Archive | May, 2010

graduation celebrations.

31 May
This past Sunday marked the first of our summer worship schedule at Grace, meaning now just one service at 9am. Kendall was gone so it was all me – solo. I led worship, preached, schmoozed at coffee hour and then at 11am, hit the road for St.Paul. It was the day of Luther Seminary’s 141st commencement ceremony and I was super excited to make the trek and celebrate with a few graduating friends!
The ceremony is always held at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis, one of the largest, most beautiful Lutheran churches. I met up with my pal, James, and we found our spots in the balcony to cheer on the graduates. This year there were about 45 graduates with two-year master degrees and about 75 graduates with master of divinity degrees (the degree which I seek and will receive next year at graduation – eek!).
It was my dapper friend, Justin, who invited me to make the journey to graduation. Justin and I met last year when he moved into the room next to mine in the dorms on campus. I’ve been knocking on his door, bothering him ever since and he politely tolerates my friendship. I couldn’t help but tell him so many times that day how proud I am of him! My dear friend, Kate, (below in the white dress and master’s hood) also crossed the stage and received her master of divinity degree! Kate was one of my very first friends at seminary; we were set-up by a high school friend of mine who went to college with Kate. She will be serving a parish in the U.P. of Michigan; the specific location of the lucky congregation to have her as their pastor is still to be determined.
After the ceremony, James and I joined Justin and his family (who flew in from Pennsylvania for the occasion) in celebrating the day. We ate a fancy schmancy dinner downtown, where I may have accidently thrown expensive French cheese on the floor. My reaction as Justin picked the cheese up : giggles. Fancy places make me giggle; the hick in me feels out of place and uncomfortable. The cheese was still good; the five second rule also applies to fancy food.
Later that evening, we headed out to further celebrate Justin’s graduation. We visited The Happy Gnome in St.Paul (naturally) and then, after 45 minutes of driving around looking for a respectable eating establishment that was open, landed at Pizza Luce where the three of us quickly devoured a baked potato pizza. Back to the dorms for a bed time story and incessant laughing before bed.
Wait. Bed? We heard the birds begin to chirp at 4am and then noticed when the sky started to get lighter at 6am. We scored a good 2.5 hours of sleep before heading to IKEA for brunch/lunch/celebratory cake and then, sadly, my trip to the cities needed to come to a close; I headed back to Dawson after a most fulfilling and exciting night in St.Paul catching up with two of my most favorite friends.

And how does one drive three hours by oneself on two and a half hours of sleep?
Thank you, Caribou.
Thank you, espresso.


29 May

Remember this guy that resides in my office?
He’s pretty cool. Fun office mate. Sometimes I would give him a high five on my way out the door. You know, just a way to say, “Hey, thanks for being here, Jesus” or “Hey, Jesus, you’re pretty boss.”
Last Wednesday night he went missing. Jesus was no where to be found. It was the empty tomb all over again and I was a Mary.
After we had cleaned up from of Women of Grace event, it was nearing 9pm. Karen and I then spent the next half hour looking for Jesus, certain that someone had just moved him but concerned that it might have been the high school choir kids who were there that night. We would feel better going home if we knew where Jesus was.
We checked all the obvious places – Tammy’s office. Nope. Emily’s office. Nope. Kendall’s bathroom. Nope. Where was Jesus?
Jesus has been known to be moved every once in a while, to surprise a staff member or bring comfort. (Really, the former more than the latter. Comfort? This Jesus tends to scare the bejesus* out of me if he moves.) But Karen and I looked everywhere and found the statue of our Lord no where.
We find out the next day that Jesus had ascended. To the cemetery. The original intent of the Jesus statue was that he be placed in the cemetery but after the statue had hung out in the intern’s office for more than two years, it was a surprise when it actually happened.
And so suddenly. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to my faithful office mate. As Kendall told me in pastoral-care-via-text-message, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” I walked to the cemetery today to visit my buddy. He looks good, perched and preaching from a rock in the middle of a round-a-bout. It is nice to know that he hasn’t gone too far and I can still visit him when I feel so moved to spend time in the cemetery.
* bejesus : an exclamation traditionally attributed to the Irish, used to express surprise or for emphasis. they were forty minutes late, cocky as bejesus (the example used in my apple dictionary).


27 May

I feel a bit wilted today, like the flower I forgot to water.
First thing. I’m tired as all get-out. It has been a l.o.n.g. week of hours at work. A week of late nights. Lots of preparation for the Women of Grace event and other large upcoming projects that have required my attention and seemingly snuck up on me. Visits. Preaching on Sunday. Please don’t hear this as complaining – I’m not – I loved (nearly) every minute of my work this week – but I think I’m trying to prove to myself that I have reason to be tired. This week has flown by so quickly because I’ve been so busy and slept so little; if this is any indication of the rest of the summer, my last three months here will feel like a week and a half.
Second thing. The next intern, who will arrive in September after I leave in August, came to visit yesterday. He’s great; I think he will be a great addition to Grace and will fit in well. But my emotions were on edge as he came to see where he would be and I began to understand what it will feel like to leave. August 22/29-ish will be a sad day indeed. (I thought my last Sunday would probably be Aug. 22nd; my coworkers have decided to change that date to the 29th. Can’t say I protested too much.)
Third thing. I’m working through the emotions of being a pastor and today they seem to be quite heavy with little outlet. Being a pastor is built on relationships; you’re invited into people’s lives to share in their joys and their struggles. I’ve been in Dawson for nine months now; I’ve built relationships. They are short-term relationships, not even a year or two long yet, but I still feel involved and invited in. When a woman I have come to know through quilting mornings at church and home visits is in the hospital for the week and pretty darn sick, it hits me. When I hear that the woman I had planned on visiting this morning for a communion visit was transported to a near-by large city because she had a heart attack, my heart sinks. Later, when doing visits at the hospital, I meet a member of Grace for the first time; she is very best friends with the woman who had the heart attack and begins to cry at the thought of her friend fighting for her life. I’m invited in to share with people in their sickness and in their pain. I do my best to be the non-anxious-listening-presence that CPE taught me to be … but it still makes me cry. I hold their hand as we pray together and I empathize with their sadness, anger, and grief. I can’t leave my work at the office; the emotions, the prayers, the relationships are with me even when I come home at night.
But these relationships are the key. Relationships with people (and, well, sharing the promise of relationship with Christ) are the reason I want to be a pastor. Relationships are why it will be so difficult to leave Grace in three short months. I will have only been here for one year; I can’t imagine what it will be like to leave a church after a three year, ten, or fifteen year call. I am so thankful for the relationships in my life; the short-term and the long-term, the best friends and the acquaintances. I am thankful for the relationships that I have gained as a pastor, being invited into people’s lives, to celebrate with them the joys and to be near them in times of sorrow.
I don’t feel so entirely wilted anymore. (Writing is my therapy when I live alone.) The flowers don’t either. I watered them when I got home and the daisies have now sprung back to life. I don’t have enough energy to spring back to life quite like that but I will curl up on the couch and be in bed by 10.

bag ladies.

26 May
It was a Women of Grace night at church tonight. Women of Grace events fall under my coworker Emily’s jurisdiction and they’re held three times a year. Typically, an event like this brings in a speaker; in my time at Grace, there have been two other Women of Grace nights – Emily’s sister, who is a professor at Luther Seminary, and another woman with a darling southern accent were the speakers. It came time for this night and no speakers were to be found. They declined. Or were busy. We were stuck.
Emily and I brainstormed, searched the web, and finally landed upon this as the title of this night’s event for which WE became the speakers: What’s in your purse? What we carry with us as Christian women.
Does it sound lame? Maybe a bit corny? It was every bit corny, maybe a tad lame at parts but still completely awesome. We started with a purse party game and a clip from Friends (where Phoebe pulls a shoe, an egg, and a live goldfish from her purse). From there, we moved into our program – how the things we carry around in our purse can help us remember to live Christian lives. We scored a few laughs, especially when Emily pulled her shake-weight from the bottom of her purse.
After the program, we sewed! Each woman either sewed or watched someone else sew together for them a small bag to take home. Preparation for the sewing occupied my last few days, along with Karen, the expert sewer on staff. We cut yards and yards of fabric, cut and pinned webbing for handles and then serged the outer edges of all pieces. Phew. (Mom: I learned how to use a serger! Prior to this week, I didn’t even know what a serger was … scary looking machine.)

It was something different but I think the women who attended enjoyed the program. It was a lot of work and made for some crazy days this week but it was fun. Emily and I brought in all of our purses as props; we wore them around as we welcomed people. I carried my gnomes in mine; Emily carried her entire medicine cabinet and an emergency heat blanket. Crazy bag ladies. We’re thinking about taking our program on the road to other churches – book us?

hints of happy (cont’d).

22 May
Hint #11 : Spinach salads with my new blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar.
Hint #12 : Polka dots.
Hint #13 : College campuses. An overnight ninth grade confirmation retreat to Gustavus last Tuesday night made me remember and miss my years at Luther College. College = awesome.
Hint #14 : A new-to-me book, left in my mailbox at work. I used “choose your own adventure” books as a sermon illustration during Lent; someone was listening and remembered!
Hint #15 : The butter-and-saltine challenge was completed last Tuesday. I made homemade Twix bars which, in theory, look and sound delicious. They are meant to be made with whole crackers, not crushed ones, so my bars … kinda … fell … apart. The staff still seemed to appreciate the taste of them and made a game out of matching the bottom parts to a top part as they fell apart once cut. “It’s like a puzzle!”
Hint #16 : A vase of fresh-cut flowers outside my office door once again.
Hint #17 : Dinner with C and his family for “fishy meatballs;” my first experience with salmon loaf. Verdict: pretty darn good. Dinner followed by a game of tag in the basement.
Hint #18 : I purchased this poster. I love the boldness of the color along with the truth in the statement. I’ll hang it in my apartment next year, knowing my roommate will totally agree. Right, Jeanette?
Hint #19 : My bestest friend, Adam, has decided on and been accepted to Luther Seminary beginning this fall! woot! I am so excited to spend time on campus with him as a fellow student and to take a letterpress class with his new bride!
Hint #20 :

silent saturday.

22 May
I have literally said three words all day. I said “no thank you” to the woman at the gym who asked if I wanted to use the remote. That’s it. Besides that short sentence, I haven’t spoken at all today. But that’s okay.
It’s been a good Saturday. A productive Saturday. I woke up early to the wind howling and rain pounding – the first real good thunderstorm of the summer. Read a few chapters in my book while drinking coffee. (The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. It’s a educationally disturbing book about where our food comes from and solidifies my current decision to not buy meat.) Laundry. Cleaned. Organized. A walk to the gym. Blogged. (With a ring pop.)
The day wasn’t without a few sewing projects. I made a coat hanger organizer for my plastic and paper bags that used to simply occupy the floor of my closet. I finished off the bag pictured below; it’s made from clearance pillow cases I scored at Target. I didn’t have any fabric to match for the handles but while cleaning my bedroom, I found this tie from a shirt that I have; I wear the shirt but never the tie along with it. Sure. I think it works. A little strange combo but I like it.

hints of happy (part one).

17 May
Cloud nine. High as a kite. Right side of the bed. Call it what you will, life is good. Many people and factors play into my overly happy demeanor of late. Here’s a beginning list:
Hint #1 : Sunshine! After nine or so days of constant cloud cover and rain, it’s amazing the difference the sun makes!
Hint #2 : Potted plants in my window. See previous post.
Hint #3 : An Art Scraps visit this past weekend in St.Paul. Scored deals for VBS decorations and craft projects, not to mention a free large sheet of sticky glow-in-the-dark paper.
Hint #4 : I scrubbed my floors. Love that clean lemon smell.
Hint #5 : Strawberries for $1.50 at Target.
Hint #6 : Nearly perfecting my iced coffee technique with my french press.
Hint #7 : A delicious dinner that turned into a late night of socializing with my supervisor and his family.
Hint #8 : Trampolines.
Hint #9 : I wore a cardigan on Sunday to church – really, no surprise there. I walked into the confirmation room and Brandon greets me, “Pullover? Pullover? It’s a cardigan. Thanks for noticing.” (A quote from the movie Dumb and Dumber)
Hint #10 : It’s going to be a girl! Finally, in a family overridden with boys, my cousin, Marissa, is due to have a girl on October 3!

like mother like daughter.

16 May
I’m turning into my mother. Some people say this phrase with distain. Some with fear. I say it with neither but rather … surprise. Not that I was never like my mother. I think we are very alike in many ways but in this context, I’m referring to hobbies. To crafting.
I’ve always been crafty like my mom is crafty but we’ve been crafty in different ways. For the longest while, I was on a paper kick. Scrapbooking, stamping, book making. While I still enjoy all of those and will go well out of my way for a nice stack of heavy-weighted paper, I’ve turned my focus to sewing. To fabric, which is where my mom’s crafty realm has always been.
Pretty sure my mom continues to be a tad shocked when I choose to spend my free time at my sewing machine. Or when I go to Target and buy pillow cases on clearance because they’re cute and I know I can make them into grocery totes and give them new life. [The green and orange polka dots are the pillow cases; the pink and blue are sheet sets for quilts in the making.] But now, there’s more than just the sewing. My mom is an expert, intense and busy gardener. Eh. I’ve never had much interest. Planting and hoeing tobacco was always enough for me in the plant arena.
[interest sparked] I bought flowers yesterday – a mum and a daisy. Add that to the other seeds I had planted earlier and five larger pots now adorn my window ledge. I’m a tad sad that I still am not in a place in my life where I am in one location long enough to have an actual garden. I dream of planting veggies and having peonies and other pretty things in a garden alongside my gnomes.

an olive oil picnic.

16 May
I escaped to the Cities this past weekend to spend time with friends and enjoy some of the comforts of the larger city. The highlight of the weekend was easily the trip to Stillwater on Friday evening. I worked in Stillwater for two and a half years, living there for one year and commuting for the other year and a half from St.Paul. After leaving the area, I have realized that I didn’t take advantage of the town. So much to do, places to go and good food to eat!
We started our Stillwater evening at the new Stillwater Olive Oil Co. on Main Street. I had heard rumblings of this magical place on facebook and thought it sounded like a new and different experience. We walked into the store and found ourselves surrounded by metal vats of balsamic vinegars and olive oils in all different flavors and varieties. I saw another customer drinking olive oil from a small test cup and worried this was a bad choice … eww? … but was soon proved otherwise. It was the coolest experience. We did shots of olive oil – lemon, garlic, basil, butter. We tested combinations of vinegars and oils … so delicious. I ended up walking away with a small bottle of blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar. After Sara dipped a piece of bread in a sample of this one, she exclaimed, “It’s like candy!” So good. I have never cooked/ate/bought balsamic vinegar before but I drizzled it over my strawberries and yogurt last night with rave results. It will make mighty delicious salad dressings as well.
After drinking some olive oil, we walked further down Main to the River Market Co-op to buy dinner from the deli. Three years ago, when I was in Stillwater, most of the sandwich choices they offer would have made me turn up my nose – turkey with avocado, tomato, lettuce and sprouts? In wrap form = delicious. We carried our picnic basket and our sandwiches to sit by the river and enjoy. It was the perfect evening to be outside and enjoying the water and each other. The evening was further perfected by ice cream at Nelson’s and a visit to the Gieseke family. I love Stillwater and vow to make it a place of regular visiting once I return to St.Paul in four months.

my mom’s gnome.

15 May
I gave my mom and sister gnomes when they came to visit over Easter as something meaningful and poignant to remember their trip to Dawson, aka Gnometown. My mom’s gnome has been put to use, protecting and guarding a newly potted plant in her garden.

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