Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moments like these are few and far between...

I've kind of been in a slump of the spiritual variety lately. It's weird because usually Holy Week and Easter are some of my higher points on the roller coaster called faith, but no matter what I did the last week or so I just couldn't get into the groove of the season. So I've been kind of bummed out lately because I just haven't been feeling "it." "It" being the Holy Spirit or a sense of oneness with God, whatever you want to call it. So I've been trying to be in prayer more than usual and be open to "it" or the Spirit. I'll have to be honest and say that I haven't had much success. It's hard for old dogs to learn new tricks, you know?

So this morning in chapel I was completely smacked upside the head by "it" or the Holy Spirit, whatever. We had a simple service of table and healing. The moment I sat down the song "Table of Love" by Josh Elson and Andra Moran popped into my head. I literally thought how great it would be if we sang that during communion. Well, guess what. It was played during communion. Now this may not seem like something too crazy to you, but I was floored. I started crying, like any daughter of my mother would, and barely held it together in a chapel full of my classmates and professors. 

One of the only ways I've experienced the Holy Spirit, aside from through people, has been through music. Specifically the right song or lyric played or sung at exactly the right time, saying to me the the exact thing I need to hear at that moment. This has happened at retreats (remember that retreat in Kansas, Lindsey?), camps, mission trips, and in my car or room when I'm all by myself. To me, the perfect song at the right time has been God's little message to me, giving me the encouragement I need. Well, it hadn't happened in a long time. I'd almost forgotten about how music affects me until this song came on. 

Here we are, you and me;
I wonder if we're supposed to be
here at this table.

Draw me in as I am;
I hope that you will understand
as I come to this table of love.

I am tired, I am worn,
I am broken, I am torn.
So I come to this table.

I let your peace fill my soul,
cleanse my heart, and make me whole
here at this table of love.

I've come here to lay it all down.
You've come to lift me up,
and now we're forever bound
by this bread and by this cup
here at this table of love.

I was lost, now I'm found,
since we all have gathered 'round
here at this table.

I was blind, now I see 
all the ways you welcome me
here at this table of love.

I've come here to lay it all down.
You've come to life me up,
and now we're forever bound
by this bread and by this cup
here at this table of love.

This song has always spoken to me and I hadn't heard it for so long. But it was perfect for the moment. And it's perfect for this moment in my life. I feel refreshed, rejuvenated by what I experienced this morning. But as much as I love that this happened today I know it will eventually wear off. So this wonderful day is yet another reminder that I need to be on the lookout for "it." But don't we all?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Beer is Better than Religion

Dr. Marcus Borg, one of the most prominent scholars of Jesus and the early church today, read this to us at my school's Spring Convocation today and I think it is one of the most amazing things I've ever heard.

Why Beer is Better Than Religion:

10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.

9. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.

8. Beer has never caused a major war.

7. They don't force Beer on minors who can't think for themselves.

6. When you have a Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.

5. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over his brand of Beer.

4. You don't have to wait 2000+ years for a second Beer.

3. There are laws saying Beer labels can't lie to you.

2. You can prove you have a Beer.

1. If you've devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.

Ok, I'll admit that this is a lousy blog update but I don't have time for much else right now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Twilight Coma

A horrible cold - complete with fever - that kept me out of class and work for two days, followed by a week of trying to play catch-up for those two days, followed by two weekends of visitors back-to-back and I'm exhausted and out of hyphens. 

This week has been Reading Week here at ol' Eden Seminary and I should have been doing just that... and writing too. But instead of working my butt off trying to catch up and get ahead, I have been in what I like to call the Twilight Coma. Pathetic? A little. Ok, a lot.

I read the Twilight books over Christmas break and completely surprised myself by loving them. But seriously, what's not to love? A gorgeous vampire who is good to his core and just so happens to be head over heels in love with a very ordinary girl who I can completely identify with (at times). Not to mention this girl's best friend who is a werewolf who loves her too. I mean, it's just too much. It's steamy, sweet, and just like Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, it takes me into an impossible world that I really enjoy getting lost in from time to time. So this week I've been sleeping and re-reading the Twilight books. This weekend will be hectic as I try to finish up papers and read books that were assigned to me, but I'm enjoying being lazy for a little bit and I don't see anything wrong with that.

So there. :-P

Sunday, March 8, 2009

These Dreams...

As you may know, I rarely have dreams that I remember in the morning. However, last night I tossed and turned a lot, never really getting into a deep enough sleep to forget what my brain was doing. So I now have a dream that I sort of remember. 

In this dream, I wrote lyrics to a song. It was really good! I think it was an assignment for a class? But that part is sort of hazy. The theme was about being God's children - I remember that much. The really frustrating part though is that I can't remember any of the words! Everyone I sang it for in my dream really liked it and I was really proud of it. But now it's gone from my memory. I've always wished I was more musically gifted and that dream made me really happy. But, upon waking up, I was immediately frustrated because I couldn't remember any of the words to my song.

So, instead of having a pleasant dream that I get to remember, because I usually only remember nightmares, I have a pleasant dream that now brings me frustration.

I bet that song means something. Anyone know any dream interpreters? Man, where's Joseph when ya need him?!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Song Is About You.

On Sunday, as I was drying my hair to get ready for church, I found a gray hair. I've found gray hairs before, so it wasn't a huge deal. I got my scissors and I cut it really close to my scalp because I buy into the old wives' tale that if you pluck a gray hair 3 more will grow back in its place. Later that day, I checked to see if it was still visible and found 2 more right next to it! I officially freaked out. I ran downstairs and showed my mom. Then I made her check my whole head for more. In total, we found 5 gray hairs (including the ones I had found previously) but I'm sure there are more we didn't see. She assured me that the old wives' tale isn't true and plucked them all out for me.

Looking back at my irrational terror of finding gray hairs on my 23 year old head, I laugh, but I was very upset by it. It's incredibly vain and shallow of me to be so worried about my hair when I have so many other, bigger things to worry about (the economy, mine and my family's health, my classes, etc.). However, my hair has been one of the only things I've liked about my physical appearance for a long time. In fifth grade I got really awkward looking and in the following years I started putting on weight. So I've been a bit insecure about the way I look for a long time. Ever since I was 11, my hair has been one of the only features anyone ever compliments. Even now, as I actively try to lose weight (I've had to tighten my belt once already!), learn how to dress my body in more attractive ways, and learn how to use makeup to play up my features, my hair is the only thing I'm sure I like about my physical appearance at any given moment on any given day. 

I think that we all have things about ourselves that we vainly cling to to boost our confidence. For some people it may be their eyes, nose, butt, or boobs. For me it's my hair. It's the only thing on the outside of me that I truly love. And I feel validated, and my confidence is boosted, when I find out that others like it too. 

Even when I think about that day in the distant future when I have lost all the weight I want to lose, my first thought goes to the haircut I want to get that would look horribly disproportional on my body now, not about how I will be healthier or able to wear more fun clothes. It's completely outrageous.

I struggle with this vanity I feel. Everything I know tells me that I shouldn't be so preoccupied with looks. After all, it's what's on the inside that counts, right? 

Maybe I should just shave my head.

Just kidding -- I died a little inside as I typed that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Meme About My Favorite Activity: Sleeping!

1) How do you sleep at night?
Is your sleep affected by the national angst? Do you drop off easily, as you always did? Or does it take a while to get to sleep?

I've always been a great sleeper. Unless I'm incredibly stressed out (school is usually the biggest culprit), or I've had one of my weekends of marathon sleeping (i.e., this last weekend when I slept 13 hours Friday night and then took a nap Saturday afternoon), I sleep very well every night. 

2) What strategies, if needed, do you use to get to sleep? Pills? Sheep? Late night television shows? And/or...?

I have my nightly routine that I do every night before bed: put on my PJs, take out my contact, brush my teeth, wash my face, take my allergy medicines, set my alarms, crawl into bed, and then I read something not school related for 15 minutes to an hour depending on when my eyelids close themselves. Lately, I've been re-reading the Twilight Saga over and over. Say what you want about those books, but they're a fun read and there are some pretty steamy parts too. Even though I do have this routine, I could probably just curl up on my bed every night and drift off with no problem at all. I don't get enough sleep during the week and I just plain love sleeping so once 11:00 comes around, I'm counting down the minutes until I'm done with my homework so I can go to my beloved bed.

3) Do you wake up in the middle of the night, plagued by obsessive thoughts?

I rarely wake up until my first alarm goes off in the morning. If I do, it's usually because I have to use the bathroom. Unless I'm sick, I almost never wake up for any reason other than to pee.

4) What strategies do you have to get back to sleep?

Well, since waking up because I'm distressed is a rarity, I don't really have any techniques. I usually just pull my covers closer around me and close my eyes again. Insomniacs probably hate me.

5) Are your dreams affected? Are they more anxious than before? Do they wake you up in a sweat? Or are they peaceful, innocent, undisturbed by the general malaise?

Confession time: I rarely have/remember dreams. I'm sure I do dream in the night, but I almost never remember them. On the rare occasions when I do have dreams that I remember vividly, they are usually scary ones. But the last real scary dream that I can remember was almost a year and a half ago. That dream woke me up and I started crying, but like I said, that's a really rare occurrence. Usually when I have dreams that I remember, they occur during that time when I'm about to wake up but haven't completely become fully conscious yet -- when I'm in a sort of asleep/awake limbo. 

I think the biggest reason I don't ever remember my dreams is because I'm a very heavy sleeper. Just ask my former roommates and fellow RAs. I've almost slept through fire alarms, tornado sirens, not to mention all the phone calls I've missed while I was sleeping even though my ringer was on the highest volume my phone has. In order to wake up in the morning, I set 4 alarms. I set my actual alarm clock, which I purchased because it was the loudest one the store had, for the latest possible time I can get up in the morning so I'll have plenty of time to get ready and be on time for class and/or work. That alarm is placed on my dresser, across my bedroom from my bed so I actually have to get up to turn the horribly loud alarm off. Then I set 3 alarms on my cell phone in 1o minute increments up to the time that the big alarm will go off. I usually wind up cuddling my phone in bed with me while these alarms go off one-by-one. Some mornings, much to my dismay, I don't even remember my phone alarms going off, but know they did because I wake up to my big alarm with my cell phone in my hand or on the pillow next to me.

My good buddy Lindsey tagged me in this so I thought I'd be a good blogging-friend and do it. I'm also supposed to mention the original blog from which she got this idea: here it is.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blessed REassurance

Two weeks ago I received this scary letter:
"Dear Kassandra,
As a part of the evaluation process, the first-level faculty met to review the academic progress of first-level students in their degree program. The faculty identified some concerns about your progress.

Please schedule an appointment in the Academic Office to discuss with me the concerns and resources available to you.

Grace and peace,
Dean Krause"

Ok, so I was terrified. I did pretty well in my classes last semester, with the one exception being Biblical Studies I because there were so many readings assigned I couldn't keep up so I just stopped trying. Needless to say, I passed all of my classes with two As, one B, and that pesky C in Bib. Studies. I knew that the concern couldn't be about my grades, but I had no idea what was going on. So like the good little girl I am, I immediately went to the Dean's office and set up an appointment for today at 11:oo. 

Turns out, the Dean just wanted to meet with me because some of my professors (but not all) had said in the evaluations that I was "too quiet" and "reserved." She was worried that I didn't feel a connection to the school, what I was learning here, and the community. She was right.

Last semester was really rough. I had a hard time focusing on the purpose of my being at Eden because I was so sad about, and still processing, the transition from Drury to grad school. It was hard to throw myself into this beautiful community I'm now a part of when I felt so sad about leaving my friend/family at Drury. Added to my sadness was the fact that I didn't have enough time in the day for work, school, my Contextual Education, and studying. It was nearly impossible to keep up with all of my obligations.

I told her that I had a I lot of regrets about last semester and that I was committed to changing and bettering my experience here at school. I realized over Christmas break that I was over-working myself and that I needed to make some changes. So I quit my babysitting job because the time commitment was too much and their home was too far away, even though I loved the kid and was sad to have to end it. As my New Year's resolution and Lent "whatever" I am committing myself to not skip any classes this semester and I'm making myself read at least one-third of every assigned reading. And, even though I'm not going to go out and join any committees or anything because that would just take more of the time I just got back in the week, I'm going to try to be more active or at least present on campus. I started working in the library and I've found that it is just what I need. My classmates are there all the time so I get to talk and interact with people and it's a low-key job where I can do homework when all of the books are shelved. Plus, I get paid more there than at the babysitting gig.

I told her I was trying to make changes and she reassured me that she had noticed that I'd been around more in chapel (because I actually have time to worship now... at seminary... crazy, right?), and in the library. The Dean was glad that I'd realized I needed to change things for myself and handled it. But she reminded me that the next time I find myself feeling disconnected or upset about how things were going, I should talk to her or my advisor because they are there for me.

Wow. I am so blessed to be at a school where professors and other faculty and staff actually care how I'm doing, not just based on grades, but in a holistic way. 

When I walked into the Deans office this morning, I was terrified. I left ten minutes later feeling reassured that I was in the exact place I needed to be to learn how to be a good minister. Isn't it great to say that some of your best examples of kind and compassionate ministers are your professors and school administration? It's good to know that they're looking out for me and actually care how I'm doing.

Thank God for Eden Theological Seminary.