Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Making Big Changes and Different Choices

A new semester is starting next week and with each start of a school year comes big changes. This year is no different and it will be interesting to see how I'm feeling when the semester winds down in few months. On the school front the biggest difference will be our new campus. I've spent the past four year on Queens University campus, and I'm not going to lie, I really enjoyed having a valid excuse to hang out on a college campus again. I loved being able to study at the coffee shop or outside in one of the courtyards. I guess my days of blending in with 20 somethings are over.

The scariest change coming is my graduation. This Fall is my last semester as a seminarian. I will officially graduate in April, but I will be done my class work this semester. So much of my time here in Charlotte has been defined by seminary. I've been in school for all three years of my marriage. I have so many questions about what life will look like once I have my Saturday mornings free. When I tell people that I'm graduating, I'm most often asked "What's next?" I know people are just excited for me and curious as to what my plans are, but I find it so interesting. Is is just our society that pushes toward the next thing before we've had time to finish and enjoy our current situation? I don't know what's next. For now, I am still a student; one that has to pass Christian Ethics and New Testament before receiving my degree. I'm also teaching a study on Ruth to young adult women at church. My plate is full right now, and I want to keep my focus on the present before I look to the future.

Whenever I start a new school year, I also look at my personal life. When your life revolves around school for so long, the school year is your new year, not January. So with this in mind, I started thinking about how I can be a better version of myself. One area (besides my spiritual life- we'll get to that later) I decided to focus on is my health. While at dinner with a friend I realized that I have 13 different doctors. THIRTEEN. I am 32 years old and it takes a bakers dozen of medical professionals to keep me functioning, and I'm not even at 100%!!! Something has got to give. I have made a plan of action and I'll probably write more along the way. I'm not expecting to cure my lupus or fibromyalgia, but maybe I won't need the migraine medicine or the insomnia medication, or maybe I'll  have more energy and begin to feel closer to 32 as opposed to 82. Who knows? Once again, I don't want to focus on end results. I want to focus on the choices I make throughout eat day, every day. That's a more manageable, stress reducing way for me to live. The future will be there waiting and worrying over won't make it come any faster. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finding God in Unexpected Places

Today Travis and I went to a Food Truck Festival here in Charlotte. If  you know me, you're probably not surprised because I love food, food trucks, and festivals. I was bursting with excitement. One of the great, and slightly terrifying, aspects of the fest was the seating. There were several tables and benches, but it typically meant that you would be eating with strangers. The New Yorker in me has absolutely no issue with sitting down next to people I don't know and being in my own world. I guess it's from so many years of riding public buses and subways. However, I married someone who loves nothing more than striking up a conversation with strangers, and they can spot him a mile away. While I went to pick up my turkey ribs and sweet potato fries, I left Travis with a stranger. When I came back it was clear he had made a new friend.

It turns out the other half that couple had also been waiting on food right next to me so the four of us enjoyed great conversation over our delicious turkey treats and fancy tacos. Later my friend arrived and at one point we were discussing churches and faith and other wonderful uplifting topics. It turned out to  be one of those magical Friday nights were the humidity forgets to stop by and you're stomach is hurting from good food and laughter. At one point the conversation shifted to music and while some people were talk about the changing landscape of music and the true definition of R&B, some others (not naming names) became overjoyed while discussing the Justin Bieber Boyfriend/NSYNC Girlfriend mash up. All in all, a quality discussion. When things became serious we talked of moments of injustice we've faced and Nicole, our new friend, said that because of who she is and who is in control she cannot get upset with people who try to harm her.She says she has her beliefs and she has to respect the beliefs of others because she knows that they probably think that they are doing what is right in their heart. She is from love and should be love. That's the light she wants to put out in this world. She has read the Bible many times and that is the lesson that she carries with her. She knows that she was once in a low place but in her lowest of lows God was there. That is her testimony and she shared it while wearing the biggest smile I have ever seen. It was love being shared and poured out onto us. And I was so thankful to have met her.

Before I started seminary maybe I would have missed out on this opportunity to hear another beautiful child of God share their story. It's possible I would not have been as open to learn from Nicole. It's possible that even it if was open, I would not have understood the points she was trying to share with us. The beauty of their 9 year relationship would have drifted over my head and I would have missed experiencing love and companionship and respect. Maybe without the help of beginning to understand God's character and instructions for us all I would have seen was their sexual preference. Maybe I would have allowed the fact that they are lesbians blind me to the truth of their testimony and love of Christ. Maybe I would have felt obligated to lecture instead of listen; to condemn instead of care and, quite frankly, to leave instead of love.

I don't know where you stand on the issue, and I don't plan to ask. I know where I stand and that's what I'm going to concern myself with. While I'm doing so, I will also concern myself with the challenge put before me several times in Scripture. To act justly and with mercy, to love my neighbors and do good to those who seek to harm me, to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, to be slow to speak and slow to anger, to stop judging because everyday I awake a sinner and go to bed the same, to be light in darkness, and to remember above all to put on love. I think if I focus on this list, and this alone, I won't have time to worry myself with much else. Loving others is a long, hard job but it must be done, and done well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

We Interrupt this break for Fashion

I'm a huge fan of style blogs because they provide both entertainment and useful tips. I like to learn bits of fun information about people and see their clothes so most style blogs are a win-win. Unfortunately, most style blogs seem to be filled with beautiful maybe models, you know the girls who look so perfect they could model, except they;re just a touch too short or have a fear or runways or are brilliant at investment banking. Meanwhile. me and 5"4' frame is swallowed up in the world fashion and fashion blogging. However, every once and while I stumble across a gem that reminds me of the beauty of owning and wearing beautiful things no matter much or little they cost. These women stir up my secret dream to start my own style blog showing my own attempts at doing at 30 for 30; how I wore an outfit I found on Pinterest, or how I make myself look casual, girly. cute, business-y, or anything else just by exploring my closet. My biggest accomplishment has to be pulling off all of these looks with a non existent shopping budget (due to being retired and on Social Security) and numerous body landmines that must be addressed before I decide which super cute outfit I plan to wear.

What I love seeing is all of us, all shapes, sizes, colors, beliefs, all of what we bring. I want to see it. I don't want to be a mom, but I would to hear and see your story. I won't ever live in NYC but please bring me into your world. I don't see there being a chance of me moving to Iowa, but if it's fun and fulling to you, I will listen to anything you have to say and wonder how I could recreate some of the amazing outfits you wear. And if we really want ethnic groups to learn each other; then get their women a laptop and one of those fancy camera. The clothes and women who wear them well will tell them most of what they're wondering.

Below I've linked to four blogs that I love because they were brave enough to do what I think I can't or shouldn't:

Snappy Casual She loves her style and isn't defined by finances or trends. Most importantly she dresses for her body and doesn't attempt something that doesn't fit with who is as a woman.

Consider Me Lovely Her "Your Body is Fabulous" serious is amazing. In my fantasy world I'm submitting a post that she shares with her readers.

Fabulously Average  She understands that with out her diversity her life wouldn't be a fabulous! What a great lesson.

10thirteen Just a fun girl. I mean she makes animal print professional. I want to hang with her and borrow some of that confidence.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Little Secret

You guys.

I have a secret.

I don't think I'm praying correctly. I don't know if you're allowed to say this if you're in seminary, but it's the truth.

Here's the issue. I have prayer guilt. This means that I feel guilty praying for myself, so I never do. Also, when it's time to hear prayer requests in a group setting, I normally am ready to go. I have TONS of prayer requests. Then I hear of someone who's lost their job, someone who has a family member with cancer, or a story of a sick child. The guilt comes rushing in and I think "umm, loser, keep your stupid prayer request to yourself. No one wants to hear about your stupid issue. These people have real problems. Just keep your mouth shut." And that's how it goes down. I'm pretty sure that's not how I'm supposed to feel. I don't think God meant for prayer to come with overwhelming amounts of guilt.
“Christians should confess that we have often misunderstood the kingdom of God. We have been guilty sometimes of trying to force the kingdom of God into history. Sometimes we have tended to equate the kingdom of God with a particular national system or a particular religious culture. This we confess to be a tragic perversion of our calling as Christians, and we should repent.” 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Asking Forgiviness

I've written about forgiveness on this blog before, but recently some things have made rethink just how easily I forgive others. I know that we are to forgive over and over, because we are sinner and are constantly given forgiveness by our Savior. I don't know if I truly know how to forgive. I think I know how to become indifferent, to move on, to forget. But true forgiveness? I honestly don't know.

What do you think? How do we truly forgive? How do we feel love for those who have hurt us? How do we move past the indifference into that place of love? And why is that even if we do really want to forgive, those feelings won't come.

I've been wrestling with these question for over a month and still don't have answers. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I know most people roll their eyes at the thought of resolutions and those who make them, but think it's a great tradition. A fresh start. A new beginning. Hopefulness. All good things to me. In fact they remind me of the new mercies we receive daily and where would I be without this amazing gift. I've never really made resolutions, but I'm a big fan on making plans and to do lists. This year is no different, however, for some reason the goals and plans seem bigger and more challenging. Maybe it's because I'm getting older or maybe it's because there are some big plans in my future.

The biggest area for change is in my spiritual life. For the past few months I've definitely veered off track and it's not something I'm proud of. Isn't it funny how moment you take your focus of Christ you can feel yourself spiral out of control. I'm not talking about difficult things happening to you in life. I'm talking about when you find your behavior going on a downhill spiral. You're snappy, short tempered, easily frustrated. Your relationship begin to unravel and all the while you're racking your brain trying to figure out what happened. For me the answer has been there all along and I just decided to continue on my path of stupidity. Now here I am broken and lost, finally admitting to you my big secret. My spiritual life has been terrible.

One of the areas I need to work on is church attendance. Am I the only Christian that struggles with this? The crazy part is that I love my church! LOVE IT! But each week the thought of being in a corporate setting instead of being alone just seems like too much for me. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of people, it's one of the perks of being an introvert. Corporate worship just makes me feel intimidated and insecure which I'm sure is just more of Satan's lies keeping me from living in the truth of the Gospel. For the past bit I've put my lack of attendance off on sickness and pain, both of which were technically true. However, I do know that I could have and some days should have pushed myself and so far I'm off to a good start. People who exercise tell me that they always dread going, but once they get there they're so happy they went. I've yet to experience this phenomenon at the gym, but I always feel this way about church.

There are a few other areas of my spiritual life that I'm working on, but this is one I wanted to share with you. I ask for your prayers and I promise to continue to be transparent with  you on my journey.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Lesson Learned

Yesterday was the first day of the new semester so I thought I'd take a look back and Fall and recap some of the lessons learned along the way:

1. After three years I'm definitely a changed person. Honestly, my first few years in seminary I loved throwing that around when I met people. I loved the attention I got and sometimes felt it made me a better Christian just by saying it. However, now that I'm in the middle of my third year, I realize that seminary and a life of faith can be mutually exclusive. I'm finally shedding some of my pride and understanding the priviledge of being  a seminarian, especially at my current school. I am humbled by my classmates and their extensive knowledge of the Bible, their ability to speak eloquently in front of the room and their true hearts for Christ. It's my prayer I can become a person who is worthy of being in seminary because right now I falling flat. Seriously.

2. I'm a lazy student: I get by, I do well, but I'm short changing myself. When I was working, there just weren't the hours in the day to get everything done, so I cut myself some slack. Now it's just pure laziness. I have big plans to change that going forward.

3. You just have to do the work: I let exegesis freak me out for years. Now that I've finally done it, it's certainly not one of my favorite things to do, but it's not all bad either. I'm actually happy that there's so much emphasis placed on the process and I more aware of the weight of my words when I'm using scripture. Without the proper understanding of the passage, it's context and and clear interpretation I could do more damage than good.

4. I need help: Without the assistance of some of my classmates I would not make it through, and I do my best to return the favor whenever I can. I touched on this in previous posts and I feel stronger about this now more than ever.

5. I don't know my plan: And I'm so happy with that. I'm a seminarian. I own a catering business. These two things do not seem to go together, and I get questions about that almost daily. I don't have the answers and for the first time in a long time, I'm not looking for answer. I'm content living into each day as it is. It's such a lovely way to live right now.