Saturday, December 15, 2012

My response to tragedy

I pray that the God who breathed the breath of life into humanity, who listens to eir children, who even sent a messiah into this world to proclaim eir love, who came back after being murdered and said, "Tend my sheep" (love my people),  can be felt in the world today.  There is so much tragedy, so much heartache, and I just pray that people are able to sense God's love despite the tragedy of human sin.  I fully believe that God weeps with us, and laments with us.  I believe God holds all those who can barely breathe because of grief in eir loving hands.  I believe that God does not cause tragedy, unfortunately humans have the power to do great evil, but God will always be there for the wounded after tragedy strikes. 
I cannot say what should or should not be done after tragedy, but I do hope that people can find God despite the carnage and the wreckage. If they need to, I pray that people are able to take their anger and deepest grief to God.  If they need to scream and yell at God, I pray that they are allowed to do so.  I believe that God can take their words and I know God will still hold them when the anger leads to sobbing. From the depths of despair, the depths of Sheol, we can always cry to God.  
I pray that we are able to give our responses to tragedy over to God, and somehow God can redeem acts of despicable human violence.  That is what I pray for our world today. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Christian Education Rant

I was talking with a friend about issues within the church universal.  The subject quickly turned to the devaluation of young people in the church. Now I'm not talking about the need to have young adult representatives or youth representatives involved in church functions.  I've been there and done that, and most of the time I had to wonder, "Am I here because of my age or am I here because I can really help you out?" and the answer was usually that I was young. (Side note: Have you ever noticed that the younger you are at a church meeting, the more attention you get? It's usually not the kind of attention where people are honestly taking in your ideas, critiquing and incorporating them if they benefit the church, it's usually the "oh my gosh, someone under 40's actually here" kind of attention) I'm talking about the refusal of the church to do real Biblical studies with their young members.  Of course, the church has a hard time doing real Biblical studies with their adults, but that's why I think it's especially important to do them with the youngest among us.  Somehow we think that youth want to watch DVDs where random people talk to them about "issues" and maybe give them a piece of scripture to tie everything together.  Youth group often devolves into "Let's play games and do a morality lesson so we can be better people".  That's not going to grow our church or create authentic disciples.  Give the kids scripture, give them the conflicts of the texts. I think youth Sunday School should look a lot more like my Old Testament class and a lot less like goof off hour.  It should be engaging, they should be diving in, learning about conflicts in the texts, looking at extra-Biblical sources and trying to figure out what this God they worship actually looks like.  Of course that involves training teachers, so there'd have to be a commitment of the adults involved in our youth programs to study and struggle themselves, but there's no reason why they couldn't do that right along with the kids.  It would have to involve someone actually putting out a decent Bible study program or the priest/pastor getting involved and using the Biblical knowledge they accrued in seminary, but I think it could be beautiful.  Imagine if what was taught in the seminary classroom was commonly taught in our churches, in our Sunday School classrooms, to our teenagers and young adults.  What if people knew what modern Biblical studies scholarship actually said about the Bible?  What if it was actually relevant to how the church operated?
Now, I say this, but I'm not a youth person.  I don't know much about working with youth or anything like that.  Also, I don't think I'd necessarily be the most effective at implimenting a change in our Christian Educational system. All I know is that if we want to have effective and relevant disciples of Christ, we need to teach people about the God they follow and the Bible they read.  We might as well start with the young ones, because if they don't find relevance in the church in their younger years, they probably won't be around when they're older.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Becoming Episcopalian

I am officially becoming part of the Episcopal communion on Sunday and I assume that many people are curious about this new development in my life.  Why on earth am I leaving the United Methodist Church and becoming Episcopalian?  Am I really making the right decision? First I'd like to say, I've asked myself those questions over and over again.  They make me stop and ponder what it is that God is doing in my life right now.
I guess I always assumed I'd be United Methodist forever.  I was a third generation United Methodist, it connected me to my grandparents on both sides, and I was proud of that fact.  I was an active church member, I was an intern at my church, I served my Annual Conference, I was a leader.  Why would I leave something I knew so well and had a passion for?
I can say this: I'm not leaving because I have a major problem with the church.  There were no fights, no heated discussions that turned me away.  I am not leaving out of anger or malice.  I'm leaving partially because I think the denominational structure is too big. I love the congregation I was a part of and the Annual Conference I was a part of, but I disagree with having large overarching structure that puts out a Book of Discipline and tries to run an effective and efficient church in that manner.  I think that the system has become cumbersome and has held back church progress.  That's not to say that I don't believe that churches should be structured and organized, I am after all joining a church with bishops and a loose national structure, I just think the global structure of the United Methodist Church is too rigid.  It doesn't allow for regional differences in belief systems within the global church.  Who is to say that rules about how to structure your church that comes from white middle class Americans really works for the African church? As I looked more into the structure and system of the national and global United Methodist Church, I began to seriously question whether following one Book of Discipline was really something that was best for the church.  I began to also seriously doubt if I could connect myself with the Book of Discipline in my own personal ministry life.  There were some rules that I simply did not feel comfortable with, and I am not going to go against rules and regulations set out by my church.  I am not a rebel, I cannot knowingly break rules.  It makes me uncomfortable and makes me feel guilty. And I kept thinking questions like, "What if one day my friends want me to officiate their wedding and I have to say no because they are a same sex couple?" It would break my heart and I questioned whether I could stand in a United Methodist pulpit after something like that happened.
All that being said, those are the reasons why I began to question the United Methodist Church.  They are not the reason why I'm becoming Episcopalian.  That was a much more natural thing, something that began the first week of seminary and has progressed since then.  It all began the first week of orientation with a friendship. Since I have not asked his permission to mention him on my blog, I shall call him "D".  D is an Episcopal Studies student and we became close friends fast.  One Sunday he took me to his favorite Episcopal Church in town, and I was struck by the liturgy and the emphasis on Eucharist.  I enjoyed the service.  So when D asked me if I wanted to go to the Evensong service at school, of course I said yes.  Things progressed and soon I was hanging out with Episcopal students and Br. K, the abbot of an order of monks in town invited me over to the monk house.  As soon as I started doing complines with the monks, I was sold.  I loved how everything was so scripturally based and so meaningful.   I of course resisted the idea of becoming Episcopal every step of the way.  I was United Methodist, it was part of my heritage.  But the more I was at Episcopal services and doing the daily offices, the more I needed it.  The liturgy and eucharist soothes my  soul. The use of scripture in almost every aspect of the service is enriching and enlivens me. I walk away nourished.  When I talked to one of the Episcopal bishops, I learned about a church that isn't as structured denominationally and has a lot of leeway and freedom within each diocese to do as they see proper within their context. This both terrifies me and excites me. So I'm joining the Episcopal Studies program at school and I'm joining the Episcopal church.  It's honestly one of the scariest decisions I've ever made, but I am so happy with it.  I can't wait to be a priest, to preside over the table, to lead people in morning prayer.  I am free to be me, and I am in a church structure that supports me.  That's why I'm becoming Episcopalian.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Clinging to the Creator

I've been doing a lot of soul searching and questioning recently.  My question to God always remain the same, over and over I ask, "Where are you leading me?" and I get brief glimpses, but I'm really not sure where my life is headed.  I cling to my creator.
  I've noticed that in times when I'm really lost, really wondering what is going on, I tend to cling extra hard. The music in my car changes from today's hit music to Newsboys and Aaron Schust, I search diligently for a decent Christian radio station.  Prayer time becomes not only necessary, but increasingly more frequent.  It's not enough to read scripture and pray once a day, I need it several times a day.  If I can go to a worship service, I do, and I fret on the days when there's not one available to me, wishing and hoping for community and guidance.  I just can't get enough.  I'm at one of those places right now, where I just want to take in Christ and find some sort of answer.  I search diligently for guidance, I long for it.  I can feel Christ's presence, but I can't find a firm answer. It's a weird mixture of comfort in the creator and dis-ease in my spirit.  I search, I hope, I long.  I wait.  And I wait.  I know the answer will not come tomorrow, I know it will not come the next day, so I cling with all my might to my creator, redeemer, and sustainer.  I cling, and I wait.
It's a hard lesson, learning to wait, learning to find comfort in the clinging.  I pray for some voice of revelation, something that will make my path clear and fill me with renewed vigor.  But right now, I must cling.  I must hope.  I must search. Someday my path will be made clear, but it will not be today. It will not be tomorrow.  It may not even be next week, next month or next year. I must simply learn to use all my spiritual tools to cling to my creator, for I am not abandoned, my prayers are heard, they are simply answered with, "Patience my child, cling a little longer."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Patterns and Well Worn Tapes

I've been spending a great deal of time around the monk house recently, and I've noticed my old thought patterns have started to pop up.  Pulling up to the house today, I thought, "Maybe I'm spending too much time here...Maybe they don't really like me that much...Maybe I'm a burden to them..." Thoughts like this were once part of my daily life, something that even a year ago would keep me from asking a friend to hang out or going to an event.  They were never debilitating thoughts, I still had friends and connections, but I would never spend more than a few hours a week with any given person.
Now I'm spending quite a bit of time  around the same people, and the thought patterns have started playing again in my mind. They are the well worn tapes of a person who spent a good chunk of their life distrusting their self. I don't pay them much credence anymore, but they still echo in the back of my mind.
I wonder what it would be like if they were not there.  Who would I have been closer to if it were not for these tapes? How would my life be different?  But then I realize that there is nothing wrong with my life now, that I have been brought by the grace of God to the place I need to be.   I just have to keep remembering that the tapes of my yester-years are not the tapes I choose to play today.  They echo, but they do not define.  Instead I set my life to a new tune, a new tape that I hope to etch into my brain, "You're a good person.  Trust yourself."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Deny Youself

I was at a meeting at the monk house the other night, and as we were discussing the Philokalia, a Bible verse popped up that had always bothered me.  It was Matthew 16:24, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."
In the past I felt that this verse was convicting me to deny and give up parts of myself that didn't fit into societal expectations to better follow Christ.  I took the parts of me that didn't seem acceptable, and tried to hand them back to God.  I ended up damaging myself because the personality traits and quirks that I didn't think I should have really didn't go away, I just began to shove them under the mask of a "good Christian".  Nobody said I had to do this, or that it was best to be a certain way, I was just uncomfortable with me.
I shared this, and then my friend began to share this verse in a way that was brand new to me.  He started at the point, "take up their cross".  Our crosses are the selves that God has gifted to us.  They are our unique personalities and convictions.  They are the people God made us to be.  Jesus didn't die on the cross because he was the perfect model Christian, he died on a cross because he refused to give up the person that God made him to be.  He was authentically himself to the end.  In the same way, we should take up our crosses, refusing to be any less than the people God calls us to be.  We are to remain true to ourselves and our God to the end.
The phrase "deny theirselves" or more personally, "deny yourself" then is not about giving up your personality that was given to you.  It's about stripping off the masks, about releasing those things that hold us back from being kingdom builders for our creator.  It's about refusing to simply try to fit into what society tells us we should be.  We have to look to God and wrestle our demons, we have to fight for our authenticity.  We have to deny the trap of trying to become who we "should" be, and instead strive to become who we were created to be. "For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?" (Matt 16:26)
This was a healing moment for me.  I was brought into a text that I had used to wound myself before and it became a text that I could embrace.  It became something that spoke to my experiences and my hopes.  I have been striving to truly find my authentic self and speak to my truths, and while God has always been a major part of that journey, I didn't have a sense that Jesus had ever really talked about this.  Now I can look to the Gospels and see Jesus speaking these words as well as others to me. It brings me closer to Christ.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lessons in Community

When I moved to Lincoln, I knew what I wanted.  An education, of course, but more importantly I wanted to reboot my life, to find myself, to become comfortable with who I was and where I was headed in life. I accomplished a lot of that in my three years there.  I left with a new life and a hope that I would not crumble as I stepped out into the unknown territory of Atlanta, Georgia.
I am still not 100% certain why it is that I had to move to Atlanta though.  I don't know exactly what drew me to this place.  It was the silent tug of God that brought me here, and even though I fought it, I'm glad I'm here.  But I've been trying to figure out what it is I'm supposed to learn here.  What great growth spurts do I have to go through?  I know I'm here for an education, but I am in this specific setting for something bigger.
 I'm starting to think that maybe God is teaching me about community.  I laugh now, but I was scared to death when I moved here.  I was afraid I wouldn't find a support system, that I would be alone in a strange land with no one to care for me.  Instead, I have found more support and love than I even thought imaginable.  I am surrounded by people who love me for who I am.  I know I had community like that before, but I was too broken to realize it was there or trust that it would really help me in my time of need.  I had felt like an outsider within my own friend groups before, and now I feel like a full member.
Recently I have been hanging out with a group of Anglican monks and they are teaching me a lot about what it means to be in Christian community.  I see the bonds that have formed through living life together. There is a connectedness in that group.The morning and evening prayers I have experienced in their house have been some of the most intimate moments that I have had with God since I got here.  They have been two or three brothers and myself in the altar room of their house, but I have felt the touch of God in some of those moments, the connection that brings all life together and unifies us as siblings in Christ.  It has begun to help me see the communal identity of the body of Christ.
While the idea of the communal body of Christ might seem high and lofty, something idyllically beautiful, it's really just sharing life together.  It's opening up a little bit when you've had a bad day, it's sitting in silence and studying together, it's laughing and sighing as someone breaks yet another dish.  It's letting everybody be themselves, and letting each person's gifts  bless community as a whole.   That is communal life, and that is a beautiful life.
I can only hope and wait to learn more about community and life together as I grow over the next few years.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Numbers Don't Make You

We got back our Old Testament tests today, and I must say, I'm not used to seeing that low of a score on a test.  It threw me for a bit.  My classmates starting comparing scores and looking over what they can improve on together in community, and I had to step away because it's still a little raw. I started wanting to judge myself based on my other classmates' test scores.  Why didn't I do what this other person did?  What did she do that was so much better than me? I felt compelled to start judging myself based on a number.  So I drew back, and I came into a holy space away from the crowd.  I stopped and just let God embrace me.  I am worth so much more than a number, and truth be told, this number will not kill me, it will not make me lose my scholarship, it's just a number.  I am more than a number, I am a beloved child of God who has come to this school to learn more about how to engage with my creator and with the communities God lovingly places me in.  And when the numbers aren't what I hoped they would be, when I am not a perfect scholar, I just need to step back and remember that numbers don't make you. God makes you.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Week

My pastor called me today and made me think about everything that has been going on in my life recently. It's really quite fascinating how my life seems natural and normal, and it's really profound.  Just this week I've hung out with Anglican monks, learned about Hebrew adjectives with my favorite study buddy, done my chaplaincy at a geriatric hospital, read the entire book of Exodus, worked in the community garden, met some really cool students from other seminaries in the city, and relaxed with other friends.  I've laughed, I've sobbed, I've gotten mad at God and I've deepened my love and appreciation for my LORD. I also finally shaved my head. That's a lot of things, and I know that tomorrow and the next week will only bring more.  I am blessed beyond measure.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"More Pastors Like You"

I went out last night, and met some new people who aren't religious.  I told them where I was going to school and everything and my plans to become a pastor. After a few more minutes, one of them said something that I've heard a lot recently.  He said, "The world needs more pastors like you." While I don't disagree, that phrase always has a disheartening implication to it. It implies that he's never met a pastor like me.  That is really sad to hear, because I know I didn't come out of a vacuum. Someone could just as easily say "the world needs more pastors like your mother, like your pastors, like your pastor friends, like your seminary colleagues..." I know a ton of pastors who are very similar to me in ideology, theology, and world view.  So it's very sad to me that we're not the kind of pastors non-religious people see or think of when they hear the word "pastor".  And if I'm to be honest, sometimes I don't think of my pastor friends when I hear the word "pastor" either.  A lot of us in this culture have an image of fire and brimstone pastors who speak condemnation, not love. We think of pastors who would easily reject someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity.  We think of pastors who appear to be "holier than thou" not down to earth.  These are the pastors you often see on tv and in the streets protesting.  It really is amazing how many people know the Westboro Baptist Church, but don't know that there are Christian denominations that ordain women and would be shocked to hear that there are plenty of LGBTQ pastors and church workers who don't have to live in the closet.  If I could have one wish granted, I would wish that a "pastor like me" would attract the public eye, would go out there and be the voice of progressive Christianity to an America that needs to hear that we exist.  I doubt very much that I am that pastor.  I just want to be a relaxed, down to earth, loving person that people can relate to.  So maybe the world doesn't need a pastor like me so much as it needs pastors, chuch leaders, and loving people like you.  And maybe someone who reads this will be called to be the voice I'm searching for.  Who knows?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Testing Assumptions

Today I went to the church that almost all the young United Methodist first year students at my seminary have started going to.  The service was rooted in liturgy, the pastor (a grad of my seminary) talked about what it meant to be a progressive orthodox Christian (little o orthodox, someone who takes creeds and liturgy seriously), and everything was right on par with my theology.  I was grateful that I had gone.
I realized that I had made assumptions about my fellow students, and I'm sorry I did that.  Somewhere in my history, I started to assume that if someone around my age is serious about the church and Christianity, they are usually more conservative than I am. I've had Christian friends around my age that hold similar beliefs, but for whatever reason they always seemed like a minority in my mind.  I assumed that the twenty-somethings in seminary with me would naturally be a little more conservative, and they aren't.
 The majority of the students at my seminary really do hold similar beliefs to mine, and even if our beliefs differ, nobody's going to call me out or tell me that I'm wrong because of how I live my life. I am so excited to be in a Christian environment that is progressive and serious about the Bible and church traditions.  I am so excited to be in a seminary where I don't feel like one of those crazy liberal kids, I'm actually a pretty typical student. Praise the Lord, because somehow I ended up in an environment where I fit in just fine.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I've been learning a lot about how important my name is to me.  I won't go into details, but I'm someone with a preferred name that different from my legal name, and I've been having a hard time sorting things out with the university on this issue. I was talking to a staff person at my seminary about my problems and he said, "I wonder if Paul had problems when he changed his name from Saul".  It made me think of all the name changes in the Bible. There are at least half a dozen in the scriptures.  My favorite name change story is the story of Jacob becoming Israel.  He wrestled with an angel and got a new name for his efforts.  It makes me think about all the times I've struggled trying to figure myself and my life out, and I have a new name to show for my efforts.  It's not a legal name yet, but it is my name, and I cherish it.  I feel like it is a gift, and I will fight to keep it.  I am Zebulun, and no one can tell me otherwise.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Today was my busy day, and I was having a great time starting my Old Testament and History of Christian Thought courses. They seem interesting and I know I'll excel in them.  Then I went to my Intro to Pastoral Care class. The professor started talking about the class and it's pretty much everything I dread having to do in a class. We are going to be in small groups every day, helping other small groups learn about the material.  We're going to write deeply reflective papers, do group projects and talk about touchy-feely things. Now, I don't mind talking about touchy-feely things when I'm with my friends, but I don't want to talk about them in a classroom setting.  It just felt like the more the professor described what we would be doing this semester, the more I disliked it.  Finally, some of us started to voice our concerns about all this self reflection and group reflection on very difficult subject matter like depression and family disfunction.  She said something that made the course finally start to make sense.  She said it was designed to help us realize what the people we'll work with might feel like.  They will be coming from many different places, and how are we supposed to care for them if we haven't examined where we come from and what we struggle with? Now, I'm still mad that I have to take this course my first semester of seminary. I feel like I need to have a lot stronger support system in Atlanta before we start diving into all this deep reflection, and I hate having to do this with a group of people I don't know and didn't choose to share this class with, but here I am.  I guess all I can do is pray and trust that I'll get through it. Who knows, maybe after a few weeks it won't seem so scary. I just don't know how to deal with a class like this.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Eve of My First Class

All day I've been feeling off my game and a little nervous.  It was partially due to a bad night's sleep, but even after my nap, I felt off.  I took some time to really get in touch with myself and I realized that I'm  nervous about starting classes.  A lot of my classmates seem very academically oriented, and they have found their niche in the world of academic theology or Biblical studies or Biblical languages.  I really don't have that.  I've studied in each of those areas, but I feel like I'm more of a dabbler.  I learn a little bit of everything and then put it together in a way that makes sense to me.  I do academics, and I do them well, but I don't live in an academic world.  I am more practically oriented.  For example, I want to learn the Biblical languages because I want to be able to look up verses in their original language and use that knowledge to fuel sermons and conversations with my parishoners.  I want to learn Biblical studies because I want to figure out how to teach academically sound Bible studies to lay people and preach about it from the pulpit.
So, as I sit here on the eve of my first class, I'm worried because I know I won't be the best student to ever walk through the halls of my seminary.  I'm not the smartest, I'm not the most academically astute, but I hope that I can grow.  I also hope that I never get so overwhelmed in my work that I fail to remember that I'm learning so I can build a better church, one that knows today's understandings of the Bible and realizes that there's more than one theology. If I can walk away from here with the knowledge base to be able to do that, it will be worth it.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

There's a saying I heard a long time ago, "Home is where you hang your hat".  If you were at my old apartment, you may have noticed a hat hanging in the front entrance.  It was something to me that symbolized that this is my residence, my home.  Today, that hat got a new home.  It hangs proudly in my bedroom of my new apartment.  Everyday I can come back and know that this is where I hang my hat. 

The lesson of the Poang Chair

I bought a Poang chair from Ikea.  When I opened the box to put the chair together, there were no nuts and bolts. All I had were pieces of wood. So, I went back to Ikea and asked for the missing parts.  I got a package of nuts and bolts, but when I tried to put together the chair, the bolts wouldn't fit.  In fact, they got stuck in the chair and I couldn't pull them out. So, I took the whole thing back to Ikea and got a new chair, which I was able to put together with ease. 
The whole thing was an interesting experience and I started thinking about what sort of lesson besides "keep your receipt from Ikea because sometimes they mess up" I could learn from this.  At church today there was talk of new birth. Suddenly I found that I had a strange example for how new birth might work. Sometimes in our lives, we feel lost, like our bolts are missing.  We can search for answers and try to find solutions on our own, but that can sometimes lead to a feeling of being stuck, the pieces we put in don't quite work. We can continue to struggle on our own and try to make everything work, or we can turn ourselves in to God.  We hand over our lives and get a new one.  It's not as simple as picking out a new chair frame, but we can become new again, fresh again, and most importantly we can become complete.
So I give you the lesson of the Poang Chair.  It's simple, and my theology on new birth might change, so this lesson might seem silly to me in the future.  But today, it gives me a perspective on my own rebirth journey that I can use to help me move forward. Today, it makes sense to me. And no matter what, I have a great Poang Chair.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Building Relationships

Today was my second day of seminary orientation and it's incredible how quickly I got connected to amazing people who will bless my journey.  Before I came here I was so scared of losing my support system, and I had to keep reminding myself that I would build a new one and still have my Lincoln connections.  I just couldn't imagine that my support system here would start to build itself so quickly.  I already have good friends and resources to help me with my journey,and I know I'll just keep connecting up and building up my network here.
I remember how at the beginning of June, I didn't even want to come here.  I was so scared and was so worried about losing the connections I had just started to build with people at home.  I will forever be thankful for my friends, especially my pastor friends who helped to get me here.
  I remember my pastor showing me a picture of baby birds in a nest.  She reminded me that no matter how scary it looked, if I never left my, I'd never be able to accomplish the dreams God had for me.  She reminded me that God wanted me to fly. She was able to help me move forward, and I'll be forever grateful for her wisdom and inspiration at my moment of need.  She helped me get here.
There's still a lot I'm nervous about.  There's still a lot that I'm not sure about, but I'm building relationships.  I know that if I have good people around me and a God who loves me, I can do a lot more than I think I can.  It is our connections that make us strong.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meeting New Classmates and Getting Settled

Today was a really good day.  I went to a pre-orientation event at the seminary and got to meet some new classmates. The session was about how to live frugally in Atlanta and we went to an indoor farmer's market.  I tasted fruits I never knew existed, and had a ton of fun.
Meanwhile, my apartment was getting cleaned and repainted.  My father and roommate actually moved all my boxes and furniture into the apartment while I was out.  I came back and was able to set up my bed and put some food in the fridge.  The place looks so much better now that it's clean, and I'm starting to see how I can live there.
Dad leaves tomorrow and I'll be on my own.  I'm excited to try to figure this place out.  I just keep on thinking, "Toto, we're not in Nebraska anymore".

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday, Wonderful Sunday

After the disappointments of yesterday, I was excited to find a church nearby and go worship.  I went to the relaxed contemporary style worship service called CAYA (Come As You Are) at Decatur First UMC, and I highly recommend the experience.  It was very warm and welcoming, and I loved the pride everyone had in being United Methodist.
After church, we walked down into a little downtown area and had lunch at an authentic French cafe.  The food was spectacular.  And after walking around that area, I have to say, I really like Decatur.  This is a very nice little city attached to Atlanta.
We also went to IKEA today, and I noticed that there were at least 5 different languages being spoken by the people around me.  There was a lot of diversity.
For the first time, I'm feeling like I can settle down and live here for a while.  When I visited the school before, I liked it, but I really was uncertain about living in such a large city.  Now I'm starting to get excited about exploring the city more.
Tomorrow I'm going to a pre-orientation workshop at the seminary about living cheap in Atlanta.  I can't wait to meet some of my new classmates, and explore thrift shops around the area.
Thank God for a wonderful Sunday.  Life is good.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Not So Nice Welcome to Atlanta

We got into Atlanta around 4 pm and we went straight to my new apartment. We got the keys, opened the door and found that my new place was dirty and needed to be repainted.  I was blessed to have my father there to talk things out with the management of the apartment complex, because I almost lost it. My first reaction was to just give back the keys and find a new place to live. Dad is staying until everything is worked out, but it looks like things will get cleaned up and it will be okay. I hope that things go smooth from now on and my apartment ends up looking decent. Please send good vibes or prayers my way. Thank you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

From Paducah With Love

We started the drive from Iowa City to Atlanta today, and I'm ending my day in Paducah, Kentucky.  Driving for eight hours gave me a lot of time to think.  I started my drive asking, "Why in the world am I doing this?" And over the course of my drive I came up with some good answers.  I want to be in ministry. I want to help people see all their neighbors as fellow children of God.  I want to teach Biblical scholarship and theology in the church setting. I want to help people develop their prayer lives.  I want to do mission work in the local and global settings. In the end, I want to make disciples for the transformation of the world.  If moving to Atlanta will help me accomplish those goals, then it's worth it.  That's why I'm doing this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On the Road

Today I cleaned my apartment in Lincoln, left the keys on the counter, and officially left Lincoln.  It was an interesting experience saying goodbye to my first apartment ever. I tried not to dwell too hard on what was happening, I just wanted to get on the road.
I got on the road and put in a cd that my friend had made for my journey to Atlanta.  Pretty soon I was bawling.  I must have been quite a sight, going down the interstate with a car packed full of stuff, crying like a baby.  But the experience made me realize something.  This is the worst part of my adventure, the part I have been terrified of doing.  I have officially packed up and begun a journey to a place I've never lived before, thousands of miles away from my friends and family. Still, I'm doing it, I'm accomplishing the task, and in a week or two I will be just fine.  Meanwhile, as I'm going through this weird transitional phase, I'm not alone.  I have friends who still have my back, who I can still text and call and facebook, even if I can't see them in person.  I am not leaving my Lincoln community behind, I'm just becoming a long distance member. I will carry my community with me wherever I go, they are a part of me.
Thank you for your support. Please pray or send good vibes my way as I make my journey down to Georgia. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Leaving Lincoln

I'm still in the process of packing everything up and moving out of my apartment in Lincoln, but somehow I'm going to hit the road tomorrow and leave this city for a while. 
It's hard saying goodbye to this place and the people I love, but I know that life has a lot of amazing things in store for me.
I just want to say thank you to everybody who loves me and supports me.  I couldn't be making this move without you.
 I'm creating this blog as a way to stay in touch with you while I'm in seminary. I'll share some of my achievements and struggles, and plenty of insights.  I hope you enjoy it.