Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Movin' on Up

Well, hmm.

Today was a big day for senior seminarians in the ELCA. Most of us got our regional assignments today on a piece of paper in an envelope in our mailboxes (that's how we did it at our seminary, anyway). I already know my region and synod because J is a rostered leader and bishops don't like to give up their rostered leaders. It's been kind of nice to not have to worry about where I'm going, but again, I find that I ventured away from "the norm" on this one. I didn't have to worry about doing CPE in between junior and middler year because I did an extended unit my first semester here. I didn't have to worry about being flung to some state about which I knew nothing for internship because I was married (though there was anxiety regarding the question of whether or not I'd actually get to live with my new husband). And now, I know where I'm going for first call because J is a pastor. I find it slightly odd that each step along the way, I've had a slightly different experience from a lot of others. Oh well. The majority of my classmates are waiting to see what synod they'll be assigned to. Bishops can start calling on March 3rd for most of us, though one region is earlier, and one is later. Please continue to pray about this.

I'm looking forward to first call. I like North Dakota well enough. The people are great, the scenery has its own unique beauty, and the winters are...interesting. The ONLY thing I really dislike about North Dakota is that it is 800 miles away from my family. I have always been very close to my sisters, and I think we all three are grieving that I will not be around much for the next (at least) three years (probably). Yet, the call of God to serve the Church is not always full of sunshine and roses. Certainly, I don't think I am DOOMED because I won't be near my sisters (and brothers and nephews), but I have realized even more fully these past 11 months HOW VERY IMPORTANT family is. I will miss my sisters, but I have hope that someday J and I will move back to be closer to them. I don't need to be ridiculously close, but 13 1/2 hours is a bit excessive.

Anyway, I keep reminding myself that we get vacations. We have phones and webcams and some of us keep in touch via Facebook. And, I am married and love my husband and want to live with him. And, it's also kind of fun and interesting in its own way that I am the only one in my family who is flung far and wide.

I know that many of my classmates are having similar reactions to their own assignments; a mix of grief and excitement and wondering what is next. I know that some of us are happier than others, and I know that many of us are in different places regarding accepting the changes coming our way. But most importantly, I know and deeply trust that God is present through all of this. The Holy Spirit has called and continues to call us to be messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ. I know it because I see it and live it every day as I live in community with my amazingly talented and thoughtful classmates, and as I live in community with the wider church and the world.

Please continue to pray for all seminarians, their families, and the places to which we will be called. God hears our prayers.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I just wanted to put it in writing that I'm really not into this semester. Ha.

I am SO ready to be done with school that I am having a really hard time focusing on classwork. Although, all of us are required to do Spiritual Practices 2, which is a class that focuses on our nutrition, spiritual, and exercise lives. I'm digging this because I'm working on losing some weight and so when I'm down in the Re-Formation room (haha, get it?), or when I'm playing on my Wii Fit Plus, I don't feel guilty because I'm "doing homework." Anyway, we shouldn't feel guilty for taking care of ourselves, anyway. I'm also trying to be a bit more intentional about devotional practices, too. But my "devotion time" is usually involves music (specifically hymns), and being musical isn't something I like doing when there is a chance other people might here me. So, I don't always engage myself. Anyway.

Also, there is really good news on the ol' family front... I'm excited, and will tell you later when I am given the go-ahead. And for the record, no-I am not having a baby.

Anyway, that's about it for now. Peace out.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The light at the end of the tunnel...

Well, here I sit, at my desk in my dorm room, realizing that this is the last semester I will ever "get" to live in a dorm. I have, for the most part, enjoyed my dorm dwelling days, though I do find it frustrating sometimes. Such is life.

I realized the other day that I haven't posted on here in a very long time. I think I only had something like fourteen posts in 2010. Woops. My bad; I had other stuff going on.

Since my last post, some things have happened. My hard drive had massive failure in mid-December. I was not able to recover anything from it. However, I did find several of my assignments from last semester still hanging around in my "sent items" folder from school. Victory #1. Also, I found my flash drive and realized that I had EVERY SINGLE FILE from my internship on there. When I was finishing internship, I took my flash drive to my office, put all my office files on there to move them to my laptop, and then never deleted them from the flash. Awesome. Victory #2! Really, there's nothing too horrible that I lost... I did lose three year's worth of Prayers of Intercession, all of my college files, and many of my seminary files. I lost a lot of pictures, music, and a letter I wrote to my mom when she was sick, but that I never gave her. I'm grateful for Facebook because many of my pictures are in albums on my FB page. Since then, I had a new hard drive put in my computer, and have that all squared away. Now I just need to wait for external hard drives to be on sale (or for my husband to let me put my stuff on his), and backup my files.

During the month of January, J and I took an 11-day vacation. We had Christmas with his family in Minnesota, went to Illinois for my approval interview (the last official step with the Candidacy Committee), had Christmas with my family, went back to Minnesota to see J's grandma, then headed home. Good news-I was approved for ordained ministry in the ELCA. I'm pleased about this affirmation, and am pleased that they see the call that I have for this ministry. It is good to be "done" with that.

During January, I also worked diligently on my January Interim (J-term) project. I worked it out with my advisor and school for me to do an independent study. I worked hard, read a lot, thought a lot, and wrote a lot. The final project ended up being 23 pages (including 2 pages of resource information in an annotated bibliography style). The title is, "With Sighs Too Deep: A Pastoral Resource Regarding Dementia." The project was my effort at creating a biblical, theological, and pastoral resource for people to use. My advisor told me that she wanted me to also make it personal, because that would bring it alive for people. So, I wrote and wrote and wrote, trying to integrate the Bible, theology, pastoral care, and my own experience with dementia together in a cohesive, engaging, and helpful way. I was slightly worried when I handed it in when I came back to school because I'd never done an independent study before, and I wasn't sure that what I did was exactly what my advisor was expecting.

I found the paper in my campus mailbox the first week of class. I was on my way to a "clergy tax seminar" on campus. When I got there, I opened the binder (I wanted it to look professional!), and flipped through the pages looking for comments and the like. I like comments because they give me a better idea of what works vs. just seeing a letter or the wonderful words, "CR." Anyway, there weren't too many comments, but when I got to the last page of text (before the resources), I saw that she had written at the bottom of the page. Apparently, I did a good job because the comments she gave me were really humbling. She even mentioned that she would like to see me find a way to distribute my work to a larger audience. She and I are exploring a possibility or two, and in the meantime, I have offered it to people who indicate an interest. I hope that it is helpful in some fashion or another for all who read it. I am passionate about the subject of dementia and of helping people to know God's comforting, redeeming, and loving presence in the midst of such catastrophic forgetting. I'm also excited that it was so well received by my advisor/grader and that she is helping me find a way to distribute it more widely.

Apart from these things, school is back in session. Four years has really flown by. When I was an underclasswoman, all the seniors used to say, "Seminary time really flies!" I always thought, "Yeah right!" But as I sit here in MY last semester, I can't help but agree. It's amazing. I'm excited to serve the Church professionally, and I am excited at what might happen in the future. I realized the other day that people must already see me as "pastor-like." I knew this was the case for SOME people, such as those who I served while on internship, but the realization has deepened. I have been asked many theological and practical church questions in the past few weeks, and I have been involved in several pastoral care and theological conversations with people from back home, as well. About half the time, the people have prefaced the question or conversation with, "I've been thinking about xyz, and I thought, 'Who better to talk/ask than Trisha!'" It's slightly daunting, but even more exciting at the same time. I enjoy it, and am continuing to live into the knowledge that God gifts people for ministry in many ways; one of which is by gifting the Church with teachers and leaders who help shape us.

Anyway, that is what has been going on in my life lately. I hope you and yours are well.