Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sometimes Funny

I just wrote Kiva and Potts the most ridiculous email. Since I am procrastinating (I have to film a video for today and finish my academic writing sample which is due to McCormick tomorrow), I figured I would share my email with y'all! Kiva likes to tell me that I am "sometimes funny". There is some inside joke about it that involves her sister (I think) and a book on the Enneagram that her mom has. I'm not sure what exactly it all entails. I've have to get the details from her... BUT! I think it definitely applies to me. This is very typical of the types of emails I frequently send them. 

Oh, I guess I could give you some background information so you aren't confused. We have an AC window unit that has been spitting out water lately. Since I grew up in Texas and didn't have a window unit, I had no idea what the problem was. And I have been too busy recently to google it. However, I finally searched online for the answer and BAM! Just like that the AC unit is up and running again. Well, Potts and I had to fix it first. But then it was up and running again.

Ok, I will delay you no longer from reading the ridiculousness that is a late-night email from me.
Subject: Kiva & Potts, meet Pete & Anne: our trusty, dusty window friends!

Hello friends!

I thought I would compile all of my knowledge on the AC Window Unit into an email. Here is what I know:
  • Our AC unit has an air filter. Who knew? It was completely gross and black. But I cleaned it. According to the owner's manual (which I found on the interwebs) this filter is supposed to be cleaned every 30 days. I say we at least check it weekly.
  • Water is supposed to drain out the back of the AC unit, but for some reason, ours doesn't have that. So instead it collects in a drip tray inside. We will need to check this and make sure we are adequately draining it. At least weekly I would suggest we take the window unit out and let it drain. This is a 2 man job, and Potts and I have already done it. So Kiva, make sure one of us is there to help you! Put 2 towels on the floor to catch all the water that will inevitably come out of the unit. While it is draining is a perfect time to clean the filter! Just clean it with warm, soapy water. Then make sure it is completely dry before putting it back in the unit. I just sort of waved it in the air until it dried off. Luna got a kick out of it.
  • Water hitting the fan is ok...but it is a sign that we will need to drain the drip pan.
Fortunately, this has significantly increased the air output from our lovely AC Unit, which I have lovingly named Pete (short for Peter)...just I'm typing this. Pete is much happier now that his air filter isn't clogged with gross, black dust. He currently working hard to lower the temperature in the living room. Hopefully Pete doesn't break down again before you get home Kiva! I am sure he will be happy to see you. Now we know what was making him sick, we shouldn't have so many problems. 

Ok-- off to film a video for today and then bedtime! (Tomorrow I will be checking Pete's sister, Anne (short for Andrea) , to see if she needs to be cleaned.)

Yours truly?

June Devotion

Today’s Reading | 2 Chronicles 8–9Psalm 72  
Text for this reflection | 2 Chronicles 8:12–14  
Always with the burnt offerings! One thing that has stuck out to me so far while participating in the “Reading the Entire Bible in a Year” jouney is that the Israelite’s default worship mechanism seems to be burnt offerings. This is something that I was aware of prior to embarking on this year-long endeavor, but it nevertheless manages to amaze me. I can imagine Solomon saying the words of Psalm 72 during his offering, but I have a hard time putting myself in Solomon’s shoes. I can’t picture myself getting the same spiritual renewal from burnt offerings as I do from a more modern-day “traditional” service, such as a TaizĂ© service.   
When thinking about the practice of burnt offerings, I also can’t help but think about how the Israelites would react if they witnessed how we worship today. I am sure they would find our religious practices just as strange as we sometimes view theirs. Yes, there is much to be said for public displays of faith, like burnt offerings or attending church every Sunday. However, it is repeated throughout the Bible that God did not just want burnt offerings. Instead, these early worshipers were asked to simply keep their covenants with God.  
I am not saying that God wants us to skip out on the Sunday morning worship services. On the contrary, I believe that worshiping alongside others is an important aspect of being a Christian. But attendance alone is not enough—we must put into practice what is heard from the pulpit.   
Gracious God, thank you for a world that is filled with diverse religious practices and for the rich history of our ancestors. Please help me remember to not take a passive role, but instead to be active in my faith. In your Son’s holy name. Amen. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Poverty Tourism

What? ANOTHER blog post? I know, crazy, right? Or maybe it would seem that I have too much time on my hands? False. I can assure you, I most certainly do not. There have just been so many "bloggable" things happening lately.

Yesterday we had a community activist come and speak to us (aka me, Kiva, Potts & Krista) on the topic of "poverty tourism". Sadly, I cannot remember her name. Yikes! It is an interesting topic- one that I quite honestly had not really thought of before this year. Poverty tourism is basically the idea that people come to experience the poverty of a specific neighborhood and then return to their middle-class or upper-class home. That is a very general, open-ended, and vague description. Hopefully you get the point.

Specifically, this topic is very applicable to the Discover groups that DOOR hosts in the summer. Most of them come from average-ville, white America and have come to educate their children on poverty. But is it ok to use someone else's home to do that?

She (our speaker) referred to Isaiah 61:1-4 as a frame of reference for this conversation. Here is is from the CEB (which I have grown to love over the year!)

   The LORD God’s spirit is upon me,because the LORD has anointed me.He has sent meto bring good news to the poor,to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim release for captives,and liberation for prisoners,2 to proclaim the year of the LORD ’s favorand a day of vindication for our God,to comfort all who mourn,3to provide for Zion’s mourners,to give them a crown in place of ashes,oil of joy in place of mourning,a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,planted by the LORD to glorify himself.4They will rebuild the ancient ruins;they will restore formerly deserted places;they will renew ruined cities,places deserted in generations past.

If you look at the text grammatically, the people who will rebuild the cities are the ones who are living in them. Using this lens to read the passage, we are supposed to help stir up the residents and give them resources. But we are not supposed to do the work ourselves. I am not sure exactly what my opinion of this is. I will get back to you on that one. But I think the main point is a good one-- in order to change these "ruined cities, places deserted in generations past", we need the help of the ones living there.

Our speaker raised 3 good questions that I still need to process. Unfortunately, I will not be able to meet with my house and Krista when they discuss this month's book (When Helping Hurts) and the questions raised during our discussion yesterday. I will be in Kentucky on a workcamp with the senior high group. These questions were put forth to us, as year-long service people, living in an economically-depressed neighborhood, surrounded by people who might not have the same background as us. (My background for this would be as a middle-class, white girl from a small town in Texas. I am college educated, was raised by both of my parents and in a church.) The questions were:

1. What does it look like to the people living in the neighborhood when you come to the neighborhood?
2. What does it say to the people living in the neighborhood when you come to the neighborhood?
3. What does it say to the people from where you are from when you come to this neighborhood?

These questions have come to me at a particularly interesting time as I am getting ready to be a leader on the Senior High Workcamp next week and as I finish the final planning stages of the Elevation Workcamp in July. Like I said before, I am still processing what I believe on this topic.  I have more questions than answers. What do you think?Have you gone on a workcamp or mission trip and felt like you were more of a hindrance than a help? What does it look like to "proclaim the year of the LORD's favor" but not actually help them rebuild the cities? What does this mean for our church? Should our youth ignore the needs of the community outside their own? Should we just be preaching in the streets instead of climbing on top of roofs and fixing houses? 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Busy, busy weekend!

Seriously- when does it all end? I thought the summer time was for relaxing, not baking into the wee hours of the morning! On Friday I came to the church to help the Senior Highs bake up a storm for their bake sale, which took place today. I was there for over 6 hours and didn't get home until around 1 am. I was, how do you say, completely exhausted. At PAWS on Friday I was actually really busy and was on my feet for most of the day helping to host a visiting volunteer group from Discovery Communications. Then I did a few adoptions (that reminds me...I need to do those follow-up phone calls tomorrow...)

Since I was so tired, I didn't set an alarm clock for Saturday morning. Which meant I didn't wake up until almost 12 pm. I cannot remember the last time I slept so late! After waking up and making a delicious brunch for myself of turkey bacon and french toast, Kiva and I went down to Hyde Park to visit the Smart Art Museum.

2 side notes:
1. I LOVE BRUNCH. Not sure if you guys know that about me...but there it is. Almost every morning I make a warm breakfast for myself. I've been on a breakfast taco kick lately, but was definitely feeling the french toast on Saturday morning.
2. The Smart Art Museum is not the Smart-Art Museum. Aka, the art is not intelligent art. I was expecting really brainy art...or art that was actually a robot or something. Nope. It's just named after some dude who's last name was Smart. Still cool, just not as cool.

I've been to Hyde Park a lot lately. I like it, which I know I mentioned in my last post, but thought it was worth mentioning again. Kiva and I found the Oriental Museum that is down there after the Smart Art Museum. IT IS AWESOME AND IT IS FULL OF SUPER OLD THINGS AND IT IS FREE! The free part just might be the best, but the old stuff was cool too. There were a lot of plaques next to things that basically said, "This is so old, there are only 2 left in the entire world. We have one and Egypt has one." Ok, clearly paraphrasing...but you get the idea.

Kiva and I then decided to mull over our lives. Clearly this was done with fried pickles and a beer...or two. More about the depths in my psyche that we daringly plunged into later. That is a blog post or 2 all on its own.

Sunday aka today was the bake sale! We raised over $2000 towards Senior High Workcamps! I am really excited to be able to go on this year's trip as one of the lady sponsors. We leave on Saturday. It is promising to be a great trip and I am sure I will have much to report after we get back!

I had a few housekeeping things to take care of in my office (aka make the daily video for today & write my devotion for July that was actually due on Friday but I spaced out and completely forgot about it), so I am still at the church...12 hours after I arrived. I am finally on my way home shortly.

Tomorrow should prove to be an interesting experience. I am going with one of the Discover groups to their site for tomorrow in order to help Krista (my site director) critique the DOOR program. For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, don't worry! All will be explained. I am a YAV. YAV has a partnership with DOOR (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection). DOOR has year-long service people that live in the house with me aka Kiva. They also have a week-long opportunity for various church groups to come to Chicago, learn about the city and volunteer. It is with one of these groups that I will be volunteering with tomorrow. We are going to Ada Niles, an Adult Day-Care center. Like I said before, it should be interesting!

I hope all of you fathers out there had a wonderful Father's Day! :D

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Worrywart-ville, Population: moi

Lately I have been sort of stressing out about starting my M.Div program at McCormick. I think there are a few reasons for it.

Change scares me. Not in the debilitating way it terrifies others, just a slow gnawing feeling in the bottom of my stomach that eats away at me over time. Yikes, dramatic much? Ok, so its not actually that bad. I am just someone who gets nervous easily. Change makes me nervous. Starting a new program is change. Therefore, new program = nervous. Which, when I think about it, isn't really that abnormal.

I have to move. As of right now, I have a lot of stuff in my room that I'll need to move and I don't have any means of transportation besides the CTA. I can't be too sure, but I don't think it is realistic for me to try and move furniture via the green line and the 55 bus all the way to Hyde Park. Adding to my concerns is the fact that I don't have anyone to help me move. Most of my stuff is feasibly carried by 1 person, but there are a few things that require at least 2 people. Granted, I haven't asked very many people to help me and I am assuming that I can find at least 1 or 2 people to help with the move, but still. Worry-some nevertheless. If there is anyone reading this who will be in Chicago the week of August 20th and wants to help me move: let me know! :)

I am not a religious studies major, gender studies major or humanities major. I know that this is not a requirement for seminary, but I still worry that my base-line level of knowledge is different (aka lower) than my future classmates'. Hopefully once classes start this fear will dissolve into an appreciation for different backgrounds and experiences. That's pretty much what I am banking on since I doubt my knowledge of Income Tax Law will be much help in my Pilgrimage of Faithfulness course.

I do not know anyone at McCormick. Ok, this is not entirely true, since I have met people that study or work at McCormick. HOWEVER, it is still a concern. My class is only 35 people. Hopefully in that class there will be people I get along with and connect to. But I still worry about starting a program like this without knowing others. I do have "2nd degree friends" who will be there. Aka I know people who know people who are starting at McCormick in the fall. If there are any future McCormick students reading this: I hope you are cool! :D

As of August 2012, I will be unemployed. I am actively searching for and apply to various jobs in Chicago, but have not heard back from any of them. I did get a grant to cover 7 courses for next year, which is awesome (!!) but still technically leaves me with the cost of paying for 2 courses and living expenses. One option I have come up with is to just take 7 classes (3 each semester and 1 Jan term) next year instead of the typical 9 (4 each semester and 1 Jan term). This might be a smart idea since I have been out of school for a year. Also, I want to avoid student loans. However, that still leaves me with a serious chunk of money to come up with in just a few short months. If there are any millionaires who want to give me money or people who want to give me a job reading this: please feel free to email me!! ;)

I think that pretty much sums up my reasoning for being stressed.

All of that being said, I was at McCormick today and I am also really excited to start my classes soon. Rachel Wells, who was a YAV in India and just recently returned to the states, is visiting the Chicago site. She wanted to take a tour of McCormick so we headed on down there this morning/afternoon. It was great being on the tour again and seeing the building from the perspective of an incoming student vs a prospective student. Everyone I have ever met who works at, studies at or an alum from McCormick is awesome. I don't know if I could have picked a better seminary. And, I absolutely adore Hyde Park. Even when I visited for the first time in November and it was cold, windy and snowing, I still loved it.

All in all, my stress < my excitement, which I take as a good sign.