Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye, 2009

I, like most bloggers out there, am trying to reflect upon the year 2009. My year has passed by so quickly that as I sit here to make a bulleted list of things I have done in 2009, I have to have my calendar. So here goes...

- Worked at Kohl's and chose to give it up.
- Worked as a youth pastor at Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist and chose to leave.
- Took classes at the nearby Catholic seminary. Now that is a post all in itself.
- Spent my birthday with my fabulous friends from GCSRW. I learned how to celebrate important things away from my husband.
- Learned the difficulty of doing my own taxes. Thank God for Michael Hurd.
- Celebrated the 80th birthday of my grandmother. I am so thankful for my huge family.
- Completed my first year of seminary.
- Took a trip to Canada with Garrett and his family just because I could.
- Spent 2 weeks + in Korea and Japan. I learned more on this trip than I ever could have in a classroom. While on the trip, Garrett learned that he passed an important test. Again, I celebrated something big away from my husband.
- Celebrated my 1st anniversary with Garrett. A great night with great food, wine, and accommodations. We topped it off by seeing Transformers. Too fun.
- Endured a week of Local Pastor's Licensing School. Though the content was deplorable, I did meet some good friends and colleagues.
- Became a certified candidate for ministry and a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church. Still trying to adjust to getting mail for "Rev. Anna Guillozet"
- Officiated my first funeral. Humbling.

and here are a few things that I have learned...

- friendship takes work. The good ones are worth the work, and the bad ones aren't worth the tears that I cried over them.
- Other people have feelings. Though this may seem obvious, it is something I have to remind myself of quite frequently. I tend to think my feelings trump those of others, and that is simply not true.
- Age is just a number. Now, most people that claim they have learned this are older... I, however, have done many things this year that few 22/23 year olds see as normal.
- I still don't like seafood.
- Sometimes it is ok to be doing nothing.
- Life is fragile. I thank my Aunt Laurel for this mostly. Though her life is waning in front of her own eyes, she keeps such a Godly attitude and genuinely joyful spirit that I can't help but keep her as a role model for my life.

And as I sit to publish this blog, I am watching montages and reading "best of" lists. I am reflecting on the close of this decade and what it has all meant to me. Now don't laugh, reader, but I think that this decade has been hysterical. 10 years ago I was 13. I was a child. And now, I close out the decade with a high school degree, a college degree, well on my way to a masters degree, a career well underway, a great marriage, a house that I call my own (despite our "renter" status), a dog who still rocks my world, and friends and family surrounding me who I love dearly.

So thank you, 00's, for changing my life in more ways than I could ever know.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"B" is for Balance

It is the beautiful time of the seminary year in which final grades have been posted, but the syllabus for my J-term class has not. I officially have nothing to be reading for school... no papers to write, no theological reflecting to be doing. I must admit that I could really get used to this.

Another thing that this time of the year brings is the inevitable facebook status updates that people make as professors post the students' grades to the student portal. As I was reading through (a.k.a.
being a creeper) my facebook news feed, one specific status update caught my eye. My friend posted the following...

Hmmmm... one D+, two Cs, and an F... a 1.325 average ..... maybe this place isn't for me....

Immediately upon reading, I was concerned. I know that this friend is an intelligent (and might I add well dressed... friend, you can pay me later for that one) and not one that should be receiving that type of grades. My husband, who is also a friend of this person on facebook (real life, too, just in case you were wondering...), sent me a text message regarding said status message, inquiring to its authenticity. I did the only sensible thing. I sent my friend a BBM (blackberry message) to find out. This is how the conversation played out. I have taken a bit of liberty with the conversation.

Me: Was that your real GPA?
Friend: No, just sick of people bragging.
Me: You and me both. I was just so worried!
Friend: Thank you.
Me: And between you and me, I work hard not to let anyone make me feel like crap about my 3.1 average... but it takes a lot
Friend: You shouldn't. Guess what? People who get 3.1 are pastors. B's get degrees.

Wow... I bet this friend had NO IDEA how much I needed this conversation. I have always been the kind of person who was hesitant to share my grades. In high school, I usually got higher grades than people, so I didn't want to share them for fear of making someone else feel bad. In college, I found that my high school education was perhaps not quite as challenging as those of some of my peers, and that my lackadaisical attitude toward school was going to prove a stumbling block to me. I had to learn how to study (which I still am not sure I know how to do), and my grades were not as good as those of my friends. This is not to say that my grades were bad, but I have always considered myself blessed to be surrounded by such intelligent human beings, and my college friends were
certainly no exception to that. As they were flourishing in academia, I was working four time as hard to merely keep my head above water.

Then at graduation, something interesting happened. I had never really cared that my grades were not as flawless as my friends, but as I walked into the gymnasium to take my place in the line of graduates, many were wearing chords. These chords were bright orange against their black robes, so they were not to be missed. I realized as I flipped through the graduation program that the chords were to signify those who had graduated "with high honors" or "with honors." I did not have either of those chords. I was proud of my GPA and the fact that it had earned me a scholarship to continue my education at the graduate level, but I had never thought of the sinking feeling in my stomach I would feel as I posed for pictures with my friends who were chorded while I was looking stunning in my plain black robe (may I just add, however, that I had the best shoes... a rocking pair of pointy, pink, glittery pumps). If you wonder why acceptance from peers is such a big deal to me, read my previous post. I am working on it...

I imagine that my mother would have told me that the chords didn't matter, and she would have been right. After that day I could not have cared less who had a chord and who didn't...

But then I came to seminary.

Seminary is, I imagine, like many other graduate programs where people usually inquire about academic situations. "How do you think you did on that test?" Or, in the case of seminary, "How do you think that sermon turned out?" or, "man, I really think I aced that Hebrew exam!" Now, I truly believe that 99% of the people who engage in the practice of grade inquiring do not do so to put anyone down or to lift themselves up, but there are those few people that I have encountered who make me feel like they just HAD to tell me that they got an A on their final or a glowing evaluation to make me remember that I didn't. And I know that I should not let my hard work be diminished by comparing it to the work of others, but it happens!

But from here on out, I will keep in mind the words of my friend... "People who get 3.1 are pastors." Yeah! I am a pastor. Sometimes I have to tell myself again and again that sitting in the room at the nursing home may sometimes be more important than doing the supplemental readings for class. Sometimes a funeral may pop up the week of a presentation, and the presentation has to take the back seat.

Now, I understand that there are a few students out there who manage to balance 2+ jobs plus families and other responsibilities and manage to pull off a 4.0 (I know this because I am friends with a few of them), but I have become more comfortable in knowing that I am not that kind of person. If I allow myself to dwell on my grades, I will not be able to maintain the relationships necessary for keeping my family and my ministry healthy.

So I have learned in seminary that, for me, "B" stands for balance. And a balanced "B" is a grade that I will humbly accept any semester.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

wow, a semester really will fly... I cannot believe I have neglected my poor blog for this long...

I have had a really difficult time in seminary this semester, and I am just realizing it now that the semester is over (thank GOD). This semester has been full of more reading and writing than I could have ever imagined, plus the added stress of having my first church appointment. Writing an additional 8-10 page paper every week in the form of a sermon seemed to be one of the easiest parts of my weeks as they blew past me. The hardest part of it all was the fact that I have felt a huge disconnect in the social sector...

Now, in my life I have never had a shortage of friends. I thrive in social settings with people, but the more I reflect on my time in high school and college the more I realize that I function best in a circle of friends as the person who understands that she isn't quite at the same social level as everyone else, but is funny enough to make up the difference. Now, hear me out before you try to tell me otherwise...

- I dated some low quality people. That is NOT to say that every guy I dated was a loser, because they weren't, but lots of times I found myself in relationships just for the sake of having a boyfriend...
- I found the groups that I fit well in and worked to be in formal leadership positions to secure my friendships. For example, I didn't do well playing volleyball, found myself sitting the bench more often than I had ever dreamed, and I quit (man... that was hard... I have always justified the quitting with a shoulder injury... real injury, bad excuse...). In band, however, I did well and ended up field commander. The same goes for musicals. I was never the star, but had roles just bigger than average...
- In college, I found myself being the funny girl... I literally can't count how many times guys confided in me that they were in love with my roommate or that they thought my friend was great looking. And the one time a guy was really head over heels for me, I really couldn't (and sometimes still can't) get over the fact that the girl he was with before me was much prettier. I banked on my humor to get me through, which served me pretty well.

... and those are just a few of the many examples that I can think of. Now I don't want to be pitied or told that I'm wrong, because I am just reflecting on my own experiences. But this semester, something really interesting happened... When I did not have the time or the energy to get by with my humor, I found myself struggling to invest in significant social relationships. I see other people attending social events that I didn't get invited to, or people making plans that don't involve me. This is mostly my own fault...

but the greatest thing is that I have learned how I measure myself. I have always considered myself an extrovert, and I truly believe that I am, but I have spent so much time telling myself that drawing energy from being around people and banking on always being around people are very different things...

I am still reflecting on what it means in my life and relationships, but what I do know is that I am blessed to be where I am surrounded by the people I am, and I need to not be caught up in my identity in relation to others, but in relation to God and God's calling upon my life.