with Sarah Wiles, our preacher at Bethany Presbyterian Church.


We’re going to be starting a discernment project since the church has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. I was really interested to read MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s blog today about a similar project in her church. I think what she said will be very helpful for us.

We’ve got several new families with kids, and we’re going to need to decide whether to start two separate Sunday School classes for pre-school and grade-school. We are also going to be looking at whether to continue our mission emphases or whether our membership is burned out of those and needs to look at different outreach programs. Or maybe we will decide we want to do it all (but only if there is passion and enthusiasm in the congregation). This is a wonderful time to be in this particular church!

Tomorrow, I’m going to go the Olympia Presbytery meeting. I love going to Presbytery (quit laughing), and I haven’t been to the one out here yet.


Presbygeeks – Joy and Thanksgiving

This post is for those other Presbygeeks who read my blog.

The last Presbytery meeting I attended before leaving Texas was a special called meeting to vote on what to do about the First Presbyterian Church of Longview. The session had voted to leave the denomination, although there was a significant portion of the membership who wanted to stay. At the urging of the remnant who wished to remain in the PC(USA), the Presbytery dissolved the session and took the congregation under care. (I mentioned this in passing on the blog I wrote as we were packing to be ready to leave Dallas.)

At the last Presbytery meeting, we voted to dismiss those who wished to leave to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (another reformed body). We also voted to give the property to the remaining members. (You can read all the details here.)

That was one of the hardest, most gut-wrenching meetings I have ever attended, and I have carried that church in my heart and prayers to this day.


You can imagine my joy and thanksgiving when I saw the headline in Grace Presbytery’s newsletter,

First Presbyterian Church, Longview:
Thriving one-year later

Once more the Spirit moves, and I stand in awe!

Gearing Up

This week is shaping up to be a busy one.

We start up with Brain Games again tomorrow afternoon. It’s a lot of fun and I hope I’ll do even better this time around since I’ve been in training with Lumonsity.


Wednesday I’m having lunch with the preacher. I’ve been asked to fill a volunteer job at the church and we’re going to talk about it. We going to The Rosewood – a local spot that I haven’t been to before. That will be fun.

Rosewood Cafe

Friday we have Lunch Bunch at an Italian restaurant – Marzano’s. I didn’t get around to making a reservation on the bus in time, so Big Al and I will be driving down in our own car.


Doesn’t that look WONDERFUL? My mouth is watering already.

Saturday I do a stint at the Food Bank registering voters (since there’s no Ducks on the TV). I’ve just about decided that I won’t be able to do volunteer Income Tax help this year. I’ve gotten involved in too many other things, and I don’t think I’ll have the bandwidth for it.