Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Reformation Day!

I celebrated by a great morning at church, meeting new people and loving that community. Among new people I met was a tiny older black lady named "Annie Mae". How great is that?

I then spent the afternoon snoozing and watching I Love The 80's. (In related news, I think being one of the people who talks on those I Love The...shows would be my PERFECT JOB. I'd be great.)

And then I went to Libby's Reformation Day party where we ate S'mores around a campfire (when it wasn't raining), played The Dictonary Game, and drank good German beer.

What a lovely day.

Thanks, Martin.

(And John and John and Huldrych and the rest of you. You know who you are.)

My friend Jason on his Reformation Sunday activities:

I went to a charismatic church where a prophet was speaking, so we put him in a log and cut it in half. He apparently had no idea that's what you do with prophets.

I also tried getting off of work today by nailing feces to the door, but it wouldn't stay up.

(What? It's not "feces"?)

Michaela @6:54 AM :: Comment

Sunday, October 30, 2005

You have five minutes to wallow in the delicious misery. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Discard it, and proceed.

This is a long overdue post. Sorry.

To catch everyone up on what some of you know, I am still in St. Louis, and will remain in St. Louis. I did not get the job I was quite sure I was going to get in Scotland (oddly enough, it seems I don’t have enough “youth experience”, despite three years as a youthwork coordinator, and despite the fact I know others who have gotten that job who have had NO youth experience, or a college degree…but nevermind…), and so it would be financially stupid for me to return to Scotland and look for another job. There are a lot of jobs around here, and there simply aren’t a lot of jobs in Scotland, specifically in my field.

Additionally….while this is hugely difficult (I had a bit of an epi when I found all this out last week), I recognize that this is where God wants me at the moment. As many of you are fully aware, I’ve tired just about every avenue possible to try and stay in Scotland. I love and adore Scotland. In many ways it feels like my home so much more than America does. I miss it more than I ever thought I would. At the end of the day, it would be entirely possible for me to fly back on my visa and stay with Jonathan and Sarah looking for a kick-around crap job, simply in order to stay there. But I now understand that Scotland just isn’t where God wants me right now, and that he has entirely different plans. And I may not LIKE all of that at the outset and it may not be comfortable for me, but God never promised comfort or security. I’m convinced that sometimes God has to take away our ENTIRE lives, uproot us from all our dependencies, in order to do something new in us.

So what am I doing now?

Primarily, I’m looking for a job. Now, there really are a lot of very good youthwork jobs (not unlike the one that I applied for in Scotland) going around the St. Louis area. But I don’t think that’s the best avenue right now. I’m generally looking for bookstore/coffeeshop jobs (with benefits). Why?...

Because God-willing, I’ll be starting at Covenant Seminary (working toward a Masters in Theological Studies) in January, rather than starting next Fall as originally planned. And I don’t want to start a full-time youthwork job that I’m going to have to abandon or cut to part-time in two months.

So, if you are so inclined, you’re welcome to pray about the job situation. Barnes and Noble Booksellers and Borders are possibilities. I’m supposed to get a call next week to set up an interview for Starbucks (which would be ideal, considering Starbucks’ employee benefits program), and I still have some places to put in applications.

Other issues: housing, transport.

Well, Mom and Dave have been kind enough to let me stay in the guest room as long as need be. But after five years living away from home, going back to stay with parents is not ideal. At all.

The day after I found out I had to stay here, I was told about a couple of girls, Libby and Rebecca, who are students at the Seminary and are looking for a roommate. I went to see the house and I not only LOVED the house, but I made two good friends that evening in Libby and Rebecca. They are just amazing, and I would love to live with the two of them. (In fact, Libby and I went to see Elizabethtown together on Thursday – and tomorrow night I’ll be hitting up a party at her place complete with S’mores and beer! Sounds like a good Presbyterian party to me!) While it’s not been explicitly said, its been implied that they would possibly be able to wait until I got a job to get into the house. But I do need a job in order to pay rent of course! (And I’d need a chunk to pay first months rent AND the deposit – so I may have to take out a short term loan for that, even when I know I have a job.) And of course, it’s possible that another girl could come along and just get to the place before me. But I REALLY love this place, and REALLY want to live there. So….you can pray for that if you’d like too…

Transport. I need a car. That’s all.

And now, some good news.

I love the church I found. I really do. It’s the church that I’ve wanted to find in Edinburgh and never did. This church is New City Fellowship, and I just fell in love with it. And maybe I’ll be proven wrong in the upcoming weeks, and maybe I’ll end up somewhere else, but I really hope not. I loved the community, I loved the teaching, I loved the social work that the church is doing, in actively loving the community around it. LOVE it.

And so….I’ll speak more on all this later. Probably. But to summarise….I really miss Scotland. And there’s still a place in my heart that would LOVE to go back, possibly for a church plant/church renewal project. And maybe God will enable that. But for right now, even though I have my moments in tears missing my “home”, I really do see God is doing some amazing new things. And I’m excited. I’m particularly excited about New City and Covenant, and about the people I’m meeting here and the things I’m learning.

And now…I’ll definitely be back to regular posting on this blog, from now on. Honestly. I couldn’t blog about all this until I told (over the phone when I could) personally all the people back in Scotland that needed to be told personally. So, sorry I was absent there for quite a while. But now you have many stories of my adjustment to a “new” land to look forward to! (And honestly, there have been a lot of crazy stories to tell….I just couldn’t blog yet!)

Thanks for your prayers and support. I sincerely really love you guys. (Or, most of you guys.)

Soli Deo Gloria,

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
(Heb 11:8-10)

Recommended Reading: Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns. If you’re a theological nerd such as I, you’ll find it not only fascinating, but essential to conversation on Biblical inerrancy. Join us in our little discussion over on Mark’s blog….

Recommended Listening: oi (This Time Around) by Helen Stellar. Heck yeah.

Michaela @9:39 AM :: Comment

Friday, October 14, 2005

Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.

Michaela @9:28 AM :: Comment

Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.

Michaela @9:27 AM :: Comment

Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.

Michaela @9:27 AM :: Comment

Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.

Michaela @9:26 AM :: Comment

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hey. New Photos.

More will come after the weekend.

Michaela @4:29 AM :: Comment

Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.

Michaela @4:27 AM :: Comment

Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.

Michaela @4:26 AM :: Comment

Originally uploaded by ThisBeautifulMess.

Michaela @4:26 AM :: Comment

Friday, October 07, 2005

Best Ever.

Oh my goodness. Watch this video. It is, in fact, the hardest I've ever laughed at an internet video.


(Props to Mr. Blankenship.)

Michaela @10:57 PM :: Comment


Smell that?!

No, of course not. You’re not here.

It’s the smell of FALL!

On the phone the other night, Joshua mentioned that South Carolina hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s October. And, until today, neither had Missouri. It’s been sweaty-hot, even in the evenings. But today, the heat finally broke, and we’re down to sunny sweatshirt weather, which is my FAVORITE kind of weather. If Heaven doesn’t feel like this, I’m not going.

Today ended up much less eventful than I’d expected. Much to my annoyance, our Kansas City trip will be delayed until tomorrow (annoying because I’m turning right around and going back to KC on Saturday again, since Mom needs to be back in St Louis for the weekend and I need to be back here for my dinner plans tomorrow night), so we settled for a trip up the road to Covenant Seminary’s bookstore, with a stop at Starbucks on the way. But it was a lovely drive, anyway.

Speaking of Covenant….well that’s exactly what I meant to tell you all about.

Tuesday was my official visit to Covenant Seminary, where I hope to start a Masters in Theological Studies next year. (‘Hope’ being the key word. There’s nothing saying that plan won’t change. Lord knows he’s changed my plans before. And I’ve not even been accepted yet.)

Now, I know they tell you that places of higher education are never like the catalogue, but I’m here to tell you THAT IS ENTIRELY UNTRUE. Honest to goodness, the place really was like the catalogue. And it freaked me out. Surely, there must be something wrong with this place. Am I on candid camera? Is this a set up? Is a SWAT team about to decend upon my Jeep Cherokee and arrest me for unknowingly transporting pirate copies of The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride over state lines? Because this is the only logical explaination.

After being slightly confused as to where to park and where to go, I realized the first building I passed was where I needed to be. (Isn’t it always.) I park, and walk around the building to the front door. There, honest-to-goodness, on the steps, sat a young couple eating ice cream.

Seriously, they must have been planted there.

I walk into reception, and I’m pointed towards the admissions office, where Emily, my admissions “person” is. I would also like to add here that Emily is lovely.

Tell you what, though – that office is FREAKY. By that I mean – it is immaculate. Each item on all three (four?) desks was perfectly placed. (“…They switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire...”) I mean, I suppose it is the administration building and all, and these folks are probably pretty good at administering, which means their good at organization but…dang. I mean, they’re really good.

I met Jeff, one of the other admissions assistants, and was informed that his daughter’s middle name is Michaela. I wish for the life of me that I could remember her FIRST name, because it was darn cool. A….Audrey? Auburn? I have no idea. Anyway, I got shown photos and everything. Yes, she actually IS the cutest thing alive! I know! With the…sprinkler! And the….seriously! (She really was cute.)

Emily asks me if I want a drink, and she gets the requested Diet Coke, before we set out on our tour of campus.

Like I said, the whole place is great. Honestly, I went there this morning thinking: Eh, Mic, this might not be all it’s cracked up to be, so don’t get your hopes up or anything, because you don’t want them to be dashed. So I was pleasantly surprised, if sweating profusely, because it was a little toasty and I was in a black dress shirt and slacks. (Slacks. That may be the first time I’ve used that word is YEARS.) But really - the place actually had groups of three to four students of varying ethnic origin and both genders, gathered around a professor talking about something that is of course both profoundly theological and incredibly funny, and the groups were placed at the most beautiful parts of the very beautiful campus. Just like the brochure.

Bonus points:

-Free wireless internet, all over campus.
-A lovely student lounge and café
-An extremely cheap (always 20% off retail) bookshop
-Lots of great study corners both indoors and out, including a “study room” that actually looks like it should be someone’s grandpa’s, completely with leather and wood furnishings, old books, that sort of thing.
-A subscription to The Wittenburg Door in the periodicals. I respect that.
-The Francis Schaeffer Institute
-A log cabin.

Most importantly, the students were not only nice, but they were NORMAL (for the most part). And that says a lot, for a seminary. (As a friend once said: “Beware the seminerds.”)

After the tour, I had an interview with the head of admissions, which went really well. I think I got points for being a part of the Forbes Clan (as was he), and for my knowledge and love of British Pubs (you know you’re Presbyterian if….).

From there, I was directed to meet Ada, who was the student I was going to accompany to class – Intro to Christian Education. I immediately liked her, along with the other two girls I met around my age in the same class. (There were more my age that I didn’t get to meet, for the record.) But most of all, I was just encouraged that there were single girls around here that were enjoyable to be around, and didn’t wear skirts and their hair in buns. (Okay, okay, so I stereotype. I’m a bad person.)

Class was great, and I even got to partake in some of the discussion (which the lovely tag-team professors welcomed). I met Jenny, who – bizarrely enough – I already knew about before I got there, since she and her husband Mark were my flatmate’s (Dave’s) Navigators leaders back in Edinburgh. Small world.

And it was snack day! Not only can you bring food and drinks into class, they actually had it all laid out on a table for us today. Popcorn, brownies, and FRITOS! (I actually exclaimed: “FRITOS!” when I saw them. I’d forgotten about Fritos.) And so we sat round talking about multiple intelligences while munching brownies. Is this my kind of seminary? I THINK IT JUST MIGHT BE.

That night, Ada invited me to the RCF meeting she and some of the other students help to run at Lindenwood University. And I really enjoyed that too. What’s more, I was really thankful to make a new friend in Ada, considering I have only a few in St. Louis, and you can only do things with your folks for so long.

As cheesy as it sounds, I drove home that night to the sounds of Feeder and Mae and felt absolutely the best I’ve felt in ages. I was really really encouraged, and I really do hope things work themselves out to let me start there next year.

Also, Mom says this is probably my last chance at finding a man. No really, she actually said that. And I think she meant it.

Michaela @6:13 AM :: Comment


Can someone tell me why I'm getting so many links from the Double Minor Hockey Network forums? I can't even log in to see the thread that's linking me.


Michaela @4:29 AM :: Comment

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I promise, I'm writing.

The thing is, I'm not getting around to typing up what I've been writing. Lots of stuff - really good stuff, actually - has been going on, and I'm writing it down. Just tonight, I sat a Waffle House at 11pm, writing stuff intended for this blog (and some not intended for it). And I've spent time at Starbucks, Borders, Barnes and Noble, all doing the same thing. I think it's feast or famine with me sometimes - when I blog more often, my ink and paper writing suffers. When I put pen to paper, my blog suffers sometimes. But it won't last forever, I promise. Some if it will find its way to this here page.

Tomorrow, Mom and I are off to Kansas City (and back), so with 8 hours of driving, I may not have time to get that writing here tomorrow either. Friday I have dinner arrangements, and Saturday I'm back to Kansas City to visit folks for the weekend. But things are good - really, really good.

We'll chat soon, shall we?


Michaela @7:10 AM :: Comment

Monday, October 03, 2005

On Frontline Mourning

These are better days. It would be silly to try and ignore that we – my family – do not have things to deal with, but for now, it feels like the dreaded worst is over. A critical illness has a funny effect on those who love the one who is sick….a lingering dread of knowing what is coming. In a sense, it’s a faint dread that is always there – we know we will one day (likely) have to deal with the deaths of our parents, spouses. Even those of us who truly believe that ‘death has lost its sting’ cannot ignore the earthly assurance of pain. Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus – and that was when he knew he was about to raise him from the dead within moments.

And so, for now, the storm has calmed, and we’re back to real life, back to rebuilding.

Mom hasn’t been home to St Louis for a month-she’s been in Kansas City, dealing with Grandma and Grandpa. She came back on Friday, and we enjoyed our traditional glass of wine and a smoke on the back deck, under a ceiling of trees and stars and planes coming into Lambert Airport.

Over our wine, Mom surprisingly told me how this was worse than her real father’s death. (Grandpa Gayle was Mom’s stepdad since she was 11.) She told me how she felt she needed to get over it – “Just have to stop hurting.”

One of the things that most struck me at the funeral was the American culture of mourning. I know I’ve blogged about this before, ages ago, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen it in action. We are raised to mourn with a “dignity” and quietness. Tissues are kept in each pew, and mourners dab the corners of their eyes silently. We file in and out and put on a happy-but-not-overly-happy face. “How are you?” guests politely ask, which is just about one of the most ridiculous questions in the English language. Unspoken decorum says that we are not allowed to give the real answer:

“I’m doing pretty shitty, actually. My husband/father/grandfather/uncle/son/nephew/etc has just died. I spent a week curled up on the sofa crying til I was nauseous, mindlessly watching reruns of Home Improvement, wishing I could do anything to bring him back. And I know God is in control, and I know I have your prayers, and I thank you for that, but that is the truest answer I can give you – I’m still pretty shitty, and I’m probably going to be shitty for a while.”

We are not allowed to give this response.

It is an American problem (perhaps a Western problem) – it is a Church problem. We are not really allowed to grieve and we are not really allowed to tell the truth.

And we have our rituals. The food, in particular. Oh, the food.

There is food after the visitation, food after the funeral, food showing up at your door – always a casserole. If one were not inclined to dive into the sin of drink and drugs after losing a loved one, the sin of gluttony would be the easy way to go.

After the funeral, my family gathered at Grandma’s house to – what else? – eat. The doorbell rang, and I went to answer it. A small, middle-aged woman introduced herself as one of my grandmother’s neighbors. She held a casserole, in a plastic Glad dish. With a slight embarrassment, she hands it to me, explains that it’s a chicken, rice, and broccoli casserole, and that it’s freezable – “Since….I’m sure….you….probably have a lot of food.” I assured her that it would be eaten, and thanked her. She gave her condolences and an offer to “let her know if she can do anything.”

When I relayed all this to grandma, she turned her head away, as if it were a dead kitty casserole. “Oh, dear. Don’t leave that here.” She was adamant that we not leave any food at her house – it wouldn’t get eaten. Ironic, since Grandma has always had more food in her house than most small countries can provide their people.

We eat, therefore, we mourn.

In the middle of all this shuffling from room to room, small talk and eating, I was struck by it’s …..politeness. I thought of the vivid video we see on the news, of middle eastern funerals and those mourning there. Women dress in black from dead to toe, rocking back and forth, screaming, crying, beating their chests in a very visible, outward sign of their inward pain.

But here we are too “civilized” and dignified for such an outpouring of emotion. Celebration, we’re good at that (though arguably, we could still be beaten by our eastern brothers and sisters). But grief, mourning, pain – whether ours, or dealing with others – we don’t do. Or, at least we keep it to a minimum. We have not only forgotten our sackcloth and ashes, but we forget to weep with those who weep. There are relationships which make the casserole-giving appropriate – we want to help, even if the hurting person is just an acquaintance or neighbor, and we don’t feel we can truly lend a shoulder.

But I think, more often than not, we do casseroles and small talk when we really should be offering a shoulder to cry on for as long as necessary. The hurting need not hear “It’s going to be okay”, or “God is in control”, or “You’re going to get through this, you’re strong.” They need to hear: “I’m here, and I will be, as long as you need me to be. Because the pain won’t just go away. It may be a while. And I’ll be here, even then.”

Because that is love.

Michaela @5:06 PM :: Comment

"In the city you will find that the poor and the broken are often much, much more open to the idea of Gospel grace and much more dedicated to its practical outworkings than you are." (Tim Keller)

"Always On Your Side" by Sheryl Crow