Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Dark Place

As I watched Hurricane Sandy barreling towards my hometown and state from 800 miles away I was full of anxiety knowing very well that nothing there is build to with stand a hurricane because hurricanes typically do not make it that far up the coast. As the storm inched closer, I got word that some friends on the other side of the country were also evacuated because of concerns about a tsunami following an earthquake in Canada. I felt all heavy in my chest and gut, of center, what in the world is happening? Maybe my mother in law isn't so crazy thinking the world is ending this year. Then as I watched the storm coverage and lost contact with all those I love at home, local news came through, a train derailment with a serious hazmat spill and evacuations across town. A school bus accident that killed two preschoolers (same age as our lil' one) and left four others in critical condition. A car accident that killed 4 people. It's overwhelming. NYC floods. The part of NJ where I grew up has had a "map altering" storm.

The whole thing all of it has thrown me off center. I want to go home and just see it. I am one of those people who needs to see things. I want to go provide care for people who have lost things. I can't because I am a student and school here hasn't stopped or even taken a deep breathe.

Then yesterday in class we sang these lyrics in a hymn, "No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that refuge clinging" It was difficult to sing those lyrics knowing what people were going through but I sang them, I trusted God and I found just a little bit of comfort. I found that my faith has grown again.

Today I am grateful for the safety of all my loved ones at the Jersey Shore.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Last week we had our first really good frost overnight. I looked out the window that morning and thought ok we need jackets today. LG looked out the window and yelled, "Mommy, there is ice on the car!" We went through our morning as usual. When we walked out to get in the car for school, she saw the frost was all over the ground and screamed, "MOMMY IT SNOWED!" I saw that one coming, I explained it was frost and frost is a little different then snow and we looked at it. Then she exclaimed, "I have to step on it!" We walked across the street into the valley and she ran around leaving little foot prints and laughing. I slowed down and noticed that if you look closely at the frost, you can see the little ice crystals on each blade of grass.

LG was five minutes late to school that morning, I didn't care though, you only look at frost with wonder for so long in your life. I didn't want to kill that wonder even though I knew it would make us late. Along the way there, I rediscovered wonder as I slowed down and noticed the crystals on the grass blades. I hope she never looses the wonder, that frost never means grab a sweater to her.When she came home that afternoon she was very upset that the frost was gone, she decided it was hiding and sleeping in the trees.

Today I am filled with gratitude for frost, wonder and slowing down. 

May you be blessed in slowing down and noticing all that is good around you. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A while back I found myself frustrated because people assume that because I am from the North East that I have known a level of privilege I have never known. Reality TV likes to show my "homeland" as nothing more than a bunch of spoiled and ungrateful people who get everything for nothing. The truth is I know what it is to work hard for something. I know what it is to do with out things that seem like necessities and I knew that long before I lived on what we call a seminary budget. I am not asking you to feel for me here, I am just trying to establish some context.

I do have a lot of privilege now and by privilege I do not mean money or stuff although if we measured stuff in just toys I might be eating my words. Lately though I am seeing how much privilege I do have and have always had. I grew up in a home with parents who loved me, siblings that got along pretty well. Even after my dad was sick and had to live away from us I still always knew I was loved. I was cared for even in those rough times when the ends didn't meet. I wasn't left to fend for myself, I had responsibility and I learned respect. My childhood was privileged.

My life is privileged. I get to work on my Master's Degree, school as stressful as it is, is a privilege. Living in a place where I have access to clean running water, privilege. Having a vehicle to drive, privilege. Knowing enough to budget well to feed my family mostly whole foods, privilege. Being a mom, privilege, wife, same deal. Spending the first two years of LG's life at home with her, super privilege, and I couldn't have done it with out help from a few key people in my life. Getting to worship when and how I want, privilege. I could go on and on forever.

While I hold firm to, I have never known the level of privilege that is projected upon me, I am none the less very privileged. I am sitting here wrestling with if it is ok to be grateful for the privileges I do have in life. I suppose it would be a crappy thing not to say thank you God. How do I humbly say I am grateful for all the privilege in my life with out sounding like a jerk? I am not sure but here goes...

Today I am grateful not only for the privilege I know but the gift of knowing that those very things are a level of privilege that some will never see. May I be faithful enough to work each day and bringing equal privilege to all people, particularly in the area of meeting basic human needs. May you be blessed by knowing the privilege you have and sharing it's fruits with those around you who need them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Break & Fulfillment

It is the coveted research and study break, as the name implies it means most of us are working our tails off getting big projects done. I am working hard on getting caught up and I am just about there. I have had more sleep this week than I have had in a month and I am feeling pretty good. It is amazing what just a few extra hours a day can do for you. I didn't think this break would help but here I am feeling rather refreshed.

I am starting to get into the swing of things working at my church placement. Can I tell you how weird it is to not be a volunteer? I am not sure I will ever get used to my "hobby" being my job. Depending on how you measure the success of budding ministry it is either going well or horribly wrong. I am going with well, I am getting the chance to bond with a student and build a relationship. This is the most life giving kind of ministry for me and it is so very humbling. Tonight it was pizza, lemonade and a whole lot of homework. That was/is ministry and I'll take it. There is something about those conversations over math homework that reminds me of why exactly it is I followed the call to seminary.

Today I am so very grateful for the change to explore ministry in new ways and the little affirmations I am finding along the way, affirmations that tell me I am on the right path. I am also so incredibly grateful for this break and sleep.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Extended Family Living

I recently heard someone say well you know he is thirty and still lives with his parents. This stung a little because I was thirty and still living in my mother's house, with a husband and a baby. House sharing worked for us and my mother wasn't there most of the year. Maybe I am just self soothing but I think there are two types of thirty and living at home, some people are productive people who happen to live at home and others are what you picture, the guy in the basement playing video games, watching movies, forgetting to shower and making demands of his parents. There really is a stigma in our culture about living with ones parents after a certain age. It is expected that we will all go out, buy our own property and fill it with a family and stuff.

I read a lot about communal living among young Christian types. They get together and enter into relationships where they are fully dependent on one another to make their home work. Married couples with kids, single people, couples with out kids all sharing a house, usually in a poorer part of town. They spend their days trying to make life better for all the people in the neighborhood. To be honest I read about this and I think I wish I was wired for this, but I am not. I know it would make me a little crazy. Although lately the thought of having someone else cook dinner might be enough to make me consider it.

That communal living also comes with out the stigma of extended family living. After much thought I am for extended family living. I lived most of my life with someone "extra" in our family home, cousins, uncles, grandparents, my older brother and his family... they all stayed with us for various amounts of time. I am used to living with lots of people because it was always my norm. Don't get me wrong there are times when living with a whole bunch of people and feeling like you don't have enough space or privacy will drive you up a wall. When you can't find something and you know where you left it, frustration might steam out of your ears.

Think about the advantages, shared responsibilities, shared financial commitments leaving more income for living life. If like me you have kids, I can think of many advantages to living with people you already trust when it comes to childcare. The first year of LG's life I didn't take her to the food store because she stayed with family while I ran errands. It was fantastic for both of us.

Let's be honest about the financial situation we find our selves in too. It is getting harder and harder for even the most well qualified buyers to finance and purchase a house. Sometimes the two incomes that come in still aren't enough to support a household. Maybe we will start seeing more of this extended family living. There are already lots of articles about empty nesters who are refilling their nests. Financial constraints are holding a whole slew of us back. I have heard things like, when I was your age I had three kids and a house or by 19 I owned a home. Well that's all well and good but it's not the reality for newer generations as the life that was once common place.

There are benefits for families with children too, having someone to hold the baby while you shower is a bonus. Kids learn they are loved and the family lore. They also learn to listen to multiple voices which isn't a bad thing. Sure sometimes breaking with family traditions that are just plain out of date is hard but maybe it's worth the joined struggle. It isn't always healthy if say you have an over bearing parent that becomes a controlling and manipulative grandparent. There are lots of cases where this isn't a healthy living situation. All I am saying really is it should be an option that comes with less stigma.

What about you, you ask? Well we moved a little over a year ago to a new city, we are far away from all of our family extended or otherwise. We do enjoy the independence of living on our own and making all of our own decisions with out the opinions of everyone. However we miss the family a lot. I would consider myself a product of this kind of living and I think it has more advantages than not. I always had someone to talk to, I was never lonely, I learned a lot about conflict resolution that sticks with me still, you learn a lot about compromise (especially that your needs aren't always first), I know the family stories, I know how to work together to complete a big project, I know that it's ok to depend on one another. Those are just the ones I can pull off the top of my head. There are some downsides too, I am a bit of a control freak (I am learning to let that go) but I am pretty sure always having to make group decisions led to at least a part of it. I have a hard time being alone even though I am fairly introverted. When my family picked on me it was as a group and as a kid who was insecure that didn't help.

Maybe it's time we remove the stigma from working together and find interdependence again. 

Over all though I am grateful for the experience of growing up in a full house.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just an Update

We have made it to the half way point in the Fall semester. I hope the second half goes equally as fast so I can recoup from the beginning of this one. The past few weeks have been incredibly stressful as I learn to juggle, school, family and an internship that requires 15 hours a week of my time. We finally have the apartment somewhat clean. Now maintaining it should be easy... in theory. I am yet again sick. I have had a cold for the first week of the month the past three months, it's getting old. This one has yet to leave, I thought I was on the up swing and then Wednesday night as I led youth group, bam! one sneezing fit and it all started all over again. My goal for this week off is to not only get caught up on things but to also get a lot of rest. Allowing myself time to get really good rest is difficult because there is always something begging for my attention from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning. It starts with the cat and is followed shortly there after with the dog. I might get a few quiet moments before the humans arise. I guess it's all part of family life but when you are exhausted, every little thing makes you jumpy.

In much happier news, since starting my seven day a week school/internship schedule, I have been making it a point to spend time each week just for family activities. Last night we went to a Fall gathering at LG's school and had an our door movie night. As we sat there on the lawn cuddling, I knew I was made for motherhood. There is so much satisfaction in those moments when I get to have the time with my family I have always dreamed of. Last Saturday as I spent time on the farm with Paul and LG I felt the same way, as if I were living my dreams, for family anyway. I am rather enjoying these moments of strong affirmation in my call to motherhood, they will sustain me until the next round comes. There are certainly more moments when I think I wasn't cut out for this at all.

Today I am grateful for my little family and quality time spent with them and dreaming of the day when there are more of us laughing and enjoying time together.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oh God, I am so tired, more than tired exhausted. This journey to serve you and your people is wearing me out. The life that is seminary is taking a toll on my well being. I am stretched far too thin. I feel like I am going to just collapse or break. This semester is making me wonder if there are enough hours in the day to ever get it all done. Then there are all the emotional complications grief while in seminary is difficult because there is barely time to catch your breath. Being away from the family you grieve with is heart breaking. I am working every day at school or internship. I feel like I can't go on. Then more emotional curve balls come. I am fighting against my own inclination to be a fixer. God who surrounds me wrap me up in your arms and help me to find the strength to go on. Amen.