Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Reflecting back on 2009, I am reminded of where life has taken me & the people along the way. It's not been the easiest year, to say the least, but it was filled with moments of personal growth and love from friends & family. I'm so thankful to those along the way. Life certainly takes us in interesting directions and I know God was there every step of the way. There were many moments when I never thought this day would come - when I was filled with doubt and uncertainty, when my heart was overwhelmed with sorrow. I am so glad to be on the other side now and feel 2010 is going to be fabulous.
Thanks to all who have taken this journey with me. I promise to write more often. For now, peace and blessings to all as we embark on a new year.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Despite the ups and downs of these last 6 months, I have much to be thankful for ~ the love & support of my family, amazing friends who are always there, the sense of call in my life, knowing that God is with me every step of the way. I will be especially thankful this year, as so many are without this holiday season. They will be in my prayers.
Thanks be to God for all good gifts and blessings bestowed upon us. May this be a time filled with thanks and love...not to mention yummy food:)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I saw this passage of scripture on a friend's facebook page today & it really struck me. In this time of uncertainity, it brings me a sense of comfort knowing God created me for a reason. When one is searching for a call, especially when one is currently unemployed, there is such a strong sense of doubt and frustration surrounding it all. It's been a long six months since I graduated from seminary & there's been so much that has happened since then. I've moved in and out of seasons of restlessness and sadness, but there have also been moments of blessing. There's been moments of deep heartache - the loss of a friend, the disappointment from not receiving a call, the pain of watching my father deal with the harsh side of church politics. There's been moments when I saw God's grace - time spent with good friends over warm cups of tea, a drive through the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, the love of family, conversations with a trusted friend & professor who knows me better than many people.
I know this journey has been long, but I also trust God indeed has a plan for me. It's not always easy to remember this, but I try every day. That's all I can do. And, by the grace of God, I will find a call. Thanks be to God for grace and love and reminders of blessings.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I'm still in the call process. Looking for a call in the PC(USA) isn't always a fast process - I know this from experience:) I have a couple of face to face interviews in the next couple of weeks, so we shall see what happens with those. Both are wonderful places & I would be happy living in either place. Lots of praying happening here!
I am "working" right now. I'm a volunteer/grunt laborer at Main Street: Greeneville, a non-profit that works with historic preservation & tourism. It's a small organization & the executive director is a friend, so she hired me until I get a call. In the least, it gets me out of the house & doing something 2 to 3 days a week, and I've met a lot of interesting & influencial people in my small town. Right now, we are working on Halloween Happenings (a fun night of candy, hay rides, & costume contests in downtown) and selling our new Main Street cookbooks.
I did manage to get down to Atlanta a week or so ago. It was so nice to see friends! My head was spinning in all different directions & I really needed those couple of days away. I have some of the most amazing friends - who let me vent & sleep on their couches/floors! I was able to eat at my favorite place - Taqueria Del Sol. They have the most amazing carnitas tacos. Yum. I miss being able to go there on a regular basis. Might have to make a road trip again soon:)
That's about all that's happening in my life right now. Oh, currently writing a sermon for one of my interviews - preaching neutral pulpit a week from Sunday. Text is Mark 10.46-52 where Jesus heals Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. Great text. If you should have any thoughts, feel free to leave me a comment. I'm accepting any & all thoughts. Prayers too.
More later. Blessings to you!
Monday, August 24, 2009
I'm restless, in more ways than one. I'm tossing & turning most nights, unable to get comfortable. I think God might be telling me something, just not sure what it is quite yet. I'm itching to get in my car & drive - to get away from it all for a few days. I've considered going to the beach, to stare at the ocean & clear my head. But, this costs money, which is not in huge supply right now, since I am currently without employment. However, I am heading to Atlanta this weekend to celebrate with my dear friends Kari & Steve, who are getting married on Saturday. They are amazing & I am grateful they want me to be there to witness the beginning of the new chapter of their lives. This will be a great opportunity to get away, see friends, enjoy good ATL food, and maybe even clear my head.
Maybe God wants me to be in a season of restlessness. Maybe something good will come from this. Maybe it won't last too long. I hope so.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Over this past week, I've been reminded of the seasons of life. This passage from Ecclessiates brings me great comfort during times of transition and times of sadness.
I said goodbye to a friend this past week. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in February 2008 and underwent chemo. After finishing chemo in winter 2009, her tumor returned. She died last Thursday, leaving behind her two young daughters & grieving family members and friends. She was only 27. We were friends in high school, went to church together, active in the youth group, spent summers in Montreat & on mission trips together. She was a truly beautiful person with a vibrant spirit for life. It makes me sad that cancer took this amazing person away. She & I lost touch when I went off to college. I only saw her a few times.
Her death reminds me of how much I miss my friends - old & new, far & near. I've moved around a lot in the past 10 years with school & internships. I'm afraid I've lost touch with so many people who meant a lot to me. It makes me sad to think about all of the time that has gone by. I think I am especially reminded of these past friendships as I am still waiting to see what will happen next in my own life & am living back home with my family. My friends are all living in other places, which makes communication hard. I hope to try harder to maintain my friendships.
I feel like I am in a season of sadness. After a long period of waiting, I found out that I did not get the job at the church I interviewed with last month. I knew this was a possibility & tried to prepare myself. I don't think you can ever be fully prepared. I'm a little heartbroken, but trying to remain hopeful. God will call me where I need to be. This just wasn't the right place.
"...a time to mourn and a time to dance..." Looking forward to dancing.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
So, my days are filled with packing boxes & writing my sermon for final assessment. That is my next big thing - final assessment on June 1st with the CPM & in front of Presbytery on June 6th. Then, the real fun begins:) I feel good about all of it. I know God is with me all the way.
Graduation is Saturday morning! It should be a wonderful day. My parents arrive Friday morning & I'm blessed to have my aunt, cousin & her 2 1/2 year old son Micah coming down from Ohio to celebrate with us for the weekend.
A week from today, I will be at home in Tennessee. I don't think that part has sunk in just yet...
Monday, April 20, 2009
Plan B is to spend the summer at home in Tennessee after graduation & begin the search process for a call in full force. I'm not a huge fan of liminal space, but I think this is where I am being called to live for at least the next little while. I will go through final assessment with the CPM & Holston Presbytery during the first week of June, and hopefully on June 6th, I can put my PIF out there.
God is with me. I know this. It's still hard, but I have a lot of other stuff to focus on right now, like writing a paper for American Religious History, preparing a presentation for that class (which is tomorrow), and writing a lesson plan & rationale for Christian Ed. Not to mention taking an oral alternative Bible Content exam! Lots to keep my mind occupied:)
Thanks to all of you who sent prayers my way! I can really feel them.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The second Sunday of Easter- we have been through the power of Holy Week – gathered around the table to partake of bread and wine and spent quiet moments reflecting on the violence surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and death upon the cross. We have celebrated Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday morning, sung our joyful hymns, and heard the story of the women at the tomb who come to realize Christ is no longer dead, but alive once again. We proclaimed – “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”
But now, a week has gone by. Life is returning to normal: back to work & school, continuing to whittle away at our long to do lists, and the pressures of everyday life begin to overwhelm us again.
But, Easter is not over! The story continues with this passage from the Gospel of John this morning. And, we are presented with a question that bears our careful consideration – do you need to see in order to believe?
Some of us are like Thomas in this story. He had a hard time believing the disciples were telling the truth about seeing Christ again. Thomas wants to see the risen Christ for himself, not simply relying on the stories of others. He wants to see, to touch, to feel Christ with him once again. Thomas really just wants what the other disciples were able to experience behind those closed doors – an encounter with the risen Christ.
And, some of us are like the disciples behind the closed doors. They were afraid and locked themselves away. And we, like those disciples, have a tendency to live in our comfortable realities of this world, despite that the Easter story has essentially turned the world upside down. We often live behind our closed doors, where we do not have to face our fears, huddled together, not quite ready to live into the gift of the Spirit, as an Easter people. Our temptation is to celebrate Easter and then go back to life as usual, like nothing really happened. But, the story does not end with Christ being raised from death unto life. There is much more. Christ appeared to the disciples, breathing the power of the Holy Spirit upon them, sending them into the world to proclaim peace and good news to all people.
This is our story. A little bit of Thomas and a little bit of the other disciples. We have doubts, we have fears, and we have all of the emotions of the ones whom Christ had chosen to follow him. We want to see in order to believe. There are times we wish we could actually see Jesus, touch him, hear his words for ourselves – you know, straight from the source. That is what Thomas wanted. The disciples who witnessed the first encounter behind the closed doors probably wanted to see Jesus again. We want to see the risen Christ too.
And so, Jesus appeared to them for a second time, and this time, Thomas was with them. And, after placing his hands into the wounds on his body, he proclaims, “my Lord and my God”. Jesus’ response is to ask the question – do you believe because you have seen me? What a powerful question, not only for Thomas, but for us. Must we see in order to believe? We live in a world filled with skepticism and doubt. We seem to always want a little more proof. We look for answers to the hard questions of life and of faith. And, we want those answers. It is like we need to see in order to truly believe.
The answer Jesus gives to his own question is “blessed are those who have not yet seen, but have come to believe.” There is an element of trust implied in this answer. Thomas and the other disciples need to trust he is indeed with them, even if they are not able to physically see him or touch his body. And, this is true for us as well. Since we were not present for the resurrection or the appearances to the disciples behind closed doors, we need to place our trust in this written word, that Jesus is the Son of God, and in our belief, we will have new life. We cannot place our hands on the wounds ourselves, but we can look for places in our lives where we have witnessed the risen Christ.
When reflecting about this, I am reminded of glimpses of grace - we have these every day in our lives, those times when we are able to feel Christ’s presence with us. My dear friend Whitney started a blog almost three years ago that chronicles her glimpses of grace, encounters with the risen Christ, in her daily life. These range from a warm cup of tea on a chilly day, to her encounters with interesting people, to the discovery of new things and old treasures. We are indeed surrounded by these glimpses into the realm of the holy and transcendent – those times when we can indeed see and believe Christ is indeed with us. Over these last few days, I have been reminded of these moments in my own life, as graduation from seminary is quickly approaching. I think of the people who greatly enrich my life, the moments when I can truly feel & hear God speaking to me, times when I can feel Christ’s presence surrounding me, especially in times of great anxiety about what the future might hold. These moments of holy space point us towards the risen Christ and where we can truly see him in our daily lives, amidst the suffering, the hard places in our world.
The words Jesus speaks to his disciples – “peace be with you”, he also speaks to us this day. Christ meets us where we are, even behind our closed doors. He meets us in moments of real honesty, real life and this is truly when we are able to recognize Christ, and that we are not alone in this world, but have always been found by God. That is the power of this story – the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. For we are indeed disciples of Christ in this world, blessed by God, and having received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are sent out to proclaim the peace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to a world in great need of hope. We not only hear the words “peace be with you”, but we are charged to share them with all whom we encounter in our daily lives. This is what it means to live as Easter people – living into our calling as disciples, sharing the good news, believing what we have seen for ourselves, all the while, trusting in what others have seen before us. And, in doing so, the story continues on.
Blessed are those who have not yet seen, but have come to believe. Blessed are you have not yet seen and yet continue to believe. Indeed, blessed are you. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I am also reminded of the glimpses of grace in my own life ~
- the amazing words of love & grace from two powerful sisters in Christ - Christine Yoder & Kathleen O'Connor
- a warm cup of tea after a rather chilly evening
- friends who always know what you are thinking even before speaking one word out loud
- receiving a note from a pastor I worked for before coming to seminary asking how I was & if I needed anything as I move towards graduation
- seeing a friend after a long time apart & rejoicing in her daughter's recovery from illness
- the incredible support & love of a trusted professor & friend through a rough patch of life
- these final days of seminary, although amidst anxiety & sadness
- the gift of new life and new beginnings
So, thank you Whitney, for sharing your glimpses of grace with us. And for being one in my life.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Today, Imago Dei @ CTS (I'm a co-moderator) held an event - Sexuality, the Church, & Pizza. We had 31 people come, which is amazing since it was a Saturday & it was raining! We had conversations about what does the Bible say about sexuality & how to be a welcoming church/ally. Two New Testament professors, Beth Johnson & David Bartlett, & two area pastors, Mandy Flemming & Paris Ely, led the conversations. People asked great, thoughtful questions & really listened to each other. It was a great success!
Life continues to be rather busy, with only 7 weeks before graduation. Trying to read for classes, work on papers, the whole job search thing - it's a lot to manage, especially when senioritis begins to set in...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I wandered around the town late this afternoon, had dinner at an Irish pub, and took a walk through some of the Yale campus. I saw Branford College - where Rory Gilmore lived during her time at Yale:) My plan is to hit the Yale Bookstore & study in the library tomorrow afternoon.
The reason for my travels to CT is to interview at Yale-New Haven Hospital in the morning for their CPE residency program. I really think this might be where I will end up in September! Hope that it goes well tomorrow.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
A Light to the Nations
Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Annual Conference
January 28-31, 2009 in San Antonio, TX
I had the privilege of attending my third APCE conference this January, thanks to the generous support of the SCC scholarship fund here at CTS. This year, the theme of the conference was “A Light to the Nations”, based on the text from Isaiah 42 – “…I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations…” Eileen Lindner (keynote presenter) & J. Herbert Nelson (preacher) delved deeply into what exactly it meant to be a light to the nations, given the current global situation. We wrestled with what constitutes a “nation” in our context, biblical understandings of light, the context of how to bring light in our world, and what it means to be educators in the church given these understandings & conditions. Both the keynote presentations & worship services were very powerful & left me thinking deeply about my call to ministry.
In addition to amazing plenary sessions, I attended several workshops:
Making Good Decisions & Good Christians: this was presented by Jeff Japinga from McCormick Seminary & it was all about working with committees in their decision making processes. I came away with great ideas & resources for incorporating elements of discipleship into committee work.
The Gospel According to Beads: Tammy Weins, Meg Rift, & Betsy Ensign-George from the PC(USA) national headquarters gave a wonderful workshop that traced the significant moments of Jesus’ life & ministry through the means of creating a prayer bracelet. If you would like to see the finished product, let me know!
Practicing Discernment with Youth: David White from Austin Seminary presented on a particular model of discernment & how to enable young people to see their mission in the world.
I also had the privilege of assisting my father, Alan Kobs, with his workshop entitled Work Camp Ministry.
Representing Columbia Theological Seminary at the PC(USA) Seminaries booth in the exhibit hall & helping to host the Columbia Seminary gathering with Kathy Dawson & Kristin Stroble
Overall, it was a fantastic conference! I came away with new insights & fresh perspectives on educational ministry in the church. It was a wonderful opportunity to see old friends and make great connections with church leaders around the country. Thanks again to the SCC scholarship committee for their support.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I was also moved by Rev. Joseph Lowry's benediction. Here it is, courtesy of the Federal News Service:
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.
We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.
For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.
Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.
Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
REV. LOWERY: Say amen –
REV. LOWERY: — and amen.
AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)
I echo that. Amen, Amen, Amen.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
I pray for peace. I pray for hope. I pray for people who just want to live their lives without fear. I continue to pray.
I read some interesting posts about the Israel/Gaza war recently & I invite you to read them too. The first is a blog, written by two people - one in Gaza & one in Israel. It is a powerful witness of hope and peace. http://gaza-sderot.blogspot.com/ (thanks to Kerri for the link)
The second is a post by our PCUSA moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow - a prayer for people in Gaza, but also a link to a letter written by the stated clerk, Gradye Parsons. http://www.mod.reyes-chow.com/2009/01/prayers-for-the-end-of-violence.html
Pray for peace. Pray for hope. Pray for all people.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
After my much needed rest, I went to Maryland to visit friends from my time there last year. It was exactly what I needed in order to gain some much needed perspective. I found myself very grateful for my year in this particular church- they loved & nurtured me. They see in me passion for ministry and know that I am called by God. There have been many times along this seminary journey when I felt so lost and filled with doubt. Sitting in the sanctuary for two Sundays, hearing the familar liturgy & two amazing sermons, looking around at all of the faces of those I love, it clicked. I was able to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt recharged and renewed for these final months of seminary.
I am reminded of the long, winding journey I've been on & of the people who walked with me on different parts of it. I am so thankful for each & every one of them. I would not be at this point without them.
Now, I am back at the seminary, taking a two week class with my fellow seniors. It is called Integrations & we're talking about ministry & leadership. Especially taking stock of where we are & where we imagine we are headed post-graduation. Although many people often don't care for this course, I think it might be the best class I take at CTS. I'm at a point in my life where I need to take this time to reflect & gather strength for the next steps in my journey.
Thanks be to God for time, for friends, for mentors, for reflection, and for study.