Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little Disciples

The church where I attend and currently serve as intern has a weekly dinner on Wednesday nights. We call it a potluck, but not many bring food to share because the church provides plenty for all. And it's free.

This might be one of my favorite things about this church. Besides the Passing of the Peace which usually takes 10 minutes in the service, I love these Wednesday night dinners. I love to fellowship with these wonderful Children of God and learn their stories.

I was particularly struck tonight as we gathered to eat. I sat down and was chatting with one of the kids before dinner was ready. Once everyone hopped up to get their food, this young child offered to get my plate for me. She told me to come with so I could pick out the food. She has a broken arm in a cast, which made it a bit hard for her to hold the plate, so I helped her with that. But she insisted on putting the food on the plate.

I was amazed by her servant's heart and her desire to serve another person. I had to laugh though, when she yelled her mom to fix a plate for her. Guess she wasn't interested in serving herself!

I love these little glimpses of disciples really getting what it means to live in community and serve one another.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Burrito Goodness

The alarm clock goes off and I spend a brief minute trying to remember what day it is. Tuesday. I don't have class until 1pm. Why am I getting up so early? Oh, right! It's burrito day! This is the day when I make my weekly pilgrimage with a good friend to La Cocina De Consuelo, a hole in the wall restaurant with the best breakfast burritos in Austin. We drive the 2 miles to the restaurant, and are hit with the aroma of freshly made tortillas as we walk in the door. The man behind the counter knows our faces and he almost knows what we're going to order. Perhaps in a few weeks he'll know our "usual." We order at the counter and take a seat, anticipating the deliciousness that is about to hit our taste buds. So much goodness wrapped in that delectable tortilla. We chat about life and school as we scarf down these amazing burritos. Time stands still. Is this heaven on earth? Maybe, just maybe.

Ah, burrito day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

School Stress

Two years ago I had a breakdown. My world collapsed due to stress and anxiety. I was taking Intro to Biblical Hebrew which is stressful in and of itself. On top of that I was taking Intro to New Testament, taught by the most stressful professor I've ever had. And then I was working 35 hours a week at Walgreens. I weep thinking back on that semester.

This week I find myself experiencing anxiety, though it doesn't compare to what I went through two years ago. I am strengthened as I recall those stressful days and realize, nothing could be worse than that semester.

In the next two weeks I have a lot on my plate:
Tomorrow I help lead worship at Chapel.
Wednesday I have a presentation in my Judges Exegesis class.
Thursday I have an exam in my Mission/Evangelism class.
Sunday I preach at my internship church.
Monday I have a Hebrew quiz.
Tuesday I preach a wedding homily in my pastoral celebrations class.

After that, Spring Break arrives and relief sets in!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our Engagement Shin-dig

Today my fiance and I hosted an engagement party open house. We've been trying to figure out a way to celebrate our wedding with all of our loved ones here in Austin. Our solution was to throw a party and entice the guests with food. It worked.

For four hours, the house was filled with friends and family, and new friends and new family. We were able to blend our communities by inviting them in to share our joy. It was overwhelming at moments and I was exhausted by the end of it, but it was worth it. At a few points, I looked around admiring the wonderful people we are blessed with. I think it is fortunate if a person can have 5 friends to love and be loved by. We are blessed by an abundance of such friends.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Fam

My parents are coming into town today, primarily to meet my fiance's parents, but also to see the beautiful city of Austin. I couldn't be more excited! It is a bit of a rough time in the semester to be hosting them, but my hope is that I'll be able to put aside the anxiety of the looming tests and sermons.

They fill my heart with joy.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I was run-nang!

Tonight I went for a 15 mile run. Now, I don't call myself a runner. If you know me, you know I'm not exactly built for running. I don't have a physique which allows me run like a gazelle. But I love a good challenge. So I'm training for a marathon which will take place in May. My beloved and I will be running together which will make it even more special.

I never thought I'd say that running for 2.5 hours would be fun, but I really enjoyed it today. I ran from our campus to Town Lake, did the loop all the way around the lake and ran back to campus. It was such a lovely mix of city and nature, which kept me focused and entertained.

The interesting thing about running these days is that I don't think about wedding plans. It seems like 70% of my time these days is spent working on wedding plans, but somehow my runs are exempt from that. It is a time when I can just let my mind wander. I can focus on my legs taking one step after another. I can feel my body getting stronger. It is a therapeutic time.

We'll see if I feel the same way once I get up to 17, 18, 20 miles!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Jam Meltdown

It all started with a jar of Smucker’s Strawberry jam.

I was standing in the aisle at the grocery store, surveying the selection of jams. I’m partial to Smucker’s and was trying to decide between two sizes. The larger of the two was definitely the better value. But then a thought hit me: I’m only going to need enough jam to last me for three months. I have three months before I move into my fiance’s house and consolidate our stuff. Do I really want to bring a half-full jar of jam to his house? Does he even like jam for that matter? What if I’m marrying a man who does not like jam? What if he likes a different brand? Will that be a point of contention between the two of us? What else will be issues? Which dishes we hand wash vs put in the dishwasher? How we prefer the toilet paper on the holder (over vs under)? How we save for retirement? How we raise our children?

At this point I was still standing in the grocery store, staring at these jars of jam, with my mind panicking, wondering I know my fiance well enough. I was having a mini-meltdown, the first I’ve had since becoming engaged. I’ve heard it is normal and even healthy to have episodes like this before getting married. Releasing and acknowledging anxiety is a good thing. Studies show that if pregnant women have nightmares about their baby, they will have a shorter and easier labor, having released some of the anxiety they have built up.

I wonder if this jam-pondering-meltdown is a healthy thing. I have no doubt that we’re making the right decision in getting married. The other night at our first premarital counseling session we were both asked to list the top ten reasons we want to marry the other person. I had a hard time limiting it to only ten. But I’m also not ignorant to how difficult marriage is going to be and the major adjustment it is going to require.

I should ask my beloved if he likes jam. If he prefers a different flavor or brand, I suppose we could keep two jars in our fridge. Compromise is good.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent 2012

The "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" aspect of Ash Wednesday has got me thinking about dust. It occurs to me that this blog has become rather dusty lately. I have left it abandoned not because I haven't had anything to say, but because I have been ridonkulously busy for the past 6 weeks. But this season of Lent is causing me to pause and contemplate. I'd like to share some of those contemplations with you, hopefully posting each day of Lent. This is not "what I'm doing for Lent." That is between me and God. This is just a healthy exercise in getting my thoughts on paper, er screen.

Let me get you up to speed.

January was spent doing an internship at a hospital. It was an 8-5 chaplain gig, which was one of the most valuable learning experiences I've ever had, and also one of the most exhausting. I was emotionally drained at the end of the day, but would muster up the energy to study for ordination exams.

Which takes us to the major stress in my life lately, the ords. The Presbyterian ordination process requires all candidates to pass 5 ordination exams. The first is the Bible content exam, which I passed last January, and the other four are called the senior exams. Most Presbyteries require that all four be taken at the same time. The topics include Theology, Worship/Sacraments, Polity and Exegesis. The first three are three hours each and the fourth is a take home which you have five days to complete. As you can imagine, it is very stressful to take nine hours worth of exams in two days and then have to carry on for another five days by diving deeply into a Biblical text. I'm exhausted just reminiscing on it! Having completed them, I now dwell in that liminal space of waiting to hear if I passed them or not. I won't find out until mid March. I'm doing my best not to think about it, knowing there's nothing I can do but wait.

In other news, I got engaged! This is very exciting and I couldn't be more joyful, but it has also added wedding planning onto my already full schedule. Not that I'm complaining, I love it so far. I'll be posting on that in the coming days.

And then there is school. We're into week 2 and I'm already overwhelmed by quizzes and presentations and sermons. I'm taking a full-time load and continuing my internship at a local congregation.

All of that should provide plenty of material for blogging in the next 40 days or so...