Sunday, September 1, 2013

Orientation is done and now on to classes!

Last week was filled with reunion of classmates and a time to meet new (to me) students.  I find that my campus living/ commuter status puts me in a unique position because I relate to so many more students.  And that works great for me because I love to meet people, learn about them and witness how God has worked through them.  I continue to be amazed and reminded that God is so much bigger than any of us can imagine, and that was made abundantly clear when I looked around the room of students and faculty during orientation week.  The student population alone consists of male/female, white/ black, gay/straight, old/young and pipeliners/second career students which is just a smattering of the groups represented at LSTC.  And for that I am grateful to be a part of this student body, because it is representative of the fact that God works in so many ways, and is also a fantastic reminder of the fact that God is always present.

This image provides a much need smile as I complete my endorsement essay.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

End of CPE

Getting a Tour of Mayo's Heli-Pad
Twelve weeks goes by so fast, and my summer in Rochester MN at Mayo Clinic and Hospital is done; I am moved home and get to spend a couple weeks at home before I head back to campus and begin my second year of studies.

  CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education, was quite an experience, particularly in the vast organization called Mayo Clinic & Hospitals.  We had extensive orientation and numerous didactics.  Near the end of our time, we were able to tour the heli-pad, which was an amazing experience.

  Our group was diverse in denomination, age, and marital status.  Since we had diversity within our group, we gathered a couple times and did the totally geek seminarian thing- we talked theology!  We gathered at Newt's North, and had some great discussions!
2013 Summer Interns - Theologizing

CPE, chaplaincy in a hospital, pastoral care; what is it?  What did I learn?  If a person welcomed me into their room as the chaplain, I truly felt we were on holy ground.  I don't say that lightly because I have taken a few years to accept and use the word holy, and I truly believe that God is present in all aspects of our lives.  When a patient welcomes me into their room, shares their vulnerability with me, and sometimes their raw emotions with me how can I feel anything but humbled?  How can I feel anything but a knowledge of God's presence in the place?  Holy Ground because of what is being shared in the presence of God.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mid-Unit; Mid-Summer; 4th of July

This week in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), we present our mid-unit progress.  We share with the group where we are at on each of our goals, and we evaluate our peers and our supervisor.  We really start looking at group systems which helps us when we encounter the inevitable church council and ministry teams.  How do people work together, what role does each person take on, consciously or unconsciously.

Mid-summer- already?!?!?  One of my last summers since next year I will be heading to or already on internship.  I continue to be astounded at how quickly this has all gone.  Even though I ignored God's nudges for the last 10+ years, now that I am in the midst of doing what God wants me to do, a part of me wants it to simply slow down.  And the reality is, this summer I am able to do that.  Where I am staying in Rochester, I have the privilege to stay in a home.  Yes, a true home where I am cared for, served, and am part of the family.  And because of this, I am able to take a chance and slow down.  Yesterday I did some baking, a cheesecake and two batches of scones.  Later this week I am getting a massage, and each week I am able to take time to simply be.  Be present with God, in the midst of God's beauty.  And Scott comes to see me so that we keep in touch via SKYPE, but also I am 'relieved' of the driving headache this summer while he drives from Madison and we spend a mini-vacation in a hotel, catch up, tour Rochester, and spend time with friends.

Fourth of July- fireworks oh my!  Unfortunately this year I will  not be able to be part of the Columbus WI fireworks crew since I am in Rochester, and I will be oncall on Friday night.  I will hit at least one fireworks show while in Rochester, so I will sort of get my pyro fix attended to.

Last week I preached on Galatians 3:23-29.  In a couple weeks I am preaching on the Good Samaritan.  I am thinking I will start off with a story of Fr. Damien who worked in Hawaii with people who were quarantined
One of the churches built by Fr. Damien on the island of Molokai 

because of Hansen's Disease.  I am still working on the art of tying a particular text to people who are in the hospital and making it relevant.  What a true privilege it is to speak to people about the Good News we have in the Gospel, and what a greater privilege it is to walk with people as they journey through life, living out the Gospel.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


As I've been living in various places I find myself questioning, "Where is home?"  When I moved items into my Chicago apartment, I ensured Scott, ok- maybe myself- that home is always in Madison, with Scott.  Yet, when I talk to classmates about where I am going after class, I find myself blathering out a long explanation about going to 'the apartment.' 

Do these pithy quotes define what is 'home'; "Home is where your heart is." and, "Home is where you rest your head."  What about the fact that Jesus was constantly on the move during his 3 years of teaching, preaching and making disciples? What do I say now that I essentially have 3 places where I can rest my head during the summer; an apartment in Chicago, the lower level of a house in Rochester MN and my home in Madison WI.  First off is the fact that I am unbelievably fortunate to have so many places to rest my head.  Second is the fact that each place has it's own personality, and honestly each place surprisingly serves me in a way which I need to be served.  Served, cared for and loved.  I believe I have just answered my own question.  Each place is home because each I am cared for and loved at each one.

Second week of CPE, (Clinical pastoral education) is going very well.  I have started clinicals, and am working on goals along with this week's reflection paper.  I have to say, my peers do make us into an outstanding group of students.  We quickly got over the first two days of shyness and quietness.  We now laugh easily, and most importantly laugh at ourselves.  I truly believe we will continue to be a cohesive group and will continue to learn from each other and grow as people.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A New Chapter Begins

My first year of seminary is complete.  My husband and I survived the separation and I survived the commute.  Tomorrow I head to Rochester MN to begin my next seminary chapter, CPE at Mayo Clinic and Hospitals.  A summer of intense self reflection while I review, ok, re-write, my endorsement essay and work in a chaplaincy setting of a major hospital.  As I look to this new chapter, I know that we will have additional chapters throughout this seminary process, yet I also know that we are being carried through this process by God's grace and the fantastic support of friends and family.  What is even more awesome during this entire process, is the new friends we make, some who will become lifelong friends, spanning the country.

Campus I'm sure is quite desolate compared to the flurry of activities during the academic year, but fortunately FB and Twitter allow us to keep in touch throughout the summer.  And off to CPE.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gospel on God's Terms

I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and I am a westsider.  Even though I am now living in Chicago attending seminary and am packing up my apartment to spend the next year on internship in St. Louis, Cleveland is my home.

I love Cleveland.  I love that it is filled with salt-of-the-earth people who work hard at jobs they less than love so they can put food on the table.  I love that our world renowned art museum is free.  I love that we are a city that has the one of the best heart hospitals in the world, and that we can turn something like our river catching on fire as a reason to name a Great Lakes Brewery beer.  It doesn't matter that we have been hurt time and time again by our sports teams, we always have hope that this year, this season, this time will be the year. 

I love Cleveland so very much, and my heart is breaking for it right now in grief as we learn that in our neighborhood on the west side of town, three women were held hostage in a basement for ten years.

I have been invited to preach at my home congregation this weekend, a date that has been booked for months.  I love going home to preach, but I must admit I am very intimidated about climbing into the pulpit this week.  There is no question in my mind that at least one person between the three services this weekend will know a family member of one of those women, if not the women themselves.  The Holy Spirit has been gnawing at me all week, leading me to preach the sermon that was not planned instead of the one that was. 

The blessings about home churches is that they love and nurture their seminarians.  They can love us to a fault.  No one in my congregation would bat an eye if I preached the sermon I had written, the one about mothers and baptismal vocations.  They would forgive me for overlooking the elephant in the room.  They would forgive me for preaching the easy way out.

But that is not what I as a leader of the church am called to do.  I can feel the Spirit leading me down a road that hopefully will bring the right message to the right people in the right time.  This is why we preach - to bring the Gospel of Christ to the God's people when they need it most.  God does not ask us to preach the easy sermon.  God calls us to be faithful to the Gospel on God's terms, not ours.

So today I pray.  I humble myself before the wisdom of the One who shelters people in all their joys and sorrows.  And I trust that where in my humanity I fall short, the grace of Christ will ring loud and strong. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Experience of God

A couple weeks ago we had our spring Intern Cluster Retreat for all the interns in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and one from South Dakota.  We spent the day talking about staying renewed and refreshed in ministry (scintillating, I know).

One of the sessions we had was about when this year we've been able to think about God in a new way.  And, as we were going around the circle, one person stopped the conversation and took it in a different direction.

"I'm less interested in thinking about God in a new way and more interested in experiencing God in new ways."

That got me thinking...about thinking.

After all, we spend so much time in seminary thinking about God that I wonder how much we miss out on experiencing God fully.  Or making note of new experiences of God.  Or considering how people we preach to and people we pastor to are experiencing God.

some people experience God in candles and such
I'm part of a generational shift in which experience is a legitimate and celebrated form of knowing.  I have experienced Grace to be true in my life.  I have experienced the love of God when I couldn't love myself.  I've experienced the work of God when I can't bring myself to hate people I liked to hate a lot.

All of these experiences, plus all the others I have on a daily basis, lead me to know God.  And of course I can think about those experiences, but thinking about them doesn't make them more or less true to me.  I think the primary way in which we can know God, in a postmodern context, is through experiencing God in all ways...ways as old as the table of bread and wine to ways as new as Facebook pastoral care.

How have you experienced God lately?