Friday, April 30, 2010


Happy Friday!  This is my first weekend NOT as a graduate student!  Come to think of it - this is my first weekend not as a STUDENT since I started nursery school when I was three years old!  22 years is a LONG time to be in school.  I am definitely ready for a break.

Because I just cannot bring myself to post about anything serious or remotely thought-provoking, I thought today would be a fun day to share with everyone the search engine that I have been using since last semester ...

Search & Win

You search Swagbucks the same way that you would search Google - only with Swagbucks, you randomly receive "bucks" - you can save up your bucks and then cash in for prizes!  Personally, I cash in for gifts cards!  It has taken me a couple of months, but I have almost enough money to buy this lens for FREE because of Swagbucks-redeemed amazon cards.  And actually, when I bought my camera, I had about $50 saved up so that was $50 less out of pocket.

There are also TONS of others things you can redeemed with your bucks. giftcards, iTunes and Target giftcards, different electronics, etc. etc.  Seriously.  It's amazing and fun.

Click here to get signed up with Swagbucks - using this link will show that you have been referred by me, so  I can see that you've signed up and I can help you get started.

There are other ways to collect bucks (codes and special offers) but for right now get yourself signed up and  I will help you with the rest later.


Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It Hasn't Sunk In Yet

It hasn't quite sunk in yet that I am finished with school.  I spent a better part of last night laying on the couch, watching reruns of NCIS and painting my nails (Honeymoon Red - the same color I wore when I got married - if you're curious).  I wasn't able to completely relax, because in the back of my mind there were still books to be read and papers to be written.

Actually, that is partly true.  I am submitting my ordination papers on Monday so I will be spending my first graduate school - free weekend at my desk putting the finishing touches on a three-part paper chronicling the evolution of the Christian Church, United Church of Christ History and my own faith journey.

It's sort of like running a 5K the day after a marathon.

Speaking of running - I was out taking a walk the other day and I decided to see what would happen if I sped up my pace to a slow run. (If you remember from this post my right knee has next to no cartilage in it and at the end of college I was forced to hang up my running sneakers.) I have been reading a lot about rehabilitating knees and am starting to think that my running days may not be over forever.

I ran for about 3 1/2 minutes and slowed my pace back down to a walk.  My knee felt great, but I didn't want to push it.  A couple of days ago, I did the same but kept the running pace for 8 1/2 minutes before slowing down.  It felt AMAZING.  Afterwards I talked about it to my friend, Marissa.  Marissa has run three marathons in the last two years so I thought she would be a good person to talk to about how to start running again after a lot of time off.  She said to keep the 10 minutes intervals for a few weeks - just to get my body used to running again - before I go further.  I am very okay with that - it just feels so good to RUN again!

I'm pretty sure I am the only person that can connect writing my ordination papers to rehabbing my knees and running again.  What can I say?  It's a gift.

Anyway - Bruce and I went to the Candler Spring Banquet last Friday night and I am just now getting around to digging through my pictures.

The banquet was luau themed and I had so much fun dressing the part that it was led me to wonder why Hawaii is the only state in the United States where it is fashionably acceptable to wear a flower in your hair every day.

I hope you all have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious Context
Final Case Study - 10 pages

Crisis Ministry
Teaching Presentation & Outline - 30 minutes
Teaching Reflection - 2 pages
Pastoral Care with Victims of Domestic Violence
Final Project - 5 pages
Presentation - 15 minutes

Directed Study
Final Paper - 12-15 pages
Resource Guide

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday's Triune of Goodness


Today one of my favorite people in the entire world turned 25 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!


I attended my LAST CLASS at Candler!  Those smiles are NOT forced, ha!


Bruce and I are heading up to West Point in a couple of weeks to see Gib graduate and President Obama has been confirmed as the speaker!  Yes, security will be a nightmare, but as Gib says - who else can say they received their diploma from the United States Commander in Chief?

Wow, between Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Obama, I am just going to be chock full of wisdom come the end of May.

Sunday Night - Er, Monday Morning

Why am I still awake at 1:05 a.m.? Because I'm finishing a paper!!!!! After yesterday's headache killed most of my Saturday productivity, I came home from church determined to crank out the last seven pages of my World Religions case study. And I did it! Here is what my to-do list looks like now ...

Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious Context
Final Case Study - 10 pages

Crisis Ministry
Teaching Presentation & Outline - 30 minutes
Teaching Reflection - 2 pages

Pastoral Care with Victims of Domestic Violence
Final Project - 5 pages
Presentation - 15 minutes

Directed Study
Final Paper - 12-15 pages
Resource Guide

I. Am. So. Close.


I had a very strange moment in church this morning.  My pastor and I were e-mailing back and forth this week and in one of my e-mails I told her that I was starting to feel anxious about ordination and my upcoming job search (I will not start looking for a job until after I finish CPE).  I know that I feel called to be in the ministry as a full-time vocation and I am willing to be patient as I work through the process, but how do I balance the "trust" stuff with the "real life" (ie money, stability, job, moving, etc. etc.) stuff?  It's not easy to put your trust in God when the real world is staring at you in the face.

Kim gave me a strange, yet brilliant suggestion.  She told me I should pray for the congregation that I am getting ready to serve - even though I do not know who they are.  When I first read the e-mail, I was intrigued.  Then I thought about it more - and I was inspired.  It makes complete sense to me.  Even if I do not know who I am praying for - God will find a way to work it all out.  

So today during church I tried it - and I was surprised at the connection I felt to a place I do not even know.  At one point I thought to myself, "Wow, if they have a 10 a.m. worship service like we do at Pilgrimage, at this very moment the congregation that I am getting ready to serve is joining their hearts together in prayer."  And I felt instantly connected to them - who "them" is, I don't know.  But I guess that's not really the point.  The point is that what I am doing now - finishing school, writing my ordination papers, gearing up for CPE - is preparing me to serve this community.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Night

It's 9:26 p.m. on Saturday night.  I am writing a paper.  Does that make me pathetic?

I spent most of the day in bed with a horrific sinus headache complete with coughing and sneezing (which made my head hurt worse!) and a growly-sounding manly voice.  Bruce told me I sounded pathetic - but then he made me coffee and breakfast, brought me medicine and water and went out to the grocery store so we would have lunch and dinner.

I have watched almost all of Friends Season 4 today.  Why did this show ever go off the air?

It poured for most of the day with the occasional huge clap of thunder thrown in.  Even with the headache it was still peaceful to listen to the sound of rain - and I'm really hoping that all of the rain washes the pollen - the source of my headache - away!

Bruce and I went to the Candler Spring Banquet last night.  I started to get nostalgic, sappy and emotional about leaving the friends that I have grown so close to these last three years.  School may have fried me out, but I truly love the people that have walked with me on this journey.  I'm not sure I have completely processed what graduation means.

Speaking of my brain being completely fried ... I took an entire course in NonProfit Management last year and tonight it took me 30 minutes to come up with the word, "Endowment" - I may be emotional, but I'm ready to have my brain work in a different way.

I'm getting very impatient waiting for my camera to come back to me.  I'm been saving my pennies for another lens and I can't make up my mind.  Up until this morning I was debating between this macro lens and this telephoto zoom lens.  But then this morning I discovered this 50mm lens whose F/Stop goes down to 1.4.  It would give me an incredibly shallow depth of field, which I love.  There is also a wide-angle lens that I love but there is no way I can afford that now.  Anybody have any thoughts?  Granted, all of this is a moot point until I get my camera back.

I've decided that I want to write a book of daily devotionals.  I've found that I cannot relate to a lot of the ones that are out there, but I really crave that daily spiritual focus.  How does one go about writing a book anyway?  Maybe I'll try to write them over the summer and start a blog next year and post them daily.  Do people read devotional blogs?

I think that's it for now.  How was everyone else's Saturday?  Is it pouring anywhere other than Atlanta?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

He Had Me At "I Used to Listen to James Taylor When I Wrestled"

The other day Katie asked me if I had ever blogged about how Bruce and I met.  I got to thinking and realized I hadn't and I really wanted to get it all down before we get further away and the details start to get fuzzy.  Then I saw that Kelly's Show Us Your Life this week is "How You Met Your Husband" and I thought it would be a perfect time to share!!

So ... here goes.

Bruce and I met at a party that a mutual friend of ours was having in July of 2006.  Unfortunately, we both weren't exactly in great places in our lives and we probably said all of two words to each other that entire night and then went on our separate ways.  Zero contact.

But we heard about each other a lot.  We had a lot of mutual friends and we were constantly hearing "Bruce did such and such" and "Sarah is getting ready to do so and so" - so I kind of felt like I knew him.

Fast forward six months.  These mutual friends of ours were part of a youth leadership program at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA.  Bruce had been part of the program starting in 2003 and I came in a few years later (2005 I think?) when Kari (who I had met in college) starting bringing me to some of the events.  In January of 2007 Bruce and I both attended a Justice Summit at the seminary.  It was a weekend long retreat where we talked about issues of justice and the relationship of politics and religion.  We were both small group leaders.

I was in another weird point in my life.  I had just submitted all of my seminary applications and I had a feeling I wasn't going to end up in close proximity to my family.  I had "my heart broken" (in parentheses, because, let's face it I'm a bit of a drama queen) a couple of times the prior semester and had led a very good friend of mine on into thinking I wanted to be in  relationship as I tried to fill some empty holes.  The day after Christmas that year, I put away all my Christmas music (I didn't care about waiting for the Kings to show up at the manger), pulled out all my James Taylor (important to note) and decided I was going to spend my last semester at college with all of my best girlfriends ("WHO NEEDS MEN?!" I thought to myself) and James Taylor was going to be my guide.  Remember that.  James Taylor was going to be my guide.

I remember weird things about the weekend of the Justice Summit.  For instance, I remember standing in the hallway that went down to the offices and seeing Bruce standing in the office of the administrative assistant.  Kari didn't know if he was coming or not, so she was excited to see him, screamed "Bruce!!!!!" and ran into the office to say hello.  I awkwardly said hi and told him I had just driven to Lancaster from his hometown (boy do I know how to sweep someone off of their feet with words, I tell you what).

Friday afternoon there was a workshop going on for the students and Bruce and I were sitting at the same table, sort of paying attention.  We started writing random words on a piece of paper.  Somehow it turned into a game - who could write the most random word, or something like that (my maturity astounds me sometimes).

(Playing our "game")

Then I remember worship on Friday night.  Bruce and I both read scripture and he was sitting three or four people to the right of me (we were all sitting in a circle).  I loved the way that he read scripture - you could tell he wasn't just reading words on a page.  They meant something to him.

On Saturday morning Kari, my friend Cameron and I put on a workshop about our experiences oversees and about mine and Kari's summer trip cross-country (another post for another day).  During the presentation, we decorated a coffin to honor those lives lost to hunger around the world every day.  Cam and Kari and I put blood (okay, it was red paint) on each other's faces to stand in solidarity with those bleeding, hungry and crying out around the world - and then went around the room and did the same to everyone else.  I marked Bruce's face - my heart started to beat really quickly when I touched his face.  He made eye contact with me and my legs went weak.  But I had to keep going.

After the summit closed on Sunday afternoon, the students packed up and left.  Most of the small group leaders stayed behind to clean up and catch up.  Bruce had been planning on driving home, but we convinced him to stick around for the rest of the day (most of us weren't leaving town until Monday).  Before long the five of us that were left had all piled into Bruce's jeep and were driving all over Lancaster County window shopping, drinking coffee and laughing about the weekend.

Oh - I think it is important to note that my friend Courtney loves to play matchmaker so she "graciously" gave me the front seat next to Bruce when we were in his jeep.  And then giggled from the backseat - loudly (I love my friends).

Moving right along ...

Sunday afternoon turned into Sunday night, where we went back to Kari's parent's house and had dinner.  Dinner turned into a "let's tell stories about Sarah and all of the bad decisions she has made with men" (what can I say? - you have to kiss a lot of frogs) so I was pretty much mortified by the end of the meal.

We decided at that point that we were going to go see the movie "Pursuit of Happyness" (thank you Will Smith for making that movie) so we cleaned up dinner and I headed out to my car to clear out the backseat so I could drive everyone.  Bruce came out first and I quickly blurted out, "I'm really not a horrible person."  He laughed and told me not to worry, that had the tables been turned both Kari and Cameron (thanks for keeping things cool, guys) had some stories on him.

My once-fast-beating-heart started to melt a little bit.

And then we piled into my car.  This time I was in the driver's seat, Bruce was in the passenger seat and everyone else was in the back.

I turned the key.  The car started.  James Taylor came on (remember? James Taylor was going to be my guide through life).

Immediately, Bruce started talking about James Taylor and about how he absolutely loves him and he used to listen to James Taylor in order to center and focus before wrestling meets.

I guess now is a good time to point out that I absolutely despise wrestling.  In high school some of my best friends used to wrestle and they would look so miserable on days when they had to make weight and were using a variety of methods to do so.

And yet, when this boy who made my heart beat fast and then melt told me that he used to listen to James Taylor Greatest Hits Volume II in order to focus before a wrestling match, suddenly the sport was the most romantic one ever to be played.

The movie came and went.  Cameron bought everyone's tickets and I bought everyone's snacks.  Bruce got mad because he wanted to be able to pay for something.  I gave him a hug and told him I was sorry.  Kari said, "Awwww, you guys look cute together" and secretly I was thinking, "Ummm, wow.  What just happened?  Would it be weird if I hugged him again for no reason?"

After the movie, we went back to Kari's parent's house.  Bruce had to drive home (he needed to be up for work at 5 a.m., it was already close to midnight and he had an hour drive ahead of him) so we all said our goodbyes and then left.

It was at that point that I realized that I didn't have his phone number.  Or his e-mail address.  Or his screenname.  Or his address in general.  I had NO way of getting in touch with him.

Absolute failure on my part.

The next day Kari and I woke up early and drove to Baltimore to take Cameron to the airport.  On our way back her phone rang - she was driving so I found it in her purse.  My heart skipped a beat; IT WAS BRUCE!  I told Kari that because she was driving I would be willing to answer it for her (I am so safety-conscious, what can I say?).  I answered it and we made small talk - he was exhausted but had a really good time that weekend; I wasn't looking forward to driving back to Connecticut that night, but we should all try to plan something when I got back to Pennsylvania for school in a week or two.

There was something about this boy, I kept thinking ... I just couldn't put my finger on it.  But there was definitely something different about this boy.

Kari and I met up with our friend Courtney for brunch when we got back from the airport (this is Courtney the matchmaker).  I got up at one point to use the restroom and by the time I got back they both had the same look on their faces.  The "we are up to something and want to giggle but we're going to refrain ourselves" look.  They proceeded to tell me that Bruce and I would make a really good couple and they were going to set us up.

At that point I started thinking, "I've got this one, I've already got an awesome plan, I don't want him to think I'm just going along with something that I don't want please don't do this!"  But I said simply, "Okay, whatever you want."

Now I'm sure you're wondering what my awesome plan was.  I had taken oodles of pictures that weekend and I was going to send him a CD with them on it and leave my contact info in a note in the package.

I know.  Blows you away, right?

I got his e-mail address from Courtney and I e-mailed him when I got back to Connecticut and asked him for his mailing address.  I'd like to think I was cool, calm and collected in my e-mail ...

Hey :)

I'm glad that you made it home safe (and quickly!) on Sunday night.  We were all really glad that you stayed and went to the movie with us (and if you hadn't come I never would have had anyone to share my love for James Taylor with!).  I hope work wasn't too painful on Monday morning.  I definitely was almost driving off the road on my way home that night ... it was my own fault, though, I didn't leave PA until 9:15 :)

I have a CD of all the pictures and videos from the summit.  Send me your address and I'll send you your copy.

I had a lot of fun this weekend ... you're definitely going to have to come and visit us soon!!

Talk to you soon,
Sarah :)

Yes.  I did use not one, not two, but THREE SMILEY faces in a four line e-mail.  Totally calm, cool and collected.

I sent the e-mail at 4:43 p.m. on January 11th.  I got the following reply at 9:20 p.m. that night (yes, I'm also the dork that printed every single e-mail Bruce sent me for the first four months of our relationship).


I was worried about you and Cameron on your rides home.  I am very happy to hear you both made it back safe.  Staying Sunday night was one of the smartest things I've ever done (in my life).  I was so happy to be with you guys.  I was also happy you got to ride up front when I was driving the other 3 around because before this weekend I knew you for a few short hours over a dinner, and it wasn't like a chance to talk.  So this weekend, especially Sunday night, was great.

As far as Monday morning goes 3 large cups of coffee and I was good till long after quitting time.  I also came home and took a 4 hour long nap.  The weekend hasn't been the greatest week of work because I keep thinking about my friends and what they are all doing (so my boss says, "Hey did you understand what I just said" and I look at him with a blank look and say, "Yes").

Anyway, here's my information - we got to talking so much I felt like you already had it (did you ever do that?).

(He then proceeded to give me his home address, e-mail, AIM, home phone and cell phone - apparently he had the same, "Crap, I just left her with no way to get in touch with her" thought that I had and wanted to make sure all of his bases were covered.)

I'll try and visit if I can make time, but I want you to visit too, you know that, right?  Well hopefully we can keep in touch and I'll talk to you soon.


My laptop was sitting on my parent's kitchen table when that e-mail came through.  I read it.  Then reread it.  Then stood up on the bench I was sitting on.  Then sat down and read it again.  Then I got up and tried to talk to my family.  I was unsuccessful.  Then I sat back down to read it again.  And then I saw that he had sent another e-mail.

Truth be told, the next e-mail was just a story about the fact that he had taken one of the rubber bands off of my gear shifter, put it on his wrist and it had been getting in the way at work all week.  But in all reality, my heart started to pound at the thought of him thinking about me during work.  I sat down and replied to his e-mail.

And it just kept going from there.  We started to ask each other questions (some funny like "what flavor of ice cream are you?" and some more serious like what we wanted to do with our lives) and we were honest about what we were feeling.  Bruce said things like, "I said I don't e-mail a lot but I find myself here again" and I replied with my own variety of, "There's something about you that make me want to get to know you more."  It was intense.  We went from e-mails to phone calls and a week after I got back to school I drove out to his house to have dinner with him.

We told ourselves that we were going to take it slow, but we realized one night that we were in a relationship - whatever was going on between us had morphed into something real.  And we both knew it was something amazing.  On January 31, 2007 we "officially" started dating (although we always forget to celebrate our anniversary).

The snafu in our whirlwind romance was the fact that I had applied to graduate schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia and California (read: NOT Pennsylvania) but the decisions about our future never seemed hard to make - just natural and really exciting.  Bruce quit his job and moved to Georgia with me in August 2007 and I started at Candler in the fall.  Living together before marriage doesn't work for everyone, but it definitely worked for us - we were so far from our families and we learned quickly that we only had each other to lean on.  I am not being sappy when I say that I couldn't had done what I did down here without him.  He has been such an amazing sources of support.

(One of our engagement pictures)

We got in engaged the following May and were married last June.  We are coming up on ONE YEAR of marriage and I cannot believe it!  It has gone by so fast and I get the same smile on my face today when I think about our future that I had on my face when I read his first e-mail to me over three years ago.

And re-read it.

And read it again.

Thank you for taking a walk down memory lane with me!

Updated To-Do List

One more class down!!  There was some confusion over how long our Domestic Violence presentations were supposed to go on Tuesday, so I had to wait until this afternoon to do mine (thank you Kari for checking in with me on Tuesday!).  So here is my to-do list now ...

Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious Context
Final Case Study - 10 pages

Crisis Ministry
Teaching Presentation & Outline - 30 minutes
Teaching Reflection - 2 pages

Pastoral Care with Victims of Domestic Violence
Final Project - 5 pages
Presentation - 15 minutes

Directed Study
Final Paper - 12-15 pages
Resource Guide

Three more things and then I am DONE!!  Woo-hoo!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wear a Dress Tuesday - A Day Late

Okay, my wonderful friends - I failed you.  I never managed to get a Wear a Dress Tuesday post up yesterday.  But in fairness to me the forecast that I showed you (rainy and miserable) wore me out and I pretty much just wanted to curl up in bed and re-read StoriTelling.  So that's what I did.

Also - I was trying to figure out the sizing of the WADT button all day and I was having technological issues so I finally just gave and decided to look at it with fresh eyes (and clean contacts) today.  And guess what - technological success!!  Now if you participate in WADT you can grab the html code and you've got the button.

Wear a Dress Tuesday

Onto my day ...

I got a text message during my morning class from my mom (who has been faithfully participating for weeks) with the following picture attached ...

Look at that gorgeous sunshine!!  Yesterday was a rare spring moment when I wanted to be in Connecticut over Georgia.

We were a little discombobulated at Candler yesterday because of end of the semester craziness and special events so we didn't manage to get everyone together for the picture.  Here's what we did get ... 

Me, Sara and Beth

Sarah and Stacey also were in WADT attire, but - alas - were not in our picture.

My friend Alyssa sent me a facebook message and said that she was participating again and the trend was quickly spreading across the Millersville campus.  That makes me so happy!!

Katie over at My Story is Not Over Yet also joined in.  She sent me a twitter message (tweated me?) on Monday night to say that she had her and her (sweet, adorable and precious) daughter Spencer's dresses all ready to go!!

Hooray!!  I love Wear a Dress Tuesday.  If anyone else joined in, please let me know.


I was feeling a little blah about ordination and the future last night so my wonderful and sweet husband is taking me to the Braves game tonight to cheer me up!!  They are playing the Phillies so I am going to shame my father by showing up in Braves attire to root against his team (sorry, Daddy!!).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

57 and Rainy

What is the best way to fight this forecast?


Wear a Dress Tuesday

I will be back later with pictures and a recap but if you're wearing a dress and planning on blogging about it, feel free to save this button and use it in your post.

Have a great Tuesday!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

KitchenAid Mixer!!

Guess who's getting a KitchenAid mixer for graduation?!?!?!?!

That's right - ME!!  Thank you Mom!!!!!

Now I need your help.  Bruce wants one in the gray matted color, but I have always lusted over the red one.  But then I started thinking about the other appliances in my kitchen and they are all black (with one or two white).  Should I get black?  Or ... 

... a completely new color?  There are so many options and I feel like buying a KitchenAid mixer is like getting a tattoo.  They aren't cheap so it is an investment and you can't just buy another one if you decide you want a different color.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Would Like to Thank My Mom for Making This Blog Post Happen

Here's something to ponder ... 

... what, exactly, is Bruce doing is this picture?

Anyone have any guesses?


Well ... maybe this picture will help you out ... 

Yes.  That is a tent.  In my living room.

Last night there was a tent in my living room.

Why, you ask?  Because my mom gave Bruce "fun money" for his birthday at the beginning of the month and this is what he came home with yesterday from REI.  Who knew that when you buy a tent you have to immediately test it out?

In your living room.

Apparently he "can't wait to take his wife hiking."


Thanks, Mom.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This Is What My Saturday Looked Like ...

... camped out on the 4th floor of Candler's academic building.

The plan was originally to go to the library, but I decided I wanted to be able to drink coffee and water and snack on wheat thins and honey nut cheerios while I worked - neither of which I can do at the library.

I did manage to finish up my Domestic Violence paper AND get a ton of reading done for my directed study - yay!!  Here's what my to-do list looks like now ... 

Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious Context
Final Case Study - 10 pages

Crisis Ministry
Teaching Presentation & Outline - 30 minutes
Teaching Reflection - 2 pages

Pastoral Care with Victims of Domestic Violence
Final Project - 5 pages
Presentation - 15 minutes

Directed Study
Final Paper - 12-15 pages
Resource Guide

My presentation for Domestic Violence is on Tuesday but I'm hoping that I won't have to do too much prep work for it.  I will most likely pull that together Monday night and then on Tuesday I will be able to cross off another class!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Saturday and were actually able to go out and ENJOY it!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's 8:09 p.m. and I Have Nothing to Show For It

How is it already after 8 p.m.?  My calendar only says, "8:00-1:00-->Work" for today and yet I only JUST got home!!  I am not really sure how that happened or what I have accomplished all day other than suggesting to my boss that we should go to Taqueria del Sol for lunch.

I am still working away at my "To-Do" list.  Bruce is out fishing for the rest of the night, so I am curled up on the couch with Malaysian/Thai take-out and a pile of resources for my Domestic Violence paper.  Wish me luck!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day.

Happy Tax Day!!  Did everyone get their taxes in on time?  This was the first year I actually had to file my own taxes.  Up until last year my parents were able to take me off as a dependent because I am still in school.  This year Bruce and I filed jointly.

Actually, technically, because I am in school and spend way more money than I take in, I am Bruce's dependent.  So even more technically - I still have yet to file my own taxes.  But I still like to think that I'm "up" on the whole process.

Did anybody out there brave the process of actually filing their return themselves?  A lot of my friends at school encouraged me to try Turbo Tax or H&R Block online, but I'm terrified of numbers and even more terrified of the government so I thought I would leave it to the experts and send everything to a CPA.  Luckily, we have one in the family so it was just a matter of a few e-mails, phone calls and trips to the post office.

I'm giggling quietly at myself because I say "it was just a matter of a few e-mails, phone calls and trips to the post office" like I actually did any of those things.  I believe my contribution to the entire tax process consisted of me saying, "Bruce I got this in the mail from Emory it looks important" and (a few weeks later) him saying, "Sign here."

And I did.

But I still like to think that I am still "up" on the whole process.


One more thing ...

Please pray for the family of Army First Lieutenant Robert Collins.  He was 24 years old and killed in Iraq last Wednesday.  He went to West Point with our friend Gib.  You can get more information here.  A scholarship fund has been set up in his name and you can get more information here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


First things first - and update on WADT.  Yesterday, Katie asked if skirts count for Wear a Dress Tuesday.  Absolutely!!  I love skirts, especially during these HOT southern summers, so they definitely count for WADT.

Secondly - I'm at that point in the semester where I need to make a final to-do list so I can see what needs to be done and revel in my accomplishments as I cross things off.  I am definitely going to need you all to hold me accountable - here goes ... 


Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious Context
Final Case Study - 10 pages

Crisis Ministry
Teaching Presentation & Outline - 30 minutes
Teaching Reflection - 2 pages

Pastoral Care with Victims of Domestic Violence
Final Project - 5 pages
Presentation - 15 minutes

Directed Study
Final Paper - 12-15 pages
Resource Guide


Phew!!  Notice that I've already got an entire CLASS crossed off?  That makes me so happy!!  I can do this - graduation is right around the corner!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Babies, Babies and More Babies on Wear a Dress Tuesday

In an 18 hour span, the following people posted birth announcements and pictures ...
Jenna at That Wife
Katie at Bower Power
Their babies are beautiful.  All of them.  Beautiful.

THEN a classmate of mine had his 1 1/2 year-old and he proceeded to toddle around our commons area while we were eating lunch, dance and look at whoever had a camera, smile and say "cheeeeeeeeeese" before breaking out into hysterical giggles at himself.  He was precious.  Sincerely and truly precious.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Does anyone else hear that?  That is my biological clock ticking.

Seriously, people need to stop showing me pictures of sleeping babies or bringing them around when they are well-rested and happy and adorable.  Someone show me the dark side of parenting because right now all I hear is TICK TOCK TICK TOCK.

Moving right along ... 

(I'm only half serious about the baby thing.  If it is right for us, I would love to be a mom one day, but right now we are not in the position - financially or in terms of where I am in school and starting a job search - to grow our family.  Sorry, Mom.  For right now you will have to love on your grandchild of the gray-tabby cat variety.)


I wasn't really sure what to wear for Wear a Dress Tuesday this week.  Ever since Sarah and I encouraged other people to join in, I haven't wanted to re-wear dresses.  And since I do not have an endless supply of dresses, the well was starting to go dry.  I was originally thinking about accessorizing differently a dress I had already worn, but then a dress caught my eye ... a dress that I haven't worn in nearly ten months ... 

The white sundress I wore to church and brunch the day after our wedding!!  I haven't worn it since then.

(I know you're not supposed to wear white until Memorial Day, but I think that rule shouldn't apply in Atlanta because it is in the 80s and I've already gotten my first sunburn of the year.)

It was so beautiful out today!!  I worse a little sweater over the dress because I wasn't sure the halter top was completely appropriate, but I really didn't need it.  I was plenty warm without the sweater outside!!

Let's see ... who participated today ... 
Sara (Who had a very special WADT - she was at her wedding dress fitting!!)
Kate (Who is in Germany on business, so WADT has officially gone global)

Anybody else? Let me know and I'll link you up!!

Oh - I just realized that I forgot to post this last week.  Alyssa sent me a facebook message to let me know that she had joined up as well.  I met Alyssa through the same program that I met Bruce at Lancaster Theological Seminary and she is a sophomore at Millersville up in Pennsylvania.  I love that she brought WADT onto a college campus!!


I realized when I got to class and started taking notes that it was appropriate for me to wear the same little white dress that I wore the day after my wedding today because it has been exactly ten months since our wedding!!  Can you believe it?  I can't.  It seems like just yesterday that I was stressing hard and praying harder over all of the details.

Totally worth all the stress.

I hope y'all had a wonderful Tuesday.  Congratulations to all of the new moms out there - you all are beautiful!!

Good News Bad News

The good news is that I am LESS THAN A MONTH away from graduation.
The bad news is that I have a pile of work that needs to be done before then.

The good news is that my Crisis Ministry professor adjusted our final project so that instead of writing a final paper we are teaching to the class the chapters of the book that the paper was on.  One 30-minute presentation as opposed to a final paper?  Yes, please.
The bad news is that my Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious context refuses to budge the on the page count for our final paper.  I'm really just trying to help her out - does she really want to read 35 10-page papers?  I would be happy to bring it down to 5 or 6 pages.  Really.  I am just trying to be helpful.

The good news is that the nice people at Canon called yesterday and told Bruce that there was no other internal damage to my camera other than the water spot on the LCD screen.  They are going to replace the screen and I should have it back in 2-3 weeks (much better than the original 6-8 week time limit I was given).
The bad news is that the amount of money it will cost to replace the screen will prohibit me from buying anything other than bread and water for the next three months.  Okay, that's an exaggeration.  But the joy I was feeling over my tax return was deflated when I realized I wouldn't be buying a KitchenAid mixer, I would be fixing my camera.  Eh, I'll just beat things by hand when I'm baking - it'll be my way of toning my arms without actually picking up any free weights.

The good news is that Bruce and I planted tomato plants on our balcony last week.
The bad news is that apparently a watched tomato plant doesn't grow.  I'm getting impatient.

The good news is that it is Wear a Dress Tuesday.
The bad news is that ... wait ...


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

I finished my sermon!!  I couldn't sleep last night because I was so afraid I was going to oversleep my alarm and be late so I am running a little low on energy right now.  It was such a wonderful day, though.  I love preaching at Pilgrimage; they are so forgiving of and welcoming to me when I preach.  It is so encouraging and comforting.

Anyway, without further adieu ...

Acts 5:27-32
When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’


Where Do We Go From Here?

In June of 2003, I took my first trip to Teupasenti, Honduras to observe a Christian-based education mission that my church in Connecticut supports. While I was there, I saw poverty at its extreme: Large families living in shacks without windows, doors or floors; multiple siblings having to share one single pair of shoes; women walking over 10 miles a day in order to teach six grades all at once in a one-room school house; 600 children waiting patiently for one meal of chicken and rice (the only meal they would receive that day) and a group of hard working people – despite their work ethic and resilience – unable to break the cycle of poverty and self-sustain their village after the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in the late 90s.

As my trip drew to a close, I knew that my life had been changed forever. I was 18 years old and about to leave for college. I felt empowered to help the people of Teupasenti, to work with them and with the organization, Children’s Rescue Mission, to strengthen and grow their community from the inside out. In addition, I wanted to look at my own finances, adjust how I was spending my money and look to see if there was a way I could support them monetarily as well.

I flew from Tegucigalpa – the capital of Honduras – to Miami where I collected my luggage, went through customs and waited for my flight back to New York. I thought about the friends that I had made and the life that I was returning to. I thought about the stories that I wanted to tell and the changes that I wanted to make in my own life. I thought about the fact that you could feed one child one nutritious meal for 50 cents – a mere $180 a year to feed one child every day for an entire year!! I thought to myself, “Where do I go from here?”

I was getting a little thirsty, so I wandered through the terminal until I found a vending machine. Without thinking twice, I paid $2 for a bottle of water.

Two dollars; I spent two dollars on one 16 ounce bottle of water!! The amount of money that I spent on 16 ounces of water could have fed one child for four days in Teupasenti.

It is easy to lose perspective of how you are being called to act when that reality isn’t staring you in the face. It was easy for me to forget about the faces of those I wanted to help when I found myself back in the United States, surrounded by the modern conveniences of the developed world. It was easy to forget that I had asked myself the simple question, “Where do I go from here?”

Do you ever wonder if Jesus’ disciples had to force themselves to ask to the same question after the crucifixion and miraculous resurrection? Jesus ascended into heaven, but here on earth, were people wondering, “Where do we go from here?” Here’s the thing – the political situation in Jerusalem wasn’t exactly springtime and roses in the first century. There was a reason that Jesus was put on the cross, a political one. Yes, in a Christiological sense, Jesus died for the sins of the world, but in a political sense, Jesus was sentenced to death because he broke the law in Jerusalem. Anyone who preached his message would be – in a sense – breaking the laws of Jerusalem as well.

We just heard a reading from the book of Acts. Now, many scholars believe that the book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke were at one point one literary project that was separated when the New Testament was coming together and the Gospel of John was inserted after Luke. This means that the same person wrote both Luke and Acts; Luke was part one and Acts was part two. Think of it this way; the Gospel of Luke chronicles the life, ministry and death of Jesus Christ, the book of Acts is the sequel, it is the first generation of Christians, the 12 Apostles sharing the Gospel. The book of Acts chronicles those people whose leader went directly against the laws of society; they watched their fearless leader hang on a cross, overcome death and then ascend into heaven and – after it was all said and done and they were putting the pieces back together – were asking themselves the question, “Where do we go from here?”

The book of Acts starts off with the ascension of Jesus. The Apostles came together and Jesus told them that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they would be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus called them to be witnesses to the message of the Gospel – even though he was not going to be there to set the example.

And that is what they did. They carried on using the example of Jesus’ life; they healed the sick, they reached out to the poor, they shared their possessions and they called for radical justice. They did the same thing that put Jesus on the cross and they did this without Jesus being physically present to lead them.

I always get chills when I start to think about the earliest followers of Christ. They had nothing to gain by preaching the message of the Gospel. In fact – they had everything to lose. And yet they continued to push the boundaries of the law. The felt in their hearts that what they were preaching was right and they allowed themselves to be filled by the presence of the Holy Spirit and continued to preach the Good News.

And here I am, 2,000 years later – with nothing to lose by preaching the message of the Gospel, by healing the sick, reaching out to the poor, sharing my possessions and calling for radical justice – and yet it is so easy for me to forget all that I saw and all that I felt empowered to do in Honduras. It is so easy for me to forget the fact that one minute I had asked myself the simple question, “Where do I go from here?” – because the next minute I bought an overpriced bottle of water that could have fed a child for nearly an entire school week. I lost sight of the reality I wanted to hold onto because it was not right in front of me.

We come into the story today after the Apostles were called before the Council for breaking the laws of Jerusalem. Luke recorded that the “high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.’”

I do not know about the blood, but they were determined to bring Christ’s message of love and justice to the people of Jerusalem. They were determined not to lose perspective of who and what they were being called to be and to do and to the reality that they wanted to hold onto even though Jesus was not there to lead them. They were determined not to forget that they had asked themselves the simple question, “Where do we go from here?” Instead, Peter and the Apostles allowed themselves to be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit and answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom who had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey God. We – this worshipping community, our greater church community our national church body and the entire Christian Church – are witnesses to these things.

The last four to five months have been a very, very busy time in the life of the Christian church. Starting at the end of November, we hung the greens and settled into Advent, preparing for the birth of the Messiah. We welcomed Jesus into a manger, celebrated in January when the wise men arrived with gifts, saw Jesus as a boy in the temple and were inspired by the miracles he performed. We could barely catch our breaths and all of a sudden we were receiving ashes and entering Lent, reflecting on the journey that Jesus was taking, thinking about the sacrifices that were about to be made and the changes that were about to occur. Am I the only one who thinks it just seems like yesterday that we were putting chrismons on our tree and covering the altar in poinsettias? How has Easter already come and gone?

I think now – the Sunday after Easter – is a great time to pause, to take a deep breath and to ask the question, “Where do we go from here?” Where do we go from here as members of this church, as a congregation in the United Church of Christ and as Christians in a broken world? Where do we go from here? What have we taken from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? What have we learned from the ministry lived out by Jesus on earth? What did the 12 Apostles – who risked all that they had to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world – teach us with their tenacity? Who are we being called to be as Christians? What are we being called to do in their world? Christ was crucified and resurrected, but what does that mean for us – today, living within the framework that we are living in? Where do we go from here?

In many ways, we are extremely lucky. The United States isn’t perfect, but we have the individual freedom to practice the religious tradition we feel called to. The United Church of Christ isn’t perfect, but within our denominational system each church has the individual freedom to govern themselves and discern what they believe. Here, in our country and in our church community, we can ask ourselves individually and as a community, “Where do we go from here?” – and no one will answer for us.

The strange thing about the Christian year is that it is very top heavy. We go through Advent-Christmas-Lent-Easter in a short amount of time and now we have this long lull in the seasons where we get to focus not on what is going on in the Christian Church year, but on who we are as Christians.

The Apostles experienced the death and resurrection of Christ and rose to the challenge of living out their call and spreading the Good News.

We have just re-experienced the death and resurrection of Christ, the reason we are who we are as Christian people. Where do we go from here?


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Adventures of the Blinking Cursor: Saturday Night Edition

I am preaching tomorrow.

My sermon isn't finished.

I have been (pretty much) working on it all day.

It is all up in my head.

I am having issues formulating words onto a page.

I am surprisingly calm about the fact that I preach in less than 12 hours and my sermon is not finished.  Maybe I am getting better at this whole "trusting God" thing?

Next time I am going to suggest a hymn sing.

I will post my finished sermon tomorrow.  God willing.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Didn't Wear Shoes Today

I didn't wear shoes today.

Beth and I were giving a presentation at my 9:30 class.  I had a feeling my professor wouldn't care so we gave our presentation barefoot.  My professor inquired.  We told her what we were doing.  She immediately took her shoes off.  She pretty much rocks.

The forecast was calling for rain.  And the forecast was right.  It poured.  And I walked around outside barefoot.  My feet got wet.  My cream colored dress pants that I wore for my presentation got wet and the bottoms were dragged through the pollen-y puddles and mud that I couldn't get around.  Though this is a daily occurrence in developing countries.

People gave me strange looks when I walked around campus.  I suppose it was good that I was allowed on campus.  The children in Teupasenti, Honduras (and I'm sure most other places around the world) are not allowed to go to school if they do not have shoes with their uniforms.

I hesitated to drink as much water as I normally do because I wasn't sure I wanted to walk into a public restroom barefoot.  But eventually I had to.  And it was weird.  But I did it.  Children around the world walk into bathrooms barefoot everyday.

I felt short.  Usually I am in 2 1/2" - 3" heels.  I didn't feel like I could "stand tall" the way I normally do.  I didn't have the same confidence.  I never would have thought something as simple as a heel would give me confidence.  But it does - and I didn't have that today.  Women around the world never have that confidence.

All day, I kept thinking about the shoes that were unworn in my closet back home.  They seemed like such a waste.  How did I let myself get consumed by something so frivolous?  But I tried not to harp on the negative thoughts that were going through my head.  I tried to focus on the fact that we were trying to raise awareness, walking in solidarity with millions around the world and remembering once again just how much work still needs to be done in our broken world.

So ... 

Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Day Without Shoes

When I was in Honduras, I met a little boy and girl - brother and sister - who couldn't have been much older than seven or eight.  I was talking to them one morning and, as they walked away, I noticed that only the girl was wearing shoes.  I pointed it out to the director of the mission I was visiting and he told me that a lot of siblings in that town had to share shoes - their parents could not afford to buy them each a pair.  The kids would just switch throughout the day.

I don't know what was more heartbreaking to me.  The fact that two children were forced to share one pair of shoes or the fact that the shoes they were sharing were a worn-through pair of $2 Old Navy flip flops.  I own SIX PAIRS of Old Navy flip flops.  Those TWO children were sharing ONE pair.  A pair that was so dirty and worn that they might as well have not been wearing anything at all.

Yes, it is important for children in developing countries to have access to food, clean drinking water and healthcare.  But it is equally important for children to have shoes to protect their feet from bacteria and parasites that can get into their blood stream through cuts and scrapes.

A few days ago, Sara introduced me to TOMS Shoes, a shoe company that donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes that they sell.  They aren't so much a company as they are a movement.

Tomorrow TOMS is encouraging people to go a day - or even part of the day - without wearing shoes.  By choosing to walk barefoot together, we will walk in solidarity with those around the world who do not have that choice.

Learn more about the movement here.

Tomorrow, I will not be wearing shoes.  Will you?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

UCONN is 39-0 on this Wear a Dress Tuesday!!


image courtesy of ESPN

The UCONN women beat Stanford tonight to win their second straight national championship, capping off two-straight undefeated seasons!!!!!

I was waiting to post about Wear a Dress Tuesday because I was watching the game and afraid to jinx it, ha!!

I needed Wear a Dress Tuesday today.  Easter was wonderful, but the triduum started off a little rough for me.  In the middle of a birthday celebration with Bruce, I discovered that my water bottle had leaked through to the enclosed part of my camera backpack and my SLR got wet.  

Y'all - I have never cried so hard over a piece of electronics in my entire life.  Literally.  And I once had a motherboard crash - taking my sermon with it - on a Saturday night.  It did not compare to my reaction on Friday night.  This camera has been such a wonderful addition to my life and has really helped with the stress of school - it has given me something new to learn and a different way to express myself through the arts.  I was devastated.  It has actually taking me this long to even mention it here because I was sad, upset and pretty much just embarrassed that it happened.  I know that it was an accident, but still.  It was not an accident with a quick fix.

Anyway, the next morning - after a night of carefully drying everything out - the camera DID work, but there was a water spot on the LCD screen that was noticeable when I was looking at my settings and reviewing the pictures.  I didn't want to risk just "letting the spot fade" in case there was any internal damage, so I sent the camera out to Canon to get fixed.  It won't be the cheapest option, but I will feel better knowing that the whole camera is being looked at - inside and out.

So - needless to say - it was a rough start to my week.  But it was Wear a Dress Tuesday and I was sporting a new dress that my wonderful friend Sara let me take from her closet (don't you love shopping in friend's closets?!).  I was also sporting a super sexy sunburn (insert sarcasm here).  Note to self - always lather up on the first poolside day of the summer.

Me, Stacey, Beth, Sarah and Sara

Mary and Taylor from also joined us this week (not sure about Whitney?) from Candler, my friend Amy from college sent me a facebook message to say that she was wearing a dress and my mom sent me an IM and was telling me she wore a dress and is finally starting to "get" it!!  She said that - as strange as it sounds - she cares when she is getting ready in the morning and it helps her stand tall throughout the day and she feels better about herself.

Poor Sarah is up in Pennsylvania dealing with the unfortunate allergies that comes with spring.  I'm not sure WADT can do much to combat high levels of pollen, unfortunately!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Tuesday.  Let me know if you joined in and - as always - send any pictures my way.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Resurrection Sunday!!

Christ is Risen ... 

He is Risen INDEED!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Luke 23:44-49


And now we wait.

Even in our darkest hour, God's light still shines.

Happy Birthday Bruce!!

Guess who's turning 24 today?

My fabulous hiking partner!!

Happy Birthday Bruce!!  I love you!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday.


The night that Jesus was betrayed.


Tonight I co-presided over the Maundy Thursday service with my pastor.  She designed a really cool service where we essentially re-enacted the entire dinner - first the foot washing and then the meal of bread and wine.  Each part to the service was introduced with the coinciding scripture from the gospel of John.

As Kim and I led people through the service, I couldn't help but tune in to the noises I was hearing outside - a softball game being played at a neighboring field.  The service itself was intended to be quiet and meditative, so the yelling, cheering and sounds of bats cracking weren't exactly ideal.  The service was supposed to be a reminder of something somber and yet the sounds of softball made it impossible to put aside the fact that - in the midst of a tragic betrayal - life was still going on.


While the supper was going on - when Jesus knelt down to wash the feet of his disciples and broke bread and offered it to them - life was still going on.  Families were celebrating the Passover and they had no idea what was about to happen.

Even tomorrow, as we read and remember the passion narrative - life will still be going on.

This is the challenge we face as Christians - how can we be messengers of the Gospel (the Good News and the not-so-good) while life still continues to go on?


Blessings to you all as you enter this Easter Triduum.
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