Posts Tagged ‘ashland theological seminary’

Although you wouldn’t really be able to tell from looking out my window at the 3 inches of snow that fell today, the seasons are beginning to change.  Winter turns to spring.  Academic busy-ness turns to spring fever and summer fun.  The ministry madness of the Christmas to Easter season begins to turn slowly to the more relaxed pace and flexibility of summer ministry.

As I was glancing today through my calendar for the next few months, I couldn’t help but notice something.  While there certainly isn’t a lack of work to do, events to plan, and family functions to attend in the coming months, they are looking significantly less full than the past few months have been.  Things are beginning to wind down for a season – you know how I can tell?

  • The number of youth events on my calendar has dropped.  SAC lunches are down to a minimum (due to upcoming holidays that fall on the 2nd Sunday of the month) and we’re preparing to wind down this academic-year-season of youth ministry at PLC.
  • There are fewer classes on the calendar this quarter.  Since one of my registered classes this quarter is Field Study, which is mostly taking place in conjunction with my ministry at PLC, I have fewer classes per week and at least the notion of less homework.  It’s a nice reprieve and lead-in to summer.
  • My little sister graduates from college in a month!  Even though her academic calendar finishes up about a month before mine, I’m already hearing the sounds of summer.

In addition to the change in perceived busy-ness, I’ve noticed a bit of a shift in my ministry.  What does this season look for me as I face a calendar with fewer events and more office hours?

  • Evaluation – For the first time I am facing the end of this academic-year-season of ministry knowing with certainty that I’ll be continuing in my ministry in this place.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reflecting on how we’ve done youth ministry this year at PLC and trying to figure out ways to build on that for next year.
  • Relational Connections – I’m beginning to step up my efforts in connecting with youth on their “turf” through coffee connections, texting (as much as I despise it sometime) and just checking in to see how they have grown during the course of the year.
  • Future Planning – I’m in the early stages of figuring out where Youth Ministry at PLC will be headed next year.  We’re in a place right now where some shifts are beginning to happen, and I’m excited to see where God is calling us to go this Fall.

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Well, the time is upon us: reflection on another year gone by, resolutions for the year to come.  It seems that every year is momentous, filled with joy and sorrow and significant change – 2008 has been no different.  I can hardly remember the final days of 2007 – it seems like my life now is so far removed from where it was just a year ago.  So much has changed, and yet so much feels exactly the same.

It seems as though it were just yesterday when I drove back to Fremont after spending a week in Cleveland for the Christmas holiday, returning to a community that I had grown to love and a job that I had grown to love even more.  I spent the winter and spring diving deeper into my position as Director of Youth & Education Ministries at Grace Lutheran Church in Fremont, Ohio and embracing all the opportunities that youth ministry provides–lock-ins, a children’s ministry conference in Chicago, the annual youth dinner auction, the joys of hosting groups of youth in my tiny apartment for lunch and Bible study after church on Sundays during Lent, and the celebration at the beginning of June of surviving my first year in congregational youth ministry.

In May I enjoyed a brief respite from the always-busy youth ministry schedule as I traveled with my sister, Kristen to Nashville, TN for a few days.  It was a nice way to break up the transition from school-year ministry to summer ministry as I prepared for a summer that would bring about a number major life changes.

As the seasons changed from spring to summer, some significant events and difficult decisions brought some major changes in my own life.  The catalyst of these changes was my long-awaited engagement to Scott on June 14, 2008 when he proposed to me at Mentor Headlands Beach during a weekend trip home to Mayfield.  The month that followed was quite the whirlwind as I took a group of Jr. High youth to the ALIVE festival, spent a week leading music and directing Vacation Bible School and spent two incredible weeks on Spoke Folk with a group of Sr. High youth from Grace.  Along with the joy and excitement of summer ministry, that month included the difficult decision to resign my position at Grace Lutheran Church in Fremont and accept a part-time position at Parma Lutheran Church in Parma, Ohio so that I could move home to the Cleveland area to be near Scott and allow time for grad school and planning a wedding.

At the end of July I moved back in with my parents and began my part-time position as Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries at Parma Lutheran Church.  Scott and I began the process of wedding planning and are now looking forward to September 12, 2009 when we will join our hearts as one in marriage.  In October I began full-time studies at Ashland Theological Seminary where I will spend the next three years pursuing my Masters of Divinity degree.

Since starting seminary in October I have enjoyed the fast-paced life of being a full-time student and part-time youth minister.  I’ve enjoyed the many opportunities that I’ve had to settle into my position at PLC through various youth and church-wide events–a fall sr. high retreat, a service trip to Redeemer Crisis Center in Cleveland, and a Christmas lock-in event.

Now that I’ve reflected on the past year, it’s time to start looking ahead.  Resolutions, anyone?

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I have so much to be thankful for this year.  Seriously.  Every year as I take some time to really think about and reflect on the blessings in my life, a couple of things happen: (1) I am reminded of how truly blessed I am; and (2) I wonder why I don’t reflect on the blessings in my life more often (maybe we’d all be a little happier if we did).  It kind of makes me wonder: why don’t we make thankfulness a daily habit rather than a yearly obligation marked by an over-comercialized holiday?  (or maybe it’s just me that doesn’t make thankfulness a regular habit, and if that’s the case, maybe I should start!)  Anyways, there’s lots to be thankful for this year:

  • A God who continues to love me no matter what.
  • Two parents who support me in everything I do and are even putting up with me living “back at home” for a year – the sacrifices they make for me on a daily basis are greater than I can possibly comprehend.  I can only hope that I will be as good of a parent to my (future) children as they have been and are for me.
  • A sister who (mostly) puts up with my crazy antics, laughs and cries with me, and is just plain fun to be around.  I’m so impressed by the young woman that she is becoming.
  • My fiance Scott who has stood by me for the past seven years, and for the sacrifices that he has made during that time to make sure that our relationship lasted.  I can hardly wait for the rest of our lives to begin on September 12, 2009!
  • Grace Lutheran Church (Fremont, OH) – In the year that I spent with the folks up in Fremont, strangers became like friends and a group of teenagers became like family.  I can’t express my gratitude for the 13 months I had the pleasure of enjoying in Fremont.  I miss them like crazy every day.
  • Spoke Folk OH*08 – I am so thankful for the love and support of this incredible group of people and for the blessing they have been to my life.  It’s amazing how God can take a group of strangers and in 12 short days create a family out of them.
  • Parma Lutheran Church (Parma, OH) – It’s hard to believe that I’ve been serving as the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries @ PLC for a mere 4 months.  God has big things in store for this church, and I’m thankful that he is allowing me the opportunity to be a part of it.
  • Friends: Ashland, Mowana, Spoke Folk, LSM, Mayfield, etc. God has blessed be with some incredible friendships, and while in many cases we only see each other on rare occasions, I am blessed by friends that truly embody Paul’s words in Romans 1:11-12.
  • Ashland Theological Seminary – The opportunity for a graduate level education seems to be getting slimmer with today’s slipping economy, but I am so thankful that God has opened the doors for me to pursue a theological education at ATS.
  • Even in a struggling economy, I am blessed:  I have a roof over my head, I have a job (directly related to my college degree), I have more than I need.

When all is said and done, I am blessed beyond what I could ever ask for.  I thank God for these blessings because I know that they are most certainly of him.  While I have experienced the extremes of love and loss in the past years, I can only hope that my attitude will continue to be that of Job:

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:20b)

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