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crying and smiling.

25 Jul
There’s that Dr. Seuss quote that gets around – “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
That’s not working out so well for me in regards to [whispers] the ordination.
It’s not all tears – I am smiling.  I’ve been smiling since guests began arriving yesterday.  My friend, Sara, arrived to my house early afternoon yesterday, followed by Cassie.  Dawson folks arrived at church shortly after [including a wonderful surprise as Sharon walked into church!], and then congregation members, call committee people from Austin, family, and more friends.  I smiled when Keith, the custodian from Grace, greeted me with a smirk, a hug, [note: oxford comma] and a “Sunshine!”  I smiled when Miss Molly Bea [my 6th grade cousin and goddaughter] conquered her public speaking fear to read during the service.  I smiled when my mom put the stole around my shoulders, and felt great moments of support and comfort through the hands that were laid upon me.  I smiled when Kendall said, “I’ll be right back,” dipped down into the pulpit, and came back up with three gnomes to teach us lessons.  [More on that to follow.  I will share the gnomes and the lessons with you!]  I smiled during the special music and when I handed bread to my cousin, Sam, during communion as he giggled.  I smiled at how lovely the ladies of the church set up the reception that followed, complete with fancy coffee servers and a quilt/prayer shawl gift for me.  And many hugs.  So many hugs.  I love hugs.  It was a good day.  [More stories certainly to follow.]
But now this morning, I’m crying too.  I cried in the days leading up to the ordination, causing me fear that I wouldn’t be able to remain dry-eyed during the service.  Miraculously, I did.  [I recall this from my last Sunday in Dawson, too.  It’s not because I’m a rock and have no emotions – I think my body holds out on me and keeps me pretty level-headed when I’m in front of people.]  I’m crying because it’s over and because of all the people who traveled and supported me on this day.  I felt so incredibly loved yesterday!  I’m crying because for the last few weeks I’ve been able to say to many of my geographically-distant friends, “I’ll see you soon!”  Now I don’t know when I’ll see them next.  I cry at the wonderful notes that people wrote in the cards I received [“Lindsay, You have been on my daily prayer list for years and you will continue to be on that list.”], and cry at how wonderfully my friends from home and family [some of whom are not so favorable towards church] tell me they’re proud of me and support me.

It was a big day.  A good day.  An emotional service and wonderful celebration.  A ginormous thank you to all those who came, who hugged, who participated, and who were thinking about me yesterday!

I felt the love.  Thank you.

[want to hear a rap about the ordination?  of course you do and my rapping friends, Joel and Melissa, provided!  it’s awesome.  as usual.  “so/ the sun is setting as I write this rhyme/ can you believe it’s almost time/ four years at seminary/ a couple interviews/ hey/ did you hear the great news?/ Lindsay Stolen gettin’ ordained on Sunday afternoon/ near the end of July/ the month after June/ with joy we dance to a little tune/ your feet hit the floor/ the plans have been made/ cold oatmeal with almond milk/ is your breakfast of trade/ a robe called an alb/ a stole/ you’re a pastor/ how the time flies much faster/ how do you feel? … well we’ll just ask you/ you’re a firework/ a dance party rocker/ blogger extraordinaire/ a tight rope walker/ so what we’re trying to say/ through all these words and phrases/ may God bless you this day and always/ for new trails you blaze/ peace and love to you.”

AND if you weren’t able to attend, here’s a section of the service, lovingly prepared and taped by my soon-to-be southeastern MN colleagues.  they’ve already invited themselves over to my house for dinner on sept. 12 and much shenanigans will ensue.  thanks to Lauren, jD, and Paige for this creative greeting!  I am blessed with such awesome friends, all around.  seriously.]

[the sound?  the baptismal font.  love it.]


14 May
I constantly compare myself to others.  I know I shouldn’t.  I know that I am me and you are you and our paths through life are different and that’s how it is meant to be.  But I still make the side-by-side lists in my head, comparing pros and cons, good and bad.
Right now my lists consist of comparing myself to classmates regarding calls.  Many of my friends have calls to churches post-graduation.  Many are planning ordinations.  Many know what their summer will look like.  I am incredibly happy for these friends – really, I am! – but I don’t have a call, I’m not planning an ordination, and I know only what my June will look like.  My comparisons have me feeling pretty low.
I had an impending sense of doom throughout all of Thursday.  You know those days when you feel like something is just going to go wrong?  The pit in my stomach warned me that something wasn’t quite right.  I called the synod of my assignment to see what they knew about the church where I had interviewed, since it had been nearly two weeks and I’d heard nothing.  The synod knew that the church liked me – they are not releasing me as a candidate – but they also want to interview more people.  I still feel pretty emotional about the news; in summary, the news kinda sucked.
I know that I am called to be a pastor and that I do well in this vocation.  I know that there will be a church that wants me and that calls me but for now, I feel a bit like a failure.  Again, in comparing myself with others who are called and have dates on the calendar to be ordained and to move and to begin working, I’m behind.  If we continue to compare this process to dating, I feel rejected.  [Ah, yes.  Know that feeling well.]
I’ve been in this place before, with my negative thoughts and illicit comparisons, but I refuse to let them infiltrate all facets of my life.  Yeah, Thursday was a pretty down day [blogger being down helped none.] but things have looked up since then.  I have two finals left to complete by Monday and many opportunities to be social beside.  After that, time will be filled with craftiness, packing, and general playing and merriment.  I know I move home for June and if June turns into June and July, maybe that will give me the chance to start my Etsy store or explore reading, running, and crafting at length.  Maybe I could look for a fun-to-me part-time job or consider visiting long-lost friends in WA and IN and MI.  Maybe I’ll stop comparing myself to others too, and enjoy this unique journey as my own and one that needs to be no one else’s.  


7 May
My mom could speak to my youngest years and how often I shed tears, but in my adult life, I know that I do not cry much.
I remember not crying when I led prayer services for the family and close friends of deceased members while in Dawson.  Sometimes, I even wanted to, or felt like I should.  But I don’t think I ever did.  I didn’t cry at the funerals that happened the next day, and can remain pretty emotionally strong while meeting with families and being with them in times of loss.  [Not that crying would be a sure sign of not being emotionally strong.]
Want to make me cry?  
Stress me out, give me too much to do, throw in a lack of Lindsay time, and it’s only a matter of minutes before the tear ducts burst.  
I remember on internship there were moments like this.  Moments right around Easter and VBS when I was incredibly stressed out.  I had taken on too many responsibilities or procrastinated so well that I was stuck and frustrated, both at myself and the situation.  Talk to me about it and my eyes would well up.  
When my coworkers could tell I was at my limit, they would ask what they could do to help.  Being ever the one to not give up control or let anyone down, I said I just needed to have a good cry and that would push me into the git-er-done mode.  They wouldn’t necessarily accept this as a good answer to their question, but time and again, it’s what happened.
I reached that point tonight.  I went to the CYF dinner, walked into the room where it was being held and realized I didn’t really know anyone who was there yet.  [There are distance learners and people that I just don’t come into contact with on a regular basis within the program, and whether I’m stressed and on the edge or not, walking into a room where I know no one strikes enough fear into me – unless I’m in pastor mode and know it needs to be done.  No pastor mode tonight.]  I could tell I had reached my limit with everything going on and that if I walked in any further, I’d start to cry.  Pathetic, right?  
Pathetic or not, I knew I just needed to step away for a moment.  I sat cross-legged on a couch in the hallway for a good ten minutes, checking Twitter on my phone, speaking very few words.  I regrouped myself and had a nice dinner at a table with people I knew.  [Call me snotty but that’s exactly what I needed – people I knew.]
I’m back at the computer now, working on my presentation.  I can hear your inner thoughts: “Lindsay, you’re not working on your presentation.  You’re blogging.”  True, wise grasshopper, true.  But truth is, typing all this out is a way to work through the current tears.  I feel better focused and ready to carry on.  Let’s git-er-done.
ps.  I realize it’s late notice but if you are at all intrigued to watch me present my thesis, you can stream the video of it here live.  9:30am.  You’re invited to watch me fall on my face rock it.  [My self-confidence still needs work.]


29 Mar
I’m a wordy person.  I associate a lot of meaning with words and am cautious that I use the right word in conversation and writing.  I love etymology and a good thesaurus.  If we’re talking about the written word, I love a good type too.  Fonts and typography get me excited.
The newest word I’m in love with?

passion |ˈpa sh ən|nounstrong and barely controllable emotion a man of impetuous passionSee note at emotion .• state or outburst of such emotion oratory in which he gradually works himself up into a passion.• an intense desire or enthusiasm for something the Englishhave a passion for gardens.• a thing arousing enthusiasm modern furniture is a particularpassion of Bill’s.

There is something about a strong and barely controllable emotion.  Something that makes me so excited I’ll risk lack of sleep to do it.  That thing that unleashes a vigor, a fervor, a mania.  (Thank you, thesaurus.)  Something that leads to eagerness and intense energy.
Passion is crucial.  
So important that a lack of it could kill you.  
Not in the literal sense but in real seriousness – what is life without passion?  
[You could probably say that Pinterest feeds many of my passions, and fed the formative push for this blog post by unveiling the following to me on a board I follow – ]
What about life makes you barely able control your excitement and enthusiasm?  
If you can’t even contain it [Please!  Tell me you can’t!], what do you do with it?  
How do you share it?  
What happens?  
Tell me!
If you’ll allow me to consider this a passion, here’s my example: Vacation Bible School.  VBS is like the perfect combination of all things I love and a week in the summer where my energy is high despite incredible lack of sleep and long hours of work.  Love it.  L-O-V-E love it.  
Crafts?  Check.  
Crazy games?  Check.  
Loving on kids?  Check.  
Teaching?  Check.  
Community?  Check.  
Watching kids discover the love of Jesus?  Check.
[I’m getting super giddy just thinking about it!]
Passion is on the brain for Pinterest reasons and for ministry reasons.  Many know my secret but if you don’t, here you go [even after I swore off revealing secrets on this blog as of, oh, yesterday] – I interview with a potential church this weekend.  Stress levels are high as I anticipate the questions and the nerves that I hope won’t show.  If it’s a good fit, it’s a good fit.  If not, other options will come.  But I wonder how I wear my passion; how will they see my passion for ministry?  I hope I can share who I am – who I’m created to be – and wear the enthusiasm I have for ministry in the church.  I’ll most certainly keep you posted.
[It’s still March and this is my 33rd blog post of the month.  Safe to say that writing/sharing/being in this media relationship with you via blog land is a passion of mine?  Perhaps.]

I got better.

15 Feb
(on the phone with me mum)
Mom: How are you?
L : Alright.
Mom: That’s not what your blog says.
Oh.  Right.  The blog posting I wrote in crankiness and frustration last night, and then hit “Publish” with some sort of ‘stick-it-to-the-man’ attitude.
Thanks for reading, friends, and thanks to the many of you who commented, sent messages, and asked me how things were going.  You are all so wonderfully supportive and the way in which you support me is proof of the community that is built and grows through such a silly thing as a blog.  Blog.  The word is just funny to begin with … but in all seriousness and slightly as an aside, this blog has helped me form and maintain relationships in a weird but really cool way.  [As one who often struggles to let people into her life, it’s this crazy thing where you can learn about me and my life virtually; that somehow puts me at ease when face-to-face.  But enough about that for now.  Perhaps more in another blog post in the future.]  
As for today, what comes to mind is a favorite quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail – said with a choppy British accent – “I got bet-tah.”  [See video clip at the end of the post to bring light to this quote if you’re unfamiliar.  Also, you should watch the clip if you would like to learn what else floats in water.  Spoiler alert: Churches and very small rocks.]
Today was a better day.  I won’t say that my confidence has completely been restored or my feet entirely steadied, but I think I might wear the yellow shoes tomorrow, Sabrina [see comment on previous post], to assert the unique feet that are my own/unique person that I am.
That is the truth – that each person is unique.  Even better – that’s the way God intends it.  [A lesson I love exploring with kids.  I should practice what I teach.]  I so easily get caught up in comparing myself to others that I forget to be myself and be content with who I am.  [Okay.  I can’t help it.  Another video clip that comes to mind.  Dawson peeps: Are you really surprised?  Hello, Joyce?]
I am a seminary student but I don’t consider myself an academic.  I’ll never teach at the college level, nor do I have any desire to work towards a doctorate.  That’s not me.  It’s not where my gifts are.  I love [nearly] all aspects of congregational ministry and despite the lack of confidence and momentary freak-outs [which I guess will only be more frequent as graduation grows near – I apologize in advance], this is what I’m called to do.  I learned that last year more than ever, but this year – returning to an academic environment which I feel is not my strength – it’s a struggle to remember that.  
It’s no joke when I say that I have Kendall’s [my internship supervisor] and my internship committee’s final evaluation paragraphs of my year propped upon my study table.  I think I need to be reminded – when I seem to lack the confidence and strength – that other people believe in these gifts I’ve been given and have witnessed my joy in ministry.  Perhaps when I’m called upon to explain my CYF thesis to a class of highly academic classmates, I need to forget the comparisons, and simply “do my best and forget the rest.”  [That’s what Tony Horton says.  Who knew P90x and seminary classes had anything in common?]  
In conclusion: Today was bet-tah.  And thanks, blog friends.
Enough rambling from me.  Now enjoy this:

Can I complain?

15 Feb
I realize there are probably more fruitful avenues for my time and for this blog, but can I complain?
[There is often critique of personal blogs – that they write only of lollipops and rainbows, and give the perception that the life behind the writer is swell.  You officially can no longer say that about my blog.  Also note, I write this not as a pity post.  But it’s where I am tonight.]
Mondays are my nine-hour day of class and we’ll just be honest – I’m mighty crabby at the end of the day that begins at 8am and ends at 9pm.  [If I were wise, I wouldn’t even be writing this right now.  I would be in bed … curing my crabbiness.]  Three three-hour long classes is just a lot on which to focus.  Three hour classes are no good for me to begin with; get me to the end of hour two, and I’m as good as gone.  That’s just a simple fact of Lindsay as a learner.  Multiplied by three plus little introvert Lindsay time and it’s best – at that point – that you don’t engage me in conversation.  Maybe even run in the opposite direction if you see me approaching? 
The kicker of the Monday classes – I feel dumb.  Totally and completely dumb.  Academic theology, Bible knowledge, theological frameworks – I don’t get it like my classmates do.  I never have understood it like others … but now I’m even tired of faking it.  Ask me to speak in class and it’s like the horrid movie – Dumb and Dumberer.  I’m so ready to be done with classes.  To be done with seminary.
Professors don’t notice me; why should they?  I don’t talk because I feel dumb.  [And I have nothing to say.  Literally – brain empty.]  I feel like I’m shoved to the back of my senior class.  I have friends who are called out and seen as leaders to take on special projects and have special relationships with professors.  I have a hard time thinking of even once that a staff member or professor saw me as a leader who could be given extra responsibility or tasks.  [Okay, one.  The Cooking Pastor video.]  I think this is the kicker – I have underlying fears that this will continue as I journey in the first call process.  I’m really not great at first impressions or even second impressions.  [I often joke that to know me is to love me, but to know me takes a long time.]  Will bishops of synods see me as incapable of leadership and not as capable of pastoring a church as my classmates are capable?  Will they see through my cover-up and realize I don’t know all that I should?
Deep down, I know I’m totally capable.  I can be a leader.  I know that I have practical, applicable knowledge and buckets of creativity to use.  But between meetings regarding first call assignment, two classes that made me feel dumb, and one class on women in ministry leadership, it has been a day of feeling insecure.  Of feeling unnoticed.  Internship gave me confidence in myself and in my ability to do ministry – confidence that I feel I’m losing.  Confidence that falters when I remember that next time I’m doing ministry in a congregation, it’s the real deal.  Can I actually do it?
I need to find my feet again and stand upon them firmly.
So if you see them, please let me know.
I’d like to locate them before I start making horrid first impressions to bishops who phone me on my mobile.


13 Jan
One of the classes I’m taking this January is a two week course, ending tomorrow afternoon, called Genesis to Revelation.  The course is as it says – each afternoon for three hours, we go through the Bible.  The whole thing.  Complete canon.  Genesis to Revelation.
It’s a great course, the ultimate goal being to make your own study Bible.  The professor lectures, sings and screams in animated fashion as we make our way through the Biblical narrative and it’s our job as students to mark the heck out of our Bibles.  Make notes.  Underline.  Highlight.  Make connections.
That’s been the best part of the class for me – the connections.  The connections between people, between places, between me and the Biblical story.  Think about it.  Where does John the Baptist do his ministry?  At the Jordan, where we last saw the prophet Elijah.  Jesus raises a widow’s son at Nain, just as Elijah and Elisha did years before.  King David had ran across the Mount of Olives, away from Jerusalem, running from his enemies.  Hundreds of years later, we read that Jesus – a different kind of king – crosses the Mount of Olives en route to Jerusalem to confront his enemies and ultimate death.  
The class is only two weeks long and the Bible has 66 books contained between its covers.  We move fast.  Today we made our way through modern-day Turkey, Greece, back to Jerusalem and finally to Rome with Acts and Paul’s letters.  Paul wrote a lot of letters.  Letters to churches and letters to specific people.  Letter of joy, of Christ’s love, and letters in the midst of conflict.  Letters filled with emotion. [For I wrote out of much distress, and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love I have for you.  2 Corinthians 2:4]  Letters were how Paul connected with those he could not immediately see.
There is something to be said about a letter.  In our time when communication is so immediate, letters are a lost art.  In Paul’s time, it was all he had to communicate with those distant churches and friends.  Letters are lasting.  They’re not lost in cell phone waves or cyber space.  We still read Paul’s letters nearly two thousand years later and in his words we feel the connection he had to other Christians and we feel our connection to Christ’s love.  
Letters remain.  I received a handwritten letter from my dad while at college the Friday that preceded the Sunday of his death.  He was never one for computers or email but he was so wonderful at writing letters in his perfect printing.  For the letters to include $20 and conclude with “Buy your friends pizza” was pretty standard.  That letter was the last communication I had with him, and I’m glad I have those words in print, to reread and to remember.
I have a terrible time getting rid of any letter I receive.  Knowing the time, the thought, and the energy that went into its writing, its creation and the motive behind its sending, I hold onto it.  It comes to the point where they fill a shoebox here, a wire basket there.  But I can’t throw them out.

Letters connect us.  I wrote two letters tonight.  [You’ll see my modern church history study guide hiding underneath the letters.  Guess where my priority was … um, not with defining fundamentalism and reform Judaism.  The test isn’t until Tuesday; I have time.]  One long overdue letter is to my Dawson penpal, C.  Another I wrote to someone I’ve never met.  I follow this blog.  Gussy.  She’s younger than I but a complete inspiration in her sewing creativity and the way she has built her business.  She’s lives in Minneapolis and I secretly want to meet her for coffee.  I think we would be the best of friends.  But for now, she invited blog readers to write to her.  So I did.  A connection.  
Letters connect us.

one year ago –

12 Jan
The earthquake in Haiti.
The Luther Seminary community paused at 3:45 this afternoon for a brief time of song, prayer, and to hear the bells toll for 35 seconds, reminding us of those who died and the rebuilding still happening.
I remember talking about it at work that day last year.  The following day, as we were continually swallowed by news reports on the devastation and climbing death toll, I recall the stewardship board allotting immediate funds to go towards the relief effort.  I remember driving to the Cities to attend a prayer service organized by Ben Larson’s friends and classmates from Luther.  I came back to Dawson to write a sermon.  I remember preaching, praying, and hugging that Sunday.
Today I’m remembering and I’m praying.  
I’m hoping you’ll do the same.

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.

lay ’em down.

13 Oct
Tonight confirmation got real.  Not that it had ever been fake … but instead of the ordinary night, there was a big change.  I had bought fleece; we were going to make tie pillows.  I had picked up paint samples so we could decide what color we wanted to paint our room.  We didn’t do any of that.
Last night there was a double suicide in Stillwater.  Two ninth graders – a boyfriend and girlfriend.  They were found dead in a park.  They were not members of Trinity, of our confirmation program, but the ninth graders, along with the seventh and eighth graders, came with heavy hearts, so much emotion, and so many questions.  The planned lessons went out the window.
Pastor TJ talked about all of the empty pages these two now have unwritten in their lives.  How suicide is not heroic.  How even when we think life is hopeless, when you think you’re alone, and you want to close the book on the years to come, there are people to turn to, there are people who love and value each person.  We had communion together, wrote prayers and feelings in marker on a giant sheet of paper, and lit candles as prayers upon the altar.  I didn’t know these two fourteen year olds but that moment of prayer, lighting a candle on the altar, got me.  There I found my connection with God and my moment of mourning.  I cried alongside the girls in my group.  I cried for them and the pain their feeling at the unnecessary loss of two friends and I cried for those families.  I simply cannot imagine.
Paul writes, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  These verses from Romans were used by Pastor TJ and guided our prayer in our small group.  As we talked in our groups, one of the things we wanted our confirmands to leave with was a list – a list of three people they can talk to no matter what, a list of three people to whom they can go in any circumstance.  The ladies in my group are blessed to be wonderfully supported by each other and by families.  Amen to that.  But to those who feel alone and hopeless, I hope they left with that list and that they’ll use it.
As I took my half hour drive back to St.Paul from Stillwater, this was the song, by needtobreathe, that my car cd player repeated over and over at my prompting — 
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