Monday, May 19, 2008


The other day I was in the car with one of my youth and we somehow got to joking that I turn into the Incredible Hulk when I'm upset. We were only joking, but I think anyone with a temper or mood swings can sort of understand the feeling of becoming something scary and beyond one's own control. If I have been a confused and moody Hulk-type creature the past few days, I'm starting to shrink back into some version of myself.

Yesterday I came home from church and slept from 1-5 pm. This did not do much to help my insanely out of wack sleep habits, but I did feel somewhat better afterwards. The evening was one of those rare times that my family is (mostly) all in one place and getting along. Erin is in Honduras, but Kellan, Kieron and Troy were all home, so Mom insisted on having a family dinner.

This used to be a daily thing, but lately everyone has been busy enough that one of my purses sat on the dinner table for about two weeks after we got back from California without being the way. We are definitely still creatures of habit, though. I accidentally sat in Kellan's seat, because Troy was in my seat, because Kieron was in Troy's seat. The offense was bad enough that Kellan picked up my juice and moved it to Erin's seat; I had no choice but to follow my juice. After this we had a whole meal with no fighting and then watched Juno as a family.

Today I am having a slightly productive day. My plan is to get one or two loads of laundry done, and start packing up for Camp. I also ordered a cardigan to wear at Ashlee's wedding (I don't want to officiate a wedding with bare shoulders). If I can make it to the bank and Walmart, I will call this day a success.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Heart Pulled to Pieces

How's that for an emo title, kids? Its never a good sign when I'm blogging at 4 am, but this one's been in the works for awhile. In the last few months I have resigned my first ministry job, finished my first full-time year of seminary, weathered a church crisis, and I continue to grieve Bud's death. Needless to say, my heart is feeling pretty raw right now. In the next three weeks I finish up youth group for the school year, transition to camp, perform a wedding, preach a Sunday, have Graduate Sunday, finish up confirmation projects, and launch our church's process of adopting Safe Sanctuary guidelines.

So... I'm not even sure how to put my current feelings into words. I feel sad. I'm feeling like I don't have time to feel my feelings because I should be doing the long list of things I have to do. I want to be with my friends, but when I'm with them I worried that I'm being too much of a downer. The bright spot in the last few months has been my youth group - I can't say how proud I am of them, and bonding more with them is making it so much harder to leave my job.

Don't worry, though. This is a phase, and one that I have been through enough times to recognize. This is what happens when God is tearing my world to shreds in order to rebuild it. That sounds more dramatic than I mean it to. God always puts things together better than I could. I trust God to do whatever God wants with my life (I do have a few suggestions, however). Between my faith and my exhaustion I can't do anything but go with the flow, and wait for that wonderful moment when the tightly wound feeling in my chest begins to unwind.

Just because everything's changing
Doesn't mean it's never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war

Pick a star on the dark horizon
And follow the light
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye

- Regina Spektor, "The Call" (At the end of Prince Caspian)

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why I don't bake....

A conversation that I had with a youth group dad the other day:

Me: I like to cook, but I don't have time to. I'm only home for dinner about one day a week. I don't really bake though, because its a lot more -
Him: Feminine.
Me: ...Precise.
Him: Oh, that's true. Haha.
Me: Are you saying I'm too manly to bake?

Hilarious. Obviously he meant that I was tomboyish and not that I was manly. I hope. This conversation happened while I was making strawberry shortcake, whipped cream, and butter from scratch, with a bunch of teenagers. It was a little sketchy but things came out awesome. Who says I can't be domestic?

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Moment of Sadness

A saint of our church, Bud, died about a week and a half ago. He has been a leader, and as Pastor Amy likes to say, a pastor in our church for many years.

Tolkien wrote that fairy stories help us to work out the truth in our own lives, by allowing us to explore truth in other worlds. The archetypes and patterns in these stories are comforting because they translate easily into our own lives. In times of grief and struggle, these stories have often helped me to give voice to my own pain, and lately I have been thinking about Bud in light of the mentor archetype.

In trying to describe what he means to me, I have been telling people that he was the "Moses of our church." He lived the life of a prophet, urging us to do the difficult work of moving forward and reaching out. He has been instrumental in starting new ministries, and in blending our three congregations into one community of faith. As we continue to live into the vision God has given us, it is tempting to say, "What will we do without Bud?"

In the last month or so, as our church and youth group has weathered some storms, I have missed Bud’s presence. He has supported and encouraged me since I was a teenager, treating me with respect, honoring my ministry, and even making sure I was being paid “enough to live on.” I have been thinking about the moment in stories, when the mentor figure dies and the hero has to learn to stand on his or her own. The mentor rarely lives to see the vision fulfilled. In these stories, the hero despairs, not knowing that the mentor will somehow reappear later and everything will be made right.

Tolkien also says that these stories point us to the hope that we have in the resurrection; death is not the end, and someday things will be made right. Eventually, we learn that the mentor has taught us enough to help us reach the eucatastrophe. I have always paused at the moment in a story when all seems lost, because unless we feel the despair, we don’t full appreciate the “joyful upturn.” Today I am poised in that moment of sadness, but the stories I know are moving me gently toward joy.

To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. - Dumbledore

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Caution: Stimulate Wisely

Well, people have started to get their economic stimulus checks. Let the mall madness ensue. In past generations, it was a person's duty to be prudent and frugal. Now, somehow we've come to a point where it is our patriotic duty to keep shopping. So wait, how did we end up in a mess of credit card debt, foreclosed mortgages and empty savings accounts?

I know that economics is complicated, but I can't help believing that a lot of our global problems stem partly from this uber-consumer mentality. But since the checks are coming out, and I am no economist, I will just make a plea that people buy less and spend wisely.

Here are some suggestions:

Save some of the money. As a nation we are spending more than we are saving. This is a problem, because then when things get rocky we don't have enough to sustain ourselves.

Supplement your food budget. The cost of food is rising! Buy local when you can, because shipping food long distances raises food costs, uses more fuel, and pollutes the earth.

Buy something you need, but can't necessarily afford. If you are thinking about upgrading to more energy efficient appliances, this might be a good time to do it. My TV is on its last leg, so I'm going to put some money aside to buy a new one.

Support products and causes that you believe in. If we buy from companies that have practices that are socially and environmentally ethical, more companies will jump on board (look at the organic trend). When we can afford to, we can practice responsible consumption by seeking out companies with the best practices (which are often more expensive).

Donate to charity, especially those that deal with hunger. In the Old Testament, a person was entitled to what they needed to survive. The have-nots were supported on the excess of the haves. Food prices are hitting the poorest people the hardest, and we have an opportunity to do something to help out.

Just some suggestions... shopping isn't the cause of our problems, but it isn't the solution either.

© 2008 Megan Shitama

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