Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Grades and Internships

Oh Good Lord, I just realized that I have not blogged in forever and a day! The Fall semester has ended, and I am anxiously awaiting my grades. Really, I am anxiously awaiting the grade for my Old Testament class. There's a chance I failed and will have to retake it next year. This class made me realize that my college did not prepare me for the academic world. I did not know how to be a student prior to this semester, and I am still trying to figure out the proper way to be a student. I never had to study in college because everything was so slow and so easy so I did not  have studying skills down. We also didn't have huge finals where I had to study endlessly. I will be upset if I have to take the class a second time, however with my previous academic background being taken into consideration I won't be overly distraught. On the plus side, if I do have to retake it, I will ace it the second time around.

I head back to Princeton on Sunday for the Fall Short term. I am taking a class called Church and State of Modern Europe. I didn't realize that modern does not actually mean today it means late 1700s- early 1800s. I am not too interested in the class, but such is life.

The big thing I am currently working on is field ed placements. I am trying to find a place for summer and for the 2012-2013 academic year. I am willing to go pretty much anywhere in the country and work almost anywhere the fulfills the field ed requirement. I thought I only wanted to do a church placement but I realize that other placements could be interesting as well. I'm doing a lot of googling trying to find something for the summer. A lot of my searches include some combination of "Church Summer Internship PCUSA". I've not really found anything yet but I'm still looking. I would love to do a church placement or something completely different involving public policy, amendment 10A, gender right, equality, hunger issues, social justice, ecumenical relations....

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In Need of Guidance

I am having a massive internal conflict as of late. The basis of my conflict is field ed and more precisely, where I should do my field ed. For all those who are not well familiarized with the PCUSA ordination process and/or Princeton Theological Seminary academic requirements let me explain. The seminary mandates that I have to do one academic year placement and one summer placement. One of those two placements must be at a church. My Presbytery says that I have to do a church placement as well as a Clinical Pastoral Education placement at a hospital that is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). That’s all well and good and I have no problem with any of those requirements.

I was offered a position for this coming summer (summer 2012) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. At first, I was super excited but now I am having second thoughts. There are two main reasons for my doubts, one having to do with I suppose logistics and the other having to do with ministry. CHOP is obviously in Philadelphia. If I were to drive to Philly every day, it would take me at least an hour. I would then have to park in their remote parking lot and take a shuttle from the parking lot to the hospital. At the end of my long day at the hospital, I would then have to drive an hour back to Princeton with traffic. My other option would be public transportation. If I lived on campus I would walk to the Dinky, take the dinky to Princeton Junction, take the train to Trenton, take the Trenton line from Trenton to Center City, take the Media/Elwyn line and then walk. If I live in CRW, I would have to drive to a station or take the shuttle to campus. That would involve leaving at 6:20, if I needed to be at the hospital by 8:30. It is a lot of traveling and I would hate it early in the morning and after my day at the hospital. I also feel like it would be very expensive.

The other cause of my doubts pertains to ministry. I emailed the Committee on Preparation for Ministry for the Presbytery of Boston and they are very specific that Clinical Pastoral Education sites must be ACPE accredited in order for the committee to count it as CPE for the ordination requirements. This means that even though I would be doing everything that I would do at a CPE site it would not count as such. In my mind, if it isn’t going to count as the requirement I need then I should do something that will fulfill my requirements and because I am feeling myself called more towards parish ministry I feel that I should probably spend the summer doing field ed at a church.

I have no idea what to do and this internal battle I am having about what to do is both distracting and me bringing me to tears. I’m working on praying for some guidance but would love and appreciate input. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

All in All it's Awesome!

I have not posted in what feels like forever and a day. Life at seminary is pure chaos right now. The semester ends in 3 weeks which means that I have a lot of work to do! All kinds of papers and projects to get done and a final to study for. I'm pretty sure the only sit down final I have is for Old Testament and if I don't kick ass on that final I'll be stuck retaking Old Testament next year. So the next three weeks will have a large focus on the Old Testament. But that is what's coming up, What have I been up to?

I've been doing some volunteering, I've been going to churches, I've been going to meetings, and I've been living it up as a Seminarian.

Volunteering: Last month I went with a group from Community Presbyterian Church of Sand Hills to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Trenton. Trenton has a huge issue with poverty that is going massively overlooked. It's the capital of New Jersey and yet no one is paying attention. Last week David and I drove into Philly and volunteered at the Q-spot. The Q-Spot is a ministry of Broad Street Ministries that provides a place every other saturday for LGBTQ teens and young adults (18-25) to receive a meal, fellowship, personal care kits, counseling, mail services, Rapid HIV and Syphilis testing, and a warm place for a few hours. Homelessness within the young LGBTQ population in Philly is a large problem and it will only be getting worse unfortunately. I am headed back to Broad Street on Thursday to volunteer at their World Aid's Day event and then nest Saturday for the final Q-Spot of the year. I love Broad Street!

Speaking of Philly...I have field education lines up for the summer. I'll be commuting to Philly all summer where I will be serving as a chaplain at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I am super excited. I will be the only student this summer which will make it pretty intense. It is a trauma 1 hospital and the #1 Pediatric Hospital in the world (tied with Boston's Children's). I will be working with patients of all different faith backgrounds and I requested to meet with the Imam on my first day because I do not know very much about the traditions that apply to this setting, within Islam. I will pick a specialty and work directly with that wing of the hospital and respond to all calls. The only negative part is that I have to wait until May to get started!

Churches: Whenever one of my friends is preaching somewhere, that is where I go to Worship. So far I have seen Andy preach at Broad Street (this summer), David preach at Sand Hills, Jon preach at Newtown, Pam preach in Pennington and yesterday I saw Brittany preach at the Princeton University Chapel. Next Sunday I'm off to see/hear Chad preach at Westminster and Carson will preach there the following Sunday. When I don't have a friend preaching on a particular Sunday, I've been attending the Community Presbyterian Church of Sand Hills.

Meetings: I love BGLASS meetings. It is such a randomly amazing group of people and we are both completely serious and not at all. Last week the meeting started with me fighting to open a bag of mangoes and people making fun of me because I couldn't open it. We discuss in great detail glitter and tie dye but we also get down to the real topics like planning panels on same-sex marriage and amendment 10A. We have a lot of amazing things in the works for the Spring semester. I've also been working with a group fellow seminarians (with the guidance of Wayne Meisel) to figure out how to get seminarians to partake in sustainable social engagement. We are currently examining the issues of the areas around us, focusing greatly on Trenton and figuring out which issues we can work on.

Seminary: Yep, I'm still in love with Seminary. Classes have gotten hard and there has been many times where I have questioned why I was accepted but I know there is a reason and I know I can do it. I have formed amazing relationships with people here. There have been some awesome parties, some awesome nights out and some awesome random explorations of the area. All in All it's awesome! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

As of Yet Untitled

Tonight, at Princeton Theological Seminary, was the intercultural cafe. For the first time ever 5 student groups came together to put on this event. BGLASS, AAPTS, ABS, ALS, and WC but on an amazing evening, if I do say so myself (I helped with the planning). We had an open mic portion with performances of poetry, song and spoken word. My friends, Chad and Jason, preformed a short story written by David Sedaris which was phenomenal! Pam sang Mr. Cellophane (from Chicago) and Ryan read a poem in Spanish and English. There were many other truly amazing pieces as well.

I shocked myself by emerging from my shell and sharing a truly personal piece that I have written. The reaction to it was great from my friends that were there. When I stood at the mic I felt like my heart was chilling out somewhere by my toes and even after preforming I felt like my heart my come up out of my mouth. It has been a few hours since I preformed it and I am still nervous about it. I have never done anything this personal in public before. Since it has already been shared with the world, I might as well post it here.

They tell me that twenty two is too young to write
There’s still so much you’ve yet to see
You haven’t been married
You have no kids
What could you possibly have to say?
Twenty two may be too young to write
But me, I’m learning to start living life
You don’t have to read and you don’t have to care
But I have stories that I’m going to share
The story of a scared little girl
In a cold dark world
The story of the preteen who watches her beloved Daddy
Try to end his life
On the same same night her brother pulled out a knife
The story of a ten year old who runs away from home
Only to discover that no one knows
The story of a teenage girl clinging to anyone just to feel loved
I can tell you all about the day I walked through the metal detectors
To find the D, the Y, the K, the E carved into my locker
I can tell you about being a confused teen trying to be perfect yet wanting to love
I can tell you about the outsider in high school
The one who wore long sleeves and  pants in july to hide the wounds
About the college student reflecting on love
About being different in a conservative Christian realm
Where true thoughts are repressed to avoid the backlash
I have stories about being avoided because you’re gay
When you don’t identify yourself that way
But now, now  I have new stories
Stories of acceptance and of welcome
Tales of friends and truly amazing hugs
So yes, I have stories
Stories of pain and oppression
Stories of struggle and self-hate
Stories of acceptance and victory
Stories of growth and love
But of course, They say twenty two is too young to write

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

BGLASS Worship

BGLASS Worship was phenomenal. It was exciting to be a part of such an amazing worship service. We focused on the beatitudes and figuring out our roles as the salt of the earth. We read scripture, we sang and we lit candles. The amazing David Norse preached and his words truly touched me. After the service I told him that I had wished that the 14-year old me had been able to hear it. Heck, he talked about things that the 22-year old me is still fighting to deal with.
I think I truly appreciated that so many people turned out for the BGLASS worship because something like that would not occur in many other settings that I have been in. On top of that, just as the service was starting we saw police cruiser and a fire truck on the quad. I was worried that it would interfere with worship but people came in. The Seminary's President, a few professors and the campus chaplain were in the chapel worshiping with us. It is great to see and truly realize that I am in a welcoming and embracing community.
During the service, as our offering we wrote down what our personal goal is for the year, what we plan on working on, how we plan on showing our light. Personally for me, I want to learn to be more true to myself so that I can figure out how to show my light to others and help them do the same. I love BGLASS

Sunday, October 9, 2011


People laugh when I tell them how much I love seminary. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous but I am literally in love with this place and these people.

 Prior to coming to seminary I think I had an idea of what seminary would be like because of all the time I've spent with friends that were seminarians, and just hanging out at BU's School of Theology and Harvard Divinity School. I pictured seminary as a welcoming place. An accepting a place. A place where theological differences can be brought to the table and discussed in a respectful and meaningful way. More or less, I realize now that I dreamed it would be the polar opposite of my undergraduate experience.

Princeton Theological Seminary, thus far, has far surpassed my expectations. I have met so many amazing people here and I am meeting new people daily. I have found myself a group of friends that allowed me to come into their fold. I have found people that are warm and welcoming, opening and accepting, interesting and loving, intelligent and fun. I have found a community that comes from all kinds of theological backgrounds that are able to come to the table and have frank respectful conversations about where we come from and where we are going.

I came to Seminary and dove right into things. Since the semester started, I have joined BGLASS (and helped plan the opening worship), helped plan the intercultural cafe (which is this Thursday so anyone in the Princeton, NJ area should come out), and plan to get involved with the Interfaith Network of Understanding. In the past month and a half I have been to amazing places with the amazing friends I've made. I've been to churches in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I have been to a gay bar in Philly, I've been to a Menonite Hymn Sing in Germantown, PA. I've watched friends preach at their field ed placements. I've sung Karaoke at a bar and I've been to Broad Street in Philly.

I have connected with amazing people that I am so glad have become a part of my life. I know that Seminary would be a whole different experience without these people in my life. I've spent many nights up late into the night just talking with friends. I've spent many nights watching movies with friends. There are people here, that I have known for only three months, that know me better than people that have known me for years. I cannot wait for what the next three years have in store for me.

Where else do you hear things like "I may be a pastor but I make this look damn sexy" or "I was expecting a Bonhoeffer lecture and I got 'Don't rape your neighbor'!" or "Baptize me in holy resolve" or "only in seminary can you segue from Hebrew to Beyonce"!

Every new experience I have reminds me how much #iloveseminary

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Memoir

For quite some time now people have been telling me that I should write a book about my life and about my family. It's always been my really close friends but lately I've been finding that either my friends have shared with people they know about my life or I'll tell someone new something and they also tell me I need to write a book.
So I have decided to put pen to paper...well since this is a technological age, I have decided to put finger to key and write what I guess will be my memoir. I'm only 22 years old but apparently my interesting stories about childhood and adolescence will provide what I need for a memoir. And now I begin writing!

Pssst.... here's the beginning!

"The oddest place my father ever lived was my underwear drawer. Nestled between the panties and the nylons is his newest home. He spent his time living out of cars, living on someone’s couch and sleeping on people’s floors but I’m pretty sure the weirdest place is my underwear drawer. I wish I were kidding or just trying to come up with a clever story to pull you into my story but alas this is entirely true.  My Dad, or at least my allotted portion of him, lives in my underwear drawer, inside a Boston Red Sox Christmas tree ornament. Living in a dorm room there are so many places where you can put your father’s ashes where it will not freak your friends out nor get harmed in some unfortunate alcohol related incident. In a bout of cleverness, I decided that the best places to keep them would be somewhere hidden, out of the way, and where only I would see them, ergo he now lives with my panties."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Covenant Conference

Currently, I am registered to attend the 2011Covenant Network of Presbyterians Conference. I am very excited about this opportunity because I am a huge fan of the Covenant Network. The topics that are going to be discussed ("Reforming the Ties that Bind: Theological Virtues for Living Together with Difference",  ‚Reconciling Visions,“Moving Forward Together and Preparing for General Assembly”, “Wrestling with Scripture: Progressive Presbyterians, Biblical Authority, and the Ministry of Reconciliation”, "Reconciling Voices" and  “Reconciling Vocations") all sound so interesting to me. Additionally, the mod of the PCUSA  Cindy Bolbach is doing a presentation on nFOG and the worship services through out the conference sound amazing. Time for fellowship for the 'Young Adults' attending the conference is specifically built in to the schedule which I really like because it allows us to network with other young adults that care about similar topics that we wouldn't ordinarily get to fellowship with. And if I wasn't sold already, the description of the workshops pulls me in: "Workshops will explore the theme of ‘Reconciliation’ and its complexities throughout many arenas of faithful living. Standard favorites such as ‘What the Bible Says and Doesn't Say about Homosexuality’, ‘Marriage Rites and Rights’, and ‘The Legal Landscape in the PC(USA)’ will be offered as well.  There will be opportunities to engage with conference leaders and one another, expanding upon themes presented in the plenaries and sermons.  Participants will receive practical resources to help address issues at the congregational as well as presbytery level.  Now more than ever, the Covenant Network recognizes the importance of our founding commitment to support the mission and unity of the PC(USA).  How we live into this new reality, the tone and spirit of our work, is critically important in these tender days."

I'm already registered for the conference. Hooray for Network Presbyterians realizing that Seminarians are poor and making it free for us to register. Now I need to figure out funding for driving down to North Carolina, a place to stay and food for the meals that the conference does not provide. My bank account makes this difficult. Anyone want to sponsor a poor seminarian?

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Love My Presbytery

Two posts in one night! Either I am trying to make up for all of the times I forgot to blog or I really don't want to finish my exegesis...probably that latter.

I just wanted to say how much I love my Presbytery! That's really random, I know. People often talk about how much they love their church, which I do, but I also love my Presbytery.

  • I love when they nominate me to do things (like be a Synod Commissioner) even though in church standards I am crazy young (average age of a Presbyterian is 61). 
  • I love how welcoming and embracing they are.
  • I love that the vast majority of people who attend presbytery meetings know who I am.
  • I love that CPM (Committee on Preparation for Ministry) is super easy to work with. 
  • I love that there are so many people in my presbytery that are supportive of me and willing to talk to me and help me along the path toward ministry. 
  • I love that we care about rights and put a lot of attention into civil rights and issues that concern the members of our Presbytery. 
  • I love that we have a transgender woman as a candidate and that tonight my dear friend and mentor, who is openly gay, became a candidate as well.
I cannot wait to be able to be ordained in the Presbytery of Boston.

I love my Presbytery!

Update on Life in Seminary

I'm going to take a break from my New Testament Exegesis homework to update the world on my life. Okay, honestly, I have not started the Exegesis homework...but I will get to it. I have not blogged in eons so I thought I would remedy that. 
Where to begin?

Princeton Theological Seminary is amazing and I am so glad I came here! The people are amazing, the classes are amazing, the professors are amazing, and everything is so amazing! I am being completely serious, but allow me to elaborate. As i have said previously, the people here are phenomenal. Since the fall semester is underway, I have met even more people and I am just impressed with the high caliber of people here. Everyone is awesome for his or her own reasons but all in all everyone is great. In addition, it's not just students. The faculty and staff are great too. I am particularly in love with David Wall, the registrar. He helped me get everything together so I could register and stay when it looked like everything was going to hell in a hand basket. He is amazing and helpful and friends with Burns.

The classes are intense and it is quite evident that AUC did not prepare me for this. I clearly have a bachelor's in bullshit! I have a 20 page paper due in 3 weeks and I have never written a paper that long before. The writing center is going to become my best friend! There is a lot of reading and everything is more intense that it was in college and I am going to struggle but I will make it work and I will learn so much.

I have attended karaoke night at the IVY a couple of times so far and that is overly entertaining. I have been to a party at one of the private clubs at the University. I have attended Shark Week and my first hall party (big fan of Brown 2). I have made so many phenomenal friends already. One great thing I have experienced is joining a club. 

Tonight I attended the first meeting of BGLASS (which stands for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Supporters). We talked about the many different events that will be taking place this year. Amazing things like attending a Mennonite hymn sing, opening worship an intercultural café, events with the covenant Presbyterians and the Yes Coalition (and maybe GLAAD, service projects, BGLASS week, hosting forums on the OT and the NT as well as the possibility of getting together with Princeton University as well as the Westminster Choir College. I am incredibly excited to be involved with this. In fact, I sort of dove right in and will be helping with opening worship as well as representing BGLASS in working on the Intercultural Café with other campus groups. BGLASS is essentially everything that I wished I had in college. I am extra excited and thankful for this in my life as I am struggling to figure out my life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Life Experience

I think I'm having a not quite a quarter life crisis.
Being here at Princeton this summer, there have been a lot of instances where I wish that I didn't come straight here. I wish that I had taken a year off and got a job somewhere doing something ministry related and just dealing with people. I've been doing school for the past 16 years and I'm wondering if it might be time for a break. There are so many people here that took time between college and seminary and went abroad or worked for non-profits. They have life experience that they can relate to what they're learning and I don't have that.

Monday, August 15, 2011


What is up with a lack of dairy free options? 
As you know, I've been sick a lot lately. I'm on some killer broad spectrum antibiotics because the doctors can't figure out what's wrong. Part of the issue, im come to realize, though it is not the main issue, is that a lot of food has dairy. PTS seems to cook everything in butter and a lot of options have cheese in them. I haven't been eating meat lately, I'm not too sure why but the smell and taste of red meat repulses me lately. And a lot of the vegetarian stuff has dairy. So I've been eating a lot of salads. But that is a problem because on the salad bar stuff tend to as I termed it "comingulate" (which was pointed out to me is not an actual word).  
Today I went to add some chickpeas to my salad and luckily I realized that someone had dropped some blue cheese into them. If I eat anything that touched dairy, I will have an allergic reaction. My reaction is also steadily getting worse. The smallest iota of dairy will set it all into action. I am sick of getting sick because of dairy. The chaplain on campus is having me talk to dining services to see if we can figure something out but I feel really bad because I do not want to inconvenience them. 
I went to Wegmann's this weekend to try to find something to cook so I could eat for the weekend. I was i their health food section and was shocked at the lack of non-dairy options. They have a whole aisle dedicated to gluten-free food. And don't get me wrong, I am glad that the gluten-free people have their alternatives but where are our Dairy-free choices. The Shaws back in Clinton sold Dairy Free Mac & cheese and I was really hoping for something like it but alas there was none. And when you are able to find a dairy free alternative it is ridiculously expensive! I'm a poor graduate student, I want to be able to eat and not have an allergic reaction to my food but at the same time I cannot afford a lot of the alternative. $2.19 for Sheep Yogurt and $2.49 for goat yogurt, neither of which I have had a chance to try to see if it would work because it is so damn expensive. And Dairy free and Lactose Free are not the same thing! Lactose free means it comes from milk but they've managed to make it easier to digest. Dairy free means it never came from a cow's udder. Being allergic to dairy and being lactose intolerant is not the same thing. I'm not trying to be difficult when I ask if you sell a dairy free product so do not give me a dirty look! For some reason nut allergies get a lot more respect than dairy allergies and I am not sure why.

...end rant...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

People at PTS

I love the people at PTS. It's only summer and most of the students aren't actually on campus yet but I love everyone that I have met! There are so many different personalities here and I've ended up bonding with different people over really different things.

One of my favorite people is Liz. She's from New York but went to college in Massachusetts, so like me she has a love and an appreciation of Boston! She digs on my accent but can also understand what I'm saying. For the times that I get really emotional or have too much to drink and people can't understand me because my accent gets really thick, Liz will serve as my subtitles. She is a hardcore Sox fan and Bruins fan. She also hates full service gas stations, just like me. I have also bonded over food allergies; she's allergic to Peanuts and I'm allergic to dairy. Her allergy will kill her, mine makes me wish I were dead. We also both have overwhelming fears of both inconveniencing people and of confrontation. While talking at the Tap Room last night we also figured out that we both have issues using public bathrooms. The things you learn!

There's so many other great people here like

  • Andy- The hipster from West Chester who constantly hates on Boston
  • Will- The outdoors man who makes bird noises without realizing it
  • Alison- The girl that will single-handed reform the food industry and make us all Kosher
  • Ridgley- The charming southern gal who swears like a trucker when in parking garages. 
  • Peter- The 17 year old theology prodigy who is still in high school but taking summer Greek while working on college admissions essay. Affectionately called Doogie Bonhoeffer. 
  • Vincent- The Catholic entertainment lawyer from New York City
  • Stan- The former orthopedic surgeon...talk about a pay cut!
  • Mike- Such an interesting guy, I don't know what to say about him, he is just great even if he won't admit that there is a ghost living next door to him. 
  • Amy- my lovely next door neighbor who constantly fears she wakes me up and speaks approximately 12 languages (slight exaggeration). 
That's just a small sampling of people here. Everyone is so great and I've been engaged in and observing the most interesting conversations. I cannot wait to see what the next three years brings. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I am at a new point in my life. I've just moved to a new state and started at a new school. I've just started seminary and that's kind of a big deal. Since I am starting a new phase of my life and putting really big changes into my life, I decided to add some more. I've decided that I need to set some goals in my life and try to keep them.

There are the obvious goals that I am setting for myself: remember to do my homework, study every day, pass my classes.

And then there are my other goals like lose weight. In order to meet this goal, I am setting an attainable goal of going to the gym 3 times a week. I need to find a way to motivate myself to get dressed and walk down the street. Also with that, is to eat healthier. No more snacking...well, limit snacking etc,.

Some of the other goals I'm setting have dates I want to achieve them by while others are vague. Some of the other goals I'm setting are: write a book, take a road trip with no predetermined destination, get married, save money, take more pictures, learn to drive a stick-shift, learn to snowboard, visit the Holy Land, get season tickets to the Bruins, see a Red Sox/Yankees game, do more things that I enjoy (baking, wedding cakes, kayaking).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Poem

Day by day and meal after meal
I’m really not liking the way I feel
I need to concentrate on my summer Greek
But every day I feel so week

Weak, getting sick daily, don’t want to get out of bed
So, I decided it’s off to the doctor I head
Poking and prodding and then blood work
You have really bad veins so this will hurt

The phone rings and it’s the lab tech
You need to come back, there’s more to check
We go over the results and I start to get scared
“Thyroid and white blood cell count is off”, she declared

So more blood work and an ultrasound for good measure
Just tell me what to do so I can get better
Anemia and vitamin D deficient, okay that I can handle
No answers from the white Blood count hits me like an anvil

My hair is starting to fall out
I need answers beyond any doubt
My biggest fear is that it’s cancer
So would you please just give me a damn answer

I take a quiz but think of what else is going on
I think of my health instead of the gospel according to John
I hope the doctor will call me soon
Because my imagination is starting to balloon. 

The Face of God in Philly

Sunday evening three of my new seminary friends drove into Philly to attend service at Broad Street Ministries. I have been wanting to check out Broad Street Ministries for a very long time and when we learned that a classmate, Andy Greenhow, would be preaching, it was clear that we would be attending. I am so glad I went.
Broad Street Ministry is located on South Broad Street in Philly. It is a community that emphasizes hospitable outreach, passionate civic involvement, courageous discipleship, and creative expression. If you are anywhere near Philly, I would suggest dropping by some Sunday evening. When you walk up to the building it looks like a giant traditional church, but I'm not sure that there is anything traditional about Broad Street and that is why I liked it. 

During the service I was looking around and realized that those gathered there truly were the body of Christ. There were young people and old people. Students, professionals, and those without a job. There were people from Philly, people from other states, and people from other countries. There were black, white, asian, hispanic. There was the uneducated and the well educated. Those who are illiterate and those who have published books. There were those who came dressed up for church and those who wore what they had. There was what I feel to be every variety of person. I think I like how the BSM website puts it best, "BSM also welcomes into its body not just those who are on the margins of faith but those who are on the margins of society. The member of prestigious private clubs worships alongside the homeless person. The gay and lesbian activist passes the peace with the Pentecostal lay preacher. The possessor of a PhD. In theology prays alongside the summa cum laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. " All of these people, from so many different walks of life joined together with the purpose of worshiping God and sharing a meal. 

I was afraid to attend BSM. Not because I was afraid that I wouldn't like it. Not that I was afraid that I would be uncomfortable. I was afraid to attend because I was afraid I would like that, and that is exactly what happened. That is the type of worship I have been looking for. It's real. It's nitty gritty. It's not about keeping with tradition and doing things in a particular way. It is about ministering to the people and being ministered to. It's about seeing the face of God in those gathered. It isn't about inviting God into the space because God is already there and waiting for you. I felt more in touch with God and with myself, felt more convicted and felt more dedicated to Christ than I have in quite some time than I did in that short service Sunday night. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Give Myself Away

If I am being perfectly honest with myself, and whoever is reading this, I am scared about tomorrow. After Greek tomorrow I have another doctor's appointment. We are going to evaluate the results of last week's blood work and do some more blood work. The doctor is supposed to tell me whether or not I have to go see an endocrinologist. As I have said before this is a perfectly shitty time for this to be happening. I'm in class everyday and the class is kicking my ass so having something big distract my already distractable mind is bad.
On top of that the people I love and that I ordinarily have around me to lean on are five hours away. David called me while I was in church (we went to Broad Street Ministries to hear Andy preach and I absolutely fell in love with the place. I want to go back many times. It's what I was looking for. But a post will come later about that.), and so after the service I called him back. It was very difficult to talk because I was practically running through Philly, felt like I was going to be sick, and was surrounded by people. There was all kinds of things I wanted to talk to him about and things I wanted to hear about. I felt like I was being a crappy girl friend because I haven't gotten to speak to him all weekend. He felt like he was bothering me and intruding, which he wasn't at all, it's just difficult to have a conversation as I am trying to hurry through a city with people that don't know what is going on.
I was thinking of going to talk to the campus chaplain lady. Part of it is because I'm just freaking out in a huge way. I have never had any serious health problems. I've broken bones. I've gotten a concussion. I have sprained and twisted and dislocated things. I had a while where I had to go to physical therapy for my knee. I've never been faced with a disease before. I've never possibly had an on going medical condition. Well, I suppose that is not true. If I do have something it's not like I just developed it today, I've possibly had it for a while and just not known about it.
 Going to two services today (Nassau Presbyterian in the morning and Broad Street Ministries this evening) gave me time to reflect. In a way this is a bit like when Dad died. I know that sounds extreme but hear me out. I was a freshman in college and had decided to switch schools and major in theology. I was fully prepared to serve God and do whatever God deemed me fit to do. And then Dad died. And it made me question my faith and doubt everything I thought I knew. It was a time where I constantly wondered why I should be doing this if God is going to do horrible things in my life. Now I am smarter and hopefully I have more faith and trust in God. I'm starting Seminary. I am going to fully serve God. And a big medical event is happening. But now, I fully trust in God. I know that God is going to do what God is going to do and regardless I am a child of God and God loves me. Tonight, at Broad Street, the Song of Affirmation was "I Give Myself Away" and it really hit home for me. This is what I'm working on and though the things that are currently going on in my life may challenge me, it is all about giving myself away, putting my life in the Lord's hands and being open to being used in whatever way possible.

I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me
I give myself away
I give myself away
So You can use me

Verse 1:
Here I am
Here I stand
Lord, my life is in your hands
Lord, I'm longing to see
Your desires revealed in me
I give myself away

Verse 2:
Take my heart
Take my life
As a living sacrifice
All my dreams all my plans
Lord I place them in your hands

My life is not my own
To you I belong
I give myself, I give myself to you

Friday, July 29, 2011

Greek and Blood Work

Greek is kicking my hindquarters! Vocabulary I can handle and I am not that bad at translating, but produces the paradigms is painful. It just does not make any kind of sense. I have to get through it because I have to pass this class but I am feeling so very negative about it. I decided to do summer Greek because I thought that I wouldn't have other things distracting me and I could focus solely on that. How wrong I was.

I have been at PTS for just under three weeks and it has been rough. Getting used to the area isn't all that bad, I have no problems with getting lost, it's like an adventure. I'm meeting amazing people and making friends. The problem, I suppose is within me. I've spent the past three weeks getting sick everyday. Whenever I eat, not too long afterwards, I have to scamper off to the restroom. It's especially annoying because I'm trying to be social and make friends etc and this keeps happening. I stopped going to breakfast, because at least that way I don't have to leave Greek precept for it.

I went to the Doctor on Thursday and told her about what was going on. She ordered some bloodwork to be done and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. However, yesterday their tech person called and told me that nothing showed why I am getting sick everyday but did show problems with my thyroid. I have to go back in on Monday and see what's going on. I decided to do some googling to see what he was talking about. If my thyroid levels are high, which is what he said, a possible cause could be hyperthyroidism. So looking at the symptoms, it sort of makes sense. Let's take a look at some Symptoms:

  • I feel like I have a lot of nervous energy to burn off- I attributed this to ADHD.
  • reference to getting sick (actual wording is TMI)- one reason I went to DR
  • Difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep- attributed it to being in a new place
  • feeling fatigued/exhausted- attributed this to previous symptom.
  • my hair is course/dry/brittle/breaking/falling out
  • lady issues (sorry TMI)
  • moods change easily
  • feeling of worthlessness
  • difficult concentrating- I attributed this to ADHD 
  • more forgetful lately
  • feeling restless/anxious
That's just a few symptoms on the list and it seems to fit. I'm nervous about going back to the Doctor. I've never had real big issues before. I have ADHD and I've broken things and had concussions but not like long term medical problem that required going to the doctor regularly. Also it requires blood work which I am not good with. I have really bad veins apparently so having blood drawn is painful. On Thursday they left a big bruise where blood was drawn, in the past I've had it taken from the back of my hand and from between my knuckles. Not a pleasant experience for anyone. Last night I've noticed I've got a few other random bruises that I don't remember getting, but now I am turning into a hypochondriac. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Write to Me?

I am not going to beg, okay I just might....PLEASE WRITE TO ME! I love mail! Put something in my mailbox, please!!!!!!!!

Devin Berry
Princeton THeological Seminary
SBN 031
PO BOX 5204
Princeton, NJ 08543

Just a note saying hello, a check for $1000, any mail would be awesome!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finding a Church

So last week I went online and looked at the two PCUSA churches within walking distance of the Seminary. One of them is Nassau Presbyterian Church and the other is Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church. I looked at their websites and what I could find about them online. Nassau street has an intense staff with multiple pastors. They have somewhere upwards of 1200 members and ...primarily Caucasian. Witherspoon Street was started as the first all black PCUSA church a couple hundred years ago. 

I don't know why I have an issue with the churches with huge staffs. It could be that they are wealthier, but I don't see why that would be an issue. I think it's because they remind me of mega churches and therefore do not seem like the personal connection that I have always found in my refuge at church. Also the churches with large staffs also tend to be all white, lacking in diversity, except for sometimes age. 

I went to witherspoon and it was very much steeped in the African American heritage which I enjoyed but it seemed to be an African American church that just happened to be PCUSA. So I don't think that is the church for me. I am a fan of the PCUSA traditions. I'm hesitant to try Nassau because that's where all of the other PCUSA students went on Sunday and they described it just as I pictured it. Lots of members, all white, pretty dry. 
I'm on the PCUSA website looking for other churches in the area. I am trying to discern just what it is I have against larger churches. I grew up in a church of a little over 100 members. The members were from all different backgrounds and spanned all ages and socioeconomic classes. It had a massive heart for outreach and social justice. The Church I attended while in College, and that I am under care with is about 70 members. Maybe 40% of our members are from Cameroon. The church I grew up in had one pastor, an associate for a while, but a lot of seminarians. The church I am a member of has one pastor who is amazing and makes stuff happen. 

Next Sunday I will try a new church. Maybe I will go to Nassau so that I can see what it is like for myself or maybe I will check out a different church. According to the PCUSA church locator site there are 45 PCUSA churches within 15 miles of the seminary. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Greek Verb Paradigm

“Greek Verb Paradigm”
(Words by N. Clayton Croy. Tune = “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio)

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of Greek,
I take a look at my life and see it’s rather bleak.
’Cause I’ve been learnin’ and crammin’ so long;
So when I do my parsin’ I won’t do it wrong.
The Greek verb system, it’s got so many forms.
They’re buzzing in my brain, like bees in swarms.
But I’ve been studyin’ every day and every night.
I gotta get the endings down and get them down right.
My social life is sufferin’, as any fool can see.
My nose is in a book. It’s just reality.
I gotta pass the midterm, and there ain’t no other way
Than studyin’ from the break of dawn until the end of day.

I’ve been spending all my time
Trying to learn the Greek verb paradigm. (Repeat 4×)

My homies come around saying, “Hey, where you been?”
“We come by your place, but you’re never in.”
I have to say to them, “I been in my study carrel.”
“If I don’t learn this paradigm, my life’s in peril.”
So late in the evening, I’m in the library
Beneath a pile of books under which I’ve been buried.
My friendships are dying. Don’t have no time to play.
I spend every waking moment with the Koine.
The way things are goin’ my life is ill-starred.
My best companions are my vocab cards.
But I got one friend with whom I can tarry.
The Greek tutor and I, we’re gonna marry.

Tell me why of late — is it my fate
To do nothing more — than conjugate?

I’ve been spending all my time
Trying to learn the Greek verb paradigm. (Repeat 4×)

Present and the aorist, perfect and the future.
My brain’s gonna bust. I’m gonna need a suture.
Four different moods and six different tenses.
I study so hard I’m takin’ leave of my senses!
Active, middle, passive; singular and plural —
It all spins around in a great big swirl.
I gotta learn Greek to understand the Bible;
But if I don’t succeed, a breakdown is liable.

I’ve been spending all my time
Trying to learn the Greek verb paradigm. (Repeat 4×)

Tell me why of late — is it my fate
To do nothing more — than conjugate? (Repeat 2×)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things I learn in Greek

Today I learned that

  • "Some people say learning languages should be fun, these people are LIARS!"
  • "The Gender of the noun isn't a sociopolitical quality."
  • "Whoever said that there are no silly questions lied."
  • "It [this class] is like confession: if you don't say anything, nothing happened."

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's All Greek To Me

So I made it! It took me almost 6 hours to get to Princeton, thank you Bronx traffic, but I made it. When I got here I checked in and started moving stuff into my room. Alexander 303 is where it's at. I only ended up unloading half of my stuff because it was so blessedly hot and I had a huge headache. Unloaded my bedding and then stuff I needed for class and a bunch of clothes. I need to remember to run down to my car at some point this afternoon to get my sneakers. After unloading half of my stuff I was hot, tired, and thirsty. I decided to walk down the street to the Wawa. I had never experienced anything like it. It's like Subway meets a smoothie bar meets a cumbys. It was fantastic and I love it!

Last night there wasn't much to do so I hung in my room until there was a knock on my door and was invited to go hang out with people on the quad. I wasn't going to, because I was tired, but I'm glad I did. I got to talk to incoming students and current students. I learned different things about the school, the area and the professors. At 10:30 I wandered back to my room and read and texted with a friend back home.

Greek this morning was great. The professor seems like a really great professor. It's Greek so it will suck and Dr. P said that they are well aware that most of us do not want to be there. It's going to be a good 8 weeks even though it will be very hard. I'm meeting loads of great people and I cannot wait to meet more. I'm also enjoying exploring aimlessly.

I'm learning interesting things, which I plan to keep a list of. Here's the beginning:

  • Other seminaries teach the Velveeta of Greek (bits and pieces but not the real thing)
  • Some Greek authors  follow the rules and some don't...kind of like Greek bankers.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Doctor and My Bank Account (A Saga)

Like most schools, Princeton had a medical form that I had to fill out and send in. I went to my doctor and had a physical as required. I think that may have been where my problems started. She didn't measure my height, she just asked how tall I am. She made multiple comments on how white I am. My genetic make-up is Irish and Irish. I have red hair, green eyes and freckles. Obviously I am white. I have too skin tones: Neon white and Lobster Red (saved for Sunburns, embarrassment, and anger). Would you prefer I go tan and get skin cancer?

So apparently I've not gotten the meningitis shot so I made another appointment and went in yesterday to get it. Who knew that would be so damn difficult?  I get into my doctor's examine room and she informs me that, "I don't do that". Apparently she doesn't give meningitis vaccines. So when I asked her where I can go she told me to call the board of health. I spent yesterday afternoon on the phone with different hospitals and clinics. One won't give it to me because my doctor isn't at that clinic. This place doesn't do it, that place doesn't do it. One hospital would do it if my doctor writes a prescription for it. I called the doctor's office and she won't write a prescription. Her receptionist/nurse type person told me to call the CDC and check with them. Are you freaking kidding me? At one point a hospital transferred me up to Psychiatry. It must have been a sign that this will drive me crazy! It was easier getting the vaccine for Yellow Fever than it is for meningitis, which is REQUIRED by tons of colleges.

That is just one of the huge issues I am facing this week in light of the move next Sunday. The other...is finances...

Hopefully once I get to Princeton I will find a job and start making money pronto. I have to pay my cell phone bill and my car payment and then I will have to pay my housing deposit once I get to Princeton. Which will leave me $20 in my bank account. That $20 is to get to Jersey and then live once I get there. Not entirely sure how I can even make that happen. It will cost me more than $20 to drive from Clinton to Princeton.  Random things have popped up that I've had to pay for, like getting a new licence, new brakes on my car, gas to different Synod meetings. So all the money I thought I'd have for Princeton is gone. Time to come up with a get rich quick scheme?

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Whole New World

In less than two weeks I pack up my lovely little Subaru and hit the open road. Five hours later, if there is no traffic, I will be pulling into Princeton, New Jersey. Beginning July 10th, Princeton Theological Seminary will be my new phone for the next three years. To be perfectly honest, this is freaking me out. I don't know which part is the scariest. It might be that everything I own is going to have to fit into a station wagon, or else I have to get rid of it. The fact that a dorm room will be my only home for the next three years. My boyfriend's family has been amazing and let me stay with them sophomore year of college, and there's where I've been going on breaks, but once I take off for Princeton I will no longer have a bedroom there. My room in Alexander Hall and then my room in Hodge Hall will be where I call home.

In less than two weeks I drive out of Massachusetts and into a whole new world. As a devote Boston Sports fan, I'll be living in enemy territory. Much to my dismay I will be amongst Yankees fans. In terms of hockey, I will be in New Jersey Devils territory, but I plan to go to the Devils vs Bruins games in January and cheer on my amazing Bruins. New York Rangers games aren't too far away, so that might be a possibility.

I'm trying to focus on all of the other things going on so that I don't freak out. I think I'll make friends and I don't think I'll fail classes, though Greek scares the bejezus out of me. I will actually have to try in classes and learn things, not too much of that happened in college. I will live on a dorm where I won't be treated as a child. I won't worry about curfews or room checks. I won't have to get permission to leave over night or for the weekend. I can go out and buy alcohol and not worry about getting kicked out of school. I get to live in the grown up world now. The male population will be allowed into the building. Going to Princeton is going to be a whole new world.

Over the course of the next 12 days I need to get a meningitis shot, come up with the $150 housing deposit, get books, pack up all of my belongings, throw away belongings, wash my car, pack my car, say goodbye to people. I have 12 days left to have the adventure I was looking for. I have 12 days to find all of the Boston memorabilia I can scavenge.

In twelve days I will get in my station wagon and drive 264 miles from Clinton, Massachusetts to Princeton, New Jersey.When I pull into the parking lot at PTS, I am pulling into a whole new world. I am scared but I know that everything will be okay. I look forward to July 10, with great anxiety.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Role Model

In the summer of 1996 I began attending a summer day camp called the Summer Meals Program. It was at this tiny little Not-catholic church in my neighborhood, Fourth Presbyterian Church. Prior to coming to this camp I didn’t really ever do church, it was something that simply wasn’t in my family’s life (I still believe it had something to do with the Boston priest sex scandals, but I digress). I came home from camp and told my Dad about everything that happens at camp and I told him about Pastor Burns. My Dad informed that I could not call a pastor by his first name. You’re supposed to call them “pastor so-and-so”, to which I promptly responded, “No, his name is Pastor Burns. That is what everyone calls him.” By the end of the summer, I got my father to come to church on a Sunday and he got to see all that I was talking about. He got to meet this amazing Pastor I was talking about.

My dad and I came back week after week and he eventually joined the church. We fell in love. Summer after Summer I went back to the Summer Meals Program. Someone once joked that I was the poster child for Fourth. I started coming through the SMP, which was set up so that kids from low income neighborhoods would have breakfast and lunch during the summer. One summer, a new program was started, an extended day program called Mazemakers and I was the first one there. I went from being a camper to a teen helper and then a Shepherd (counselor). I was in countless plays, took piano lessons, guitar lessons, painting classes, and was a part of the homework help program and an active member of the youth group. Anything that was offered, I participated. Church was the first place I felt at home and it was my safety net.

When I was in 8th and 9th grade my life was pretty much in shambles. I had returned to Massachusetts the day before school started, having fled to Ohio for the summer to live with my aunt’s family after my mom left, and I had nowhere to live. Pastor Burns (who had evolved into simply Burns) and his family welcomed me into their home and I stayed there for months. The following year was difficult because of an intervention and my Dad subsequently going to rehab. Burns, his family, and my church family were there for me every step of the way.

Fourth Presbyterian Church is an amazing church. It is a medium sized church (of a little over 100 members) from all kinds of backgrounds. The members represent many different cultures and age groups. It is located in a low income neighborhood (with a lot of unfortunate problems like violence).The church is actively involved in all kinds of social justice work. This is the kind of church I want to work in when I’m done with seminary. Burns was one of the huge reasons why I decided to go to Seminary in the first place. After spending years of watching how he changed and grew the church and how he led them is a great inspiration. Burns is an amazing Pastor, Leader and Teacher. He recently celebrated twenty years of Pastoring Fourth and has touched so many lives over those twenty years.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Boston Sports Lover

This is a tale of love. This is a story about sports. This is a story where two opposite worlds come together. This is my story ;) <3

Those of you that follow me on twitter, have had your timelines filled up with randomness about the Greatest Hockey team in NHL history. Whether I tweeted it myself or was retweeting someone, there have been a lot of tweets, from me, about the Boston Bruins. In some ways I was raised by my dad. Our love of sports, a love that he instilled in my from an eearly age, brought us together on many an occasion. Whether it was going to Fenway Park to see the Sox live or watching sports on tv, there was a lot of sports in our relationship. I was born a red sox fan and will root for the Sox until the day I die, no matter where I relocate. I have always been a Bruins fan but during college my commitment and love of the Boston Bruins intenified immensly. I will always be a Bruins fan, no matter where I live. In fact, I have plans to go to the NJ Devils Vs. Boston Bruins games while I'm at Princeton cheer on the Bruins. Clearly I have a deep love for sports. I'm a patriots fan and Celtics fan as well, but my love of those two teams pales in comparison to my love of the Bruins and Red Sox.

My love of our Boston Sports teams is evident. As a child I played for the South Boston Soccer teams and the Little League. I was the only girl on my Baseball team. In middle school I played on the school football team. In High School I was the manager for the Boys Varisty Baseball team. I think sports are important. When I have children I plan to encourage them to play sports. Whatever sports they want, but play sports.

I love my boyfriend to death. David means the world to me. We get along amazingly well and we have a lot in common. Sports is not one of those things we have in common. Whereas I am a Rabid Avid fan he could care less. He is a black belt in Karate. That is a sport you do all on your own. That he enjoys. It's team sports that he hates! He hates it when athletes display poor sportsmanship. He hates it when atheletes get away with things that ordinary citizens wouldn't. He hates the amount of money that professional athletes are paid. He hates organized sports. When I turn on the game, he pulls out a book.

At this point David has gotten used to my psychotic fanatic sports love. When I scream and cheer for the Bruins until I have no voice left he just shakes his head and smiles. When I miss out on sleep because the game went late he leaves me to sleep. This morning he listened to me as I explained everything that happened in last night's game and how we became the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions. He tolerated me as I explained why different players were awesome. And accepted it when I declare my love of David Krejčí.

I love Boston sports (emphasis on the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins). I love my boyfriend (David Dickinson). Those two worlds do not go together at all but it works. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Modern First Pentecost

So today is Pentecost and as is expected the Pastor lady preached about the first Pentecost. There was the swooshing of spirit, flames and everyone speaking in many different languages. She spoke about how everyone would have been praising God in a language they understood but there would be many languages all at the same time. What I instantly thought of was an experience I had last summer. Last sumer I served as a Steward for the World Communion of Reformed Churches. The official languages of the WCRC assembly were English, Spanish  French, and German. The vast majority of our printed materials were in all four of these languages, including the worship materials. For close to a month I got used to hearing everything in these four languages. However, during worship people would speak in their own languages. At one point during a worship service I looked around and heard people praying in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Dutch, Thai, Korean, Chinese, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Hindi, and other languages I couldn't even begin to identify.

To me, this is a small glimpse of what I can only imagine the first Pentecost was like. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

He Went Poof!

Finally getting around to posting Sunday (June 5th)'s sermon!

So there we were at Passover. Peter and John went and got all of the things required for us to eat, like the lamb. We got the room ready and prepared for the feast. Here we are getting ready to enjoy the Passover meal when Jesus drops a bomb on us. He informed us that it would be his last meal. He wouldn’t be eating again until he was in the Kingdom of God. Then he broke bread and we ate. Like it was No big deal! After dinner he dropped the second big one of the night. He decided to inform us that one of us would betray him. Obviously, all of us fought about it. Why would any of us betray him? In the end, of course, he was right. Judas betrayed him and Peter disowned him. The next day, Jesus was beaten and crucified, died and was placed in the tomb. And then, something crazy happened. Days later he was back with us. We all got back together in Jerusalem and he showed us his hands and his feet to prove to us that he was Jesus. We had 40 great days with Jesus. He was back with us again and it was fantastic. Everything made sense again. And then he went poof.

I mean he told us that everything that was written about him would come true and that he would send what his father had promised but I wasn’t expecting him to just disappear. He brought us to Bethany and blessed us and then all of a sudden he was taken up to heaven. He was right in front of us and then he ascended into Heaven and all that was left was a cloud. It was like he went poof.

In the book of Acts, Luke gives an official account of what happened, but Luke was a well-educated doctor. That is what I think it would sound like if one of the other, not as educated, disciples narrated what happened during the ascension.

Ascension Sunday is not one of those days on the liturgical calendar that I get excited for. It’s not like Lent or Advent where there is a whole season for it. It’s not like Easter or Christmas where there is a whole lot of attention given to it. Heck, it’s not even like Pentecost where there are special pageants or special clothes. It feels like it’s just a random day. Some random Sunday between Easter and Pentecost without any flair added to it. When Cindy asked me to preach today I said sure but once I realized that it was ascension Sunday I regretted it a bit. Ascension Sunday? Why? Is it really all that big of a deal? Maybe I should leave the lectionary and preach on something I want to preach on. The way we thought in Jesus’ times and the way we think today are totally different, does it even matter anymore? But, No. It is ascension Sunday and that’s what I’ll do.

Alright, so picture this. The world is flat. We all believe that the earth is simply a flat surface. We know this to be truth. Our parents knew this to be true and so did their parents. But there is a dome over us. This dome covers all of the earth-disc. It prevents all of the waters circling our disc from crashing in on us. It keeps all of the chaos out. Everything is simple. We are here, on our disc, and God is above us, outside of the dome. In a way, God is the dome because He holds the chaos away from us. In a world that had almost no scientific knowledge…this made perfect sense!

When European missionaries first arrived in Africa they faced many obstacles. In South Africa they faced a particular issue that was difficult to overcome. The natives of South Africa, the Zulu, Xhosa, and Sotho believed that God, whom they referred to as Nkulunkulu or the biggest one, lived in the ground. Caves and holes were known sacred spaces and were decorated to show respect. Whenever a villager was faced with an obstacle they would go to a cave in their homeland, and in order to ask for advice they would pour beer to the ground. This was very difficult for the missionaries who were to preach that God lives in the sky and that there is actually a place called Hell (something that these tribes had never heard of) and it is deep in the ground, not God.

That makes teaching the ascension rather difficult. I’m guessing that they were as confused as I was. When I think about it, God being in the ground makes sense to me. Man was made in the image of God, man was made with dust. All things beautiful grow out of the ground. Nkulunkulu makes sense. But the European missionaries did not feel that way so the notion of God in the sky, right outside of our lovely little dome spread.  

The Acts account of the ascension has Jesus literally being swept out of sight. One second he is there praying with his friends and then the next poof he’s up in the clouds, above the dome. Now I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen anyone poof out of sight. None of my friends have managed to figure out how to ascend into the clouds. It is hard to relate to this whole notion of Jesus ascending into the clouds. To the first century thinkers,  it made total sense. They thought heaven was directly above the earth. In that case it would only make sense that Jesus would be swept up into the clouds to return to God. Even though we still point up when we talk about Heaven or look up when talking to or about God, we know that you can’t just float up high enough and reach heaven…just the stratosphere. This just makes everything even more difficult to understand, which makes me like it even less.

I read the Acts passage over and over trying to break it down. Trying to understand what this whole ascension business means and then finally one line got my attention. So right after Jesus goes poof, the disciples are staring up at the sky and two men, dressed all in white appear and say “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Right, duh, we knew that. Jesus said that the Kingdom would be restored but not when. Well, Jesus ascended, will come back at some point and the Holy Spirit will be with us in the meantime. We should probably get down to business and keep doing all of the things Jesus told us to do.

In a way He did leave a to-do list. He wanted the disciples to continue doing the things they were doing while He was with them. There is preaching and converting, baptizing and teaching. They’ve got to continue spreading the Good News. As Christians we need to work on that to-do list as well. While, all of us are not expected to go travel in pairs converting, preaching and baptizing, spreading the good news is on the list. Acting justly, being loving, being merciful, and walking humbly. Yeah, those are all things on our to-do list.

Now, I think of the ascension as the kick-off of our preparation time. It’s sort of like a huge rally day. We aren’t sure how long out preparation time is, but we know that we are preparing for Jesus’ return. We are making ourselves and the world better so that when Jesus returns we will be ready. Enough looking at the sky, time to roll our sleeves up and love our neighbor. Our tasks are pretty simple. They are really things that we are all ready doing. I guess in a way, Ascension Sunday is our yearly reminder: Jesus is going to return and we’ve got things to do to get ready but the Holy Spirit is with us to guide us every step of the way. 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Transitional Woman

Last week I was given a bead for my charm bracelet. It is called "Transitional Woman" and it depicts a woman evolving. I have decided that Transitional Woman and I do not agree. This past week has been absolutely awful for me. I fully believe that I have cried more in the past ten days than anyone should. period. I apparently am not a fan of transition. The change is difficult to deal with. For the past four years I have been a college student and what am I now? How do I identify myself to myself? I wish that I had gone straight into classes once I got finished at AUC. Maybe things would have been easier that way? There are so many questions floating around in my head right now and the inability to answer them all makes me anxious. Where am I going with my life? What am I doing with my life? What will Princeton be like? Will I be able to pass Greek? Will I make friends? What will living in New Jersey be like? What will I do once I am done with Princeton? How will David and I make the five hour distance work? Will I be able to find a job at Princeton?

Another issue I am having is that I feel like there is nowhere I belong. Family is supposed to love you unconditionally. They are genetic programmed to in a way, like you. My family does not like me. My family does not love me. They have made this abundantly clear as of late. If, the people who are supposed to love me do not, who will? If I do not belong with my family where do I belong? I no longer belong at my college, so where do I belong? Where is a family I can call my own? Is there anywhere that I belong?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Reading

I plan to get a few mindless books in this summer: random chicklit and the like, but on top of that I have a list that was sent to me by the seminary that I'll be starting in on.


Comby, Jean, How to Read Church History, vol. 1, From the Beginnings to the Fifteenth Century (New York: Crossroad, 1985).


Bruyneel, Sally and Alan G. Padgett, Introducing Christianity (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2003).

Olson, Roger E., The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1999).


Fee, Gordon, How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002)

Practical Theology

Paul Scott Wilson, The Four Pages of a Sermon: A Guide to Biblical Preaching. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999.
Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran(eds.) A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Grand Central Publishing, 2000.

General Suggestions

Elie Wiesel, Night. New York: Hill and Wang, c2006

D. Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. Minneapolis: Fortress 1996

Karl Barth Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It Makes My Heart Happy

Tuesday Afternoon I was sitting in my New Testament Epistles class. The final class of my undergraduate experience. This has been a difficult experience for me this semester, not because the work was too difficult but because my beliefs are so vastly different than the beliefs of my classmates and this class really brought that to the surface. In this class I preached a sermon on the role of women in the church. I preached the sermon as woman who hopes to be ordained some day. Many of my classmates come from backgrounds where women are not meant to speak in church, women are meant to teach the little kids and that is it. I also wrote my thesis on homosexuality in the bible, and not from the “condemning Gays to hell” perspective that my classmates support. Rather, I wrote it from a open and accepting viewpoint and presented it as such to the class. So Tuesday when someone was presenting their paper on “Sexual Immorality: fornication and homosexuality” everyone in the class turned and stared at me.

Tuesday afternoon, people were glaring at me and making snide comments because the only conclusion they can draw is that if I support gay rights and do not condemn homosexuality I must therefore be gay and practice sexual immorality. Truly, I do not care. The looks and the comments are no skin off my back. I know who I am and what I believe. Tuesday night, in the Presbytery of the Twin Cities, the votes were cast and tallied and Amendment 10A passed. This Amendment, which I have written about previously, will change the wording of a section of the book of order (The Constitution of the PCUSA- for all you known presbys)to allow those who are not in a committed relationship consisting of a man and a woman to be ordained into official positions of the church.

It should not come as news to any that follow this blog that I rejoice in the passing of this amendment. I did not wish to be in a church that would exclude so many devoted Christians simply because of who they love. Many have threatened to leave the church and to those who do, I wish them all the best. I hope that they find a new church home that is more in line with their theological standing, but please do remember that you are leaving by your own free-will, no one is forcing you to leave. To those that have been standing on the sidelines, the PCUSA is open to you. We will accept you and the one you love.

Someday I hope to be ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament within the Presbyterian Church (USA), and it makes my heart happy to know that one day I will have the opportunity to serve alongside my fellow Christian brothers and sisters regardless of their sexual identity.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Coffee, Sleep, and Graduation!

The next eleven days of my life are going to be chaos. Tomorrow I have a computer class. I have to leave class early to go down to the high school that is affiliated with my college and talk about mission work during their chapel. After that, I will be working in the Admissions office because the head of the Admissions department at the school that is buying out my college will be on campus. I will also be working on assignments while working in the office. Shh don’t tell. Tomorrow evening I am running evening worship for the women’s dorm. I still have to figure out what my topic will be, perhaps something about how we are all unique.

I have until Friday to turn in all of my work for my course in Revelation. That is fifteen assignments. Luckily, they are only one page each, but nonetheless that is still a lot of work. I also have my Revelation final on Friday. That is going to be fun to fail. I am going to pull a college humor and draw a little picture at the end of the test begging for mercy. Highly doubt it will work but it is worth a try. My professor wants me to pass. He does not want to have to deal with me any longer than he already has. I think a lot of people will be happy when the crazy liberal Presbyterian is gone. They can go back to their happy conservative ways.

I have a few papers to write for my class on American Cinema, due on Tuesday. Luckily, once I take my Revelation final on Friday, I no longer need to attend class so I will spend that time Monday finishing assignments. I have presentation to give (on Tuesday), a Tennis final to take (on Tuesday) and a computer final to take (possibly also on Tuesday). Tuesday morning there is also a graduation rehearsal. This will be the first practice we have had for graduation and the first time we are truly being told anything about our graduation. I do not think I have anything on Wednesday, which would mean that my undergraduate education would be completed Tuesday evening.

The senior events start Thursday evening. Thursday evening is the Senior Banquet at an Italian restaurant in Millis. There is so much drama surrounding that event. Considering it is my last banquet and my last social event of college, I am hoping it turns out to be a relatively drama and stress free evening. I have friends that want to go out after the banquet Thursday. The banquet does not end until 12 AM and by the time we make it back to Lancaster it will be closer to 1 AM. As much as I want to celebrate, I think I will have to pass. Friday will be dedicated to baking a cake (I am making a graduation cake for my friend Alexander) and packing. Friday night is consecration. I am not entirely sure what this service is intended for. I am under the impression that it is pretty much the same thing as Baccalaureate. Saturday is going to be jam-packed. Saturday morning I am speaking during the regular church service (Adventists worship on Saturdays) about my mission trip to Cameroon. At 11:00 AM, we have our Baccalaureate service. Finally, at 4:00 PM there is the nurses’ pinning. While I am not required to attend this, I will go to support my friends. Saturday night I will be dying my hair purple.

Sunday, May 15, I will wake up in the morning and it will finally be the day I graduate from college. Graduation is meant to start at 11:00 AM on the campus Mall. I hope that it will start on time. By 1 PM, I will be a college graduate. After graduation, I thank whoever is coming to see me graduate and then I head over to the Kirchberg house so Alexander and I can celebrate our accomplishments in style!

The next 11 days are going to be filled with large amounts of coffee and diet coke and lacking greatly in sleep but come May 15 it will all be worth it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Non-Bloody Jesus

A quick post on how I know my sister loves me.

My brother-in-law is from Portugal. He's family is old school super Catholics. They go to mass all the time. They light candles for those we have lost. They visit the Shrine of our Lady of Fatima all the time!

So my sister went with her husband and their kids to Fatima Shrine last week to buy a spiritual for a wake she had to go to and to light candles for a friend my brother-in-law lost. While my brother-in-law and my nephews were lighting candles and praying my sister was in the gift shop. As she was telling me this story she asked "Do you know how awkward it is to be in a Catholic gift shop on a Catholic holy ground and ask for something NOT Catholic?"

My sister asked the clerk if there was anything in the gift shop that didn't have some image of the bloody Jesus attached to the crucifix. She and the clerk spent an hour searching for something that didn't have "Bloody Jesus" on it. She explained to the clerk that her sister (me) is graduating in May and is not Catholic but is religious. After searching for over an hour they found something that will work and she's giving it to me when I graduate next month. I am very interested in finding out what it is.

I know my sister loves me because she goes to the Catholic Shrine and asks for a non-bloody Jesus!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Commencement Speech I Would Give

I was sitting at my desk at work yesterday and my mind started to wander, as it typically does. It wandered to the speeches that were given at my High School graduation, and the speeches I've seen at other graduations. It wandered to the speeches given last year at AUC's graduation and then it arrived on if I were to give a speech at graduation what would I say? That thought mixed with reflecting on my time in college came up with this:

Lessons Learned

In my time at Atlantic Union College, I have said more than once, “I can’t wait to graduate”. Alright, to be honest, I have said that more times than I can actually count. When struggling through professor Lugenbeal’s Greek class: I cannot wait to graduate! When procrastinating in Dean Francis’ statistics class: I cannot wait to graduate! When attempting to understand the theological and apocalyptic implications of the interpretation of the different horses in the sixth chapter, verses 1 through 8, of the book of Revelation and the symbolism behind their coloring in Doctor Davis’ course on Revelation, (and surprise Dean Davis, I was paying attention), I may have uttered a couple hundred times, “I can’t wait to graduate!” From the day, I was accepted to graduate school, my mantra has been “I cannot wait to graduate!” 

And yet here I stand, mere moments from graduating from college, and I begin to reflect on my time here. I think of the things learned in the classroom but truly, it is the things learned outside of the classroom that stick out the most. There were the times I left class completely confused and it was not until studying with friends that things began to click. It was outside of class where I learned valuable things, like which toiletry bottles are best for holding open a window. (Turns out that a can of hairspray works best FYI). It was outside of class where I learned one of life’s most valuable lessons: It does not matter if you are white and have no rhythm whatsoever, get your butt out on the dance floor and enjoy yourself. It was outside of class where I learned that if you manage to go to sleep at 9:00 PM and wake up at 3:30 AM you will have amazing amounts of energy and actually manage to get work done. At that same time, I realized that no one is in the girls’ dorm computer lab at 3:30 AM so the only distraction from your work is yourself. 

It was outside of classes that I learned what a mystery substance known as stripples are. One of the greatest lessons I have learned during my nearly four years at Atlantic Union College was not learned in a classroom, it was not part of an assignment, and it was not during a chapel. The greatest thing I learned was something I learned from a fellow student this past semester. The greatest thing I learned was positive thinking. If you put yourself down that means, everyone else can. If you think you are beaten, you are. If you do not challenge yourself, no one ever will. A friend, whom I wish I had met earlier in my academic career, taught me this and I do not exaggerate when I say that it was her annoying little goal to drill it into my head over the course of the semester. 

In my time at Atlantic Union College, I have met amazing people. There have been professors who have guided us along the way. The first one that comes to mind is Rick Trott, who I have mentally referred to as Trottikins in my time here. Most of us have a professor that has given us extra help or has made our time here worth it. We have made friends here. Some of those friends we might never see after May 15, others we will stay in touch with via Facebook or email, and then there are those others...those that you have met in your time at AUC who have become family. I know for me at least, there are people I am graduating alongside that are like brothers and sisters to me, who I will not be losing contact with whether they like it or not. 
In my time at AUC, I have learned how to parse Greek verbs, how to find the standard deviation, how to counsel people, how to preach a sermon, how to be a pastor, how to be a friend, how to introduce myself in Spanish at a church, and how to develop my ideas in order to win an argument. Adam Ingano’s Radicals & Reformers, Rick Trott’s Christian Ethics, Andrew Francis’ Computer classes, Francy Duran’s History of Christianity, Gidget Keech’s Group Counseling, Roger Bothwell’s Introduction to Psychology, and Adam Ingano’s American National Government, these are some of the classes that have taught me lessons and provided me with experiences that I will keep with me after I leave this place, this campus, this town. 

In my time at Atlantic Union College, I have learned how to defend my beliefs and I have learned who I am. These are two of the most vital lessons a person can learn in life and I have Atlantic Union College to thank for that. Now that college is done, I intend to sleep for a week. I have to catch up for all of those all-nighters we have pulled this semester. I leave you with the memorable words of our former president, George W. Bush, “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you too may one day be president of the United States.”