Tag Archives: Monday Messy Office Report

Cardboard box tower and a covered desktop – The Monday Messy Office Report – July 20, 2015

20 Jul

My Monday Messy Office Report returns!  I’m sure you were feeling incomplete without it…

Today two photos that show what I arrived to this morning:

2015-07-20 Messy Office 02

My covered desktop

A smallish church pastor wears many hats, and Picture #1 shows a bunch of them:

1. Three weeks worth of bulletin proofs. I’m part of a team from Faith Church that will spend 10 days serving in Kenya, starting July 27, so I’ll be out of the office and need to work ahead a bit.

2. An orange New Testament with the name of one of my kids’ friends written inside.  A group of Faith Church kids were hanging out in my office after worship yesterday!  I love that they love to hang out in here…but it can get a little messy.

3. Receipts and a credit card statement.  Gotta keep things in order.  Did you ever wish money would just go away?

4. A couple phone messages.  People to call back!  You should see my email inbox…

5. Minutes from various church serve team meetings.  Staying informed about how all various committees are serving in the church is imperative.

6. Reminders…a bunch of them.  It’s coffee break Sunday which alters the flow of worship and fellowship time and children’s ministry, so we want to make sure the volunteers have some notice about that.  Then there is a reminder to send a bunch of info to the Kenya team.  I hate to admit it but I’m at the point where unless I have reminder notes, those things could easily be forgotten.

7. A bill from a local organ company saying that our service plan expired…11 years ago! They were wondering if we would want to pay $700 to start it back up again?  I can think of another solution…

8. Men’s Retreat brochure.  Can’t wait!  Going to be another awesome weekend at Twin Pines, Sept. 25-27.  Want to join us?  Let me know.

9. Scripture Reader list. People from the congregation volunteers as readers in worship, and I need to get someone lined up for this coming Sunday.

And there is Photo #2:  Why do I have a cardboard tower?  Over the last month or so, packages have been arriving.  I didn’t order any of them, but they just keep coming!  In fact, as I was typing this the postman rang the office door with another package from Great Britain!  Can you guess what this is all about?

Cardboard box tower!In a week I will open the packages.

Can you figure out what they are?

Christmas in July?


Here’s a clue: It has to do with our Kenya trip!  Ok, I’ll tell you.  Our missionary friends in Kenya placed orders for items their school needs.  It would be expensive to ship them to Kenya.  But free for our team to bring them on the plane!  So we’re leaving room in our luggage to squeeze the items in.  I am so excited about the trip.  We could sure use your prayers.  And if anyone would be interested in sponsoring puzzle pieces, which is a trip fundraiser, check it out here.  We’d love to have over 200 pieces sponsored before we leave in a week.  If you want trip updates, just like the Faith Church Facebook page, and we’ll post new updates most days.

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Angel wings, Candle lighter, Blocks of Wood – Monday Messy Office Report – 12/29/2014

29 Dec

My office is tidy Friday, mysteriously messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found today.

angel's wings1. Angel wings.  For real. The kind of angel wings that a child might wear in a Nativity play.  Except that this set of angel wings wasn’t worn by a child!  At our Christmas Eve service, one of our young men put them on as he gave a mini-talk about the angel Gabriel!  I found them in the sanctuary after the service was over and brought them to my office.  (Just in case I needed some material for this blog!)  For years Faith Church has invited a variety of people from our congregation to give mini-talks during Good Friday Worship.  Since we started participating, a few years ago, in the local ministerium’s community Good Friday service, we weren’t able to do that. So this year we brought it back on Christmas Eve, and it was great.  We also had a bunch of people using their musical gifts to celebrate Christ’s birth.  They each gave their take on one of the famous characters of the Nativity story.  It was a wonderful night!

candle lighter2. Candle Lighter.  There has to be a more official name for this.  But I looked on Google, and I think they’re just called candle lighters.  We use it primarily during the Advent season to light and extinguish candles on the Advent wreath.  As you can see in the picture, it has a small mechanism that enables you to move waxed wicks up and down as you’re lighting the candles.  Ours has been sticking, perhaps due to wax build-up, and just before Christmas Eve worship began, the mechanism broke!  We have a lot of candles to light before the service starts!  Thankfully, a bunch of people stepped up and used those little plastic candle-holders/candles that we finish our service with (everyone in the congregation lights one as we sing Silent Night), and we got the job done!  I brought the the candle-lighter to my office to remind myself we need to purchase a new one!

3. Wood Blocks.  I also brought these to my office.  They have been sitting on out mailslot ledge in our Fellowship Hall for a long, long time. I have no idea why.  Maybe our martial arts ministry uses them for wood-breaking tests?  But today as I was walking through the Fellowship Hall, I decided to grab them and write about them here.  If they don’t get claimed soon, they will serve as wonderful kindling for my wood stove!

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Computer, Health Insurance, Serve Team papers – Monday Messy Office Report – 12/22/14

22 Dec

My office is tidy Friday, mysteriously messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found today:

inspiron_dt_slim1. An old, but working computer in a cardboard box. This one is not a mystery.  My cousin Eric donated the computer, and I picked it up last week.  It is a 2009 Dell in very good condition.  We don’t have a need for it in the church, so we’re going to pay it forward to Church World Service (CWS) Lancaster where my sister Laura works.  CWS does an amazing job helping refugees from all over the world resettle in Lancaster. The government of the USA generously helps people fleeing religious persecution, ethnic cleansing, political strife and natural disaster by granting them entry to our country.  People have come from places as diverse as Haiti, Iraq, Nepal and Somalia, to name just a few.  CWS will gladly give this computer to a refugee family so they can get connected, do school work, apply for jobs, etc.  If you want to learn more about CWS, just see all they’re doing here.  They have loads of ways to get involved.

2. Health insurance paperwork. Like many of you, I’ve been working on getting new health insurance.  I’m not totally sure how to write about this without sounding fussy.  Here goes.  I’m very, very thankful for health insurance.  I’m very, very thankful for employment with benefits like health insurance.  We have used our health insurance numerous times over the years, and I fully expect we’ll use our new health insurance, whenever that time comes that I get it figured out. I hope and pray that a major health situation is not around the corner, and I am very thankful that over the years God has blessed our family with good health.  I suppose that even if a health event happens, it won’t change the fact that we are blessed, and we will work on being thankful even in the midst of difficulty.  Which is exactly the attitude I need to have about the changeover to new insurance!   Thankfulness isn’t always easy to come by.  So this is a reminder to me too.  It reminds me of the song “Blessed Be Your Name“.  We can praise God even when the world is not all that it should be, such as when signing up for new health insurance is proving to be a lot more difficult than I expected.  “Blessed by you name, Lord!”  This also reminds me of a scene in Notting Hill, one of Michelle and my all-time favorite movies, where the two leads, played by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, have started an unlikely romance, he a no-name London bookshop owner, and she a world-famous American movie star.  After some twists and turns they get into a big fight.  Just then his wacky roommate, played by Rhys Ifans, pipes up and says “What he’s going to say next is — there are people starving in the Sudan”.  It doesn’t go over well in the movie, and often doesn’t go over well when we try to put things in perspective.  I suppose it is because we are feeling our pain and frustration now, and it still hurts, no matter how small it is in comparison to people across the globe.  But if we let it, remembering that our troubles are light and momentary can really help change our attitude and be thankful.

3. Serve Team Covenants.  People placed a number of these sheets in my office.  Faith Church‘s governance transition continues on, and I am super thankful for all the people that are involved.  New this year, we are asking volunteers to make one or two-year commitments to one of our Serve Teams, and then to begin that commitment by signing a covenant form.  In the past we did it all by election.  Of course we don’t know how this will turn out in the future, but I’m excited by how God is working in people’s lives as we see each of the seven Serve Teams shaping up.  We’ve had such a wonderful 2014 in the life and ministry of the family of Faith Church.  I think 2015 is looking like more of the same!

Now it is time to clean up this mess!

Pool Noodle, Plate of Cookies, Card Table – The Monday Messy Office Report – 12/15/14

15 Dec

My office is tidy Friday, mysteriously messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found today:

1. Card Table – Truth be told, I put it there.  A family in the church borrowed it, and after worship yesterday, they returned it.  They gave it to me in the parking lot, and I decided to leave it for today to put away.  Did you ever think about how many churches have a lot of possessions?  We own land, a building, and a lot of stuff that we store inside the building.  Much of what we own is for the purposes of worship on Sunday morning, education, and fellowship.  That means we have a lot of tables and chairs, and we make some of them available for the family of Faith Church to use as they need.  We’ve also allowed local businesses and service organizations to use our facility and property many times.  I love the generous spirit which permeates our congregation.  This also gets me thinking about how easy it is to confuse the property with the people.  The church is not property, it is the people.  The property is neutral, neither good or bad.  How the people view the property and use it is another story.  The church property, building, equipment, kitchen, supplies, etc. are all wonderful tools that can serve God’s mission of the church. But it is the people that are the church!

Noodle with art panel2. Pool Noodle wrapped in paper – On a normal week it would be exceedingly odd to find a pool noodle wrapped in paper in my office.  Then again, granted some of the things that have mysteriously shown up here over the years, I suppose it wouldn’t be all that odd.  In this case, it isn’t a normal week, and I know why the pool noodle is here.  The reason is Advent! For Advent this year we have four artists who each created a piece to illustrate the Scripture passage for one of the weeks of Advent.  Each creation is 70inches by 30 inches!  Same as a standard door.  Not the easiest size to bring to church!  This coming week’s artist(s) wrapped their art around the pool noodle, thus making it easier to transport.  I’ve been so thankful for the artists in the family of Faith Church, how they have used their gifts to worship the Lord.  Since we started the Gospel of Luke, the four stories are the Angel Gabriel’s announcement of the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah, Gabriel’s announcement of the birth of Jesus to Mary, the birth of John the Baptist, and finally the birth of Jesus. Join us on Sunday at Faith Church to see the reveal of the final art panel as well as who the artist was!  Till then, it’s a surprise!

3. Plate of cookies – Last Thursday, our ladies had a Christmas cookie/recipe exchange and they thoughtfully left a plate aside for those of us who were here on Friday morning for sermon roundtable.  The leftovers were still on my office counter this morning.  I think we’ve had Christmas cookies three times for special events recently.  At our church Christmas decorating party, after caroling last evening, and the cookie exchange.  They  were delicious!  Thanks ladies.

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Box of books, Background Checks, Planbooks – Monday Messy Office Report – 12/8/14

8 Dec

My office is tidy Friday, mysteriously messy on Monday. Here’s what I found today!

1. Box of Discipleship books. Thanks to Al Giles who helped us get a nice discount on copies of Building a Discipling Culture.  We’re going to have a discipleship roundtable discussion with Al on January 17th.  If you’re in the Lancaster area, and you are interested in answering the question “What does it look like to be a disciple-making church?” perhaps you’ll want to join us.  Let me know!  Because the printing company had a bad run with this batch, the publisher, 3DM, threw in three copies of another book that I am looking forward to reading, Oikonomics.  The title sounds like a pig trying to say “economics”.  oikonomics-mike-breen

2. Background check documents. Last year we had our children and youth ministry volunteers do background checks, something we do every five years.  Just this past month I found out through a colleague on the Conestoga Valley Ministerium that new PA law voids all those checks, and we’re going to have to do it again.  Except that this time, the checks are more extensive…and expensive.  Further, they’ll need to be completed every three years.  My initial reaction to this was disappointment and frustration.  But as I’ve given it some thought, I’ve come to see the new laws as good.  It’s hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to protecting our kids.  I suppose the state could have required us to do five backgrounds every year.  So this week I plan on getting fingerprinted!

3. Planbooks.  Those of you in the Evangelical Congregational Church know what I am talking about.  Planbooks are the annual calendars that our denomination publishes.  They’re filled with event dates, the seasons of the Christian year, and contact info for denominational leaders.  Planbooks remind me, like the ministerium, that Faith Church is connected to the wider church.  I value that connection greatly!  Take the EC Church, for example.  We are 150 churches in the USA, with another 400+ around the globe.  On Thursday, a pastor from the EC Church of Liberia will be with us to talk about the amazing work our Liberian EC brothers and sisters are doing to reach out to fellow Liberians struggling with Ebola.  If you’re nearby, feel free to join us at Faith Church at 1pm.

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Crumbs, Lists, Notes, and more – Monday Messy Office Report 11/10/14

10 Nov

My Friday tidy office is mysteriously messy on Monday.  Here’s what I found today:

1. Crumbs and other telltale signs that people were here.  Brownie crumbs on the counter, leftover from the brownies served during coffee break yesterday.  A scribble page (which we keep in our sanctuary pews for kids) with lots of scribble on it.  You know the kind of scribbles you make when a pen is not working and you’re trying to get the ink flowing again?  There was also something missing from my office.  When I walked into my office to gather up my laptop and coat on the way out the door after worship and classes yesterday, my phone was gone.  It wasn’t the first time that has happened, so while it is initially startling to see that it is gone, I remembered the previous occurrences and wasn’t worried.  All these pieces of evidence, the crumbs, scribbles, and missing phone, all point to one group of people.  My kids.  I’m glad that my office becomes their hangout after church, and I’m even glad to clean up after them, though it would be nice for them to learn to take care of that themselves!  That will be a talk for another day.

2. Notes and things.  All manner of notes were in my office today.  One is from a faithful volunteer who was giving me a record of the visits that made the previous month.  I am super-thankful for the people in our congregation who visit others, especially the hospitalized and homebound.  Faith Church is medium-size, and though not large, it is not sustainable to think that I, the pastor, could visit all our people on a regular basis.  There was also in my office a check, paying to reimburse the church for a book that one of our classes is studying. This is one of two months throughout the year that we pause our regular classes and offer month-long electives.  One of the those electives is studying a book on marriage, another a book on being a mentor-leader, and a third is a class about relationships.  The classes have been wonderful!  I also found a recommendation form for one of our congregation who is going back to school.  You might not realize it but pastors are often called up to make recommendations.  I have done so for high school students doing class projects, getting their Eagle scouts, for people applying for jobs, for school and for other organizations.  It is a pleasure to support our people that way!

lists3. Lists.  I knew these were here, but I thought I would tell you about them anyway.  One is a list of leaders from the church who have responded to say they are coming to a leader’s drop-in that we’re having next month.  The next is a list of ministerium members who are coming to next month’s ministerium meeting at a local restaurant (who needs a count).  There is also a list of men coming on our Men’s Retreat at Twin Pines in a couple weeks.  And finally some Advent lists, as the joyous Season of Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  This year we not only have a list of people that lighting the Advent Wreath each Sunday, but we also have a list of people that are creating original art for each week using our art panels.  Then we also have a list of people that are speaking at our Christmas Eve service.  For years we did this on Good Friday, often using the Seven Last Sayings of Christ on the Cross.  But since we have started participating in the ministerium’s Community Good Friday service, we were missing the opportunity of hearing from our own people.  Christmas Eve became the perfect spot for this, and on that night each speaker will give a mini-sermon from the vantage point of one of the main characters of the Nativity Story.  I can’t wait!

And for those of you who are list-makers, I thought this article was helpful.

Well, now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Note, Christmas Cards – Monday Messy Office Report – 10/27/2014

27 Oct

After a few months off, it’s back!  The Monday Messy Office Report.  It’s not that my has been clean all this time.  I’ve been busy or lacked the motivation to write.  Part of me doesn’t want to start back up again, so I’m compromising with myself and keeping it short.  Here’s what I found in my office today:

1. Note…of encouragement!  It was great to receive this.  A person from the church just wanted to encourage me!  When is the last time you gave someone a note of encouragement?  Maybe you could send an encouraging note right now?  Handwritten notes are still supreme in my book, but a quick email, Facebook message or text could do the trick!  Years ago I read a great book called The Church of Facebook, and the author suggests that we use Facebook to encourage people. So, how ’bout it?

Love146_Cards_Front_Page_medium2. Christmas Cards…from halfway around the world.  I know it is not in vogue to talk about Christmas too early, but I ask you to give this a listen.  For the second year, Imagine Goods is selling Christmas cards hand-made by survivors of sex trafficking.  You can purchase them here.  Since the Imagine Goods Fulfillment Center is just down the hall from my office, someone from Faith Church had graciously worked on assembling card packs at home (thus getting them ready for sale) and then brought them here.  Check them out.  Not only are they hand-made on recycled paper, but proceeds benefit survivors of trafficking!

3. Bag of Bean Soup.  Admittedly this has been on my shelf for weeks.  A neighbor of the church graciously brought it over for me.  I am so thankful for that!  But I am not going to use it, so I’m now looking for a loving home for it.  Do you like bean soup?  Want it?  Let me know!  With the weather cooling down as we head deeper into fall, this soup looks like a wonderful lunch for someone.

4. Cards for Missionaries.  The children of Faith Church made cards for our missionaries a couple weeks ago!  Their artwork is awesome!  We’re going to send these cards to Spain and Kenya soon.  Whitakers and Stoltzfuses, if you are reading this, look for a package soon!  We love that our kids can make connections with our friends who are serving the Lord around the world. As I write this today, I’m also exchanging emails with our travel agent in preparation for a summer 2015 trip to Kenya!  It has been too long since Faith Church had a mission trip, and so we’re quite excited to travel to Africa next year.  keny-LMAP-md

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!