28 February 2007

And These are The Chapters of My Life...

I know I haven't posted everyday about the work I'm doing in my devotional workbook. Sometimes I just get too busy or I don't have to words to really say what I need too. Today's reflection is about the chapters or segments of my life. It asks how I might divide my life into chapters and where would they begin and end? What would I call them? I'm going to give it my best college try.

These are the chapters that I would divide my life into if I had to do it right now:

0-5: The Exploring Years - These are the years when I was so young that everything seemed huge, shiny, and new to me. They were my initial years of wonder, awe, and learning.

5-9: The Moving Years - All I can recall from these years is a lot of boxes. These were the years we moved back to New Jersey and they seem very unsettled in my memory. I'm not sure why exactly.

9-11: The Chaos Years - I remember these years a being ones of family chaos. If the moving years felt unsettled then these years felt as if I was living on my head. Things in my life and family changed faster than I could change my socks.

11-13: The Calm Years - Two years of utter and total peace. I look back on them and I smile. It was like nothing bad was going to happen in my world, ever.

13-16: The Minnesota Years - It was when I moved here and I think about those years as good years. Nothing major happened but I became more and more settled in Minnesota. I became apart of this land and these people. It was when I knew that I would one day call Minnesota home.

16-18: Depression - I had lost someone I loved very dearly and for about two years I was in some kind of funky depression. My memory sees these years in black and white with lots of rain.

18-22: Hamline High - These were the university years. I went to a college and very much reminded me of high school. There were people who came into my life then who I am very close to still. In many ways these years are like my exploring years. I learned a lot about who I am and what I believe. I made some big decisions about my future during these years.

22-24: The Gainful Employment Years - I actually worked a full time job where I went to work everyday. I took vacations to fun places and I made actual money. All in all these were boring years.

24-28: The K Years - I even labeled my journals from this time as 'The K Years.' I'm still not sure what to make of these years and I have a feeling they are not completely over yet.

The question now is where is God in the movement of these years? I know in more recent years where God is but in some of my earlier years I have a difficult time seeing God. I know that in my 'Depression' years I couldn't see or feel God's presence in my life. I wonder how God has woven in and out of my life over the last 28 years...

25 February 2007

A Prayer for Today

Lord, thank you so much for being with me today. I have not gossiped, nor have I spoken a cross word. My thoughts have been on you and I am thinking of the people in my life with love in my heart. I have not been angry, sarcastic or impatient. Now, please help me as I get out of bed this morning.


Oh, The Things I Have Done

Day 4 of my Journey into myself. Sometimes I love being introspective it feels so arrogant and conceited. So...still on the road to finding home as well as me (I spend a lot of time looking for me.) Today's question is about "What I did", the activities that most absorbed me during those years, like school, work, family, friends, sports, and "Major Life Events," being key personal events like graduation, births and deaths, moves.

I guess I'll start backwards and do some of my major life events. I mentioned before that my family likes to move or liked to move as the case maybe. Since coming to Minnesota we have been really settled. Now I'm the one who does all the moving. I loved living Warwick, my parents tell me that I never forgave them for that move and maybe they are right. My mom and I were talking the other day and she mentioned she hasn't seen me as happy as I am in a very long time. Maybe because Saint Cloud in many ways reminds me of Warwick. After a time it doesn't matter any more that you move. And for the record I think I forgave my parents when we moved to Minnesota. My family has done well here together. Other major life events for me are when my father stopped drinking, when my sister went off to rehab, graduation from high school, graduation from university, moving to Boston for seminary, and moving back from Boston this past May. My move back was the first move I did on my own. I even drove it alone. This past year has been difficult for my family. There have been several deaths in my family including my mom's younger brother. My father had a series of small strokes. I began a year long CPE program. I would say that 2006 as a whole was a key personal event.

As for things I've done, well, I'm relatively young and I haven't changed the world yet but I am working on that. I've spent a lot of time in school.

Preschool - 2 years
Elementary - 6 years (counting Kindergarten)
Middle School - 3 years
High School - 4 years
College - 4.5 years
Seminary 3.5 years

Grand total - 23 years and 105K (in debt that is)

At least I can say I've done something. I'm still not sure what it is but its something. Elementary school is hazy at best but I remember middle school. We moved in while I was in middle school. I guess elementary and early middle school was about when my house of cards came crashing down in New Jersey. The one thing I do recall from New Jersey is softball. High school sucked as only high school can. I spent high school trying to be someone I'm not, OK not that I really know who I am all the time but I spent it trying to fit in to some group that I never wanted to be apart of. If the word "poser" had been popular when I was in high school that's what I would have been. What I remember most about high school is working. Do you want fries with that? I worked from the time I was 15. I don't know what it means not to work. University is where I made my first set of really good friends, you know the ones who have seen you barely dragging your butt and they love you and stick by you anyway. When I moved to Boston my family relationships got better (1500 miles will do that), and I began taking apart my life in a very systematic way and then putting it all back together. I've done some cool things along the way but I think that the best is yet to come.

What event is the worst or the best? What made me saddest or happiest? I don't know. I may be too integrated to answer that honestly. What I can say is that every event has made me into who I am today and I may not always reconise the person I see in the mirror, I do love her and I think that she is capable of amazing things.

24 February 2007

Somewhere on the Journey but Looking for Home

Yesterday's Friday Five asked about who we would take on the journey with us. Lent really is a journey and it can be difficult one. I've struggled this year with Lent, heck I've struggled with just about everything this year. In May, I packed up my 1998 Toyota Camry and pointed my car West to return home. I left three years of my life in Boston. I left good friends and a few people that I love very deeply. I must have cried through all of NY state and still don't know if I'm home. I don't know what home feels like right now. I feel as if I'm in a sort of, Interim Life. I can't go back but I don't know what is coming in the future. I'm here in Saint Cloud, MN and I have torn apart most of life in the last three years. Now I've put much of it back together in a way that makes more sense to me but there still seems to be something lacking. So this year for Lent I took on a practice that I haven't done in many years. I'm doing a devotional workbook. To be more specific I'm doing this devotional workbook. It's a devotional workbook for lesbian and gay Christians. I went on the reconciling journey of being bisexual and Christian many many years ago but I felt drawn to this book at this time. I also feel called to share this journey with you.

I'm on day three of the workbook and this is where I'm "Mapping My Spiritual Journey" so to speak. Today's exercise is asking me to list all the places I've lived and to remember the sights, sounds, and smells I associate with them. To look at what feelings come up when I think of them.

When I was young, my families journey was about moving every 4 years at least. The only house we ever lived in that recall with fond memories was in a little town called Warwick. It was in New York State. That's Warwick below.

When I lived there, it felt like home. Mostly it smelled like farms but when you were in town it smelled like bubble gum and shoe polish. I remember going to the river, it was really a little stream, and catching tadpoles. I remember being happy. I knew, as only a child could, that God was present in my life. We moved after only living there for two years. We moved back to New Jersey. Into a pink house (it didn't stay pink for long) on Windsor Drive. I didn't, and still don't, like that house. It holds painful stories for me. I went to church and loved God but I was never able to feel God there like I could in NY. It was in that Windsor Drive house that my sister began drinking and hitting me. It was in that house that I sustained most of my scars, both physical and emotional. It was in that house that my family fell apart. It was my very own house of cards. It was in that house that I first began to question God's existence because for the first time I felt what being alone really means. How did I get from that kid who doesn't believe God exists, to who I am today?

23 February 2007

Friday Five : Companions on the Way

Today's Friday Five is brought to us by Songbird...

Dante had Virgil as a guide. Before he had younger siblings, my oldest child had an imaginary friend named Patrick. Betsy had Tacy. Laura Ingalls depended on her brindle bulldog, Jack. All of them were companions on the way.

As we take the beginning steps of our journey through Lent, who would we take as a companion? Name five people, real or imaginary, you might like to have with you as guide or guardian or simply good friend.

Nicki is going on a Journey and she is bringing (OMG! I don't know who to bring!) I've always sort of done the difficult things on my own. I don't know who I would bring with me on this journey. Okay, Let us try this again. Nicki is going on a Journey and she is bringing:

1. Rev's Becky and Michelle. I blame both them for my call. I would have never answered the phone if they hadn't been standing pointing at the phone and going, "Aren't you gonna answer that? You know it won't stop ringing until you answer it." So I answered my call and they have to come on the journey with me.

2. My mom would have to come but she won't go if my dad isn't going too. My parents annoy me but I love them dearly and I wouldn't have been able to get this far in life without their unconditional love and support. My mom would be more likely to go on this journey if it was headed for Italy.

3. Nick. Nick is my best friend and has been for more years than I like to admit at times. When we are together we are the most amusing people in the world and the littlest thing can keep us going for hours. He also has the best music collection I know of and music is an important part of any journey.

4. Patricia Hampl. Someone needs to write about the journey and I'm still not sure what a comma is for so I would need a scribe and I can't think of a better scribe than Patrica Hampl, OK maybe Kathleen Norris.

5. (Left blank intentionally) I want to leave this space free. I haven't met this person yet but I know that I will meet them, if not on this journey then on the next. Every journey I have ever gone on has brought amazing people into my life and I want to keep this open for the next person who challenges me and asks me to grow and become a better person, a better Christian.

That's my five. The next questions is what would we all wear on this journey.

21 February 2007

So it begins

Ash Wednesday. The beginning of a six week journey, 40 days, in which to pray, think, fast, and do works of love and mercy. A time of deep repentance and reflection. A time of suffering but with the hope of resurrection at the end. Lent always presents itself to me as a time of discipline.

I never liked the imposition of ashes, even as child it seemed frightening to me. From dust you came and to dust you shall return. I don't want to think about dying and yet here I am doing a CPE residency and doing a lot of ministry with dying veterans and their families. Ash Wednesday is one of the reasons I love being a Christian...the whole Lenten season is. Christians are Easter people, resurrection people. Even as we stand today at Ash Wednesday and begin a long and prayerful journey into Easter we stand with resurrection in our hearts. But what do we do during this Lenten season?

The color for Lent is purple.
Forty days of purple.
Forty days of wrestling with decisions:
How will I spend my life?
What will I give up?
What will I take on?
Forty days for the forty years
The Israelites wandered
In the wilderness:
When will I come home?
Where is my source?
Forty days of fasting,
Moses becoming a prophet:
What am I called to do? Who am I called to be?
Where will I find the strength
to do it? To be who I am?
Forty days of testing and prayer,
Jesus preparing for his ministry:
What is my purpose?
Who or what is my authority?
Forty days and forty hours
In a tomb:
What does it mean to sacrifice?
Forty days of preparation
For Easter:
In the midst of my searching,
I will be sought.
In the despair of my questioning,
I will be heard.
Resurrection waits.
~ Susan Ross (adapted)

20 February 2007

Mardi Gras

I went to a Mardi Gras Jazz Vespers last night at University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany. It's next/on Saint Cloud State University campus. I know Mardi Gras is french for, Fat Tuesday and that it refers to the practice of eating up what were considered luxury foods like pancakes and doughnuts. I mean after three years of Moonlight Pancake Suppers at Andover Newton I've learned that much. I didn't know what the Mardi Gras colors meant.

Green for faith
Gold for power
Purple for justice

Pablo Neruda used to write his poems in green ink because it's also the color of esperanza...hope.

During the service we said a litany of celebration words and I wanted to share them with all of you and I hope they stir and inspire you like they inspired me.

In the presence of God, whose word had called the earth and the stars into being,
We stand in awe!
In the presence of God, whose arms carry children,
We stand in trust!
In the presence of God, whose breath has stirred within us and caused our hearts to thirst for justice and peace,
We stand in need!
Before you, O God, giver of live, we come in faith, in celebration, in search of love and justice, mercy and wholeness,
O God, be with us and hear us.

Tomorrow we begin the dark, deep, and serious journey into Lent but for tonight celebrate. We celebrate that God is a God of life and calls us to live, to live deeply and profoundly. I would say that's cause for celebration.

19 February 2007

Things That Make Me Smile

1. Falling in love or watching someone fall in love.
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No lines at the supermarket.
5. A special glance.
6. Getting mail (not bills but actual real mail).
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Vanilla milkshakes or malts.
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
15. Going to the Lake.
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.
17. Laughing at yourself.
18. Holding a newborn baby.
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.
23. Laughing at an inside joke.
24. Friends (both old and new).
25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
27. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).
28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
29. Playing with a new puppy or kitten.
30. Having someone play with your hair.
31. Sweet dreams.
32. Hot chocolate and Hot Cider.
33. Road trips with friends.
34. Swinging on swings.
35. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
36. Making chocolate chip cookies.
37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.
38. Holding hands with someone you care about.
39. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.
40. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.
41. Watching the sunrise.
42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.
43. Knowing that somebody misses you.
44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.
46. Watching the sunset.
47. Getting an email that you've been waiting for.

I've beening having a rough few days and I needed to see a list of things that make me smile and make me happy. Maybe I just needed to be reminded that I can smile for real and happiness is really a state of being not some external thing. If anyone can thing of things to add to this list....please add them in the comments page.

17 February 2007

Friday Five: Tourist Edition

So in the spirit of tourism:

1. What is one place you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? Alexandria, MN. The motto of Alexandra is "Easy to get to. Hard to leave." and I find that to be so true. It is also the home of my favorite local vineyard.

2. When visiting another city or town, do you try to cram as much in as possible, or take it slow and easy? I take it slow and easy. Why rush things because if I really like I can always come back and well I rush all the time on vacation I like to be just bit more mellow.

3. When traveling, where are we most likely to find you: strolling through a museum, checking out the local shopping, or _________________? Where am I traveling too and how long am I there for? I love wandering around museums but I also like shopping in local boutiques. You might just find me in some little hole-in-the-wall restaurant savoring the local fare.

4. Do you like organized tours and/or carefully planned itineraries, or would you rather strike out and just see what happens? My more "J", type A, sensibility loves the ordered and planned itineraries but I have moments of just seeing what happens and where things take me. I don't like organized tours...I organize my own tours when I travel but I always need a plan.

5. After an extended trip, what do you find yourself craving most about home? Family and the sunsets over upper Midwest lakes. I'm not a native of Minnesota but somehow this land and these people have become my own and if I'm gone for too long from it I become someone I don't always like.

09 February 2007

Friday Five...American Idol Style

Now I've never watched American Idol in my life but I felt compelled to have a bit of fun today.

1) If I could sing like anyone, it would be: Julie Andrews (when she was young).

2) I would love to sing the song: "Bless the Broken Road".

3) It would be really cool to sing at: The Artists Quarters in Saint Paul, MN.

4) If I could sing a dream duet it would be with: Bette Midler.

5) If I could sing on a TV or radio show, it would be: I'd want to go back in time and sing on The Doris Day Show or the Joan Rivers Show. I love Joan Rivers!

02 February 2007

The ACPE Community will miss you....

The Reverend Joan Hemenway, former president of the ACPE, died the evening of January 31st. Her partner, Jennifer Allcock, was with her a few hours before her death, and reports that Joan died peacefully. Her service will be held in New Haven on February 24th at 2 p.m.

Joan did so much for the CPE community. Her work with regards to Supervisory education will remain with us for a long time to come. May you be at peace now Joan.

"If I Should Die"

By: Joan Hemenway

“If it is now time, O God, let my spirit join with yours. My body is tired, and I know you have promised eternal rest. If I feel doubt and uncertainty, fill me with your love. If I fear entering the unknown, help me to trust in your goodness. I pray for my family and friends that they may not so much mourn my absence as celebrate the memory of my presence and rejoice in my living. If I am to enter a new time and a new journey, I ask for peace, O God, and a deepening sense of your mighty grasp on me.”