Not Adding A Single Hour To My Life

Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht have made their fortunes by giving people advice about how to deal with worst-case scenarios. They've authored books on everything from travel to dating and sex. There are games, calendars, cards, and even a TV series based around the theme of escaping dangerous situations.

I don't know about you, but I don't need any help imagining the worst-case scenario. In the summers after my sophomore and junior years of college, I traveled around in a fifteen passenger van with a drama team. Those of us in the back rarely wore seat belts. During long drives, my mind would wander, and I would think about what would happen to my body if we got hit by different types of vehicles at various speeds and angles.

Since Monday, I've been coming up with worst-case scenarios, all of which result in me never seeing Jordan again. I have to keep reminding myself that statistics are in my favor (after all, the average American male lives to the ripe old age of 80). Am I crazy or does everyone have thoughts like these?

Six Days...and Counting

I finished the first of three papers today. It was the longest one of the three, so it feels like I've really accomplished something. Maybe it's good or maybe it's bad, but the point is, it's done. Of course, it needs a little editing, but getting the words out is the hard part for me.

Jordan's been gone since Monday afternoon and I won't see him again until some time next Saturday. That means six more full days before I see his adorable face again. Honestly, I don't understand how people cope with long distance relationships. It's miserable, especially in the evening. After all, Ray Charles got it right when he said "nighttime is the right time to be with the one you love." We talk on the phone and send each other silly emails, but those things are a poor substitute for being together.

It began snowing early this morning and continued until almost noon. There are three or four inches of the stuff lying around outside. It's quite lovely and I'm glad it's here, but it's supposed to melt in the next few days.

Jordan's spending New Year's with a bunch of his friends from college, friends I would really like to meet, but I suppose there will be other opportunities. I'm spending it with a bunch of folks from my church that I see once or twice a year, should be a good time...

Don't Expect Forgiveness

This is my last post in a series begun here and continued here and here.

Robert Karen's last step in the process of forgiveness is to apologize without expecting forgiveness. To most people, such a notion is counter-intuitive.

Why apologize if forgiveness will not be the immediate result? Because the ability to offer forgiveness to one who has wounded you is part of a healing process. The other person may not yet be able to acknowledge that what he or she did was hurtful. The offender may not know that they caused you hurt unless you tell him or her. Communicating your feelings can begin the process of reconciliation.

Karen goes on to suggest that sometimes one should make an apology even when one feels like the other's offense was the more egregious error. "I won't apologize until _____ does."

Why apologize if you were not the only offender? Because sometimes restoring a broken relationship is more important than holding on to our hurt feelings and righteous indignation. Karen would never tell someone to move to this stage of forgiveness without being ready, but sometimes considering the dearness of the offender can make one ready.

As I've suggested before, Christians should live a lifestyle that is always moving toward reconciliation. Such a lifestyle would necessarily include a willingness to take the first step toward forgiveness and reconciliation. We can certainly hope that our apology will bring healing and forgiveness, but we must allow the other time to work through his or her emotions just as we allow ourselves time to do so.

I assume that everyone who reads this blog can think of a situation in which he or she has been offended. Can any of you remember a situation in which you felt yourself to be the more injured party and yet the importance of the relationship led you to make the first move toward healing? Can any of you remember a situation in which you apologized but the other person wasn't immediately ready to forgive? Share some stories.

More Woes Yet

According to GEICO my options for my car are as follows: 1) Switch everything into my mother's name so that she can insure the car or 2) move my car to New Jersey. Neither of these options is feasible because: 1) I have a loan on the car so it must be registered and titled in my name and my mother cannot afford to refinance the loan in her name or purchase the vehicle from me and 2) my mother needs the car and I can't afford to insure it in NJ.

I don't know what to do and, to top it all off, I'm sick and need to write three papers.

Sorry for all the complaining, but I'm sick and I have a lot of schoolwork to do and I miss Jordan and that's what blogs are for...

DMV Woes: Part Deux

The situation isn't quite as woeful anymore because I have a fabulous boyfriend who is willing to drive three hours roundtrip to retrieve my passport and social security card from my dorm room. He doesn't have to do such a thing, but he didn't even hesitate to say he would. I still don't know if it will all work out so that I can get my registration completed up here, but I am more hopeful than I was when I wrote my post yesterday...

DMV Woes

My Virginia inspection and registration expire at the end of January. No big deal...the plan was to register in New York while home for Christmas. The problem is that New York State requires about fourteen different documents to verify my identity in order to do anything at all with my car and all but one of those documents happen to be locked in my dorm room in New Jersey.

I know...I could have looked up what I needed online, but I didn't. And now, I have to figure out some way to get my stuff from school up here...

Green Christmas

There's no snow here in Watertown. It's been cold and a bit blustery, but no frozen precipitation. Jordan and I drove through mile after mile of alternately drizzly and misty rain on our way up here Friday only to find ourselves locked out when we got to my mom's house.

I showed him around the area on Saturday and Sunday. He got to see good old Wescott Beach where I spent many a summer day in my younger years. I took him to Thompson Park to see the city from above and to River Walk to see the always swollen Black River. He met my church people yesterday morning. We watched some Christmas movies and played lots of cards and, this morning, we both made out like bandits.

Now...he's gone. He left around 4 p.m. in an attempt to avoid getting caught in snow or traffic. This is the first time we'll have been apart for more than 24 hours since we began dating. And there isn't even any snow on the ground to make it a little less sad.

On the Road

Jordan and I are finally heading for home today. Classes are over and finals don't begin for three weeks. I don't plan to blog much from my mom's house, but I guess we'll see.

Have a merry Christmas, everyone!

'Tis the Season

I received my fourth Christmas card of the season today and it was quite a delightful treat.

Mother and Child


This card was designed by the lovely Abigail, who likes to show off her little family over at Shotsnaps when she isn't trying to keep up with her three girls under the age of five.

Emotional Monotheism

This is the third in my series of posts about forgiveness, begun here and continued here. The second post, dealing with complexity, began the exploration of the idea of "emotional monotheism." I didn't use those particular words, but any hint of allowing another person to possess complex character traits moves toward this idea.

Robert Karen describes emotional monotheism as a state in which "[a]ll things, good and bad, are possible...it is a fragile state that is easily lost..." (73). Karen goes on to say that those who have reached emotional monotheism live in a "country of love...in this country all feelings are allowed, even hateful feelings...we don't have to leave this country because of the things we feel" (74).

It is in this state that are able to allow others to be complex. We realize that someone can love us and hate us at the very same time because we are loveable, but we sometimes do unlovable things. The very fact that we "live in a country of love" is what allows us to recognize our hate and anger, deal with it effectively, and move on. Love doesn't take away the other feelings, it gives us a lens through which we can rightly view those feelings.

If any group of people should live in a country of love, it should be the church, but I think that Christians have a blurry view of that country's landscape. They want that country to be perfect, for everyone to look pretty and be good. The problem is that people don't always look pretty and they are not always good. We need to take up residence in a country of love that allows for honest confession of who we are. And we must remember that who we are and who our friends are and who our families are might be ugly and hard to deal with, but love will help us through it.

Hmmm...how's that for a sermon?

The Fam

I love this picture of Jordan's family. In fact, I just love Jordan's family. They sort of fulfill my image of how a family should be with all the quirkiness and all the loving each other and wanting to be around each other. It's fun to hang out with them because they've already begun to incorporate me into the circle.

It's worth clicking on the pic to see the larger view if only to see how his grandmother (second from the right) is dressed. Eesh! I'm 25 and I wouldn't be able to pull off those knee high boots!

In this picture from left to right (relation to Jordan in parentheses): Jordan, Rebecca (cousin), Jesse (brother), Daniel (cousin), Mike (uncle), Leslie (aunt, married to Mike), Grandma Atkin, Sarah (mom). Taken December 17th, 2006 at Aunt Marlene's house in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Christmas Madness

On our way to a party at Jordan's Aunt Marlene's house, we were driving through a rather lovely neighborhood with cute houses and big yards, when we happened upon the outrageously gaudy display of Christmas decoration pictured here:

I'm all for some tasteful Christmas decoration; a few strands of lights, maybe some Christmas balls in the trees out front. If you have small children, I can even understand getting a little more silly with flashing colored lights. But this! This is just disturbing. (Click on the image above for a few more shots.)

The amount of time, money and energy spent to create this monstrosity can never be regained. It makes me think about the things on which I waste my time, energy and money. Maybe if my wastefulness was so easily visible I would be more ashamed and do something to counteract it.

Anyone think I'm overreacting or that I'm right on?

Spring Classes

I am officially done with registration for my second semester classes. I will be taking:
  • Introductory Biblical Hebrew, Part II - I've thoroughly enjoyed the first half, hopefully the second half won't disappoint. As long as Dr. Hutton keeps breaking out games and his Yoda voice, I think it should be alright.
  • Daniel Interpretation and Exposition - It only seemed right to take a Seow class. Not only does he have the entire Bible memorized in like eighteen different languages, not only did he write a widely used Hebrew grammar, he's funny to boot!
  • The Old Testament, Women, and Cultural and Ecclesial Diversity - Can you say "three hours of Katherine Doob Sakenfeld, president of the Society for Biblical Literature, every Tuesday afternoon"? Who wouldn't want to take this class?
  • Cultural Hermeneutics: Ideology, Power, and Text Interpretation - Jordan and I will be in this class together. We will not be comparing grades or working on group projects together. Dr. Blount let me out of NT101, that already gives him a few points.
  • Systematic Theology I - This is the only required class I couldn't get out of this semester. It's a shame, too. I'm not looking forward to it.
  • Speech Communication in Ministry 2 - Okay, so this is also a required class, but my prof is fantastic, so I wouldn't want to get out if I could. Anyway, it's only 1 credit.
Looks like it will be a heavy, but fantastic semester. Lord only knows how I'll manage all this and a boyfriend and a job.

Hello, Winter!

It's difficult for me to contemplate Christmas when there's no snow on the ground, but PTS's Christmas formal, which took place on Friday, December 15th, sort of helped me to get into the spirit of the holiday. I didn't dress up, but I took pictures of plenty of people who did.

Click on this picture of Meghan and Rachel to see more photos of that night.

Happy Chanukah!

Me, Jordan, and some other friends celebrated the first night of Chanukah last night. It's fun to learn new traditions. We even sang the three blessings for the first night of the holiday.
Tonight, Lydia's having a Christmas party and we are going to burn the candles for the second night.

Way #132 to Freak Out Your Boyfriend

Kate: I keep dreaming about having babies. Last night I had three. I gave birth to them in my dream!

Jordan: Would you stop dreaming about having babies?!

Complexity Is Alright

I began a series on forgiveness a couple days ago. I'm exploring the four stages of forgiveness that Robert Karen sets forth in his book, The Forgiving Self, and how these stages relate to the Christian notion of forgiveness. Step One was "Acknowledge your anger / mourn your loss." Christians seem to have difficulty with this first step, moving onto forgiveness before any effort has been made to connect with feelings of anger or loss.

Step Two is not much easier. Karen encourages us to "allow oneself and others complexity of self." Essentially, we need to allow people, including ourselves, to be human. An individual human can be good and bad, beautiful and ugly, wonderful and awful all at the same time.

Karen describes the stark way infants see their world. There is the good world and the bad world. There is a good mama and a bad mama. The infant cannot reconcile the fact that these two mothers are actually the same mother, all the bad and good rolled into one complex package. As the infant grows, he or she realizes that there is only one mother who does good and bad things.

Like the infant, we must recognize that individuals are complex. Good people do bad stuff. Bad people do good stuff. There is no purely good or purely bad person on earth. It is important to allow for this complexity (in others and in ourselves) and stop believing that the caricatures we have of people fully represent who they are.

It is tempting for Christians to disown the "bad" in ourselves and villify it in others. We spend a great deal of time denying our ugliness and hiding it from our brothers and sisters in the church, ultimately, hiding it from ourselves. I would like to fully embrace who I am. I must embrace even the parts of myself that I would like to change because without the acknowledgment of who I am, I will never be able to become better.

So, we must allow ourselves and others to be more than cardboard cutouts. It becomes much easier to forgive when we realize that the person who hurt or offended us is still capable of good. This is especially important when someone close to us is the offender. We must remember that no matter how much they hurt us, they still love us.

SLURP!

Seriously, Cute Overload should be on everybody's blogroll!

With Surprising Results

Here is a paper I wrote for Old Testament 1o1. I was rather pleased with the result and thought it might be nice to share with a larger audience that my preceptor and my professor. I know it's longer than the average blog post, but I think you might enjoy it!

In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, we encounter the fourth, and final, Servant Song. In this passage, we are witnesses to a dramatic plot, involving YHWH, the servant, who has been identified as many, diverse people and entities, and the nations. In this paper, I will explore the ways in which the structure of Second Isaiah’s poetry serves to heighten the drama, demonstrating the surprising nature of the text.

In the first six verses of this passage, the reader is introduced to the servant first by the Lord and then the nations; these two perspectives stand in stark contrast to one another. The first three verses of this passage are written from the Lord’s perspective (52:13-15). As one might expect, the Lord declares that the servant shall “prosper,” “be exalted and lifted up,” and “be very high” (52:13). However, verses 14 and 15 shift unexpectedly, describing how the servant will be so “marred” that his appearance will “startle many nations.” Yet, in the Lord’s words, the servant’s disfigurement does not preclude his exaltation, but makes it more glorious and unexpected (52:14-15). In the next three verses, the nations chime in, describing their reaction to the servant (53:2-3). This highly exalted servant is not seen as such by the people among whom he lives, in fact, his unexceptional appearance wins him only neglect and rejection (52:2-3). His suffering makes those around him so uncomfortable that they cannot even bear to look him in the eye (52:3). These people do not see with the same eyes that the Lord sees.

In 53:4-9, the nations continue to speak, beginning to contemplate “that which they had not heard” (52:15). We see that despite the suffering and rejection that the servant experienced and the nations’ initial inability to look upon his face, that he successfully startled them. The speaker for the nations recounts the astonishing truth that the servant was willing to suffer for the wrongdoing of others, even the transgressions of those who despised and rejected him (53:4). Parallelism reinforces the severity of the suffering and the selflessness of the servant, re-presenting the idea of the servant’s vicarious suffering on behalf of the nations in more than ten different ways. The nations cannot understand how someone could willingly be “cut off from the land of the living” for “my people” (52:8). Perhaps this understanding is most shocking for the nations because they are forced to recognize they are the instruments through which the Lord caused a non-violent, honest person to suffer and that it had to be done in order to account for their transgressions (53:9).

This poetic crescendo leads to the surprising climax, in which we, the readers, are startled to learn that “it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain” (53:10). Is this not the very servant whose exaltation was promised by the Lord? It is not surprising that the nations viewed the servant as “struck down by God,” but we are shocked to learn that this statement is true (53:4). It is here that we discover that the Lord was the one crushing, afflicting, wounding, and punishing God’s own servant and we struggle with what this reality says about God.

Verses 10 and 11 can be seen as the climax of this song. Here we learn that God is the cause of the servant’s affliction, but that his suffering had a purpose is also confirmed (52:10-11). Though the servant bore terrible pain, his torment would “make many righteous” (52:11). One might wonder whether the servant knew that his suffering was necessary or that it would have a redemptive effect. Unfortunately, the servant’s voice is not heard.

The palpable absence of the servant’s voice could be seen as a dramatic device used by Second Isaiah to reinforce the threefold repetition of the fact of the servant’s silent suffering (53:7). One can imagine God and the nations taking center stage to sing the song of the suffering servant while the servant stands alone, stage left, in silence. Even in the face of perverted justice, the servant did not speak, he did not defend himself, he did “not open his mouth” (52:7, 8). Considering the many laments found in the Hebrew Scriptures, it seems strange that the servant of the Lord does not get (or take) the opportunity to express his honest complaint against whose who have caused his suffering.

Some satisfaction is given to the reader when the Lord repeats the promise to reward the servant, which began the passage (52:13 & 53:12). One might say that this passage has a happy ending, in which the hero, who has been undeservedly knocked around by life, is finally given his just reward. However, no matter how noble the cause for which the servant suffered, one might still be surprised that redemption was so costly and could be paid for by one representative.

There is some debate about who the servant may be. According to Walter Brueggemann, most scholars now agree that Israel is the suffering servant, because it makes sense in the poetic context of the rest of Isaiah.[1] Christian traditions reflect on this passage on Easter, viewing it as a prophecy fulfilled in the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. I tend to agree with Brueggemann’s assertion that “the text permits Jewish and Christian interpretations to stand side by side.”[2]

Second Isaiah’s final servant song is a short, but dramatic, journey through the idea of vicarious suffering. We may be surprised by the twists that are necessary in order to “make many righteous” or the realization that the Lord can cause suffering, even the suffering of his chosen ones (53:10 & 11). However, even through the story of the servant’s suffering and our own heavy questions about the methods God chooses, we recognize that the Lord is working, transforming the sacrifice and pain of his servant into the redemption of the nations.



[1] Walter Brueggeman, Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), p. 205.

[2] Ibid., p. 205.

Anger, Hate, Murder (Now With More Thought!)

In The Forgiving Self: The Road from Resentment to Connection, Robert Karen discusses the healing potential of forgiveness. In his book, he presents four steps on the road of forgiveness, which are:
  1. Acknowledge your anger / mourn your loss.
  2. Allow yourself and the other complexity of self.
  3. Grow into emotional monotheism.
  4. Apologize, but without expecting forgiveness.
Beginning with this post, I am going to write out some of my thoughts about these steps and how I see them fitting into the forgiveness that Christ commanded. I'll begin with the first step, one I suspect many Christians are guilty of skipping. Is it possible (or even necessary) for a Christian to own his or her anger without being in direct disobedience to the command of Christ?

This is not an easy question for Christians. We are often taught that there should be no hesitation in our forgiveness. It is our Christian duty to forgive immediately, no matter what the wrong or who has done it. Our feelings of anger and hate are devalued and seen as a part of our sinful self. We live with a sort of practical dualism, which causes us to love our "good self" while trying to kill our "bad self." From my perspective, this type of dualism seeks to deny our humanity.

For an example, consider when Christ entered the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and vendors. Christ was angry and he didn't deny that anger, but at the same time, I am sure he had love for the people he was angry toward. Anger and love could exist in the same person toward the same subject. There was no dualism in Christ, he was a perfect example of what humans should be. It is important to own every part of our selves, including our emotions, even our rage and hate. These things make us human.

We are commanded to forgive, but we are never told how that forgiveness should be accomplished. In Luke 17:3, Jesus says, "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." This seems to indicate that forgiveness can include a process, it does not have to be an instantaneous reaction to offense. I don't think we should live in our anger, but I also don't think we should pass over it too quickly. The forgiveness offered by those in the church often seems premature, an attempt to get past the ugy parts (the offense and our anger) without ever acknowledging the offense or the hurt that it caused. Can there be real forgiveness without honest confession on the part of the offended and the offender? Yes, there can, but I suspect that in most cases, true, relationship-restoring forgiveness necessitates honesty.

More in a couple of days. I need some more time to stew. In the mean time, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts. Can Christians be angry and not sin? Does the command to forgive mean that we must forgive immediately? Could it mean that we are called to live a lifestyle of forgiveness that is always moving toward reconciliation?

Truth-telling

My class on confession and forgiveness has provided a lot of blog fodder this semester. It's a class that forces me to think deeply about issues I would often rather push back into my subconscious, letting them surface only in my dreams.

However, over the course of the semester, as I've dealt with some tough questions and reflected on my life through the lens of various texts, I have begun to feel a sense of liberation. Telling the truth, even if only to oneself, has a freeing effect. Speaking and owning negative truth opens the way to forgiveness. Speaking positive truth helps us to own the good within us and reminds us that others, no matter how they've hurt us, have good within themselves, too.

In my own life, I've found that speaking the good is often more important than speaking the bad. It is often much easier to believe the bad things about myself than it is to recognize and own the good. Lately, I've been learning to express my gratitude and love more often. It's amazing to see how people light up when you tell them they are appreciated.

Try it. Speak the truth in love tomorrow. Enjoy the smiles and healing that result.

Jump! Jump!


It's too bad I don't write about fun things for people to link more often.
I like those numbers on the right.

Poker with My Boys

My boys are just too precious not to show. (Clockwise from bottom left: Daniel, Jordan, Matthew, Evan, and Ryan) A scene from my bedroom, midnight, December 8, 2006.

So Jealous!

That's what you are. Last night, there was a concert here at PTS, in Miller Chapel. The front of the program is pictured at right. The Welcome Wagon basically consists of Vito and Monique Aiuto. Apparently, Vito is a graduate of PTS. One might wonder how long ago he graduated, though, because he didn't even remember that finals happen after Christmas.

I enjoyed the show. It was pretty simple. This band isn't recorded...they haven't hit it in the big time and I don't know that they even want to. The musical style was sort of emo bluegrass, minimalist in a way. Monique and Vito mostly borrowed all the words and wrote all the music. They also sang a cover or two and at least one original song.

They got their title from the idea of the welcome wagons that used to greet settlers who were moving across the country with tasty vittles and local products in an attempt to get them to stay in a particular town. In keeping with their name, they brought several local treats from Brooklyn to give away as prizes. Two oatmeal raisin pumpkin pies (interesting...sounds gross) and some traditional Polish food.

You may be asking yourself, "So, why on earth am I jealous? It sounds like a nice concert, but nothing special." Well, other than the fact that I actually loved little Vito and Monique, you should be jealous because they were "ably assisted" by Sufjan Stevens on piano and banjo. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Aiuto are friends with Mr. Stevens and he made the jaunt from Brooklyn with them to perform at our little free seminary concert. I actually wasn't aware that he would be there until I was already at the concert and someone who may have been there just for a Sufjan sighting pointed him out. :) So, you're jealous that I got a free concert with Sufjan included, even though, I think the concert would have been just peachy without him, I'm not complaining.

And, anyway, I gained some amusement from watching my fellow students gawk and wrestle with themselves as to whether they would rush Mr. Stevens for autographs and sophisticated music elitist conversation. Hilarious!

Resolution

My crisis from yesterday has been resolved. My professor decided that my presentation's focus is different enough to merit further consideration of Michael Servetus. Therefore, next Wednesday, I will be babbling excitedly about good ol' Mike. My prof has apologized profusely and insisted in several emails and one telephone call that he was totally at fault. I'm not sure how I feel about still doing the presentation, but it's certainly better than doing more work...

Welcome, Christmas!

The end of a long week has finally come. I'm sitting here at my desk, enjoying Viva Noel: A Q Division Christmas, and contemplating a day of pleasure reading (and maybe studying some Hebrew vocab).

At the end of a week like this has been, it is pleasant to think of our swiftly approaching Christmas break. Despite the fact that I have to write three papers and study for two finals during our three weeks off, I know it will be a good time with my family and Jordan and, later in the break, Jordan's family.

I can't wait to see my mother, play in the snow, eat some good home cooking, watch the same Christmas movies that we watch every year, see some old, familiar faces, play some games, and all the other stuff that I do when I'm home for the holidays. This is the first time in my life that I've been away from "home" for so long. It's been a whole year since I've been back to northern New York...and I'm eagerly anticipating my return.

Crying Is Fun, Too

I spent about eight hours this week preparing to lead class discussion on Michael Servetus' work Dialogues on The Trinity. When we were choosing topics at the beginning of the semester, I was pretty vocal about my desire to cover this particular topic. So, I was very pleased when none of the others who had considered him an option were as passionate about this particular reading.

I actually had fun preparing for the discussion. I did some additional reading, found a picture of a chimera to include on my outline, spent at least two hours preparing the outline and compiling additional notes to aid my presentation. This morning, I put the finishing touches on the outline and printed thirty copies to distribute to that class.

As the class began, I was bubbling with anticipation. Dr. Hendrix noted that one of my classmates was missing, but that didn't seem odd until she waltzed in with several obvious stacks of handouts. She usurped my presentation and Dr. Hendrix didn't even bat an eyelash. I don't even think he was aware that it wasn't her topic.

Anyway, I cry when I'm frustrated, so as this woman was doing her presentation (which wasn't as good as mine would have been!), I started tearing up. Mercifully, we had a break and I was able to slip out instead of bawling in the middle of my grad school class, but it was incredibly disappointing to not be able to share my work with the class since that's exactly what I should have been doing.

Fortunately, Jordan's class had been cancelled, so I had a shoulder to finish crying on. Have any of you ever experienced something like this? Tell me your stories of woe...

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

The Weather Channel Desktop was flashing when I got back from class. Middlesex County (that's where Princeton is) has a SEVERE weather alert on for tonight. Apparently, it's going to be colder than it has been and we might even get some flurries.

It's December, folks! I think someone needs to check the dictionary for the meaning of "severe."

Success...A Double-Edged Sword

Once again, I have been inspired to write about something discussed in my class on confession and forgiveness. The book assigned for this week was Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story, by Timothy B. Tyson. The book recounts a small Southern community's struggle through racial issues as viewed through the lense of a particular instance of violence.

Our class discussion was incredibly circumspect, seemingly focusing on everything but race. That's not what I want to write about, but it did strike me as symptomatic of our society's inability to deal with uncomfortable issues.

At some point in the discussion, Dr. Dykstra mentioned the idea of "race traitors," specifically in the context of higher education. Apparently, it is not uncommon for African-Americans to be ostracized for being successful in "white" insititutions, such as Ivy League universities. This seemed curious to me because it also seems like education is highly valued among most minority communities. So, while African-American youth are admonished to get an education, to "make something of themselves," they also face recrimination when they are successful in a context to which their friends and family may not be able to relate.

In a way, this reminded me of my own experience with higher education. I come from a fairly poor family, not impoverished, but certainly much lower than middle class. My family is blue collar all the way. Generally, success in school and wealth go hand in hand, but somehow, I was the exception to that rule: poor AND successful in school. My community always encouraged me to continue my education, to "make something of myself." Now that I have, I sometimes feel like the outsider when I return to my family and my community.

I don't think I'm better, but I know that I am irrevocably different from my family and other friends from my hometown. My context is not their context. I often find it difficult to relate my own life experiences to those of the folks who are dearest to me and sometimes I think I am seen as having become snobbish. I am the outsider.

It seems like any person who succeeds, moving beyond the level of their peers, breaking free of the bonds that hold others in their community hostage, may look like a traitor to those who remain behind. Is it possible for a community to lift up those in their midst who are talented without making those people pay an emotional price for excellence? What is the responsibilty of the exceptional person (not saying I am one) within the community that fostered their success?

A Church for the Elliott

No lie, my church experiences in and around Princeton have been pretty disappointing until today. First there was the squishy non-denom service, followed by some unfriendly Episcopalians, some too somber Dutch Reformed, a few friendlier, but crazier Episcopalians, topped off by some PCA boringness. Yes, I'm being critical and judgmental, leave me alone. There were good and bad things about all of the churches I've attended, but none of them really seemed to be a good fit for me or, more recently, for me and Jordan.

But, today, the first Sunday of Advent, we attended Witherspoon Street Presbyterian, a PCUSA church not to far from campus, pastored by a woman from Africa, and we both liked it a lot. The music was good, but not pretentious. The congregants were talking to each other before the service rather than staring straight ahead to avoid eye contact. There was enough high churchiness to please me, but it wasn't too frilly for Jordan to enjoy. And, the liturgy seemed to be modeled on the prayer book, but not taken directly from it. The sermon was well-thought out and scholarly, but not lofty and overly academic.

It was truly refreshing to leave church and feel like it was a place to which I wanted to return. What was especially nice was discovering that Jordan enjoyed it as much as I did. I was beginning to think that we wouldn't ever find a church that both of us could enjoy. The funniest part was that we decided to visit there on a whim. So, I can't say for certain that I will make WPC my church home, but it is the only church in the running so far.

Cutest New Couple

It's interesting to realize that mine and Jordan's relationship is a topic of discussion when we are not present. One of my friends just stopped by to say hello and tell me that last night her small group, of whose membership I am unaware, voted us "Cutest New Couple." How on earth did that even come up?!! Eesh...

It doesn't matter that I'd agree ;), I just want to know who's talking about us.

The Lecture

Our time with Pete last night was excellent. About twenty people showed up for the lecture. My lack of advertising made me not really expect any more than that. Some of the faces were repeats from our evening at Charlie Brown's, but we also had a few new faces, including a professor whom I didn't recognize.

Pete's 45-50 minute lecture was followed by about 20-30 minutes of questions from the audience. He told us more about Ikon while discussing many of the ideas from his book. I cannot say how highly I recommend his book. Even if you do not think you are in line with emergent thought in any way, it is interesting and well-written.

Throughout the lecture the fact of Pete's relative youth was impressed upon me. That is not to say I consider him any less brilliant, but it is interesting to realize how young the emergent movement is, both those who identify with it and its very existence. Youth is wonderful, but experience is also good. Pete talked about how Ikon has a good relationship with many of the churches in Belfast. I hope that the emergent movement as a whole continues to seek to change the church from the inside out rather than becoming another institution. Pete described a conversation he had with an individual at his Benedictine publishing house as a five year old (him) talking to a 1000 year old. It is essential for emergent to continually be informed by the wisdom of "the church."

Having Pete here has been wonderful. He had a lot more to say and I'm sure I will blog more of it later. Hopefully, he won't be the last speaker that the Princeton Emergent Cohort gets to campus.

Pete Rollins Has Landed

In fact, he landed nine or ten hours ago. It's possible that he'll read this post, so I guess I should make some glowing remarks. ;) Or, I suppose I could simply say that his stay seems to be going well so far, from my perspective.

This evening, we had our dinner followed by conversation at Charlie Brown's. He successfully put up with us seminary students griping about classes and tossing about inside jokes during dinner. If I were Pete I probably would have been relieved when some non-seminary folk showed up to join the conversation, but he seemed to take it all in stride.

Our conversation touched on many different points. We explored the idea that all revolution eventually becomes institutionalized. Pete discussed how his community, Ikon tries to fight that by continually seeking new ways to rupture people's presuppositions and expectations. He even joked that he's been worried about the folks at Ikon losing their angst. We also had some discussion around the idea of boundaries. Is anything out of bounds in a community that is constantly seeking discomfort? How does one have passion for what sometimes seems like non-belief?

Pete didn't give us any pat answers. I doubt anyone expected him to. But, he did give us thoughtful, coherent answers. I know that I've been challenged to think. I'm looking forward to his lecture tomorrow evening and the questions that will follow That event takes place Thursday, November 30, 7 p.m., in Stuart Hall, Room 6, Princeton Theological Seminary. If you're interested in attending but would like more information, please feel free to send me an email at katherinejelliott at gmail dot com.

Do You Need To Confess?

Some of you may have heard of the website PostSecret. Every week I wait for the new batch of postcards, "revealing" people's secrets. Obviously, these secrets are anonymous but, for many people who design their secret postcard, such a step is just the first move in a direction of healing.

Today, in my class on confession and forgiveness, Dr. Dykstra distributed an article that was published on NYTimes.com on September 1, 2006, entitled Intimate Confessions Pour Out on Church's Website. (I would link to it, but it wouldn't help anyone unless they have a subscription.) The article discussed My Secrets, a website created by LifeChurch, an evangelical network with nine locations (including an internet campus) and based in Edmond, Oklahoma, which was founded by Craig Groeschel.

My Secrets is similar to PostSecret in that it is a safe, yet public, space in which to make confession, tell secrets, etc. It is unlike PostSecret in that it is sponsored by a Christian church and is specifically designed for people to be able to confess their sins. There is an archive, there are categories, there is a warning that one must be over 18 to view the content because some of it relates to "adult" issues.

I appreciate the need for confession. There is something inside me that responds when I read these words from Groeschel: "We confess to God for forgiveness but to each other for healing. Secrets isolate you, and keep you away from God, from those people closest to you." But, I wonder if anonymous confession heals relationships the way face to face confession does. It can certainly feel wonderful to tell someone, anyone, what one is struggling with. However, anonymous confession offers no accountability and very little hope of real change.

Perhaps these anonymous, online confessions have been the first step for some of the writers. It is possible that some have found the courage to confess in person after writing out their confessions online. If nothing else, maybe reading such confessions may help people to realize that they are not alone in whatever issue they happen to be facing.

What do you think: What is the benefit of detailed, anonymous confession on the internet? Should we read confessions by those whom we do not know and cannot help? Is it voyeurism to do so?

Peter Rollins @ PTS

Peter Rollins is coming to Princeton. We have him here for three days. It should be a good time. I know that it's short notive, but I hope that anyone in or around the Princeton area will come out for one or more of the following events we have planned.

Wednesday, November 29, 8 p.m. - Pub conversation at Charlie Brown's on Route 1. Click here for directions. Come enjoy some appetizers or a beer and good conversation.

Thursday, November 30, 12 noon - Lunch with Pete in the Mackay Campus Center dining hall at PTS. We'll be seated in the balcony furthest from the kitchen.

Thursday, November 30, 7 p.m. - Lecture and Q&A in Stuart Hall, Room 6. As of now, I believe that we will have Pete's book available for purchase at this particular meeting.

Adam Walker Cleaveland recently heard Pete speak at the AAR/SBL conference in Washington, DC, and gave him rave reviews. Come take advantage of a great opportunity to explore the emergent conversation.

If you have any questions about any of these events, feel free to email me at katherinejelliott at gmail dot com and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Image courtesy of Adam Walker Cleaveland @ pomomusings.

Thanksgiving With the Jews

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but Jordan is Jewish. His mother is Jewish, therefore...well, you get the picture. What is he doing at seminary, you may ask. Well, both Jordan and his mother are now Christians, so it's not as strange as it may sound. Anyway, since I hang out with Jordan quite a lot, I get to hang out with his Jewish family.

We spent Thanksgiving Day in Kensington, Maryland, at Jordan's uncle's house. Most of his mother's side of the family was there. Two of her sisters were missing, one in Jamaica, the other in Israel, but there were plenty of people to fill the house. It was crowded and noisy and wonderful, possibly one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had. Mostly we just had all the traditional Thanksgiving fixin's, but the three youngest cousins keep kosher, so there were some extra dishes for them.

Jordan's grandmother loved me, though I think she based her affection almost entirely on my ability to clean my dinner plate. Go me! We got into some interesting theological conversations with Mike, Jordan's uncle about the formation of both Scripture and the ancient nation of Israel. Made me thankful for my training in the Old Testament. And, of course, I took tons of pictures. If you want to take a look at the slideshow, just click the picture above. I hope your Thanksgiving was as lovely as mine.

The Pig and the Chicken: On Breakfast

On the November 2 episode of Grey's Anatomy, one of the patients at Seattle Grace used a interesting analogy to describe his commitment to his pregnant fiancee. He says he's the pig. He goes on to explain that a breakfast of ham and eggs means a contribution from the chicken and a commitment from the pig. In his relationship, he's a pig, completely committed.

On the eleventh, at St. George's Episcopal, the Navy chaplain who preached used this pig and chicken anology for our relationship with Christ. Then, on the eighteenth, the pastor at a Princeton Presbyterian Church used exactly the same metaphor.

My questions: Is there some sort of online database entitled "Cheesy Sermon Illustrations Stolen from Questionable* Television Shows"? Seriously!

Btw, I heart Grey's Anatomy; I'm not judging.

I Couldn't Resist a Few More Pics

Autumn Blossoms

The whether has been so up and down of late that the trees are becoming confused. There's more than one tree that's putting out buds and blossoms here at PTS. I've been assured that the trees will get it together, drop these fakes buds, and bud again in the spring, but it makes me wonder if the blossoms and buds in the spring will only be half as good as a result. So much energy expended only to have to repeat the project in the spring. Calm down, lovelies, there's a cold winter ahead.

Laura's Visit

Laura was her for a visit this weekend. She arrived Friday afternoon and stayed until about nine last night. We had a wonderful time with her here and I took a TON! of pictures. And when I say a ton, what I mean is almost 150. Of course, there were some duds and some repeats, so it's been narrowed down to 84. To view the flickr slideshow, click on the picture of Laura and Jordan. --->

It's always good to have Laura around. She understands me. Of course, having her here made me miss Rebecca that much more, but that didn't keep us from having a good time.

On Friday, I gave Laura a quick tour of PTS and Princeton U. It was a quick one. Then we had dinner in the caferteria followed by an evening at Lydia's apartment playing Taboo. I thought Laura and I would totally kick ass at that game, but she was tired and Joshy was the Taboo master, so we made a somewhat lackluster showing. Despite that, we thoroughly enjoyed our time hanging out eating German pastries.

Saturday was off to a lazy start. We weren't ready to do anything until almost noon. I wanted to show Laura a good time by taking her to Tortuga, a wonderful little Mexican restaurant, but unfortunately, they don't serve lunch on Saturday. So, we went to Wegman's for Chinese food instead. Believe me, I wasn't sad about that.

After lunch, we headed over to Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve and rambled about for nearly 2 hours. It was a good time. My feet got incredibly filthy because I was wearing flip-flops and walking through mud. Seeing a blue heron, several cardinals, and a kingfisher made up for the swampiness. Jordan and I are definitely going to return when it's in bloom. I'm sure it's beautiful.

After another nice dinner in the cafeteria, we played a quick game of Phase 10, which I lost miserably, and Laura left since she had to be at church early this morning. As I said before, it was perfectly lovely to see her and I hope that some day I will be able to get both of my roommates together in the same room again...we really missed Rebecca's alto on You Are My Sunshine.

I love my little Hess!

Photos to Tide You Over

The gingko dropped all its leaves this week. Click the picture to see a slideshow of the rest of my shots of the gingko leaves.

I once posted a picture of the quintessential Emily, but I think this one of her Blackberrying in the dark might be worth even more words than that one.

Dreamland

Many of my friends have the uncanny ability to sleep for a dozen hours at a time. They run themselves ragged on four to six hours of sleep a night for a week at a time, but on the weekends, they drop into bed at midnight and are out until noon or even 1 o'clock.

I, on the other hand, am pretty much worthless without about seven hours of sleep. It's possible for a few nights. Sometimes I might even appear pretty chipper, but I'm really just punchy. Feeling the drug-like effects of not getting the rest I need. Laughing too long and too hard at stupid jokes, making nonsensical comments, with a wide grin plastered across my dazed-looking face: these are all signs that I've been missing my bed.

There are times when I have been jealous of my friends who are able to sleep for as long as they wish. But, mostly, I just feel like they are living life backward. Ragged during the week, sleeping their weekends away. I'd rather be chipper and alert all the time. Unfortunately, a student's schedule doesn't always make that possible.

Right now, I am waiting for my dear little Hess to rouse herself from sleep so that we can get a start on our fun day! Plans include a possible trip to the Princeton Record Exchange, lunch at Tortuga's (a fantastic little Mexican restaurant) or some Wegman's Chinese food (mmmmm...), a jaunt up to the University campus to view an exhibit on martyr's, and maybe some frisbee. Who knows how much we'll actually do. The point is, Hess is here and it will be fun!

Exams

I've always been a good test-taker. Throughout my school years, I was one of those kids who was able to retain information and calmly, coherently and quickly reproduce it on exams. Spelling tests were right up my alley. I could look at a word once and have it memorized. This is a fortunate skill to have when you're too distracted by other stuff to actually put the necessary time into studying.

I had my first in class exam of the semester this morning: Orientation to Old Testament Studies, or OT as everyone here refers to it. Despite the fact that I only spent about 10 hours going through the review sheets, I feel like I did a passable job...maybe even a B. A few years ago I would have found the thought of getting a B almost unbearable, but I've gained some perspective with age and being away from school for a time.

Many of my colleagues got little to no sleep for the past few nights. While they were spending hours trying to remember the biblical references that could be used to explain the importance of the Davidic monarchy and the temple in Israel's royal theology, I was in dreamland, cognizant of my personal need for sleep in order to do well on a test.

One part of the exam consisted of ten blank lines with the instruction to list a shortened version of the Decalogue, in the correct order. Having not studied that particular item, I was sure I wouldn't get most of it right, but then it all came back to me from Sunday school and Bible and theology classes at Houghton. Thank you, Drs. Tyson and Schultz, I know the Decalogue. It's fascinating, the parts that stick with us.

Now, on to more studying. A student's work is never done.

Emily's Visit - A Pictorial Review

Emily took this photo. Click on it to see the slideshow of our weekend together.

For those of you who choose not to check out the slideshow, here's one of me and Emily. Yay for taking self-portraits.

Okay, enough procrastinating, I need to get a decent grade on my OT midterm tomorrow.

My First Visitor

While it's certainly true that Jule Ann has been here before helping my move in, she can't really be counted as my first visitor because: 1) this wasn't my home yet, 2) I didn't know where anything was, 3) I wasn't unpacked, 4) we didn't do any fun visiting things. So, Emily has the privilege of being dubbed my First Official Visitor.

She arrived on Friday afternoon. We took a quick tour of the campus and then moseyed over to Jordan's room. We hung out there until Lydia, Jeb, and Evan joined us for dinner. We had a nice meal at Winberie's, followed by a movie at Lydia's apartment. I may have been the only one there who hadn't seen The Emperor's New Groove.

Saturday, we mostly did nothing in the morning. After a quick lunch in the cafeteria, Emily and I went to WalMart. I got some photos developed that were taken over a year ago. Most of them turned out like crap. I guess that's what you get for using disposable cameras. It's a good time Laura took a lot of photos during our camping trip last year.

During the afternoon, Jordan joined us for a jaunt around the Princeton campus. It's always fun to share the useless facts I know about the University. We took a ton of pictures, sharing Jordan's camera between us. I'll post a slide show shortly.

For dinner, Emily wanted to go to Dairy Queen. We looked up the closest one, drove half an hour to find it, only to discover that it was one that only served ice cream. Emily got a Blizzard and we all agreed that the Perkins around the corner would be just as good for dinner. Only when we pulled into the eerily empty parking lot, we realized that this particular Perkins was not operating yet. Put up a sign, people! Finally, we ended up at T.G.I.Friday's for some burgers and such.

Emily left early on Sunday. It was lovely to see her and introduce her to some of my friends and show her my space. Everyone else who reads this should feel inspired to visit me. I'll even give up my bed for you!

Inconceivable!

It's been three days since I last posted. My glut of posting this summer, sometimes as many as six times a day, has run into several roadblocks.

First of all, I'm a full time student. That means I don't spend 8 hours each day getting paid to sit in front of a computer anymore. Studenthood also involves a lot of reading and writing without thinking about catching up on blogs (which I still do daily) or writing anything extra.

Secondly, I have more than one friend now and those friends don't live in the same place I do. I haven't spent so much time with said friends that I feel comfortable ignoring them as I type a blog post, so I have to deliberately set aside time for my ramblings. I do love blog friends, but present friends are always higher on my list of priorities.

Thirdly, I have a boy. This has affected my blog capacity more than I thought it would. I don't want to become one of those girls who's constantly posting about relationship minutiae that matters to no one save herself. I don't want to write things that might reveal more than Jordan would appreciate (though, he doesn't read this...). More positively, though, I now have someone with whom to talk through my days, someone who is always willing to hear my venting or cooing. The solace I used to find in writing is now mostly satisfied by Jordan and other friends.

All this to say, I will certainly continue to blog, but it will be less. In fact, I think I'm going to ask one professor if I can blog my final project. Believe me, you'll all be better for not having to read my silliness every day. Good on ya, blog friends!

I've Gotten Spoiled

For the past nine days, Jordan and I have been hanging out a lot. When I say a lot what I mean is "most of our waking hours." All of the hanging out preempted a lot of the reading / studying / writing we should have been doing. Now reading week is over and we have to get back to the grind. Our OT midterm is in about one week and both of us have several papers to complete.

For tonight, we decided it would be a good idea to spend some time apart doing a little studying. He has an eight page paper due on Friday (I think) and he just got started on it yesterday. And, due to the evil temptress within me, I persuaded Jordan to stay up late last night watching movies and playing games, which caused him to need a nap this afternoon, preventing him from working on his paper once again. So, my just reward is a Jordanless evening. Sad Elliott. (Yes, I am becoming one of those girls who wants to be with a boy every second of the day and I like it!!!)

Anyway, I've finished two of my three papers due this week, so rather than spending my evening in productive study, I'm going to read for about an hour and then watch a movie with some of my friends from fourth Brown. A little Shakespeare in the evening. Maybe I'll even be able to get Mr. Burdge to take a little study break and go for a walk or something. That would be nice.

My first semester in undergrad went pretty well. I hope this semester doesn't end up making up for that one...

Edit: I fell asleep at 7:30 p.m. and slept until nearly 9 p.m. When I groggily wandered up to Katie's room for the movie, who should be there but Jordan. He didn't just take a little study break...he watched the entire movie with us. As he is wont to say, "The work always gets done."

Breakfast Is My Favorite

There are very few foods better than eggs, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, bacon, maybe some fruit or pancakes and maple syrup. When I was a kid, my mother would sometimes make breakfast for dinner. That was my favorite meal. Breakfast food is generally very simple and generally very tasty.

This morning, Jordan and I went to Powderbourne, a hunting club a few minutes away from his house. It's a small town restaurant, open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and mostly catering to hunters and regulars. When we got there, only a few booths were occupied. The waitresses were small, fake blond, and a little bit brusque. Just what one would expect from such a place.

I had biscuits and gravy and two fried eggs for $4. Not as inexpensive as Ace's in Belfast, but still worth the price.

I don't know why I feel compelled to write about something so trivial as what I had for breakfast, other than that it was just a good time. My boy bought me breakfast and it was good.

I love JZ's family. His mom is fun to talk to and seems to like me a lot. She graduated to hugging me by the second day of my visit. Oddly enough, Jordan and his siblings call her by her first name instead of calling her "Mom." Sort of bizarre, but I'm getting used to it. She says she prefers it. I have a hard time believing that, but I guess she has no reason to lie about it. ;)

Okay, I'm going to learn cribbage now.

I Wish I Had An Apartment

Living in dorms isn't so bad. My room is especially large, so it's not a problem at all to get comfortable and have my things around me. But, there is something wonderful about an apartment (or, even better, a house). There's a kitchen and a non-communal bathroom and walls separating various parts of the house. It's truly wonderful.

Lydia, a friend of mine who's getting married this December, has an apartment. She is visiting her fiance over reading week, so she let me and Jordan have the keys to her place. It's been nice to have a little getaway. We spent Saturday evening there watching movies. Tonight, we had a little dinner party.

Entertaining folk, cooking for a crowd is a wonderful good time. Jordan, Abbie and I spent an hour at the grocery store preparing for it. Jordan and I spent the afternoon at the apartment, I baking banana bread, Jordan making orange bread and then both of us studying. Abbie rejoined the fun around six to prepare the food.

Appetizers included cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, pears with soft cheese and stone ground wheat crackers with smoked gouda. Oh man, I love smoked gouda. The main meal was tri-color rotini with four cheese tomato sauce and ground turkey or alfredo or both (mmmm...) and carrots sauteed with garlic and butter (perfect for a Thanksgiving side dish, I think!). For dessert there was my banana bread and Jordan's yummy orange rolls.

After dinner we ate banana bread, drank some cheap champagne (which I actually rather enjoyed), and watched Boondock Saints, one of my favorite movies of all time. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I actually caught some parts in it that I'd completely missed during my many previous viewings. When the movie was over, a few people cleaned the kitchen a bit and then everyone headed out, leaving just me and Jordan.

Once everyone was gone, Jordan finished cleaning up the kitchen so that I wouldn't have to and when he was done, I fell asleep with my head in his lap. There was no music, no TV, the room was dark, but he let me sleep for half an hour because I "looked so peaceful and happy." What a great guy!

Tried to post this last night, but Blogger was being stupid. Anyway, I should get going, we are heading out to Jordan's house this morning. Meeting the mom...

Happy Birthday, My Toon!

Rebecca and I had our very first encounter over IM. She was in the middle of high school relationship turmoil and I was her soon-to-be college roommate. Never having met her before, I was a little surprised when she asked me for advice about a boy, but being my normal precocious self, I offered my observation-based expertise.

When we met, it was instant friendship. (Laura was there, of course, and I love her...but it's not her birthday.) The very first night together we were all singing and laughing and talking until all hours of the night. She has a beautiful alto voice that I covet from time to time. :)

There were rocky moments in college. I was too distant, too dispassionate sometimes. She was occasionally a little moody for my taste. But, like good friends do, we worked through it. There were several times that we both ended up crying together. Rebecca's presence gave me permission to feel a lot of things I'd been missing over the years. She was also played a key role in the evolution of my opinion about women in ministry. It was rather ironic that I, Miss Women-Should-Be-Submissive, would be placed with a young woman who felt called into the ministry. Providential, perhaps?

During our sophomore year, I watched Schindler's List with one of our floormates. Before the movie was over, I came back to our room in tears and lay down on my bed to sob. Rebecca lay there with me for two hours. Not talking, just being with me when I needed someone.

We drifted apart during senior year at Houghton. It was easy enough to do since she was in Australia first semester and I was in Africa second semester. We didn't see each other much and when we were on campus at the same time, I was mostly a jerk trying to work through my heaps of separation anxiety by avoiding most of my old friends. Fortunately, my jerkiness didn't end our friendship.

I don't get to see My Toon nearly enough these days. We spend time together when we can, send emails and IMs and call each other fairly often, but it's never quite enough to be satisfying. We've been friends for just over seven years. Seems a lot longer. Here's to another seven just as good. Here's to fifty if we both make it!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, REBECCA!!!

Monday Afternoon Beer

Last Monday, after a particularly frustrating Hebrew precept, my friend, Abbie, came to my room and the following conversation ensued:

Abbie: (flops on my bed) Please tell me you'll go out for a beer with me!
Me: Okay...when?
Abbie: RIGHT NOW!
Me: (a little surprised) Sure.
Abbie: Are you serious?! I love you!!!

So, we went to Triumph Brewery for a beer at 4 p.m. on a Monday. Even though I'm not a huge fan of beer, they have a Honey Wheat that I enjoy. And, sometimes, a beer is appropriate. For instance, when Andrea and I were working at the chocolate factory, Honey Brown was the only thing that could slake our thirst after a long day on the line.

It felt really great that Abbie thought to ask me. There were other people around, but she chose, at that moment, to come flop on my bed. She was surprised when I was so amenable to the suggestion. Knowing how much I appreciate it when others offer me their time, though, I try to make myself available to others as much as possible. An hour given to a friend is far more important than an hour given to writing a paper that will get done, anyway. The work always gets done.

That was just the beginning of an awesome week. Some days I'm almost tempted to reclaim Calvinist theology because it seems so clear that this is exactly the place I am supposed to be right now. Almost, but not quite.

I Hope It's Allowed

*cough cough* May I have your attention, please?! I have an announcement to make. You see the young man juggling in the picture two posts ago? He's mine and he's distracting in so many good ways. Hence the lack of posting of late. I promise I'll try to be better, but I'm not making any promises. ;)

That's all. You may now return to your regularly scheduled blog programming. Have a wonderful day!

True Beauty?

Interesting video from Dove:


He Does Tricks!

You can click on Jordan's picture to see more photos of our wonderful day at the orchard. It's a good thing Caroline remembered her camera!

Pictures of the pumpkin will be up shortly. I don't know why I keep forgetting to take some.

Eeeee!!!

Sometimes a girl just needs a new pair of shoes. It doesn't hurt if they are super cute and cheap!

Sometimes

Sometimes the most beautiful music in the world is nothing more than breathing in rhythm with another.

Orchards Make For Good Memories

Seminary has proven to be more wonderful than I could have imagined in so many ways. You can try to guess what all that means, but for now, I'll just tell you about my day.

Some friends and I decided that it would be fun to go apple-picking this weekend, so we all met up around 3 p.m. and headed to Terhune Orchard, which is about ten minutes away. There was a festival in progress, complete with mariachi/celtic music. City people were standing in hour long lines to let their kids have a three minute pony ride. Pumpkins were laid out as far as the eye could see. I chose a perfect little round one. Maybe I'll carve it...maybe I'll just draw it a face. Either way, I will name it (for Emily) and I will post pictures tomorrow.

After choosing a pumpkin and treating myself and Jordan to caramel covered apples (mine had Reese's pieces, too!), the eight of us that were together headed over to the orchard to pick some apples to take away. We got a good six pounds or so. Enough for a lovely apple crisp and a few leftover for eating. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera out of my bag, so it was left at Lydia's house. Alas, no pictures of this trip.

After gathering some apples, we headed back to Lydia's apartment at CRW. Lydia made spaghetti, Jordan made bread, and I used John Rowley's recipe to make apple crisp. It was a delicious evening; eating great food, spending time with good friends, watching silly movies. The apple crisp was a rousing success, even among those who aren't particularly fond of cooked fruit. Vanilla in the apples is a neat trick. After dinner, everyone did the Color Code personality profile. We had a lot of blues and whites and one 100% yellow. Yellows stand out here, blues and whites not so much.

We left around 10:30 tonight. I would have willingly stayed later being happy just where I was, but Matt and Caroline wanted to get back to campus. You'd think we're here to study or something.

One of my best memories of Houghton was a beautiful fall day spent with friends buying apple cider and enjoying nature. Now I have the opportunity to create similar lovely memories with a new set of amazing people. Apple orchards certainly do have a way of bringing out the best in people.

God has blessed me...and I am grateful.

Just A Few Pictures

Letters from faraway friends...

Getting into the spirit of the season...

Perfect timing...

The Campus Center Lounge

During my time at Houghton, some friends and I took up semi-permanent residence in a corner of the campus center. We would lounge around on the couches, talking, laughing, and, sometimes, getting a little studying done. Our bookbags would save our spot when we were eating meals, standing watch lest a group of interlopers mistakenly think our corner was available for public use.

I was a latecomer to the corner, silently declaring my citizenship during my senior year of college. Those who already claimed residency gracefully accepted my presence and that of some other friends. I took quite a few naps on those hard, ugly couches, did most of my homework there, got tackled and tickled by Jeremy Z. and Kyle on a regular basis...it was delightful.

When several of us were there for Homecoming last year, we spent several hours in our corner chatting about our post-college lives, irresistibly drawn to the familiar. Perhaps we were usurping the place of some new group on campus, but it didn't matter. For a little while, we owned it again, we lived our memories for a time.

Here at Princeton, there is no place like the campus center lounge. I suppose people at grad school are more likely to be married, have off-campus jobs, etc. Princeton is not as remote and lacking in places to go as Houghton. These two circumstances sort of negate the need for a campus center lounge. Most people wouldn't make use of it if it were available. It would be more like a ghost town than a gathering place.

This lack of a central gathering place does make the dorms more important here, though. People in Hodge hang out with people in Hodge. Folks in Brown stick together. Alex is an island. Of course, these are stereotypes, I have friends in all three dorms and spend a great deal of time in Hodge, but I'm convinced that the campus would have a very different feel if there was a common gathering place, which many students frequented.

At the same time, I'm glad of the good friends I've already made and the freedom I feel to pop into just about any friend's room at almost any time of day. One friend in particular has a very comfy couch and, fortunately, PTS doesn't have visiting hours like Houghton did, otherwise I wouldn't be able to frequent his room nearly so much. That would be a sad day.

Princeton's not identical to Houghton and that feels strange at times, but it's good and I like it, campus center or no.

Daisies, I Think

It's Not That I Don't Love Blogging...

I do love blogging. But there is so much happy right now that I don't feel compelled to write and I don't have any time to read. This is a good and healthy thing in so many ways. However, it is about time that I share another slideshow with the masses. So, click this beautiful picture of seminary women to see a slideshow of PC Load Letter getting their game on!

Feel free to poke around in the other pictures while you're there.

Rewriting History

Over the past few days, I've begun to notice that most of the memories I share with people are from childhood or undergrad. My time at the bank and the law firm are mostly summarized in the words, "I worked for three years and I hated my jobs." Good memories with Emily in DC and the Garbarini clan in Buffalo sort of fade into the background noise of those two soul-sucking jobs.

Now that I'm in a "happy place" again I don't really want to reminisce about the times when I was depressed and sometimes even angry. It's only been about seven weeks since I left that "other life," perhaps I'm still in some sort of detox phase. Anyway, how much can I say about being yelled at over the phone or making endless copies of nonsense? How much can I really say?

Completely Embarrassed

I knew I had two papers to write tonight. One was going to be four pages and one was going to be two. Six pages in an afternoon, no problem. But, wait...that four page one was actually supposed to be ten to twelve pages. Woot! I read the syllabus wrong.

So, now, instead of handing in four thrown together pages for one of my classes, I'm handing in nine and a half pages of thrown together trash. What a way to start with a new professor. It's a good thing I don't want to focus on Christian education.

I also had my meeting with Chester Polk in the Field Ed office today. The end result of that meeting was much better than the end result of this paper will be. It looks like the current plan is to do a Year Long Placement in Scotland after my middler year. That means I will graduate a year later than previously planned, but it will also mean an entire year in Scotland. Then I hope to do a summer placement with the Christian Ministry in the National Parks, hopefully, somewhere out west.

Okay, back to this complete embarassment of a paper. I'm almost finished and I don't want to prolong the pain...

Theological Jokes

They're only funny to us, fellow seminarians... ;)
(Justin and Katie taking their shirts out for a spin.)