Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

striae gravidarum II

Grief settles like stretch marks
flaming and red and angry
in the beginning
and over time
lies flat
silver striping
against flesh stretch beyond imagination
not quite torn

Grief becomes a part of the landscape
a series of stripes
and creases
an invitation
for a lover
to trace
with reverence
and desire

if you're lucky

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seventy Times Seven

there are those of us who can only be reached through love
no matter that you can force a body into compliance
no matter that a body will do what it must to survive
if what you are after is the soul
if what you are after is health and wholeness
then you must begin with love

some of us are too wild
too feral
too scar(r)ed

is this good?
is it fair you are picking up the pieces
of someone else's hammer strike?
does it matter?

we begin with love because
when God finally got it figured out
that's what She started over with

Saturday, November 1, 2014


went for a night walk
stared at a possibility
regretfully let it pass
with some relief
a night walk is a strange bird

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monthly Mailing: Late Again

British Postal Museum & Archive
Or, Why I Do My Own Admin Work...

I've been working on my "monthly" mailing to youth and their parents, which at this point is overdue 6 weeks. I've been trying to get at it for two months now, but the school year kicked off with roar, and I haven't stopped moving since August 15.

Meeting after meeting after meeting to plan things, to get it all together, the google calendar, the Facebook groups...the ministry blog hasn't been updated since February...I'm moving as fast as I can!

Every meeting with pastors goes something like this: 
"People don't know what's happening."
"It's in the newsletter."
"People don't read the newsletter."
"Right. It's in the bulletin."
"People don't pay attention to bulletin announcements."
"Right. It's on the Facebook."
"Not everyone's on Facebook."
"Yes, I know that. Have you considered getting a Facebook?"
<and here it varies, because some of the pastors have one already>
"Harumph. Phone calls are a good way."
"Pastor, people don't answer their phones or check their voicemails. I could text some things, but not the long stuff."
"People still use phones."
"Right. Yes. Ok."
"A mailing might work."
"Yes! A mailing! I'm working on it. I'll have it out by Friday."
"Why don't you let our church admin do the mailing for you?"

Ahhh the mailing. My favorite communication tool for youth ministry! You think I'm being snarky, but snail mail is the best way to reach youth and their parents.

It's tricky, though, to get a mailing right. And it isn't work I can delegate to the church admin--it would take me just as long to explain how I need it done as it would to just do it.

And it takes a couple of days' work to get it right.
Better to get it out than to get it perfect, right? 
A poorly done youth ministry mailing just makes a muddle of things.
Better to get it right.

First thing is to address the envelopes. I do this by hand, writing out the student's name and address with my favorite pen. Then the parent's envelope--everybody gets their own. Siblings get their own. It's worth the extra stamps, trust me. As I'm writing the students' and parents' names, their faces come to me, bits of their story refresh my memory, I can picture where they live. As I write, I think about how long it's been since I saw them last. Sometimes I pull them off the active list.

I sort the envelopes as I write into different piles: Middlers, Jr. High, High School, Young Adult, Volunteers. Some of the students are at the boundaries of their age groups, and for one reason or another get more than one set of flyers. The boundary breakers have their own pile.

Some of the parents have more than one student in different age groups. The parents of multiples get their own pile--those parents only want one envelope of information.

The pastors get their own pile. They won't read the flyers, but I can say I gave them the info. It's important to be able to say you gave them the info. Everyone feels better that way.

And then time to make the flyers. Several different sets of overlapping information. Age groups in our ministry come together, break apart, come together again. Part of keeping their attention is giving them a glimpse of what's coming in a year or two. But the high school students don't care what the 5th graders are doing, and the 5th graders don't care what the college students are doing. So different flyers with the info people need.

Who still needs permission slips? Right now everybody, we're at the start of the year. By January, there will be the stragglers who haven't filled it out yet--the ones who come to just a few things, and they haven't been by in a while.

A letter to the parents, hopefully short, explaining why they are getting this stuff. So many of our parents don't exactly know which youth group or church their student is involved with. It's hard to keep track, and the students are notoriously bad about giving their parents info.

My phone number, email, and Facebook page plastered all over everything.

And then notes on the flyers--just a quick one, or I'd be here a week. But a little note to say I miss you, or see you soon, or happy birthday, or just I'm really glad you're around. To the parents, call with any questions or concerns. I'm praying for you. Missing you.

Stuffing, closing.

Throw it all in the nearest mail drop.

And through it all, for a couple of days, I remember the hours I spent with my youth pastor, Terry McBride, labeling, stamping, licking envelopes. I remember watching him write a little note on most of them, his all caps handwriting distinctive. I recognized that handwriting from the notes he sent me--those notes kept me coming.

There's a rhythm to this thing. I don't keep this work out of pride, I keep it out of love. Mailings are a prayer, and prayer takes quiet time. And so the mailings are usually later than I want them, because quiet time is hard to find around here.

In this last year, in the anxiety of congregational systems overwhelmed by transition, I got caught up in it all. This year I forgot that I really know what I'm doing. 

We've had people come and go, and everytime someone stops coming for a while (or for good), the congregation feels the anxiety of that loss. But that isn't how youth ministry works. We keep our hands open so that people can slip through like water. They come when they want. They don't when they don't. We try not to grip so hard. They'll be back, probably. If not, they'll get my note.

And in the end, whoever comes to the banquet, that's who we feast with. We leave an empty chair for the prodigals and prop open the door for the bridesmaids who forgot their oil.

It isn't just a mailing, it's a prayer. It's a hug in an envelope. It's an engraved invitation to step back through our doors. It's a fervently held wish. It's a promise fulfilled.

It isn't just a mailing. And it'll be out by Friday.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sheep in the Wilderness

Sunday, October 12, 2014
Sermon by Katie Mulligan
Covenant Presbyterian Church

Scripture Readings: Exodus 13:17-22 and John 21:15-19

A few weeks ago, Pastor Molly asked me if I would play with the idea that we are, as a church, beginning a journey into the wilderness. Jason will preach next week and will continue that theme, so my job this morning was to get you out of Egypt and onto the journey. I’ve been pondering this thought for the last two weeks, and here’s what I think is true: I don’t have to get us out into the wilderness—we are already there.

I was going to try some funky things with the youth and with you all here in worship this week. But, as often happens in the wilderness, things got a little out of hand with our ministry. I’ve spent hours over the last two weeks—and some of you have too—trying to figure out how to configure our youth

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

the long haul

so this is how it went tonight:

there was a student who said at 8am
i'm OUT
and i figured it'd be a month before she came around again
cuz i know her
and if we can get in the same room we can work it out
but it's getting in the room that's the trick

so i went on with my day rather sad
and it's messed with everything since 9am
cuz i'm in this for the long haul
but sometimes the short term losses suck

so at 8pm a pair of young adults
and i'm too old for texting
they asked to meet for a drink
and i'm too old for that too
on a school night

but if two young adults ask you for a drink
you go

Monday, October 6, 2014


I sat vigil tonight for our community
no homicides since July 30
the longest stretch of quiet 
since May 2012
nobody else came
but I don't mind
I sat and prayed
and sang
I sang hymns
and crocheted a scarf
and I prayed
for the children
for women and men
in Trenton
for my children
for myself

     I sat vigil in our small chapel
     and it doesn't matter that I was alone
     if there's anything I've learned as a mother
     it's that sometimes
     as the sun goes down