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I want to put a plug in for World Next Door and Barry Rodriguez Photography.  WND is a social justice travel magazine, but only in part. I’d venture to say it is so much more.  Yes, a huge thrust is reporting about social justice issues worldwide, making them visible, but the interns and volunteers also get involved with organizations while they are learning, reporting, photographing their experiences.  They are not idle observers, but active participants.  I am a huge fan of this organization, and I really think you should check them out.  Read the blogs, get involved, start caring.

Now, Barry Rodriguez is the founder/director of WND.  Which is crazy because I think he’s around my age, not much older if older at all.  (Side question: how does a person manage to have their head straight so young while I feel like I am still floundering?)  I happen to have a pedestal crush on this man, which I can admit on my blog.  (We’re twitter friends, so clearly I can’t announce it there.)

All that to say, Barry photographs his travels and experiences, also.  He has some great stuff, and it’s available for purchase. If you buy prints from his WND albums, all the proceeds go to WND.  I recently purchased four prints, one from the Kenya album, one from the India album and two from his Sightseeing album.  They are gorgeous.  And, when I announced on Twitter that I’d received them in the mail, Barry asked if I knew the stories behind the ones I’d picked and knew which ones I’d purchased.  (I suppose this could be that not many people are aware of his photography site yet, or it could be that he just cares about his work. Or, let’s be honest: he’s probably secretly in love with me from my twitter feed.  Which would make sense.)

Really, folks, check it out.  Consider purchasing some pictures; you won’t regret supporting this organization.

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Quick note: I’m feeling exponentially better today. I had a good talk with a friend yesterday, AND I finally am going to start going to counseling this week. I just feel like I’m not handling things as well as I want to, so I’m hopeful at the prospect of having someone help me figure out what’s going on.

I wish I had the space, the time, the energy to write about all the things I’m thinking about in regard to what I’m learning lately.  One of the books I’m reading is 20th Century Theology by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson.  I was wary at first, but other than being a heavy read, this book is superb.  I’m finally starting to understand a bit of what’s gone on in the last century or so in regard to theology.  I wish I had read this in undergrad.

One of the things that is funny to me is that I want to find something good in every person I read about.  That is, I always find at least one idea that I could get on board with, and then they end up being entirely heretical or just delving into bad theology or abandoning Christianity entirely.  It’s rather disappointing at times.

One in particular that I want to love is Bonhoeffer.  From my undergrad, I never got the impression that he was much to care about.  I don’t know where I got that idea, but there I had it.  But reading about him makes me want to read his works, and as far as I can see, I can get on board with his writings and ideas… up until he was involved in an assassination plot.  But should I completely discount his life up until that point simply because I disagree with the direction he chose to go in the end?  I hope not.

A quote I liked in particular: “It is only by living completely in this world that one learns to believe.  One must abandon every attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, a converted sinner, a churchman (the priestly type, so-called!) a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one.  This is what I mean by worldliness–taking life in one’s stride…. It is in such a life that we throw ourselves utterly into the arms of God and participate in his sufferings in the world.” -Bonhoeffer

Just stuff to think about.

I don’t know what’s going on with me lately, emotionally, that is.  I even cried last night.  Not a lot, just a little, but it’s still out of the ordinary for me.  (Although, on that subject, being able to cry is superior to not being able to cry. I need to work on that.)

I don’t know if I just feel overwhelmed by school.  Or if I’m just not where I wish I was (even if I know I’m where I ought to be).  Maybe it’s stress about what I’m going to do when I’m done with my degree.  Or maybe I’m just not equipped for life.

I try to pass off that I’m secure and confident in who I am.  And in some ways, I am.  But no matter how much I try to not care and try to pretend I don’t, I care entirely too much about what others think of me.  I want to be liked (who doesn’t?).  But I don’t want to have to change who I am in order to be liked.  I want genuine friends who appreciate me.  Not as a novelty or someone to poke fun at or to get things from, but for me as who I am.  I don’t want to be too much, I want to be just enough.

Apparently in the Shema, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, there’s the part that says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might. In the Hebrew, the word we translate as might is the word “muchness.”  My Hebrew prof loves that, as did myself and another classmate.  We three (all females) feel as if we know what it’s like to have muchness.  And God has allowed it and asked us to love Him with it.  It’s comforting.

I don’t think a bit of muchness is a bad thing to have.

Today, I made Taco Soup for dinner (and subsequent leftovers for the week).  I found a recipe online that looked good, but in typical fashion, I changed it significantly.  I put it in the crock pot this mid morning, so it was ready for me this evening when I got out of Greek.  Delightful.

The original ingredients: ground beef, onion, diced green chilis, pinto beans, lima beans, kidney beans, white hominy, stewed tomatoes, pkg taco seasoning, pkg ranch dressing mix, water, salt & pepper.

My rendition: ground beef, kidney beans, pinto beans, onion, green chilis, white hominy, diced tomatoes, tomato soup, taco seasoning (homemade), salt.

I ate it with grated cheddar on top.  So delicious.  And I have a feeling mine turned out better than if I had followed the original.  I think it turned into something closer to chili.  Kind of.  Definitely soup, though.

I’m telling you, I love cooking/baking. I was having a terrible day earlier, then I went into my kitchen, put together my soup, and the day improved by leaps and bounds.

I keep this secret (in real life) so that conservative men stay away from me.

Yeah, I know.

I keep waking up early, anxious.  Yesterday it was about the amount of Greek and other homework I have to get done by the end of today.  Today it was about having to move and not knowing where to go or what to do (not that this will be a real problem until closer to graduation in May).  I try to talk myself out of the anxiety, but I just end up getting up instead, since by then I am wide awake.

So it’s Saturday morning, and I’ve been up since 6am.  And I’ve showered and dressed, but haven’t had breakfast because goodness knows I don’t know what to have.

Small decisions become big decisions when you feel overwhelmed.

And all I really want is to be married, have a family and live a simple life in the country (or pseudo-country) with a cute little ranch style home, a willow tree in the front yard and a vegetable garden out back.

Is this too much to ask?

Too many questions!

Should I attend a home community?  Should I make time for theology pub?  Should I write my thesis on gender?  Should I continue school after this year?  I’m clearly blessed with the ability to learn languages easily, how do I use that in my life?  What will I do after this year?  What will I do, ever?  Why am I still single?  (Why? What? How? When? Where?)

Yes. Yes. Yes. Probably not? I have no idea. Who knows. Good question. Only God knows.

There, most of the answers I’ve given myself.  But I am haunted by the fear that I am making the wrong decisions all the time.

Theologically, I don’t think that’s possible.  Even if I made the so-called wrong decision, I believe that God turns all things into good for those who love Him.  But regardless of that, if I am walking in His will, listening to His counsel, He is not leading me down the “wrong” path.

So what am I so worried about?

…maybe I should stop after a MABS.  I could do something useful with my life. I don’t always have to chase after the next degree.  Right?

I need to find an official decision maker for my life.

Technically that is God.

But I mean someone who will figure it out for me.

I know. You can’t trust me if I tell you I’m going to be done with school.  You just shouldn’t.  Humor me, but never believe me.

Because, believe it or not, I’ve already decided that I might as well get my ThM before quitting (ha).  You see, my degree at the moment is relatively useless when it comes to finding a paying job.  But a ThM is a teaching degree, so I’d at least have the option/hope of finding an associate professorship somewhere.

With that in mind, and considering I’d decided I don’t want a ThM at my current school (too ministry oriented, and not quite enough of an academic reputation), I’ve realized I need to make a few decisions.  Originally I was going to do an MDiv equivalency and get into the ThM program here.  But as I no longer want to do that, I’m realizing that simply getting an MDiv might be in my best interest.

Therefore, I’m looking at switching into the MDiv TS (Theological Studies) program here.  It would be about two more years, but it would give me an easy in to the schools I’m looking at for a ThM.  And I’d get to take more languages (which is a plus), although I guess I’d have to take a bunch of other classes too (homiletics, yuck).  And I don’t think there’s an internship, although I don’t promise that.

I’m not sure if this next bit is a plus or a negative: I’m not sure a Thesis is required, but I bet there’s space in the program through electives.  (Whoever thought of writing a thesis for an elective?)  But that means I could push it off another year… haha.  Yes, anything to push off writing my thesis.  But perhaps this time I’d be more dedicated to reading and getting preliminary research done?

I’m meeting with an adviser at 2pm today to discuss the switch.

I make life decisions at the drop of a hat.

Yesterday, I had my first Sabbath in over a year.  And it was delightful.  Now I remember why it’s so important to take a Sabbath rest.  First and foremost, because it’s God’s gift of rest to us.  But also because (perhaps as a part of that) I cannot face doing school seven days a week.  I just can’t.  So, ironically, or perhaps fittingly, because I took yesterday off, I actually felt ready to face today.  And this is not going to be an isolated incident: I’m going to make accepting the Sabbath a priority once again in my life.  God has never let me down in the past, certainly He won’t now.

In other thoughts, I somehow need to learn to integrate my inner self with the self I project to the general public.  I think this is most noticeable in me in regard to men.  If you only listened to me jabber on, and never sat down in a so-called heart to heart conversation, you might actually think I have a pretty low opinion of men in general.  This is not at all true, as those of you who know me know.  I’m not against men, nor relationships.  I am content single, but I don’t want to necessarily stay that way.  It’s just that it is easier if I do, and I’m okay if that happens.  It’s not perhaps my desire, but I’ll accept my lot in life.

Only, I think my lot in life might be improved if I was a bit truer to myself in public conversation.  Something to work on.

And, finally, I think Hebrew is beginning to click, to make sense.  There is hope!

So I made these homemade baked mozzarella sticks tonight.  And it wasn’t exactly a success, but it wasn’t a failure, either.  Here are my recommendations, if you should ever feel led to try: freeze your cheese sticks first, put some Italian seasoning in the breading, and for the breading, just make a thick batter with egg and flour.  I really mean thick.  (Did you ever do deep fried Oreos covered with pancake batter?  Think thicker.  And also, now I want a deep fried Oreo.)  Then bake it at 400 for 8-10 minutes until crispy, and hopefully not exploded.  But even if it explodes, it’s still tasty.

I’m also making homemade re-fried beans (minus the re-fry) in my NEW crock-pot.  They should be ready in a little less than an hour. I hope they’re tasty because it’s a new recipe for me.  I’m making homemade enchiladas tomorrow (with homemade enchilada sauce) and I wanted to be able to offer some typical sides.

Speaking of crock-pots, I finally have embraced my single state of being and purchased a wee little 2qt crock-pot.  It’s beautiful, though.  And I can’t wait to use it all. the. time.