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.