Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The guy in the coffee shop thinks I'm crazy

Maybe it's because when he asked me how I was doing, I said: "Excited!!" I don't know if he was too, or just humoring me. I'm going to be honest; this morning felt a little like Christmas. I have plenty of things to say, I'm just not sure how to put them into coherent sentences. Check out my husband, Travis', thoughts on the election/Obama presidency here. He expresses many of my thoughts in a much more eloquent way than I am capable of at this time. I blame grad school on draining all of my creative juices.

Speaking of school, that's where I am now (or ALWAYS). Wednesdays are my long day. I get here around 8 am and my last class gets out at 5 pm. I realize this is a the length of a normal work day for most people, but when you're used to working independently, at your own pace on things, this long stretch is difficult. At least it is for me. I'd much rather be at school for 9 hours if it could be spent writing, reading or studying. Sitting in classes all day can be draining. I have a break (now), which is nice. I usually spend it with several of my friends, but today everyone is MIA. Thus leaves Amy, sipping coffee and trying to be studious and productive.

I need desperately to be productive because I'll be gone all weekend. I'm going home from Friday til Monday. Woo!!! I'm super excited to see friends and family, but also because I'll get to go to my friend Valerie's baby shower! I feel like I've missed out on a lot of big things in my friends' lives (engagements, weddings, pregnancies) in FL because we've been up here. It's so hard to be engaged in life here and keep an ear and eye on things at home. I talk to my family every week and still get a twinge of jealousy sometimes when they talk about things they did together. Most of my friends are spread out over the state, but at least they're still in Fl; they can visit more often and come home for big events and such. All this has lead me to realize I probably want us to end up in FL when we settle down. Not that I expect that to be anytime soon. I still have 2.5 years of school left and then we'll probably move wherever Travis wants to go to school/where I can get a job.

Settling down for me essentially means babies and career-focused jobs and buying a house. Most days I'm content to know that these things are a few years off. However, lately I've totally been feeling the maternal nudge. It most likely has to do with the fact that several of my friends are pregnant or have babies. I've known from a fairly young age that I was supposed to be a mom. Now that it's just a matter of time (hopefully), I'm getting impatient. Not that I feel particularly ready to be a mom.....but who does?

Now, don't all of you go out and buy baby clothes. I'm just saying that I'm excited. And maybe that I'll be ready sooner than I thought...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ah democracy

It's not even 10 am on election day and I already feel like my blood pressure has shot up 10 pts. And I've been purposely avoiding watching/reading the news. That's a lie, I did watch Obama cast his vote. Which took like 15 minutes and is surely not an encouragement to those people who think they can vote on their lunch hour or something. Not that democracy should always be convenient, but still...

While perusing my favorite sites this morning, I did come across this:

Nothing screams "president" like baked goods.

I'm sure this won't be my last post today. Too much nervous energy makes Amy a good blogger, I guess.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

I like watching Travis laugh

This update isn't just for Chelsea. But mostly.

I'm supposed to be writing a paper (I know, surprise, surprise) but instead I'm snuggling with Margot and watching Travis watch Conan O'Brien on DVR. When I say I'm watching Travis, don't think I'm creepy; I am purposefully not facing the TV so that I'll write and not watch it, but obviously it's not working too well.

This past week was Fall Break (ahem, I mean Reading Week). I did so much reading.....of my tween-vampire-romance novel. Which is totally my guilty pleasure these days. Speaking of guilty pleasures, I was having a discussion about guilty pleasure music with some of my friends/classmates the other day and needless to say, it is clear that people have differing views of what constitutes guilty pleasure music.
Here's my definition:
1)Guilty pleasure music is music you would not mention when someone asked: "Who do you listen to?"
2) You are embarrassed (at least a little)/or find the need to explain yourself if someone finds said music on your Itunes/Ipod/in your car
3) Includes: showtunes, rap, slow jams, honky-tonk country, cheesy 80s rock, Weird Al Yankovic, Celine Dion.....the list goes on.
4) For me includes: old school Christian catchy songs, the soundtrack to "Legally Blond: The Musical," "Dirty Dancing" and "The Big Chill," and 90s rap/slow jams....oh and maybe Eminem.

What's your guilty pleasure music???

oh and NO I will not answer any queries about above choice music...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

plaster in the living room and coffee in my hand

I don't know why I do it, but I like to watch shows like The Hills and Dr. 90210. After watching them I always feel worse about the state of humanity and also like I need to have nice clothes. I know those two things don't mesh, but that's what happens. One good thing about watching these shows is that I totally know what Joel McHale is talking about when he makes fun of them on The Soup (which I obviously also watch).

Of course, I only watch these shows without Travis. Needless to say, they're not his favorite. It's pretty funny because the shows that stay on our DVR the longest are our individual guilty pleasures. For me that means reality shows, specifically anything on TLC, MTV or Discovery Health. For him, it's cartoons (Batman, Futurama, etc). Anything else we record we pretty much agree on and watch together. I think it's a nice use of the DVR technology: everybody wins.

I FINALLY bought the latest Death Cab for Cutie album (Narrow Stairs) and am looking forward to listening that on my walk from my car to school today. People at the div school probably think I'm rude/aloof cause I definitely walk right into school, to check my mailbox, and to class, all with my headphones on. I just like to stay in my own little world for as long as I can. Good music sets my tone for the day, and I like to stay wrapped up in that.

Chris Hohmann (the meteorologist on our local ABC news that looks like he has no teeth) tells me that there is a cold, rainy front coming through. Good; I'm ready for fall. Not rain particularly, but if rain equals cooler weather, count me in

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I belong...anywhere but in between

First week of classes! Woo?
No, it's been good so far. The first week back to school is hard no matter what. You're not used to your schedule. You're not used to waking up early. You're not used to the babies in your classes that sit where you like to sit. Oh, I sound like such an old woman, so stuck in my ways. But seriously, move elsewhere kiddies. I put in my time.

It's been raining for 2 days and the weatherman tells me that it will continue for 3 more. Ugh. This morning was the ultimate you-should-stay-in-bed morning. Even Margot was hesitant to get up. That tells you something.

Back to school. So I've switched my classes around approximately 82356937856 times. I think I've finally secured my schedule. My first change happened because I decided I didn't want to continue on the Methodist track. That meant that I didn't have to take 3 (out of 4) classes that I was scheduled to. I ended up only switching 2. Then I switched yet another. My class schedule now consists of: Christian Theology (required), The Missional Church and Evangelism, Prophetic Ministries: Shaping Communities of Justice, and Pastoral Care and Women's Bodies. I just added the last one and am pretty excited about it. This also means that I am like one class away from the Gender, Theology and Ministry certificate. Aka it would be dumb NOT to get it.

Sometime last week (in the middle of helping with first year orientation), I realized that I was already pretty busy and classes hadn't even started yet. This year will be busy, but also fulfilling and probably less jarring than last year. I'm involved in a lot (Basin and Towel-Div School Service Club, Axe of the Apostles- improv comedy group, church small group, more things with church) and the list goes on. Oh, and I'd like to have quality time with the hubby and have a social life.

ok more later

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fish on the go

If you wonder where I've been this summer, this about sums it up:

No, not inside this thing; just in rural North Carolina where these are a common sight.

More updates to come.

Nein doggen

I think this about sums up how my scottie dog feels about me:

Hopefully, others are more impressed by my existence than Margot...

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Wonderful Stones

It started with a searing pain right under my ribs. Needless to say, two days and one 9 hour ER trip later, it was confirmed: I had gallstones. First off, I have to say that I felt like an old woman. I mean, who gets gallstones at 24? Apparently, I do. As scary as surgery sounded, being full of stones sounded even worse. After a short surgery and about a week of recovery, I was as good as new. Minus one gallbladder. I was excited to get back to work at the churches and especially excited about Wednesdays.

Last Wednesday’s lunch started off pretty much the same as usual. We helped unload the tables and tents from the pickup truck and set up the camping chairs. The food soon arrived and as we circled up to pray, we could feel the eyes of the passing drivers upon us. This was a typical lunch at Open Table, a ministry of the Rougemont charge that serves the homeless men and women of Durham. Every Wednesday around noon, about 15-20 men and women, homeless and not, gather for a meal and fellowship on the side of Highway 15-501 in New Hope Commons. Like I said, last Wednesday seemed fairly unremarkable; that is, until she showed up. She was with Francine, a woman who had not been to Open Table in awhile, but had been a regular in former days. Her black hair was matted and everyone was warned not to touch her, as she had just received topical medication. Before you think I’m being cruel, I must mention that this she is a dog. Her name slips my mind now and I’m not surprised because her name was mightily overshadowed by her larger-than-life personality. For the sake of the narrative, I’ll call her Roxy. She scurried from person to person at lunch, wagging her fluffy tail, her bright brown eyes pleading for a scrap of food. When it became clear that she was not going to have any success, she strolled away to entertain herself. Around this time, I stood up to pour myself some more sweet tea and noticed that Roxy had found a good size rock and was busying herself by chewing on it. Several other people noticed this and we all laughed. Her owners shook their heads and said, “Yep, that’s Roxy. But don’t you dare touch her rock. She’s quite protective.” To prove this point, one of the men went over to her and tried to steal her rock away. Roxy growled and covered the rock with her paws. As soon as he backed away, she continued to play with the rock, chewing it and more impressively, rolling it around with her nose. Roxy later proved her attachment and fondness for the rock by fetching it when thrown and rolling it over 25 feet to her waiting owner. Let me remind you that this rock probably weighed no less than 20 lbs. This was a dedicated dog, I thought.

That night, I told my husband about the crazy dog who had come to lunch. As I was telling the story, it occurred to me that this dog was a shining example of simplicity and joy in a world often oversaturated with consumption and materialism. No, I’m not going to try to make any theological stretches about the dog’s actions. Merely, watching Roxy that day made me realize her contentedness with her stone. She had no want for fancy dog toys or gourmet dog food. What she did know was loyalty and the simple joys of life.

The next day, my pastor Doug, Rett and I spent the afternoon doing visitations. One of the places we went was the Extended Care Unit at Person Memorial Hospital. We had tried to visit some parishioners here several times before, but had never had any luck. This day, we did. We found most of the Extended Care residents gathered outside on the patio. We found out that a musician was coming that afternoon to perform, so we sat and talked while we awaited her arrival. The musician, Mrs. Clayton arrived, teal guitar in hand and spent about a half hour or so playing a variety of folksy, soulful songs. After awhile she sat back and announced that she would be playing her last song, a request from her husband. She strummed a few chords, closed her eyes and then crooned out a fabulous version of Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock.” For many people, this song has been forever ruined by the Chevy commercials, but this song is really a wonderful tune. As she sang, the lyrics told their sweet, sad story:

“Stood there boldly
Sweatin in the sun
Felt like a million
Felt like number one
The height of summer
I’d never felt that strong
Like a rock”

Any other summer of my youth, these lyrics could have been my anthem. But this summer, I’ve experienced my first taste of disease and hospitals, homelessness and hunger, inadequacy and fear. Instead of the sure, confident person I have always thought myself to be, I have often found my mind full of doubts, my prayers filled with petitions to God for strength and a steady hand and heart. The stones in my road and been both frighteningly literal and cosmically figurative.

As I thought about my “rocky” week (forgive the pun), I kept coming back to the passage in Mark 12-13. This is the section that tells of Jesus and his disciples coming to Jerusalem for Passover and seeing the Temple. At one point, a disciple turns to Jesus and says, “"Teacher, behold what wonderful stones!” And I’m sure they were! The Temple must have been an amazing sight with towering its slabs of polished marble. What’s even more amazing is Jesus’ response to the disciple. He says, “Do you see these wonderful stones? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” Of course, here Jesus is prophesizing the ruin of the Temple, but He’s also speaking of where we should vest our power.

My stones, some painful, some humorous, some shiny and polished with pride, will all eventually be knocked down. Christ as my cornerstone is the only way to build.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rural musings

I haven't posted in a loooooooooooong time; here's an update in the form of the paper that I wrote for my first Field Ed reflection paper:

I didn’t know what to expect, so I wore pearls. Classy, timeless, non-intimidating and uber-feminine. My greatest fear was of being “that girl.” I had heard that a former intern at the charge had worn a too-short skirt and had thus been asked to wear a robe when leading worship for the rest of the summer. There was no way I was going to suffer that embarrassment. I adjusted my knee-length skirt in the mirror, clasped my pearl necklace, and slipped my feet into my not-too-trendy, not-too-stodgy, medium height heels. There. Non-threatening, no cleavage and not too much leg. They should love me.
We drove down 15-501, unsure of where Durham actually stopped and bucolic proper began. It wasn’t hard to tell. The gas stations and food marts were quickly replaced with silos and barns right out of a Winslow Homer painting. It was beautiful: sweeping pastures, clear-as-glass ponds and white picket fences as far as you could see. I took it all in: packs of horses grazing, tobacco and soybeans planted in neat rows and even a group of farm animals gathered as if reenacting a scene from Orwell. And then I wondered: what in the world would it be like to live out here? Where’s the Target? Where do you get good coffee? How far do you have to drive to see your friends? It’s not that I disapproved of this life; it was just so stinking unfamiliar.
We turned into the gravel road that led to Union Grove United Methodist Church and I soon saw the appeal of this tiny, white church. It was set back from the road in a grove of trees that shaded it from the already harsh morning sun. When we got out of the car, the sweet smell of grass greeted us and a soft wind blew by. It was picturesque, serene and holy.
My first service at the charge took place at Union Grove that morning. I helped to lead worship in front of a congregation of about 8. Still, with such a small crowd, I stumbled over my words, rushed through the Scripture reading and sang all of the hymns completely out of tune. When it was time to stand and sing something that the bulletin called the “Gloria”, I looked at my husband in nervous uneasiness. What the heck was this? I know I’m not a super-Methodist by any means, but I thought I was pretty well versed. I knew the doxology and had a good hold on many common hymns; I even knew most of the Great Thanksgiving liturgy! So, I turned toward the cross (thankfully, away from the congregation) and moved my lips like I knew what was going on. Luckily, the service ended fairly smoothly and with no other major mishaps. After the service, we met the congregation. Everyone was welcoming and wonderful. I didn’t ask, but I think they approved of my skirt length and no one mentioned the sweat that formed on my forehead during the service.
We continued on to the 11:00 service at Rougemont UMC. By most standard, Rougemont is a small church, but compared to Union Grove, it is massive. My co-intern Rett helped lead worship at this service and I (quite content to be out of the spotlight for now) sat with my husband and observed the people and the feel of the church.
That first Sunday at Rougemont also marked my first church homecoming. Maybe I’m not as good of a Methodist as I thought, because I had no idea what comprised a church “homecoming.” In my mind, homecoming was relegated to high school and college realms and included things like pep rallies, football games and dances. At Rougemont, homecoming meant one thing: food.
As we gathered in the fellowship hall, it was clear that everyone had been planning and baking for a good part of the week. The long, checkered-table clothed tables were lined with casseroles, salads both fruit and otherwise, several choices of deviled eggs and at least four varieties of ham. I repeat, four varieties of ham. It took me awhile to get over that. I thought of ham as more of a sometimes food. But to the people of Rougemont, ham equals celebration.
As you might be able to guess, my first weeks at the Rougemont charge have not always been easy. I am not familiar with rural living, with the twang of southern accents, or the style of worship they enjoy. Too often, I have found myself criticizing one aspect of how they “do church” only to be quickly humbled by the obvious and tangible presence of Christ in their fellowship and care of one another.
Since that first Sunday, I have experienced 2 other homecoming lunches, learned to see the perks of country living, and am much improved on my singing of the Gloria. I have stopped stressing about wearing the perfect outfit or making the best impression. Most importantly, I have received the great gifts of hospitality and grace from all of the congregations as they help me navigate the tricky, but fulfilling course that it my first field ed placement. They have supported me through a surprise illness and surgery, written me letters of encouragement and opened their homes and lives to me. I may not yet completely understand rural life and ministry, I may never understand the need for four different types of ham at one lunch, but I am already forever grateful for the love and care of my country family.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Don't hate me; I'm slow at this blogging thing.
I know, it's already February and I promised updates a looooong time ago. Sorry, friends.
Now I pretty much forget most of the details of Christmas break except that it was relaxing and fun and so so needed. I appreciated being home more than I ever thought I would. Not that I didn't expect to miss home/family/friends, but I didn't expect to find such a sense of contentment the entire break. It was as if I could finally take a deep breath and unwind.

Travis and I celebrated our one-year anniversary in FL over the break. We went out to my parents' beach place on Indian Rocks and went out for an expensive dinner and such; we had decided back in November not to exchange Christmas gifts, just anniversary ones, since they're so close. Trav got me the watch I mentioned in an earlier post and I got him a bass amp so that he can practice at home.
We did kinda break our "no Christmas presents" rule as we bought a Wii right before Thanksgiving. Honestly, it's been one of the best presents ever because it's something we both like and it's an activity rather than a thing. We have a big picture window in our living room in Durham and I like to keep the blinds up during the day to let the natural light in. I bet our neighbors think we're crazy cause you can definitely see us standing in our living room playing Wii golf or tennis on many an occasion.

Speaking of, life in Durham is, well, life. I feel like we've settled into the rhythm of life here; of the weekdays and weekends and what we do on holidays and our favorite restaurants and stores and etc. It sounds silly, but it's a sort of comfort to know that you have a regular doctor or mechanic or favorite breakfast place (Elmo's) or coffeeshop (Broad Street Cafe) or dog groomer or even where the nearest Starbuck's is (pretty far, actually). I actually know my way around school now. I can ride the bus and not have to pay attention to every stop. I have been to Duke's bookstore, gym, clinic, chapel, library(ies), and more. As exciting as new is, settled can also be a welcomed change. We're not Durham, or North Carolina experts, not by far. We've still got plenty of exploring and learning to do. We still get lost when we drive somewhere new and are (somehow) still finding more and more fabulous local eateries, but all in all, I feel a sense of greater peace than I have in at least six months.

It's good to go home, good to come home, and good to be home, even if that means home is in 2 different places.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don't worry, but

I had an existential breakdown today. I'm just telling you because I'm honest with my blog; we're friends. My scottie dog and my husband helped me work through it. I'll update more later. Existential crises are tiring. 

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Goods

Note: this is my strictly materialistic holiday break update. It's about the goods, the gadgets and the clothes. If this doesn't interest you, rest assured, I will update soon about the more important (i.e. family, friends, Jesus) aspects of the break. With that said, here's what I scored this year...

1. iRobot Roomba 540.

I mentioned this to my mom as more of a dream gift; not something I thought they'd actually get us. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when we opened it. Travis was excited because it's a robot. I was excited because it's a house-cleaning robot.
We tried it out a couple of days ago and it's AMAZING! It comes with little "lighthouses" that you can set up so that the Roomba stays in a certain area. Sure, it takes longer to vacuum a room than I would, but the point is that I'm not doing the cleaning. And that is awesome.

2. Good fleece jacket. I knew I was probably going to get this, so I was pretty dang specific. Somehow, I still had to exchange it. Parents mean so well, though, don't they?

3. Swiss Army watch.
Actually, this was an anniversary present from Travis, but it still counts as a holiday present. I used to have one of these in high school and lost it several years ago. I think it's such a classic, go-anywhere watch. Obviously, I love it.

4. Tiffany ring.

In the middle of opening presents, my dad went into his office and came out with two Tiffany bags. He gave one to me and one to my sister and said, "Here's just a little something." My sister and I looked at one another and said in unison: "Nothing from Tiffany is 'a little something'." We each got one of these Somerset silver rings. I love, love, LOVE it. It means so much to me that my dad still thinks of (and likes to spoil) his little girls. Also, I love that Monica has the same one. I'm a sucker for mushy, sentimental stuff like that.

5. Cute gray sweater. It's soft, from Nordstrom and fits great. Thanks, sister.

6. Fun, ridiculous book.
It's called The Daring Book for Girls and Travis' brother, Kevin got it for me. It's full of fun facts and how-to advice for girls, like how to tie knots and put up your hair with just a pencil. I immediately read most of it, but it's one of those books you can pick up and find something new everytime. Travis got the guy version, The Dangerous Book for Boys.

I think that's about it. Okay, off to play with my new toys :)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

For now

I'm going to do a more thorough update soon, but for now I want to write about something from today. Let me preface by saying that I don't ever, ever, EVER take horoscopes seriously; sometimes I like to read them for kicks, though. Today, while perusing Durham's local arts/music/culture newspaper, the Pisces horoscope started with this William Blake quote: "I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's." The horoscope writer went on to say that this meant that we should have a disciplined approach to living the life we want to live, so that we avoid being controlled by the world's or another person's life plan. While the horoscope prescribed a more self-directed, you-against-the-world outlook, I think there's much for the Christian to gain from the Blake quote and the horoscope writer's train of thought. No, we shouldn't aim to create a system, but if we fail to participate, live, and enter in to life with Christ and in the body, we will surely be enslaved by another system.

Sometimes God finds my eye when I least expect it.