Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

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


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? :)


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! :)