Sunday, December 9, 2012

Oh PLTS...

What has made this past week so calming and rejuvenating for me?

Was it that How I Met Your Mother Season 7 is on Netflix? Or that I watched obscene amounts of it (I can't even admit the number on here for fear of extreme judgement....)?

Was it the nightly Advent devotions that include candlelit readings and prayer?

Was it my day of health on Wednesday that involved a eucalyptus oil and salt bath, feel good movies, baking eggnog bread pudding, and making egg drop soup?

Was it the Adventfest Talent Show Friday night, full of joyful stories, music, paintings, poetry, and energetic camp songs?

Was it the annual cookie decorating at Phyllis and Herbert Anderson's house (president and our pastoral care professor), complete with eggnog coffee, massive amounts of decorating creativity, and a delicious soup lunch?

As I walked home from work last night, a smile bubbled up onto my lips and I just feel joyful, all the way down deep.  Has this been a consistent feeling this fall? Uh not even close.  My journal entries would tell you that I've been to the depths of uncertainty and self-consciousness.  That's why this bliss tastes so magnificently sweet.

My seminarian friend Erin and roommate Dominique wrote a parody of the camp song"Pharoah" (which is a parody of "Louie, Louie" so it's circular parodying haha).

PLTS parody

Here are the lyrics:
Ed Johnson told me just a year ago
That I should move to Berkeley and make my home
So I packed my car full to the brim,
And this is what I got for listening to him,

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, why is Berkeley so expensive

Me and 4 others came to see Steed
Turns out my Sunday school was fooling me,
So I took my Bible and I highlighted it
Still had to panic during every quiz

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, Oh Looper please work today

Learning about Luther was next on the list
Most of the time in class, my face looked like this
visited lots of churches that were really cool
if you say contemporary or tradition
Carol and Kyle will kill you!
(they won't really kill you, but they'll judge you!)

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, where did my humor go
(Seriously, I used to have so many good jokes. Now they are all theological...)

Jayson: So Luther, Melanchthon, and Spener walk into a bar...

The Andersons make an awesome duo
Phyllis preached that we were good soil
Herb tells stories that help us grow
he makes us role play with Episcopals!

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, Who knew I'd suck at empathy

Need a cup of sugar? Someone'll bring it to your door
They'll come inside so you can talk some more
(Probably share more than you wanted to...)
We're having so much fun with our new family
we can't imagine choosing another seminary

I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so
I said Oh
PLTS, I love you so

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wash Away into Renewal

Today rings in the third day of rain in the Bay Area. Today, as my friend Erin drove through pouring rain for a solid hour to get to where we needed to be for church, I thought about Jonah's story and the people he burdened when hiding out in the boat.  I laughed and said, "Geez, someone needs to get out of this boat!"  Am I proud that I'm such a Bible nerd that I thought that joke was funny? Umm no...maybe I get some new hobbies. :P

This rain continues to wash away the old burdens of yesterday and brings us into a new church year and into a period of expectancy and excitement.  This is movement.  This is hope.

Cleansing Drops
I sat here, waiting for the rain,
On a fresh new porch,
I held my brain.

Heavy thoughts filled my mind,
Exhausted, from the
routine grind.

Rains arrival,
I awaited with pleasure,
Cleansing drops,
became my treasure. 

I yelled out for
heaven's tear,
All my sorrows,
I hoped it shall clear.

When the very first drop,
hit my head,
Pure excitement,
virally spread.

Came down suddenly,
it started to pour,
My heart and spirit,
began to soar.

Seconds later my life was
cleansed and soaked,
My clear mind,
has been evoked.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Here I am.

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
    I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
    I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ -Isaiah 65:1

Interactions with the divine seem rare compared to the abundance of distractions of every day life.

How often to your fingers touch dirt?  When was the last time your body was immersed in a natural body of water?  How often to you take the time to watch an entire sunrise or sunset?  I am constantly reminded of how processed our life experiences are. I walk on concrete sidewalk, I eat bread that looks completely different than the grain that was harvested to create it, I wear clothes that involve polyester and mysterious stretchy material (yea skinny jean find from Goodwill!).  There are so many steps in between the essence of nature and what I experience.

With this absolutely man-made and material world that we reside in, it is simple to embrace the inherent values found within this culture.  Within Western culture, there is a high value placed on the individual; we take pride in the idea that we can pull ourselves up from our American bootstraps to make a successful life.  The American dream exists in every person that says that their current experience of life is not enough; we are taught with billboards, online ads, and TV commercials that what we have is not enough.

Where is God in all of this?  When we are the people in charge of creating our own lives, what role does God play?  It seems that God has been put on the sidelines, in favor of the self.  God is irrelevant within our capitalist society.  How different was it back in Israel, BCE style?  Isaiah 65 talks about the obstinate people that pursue their own imaginations.  These people are deemed bad because they give secret vigils at cemeteries, eat pork, offering sacrifices in gardens, and etc.  Do I have any idea why these things are so horrible? Nope. But I'm getting the idea; I imagine the people that today pursue their own imaginations.

I know that I have my own tendency to focus on my control and power in a situation instead of trusting that God has the control and let go of my worries.  I dream of keeping my life together if only I become a better person who remembers to do everything in a timely manner.  I spew my thoughts and emotions out when talking to friends and often forget to ask about their day.  I live in my own created world of perceptions and opinions.  I'm learning to live with my brokenness that is found in my focus on myself instead of out at the world.  I full of emotions and I am a mess and best of all, it is alright because I am loved by God.  God gives me the gifts of empathy and love so that I can carry them out to the people I interact with every day.  God calls me to give support and love in God's all powerful name.  I am saying that I am here to hold steadfast, I am here to spread words of compassion.

I am here, but who wants to listen?  I am called to reveal my call to those who do not think they need it.  I am called to be a light for people who think that I am irrelevant because God is irrelevant.  I am called to show people that religion is more than a hypocritical joke, church is more than people stuck singing 500 year old hymns in a somber manner, and that there are messages in the Bible that are relevant for today.

What a hefty weight to carry on my shoulders; and not just my shoulders, but all of the people going or already a part of the ministry of God.  Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants alike are called to pursue the Divine despite the urge to focus only on ourselves.

Here we are, world.  You might not ask for us, you might not think you need us, but we know there is a hunger for depth and connection in this world of schisms.  How do we listen to the needs of those who find us irrelevant while providing a space for the depth and complexity of the Divine?  Since we live in a world that exalts power and control, creating a space that strips away control might not be useful for people who comfortably live with the focus of self-determination.

Good thing I have the rest of my life to work on these questions.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Unexpected Divine Spark

I boarded a subway train headed toward Oakland today.  I sat down and promptly got out my Bible and highlighter to finish some reading for my 8 am Old Testament course.  Luckily, I got none of it done for the remainder of my train ride.

A woman sat in the seat next to me and we began to talk (a rarity on the BART, let me tell you...).  It seems impossible to believe, but she has lived not only in my hometown of Fort Collins, but grew up in Kansas, a few hours from my birth city of Kansas City.  It's amazing how connected you can feel with someone you spend 10 minutes with.  Pam told me that she is a counselor, so it isn't a wonder that we immediately felt like kindred, both being in the field of support.  When I mentioned that I am getting my Masters in Divinity, she let out this sigh of joy and excitement that I will hold onto for awhile.

Pam's touching words about her journey with spirituality and love were exactly the encouragement I needed; this intelligent, beautiful woman in her 40's has a fulfilling job she loves, just got remarried, and has multiple children grown.  In my current perspective of uncertainty, her story of joy and love was touching for me.  Pam out poured an abundance care and empathy to me in our miniscule encounter.  Every day I am being prepared to be ready for the next.  I wonder what my talk with Pam is preparing me for tomorrow.

Monday, November 26, 2012

So how are you liking Berkeley?

I get this question often. Not ever sure how to best describe the whys, but.....
Tonight, I stopped by an actual supermarket chain to get some things. I've shopped at stores like this one for so long, yet it feels so wrong to be buying produce and common food items there when I could be getting a great deal on organic food at Monterey Market or getting delicious goodies at Trader Joe's on my walk home from work tomorrow night.

I forgot to post pictures of my apartment--here are a few looksies!
My room


Living room

Kitchen and my roommate Dominique
Thanksgiving was such a great celebration with loads of delicious food, episodes of Friends, card games, and best of all, my family and friends.  It felt so right to be partaking in warm food with a cold New Belgium beer in the courtyard of my apartment complex, soaking up that Bay Area sunshine.  Here's to family that likes each other, here's to new friends, here's to love. :)

I've been feeling so exhausted this week; maybe this crazy life transition into seminary life is finally catching up to me.  Also, DEADLINES.  Oh woman, (I originally put, Oh man, but decided why not make it feminine? haha) so much to do in these coming weeks.  The biggest change between undergrad and seminary for me is my openly conscious effort to be healthy throughout this process.  Not saying that it's successful, but I do make a point to prioritize sleep and time to be sane throughout the day.  For instance, today I made Thai Pumpkin Soup, which tastes great but only comes in one size: CAULDRON.  Stop at Apt. 11 for a cup if you are in Berkeley, please! I can't eat all of this by myself. (Jillien, I'll express ship you one if you really want it haha).
Cooking a soup isn't going to cut it on the wellness scale though.  I want to be very conscious to explore my hobbies that are lying dusty on my bookshelf, such as collaging (which I haven't touched since I got to California), letter writing, journaling, and poetry reading.  I need to hold myself to this goal.
I'm working on the poetry reading hobby at least!  I just purchased a delicious (yes, it is delicious) book called Love Poems from God at Sagrada (this really great sacred arts store in Oakland!).
My new favorite is one written by Rabia, an Islamic saint from the 8th century that grew up in Mesopotamia.  Rabia was sold into the sex trade at a young age; at the age of fifty, she was given her freedom (most likely bought by a rich patron of hers).  She spent the rest of her life in meditation and prayer; that along with her touching poems makes her a create candidate to be an Islamic saint.

It Acts Like Love
It acts like love--music,
it reaches toward the face, touches it, and tries to let you know
His promise: that all will be okay.

It acts like love--music, and tells the feet, "You do not have to be so burdened."

My body is covered with wounds
this world made,

but I still longed to kiss Him, even when God said,

"Could you also kiss the hand that caused each scar,

for you will not find me until you do."

It does that--music--helps
to forgive.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breathing in the Joy.

Today was a good day.  As I head off to bed, I feel content and happy to be where I am at in life currently.  I haven't been feeling too steady these past weeks and have felt like a fish swimming around in circles, forgetting what I was supposed to be doing. I'm grabbing onto this feeling of joy and holding onto it for a minute.

 Life seems so quick and fast, but there is always room to take a few minutes to deliberate and make a delicious meal.  Always extra time for someone who needs to really talk about their day.  Always an extra 30 minutes to take a mind break and watch a sitcom.  There needs to be wiggle room in the day to be a human being.  I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and be the most productive, perfect person in the world, because I wasn't today or yesterday.  That is really a hard thing for me to say.  The person I imagine being tomorrow and the person I am in reality is disappointing.  You can chalk it up to being a Type A, optimistic, perfectionist attitude, but really what it mean is that I need to love me, not the possible me of tomorrow.  Today I was good enough for me, and tomorrow I will try my best.  I was good enough yesterday and will be good enough tomorrow.  I'm beautiful in today's skin.

What brings you joy on this day (or any day)?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Whos and the Whys

Who am I?

For some reason, when I get into this question and dwell on it, I start thinking about who I WAS and feeling guilty that I have changed.  This is not helpful because who I was six months ago is of course going to be different than who I am now; change is inevitable.  I've moved to the West Coast, I started graduate school, and I've made many wonderful friends here.  I make mochas and latte art, while simultaneously arguing the theology of Martin Luther.  I shop at local produce markets and I rock out to tunes while walking for multiple hours a week.  I stay up late finishing Old Testament quizzes and I get to wear shorts in November.

Who am I?

Last night, while walking home, I picked up a meditation mantra and searched in myself for answers about who I am.  The first words I felt strongly were "a good girl."  Oh boy. That made me mad.  I feel as if I am still that 6th grade girl, with the other kids heckling me and calling me "Goody two shoes!" (What does that even mean, by the way? I'm special because I have two shoes?)  That's why I feel quite resistant to be the woman who understands what she is called to do at the age of 23.  Why not make some more mistakes first?  Why not go to a high powered job and make money to help pay for life as a grad student? Nope, not me! I'm here, baring it all, ready to be continually transformed.  I know that my wish to shrug the "good girl" vibe attributes to a lot of the way my lewd humor works and why I am loud about my stubborn tendencies.  I think it's good to know the Whys of how I behave; they certainly help understand the Whos.

The second thing I felt that resonated with me is that I am a fighter.  That part of my personality sometimes does not come off strong within the academic world.  I have opinions, but as a Helper (Number 2 on the Enneagram), I place emphasis on the needs and opinions of others.  I'd rather be respectful about the opinions of others than outwardly say mine; that also plays into being non-confrontational.  My opinion is important and is worth being said, despite my want to keep it to myself.  Luckily, there are people that hold such different views than me here that it feels like my opinions come bursting out of me.  I want to hold on to my resilience and hold fast to the things that I believe in.  Even deeper than that, I need to hold on to ME and my own needs.  God has given me love and with that love, I am able to spread love to the people around me.  I am worthy of loving and worthy of being loved.  I am worthy of loving myself.  I've been feeling lonely lately, especially since a big relationship in my life has ended and I find myself being a single seminarian.  Lonely is alright; though; lonely allows for potential to love myself as much as I can and reach out to the many people who support me. :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

herchurch Conference

This past weekend I had the immense pleasure to spend a few hours at herchurch in SF; this is a Lutheran church, believe it or not!
 The conference day started with a Grandmother Invocation that included a singing to the Grandmothers of the East, South, West, North, sky, ground, and heart.  I am beyond excited to share this song/dance because it felt like such a beautiful and thoughtful way to begin a worship or even in daily life.
Inclusive language has been a prominent thought in my mind these past months and I have begun to notice every masculine word that is a part of worship or theological writings: Lord, kingdom, son of Man, Father, He.  It is astonishing to me how normalized the masculine view of God is part of the structure of our religious context, let alone society.  I had known these concepts before seminary but studying the actual Greek as well as reading the female oppression ridden Hebrew Bible has sparked a new discovery of the depth of how detrimental the view of a male God is for all people and how intrenched these values are in Western society.
herchurch is a refreshing break from male exclusive language; albiet, the language is directly to the other extreme with Goddess imagery.  While I think that the best approach is to incorporate both views of God with each other or better yet, use nongender specific language, the embracing of female imagery is quite necessary to empower and give respite for females in the church.
I was able to hear the keynote of the ecofeminist liberation theologian Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung.  This woman is an intelligent, creative, and eloquent speaker with great humor.  My favorite quote of her speech was this: "A few people have questioned me about my religion by asking if I'm married to Jesus and sleeping with Buddha.  I tell them that it's not like that--it's more like a threesome!" :)
Keynote speaker Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung
 Dr. Kyung spoke about how she often found herself spending most of her time reacting against patriarchal theologians and needing to find the energy to fight against the hate.  She spoke about the accumulated anger that this creates and deemed it the cancer of the soul.  Dr. Kyung smiled as she told us that she looked for answers in nature and felt comforted to realize that Mother Nature continues to know how to survive through all the destruction.  Under the surface, there is the energy of compassion and the maternal nature of embracing of the earth.  Dr. Kyung explains that finding women's theology is like finding that deep lifeline of the earth; it is the grounding of the feminine divine.  "What do know what enlightenment is like? Study nature--she is our teacher."-Dr. Kyung.

Through this grasping of the perseverence of the female divine found in nature, Dr. Kyung recognized that there was no longer a need to fight the patriarchal constructs but instead celebrate the special gifts of being female.  This also parallels with the concept that we need to have an intimate relationship between us and the earth; within ecofeminism, women embrace the deep connection between sexuality and spirituality.  This is a connection that is long been divided in Western culture; the extremes of Puritans vs. Pornographers is a very relevant subject in the US today.

I feel refreshed and remember all of the wonderful women whose shoulders I stand on today.  There is so much hunger, tired feet, bruises, and tears that make it possible for me to smile while I bask in the appreciation of the feminine divine.

Anja, Pastor Tita, Dr. Kyung, me, and Chelsea
 Dr. Kyung spoke of the religious church as a whole as a Titantic, a gigantic concept that is in reality a sinking ship that keeps getting smaller each day in its own irrelevancy.  This is the metaphor that my mind has been waiting years to grasp onto.  I find myself in all parts of my current life as a seminarian questioning: Now how is this current conversation relevant to the modern context of church?  I find myself amidst seas of thoughts and details about concepts such as the presence of Christ in the eucharist or the role of covenants in Zion theology and I think to myself, what would the average 23 year old say to something like this?  These concepts that theologians find themselves arguing over for centuries are irrelevant to the average person living their daily life in the 21st century.  Worse than that, worship and finding community in a church seems irrelevant to the greater population in the US today.  How can a church be something that feeds the spiritual needs of people when it's busy debating about which Protestant sector is closest to Catholicism?

I do not have the answers and these questions that I have certainly do not keep me from getting the necessary readings and papers done.  But it sure does add some questions about what to do with all of this new theological knowledge in my brain (which will keep amounting and getting more complex) and how that fits into my call to support people on their journeys in the modern world.  People have a spiritual need but sometimes this need is not even recognized within a person's self.  When it is possible to thrive financially, emotionally, and socially without thinking about God and the meaning of life/death, how does one realize that there is a void?  I feel the void; I hear the empty space being filled up when I sing a song in worship, or when I connect with someone in a hug.  The gift I have to give is love, and I know that it does not come from me but from God's compassion for all humankind.  Another gift I have is the modern lens I bring into the church; I'm just not sure about how my context of living in the modern world can work with the historical and theological background just yet.

Panel of a 64 foot tall mural that will be placed on the tower of herchurch

Thursday, October 25, 2012


This week is reading week aka fall break. This means that I am halfway through my first semester of seminary.  And this is my first post as a full-blown seminarian.  Wow.  I suppose this is a testament to a bit of my life as a seminarian; my day is full of juggling class, readings, assignments, work, worrying about how these readings affect my theological point of view, and regular crises of identity.  I've come out of the constant berating of intellectual, theological, and emotional work for this nice break and I feel myself settling into life at PLTS, Berkeley, and the West Coast.  I'm doing pretty well academically and want to step up my game theologically these next months.

My roommate and I often have moments of "WOW I'M IN CALIFORNIA!" .....the other first years are from California so they are not as awe struck, so they just chuckle at us. :)  The seminary has this beautiful view from the top of the hill; the clear blue water of the Bay, the green of the trees dotting the hills, and SF's skyscrapers across the Bay.  I love the balmy winds, the fog that rushes in at random times, the palm trees, and flowers I've never seen before blooming in October.  This is my new home and I love it wholeheartedly (and not just because the produce is so freaking cheap here haha).

My life these past months have been punctuated with so many laughs, great conversations, new revelations, tears, and sorrow.  I am going through so much change and the support that I have found in the people at PLTS and my other homes has been immense and profound for me.

I'm back in Columbus; I got in last night and I cannot believe how weird it feels to be here at this home again.  I'll be here for a few days and it already feels overwhelming because there are so many people I love and want to see and I know that I will not see everyone I'd like to.  I am blessed to have so many people that I love, who love me and are there for me.  Being here has helped me see the amount of change that I'm going through.  In the split second when I first saw Jillien as she picked me up the airport, I realized how much I had to share with her and did not know where to start.  I've learned so much about white privilege, Lutheranism, Zion theology, but really the biggest part is what I understand about myself after these months.

I feel myself grasping the foundations of who I am and what I need.  This self discovery is creating change in my personal life, which hurts and feels like the world is caving in.  But "they" (every person who has gone through seminary and given me advice) said that this year would be a difficult one full of breakdowns and massive discoveries.  I'm learning but it is surprising me how much the theological breakthroughs are not taking my life over; I embrace the dualities and paradoxes and confusing blurry points of theology.  The part that gets me is this question: "Who am I within all of this?"

As ever, thanks for listening and supporting me, dear readers.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adventuring, ancient language style.

At first, the concept of learning Greek seemed like a formidable mountain, of which I only knew tales of woe or victory.  My mother easily recalls the fateful day her summer Greek course ended--it involved collapsing on a couch in exhaustion and beloved Aunt Darline coming to her with hands full of Peanut Buster Sundaes to celebrate the end of declensions, participles, and deponent verbs.  On another side of the spectrum, my father continues to understand Greek so well that he even has an application on his phone that is the Greek New Testament and pulls it out during church on Sunday!

Yesterday, I stepped out out of my Greek course confident in my ability to translate Greek.  My translation sure is not perfect but I am able to understand the text and argue about fine points of translation, which I would say is a huge step in the right direction.

Where do I fit in on the scale of this Greek mountain?

I didn't collapse but I certainly was ready for these 6 weeks to be o-v-e-r.  Will I still be able to translate 20 years from now?

Only time will be able to tell.  Monos kronos duvatai leyeiv.

The thing about studying Greek that blows my mind is the fact that all of the grammar lessons and discussions about whether a noun is nominative or accusative really do lead me (and the other students) into this brand new world of discovering the Bible in the text it was written in.  This concept seems so obvious, but the moment that you gain a new insight because of the Greek word choice, if feels as if I have learned how to see a color that wasn't available before.  Every time I get to a verse that I recognize within the first few words, I cannot help but smile to myself and get ready for my mind to be blown, Greek-style.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm in Seminary, but I'm not Crazy!

One of the first questions people ask me when they meet me is, "Why did you move out to Berkeley?  Are you attending CalBerkeley?"

Before I answer, my heart gives a little sigh.  It is as if my soul is saying, "Alright, here comes the first test."  What will this person think once I tell them that I am here to attend a Lutheran seminary? That I will be spending four years of my life studying theology and pastoral care and Lutheran traditions?  Whenever I tell people this, I feel like I want to tack on, "But I'm not crazy!"

I can imagine you readers out there might think, "Stick to your guns, Kaitlin! Be proud of how far you have come!"  I am very proud of who I am, where I am, and what I am doing with my life--but how far can I really go whilst in a casual conversation to explain that society's stereotype of a Christian is very far from who I am as a Lutheran?

This is not something only seminarians struggle with.  How can you get across a message of love, justice, and grace when there is so much hate surrounding the idea of Christianity in our culture?  I think I might be answering my question as I write this, because the reason I am going to seminary is so that as a religious leader, I can continue to provide compassion, intellect, and grace for people who have not found it before in a religious context.

In short, what  I want to say to each person that asks me about where I am in life is, " I attend seminary. I am in training to become a pastor/chaplain.  I can get married and (gasp!) have sex. I can drink alcohol.  I am a person who might stay up too late, make mistakes, make dirty jokes, and dance ridiculously. I am compassionate and want to support people when they are at their lowest moments.  I am logical and enjoy questioning the things that I believe, in order to gain a deeper perspective.  I want to hear your opinion on spirituality and religion, especially if you do not believe anything, because you still have that hunger to belong to something. To believe in something.  I hope you find meaning in your lifetime; any meaning.  I have no agenda but to support people in their struggles with mortality and spirituality."

Think that is too much of a mouthful to say to a stranger you've just met?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Adventures of the Min. Wage Kind

It's funny how I spent most of last week fretting so much about needing to get the motivation to study for Greek.  The most popular excuses were:
1. Naptime! Who doesn't need 2 naps per day?
2. A walk around the Berkeley Hills is refreshing and, of course, exercise is completely as important as studying, right?
3. Lord of the Rings! Yes please, let's take a 3 hour break from studying to watch Orks get killed!

Those three points being said, I still was able to get at least a few hours of studying done every day.  Greek is beginning to settle into my brain and I hope that it will stay with me for a long time.

This week has been and will be a different story entirely.

Yesterday, I started my first day of training at a local cafe in Berkeley--and I will be spending 4 days there this week!  I feel so grateful to have been able to find part-time work within two weeks of moving into the Bay Area.  The first few days are always the most difficult, so I am glad for the patience and kindness the staff have shown me when I ask a question every five minutes.

I am excited to be a part of a coffee-shop once again! My nose has missed the coffee-shop scent--for me it is a mixture of espresso grounds, buttery pastries, and wooden tables.  One whiff of that scent and I go straight back to the hours I spent at Deja Vu Coffeehouse (the first job I ever had).  Every morning, as I stepped through that brightly painted door, I would take a deep breath of the coffee-shop scent and smile.  It felt great to be a part of that coffee-shop and I will always hold Deja Vu in my heart.  I'm looking forward to making room for another wonderful cafe!

Since I am juggling Greek, training/work, getting to and from work, and those minor things in life like sleeping and eating, I have a pretty busy schedule this week!  My multi-tasking skills feel a little rusty--it is funny how easily I adjusted to only having a job to worry about every week.  I am glad to be able to adjust to this during this summer so I can be ready and prepared for my first semester!  I also cannot imagine how people adjust into seminary (or any schooling, for that matter) after spending years in the full-time work mindset.

Even though my schedule is a bit hectic, I love being able to enjoy the little things.  The 45 minute walk to work is full of great views of the Bay Area ( I first mistyped that as Gay Area, had a little giggle at the non-irony of that statement, and then fixed it- I hope that entertains you as well).  While making my way down the hill to get into downtown, there is a block on Spruce St. that is lined with blackberry bushes.  Two girls were eating from it yesterday, so I had a few today--they were pretty tasty.  Oh, the little secrets that the Berkeley Hills holds only for the pedestrians. :)

People in Berkeley, well, the Berkeley Hills at least, operate as if everyone that walks by is a neighbor.  It is quite nice to be greeted by every person that is out gardening, walking a dog, or grabbing mail--it's almost as if I'm in the Midwest. But, wait, I can see the Golden Gate from here! What a blessed life I live.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Greek nerd what?

It seems that I have become a Greek nerd.  The past two nights, as I have faded off to sleep, the thoughts in my head stop being English but turn into the sounds of the Greek language.  I wish that would mean that I hold the secret knowledge of the intricacies of Greek, which is not true.  But guess what? Two days into the course I could translate a sentence.  Then, when declensions and pronouns got involved, I totally lost all confidence that I could do this whole "read Greek" thing.  Many hours of studying later, I feel pretty good about my first week of class.  1/6 of the way done! :)  Though I've heard a rumor that there are 4 different past verb tenses......

I am starting to get the hang of the crazy winding, incredibly tiny Berkeley Hills streets and I feel quite proud that I no longer require a GPS and a few curse words to get anywhere nowadays.

My birthday (aka first day of Greek!) was absolutely splendid.  The PLTS students and staff that were on campus surprised me by singing to me in front of the whole class!  It was a very kind welcoming into the PLTS community.  I am enjoying comiserating with the 10 other students in the course; it is helpful to know that other people are studying and quizzing and want to give up right at the same times that I do.

My birthday dinner consisted of a night in of cooking two kinds of spaetzle: cheddar onion and swiss sauerkraut.  For those of you not hip to the German food world, spaetzle is a homemade noodle that is versatile because you can add anything to it and its instant delicious. :)  Making spaetzle reminds me of the lovely woman, Sophie Schmid, who taught me how to make it.  I remember crouching over a boiling pot and slicing little bits of dough into the pot, while thinking, "How the heck are these weird floating things going to taste good?" But oh, they are amazing.  My mother made her famous dark chocolate pound cake that is melt-in-your-mouth, fattening-your-waist-line delicious.

Berkeley continues to be a beauty.  These past days have been quite sunny up here in the Berkeley Hills; which isn't too helpful when one should be inside studying their second declension endings.  I was lucky enough to see a deer and her two fawns tonight just outside of the dorm.

I think back on how far I have come in this past year and wonder what lies in store for my faith these next months.  I've heard multiple times that the first year of seminary breaks your faith completely apart so that it can be built back up, stronger and more malleable.  I'm glad for the aspect of a building back up from the ruins, but I worry for the breaking down.  What lies in store for me during my first semester here?  The best I can do is be myself in every direction I take and trust that there is a greater plan for me.

I have heard from a few people so far that I have the Berkeley look about me.  If Berkeley means awesome, which I'm pretty sure it does, I'll take that compliment whole-heartedly. :D

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 2 and 3: Reno and Berkeley!

Rounds 2 and 3 of mountain driving survival were successful. :)  Utah and Nevada are both much more gorgeous than anyone gives them credit for.  Perhaps that is because I am not talking to the right people, but usually the common references are Utah--Mormons and Nevada--gambling.

Now, when I think of Utah, I think of the miles and miles of the salt flats.  I-80 drives straight through what used to be a bigger salt lake that has dried up and left a stunning view of blindingly white layers of salt on the land (All I wanted to do was get out of the car and go taste some salt but I'm guessing that is horribly unhygienic).  Utah means %5 declines on the highway with views of mountains abound as you tear down the mountain at 75 mph.  Utah is red soil and rock formations so steep and so formed that it seems as if they were chiseled by thousands of artists who wanted to demand more beauty out of Utah.

When Nevada comes to mind, I recall the slight cool breeze that lowers the temperature of the desert climate as soon as the sun goes down.  Reno means views of the Sierra mountains that force you to intake a breath and soak up the beauty.  Reno is elaborate architecture and outlandish style that covers the buildings of casinos.
And even better, California might be all that it is cracked up to be.  As we passed over the state line, the high divider was no longer a stretch of brown desert grass but flowers, pink and red and white and purple.  Miles and miles of blooming flowers, full of prosperity and beauty. Full of hope. :)

My dorm room is HUGE! It was built to be a double but now all of the rooms are used as singles so I have plenty of space for organizing as well as decorating.  Only 4 people will be living in the dorms during this next 6 weeks so I get to stretch out a bit until the rest of people show up for fall!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 1: Salt Lake City!

Wow. Yesterday, I would have told you that mountain driving is strenous but managable.  After trekking across Wyoming and Utah and encountering semis that are passing me at 75 mph during a decline, I feel much less of a Westerner in my ultimate pansy reaction to the whole situation.  5 years of flatland have done me in.

Dramatics aside, today was a beautiful day of discovery.

While driving in Northeast Colorado to get to I-80, there were many patches of soil that were deep shades of red.  I hadn't seen the red soil that is the namesake of the state that prominent.  I can no longer make jokes about the supposed "colorful" Colorado--it really is that red.  How the heck am I supposed to be funny now? :)

The rolling hills in eastern Wyoming make it clear that this whole part of the land used to be an ocean floor.  The sandy hills dotted with little green bushes would fit right into a picture of the Australian reef.

 Utah is gorgeous. Absolutely breathtaking. Terrifying to drive in, but the vistas. Oh, the vistas (I am mainly using this word because my mother used it about 7 times today and also fancy words are the coolest).

Who got to see the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake? THIS GIRL.

At the Great River Platte museum in NE, there was plenty of information about the trek that the Mormons made from the plains to Utah.  As I viewed these mountainsides, I could not imagine how those people stuck it out through the desert conditions that cover these huge mountains.  Directing houses that are hauling wagons made with wooden wheels.  Must have been an abundance of perseverance and hope for what the Wild West could offer.

Thanks to the lovely Elizabeth Pierce for hosting us in Salt Lake City! She was a great tour guide to the Capitol, the Mormon Mecca (ha probably not the correct word but it gets the point across), and University of Utah!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why I am I doing this again?

I found myself asking this question while driving around my beloved hometown this morning.  What was I thinking?  I left a fulfilling job that I loved, my boyfriend, and amazing support systems in Ohio.  Tomorrow, I'm leaving my hometown, my family, and wonderful friend groups behind.  I'm leaving to go somewhere I've never lived to be surrounded by people that I have never met.  I'm going out into the unknown.  The part of me that is scared of this whole new frontier asks, "Why?"

I'm quite glad that I have a clear answer for this.  One of my best friends from high school met with me last night and we discussed the turning points that are happening in our lives.  She mentioned a quote she had heard that struck a chord with me: "The worst enemy of the best is not the worst, but the good."  When life is good, it is easy to feel content and happy with your life.

The goodness of my lives that I lived in Columbus and Fort Collins make it seem so easy to drift back into the patterns full of happiness that I have been a part of these past years.  God does not want me to be in the path of a good life.  God wants the absolute best out of me, not necessarily for me but for all of the people that I will be able to help grow in their spiritual journey.  The greatest threat to me is my own comfort zone.  I am scared for this next step of life but I know that the outcome will be better than anything I can imagine at this point.  It's funny to feel quite nervous about this even though I feel positive that this is what I am supposed to be doing.  I am grateful to have people supporting me and reassuring me that this is exactly what I am meant to do.

I am humbled to be the first recipient of the Hayes Memorial Scholarship from Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Los Alamos, NM!  God is working through many people to show me how amazing it is that I am going to seminary to follow my call to ministry.

One more day until Roadtrip Part Deuce begins!
3 more days until I live in Berkeley.
5 more days until I turn 23 and take my first summer Greek class! On the joy....

Fort Collins has been absolutely amazing this past week.  It was a delight to show Jillien around FoCo and witness her eyes filled with wonder at the mountains, the wildlife, and the general awesomeness that is Colorado.  She would make fun of me every time I said, "Wow the smokey haze makes it hard to see the mountains today." Her response was to stare at me and say, "Colorado problems." Oh how I adore Jillien because of the wit and intellect she adds to my life. :)

We took a haunting trip up to some of the burn area in the Poudre Canyon.  The brevity of this fire keeps all of the Fort Collins folk abuzz on how many people and animals that have been affected.  The barren mountains, covered in black, stab at all of our hearts; the rivers run black and cover the river rocks with a layer of soot.

I am thankful for the firefighters' neverending motivation to keep this fire from spreading and I pray for all of the living things that are trying to feel normal after having their homes/habitats destroyed.  Keep Sky Ranch in your prayers as they continue camp this week and manage to steer the bears away from camp!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 3: Home!

Our last day of the roadtrip to Colorado started out great--with DELICIOUS chocolate chip banana bread made by the acclaimed cook, Teri Drury (Thanks Teri!).  Ron took us into Lincoln to the Haymarket district, where we enjoyed walking around and looking around in two bookstores, where we picked up the next two books of the Hunger Games and coffee for the long hours of driving.

Of course we had to stop at the Mormon Island Rec Area!

After a few hours of driving, we got to Kearney, NE where the Great Platte River Road Archway Museum is located over the highway.  It was great fun to go through the interactive exhibit and take a pause to write postcards!
The rest of the trip included a frantic reading of Hunger Games (we were only 10 pages away from finishing the book when we get into Fort Collins), beautiful views of Nebraska farmland and plateaus, and a 10 minute rain storm that Jillien drove us through.

Coyote metal work since I didn't get the picture of the Wyoming sign!

I've found that the sky is hazy with smoke from the fires, but it is still the awe-inspiring Colorado that I know and love. :) It's good to be back home for a while to see friends and show Jillien my favorite things about Colorado!

It's crazy that I am here at home and that the wonderful life that I had in Columbus is still there in the East, moving on without me in the picture.  There a bigger purpose for this, one that I cannot see just yet.  I trust that God knows the plan and that Berkeley will be bringing more wonders than I can even imagine.  I am ready for the change and eager to begin my new adventures there!  Still, I carry all of you Ohioans in my heart and will miss you so much as I begin this new life stage.  Just as I did when I left Colorado to go fall in love with Ohio.

I keep thinking, my heart is so full of people and places and memories.  How can it expand to include new people and new adventures?  It feels at capacity right now--I feel like I am brimming with the love that people give me and the love I cannot help but hand out in abundance.  I am one very blessed woman and I know that the love that I encounter by giving and receiving will never be too much; it will continue to grow and expand my life in ways I never thought possible.

Quotes of today:
"Banana Bread do do do do do"--Drury household song
(to the tune of the Muppets song)

"READ WOMAN"--Jillien
"But we are really close to home--can't I soak it in the neighborhood?"--Kaitlin
"NO. READ."--Jillien

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 2: Firth, NE!

My favorite thing about this roadtrip is having Jillien by my side, always ready with a quip about something I said, but I especially appreciate when she referrs to Missouri as Minnesota/Montana, which has occured about 9 times now. :D

Our second day of roadtripping went smoothly, albeit a bit more tiredly.  We breezed through much of the Hunger Games, so we will be on the lookout for Catching Fire today!  In the early afternoon, we drove through Kansas City and I decided to take a small detour to the area that I grew up in Kansas City.  It is quite difficult to describe the emotions that coursed through my body when seeing the overgrown grass, chipped paint buildings, sidewalks with grass creating huge cracks in it, and the overall feeling of neglect in the neighborhood I spend my early years in.

I have so many beautiful memories of Kansas City: riding my bike in a circle in the basement of our house (it was too dangerous for me to ride on the streets), playing for hours with neighborhood kids in our backyard playset, singing passionately with the people of Fountain of Hope (the mission church in which my dad was the pastor), being passed secret donuts from Mr. Brown (an elderly parishioner with a young heart).

The wonderful church where I had so many people that I adored and seen my Dad change so many lives is boarded up.  This place that seemed to be pulsing with life is stripped of its soul and lies to rot. There are no other words for my feelings but empty sadness.

We passed through Kansas City and up to Firth, NE.  It's a small town south of Lincoln where our family friends, the Drurys, live.  Ron greeted us with their new dog, Nike! We ate outside of their patio with a beautiful view of the Nebraska farmland--Jillien said she could see Ohio from here. :)

 It was great fun to get schooled in music; I have now learned to love Van Morrison, Radiohead, Wilco, and the Black Keys.  We also watched Up! for the first time (well, for me, it was the first time), which was absolutely amazing ( as I knew it would be, which is why a hipster like me wouldn't watch it until way after it was a fad haha).
Crazy building in Kansas City

umm at least you can tell that it's Nebraska?

We got lost so we took a picture with cornfields

Quotes from today:
 "Dinner will be so easy, everything comes in a bag! Chips, salad, cheesecake..."--Ron
"Mmm nothing like cheesecake in a bag."--Jillien


"He looks ornery"--Jillien.
*Kaitlin gives Jillien the glare of death*
"What does ornery mean, Jillien? I'm pretty sure it means stubborn and ill-natured..."-Kaitlin

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 1: St. Louis!

What a wonderful, sunny day for driving! We jammed out to a mix I made for this trip and read through 120 pages of The Hunger Games. Jillien hasn't read it yet and so is very anxious to see how it ends--I'm trying not to give anything away when she guesses what is going to happen, since I am terrible at lying. :)
A tree down in Bexley right by Trinity Seminary--what a crazy storm!

I love being in the Midwest--states go by so quickly! I always feel very productive in my travels when I go through state lines every 2 hours.

Really cool cross structure! Jillien proclaims that it is the coolest thing we have encountered so far.
Missouri state line on the MLK Bridge

It was over 100 degrees in St. Louis today, which provided plenty of heat for us on our jaunt to the St. Louis Arch! It was grand fun to be a tourist at the Arch; one of the more difficult monuments to take a picture with...we had many tries at it though!

We have officially been spoiled here at the Anderson-Little house--homemade pizza (it was made on the grill! so innovative!), Mary Kay goodies, hawk-watching, cheesecake, and homemade mani-pedi's! It is such a blessing to stay with fun people that welcome us into their home. Thanks Dan, Linda, Leah, and Marcy!

Quotes from today:
 "Oh you guys are from Colorado? Do you have any of that wacky stuff?"--guy that took our money at a parking lot at the Arch; we think he wanted wacky stuff from us....

"I totally love Phasing's the best feeling you can have."---Leah


The day is here to move and it seems so surreal. Perhaps it is because I've been thinking about this day for a few months now, or maybe it is the fact that the last 24 hours have been quite a whirlwind (literally).

Over 300,000 people in Ohio are without power because of a raging storm that hit around 5 pm last night.  I have been counting my blessings that I had much of my packing done this week before I lost power, so I was able to do what little packing was needed by candlelight.  My friend Jillien and I packed my car awesomely, though most credit goes to Jillien and her beastly arms. :)

I hope that the people without power are able to find ways to get out of the heat and be a little comfortable.  The AEP website said that it would take about 5-6 days to restore power to everyone in Ohio.  I am praying for everyone I know and don't know that has been affected by this storm.

Today we drive to St. Louis to stay with family friends! Let's pray for sunny weather and clear roads along the way.

So many goodbyes have been said this past week, it seems as if I will never be done saying goodbye to all of the people that I love here in Ohio.  I can feel the stress of these goodbyes in my neck and back (where I carry my worries).  I know that it is a wonderful thing that I have so many people that care for me and that I love here; I really have created a home here in Columbus.  I will miss it very much and will carry Ohio with me in my heart.  But now it's time to move into uncharted territory for me: seminary, the West Coast, and the Bay Area, and an independent me.  Thank you all for your love and support during this time; your encouragement has helped me remember why I am making this big move.  I want to learn the ministry of God and how it works in our lives in order to help people in this world the best that I can.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the Home Stretch

Whew. The days have gotten hotter, and my to do list seems to keep getting longer.  Stress levels are at an ultimate high for me this week, so please keep me in your thoughts in the coming days.

 My lovely '99 Buick, Eugene, is vacumned, clean, and got maintenance this morning (for a chunk of change but I imagine that's how it is with all cars).  I'm getting new tires in the near future so my car will be all set to run great for this roadtrip.

Despite the stress of finances, packing, and saying goodbye to many wonderful people, I am very honored to have received the Fund for Leaders scholarship!  The Fund for Leaders is an ELCA full-tuition scholarship; 16 people were chosen from all 8 seminaries to be awarded.  I am overjoyed that the ELCA sees the potential for me as a leader within the ministry!

As much as I worry over the burdens of moving, I know that there is a greater purpose that will be fulfilled in my experience of attending seminary.  How can I remain stressed when I know that when I need it, there is always someone there for me.  Family members, friends, and even strangers have stepped up to support me.  God works in wondrous ways. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

15 Days.

15 Days.

15 days stand between me and the morning that I, along with a close friend, tightly pack ourselves into my 1999 Buick LeSabre leave the comforts of Columbus, OH and begin my journey that ends in Berkeley California.
Two weeks? No way. These five years of Ohio that have culminated into this two weeks seems quite unreal.  I write these words, shocked that I will no longer be able to grab a delicious hot dog at Dirty Franks, my all-time favorite restaurant in Columbus, or indulge in the unique and amazing Jeni's Ice cream.  I will not walk the streets of Bexley and run into children that I know and love because I meet most of Bexley's children while working at the Jewish Community Center Daycare.  I can't venture to German Village for a walk in Schiller Park and then comb over the books in the 32 rooms of the maze that is the Book Loft.  These places hold so many memories for me.

Last night, I had a going away get together at the fountains of Capital University.  It was fitting to say goodbye to dear friends at the place where we frollicked as students (Alright, maybe only I frollicked on campus but it was always to the amusement of a friend walking with me).  Capital University and Columbus have been a place where I blossomed into the confident leader that I am today.  The late nights, the numerous executive board meetings of groups I was in, the early morning studying, the hours spent in my fraternity's room, the laughs over cheap beer at the local bar Liepzig Haus; I adore Capital University for challenging me to be an intellectual and compassionate leader.

I've been glad to be able to be back in Columbus to fall into the place of Capital alumni while being so close to campus.  More importantly, I am overjoyed for the extra time I have had to be with my family members and friends here in Columbus.  College is a crazy whirlwind and I am glad to have had time to relax here in Columbus while working in a job that I adore.

Working as a daycare teacher has been a beautiful experience and I could not ever trade my memories of the Ladybug Room for anything.  The twelve children that I have been able to love and teach are cemented in my hearts forever as their infant selves.  I so wish that I could stay here and watch them grow up and continue to be their teacher for life.  But not everyone can be Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. :)  I leave these children here knowing that I love them with all of my heart and that the love I gave them will stay with them forever.

As you can tell, leaving Ohio is going to be a challenging experience for me.  I have a great life here that I enjoy and wonderful people that surround me with love and kindness.  When I pray to God, I often hear back that there is much more in store for me.  These wonderful experiences that I have here are just the beginning of a great journey.  I am more than happy to heed the call to seminary.

The only thing that I can imagine will make me happy in life is to support others in their emotional and spiritual lives.  God gave me gifts of hospitality and compassion and the ability to connect with others in ways that I never thought imaginable.  I am thrilled to see what else God has in store for me.

As someone who loves to be a support for other people, it can be hard to let other people support me.  I am very happy that though I try to be self-sufficient, I will never be able to support myself the way that my loved ones do.  I started typing out each of the peoples names of people who have held me through my discernment these past years, but I've decided that the list would go on for much too long. :)

I am overwhelmed with humbleness by the kindness of congregations and individuals who have donated to help me be able to make the road trip from Columbus to Berkeley!  I have to laugh whenever I am surprised when people support me emotionally, financially, or mentally.  My aunt wisely told me this a few weeks ago: "Well, isn't that what you would have done for them?"  Still, I am grateful for the love and kindness that people pour into me.

There is so much more to share and talk about, but I fear that this post is quite long already! Thank you for reading.