Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It's decided.

I picked up the program change form today... soon I will be Regent's newest MDiv student!

Let the adventures begin...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Not-so-reading week

Hey everyone, sorry it’s been so long. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and journaling in the last couple of weeks, and it has sapped all of my writing strength. I haven’t even written any poems in the last little while, which is rather scary, because I have a project to turn in about a month from now, and only a couple of poems to my name… it’s time to downsize to haiku…

Danice and I had an excellent time with the MRIs. We are happy to report that we do, in fact, have brains, and we even got to take home a CD full of pictures of our brains to prove it. I tried my hardest to post one on this blog, but you need a special program to show them. So you’ll just have to come visit me, and I’ll show you my pictures. The best part was that we got to do Sudoku during the MRI, while having our brains scanned! That was the decision-making component. Good thing I had all the Sudoku practice during my New Testament survey class last semester…thanks to mom for clipping them out of the Star Phoenix and mailing them to me.

Lots of firsts for me over the last week, which was reading week, but didn’t contain very much reading. It was my first time getting ashes on my forehead for Ash Wednesday. I went snowshoeing for the first time, and I was a natural. I think it’s because I’m so experienced with snow, even though I’m not very experienced with shoes. I also had a first-time experience catering for my church retreat. I say catering, but what I mean is making 25 bag lunches. I discovered that most people don’t really care about food. They care about coffee. And having it ready when they arrive. And they care quite a bit about the coffee in the carafe labeled “decaf” actually being decaf coffee. Oops. They gave me some grace, because I’m not a coffee drinker, and I don’t know the grave importance of these issues.

Also, for the first time, I didn’t come close to fainting when I had blood drawn. I have a fairly severe needle phobia that usually sends my body into shut-down mode – ringing in my ears, eyes blacking out, muscles going weak, a cold sweat all over – everything you see in the movies and laugh at. It’s an irrational fear, as irrational as Danice’s fear of squirrels and mold, and, horror of horrors, moldy squirrels. I have had little success telling myself that it won’t hurt – because it’s not the pain I fear – I have no idea what part of it scares me. It’s an immediate bodily response. This has accounted for some of the most embarrassing experiences of my life, especially several years ago, in my only case of “vicarious” needle phobia, when I nearly fainted watching the removal of my sister Sarah’s IV. She was quite upset when the nurses ignored her and rushed to my aid, helping me into the wheelchair reserved for her… But this week my blood test went fine, despite the fact that the previous evening, I read on the internet that needle / blood phobia (more specifically, vasovagal syncope) is one of the only phobias that can kill you, since it makes the blood from your brain and heart rush to your legs and other big muscles, and can cause cardiac arrest. Not the best choice of pre-blood test reading material. Nevertheless, I made it through. Hopefully it will help the doctor figure out what’s wrong with my upper GI tract.

This whole vocation discernment process has consumed much of my thought this week… I could hardly focus on anything else, which made my school reading a chore. I’ve been busy exploring my motives and gifts, asking the people closest to me to pray for me and help me understand who I am, and spending time with God, sometimes yelling at him and sometimes just straining to listen. I’ve been reading “call” stories in the Bible – Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Saul, David… that has been eye-opening. It’s been a time of vulnerability for me. I’ve fluctuated between the extremes of thinking I’m very “cut out” for ministry, that I would be very effective and wonderful and inspirational – to thinking I’m a mess, and a foolish, silly, sinful, confused little person who couldn’t possibly offer any deepened understanding of God to anyone – and I’m landing somewhere in the middle, which I think is ok. I think if God leads me forward in this, I will need simultaneous reminders of my giftedness and my foolishness to keep me humble and sane.

The most frustrating part is knowing that I’m the only one who can put all the pieces of me together. The people I love offer me different views of myself, their perceptions of me and my abilities and passions, but I’m the one with the most angles on myself. I’m the one who experienced that strange sudden mind conversion that is starting to seem to me like a call, because of how irrational and unprecedented it was. And it’s frustrating not being able to prove it, or explain it completely. But of course, I have the Holy Spirit to help me, and he is not to be underestimated. And I think that slowly and fumblingly, I’m learning to listen, and seeing broader ways God wants to shape me, things he wants to deal with in my life whichever direction I choose. This excites me and gives me hope in the midst of the confusion.

Please keep praying for me, if you think of it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A new poem for you

Snowfall, Nov. 27th 2006


the first wet flakes

drifted lazily through streetlight glow,

finding their rest on green hedges,

apparently oblivious to the


They whispered

in their descent: we are manna,

crumbs for starved souls;

and so they tugged at our threads and

drew us speechless from our homes

to be filled.

We forgot the cold,

swept out into a pale sea of grace.

The sky wrapped us gently in orange,

as the moonlight pooled

in our midnight angels of snow

and sand.

Rapt in unearthly glory,

we reluctantly returned inside; we nestled

‘round the extra log on the fire; the

final drops of some icy spell melted down

our faces, and we succumbed to

warm dreams,

while just beyond

the frostbitten panes, it fell

and mercilessly it fell

until the trees cried out

under the weight of God’s terrible beauty

and snapped.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Crashes, MRIs and Mastering Divinity

I took this picture this afternoon… I assume you heard about the plane crash on the beach in Vancouver? Just kidding. This is actually the set of a movie being filmed here – they were filming on a street three blocks from my house all last week, and then they moved to this elaborate plane wreck set. It’s a movie called “Passengers,” starring Anne Hathaway as a grief counselor for the survivors of this crash. Somehow, I can’t really picture Anne Hathaway as a grief counselor, but maybe it’s just me and my memories of “Ella Enchanted” and “Princess Diaries.” Granted, I didn’t see her more serious role in “Brokeback.” Go see the movie in 2008 to see if she pulls it off.

So next week Danice and I are both going to get our brains checked out. Someone found out that we were serious mental cases and ordered MRIs for both of us. Aha, kidding again. We volunteere
d for MRIs. One of the perks of this UBC careers website is that all of the UBC researchers use it to find research subjects. So Danice and I will be participating in a study that traces neural pathways in decision-making. I think having an MRI sounds fascinating. (Maybe I could convince them to take a look at my stomach after finishing with my brain, and they could tell me what the heck is wrong down there.) Anyway, we’ll get a whopping $20 each. We’re also signed up for a behavioral psychology study ambiguously entitled “Negotiations” with no further description. I hope it’s not like those crazy behavioral studies I learned about in school, where every time you made a mistake in the game they set up, they pretended to give someone else an electric shock. I’d like to think that’s illegal by now. Although it would be very Alias-ish if that did happen. All things considered, what a great way to make a very small amount of money! I will have to let you know how our experiences as lab rats turn out.

This has been a weekend to remember. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending Valentasia at Danice’s old church. This is a tradition for them, and I believe every other church should follow suit: all of the men in the church get together and prepare a fabulous breakfast for all the women in the church, and they dress up and serve them and play live romantic music… yep, it’s the best thing ever. And then I went to Reg
ent for the annual “Taste of the World” event (or, as Danice calls it, “Eat the World”). It’s a huge potluck where all the students bring food from their home countries. You can skip the Canadian and American tables… it’s the Indian, European, Asian, Australian, African and South American tables you really want to hit up. Mmmmmm. Imagine a plate full of samosas, curry, sugar cane, trifle, tilapia, perogies, vegemite and haggis… But what do you bring to represent Canada? It’s hard. As one Canadian student wryly implied in his contribution of take-out Chinese to the Canadian table, we do tend to eat other countries’ food. Really, all I could think of bringing was maple syrup, nanaimo bars, Timbits, bannock, or French Canadian food. So Danice and I decided to get creative and bring Moose Droppings. Don’t ask. (But we have leftovers, if you’d like some.)

I’ve had kind of a surreal weekend in other ways… yesterday, Danice and I repeated a well-worn conversation where she asks why I’m not in the MDiv program and I rattle off my list of reasons. Except this time, I didn’t convince myself. In fact, for the first time, I started imagining myself involved in ministry as a career in ways I’d never seriously considered before, and it was both scary and exciting. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It wouldn’t necessarily mean becoming a pastor, but it would mean focusing on careers that are based around a church or para-church setting (eg. missions, camp ministry, outdoor stuff…), since not a lot of “secular” companies care if you have a Master of Divinity. This would be a major shift from where I’ve been thinking of heading with my MCS degree, which was a career in the marketplace, most likely biology, after possibly doing a Masters in Biology. Really, in both scenarios I’d be working for God, I’d be “ministering,” but in very different settings and with a different modus operandi.

It would be hard to go into all the reasons I’m considering this switch, because the dust has far from settled in the chaos that is my mind. Mostly I realized that I’ve been hiding from myself. I’m quite crafty that way. Because I haven’t wanted to do what was expected for a pastor’s kid, because I wanted to be cool and “minister in the secular world” for the principle of the thing, I’ve been stopping my ears to what people have tried to suggest, and closing my eyes to some things that are staring me in the face. I’ve learned a lot about my
self since arriving here, and I’ve also seen new applications for skills and passions that I thought were only useful or relevant to biology field work. In fact, while I’m sure I could find a fulfilling career in biology, I’m having more trouble thinking of career paths that excite me in that field than in the ministry field. The decision is really about the degree… I know that I could minister with an MCS degree, but the classes I’d get to take in the MDiv program would give me a more well-rounded preparation for this kind of work, and the program is excellent at Regent, and all of the classes I’ve taken so far would transfer over… I’d just have to stay an extra year.

Anyway, the fact that I can even picture myself as a pastor, of all things, an idea which I had previously shunned from my mind, is evidence that there are changes happening in me… I would appreciate your prayers and any input you may have (encouragement, discouragement…), whether by comments or by an e-mail, especially if you’re someone who knows me well or who has been suggesting this course of action all along! I’m starting to understand what a communal thing this process of vocational discernment is, and I would value anything you offer me.

(Do I look like I need discernment?)

(By the way, this is my 100th blog post. Yay bethblogever!)

Monday, February 05, 2007

I'm on TV! Sort of.

Hey everybody! I'm feeling a little better today. I just wanted to let you know that there's a TV program that interviewed Joyce Heron, the director at Jacob's Well, where I volunteer every Friday. If you're interested in what goes on there, and the values behind this unique place, this is a great introduction. The show is called "Listen Up" - it's some sort of Christian news program that airs Sunday mornings, when all of the Christians are at church. Ha. Anyway, if you skip to about minute 15:00 you'll see the part about Jacob's Well. I was actually there the day they filmed it, so you might see me briefly in the background, putting dishes away, if you look closely. You can find a link to watch the episode by clicking this.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why you should learn the morse code and avoid eating only chocolate muffins for supper

Thanks to those who commented on the poem – it’s still a work in progress, but I’m going to submit it. I’ve also recently decided to write a poem every Sunday (every Sabbath) in the tradition of Wendell Berry, thanks to a suggestion by Denice Bezoplenko (I had been wondering why most of his poems had “Sabbath” in their title…). I’ve been learning about the more “positive” side of Sabbath-keeping, that is, focusing on it as a day of celebration and rest instead of just a day to stop working. I think that practicing being creative will be a wonderful Sabbath practice for me, especially if I can combine it with walking and being observant. I may use some of the ideas I come up with in my Sabbath poems to expand and edit more thoroughly during the week, and submit them as my final project in my Christian Imagination class. I’ll see how it goes.

Life this week… I haven’t felt very productive. I’ve been sick to my stomach for half of the week, and it’s persisting today. I don’t really know what the issue is. The first day, I thought it had something to do with the previous day’s meals of McDonalds for lunch and double chocolate muffin mix pancakes for supper. However I don’t think the effects of those poor dietary choices would last 4 days. Also, I stayed up all night on Friday, praying for the world. Regent has an annual Pray for the World All-Nighter. It was excellent, but I don’t think it helped my health to disrupt my sleep patterns to that extent. This morning at church I was feeling quite impatient and short-tempered. Not very Christianly of me.

As for the work situation, the typist-for-Jewish-string-theorist thing really didn’t work out…funny story. I called him, and he wanted to meet at The Bay, at Customer Service. Hmm. Assuming his office must be located above the Bay, I met him there. He was an old man wearing a dirty suit and an alligator-skin cowboy hat. I soon discovered that he was not Prof. E. Rabinovici, string theorist, but Prof. M. Rabinovici, former business professor, just how “former” I don’t know. He took me to a seedy internet cafĂ© so I could show him my skills by using Microsoft Word to try to exactly reproduce text fonts and layouts from cover pages from his books (no clue what this accomplished). He was basically one of the most rude and racist people I’ve met, ordering me around and smirking at me. Needless to say, I declined the job and hoped never to see him again. I have since applied at the coffee shop and a temp agency, and I have yet to hear anything. But it’s good, I see God working through it all. He’s giving me humility and the grace to accept when people want to help me. My landlords heard about my trouble, and very graciously gave me back my damage deposit until I can find a job. And people have been treating me to meals and inviting me over… it’s a good learning experience, being on the receiving end of grace and generosity.

So I’m learning the morse code. Yes, that’s right, the morse code. Why, you ask? To communicate with my roommates, who are also learning it, of course! At any given moment, you can hear beeping dits and dahs coming from our laptops. We’ve become rather obsessed with the TV show Alias, I’m afraid. We have watched two wonderful seasons of it together on DVD. (Oh, you crafty DVD box sets! How you lure us in! How easy it is to watch two, three, four episodes…no commercials…it’s only 40 minutes long…) This inundation of spy and CIA material has led us to believe that the morse code may one day come in handy. For example, if a bunch of spies infiltrate our basement suite, we will simply tap the morse code on the walls of each other’s bedrooms to warn one another. Or if one of us is in jail and the rest of us visit but we’re being videotaped and we can’t say anything that will give our secret jailbreak plans away, we will engage in small talk while tapping our real message in morse code on our arms, like Sydney Bristow. Brilliant. I’m up to 8 letters. (It’s actually really fun, and I think it’s improving my concentration skills! Watch me concentrate now.)

Well, Kate tagged me and now I have to write six weird things about me (man, I wished I’d saved the morse code thing…).

Here are the rules:
Each player of this game starts with the 'six weird things about me' blog post. People who get tagged need to write their own six weird things post and state the rules clearly. At the end of the post, tag six more people and don’t forget to leave a comment on their blog to tell them they have been tagged and tell them to read your blog.

  1. When I was biking to school in the Saskatoon winter, I made wristwarmers for myself out of the elastic-y parts of old socks. I still wear them whenever I’m cold.
  2. One of my eyes sees things in a more bluish tone, and the other one sees things in a more pinkish tone. I assumed everyone’s eyes were like this until I asked my optometrist what caused this fact of life, and she said, “Huh?”
  3. I am generally afraid of garden gnomes and mannequins (I believe I developed the latter fear on childhood trips to the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon).
  4. I hold my pencil all wrong. This has been a huge area of emotional bondage for me, ever since several elementary school teachers tried to put triangular rubber things on my pencils to “correct” my grip. Just this Christmas, Abbey (another teacher) informed me that my grip was one of the three “acceptable” or “functional” grips according to teachers today, and brought much healing into my life.
  5. I have blond hair under my red hair, yet I have never dyed my hair. And I have one dimple. But you probably knew that.
  6. I really like this picture I took, even though it's of a dead seagull. I'm not sure why. It makes me think existential thoughts and reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, or some other great tragedy. Now that's weird.

Ok. I tag Christine, Rachel, Tall Jordan, Rochelle, Evan and Andrea. Go to it!