Monday, March 31, 2008

Earth Hour 2008

On Saturday night, all around the world people came together to take part in "Earth Hour." Together, folks shut off lights and ceased to use electricity as a step to raise awareness about climate change. For one hour- from 8pm to 9pm local time, people were encouraged to turn off all their lights, televisions, etc in a collaborative effort to make a statement.

In the US, my wonderful city of Chicago was selected as the "flagship city" for Earth hour.

I have taken some great photos off of flickr of the nightline... this one is of just before the lights went off...It was a bit awkward at first- what does one do when I should be wrapping up sermon prep, running through it a couple more times, etc... but can't see!?! I turned off ALL of the electricity in my house, even to the point of it being annoying when I had to reset ALL of my clocks! For the record... I even turned my phone off!
During the Earth Hour, here is another pic of what it looked like:Significantly better! Though clearly everyone did not participate (and if you were in the city, I have to admit the orange glow never went away), I thought the turnout was pretty good. It was a nice night, too- so when the lights went down, Allison and I just went for an hour-long walk, which was quite nice.

Well done to the coordinators of Earth Hour. I hope folks learned something from this and are more conscious of how/when they're using electricity!

On Saturday night, all around the world people came together to take part in "Earth Hour." Together, a

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"A Victim Treats His Mugger Right"

I found this story on NPR.
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

It is so encouraging to know when people are in the right place, doing the right thing. Truly, this man - Julio Diaz - is in the right field of work. He gets people. He actually knows what it means to let go of the worldly things, and focus on the importance of individuals... even when that means a "sacrifice" of his own on behalf of perfect strangers...

Then I kept reading, and it also made me really sad. This teenage boy- whoever he was - had probably never had anyone actually show care for him like that. He, like many others that surround him and we encounter perhaps even daily, has found himself trapped in the middle of a broken, hurting world. He's become such a part of the viscous cycle of taking and fighting for survival, that it truly never occurred to him that he could live another way.

My prayer is that there are lots of Julios out there... and that together, they (we) can learn to live more fully into this life that Christ has called us to. Not one of fear and violence, but one of love and patience and humility.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sons of Lwala

Tonight in Nashville is the Premier of a new documentary Blood:Water has sponsored titled "Sons of Lwala."

I have been anxiously awaiting this release for some time, as it has been in the making for a couple of years. I have heard Milton and Fred speak, I have watched this trailor (and others) a few times... it is going to be a GREAT film... and I hope you all will see it! I'll be sure to keep you posted when it comes out on DVD. Until then, keep an eye on local film festivals as they do hope to have it on tour this summer!

A little more on the film...
Milton and Fred Ochieng’ are two brothers from Kenya whose village sent them to America to become doctors. But after losing both parents to AIDS they are left with a heartbreaking task: to return home and finish the health clinic their father started before getting sick. Unable to raise enough money on their own, the brothers are joined by students, politicians, and a rock band who launch a fund raising

Check out the official website (that is for more information. Or, shoot me an email. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Unexpected Memories this Arvo

Its funny how some things- some pieces of language, to be precise in this case- never really leave us. They remain a part of us even when we think they have long been forgotten...

Yesterday afternoon I sent an email to a friend inviting her to join me for a "study party" at a coffee shop. The idea is, of course, that if we are studying together, we will have someone to keep us on task, preventing further procrastination via avenues such as Facebook, Snood, or blogging.

The slip came when I was typing, and unexpectedly, I realized I had written, "What are you up to this arvo?" Arvo. I haven't heard someone use that in years! Its a slang term in Australia used to mean "afternoon." During my time there 3 years ago, I heard it used often, mostly from my good friend David. It usually came with last-minute plans for the day as we tried to sort out something to do over AIM. He used it a lot... but its not a term I myself used- maybe ever? Which begs the question- why all of the sudden did it slip out today!?!

The people, beauty, destinations and memories of my time there have been on my heart lately with thoughts of Jane as she visited, Rosie as she mourns, Katie as we recently spoke for the first time in nearly 2 years... and of course Bec and Nat as I look forward to seeing them in April! But all of them (except Jane) are Americans... and I am confident they have not used it (at least not in conversation to me!) within the past year...

Anyway, it was a "mistake" that made me smile and reminds me of the great times I had there, the amazing folks I met, and the unimaginable memories we created. I really do hope one day I am able to find a reason/way to go back with a few of the aforementioned folks by my side. To take time to share in one another's company again, going back to our home away from home and visiting the "Mothership" once again as we live like tourists and catch up with old friends who have stayed- or moved- there.

I hope memories like this one never cease to run from my mind. They might pop up only ever 3 years, but but that makes it all the more memorable when I am reminded of the many small things I miss about that beautiful country.

Monday, March 24, 2008

An Ongoing Celebration

Easter has finally arrived! Christ is Indeed Risen!

It has been a long journey through Lent this year, and so I welcome Easter with open arms, an open heart, and open eyes to see and hear and experience all that the Risen Christ has to offer us.

Saturday afternoon I was fortunate enough to have a lovely meeting for coffee with a long-lost Australian friend who is studying abroad in DC (and is in Chicago on Spring Break). Our time was far too brief, but it was nice to have the short time we did to catch up and share in the simple gift of one another's presence.I had to cut our time together short when I decided to go to the Easter Vigil at the Chicago Temple (a United Methodist Church downtown). I had been told what a beautiful service they have, and that it would be well worth my time to check it out. So I went- and was relieved to be celebrating the risen Christ long before our morning services the next day! The service was nice... but felt a bit like a marathon as they rushed through it to get through the entire service in only 50 minutes. I have never heard prayers, sermons, or Scriptures read so fast in all of my life! Fortunately, I ran into my friend Kristin there, so we were able to share in the service together, which made it a much more blessed experience.

Sunday morning was beautiful. Easter MUST be the BEST day to work in a church and go to both services! The music, worship, proclamations and praising of God were overwhelmingly beautiful and joyful! Both services were full, too, which made the experience all the more rich. There is nothing like a full house of clapping, dancing and singing for the glory of God to start off a morning!

Complete with new members and flying water (or pitchers of water during the Hallelujah Chorus!) that we might remember our Baptisms, Easter is indeed a day of celebration. I hope that this is only the beginning of many celebrations to come, though. For yesterday was only the first day of this new season, the day which we celebrate the Risen Christ... but we as Christians are called to celebrate this every week. Therefore, I hope we can remember, as Laurence Stookey reminds us, that it is not that "Every Sunday is a mini Easter," but that "Every Easter is a Great Sunday."

Let us remember to proclaim with boldness, then, the great news that Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed! Hallelujah! Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

World Water Day

Today is Holy Saturday. A day of waiting as Jesus rests in His tomb... and with anticipation of the Resurrection that we know is to come, we take time today to instead focus on what has been lost, focusing on on the Passion and death of Christ.

In this day of mourning and reflection, it somehow seems all too appropriate to me that today is also World Water Day. It is appropriate because this weekend more than any other of the year, Christians are remembering the Living Water that was offered to us as Christ came and lived among us. Just as this water of life sustains us, so too do we need physical water of the earth for our lives to be sustained.

World Water Day is an international day of observance- and a call to action- so that we can draw attention to the 1 billion people in the world who do not have access to clean [safe] drinking water. Our brothers and sisters around the globe have many needs, and it can be daunting. But for me, it is hard to have hope- to see light away from the darkness- without first seeing hope in the possibility of fulfilling the most basic, essential needs for all people. Clean water is as basic and essential as it seems to get... and so I have chosen to start there.

For only US$1, a person in sub-Saharan Africa can be given clean water for an entire year. $1! So for the past 4 years, I have been working with organizations like Blood:Water Mission to raise money and awareness for this urgent need. Whether you can donate your time, money (you can donate to B:W here!), a voice to raise awareness or even just taking the next few steps to become more educated yourself, I hope you will make time to do so. And of course as you do, feel free to contact me, as I would love to answer any questions you may have!

Closing today with a piece of hope, courtesy of Dan Haseltine, founder of Blood:Water Mission, "a huge body of water has kept us apart from Africa, but water is also the very thing that can connect us."

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Good" Friday

Today - "Good Friday" - is the quietest day of the church year. We began the Triduum last night with our Maundy Thursday service of feasting, fellowship and storytelling as we sat around tables. As it closed with the foretelling of what was to come and a prayerful Taize song, we will continue that service tonight. It will be a service of peace and prayer and readings from the Gospel with short reflections that will hopefully help us to process- maybe even understand a little better- the significance of the events we are remembering.

With the events of betrayal, denial and death on our hands, it can be difficult to understand why we might call this day "Good" Friday. I have heard a great variety of reasons for the name we have come to know this day by, and by far, I think I resonate most with the description Barbara Brown Taylor offers when she wrote:

Today, on the quietest day of the year, we have come to sit in the presence of one who was fully who God created him to be every day of his life--who loved God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength, and with all his mind--and who loved his friends so much that he stepped into the oncoming traffic of death in order to push them out of the way. He furthermore did it all with no more than the basic human equipment--a beating heart, two good hands, a holy vision, and some companions who could see it too--thereby showing the rest of us humans that such a life is not beyond our reach. Whatever else happens on Sunday, here is enough reason to call this Friday Good. (full article can be found here)

Let us gather, sitting at the feet of Jesus and remembering these mighty acts as we relive the events of today. Let us remember not just in that historic, yes-this-happened sort of way, but in the way of anamnesis, much as we did last night gathered around tables. That is, to remember by doing, experiencing, and allowing ourselves to feel as we fully engage with the crucifixion of Jesus.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Final Lenten Reflections

Spiritual Seasons: Led by the Garden

Everything you need to know about life--about the mysteries of life, about the secret to life--can be learned in a garden, if you pay attention. For those of us hostage to the urban landscape, who pay little attention to the seasons, who rely upon the weather channel or to forecast the weather for us, those of us who proceed from one appointment to the next oblivious to our environment, oblivious to the turning of seasons, oblivious to the colors of plants--for us the church's recognition of the 40 days of Lent becomes a reminder that we cannot experience the Easter tide of resurrection and renewal until we first go through a period of disequilibrium, of dying, of shedding, of letting go, of winter. You cannot experience spring until you have first experienced winter. You cannot experience Easter, Resurrection Sunday, until you first experience Lent.
~Rev. Dr. Renita J.

Two Wolves

Someone sent this to me... and I think its worth sharing...

One evening an old man told his son about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said:
“Son, the battle is between two wolves inside all of us. One wolf is Evil - anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, guilt, lies, un-forgiveness & ego.
The other wolf is Good – love, joy, peace, compassion, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, faith & truth.”

The son asked his father … “Which Wolf Wins?”

The old man replied “The One You Feed”.

Its Been 5 Years...

Yesterday marked 5 years since the war in Iraq began.

In some ways, it feels like that was just yesterday. I remember when it all began. I was in Durlam Lounge in the chapel at Simpson College, surrounded by friends and a faith community and trying to keep a friend with a fiance in the marines calm. It was a long, dreadful night.

Yet in other, perhaps more real ways, it feels like we've been at this war forever, and as such, its hard to see an end in sight. I have hope with upcoming elections, but as we have been at war for several decades, I am reminded that hope isn't enough. We need action, leadership - and a word of truth to final be spoken from our country's highest office.

There was a large (peaceful) protest in downtown Chicago last night. A huge part of me wanted to be there, but I had other (important) commitments. On my way home, I ran into some folks on their way back from the march. "There could have been more people, but it was powerful anyway" they told me, drums (plastic buckets and wooden blocks as sticks) in hand. There must have been a lot of truth to the small numbers, for I really had to look for any news coverage on it. Or maybe they're just tired of covering it, convinced that filling us in on the latest gossip between battling Presidential candidates is more important.

Either way, its too bad. Either way, I am still left praying for the tens of thousands of lives that have been lost senselessly. For the leaders who got us into this mess and those who will do their best to get us out of it. For the troops who have no say but to follow the lead of their Commander in Chief... and as a result are risking/losing their lives, if not physically than emotionally. For the people whose lives have been shattered as we invade their land, territory- their home. For all of these people and all of those around the globe this war has affected but I have not mentioned, I hope they know that thousands around the world have been thinking of and praying for them more this week than ever... and while it is hard to see the light in the midst of darkness, I hope they too can find hope that the light is out there, and is coming...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Encountering the Kindom of God in Unexpected Places

Public transportation is an interesting thing, full of interesting people.

Last night, I had a life-giving experience on the train in which I was blessed by the presence of strangers who are generous, kind, and full of hope. People who are willing to go out of their way to help someone out when it is all too easy to just ignore them. To turn up the music in our headphones (as I did) rather than take them off and have a [brief] conversation (as the guy across from me did). I was reminded that in many ways, this is my own, modern version of the Good Samaritan story... and I failed. [in a re-cap of this story to a friend, the story was repeated back as she said to me, "so you saw Jesus on the train tonight and ignored him?" ugh. yes. yes I did. but I took note of doing so...]

Tonight I was on the train with two men from church on our way home from our small group. As the doors closed and the train pulled away, an older gentleman asked one of them men I was with if he wanted to hear about Jesus Christ. The conversation was simple, yet awkward. He was questioned about his faith- are you a Christian or Jew? Catholic or Protestant? What denomination? What church? The quizzing went on. When his stop came and he got off the train, the gentleman turned to me. I need to know and pray to Mary and be a part of the one and only true church- the church that listens to the Pope, who is divinely inspired. My best response was that we would have to agree to disagree. That I am thankful for our diverse beliefs and respect and see great value in honoring our different traditions.

Intrigued with a comfortable response (?) he began to ask me more questions about myself. Am I a Northwestern student? This was my way out... but I felt like I couldn't take it- especially since a parishioner was standing next to me listening! No, I told him, knowing he wouldn't like what I was about to say- I'm a student at the Methodist seminary here in town. He was distraught with the idea that I- a woman- would ever be allowed to bless the sacraments or lead a church - "women are too easily corrupted!" Again- we would have to agree to disagree on this issue. The all of the sudden the man realized he had missed his stop. He began to freak out- to swear up a storm, including using the Lord's name in vain. I stood and watched and listened, distraught in my own way that he would move from trying to evangelize to creating a disruptive ruckus with language that proved offensive to many of those riding on the train with us...

The Kingdom of God is a fascinating thing. God's people are amazing, interesting people. It is opportunities to interact with them that give us further lessons to learn, further questions to ask, further opportunities to grow. For better or worse, I am confident this will not be the last of either of these kinds of experiences- from grace and love and and a faithful trust to cynicism and doubt and hypocrisy... God's people come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I am thankful for all of them... and hope that as we continue in dialogue, we will also continue to learn from one another's mistakes and come together in an effort to bring nearer the Kingdom of God that is upon us...

Inching In

I promised to update on this here, and so I will.

For better or worse (I think better), I am a step closer to making summer plans. It has officially been decided that I will not be going for the summer with the Mission Volunteers

So my options are narrowed (good!), while others are continuing to arise. I am still waiting for a detailed response to questions I have for the Ride:Well folks, and am still trying to decide if I want to spend my "spring break" working on applications for last-minute CPE positions. So many options... so little time... :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Although I've already celebrated St. Patrick's Day (Saturday), today is the "official" day historically, so I didn't think it could go without mention.

St. Patrick was a dandy guy credited with lots of wonderful things, including bringing Christianity to Ireland. He has some great prayers floating around out there, too, so I thought in honor of him on his day, I'd share one with you.

St. Patrick's Prayer
This day I call to me:
God's strength to direct me,
God's power to sustain me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's vision to light me,
God's ear to my hearing,
God's word to my speaking,
God's hand to uphold me,
God's pathway before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's legions to save me.

"Prayer for the Faithful" by St. Patrick
May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
- Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An undesired gift

I spent a bit of time today doing something I have done a few times before but dread equally each time. I was able to do a small thing to help a friend by making "that" phone call (and sending "that" email) that no one wants: to pass on the information that my dear friend Rosie's mom passed away this weekend.

It is a bitter-sweet call, complete with the sadness in others' voices as we express our pain and sorrow (and helplessness) of the situation. It is sad because too often, those phone calls are made to folks we don't talk to often- as was certainly true for me, it has been over two years since I last spoke with Katie on the phone.

Yet it is also a gift. For if it were not for the blessings of how tragedies bring us together in this way, I would still not have spoken with those I did today. I would not have been offered the gift of and peace of hearing old friends' voices and laughing at old jokes I'd long forgotten without anyone to help me remember them. So today, instead of lamenting such tasks, I instead choose to celebrate moments like this that offer me an opportunity to be reminded of all that I have and all of those whose lives have touched and blessed my own- and I am thankful.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Baby Steps: Summer 2008

I interviewed with those running the Ride:Well Bike Tour with Blood:Water Mission today. It went really well, feeling like more of an (almost casual) conversation than an interview. They're pretty much 100% excited for me to take the opportunity to go with them for the summer. Before any decisions are made on my side, though, I am waiting for answers to some of my questions. I hope it works out well, as it really does sound like a phenomenal opportunity, and will certainly be a great experience. Some of the questions I was uneasy about with the trip in general, we were able to talk about in vague terms, and I feel a lot better about them.

I am still waiting to hear from GBGM with any news on this summer's Global Justice Volunteers Program.

If offered both positions, I am not yet sure which I will choose. There are a LOT of variables still out there, though. BOTH are great options, and I will NOT be disappointed either way. I'm getting anxious to make a decision, though... as if I need to fundraise (likely!), I need to get going soon. I'll be sure to keep you updated as I pray and discern about which path I will be going down this summer. Then, of course, I'll also be seeking donations in order for it to take place... I'll let you know where they can be sent. ;)

St. Patty's In Chicago

Living in Chicago, there are many opportunities of things to do that I do not take advantage of. Today was not one of those days. Every year on St. Patrick's Day, Chicago - a very Irish city! - dyes the river green. I went down with some friends to see it last year, and it was awesome! So this year, I decided to go back and make it an annual tradition.

The green river is one of the coolest things Chicago does, I think. Its cool because even those of us who are family-friendly (14-month old Katie joined us!) and sober at 10 in the morning on St. Patty's Day weekend can go down and have a good time. It was a great group of folks to go down with. Good to see "old friends" - and by old, I mean people I get to say hello to on campus each week, but haven't managed time to really hang out with. Ross was among those... and it was good to spend the morning in his company (though we missed Amanda!).

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Tragic Loss

I've begun my day in the one way everyone dreads.

With a wake-up call from a very dear friend that her mom has (somewhat unexpectedly) passed away this morning. I sat with her as she journeyed home from her work to her house so she could be driven to her home town where her parents still reside. I was without words, full of prayer, and wishing more than anything that I could reach through the phone and just hold her as I cried with her from several hundred miles away. My heart aches, my whole being is prayerful. I'm saddened and confused... and I feel her pain. She is too young to lose a parent, and there are no words that can change that or make it feel better.

No matter how many times we lose people we love, no matter how many times you are a friend or colleague or pastor - it doesn't get easier. My one prayer, that I hope you can join me in, is that the God who gives us life will continue to be with and wrap Her arms around those who are mourning and suffering and in need in these days. And that those I lift up today- my friend and her family- will feel that presence and be strengthened and encouraged by it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Positive Test Results

Today was the big day I've been waiting on for months... maybe even more than a year, depending on perspective. As a part of the ordination process for The United Methodist Church, candidates have to take (and pass!) a psychological evaluation. I got mine back today.


The part in which I evaluated myself and the part in which they evaluated me matched almost perfectly. Overall I thought it was a great profile of me, and they were pleased as well. The profile they have of who fits the role of clergy matched me at 89%... higher than 96% of those who take it. So they've profiled me as a great clergyperson... which is incredibly affirming - and scary! But it is good to know that I'm heading the right direction and to see that after all of this time of struggling to get this done, it has ended positively.

I'm glad this step has FINALLY been completed, and I am excited for the opportunity to move forward with candidacy/ordination!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Holy Covenant In the News - Again!

This week (yesterday) on Chicago Public Radio, they did an article on congregations that "Reach Out with Rock, Jazz, and Martinis"

At the forefront of this article... Holy Covenant.
It's Sunday morning, and a worship service is underway inside Holy Covenant United Methodist Church on West Diversey. Methodists have been singing and praying in this neo-Gothic, stained-glass windowed sanctuary for 118 years, and this morning is no different.

Wait a minute, scratch that. It's a lot different. The hymnal - the Methodists' beloved hymnal - is nowhere in sight. Instead of the lofty, poetic hymns by Charles Wesley, the congregation is singing lofty, poetic anthems by Bono...
Great PR. Great review. You can listen to or read the rest of the article here. Or check out the HC website for more information on our upcoming, unique services... beginning with this week's
Palm Sunday service- "A Service in the Early American Folk Tradition."

I'm excited for Holy Week.

Community Partnerships

I LOVE Chipotle. A Mexican-style restaurant that's fast-food only better, Chipotle has been at the top of my "favorites list" for quite some time. First, because I like their food, its pretty healthy, and its cheap. Second, because they make "Food with Integrity." That is, they use fair-trade ingredients, meats from animals that were never given antibiotics or by-products... you get the point.

This week, I have been given another reason to love Chipotle- a reason that is enough for me to tell you that you should eat there and support their company. In an effort to cut rising costs for Dignity Diner at Holy Covenant UMC, we have been looking for community partners to provide the meal for our 40-60 "homeless and hungry" guests who come to our sanctuary to eat every Tuesday evening. I may have mentioned this last week? Einstein's has partnered with us, offering to donate all of their leftover bagels (over 100!) a every week. When I approached the manager at the Chipotle up the street from HC, he instantly agreed it was a great cause and asked if they could start by providing the meal for all of our guests the following Tuesday. So 4 days, later- they did! We are talking about ways this can become a great partnership between our program and their company, and looking at the possibility of them donating a meal once a month- or more!

Its amazing how easy it was for me to walk in there and get enough food for 60 people... in about five minutes. While every day, people are hungry on the streets and unable to find food. There are many reasons (I won't get into that) that restaurants are not willing to hand out food to anyone who walks in and asks for it... but when an organization or meal program such as ours asks for food and its that easy, it makes me wish I could drop everything else I'm doing and coordinate ways to offer such a meal program every night. I have no problem asking folks for stuff if its for a good cause... I wish that were true for more people so that programs like Dignity Diner- who has been open since 1992 and has never established such a program with a restaurant -could discover that we must just ask, and we shall receive.

Chipotle is doing great things... Einstein's is doing great things... I hope that this is only the beginning of discoveries of ways our community can partner together and make it a better place for those who live in and around it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Driving in Chicago

I've forgotten what its like to drive, and how much I really do love the train.

This afternoon, I was *crunched* for time because of when our class session for General Conference was meeting... it was to get over at the same time as I needed to be at church. SO, in hopes of cutting time, my *wonderful* friend Carol offered to let me take her car. I wasn't sure it would help much more than 5-10 minutes, but with that being important time, AND knowing it would save 30-40 minutes on the way home because there would be no express trains, I accepted.

First of all, as I was driving down Sheridan road and about to get on Lakeshore Drive, I realized this was the first time I had ever driven in the city of Chicago! I've driven in Evanston and to the airport, but never into the city. Of course I know my way as if I had done it myself a thousand times, as I am used to being a passenger and have come to know the parts of the city I am required to go through quite well. Regardless, I certainly never anticipated the first time I drove in the city would be during rush hour! But it wasn't too bad... I've definitely seen (though not driven in) worse, and it was nice to have that time to myself in the car on the way there.

The way back was MUCH faster, so for that I was thankful. However, I also realized that as much as I sometimes hate the waiting and the hassle of the train, it sure is nice. Especially on Tuesdays. The train there gives me an opportunity to review my Bible Study for the evening, and the way home gives me time to reflect and be restful after a long, busy day. I can't get that kind of rest and peace in the car... at least not when I'm driving and have to pay attention to the road.

If I had a car, I would still plan to drive every Sunday, and perhaps even on Monday mornings. But Tuesdays? No, I think though its nice to get home so much quicker, the time I have to myself on the train to think, be restful, make phone calls or often even journal, is worth it. I missed that tonight, and part of me wished I hadn't had a car at all. But don't get me wrong- it was also *really* nice, and I appreciate others' willingness to help me out on days- weeks!- like this one.

Prayers for the Garrett Community

In light of some very unfortunate circumstances on Garrett’s campus yesterday, campus is buzzing with confusion, pain, anger and questions. Slowly but surely, folks (staff and students alike) are learning details of the events that unfolded. After a prayer meeting this morning, I am happy to have been offered another perspective from the one I had. There are two sides to every story, and in this situation, there are a great number of people to be cared for… not the least of which is the very one around whom this conflict revolves.

I was fortunate enough to meet with our Dean this afternoon, and it was reassuring to confirm that positive steps are being taken in all directions. Our faculty and administration really do genuinely care about our students, and I feel that the steps they have taken have been well thought out, positive ones. There are always things that could be done better, always “if… then” statements to be made… but the reality is, no one will ever know the answers to “what if” questions, and I fully affirm their decisions to take preventative steps, putting trust in the “safe way.”

I have not yet heard results from the meetings that took place a few hours ago. Nor have I stopped praying that whatever is best for both this community and the individual involved who is now (in many ways) isolated from this community is able to happen. There is a great deal of healing that needs to take place, and in the days to come, I pray we are able to walk together and allow movement of the Holy Spirit among us, in our hallways and conversations and frustrations and laments. I pray that our cries of pain and sorrow and confusion and isolation are heard, and that more importantly, we are able to feel God’s presence and movement among us as we seek peace for our community, school, and selves.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Day of Unceasing Prayer

For reasons I can't go into or even begin to explain here, today was a difficult day. My heart is heavy and hurting, confused and sad, concerned and experiencing a sea of emotions I just don't know what to do with. A new level of emotion... or at least one I haven't felt in a long time. There's even some guilt associated with it, but the kind of guilt that is absolutely ridiculous because the situations at hand that lead to it are completely out of my control- in fact they are nothing that I could do anything about. But still, my heart is heavy, and I seek peace through prayer.

I seek peace and prayer and healing tonight. And I lift up the Garrett community, distraught after an eventful afternoon on campus about which it seems few know details (and they intend to keep it that way).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Joy in [simple?] Worship

It was good to be in worship today.

The final day of our "Changes" sermon series, today's topic was "From Denial to Authenticity." Complete with great music, I think I have come to a new understanding of the meaning of Sara Groves' "Conversations." I love that song. I love Sara Groves. I love that our two soloists rocked it this morning, and it was a beautiful heart song.

It is good to be in worship. I am thankful to be a part of a congregation in which I can be a part of the leadership of the service and still have the opportunity to worship. It reminds me of the great and endless ways God is moving in and among us.

After worship, we had the opportunity to discuss General Conference coming up in May. A decent number stuck around to hear about it, and though I had to leave early, it was great to hear/see the excitement of our congregation and the dedication of our TWO delegates from Holy Covenant. Amazing.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Set Your Clocks Ahead Tonight!

REMINDER: Daylight savings kicks in tonight! Don't forget to set your clocks ahead! Since they changed the date to change our clocks, I hope everyone remembers and is on time to church in the morning.... especially since our music tomorrow is going to be AWESOME- and we're opening with "For Good" from Wicked- it would be sad if folks missed it!

The Greatest Moments of Life are Those We Don't Plan Out

I'm not really sure where this week went? I had much I wanted to accomplish, and little I actually got done, yet I was busy all week. I hate it when that happens!

After the chaos that kept me so busy this week, it was great to finally have a night out. Many of my classmates went off to a retreat at Wesley Woods in Wisconsin, and I stayed behind with hope that I could take that same space of time as a day off where I could be at home (or not), doing anything but work. In many ways, I was seeking a retreat away from the same familiar (wonderful though they may be) faces I see day in and day out. I just needed a break - time away.

Part of that break became an opportunity to be a part of a new community. Jon and I are in a class at Garrett with two students from the Lutheran seminary down south, and they were throwing a party to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. After recruiting Susie to come with us, the three of us - who NEVER hang out - went down to the party site in Hyde Park.

It was a good, ecumenical time. Lutherans, Catholics, UCC, Presbyterian, non-denominational... seminarians and non-seminarians alike... Aside from the 3 of us who went together, Jon and I kind of know 2 of the 4 hosts... and we knew no one else there. It was AWESOME!

The 4 of us represented the Methodists well. We met tons of people, created lots of memories, and perhaps even found a new Monday-night activity, as we've been invited to join a group that gathers mid-way between here and there to hang out away from campus and have a break from talking theology. Exactly what we all need!

This week flew by. I haven't gotten nearly as much done as I hoped I would... but that's okay. I am refreshed and ready to begin anew. I am grateful for the opportunity to have taken this much-needed retreat. Something we should all do more. I certainly imagine it will greatly increase my capacity to do productive work in the near future... I just hope that is sooner rather than later, or this is going to be a long, stressful week!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Small Group, Big Gift

I am thankful tonight for the small spaces I am able to reserve to peacefully reflect and join together in conversation and faith sharing with others. Most weeks, I have not wanted to go to small group. Yet I continue to be blessed by our time together, and walk away refreshed and with a calm spirit.

On days like today, which are full of chaos and overlapping appointments, I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to have this built into my schedule. Further, I am thankful for the people who help to make that time- which in many ways is "another appointment" in my date book - worthwhile.


I'm in the top 15% of the richest people in the world...

I got this website from Mary Ann's Facebook status the other day... and thought I'd share it. I know- especially as students who are racking up countless student loans to "survive," we find ourselves focusing quite a bit on how "poor" we are (though we do recognize that we aren't actually poor...). "Hurting" financially in our society means something very different than it does to the world.

Who knows how accurate this is... but its something good to think about anyway. Its certainly in the ballpark... and we (I!!) certainly have plenty of space to be more thankful!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Signs vs. Coincidences

I'm contemplating the relationship between "signs" and "coincidences." Is there a difference? In further exploration, a friend asked today: What role does Providence (if one believes in such a thing) play?

In the past, I have relied almost solely on intuition for decisions that have been affected by such occurrences. Today, my intuition for the "right" decision hasn't kicked in yet. Yes, I need patience. And time to listen. But it still brings questions in the interim.


Discerning for Summer 2008

I am trying to discern what my summer plans will be. I feel like I have talked about this a lot lately, but in looking over recent entries, it seems I haven't mentioned it much here, if at all.

I've been in contact with some folks, tried to get in contact with others. I believe I am narrowed down to 3 possibilities, one of which is staying in Chicago for the summer (then would come a whole new set of decisions to make!).

I mentioned over a month ago that I was applying to Global Justice Volunteers. Applications were due for that a month ago, and while I am yet to hear from them (and not surprised in accordance with how it worked last year when I applied), I am anxious to speak with them about where they're sending folks- the website merely says "Africa" - and I cannot help but be intrigued by this and wonder what kind of opportunities could present themselves to me through this. Unfortunately, the person who runs the program is out of the office for another week, which means it will be at least two until I hear from her.

My third option can be viewed here. In short, I would not be doing any riding myself, but would be serving as a support driver for the bikers. 7 week road trip with the Blood:Water team across the country to raise awareness and funds! This would be great for a number of reasons, and would be a challenge for just as many. I don't know many details for this except that it would require some fundraising (though not an unreasonable amount) and that they are indeed still at least hoping I'll "apply" for the spot as a driver. I got an email from them today, and they seem really well organized, so I think I'm gong to take a leap of faith and pay the "application fee" to apply. Who knows what will happen... if nothing else, that money is for a good cause, right?

Praying as I discern what may unfold for me in the next few months. Whatever lies ahead, I am certain it will be challenging and full of opportunity, one of my greatest and most challenging opportunities yet. That says a lot, I know... but I have a funny feeling about this and am almost afraid of what is to come. So no haste decisions... but I do hope you'll pray with me. I'll do my best to keep you updated.

Making [small] Progress!

Anyone seeking ordination in The United Methodist Church can tell you- its a long, lengthy, difficult process for reasons aside from wanting to "filter out" folks who might want to consider another vocation. Its painful and full of loopholes, and sometimes, it feels like the "lucky" are the ones who get through in a timely fashion.

I began the process to become a certified candidate for ordained ministry in July of 2005. The process to becoming certified usually takes up to one year. As of today, I am still not certified... but I am getting close!

One thing after another - most of which have been out of my own control- have prevented me from becoming certified until now. From difficulties finding a mentor in the area I live in (part of this was "my" problem, for I recognize this is far more complicated when I live outside of my home conference!), to troubles with paperwork that were filled out and never got to their destination, it really has been a troubling process.

The next (and almost final) step for me is to have my psych evaluation read by the psychiatrist in my home conference (Dakotas). I took the written evaluation back in November...

Today, I finally got ahold of the one person in Nashville who can help me move on from here. She had mixed news: the good was that my psych evaluation has been passed off to a doctor so it can be "read"! The bad news: it was sent to an office near where I go to school, not to the one in my conference who takes care of all the psych assessments for the conference.

There are pros and cons of having it read elsewhere, but as there is little time, that is how it is going to have to be. (the rest of the steps need to be completed before March 31 if I want to be certified this spring... which I do for many reasons!)

ahhh. So glad to know this is finally moving along. I'm going to keep praying about it as I move on to the next steps, which I feel I can now do with other things moving along. I just hope that my struggle with this process- struggles that have never been intended to be a part of the process- can be learned from to prevent others from the same issues...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Old Friends, Great Memories

It was SO good to hear from an old friend from college tonight!!!

Aside from a random email now and then, it has literally been years since I've spoken with a good friend of mine from college- Jo Tebbe. This girl is SO crazy! My "quiet friend" (given that title after the first time she met my sister... when she was yelling 100 yards across campus to say hello), we shared many good (and random) times together!

My, how times change. It is good to have opportunities like tonight to have even a quick 20-minutes to catch up on our lives and find how how we've changed. Modern technology almost seems to make that more difficult, for as a result of it, I know I am guilty of taking advantage of the fact that I can always "do it later." Sometimes "it" is a quick text message, Facebook message or the like... but there is nothing like a good, 'ol fashioned phone call to hear that familiar voice and kind laugh. (Admittedly the best "old fashioned" way to catch up would be a visit... but this is the next best when distance makes that so difficult!)

I thank God tonight for the many people whose paths I have crossed - and been blessed by - in my short life. I hope that even if it isn't as often as we would like, I am able to always keep in touch with those like Jo- or Gvonne (who I messaged with this weekend -via texts) - that we can always be encouraged and brought joy by the memories of our youth as we grow older. Not that we're "old" yet... but as most of my friends are now either engaged or married (CONGRATS again!), its only a matter of time before our own children (ahh!!) come along as well.

Friends. A reason to celebrate. This puts my heart at peace- and with great joy- in the middle of my stressful (and sickly!) weekend.

Belated Picture from Nashville

This is a bit overdue, but Lynn sent me pics a couple of days ago from the Blood:Water banquet I went to in Nashville last week. My camera decided to stop working that night, so I don't have any pictures of my own from it. But with teamwork after his battery died, Levi was kind enough to insert my extra battery into his camera just long enough to take a picture of us... then actually followed through with emailing it! Good job! :)
So... here we are. I think its a pretty good picture of each of us, actually. (Which is saying a lot... it seems I've been REALLY picky about pics of me since I started losing weight! Backwards, I know...)