Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Post We Hope is Cohesive, but Will Probably End Up Just Rambling On

Holy Cow. It has been way too long since I've updated this blog. Yikes. I guess being a married woman with a "job" makes me a bit more busy than when I'm simply an unemployed student.

Well, J and I have been married for about seven months now. Time flies when you're having fun. He really is a wonderful man and I love him like mad, even if I don't always seem like I do.

Internship...Well, I still am really enjoying it. I usually preach twice a month, consecutive Sundays. I have two churches, so I preach once at each. We have a retired Presbyterian pastor and his wife who attend the big church, and they are so nice. After every time I preach there, on the way out when he shakes my hand he says something so encouraging. One time he said, "You really have a gift, friend!" Today, he said, "You really write a mean sermon!" (Not mean in the "hellfire and brimstone" way, but "mean" like, "Woah, dude" type of way). That means a lot to me coming from someone who's been ordained for 56 years.

Also on internship, I am enjoying leading a monthly Bible study, leading services at an assisted living facility as well as two nursing homes, and getting to know the people more. I'm not such a fan of being a confirmation small group leader. Teenagers have never been my strong suit. When I WAS a teenager, I didn't even really feel like I fit with most of them. But, we laugh and I am still a dork, and if they don't like it, oh well. The problem more lies with I have a hard time being "the heavy" on kids who really don't show an interest in religion. I try to help them see God's relevance in their lives, but at this age, I just don't think my group "gets it." We'll see.

Anyway, it's cold here in North Dakota. We had a bitter cold snap last week with temperatures (without wind chill) being in the negative teens. It was very frigid. So, when it warmed up to 34 degrees, I went around without a coat. It's funny how we get acclimated to this sort of thing. We don't have very much snow yet, but it's supposed to snow pretty much all week, I think. Hopefully it doesn't make my commute too hairy. If all else, many many people have offered me a place to stay in my internship town in case it ever gets gross outside and leaves me unable to travel. I serve with really great people.

Christmas is right around the corner. Today was the last week of Advent. I really like Advent. I think it appeals to my "dark" side, not that Advent is "dark." Advent, though, has a much different flavor than Christmas, and I appreciate the contemplative nature I think Advent embodies. This is my first Christmas away from Illinois. I'm trying to roll with the changes, but sometimes it's hard. I'm not going to lie about that one. It's not that I've never spent Christmas more alone than how I'm going to spend it this year, or anything. When my mom was still relatively healthy, she dated this really awesome guy and would go to his family gatherings on the holidays. My siblings, at that point, were all going to their significant others' family gatherings. So, I was often left at home alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I wasn't thrilled about it, but hey, I'm not the type to invite myself places.

So, the deal this year is that I'm roughly 800 miles from all my family, and I miss them. After about a year or two of being left alone on the holidays, Sis decided to throw "combined" family parties, so no one would have to be alone. And now, I'm in NoDak, all my family is in Illinois, J's family is in Minnesota, and I am missing the "familiar." J got us a Christmas tree this year, and I realized I left all my ornaments at home in Illinois. So, the Christmas tree is full of his (very cute) ornaments, but I still find myself a little sad that this tree seems to be "his" and not "ours." Maybe that's weird of me to say, but I can't help feeling that way. I think the "firsts" in our lives, cause grief, even if they're "happy" firsts. My "first" married Christmas is also my first Christmas completely away from everything I've ever known.

I am looking forward to our first married Christmas. I was driving home from church today and I realized that we have pretty much "been together" for two years now. Our first date was in December '07. I blogged about it, but at the time didn't realize it was a date. Looking back on it, I just smack my head and say, "DUH!" Ha. So, married Christmas will be neat. I came to visit the week after Christmas last year, and that was fun, and I really am looking forward to this year.

Finally, I suppose a part of my ambivalence about Christmas this year comes from Mom's continuing illness. Sis and YS went to the Supermax on December 1st because the home puts on a Christmas dinner every year. They went and sat with Ma and they had dinner and I think some games and things. Mom, although still pretty much completely ambulatory, has lost the ability to speak in any sort of coherence. Sis and YS said that most of the words she uses are actually "non-words," which is common for people with dementia. On the plus side, she did call YS by name at one point, and she was reading some words off a napkin or something, although some of the time, she was able to read them, and some of the time, she was putting the emPHASis on the wrong sylABle, and sometimes she was saying the completely wrong words. But sometimes it's there, so that's neat. I just am finding myself really missing her right now, which is weird to say considering she's still alive. But, although some of the essence of her personality is still there, the majority of how she once related to people is not. I haven't talked to her or seen her in almost seven months because the phone really is not something she can handle anymore, and I've not been "home" since early June. I feel like a huge whiner with this paragraph, but sometimes it helps to just put it out there.

Anyway, so that is what is going on in the life and times of Trish. I have said it before and I will probably always say it, but there are things we consider "good" and "bad" in every day, and I'm trying to live more "good" than "bad." I hope you all have a blessed end of the Advent season, a very merry Christmas, and a wonderful and hope-filled start to the new year. It's hard to believe that 10 years ago, people were freaking out about the Y2K bug. Lol. May this next year be one of little anxiety and much joy. Peace.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Are you Kidding Me?

I just got off the phone with some lady who told me I had won $1000 dollars in grocery store coupons and a $40 gas coupon for grocery shopper appreciation month. I thought, "This is too good to be true." I was waiting for them to say, "But you have to buy yada yada yada" or something along those lines. The woman I was talking to said that my name had been randomly drawn because I had recently made a purchase at a grocery store in North Dakota.

Well, she had my address and the like, and we talked for maybe 5 minutes before she said, "Now, for us to send these cards to you, you just have to pay a one time shipping and handling fee of $6.95."

Seems to me, that if I "won" this, they could pay the S&H because I "won."

So, at this point, I said, "I think I'm going to opt out. This sounds too good to be true."

The woman said, "No, you just have to pay a one time fee of $6.95. That is all. And we will send this to you and you will have $1000 dollars to use on grocery purchases." I kept telling her that I wanted to pass, and she kept repeating the above words. Finally, I said, "I think I'm going to hang up the phone now. Choose someone else for the prize."

The woman? She replied, "Do you know what common sense is? Because if we're trying to give you money, you should take it! That's what common sense is! So, you say you're going to just hang up now, but I'm going to hang up because you don't have common sense, so you don't deserve it!"

Then, she hung up.


Why are people insulting my intelligence?

My "job"

I have the EXTREME pleasure of being a pastoral intern at two different churches in North Dakota. One of my congregations is a fairly large congregation, and the other is a small, mission start congregation. I absolutely love them both, and am learning SO much. The job is also far more fun and fulfilling for me than I ever thought possible. As a part of my internship duties, I get to write an article for the monthly newsletters. They're usually titled "Trish's Topics," but this month, at the bigger church, my supervisor (The Administrative Pastor) said I could write the front page article regarding stewardship. The seminary asks us to focus a bit on stewardship during our internship year, so this is a good thing. The following is my "Stewardship" article.

November Newsletter Article (Big Lutheran-Front Page-Stewardship)

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” -1 Corinthians 12:12.

Stewardship; a word that can strike fear and dread into the hearts of Christians everywhere. Stewardship is often thought to be about how people in the congregation give money, often out of a feeling of obligation. However, stewardship is SO much more than giving TO the Church.

When we embark on “stewardship campaigns,” we do so with ministry in mind. And so, when discussing stewardship, it helps us understand the importance by thinking about it in terms of who God is. With that being said, I think it’s important to point out that people do not give TO the Church. Instead, we give THROUGH the Church.

YOU are the Church. We are many members, and yet one body. When we give of our time, talents, and possessions, we don’t merely do so in order for the building to stay open, for kids to be taught, or to listen to special music, the liturgy, or the preacher. We give through the Church to embrace our callings as children of God in Christ Jesus. We give AS the Church, THROUGH the Church, for the sake of the Gospel of our Savior and Lord. Giving is an act of grace; a response to God’s grace first given to us.

Your giving of time, talent, and possessions takes the Gospel in words AND actions to people here, as well as all around the world; people God loves and redeems. Lutheran Social Services, missionaries, Lutheran World Relief, World Hunger, and countless other programs are supported by YOUR giving. The quilters’ actions help keep people warm with the sending of their quilts. The confirmation youth help the community and the congregation in many ways with their service projects. These are all Gospel acts of love and mercy. This means that people are being fed, clothed, housed, warmed, and loved through you! The Gospel is being acted out, and not merely being given lip service THROUGH you!

A little over a month ago, I was introduced to Chuck Suchy. Drawn to his mellow sound, I discovered an appreciation for his music. Pastor Jack loaned me one of his Suchy CDs the other day, and so I have had it spinning in the CD player and in my mind. I noticed a verse in the song, “The Pleasure of Her Company” that says, “Too many live in drudgery/Closed to possibility/Never waking joyfully/Living all they’re called to be.”

People of God, you are called to be the Church. You are called to “preach the Gospel at all times, using words when necessary.” (St. Francis of Assisi). May your giving and your receiving of grace be done with minds and hearts flung wide open to the surprising wonder of God’s love for you. Live in joy instead of drudgery. God is with you and God is with “them.” Let us nourish the body, trusting that Christ’s presence and love is with us here on North Dakota’s prairies, and also on China’s rice paddies, India’s slums, and Africa’s deserts. God is THAT big and our response to grace can make MUCH difference.

Intern Trish

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Finally-The Wedding!

Well, I have become quite sub-par at updating this blog. I'm contemplating whether or not I want to continue writing it or not. Maybe a shift in purpose for it is in order... I don't know.

Anyway, the wedding...

Saturday morning, J and I got up and showered and what not, and then drove to the church together. We didn't really see the need to do the whole "not see each other the whole day of the wedding" thing. We didn't want to see each other after we started getting ready, but had no problems seeing each other that morning and driving over together. It was actually kind of cool.

So, we got to the Church and went our separate ways; him to his Sunday school room, and me to mine. We did talk about lunch at one point in the car though, and he decided he'd go to Subway and get some sandwiches. I was wearing my Lucky Charms shirt, which several people thought was amusing to wear on our wedding day.

When I got to the church, I didn't have to wait long for Diane, the Mary Kay lady to come. I am absolutely inept at makeup, and Diane, being very talented, was willing to help me out. YS used to sell MK, and Diane was the person who got her into it. Diane had done a test run a while back to figure out colors that would look good, so all she had to do the day of the wedding was slap the stuff on my face. She did an absolutely WONDERFUL job, in my opinion, and I especially appreciated that she didn't treat me like a moron for being so ignorant about makeup (since I don't wear it on any sort of regular basis).

The photographer and his wife (they're a team) got there around the same time as Diane. Bob did a lot of photography for the guys and his wife, Pat, did a lot of our photographs. They're both delightful people with a ready smile, and a nice sparkle in their eyes. I was incredibly happy with the service they provided.

So, YS, Sis, and SiL came to the church and we all were getting ready. SiL tried putting some bronzer or something on my arms and stuff to hide the ridiculous tan lines I had, and I was okay with it, regardless of what it looked like. Sis also "did" my hair, which didn't involve much because I have really short hair. Pat took all sorts of photos of us getting ready, and Bob took photos of the guys. Also, J's dad was there taking some "candid" pics of us, too, which was also delightful. He took some really good pictures.

After a while, J brought some lunch and his dad (I think) brought it over to us. I was a little bit nervous (Not because I thought I was making some huge mistake or anything, but because I'm not huge on being the center of attention when I'm out of my element. Dresses and makeup are DEFINITELY out of my element). Because of this nervousness, I was only able to eat about 3 bites of my sandwich, which made me even more nervous, because I didn't want to faint! Lol. At some point, Pastor M came in and we got a couple of pictures taken together. She's really cool and I am SO THANKFUL that she was a part of the day.

So, we finished getting ready, taking lots and lots of photos before the ceremony, and hanging out. Oh, and I forgot to mention... The florist we used was the hometown florist. I hadn't actually told her what kinds of flowers we wanted, because we didn't really care. I just told her what our colors were, and I think I may have mentioned that my favorite color is orange. When we got there on Saturday morning, I looked into the sanctuary and was definitely NOT!! disappointed in the slightest! K did a BEAUTIFUL job at putting together our flowers. I was mucho excited.

After a while, it was time to get that show on the road! Interim had come back to kind of get us all ready to go, and we all walked out and the bridesmaids and groomsmen lined up. The music started playing and they started walking in. Oh, and we had a procession, so Pastor M and Interim started the procession with the cross and the big Bible. They walked in to "Lift High the Cross." After all the bridal party went in (no ring bearer or flower girl...J and I just said "no" from the get-go), I walked out to join J because we had decided to walk in together. My dad has been gone for several years, and J and I had talked and decided it'd be cool if the both of us got to walk in. And so we thought, "Heck, why not walk in together!" So, all the people in the sanctuary were looking back, and as "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" started to play, we started to walk in. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time, to say the least.

We got to the chancel, went up the couple steps, and took our place in front of the pastors. The service started and went pretty well. However, when it came time to exchange vows, I started sweating a little! Not because I didn't want to say it (again, that was DEFINITELY not the case), but because J went first, and then my turn came where Interim gave me about twelve words to say at once. For J, he took it nice and slow, but Interim forgot to give me a pause! I freaked out for a nanosecond, but then thought, "I can do this!" So, I did! A friend after the service said, "We were wondering about all those words he gave you at once!"

Pastor M gave a FANTASTIC sermon that spoke to the reality of our lives, but that also shared the Gospel. She acknowledged that we grieved the absense of our parents (Ma was not able to be there because of her cognitive state. It would have been way too much for her). J's mom and my father are also deceased, so that was a void. But, Pastor M talked about many wonderful things regarding married life and the love of Christ. J and I would have loved to have a copy of it.

J and I, being the "religious" type, also decided we wanted communion at our wedding. Interim was supposed to do the words of institution, and then J and I would serve the congregation. However, Interim said, "Sister M will now say the words that make this the body and blood of our Lord!" and J and I just thought, "OH NO!!!!" Why, "Oh no?" Well for two reasons, really. 1. What we SAY OR DO does not do some magic that changes the elements into the body and blood. It is GOD'S action ALWAYS that comes to us, and 2. Pastor M. is not familiar with the setting that my home church uses and did not BECOME familiar with it because that was one of the things that we gave the interim to do. Oy. But thankfully, Interim realized his mistake and then did it.

We served communion to the people who came forward; family, family friends, friends from childhood, friends from seminary. It was so cool for us to share in that on our wedding day. And, Oldest Brother CAME to the wedding! I was excited.

As the wedding ended, we walked out so that we could walk back in after the rest of the bridal party exited. On our way out, I looked to my right and saw a whole group of my seminary friends with a giant orange feather boa wrapped all around them! I got a huge smile on my face and nodded happily. Hehe. It was freaking awesome! AND, some of my friends actually wore orange. One of my good friends dressed her little guy in an orange shirt. Older brother the younger also wore an orange shirt, and another good seminary friend (a man) wore an orange shirt. These "small" actions just made me feel even more special because they did these things in an intentional manner to make the day even better for me. I'm a big fan of color (thus my happiness that the paraments on the altar were red for Pentecost Sunday the next day), and was glad to see such vibrance as we exited the sanctuary. I have great friends!

When the whole bridal party came out, J and I went back in and we ushered people out. We gave and received many, many hugs and well wishes. We saw again, exactly who was there to celebrate with us (though during the service, the pastors had us turn around a couple of times to look at who was there, and we also saw at Communion). It was great!

One of the ladies we invited (a recent widow) said, "This was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever been to. Thanks for inviting me." I was humbled to hear that. She's a special lady, and I'm just glad that she could find some joy in the day, though I'm pretty sure that she also felt some grief, considering her relatively new situation.

We then walked outside. One of my absolute best friends and one of J's absolute best friends served as ushers for us, and they passed out the bubbles that we had bought. Neither J or I wanted bird seeds because I have a tendency to get things in my eyes. So, we walked outside and people blew all these bubbles at us. Someone (I think J's dad) took a great picture of us where the bubbles were all around us (mostly me, but some were around J, too, I think). We actually ended up using that picture on our Thank You notes.

After we visited outside (the weather was gorgeous!), the guests all headed toward my home town to the reception hall, while our families, bridal party, J and I stayed to finish taking pictures. That took a little while, and then we finally got to head north. As we were driving toward the edge of town, the clouds opened up and downpoured on us! Thankfully, though, the sky was partly cloudy/mostly sunny by the time we drove the five miles to the hall. It was gorgeous. We ate good food, talked to friends and family, and then started the toasts.

THE TOASTS! Ha. Sis was my matron of honor and YS was my maid of honor (how do you pick between your two favorite sisters? Note, they're my ONLY two sisters. LOL), and they had been wigging out about having to get up and make a speech. But when they got up there, they did a MARVELOUS job. They told a little story about me when I was a little kid about how Sis shoved me out of our house naked and then took a picture of it. Then, they talked a bit about our various adventures as sisters and how they were glad J would now get to be a part of our goofy randomness. And then they said, "She could have been a stripper (they harkened back to the naked picture), but she ended up going into the ministry, which is good for you! So may your marriage always be filled with love, laughter, and wasabi surprise!" (or something like that).

What's Wasabi Surprise, you ask? Well, earlier in the week, Sis, YS, J, and I went to a sushi place in Peoria and while eating, at one point, I stopped, and got red faced and teary eyed and went, "WHAT WAS THAT?!" It turns out, the sushi chefs put some wasabi in between the fish and the rice bed. Since I always dip my sushi in a soy sauce/wasabi mix, the extra was a bit excess (although still delicious!). We all got a good kick out of it. I was so impressed with the speech they gave. It was well thought out, not embarassing, and very heartfelt. Muchos gracias, sistas!

J's best man did a pretty nice job too, but since my sisters and I have a special bond, I just have to give them mad props for theirs. :)

Then, J and I got up. We thanked the people for coming, which I thought was the purpose of our getting up. However, all of a sudden, J said some things and I realized I was in for a surprise! He had worked with another good friend of ours and had worked out a way to surprise me by singing one of my favorite songs! J burst out into singing Michael Buble's version of "Moondance." He changed a few slight adjectives and added some personal touch to the song. J has a great singing voice and I was surprised. He did a great job, and I am so fortunate to be married to such a caring guy! The little schpiel I gave afterward wasn't nearly as cool as that, but I hope I was able to convey my gratitude to the people for coming, as well as my thanksgiving for being so blessed by love. It was great.

And afterwards, we danced and talked, and the night progressed. J's brother, at one point, ended up giving a long, drawn out, drunken speech trying to embarass J. And thankfully, the DJ and one of J's groomsmen cut him off in a relatively tactful way. Haha.

So, the night eventually ended, and we went and relaxed and giggled at the fact that we were now married! And the day is wonderful to think back on and remember. Those of you who were there, thank you! And those who weren't, know that I would have invited EVERYONE if we could have. Time/budget/space constraints aren't the greatest things in the world, but if I know you, chances are, I am appreciative for who you are in my life. Thanks for being friends.

Here ends the tale of my wedding day...Well, the public part, anyway. :P

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The week leading up to the wedding.

Well, friends, here I sit, having now been married for TWO months! It's been an interesting couple of months, to say the least. I realize that I've not talked about the actual wedding day, so I suppose, I will get there in this post.

But first, a little bit more of the stuff that led up to the day...

Sunday, May 24, I went to church (obviously), and listened to the interim do the service and everything. YS and I had made plans to go golfing after church, so I went to her house and we set out. The day was warm and so I took off my button up to show my arms (I was wearing a shell; kind of like a tank top, but it covers more).

We golfed and laughed and had a good time while we lost our golf balls and I golfed probably the best game of my life (which isn't saying much because I am not good at the sport). When we got done, we went about, hanging out more. We had some lunch and some ice cream and laughed some more. I really love YS a lot. She's very special to me.

J came down to Illinois that day so he could stay at Sis and BiL's house as we finalized our wedding preparations. He set out from North Dakota (I decided I could tell you I'm in the state, considering I almost always tell my readers what state I'm in) after church and made it to Illinois around 3 or 4 in the morning, I believe. He had had to make several pitstops, and I believe stopped to see some of his family on the way down. I had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room waiting for him, and was very glad when he got to the house. I sent him to the spare room and I went to the basement to sleep on the couch.

So, the next morning... Sis came down to wake me up. We were supposed to go do something, but I didn't feel well and told her. So, I stayed on the couch and tried to sleep some more. Unfortunately, I started to feel like I was going to get sick, so I sat up and realized that I didn't have the strength to get up to go to the bathroom. So, I picked up the cup sitting beside the couch for a "just in case." The next thing I knew, though, I was sweating like a pig, and the cup I had been holding was now on the floor and I was slumped over. I had fainted! It was a bit odd, considering I'd not passed out in over 4 years. Since it'd been so long, I couldn't quite tell the difference between "getting sick" and fainting. So, once I woke up, I just laid back down for a while and started to feel a bit better. Sis came down again and I told her what happened and I could tell she was worried about me. But, I am convinced that I just got too much sun the day previous. After I fainted, I drank a bunch of water and then started to feel loads better.

Fast forward again... J and I went and met with the interim on Tuesday, wedding license in tow. However, we realized after we had gone to the courthouse that they had messed up and had typed my name as "Trusha." So, we talked with the interim and he asked us, "So, what are we doing on Saturday?" We were both thinking, "Don't you have anything planned!" Apparently, this man who has been ordained for more than 30 years has never performed an LBW wedding, and uses the one he wrote 36 years ago whenever he can. J and I were absolutely NOT interested in using his service because of its archaic language and because we just aren't too keen on the interim, anyway. We made an appointment to finalize our plans with the interim on Thursday, and so J and I went back to Sis and BiL's and he threw out a plea on Facebook for someone to send him an order of service from the ELW since he'd not brought his, considering he was on VACATION getting ready to get MARRIED and because he thought the pastor would know what he was doing. Oy. Thankfully, several people responded and he wrote up a service that was pretty cool, lickety split.

Another day or so passed and we went and had our marriage license fixed from "Trusha" to "Trisha." We met with the interim again and he complained that the printing was too small. Thankfully, J had brought the file on his flash drive and we made it bigger to satisfy the interim. The secretary was also in the office and she helped us print up bulletins (We are low key people). She was so helpful.

So, we get to Friday, the rehearsal day. We got there and the interim was there, J's internship supervising pastor who was also a part of the day, the groomsmen, the photographer, and my sister in law, who was one of my attendants. My two sisters, however, were a smidge late, much to the chagrin of the interim. When YS and Sis got to the church, he basically insulted them by treating them like they were children. Ugh. And then, he insulted J and me! He complained about the complicatedness of the service J had drawn up. We didn't want to get into it with the interim the day before our wedding, though, so we just let it drop. At one point, the photographer asked a question and the interim BIT his head off! J and I just looked on in horrified shock and embarrassment that this "man of the cloth" tore down another pastor-type guy (The photographer runs a church himself). J and I both apologized to the photographer, and so did Pastor M (J's internship supervisor). He took the brow beating with grace, which is probably more than I would have done.

The rehearsal, otherwise, went pretty smoothly, and we were happy to have at least ONE pastor we wanted be there. Pastor M gave us MANY excellent tips for the next day, and she did so with tact and grace. When the interim gave us "tips," he was basically scolding us. He said, "Make sure to eat tomorrow! I don't want anyone fainting. That means you, Bride." He also made some disparaging comments about my sunburn, which was fading from the previous Sunday. He was just not pleasant.

After rehearsal, we went to eat at the restaurant where I worked for almost ten years. I had called them the week before to make sure that they were still willing to do the dinner for us because the male boss, G, died on May 2nd, unexpectedly. I had meant to blog about that, but I don't think I ever did. I heard that he died, and so I went back to Illinois from SeminaryTown to the funeral and things. It was very sad to lose G, a man who had loved me and who I had looked upon a bit like a father for so long. I had seen him two weeks prior to his death because YS and I, on a spontaneous hang out night, went over to Restaurant to eat. I talked with him for a while and then went to talk with the female boss who told me he was going in for a test in two weeks to see about some symptoms he had been having. Having seen him so recently and hearing about his potential health issues made the blow a little less severe, but I still grieved for G. I knew that G's wife would still be grieving for him, and so when I called the week before the wedding to make sure they were still willing to have such a party (G did a lot of the prep work for parties), I was a little surprised to hear P (the female boss) say, "You bet. You're the reason we're staying open."

So, the night of the rehearsal, we were seated in the banquet room and were served wonderfully by a couple of the waitresses. We ate delicious food and had a good time. After the meal, Sis and I were talking to P. She then told us that Sunday the 31st would be there last day open. This came as shocking news, but more in the sense of "I can't believe it because I worked here for so long," not in the "Why is she closing the place" sense. After all, her husband, her partner in the business had died recently and she had always talked about getting rid of the place. Odd news to hear the night before your wedding, but understandable. She deserves some peace, and I can't imagine going to work in the place you had opened and operated with your husband of 25+ years after his death. She seemed at peace with her decision, so we wished her well and after a few more moments of talking, we left.

Anyway, this has been another long post, so I will talk about the actual wedding next time, perhaps. Have a delightful day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Now that I've lost all my readers...

Wow, it has been TOO long since posting something. Yikes.

Well, I've been a little bit busy, so I hope any of my readers who stumble back here can find it in their hearts to forgive me. Ha.

Most of the people who read my blog know me in real life, so they know what's been going on. I finished the semester strong at seminary. I got credit for all my classes, so that is very good! Our last day was mid-May, but that didn't mean that I was suddenly free and clear to do nothing!

After graduation Sunday, which I attended b/c some of the people I started with were graduating (The M.A. program generally takes 2 years whereas the M.Div program generally takes about 4). It was a good day, and one of congratulations and "see ya laters."

That weekend, I also spent much of my time packing up my stuff to move! After a person finishes their "Middler" (2nd) year at seminary, they generally go off on internship. Most of you have heard about my internship dilemma, what with them not being able to find me a place as quickly as my classmates. Well, they found me a place where I wanted to be!!! I'm excited about this, to say the least. So, I packed up all my stuff with the help of one of my very good friends, with plans to move it to the state to which I am assigned via a U-haul truck. I planned to drive the U-haul and my friend was going to follow me in my car.

Well, the morning of U-haul renting didn't go exactly as planned. I had wanted to pick it up on Sunday morning before church, that way we could load it up and then head out bright and early on Monday morning. That way, by the time I got to the place that would become my new home, there would be people there to help unload us. However, I don't have a "real" credit card b/c I didn't use it enough and the company cancelled it. So, I have a debit/credit card that I use. However, those of you familiar with debit/credit cards will know that there is often a smaller type limit on them. Fortunately, or so I thought, I thought about that beforehand and called the bank to tell them to up my limit because I was moving. They did so, but said that they could only up the limit by pin protecting it. I didn't think that'd be a problem, so thanked them and continued planning.

Well, it was a problem! When I got to the U-haul place on Sunday morning, I went through the whole process with the gentleman behind the desk. However, my card was declined and they didn't have a "pin" option, so I was out of luck right then. So, he told me that I would need to go get cash for the rental, plus a $100 dollar deposit. Well, by this time, I was running late for church and because two of my other friends had driven me down there, I realized it probably wasn't going to work. But, the guy told me about one of the banks in SeminaryTown that was open early on Sunday morning. So, I took my friends back to their apartment so they could get ready for church, took a flying trip out to the bank, and found that indeed it was NOT open that early. So, I drove back to the seminary, and went with my two friends to church, resigned to the fact that things were not going as planned.

After church, though, I went BACK to the bank, talked with the teller, and then withdrew the money out of my checking account from an ATM, which was very odd. It's not often that I hold that kind of money in my two hands. So, I locked it up back at home and went about my day.

The next day, then, another friend took me down to the U-haul place again. This time, we did the whole procedure and he asked for the cash (but it was a different guy who didn't ask for the deposit $100). So, I reached into my pocket (that I had been guarding VERY closely) and pulled out this big chunk o' money and I counted out the fee to the guy. He told me that my 10 foot truck had been taken by someone else the day before, but that they would give me the 14 foot truck at no extra charge. He gave me the keys, told me which one I was to take, and adjusted my sideview mirror for me before sending me on my way.

My friend later said, "I've never actually see someone just randomly pull $1000 bucks out of their pocket like that." Ha. Stick with me; I'm pretty weird.

Anyway, so I got into this truck and momentarily thought, "Oh crap." There are NO rearview mirrors in a U-haul like that, and there are no windows behind you to see out. Instead, you rely solely on your sideview mirrors. Let me tell you...I use my rearview mirror A LOT when driving in my car, so I was a bit intimidated. And, I had to REVERSE out of the parking lot. Not a good first impression, especially since the truck I now had was a good deal larger than what I wanted. But, I managed to reverse out without killing anyone or doing catastrophic damage to anything. I drove up to the seminary and some friends and I loaded up about HALF of the freaking truck (I wouldn't have needed it except I was taking my bed and my still-in-the-box computer desk that YS and YSB [Younger sister and younger sister's boyfriend] had brought me the week before). So many people walked by and said, "You have a lot more space to fill!" I said, "This truck is WAY bigger than the one I asked/paid for." Oy.

So, we loaded the truck and set off on the trip. I got more comfortable with only having sideview mirrors, and I gave myself plenty of time for everything. Also, I planned us to go a less travelled route instead of through a major metropolitan area that generally shaves about an hour off in time, but which the thought of driving a 14 foot truck through scared the living daylights out of me. So, we drove and drove and drove... Through construction areas, through "no services" signs on the exit ramps, and through slight traffic. We stopped many times for food, gas, and because my friend who was following me has a weaker bladder than I have (not that I blame her... Most people have a weaker bladder than I have). So, what I can drive (in my car) in about 10 hours and 26 minutes (I timed it once), took about 14 hours, give or take, because of that HUGE truck and because I took the "other" route. But, we got there safely, which is the main thing.

When we got to town, we went directly to J's house. Friend and I were incredibly tired by this point and asked if it'd be okay if we could unload the truck tomorrow. He said that'd be fine, so Friend and I went to the motel in town and I rented us a room. We pretty much immediately went to sleep (I was too tired to even take off my clothes). We had told J we'd be there around 8:30 or 9:00 to unload the truck, but when my alarm went off, I was like, "nooooooooo!!!!" so, I texted him and asked if we could come a bit later. J said that'd be fine; get there when you can.

So, we woke up a bit later, got cleaned up and went over to the house. We walked in the garage (only visitors actually come to the front door) and I saw my futon frame in the garage. I said, "Oh, look, he unloaded the futon frame." Friend said, "Yeah, but he had to unload lots of OTHER stuff to GET to the futon frame!" (I didn't know because she was the one who put all the stuff in the truck; I just carried it out). So, we went out to the truck, opened the back, and saw that J had single-handedly unloaded all of my stuff and had taken it either into the house or the garage. He is awesome! I knew there was a reason I was engaged to him! Haha. J/k, there are LOTS more reasons than that...

So, we hung out pretty much all day and then left town quite a bit later than we'd initially planned. We drove all night, but this time, went back the way that would save us an hour. I drove about half the way, and Friend drove the other half. When we got back to SeminaryTown, Friend slammed on the brakes because the light turned red. We looked over and saw this guy in the left turn lane and he was STARING at us; maybe because we were laughing, maybe because we're a couple of raging hotties, I don't know. But, we kept laughing, and then I noticed that he KEPT staring at us, and then he blew through the light and turned left. Weird, but whatever.

So, we got back to the seminary, and because I'd already given up my keys to the office and was officially moved out (I cleaned like a bad mamma-jamma!)I didn't really have a place to sleep a little bit more restfully before heading to Illinois. But, I went down to the recreation room that is rarely used, shut the door, and slept on one of the couches in there. At one point, the housekeeping lady opened the door, saw me sleeping, and then left again. She said later that she was just curious why the door was shut.

So, all of a sudden, I was jolted out of my slumber by the FIRE ALARM!!! I was liek "What the heck is going on?" So, I zombied my way upstairs and saw people around who said that it was not really a fire, but probably some cleaning agent or paint or something that got too near the detector. They managed to shut the alarm off before the fire department came (which is good, considering we had about 10 fire alarms this past year), and I found myself chatting with some folks. It was getting late in the morning, so I said goodbye to some people and went to Sis and BiL's house to finish planning for the wedding.

And because this post has been exceedingly long, I will talk more about life after I moved all my stuff later. I hope you are enjoying your days, and that you're staying dry.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pre-Easter Visit

A few weeks ago, the pastor at my home church, (whom I shall call Pastor S.) emailed and asked me if I would be the Assisting Minister on Easter morning. Since he accepted a new call in a land far, far, away, Easter was planned to be his last Sunday at our church. I was pleased to have been asked, and so I said yes.

A little while after that, I emailed him to talk about figuring out my role in the service. He emailed back and it came to pass that we decided to get together on the Saturday before Easter, go visit Ma, have me look through some books he didn't want to take with him to his new call, and talk about our different roles in the liturgy.

Saturday rolled around and I met Pastor S. at the church. We headed on over to the Supermax to see Ma. When we got there, I pushed all the codes to get us into the unit, and then led Pastor S. to her room (he has been there before, but maybe hasn't been to her room. I don't know). We walked toward her room, and she was on her roommate's side, looking at something. She seemed happy to see Pastor S. but kind of ambivalent about seeing me. I don't know.

We sat down and talked for a little while. Pastor S. tried to get her to talk about different things, but she really wasn't making much sense. I have talked before about how she is losing her ability to string together verbs, adjectives, and nouns to make coherent sentences. I don't know if perhaps I didn't hear her, but it sounded like she made up words a couple of times, too. But, she was still smiling and talkative, so that was good.

After a while, Pastor S. said that he wanted to tell Ma a story. So, he started reading the Easter Gospel lesson. Pastor S. read it very slow at the beginning, and after each sentence, Ma would say, "Okay. Mm-hmm." She was being an "attentive listener." Pastor then talked with Mom about things that make her worried, scared, or troubled, as a sort of "sermon," considering the Easter text dealt with the fear the women had that first Easter morning.

Then, Pastor S. got out communion supplies, did the Words of Institution, and said, "Let's pray the Lord's Prayer."

We bowed our heads and started praying. And then, much to my surprise, Ma prayed, too. I heard her saying the actual words, and I stopped praying, and kind of looked at her, and couldn't start praying again because I was about to start bawling. So, I looked at the ceiling to keep from crying, and I listened to my mom, who rarely says anything that makes much sense, recite the entire Lord's Prayer. Then, Ma, Pastor S., and I all took communion together. This activity makes me appreciate all the more the idea of the "communion of saints," because it unites Christians from every time and place together in our common bond with Christ Jesus. I haven't communed with my mom in almost two years, and it was nice to do so again.

After communion, Pastor S. said to Ma, "I'm not going to be coming here anymore, Ma'sName. Someone new is going to come because I'm moving to Wisconsin." Ma's reply was a chipper, "Okay!" I'm glad that she's not saddened by it because I think I'm sad enough for the both of us.

A little while later, Pastor S. and I decided it was time to go. Ma had referred to me in the third person earlier in the visit, and so I'm not 100% sure she knew it was me there visiting along with Pastor S. We all stood up, and I gave her a big hug and told her I loved her. Pastor S. gave her a hug goodbye, as well, when all of a sudden, she turned to him and said, "Pastor, how are your two boys?" We both looked at her, and Pastor S. mentioned a little about what they're doing now, and then we walked quickly out of her room. I turned back and saw that she had already distracted herself with something. I pushed the keys to get out, and we walked down the hall. Pastor S. said, "That's the first time since she's been in here that she said the entire Lord's Prayer. I was a bit amazed, myself. It's odd what sticks and what doesn't stick, eh?

That was the end of our visit with my mom. I'm grateful that I got to be present when he said goodbye to her; to hear her say the Lord's Prayer; and to commune with her for what I suspect might be the last time. The visit was a good, if not sad, one, but I'm grateful for glimpses into who she "used" to be. I love Ma. I miss her a lot, too, though. And yet I remember, always remember, that she is loved.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Yesterday, I went to chapel. I often don't go on Mondays and Tuesdays, but because we celebrate Holy Communion on Wednesdays, I try to go faithfully on those days. I was also asked to serve as a communion assistant, and so that meant I absolutely HAD to go.

Boy, am I glad I did!

The Dean of the Chapel, the seminary President, and a junior (first year student) led worship. We were slated to have two babies baptized here, as well. The President preached a sermon that was pretty good, but that was not the part that rocked my face off.

The Dean of the Chapel went toward the entrance to the chapel where our font is. The font is a huge fishbowl looking thing on a wooden stand. The parents, babies, their siblings, and the sponsors all gathered back there. The Dean did the liturgy portion of praying and everything, and as I looked back, I saw the babies, and that they were wrapped in fluffy white towel/blanket type things. Then, I thought, "Those are naked little babies. They must be dipping them!"

Well, sure enough, the first baby was brought out of the blanket, and her dad dipped her (legs first) into the font. Then the Dean cupped his hands and baptized the baby in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I was a little surprised at HOW MUCH water he poured over the baby. I thought, "Holy Cow, you're going to drown that baby!"

The same thing happened for the second little baby girl. Dip, pour, and a wee bit of crying. AND ALL THAT WATER splashed on the baby's head!

But then, I remembered that baptism IS a drowning of our sins and our old self! Wow!

That was awesome enough, but the thing that REALLY got me, was that right as each baby was brought out of the water and re-wrapped in the towel/blanket, the piano started up and the whole assembly started singing, "Halle, Halle, Halle-LUUUU-JAH! Halle, Halle, Haelle-LUUUU-Jah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

The singing just made me think that we on earth are echoing even just a little bit of what God and the heavenly host are singing at a new little person being clothed in Christ! How awesome!

Baptisms just do something for me anyway, but today's were two of THE most awesome baptisms I've ever seen. I think I might have something to consider doing when I eventually get to baptize people. :) Awesome.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Still Waiting

Well, dear readers, it's been almost a month since my last post. I've been bad about keeping this blog updated. Sincerest apologies.

There is still no real word on an internship site for me. They're working on it and are going to be talking with people who can (maybe) make it happen, so that's a plus. I'll hear something (good, bad, or ugly) later this week. We'll see.

On another front, I am getting married NEXT MONTH! It seems really crazy, but I am incredibly excited. J is a wonderful man and I can't wait until we are married. I really can't.

The wedding plans are coming along. Invitations should go out this coming week. We're going low key and "green" (yeah, that's it, all for the environment), so we're not having people mail RSVP cards back to us. Rather, the options are phone or email because we set up an email account specifically for RSVPs.

The big snafu is that my long-time pastor has accepted a call to another church. His last day is Easter Sunday and the bishop has said that he cannot come back to do the wedding. When Pastor told me that he was leaving, I was incredibly sad, not just because of the wedding, but because he's been the only pastor I've ever had. I do have a church out here at Seminary, but it's not quite the same. There are multiple layers to WHY I feel the way I do about this, but I don't want to bore you all with them. I think it suffices to say that I have loved and appreciated his presence in my life for the past thirteen years, and he will be deeply missed.

Other than that, things are coming along. School is school. Keeps me pretty busy, but not too busy. Maybe it's because I'm a procrastinator and so only am really busy when I'm working under a deadline. Who knows?

And that's about it. Sorry that there's not been anything "deep" lately. Maybe I'll work on that, maybe not. I don't know. I hope things are going well for all of you. Peace out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Internship Stuff

So, dear readers, tomorrow is the day that most of my classmates find out where they will be going to live for the next year. The climate around the seminary has been relatively subdued, but there is still some anxiety surrounding this event. It's a natural thing to want to know such a big thing and not have to keep speculating about the unknown.

I've been very chill about the whole thing, for a variety of reasons, I think. First off, since I am getting married in May, I restricted myself for internship so that I can (hopefully) live with my soon to be husband. We are going to live in one of the more northern states in the Midwest. I'm excited about this. Another reason I've been pretty laid back is because the staff person kind of "in charge" of this process told me that I shouldn't worry because it will happen. I've taken her exhortation to heart, for the most part.

Finally, I have been fairly relaxed because this same woman told me that I might not get my assignment on the same day (tomorrow) as everyone else because it might take a little bit longer to find me a site in my restriction area. My logic tells me not to freak out beforehand because there is no 'definite' date for me to come to the end of any anxiety I might be feeling. That being said, I don't want to "agonize" for longer than the other people.

I received word on Monday that the internship site they had for me fell through, and so I'm a little bummed that I don't get my assignment on the same day as my classmates, but I had been warned about this, so it comes as really no big surprise. Obviously I feel a little disappointment, but nothing overwhelming.

What I find myself surprised about at this juncture is a little bit of anger I am feeling; not at the process or any of the people involved in ironing out all this internship stuff, but anger about so many people knocking the state to which I hope to go. Granted, it's not a place that most people DO want to go. But the thing that gets me is my own complex with people thinking I am stupid. I find myself wondering, "Do people think I'm stupid/crazy/less than because I WANT to go where they don't want to go?" And even if they do, that shouldn't matter, but like I said, it's my issue about thinking people think I am dumb. I just wish people would stop knocking my future home state.

The other thing is, though, that I know people aren't knocking me or the state, but they are just expressing their own desire to not go there, which is fine. Different strokes for different folks and all. But at the same time, people have a tendency to hear what they have been conditioned to hear (to a certain extent) and right now, I am hearing their desire to go elsewhere as a personal knock to me. Which is totally irrational, I know. I really know. But there are going to be people with complexes and with irrational ideas and fears in their congregations, and I find myself wondering about this.

What it all really boils down to is that I need to quit feeling so dumb. I'm not dumb. Intellectually, I know that. It's just a struggle, I suppose, that I will have to find a way to achieve over.

Sorry for the rambling, whiny-ness of this post. But whatev.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wow/Duh moment of the Day!

I'm in a class this semester that focuses on preaching (imagine that; a class that helps us become better at the most public part of our ministry). Anyway, for this class, we have a rotation of preaching and each of us goes about every three weeks. My first turn is this coming Thursday. For our preparation, we are supposed to do some work in the original language; either Greek or Hebrew, depending upon what text you have. My text for Thursday is Colossians 1:15-28. We don't have to do exegesis on the WHOLE pericope, but only on the parts we might find particularly interesting. I found that verses 24-28 piqued my interest, and so started working on them in the Greek. I wasn't even looking at the preposition "en," but under the "cairo" word, the "en" came into play. "en" traditionally means, "in." So, the NRSV translates this clause as, "I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake..."

Seriously? I'm REJOICING IN my sufferings? Are you kidding me? Who rejoices in suffering? Yeah, it can help link us to Christ and his suffering on the cross, but if you ask me, suffering sucks.

Anyway, as I was looking at the verbs, I noticed that the big Greek Lexicon (BDAG) talks about how this can mean, "I am now rejoicing IN THE MIDST OF my sufferings."

WOW! What a difference! I can't believe I never saw that before!

Rejoicing in the midst of sufferings still honors the pain and broken places that suffering is. It doesn't try to say, "I'm okay. I have broad shoulders, I can take it." Instead, to me, at least, this slight change seems to convey that I can rejoice in the midst of sufferings, but I don't have to appear to be a huge masochist who enjoys the pain of life! Wow. Duh! Greek isn't so bad after all! (This I can say because I translated five Greek verses in thirty-eight minutes compared with the EIGHT HOURS I spent translating ten Hebrew verses the other day).

What do you think about this? Had you thought about this In/In the midst of thing before? I think I've got a good chunk of my sermon figured out simply by this one little word. It's AMAZING! Maybe I'm a little too enthusiastic right now, but whatever. See you all later.

P.S. I called the senator's office today and spoke my piece on the Dementia Care Reform. Just wanted you to know I practiced what I preached.


Hello Dear Readers. Today, March 3, 2009 is a "call in day" for people to notify their senators about desired changes in health care reform. I invite you to read and follow the action involved in this action alert I was sent from the Alzheimer's Association. It will only take a few minutes, but please know that your VOICES are valuable!

Action Alert!

Nationwide Alzheimer Advocate call-in to encourage Senate to address long-term care in health care reform. Call toll free: 1-866-281-7219

On March 3, 2009 8:30am - 4:30 pm Eastern

On March 4, the US Senate Special Aging Committee is hosting a hearing on long-term care services. In advance of the hearing, we need to send a message to the Senate about the importance of including long-term care services in health care reform.

Call 1-866-281-7219 on March 3.

Tell your Senator:

1. I am calling to tell the Senator to make sure long-term care services and supports are included in health care reform legislation.

2. The cost of long-term care is unaffordable for many families dealing with Alzheimer's disease.

3. I look forward to seeing the Senator demonstrate leadership on this issue.

Call Instructions:

Call 1-866-281-7219.
The operator will tell you to name your state.
You will be connected directly to one of your US Senators. (The call line is set up to randomly select a Senator for you.)
You do not need to call again to reach your other Senator. One call is enough to make our voices heard loud and clear.

Thank you!
As an advocate, your voice makes a difference for our lawmakers.


Don't Forget:
Forward this message to family and friends

President Obama has clearly stated that health care reform is a priority for this year. Long-term care services and supports are an essential part of health care reform.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is holding a hearing on long-term care services on Mar. 4. The Alzheimer's Association is one of many advocacy groups participating in a national call-in day on March 3 to encourage Senators to include long-term care services and supports in health care reform.

The nation lacks a comprehensive national public-private system for financing and delivering long-term care services and supports for individuals with Alzheimer's. We want to see people with Alzheimer's get the support they need. Including long-term care services in health care reform will help improve the qulaity of health care for all Americans and help sustain safety net programs like Medicaid.

Monday, February 09, 2009

It's raining!

Well friends, it is raining outside! I like rain a lot of the time; especially the first rainstorm of the year. It's February 9, and it's raining hard! No snow, no sleet; just rain! I like it. Most of the snow on the ground is gone, and we can see the brown, brown grass. I have no illusions that Spring is here, but it's so nice to have this little respite. Even if the grass is brown, it holds promise of green. I'm excited.

Other than that, I've decided to tell a "funny" story for Preaching. I think it's funny, anyway. I'm trying to "perfect" it and make sure it fits in the time allowed for each of us. Wee.

Other than that, it's week two of the semester. I've done a good portion of the reading, so I'm impressed with myself. Haha. I'm trying... I really am.

Anyway, I'm contemplating a nap, so I'll be off for now. Enjoy the rain (those of you experiencing it).

Saturday, February 07, 2009

New Beginnings

The first week of the new semester has come and gone. We here at Seminary started our regular semester of class on Monday, and ended the week on Thursday. I am taking 15 credit hours this semester; a common course load. I only have one class on Wednesdays, but I'm thinking this will help me to stay on top of my coursework. I want to do much more of the reading this semester than I've done in semesters past.

I'm already excited about one of our assignments for Preaching class. We have to tell a story about ourself that lasts about four or five minutes. I love telling stories and enjoy finding ways to make the stories more interesting and engaging for the hearers. My main problem with this assignment is trying to figure out what kind of story I want to tell. Do I want to be my usual funny self (I really AM a funny person, not that you can tell much by reading this blog. I admit, it's a fairly depressing place), or do I want to be sappy, or do I want to reveal a bit of myself that most of my classmates don't know about? (At least I don't THINK they know about). Being vulnerable in face to face situations is often very difficult to me, but I'm realizing that some of the crud I've had to live through can be seen as a gift to others who might be now, or in the future having to deal with similar things. How am I going to be able to help them if they have no idea that I can be a resource for them? But, at the same time, how do I get myself to a place where I am comfortable being vulnerable in a group of classmates? For the most part, I like all my classmates, but that doesn't mean that I want all of them to know about this, that, or the other thing going on. So, I'm just trying to decide where I want to take them in my storytelling. Once deciding on that, it will be much easier to decide what story I want to tell.

Anyway, other than that... I'm just chilling. I need to be reading for class and or working on a sermon for next week. I'm preaching at my home church next Sunday, and another neighboring church the Sunday after that. I hope things with you are well.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Reconciling in Christ

I am trying to figure this out, so bear with me. But, I'd like to become a "Reconciling Christian Blogger." It's a webring that emphasizes that the Kingdom of God includes all of God's children, regardless of race, age, class, gender, ability or sexual orientation; and who long for the day when all of God's children - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight - are fully welcome around the Table of the Lord. I believe this, and I hope that our voices joined together will make it a reality.

Reconciling Christian Bloggers
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Name is Lisa

Okay, so MY name isn't Lisa; it's Trish. I saw this video about a year ago or so, and just now found it again through a link on It is a video about a thirteen year old young lady who is living with her mother with dementia. It is well worth the six or so minutes it takes to watch. I think that being twenty-six years old and having a parent with dementia is hard; I can't IMAGINE being thirteen and having to see it. It gives a bit to think about, what with the reversal of roles, and the frustration and pain that comes from having a loved one with this horrible disease. Again I will say, it is WELL worth watching.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Church Conflict (Class; not life!)

I mentioned before that I am taking "Church Conflict: From Contention to Collaboration" for J-term. I maintain that it is an interesting class, and one that I trust will be deeply valuable for the ministry of all who are taking it.

For this class, we were asked to think up an image or idea on the first day that explains how we think of conflict. Everyone shared their idea, and they were great. I would like to share my "image" of conflict:

Conflict seems like a football game in January. There are people around who are screaming, people who are just sitting there watching, and people who have laryngitis and can't speak at all. But, even the person with laryngitis leaves a mark because their breath can be seen in the cold air. Additionally, some people are there because they LOVE football, and some people are there because they love someone who is playing. There are also coaches, referees, cheerleaders, hecklers, and everyone else. That is one image in my mind of what conflict is like.

Some of the other images were likened to elastic that stretches out, a fire that consumes, groups with a pile of weapons and ammunition, and a circle, to name a few. They were all very interesting. Even the ones I do not necessarily "get" are interesting because it helps me see more how the person thinks. I enjoyed sharing that time.

At the end of the first day, we were given an "assignment," and that was to go home and think about an image or idea for "collaboration." When class met back the next day, we went around the room again and we all "spoke ourselves present" by sharing our image. Again, I was incredibly interested to hear these ideas that ranged from a team working together, to the weapon piles being turned from being pointed at people to being turned at an issue that needed addressing. I would also like to share my "image" of collaboration:

Collaboration is like a smile. There are many things needed to smile. A person needs to be able to feel an emotional response like joy, happiness, contentment, etc in order to feel like smiling. There are people in the world too depressed to smile. Also, there needs to be the cognitive capacity to smile. There are people in the world with dementia or brain injuries who no longer know how to smile, or who have brains who don't register emotions. Their brains and muscles are not collaborating to bring a smile to their faces. And there are people who have had certain types of stroke who cannot smile because their brains won't tell their muscles what to do. Smiling takes a lot of collaboration. And, a smile is often contagious. Smile at someone else and see them smile back. Similarly, when we go forth ready, willing, and able to collaborate, others are likely to respond in like fashion.

We have also shared our personal histories with conflict. These stories are often touching, and most certainly deserving of respect. People come from different places regarding conflict. Many of these places are still hurting and are scarred over. But, scar tissue is a part of the learning process. It often protects us from new wounds in the same place. Christ has his own scar tissue in his hands stretched out to embrace all of humanity. These places of past pain remind us that Christ is with us, even in the pain, messiness, and grief of everyday life. Scars help us remember that we too, can work to embrace others.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some thoughts

Today is Ma's birthday. She is 69 years old. I wrote a letter "to" her, but will not be sending it to her because I'm not so sure she can read anymore, and because it's also very long; longer than her attention span these days.

All my siblings and their significant others (except Oldest Brother and his family) and I went to celebrate with her at the SuperMax last Saturday. We spent about an hour or so with her. She asked BiL who he was, and she called Howard by my name once. I can't believe how much I hate dementia.

My J-term class is going on right now. It started today. The class is called, "Church Conflict: From Contention to Collaboration." It seems interesting, and I've been continuing to work on my personal goal of talking more in class. Each time I spoke up, the professor made some sort of remark about how well I put whatever I said. I wonder if it's because she somehow knows about my goal to talk more... Then again, sometimes I do actually say decently intelligent remarks.

Other than that, right now, I am so incredibly tired that I can't even hardly see straight. I guess I've had an emotionally exhausting couple of days. My childhood home is on the market, and someone looked at the house this past weekend and really likes it. I am thinking about all the things that will need to be done if he buys it. I'm thinking about what that will mean if this person buys it. And I can't help but think I'm overreacting because it's not like I even want the house to stay in the family. There is just a lot of symbolism behind a home you lived in for 24 years, especially through all the things my family has been through. I'm tired. I wish, that just for a little while, things in my family could be like they are in other "normal" families. But in saying that, I start to thinking that I am being a big whiner, and that this is what my life and my family's life is like right now. Put on the big girl underpants and deal with it already.

I think I'm going to go to bed so that I can wake up rested and a bit more chipper in the morning. I don't even care that it's only 7:00 p.m. Goodnight.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Peace Like a River"

The book, "Peace Like a River" has graced my bedside table for a couple of weeks now, and I just finished it tonight. I enjoyed reading this book, not only for its story, but also because I've been to several of the places in which the book is set. It's set in Minnesota and North Dakota, and those states being what they are to me, I am excited to read about them and about places in the states I've at least driven by.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book for the most part, but it really got me thinking about the hymn, "When Peace Like a River." It goes,

"When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot
thou hast taught me to say
it is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet
though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ hath regarded
my helpless estate
and hath shed his own blood
for my soul.

He lives, oh the bliss
of this glorious thought
my sin not in part but the whole
is nailed to the cross
and I bear it no more
praise the Lord, praise the Lord
Oh my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day
when our faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
the trumpet shall sound
and the Lord shall descend;
Even so it is well
with my soul."*

The book is set in the 1960s and deals with a father, his two sons, and his daughter. The oldest son, Davy, who is 16 at the beginning, ends up shooting two local bullies (who were bullies to the extreme). The other son, Reuben, is 11, and the sister,Swede, is 9. Anyway, along goes the book, and Davy escapes jail before sentencing after his trial. So, the family goes in search for him, all the while contending with police, FBI people, and others who come across their paths, including a shady character or two.

Life is not easy for them, but they have love and faith. The father, especially, is a faithful man who seems to even have performed some miracles; though he himself would never say such a thing.

The book has ups and downs, but it got me to thinking about grief. I placed myself in the book, and found out that I did not like a part of it. I identified with one of the characters a bit more deeply because we share an experience that was not the EXACT same, but aspects of it were very similar.

My thoughts over one occurrence in the book brought up grief from long ago. It's not insurmountable or even all that troubling; it just is. I got to thinking about how I am of the school of thought that people never "get over" their grief. It ebbs and flows with new grief tapping in to old grief, all the while bringing it back to the surface. Professionals say that it takes over a year for life to be "normal" again after the loss of one who is close. I agree, and on that note, find it odd that society seems to think that people who have suffered the death of a loved one need to "get over it" in a matter of weeks. I would like to think that deep down, they know this is not the case, but I would like to see grace being extended in more tangible ways regarding grief.

Anyway, so back to the hymn... The first two verses speak of trials and Satan's coming against people, but that Jesus is present with us. I like these words. They don't say, "Get over it." To me, they say, "Sometimes, life is going to suck, but Christ 'regards!!!' us even in the murkiness of it all." To me, these words also say that we can be in the thickest grief, or even depression, and have faith in Christ's never-failing presence. That doesn't make things all better, but it can be a comforting truth. After all, the verses don't speak of what WE have done, but instead of what Christ has done for us. WE don't have to be Sunshine Susanna's in order to be loved, forgiven, or worthwhile. It is GOD IN CHRIST who has come to and for us; stipulating nothing, but rather coming and giving freely.

And what of this "peace like a river?" Rivers can be peaceful, but they can also be violent and dangerous. But they are still rivers. Life is like a river, in many regards. Sometimes it is wide and calm, while other times it seems too narrow with rocks just below the surface. But in hope, may we trust that Christ is in the boat with us, suffers the same tosses that we do, and remains present regardless.

*Text: Horatio G. Spafford
*Tune: Philip P. Bliss

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Thoughts on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

Don't read this post if you don't want the plot for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" spoiled for you.

YS and I went out tonight because the two of us don't get to hang out together as often as we'd like. I met her at her house this afternoon so we could decide what to do. We decided to go to dinner and then go see, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

YS and I went to eat at a Chinese buffet that also serves sushi. I gave J a sushi kit for Christmas and he made some the other day. I saw the pictures of it and got a hankering for some sushi, so YS and I went to a place that has it.

The movie, though, is what I want to talk about.

The story begins in the early 1900s and is about a man who is born an old, old man who ages backwards. Sure, he comes out all small like a baby, but he has cataracts, arthritis, and a host of other "old people" maladies, but he looks old, even. His mother dies shortly after giving birth, and his father is so upset by his new son's appearance and her death that he takes the baby with the intention of throwing it into Lake Ponchartrain. Thankfully, a police officer hears the babies cries and the father runs off and puts the baby, with a little bit of money, on the steps outside of a nursing home. A black woman who works there takes him in, because she can't have her own children. She says that her sister had the baby, and didn't want him because he was white. So, she took him in. He fit in well his early years because as he grew up, he looked like a very old man. He was confined to a wheelchair and had glasses and the like. However, he acted like a little boy. He was innocent and didn't know about life and the like. He even made friends with a granddaughter of one of the patients at the nursing home.

As he continued to get older, his appearance continued to get younger. And he realized what was happening. In so realizing, he found out that as he got younger, those around him got older. He had to experience the death of people close to him who lived in the nursing home. "Normal" little children don't have to deal with this grief because most kids do not look to be in their 80s and they don't live in nursing homes. He learned at a young age what grief is.

When he looked 70 something, he began working on a tugboat. He wrote to his little friend from the many ports in which he found himself. Eventually, he met a woman and had an affair with her. It didn't last long, but he had fallen in love. When she left, he was sad, but was able to get on with his life.

Benjamin eventually went back home and met up with his friend again. Her name was Daisy and she had grown to be a woman. However, he still looked 60 and she was in her twenties. The time was not right.

Life continued on for Benjamin. His appearance grew younger and his body grew stronger all the time. Finally, when he was 49, Daisy was 43 and the time was right. They fell in love and had a child of their own. They had met in the middle of their lives to make a new one. But Benjamin knew that he would continue to regress, and so told Daisy to find a real father for their little girl. After all, she "couldn't raise the both of them." So, he left one night, after having sold the things that had the most monetary value in his life. He left the money with Daisy and their little girl.

Time progressed. Life went on. Daisy didn't hear from Benjamin. Until one day, she got a call to have her come back to the nursing home where they had met. Child Protective Services had found the VERY young Benjamin wandering around. He appeared to have dementia. It was an odd thing, seeing this young boy exhibit those symptoms; very disconcerting. But, Daisy visited him every day. She calmed him when he was agitated, held him when he was sad, and was present with him, even in his confusion. And, in one of the last scenes, you see a very old looking Daisy holding the infant Benjamin Button and she says, "He looked up at me with a look that told me he knew who I was, and then closed his eyes as if to sleep." Benjamin died, a very old man who looked very young.

The thing that struck me most about the movie is that it made me think more about how we lose people in different ways. Sometimes we grow apart simply because our interests change and the common bond isn't there anymore. Sometimes that horrible thief, dementia comes and robs our loved one of any memory of us. Sometimes, a person recognizes that their presence will soon become unhealthy and so leaves. And the interesting thing, at least to me, is that often, one person does not wish to give the other one up. It simply happens, adding all the more to the grief. What love Daisy showed in caring for Benjamin, even until the end. She had loved this man intimately, and now held him as if she were his mother. How sad, and yet how reminiscent of what that vile culprit, dementia does. It takes the one we have known and reverts them so they no longer know us, and in some ways, we no longer know them.

But love is always there. Even when Benjamin did not know much about even who he was, let alone those around him, Daisy loved him. Their face to face relationship ended in the same place it started. Their lives had come full circle with HER being old and HIM being young. They had experienced many things in each of their lives, and in their lives together. They had met in the middle and shared years together, until life took them apart.

I don't really have a grand theme to tie this all together. I had many more thoughts about the movie while I was watching it, but now I am tired and need to stop blogging. I recommend the movie. I hope I didn't ruin it for anyone. Goodnight.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


So, I was reading some news today,and I came across this article regarding Roland Burris and his battle to be sworn in as Illinois' new Senator. Roland Burris previously held the position of Illinois Attorney General. Our embattled governor, Rod Blagojevich, has tried to appoint Burris to President-Elect Barack Obama's Senate seat, a move that has been wildly unpopular since his arrest as one who tried to SELL said seat. I blogged before about Rod Blagojevich and how crooked he is, so that doesn't need to be reiterated here.

What I'm writing about today is that the race issue is surfacing with Mr. Burris' attempts at holding the senate seat. State Democrats have said that they did not think Blagojevich should even try to appoint someone in light of the charges against him. It would be a candidate that no one could trust because of the situation surrounding the appointment. For the most part, I think that is true. Democrats state that race is definitely not the issue surrounding their rejection of Burris' nomination. The article I mentioned earlier quotes Burris as saying he did not think race was the issue. What irks my bubbles is that many reporters are still playing this, despite everyone's FLAT OUT DENIAL that race is the issue. While racists often aren't forthcoming in their ideas about their prejudice, I honestly do not believe race is the issue here. What IS the issue is corruption that has plagued the state of Illinois for DECADES. What also angers me is that the article states that the reason Burris was rejected is that he doesn't have the proper credentials. He does not have the Illinois Secretary of State's signature on his papers. What I think is important, but was oh so conveniently left out of the MSN article, is that the Illinois Secretary of State is Jesse White; a black man.

I think that if reporters want to play the race card, they need to present all the facts. Jesse White seems like an honorable man. No "License for Bribe" scandals have surfaced under him, and I've not heard of any other corruption. Additionally, he supports young inner-city kids to keep them off the street. I don't know if he still does this, but he used to have the "Jesse White Tumblers," a group of inner-city Chicago kids who could come and learn gymnastics to keep them off the streets, out of gangs, and away from drugs. He seems to care about at-risk youth, and that should be commended. The point is, he has actively worked at making life BETTER for black people. To say that he is not interfering BECAUSE of race to keep a black man out of political office is a slap to the face. Mr. White does not NEED me to stick up for him, but I think that it is important to at least let my two or three readers know a few more of the facts regarding this issue.

I hope you all walk away a little more well-versed in Illinois politics. Ha. And I always thought I wasn't political.