It’s a Dog’s Life, Part 3

Sam with BoneWe recently came home to find this letter on the counter from our Yorkshire Terrier, Sam.

Dear Kibble and Treat Providers,

While you were gone . . .

Someone accidentally had an accident accidentally in the house. However, don’t worry—it occurred in the guest bedroom closet where no one will notice for days.

Someone tore all of the stuffing out of my friend, Frog, and strewed it across the den floor like polyester snowflakes in June.Sam and Frog

Someone jumped up on the neatly made bed and scratched the bedspread into a comfy nest for napping.

Someone scattered dog food across the kitchen floor in order to find just the right kibble to nibble.

Someone sloshed water out of the dog bowl while getting a drink.

Someone left nose prints on the front door glass while barking at the evil mail man.

Someone perched on top of the sofa pillows as a watchtower to guard the house.

Someone got into the bathroom wastebasket—AGAIN—and dumped Kleenex, Q-tips, and cotton balls on the tiles.

Someone grabbed the end of the toilet paper roll and ran through the house with it streaming behind him.

Someone couldn’t wait for you to get home and greeted you at the door with twists, turns, yips, and kisses.

Someone promises none of these things will EVER happen again . . . well, at least until you are gone the next time.



Paw Print

A Prayer for Orlando

Lord God of liberation and healing,

You saw your people suffering in Egypt

and delivered them from captivity and death.

You continue to see works of violence and weep.

Soothe the suffering of your children in Orlando.

Grant those who are hurting healing of body

and those who are grieving peace of mind.

Restore in all of us

a renewed faith in your protection and care.

Protect us from the violence of others

and the hatred we harbor within our own hearts.

Guard us with Your tranquility, safety, and peace.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Adapted from The United Methodist Book of Worship

Go Where You’re Sent

This week I am attending the North Georgia Annual Conference in Athens—Georgia, not Greece. Clergy and laity from across the state are gathered to discuss God’s work in the United Methodist Church. Annual Conference is a unique blend of business, worship, reunion, revival, celebration, and remembrance.

Traditionally, the final order of business is the fixing of appointments. (The phrase somehow suggests that the previous pastoral appointments were broken.)

In the old days (and please note I did NOT add “good”), the bishop announced the church appointments during the closing moments of conference. Ministers, spouses, and church members waited anxiously for the bishop to read the list. Pastors appointed to a new church returned home to pack, preach, and then move the following Thursday.

Thankfully, the appointment system has changed over the years. Today’s consultation process begins in January. The bishop and district superintendents make the pastoral appointments in the spring followed by an adjustment session a few weeks later. By May, every minister and church knows what to expect. This Thursday the fixing of appointments will only be a formality.

Circuit RiderOne of the unique characteristics of the United Methodist Church is that clergy are itinerant ministers. “Itinerant” literally means to travel from place to place. The bishop who oversees a geographical area appoints ordained elders to serve in local churches. This form of deploying pastors enjoys a long and rich history in our denomination.

The appointive process has changed over the decades with the evolving needs of church and culture. At one point, ministers never stayed over one year at a particular church or circuit. In my lifetime, the maximum time increased to four years. Today there is a growing recognition of the value of long-term pastorates.

Despite the changes, however, each ordained elder in the United Methodist Church is still an itinerant minister who promises to go where we’re sent. At ordination, we are asked: Do you offer yourself without reservation to be appointed and to serve as the appointive authority may determine? And we answer Yes!

In many ways, it is like signing a blank check with the currency of your life . . . and your family’s life. Elders place themselves under a bishop’s authority to serve anywhere within the bounds of an annual conference. This is a scary proposition. However, we believe that God works in, thru, and sometimes despite the appointive process.

I once heard a minister say: It is the worst system in the world—except for all of the rest of them! Most Methodist clergy would say, Amen!

Please understand that I am not complaining. The strengths of our appointive process far outweigh the weaknesses. Overall, I have seen God’s hand at work through the itinerant ministry.

I thank God for the continued opportunity in the coming year to serve the First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville. The Lord has exciting plans in store for our congregation. However, I also realize that the same system that brought me to Lawrenceville will someday send me elsewhere.

When Jesus called the first disciples, he simply said: Follow me. We don’t know what the future might hold, but we know who holds the future. And that’s enough.

Hospital Rules

As an ordained minister, I often visit parishioners in the hospital. Over three decades of pastoral ministry, I have learned some important things to do—and NOT do—during a Hospitalvisit. During your next visit to a hospital, remember these Hospital Rules.

By definition, healthy people don’t check into hospitals. Patients  feel bad—if they felt good, then no doubt they would go home. In hospital visits, follow the KISS method: Keep It Short, Silly. When it comes to hospital visitation, less is more. Five minutes may be plenty. After ten minutes, most visitors have outstayed their welcome.

Keep the visit upbeat and positive. The patient does NOT want to hear about your Aunt Gertrude’s struggles with the same ailment—ESPECIALLY if the story concludes, “But I’m sure they can treat it NOW!” For some reason, people experience a morbid desire to share medical horror stories with patients. One word of advice: DON’T!

Hospitals expend an inordinate amount of time, work, and money to maintain a sterile environment. One careless person off the street can foil an institution’s finest efforts. No one wants to make a sick person sicker. Don’t visit someone in the hospital if you are ill. Visitors should wash their hands BEFORE and AFTER visiting a patient. Many hospitals also provide hand sanitizer throughout the facilities.

If a sign on the door says No Visitors Allowed, this DOES mean YOU. Sign the sheet and respect the patient’s wishes. If extraordinary measures are required before entering a room, chances are good that you don’t need to enter the room.

Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel work diligently to provide the best possible care. Frankly, visitors often get in the way. Don’t enter a room while a patient is receiving treatment. If a nurse or doctor enters the room, offer to leave. A patient does not need more than two or three visitors. In the past, I have visited some rooms that resembled a family reunion or neighborhood block party.

In most cases, children and hospitals don’t mix. It’s not the child’s fault—kids act like kids. Adults ought to know better, however. Exceptions do exist. A child might enjoy a brief visit to see parents or grandparents; and big brothers and sisters certainly want to see their newest siblings. Otherwise, leave the children at home.

Did I mention the patient doesn’t feel well? Never sit on the edge of a hospital bed because you might hurt the bedridden person. Don’t grab a patient’s hand without checking carefully for IV lines. Scan the bedside for IV stands, catheter lines, and drainage bags. Resist the temptation to lean over the bed railing for a hug or kiss. And while we’re on the subject of kisses, your mouth may contain more germs than your hands!

Visit on the patient’s timetable and not your own. Don’t go early in the morning or late at night. It’s also best to avoid mealtimes. If a patient is asleep, don’t wake the person up to visit with you.

Honor the patient’s confidentiality. Many people would prefer to remain incognito during their hospital stay. They certainly don’t want the intimate details of their condition broadcast to the general public.

Under the category of “You shouldn’t have to tell folk this,” here are a few other reminders: don’t use the patient’s bathroom, throw away trash, don’t smoke, chew, or dip tobacco, never visit while “under the influence,” leave all weapons at home, and don’t smuggle forbidden food to the patient. (Hospitals post these rules because folk have broken them in the past.)

Most of all, remember that the patient’s wellbeing is the first and foremost priority. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. The Golden Rule applies to hospital visitation: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.