Another step on the journey …

This summer is just flying by. It is hard to believe that in a little over two weeks, I will be starting my final year of classes at MTSO. My seminary experience has been very good – difficult and painful at times, but exciting and challenging at others. It is to be a transformative experience, and if one leaves seminary unchanged, then the school has somehow failed. The last three years have been a time of study and reflection; my mind has been stretched and I am better able to articulate God’s active presence in my life and in the world around me. I am looking forward to another year of study … and of course, that great culminating event on May 22, 2010 – Graduation!!

In the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, once students graduate from seminary, they are eligible to be “commissioned” for ministry as provisional members of the clergy. After three years as a commissioned “resident” in full-time ministry, then I will be eligible to be ordained. The road to ordination is quite a lengthy process! And yet, within each step there are important elements of discernment. Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend an orientation session for all those who wish to be commissioned next June at the Indiana Annual Conference. We learned the “nuts and bolts” of the process and got the timelines for submitting the necessary paperwork and completing the other requirements. We also spent time fellowshipping and getting to know one another, as we will be encouraging and supporting one another through this process toward ordination.

Although the bulk of the paperwork is not due till January, I started working on it this week because it requires thorough and thoughtful responses … and January will be here before we know it!! As I reflect on this and other events that have happened within my family this week, I cannot help but think about the things that have led me to this place. I struggled with a call to ministry and ran from God for many years before I finally said “yes” and started seminary in the Fall of 2006. I will admit, though, that it was a bit of a reluctant “yes” as I still held tightly to my full-time job at CardioNet and did not fully trust that God would take care of my needs. Finally, in January 2008, I left CardioNet to enter pastoral ministry and began serving at Smithville. Although I was sad to leave CardioNet, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had been called to parish ministry, and my time with the Smithville congregation has confirmed that even more for me.

Shortly after I was hired at CardioNet, my sister, Kathy, began working there, too. When I resigned, Kathy was asked to take my position as Agency Relations Manager so that there would be some continuity within the department. We joked with my boss at the time, “Yes, we shared a bedroom growing up, but we don’t share a brain!” I was glad to see Kathy take on that role, though, because I knew she would do a great job – she has an incredible work ethic, and I am not just saying that because she is my sister. Sadly, due to budgetary cutbacks, Kathy was laid off this week. I have to admit that this loss brings me great sadness. As her sister, of course, I am sad and concerned for Kathy’s well-being as she deals with this loss and seeks to re-establish herself in another role. This may sound selfish, but this is a loss for me, too. Certainly the magnitude is not as great for me as it is her, but there is a bit of a loss in the connection with my former life. It is also a bit freeing, though, too, as I realize that I can’t look back. I must continue to look forward in this journey, knowing that God’s presence is with me (and with Kathy … and with all of us J).

Please pray for Kathy, and her husband, Gary, as she grieves this loss, determines what their next steps are, and seeks to re-establish herself in a new role.

Until next time, peace …

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