Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex...

A friend reminded me today that I haven't blogged in a while (hmmm-I think I've started a post like this before) and that I really need to let my "far-away-friends" no what's happening in my life.  Ironically, today I got to take part in something pretty wonderful.  

Let me start by saying, this song has been in my head all day...

All because of a conversation I was privileged to take part in, with two of the best theologians in Youth Ministry, about this AMAZING new book...

Participating in a podcast is a new experience for me.  If you hate hearing yourself after you've recorded an outgoing voicemail message, which I do, imagine how strange it is to be speaking in a phone conversation knowing it's being played live for listeners and recorded to later be posted to iTunes! Crazy! But rather than wasting your precious time telling you about it, I hope you will listen in on the conversation, not because I have anything important to say, but because Kenda Dean does in her chapter titled, Holding On to Our Kisses: The Hormonal Theology of Adolescence 

PS.  This is quite the stretch for me, now letting you stalk me by voice, but I think it's worth sharing. Once you get past my opening awkwardness it gets better, also, just know that in the closing seconds Kenda Dean refers to me as "Christina" then catches herself and apologizes...ironically (full-disclosure) she knows me quite well and memorizes names at an intimidatingly quick pace!  It's a common slip of the tongue apparently, I can't tell you how many times I've been called Christina!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Land of Discernment

Right now Seminary looks & feels a little like this...

I'm dealing with a lot right now.  Aside from just classes and work, and oh yea grief-next week makes just 5 months, Jonny & I have entered into a time of discernment about the future.  We visit this strange land occasionally but don't like to stay long.  It's not a bad place to drop in on, but a tough place to reside. Please pray for us. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

I see beauty...

I've been holding back sharing a blog post with you (whoever you are)about something near and dear to my heart because I didn't think that I was in the right frame of mind lately to write it.  I've been Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer, a parade rainer, balloon burster, etc...for days now.  That's not the mood I wanted to be in when I shared with you the immense beauty that God has been revealing to me lately.  But then today I thought about Philippians 4:8-9

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

So regardless of my current mindset I NEED to share this with you. God has been doing some amazing work in my life-Leading me down a path littered with trash, broken glass, and used hypodermic needles. On this path I have seen beauty like I've never experienced it before. I have seen what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise in neighborhoods deemed by the masses to be the "bad" part of town.  I have experienced it through conversations filled with laughter and the sharing of mind altering truths.  I have heard it and seen it with my own two ears and eyes in Camden & Trenton.  It is changing me.  I can't begin to unpack for you just exactly what all of this means for my current life and future ministry trajectory but I promise...those blog posts are coming!  For now I will show you just a taste of the beauty I have found. 

I took the following photos on the streets of Trenton...a city I am falling in love with.  To see the beautiful faces I have experienced (photos I have taken of them) go to www.facebook.com/urbanpromisetrenton 

This last set of images, by far my favorite, say it all... 

Mural by Will Kasso

I hope when you see the photos you don't just see boarded up buildings, or trash,
 - I hope you see beauty, I hope you see God. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The One Where Shelley had baby #2

Well, after staying up late last night, blogging about missing my friend Shelley, anticipating the birth of her second child,  I woke up this morning to a text that said, "It's baby time!"  Talk about timing!  So without further ado let me introduce you to the adorable Grant Robert, 8 lbs 8 oz, 21 inches long!  Formerly known as Grrrrr, or my favorite Geraldo Rivera (nicknamed by Shelley's brother-in-law).  The big name reveal came today as Shelley & Kyle have left us all in suspense, only revealing the initials G.R. which of course led to a lot of fun guessing games!  

Obviously this photo was hijacked from Facebook since I couldn't be there in person. I don't have to hold him to know that I'm already in love. How can you not instantly fall in love with this little guy!?! 

Missing My Girls

I’ve really been missing my “back-home” friends lately.  I miss my close girlfriends-the ones that I can walk into the homes of without even knocking, go straight for the closet, pick out a shirt and say, “Can I borrow this tonight?” (a very shallow example of closeness but you get the idea) I expressed missing that closeness, now that I am in NJ, when talking on the phone to my friend Jackie the other day, and she reminded me, "we’re not really friends any more, we’re more like sisters at this point."  

This week I’m really missing my sister Shelley.  Not my biological or even adopted sister, but certainly my best friend.

According to FB we have 154 mutual friends.  We’ve been college roommates-shared a major, 4 life-changing summers on staff at Camp Loucon, campus ministry mission trips, a sorority, tents, road trips, double dates, Chinese food, hair dryers-straighteners-and curlers.

Pictured Above: At Natural Bridge State Park for a friend's Bachelorette weekend with Beth (far left) and Shelley (on my right)

We’ve memorized every episode of Friends acquiring the unique ability to find a show reference for nearly every life situation.   

We’ve cried and held each other’s hand through the worst broken hearts of our lives.  Laughed until we were giddy when we realized we’d found “the one.”  Listened in shock as we discovered our fianc├ęs missed each other my just 30 minutes when buying our rings from the same amazing jeweler friend, and stood side by side, each taking a turn as Maid of Honor.

With Shelley & Jackie the day I found my Wedding Dress! 

She makes that face a lot. 

She helped me out of the ocean when I got stung by a jelly fish & then went back in with me that same day despite her own fear…only to have me get stung-again! 

She showed up when I needed more adult volunteers for my youth ministry, loved the heck out of those kids in the name of Jesus, and kept me sane with insane amounts of laughter along the way.

Pictured Above: My youth group at Ichthus Music Festival 07- Shelley & I are down in front. Look carefully & you'll see our Jeweler, back left, in yellow! And the two of us relaxing in the youth workers tent-don't look too carefully at this one-we hadn't showered in days! 

She showed up when I had to prepare for a colonoscopy, coaching me through the drinking as if it were a shot contest!

She showed up with a bag of frozen peas when I called her shocked and crying after falling flat on my face, literally, breaking my nose.

She & her husband Kyle showed up when we needed help moving across the country…who does that!?

Pictured Above...Our first double date (and one of my first ever dates with Jonny!) with what would turn out to be our husbands.  I'd say it was love at first sight for the boys! 

She showed up when my Dad passed away-stayed through three days of visitation, a burial, and a memorial service. 

Pictured above...Sorority Sisters that showed up at the funeral home to support me.  Shelley is on the far left.  Don't let the photo fool you, there are 6 more children that belong to these girls not pictured!  

So it’s killing me that I can’t show up, yet again, for the birth of baby #2.  Any day now I will get a text letting me know it’s happening.  I will spend the rest of the day clutching my phone, just like the last time, teetering between giddy excitement and sobbing because I can’t just-show up.  I’m too far away.  Some friendships are so deeply apart of my “being” that not “being there” just feels wrong! 

I miss you Shell & I love you with all of my heart!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Busy but Blessed

     It's time for an update. Life is busy-classes, internship, part-time job (emphasis on the part-time but none the less added responsibility).  If there is anything that I've realized it's that in the midst of the busyness (particularly when dealing with grief) I need to make time for friends & family-even if it means I don't get all my reading done, and don't make the honor roll-ok so there is no Seminary honor roll but you wouldn't know it by the way people act!    
    In September we (Jonny & I) were blessed to be able to spend quality time with my Mother & Father-in-law. Now that they are both retired they have time to travel, so travel they do. They love trains so each year they pick a city that can be accessed by train and then ride the rails to that city.  Before going, they search for online deals and find an apartment, condo, rental etc...with a full kitchen (to cook rather than waste money eating out) that is available for a few weeks in the center of a city.  They choose spots with good walking access to activities, near public transportation, and then immerse themselves in the local culture.  

    This year they chose the historic city of brotherly love, 
Philadelphia, just under an hour drive from us! So for a month we were blessed to see them every weekend.  And yes, they are reading this, but I'm not just saying that, it really is a blessing to have them around and something we really enjoy!  So here's a look at one weekend we spent with them...

Walking down to eat at City Tavern 

and enjoying the world famous Turkey Pot Pie...a meal that apparently my Mother-in-law found some pretty amazing coupons for!  

We spent most evenings with them just watching the sun set over the downtown Philadelphia skyline from their high-rise building on the edge of the Delaware River. 

My favorite photo from the night, 
a sailboat under the Ben Franklin Bridge...

We watched this blimp, headed for the Phillies game, for a while...

Dave was certainly full of surprises that night...

So here's the best part, while we were hanging out on the terrace admiring the sunset I noticed Jonny and his parents standing against the wall looking off into the distance and mentioned that they looked like they were posing for a band poster/album cover.  It became one of those, "I'm the photographer so I'll shout out a hypothetical situation & you react" moments. The following series of photos resulted. We think the album will drop sometime this Spring.

So in summary...we're busy, but blessed!