Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I've got friends...

One of my favorite features of using Google Chrome as a web browser is the fact that it remembers websites. When I want to get to facebook all I need to do is type in "faceb" and hit enter and I'm there! Want to get to my google reader? "reader" (Did you notice that I type until I have to switch typing hands? Ms. Kilbride, my HS keyboarding teacher, would be proud that I still type correctly.)

When I though about writing this entry, I typed in "ra" and got nothing. I kept typing... "rambling" still nothing... had I not visited the blog in so long that Google Chrome did not recognize it? Wow...

One of my favorite tweeters (what exactly is the word for a person who uses twitter?) is UnvirtuousAbbey. One tweet a few days ago read, "For bloggers who only blog about their writer's block, we pray to the Lord." Oh Jesus! I promise not to write about my writers block. Trust me, I have plenty to write about... just not enough time to write it.

But I find myself in the past few days pondering the nature of the United Methodist Church's connectional (is that not a real word? I am getting the red-squiggly-line-of-death) nature. These thoughts began when my husband declared to me that being friends with me on facebook has clogged up his "People You Should Know" list with a bunch of United Methodists who he has knowledge of. I laughed. But when he mentioned the people that facebook suggested, one of the people was my friend, Diane.

My thinking of Diane continued through the week when we exchanged a few text messages. My phone threads texts to look like conversations, and in talking with Diane, I accidentally sent Diane a message meant for Garrett, the man gracious enough to stay married to me. Thank GOD the text only read, "Thanks, Babe!" and not something more embarrassing.

I began to really think about how much I miss the friends I have made through various venues within and related to the United Methodist Church. While I am really glad for the connectional system which brought me together with these folks, it SUCKS ROYALLY that because of the connectional system I rarely get to see them.

I miss:

Diane - who has dubbed herself the "woman I sleep with when I'm away from Garrett." Laugh all you want, but it is true. When I go to commission meetings for The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, I choose to room with Diane. Diane and I both nerdily (again, red-squiggly-line-of-death) look forward to our first night together at meetings where we will each recline on our hotel room beds and trade syllabi (AGAIN with the red-squiggly-line-of-death... I could have SWORN that was a real word). What will Diane and I do when we meet next August and we're not in seminary anymore?! Oh goodness... Diane also taught be of the joy of sulfate-free haircare. Us curly-girls have GOT to stick together! Mainly, I miss laughing with Diane... our funny sleeping stories... the fact that she doesn't blink when I brush my teeth in my underwear... I miss Diane.

I also miss:

Rachel BR - She and I share a special bond... the bond of "People whose last names give other people problems." She has lived with her last name her whole life, but I have only had mine for 872 days. She assures me that it never gets any easier, but that it does get funnier. I met Rachel through her service with Reconciling Ministries Network and The General Commission on Religion and Race. What I love about Rachel (well, one of the many things) is her no-nonsense way of framing issues around inclusivity. I have never had to question where Rachel stands on any issue, and on the (rare) occasion in which we disagree, I must say that Rachel is the most wonderful person to disagree with. She has a way of not putting you down in telling you how she feels and why she feels that way. My working relationship with Rachel turned into a friendship relationship as we toured Berlin. We formed inside jokes, took pictures, and laughed through much of our journey. We shared a lot of room temperature Coca-Cola (which spurred much discussion about the ethics of the Coca-Cola corporation), internet time and usage, and passion for similar causes. I miss Rachel.

I also miss:

DJ - one of the brave men to serve on GCSRW (see Diane's paragraph for an explanation of the letters)! I appreciate and miss DJ for many reasons, but the first thing that comes to mind is that DJ is one of the rare males that understands that feminism did not completely kill chivalry. For example: I have never opened a door for myself around DJ, but have never felt like he is opening a door because the feeble woman in his presence. I have noticed that DJ always opens the door for all people, not just women. I also respect DJ so much for his commitment to be a loving husband and father in any and all ways possible. I have never met his wife, but from the way he speaks of her and their wonderful girls, their family is one that any person could respect. Like both Diane and Rachel, DJ and I laugh together. I think I have realized that laughter and trust must be central in my friendships.

Enough of my gushing about specific friends. Of all the things that the United Methodist Church has blessed me with, I value my friendships the most, and it is those friendships that I cling to when I am beginning to lose hope for the denomination.

Dear Friends, (whether you are Diane, Rachel, DJ, or someone else) have you considered a visit to central Ohio? Please?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dear Faithful Followers

To the folks that follow this blog...

I know I haven't posted on here in a while (as pointed out by my dad), but I don't think an apology is quite necessary. I finishing up my second-to-last semester in seminary, working on the insane amounts of required paperwork in the next step toward ordination in the United Methodist Church, pastoring my two lovely churches and trying to keep myself sane...

In case that all wasn't enough, I am preparing for a trip to Cambodia next summer. I have started a blog specifically for documenting that journey, and you can find it at

Check it out and add it to your feed readers. I hope to update both blogs more often!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My bags are packed. I'm ready to go.

... I'm leaving on a jet plane.

I am taking a minute before Garrett drives me to the airport to explain what I'm doing.

First and foremost, I am visiting friends. My dear friend, Vici, and her (then) fiancé, Hauke, came to the U.S. for our wedding. It was great to see them and catch up, but I could not go to their wedding because I was on my cross-cultural trip for MTSO. Well, since they came two years ago, they have gotten married and had a baby! I am so excited to see Vici and Hauke again and to meet Mathilda! I am taking her some great books. I hope that Vici and Hauke read to her all throughout her childhood.

I will then be headed to Berlin for the Global Youth and Young Adults Convocation and Legislative Assembly. I am excited for this second gathering to see the people I met in Jo-burg and to meet even more wonderful and committed United Methodists.

After convo, the Division on Ministries with Young People will hold their yearly division meeting in Woltersdorf. That will close out my trip before I return to the U.S. on July 30.

I will (hopefully... barring any unforeseen circumstances) be blogging throughout my trip. I will be doing this not only to chronicle my travels, but also to keep folks in the U.S. posted, as stipulated in my Student Enrichment Grant from MTSO. I would also like to thank that Capitol Area North District and The Revs. Phillip and Gloria Brooks for the funding for this wonderful opportunity. I am still not 100% funded for the trip, but I am praying that it all works out.

I should also thank my husband, who stays behind to work, tend the house, and care for the Lola-dog while I'm away. I am so blessed to have a husband who supports me this and all of my other journeys. I can't wait for the day when he and I actually get to board a plane together, as that has not happened since our honeymoon.

So, it is off to Hamburg I go (by way of Philadelphia and Dublin). I should arrive around 9am Monday, Ohio time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

100 Words or Less

I have really enjoyed the class I am currently taking on Narrative Preaching. My professor is Sondra Willobee, and she has thoughtfully and prayerfully led me and my classmates through the first two weeks of class. Our assignment last night was to write our "testimonies" (that word makes me shudder) in 100 words or less.

Here is mine...

At all times in my life I felt completely surrounded by love and upheld by faith in Jesus Christ… all but one. My faith had never been tested more than the typical tough question, until the day when I felt that capability to love taken from me. I never denied God’s presence, but certainly did not trust in the promises which, until then, I had staked my life upon. Steadily lead by a human who taught me how to trust again, I heard the voice of God say, “Regardless of the circumstance, always do the loving thing.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Childhood Story

I have gotten some good feedback from my last story... here is a lighter one. It was written for the same class, but this story prompt was simply, "Share a 1-2 minute story from your childhood."

It was an afternoon like many before it. I ran around the back yard, chasing my older brother. I was determined to keep up with him and his friends, 3 years my senior. As the grass stuck to my bare feet, I ran laps around the house, turning corners quickly, only narrowly avoiding the peonies. Like many times before, I found myself drenched by the iron saturated water of the family garden hose as my brother or one of his friends tried to deter my need for attention. Giggling like the schoolgirl I was, I took my brother’s torture in stride. As I continued to gasp for breath and run, I turned the same corner I had turned time and time again. As my feet crossed the narrow sidewalk, I heard my brother calling out to me.

I skidded to a halt.

My brother was calling out to me? His little, gap toothed, four eyed sister? I felt myself swell with importance. He said to me, “Anna, something is wrong with the hose. I can’t get it to work!” Oh how the tides had turned! My brother needed me to help him with the hose! Feeling like the queen of South Sandusky, I took the cool end of the hose in my hand. As my brother ran for the spigot, I hollered at him, “Turn it off and then turn it on again! I’ll look to see what’s wrong.” As the sun beat down on my already sunburned shoulders, I heard my brother yell back, “Ok! It’s off! I’m gonna turn it back on.”

As I stood there in the backyard, the cold end of the hose pressed against my right eye, I peered down the dark tunnel of the hose and drew in a breath.


Suddenly, I felt a stinging in my right eye, and as I crumbed down into the grass, I heard the laughter of three young boys that stung me more than the water in my eye. My brother had kinked the hose, but he never expected his gullible little sister to press the hose directly to her eye.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh Dear Blog

Oh my dear blog... I have fallen into the life of "people who are too busy to post." I hope to break that mold through the rest of the summer.

For now, please enjoy a post that comes from the class I am currently taking... the assignment was "
Write a 2-3 minute true story about something that happened to someone else. Be sure to include people, place, objects, and actions."

Our professor has taught us that if we are going to preach from personal experience, we need to be detached enough from our own life experiences that we can tell the story without fear that the congregation will want care for you. That disturbed me a little bit, but this is my attempt at a personal story with a bit of detachment.


She never thought a love like this would find her. She didn’t even want a dog, but after her unexpected hospitalization caused her to miss chaperoning her son’s much anticipated first grade trip to the zoo, the guilt that tow-headed child inadvertently made her feel caused her to utter the infamous words, “I guess we can go to the humane society and look around.”

They both fell in love that day; he with the white tip of Lee’s black tail, and she with the look on his face. In the beginning, he and Lee were inseparable. Lee followed him around the backyard and cuddled with him in his bed. As time went on, his legs grew longer, carrying him away and Lee’s grew more gray. She found herself caring for Lee. It was she who stood on the blustery back porch waiting for Lee to do her business. It was she who filled the stainless steel water dish.

The caring was not one sided, however. Lee listened for her car to roll up the driveway. It was only when she walked through the door that Lee’s tail beat against the bars of the cage. It was her bed which was covered in short black and gray hair. Lee grew older with her. As her disease began to slow her down, it was Lee who would lay next to her for hours, finding a way to keep the cold, wet, dog nose behind her knees or under her hand… anything to let her know that she was not alone.

Though she had many friends, Lee was the best. It was Lee who spent the long and tired nights with her when her husband was gone increasingly more for work. It was Lee who patrolled the empty rooms of her children who had grown and left the house. And it was Lee who was left alone in the house as her disease sent her to the hospital one final time.

As her family returned to the house, it was as though Lee needed no explanation. Lee guarded her spot on the tattered brown couch, wimpering as if to say, “I know she’s not coming back.” As he pet the head of the dog he knew had not been his, he felt as though Lee’s heart was breaking as much as his. The woman he had truly loved, his mother, was gone.

As he moved his hand off of Lee's head, Lee nudged the cold, wet, dog nose under his hand, and he no longer felt alone. He felt the love of his mother through the warmth of the dog that was now his once again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"A Prayer for the Dazed"

Posted on facebook by PeaceBang

by Sharon McDonald

For those whose "check engine" light just flashed;
For those recently deposited, trembly-legged, from a roller-coaster;
For those who forgot their lines as they entered, stage right;
For those poised tensely like a deer in the headlights;
For those badly jet-lagged who fumble for their passport;
For those just awakening not sure of their name;
For those who sat near as a loved one died a "good" death;
Oh God, we pray, repeat yourself:
Vouchsafe again and again the law of gravity;
Reiterate that day follows night and crocuses follow icicles;
Push the tides endlessly like a rocking cradle
Until we can recognize the rhythm of our own breath;
Until we can blink and regain our balance;
Until our hearts beat steadily again.

Happy Birthday To Me!

Well, yesterday was my birthday. I turned 24, and I am quite thankful to have been blessed with another year of life. I told a few people that I wanted it to be my last birthday, because I never want to turn 25... there is just something about being a quarter of a century old that bugs me. When I told my brother that, however, he pointed out to me that the only way to truly never turn 25 was to off myself, so I guess I will just have to live with it if I make it to March 12, 2012.

I felt so very honored yesterday by many people, so I am going to turn the tables on them and share some of the things that moved me deeply. Here are some of the gifts I received yesterday.

- Chocolate Covered Oreos - I was blessed to be able to enjoy dinner at Benihana on Thursday night with the love of my life, my best friend, and the love of her life. The four of us gathered around the hibachi grill and shared stories and laughter. Just when I thought that my dinner was perfect, exchanging loving glances with my handsome husband, I caught a glimpse of those same glances being shared between my best friend and the man that has made her truly glow. Despite how much I love the Oreos smothered in chocolate that she gave me, to see my best friend so incredibly happy was the best birthday gift that she could have given me.

- An herb chopper - Now I know what you're thinking... "Really, Anna, an herb chopper? What is so exciting and invigorating about that?" One of my favorite food items to prepare is guacamole. I don't really care to sound proud, but I have been told that my guacamole is quite exceptional. One ingredient I use is fresh cilantro, and as much as I love it, I don't care to have my hands smell like fresh cilantro for two days after I make a huge batch of guacamole. A chopper similar to this has been on my "personal indulgence" wishlist for quite some time. I was even at a Pampered Chef party and saw it in the catalog and did not purchase it because I did not really have that much money to blow. So when my husband handed me the bag containing my birthday gift with the disclaimer, "It is not very much..." imagine my surprise when I pulled out a chopper!! It was an amazing gift, but better than the gift was knowing that I have chosen to spend my life with a person who listens and processes the things that make me happy. Herb chopper or not, his character is always a gift to me.

- A bottle of home crafted wine - A good friend of mine from Ohio Northern University has chosen to attend seminary in Atlanta. He has taken to home brewing and crafting wine. In the past two years I have been blessed to serve on the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women of the United Methodist Church (we'll talk more about this later), and I met a wonderful woman, Diane, who has met my ONU friend at their seminary. She was gracious enough to haul a bottle of strawberry wine (complete with triquetra wax seal) from Atlanta to Chicago, where she kept it safe and unbroken through her journeys around the windy city. This bottle of wine has shown me the incredible network friends and colleagues I have not only in seminary, but also in the United Methodist Church.

- A generous donation in my honor - D (my friend mentioned earlier) serves on the Advocacy for Women Endowment Fund sub-committee, and she rounded up the executive committee of GCSRW to make a $150 to the endowment in my honor! How exciting! I so wish that I had enough money to match their gifts. I am so thankful that the wonderful people with whom I serve on GCSRW can honor one another in ways that can further the mission of not only our commission and the United Methodist Church, but also the mission that our God has called each and every one of us to. How blessed I am not only for this gift in my honor, but also for the blessing to spend my second birthday in a row with these wonderful folks.

** Shameless plug alert ** you should consider a donation to the endowment!

- A purse - One of my GCSRW friends in a deaconess from the Philippines, and each time she comes to the US for a meeting, she brings goodies!! This time she brought me a wonderful purse. Not only do I love purses, but I love the fact that each time I see/use it, I will think of her and her ministry in the Philippines. I have been involved in a lot of conversation about the global nature of the church in the past few weeks/months, and this gift is something that wil keep that in my mind for quite some time to come. D mentioned in her blog post about my birthday that I have a passion for the small church with a vision of the global church. I have never been more flattered in my life. In the course of the meeting I have participated in during the last 24 hours, it has (again) been made apparent to me that the United Methodist Church needs to truly live into the full connectional (my spell check on here hates that word... we're going to have to do something about that) nature or face some grave consequences.

All these things and my birthday festivities are not completed. My best friend is driving out to Chicago to spend the weekend with me. I hope that the weekend is truly restful for both of us!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stuff I do not put up with anymore

A blog I follow posted an entry about things that "I" don't put up with anymore. I felt inspired to jot down a few of my own...

- People telling me that I should have lasik eye surgery
I love my glasses. I have quite a few pairs of them. Do I wear contacts? Not very often, but sometimes when I'm going to be riding rollercoasters or when I'm at the gym. I understand that we have the medical technology to fix vision to an extent, but the reality is that most people who have lasik end up wearing glasses again at some point in their lives. I consider my glasses as one of the most expressive parts of my wardrobe/accessories. Along the same lines, if I am wearing my glasses, please don't ask me to remove them for pictures. I understand that sometimes they glare, but you can fix that. I will not alter my appearance for your sake.

- People expecting me to deal with their interpersonal issues
I understand that you, Sally, may not care for Jane, but when I am hosting a party or event, I will not omit Jane from the guest list because you, Sally, are going to be there. I must admit that I have lived my life the past year or so attempting to deal with your issues, but it does. not. work. period. Put on your big girl (or boy) panties and act like the adult that you are. The problem that I am having with living into this theory on life is that often when I invite both Sally and Jane, neither of them choose to attend the function. This theological world 2 woman takes issue with this because I secretly feel that they are not attending because they don't like me. I need to get over that. If you two choose not to attend, it is you who will be missing out.

- Poor grammar
Let me preface this by saying that I think that poor grammar is a relative concept. Poor grammar to me is defined as not using the grammar that you have been taught at whatever level of education you have completed. Mainly, this point is made to my seminary colleagues who continue to not use correct grammar, such as your vs. you're and other similar examples. Please note that I did not say that I don't put up with not understanding the differences, because my personal downfall is the difference between its and it's (please don't try to teach me... I have heard it a million times... it just doesn't stick). How I handle this situation is that I do not use those words. I will choose to write "it is" or some alternative verbiage. Is this the smartest option? Absolutely not. What I have realized, however, is that a person's intelligence is not showcased when the grammar is all wrong! I must also add that I do not consider web lingo (like on twitter or facebook) to be exempt from this.

- My own self-loathing
If I don't like it, I need to work to change it. Really pretty simple.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What do you do?

My friend has blogged about the social stigma that come from the phrase, "I am a seminary student." This friend, however, is male, and I believe that I have a whole different perspective of the discomfort that the revelation of my status as a seminarian can bring.

Women get to experience a range of uncomfortable encounters in the medical/personal world that (most) men don't get to experience until much later in their lives. Women get the joy of having an annual gynecological exam (and if you are a female and don't, you should). Along with that (and sometimes other) doctor's appointment come the joy of the breast exam. Or what about the Brazilian wax? Let's face it ladies, there are a lot of times that someone else's face is in our "business."

Well as a seminary student, I dread the inevitable question of "what do you do?" I try to dodge the question telling the asker that I am a full time student. More often than not, that person asks me what I study. I tell them theology. Now, my favorite types of doctors/nurses/whoevers stop at that. That answer suffices. Most people, however, need more details. They want to know what I want to do with my degree. This is where I start to get nervous. Not only is someone's face in my "business" but now I must tell that I will be (and already am) serving a church as a pastor. The conversation then halts...

Even the most uncomfortable situation can be made a bit more enjoyable with pleasantries, but once I have revealed that I am a pastor, one of two thing happen. Either the person stops talking altogether. Now I am faced with the reality that this person is either looking at me or touching me in places that I don't even like to acknowledge exist, and they are silent. Great... awkwardness ensures... OR that person decides to spill their entire personal, religious/spiritual history in depth, presenting me with issues to solve in the few moments that we will spend together. Now this is not like the dentist asking you a question while her/his hands in your mouth... at least then you have an excuse to just shake your head and make polite eyes. You try to keep silent while your gynecologist asks if you recommend any churches in the area.

And the reality of it is that this is something I am going to deal with for the entirety of my life. Not only in the superawkward conversations like at the gynecologist or while getting a mammogram (oh do I dread the day that I have to have one of those...) but they will also happen while I am getting my hair cut or while I am getting a manicure. It has happened! It sucks!

But that is the truth of this calling and all others. If you tell someone you are a lawyer, they ask for legal advice. If you are a nurse, they ask you for medical advice. If you are a stay at home parent, they ask you for parenting tips. And if you are a pastor, they ask you to see a part of the deepest parts of them, the parts that often no one else has ever seen. They trust you with the things that no one else can be trusted with...

...and no matter how uncomfortable, I try to radiate the love of God that fills me with life and light.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Lark Ascending...

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.

- George Meredith

I had never heard this poem before it was briefly quoted on the David Crowder Band's album "A Collision (3+4=7)" in the final song "The Lark Ascending or (Perhaps More Accurately, I'm Trying to Make You Sing). I listened to this song this morning, as I was feeling a bit funky. This funk was not the self-actualized, "I am a strikingly individual person," but more the, "I feel like there is a tiny black cloud hovering over my head, not quite raining, but just misting enough to make my hair frizz."

As I prepared for the morning shower, I pondered my morning music choice. Music choice for me is absolutely critical... whatever music my Bose sings to me sets the tone for the rest of my day. I was faced with choices.

"Should I listen to Fiona Apple and own my funk?"

"Should I sing along to Ray LaMontagne and mellow out?"

"Should I put on Timbaland and just dance through the funk?"

And then I decided... I will put on "A Collision" and see where it takes me. My usual morning routine is that I shower and dry my hair, and then do the rest of my morning tasks while the Today Show blares on the TV. Today I chose to leave the TV off... I let the music continue until I walked out the door... I even took my ipod in the car with me, hooking it up to the radio adapter and letting the album play where it left off.

I needed to stop at the store on the way to school to get some Tylenol (why is it that I am always out when a funk hits me?) so I pulled into the parking lot, popped on my headphones and walked into the store. As I walked toward the pharmacy section of the store, the last song on the album came on. If you have never heard the album, the last song begins with an interview that David Crowder had with a gentleman who didn't quite "get it." It is obvious that Crowder becomes a bit frustrated by the gentleman who takes everything a bit too literally...

And as this is all occurring on my headphones, I am scanning my Tylenol on the self checkout. The screen tells me that I should see the attendant so that the attendant may deactivate the security tag so that I don't beeped at on the way out the door. As I approach her, I ask her to deactivate the tag. She replies...

"There is nothing I can do about it. I saw you buy it, so it is ok if the alarm goes off."

UGH!! Funk reappeared. As I was walking out the door, the alarm goes off. It is 7:45 a.m. and there are not very many people in the store. I am asked by who I would presume to be the loss prevention person to present my receipt, and I begin to get frustrated... That whole attitude that I have worked so hard to create for myself goes out the window...

And as I sink down into my funk and my Mercury Sable, I listen to David Crowder explain to this interviewer how we shouldn't take anything too seriously. He talks about the atom that is on the front of the album, and how the representation that humans have made for the atom is just that: a representation. The same goes for our worship and ideas about God. It is a representation of a divine/human interaction... an interaction that despite all of our best efforts will not be fully understood. And the beauty of this interaction is that it happens in all people, whether they recognize it or not. And just as Crowder had to try to articulate this to his interviewer, I need to recognize that in all the people around me.

And on the mile stretch between the store and my school, I sang...

And I'm trying to make you sing
From inside where you believe
Like it's something that you need
Like it means everything

And I'm trying to make you feel that
This is for real, that life is happening
That it means everything
I'm just trying to make you sing

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My womanhood...

So, I have witnessed the resurgence of an interesting phenomenon this past week. Now, I have experienced it before, but this week it has pissed me off in a way that I am trying to articulate.

"So, Anna, now you're married. When are you going to have a baby?"

This has come from various places... from my dad's wife joking that she wants a redhead to the older ladies from my home church wondering when I am going to "start my family." It has even come in the form of a question from an aunt that I haven't talked to in a year... the first thing she asks me is if I'm pregnant yet...

This week, however, the baby nagging has come from facebook...

I sneeze. A lot. I always have. This week I sneezed 21 times and posted something on facebook about it. A friend of mine replied jokingly that an old wive's tale says that for every three times you sneeze, you'll have a baby. Someone else replied, "7 Babies?!?!?" Now, I understand that was all in fun, but then the baby-craziness continued.

As I was perusing my school's website, I saw that the academic calendar for 2010-2011 has been finalized. That means that my graduation date from seminary has been set. I saw this and became really excited (rightly so, I think!) so I posted the date on my facebook in the status update that read...

"May 21, 2011 has a nice ring to it!"

One of the first comments that was made was, "Is that your goal due date?" HELL NO! Why does any important thing that I leave ambiguous in public immediately become related to babies? And then someone else commented that graduating from a master's program (seminary, M.Div.) is nice, but a baby sounds good, too... UGH!

"So when are you going to start your family?" I resent this. My family has been started. When I left the home of my parents, I started my own family. I branched out from the family of my parents and became my own. And I added to it when I decided to get married. I firmly believe that neither marriage nor a baby starts a family. A family is started long before then!!

Also, I am 23 years old (for a little while longer at least...), and I have a lot of living left to do before I even begin to seriously entertain the thought of having a child. Does this mean that I think that all 23 year olds need to wait? No! I think there are some wonderful parents who are my age and younger. But as for me, Anna, I need to finish school
at least before I can even think of being a parent to a human being. I even shy away from the notion that I am my dog's "mom" (I like to steal the language of my friend, KLM, who says that she is her pets' roommate).

I once heard a great (and heartbreaking) response from a woman when someone asked her when she was going to have a baby. She simply replied,

"What if I can't?"

I don't like to be one of those women who gripes about the double standards between men and women (ok... that may be a slight fib) but why is a woman assumed to be able to bear a child. I have never heard someone ask my husband, "So, when are you going to impregnate your wife?" Don't get me wrong, I don't want someone to ask him that, but why do I receive all the questions about reproduction?

I am not sure that anyone would claim that they would think me less of a person if I am not physically able to have a child, but I have certainly been made to feel that because my choice
at this point in my life to not have a child has somehow made me less of a woman. And quite frankly it ticks me off.

I want to have a child some day. I really do. And even as I fight of the natural maternal instincts in myself right now, each person that asks me, "When are you going to have a baby?" incites this tiny part of me that never wants one at all. And what if I reach that conclusion someday? Will that make me less woman or wife because I have made that choice for myself?

So friends, think twice before you ask a woman when she is going to have a baby...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Love is all you need

"Anna... I have a granddaughter named Anna..." I can still hear the voice of Vern LaSala, the chaplain at Ohio Northern University, uttering this phrase time and time again is his deep and calming voice. There are many things I remember about my time at ONU shared with Vern... the way he could never admit to forgetting a name, how deeply he breathed when waiting for a staffer to respond during spiritual growth, belting Neal Diamond in the university van on the way to the nature center, his nerdy but oh so well loved books of the Bible tie, and many others.

The most lasting thing I remember though is Vern's email signature. It has been the same since I started in college in August of 2004. It simply reads

"Regardless of the Circumstance, Always Do the Loving Thing."

I have mindlessly read that phrase more in my life than I care to count, but this last year has been a year of me putting that into action. I returned to ONU for lunch with some friends, and I stopped in to visit Vern. The first thing he did was proudly present me with a rubber bracelet, orange and white marbled, that reads "Always Do the Loving Thing" followed by a heart. He told me that the heart put the phrase over the character limit for the bracelet company, but he pleaded until they let him include it (actually, I believe his wonderful secretary, Jody King, did the pleading...). This bracelet, but more importantly this phrase, has been the tag-line for Vern's ministry, and now I find it seeping into my ministry.

This phrase was brought to my mind this week as I read through the status updates of my friends... My friend Karen had posted a quote from Leo Tolstoy... now, I had never cared much for Tolstoy, so I am surprised that I actually read the quote. It read

"The kinder and more thoughtful a person is, the more kindness they can find in other people."

I have experienced in the past few weeks a lot of people who think that if someone is inconsiderate to you, you should respond in an inconsiderate manner. I have also experienced people who are just downright angry by nature. I have always known that I am not one of those people. I believe that kindness is key, and despite how someone is treating you, you should respond in the most considerate way possible. I give the credit to my mother for raising me in this manner.

But what I have come to realize is that current American attitude, by and large, will walk all over people who keep this kindness and love mentality. I know this because I have often found myself literally crying after some person has treated me poorly after I have responded out of love.

... But there are a few instances where someone has been downright sour to me, and I have tried with everything in me to respond in kindness and love. A rare time or two, the person with whom I am dealing ends up melting right in front of me, breaking down to show me some deeper issues that they are working through. It has become quite the interesting phenomenon to see!! I have seen how my friend and mentor, Vern, can place that one sentence about love at the heart of his ministry.

Love and Kindness get you places that Irritation and Frustration cannot. So if you see me in a sticky situation and have to bet on how I will react, you should place your money on me doing the loving thing, regardless of the circumstance.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


So, there was (is still?) a show on VH1 called Motormouth. I always loved watching this show, but dreaded what I would look like if I had been on it. On this show, a secret camera is placed inside the car of an unsuspecting driver to capture their in-car singing habits. Now, other than wondering which of my friends would turn me in, I often find myself wondering which song I would be caught singing.

Here are the 10 songs that I would most likely be caught singing.

1. "Taking Chances" - Celine Dion
2. "Take Me or Leave Me" - Rent
3. "Keep Holding On" - Avril Lavigne
4. "I Turn to You" - Christina Aguilera
5. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
6. "My Immortal" - Evanescence
7. "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" - Neil Diamond
8. "You Oughta Know" - Alanis Morissette
9. "Apres Moi" - Regina Spektor
10. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga

What about you?