Sunday, October 21, 2012

Update 3: My Body Hates Me

Near the end of the summer I started noticing a theme: I was getting sick everyday. Whenever I ate, no matter what I was eating, I would get super sick. I have been allergic to dairy for years so I go out of my way to avoid dairy. This was not dairy related. I was getting horribly sick. I would have sharp stabby stomach pains all day, I would get tired almost instantly after eating, a migraine quality headache would soon develop and I was experiencing awful joint pain. Initially I did not connect the headaches, fatigue, or joint pain. I went to the doctor shortly after the semester started, just for the sick and stomach pains. We talked about what could be causing it and she order a lot of blood work.

Those that are successful at obtaining my blood without hurting me will be given a huge reward. To my recollection this has never happened. I have had everything from a phlebotamist inserting the needle and moving it around to find the vein. I have had blood taken from both elbows, the back of both hands, and even from between my knuckles at one point. When having my blood drawn at the doctor's office, it took two people. The first person attempted to get blood from my elbow and couldn't do it. The second person came in and took blood from the back of my hand. The problem, then, was that both were from my right arm, my dominate arm. I lost all feeling in my right arm for the rest of the day, which made driving a fun game.

I went back to the doctors this week to follow up. My blood work showed that I am severely anemic and that I have hypothyroidism. The Anemia I can understand but I have not fully understood what exactly hypothyroidism entails. However, the test for bacterial infections and parasites were clean. In between the two doctors visits I realized that everytime I eat wheat I would have all of the symptoms. So I haven't had gluten in a month. I feel so much better and I'm only getting sick when the dining services sneaks gluten into my food.

So it turns out I have Celiac Disease. Apparently 1 in 100 people have it. It's an autoimmune disease that makes it impossible for my intestines to process gluten (the protein found in wheat, barely, rye, and other grains). I have to load up on the fruits and vegetables and I am trying out weird gluten free foods. It has made eating in the dining hall insanely difficult so I am working with housing to try to move out of the dorm.

In one month I have been diagnosed with anemia, hypothyroidism, and Celiac Disease. My body hates me!

Summer Part 2!

At the beginning of August David and I celebrated out fifth anniversary of dating. I drove up to Massachusetts to visit him. Our intention for the weekend was to go to a wedding in Maine on the Sunday of our anniversary weekend. We planned to stop at the camp, in New Hampshire, where we had met on the Friday. On Saturday, we were going to Harpswell, Maine to see his godmother/aunt. And then Sunday was the wedding in Brunswick. The weekend did not happen as planned.

By the time we were ready to hit the road for New Hampshire it was dinnertime. Instead of eating at a rest stop we decided to eat with David's family. I looked over at David at one point and noticed that he was barely picking at his dinner. Very odd, especially because he had worked in the sun all day. When it was time to leave David's father gave me a hug. I love his father. He's a very loving man but I can count the number of hugs he has given me. But whatever, we got in the car and started driving.

By the time we had reached the camp it was dark. There was a family camp going on but I had received permission for us to stay in a cabin for the night. We spent a while talking to the program director and then made our way down to the cabin. As we walked down to the cabin he checked his pockets, saying that he was looking for his flashlight. We settled into the cabin and David suggested we go for a walk. I stood outside of the cabin waiting for him, and then we made our way down to the water front.

At the water front we spent time looking at the stars and watching the reflection of the moon on the pond. As we were talking about random things, David starts telling me that he loves me and what I meant to him. But then he said that it wasn't enough. My first thought was something along the lines of "If this JERK took me to New Hampshire to break up with me on our anniversary I will kill him dead!" but then suddenly he was on one knee in the sand with a small box in his hand. He likes to tease me because I apparently did not say yes at first. Instead I kissed him, but because I was still smiling it was more of a clashing of teeth.

We spent that night alone in the cabin being happy and dreaming of our future and calling each other fiance, future wife, and future husband...repeatedly. One of the great or horrible things (depends on how you look at it) about my camp is that there is zero cellphone reception. So the next morning we drove to the next town in order to call people to let them know. We sat in a parking lot making calls. I called my sister first. He called his family to let them know I said there was any question.

We then made it up to Harpswell and spent time with Aunt Nancy, Sandra, and Grandma White. We walked along the beach and We went to see Aunt Nancy and Sandra in the community theater play and actually ended up helping out with stage and lighting stuff beforehand. At the play, we talked to one of Aunt Nancy's niece. Later that night she found out that we had just gotten engaged the night before and was surprised with the amount of confidence we had when we said fiance. :)

On Sunday we had breakfast and then ended up heading back to Massachusetts so I could spend extra time with my future in-laws before I had to head back to New Jersey. We didn't make it to the wedding (Sorry Steph and Mike!). It was an amazing weekend!

Summer Recap

It has been nearly five months since my last post and I think a lot has changed and a lot has happened in those five months. I am going to a series of short post to cover the past five months.

I spent the summer working at a small Presbyterian church in New Jersey. It is a New Church Development even though it was founded about twelve years ago. They still meet in the cafeteria of a middle school . It's a single pastor and I learned a  lot of things. I had the opportunity to create a Vacation Bible School curriculum for middle school and high school students that worked with the Daniel in Babylon story. This was probably the highlight of my field education placement. I really got to bond with the kids and I took them on fun trips that had to do with the curriculum I wrote. I also learned other things through this placement. I learned how important it is for a pastor to have clergy and non-clergy friends outside that they can lean on. I also learned that I am pretty sure I am not called to do NCD work and solo pastor might be iffy too...still discerning that.

For the summer I subletted an apartment and spent time living with friends which was a great experience. It was a bit crowded in the small apartment but we bonded even more than we previously had. It was my first time choosing people that I would live with and doing everything on our own. It was a great experience.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I have learned many things during my first year of seminary. I have learned that coffee is the best way to make it through the long nights of finals. I have learned the best way to make caramel popcorn for 400 people for BGLASS carnival. I have learned how to transport a couch on top of a car without ropes. And I have learned how to read the New Testament in its original Greek, organize a worship service, how to help parishioners dealing with marital problems and how to work with nonprofits. Through my experiences in classes, in conversations with my fellow students outside of classes, and through volunteering with local churches and organizations, I have been presented with numerous rewarding experiences and trials. Seminary has been difficult. Leaving Atlantic Union College I was in no way prepared for the academic rigor that Princeton has presented me with, but I continue to strive alongside my classmates.  I am looking forward to the experiences that I will have this summer while doing field education and what the next two years have in store for me. 

Monday, April 9, 2012


So, today is the start of Princeton Theological Seminary's BGLASS week. BGLASS (Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Seminarians) is a fabulous group here I have made most of my friends and actually feel welcomed and accepted for who I am. Something that was majorly lacking before I came here.

BGLASS be with you.
And also with you. 
We uplift our queers.
We lift them up to the Lord. 
It is right to support our queers and allies.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Theologians on Twitter

Some of the best humorous quips are provided on twitter. Within 140 Characters you are forced to sum up what you are trying to say. It has become home of witty one-liners. The hastags of twitter have extended into our everyday lives. Sometimes the tweets come best when you are attempting to avoid work you have to do, like this epic exchange between a Friend and I:

  • Me: #letsgetdowntobusiness
  • T: #todefeatthehuns ?
  • Me: Did they send me Calvin when I asked for Tertullian?
  • T: You're the least Reformed bunch I've ever met, but you can bet before we're through, minister I'll get some Barth out of you!
  • Me: Must be as swift as Athanasius/ with all the force of the Nicene Creed/with all the strength of Augustine's writin'.
  • T: Mysterious as the writer of Hebrews!!!
  • Me: Kant is racing towards until Christ arrives!
  • T: Heed Calvin's Institutes, and you might not backslide

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Summer of '99

“Next stop Kenmore Square! Next stop Kenmore Square! Doors open on the right!”

I hear this announcement almost daily but its days like this that they mean the most

These are the days where he grabs my hand and we wade through the sea of people.

“Tickets? Tickets? Buying Tickets! Selling Tickets! You need tickets! Who needs tickets?”

We go through the gate and he doesn’t let go.

Up on the concourse we are surrounded by red and green.

We meander through the rows upon rows of seats until we find the ones we are looking for

These are the days I wait  from October to April for

These are the days I pine for during the off-season

My sneakers stick to the dried tonic on the concrete

He wipes the shells off our seats

These are the days when we are closest when we are inseparable

“Peanuts! Peanuts! Hot salty fresh peanuts!”

He buys a bag even though he’s allergic, it’s how I know he really loves me

It’s hot and muggy and our jerseys stick to the small of our backs and as we sit in our seats the sweat rolls off our brow.

The park starts to fill with thousands and people climb over me

But I’ll never complain because yet again he has brought me to paradise.

The anthem starts and he takes my hat off and puts it in my hand

You know the game is about to begin when they announce the line-up

My favorite player runs onto the field

“At Short Stop, Nomar Garciaparra”

He squeezes my hand and I look up at him and I say:

“Daddy, I’m going to marry him some day!”


Sorry ya'll I haven't updated in a while. Class and work and attempting to have a life have been taking up my time. Psh who am I trying to kid? Facebook and sleep and tumblr and board games have prevented me from blogging.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

3 days=1,955 Calories

I am attempting to write a paper for systematic theology on the church’s Israelology by examining Article One of the Nicene Creed as well as Deuteronomy 7:6-9 and Romans 11. I am having a difficult time concentrating on the task at hand. This generally would not come as a surprised considering ordinarily I have the attention span of a goldfish but it is extraordinarily difficult today. This leads me to wonder if it has anything to do with a diet I have recently started. It's a diet I started with a few friends and today is the third day. For three days it is very structured and then for four days you eat whatever you want, in moderation. It sounds great until you take a look at what you actually eat for those 3 days...

Day One:
Breakfast: 1/2 a grapefruit, 1 slice of toast, 1 teaspoon of peanut of 165 calories (I forgot the Peanut Butter...-30)
Lunch: 1/2 cup of plan tuna, 1 slice of of 200 calories
Dinner: 3 oz of meat, 1 cup string beans, 1 cup carrots, 1 apple, 1 cup vanilla ice 440 calories (I'm allergic to dairy, subtract 200 calories)
Total calories for the day 805 (-230 =575)

Day Two:
Breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 slice of toast, 1/2 banana of 215 (The cafeteria didn't have any bananas, subtract 55)
Lunch: 1 cup of cottage cheese or 1/2 cup of tuna and 5 saltine of 260 calories
Dinner: 1 plain hot dog (no bun!), 1 cup brocoli, 1 cup carrots, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup vanilla ice of 480 calories (still no banana, subtract 55 & subtract 100 for the ice cream)
Total calories for the day 895 (-100-55-55=685)

Day Three:
Breakfast: 5 saltines, 1 slice cheddar cheese, 1 small of 255 (-115 for cheese)
Lunch: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 slice of of 160 calories
Dinner: 1 cup plain tuna, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup cauliflower or green leaf vegetables, 1 cup cantaloupe, 1/2 cup vanilla ice of 495 Calories (-100 for the ice cream)
Total calories for the day 910 (-115-100=695)

So if you have all of the food available and do not have any allergies, you will have consumed 2,610 calories over the course of 3 days. Because of my allergy and there being no bananas, I will have consumed 1,955. That is 45 calories less than the recommended caloric intake for one day! 

I believe this may be the first and last time I try this diet! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Discerning Our Calls

This week I have been thinking about my call and how it is intimately intertwined with service and social justice. I was asked to speak to a group of prospective students about discerning your call with emphasis placed on social justice and service. I find this slightly difficult because I am still discerning my call so how can I tell someone else how to discern his or hers? I have eight months of seminary under my belt and taking it day by day. I am a member of a group of students dedicated to social justice and sustainable community engagement. I want to volunteer and I want to get others interested in volunteering…but what does that have to do with my call?

For me, the first step in this was determining what I truly care about. There are so many important things that interest me like tutoring and literacy, but what is closest to my heart? What motivates me? I realized that for me there are two things: homelessness and LGBTQ teens and young adults. Unfortunately, these issues tend to go hand and hand.

So what does this mean for my call? Well, first it means that I am doing this now to connect myself with this. Last semester I spent a number of Saturday nights in Philadelphia volunteering at a drop in center for LGBTQ young adults helping out with personal care kits and anything else they needed and volunteering at different World AIDS day events. I am going through training to become a volunteer for the Trevor project 800 hotline and setting up a partnership between our group on campus BGLASS and the Triad-House (a home in Trenton for homeless, abused, and neglect LGBT teens). These things are not to brag about what I have done but rather because I believe that, your call is firmly rooted in your past. And the service and social justice that we are passionate about. I feel called to congregational ministry, but a congregational ministry that has an interest in these things.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I love Jesus, I Like Tattoos

I like tattoos and I love Jesus. I want a full sleeve. I also want a job in a church some day. Apparently, these two things tend not to go hand and hand. I have been involved in numerous conversations since coming to seminary about tattoos and none of them has left me feeling too great. We all wish that we lived in a world where people are not judged by their appearances but alas, this is unfortunately not the case. I have one friend that has a full sleeve. It is from just above the shirt cuff all the way to his shoulder. If he needs to, he can hide it. Personally, I do not think he should ever have to hide it. It is beautiful artwork and now a part of him.

The year after my father died, I got a tattoo in memory of him. I knew instantly what I wanted to get but the difficult aspect was figuring out where I would get it. I want to be a pastor some day so it had to be in a location that is easily covered but at the same time, I wanted it to be in a location where it could be displayed if I wanted it to. One major factor was that I want it to be visible on my wedding day so my father is visibly with me. In the end, I got a starfish tattooed onto my left shoulder blade, easily concealed, and easily revealed. Three years after my Dad died, my Nana Rosie passed away of the same type of cancer. I want to get a tattoo to remember her by and once again, the problem I run into is since I am going to be a pastor and will need to cover this up, where do I get it?

I want at least three more tattoos:
    A PCUSA cross that represents my love of the church and the role Fourth Pres (South Boston) serves as a place of refuge when home was not

Tattoos are beautiful pieces of art. They can carry so much meaning to a person. If done for the right reasons, they can carry a story that is otherwise untold. Tattooing has been practiced for centuries and yet it is still taboo. There is a Christian tattoos movement. People get back pieces that are the full crucifixion scene. People get scripture tattooed on them. But is it okay for the pastor to have tattoos? I want to be a tattooed pastor. I understand the Leviticus 19: 28 reasoning behind not getting tattoos but I also eat lobster.

I suppose my whole point is that I wish the appearance was not such a huge issue in society. I think someone with facial piercings and tattoos can be a better pastor that someone that is entirely clean-cut because it is not our appearance that determines our suitability for ministry but rather our heart, our faith, our experience. I love Jesus and I like tattoos and I do not think that these need to be mutually exclusive. I am a future pastor with one tattoo and plans for more. I’m pretty sure Jesus loves me and my tattoos. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On the First Day of Systematic Theology

The clicking of keys
The scrapping of pen on paper
The turning of notebook pages
The rustling of fabric
The shadow of the professor’s head on the projector screen
These are a handful of things gaining my attention
There are six stage lights, three bald heads, two hats, one head wrap
Like bouncing up and down
The professor makes wild gesticulations, which I see, understand, but do not truly comprehend
 I have spent the last ten minutes wondering how a stain got onto the ceiling
Today I need to: phone interview, appointment with the shrink, and,
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity This is Going to be a Tough Semester Disorder

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's Been Four Years

It's been four years since you've been gone, but it feels like just yesterday.
You left entirely way too soon.
                   You didn't get to see my college graduation
                   You won't get to see me finish seminary.
                   Who's going to walk me down the aisle when I wear the white dress?
I know it's been four year but the pain is like it was just yesterday.
                  I know it was for the best
                  Your pain ended and you got to rest
But I need you and miss you!
I miss your corny jokes
I miss the racing lobsters down the hall with you
I miss our trips to the aquarium and watching the penguins while holding your hand
I miss your awful beef soup
I miss your chicken soup with half a bag of mozzarella cheese
I miss muting the TV and turning on the radio to have the best Red Sox commentary
I miss you embarrassing me in church and wish I could have appreciated it more
I miss standing in front of the polling places on cold November nights
I miss the sounds of Billy Joel, Elton John, and Tom Petty 24/7.
I miss your horrendously off-key version of "Big Shot"
I miss making blueberry muffins with you
I miss throwing a baseball back and forth because we have nothing better to do
I miss your horrible rhythm and inability to follow along singing hymns
I miss the Peanut Butter and Fluff sandwiches  even after you developed an allergy
I miss sitting on the end of your bed watching caucus results come in.
I miss all of these things, but most of all, Daddy, I miss you!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolutions I Can Stick To!

Year after year people decide upon their New Year resolution. But how many people actually stick to their resolutions? There are those that decide that they will lose 50 pounds, but by the second week of January, how many people throw that out the window, when the chocolate cake because just too appealing? I have known many people with the resolution to quit smoking...but once they become stressed, well one cigarette doesn't count. 
I usually neglect to make New Year resolutions because I know myself and I know I will forget to stick to them. This year, however, I have decided that I will make some. My resolutions will be realistic ones and ones that I believe I can actually keep. 
  • Become more organized- I've purchased a planner and written down all of the events for the year that I already know about. I've enlisted the help of a friend who is a fantastic organizer. A huge factor of my current disorganization is my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) so I'm headed off to a counselor to talk about that and figure out new coping mechanisms. 
  • Become more financially responsible- I've altered my schedule to increase the number of hours I am working and I am being more conscious about my purchases and the way in which I spend my money. The biggest part has to do with organization and being aware of how much I have in my bank account (which means I will need to write down all of my transactions).
  • Develop my prayer life- When I sat down with my CPM (Committee on Preparation for Ministry) this was something I decided that I need to work towards, but since then I haven't really made any progress. I'm searching for a devotional that captures my attention and one that I will stick with. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
  • Become healthier- Like so many other people there is the underlying desire to lose weight. I would love to have the pounds just melt away, but more than anything else it is simply a desire to feel healthier. So that will include eating healthier (tonight it was spinach salad instead of the mashed potatoes and deep fried chicken patty), increased physical exercise (not necessarily hitting the gym hard but other things as well, today it was a walk around the graduate college's campus and the Institute for Advanced Study), and simply making smarter health decisions. 
  • Sleep- I get a lot of it. I don't get sleep at the appropriate times. I need to move away from the going to bed at 3 AM and catching up on sleep on the weekends and move towards the getting 8 hours of sleep, even if that involves social sacrifices. Appropriate sleep schedules need to be a priority. 
5 resolutions. All of them are things that I will have to be conscious about. Some will be easier than others. Some will require a lot of help from other people. Some I simply need to make a priority in my life. Many of them will require sacrifice. I think I can do it. I think they will help to make me a better person physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, in all the ways that matter. 

Words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated as I try to stick to these.