Things I didn’t expect to happen while in seminary

I compiled this list over a few weeks as things occurred to me at the end of my second year of seminary.

Random things I didn’t expect to happen while in seminary (with no judgement about if these are good or not … just unexpected):

  • that I would become a stronger feminist
  • not only expanding my cooking knowledge but becoming passionate about making soup!
  • embracing bread making (gluten free of course!)
  • developing a deep rich theology surrounding Eucharist … deciding to research and write on inclusive communion
  • that I would not only be comfortable assisting in worship services, but embrace it joyfully as part of my ministry of presence!

Looking at that list I am curious what God has in store for me that may draw on some of these experiences!

God is good!

….

Love and belief,
Tami

Rainy Day Reflections … part one (How was it to lead worship with your husband?)

While talking to classmates after chapel today I realized I
was not rushing off to do the next most urgent task on my list
immediately, but instead I actually need to take a moment and
reflect on how to best use my time today — mostly I need to decide
how to split my time between all of the things I put off over the
last coupe of weeks when I had to be focussed on a couple of strict
deadlines and what assignments that are due next week I should
start working on. Oh, and just maybe I can justify calling a friend
or playing Barbies with my 8-year-old daughter sometime today as
well (Nessa made the request already this morning because I was
recently, upon rediscovery, able to give her two Barbie dolls,
complete with homemade clothes, from when I was her age). 🙂

First– A little reflection time before the intensity of recent
experiences evaporate … (maybe it’s the rainy weather or the
intense emotions of the week(s) … or maybe it just is the most
important thing this morning)

This past Sunday was the first time Shawn and I were able to lead Sunday worship together. Thankfully we were able to do this for the first time in our home congregation
(Good Shepherd Lutheran in La Crosse, WI). It was a joy to not only
be back among friends, but specifically to be among the brothers
and sisters in Christ that nurtured our faith. I mean this very
seriously — the members of Good Shepherd are a very important part
of my/our call stories. I cannot count how many times I lift up the
members and ministries of Good Shepherd to my colleagues here at
Seminary. While small group ministries were vital to us during our
years worshiping and being formed there, life truly centered around
worship for us and being there certainly brought joy and memories.
This is also the sanctuary and community where our daughter Nessa
was baptized and Megan confirmed her faith. Nessa, in particular
literally grew from baby to young child crawling, walking and
dancing through both that sanctuary and the long halls and rooms
where the people of God gather to study, pray, sing, eat and even
play together. Looking back at Nessa’s physical growth during our
time there is a wonderful metaphor for her parent’s faith growth
and formation as future leaders … and yes, I am getting a little
nostalgic.

I do though want to lift up the People of God at Good
Shepherd Lutheran in La Crosse. And I ask that all of you lift them
up in your prayers with me as I thank God for their joyful response
to God’s good news. I thank them for welcoming us as a family nine
years ago and for continuing to welcome us each time we are able to
return and worship there together. I also thank them specifically
for supporting us in our seminary journey with prayers and gifts
towards our education. I cannot express adequately how important
this support is to us in sustaining us through these years.
Seminarians are truly called and sent. Thank you people of Good
Shepherd for sending us!

Now, specifically, about how it was to
assist my husband in leading a worship service (or co-lead; how you
define it is not particularly important to me at this point, but
honestly I am happy to be in the assistant role … even on days
I’m preaching) — Well, to put it simply — it felt like the most
natural thing in the world to me. To me it felt like we can make a
good team and that any bumps that happened in the unfolding of the
service were not related to our working together in any way.

While assisting others my “presence” during worship has been affirmed by
both mentors (professors and others) as well as classmates, and I
thought it was of particular note that this was also commented on
after the service that Shawn and I led together. I personally,
appreciate this affirmation as part of what we refer to as
“external call.” One of the first ways I articulated my call to
diaconal ministry was by describing it as a call to a “ministry of
presence.” That description still fits with my primary call to
ministry even though I now am able to put additional description or
titles (such as chaplain) on it. When I came here (Wartburg) I did
not anticipate feeling the way I do when I am part of worship
leadership. It is still hard to describe — it is certainly the
Holy Spirit working …. I feel in many ways the same “presence”
that fills me and leads me during worship (especially when leading
prayers of the people) as I do when I am “simply present” with a
Child of God I meet for the first time when I walk into their
hospital room.

And that is enough for one blog post … more
emotional connections to follow. Love and belief, Tami

Today … take my life and let it be …

Today is the last Thursday of the academic year. It was also the end of our academic chapel year, the last Thursday of my first year at seminary, and the day we have our sending service — a service of special importance to those graduating from Wartburg Seminary this Sunday as well as to the rest of the community. A day of gratitude, praise, thanksgiving, and also of grief. Grief in the sense that we will never be with this community again. The graduates move away to their first call parishes or service work, and the 2nd year students move on to internship and other field work experiences, while those of us ending our first year complete our Clinical Pastoral Experiences (CPE) over the summer (generally somewhere away from the Wartburg campus and Dubuque) and return to campus next year as the current Interns return to become Seniors and an entirely new class enters as Juniors/1st year students. The community, as wonderful as it is, is continually changing.

And for some there is added grief and loss in that things did not turn out as they expected or planned in some way. There is always loss. Here and everywhere.

Yet, God is at work.

The Sending Service in chapel today was powerful in many way as the community came together in symbolic and real unity to worship with each other. We sang a hymn I hadn’t thought about much recently until today. It’s one of my favorite hymns, and now that I look forward to serving as a consecrated diaconal minister I love the words to this hymn even more (the tune is great too).

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

This song in the midst of grief and loss of any type seems to take on even more meaning. I admit that when it comes to the transitional community here I find myself just trying not to think about it and instead looking ahead to the new friends and new experiences (I am so looking forward to this summer!). Yet, there are so many losses that that doesn’t work for.

After finishing my Pauline Letters final I came home debating between a nap and a snack with a glass of wine (I am awake writing so you guess what I opted for). And then again I was jolted to the reality I seem called to — minor in my life this time but so much of a huge gap in others’ hearts — the death of a child, a son, a 15-year-old vibrant boy known for his concern for others. My heart aches knowing the gap in his parents’ hearts.

And I sit with the reality that loss is. It just is. One/We cannot deny it or hide from it. We can try to pretend otherwise and be shocked at it when we encounter it, but that is us — humans in denial — and not reality. There is continual decay and loss in this great creation we live in.

And yet, as a classmate reminded me this afternoon, God is at work. He is at work in my life each time I share in some small way the journey of loss that so many encounter regularly here in our earthly life. God is at work in the joy and in the sorrow.

I have a peace that passes all understanding — that I can not always adequately describe — that I can always share.

Thanks be to God!!!!

Today I take a moment to honor the joy and the sorrow, the transitions, the life given to us by God. Today I pause in a holy moment of reverence and prayer. Today I say to God “take my life and let it be … ever only all for thee.”