Archive | December, 2010

nothing like it.

31 Dec
Sitting around an all-too-familiar table with glasses of wine and old friends.  We did nothing but talk … update … catch each other up on our respective lives.  We all had a chance to share, no one person dominating conversation more than another.  Topics ranged from the serious where listening ears and compassionate responses were given, to the ridiculous. (Lynn feels there is absolutely no logical reason for blimps to be in existance.)  We were two Bananas short of the full bunch, but one H-Banana blessed.  (A shout-out to – I’ve learned – a faithful blog reader – erm, stalker? – and Honorary Banana, Theresa, who was hilarious.  As always.  I’m glad she came over to share in the table talk.) 
It has easily been at least four – probably more – years since I’ve walked in the back door at the Schaaf house but I did it so much during high school that it seemed perfectly normal and right last night.  There certainly have been changes since I’ve last sat around that kitchen table.  Marj has a dog now.  A dog.  Jenni has been swept off her feet to live in Indiana with her flannel-sporting mountain man, Joe.  Each Banana has been on her own journey of job transitions, children, marriages, and figuring out what this life is all about.  But we still gathered around that table, drank wine, and shared stories like we had never left.  Nothing like it.


27 Dec
I helped my mother for a few hours last night, sorting and cleaning the basement.  What did I find?
1. My Wisconsin and Iowa teaching licenses.  Never actually used those …
2. Nancy Drew collection.  Belonging to my mom as a young girl, I read all of these yellow hardcover mysteries at least three times as a kid.  My mom thought she might like to try and sell them online – VETO.  I dream of ordering them on a bookshelf of mine someday; books are always pretty but books filled with nostalgia and hours of glorious reading are absolutely wonderful.
3. Eight jars of jam.  Mmm.  Thumbprint cookies to come.
4. “God is Everywhere” picture book.  Sounds like a threat.  (Law and gospel?)
5. My professional teaching portfolio.  Well over 100 logged hours of projects, lesson plans, and papers about to be recycled.  It was the culmination of my undergraduate degree and throwing it out doesn’t make it seem like a waste of four years.  Of course not …
6. Book cloth.  Book board.  Incomplete book art projects.  Proof that I skip hobbies every couple of years and the supplies from the former gather dust.  (An expensive habit.)  Next up: knitting (while continuing to quilt).

merry christmas.

27 Dec
Two days late but still within the season.  Ten days left to buy that pear tree and those drummer boys!  Here’s hoping you celebrated with people you love at the arrival of the newborn king!
What did I do?

I spent Christmas Eve with my immediate family and those on my dad’s side.  We went to church and it struck me – probably my last Christmas Eve service at East Koshkonong with my family.  Next year, I’ll most likely be planning and leading at a church yet unknown.  That makes me sad … but honestly, also a tad excited!  (I’m ready for this next step in life, though it means holidays will never look that same.)  We returned home to watch Friends (“The One with the Holiday Armadillo.”) and play an ever-hilarious game of Apples to Apples with the Luther clan.  Christmas proper had our home as host to the maternal side of the family, a crowd of twenty.  A game of 31, the tossing of a large rubberband, and watching the younger cousins open gifts comprised our day.  After company left, we watched a movie, recouped, and accidently fed my brother’s lab, Jetta, Diet Mountain Dew.  She was okay.  Once she stopped shaking.  (jk.)

the light.

22 Dec

It was eerily foggy last night after a snowfall the evening before, making the light post in our driveway shine amidst the dense moisture and against the lack of light.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” [John 1:5-9]

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

The true light was coming.

… is coming.

Being home for Christmas means –

22 Dec
1. No wireless internet.  Means fewer blog postings.  Means I appreciate your patience, dutiful blog readers.
2. Christmas trees and holiday decorating.

3. Passing Santa driving an old rusted Chevy on the way into town this morning.  For serious.  [Driving into town to meet up with my Grandma’s Wednesday morning knitting group at the local coffee shop, only to find she had left before I arrived.  Also, for wireless internet.  See number one.]
4. The annual Christmas program at my home congregation.  As there needs to be each year, there was that one kid who yelled every word to every song.  Classic.
5. Banana Christmas with gift exchange.

Kim: Okay, now everyone wear your gift!

6.  The traditional eating of sponge candy with my Texan Banana, Allison.

7. Reading.  For fun books.  Finished Mansfield Park and onto a rereading of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
8. My mother having each of her four children home at one time.  She has clarified many times that she loves having us home but do we really need to bring so much stuff home with us?

church families.

16 Dec
That’s the language tossed about within congregations – your church family.  The church to which you belong becomes like a family.  But rather, not just LIKE a family but it is your family.  Your church family.  You’re with each other through tough times and great times, the joys and the sorrows.  (Warning: Cliche approaching.)  I am so blessed.  I have THREE church families.  
East Koshkonong is the church family to which I formally belong, the church family in which I grew up.  It’s the country church where I was baptized and confirmed, the church where I spend every Christmas Eve (with the exception of last year).  When I worship at East, I share the pews with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  One of my favorite memories is as a small girl, crawling over other family members to sit next to my Grandma Vera.  She always had peppermints in her purse.  I remember sitting next to my dad who would always put his arm around me (and sometimes fall asleep during the sermon).  Here I played my flute with the senior choir, I taught Sunday School, and ultimately first felt my call to ministry.  With approval behind me and only one semester ahead of me, I look forward to planning my ordination – a celebration I will have the opportunity to share with this church family, knowing I have their constant prayers and support as I journey in ministry.
Trinity in Stillwater is the second church family of which I ever became a part.  I began working at Trinity in 2007 and worked through the spring of 2009.  I loved the time I spent at Trinity in children’s ministry and working with an innovative staff.  One of the coolest things about this church family is going back to it.  After a year and a half away, I’ve come back to Trinity to worship and to lead a small group of ninth grade confirmation ladies.  It’s crazy to come back and have these children that I worked with for two and half years remember me and still greet me with hugs.  (And many confused looks.  But we’ll focus on the hugs.)  My small group is truly a blessing.  Tonight we wrote on the chalkboard wall in our meeting room for the first time – for fun!  Not only do I get to interact once again with children I’ve known from years past, but I also am blessed to see the staff members. I love hanging out after confirmation is over with Denise, one of my ‘Stillwater Moms’ and my BFF from a Mexico mission trip of the past.  I’ve missed her.
Grace in Dawson is my third church family who I still think of and miss every day.  Lots.  And it is certainly true that people there – members of the congregation and the staff with whom I spent lots of time – became my family when I was away from mine for a year.  I remember tearing up during the candlelight singing of Silent Night on Christmas Eve, missing that moment that I have each year with my family.  But then afterwards, I was invited to dinner, gifts, and games with coworkers and members alike at my supervisor’s home.  Looking back, it was different.  But it was perfect.  They were the ones who supported me in some truly rough times and helped me grow.  A lot.  We drank lots of coffee and had a bit too much fun for our own good.  (I still remember playing baseball in the hallway with Kendall using a rolled up poster and wiffle ball on a random weekday morning.  And don’t get me started on VeeBeeS and sewing purses.  Too much fun.)  I know that I’m in trouble when it comes to my first call; I find it hard to believe that being the pastor of any church can live up to Grace and the year I had there.
I have three church families – even if I’m not actively involved in each at this time.  In any given week, I receive the newsletter from one.  There are facebook friend requests and long facebook messages to keep in touch.  I have a penpal.  Birthday wishes.  Text messages.  Holiday cards. I love my church families and think I’m most certainly blessed to have three of them.  Love it.


14 Dec
That’s what it’s been coined.  One of the worst snowstorms since the Halloween blizzard of ’91.  My friend Cassie’s facebook status on the day?  “It’s been so long since I’ve been in a blizzard … I’m not sure what to do but put my halloween costume on OVER my snowsuit.  (That’s normal blizzard practice, right?)”  I don’t actually remember said blizzard of my first grade year but I remember this one.  (It was two days ago and we have all this snow to prove it!)
I came back to St.Paul right after my approval interview on Friday to beat the Wisconsin snow that was supposed to come the next day, completely unaware of the impending doom approaching Minnesota.  Good thing I came back when I did.
I didn’t leave my apartment at all on Saturday or Sunday.  I was okay being snowed in.  (Unlike being snowed in last year at Christmas in Dawson.  I was not okay with that but survived.  Builds character and quilts or something I suppose.)  This blizzard forced me to work on finals (somewhat), gave me opportunity to sew a bit, make hamball soup (so not kidding) and sleep.  (I have a bed now – sleeping is all that much more exciting.  So long futon!)  My roomie and I baked and decorated cookies for a study break while watching a movie.  I didn’t need to go outside and so did not.  Thankfully.
A huge hand to those who are still clearing roads and sidewalks.  Absolutely unheard of, the St.Paul Public School system has a second day off today, as people are still digging out sidewalks and roads in these now nasty cold temperatures.

The seminary did not cancel classes.  *shaking angry fist*  Oh well.  I write this while in my LAST class of the semester. (And while hanging on every word of the professor teaching Psalms.  of course.) I turned in my last final paper early this morning – errr, 1:30 AM – and now will pick up the pieces of life that have been pushed to the back because of class/homework/approval.  Here I come, Christmas break!


12 Dec
The final step in the candidacy process leading up to graduation and ordination –
The last approval interview is done with the candidacy committee in one’s home synod.  For me, that meant a trip back to Madison for my meeting on Friday afternoon.  *deep breath*
I walked into the conference room at the synod and found ten people around the table, the seat at the head of the table reserved for me.  *gulp*
Other colleagues of mine who have already gone through approval told me tales of three people.  Four people maybe.  There were definitely ten around this table.  Let the interrogation begin.
We talked about internship – the joys and the frustrations.  We talked about where I was hoping to be placed.  About how I handle conflict and about cardigan sweaters.  (No joke.  Cardigan sweaters came up – but it wasn’t me beginning that conversation.  I only contributed.  And was wearing one.)
Then this young pastor on the committee leaned forward with his large black-rimmed glasses and asked, “What is God up to?”
What is God up to?  I repeated back to him.  It’s a question we ask a lot here at seminary but one often asked within a specific context, not within the world in general.  Holy big question, Batman!
I know what my answer was (and I suppose it was satisfactory since I was approved by the committee); what’s yours?  What is God up to?  In the world?  In your church?  In your life?  Where do you see God working?
An appropriate question at any time, I suppose now it is all too appropriate with the approaching of the Christmas celebration when we call our focus to Immanuel, God with us.  The coming of God into this world.  God is up to a lot through the incarnation, work and person of his son, Jesus.  This holiday season we celebrate God with us and the light that shines in the darkness.  
It’s your turn to answer.  What the heck is God up to?
[Sidenote: As my Grace co-workers knew all too well, my connections between real world and tv/movie land are frequent, sometimes unwelcomed, and often met with blank stares.  Nevertheless, we’ve reached the explanation of a connection again.  Being approved can only make me think of the Target lady skits from SNL, in which the Target employee will yell in a nasal tone with enthusiastic hand gestures, “You’re approved!” when credit card payments go through.  Ignore the credit card payment part and yell with me, “You’re approved!”  Hey.  Thanks.]

a birthday celebration.

11 Dec
As C. and his sister, Nell, wished me happy birthday in the post prior to this one, it was my birthday last week.  We celebrated the night prior with a hamball supper (not dinner), coffee with cakepops, and a few hours of volunteering at Feed My Starving Children.  In the hour we packed meals (chicken, veggies, soy, rice) with a larger group of volunteers, we assembled 62 boxes of food – enough to feed 37 kids for one year!  It’s an incredible non-profit.  We had a great time putting between 380 and 400 grams of food into plastic bags with a fun group of Mormon women.
It took me a bit of effort to find ground ham.  At one meat counter I inquired, the cute meat man behind the glass kinda smirked and said, “Ground ham?  That’s kind of a thing of the past …”  Or western Minnesota, I told him.  I finally succeeded in my quest and hamballs had we.  I’m still working my way through leftovers; tomorrow I might attempt/create hamball soup …

a birthday wish.

9 Dec
It was my birthday yesterday and there will be stories of hamballs and volunteering at Feed My Starving Children to come on that topic.  But for now, enjoy yet another video embedded here at the place of the happy gnome – a birthday wish from my penpal, C., and his sister – favorite friends from Dawson who I miss dearly!
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