Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Holidays!

It seems eerily appropriate that I am sitting in a weekend class on Calvin this weekend (meeting 8 hours today and 4 hours tomorrow).

While many are out celebrating "Halloween" today, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Light Even in the Darkness

It is good to be surrounded by great people.

I have wonderful, supportive friends and live in a community that is more encouraging and supportive than I could ever ask them to be.

After a long day of sitting and working at the front desk (though not getting as much done as I would have liked), I had a meeting with my candidacy mentor, Mark. To be honest, I was a bit worried about this meeting b/c of the emotional energy that I knew would be needed for it, and though he has always been supportive as he knows how to be in the past, it has been quite some time since someone of such "status" (stupid politics in the church... specifially in the UMC) was uber-supportive.

That changed today, and I am grateful for having a mentor who has taken enough time to listen to me over the past couple of years to be able to express what I'm thinking and feeling and experiencing so much better than I can. It was what I didn't know I needed tonight. An affirmation that what I think I should be doing does in fact fit perfectly into the box everyone is trying to keep me out of. They just might have to look a little closer to see it. But tonight, I have hope that it is possible.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Facing Challenges Together

Meeting with my District Committee on Ministry (seeking approval to continue moving forward toward ordination), visiting some crazy churches, throwing a baby shower, missing long-distance friends terribly, working 40+ hours per week, and working non-stop on upcoming projects and papers: these are some of the things that have made my life chaotic and stressful over the past few weeks.

It is in the midst of this kind of "busyness" that I struggle sometimes to remember that the very things that stress me out are the same things for which I should be most thankful. They are the things I can only have because of how privileged I am. That only upper-middle class educated folks seem to be privileged enough to stress over. That doesn't make me any less stressed, but it does help me to re-focus. To focus on why these very things are blessings that are helping me to grow into a stronger leader for Christ.

Even still, though, I cannot help but to sometimes wonder why we "do this to ourselves." Is education really so valuable that students should be required to live such a draining life to obtain it? It certainly doesn't make it easy for our lives to be "fruitful," or even for it to seem possible to learn 1/3 of what we are expected to... we are instead finding ourselves doing what we must "to get by," making the grade and moving on, checking things off our lists rather than engaging and digging deeper. This bothers me more than anything, because I am as guilty (if not more so) than most of my peers at doing just that... and yet I long to know the many things offered to me.

I know that a year from now, I will think all of the struggles I am battling today will have been worth it, and I will be faced with all sorts of new challenges. But one day at a time is all I can handle for now. I am anxiously working on plans for the future and I am excited to discover which path I will find myself on (as more and more seem to be opening themselves up).

Yet in the interim, I am also seeking space to focus on something new: allowing time and space for lament and sadness and struggle when things really aren't great, no matter how much we want them to be. I can no longer pretend that strangers on death row don't affect me. I can't pretend that friends I love and care about who are out of sight are also "out of mind," so I don't have to worry about them. I can't pretend like the economy or the state of the church or the election or the war don't affect my day-to-day life. Most of all, I have to stop acting as if my faith alone, independent of the faithful community that surrounds me, can hold me up in the midst of trials. Its okay not to be okay. In fact, it is critical to growth to allow for days like that. I know that a lot of what I am most struggling with now will not be resolved for several months. Yet I also know that allowing for this much-needed time, space, and prayer to guide me offers the possibility of burdens being lifted and become light as they are shared in community.

I know I am not alone in these sentiments these days... I pray that all of us facing such challenges would be able to find inner peace to make it through. (and that for those of us whose struggles are directly linked to lack of time - that we would make time for ourselves!). As always, I ask you to join me in such prayers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Difficult Battle Continues

... A Brief update for any who are following Troy Davis' case with me (see my post from earlier today).

Since I wrote the previous update requesting prayers for Troy, the federal Appeals Court in Atlanta has issues him a "conditional stay of execution" - meaning Troy and his legal team "must meet “stringent requirements” to pursue another round of appeals."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes,
"When the 11th Circuit issued its stay, Davis’ supporters were holding a mock funeral at the state Capitol. Demonstrators carried a coffin and a petition with 140,000 signatures to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Davis’ supporters also delivered a letter signed by more than 100 members of Georgia’s clergy to the Governor’s offices."

You can read the full article here. Thanks for your prayers and support... they're being heard, and will continue to be needed in the coming weeks.

Prayers for Troy

Today at noon and 8pm (Eastern time) there are interfaith prayer vigils happening for Troy Davis, who I have talked about briefly before here and here.

If I were in Atlanta - or at least closer to Atlanta - I would love to be at both of these. I know my thoughts and prayers have been with Troy, his family, and his supporters all week, and that is certainly true today as well. I hope you will join us in a crusade for prayers that someone within the unjust system of power out there will take action for the justice - and dignity! - Troy deserves. His execution date is set for Monday... approaching all too quickly... but we have seen action in final days and minutes in the past, so we must not stop believing. It isn't over till its over... and even then, I'm not sure it will be...

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Day to Celebrate

Today is the birthday of a friend, colleague, and mentor who has greatly blessed my life. I would love nothing more than to give you a hug, sing a celebratory birthday song and celebrate with you in person, but since you're a few thousand miles away, I wanted to give this space to honor celebrate his life that has blessed so many others.

Happy Birthday, Pete. I pray for many great blessings and a renewed peace for you in the new year(s) to come.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Refreshing Ride

Today has been a considerably unproductive day. I spent much of it relaxing and listening to some Matthew Perryman Jones.


The weather is BEAUTIFUL, and I decided to go for an evening ride before the sun disappeared over what could be the last nice day we have (that I have off, anyway). So I biked to Best Buy, where I picked up a new battery for my bike computer.

The weather was perfect. The path was amazing. And YES - short ride or not, it was my first - so I wore my Ride:Well jersey in honor of the team and all we accomplished this summer.

The freedom and joy and life I feel after going on a short ride - in town and then around the lake (just under 15 miles) - is amazing. I know I made the right choice in going through with a bike purchase. Its a new lifeline to "escape" the feeling of the city, even from within it. And its more eco-friendly than when I used to do so by going for a drive.

Amazing. Wonderful. God-filled. Life is good today.

(I just wish my papers were done before I began this week of midterms and working 40 hours...)

PS - I also learned a valuable lesson about keeping ones mouth (literally) closed while on a bike ;)

Nathan Lee "Still" Music Video

Such a powerful song...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What a Week!

This week has been full of exciting news and events!

On Wednesday, I received an email from the 2008 General Assembly of the National Council of Churches/Church World Service. I have been invited to attend the assembly as one of ten Young Adult Stewards for the gathering. Full details of what this entails are yet to come, but it does mean I have been offered a position of leadership and an opportunity to learn more about the Council, and I am honored and excited for what it will bring. (and nervous... about missing an entire week of school/work in November! eek!!)

Later in the afternoon on Wednesday, I received a call from someone on Oprah's audience department asking me to attend a taping on Friday morning. Lets be honest... I can't remember the last time I even watched her show at this point... but I wasn't about to say no! It was fun the two times I'd done it before, so why not? Since I had to miss my spin class to go, it was an easy decision who to take with me: my go-everywhere, do-everything, never-go-a-day without seeing each other new "best" friend, Leanne. Unfortunately, it was pretty lame and didn't run as smoothly as it has in the past. In part, I am sure, because it was taped live this time, and it is usually recorded. Eh, well - a new experience, and even if he didn't get more than ten words in, it was cool to be there when Ben Stiller was on!! (I LOVE him!!) Chris Rock was there too, and pretty funny, as always. Good times... :)

Following Oprah and a quick lunch stop, Leanne and I went to pick up my bike... and get her fitted for one. Good news, bad news: Leanne is now fitted and looking and after a quick ride around the block, is pretty sure she's in this for the long haul (too bad its such an expensive sport). bad news: I picked mine up, and all was well, its in near PERFECT condition, but the guy at the shop thinks that while this one will work, its close enough in size that if at all possible, I should get the next frame size down. :(

So... I have the bike... but I put it back up on Craigslist and am hoping it will sell for not just what I've paid for it, but also for what I've already put into it. ugh.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My New Means of Transportation

I made a big, exciting purchase today!

I have been looking for a quality road bike for over 2 months, and though it isn't exactly what I wanted, it is very close. I purchased a Specialized Allez A1 Road Bike. It is lovely: mostly white with some gray and red accents.

I plan to take it in to get a good tune-up for it and get it adjusted properly, and then I'll be golden. Along the way I'll need to get some updates such as new pedals (I want/need clip-ins, but I also need the shoes, which may come first b/c I can use them at spin class too). It needs some minor stuff: like a battery for the speedometer and some new handlebar tape (so many choices- what color do I pick!?!?). Such costs add up quickly (and the bike wasn't cheap!), but I am confident it is more than worth it. I am VERY excited to own this beauty, and I can't wait to get her fixed up so I can take her on her first ride!!! (first few rides in nice weather would be preferable, and those days are running out!)

Once she's all fixed up (and I've named her... I think she needs a name... and yes, I think she's a she), I'll post pictures. Other than my computer, she's now the most expensive thing I own, so rest assured I'm proud and protective!!

(and in case any ride:well members read this (*cough* Mike) - I expect you to go on a ride with me - no matter the weather - when you visit!!!)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Next Year is the Year!

Well... the Cubbies didn't pull it off this year... they lost game 3 of Round 1. Which means 100 years has passed between winning the series... it also means I don't get to see them play (this year) in a playoff game. Which means my grandpa isn't going to fly (I still can't believe he was willing to get on a plane for this!) out to visit me, stay with me for a couple of days, and go to the game with me. I am VERY disappointed... but it was worth dreaming (and the bit of money lost on fees, etc for buying the tickets) just to hear the anticipation and excitement in my Grandpa's voice. I'm disappointed... I think he was truly heartbroken! But hopefully this will lead to a game at Wrigley in the spring... playoffs or not, I would LOVE to be the one to take him to his first game in the belovedy Wrigley Field, to see the old score board and ivy-covered walls for the first time. There is nothing like being at "home" in that wonderful ball park!!

And yes... like it or not... I have said it countless times already: Next year is our year!!! This year made it 100. We've been 100 without it (winning would have made 99... 100 makes it better ;) ). So we've gone without 100 years... and in year 101, its all CUBS!!! Woot!

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I'm holding my breathe... the Chicago Cubs are currently down 3-0 to the Dodgers in game three of the 5-game 1st round playoffs. Yes, my lungs are burning from holding so long... but I'm a Cubs fan through and through, and I'll hold it to the end!!!

That... and WHEN they win tonight, then again tomorrow, and AGAIN on Tuesday, they'll make it to the next round - the FINAL playoff set (of 7 games) to put them one step closer to the World Series!!! Its been 100 years... its time!!! That, and I HAVE TICKETS to Thursdays game!!! So I've invited my Grandfather - a lifelong Cubs fan who knows the pain of heartache all too well - and who has NEVER made it to Wrigley field. His 70th birthday is next weekend (Sunday!), so seeing them play 3 days before would be PERFECT!!! and I've always wanted to go to a game with him... but it would take playoffs to talk him into boarding an airplane to get here (he does NOT fly!)... he's pretty much decided on coming if they make it... so fingers crossed, folks... we still have 3 solid innings to pull it off... (its getting late, but there's no way I'll sleep till its over...)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Jumping from Planes

At 4:00 Wednesday afternoon, I got a call from my youngest brother.

Getting a call from Aaron is always an adventure in and of itself. He never calls without a reason to do so. Sometimes he need something, but more often than not he is calling to share a story. Its and adventure, though, because he never just tells it. He makes you figure it out (fortunately, I'm getting good at the game, so its less frustrating than it used to be, and almost fun). He's done this lots of times, with stories about everything from what concert he's going to, to what trip he's been on, even to having his truck stolen. This time, it went something like this...

Me: What's up?
Aaron: Nothing, just called to say hi.
Just to say hi, huh?
Yep. I'm in Des Moines with some friends.
What's in Des Moines? You visiting someone?
Nope. Just here with friends.
Ok, so why aren't you talking to them instead of calling me?
We haven't talked in a while, so I thought I'd call and let you know I'm alive and well.
Alive and well? Is there a reason you wouldn't be?
No, not really. I'm fine. I mean, I only (speeds up and talks fast): fell 10,000 feet today.
You did what?
Not a big deal. Just had a bit of a fall.
10,000 feet?!? What? Did you go skydiving?!
Yea. No big deal, though.
Was it AWESOME!? I've always wanted to go!!
Yea, pretty much. (Goes into detail...)
WAIT - Had you ever even been in a plane before today?
(excited I caught on) Nope!! The first time I got in a plane was today - and I jumped out of it!!!

How's that for a story? haha. He swears it was so great he wants to go again, so he'll look into where he can do it closer to Chicago... so that I can go with him (in the spring). How fun is that!? I've always wanted to go, so I guess we'll see :)