Tag Archives: seminary life

Some People We Think you Should Know

064 These are our seminary friends, the Davises. We have been walking this seminary walk together in a pretty close way. Jonathan and Michael go to class together, and we go to church together. Our oldest daughters have been in Sunday school and ballet together, and Michelle and I have connected in our shared history of pregnancy loss and infertility. See that beautiful pink bundle sitting on her Daddy’s knee?  I cried when we found out she was on the way!

Shortly after we all arrived here in this city, to do this thing called seminary, a man named Michael Oh spoke at a Covenant chapel. Oh noted that while men graduate from seminary in the U.S. every year without churches to pastor, there are many churches worldwide begging for pastors. When he heard that, our friend Michael Davis promised the Lord that he would go wherever he was needed.

This summer, while the Lord was guiding us to a church in New Brunswick who has been praying for a pastor,  the Lord made it clear to Michael and Michelle that He was calling them to serve a congregation in Northern England with no pastor. (you can read Michelle’s words on her blog here and here) We are just so excited to see the Lord guiding and moving them in this endeavor, and we would sort of like some of you to get excited about it to. Michael and Michelle need prayer, and they need financial support to make this all final.

If you want more information about the Michael and Michelle, the church to which they are going, or their specific needs, click here and make contact with them. If you have been supporting us through seminary, and are wondering where to redirect those funds in January, we would be delighted if you chose to move that support to the Davises.

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Regular Living

Popular consensus in seminary circles is that the four year track contains only one year of “regular life.” Year one is the “what have we done?” year. Year two is the “what are we doing?” year. Year three should be a year of regular life, followed by year four: “what will we be doing?” Right now I’m feeling like I only got one semester of the regular life, and we’re already full on into the “what will we be doing?”

Jonathan has a resume put together, has his ministry data form well under way, and is working feverishly on his ordination internship requirements. Oh, and he’s also taking classes, only now, when he plans his classes, he can’t plan to take what’s convenient for my work and the mackerdoodle’s school schedule, and just general life. Now he’s taking classes based on necessity and what will be offered within the three semesters he has left.

We’re also not that far from beginning our series of “last things,” and last things lead us, inevitably, into the question,”what’s next?” As I look ahead to the last summer in seminary, it makes my mind jump into the inevitable first summer not in seminary. What will that look like, what will it mean, “what will we be doing?”

If you pray for our seminary journey, please also begin praying for the local church to which Jonathan will be called to serve. Please pray that The Lord will begin preparing our hearts and their hearts for this next step. But also, please pray that in the midst of this, we will continue to live our regular life, and glorify The Lord in the now, instead of losing ourselves in the questions of the future.


An Only in Seminary Moment

One of the key ways we communicate within the seminary community is through Google e-mail groups. Send an e-mail to the group and it immediately lands in the inbox of 486 of my closest friends. The e-mails I get from these groups fall into four distinct categories:

  1. Buying/Selling/Giving away. This is most common as the semester draws to an end and graduates realize that everything they sell or give away here is something they do not have to load onto a truck.
  2. Seeking Favors/Services. ie: “Can anyone babysit?” or “Can I catch a ride with anyone to . . .” or “Is anyone out there training to be a Doula?”
  3. Random requests. This are by far the most entertaining. They range from the pretty normal: “Hey, I left my ear buds at home. Anyone have some I could borrow for 45 minutes?” to the bizarre: “Feel the need to brush my teeth. Anyone have a toothbrush? I’ll sterilize it when I’m done.”
  4. Shared Knowledge: We are all relatively new to the city and on a tight to extremely tight budget. Several times a week someone is seeking help from the community to do that well. ie: “Does anyone know where to find . . . ” a cheap, reliable mechanic . . . a cheap, reliable doctor . . . cheap auto insurance, health insurance, renter’s insurance or Life Insurance . . .

In the non-seminary world, this is generally considered Spam, but for this brief season of life it is a chart to help navigate the every shifting sands of seminary life.

 

This is a compensated post brought to you by Mozdex.com – Cheap and Affordable Life Insurance.  My proper disclosure is found here.


This is What Different Looks Like

While common wisdom tells us that opposites attract, in the case of me and my husband it is not the case. On the Meyer’s Briggs Temperament Analysis he is an INFP and I am an ENF/TP (my F and T are tied every time). On most things we differ in degrees, rather than extremes and most of our fights have been because we are too alike, rather than because of a failure to understand each other. Except for that Introvert/Extrovert pairing. On that one we speak a completely different language.

A few weeks ago, when the weather was so hot and the children were climbing the walls, Jonathan and I talked about getting out our wading pool and setting up a sprinkler and letting the children cool off with some water play. Jonathan’s gut reaction was to set everything up on the small grassy place behind our apartment. Mine was not. We had a bit of a discussion about it. I suggested that the back had no shade, and too many bugs. He suggested that there was no where in the front with a practical hose spigot. This discussion went on for a little bit, and in the end we set up in the back and I sent a text to a neighbor to let them know where they could find the water play if their kids were as cabin feverish as ours.

That was when I realized what our real discussion had been. I was not concerned about bugs or shade, and he was not concerned about proximity to a hose. I was feeling that setting up behind the house, where no one could see us, was anti-social and bordering on rude. When I explained this to Jonathan, he explained that he thought that setting up water play out in the common areas of the neighborhood where people had no choice but to look at our children splashing in a green plastic square was overly forward and bordering on rude. After we had a bit of a chuckle at our difference of perspectives, one neighbor arrived with his son and said, “Look at this great little hideaway back here! I love it.” Twenty minutes later, another poked her head over the railing of her deck and said, “Oh. This is where you’re hiding.”

Yup.

This neighborhood was populated with a large collection of extroverts who would gather at almost every opportunity. As those families moved out, they were replaced with a larger population of introverts. Until that pool interchange, I had assumed that these introverts just didn’t like me, and in some cases that might be the case. However, it had never crossed my mind that at least some of my introverted neighbors are actually loving me by not coming outside.I wonder how many of them think I don’t like them because I keep insisting on rudely doing things outside, in the common areas of the neighborhood when decent people are inside behind closed curtains.

Sorry. I’m not anti-social. I’m just an extrovert.


So Much More

I think most seminarians probably goes through this experience. His family is in a church, happily serving and he gets asked to do more, and teach more. People begin asking him about things in the bible, and seeking his council, and then they begin to say, “You should really go to seminary.” Pretty soon he’s the guy who is going to be in seminary, and then he’s the guy being sent to seminary.

Then he gets to seminary: a place filled with guys interested in teaching and studying the word; a place filled with people gifted in some of the same things he is. He’s one of eighteen seminary students at church and suddenly he’s not such a unique commodity; he’s a dime a dozen.

Please understand, I’m not talking about Jonathan’s feelings here. I’m talking about mine. There are days that I just want to jump into a conversation – or onto a table – and yell, “My husband is SO MUCH MORE than Chick-Fil-A. He’s a talented teacher, preacher and leader. He has wisdom that is growing every day and he’s  also REALLY FUNNY if you give him a chance. He loves people and wants to see them love the gospel and be changed by it. He isn’t called to sell chicken for the rest of his life.”

I don’t actually do that. I just feel like doing it.

One of the blessings of our church is that they want to give seminary students opportunities. Jonathan and our neighbor David are co-teaching Sunday School with one of the seminary professors, and co-leading a small group on Sunday nights and Jonathan is David’s assistant on Wednesday night in the 3rd and 4th grade Kids Club group. Last night, David was doing a devotional in the midweek service, so I got to help Jonathan in Kid’s Club.

Watching him relate to 13 third and fourth graders brought me back to all the years we worked together, first in youth ministry for a year, then in children’s ministry for two years, then back to youth ministry for five and a half, then, after an eighteen month break, teaching for four years. It was fun, and I saw Jonathan doing the things for which God built him.

I was reminded that I don’t have to tell anyone that my husband is so much more than Chick-Fil-A. God knows. The same God who has created all of these other men to serve the body of Christ and created places in which they are to serve, he has done the same for my husband.

I’m also reminded of something our friend Darrin said back in January: No one’s called to seminary. They’re call to ministry, and seminary is the tool to get there. God has ordained that Jonathan’s seminary training would be so much more than classes and books and reading. He’s appointed Chick-Fil-A to be a part of Jonathan’s preparation for ministry. He might not be called to it forever, but he’s called to it now.

The bottom line is this: it’s all so much more

So much more than I can see, so much more than I can imagine. To quote the song, it’s “more awesome than I know.”


Reflection

It’s been more than a year here in Saint Louis, and what a year it has been!

A year ago, the Cheesedoodle couldn’t walk, we hadn’t settled into a church, the snickerdoodle didn’t even exist yet, and the mackerdoodle was still a toddler!

A year ago Jonathan was wrapping up summer Greek and it felt like he’d been doing it FOREVER!

A year ago I was wondering how we were ever going to survive our four years of seminary.

It’s been a year and Jonathan’s just about finished with biblical languages (unless he decides to take Aramaic as an elective, which he’s thinking about because he’s a glutton for punishment). Heading into the second year of school things suddenly seem different.

Maybe it’s because the last year hasn’t seemed that long really. Maybe it’s because having added the snickerdoodle to our doodle collection has made me realize that time moves quickly (she’s not a newborn anymore! How is that possible?)

But mostly I think it’s because today we played at a neighbor’s house in the morning and in a different neighbor’s wading pool in the afternoon. Tomorrow we’re going to a play group with friends from church. We’re wondering do we enroll both bigger doodles in Parent’s Morning Out this next semester, or do we let the mackerdoodle do ballet, and give the cheesedoodle his own activity. I’m teaching kindergarten Sunday school in the fall and Jonathan’s teaching an adult class and leading a small group.

In short, this is beginning to feel like home. Yes, things still pinch and rub every semester. Yes I miss my Georgia friends so much it hurts some days; but all in all things are beginning to settle in and the idea of doing this for another just under three years doesn’t seem like 1030 days, 19 hours, 34 minutes, 22 seconds most of the time. We’re here, with our garden and our children and it’s feeling a little less like exile.

Thank you Lord.


If the Shoe Sort of Fits . . .

I hate buying shoes. I actually hate shopping period, but I really hate buying shoes. For the most part I buy shoes at Payless but not sandals. Apparently Payless believes that what women want in a sandal is almost twine like strips of flimsy leather. I prefer something more substantial, so I buy sandals at WalMart.

I know, I’m a delicate flower.

My current sandals are at least five years old, all five of which were Georgia summers, meaning hot and long. They have the aroma of a wet dog, a dead one who had rolled in poop and then lay down in the sun to ferment. There were rumors that the Center for Disease Control had declared them biological weapons and were considering a quarantine of my neighborhood, that could extend to the entire city if I wore them for another summer.

Fortunately for the safety of the world my parents gave me a WalMart gift card for my birthday and I bought new sandals with it.

I hate buying shoes. I may have mentioned that.

Old shoes are comfortable and my feet slip into them automatically. They match the tan lines on my feet. The soles are molded to the way I walk and the straps are shaped to the bumps on my feet. New shoes pinch for a little while. Even when I buy shoes that fit, it takes a while for them to become acquainted with my feet and patterns and behavior. I used to be able to just slip on my sandals and go, forgetting they were even on. With my new sandals I was always aware I was wearing them, and they were new and different.

I’ve had them for a week and the last two days I’ve been able to slip them on and forget them. It’s not a long transition, but it’s there. It’s one of the reasons I hate buying shoes.

This illustrates why seminary life has been difficult for me. Every semester has been like having new shoes. The routine and schedule and events keep changing and just when I get comfortable with them and settle in to the new grooves, they change again and I’m back to the pinching, just a little. Just like with my sandals, there aren’t any blisters or rolled ankles to show a truly bad fit, it’s just the rub of change.

Jonathan is finishing up Hebrew in a couple of weeks and while I’ve only just gotten used to our summer schedule, we’re going to be into the fall one in four weeks. A new set of shoes. A new rub in a different place, and then as I build up my callouses and learn how to slip into it, it will be over and new semester will begin.

I used to love change. My goodness, we’ve never lived in a home more than three years, but children need continuity, and part of my job has been to insulate them from the changes and make continuity where there wouldn’t normally be any.

Maybe that is what is causing the rub. Maybe I’m taking the pinching for all of us and it’s making the shoe feel smaller than it has to. Or maybe I’m getting old and set in set in my ways, and the Lord is breaking me of that. Or maybe I’m just over thinking things. I do that some times.

Regardless, my new sandals fit, and I’m happy to wear them, just as I will be happy to settle into the fall semester when it comes.