Thursday, December 9, 2010

Peer Support

During early October, I went to two events – the Gathering of the Ministerium of the Virginia Synod and the Intern Cluster Meeting. I realized at those meetings how much I missed being surrounded by my peers and colleagues. Fred and I are a bit alone on the lake. We don't go to synod conference meetings because they are so far away. Going to one of those meetings would take a whole day out of our busy schedules. We don't even gather with local ministers. The local pastors meet on an irregular and rare basis as far as I know. Although I would love to meet with other pastors on a regular basis, I don't have the time or energy to either go far away to the Richmond conference or to create a pericope group in town.
I also would love to keep in touch with my seminary and college friends, but I don't have the time or energy to stay in touch. At the end of the day, I often am too tired to do much of anything. Even my days off get too busy. Facebook is the most communication I have with friends and family on an average week.
I continue to love and miss my friends. I hope to communicate better. I have a bunch of letters to write and some phone calls to make. Now that some of the conflict at my internship site is resolved, maybe I will have more energy to keep in touch with those I love. Please feel free to contact me, too!

My New Dog!

I have had Kavod now for about a month, and she is a delight. She is the light of my life. I love to see her little butt wiggle as she wags her tail when I come home. She makes coming home worthwhile!

Kavod enjoys spending her time on the couch. She is so cute when she chews on her stuffed moose! As we get more comfortable with each other, she is becoming more spunky. Her true personality is showing. In a sense, she is coming out of her shy “shell” just like I did after CPE!

As she is becoming braver, she is also more of a challenge. She has run out of the door without her leash and slipped out of her collar. Thankfully she has never run too far away. I am learning that as she becomes more difficult, I need to become more assertive. I think this will be good for both of us.

I am getting up a half hour earlier so that we can take a mile-long walk every morning. We also take the same walk every afternoon when I get home from work. That exercise is also good for both of us. Fred has even encouraged me to bring her to work on occasion, and I do. I really enjoy having her with me when I am at work alone. She makes working on sermons more fun! She also is great meeting parishioners.

I think Kavod is the best fit for me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Living alone

This is my first time fully living on my own. I don't have a roommate or family to help with the chores, nor do I have a cafeteria or refectory to provide some of my meals. Sometimes this living alone is refreshing, and other times I become lonely. Seminarians had told me before that internship can be the loneliest time, and to some degree that is true. After bonding so closely with my peers at seminary, I miss them dearly. And yet ministry at Lakeside is so wonderfully encouraging and challenging that I don't have much time to be lonely. For that, I am grateful.

Cooking has been a saving grace for me. Because there isn't much of anything to do on the lake, I can get bored on my time off. I have taken to cooking as a form of entertainment, as a way to keep me moving and thinking without leaving the apartment. I have two cookbooks and the internet as my resources, but I rarely follow a recipe exactly. Somehow, however, my meals always turn out ok. Often they even are pretty good. I then put the left-overs into single-serving gladware containers and freeze half of the food. That way, when I come home from work, I only have to pop a container from the fridge or freezer into the microwave and enjoy. I am grateful for this system of cooking and eating because I never have to cook after a long day at work, and I am able to spread out my meals so that I never get bored of my cooking.

I also don't have anybody to remove the bugs in the house, either. I don't mind killing the usual household spiders and other small bugs, but I do mind killing the centipedes. They are too fast for me to easily catch them. There are a lot of centipedes in the rest of the garage, but I am grateful that only two have entered my apartment. I don't appreciate them hanging out on the garage door, either. When coming home after dark, I don't want to be greeted by such an animal!

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Update

A brief update after visiting Chicagoland:

I returned to my apartment late Monday night, the night of Uncle Chuck's funeral. After such an emotional weekend, especially Monday, I was emotionally drained dry. So, I crawled into bed almost immediately and slept well. Yet Tuesday morning almost as soon as I had arrived at Lakeside, I had an intern committee meeting to discuss my learning covenant. I hadn't taken the time to switch out of “grieving niece” mode into “working vicar” mode, so I wasn't prepared. I had finished a draft of the covenant before I left, but I hadn't even thought about making copies for the committee.

Soon after that meeting was over, a parishioner held a luncheon presentation. Although it was a wonderful presentation, I wasn't exactly ready to be social. A lot of parishioners did share their empathy for my loss, though. I appreciated that – that they cared for me after only knowing me for three weeks, and that they missed me on Sunday.

I didn't have time to sit in my office and think until 2:30. That was a rough day because I had no time to adjust, but in the end it was a pretty average day. I just wish I had arrived a few minutes early to spend alone in my office before going into the intern meeting. I have noted that. Now I make sure that I always take a few minutes in my office before meetings to make sure that I am prepared.

The rest of that week, I focused on preparing myself for a week without my supervisor. Normally, Pr. Fred and I share worship leadership responsibilities. Thus, Sept. 19th was a lot more than just my first sermon. It was my first time on my own and my first time leading the communion liturgy. I wasn't officially “presiding” over communion because the elements were already consecrated, but it still was my first time saying the words of institution in front of a congregation.

The week without Fred was ok. I missed his collegiality and his guidance. During the week, I wrote a newsletter article, prepared both service bulletins, revised my learning covenant, and wrote a sermon. I led Men's Bible Study and went on four pastoral care visits. Throughout the week, the church's administrative assistant proved to be a valuable coworker and friend.

Both of my sermons were very well-received. Everybody seemed to be very impressed with my preaching and my composure. Although I was very nervous, I didn't show it. Although most of the comments were very general, they seemed to be genuine. The specific comments helped, too. My intern committee was very intentional about giving me very specific feedback, including a few suggestions for the future.

All in all, these last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I have been busy without being overwhelmed. As much as I miss my friends and family, I also am grateful for the people here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From the Airport

On this anniversary of the attacks on this nation, I am flying to Chicago to be with my family. I haven't been on internship for a month yet, but I need to go home because tragedy struck the Scheibel family again. One of my uncles died suddenly and without explanation on Wednesday.

I love him dearly, and I miss him dearly. I always enjoyed the stories that he told and the insight that he had. I remember fondly when he and my aunt took my cousin and I to Disney World. I loved enjoying that park with a cousin my age and with such a wonderful aunt and uncle. He and my aunt had a beautiful marriage. I can't believe that he is gone.

I am going home to be with my family for the wake and funeral. Right now, I need to be with them, to reconnect before I continue to serve my internship. I do love my internship site. The people are wonderful, and I care for them. Pastor Fred was a great support, opening his house to me right after I heard the news. Yet I am glad that I won't be there this Sunday. I didn't want to have to announce my uncle's death, nor did I want to be there when that happens. Although I appreciate individual kind words of empathy, I don't want to be overwhelmed by the congregation. For now, I need to be with people whom I have known for more than three weeks. I need to grieve with people who are also grieving. When I return to the lake, I will be ready to be with the church again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reflections on the lake

Thursday afternoon, I sat out on the dock to get out of the house. I found a rock sitting on the dock where I wanted to sit down. Then I started reflecting – about the rock, about myself, and about God.

When I first started painting rocks, I learned to look at the rock first and see if it looked like anything. The rock would be more beautiful when its art reflected its shape. This rock was relatively smooth, but it had two sections of it that had clearly broken off.

My first thought seeing this rock was that it was broken, and that was sad. Yet those places where the rock had severed were beautiful and full of crystals. The smoothness of the rest of the rock covered the crystals. So, maybe the fact that the rock was broken wasn't sad but peaceful. Also, those broken sections were not as jagged as they could have been, so the lake water probably was “healing” the rock for some time before I found it.

In some ways, this rock reflects me. I am mostly whole, but I have some broken places. I come from a broken home, but the years and some reflection have smoothed over the jagged edges. A few people that I love have died, leaving holes in my heart, but time has smoothed over those holes, too. Sure, the holes are still there, but they don't hurt as much anymore. Most of all, though, I am broken by sin. My sinful actions mar my surface, yet God smoothes over my scars.

Brokenness can be sad and painful, like loosing a loved one. But that brokenness doesn't have to be sad forever. Sometimes brokenness can show a beautiful interior. For example, in high school I wrote a poem about how I was “razmatazz red” on the inside and beige on the outside. Relating this to another metaphor about me, the beige was the shell to my brilliant red interior. Well, my shell is broken, and I am much happier for it. More of my red is showing, and everyone can see it.

I'm not sure how I will paint this rock, or if I will at all. Either way, it is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The pain of death softens over the years

There are a lot of widows at my internship site. That is a sad reality of having so many members of older generations attending the church. While I knew this, it did not hit home until I visited the small cemetery on the church's grounds, behind the bell tower.

Back there are about a dozen graves, each except for one bears the name of a couple where one spouse has died. Seeing all of those couples separated by death pangs my heart. I am saddened to see names of people I know next to names of their deceased spouses. I am sad because these once happy couples are now divided by death. I also am sad because I never had the opportunity to see them together.

The church is very couple-oriented because that is the main demographic. The church doesn't have many families. It only has couples and singles. I wonder how grieving for a spouse would be in a congregation of happily married couples. Depending on the griever, that could be the best or the worst means of support. Thankfully, the congregation does have a few programs set up for widows and widowers.

Now I am not saying that all of these widows and widowers haven't found peace since their spouses have died. Many of the spouses died many years ago. A few widows have remarried, often to widowers. I wonder what life is like for them – living with someone whom they have come to love while still remembering the one whom they loved first. Once I get to know these couples better, I am sure that I will be able to better understand what their lives are like. A few lines from “I Can Live With That” from I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change may begin to answer the question. These two characters are a widower and a widow considering to get together:
Danny - I often think of those I miss
Melissa - Friends keep dying but I've grown strong
Danny - Sometimes I have to reminisce
Melissa - It still does hurt, just not as long.

Melissa – I will be buried at my Jim's right
Danny – Next to my Sue is my grave site
Both – But I'm still here with much to give
Danny - Some day I'll die
Melissa - For now, I'll live

Melissa - I'll always love my Jim
Danny - And I my Sue
Melissa - I, I just don't know
Danny - You think I do?
Melissa - No matter,
Both - I can live with you

Saturday, August 28, 2010

First Week Woes and resulting insight

After a week of internship, I have had some mishaps (the intern committee likened it to baseball strikes). I have seen how important relying on this congregation will be. When the hot water stopped working in my apartment and when my tire went flat, I didn't want to ask anybody for help – I usually don't ask for help unless it is absolutely necessary. Well, this time it was necessary. I didn't want to touch the water heater lest I make it worse, and I knew that I was not confident enough to change my own tire. Later I learned that I didn't even have a jack in my car – I had to ask for help.

And yet, as soon as I did lean on others, I was blessed with a gift of grace. I told a parishioner on my way in to a congregational meeting that I had a flat, and she told Pastor, who made an announcement. After that, many people jumped up to change the tire, and others volunteered to fix it. I only had to give them my keys. The next day, another parishioner came and fixed the hot water heater. When I was very new to the congregation and didn't know anybody well, I was showered with love, support, and help. I certainly resist leaning on others, but when I do, burdens are lifted from my shoulders.

From time to time, I also struggle to rely on God. I don't want to ask God for help. I want to be by myself, fulfilling my own needs. I want to be in control. Yet sometimes I realize that I can't do all of this alone. I can't do everything. I can't walk alone in this world. I need to rely on my friends, family, and coworkers to support me no matter what happens. And yet, most of all, I need to rely on God to guide me. I began to pursue this line of work because of my faith in God. Doesn't faith include relying on God? Giving up control may be hard, but it is so worthwhile in the end. Relying on others can be freeing, relieving me of the worst stresses of life. Life in this world is easier when I have a community standing behind me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New blog for a new chapter of my life

I have created this blog to reflect on my experiences during internship. I do not intend to specifically describe what I am doing, but instead I will describe what general types of tasks and challenges I will confront. I also hope to discuss how I am reacting to my experiences and what I have learned from them. I do not intend to post any sermons, but I am willing to share them privately to those who are interested. I hope to make a post in the next few days about my first challenges on site!