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

3 AM Feeding?!?

Funniest thing happened last night or I guess it was actually early this morning– Caleb and I both woke up to the sounds of a crying child.  I am not kidding.  We were both so confused.  Our sleepy exchange follows:

We don’t have a baby.

No, we don’t.  What is that?

I don’t know.  It sounds like a crying kid.

Maybe it’s a cat.  It could be a cat.

[wild cat shriek right outside our bedroom window]

There’s a neighborhood cat that hangs out on our porch.  It’s a cat, but it sounded just like a child.

What would we do if someone left a baby on our front porch?

I have no idea.

Clearly we’re not ready to respond to a crying baby at 3 AM, but hey I’m counting it a victory that we both woke up.  Made for a great laugh this morning when we remembered our sleepy powwow about the crying baby, aka crazy cat.

-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

Handle with Care

Yesterday while boxing up the china and crystal we received at our wedding, I realized that I still have a lot to learn about packing.  [smile]  Thankfully I’m the daughter of expert packing extraordinaire- Bill and his well seasoned assistant- Sue!  Last night, I happily received an impromptu lesson for packing china from the master himself.

Take one dish and starting at the corner of a blank sheet of newspaper wrap dish.  Do not use printed newspaper!  Repeat if particularly fragile glass item.  Place in small box with bubble wrap below and above.  Repeat.

Wrapping each dish in paper and then sandwiching it between bubble wrap takes on a zen-like quality after the third or fourth plate.  Soon I found myself drifting into my mind to examine all the worries and hopes surrounding the big change happening in just a few short weeks.  I must confess that my one worry yesterday evening was that everything make it to our new home in one piece.  Most of what I’m packing I’ve not even had a chance to use yet.  I barely resisted the urge to scribble “HANDLE WITH CARE” in red ink and capital letters across each box and settled instead for “fragile” or “very fragile” in the case of our china.

Find a bigger super sturdy box to store smaller box inside.  Cushion boxes in bigger box with heavy brown packing paper only slightly bunched.  Tape box shut and label “China/Kitchen/Very Fragile.”  Repeat.

Sometimes I feel like scribbling “HANDLE WITH CARE” all over myself and Caleb too.  No matter how excited we are or prepared we feel for what lies ahead I know there are just some things that will take us by surprise.  Whether its figuring out how to get a plumbing issue fixed at “The Parsonage” or negotiating our first Christmas at “The Church,” we’ll be new to something and we will need grace and lots of it.  [smile]  Having met with a few members of “The Church” already, I feel very certain that we will be well cared for and that grace will abound.  Trusting that grace will cushion the future’s unknown trials is another lesson I’m learning through the process of moving.

– Margaret

Haunted by Death

Death by Chocolate Waffles

Death by Chocolate Waffles

I am being haunted.  Followed around by the sweet memory of the most awesome dessert I think I have ever eaten.  Sinfully rich and yet delicately light these “Death by Chocolate Waffles” is to ‘die’ for.  [smile]  Last Saturday, Caleb and I ordered these perfect chocolate waffles topped with warm creamy Nutella at Tryst in Adams Morgan, DC.

I need the recipe.  Have any of you out there ever made a chocolate waffle?  I’ve seen recipes that use chocolate syrup and others that use cocoa.  If you have a recipe suggestion, please let me know.

-Margaret

One More Hoop!

Got an "A" on my final paper!

Got an “A” on my final paper!

I’ve received my thesis back this week with a few pencil comments and a nice “A” on the final page which is good because I’d already had a couple of dreams that my reader would find some dreadful mistake and it would be returned bleeding red ink!  I knew I had put in the work and done my best but still having spent so much time on something and handing it over to be assessed is terrifying.

I’ve always been a good student, but even so I am still plagued by the dreams of making some academically fatal mistake.  Silly as it sounds, I have this crazy recurring dream that some registrar finds some missing credit on my high school [yes, you read that right, HIGH SCHOOL!] transcript and I have to go back to DHS and take another course from Mrs. Kennedy or Ms. Whitlock.  My 10 year high school reunion was last October!  Not sure what that says about me… maybe I put a bit too much worth in my academic achievements.  [smile]

Regardless of the potential insights these dreams might give about my self image, I have gotten quite good at shaking off the panic of waking from one of these dreams by reminding myself what my Grammy has told me since I was little that I always have the option to move in with her and “grow up in ignorance.”  [smile]  Her reassurance has always brought a smile to my face because while I might not learn that same things I have in school there is no way I would be growing up in ignorance!  Oh what an education I would have received from her and my Granddaddy’s example of love, service, and ministry… not to mention how much I would have saved on student loans!

Well, I’ve made my choice and find myself finishing up another Master’s degree in less than a month that is if I can jump through one final hoop.  Fortunately that final hoop isn’t a huge comprehensive exam… unfortunately there is very little I could do at this point to change the outcome and in that way the hoop feels a little like a ring of fire!  Before Caleb or I or any of our seminary friends can graduate for that matter we have to receive the approval from “The Faculty.”  I put “The Faculty” in quotes because like the nature of the discussions they will have about our readiness to graduate who exactly attends these meetings is shrouded in mystery.  My guess is that the mystery is for the protection of those who make this decision… aka so they won’t be hounded by the graduates.  I could easily promise I wouldn’t hound them, but I can’t promise a few of my always praised red velvet cupcakes might not appear on the doorsteps of the parties involved.  [smile]

Honestly, I’m really not all that worried about getting their approval.  I have done quite well in all my classes and I imagine that it is pretty rare that someone who has passed all their coursework would not be allowed to graduate.  Still they must have these meetings for a reason and I am left perplexed!  Ultimately, I think I’d rather not see behind the curtain and let the mystery remain because as long as I don’t know what’s actually going on at these meetings I can imagine they are super exciting.  I mean maybe they all turn into aliens or something!  [smile]

-Margaret