Growing in Gratitude: My (new) Day Job

Even though today was the first long day of a long week, I am so thankful to be able to announce that I am now officially the chaplain for Appalachia Service Project (ASP)’s Year-Around Program.  I  am tired and don’t have much energy to explain all the details now except to say that I will have the privilege to work with some great young adults who are spending the next year of their lives serving others and discerning their vocational calling.

Thanks for all the prayers and the patience in waiting for the big reveal.  Plan to not hear from me super regularly this week.  I will be traveling to four different states in the next four days and any spare minute will be spent resting up in preparation for the next drive.

-Margaret

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An epic day and updates

Yesterday was in the words of Barney Stinson “LEGEND– wait for it –DARY.”  [smile] Perhaps that was bit of an oversell, but I’m so happy to be able to share that I was offered and accepted a job!  Stay tuned for further details when all the necessary paperwork is completed and I can make an official announcement.  For now, just want to say thank you for sticking with me through the ups and downs of the job search.

In other news, I spent some time yesterday afternoon updating the About: My Blogging Bio, Creative Reading, and Nearly Ordained Cafe tabs above.  After checking out some of the stats from yesterday’s “Nearly Ordained Cafe” post, I realized that I had gotten really far behind on updating what posts have actually been written under this category and the “Creative Reading” category and that it was hindering visitors from finding other posts they might enjoy.  I’ve rectified that issue and updated “My Blogging Bio” to reflect our graduation and move to Tennessee.  It’s about time, I guess.  We have been living in Kingsport for almost 3 months! [smile]

Finally, I have added a Publications tab under the About page.  Through the process of applying for jobs over the last few weeks, I have finally gotten up the courage to actually name one of the career aspirations that I’ve up to this moment have kept quite close the chest (particularly here):  I would love to write professionally at some point in the future. Perhaps this is not quite as big of a revelation to regular readers and those who know me in life outside the blogosphere, but naming this ambition here feels like a big step in a very right direction.  Who know what might come from it?  [smile]  So if you’d like to read some of what I’ve already published check out my “Publications” page and if you are publisher and you like what you’ve read, I would love to hear from you. Email me at margaret.n.frazier@gmail.com.

– Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Glimpses of the future

I’ve been job searching for about a month now.  I guess in the grand scheme of unemployment trends in the US currently that’s not very long, but when you are the person in the midst of “the hunt” it can feel a bit like walking up an enclosed spiral staircase when you can’t see how far you’ve come or how far you have left to climb.  That blindness to the length of time I’ll remain on this journey to find a job can be maddening.  There are few moments during that day that I find I’m not trying to tease out the blueprints to that metaphorical spiral staircase.

How many steps will I travel before I at least reach a landing where I can rest for a while?  How many more times will I search Monster.com or Idealist.org before I find that listing for my job?  Which interview will go well?  Should I wait to accept one job in hopes this more interesting possibility will be offered?  What will I eventually find at the top of all of these stairs?

Then for me at least there is this underlying question that I’ve been asked since I was 8 and one that I’m still not sure how to answer even though I’m almost 30.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I’ve always had a diversity of interests and I’ve enjoyed exploring multiple avenues of career possibilities in my twenties, but now I’m at a point when I feel like I need and want to make a move toward narrowing my focus.  Even though it feels like the right time to be making this kind of big decision, the prospect of doing so is somehow terrifying and so I begin to feel a bit claustrophobic.

Yet in the midst of all the angst of the job search, I find moments when I am afforded glimpses of the future me that I’m journeying toward.  Like beams of light shining in through small windows built into the walls of that spiral staircase, my path seems illumined for just a moment and I feel some hope knowing that there is still a world outside this enclosure and that when I reach the top I’ll emerge to enjoy a whole new perspective of my journey.

Yesterday evening I had one of those moments when I led the first session of a 7 week small group study at “The Church.”  Channeling my energy into teaching others some of what I learned while in seminary was completely invigorating.  [smile]  It felt so natural to be fostering our discussion about prayer and encouraging those gathered to let go and experiment over the next few months with some new prayer practices.  I felt for a moment like I was fulfilling my purpose and that I could enjoy doing something like this for the rest of my life.  That feeling was such a welcome respite from all the uncertainty that I’ve been carrying with me lately and exactly the boost I needed going into another job interview this afternoon.

Today I am grateful for glimpses of the future.

What are you grateful for?

– Margaret

Nada te turbe

In October 2009 just after completing my archaeology Masters coursework and right before headed back to the states, I retreated to Taize– a special spiritual center nestled in the Burgundy region of France.  Sometimes I have trouble believing I was actually there.  Looking back on the solo journey from Bristol to Paris where I boarded a train at the Gare du Nord then got off at a small station in the middle of the countryside where I was just hoping a bus that would take me Taize would show up, I am amazed I had the courage to take so many risks and just trust that everything would work out.

At Taize, the day is broken into periods of rest, prayer, work, and table fellowship.  Prayer happens corporately three times a day and is characterized by silence and song.  The unique music of Taize (sparsely accompanied, simple chanting) is what initially drew me to explore the prospect of retreating there.  It’s simplicity provides a spiritual connection that I find myself falling back into at the most random times.

Tonight as I am laying down to rest, this chant adapted from a prayer of St. Teresa of Avila drifted into my mind.

Nada te turbe, nada te espante;
todo se pasa, Dios no se muda.

In English:
Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing distress you;
While all things fade away, God is unchanging.

I’ve felt distressed over the last few days– not by anything super serious, but just by the everyday struggles of adjusting to a new life phase in which I’m/we’re no longer students.  Learning to adapt to new routines, schedules, and budgets as well as the continuing search for a job is overwhelming.  Add to the mix that my little sisters just turned 25 and I am now less than a month away from a big birthday myself (the big 3-0), I feel a bit like the world is spinning and I’m trying to keep up. Yet God’s love/presence/grace in my life is steadfast and ultimately I know having the courage to trust that all will be well is what I am called to.

Tonight this chant feels like a place to rest for a while.

-Margaret

I blame the job search.

I don’t normally share frustrations or discouraging moments here.  Not because I want to hide a part of my life or create a picture that our life together is perfect, I just prefer to think positively… to celebrate my blessings.  I am so blessed.  [smile]  I am married to a man who loves me in ways that show he cares about my authentic self.  My husband has a job that provides for our needs and most of our wants.  We are a part of a family who loves us, celebrates our triumphs, and provides support in times of need.  We are members of a church community that is life giving and that is growing.  We are at the beginning of an amazing adventure together and it’s almost fall.  [smile]

Still that doesn’t mean my life is not without its frustrations, upsets, or disappointments.  I don’t have it all figured out and this week I’ve particularly felt that this was the case.  The source of my angst this week has been the search for a job.  I’ve been putting off the job search for a few months now partly out of necessity… it takes forever to really move into a house.  Even now we still have two whole rooms full of boxes.  But if I’m being honest the job search has also been put on the back burner because looking for a job stresses me out.  Looking for a job forces me to confront insecurities and uncertainties about the future.  Not to mention it just wears me out which is why I’ve not posted anything since Monday. 

So that’s where I’ve been this week and where I am now.  Thanks for journeying with me even when the road gets a little rocky.  On the upside, I’ve applied for a few jobs this week and hopefully I’ll have some good news to report soon. 

-Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Visions and Dreams

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Sunday marked a month of living in “The Parsonage!” [smile] In the grand adventure of life a month is not so long, yet in many ways those 7 weeks of transition that characterized the first half of our summer seem like so long ago especially because of everything that has happened in between then and now.  Visits with parishioners, Sundays, tons of boxes unpacked, cleaning, moving furniture, placing frames on the wall, making an empty house our home. In that time, we’ve been living into life together in this new place and I am so grateful. 

This month of discovery has also been full of dreaming and visioning.  We’ve been dreaming what our house will look like with pumpkins on the porch and Christmas lights lining the eaves.  We’ve been dreaming what fun adventures we’ll take exploring the parks and sights near Kingsport.  Ever since reading Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap I’ve dreamed about visiting that magical little town just a little way down the road.  [smile]

Happily the dreaming and visioning have not been limited to our own small vision of life together, but has spilled over into our interactions with “The Church.”  Spurred by the excitement that always comes when a new minister arrives to a United Methodist congregation, we’ve joined our parishioners in dreaming dreams and seeing visions about what this next chapter will be for this church, these people, and most importantly the community surrounding us. 

This state of dreaming is a glorious place to be and such an important step in moving forward.  A friend/second once or twice removed posed this question on Facebook earlier in the week and I felt it so relevant to where we now find ourselves. 

Kathe:  Thinking about what church was supposed to be, and what it is now. How did we get here from there? More important, where next?

Her questions aren’t ones that has an easy answer and I think its interesting that Kathe hasn’t received any responses to her query online.  I think part of the answer lies in the process of dreaming and visioning.  I am reminded of the passage from Joel that is quoted in Acts: 

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.

Dreams and visions move us from where we already find ourselves toward the not yet kingdom of God that is to come.  So today I am thankful for a faith that encourages such imaginative dreaming and visioning. 

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

His and Her’s: Writing

We have both spent the morning at our computers writing.  Caleb’s putting the finishing touches on his sermon for our first Sunday- this Sunday!!- at “The Church.”  He’s going to do great!  I know because I’ve gotten a sneak peek.  [smile] I’ve been blogging.  We’ve had a fun morning doing our own thing, but being together.

I envy the way Caleb can put words on a page.  He gets a thought in his head and can pound out two or three pages in no time.  Pondering over every word and the placement of every clause, I write so much slower.  His speed and productivity was particularly frustrating when we were in classes together.  It seemed like he wized through assignments that took me forever.  [smile] Really its a matter of two different processes.  He lets everything he’s thinking just spill out and then goes back to edit.  I’m a more of an edit as I write type.

After posting one of my blogs recently, WordPress in its inspirational and congratulatory way spit back this quote from Carlos Fuentes who after a quick search on the worldwide web I found was a Mexican novelist.

Writing is a struggle against silence.

As soon as I read it, my writer’s soul sighed with the assurance that I am not alone in my struggles to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard.  It is so much easier not the write, to not express thoughts and feelings.  Silence is more comfortable and it feels safer, but there is so much joy in the struggle of writing I can’t give it up. With our move to Kingsport, my opportunities for employment seem both wide open and completely closed because once again I find myself at a crossroads where I must choose which path to go down.  When I think about what I would most like to employ my time with, I have to admit a little voice within wishes it could be this– writing.  Whether writing curriculum for Cokesbury; articles for Sojourners or Archaeology Magazine; or as Caleb suggests the next great American novel, writing is what I enjoy despite the struggle and it would be wonderful to find some way to do this and support our family.  Someday perhaps I will be able to, until then I’ll just jot down my musings.

-Margaret