Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Small World of the Connectional Methodist Church

Yesterday was our Charge Conference at Holy Covenant (for those who don’t know, that’s the annual meeting of the congregation in which we express joys of the year past, and discuss with hope and vision the future. This also includes technical things like approving the budget, and voting on candidates from the congregation seeking ordination).

While it is something that takes a lot of preparation on behalf of the congregation as annual reports, etc are prepared, it is actually a great meeting and a wonderful opportunity for anyone to come and hear/see the many things going on in the congregation. It was an especially joyous occasion on which we were able to report a budget in good standing, paid apportionments, and new work on the balcony that is finally underway!!!

It was also an exciting time for a completely separate reason. There are many clergy who serve in other ministry contexts who are attached to our congregation. Most of these people worship with us regularly. Lisl is a name I have heard many times- she is an elder working for the University of Chicago, but as she is newly affiliated with our congregation, I had yet to meet her. We finally met last night, and it was a wonderful occasion that nearly immediately turned to the fact that she is from the beautiful country of South Africa. She was THRILLED that I had just spent my summer in ministry with the Methodist Church there, and I was equally excited for the opportunity to have (an even brief) conversation about it with someone who understood both contexts in which I have been working. Knowing how connectional Methodists can be, she asked if I met any of the Storeys while there… and while it was indeed a brief meeting (Peter and Alan at the gay-friendly clergy gathering, and I attended the “Manna and Mercy” class with Alan), it brought us both great joy to express that I in fact did know (of) some of the people she did. Evidently she knows the Storeys very well- I believe she said Elizabeth is her godmother!

Such a small, wonderful world in which we live!! I am greatly looking forward to our future lunch date (though it can’t be until after finals for me!) when we shall be able to further explore the unexpected connections we are likely to have. And of course she wants to see pictures from this summer!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tales Of Mere Existence

This video has been passed to me, and I have a feeling many of you will also enjoy it as we have here at Garrett.

This video tells the story of my life, in many ways. What can I say, there is always "stuff to get done"... and there probably always will be.

--the great procrastinator

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Free Josh Groban CD with Donation

For any music fans out there, this is a great opportunity to get a "free" Christmas album- from Josh Groban!

As you may know, World Vision is an agency that does a great deal of global work fighting against poverty and hunger of children and families around the world. Right now, they are focusing a great deal of their efforts on the drought in Southern Africa. For only a $25 donation, you get Josh Groban's "Noel" CD shipped to you for free- and World Vision's grants will match your donations, make it worth up to 5 times as much! :)

So if you were looking for new Christmas music anyway... you really can't go wrong with Josh Groban. Donate by the end of the week and they promise it'll arrive in time for the holidays!

Edit: This offer is good in the US only. Sorry!

Monday, November 26, 2007

When life gives you lemons

We’ve all heard it said 1,000 times: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But has anyone ever said that to you on a really bad day? It’s pretty much the last thing I want to hear. Yet today, it has been the phrase that keeps running through my head, and I can’t shake it. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by a community of pastors (and strong lay-leaders!) to-be, and though we haven’t all gotten A’s in pastoral care, we know better than that. Yet I can’t stop myself from thinking it on my own bad day…

Sometimes, I think there is power in just claiming that all days aren’t going to be wonderful, and to let a bad day just be a bad day. Thank God for the life and breath and strength to make it through, and be sad or angry or scared or whatever you’re feeling. Then get up the next day and start afresh.

This has been my problem: allowing a bad day to just be bad. For better or worse, I always have to do something to help it pick up, to smile and to laugh and to enjoy my company. I do this even when it is not fully genuine, for I know that no one wants to be around someone who just “mopes” all day!

Today has been a bad day. In fact, it has been quite a rough week. It ends today, though. My bad run must end today: the day I finally allow to be bad all day long, without trying to “fix” what I have no control over. I have come home after a long day of being unproductive due to all the distractions of life. I have missed preaching class because of the grace my wonderful professor has offered me in recognizing that sometimes, we just need “mental health days.” So today I allow my soul to be at peace right where she is, sorrow and all. And tomorrow, I begin anew. I will write papers, prepare Bible studies, spend time with my favorite homeless community of Chicago during Dignity Diner, and have a wonderful meeting for church. God has placed me in this place at this time, and God will give me no more than I can handle. So while I might not have lemonade today, I celebrate that. And I know that when the lemonade does come in a few days’ time, it will be sweeter and juicier than ever before.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Today is my favorite national holiday: Thanksgiving. This is perhaps the best secular holiday every created. It is one Thursday at the end of November that is set aside each year to remind us to give thanks for all we have in our lives as we sit around and feast on Turkey, stuffing, potatoes and pumpkin pie. Growing up in school, we often even made cards and lists together to help celebrate the people, places and things we are thankful for. We were thankful for our families, our friends, our pets and our favorite toys. When we were feeling extra nice, we even put our teachers on there. This year, there are many things I am thankful for, and I would like to name a few.
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. As I am far from home and don’t often get to see the I am especially thankful for the opportunity to share in this holiday with my “family” here atfamily with whom I grew up, I am thankful for the great friendships that have grown in our short time together in school. I am thankful to have the kinds of friends who stick by me through thick and thin. Who love me for who I am and share with me my joys and my sorrows. Who encourage me when I’m feeling down. Who affirm and support me in my crazy ideas… like spending a summer half way around the world, and planning it in less than two months. I am thankful to have had the opportunity for such traveling adventures, and for the friends I have made from around the world. I am thankful that they take me for who I am, yet challenge me to take who I am and grow into a stronger, more compassionate and faithful leader. Indeed, my friends and colleagues leave me with much to be thankful for.
As I reflect on all the things I have to be thankful for, I am reminded of the wonderful conversation I was blessed with at my weekly Bible Study. This is a community that blesses me beyond my greatest expectations. I get to be a part of serving a hot meal restaurant-style to around 50 homeless folks each Tuesday night in Holy Covenant's sanctuary. It is a holy time of great fellowship and conversation while they eat. This week, it was especially humbling to share with them and to hear their beautiful words of thanksgiving for all they have. To have a place “where I truly feel like I am granted dignity, just like in the name” is a beautiful thing. We all need that from time to time… and this community offers it to me as much if not more than I am able to offer it to them. Fellowship throughout the meal and challenging conversation in a short hour of Bible Study afterwards offer great opportunities for all of us to share our faith and bless one another. One of our regular Dignity Diner patrons, who often even volunteers to help serve when we need it, offered a great reminder to me as I wished him a Happy early Thanksgiving. “Same to you,” he told me, “only it isn’t early. Every day should be a Thanksgiving. We should be thanking God for our life every day, no matter the occasion.” Amen! I am thankful for the many, many ways this community has blessed me!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And for those of you who are not in the US, I hope you are able to celebrate with us. For every day should indeed be a day of thanks-giving- and there is indeed much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 19, 2007

If Everyone Cared

I've come across this powerful video by Nickelback from their song If Everyone Cared

One of the verses:

...And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
Singing, Amen I, I'm Alive...

What would our world be like if everyone cared? Surely the few modern heroes mentioned in this video cared and helped our world in monumental ways. There are countless others who have done the same... will you be one of them?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Life and Death in a Small Town

Tragedy has struck at home, and 20-year-old Alex Nelson has passed away in a car accident while his two friends who were with him walked away. Everyone is really shaken up, and I think my sister Alicia stated well why this is so hard on all of us, no matter how close we were or weren't to him:

"The worst thing about a small town is that everyone knows everything about everyone. What happens when someone you know everything about, dies? It doesn't matter how close you were to them. It matters that you shared a place that was dear to you. You play in the same playground. You tell the same stories of the lame town you grew up in and call home. You shared moments with the person's mother. You graduated with the persons brother. Your families go to the same church. Just the same, you know everything about him, he probably also knew everything about you. When he dies, a part of you also dies. We will all mourn together. This is what it means to be in a small town."

So true. and so sad. Yet at the same time, we have to ask: is that a negative thing to know everyone, to have those kinds of relationships? Maybe that's one of the gifts of the small town... that when something happens, you have a network of support, because it has affected everyone on some level and it isn't just "your problem." Better yet, you don't have to make those "dreaded phone calls" or explain yourself...because everyone already knows. My small town has made me who I am (for better or worse). They have supported me, encouraged me, battled with and challenged me... I am grateful for all that my small town that will always be home has offered me.

I didn't know Alex that well, yet I did at the same time. I know his brother, who I graduated with. We have countless mutual friends, including my little sister who also graduated with him.

May Alex RIP as we keep his family, friends, and our community in our thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

To A New Beginning

Well, Friends, the time has come.

I have decided to move my old blog from my long-time journaling site through LiveJournal to here. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which would include the ease of navigation and the ease of linking to other blogs I often read.

I hope to be better at updating than I have been in the past couple of months on my LJ, but I offer no promises.

For new readers, my blog is a place of reflection, a place to encourage discussion of the difficult and complex world in which we live, and a place for me to update my friends around the world of what has been going on in my life. Sometimes this is more exciting than other times, but I hope you will stick with me through thick and thin.

I encourage you to dialogue with me, and welcome your thoughts and comments in days to come.