Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 Books of 2011

In no particular order:

1. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

2. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

3. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

4. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

5. How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins

6. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

7. A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren

8. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrar

9. Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

10. No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton

Sunday, December 18, 2011

First Week as Pastor Lydia

Hi! I'd like to briefly share how my first week as a "real" pastor went. I began on Tuesday after Bible study (man, that was awesome to go and be able to say I've been called!). I attended a huge lunch with WHAM (Windsor/Hightstown Area Ministerium) and met a bunch of local pastors there. After that Jim and I had one of our interesting 'Let's figure out what the heck we are doing' conversations (we've had a couple over the course of the week) and then went to visit a couple, one of whom has had a string of bad health. Confirmation for the 9th graders was also that night - they are reading through The Lutheran Handbook, which is pretty cool. On Wednesday I went to the monthly cluster breakfast for the first time as a called pastor, then later attended my first ever council meeting at St. Paul, which of course went late. They were talking about two important things though - budget and how to celebrate their upcoming 75th anniversary. On Thursday I met all the choirs - from the little kids to the bigger kids to the adults - and hung out with the youth group as they painted backdrops for the Christmas play. On Friday Beau and I attended the choir Christmas party, at the choir director's house. She has only been at St. Paul for about three months now, so I am not the only newbie! She and her husband are from England, and have a splendid accent!

Today I assisted in worship and only forgot one or two things. :) Then I was back for the Christmas play with the kids and youth, which was adorable. I was a bit worried when I heard that the director had gotten the play free from the internet, but it was actually not bad, except for the fact that there was a pig among the talking animals. Somebody didn't do their Jewish sensitivity research. :)

Christmas Eve is on Saturday!! I will be there for both services that day, and will be preaching on Sunday, Christmas day!!

Jim and I are getting along well, as well as any two people who really have only gotten to know each other for the equivalent of a week and a half. But it bodes well that I get his sense of humor and think his jokes are funny (it was kind of weird that I was the only one laughing at them during confirmation that one day, but whatever). I also have figured out his biggest pet peeve and will avoid it like the plague - cell phones going off in public places, especially worship. He's already learned about me that I am good at hiding my introverted-ness. I took it as a compliment when he told me he didn't believe that I am an "I". I told him it helps to be married to an extrovert. :)

So far the kitties have not knocked down the tree. Just nibbled on a few ornaments.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My call sermon


Sunday, December 11th – Third Sunday of Advent
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen. 

Do you remember that game from a while ago, called “Guess Who?” There was a game board of faces to choose from, and the point was to guess who your partner was before they guessed who you were. You’re supposed to ask questions like “Do they have blue eyes?” or “Does he have red hair,” and by process of elimination you would come to the conclusion that your opponent was Fred, the blond-haired man with a beard, and then you would win the game.

Imagine for a moment that the first century religious leaders are playing this game, only in reverse. Before them is this character, John the Baptist, who was preaching in the desert, baptizing people, and from last week’s Gospel text we heard was wearing camel’s hair and ate bugs and honey. Now, they are trying to figure out who in the world this guy could be. So they send some priests and Levites to do a little reconnaissance.  They bombard him with questions – 

“Are you the Messiah?” – “No,” John replies.
“Are you Elijiah, who is supposed to return?” – “Nope,” he says.
“Are you the prophet?” - “No again.”
“Are you Moses? Elvis? An alien from outer space? Throw us a bone here! Who ARE you, then?”

John answered them in a way they didn’t expect: “I am the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.” And later he proclaims, “Among you stand one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me.”

Who is John? John is a baptizer, a testifier, a witness, a voice, all pointing to the one who is coming after him. He came tell us about the light who was coming into the world. We, at least, know who he is talking about. John is pointing us to Jesus. Not Jesus the baby whose birth we will be celebrating in a few weeks, but Jesus the man, Jesus the grown up, at the very beginning of his three years of earthly ministry. 

And what an incredible ministry it was – Jesus fed people and healed people and taught people about who God really is – a God of love and compassion who is desperate to have a relationship with his people. People’s lives were transformed – mourning became joy, sorrow became gladness, the oppressed were made free, and the suffering healed in body, mind, and spirit.
And for all that, we know how the Powers-That-Be reacted to Jesus message of love and freedom. They killed him for his trouble, with a horrific death on an instrument of torture, the cross. 

While Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion has not yet taken place in John the Baptist’s timeline, it has already occurred for us. We have the privilege of knowing the end of the story, and it is a good one. In his resurrection, Jesus has conquered death in the most final way possible, by overcoming death with the power of life. Death has no power over us anymore – it has no sting, it has no victory, and it cannot make us afraid anymore. 

But we all know that we still live in a world where death very much holds sway. Even though we have dressed up our homes with festive lights and garlands, the chill of this fear still nips at our heels. No amount of Christmas trees or grandma’s special casserole can mask the fact that there are still scary things going on in the world – wars and earthquakes and famine and unrest. And no amount of wrapping paper or holiday music can cover up our worries about providing our families with the Christmas they deserve. 

Advent is half over; with the Christmas chaos is in full swing. I think more than a few of us are wondering if we are going to make it through this year with our sanity intact. The stresses of the holiday season can turn us into stressed and over-caffeinated versions of our former selves, and the peace and joy of Jesus coming into the world has been lost under all the Toys-R-Us ads.

Just in time, then John has come onto the scene, for not one, but two weeks of preparing our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus, who we call the Prince of peace. Paul too, in our second reading, points us to the God of peace and joy, and invites us into a life in Christ who has come, is coming now, and will come again. He wrote to the congregation of Christians in Thessalonica: 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” 

Let me tell you what Paul is NOT saying here. He is not saying “look happy, pretend nothing is wrong, and never complain no matter what and everything will be fine.” That is the message you see on commercial and on advertisements. Instead, Paul is inviting his readers, including us, into a life of rejoicing. You have heard it said, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Now I say to you, Jesus is the reason for joy in ALL seasons of your life. For Paul went on to write:

“May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.”

Who are we, as the people of God gathered here today to worship? Paul is saying here that we are a people who rejoice, because God has given us a REASON to rejoice. Why should we rejoice in our God? Because the one who has called us here is faithful, continually making us holy and whole. 

God had led you, this congregation, here to this place and this time. This journey leading us here today has not been an easy one, but you have taken the time to discern and test where this path is leading you, and I can see that the working of the Holy Spirit is not going unnoticed. God has given you many gifts, and you have demonstrated your trust by looking forward, into the amazing future that God has planned, and not giving in to fear and uncertainty. 

I too believe that God has been faithful to me, over and over again, in the journey that has brought me to this time and this place. It has not always been smooth going, but God has proven to me, over and over again, that great things happen to those who trust. In most cases it’s only AFTER the fact that I can really tell that God has been at work. But in ALL cases, God has always gone beyond my hopes and expectations. God provided valuable experiences and supportive people I may not have encountered had everything gone according to “plan.” 

THAT’S why we rejoice and pray and giving thanks in all circumstances. Because God is faithful to us here and now, in the blooming of every present moment. We don’t understand everything that happens to us all the time, or even most of the time; but the good news is that God is working with us and in us, to guide us down this precious and precarious path called life.  

And while we wait for Jesus to show himself in our everyday lives, trust that he is there with you, and find comfort and joy in that. He is here with you even when that Christmas moment doesn’t feel as magical as you had hoped. He is here with you when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, or even a bit scrouge-ish. You may meet him unexpectedly in the kindness of a stranger, or in the understanding hug of a neighbor or friend, or even in the contented gurgling of a baby. 

Rejoicing in God as a way of life is not about changing our attitude to make our lives better or easier. It’s not something you can teach yourself by researching in the self-help section. It is a gift. It is an invitation to live as who we are – people who rejoice. 

You individually are more than just your occupation or your age or your marital status. You are a child of God: so rejoice and take comfort in that. And you as a community, as the congregation of St. Paul Lutheran Church, are more than just a group of people gathering in a beautiful worship space on a particular day of the week. You are a people of joy, a people who rejoice, for the one who has called you here is faithful, and he will do all which he has promised, and much, much more. Amen.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

"This will be a day long remembered..."

... as Darth Vader once said. And the reality of it is still sinking in. But it's just as true as it was yesterday - I have been called as associate pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in East Windsor, NJ! Here is the website if you want to check it out: St. Paul Lutheran Church. I am their first ever associate pastor, and I will be there only part-time, so there are a lot of things to figure out up front! The pastor who is there, Jim, has been just wonderful - he was just as excited as I was that this day was coming. He had been there a long time and plans on being there for a good while longer, which is a testament to the good people at this place, who have already been wonderfully welcoming.

After preaching and helping to lead worship at two services with a tour of the Sunday school classrooms in between, the congregational meeting started and I answered a few on-the-spot questions from the congregation and then they kicked me and Beau out for the vote. It was nearly unanimous, and when I walked back into the sanctuary, they all got to their feet and applauded. I was so... thrilled, beyond belief! I am starting this week, and will be part-part time until January. The tentative date for my ordination and installation, which will be a St. Paul, is Sunday January 22, but that is still sort of tentative.

This church has a GORGEOUS worship space. And I'll have my own office come January, after they move some stuff out of an existing storage room (don't worry, it has a window). It'll be snug, but in a cozy sort of way. This is a pic I found on the interwebs of someone's ordination, but it give you an idea about the sanctuary...

Monday, December 5, 2011

My own personal Advent...

... is nearly at its end, if all continues to go as well as it has. I can't be more specific, as usual, but know that the waiting is nearly over! I sometimes feel a little bad about keeping people in the dark, especially when they ask me things like - "any bites yet?" or "have you heard anything?" The answer is yes I have, but no, I can't tell you more! I am very thankful for all the support I've gotten from friends and family during the course of this process, and especially to my long-suffering husband. :)

I have also finished my novel for NaNoWriMo! It is the first time ever that I have ever finished a novel, or anything really longer than a short story. From the fourth grade I wanted to be a writer, and dreamed of what kind of book I would write. And now I know that I CAN DO IT!!! And then my wonderful husband surprised me by having a printed copy bound at Staples to make it look like a "real" book! He picked out a cover picture and everything! Isn't it beautiful?!?! This is a real place, from Tao Fong Shan in Hong Kong, where the book is based and where Beau and I went for a week in J-Term.

The end of NaNoWriMo came just in time, for now I have a sermon to work on, the most important sermon yet in my entire life so far!! No pressure.

This weekend we got our first ever real Christmas tree from a place just down the road from us. SO FAR the cats have been merely curious, but not interested in climbing it... yet. They just seem to think that it's fun to drink from the base instead of their own bowl. And last night we went to the annual Christmas/Advent gathering of Lutheran pastor, professors, and students from around the Princeton area. I am continually amazed by how many people we all know mutually - it is indeed a small Lutheran world, especially out here in the Lutheran Diaspora (this is actually what we call ourselves out here!).

Ok, people, enough chit-chat. I actually have stuff to do. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Geography

Have you ever noticed that you think of everything in terms of near and far, compared to where you're at, or where you're from Like a GPS, I have realized that I have sense of "home" meaning where I am located compared to the rest of country, even the rest of the world. I have to come to realize that mine has not yet "reset" or "updated" to coordinate to where we have moved too. My internal GPS is still set on Minnesota, or the Midwest in general - I still hear every location on the news in terms of that setting. So I have often lately been surprised by thoughts like, "Penn State... oh wait, that's the next state over! We were in Pennsylvania yesterday!" and "Occupy Wall Street? Oh, yeah., that is just a hour train ride away!" or even "Where did this humidity suddenly come from? Oh, the Ocean, duh!" I have to consciously remember that I am no longer in the middle of the country, but off to one side of it. It's like my "north pole" is no longer where it used to be. Isn't that fascinating? At least I think so.

Speaking of location, I am now one step closer in my call process - things are continuing to go very well, but that's all I can say. I know, the suspense is murder, for the both of us. :)

Which is better, high or low? Both kitties prefer high, which poses a problem...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The countdown begins....


....and no, I'm not just talking about my NaNoWriMo novel, which is actually coming along better than I ever could have imagined. Seriously, the words are coming and I barely have to think about them. Granted, that may make for a fairly nonsensical novel, but hey, 50,000 words is 50,000 words, and I'm at 44,000 at the moment. Go me!

I am also counting down the days of my second interview, which happens this week. And after that, (hopefully) I will be working on a sermon and counting down the days till the day of the vote. Today I successfully attended a worship service at said church without drawing attention to myself - parking on the far side of the building to hide the MN plates on the car, walking in 3 minutes before the service started, sitting in the back, leaving as we sang the last hymn. Operation PastorSpy was a success! ;)

I should mention how Thanksgiving went for us. Since we were not able to make it to either of our families, we stayed around, and played host and hostess at an annual Thanksgiving lunch put on by Beau's church for people who don't have family to spend the holiday with. Now it has become quite popular with groups called Allies and Project Freedom, who came this year with many people with mental or physical disabilities. There were so many leftovers that we have been eating turkey and the delicious homemade stuffing every day since then, and we have LIKED it! It's just too bad that there were so many leftovers, that not as many people came this year, even though it was a packed room. And the pies! Yum!

We spend Black Friday as our own No Leaving the Apartment Day, and No Buying Anything Day, which we celebrated by watching West Wing and Voyager and I did lots of NaNo. It was a success. We were lucky though, not having to work in retail. Our cumuppance will happen for Christmas, where I will probably be working Christmas Day. Heck, at this point I really HOPE I get to work on Christmas Day. ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Retreats I & II

"Day unto day uttereth speech. The clouds change. The seasons pass over our woods and fields in their slow and regular progression, and time is gone before you are aware of it." Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain.

I've been gone on two retreats this week. The first was a congregational retreat for members of Resurrection up at a Lutheran camp in Upstate New York called Koinonia. The weather was beautiful, and the local was stunning and remote. Too bad it took us almost four hours of winding roads to get there... I felt very ill on the way up and was very glad when we finally arrived. The retreat center was great and the staff was so friendly, and the food was very good! It was also really fun to get to know better some of the members of Resurrection. I got to know two of the families with young kids who are pretty close to our age. And their kids are so cute! Beau lead a Bible study that everyone loved, and on Sunday morning I busted out the ol' guitar and strummed it up. It was pretty fun. 

The second retreat was a Book of Faith retreat lead by Bishop Riley on the Gospel of Mark, since that is the gospel of the upcoming church year. This time we were at Princeton Seminary, which is also a beautiful local, though less remote. The seminary has all these old stone buildings that are very lovely. Various pastors from around the synod are supposed to attend one of these retreats, and there was about ten of us from around the synod. It was neat to get to know other pastors not just in our own cluster. We heard the entirety of Mark preformed on video and discussed each chapter. Mark is a really fascinating gospel when heard all at once - well, over the course of 24 hours. We could really hear the immediacy of the action and the mounting frustration of Jesus with his disciples. I though that, especially at the beginning, Mark seemed to be written like someone was following Jesus around and tweeting what was happening. Later, some of the longer stories are like blog posts.

And now we are right on the heels of Thanksgiving. Though we can't  make in anywhere to see family, we have already been invited to many gatherings. Traffic is already getting very bad, especially near any shopping areas. I think I'm going to try to avoid driving except for things like grocery shopping and going to church/work for the month of December. We'll see how that goes. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Official Update

I thought I would give a more detailed update about what's been going on with me and my process, at least as much as I can say right now. I finally did hear some news, and the process is continuing. I have another interview at the end of this month, and if that goes well, I will be preaching and there will be a meeting in mid-December. Hopefully then I would start sometime before Christmas, but I would not be ordained until January. Then, this will be both an ordination AND instillation services.

I was glad to hear that the delay was not related to anything about me. I have heard that they are really excited about me, as I am about them.

I have been able to do a lot of reading, as a sort of pre-pastor prep class, independent study-style. I've actually kind of like having the freedom to read what I think would prepare me for being a pastor. A sampling of what I've read or am reading so far:

Mere Churchianity
Saving Jesus From the Church
A New Kind of Christianity (Brian McLaren)
An Altar in the World (Barbara Brown Taylor)
Peace is Every Step (Thich Naht Hahn)
Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times
The Seven Storey Mountain (Thomas Merton)
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Now that I look at it, pretty impressive list. I hope that I can keep the reading up! I'm not making myself write papers, though. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chorus of Yay!

Yay! My process is progressing! That's about all I can say, but I'm way excited!

I already have 19,000 words on my novel. I think that this is the farthest I have gotten in the total of three years that I have done NaNoWriMo. Yay!

We bought a tall cat tower that "seats" two for a GREAT deal! Yay Petsmart! And they love it!

The weather has gotten cooler, so that is a Yay too. It feels like real fall here, with temps in the 40s and 50s and mostly sunny. The foliage here is lovely. There is a kind of bush that grows around here and all of then are currently turning bright red - it is so pretty!

I think we might be actually really liking it out here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WARNING: Pissed-off theological rant

Now, I don't usually rant angrily (well, more like really really irked) but here goes. Please don't read if you are pregnant or possibly if you are related to me.

I was idling around facebook yesterday when I came across this lovely sentiment:

I'll copy the text here in case for some reason you can't read it:

"From one pumpkin to another - A woman was asked by her co-worker, 'What's it like to be a Christian?' The coworker replied, 'It's like being a pumpkin.' God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

How nice. At first glance this seems like a really neat way for Christians to re-cast the pagan holiday of Halloween (Actually Halloween is from All Hallow's Eve, which began as a celebration the evening before All Saints Day, which is a very Christian holiday, but I digress). But, just for fun, let's go through this together and examine the theological implications of this piece, meaning - what is this saying about God?

1. What's it like to be a Christian? God picks you out of a pumpkin patch, brings you in, and washes the dirt off of you. I really like this part. It's like God is welcoming us into God's love, and there is definitely some baptism language going on. And, after all, God CREATED you, the pumpkin. But then something happens..

2. GOD CUTS THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD OFF!!!!! Well, not really, but something has to go so that...

3. God can scoop out all the yucky pumpkin goop. Let's think about this for a minute. God created the pumpkin, and the pumpkin needs the "yucky" stuff to live and grow. It's like the pumpkin's internal organs. Does that mean that God does not like our internal organs and would like to remove our liver? Perhaps not. But I AM troubled by the implications behind how God is treating the pumpkin that God created - by removing things that the pumpkin needed to live that we, non-pumpkins have deemed to be gross. Livers are gross, but we need them to live. Does this mean that God does not like bodies (physical beings)???

4. I'm all about God taking away the seeds of hate and greed. Maybe you could add fear and selfishness. But doubt? Why doesn't God just remove our brains (see above)? By doubt I am assuming that the writer means asking questions - once we believe in God, all our questions will be answered. And if we still have questions, we don't have enough faith/trust. Let me just remind you about Job, who complained to God for just about an entire book of the Bible, and then God told him he had it right.

5. Christians still feel hate, greed, and doubts. At least I do.

6. "Then He carves you a NEW SMILING FACE"?!?!?! Not only does this make me think of the joker from the latest Batman movie ("wanna know how I got these scars?"), but this seems to imply, at least to me, that once we believe in God, we will be so happy all the time, our smiles will practically be carved on our faces. So God is going to carve up your insides and you are going to be happy about it. Bad things will never ever happen to you, but if they do, you will be happy about it. Or it's your own fault. (See again the Book of Job)

I think this is a point I make in nearly every one of my sermons: Jesus never promised us an easy or happy life, but Jesus did promise to be with us and in us.

The God I worship created us GOOD. The God I worship is not a spiritual/emotional/psychological/physical mutilator. The God I worship did not promise me a happy life.

The God I worship IS about the business of death and resurrection, helping me to daily die to my old self and rise up into new life, over an over again, as many times as it takes until I die for real. I have not "arrived;" no one has. This crazy Christian life that we're called to is not a passive pumpkin surgery, but instead it is a journey of discipleship, through good times and bad.

What I am trying to get at is that things we say about God actually SAY things about God. 

That's my take. Take it or leave it. Now I kind of feel better.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 5!

8,000+ words already!

I am most definitely enjoying the fall weather around here - not counting that crazy Nor'easter we got last week with 2 inches of snow! The snow is gone now and it has been around 50 degrees and wonderful. Layers! I love wearing layers.

Beau has been feeling poorly off and on for the last couple of weeks, and he finally went to see someone about it. Apparently he has "Sinusitis," which is basically an infection of the sinuses due to complications of a cold and allergies. He's got antibiotics and we got an air purifier for the bedroom so he can sleep better at night.

We had two trick-or-treaters. But we had supper with a good friend from seminary and watched the Luther movie! Yay! Happy Reformation Day!
.

I'm currently enjoying a recent book by Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity. Seriously, read this book.

I wish I had more to share, but I don't. Still waiting. I should write the 95 Theses of Waiting: How Not to Loose Your Marbles. Oh, wait.... ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo

Here is an excerpt of the beginning of my novel for your enjoyment:


When she woke up, Abigail was completely disoriented. She had no idea where she was, what time it was, or why she was waking up in a strange bed. The room was utterly dark and she had the feeling as if she was being suspended in space and time. She also realized she had a terrible headache and every muscle in her body groaned with stiffness. Slowly the room began to take shape as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. It was a small room with just enough space for a desk and a bed under the dark window. There was her suitcase next to the desk, unopened. Her cane was perched next to the bed. The air-conditioner above the door hummed away in an attempt to take the damp edge out of the air to create an atmosphere more comfortable for sleeping. Abigail realized that she was rather warm.
She somehow found the motivation to reach over to the bedside stand and grab her cell phone, touching the screen in an effort to find the time and end this disconcerting feeling of being out of time. After a moment of blindness from the lit screen, her brain tried to comprehend the numbers that flashed across it: 4:06 AM. 4:06 A.M. Wait, that means it’s morning, she thought sluggishly. But why was she awake so early? And why did she feel as if she had been run over by a bus, mentally and physically.

She remembered in a rush that took her breath away. Her graduation. Her decision to go do seminary in Hong Kong. The conversation with her parents. Her 16 hour flight over about a dozen time zones. The bus ride in the dark and the cab up the mountain and someone helping her with her bags and collapsing on the bed.

She looked at the window, where the every so slight blush of dawn was illuminating palm fronds from a tree right outside her window. Oh good God, she thought. She made it. She was really here, at the Lutheran Seminary at Hong Kong.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Yay! Something to keep my occupied - writing a novel in 30 days! What is NaNoWriMo? I'm glad you asked!

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.


Here is a brief synopsis of my novel, called When the Mountains Sing:

Abigail's parents pretty much flipped when she announced to her agnostic family on the day of her college graduation that not only was she going to seminary, she was traveling to a mountain in Hong Kong to do it. There is one more complication - she has a mild form of spina bifida, which makes walking difficult, but not impossible for normal circumstances. But how will she be able to handle herself, alone, in a foreign country, at a school at the top of a mountain? Fortunately along the way she meets several interesting students and professors, and through her experiences, authentically encounters God and deepens her understanding of the meaning of suffering, both personal and communal. 

It all begins on Tuesday, November 1! Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Story

Inspired by the moving testimony from a dear friend from college living in Kansas, I too will share briefly why I consider myself part of the 99%. I grew up on a small dairy farm, where my parents and brothers still farm. Life was fairly simple. I didn't have a cell phone and we didn't have a computer till I was in 8th grade, and no internet until high school.We got by, but we were never really well-off.  I'd been on the free or reduced hot lunch program since I can remember, except for one year when we made "too much". That was the year of ham sandwiches for lunch. That was one year out of twelve, for a family of six. But I had clothes and food and books, and that was enough for me. When I wanted something, I saved my birthday money.

Being self-employed, crappy insurance was just another reality for us. Sadly, seminary insurance was a step up for me, and to me, being on ELCA insurance is like a dream! 

Now, my husband and I both went to a private college and to seminary, with the debt to show for it. Similarly to my friend, it would be very financially challenging for us right now to have a child. We are currently doing fine, but that's because we make good decisions (most of the time). But there are many things that we can't do right now, like visiting our families in the Midwest.

Both my husband and I are lucky to be working in a field that gives us great meaning to our lives. But many people don't have that option, and I mourn for them.

This is why I am part of the 99%.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can you hear me now? Good!


This past week was vacation week for us! On Tuesday we rode the train into NYC to go see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which took us nearly all day to see! We had no idea that when we got to Battery Park to get the tickets, there would be lines, lines, and more lines waiting for us: lines to get onto the ferry (and to go through a security check point) lines to get into the museum and pedestal of Lady Liberty, lines to get back on the ferry to get the Ellis Island...

But I think over all it was worth it. It was exciting to be in NYC for the very first time and it was cool to see Lady Liberty up close and personal (she's hollow on the inside). The exhibits at Ellis Island were very interesting, since some of our relatives might have passed through there. We even saw a brochure advertising Minnesota from that period! How lost and lonely people must have felt in the great hall, especially when they didn't speak the language.

Here we learned something interesting - only steerage passengers where subjected to the health check. But if you had the money to upgrade to second class, you wouldn't even have to mess with Ellis Island. It was also interesting to see that at the Statue of Liberty, if you had purchased the Crown Tickets (to go all the way up, which were rare and pricey) you got to skip the rest of the line waiting to go through security at the statue - you got to go right to the head of the line. The steerage class is very much alive in many ways.

We were pretty beat by the end of the day, so we decided to skip our other plans to see the 9/11 memorial and Times Square. There is plenty of opportunities to go back, since it is so close! One more thing about NYC - the NJ transit commuter trains were lovely, but the subway is hot and smelly and crowded. We had a much more pleasant experience riding public transit while in Hong Kong. And Penn Station is rather confusing for a couple of first timers (but we didn't get lost).

In other news, last week I had an initial interview with a call committee, and Saturday evening I preached my "trial sermon" at a church nearby, which is the home church of a good friend of ours. As it turns out, I had been there before, in college, when a bunch of us decided to spend a week in NJ. Only God knew then that I would be living here someday!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cluster outing!

Where can you experience 7 people in a van going to see the Faces of Jesus? The Mercer County Cluster, the best cluster ever!

Linda was so kind to offer me a spare ticket to the Rembrandt "Faces of Jesus Exhibit" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I had been to the museum a number of years ago while adventuring through NJ with a friend from the Cherry Hill area - who would have know that we would have ended up here these many years later!?!?

The exhibit itself was fascinating. Up until this time (the 1600s) every painting of Jesus was based on three items: an icon from hundreds of years before, a letter supposedly written describing Jesus by a Roman official during Jesus lifetime (never ever heard of this before) and the famed Veronia's Veil. All seemed to have characterized Jesus with a stern and distant expression, harsh nose, and pale features. Rembrandt decided to paint his Jesuses using, not only a real life model which had never been done before, but a model of MIDDLE EASTERN decent, namely, a Jewish man (as you can see, not exactly your typical "Norwegian Jesus"). This was extremely controversial for his day.

The highlight of the exhibit was seven smallish portraits of Jesus to be used for different larger scenes. Looking at these faces were very moving for me. Seeing Jesus with a very human face and very human expressions gave me the feeling that this was a Jesus that I could reach out and touch, and that he would reach back. Out of all the art about Jesus that I have seen over my lifetime, I think these have been the most striking, the most memorable. I am very glad that I went.

After the exhibit we ate lunch in the cafeteria and made nerdy jokes about some of more vapid looking versions of Jesus, then spent some time wandering around the armory and getting lost. Much fun was had by all. :)

Today I have been preparing my heart and mind for my upcoming interview, which is fast on the heels of Beau's installations service. I have also been working on my "trial" sermon, which, oddly enough, is going to happen at the home congregation of the aforementioned New Jersey friend. God is certainly very funny, indeed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stuff I found in the dryer...

Over the last few days I have beginning to feel a bit antsy again. My "time off" has been fine - watching interesting documentaries on Netflix, reading books I've meant to read in forever (currently finishing up Seven Years in Tibet), making home and cooking (and blogging). I've been having crazy thoughts like: I'll join the local chapter of Friends of Sabeel! Maybe go down to the conference in DC! Or maybe I can attend the conference in NYC with Thich Naht Hanh! Or go protest with Occupy Wall Street! Or maybe volunteer, say at the soup kitchen in Trenton. Anything! Give me something to do! (besides laundry...)

Beau says I should continue to enjoy my time off (he would say that :)) Then he reminded me that I have an interview next Sunday and I will need to write my sermon before then because we'll be on vacation the week before I preach. Yikes! That means I'll have to get on that one. At least I won't have to preach on one of those really challenging parables of Jesus in Matthew. In three years, I will pay my dues on that one...

Nothing terribly special planned for the vacay, just a day trip into NYC to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the 9/11 Memorial. Someday we'll be able to afford to see more. We also sometime want to spend a week in DC taking care of our "West Wing" fix. Boston is on our list to see as well.

I almost forgot to mention that we went "down the shore" last week! The place was nearly deserted, so we had practically the whole beach to ourselves. We stood in awe of the rolling waves of the ocean, the hugeness of it, and the taste of salt and sand on our lips. The ocean is really big, by the way.We had fun collecting shells and racing the waves. Then we went to the aquarium at Point Pleasant Beach and saw some cool fish and sharks. We finished the day in the most perfect way - a caramel apple, which is one of my favorite parts of fall. It was delish.

Our place is finally really looking like a home. Check out our living room, where nearly every piece of furniture is from IKEA!

Here you can see Patches looking out the window at the birdfeeder. We have been visited by many birds, and unfortunately many squirrels too. I'm trying to figure out how to sneak the door open when the squirrels are here so that the cats can give them a good scare. Haven't succeeded yet. I also don't know if the cats would have any idea what to do if they DID catch one. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wells Fargo Listens!

This just made my day.

A few weeks ago I sent an old Visa card that we use through Wells Fargo BACK to the their headquarters. I sent it there a) because I had gotten a new one and b) nearly credit card, including those from WF are made of PVC plastic, a cheap and toxic material that is hazardous at all stages of its "life." Now that I was through with it, I didn't just want to throw it away and have it leech toxicness into one of seven (or more) toxic waste dumps within New Jersey. Thanks to a tip from Annie Leonard's fantastic book The Story of Stuff, I send my old card back to the "manufacturer" with a letter detailing the noxious effects of PVC. I also challenged them to live up to their professed commitment to the environment. I did my part for this one time, and that was that. Next thing please.

Until today.

Here is (parts of) a letter I just received from WF:

Dear Lydia Nelson: 


Thank you for returning your VISA card to Wells Fargo Bank, since you now have a new one... Your letter expressing your concerns about the PVC, which can be contained in plastic cards, was referred to Wells Fargo Customer Connection for review and response. 


Our Vision and Values addresses the fact that Wells Fargo has an environmental commitment to run our company as efficiently as possible, reducing paper and energy use. We have set a goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, have a comprehensive recycling program, and are using energy-saving design elements in our new banking stores. Your feedback, encouraging Wells Fargo to lead the charge in stopping the use of PVC in our credit and debit cards, has been forwarded to the appropriate management personnel, in order to be considered when making future business decisions.


We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to make us aware of your concerns and for providing an opportunity to improve our service. (The rest is about how to contact them for further questions).

HOW COOL IS THAT!!! Can YOUR bank do that? Thanks, Wells Fargo, for responding for one person trying to make a small difference in the world. Hopefully someday soon we be one step closer to ridding ourselves of PVC.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Treatise on Living in the Tropics

or: how to live in a climate where you can eat a slice of the air for breakfast.

This is a work in progress, but I thought I would share a few thoughts on how to best adapt to living in a steam bath. Please, if anyone has additional tips, please comment! (Many of these are geared toward my women friends)

You are going to sweat.
Running, walking, standing doing nothing - if you are outside, you will be sweaty. You also might be sweaty when you're inside too.

Temperature has nothing to do with what you should wear for the day.
Today it is 73 degrees. In MN, that you could totally get away with pants and a light sweater. Here, you would die of heatstroke in 30 seconds if you wore that many layers. Ok, maybe not. But it sure feels warmer that 73 out there.

AC is your friend.
I also have the AC on today. Actual temperature has nothing to do with that either.

Make sure your deodorant is up to the task.
This may be TMI, but I switched my deodorant not long after we moved here. For a while now I have refused to buy deodorant with more than 14% aluminum zinc-whatever, which is what stops you from sweating in the first place. It's a metal that is less than good for your body. But it also does the job really well. My previous deodorant was at 10% and that just wasn't cutting it. I tried Secret Natural Mineral (unscented) and it works all day, which is like a miracle. It's at 18%, but that is the price I pay for not being a stinky pastor-in-waiting!

Find a foundation that is also up to the task.
I also switched to Origins liquid foundation, which has great coverage but doesn't feel heavy or cause me to break out. That brings me to...

Take extra good care of your skin.
Humidity and heat can be brutal. I got my very first heat rash on my arms from being outside yesterday and not being careful of what I was wearing (a new lightweight layering shirt that I hadn't washed yet - usually not a problem unless you are sweating!). Some of these are no-brainers, but it helps to be intentional - shower daily, dry off thoroughly, use a dry towel (sometimes our towels don't completely dry from day to day), change clothes if needed. The point is to keep skin as clean and dry as possible.

And hair.
Unless your like my husband and shave your head, your hair will feel the humidity and respond: FRIZZ! Hair products (to a point) are your friend. So is the hairdryer on the cool setting.

Dry clothes completely.
I think I have been able to hang-dry clothes outside twice since we moved. In MN, you can get away with folding a t-shirt that is just a teensy bit damp.  Not here.

Care of fruits and veggies.
They will go bad sooner that you think if you don't watch. Already we've bought strawberries and spinach that were bad the day after we bought them. Be vigilant! Buy fresh and then eat it soon! Or cook it.

Buy some rain gear,
Umbrellas, jackets, rain boots... I have yet to buy rain boots, but they are the next thing on my list. When it rains here, it rains all day, and often floods. There is nowhere for the water to go, so massive puddles form everywhere, especially in parking lots. Perhaps something like this could be fun, no?

(from the Target website, too bad it is out of stock)

That's all I got for now - stay dry, all!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Advent in September

Being in this land of in-between-ness (post-graduation/pre-call) has given me more time to think than I really care for. It has given me some time to set up house, do some reading and catching up, and re-teach myself how to cook meals that don't come in a box. I've been able to do some yoga and working out. I've explored some of the area - including finding the Target, all three Shop-Rite, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's, and discovering that now T.J Maxx is my favorite store. I've met plenty of wonderful people at Beau's church. I attend and contribute to the weekly lectionary study with our cluster-mates. But it's hard to shake the feeling that I'm doing what I was supposed to be doing. While Beau, praise be to God, is digging into his context and really getting his hands dirty, I am waiting.

Then God says, here, read this...

"We would like to have death and resurrection put together within one hour of each other. We cannot face the thought that God would keeps us aside for so long a time; we cannot bear to wait. And of course I cannot tell you how long he will take, but in principle I think it is quite safe to say this, that there will be a definite period when he will keep you there. It will seem as though nothing is happening; as though everything you have valued is slipping through your grasp. There confronts you a blank wall with no door in it. Seemingly everyone else is being blessed and used, while you yourself have been passed by and are loosing out. Lie quiet. All is in darkness, but it is only for a night." (The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee)

Waiting is hardest when we are in the middle of it, right? And it isn't a silent waiting; it is a time filled with questions: who am I, really? Is my identity to be defined by my work, or in my case lack of work? (What do I put down when the form asks for "occupation"?) Is my value calculated by how I am using  my (rather expensive) education? What do I have to contribute when I don't yet have a "context"? Am I hiding my lamp under a bowl, even unintentionally?

I didn't expect this to be easy, but I thought perhaps it would be less hard. I think we all dreamed about leading a congregation into the excitement of fall, not jumping on the train after it has left the station. But God I think has given me a new dream: how beautiful would it be to begin ordained ministry during the season of Advent, the season of waiting and hoping? As one promise is fulfilled, another lifetime of promise unfolds. Advent is my favorite season, where anticipation itself is a joy we experience together.

It just feels right to end like this:


O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A lovely day for an ordination!

Yesterday was just beautiful, in so many ways - the perfect day for an ordination!

Beau's sister Shelly arrived the night before from Richmond VA, where she and her family moved literally weeks before our move. They now live about 6 hours away, which makes them the closest family we have out here. We were so glad that she was able to see Beau lead worship and preach in the morning. Then we ate out for lunch and then Shelly and I went to Whole Foods while Beau left for Trenton to arrive early. Shelly and I had a good time finding organic and local treasures and we made it to the church in plenty of time, even though the cathedral is not in the best part of town.

The service was beautiful. Through taking his vows, I was able to stand behind Beau holding the beautiful stole that my mom made for him, and I helped Pastor Tracie, his sponsoring pastor (and also assistant to the bishop) place the stole on his shoulders when the time came. The laying on of hands was an especially beautiful moment. I feel like I'm saying beautiful a lot, but that's just what it was. I was so proud to be there supporting Beau. I know that my time will come, but it was ok that it is not yet. (But it will be coming!) Resurrection Lutheran also made an excellent showing, which was so wonderful. It was great to see so many familiar faces!

Here is a picture of the lovely stole on this new pastor, along with a pastor friend from Luther Seminary who will be studying at Princeton Seminary for her PH.D:

Pastor he is, through and through. We were so exhausted after all the festivities that we got a pizza and ice cream, watched West Wing, and went to bed!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stretching

Beau is getting ordained at the end of this week!! We are so excited! My made Beau an ordination stole, and she really out-did herself this time. She is an awesome seamstress, but she did some amazing work. I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures at the ordination so you all can see it. He is getting ordained at a church in Trenton with three others, one of whom was called about a week ago. Beau and I would have liked to have been ordained together, but it is better this way. Rushing my process wouldn't help anyone. Beau's sister is coming for the weekend, and I'm excited to see her. She, her husband, and kids recently moved to the Richmond area in VA, so they are our nearest family - about 7 hours away!

We had breakfast with the pastors in our cluster today, which is a monthly occurrence. It's nice to know that are colleagues are all great people! AND more great food was had by all!

 I joined a yoga class at the gym finally this morning, and it was very good! I think I'll try to make this a weekly thing. I really enjoy stretching my muscles and getting in touch with my body. It helps me remember that, yes, I DO have a body and I'm not just a floating brain. I've also been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace is Every Step, which is about finding peace in the awareness of the present moment. During yoga, either I am thinking about staying in the pose, or I try not to think at all. I think this will help my shoulders and neck, which is where I tend to carry my stress.

I once heard an Indian-American speak about the word Namaste, which means "the god in me sees/acknowledges the god within you." This woman used this word from a Hindu context and re-purposed it: she taught us that it could also mean "Christ within me sees/acknowledges Christ within you." I thought this was a very powerful reflection about what it means to truly encounter people. Now when I hear it, such as today at yoga, I think of her and of her "translation." I also think of Jame' Cameron's movie Avatar, where the greeting between the super-supple blue cat people is "I see you." How often to we truly take the time to see one another, to acknowledge the human-ness or the child of God-ness in others? Not often enough is probably the answer.

Is this why God invented Skype? :)

Namaste.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New and Old

The apartment is really starting to look like a place that we live, and not just were we keep our boxes! Some time I'll actually have pictures, but we're not quite there yet. The cats continue to enjoy the new digs, and we are currently looking into buying them a tall kitty tower that they can have in front of our sliding glass doors, so they can look out at the birds and squirrels. We're even thinking about getting a bird feeder so they can enjoy the local wildlife. 

Last week we had breakfast with a friend from Luther, currently starting her Ph.D work at Princeton. It was so nice to see a familiar face! We literally live 3 miles from on another. We took her to one of the famous diners over here, and our hatred for Highway 1 was renewed. Sometimes, roads just don't make sense around here. We did a lot of circles, but breakfast was eventually had. And there was much rejoicing (yay)!

Today was the first annual Irish Festival in the Mercer County Park, which is right across from where we live. It was a small but lively affair, with delicious fish and chips. We got a stunning stained glass window for our study: 

Gorgeous! And I also learned that Hughes, the name of the street we live on, means "Fire" in one of the Irish dialects. 

I have been doing some cooking with my time, not just unpacking all day. I've made chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, and today I am trying my hand at chicken parmesan, however you spell it. I've also been able to do a lot of reading, especially some books that I have been meaning to but haven't found the time. I'm also found myself fond of netflix documentaries. There is some really interesting stuff on there. Beau likes to watch West Wing and play Star Trek online to relax, and it helps a lot to get his mind to stop thinking for a while. This week he has a wedding (which he is not actually officiating, since he is not ordained yet) and the 10th anniversary of September 11 to deal with. 

We've come to realize that people around here were (of course) much more effected by what happened on Sept 11. Nearly all the pastors who where here at the time knew people in their congregations who at least had a family member die. People have stories about children not getting picked up after school because their parents were killed. The whole tone here is more that of grief than of anger that we sometimes find more common in the midwest. New York City is an hour from here by car or train. Many people around here commute there to work. Many have been living literally under its shadow. There is a tribute in nearly every park tomorrow, and many churches are holding special services. In his congregation, Beau has decided to used a litany modified from the ELCA website after the Gospel reading (which, interestingly enough, is about forgiveness) and then he is giving a shortened sermon. How to handle this day has come up in many of our lectionary group conversations, and there is no easy way answer. But with God's help, we do the best we can.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birthday in Jersey

Whoa, it's September already! Where did the end of August go? Blown away by Irene, probably. :) Oh yeah, and I got older too. Does it feel strange to be nearing 30? Not really. In the line of work I am going into, older is better - older pastors are respected more than younger ones, right? And being female naturally brings its own problems, so for me, age will only help. At least now when I have interviews I can say that I am 27, which is slightly better than saying I'm 26. 

Today was fairly lazy. Overcast and rainy, thanks to Tropical Storm Lee. Beau brought be breakfast in bed and presented me with a dozen roses. Too bad we had to wait for my gift to arrive in the mail! But arrive it did, and I was not disappointed. One of Beau's parishoners from internship does amazing things with precious stones and wire - the pic does not do it justice. LOVE it! I'll have the classiest ears in all the pulpits in New Jersey! This evening, in between Beau's meetings, we stumbled upon a swanky Asian food place that is yummy, atmospheric, and affordable. MMMMmmmmmmm. Now more chillin till Beau gets home.
The process for me is... processing, I guess! Right now I can report that things will be happening. Beau will be getting ordained on September 18th with three others who have been recently called. It would have been nice to have been ordained together, but it was not meant to be. It's better for my process this way, anyway. No one benefits from rushing. I just feel better that there has been some movement. 

Tonight I will leave you with lyrics from one of my most favorite songs ever, to remember where I was a year ago and to imagine what the future will hold for us a year from now.

"Seasons of Love"

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Seasons of love. Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

It's time now to sing out,
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Seasons of love!

Oh you got to got to
Remember the love!
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love spread love
Measure, measure your life in love.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hot off the Press!!!

I had a "first date with a congregation" today! I think that I can say that it went very well. Unfortunately at this point I can't say anything more, but at least I can say that this gets the process going for me! I am so thrilled to be thinking about a congregation in a real way, that it is no longer theoretical.

We made another big step into adulthood - we joined a gym. A nice gym. With all kinds of classes (including yoga, yay!). And a TV at every eliptical and treadmill! It is a NICE gym. And only 2 minutes away!

The unpacking continues.... seemingly endlessly. The kitchen is mostly done, just getting things in the places we want them. Most of our books are unpacked too. The bathroom has been done for a while. Our dining room and living room are still  mostly disasters, but getting better slowly over time. We finally put all of our clothes in the closet! I guess we're here to stay. :) I feel like I have nothing better to report for the time being.

Tomorrow's adventure: the Department of Motor Vehicles for changing our licenses and our plates. No more MN targets on our cars! :)





Sunday, August 28, 2011

The sun just came out, if you can believe that...

We still have some pretty gusty winds going on here, though. I'm not going to lie, last night was pretty rough. The power went out at about 11 PM, and we could hear the loud rain and wind outside. Beau had gotten weather alerts on his phone since we don't have a weather radio, so we were aware of the two separate tornado warnings during the night. Every room in this apartment has windows, even the bathroom, so we sat in our bedroom closet at about 3 in the morning until the warning expired. We woke up to wind and a little rain, but for the most part I feel like we dodged a bullet compared to other parts of the state. We even had power this morning.

We went for a short walk around to check out what was damaged, and we didn't find that much - just a lot of branches down.



Thanks for all your prayers! I think they worked!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Preparations

As the days wear on, it seems more and more real, that this is really happening - we are going to be hit by a hurricane. Granted, Irene has been downgraded to a category 1, but that is kind of like saying we're going to be hit by an F1 not an F2 tornado - it's still a freaking tornado, or in this case, it is still a freaking hurricane.

Services at Resurrection are cancelled for tomorrow, but still on for this evening. We're filling all our water up and have gathered supplies. Since this is pretty new to me, I thought it might be fun to chronicle our preparations:

Flowers are now inside, so they don't blow away. Can you guess what color is my favorite? :)



 Fridge is filled with water and foodstuffs.

Cats are... taking everything in stride. :)



Friday, August 26, 2011

First an Earthquake, now Hurrican Irene...

...Welcome to New Jersey! And what a welcome indeed. First, the earth shook beneath our feet on Tuesday - well, actually I was sitting on the couch wondering what in the world was being moved and why was it shaking the whole apartment? It was only later when I checked Facebook that I saw on nearly everyone's status stuff about the earthquake. Nothing was damaged, it was just freaky.

Next, we hear that Hurrican Irene is headed this way. Everyone is freaking out a bit - there were lines forming at gas stations and Shoprite was super crowded (and the shelves with cans and bottled water were pretty empty already). Landfall here should be Sunday morning - the bishop here advised cancellation of services even, but it is up to local pastors to decide. The Jersey shore is closed off completely. We really have no idea yet how bad it will be this far inland; we'll just have to wait and see. We've located our candles and matches in our stuff, found some batteries and flashlights, and have some canned goods ready to go. I really hope we don't have to eat cold peas and green beans, though. :)

On a more positive note, we have officially surpassed a milestone for adulthood, at least in my weird little mind. We have a real bed frame with a headboard. No more box spring (which was damaged in the move) and iron frame stuff for us! We are well on our way to becoming an IKEA catalog! I don't know, for some ready this  makes me feel like I have passed through some sacred threshold that only people with real apartments with real jobs can pass. Another cool thing is that I constructed it myself, while Beau was at the office. Just call me "Rosie" with the mad drilling skills! Beau was super impressed. :)

In other news, I am going to have to wait another week before knowing what is going on in the process. In the meantime, you should all send me letters so that I have something to read when I want a break from unpacking!