Here We Go Again…

Well, this is going to be what seems like my 100th attempt at blogging regularly. I always get going well in the beginning, and then let it slip away. I figured it was time to get going moving on it again. So many things have changed over the last year that I’m not going to even attempt to catch up on everything on this blog. I’ll highlight a few things, and set the tone for future blogs.

I am in the third month of my third year as a pastor. I began my third year in the Conestoga Parish on July 1, 2010. It’s both exciting and scary knowing that I’ve been in the same place for that long. Most of my employment up to this point has been seasonal or temporary at best. The other thing about starting my third year is that I know it will be my last with these three churches. Starting July 1, 2011, I will be a full time pastor and will move to a new church, and most likely a new town. I’ll share more about that in the future, because I don’t know anything about that yet and won’t until I get the phone call next spring.

Along with starting my final year at the churches, I begin my final year of seminary. I won’t mince words here, I’m extremely excited to be finishing up school. I started school at 5 1/2 years old, and now I’m 25 1/2 years old. That’s been a lot of time in school thus far in my life, and I’m ready for a break. People tell me that I’ll miss it, but I just want the opportunity to miss it. Right now I miss being home for more than 3 days a week. I miss being able to spend time with my family and friends on a regular basis. Many of my friends are getting married, having kids, and I want to be more free to experience those things with them. I fell rushed all the time, like I can’t give my all to any thing, only part of me to a million different things. Anyway, I’m ready for May to come around and to have completed my Master’s degree. It’s been a long few years here, and I’ll be glad to have that degree in my hand.

This last summer I had some exciting times. At Annual Conference (if you don’t know what that is, think of it as a large corporate meeting with all of its stockholders) I was commissioned as a Provisional Elder in the Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church. Now, what does that mean? Well, in short, I’m a step away from full ordination. The Board of Ordained Ministry felt that I was prepared enough to take on the work of an Elder, with some accountability and supervision, and after a couple years, I will be eligible for ordination. If all goes well, I’m looking at summer of 2013 for ordination. Here’s a picture from that event.

Well, I think I’ve spent enough time tonight tinkering with the design and layout of the blog and writing this post, I better get back to the homework. I’ve already started the list of things to blog about, so look forward to more posts coming soon. It feels good to be back.

Grace and Peace,

Happy New Year! (A little late.)

Well, 2010 is in full swing already and I’m not sure where January went. 2009 ended with a hell of a storm that kept me cooped up in Wahoo for 5 days and canceling church twice. It was kind of weird to not have church on Christmas Eve, but I survived the whole ordeal. I rang in the new year at my house with tons of people. Tim and I threw our typical New Year’s Eve party, and I think most people were just excited to be out of the house.

My January was supposed to be a great time with a trip to New Mexico to study Native American spirituality and enjoy some time away. However, my body had another idea. The day before I was to leave on the trip, I felt a constant pain in my abdomen. So, since I was leaving I figured it was a good idea to see the doctor. After about 20 minutes of ruling everything else out, it was determined that my appendix needed to come out. I left the doctor’s office in Wahoo at noon and was in surgery in Lincoln by 3:30 that afternoon. Long story short, I had to drop the trip and spend two weeks doing pretty much nothing but laying around.
Since the surgery, I’ve been very busy. The new semester started this week. I’m in semester 6 of 8 this spring. I can see the end of the tunnel, but it’s still at a distance. The commuting is taking its toll on me. I don’t sleep well when I’m in Kansas City, and when I’m home it’s all homework and church activities. I honestly am looking forward to next year with a lighter schedule and hopefully less time in Kansas City.
All in all, things aren’t too bad right now. I’m looking at a pretty busy schedule over the next few months, and hopefully when it’s over, I’ll feel pretty good about everything. Until then, I hope to get back to my former schedule of blogging. Random news for the day, I watched the new Star Trek movie last night, and I liked it. I want to go back and watch all of the old movies now. I think that might be my spring break project, Star Trek marathon. Nerdy, yes… reasonable expectation for fun, definitely.
“I don’t believe in no-win scenarios.” – James T. Kirk
Peace and Grace,

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been months since I last posted anything on this blog. I think I’m ready to take a stab at this again. The semester has just been crazy with changes all around. I have a list of things to blog about, and Christmas break should be full of updates and new perspectives.

Until then…

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

My bad…

It’s been a few days since I last posted. So much for every day during Lent, but things happen and here’s where I am. I’ve been busy and at times not so busy lately, but I’m okay with falling behind on the blog.

As I stepped away from the online part of my life this last weekend, I had a great time. For the first time that I can ever remember I chose to set aside meetings and events I needed to attend to just enjoy myself and do what I wanted. I feel really good about that. I was able to spend time with some people I haven’t seen enough of, and was able to meet some new people. Taking time to enjoy life when it seems like it’s the hardest to do really does pay off. I’m less stressed about things right now, and just want to enjoy a couple more days and this beautiful weather.

So my challenge to you is to take a moment or two, or if you can a day or two, to just pause and enjoy things you did before. Take the time to rekindle your passions and joys. These are the things you take with you, that remind you of how great things can be. If I can do it, I think anyone can.

Grace and Peace,
Z

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference;

Living one day at a time;
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it:
Trusting that you will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

Refelctions

I’ve never been one to set resolutions as a new year begins, but I do think it’s important to reflect on events and happenings in my life and see what I can learn. 2008 was a year of much diversity in my experiences. There’s been highs and lows, and everything in between.

2008 started and ended in the exact same place and with some of the same people. I found myself in cold machine shed in rural Nebraska with friends from college. That might have been the same, but everything in between was anything but familiar.

I spent the first 5 months of 2008 living in Kansas City and working at Baker University in Kansas. I enjoyed the time very much, and often miss living in a city with so much to do. That semester is also when I experienced a class that forced me to think in different ways about theology. I was introduced to Process Theology, and think that this will be an area I will spend more time in, either in a class or on my own. I discovered an understanding of God that made sense to me and lined up with my experiences. This was a big moment for me to have discovered something in seminary that got me excited about what I was doing.

The spring of 2008 also brought about the quadrennial gathering of United Methodists known as General Conference. This was my second time attending, but my first as a primary delegate. This was a time of deep struggling for me personally and spiritually. There were many glimmers of hope that I saw and experienced during the conference, but there were also some down times. It won’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me, but there was much disappointment in the church’s continued decision to ban the ordination of homosexuals. Also, the continued policies that make the church less accessible to the LGBT community troubled me at the time, and still does. However, I experienced a progressive community that I had not previously within the denomination. These were people I shared views and passions with, and gave me some comfort during that time.

Following General Conference, the school year ended and I received my first appointment as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. This resulted in a move back to Nebraska and a few life style changes. I also spent July in Dallas at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference to elect bishops for the church. This was my last act as a lay person in the United Methodist Church, and was a reaffirmation of why I am moving towards ordination and greater leadership in the church. The politics and clear prejudices present at this event showed me the need for great change in the church.

As August and September came around, I became very excited to start school again. I was ready to start learning and to see my friends again. However, I never thought that this fall would be such a challenging time in so many ways. These last 4-5 months have been the most difficult that I’ve experienced in my life, and there are so many different elements that have contributed to it. I’ve learned so much about who I am in comparison to who I thought I should be, and learned a lot about trust. I’ve gained some amazing people in my life through these experiences, and wouldn’t want to have had any other people in my life during this time.

One shining highlight of the year was the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. I spent much of the year hoping for that night when the election happened. I had the opportunity to see Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton in person, as well as take part in a few political rallies. It was exciting to be a part of something so historic. Election night was also a lot of fun in KC. I got to see the results with my closest friends and had a blast.

I know there will be challenges and difficulties in the future, but at this point I’m hoping for all the best in 2009. I have a lot of questions about my calling and my future ministry, but am going to take it as it comes and discover where I’m suppose to be in life. It may even end up being something I never imagined.

I’ve gained so much from my close circle of friends in the last part of 2008, and feel a lot better than I would if I didn’t have them. In some of my most difficult times, I gained people that are family to me. I can never thank you all enough, and look forward to the times we will have together in the future.

I pray that everyone will receive love and happiness this coming year, and all the years ahead. Take time to evaluate life, and be willing to try something new!

Grace and Peace,
Z

Time to start again…

So I was cleaning my apartment today and found my old backpack and it had stuff still in it. One of those things was my journal. I picked up the leather bound notebook that I purchased almost a year and a half ago, and obviously haven’t used in quite some time. Actually, while looking at it I noticed my last entry was January 18, 2008. Almost an entire year ago. However, the entry I read was interesting to me. It was a theological life statement that I had wrote for Polity class last January. It reminded me of what I feel and hope for the local church. Here is the entry:

I want the local church to realize its potential in changing lives. Through my personal actions and interactions with others, I want laity and clergy I come in contact with to grow in their faith. The realization that one single person or community can make a huge difference, is to realize God’s amazing Love for each individual. We must always be messengers of Grace, for what greater gift can we receive from God? As we connect with each other in the places we live and play, God is realized in the faces of others.

Part of my new start this January will be to journal more regularly… or I guess at all :)… as well as to blog about my thoughts and ideas about the present and the future. I hope that once in awhile something profound comes forth and can also help others think about life. If it doesn’t, at least I’ve started to bring things out of my head and into the open.

Grace and Peace,
Z

I’m reminded…

Every once in awhile, I get a reminder of why I believe the things I do. I am not a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of person when it comes to being in trouble. I have always believed that we need to help each other when times get tough, and that it’s not an individuals fault in sustained hardship. I mean, really, why would people choose to suffer if they can prevent it?

Recently, many events have caused me hardships and distress. I don’t want things to go this way, and I really don’t want to feel the way I do. It took time, but I am reaching out for help and at times things still go poorly. If I am to have any hope, “saving yourself” cannot be the reason alone. Sure, there are things I can work on and I am working on those…but it is not always enough.

Hopefully this all will pass, and I can get back to working on those things I was doing a few months ago before things started going downhill. I hope and pray that they do, and I guess that’s all I can wish for at this point.

Peace,
Z