this is no longer my blog

Monday, October 31, 2005


have you ever...?

I remember playing the game "I've never..." where a person would make a statement like, "I've never licked a banana slug." And if you've never licked a banana slug then you'd stand up... Or maybe if you have licked a banana slug, then you'd stand up... I don't remember, exactly.
Well, anyway, there's this thing floating around the blog world, so I thought I'd fill it out. It kind of reminds me of that game.

Copy, paste, answer, add one of your own:

Have you ever...
1. smoked a cigar - yes, and even a cigarillo. I'm cool like that.
2. crashed a friend's car - no
3. stolen a car - no
4. been in love - no
5. been dumped - yes
6. dumped someone - yes
7. taken shots of alcohol - yes
8. been fired – well, yes... and then no... it's a confusing story.
9. been in a fist fight - no, although i did punch a kid in the nose
10. snuck out of a/your house - never had to. I was a good kid and my parents trusted me.
11. had feelings for someone who didn't have them back - yes
12. been arrested - yes. for a horribly stupid reason. but it's there on my permanent record...
13. made out with a stranger - I've made out with some strange people, but never strangers
14. gone on a blind date - no, although a friend tried to get me to go on a blind date, although it turned out it wasn't a blind date because I knew the girl... but then we didn't go on the date because the guy who tried to set me up on the blind date ended up dating the girl he was trying to set me up with... it was a summer camp thing
15. lied to a friend - yes
16. had a crush on a teacher - a couple, my first grade teacher was nice and my third grade teacher was cute, and my 7th grade math teacher was amazing.
18. seen someone die - yes, my grandpa. I was next to his bed when he passed away.
19. been on a plane - yes
20. thrown up in a bar - Probably. I've thrown up in lots of different places for lot of different reasons.
21. eaten insects/grubs/worms/larvae - i drank one, once...
22. miss someone right now - yes
23. laid on your back and watched cloud shapes go by - yes
24. made a snow angel - yes
25. played dress up - yes
26. cheated while playing a game - yes
27. been lonely - yes
28. fallen asleep at work/school - yes, my senior high english teacher rearranged the seating arrangement so I was in front, thinking it would stop me from sleeping. Didn't work.
29. used a fake id - no
30. felt an earthquake - no
31. touched a snake - yes, not really a big deal...
32. run a red light - yes, just the other day in fact. After which my friend rejoiced because now she thought I couldn't make fun of her for her poor driving skills. Silly girl!
33. had detention - yes. my first ever detention was in 7th grade for writing the "b-word" on a gravestone in the computer game Oregon Trail
34. been in a car accident - no, a couple minor bumps but never an accident
35. hated the way you look - yes
37. been lost - yes
38. been to the opposite side of the country - well, i'm sorta in the middle, so there is no opposite side... but I have been to both coasts and up to the Northern Border and down to the Southern Border... so, yes.
39. felt like dying - This depends... Do we mean the "I was so embarrassed I could've died!!!" felt like dying where it's just an expression and not literally wanting to die? Then probably yes. If it's literally feeling like dying an actual death, then no.
40. cried yourself to sleep - not that i can remember
41. played cops and robbers - yes and cowboys and indians, but mostly superheroes
42. sung karaoke - HECK YEAH!!! I love singing karaoke!!
43. done something you told yourself you wouldn't - Unfortunately, yes. A lot.
44. laughed till some kind of beverage came out of your nose - yes, that burns.
45. caught a snowflake on your tongue - Well, I think that my body heat/breath usually melts them before they really touch... so I technically don't know if I have ever actually done this...
46. kissed in the rain - no
47. sang in the shower - yes, loud and proud. And now that my neighbor has moved out, I find myself doing it a lot more
48. made love in a park - nope
49. had a dream that you married someone - I think so... I've had dreams where I was married, so if we use our logic, then I had to have married her sometime...
50. glued your hand to something - yes, ususally on purpose
51. got your tongue stuck to a flag pole - no, a chain link fence, however? yes!
52. worn the opposite sex's clothes - yes
53. Been a cheerleader – did they really have to ask this question? For about three weeks my freshman year of college, I had a friend ask me because they thought the cheerleaders needed some men to be bases for their stunts. I went to a few practices and helped out at a game, but the women in the squad were far too bitchy and catty for me, so I quickly left.
54. sat on a roof top - yes
55. talked on the phone all night - Oh goodness, no.
56. ever too scared to watch scary movies alone – Well, I'm usually fine watching the movies... but if I need to walk somewhere afterwards, then that is usually when I'm scared. Even when it's in my house.
57. played chicken fight - in the swimming pool? no. on bikes? yes. with an oncoming car or train? um... yes, but I never lasted very long at all.
58. been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on - no
59. been told you're hot by a complete stranger - yes
60. broken a bone - just my toe
61. had a 3-some? - What kind of questionaire is this????
62. dipped snuff? - um... ew... no
63. lived overseas - well, I was alive when I was overseas... so, technically, I've lived overseas... but I have never claimed residence overseas
64. Ever passed out/fainted? - There have been some close calls, but no
65. blown bubbles in the wintertime - no, and this is a weird question...
66. slept in your car? - yes
67. given money to a stranger? - yes
68. forgot your birthday? - no
69. forgot your best friend's birthday? - yes
70. been in the presence of the Pope or the President? - no, but I have been in the presence of the Governor of Nebraska (Is that close?)
71. failed a test? - probably, though I don't remember
72. failed a class? - yes (not because I failed a test, but because I didn't turn in a major assignment)
73. accurately predicted a future event? - nothing Nostradamus-like, but I've said stuff like "If you say that to her, she'll hit you." And they have and she has.
74. slept overnight in a hospital without being a patient? - numerous times
75. realized a dream? - um... is this like had a dream, and then it sorta came true? Then no, I'm not that cool. But if this is like, having a dream, and then waking up and saying something like, "I just realized I had a dream!" then I've done that... although most people have, so I don't really see the need to include a question like that in the list. So, I'm guessing that this question is more along the lines of my first guess...

If you think I added question 75, you'd be wrong... and a bit weird, since it's obvious that I don't even really understand the question. I added question 21, because there was no 21, and that bothers me when there are missing questions in these types of things.
Maybe someday I'll explain a bit more some of the things on the list. Anything up there you wouldn't mind hearing more about??


shout out to me!

So, in an attempt to waste time before lunch, I have been reading through some of my archives from a few months ago. I found a post that I wrote for a friend who is a camp director down south, which included words of advice that she could give to her staff members at the end of the summer. I won't include the whole post, just a paragraph that I read through and am proud of myself for writing:

Remember to see each camper as a child of God. Whether they're your favorite or not (and don't lie... we shouldn't have favorites, but EVERYONE does), whether they're cute or not, whether they annoy you or not, whether they poop their pants or not, whether they call you horrible names or not, whether they require more of your attention and supervision or not... Each one of them was wonderfully made by God, and is loved by God just as much as anyone else. Looking back at my experience as a counselor, there are several situations in which it would have been good for me to remind myself of this. Perhaps I would have handled things better, been a bit more patient, not raised my voice. Maybe I would have given more attention to a camper who needed it and a little less to a camper who was easy to love. Maybe I wouldn't have been AS glad when they're parents came to pick them up on that Friday. Or, who knows, maybe I would have been just as impatient or raised my voice just as much or given just as much attention to the cute, loveable one or did an extra happy dance of joy when they left. But I would have reminded myself that even though I might not like them, that doesn't mean that God doesn't absolutely and completely and wonderfully love them just as they are.

If you want to read the entire post, click here.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


happy day of reforming

Seeing as how it is Reformation Sunday, I feel as if to be able to keep my Lutheran Card, that I need to say something about this great moment in history. For those of you who don't know, Reformation Sunday is the day we remember when Martin Luther (no, NOT Martin Luther King, Jr. but Martin Luther, a German monk) boldly stood up against what he saw as injustices within the church.

I'd like to write more, however I have a paper due tomorrow that I need to finish, so that gets priority. Because it impacts whether I pass or fail this class. For some reason, my blog does not have that same kind of weight.

But, I will leave you with this challenge: Dare to be a reformer! Be willing to stand up against injustices! Work for justice and equality for all of God's children! Let's not have Reformation Sunday only because of an event that happened 400 years ago. Let's have Reformation Sunday because we are the Body of Christ, living and breathing and moving out in the world and constantly reforming.

Friday, October 28, 2005


did they really just say that?

I was driving in my car today, listening to the radio, when a song from Nickelback called "Photograph" came on the radio. I was listening to the words, and I couldn't help but laugh at the first stanza. I thought to myself, did they really put that in their song? Here it is:

Look at this photograph
Every time I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red?
And what the hell is on Joey’s head?

I think it's that last line that gets to me. It just seems so absurd to put that in a song. But, it does make one wonder - What the hell IS on Joey's head? Inquiring minds want to know!


the door is swingin'

Well, perhaps a few of you are curious as to what the faculty here at the Mothership had to say about me. Let me use a metaphor from my previous post: If the language from my faculty were a hinge, and my life was the door, then let's just say that my life is swinging wide open.

That's right, the three paragraphs that the faculty wrote about me were pretty amazing. They bring to light my gifts and where they see me excelling, and they also lift up my growing edges. I've decided that if I were a bishop and I went to the draft and read my language, I'd totally try to get myself in my synod (did that make sense? It's early...) So, yeah. The language is good. I cannot complain and will not be contesting anything with the faculty.

I've completed one more step on my road towards ordination. The next big step is my approval interview with my synod candidacy committee, but that is not until the beginning of December. I'm getting there, folks, slowly but surely. This train will eventually make it to the station, and then there will be much revelry and celebration. Woo hoo!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


tomorrow is d-day

I've been told on numerous occasions, by my friends and classmates, that I shouldn't be nervous. They tell me that I have no reason to worry about tomorrow, that all will be well. And I know that. Deep in my being, I know that. But that doesn't stop me from being anxious... Oh, heavens, am I anxious!

One of my friends compared herself, in the midst of this waiting, to a puppy. She said if she had a tail, she would totally be wagging, and she'd be staring up at the people and saying, "Like me! Like me! Like me!" I think that is a fitting metaphor for how I feel, as well.

You see, tomorrow is the day that the faculty finalizes our language.

What the heck does that mean, you ask? Well, I'm glad you did. Let me explain the first call process of the ELCA, as I understand it. At the end of our internships, we fill out evaluation forms. On the front page of our evaluation forms is a small box, where we get to write about ourselves and our call to ministry. Our supervisors fill out an evaluation form, too, and on the front of their form is a similar box where they are given the opportunity to describe us. The internship committee of our internship church gets the same opportunity. These forms are sent to the Contextual Education office of our seminary. Then, in our senior year, we do what is called Approval Interviews, one with our faculty and one with our home synod candidacy committee. Then, our faculty gets together and write a paragraph about our theological/academic abilities and then another about our pastoral abilities. I believe our candidacy committee writes a paragraph about us, as well. All of these paragraphs are then put on one page of paper, and attached to the front of all the other forms we have to fill out. These packets are what all of the bishops in the United States get to look at when they come together for the assignment process. The assignment process is similar to the NFL draft, but with pastors instead of large football players. So, these bishops try to pick the people they think will best fit the context of their synods based on the information in the packets, but primarily the paragraphs on the front page.

So, the work that the faculty will be doing tomorrow could impact the rest of my life. And it also gives me a clear idea of how the faculty views me. So, there's that need for approval, as well as the thought that, holy crap, tomorrow is like the hinge for the rest of my life. What these people decide to write about me could definitely determine in what direction my life swings. It's crazy and is causing me some anxiety.... I'm gonna go have a beer.

Monday, October 24, 2005



I was tagged, a while ago, by my friend J to share with everyone five of my idiosyncracies. I have no explanation as to why I have not listed them until now. I am in bondage to sin, and cannot free myself. And by this point, really, the whole idiosyncracy fad has long ago burnt out in the blogosphere. But, of course, then I am just staying true to my character, because I am the child that got those Reebok Pumps high tops about a year after they were all the rage...
So, here goes:

1. I get extremely angry when I see people press the handicapped accessible button for doors when they don't need to. If they have their hands full or if they legitimately need it, that's fine. But I was at a certain denominational headquarters a few years ago, and person after person after person pushed the button when they had no reason to do so. They were just being lazy. And for some reason this drove me to new depths of rage that I had not yet reached.

2. I could never be a) a vegetarian or b) an Orthodox Jewish person because of my deep, undying, unequaled love of bacon. I believe, as is often said of beer, that bacon is undeniable proof of God's gracious and unconditional love for us. Why else would we be blessed with such wonderful, crispy goodness? I also have a deep love of cheese. I thought about including my love for all things cheese as a separate idiosyncracy, but I felt it was cheating. They are both food obsessions and so they can be considered similar and related. Bacon and cheese.... mmmmm.........

3. I have, and wear, liturgically colored shoes when I lead worship. It happened one day on internship, when I bought a fun pair of blue shoes. It just happened to be during the church season of Advent, which is when the sanctuary is decorated in blue. My supervisor said that I should wear them to church. So I did. Then I added red, green and purple to my collection. Here is a picture of my green pair.


4. I have a hierarchy of undershirts. Now, you'd think that all undershirts were created equally. But if you did, you'd be wrong. I have various, plain white t-shirts that I have bought at various times and locations, and some have more authority than others (sort of like Scripture). So, if all of my undershirts are clean, I will wear the Fruit of the Loom with no tags, first. After I have run out of those, then I switch to the Hanes with tags shirts. After those have run out, I have a few random shirts from a company I do not recall. They are the last ones that I will wear. Often times I do laundry before I get to those, so there really is no need to wear them. Why don't I get rid of them, you ask? Well, the answer is simple, really... Because if I get rid of them, then I will have to do laundry sooner. While I have them, I don't have to do laundry because I have the option of being able to wear them. Were I to get rid of them, then the option would turn into a necessity. So, therefore, I keep my hierarchy of undershirts intact.

5. Well, I don't know if this counts as an idiosyncracy, because I know that it describes A LOT of people, but I am a horrible procrastinator. There is nothing like leaving something to the very last possible moment before rushing to finish it, and freaking out because I don't think there is any chance that I will get it done in time. Almost every time I get it done, yet almost every time I still freak out.

So, there you have them. [Some of]My wonderful idiosyncracies. Finally. I hope that you have enjoyed them and found them worth the wait. You know what Heinz says about their ketchup... Good things come to those who wait. Hopefully it is true in this instance, as well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


i have nothing to say

I do not have much to say. But, blogging has become a great procrastination tool for me, and since I have studying I should be (but don't want to be) doing, blogging seems like a pretty good option right about now.
I was approached by a professor today, who told me that someone had told him that they were impressed by my theologizing. I asked him who, and he said that he wouldn't divulge who it was, but that you couldn't get a much better compliment than to have this someone say that about you. Eventually, he hinted that it was the professor who intimidates (or used to, really) the heck out of me, and who did my approval interview. So that was a pleasant and great surprise to hear what was being tossed around among the faculty about me. Of course, now this other professor said that it has increased his expectations about me in the class I have with him. Drat!
In other news, because I was one of the seniors assigned to help with chapel this week, I was asked to assist with our service of healing, because today we commemorated St Luke the physician. I thought it would be neat, to participate in the laying on of hands and anointing with oil. Alas, it was not to be. Yes, I was still expected to help, but it turns out that my part in the scheme of things was to stand at one of the four stations with an ordained faculty/staff member, and hold in one hand the notecard that had the prayer that the ordained person would pray, and to hold in the other hand the little dish of oil used for anointing. As the service progressed, I thought that maybe at the end, the ordained person would anoint me and then I would get the chance to anoint her. Alas, that was not to be, either. Another station finished before us, so that professor (and the senior with him) came over and the staff member I was assisting anointed both of them. Then, she switched places with the professor and he anointed her. Then we all sat down. So, really, because I was a senior, I got to be a shelf. It was neat...
Anyway... I suppose I should go and be about doing something productive. Hopefully, soon, I will have something better and more interesting to share.

Friday, October 14, 2005


my hidden talent

Your Hidden Talent

You have the power to persuade and influence others.
You're the type of person who can turn a whole room around.
The potential for great leadership is there, as long as you don't abuse it.
Always remember, you have a lot more power over people than you might think!
What's Your Hidden Talent?
Hmmm... first a post about how my professor and classmates agreed about the bishop thing... and then I find out my hidden talent is THIS???
Weird and eerie and unsettling all at once.


the morning after

My sermon has been preached. Not only did I survive, but I managed to do so without vomiting. Always a good thing. I think I did a pretty good job. My personality came through in the sermon and when I was up in the pulpit I went back to the same comfort level that I had back on internship. It was good to be back in the pulpit again. It didn't even phase me that the people staring back at me were professors and classmates.
Afterwards, I received many compliments and "Good jobs" and the like. Some I think were from people who felt that was what they needed to do, whether or not they liked the sermon. Others were very heartfelt from people who didn't need to say anything at all. Several professors have complimented me, especially on my leadership presence. It is nice and fun and good to receive such compliments from people whose opinions you greatly respect.
Now, a couple things have happened because of my sermon:
1. In my sermon I deal pretty honestly with how worried and anxious I was concerning the professors I was assigned for my approval interview. (click here to read my entry on that). In the midst of my sermon, where I am talking about all of the things that can make us anxious in seminary, I mention the approval interview and how I thought I would be okay if I didn't get this one certain professor who has the ability to strike fear into my heart. And then I get the list of assignments and sure enough, I did, indeed, get this one certain professor and then I fear that I will not make it through alive... or something like that. Well, everyone knew who I was talking about (of course I already knew where he was sitting and I looked at him a couple times while I was saying that) and everyone laughed. He loved it and cracked up about it. Afterwards we chatted about it and he said, "Did you notice how everyone knew you were talking about me?" And now whenever he sees me he gets a big grin and waves. I think he gets a kick out of knowing that a large portion of the student body is intimidated by him!
2. In a small group after chapel, a classmate of mine came in and said "[Our professor for this small group, and also our academic dean] leaned over to me during worship and said, 'Don't you think he looks just like a bishop standing up there? All he needs is a pectoral cross!'" Well, then he came into class and told me basically the same thing to my face. And then all of my classmates basically agreed with him. I said that I wasn't sure how I felt about that. But now I have people calling me Bishop Mark. Eek!
So, those are two of the bigger results of my sermon from yesterday.
Anyway, it is close to lunch and it is beauteous outside, so I will run along and enjoy the nice weather before I gorge on some greasy cafeteria food.
Be blessed and be a blessing!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005


me = nervous

tomorrow (as in 8 1/2 hours) i preach during our morning chapel service here at the mothership. my sermon is finished, although i keep reading through it and thinking that there is something more i should say, or that i should add something, or that i should redo something. although at this point in time i have no idea what it is that i should say or add or redo. and, because i am the king of procrastination and waited this long to finish my sermon, i don't have time to sleep on it and read it again and think about adding something then. nope, because by the time i'm done sleeping it will be time to go to my morning class, and then to chapel where i preach. and, irony of all ironies, the sermon text is philippians 4:1-9 where it talks about not worrying but through prayer and supplication lifting things up to God. so, in my sermon, i deal with all the things in seminary that can be anxiety inducing (which is a lot). then i say something along the lines of that we don't need to have anxiety or worries about these things because God is near and present with us in the midst of these things. and even if we fail, or things don't go well, it is okay because our identity is not wrapped up in these things, our identity is wrapped in up in being a child of God and we have been called and claimed children of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus and not because of anything we have or have not done.
so really i should be practicing what i'm going to preach, and not worry about my sermon anymore, and remember that no matter how well it goes (or doesn't go) tomorrow, that i am still a child of God and God still loves me regardless.
anyway, i'm going to try to go to bed now. perhaps i will post an update when i have time tomorrow, post-sermon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


julio, our new goodwill ambassador

If you remember, a couple of days ago we welcomed Julio the llama to our family here at Stumbling Toward Divinity. Well, he has now become our Goodwill Ambassador, and as a part of his new duties he met with Nelson Mandela.


We here at Stumbling Toward Divinity look forward to Julio's further goodwill missions, and are excited about the impact this will have on our international relationships.

Monday, October 10, 2005


now it's a waiting game

In a not too distant post, I wrote a little bit about my anxiety surrounding the next step in my candidacy process. There were several things that caused me anxiety about this step. First, it's called 'approval.' Now, that might not seem too bad, but for someone who has lived their whole life with this need for approval (not really from my parents, they were amazingly supportive and approving. It was more in the other realms of my life, especially in relationships with my peers and teachers) the thought of being "denied approval" can cause a bit of anxiety. That fed into the anxiety that led to such thoughts as, "This is my fifth year of seminary. Five years is quite a commitment for any endeavor. What am I going to do if, after all of this time and money has been spent pursuing this, I am not approved?"
Truthfully, these two things didn't cause a whole lot of anxiety on their own. Especially the first thing. I've made great strides in my need for approval, and realize that not everyone will always approve of who I am or what I do. That is not a judgment on who I am as a person. So, if I don't get approved to continue on in this process towards ordination, it doesn't mean that I'm not a good person. It just means that the gifts I possess are probably best directed somewhere else. As far as the second fear, I knew that barring any horrible and tragic mishap during my approval interview, it would not be an issue. If there had been any concerns from the faculty, I would have been alerted of them before I got to this point.
Now, notice I said "barring any horrible and tragic mishap." That could mean a lot of things, but for me it meant mainly having one of the faculty interviewers ask me a question which I could not understand or for which I could not come up with an adequate response. Then, I would be left sitting there, under the judging glares of these two faculty members, desperately seeking their approval and knowing that, at that moment, I wasn't receiving it, and fearing for my future in the Church.
The way the interviews are set up is that each senior student who is seeking approval is assigned two faculty interviewers. The first one is their academic advisor and the second is whichever faculty member their advisor is teamed up with. Entering into this process, there was already something that was causing me a bit of anxiety. The professor who had been my advisor for my first three years of seminary decided to go on sabbatical during my senior year. So this woman who knows me very well, has struggled through some issues with me, and who I get along with very well decided to take a sabbatical that, unfortunately, coincides with the biggest step in my candidacy process.
So I had switched to another professor who I felt knows me pretty well, and with whom I was comfortable. But now it was a matter of waiting and seeing who he would be paired with. I thought that I could handle most of the professors, but there was one in particular that made me nervous and I was pretty sure that I did not want. I did not have much experience with him and he is well known for asking very tough to answer and extremely difficult to understand questions. So, if you remember the "tragic mishap" scenarios I was playing out in my head, you would understand why I did not want that man to be my second faculty interviewer.
And, of course, in a moment of Divine comedy, this man was indeed assigned to be my second faculty interviewer. I posted part of my reaction here.
As the time between finding out this man would be my interviewer and the interview itself grew smaller, I grew less and less nervous. Through conversations with people, and being reminded that I would be aware of any issues that might get in the way of my approval, and my being reminded (by myself and Someone Else) that I am indeed authentically called to ordained ministry, my anxiety level was tempered greatly.
Until the morning of my approval interview.
A lot was going on that morning. I had to get up at 4:30 to meet friends at 5:00 to drive them to the airport, so that they might go to Cancun. I then had to hang out with their 9 month old son, who I simply adore and absolutely love, for a while until the daycare opened up at 6:30 so that I could drop him off there. We watched The Wiggles together. Then I had to shower and get ready and go over the essay that I had written so that I was ready to answer any questions about it. I was over in the classroom building by about 10 after 8, nervously walking around and running through possible questions in my head, trying to come up with the perfect answers.
So, anyway, the interview went very well. I was not asked questions that I was unable to answer, and I understood everything that was said to and asked of me. I think I had some kick-butt answers (a couple of which, in conversation with a couple other people, I found out were very close to things that the intimidating professor had said himself). So I am almost positive that I successfully completed the interview and will be approved by my faculty for ordained ministry. Now it's just a matter of going through the interview with the candidacy committee from my home synod.
And it's also a matter of waiting to read the language that will come out of my faculty interview. There are several forms which the bishops receive before the first call process for seminary graduates begins. In these forms are paragraphs written by different people concerning the candidate. We call these paragraphs the "language," and they are written by the faculty, by our internship supervisor and by ourselves. Much of what is written in the paragraph by the faculty comes out of our approval interviews. They let us read these paragraphs, and we have the opportunity to contest any of the language we don't approve of, before they are sent out to the bishops. While they give the bishops some idea of who you are and what you're about, they really let you know what kind of opinion the faculty has of you. I think that is what matters to me most, knowing how the faculty sees me and what they think of me. It's that whole need for approval from teachers thing. Of course, we don't get to see them until the end of this month. So I won't know one way or the other if I am approved, and I will not get to see what opinion the faculty has of me until the end of this month. Although, realistically, it is not that long to wait, it definitely feels like it is years away.
Anyway, I've spent much more time on this post than I had originally intended. I have much reading to do and a sermon to begin to prepare for chapel on Thursday. So, I had best be off and about attempting to something a bit more productive.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


youth room does NOT equal day care

Because the Mothership stresses the importance of community, and because it attracts a large number of families with children, we have such things as a youth ministry committee whose job it is to plan and implement activities for the youth on campus. One of the things that they provide for the youth is a youth room, which is open for a couple of hours after school every weekday. There is a work study position for a student who wishes to be in charge of the youth room and staff it for the hours that it is open. This year, we convinced the administration to pay for another student to staff the youth room part time, just so that there are often two adults in the youth room.
I am one of the adults that staffs the youth room. I don't get paid for a full work study position because the funds were not there, and also because I have another job on campus which I enjoy and appreciate (most of the time). Because I only am supposed to work half of the hours that the other student does, he is always there when I am working. Yesterday, however, was an exception.
We have a long weekend this weekend, for reading and research days. Classes resume on Wednesday. So my co-worker and his family went back home, where he farms with his brother, so that he could help with the harvest. He asked if I would be around and available to staff the youth room Friday and Monday while he is gone. I said it wouldn't be a problem.
Now, the youth room is there for the youth on campus. In the past we've had non-seminary kids from the neighborhood come and participate in activities and hang out in the youth room. There are two young boys in particular who have been around and participated in some activities since I started seminary.
Now, the line has always been kind of hazy about including off-campus youth. Do we, as the seminary youth ministry committee, limit our ministry to children of students, and therefore exclude other interested youth? Or do we see what we are doing as ministry and outreach to the neighborhood youth? I don't know that we've ever made a decision one way or the other, but I think yesterday the decision was made for us.
The two young boys that keep coming to campus, Shane and Sam, have been coming everyday this year to hang out in the youth room. They know several of the seminary kids from school and they've begun feeling very comfortable around here. Yesterday was a bit chilly, and for a while I closed the youth room while we were all outside playing. Then, an on-campus child told me he was cold and wanted to go in. So I said that everyone else could keep playing but I was going to go open the youth room for those who were cold and wanted to go inside. A handful of youth followed me in, but before long most of the rest came in.
We have some older boys on campus who don't often use their better judgment. They also had three older non-seminary friends on campus hanging out with them. So, altogether, including Shane and Sam, there were about five non-seminary kids hanging out with us today. Two seminary youth, plus the three older non-seminary friends, and Shane went outside to play. They took this large, blue exercise ball along with them. We have made it clear to the seminary students and to the youth that we are NOT a daycare. Our responsibility is the youth room, and so if something happens with the youth, during youth room hours, but they are outside of the youth room, there is not much we can do about it.
Now, I saw none of this happen, I heard all about it later, so what I'm sharing now is second hand info. The kids outside decided to play "human bowling." You have a group of youth that are the pins. They stand together while the youth that is the ball holds this large exercise ball in front of him and runs at the group of pins. The intention is to charge into the group with the ball and knock everyone down. So the three non-seminary youth (Shane included) and one other seminary youth were the pins. The two older non-seminary boys were in front, Shane was pulled into the group in the middle, and there was a seminary youth in back. I guess Shane had said that he didn't want to do it, but he kept standing in this group. When the other seminary youth came running at them with the ball, the two older non-seminary youth stepped out of the way, and Shane was knocked to the ground. Whether he was embarassed or angry or legitimately hurt, I'm not sure, but he began to cry and came inside. He didn't come back into the youth room, but called for his brother Sam from the hallway. I just figured that it was time for them to leave, so I didn't pay much attention. Then Sam came back in and said that his brother was crying because the two seminary boys had been mean and hurt him.
I walked out into the hallway and spoke with Shane, trying to figure out what happened. He was able to sort of tell me what had happened, but mainly all I knew was that the large exercise ball was involved and he was knocked down. I told him that there really wasn't anything I could do, because it happened outside and I'm not in charge of what happens outside, but that I would go talk to the other boys. When I opened the door, I noticed that two of the non-seminary youth had already run away, so the only ones out there were the two seminary youth and one other non-sem youth. I stood in the doorway, holding the door opened and asked them to come over and explain what had happened. They began explaining, but Shane who was in the hallway and within hearing distance, began shouting and calling them liars and such. I told him that wasn't helping and asked him to stop it. He did, for about two minutes. So I stepped outside and talked with the boys. They told me the story that I relayed above. Shane had been involved in the game, knew how it worked, but then got mad when he got knocked down, so he came inside and tried to get the others in trouble.
I went back inside, repeated to Shane that since I did not see it and it happened outside, there was nothing I could really do about it. The only advice I had for him was that if he didn't like hanging out with seminary kids, then he probably shouldn't hang out at the seminary. Then I went back into the youth room.
During this time, Sam had called their mother and was talking on the phone with her. She wanted to talk to Shane, who was in the sniffly final stages of crying, so she could tell something was the matter. I guess, then, Shane and Sam walked home and their mother, determined to find out what happened, brought her boys and her older daughter back to campus and came into the youth room.
"Are you supervising?" She asked when she walked in and saw me.
"In here, yes." I answered. She made some sort of face and turned to her son.
"Okay, what happened?" He repeated his story which he had told me, and I still couldn't figure out most of it. Really, all I could understand (again) was something about the ball and him being knocked down.
That's when I made some comment to the mother about how it happened outside, and they all knew that if I was in the youth room and not leading activities outside, that I wasn't in charge outside and there wasn't much I could do.
"Well, we're finished here." She said, turning around to walk away. "Great Christian activities you have going on here." and she walked back out to her van, taking her kids with her.
So every kid (and me included) were a bit taken aback by that exchange and there was some tension in the air after they left. I responded by cleaning the youth room and telling the kids just to forget about it and to continue having fun. One of the seminary youth who was involved in the incident said that he was going to run home quickly and get some quarters for pop. He went outside but then quickly came running back in and said that the woman and her kids were still in their van outside and that when he had gone out she stepped out of her van and yelled at him, saying if he laid another finger on her son she'd have her nephew come and beat him up.
So when he told me this I went running outside, but she had driven away by then. So he went home to get the quarters and told his parents about the whole exchange. They laughed about it, and just told him to stay away from the kids.
So that is what happened in the youth room yesterday. That is what fueled my decision to, unfortunately, recommend to the youth ministry committee that we don't allow non-seminary youth to hang out in the youth room. I think we need to realize that we are here as a ministry to the youth on campus and to minimize problems and concerns that we need to limit our ministry to that.
I have, however, had several parents tell me that if she comes back and says anything that they volunteer their services to have some words with her. She doesn't know who she's messing with!!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


me and julio down by the schoolyard

adopt your own virtual pet!

this is my llama. his name is julio. if you click on his body, he does this weird noise and rears up on his hind legs. if you click on his neck, he just makes a weird noise.
i found a different llama on another blog. i clicked on his neck and he made that weird noise. so i clicked and held the button down. i laughed a lot. i've done it many times since then, and i always laugh. i can be a bit juvenile sometimes.


when the horse met the carriage

Several months ago, when I was still in the distant land of Internship, I received a call on my cellphone. Of course, as is too often the case, I did not have my cell phone with me at the time. So, when I returned from whatever it was that I was doing, and saw my cell phone, there was a voice mail message waiting for me.

I listened to the message and, I have to admit, was a bit floored. It was definitely NOT a call that I had been expecting. In fact, I didn't even think that it was a possibility. Two good friends and classmates from seminary were getting married and they wanted me to be the assisting minister at the ceremony.

I wasn't floored that they were getting married. If I remember correctly, they were engaged before we all left the Mothership for internship. So, I knew that there wedding was a future reality. What floored me was that they asked me to be the assisting minister.

You see, I had already talked to mutual friends who had been asked to be involved in the wedding. I had come to the conclusion that since I had not already been asked, that I wasn't going to be in the wedding. I was okay with that. I figured they had families and friends, and both of them being seminary students they had a plethora of people to be involved in the wedding in some fashion. I would have been happy just to be there. But here was this phone call, after I had come to the conclusion that I would not be in the wedding, asking me to be involved. And not as an usher or guest book attendant or a reader or something like that. But as assisting minister!

Well, anyway, the wedding was just this past weekend. It was a great day. The wedding was well planned and put together. The reception was great fun, and I had a good time enjoying the open bar and dancing the night away (while still dressed in my clergy collar). I decided I was not going to let the fact that I was dressed in a clergy collar affect the way that I would celebrate. I could have taken the collar off, but I decided not to do that either. The photographer followed me around for a large part of the evening, because I think she thought the fact that the "pastor" was dancing and having a great time was too good to not take pictures of. A friend told me that they had figured out where they needed to stand to get in pictures: with the small children who were there, or next to me.

So, congratulations M and K! I have been blessed to know each of you individually, and am delighted and thankful for how much happier and fulfilled the two of you have seemed since you've been together. As someone mentioned at the reception, with the way marriage has become so impermanent, it is always great to see a marriage that you think will last. This is definitely one of them. God bless you as you begin your lives together. It was a great honor for me to be able to participate in your ceremony.


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