Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sabbatical...sort of

Over the last few weeks, I have had the joy of taking a break from life. Now don't get me wrong, I love being busy and in the company of others, but it has truly been wonderful doing nothing. I have had no classes, no meetings, and only a couple appointments. Really, I have had my own sabbatical.

The most I have done over this vacation was read fun books. This has probably been the first time I have been able to do this since...well I don't even know when. I finished the entire Harry Potter series and loved it. I am going to try and read it over again to create a Bible study for Junior High/Senior High youth. I really don't understand how anyone who has read them can call them demonic or non-Christian. They really encompass so many biblical truths.

Life is quickly beginning again this weekend. I have a paper to write and then have a senior seminar about all those important practical things we don't address about being a pastor until now. While I am excited to being living in the "real world" again, it has truly been an amazing experience to take time to rest, relax, and just enjoy staying up late reading and watching movies.

These three weeks have demonstrated to me just how important self-care really is. For me this means occasionally taking time to simply be by myself in the quiet. Whether this is a few hours, a few days, or in this case a few weeks (like that will happen again!)...this is essential to my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. This last semester really was full of stress trying to balance school, the approval process, and surgery. I didn't' realize how much it stressed me out until it was over. Looking back, I see I really didn't take the time I needed to rest. What a great lesson to have before first call.

So, today I will take a couple hours to enjoy the last bits of freedom, and then work on my paper. I will use these last few weeks as my reminder that we as Christians are called to honor the sabbath each week, and will do my best to follow this practice over the next semester.

Wish me luck...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Christmas '07

I have finally returned to Gettysburg after spending two weeks with family and friends. Although it is wonderful to sleep in my own bed and have my "kids" back, my vacations always feel too short. I already miss my family and look forward
to when I can get back to the northwest again.

The beginning of vacation did not kick off as well as we had all planned. Only two days in, my father and I got a pretty severe case of food poisoning. I promise I won't go into detail, but lets just say it took quite a few days to recover. Thankfully, we recovered without having to go to the doctor, but were close to that point. I will never eat at the Cheesecake Factory again.

Once we recovered from the food poisoning, I was on my way to Anchorage! It was so great to see my sister and to have a short visit with her. We did not do anything big, but rather spent time shopping and having an early Christmas together; I loved it. I also had my approval interview with the candidacy committee. It went incredibly well; I am finally done with the candicacy process and can proceed towards ordination! I am thrilled and cannot wait to receive my first call!

After a short two days with my sister, I headed back to Seattle to spend Christmas with my father, stepmother, and younger sister (and dog of course). We had such a wonderful Christmas playing games, opening gifts, and just resting. And, would you believe it, this is what we spotted while opening gifts Christmas morning:

None of us can remember the last time it actually snowed in Seattle on Christmas; we are thinking it was the early '80's. It was beautiful and topped off a wonderful day. This is most likely the last Christmas I will spend in the Northwest, as from now on I will be serving as a pastor. Of course as a pastor you can't really go on vacation during such an important time. I feel blessed to have had such a great Christmas with my family and look forward to all of them coming out to be with me on Christmas from now on!

I ended vacation by going to meet the newest little member of our family. My cousin gave birth to this beautiful little one early in December. She is such a great mother and it was awesome to see how in tune she is with him. I cannot believe she is a mother, as I still view her and my younger sister and being so little! It evidenced to me that we are actually all adults now (scary). He was just so cute and it was fun to hold such a little one again. He looks so much like his mama and has our family's eyes.

As you can tell, it was a great vacation. I am so happy to have gotten away for a little bit. This last semester was a trying one and I was in real need of a getaway. It was nice to spend time with family, sleep in, and I even read two more of the Harry Potter books (only two more to go!). I know i'm on vacation when I get to read a fun book! :)
This January I only have an independent study course and the senior seminar the last two days. I am going to spend this time cleaning, resting, writing my paper, and just enjoying myself. In many ways, it's like my own little sabbatical! After that, it is my last semester of Seminary and then graduation. My older sister, father, and stepmother will be coming out to celebrate graduation with me which I am looking forward to.
So that is it for now. The next step in the assignment process is this February. I forget the exact date but it is towards the end of the month. The Bishops will get together and assign each of us first call pastors to a region. Within two days to a month after that I will be assigned a synod. Please be in prayer that the Spirit will be at work in the process and I will end up where I am meant to be. Of course, I have my own ideas of where I should be (don't we all), but I am doing my best to be open to anywhere. I know God will guide me to where I will best serve the Church.

I will end with a picture of my cute little nephew (friend Heather's baby) Asher. If you can believe it, this is the little guy who was born at only 24 weeks gestation! He has grown so much and is thriving. Thank you for continuing to keep him in your prayers.

Praying you all are doing well and hope you had a great Christmas!

Love, Laura