Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Sunday

Sundays are always busy days for pastors. I knew this going into ministry, but I wasn't prepared for the full extent of how much of a drain on my introverted system Sundays are. Especially on the Sundays I preach, I'm ready for a nap by 1 in the afternoon (otherwise, I'm ready for a nap by 2 or 3). But there's always more to do - youth group, or a mailing or things to plan - and then there's the hour-long car ride home that somehow morphs into an hour-thirty affair with traffic back-ups on Rt. 22 or Rt. 1 (depending on the route I take). I come home, and the last thing I want to do is do reading for class or write a reflection paper...and the first thing I want to do is either sleep or eat a lot of really-bad-for-you junk food.

Although I am dead tired (from preaching and from watching my beloved team manage an undefeated season), tonight when I go home, I'll be going home to a loving husband who will be taking me out to dinner and to see "A Christmas Carol" at the Shakespeare Theatre. I'm hoping for a more enjoyable time than when I went to see "Henry VI" (Ben liked it. I didn't.) And then tomorrow I'll get to sleep in before starting the day with preparations for India, readings for India, and the dreaded CPE application.

Well, it's just about time for youth group, so that's it for now...

(On a completely unrelated note, I just discovered that I have dried cookie dough all throughout my engagement ring. Nice.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

ARGH

I'll be one of the first to tell you that grades don't really matter in the long run. What matters is the work you put into the class and your understanding of the material, yada, yada yada...except when I checked on my grades from this past semester and got royally angry about my preaching grade because I fail to see how I got that grade (unless I totally bombed my preaching self-evaluation, which I don't think I did). I think I'm going to cool off a bit before I e-mail him, asking how the heck he assigned the grade he did.

Maybe grades matter to me more than I thought they did...even grades from useless classes we have to take.

Student Health Insurance doesn't cover anything. You would think that since students are prone to traveling (because when else in your life are you going to have the opportunity to do it), student health insurance would cover things like...medicine to prevent you from getting malaria (always a good thing). Instead, students are expected to shell out $167 for 30 tablets, a cost we are expected to pay out of our pockets (in addition to the $1800 for the trip to India, about $100 for all the immunizations and other medications, and not to mention the fees for the visa and the international student ID card and the like). Of course, $167 is nothing compared to the cost of contracting malaria...and it is about $60 cheaper than filling the prescription at CVS or Rite Aid, and $20 cheaper than Target or Walmart.

Yet it is a luxury that I can even purchase these pills in the first place to prevent me from getting malaria when so many people - especially children - die from the disease every single year. Every day, even. Most people living in these places where malaria is prevalent don't even have basic protection - like a mosquito net treated with chemicals to kill the mosquitoes that are spreading the disease. I'm lucky enough to be able to afford this while thousands more suffer.

So instead of griping about the lousy student health insurance that doesn't cover prescriptions, I should be thankful that a drug like this is available for me to purchase and that I have the resources to be able to afford it. I just wish these trips weren't so darn expensive! With all these fees, there'll be no money left for me to shop with...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It was Christmas?

Thinking about this past week, Christmas seemed a little surreal. No snow (not the first time), no heavy-duty apartment decoration except for our little tree (no time and no money), and no time off made the holiday fly by. By December 26th my To-Do list filled a page - and none of them small tasks either! Chief among them are the "pastor's article" for the church newsletter, a CPE application to fini... start (really, if I'm honest), and the one thing that has been currently occupying my attention: writing my sermon on Matthew 2:13-23 for Sunday. Yup, that's right. If anything will take you out of the Christmas spirit, it's the prospect of writing a sermon on this text. I just couldn't help it...none of the other texts really spoke to me, and with the limited time frame, I went with what I felt God might be prodding me to tackle. Thanks, God. You couldn't have given me compelling insight into Psalm 148?

In light of the content of the story, I've been thinking a lot about how Christmas is just a messy thing. It's just not this pristine, sanitary story that our culture (and carols like "Away in a Manger") has made it into. Shamed, disgraced, and homeless Mary and Joseph and Jesus in a smelly, stinking barn with no family or friends to witness the birth, save for a few shepherds (as Luke tells it).

And in light of all the work and business and everything...maybe a messier Christmas is just the thing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Be the Church!

Once again, I have fallen behind on my blogging (both in writing and in keeping up with posts others have written). This time, it was due to a delightful vacation up in Massachusetts, time with family and friends, completing a class project, and then coming back to NJ with Christmastime right around the corner. Now, the guests are gone (though my in-laws aren't tough guests at all!), and it's just me and Ben again, although I have my fair share of things to do before I leave for India. (By the way, it really stinks that student health insurance doesn't cover the cost of Malaria medicine...)

There is something I would love to share with you all - the website for our class project! The catch is this - it's our first draft for our real church plant proposal. By clicking the link, you will be privy to our first attempt at concretizing a year's worth of conversations and dreams, and if you keep coming back, you'll be able to follow our journey as this church plant proposal emerges and takes life - and be engaged with it every step of the way! So please, visit http://bechurchne.org and be sure to give me feedback (on the content, the form, the design of the website) so that we can improve our ideas going forward and so that you, too, can be a part of our process!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's nice to be back in New England. For one thing, there's snow on the ground (and there was snow as we were coming up; it wasn't all from the recent storm!). We drove up on Sunday on a (somewhat) impulse decision. We had been planning a Sunday drive northward, but when we looked at the weather, it was supposed to snow/sleet/wintry mix about the time we'd be driving through Hartford and Worcester. No good. However, when we checked again on Sunday, the storm had been pushed to later (around six), and so we decided to make a go of it. We drove up, and encountered no bad weather at all!

Just because I'm home doesn't mean there is nothing to do! We still have to finish our class project for church planting, which will be a website (currently in the works. Check out our intro page at http://bechurchne.org). I have several preparations for India in the works: getting tevas, packing, malaria medicine, etc. There are Christmas gifts to make (I've decided I'm going to try and hand-make all my gifts; we'll see how that turns out...at the very least, I want my gifts to come from sources that don't oppress or exploit people and/or the environment). And, there's the all-important task of resting and relaxing.

Right now, I'm in a process of discerning what I want to do with this blog. I haven't kept it up nearly as much now that I've started journaling more (something that has proved rather fruitful after nearly two weeks). Perhaps I'll move it elsewhere...perhaps I'll discipline myself to cull thoughts and insights from my journal (that are shareable) once or twice each week. I'm feeling the need to go deeper with this than I am at right now. We'll see.

On a purely superficial sports note, I am sooooooo ready for next week's Patriot's v. Jets game. I hope the Pats run up the score...