What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Do You Measure A Year in the Life?

Well, folks. We have reached the end of another year. Today marks the last day of the year 2011 and tomorrow starts the beginning of another year, 2012. I'm actually a little sad to see this year end. 2011 was a very good year for me as loyal readers of this blog will be aware. Granted, it did have some severe downs and some times when I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through but somehow I did. Now, here I am at the end of another year looking forward to starting the New Year off right.
In the last year, I've moved three times: from Chicago to Texas to California. I'm really tired of moving and so am hopeful that I am done moving for the foreseeable future (or at least the next three years or so!!).
In the last year, I've traveled on an airplane more times than I care to even think about. Never intended to fly as much as I did this year and hopefully I won't be flying nearly as much this next year. I love to travel but flying really wears me out.
In the last year, I've continued the process of taking better care of myself and being more aware of my body's needs. While this hasn't always given me the results I've wanted, I am hopeful to continue this good habit throughout 2012.
In the last year, I've become better aware of who I am and who I want to become. I've come to grips with the fact that my imperfections (such as they are) make me me and me is pretty fantastic. I've accepted myself as who I am and I've learned to love myself just as I am.
In the last year, I've come to see who my real friends are. I've discovered that there are plenty of people in my life who will always be there for me no matter what. I've also discovered that there are others who might claim to be my friend but really when all is said and done, I'm more of an acquaintance. I can't really elaborate on this any further than I have as it is something I need to work out more in 2012.
In the last year, I've had my calling affirmed by myself, God and others. I finally feel like I have a sense of purpose and direction in life and that where I am going in life is someplace important. I feel now that I might actually make a difference in this world someday.
In the last year, I've become more comfortable with being able to say that I am a Christian. This is one that I really had struggled with a lot in the past. I was so afraid as being labeled as a Christian because of how Christians tend to be perceived by outsiders. However, I've realized that it becomes vital for people to know that I am a Christian because it will hopefully open their eyes to see a different perspective on Christianity. We're not all bad, really??!!
In the last year, I have been exposed to different ways of reading and interpreting the Bible. This has really helped me a lot with the issues I've had with the Bible over the years. I've been better able to see it and read it in a new light; one that is more palatable and easier to handle.
In the last year, I have learned the power of forgiveness. I've also learned that just because you forgive somebody doesn't necessarily mean you ever want to see them again. It simply means that you are no longer going to allow them to take up space in your heart. Forgiveness is a very healing and important process although it is never easy. I've been able to let go of all the hurt and anguish and bitterness that I had held onto for far too long although, like I said earlier, that doesn't necessarily mean that I have any desire to see certain people ever again. Just that I'm no longer going to allow them to dominate my life and my thoughts anymore.

I think that about covers everything I learned this year. It was a year full of incredible highs and extreme lows. I dealt with some of the most depressing things imaginable this year but also experienced great beauty, love and grace. All in all, I think 2011 was one of the best years I've had yet. Bring it on, 2012. Bring it on!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is You

I couldn't let the Christmas season pass without acknowledging the simple fact that for many, the holiday season is a time of pain and sorrow and not joy and gladness. I wish for everyone that this season of the year may indeed bring them "tidings of comfort and joy". Sadly, however, I fear that that may not even be enough for many.
I pray for all those who are hurting this Christmas and are having to spend it without a loved one. For many, Christmas marks a time when they grieve for the ones they have lost over the past year whether that be a parent, child, sibling, spouse or partner. I hope that they feel the enveloping presence of their loved one all over them this holiday season. May they know that they are being watched over and loved by so many and may that thought bring them some form of comfort this holiday season.
I pray for all those who find themselves either unemployed or homeless this holiday season. May they be able to find something comforting these next few days as they face a possibly bleak 2012. May those who are seeking employment not get disheartened as they face rejection after rejection. May those who are homeless find some way to get through the holiday season without fear of death or harassment.
I pray for those who are unable to spend Christmas with their loved ones this year whether that be by choice or by design. May they find ways to keep in contact with their family in spite of the distance and may they be able to make a family wherever they are to help them celebrate the holiday season.
I pray for those who are in abusive living situations. I pray that over the next few days, things improve for them. May they receive guidance and strength and courage to stand up for themselves and if necessary remove themselves from the horrible situations they are in. May they not let their circumstances change who they are. I sincerely hope that they find a better situation for themselves before it is too late.
Lastly, I pray for all those suffering with addictions this holiday season. Those who would rather spend the holiday with drugs and alcohol than actual people. Those who are willing to sell their Christmas presents for cash for that next hit. Those who are even willing to resort to stealing other people's Christmas presents for drug money. Addiction is a terrible disease. It really does affect so many people. I just pray that they are able to break the cycle of addiction and get back on the right path before it's too late.
These are the prayers that are weighing on my heart this holiday season. While you're busy opening gifts or carving up a ham or watching the football game this Christmas, I hope you will take a minute to just silently pray for these people. Perhaps you know somebody that is struggling with one of these issues; if so, pray for them specifically. Even if you don't know anybody, though, that doesn't mean you shouldn't pray at all. Just take a second amidst all the gift-giving and cooking and football to acknowledge that for so many, there will be no gift-giving. There will be no home-cooked meal. There will be no football watching. For many, their Christmas will be filled with nothing but fear and abuse. Let's remember that in the midst of our revelry. There's so many who could use the prayers. Let's make sure we send them some.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'll Be Home for Christmas

Fall Semester is officially over and done with. Took my last final Thursday morning and flew back to Texas Friday night. There was homemade cheesecake waiting for me upon my return and now there's homemade pumpkin bread and peanut butter cookies. I love the Holidays!!
I'm in town for about two weeks with absolutely nothing scheduled for me at all this time. Should be a nice break from the busy-ness of Fall Semester. It's nice to have a bit of a break from papers, tests, lectures and studying. I'm sure I will be bored soon enough but for right now I'm enjoying the down-time. Today, I decorated the house with my family and it felt really nostalgic to be getting the house ready and going through all the old ornaments that have been in our family for years. Christmas is my favorite time of year and so I'm very glad to get to spend it at home this year. Granted, last year not going home for Christmas was exactly what I needed that year but this year, I really wanted to be home.
Finals went really well actually. Looks like I will end up with at least a 3.4 this semester for my GPA which is pretty good if I do so say myself. I don't actually know my grades yet so that is a complete guess but based on how I've been doing in my classes this semester, it seems pretty likely. I'm pretty impressed myself and it just proves that my fears about failing out were unfounded. I really need to learn to trust myself more. Overall, this semester went really well and is really making me look forward to next semester.
Anyway, I'm in the Lone Star state until the 2nd of January so those of you who would like to see me, please let me know. Also, if you happen to know of any babysitting/housesitting/petsitting opportunities while I'm here, please let me know. I've been unemployed for a while now which has severely hit my bank account so I need to be really frugal while I'm here. I've been looking for part-time work up at school but will need to be hitting that in earnest when I get back to campus. It's gonna be a rough few weeks until I manage to locate something.
Anyway, that's all I have to report. I hope everyone has a very merry holiday season. Best wishes for you on this most festive of occasions. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Final Countdown

Well folks,
We have come to that point in the semester. Finals are right around the corner. This also means that my first semester of seminary is almost over with. Seems like I just started last week. Weird how fast time flies. All in all, it's been a pretty great semester and has only affirmed that I'm in the right place in my life. Hard to believe that in just a few more days, it will all be over and I will be on a plane back to Texas (again) for a few weeks of rest and relaxation before I head back to start classes again.
This next part might sound odd to some of you but I have always loved finals week!! In undergrad, it was one of my absolute favorite things and I always looked forward to it every semester. Here, it's no different. I just really enjoy having a lot to do and spending all day studying and cramming as much knowledge into my head as possible. Plus, the fact that all you have to do in class is take a test. There's no actual learning that goes on that week and it's just a really chill and fun time of studying and paper writing etc. I know I sound so weird for admitting that I like finals week. Did I mention I'm a Type A? That could have something to do with my love for it. In undergrad, my system was usually take a final in the morning, then reward myself by watching a movie when I got home and then start studying again for another final or writing a paper etc. I think I might try and implement that system once again here. We'll see how that goes. I have gotten ridiculously behind on my movie watching so finals week could be a great excuse to catch up on some I've missed.
In other non-finals related news, the seminary choir had their annual Lessons and Carols service this past weekend and it went really well. We sounded really good and got lots of compliments. I even had one of my friends from Oakland come and see it and spend the night at my house and it was so great to see him and catch up some. I really needed that time to catch up and connect with a non-seminary related person. It's so rare that I get those moments so when I do, I treasure them. It's important to maintain relationships with people who knew you prior to going to seminary. It's important to have people that you can talk about non-seminary related stuff with. It can sometimes feel like all I talk about these days is theology and Old Testament studies and schoolwork and while I do sincerely love that stuff, it's good to every once in a while talk about something not related to this world. It's important to remember that I have outside interests. Seminary can often feel like a bubble and every once in a while, it's important to make sure that bubble gets popped. While I absolutely love my classmates and my studies, I need to make sure to re-orient myself occasionally with people who are not classmates.
To that end, it was so great to get to spend Thanksgiving with my extended family. I was definitely nervous as I walked to their front door because I wasn't sure what kind of reception I would receive. After all, this is family I hadn't seen in over ten years and a lot has changed in that time. My reservations disappeared as soon as I walked in the door. I was greeted with hugs and well-wishes from the moment I walked in the door and that feeling lasted the entire time I was there. I am so glad I got to re-connect with them and I ended up staying the night at my cousin's and having breakfast with my uncle, a man who I have long admired and looked up to. So much food and fellowship and fun. Playing in the annual Ping-Pong Tournament, meeting my 17 and 13 year old cousins that I had never met before and being shocked at how old they're getting, petting the cutest little 4 month old kitten I have ever seen. Yeah, it was definitely a holiday to remember and definitely one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had. I'm only two hours away so am gonna try and see them more than just at Thanksgiving. After all, its been ten years so gotta maximize my chances to see them when I can!!
I'm gonna close this off now and head to bed. I have got a very long week ahead of me. I've gotten behind on Final preps in a couple of my classes so will need to spend this week focusing on catching up so I will be prepared for the finals next week. Otherwise, Finals week won't be fun for me and that would be a real tragedy!!
PS: I'll be back in Texas starting December 16th so if you want to see me or otherwise know I exist, drop me a line and I will pencil you into!! I get booked quickly (the perils of being a star) so let me know ASAP!!