Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Now this might sound even crazier but some how this listening to music and remembering when e-mail was all you could do on the internet led me to feeling a lot better about my upcoming move. If in 1998 things were so different imagine how they will be in 2018? I can't know what is to come. Therefor I shall embrace the adventure. I will be leaving some great people behind. I do however get to take my memories with me. Isn't that the best part and I don't have to pack them!
That all being said, I think I want to read today so I am going off line. I might even stay off line for the rest of the week.
May you have a blessed New Year!
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
As I look around and begin to prepare mentally for the move my emotions are revolving in a full circle. As I celebrate the holidays and know these will be the last ones here and like this. Next year everything will be different. We won't be with family. That coupled with I debate keeping or getting rid of nearly everything I look at is making me feel a little crazy.
It is good though, it needs to sink in. I need to process all the fear and anxiety now so come the fall I am ready to focus on my studies. I need to focus on my studies so I can finish my degree and become employable so I can give Lilia a better life than I could right now. Not that she has it all that bad but her demands aren't much right now. I want to show her the world literally, well really discover it with her.
The future is so unknown, it always is I suppose but I am more aware of it now. Something about that excites me because the possibilities are endless. So let's end and really begin on that very positive note.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Then they sent me and announcement, the social justice focus would be on justice in the prison system. My enthusiasm completely fizzled. It's not that I don't see the injustice in the prison system or that I don't think it needs reform. It desperately does. It needs the energy of the folks at this festival. I just don't know if it needs my energy. It's just not my thing. I know how incredibly awful that sounds but it is true. I don't know that I can handle that burden on my soul. Insert all those but Becca maybe God is stretching you comments here.
I don't know what I will end up doing. I just don't really want another cause to halfheartedly support. I still like the idea in theory I guess I have to stay tuned.
Now, what does all that say about me?
Friday, December 24, 2010
I even cut out three kinds of cookies reducing my load greatly. This seems pointless now as I was still rushing at the last minute and it didn't really simplify anything. My cookie tray looks pathetic. Oh well such is life these days.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Through the entire admission process I have had personal contact with folks from the office. I have never once received an automated response. When things were missing I was sent a heads up. The office even helped me get some things straightened out with previous schools. When I was officially accepted I received a phone call to welcome me, which was then followed by a more formal letter with a personal note.
My point here is I never once felt like a statistic or a number. I felt like I was indeed a person through this whole process. I person not only mattered but is truly wanted at the school.
This is the exact opposite of my previous experience, when I felt like a number and my purpose was not to grow and learn but to make the institution look good.
I am truly looking forward to this new adventure, with new peers and new attitudes. There is a part of me that is so much more relaxed this time around.
May you one day be blessed by the feeling of not being a number!
Friday, December 17, 2010
I miss this little girl so much. I am saddened that I won't get to see her face as she opens her gifts. I am saddened that she is Lilia's first cousin and they won't be growing up together. That breaks my heart. I grew up with a ton of cousins none were my age though and I was always lonely at family gatherings now I fear the same for my girl. The truth is I probably won't see the little miss until she comes looking for me someday. In hopes that her mother hasn't told her some awful things about all of us. It hurts though, it hurts every time I think of her.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
God we thank you for these opportunities to grow and move forward, help us to focus on the good!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Here's to a new year with many exciting new adventures. With one less piece of baggage.
May you be blessed with so sort of happiness today.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Christmas even on a secular level is just magical, especially for children. Children make Christmas joyous, even when it's all about the presents. So was it about wanting to share that Christmas morning anticipation with a child? Maybe that was part of it but I think there is more to it.
Being pregnant at Christmas was nothing short of magical, for me. We had wanted a baby for so long it felt like a Christmas miracle. I remember saying I was cautiously optimistic. I was filled with hope and wonder. Even though I wasn't a virgin impregnated by the Holy Spirit, I could relate to Mary's story. I myself was having what felt like a miracle baby.
That's the thing about Christmas no matter what angle you take, there is always expectant joy. If you are a kid waiting for Santa or a mother to be waiting for a baby or a sinner waiting on a savior. There is some expectation of joy there no matter how you look at it, and born of that joy's expectation, I believe is hope. I have been writing about my recent wait on an acceptance or rejection letter from a school and I call it my Advent anticipation. It's just like expecting that first Doctor's appointment two Advents ago. So maybe this is a really good thing, this Advent waiting. Although it doesn't compare to the whole we are having a baby and I cry every time I hear the Christmas story, joy.
There is something good about expecting something JOYFUL, isn't there?
Monday, December 13, 2010
I was reading about the connection of Christianity and Empire. All I could think was I wish all church history courses used this book as a text book because it would keep my interest a lot more. The other day I was behind a really nice car, that I would like to have. Somewhere from with in me I heard myself saying, you really don't need that it is nothing more than a status symbol. Hmmmm....
Today is the first possible day that I can receive a response from the school I have applied to. I woke up to their facebook feed telling me they have a snow day. I am starting to feel more and more like this might have been just another pipe dream. Maybe it isn't where I am supposed to be heading? This six week wait has been torturous.
It's finally here. A series of days that can change everything. Talk about Advent anticipation.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
It is a crazy busy time of year especially for women. Sorry male readers you for the most part get off the hook for the holiday season. Especially if you are married or in a serious relationship. We shop, wrap, ship, plan menus, cook, serve, clean and decorate just to name a few of the things we add to our regular daily routine. (If you argue the point here that we choose to do this know that my inner woman will come out and eat you for breakfast. We have a kid now, she needs to know all the varieties of magic Christmas has to offer.) You all have to buy one gift if that, for us and wrap it. Then you get to sit back and critique our cookies and meals. Maybe hang a few lights outside. When I first heard about this retreat my thought was it was a very bad time of year to have one. Then again maybe the rational being it is Advent a good time to be quiet and connect with God.
Anyhow, I am three days into this and I want to scream. First of all when exactly do I get a break. I know that sounds incredibly selfish but I don't care, I would pay a lot of money for one night of uninterrupted anything, reading, movie watching, sleep. I have had maybe 8 hours of sleep. I caught the cold Paul brought home so you can imagine I am less than stellar. I am not myself at all. All I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV and drink ginger ale. This is impossible because I have a toddler and even if she were out of trouble she would change the TV input and mute it almost immediately. Currently as I write this she is tearing pages out of my most sacred prayer journal. Alas something has to occupy her so I can get these words out. She is also whining because apparently they aren't tearing just how she likes it. Yesterday I made it through the Target trip from hell. I have had minimal contact with Paul through all of this. As it should be.
Then this morning I had a tech question for him and he tells me he is getting harassed for using his cell phone and not being fully present. I wanted to drive there and smack someone myself. I get the whole idea of being fully present, I do. Sometimes though your wife needs to know how to work the freaking DVD player because she is trying to steal 10 minutes of holiday relaxation on her own. I gave up on the movie and men in general. I know you guys on the retreat are going to read this and I don't care.
While I think the overall concept of a men's retreat is good and needed. While I respect that dudes need time away from all the pressures of work, family and what ever else it is that concerns them. I think it was an incredibly selfish time of year to plan this. I think it is ridiculous to harrass someone about tech support for their wife who is going a little bonkers at home. I hope you all appreciate what your wives gave you this weekend while they stayed home with your kids and Christmas. I sincerely hope you give them the same and that when you text them during the super bowl because you can't find the ketchup that who ever they are with would be kind enough to understand that you need the ketchup!
In some ways I think I would have preferred a weekend of beer and strip clubs. At least then I would be allowed to ask for tech support.
Ladies I hope you agree when I say sometimes the dudes just don't get it, they just don't get it at all. To those of you and there are many who asked me when we ladies get our weekend away, the answer is freaking soon!
It's no wonder I hate Christmas. Also I know it might not be obvious but despite my rant I do really hope Paul comes back refreshed.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This quote is from Common Prayer. Cyprian of Carthage, a third-century North African bishop, said, "The Lord Christ did not want us to pray by our selves in private or for ourselves alone. We do not say 'My Father', who art in heaven,' nor 'Give me this day my daily bread.' It is not for oneself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation or to be delivered from evil. Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for one individual but for all."
Well this just stopped me in my tracks I have been reflecting on it all morning. Particularly the idea of sharing my temptations with other people. That makes me feel all sick inside. I have only shared things like that on very rare occasions after I have struggled with them so much that they nearly come bursting out of me, in what I consider to be a safe environment. With a person I know I can trust. I think this is the idea behind things like accountability groups. I don't know that I personally am in a place where I want to be a part of something like that. Just this idea of sharing my struggles is stretching me, maybe to the point of discomfort. I was just saying the other day that I don't often share much of myself unless asked. It's not that I mind sharing, I just don't blurt it out unless people are genuinely interested. What if I sat down with people once a week and prayed about the things that weighed heaviest on my heart?
8 Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.
9 The LORD Almighty has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.
10 A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a batha]">[a] of wine;
a homerb]">[b] of seed will yield only an ephahc]">[c] of grain.”
to run after their drinks,
who stay up late at night
till they are inflamed with wine.
12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
pipes and timbrels and wine,
but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD,
no respect for the work of his hands.
This comes from Isaiah 5 (NIV)
It amazes me sometimes how relevant to today's culture Isaiah can be at times. We do have a lot of empty mansions these days don't we? Surprisingly, this fits right in with our current conversation as a couple on what size home would be right for us. I have to wonder if God is trying to get our attention.
Also from Common Prayer: Teach us to delight in your web of life and to know ourselves in community.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Here are some less than typical things she does...
Fakes blowing her nose.
Fakes laughing if everyone else is laughing.
Today she tried to plug a microphone into the appropriate port on my computer all on her own.
She plays pretend eating really well.
The list goes on and one. My point is, I am amazed on what she has picked up already. She really is a little sponge.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
In other news, I saw a former student over the weekend who came running up to see me. Becca, I haven't seen you in forever, how are you? Lucky for me he was wearing a shirt with his name on it and I could immediately place him. I must admit I didn't return his enthusiasm only because I was thrown off I hadn't seen him in four years. I didn't want to call him by the wrong name and the darn facial hair was throwing me off! It was good though because I thought about it later, I must have been doing my job right if he was that happy to see me (and Paul). I just wish they wouldn't all grow up so fast!
Lastly the crock pot works much better when you plug it in!
Oh and did I mention that I got my groceries all bagged and in the cart only to realize Paul still had the card I needed to pay for them? Yep that's right!
It was awkward to be just us and worshiping God in a a small way. Paul prayed that it would become less awkward. I felt awkward naming out loud those who I wanted to bring before God. I normally write those things out and I lost my place in the middle. I think though that it will get better with time. I am determined to stick with it. I don't think Paul enjoyed it as much as I did. I can tell you it felt really good to hear what Paul prayed for. It was like a whole new level of connection for me. I didn't know what was on his heart before. I liked that I got to see that.
I can tell you I feel like I am having a great morning. Maybe we will let Paul do a guest post on what he thought.
Lord I am grateful for time spent together.
Monday, December 6, 2010
The church is polarized. The church is polarized over issues. The church is polarized over theology. The church is polarized over the bible. The church can't agree on mission. Some churches seem to me to be more focused on the bottom line than Jesus. Some churches seem to be more focused on politics than Jesus. I don't think the church is all bad. I just question the motives of the current churches out there.
I think though there is something else that is polarizing just for me. Money and the people of God. I belong to a denomination where many (not all) Pastors are paid well or have other sources of income. They lead very comfortable lives; as do many in their congregation. I grew up in the middle class for the most part. We were out right poor for awhile by American standards. World standards though that might look a little different. I have been wealthy my whole life by world standards.
The economy has been bad for me since I was about 22. I haven't been able to find work that pays well. The cost of everything has gone up. With the birth of our daughter we decided to stay as a one income family even though it would be really tight. The way I spend money has changed. I am not able to just go buy whatever on a whim. I have to carefully think out nearly every penny I spend. This at times frustrates me like you would not believe. I say things like I just don't want to have to think about buying a peanut butter cup. When I win the lottery is another favorite, although I don't even play the lottery. My list is probably a little different then most, my plans include college educations for all the kids I love, paying off the church mortgage anonymously for the purely selfish reason of I never want to debate finances again at a session meeting. Also funds for many projects I think are worthy causes, like Caleb and his kids. Then paying off my student debt and fixing the car I already have. It sounds like a nice dream right? Lately though something else has come on me. I think maybe, just maybe my having to think about every dollar I spend is actually a huge blessing in my life.
It has taught me in a very real way want versus need. Would be nice to have versus need it to survive. Want to eat this versus this option can sustain me. I should point out I don't have it all bad, I know I am lucky to have what I have. Lately though I find myself glad I don't have more. I am grateful that I have been forced to learn what I know believe has been a lesson in disguise. I found myself longing for a smaller house the other day. My rational being, less to clean, less to fill up more time for things that matter. This circumstance of finance has taught my heart to grow. I am not all the way there I still have days where I long for things and a nice big house on a huge piece of land. Sometimes it's nice kitchen cabinets or a nice vacation. Sometimes I want to be able to buy people really nice gifts. I long for more. Then something happens, I see greed somewhere in the world, I read a piece of scripture, there is some sort of disaster and I remember I have what I need and I am so blessed.
That all being said, lately as I have mention previously I have been reading a lot of Shane Claiborne's work. If you don't know his work I suggest you google away and learn about it just a little. The thing that stands out for me is the humility. He also chooses a very simple communal life. He has what he needs on a level that is much less than what I think I need. He has essentially chosen a life of poverty. He writes books, that he gives away at book parties, the funds he makes from those writings go into a community pot he shares with those around him. You know just looking at him that his life is different. His life though is his life, not mine. I don't know that I could live like that. What I can tell you is how his choices had an effect on our lives this weekend. We set out Friday night with $20 to pay for parking, dinner and to hopefully buy a book. We scored free parking, got to love Philly, it would never happen in NYC. Then dinner was shared with us at the book release. Then Paul won a copy of the book which we could have bought for $10 if he hadn't. For the first time I was at an event that was Christian in nature where what I was able to bring was good enough. I didn't leave with out an item that might help enrich my spiritual journey. (Reading for me is a huge part of that so I borrow and buy books regularly.) Our $20 ended up going to charitable causes represented there in a very grassroots sort of way. FOR ONCE WHAT WE HAD WAS ENOUGH. I don't know what it was about that moment but it stayed with me. It solidified what I had already been thinking about not having so much money.
Let's go back to the Pastor's and clergy people that are living comfortable lives. This is delicate because I know several really great people who fall into this category. I am not talking your mega church pastors who have private jets and multimillion dollar book deals. Or even those who just drive luxury cars. They are a blog in and of themselves. I am talking your typical comfortable pastor, maybe I should add writer as well. As I have mentioned before I read a lot of theology and I have gone to many events about the very books I read presented by the people that write them. Often times while I love the writing, I love being stretched by the theology I find a disconnect in how they live. The very fact that they go on book tours kind of irks me. I feel as if you are here telling me to live more simply and I already live simply more simply than you do in fact. Another favorite is we need to do this or that, yet they are always on speaking tour what is it exactly you are doing? I get it they have lives, most of them are doing more good in the world than your average Joe but still it irks me a little.
Last week I read a blog about preaching from an i pad instead of paper. Honestly I found myself wondering if maybe I needed one of these little gadgets. I am after all considering becoming a full time student again. It is much lighter than books and I wouldn't need to carry my laptop too. I could pretty much just carry a larger purse. Wait did I say need, could I ever possibly need something like that? More likely it falls into the it would be nice to have category. I also found myself lusting after a smart phone last week. I have long resisted getting one of those things because I refuse to pay for internet on my phone. We went so far as changing providers because they were going to charge us for it no matter what. I have preferred to just have a phone rather than a small hand held rocket launching computer. I got myself back there again. There is no real need for me personally to have a phone like that. Maybe if I was out on the road a lot? I want to make it really clear, THAT I STRUGGLE WITH THIS.
That is in fact why I am writing this blog. I am not ready to choose a life of self sustaining poverty. However I am also struggling not to buy into this more stuff is better mentality. Where is the line? I fear that Shane is right. Which would instantly make me well, wrong. Do our things separate us from Jesus? Especially when those things have become less about things and more about status? I am scared because I see a lot of folks, really good folks, who have deep and profound faith more concerned with gadgets and theology than getting their hands dirty. I think that I am guilty of being one of these people.
The problem is I see really great people on both sides of this. I see people with amazing hearts for God. I see people doing God's work in the world. I see polarizing sides though when it comes to wealth and status and I want a middle. I need a middle.
I hope as my reader, you see that this a a very real struggle for me.
God help us not to be blinded my the idols of stuff and status.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I also rather enjoyed watching our little lady run around. She was all smiles and giggles. There was no keeping her still once she warmed up to it.
I am so grateful for these experiences. It's a simple thing just having fun together. Watching these little guys enjoy this so much, is a moment frozen in time. I don't think I was alone wishing there was something similar for us as adults. Any way you look at it the sheer joy of childhood just cannot be matched!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Last night Paul and I had date night at the Common Prayer release party in Philadelphia. An invite had come up in my facebook feed and I jumped on it. We have never been to a book release before. However we have read a lot of Shane Claiborne's work, since he was one of the authors we knew we would likely enjoy it. On Thursday I learned that the party would be held at a homeless shelter of sorts, it ended up being more of a home where residents can get back on their feet. So we arrived and found parking right out front. In we went. I had no idea what to expect.
The night was full of surprises. The theme was party and prayer. We started with some announcements and prayer. Then we ate. I wasn't expecting to eat. A feast of pizza veggies and fruit. It worked very well. We were actually in line for food right behind the author. This was an amazing observation time for me. He was very quiet. You know in the bible how there are prophets who kind of aren't so keen on being prophets but they are doing it because God has led them there? That is the vibe I got. The work that is being done, in my opinion, is nothing short of prophetic and the bringer of the revelation is so very humble. Sounds kind of like Jesus doesn't it? This is a life lived in a very Christlike way. So refreshing in our world of border line Christians, and political Christians.
After we ate, we sang and prayed. There was a drawing of sorts to win the book and Paul won one of the copies! How exciting is that? Then we prayed and sang some more. This was the entire party, prayer. At a book release. Now mind you I have never been to a book release before. I am pretty sure it is usually a little different with at least a little pomp and circumstance. We got a story about how there is this tiny little half dust jacket with the authors' names because it is a book of prayer and some of them are 2000 years old. They fought the publishers to not have their names on the hard cover of the book! How is that for humble? It spoke volumes about the heart that went into the writing.
The time of prayer, well there aren't words to really describe it. In those moments though I wished I belonged in this community. It felt like the most genuine heartfelt prayer, offered up by a group, that I have heard in a long time. The things people prayed for, well they gave me hope for the world. There wasn't much about medical testing or broken bones. It was mostly prayers for the WORLD. God help up us to be united. God let us be bringers of justice. God forgive us our selfishness. It was absolutely beautiful. In the world of prayer this was a masterpiece. I wish I could have gotten to know every person in the room.
The Psalters provided most of the music. It was great. I rather enjoyed the drumming. We did pick up two of their cds for a donation of what we could afford.
That was probably my only disappointment, that I didn't really get to talk to anyone new. One of the highlights, a sign on the book table, $10-15 or what ever you can afford. This was certainly my kind of party.
The sad part is getting home and having so few people with whom to share our experience with. I think I learned something about myself last night, I think I need to be in community with other Christians like this more regularly. Yes I go to church where I have a great community but it isn't like this. I am not sure I am ready to sign up to live in a new monasticism community, especially with a baby. I am however ready to make some changes in my life so that God becomes the focus again. I have strayed. Paul and I have decided to go a little crazy Christian and use this book (it is a book of prayers and liturgy) as a family study everyday.
My last thought I think the reason I really enjoyed this particular set of people... they are all out there in the world doing God's work. Their contribution to God, the world and Theology doesn't stop at debating Theology. While they have a good grasp on theology, they are living it, not just talking about it. For me that has been the failing of many of the books I read and following this movement of the emerging church. Much like my feelings about the Presbyterian church... there seems to be a whole lot of talk and very little action. Here there is action to balance out the theology and the talking. On first glance I would venture to say there might just be more praying too.
This is what Advent should feel like. I felt Jesus in that room. I was amazed by my savior's love. I was swept away in a sea of that love, I teared up. I wanted to scream yes God I know you love me. Thank you God for loving me. This is a highly abnormal feeling for me. It was beautiful.
We left inspired and not feeling as alone. Now we have to move forward and integrate it into our lives. For me personally as a church leader I feel called to integrate it into the church as well.
God guide me. I am grateful for these experiences that stretch my faith and call.
Friday, December 3, 2010
I actually have plans tonight.
I want to enjoy a night out.
However the morning just started off all wrong. I found myself frustrated with my body. Not that anything is hurting or not working how I want it. Just at it's general ability to grow rather than shrink no matter what I do. I noticed some less than desirable changes. Add to that nothing fits right and it is pretty much a mood killer. I have made so many changes in the past few years and nothing helps.
Then my dear Paul can't give me a straight answer about anything and it drives me crazy. I was asking his opinion about a little playhouse we bought. He couldn't give me one. It's not hard, it's just an opinion. Do you think I should paint the other side? All I heard in his response was a sugar coated version of you need to paint the whole thing but I am not going to say that because you will get upset. My thought was why don't you offer to help me do it? It is a totally overwhelming process. I just don't understand why everything Christmas related is my responsibility.
I don't want to use this blog like I have previous ones to air our dirty laundry if you will. This exchange today really brought me down though. I am tired all the time and I always have to be the motivator. It adds to my over all exhaustion. Other than baking I have Christmas pretty much done. However we have editing to get done, and by done I mean done, like I never want to look at it again. Somehow all the pressure for that has also fallen to me. I just wish I could get an hour of uninterrupted rest. Not even sleep just rest.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Yesterday, I was on faceook, a normal activity for me. I was looking at a picture someone posted when Lilia came over and did things to my keyboard that I don't even understand. The picture changed I found my self on some picture from a year ago. A really random kind of didn't make any sense picture. I didn't think much of it, I went back to what I was doing.
Last night, I was helping Paul post a picture he wanted to post on his facebook. I saw his news feed and it said I liked a picture. I was like what the heck I didn't like any pictures. So I looked closer and there was that random photo that made no sense to me with my name and a little thumbs up. OK so normally, I would just make a comment, whoops my bad, Lilia hit the key board sorry for sending you a bogus notification. Ha Ha Ha.
However, it just so happens this is a person I have never met, nor do I know them. You see a few weeks ago I decided to start using facebook for actual social networking. I have added to my friends list bloggers and authors I follow. I have done the same on twitter. So yesterday my baby liked a year old photo of a guy I don't actually know that really looks like some sort of inside joke. Yep and now I am officially that creepy girl who goes through pictures from years ago and likes them long after you have forgotten them. Fantastic! I posted a status message and unliked the picture. What else could I do?
In one baby stomp of my keyboard, I be came an internet creeper.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
That is here though in the US. I am remembering today my friends in Uganda that regularly have to take the kids they care for in for HIV testing. Funds that could be going towards food or medicine or education has to be put toward HIV testing. This is essential in many parts of Africa because of the absolute crisis of AIDS there. The history is long but can be summed up in a few sentences. There is less access to medicine and testing. There is less education. There are social stigmas related to sex and protected sex. There are women being raped by their husbands, soldiers and neighbors. Sometimes people don't know their status. Children are born HIV+. Children are orphaned by the deaths of their HIV+ parents and family members who couldn't get treatment, usually because of financial reasons. The spread of AIDS is slowing but there are great strides to be taken still.
There are many reputable organizations out there fighting to end AIDS everyday. I suggest in honor of World AIDS day, in addition to praying for those who suffer, that you take a few minutes and educate yourself about any part of why today is important. Also if you don't know your HIV status, go get tested. It's free at local health departments and it could save your life and others.