Grief – Resurrection – Mission: Life as Mom in Grad School

27 03 2017

It is my Spring Break – alas, I have a bit of energy to blast a blog post.

I just read an article from the Presbyterian Outlook magazine regarding the first words Jesus spoke to his grieving  disciples in the first moments they meet him after resurrection. The author emphasized Jesus’ first words to be words of peace and then encouragement to send them back into action with the good news that he is alive, has conquered death, and is God incarnate (God/human) whose mission is to point people back to a genuine life of loving God and loving one another. Having just come out of a very emotionally and physically intense seminary quarter of study this past Tuesday (I was granted an extension on a final paper) and getting ready to start back into studies on Wednesday my soul somehow resonates at a perhaps lesser level in experiencing this cycle of working hard, falling into grief, surprise at resurrection, peace and then having to get myself back on task. Actually I feel this almost every quarter.

It doesn’t seem to be a very healthy cycle, but I’m almost certain it is normal for most graduate school students to have a similar experience we have ten weeks on the quarter system to open ourselves up to a fire hose of information with a requirement to filter what we can to produce deep theological and even new and surprising work. At the start, this doesn’t seem too daunting, but by the end it feels like one of those survivor type reality shows where you’re exhausted trying to get to the end and yet working as a team to hold one another up to accomplish the task together. We all have some type of obstacles trying to take us out through the quarter – finances, family, friendships, negative interactions with professors or struggles to complete the workload, work outside of school, health concerns, and more.

My obstacles this past Winter quarter have been a combination of timing of events:

  • Working through the beginnings of a major transition with our church that began the same week as winter quarter and added hours and emotional strain on church members and myself;
  • My husband’s structural engineering workload going overtime because the weather is getting warmer and people can build;
  • Deadlines or major events occurring at the same time for our daughter’s activities – normally it isn’t an issue to take them to a band/orchestra rehearsal, or an every other week girl scout troop meeting, or a sports practice. The difficulty was that all the concerts, cookie sales, basketball games, softball startup events, gearing up for martial arts testing and things requiring extra effort happened throughout the same three weekend/two week stretch of time – including my school finals week(s).
  • Also, ADHD – predominantly inattentive, is something I’m still learning to identify how my life is affected by this and trying out new strategies of which are and some are not effective and from there working to create new habits. However, it is not an easy feat to re-work forty years of very ingrained coping mechanisms to help my habits become a bit more healthy not only for myself, but my family, those I work with and serve, and those with whom I study.

All of this throws me into a frenzy at the end of each quarter and a type of exhausted grief and panic wondering if I will pass, am I worthy of continuing on for a Master of Divinity, and am I an imposter just thinking I can do this? Then by grace and with encouragement of God, professors, co-workers, family, and others I get the work done and anxiously await my grades and sleep – or stare at a wall – a lot. My grades come through and I pass – sometimes with ‘As’ sometimes with a C – but in my mind, a pass is a pass. I am overwhelmed with relief and peace. A few days later I begin receiving emails from Spring quarter professors with a list of books to quickly acquire and assignments to begin working on and have completed for the first day of class. Break and vacation are flexible terms in the life of a graduate student – we are quickly back on mission an ready to start the cycle all over again. Somehow we make it through. I am a part-time student (approx. 8 credits/quarter towards 120 credits total), in my third year, and still have two or three years of this mission left to go — Wheeeee!


Woke Up to this Cutie

23 05 2012


I want to say today, but yesterday I woke up to this sweet angel our bed. It was 6:30 a.m., she was all dressed in her favorite sweater, brushed hair with butterflies headband, and even a bit of lip gloss brightening up her smile. She was especially bright and bushy tailed because she had been visited by the tooth fairy over night due to losing her 7th tooth the night before.

I can’t even believe we actually pulled it off this time -,the tooth fairy gig, I mean. I get so anxious going in her room and am convinced each time we go in will be the last. Alas, she forgets any random middle of the night encounter and is thrilled the tooth fairy visited her yet again. Of course, there have been a night or two where tooth fairy went to sleep or forgot to get change for a $5 and we scrambles to come up with some good reason why she didn’t visit.

Ah the wonder and simple moments of being a child while a messy and complicated world surrounds you.

Family Advent Adventures

16 11 2011

Did you know that Christians have a calendar – the church year? Of course, those of us who follow the church year live our daily ins and outs of life by the usual January to December calendar. The Christian church year is a series of seasons, not unlike Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  It is a cycle of seasons guiding our faith journey, pointing our hearts back to God who created, loves, and renews us through Jesus Christ.This calendar begins 40 days before Christmas, with the season of Advent. Advent is then followed by twelve days of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Each season represents a part of Jesus’ life and ministry. The 2011-2012 church year begins on Sunday, November 27th, a few days after Thanksgiving.
Advent focuses on the prophecies and awaiting the birth of a messiah king who will comfort and save a broken people, stuck in bondage needing hope, love, joy and peace. In churches observing Advent traditions you’ll most often find an advent wreath with five candle – four representing the coming of Jesus and one to represent Christ’s presence. Each Sunday in Advent a new candle is lit to mark this time of waiting and anticipation. The fifth candle is lit on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day to mark the birth of Jesus.

I do believe Advent is my favorite season of the church year, even more than Christmas. I love the focus on hope, peace, comfort, joy and anticipation. A feeling I wish could last all year long. Perhaps we need to endure sadness, anger, frustration and loss to really experience the hope and joy that comes with anticipating and celebrating a savior. 
Advent also invites much creativity when it comes to observing. Our family (now and in my childhood) observed Advent by lighting candles on our own little wreath each night at dinner. On Sundays we added reading a scripture, maybe singing a song and then a prayer. We also have the countdown calendars (candy as a kiddo) and my children use a velcro nativity characters calendar. How might you observe Advent in your home or how might you introduce this tradition to your grandchildren, nieces, and nephews?
If you pop into most any bookstore (especially the Christian ones –, Family Christian Bookstore, Cokesbury, Lifeway, and a few independent stores in our community) you’ll find books, calendars and more to choose from. I’ve noticed even the toy stores (Toys R Us, and the independent stores), Playmobile, Fisher Price, and Lego have created Advent and Christmas toys for children. 
Or simply make your own wreath or calendar- with the children – this might be the most fun and best memory making option. 
Wreaths: Find five candles (three blue or purple, one pink, and white) and containers, then arrange the four colors in a circle with the white in the center.One of my favorite easy wreaths is a clear glass bowl, adding sand or pebbles, and arranging votives candles.
Calendars: Create 25 pockets/holders or markers of sort to countdown to Christmas. Something I’m hoping to try with my children this year is gathering 25 books that contain stories of Christmas (Christian and Secular), wrap them up like gifts, put them in a large basket, and each night of Advent they can unwrap a story to read at bedtime.
I love to go on the internet and look for ideas to get my creative juices flowing. Check out the collection of ideas I’ve put together on my Pinterest account if you’re looking for some new ideas:

Can’t Sleep, So Why Not Blog?

29 07 2010

I haven’t blogged in forever, yet again! I guess that is a sign that I’ve been busy.
Summer has been good. We took a trip to New York (and Washington D.C. and Vermont!) not too long ago to visit my husband’s brother & wife, Aaron and Levana, and our new little nephew, Jack. He’s a total cutie and I’m so glad I got to meet him. We visited the U.S. national capital for Fourth of July festivities… parade and concert on the mall (the one featured on PBS every year. It was hot and involved lots of crowds and waiting but it definitely was an experience of a life time. You might ask why visit Vermont? Because I have a buddies from my Stanwood days, Sarah and Toby, who live there and we love to visit. They are the most hospitable couple and have a cutie, Hallie, for a daughter. For part of the time while we were in New York, Doug’s parents were visiting as well.

Rebecca T, if you’re reading this… I’m really sorry we didn’t get a chance to visit you, we only spent one day in the city and it involved getting half-price tickets from TKTS, walking across the Brooklyn bridge, finding the best playground in Central Park for our kiddos to play in, jumping on and off the Long Island Express trains and NY subway in Brooklyn and Penn Station several times, and taking Ellie to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. I’m impressed that my daughter, six years old today, became an expert train/subway taker in D.C. and New York on this trip. She mastered putting her ticket in the turn style and getting through it without any fear. I was really proud of my suburban Seattle doll who normally rides in a car everywhere.

And yup, you read it, we now have a six year old in our family. Our Ellie is getting so big! She’s thin, getting taller, the baby fat in her cheeks is gone. She’s reading books, taking piano lessons, learning to hula hoop, and wants a “Barbie and the Three Musketeers” theme for her birthday. Dare I say that I’m actually getting play swords. Others suggested it, I’m really nervous… something about it being a girls birthday party and I’m a children’s/youth minister at a church. But it was moms from the church (moms of boys) who suggested it! I know I can make my own choices and don’t have to take their advice, but I did. We’ll see the reactions on Saturday. I have my personal policy on weapons and I’m definitely stretching it with this birthday party. But that is part of who the musketeers are, right? And even Barbie and her three female musketeer buddies have swords. Not that it makes it right for my daughter, but its the theme. The children at this party will also get to decorate masks and have a hat with a feather in it. This is all pending that my Oriental Trading Company order arrives promptly tomorrow as the tracking says it will.

Back to Ellie, she’s so very sensitive and I get concerned about her being too sensitive… crying or guilt tripping others with a story so that they’ll be her friends. Maybe this is normal for a 6 year old girl? I don’t know. It pains me when she’s sad and I’m trying to let her work differences with others out on her own while giving some advice when it seems she could use a pick me up. I share this concern with a good friend and she says I’m likely noticing it because I’m pretty sensitive myself… in time Ellie will figure things out and be OK. My friend is a great god-mother for Ellie, glad she’s in our life. 🙂

For Ellie this morning I bought her pink roses and had them out on the table when she woke up this morning, with a card and a small gift nearby. Then made her chocolate chip pancakes, her favorite and rushed her off to daycare for the day. She made sure that we brought cupcakes to share and celebrate with her summer group of school-agers at the montessori today. And it just happened there was a group there to put on a puppet show. Perfect birthday for a six year old. As a family, just the four of us, we’ve held a small tradition of birthday dinner for the birthday person. So Ellie’s choice was McDonald’s (she says they have the best tasting cheeseburgers!) and I put a bug in her ear to have a picnic at a nearby park. So we had McD’s at the park while the girls played on the playground, Doug and I had a bit of a chance to have casual conversation and daddy gave the girls “underdog” pushes on the swings. We went home to watch an episode of the Muppet Show (we have them on DVD) and then reluctantly the girls went to bed. Doug’s finally sleeping and alas, I’m obviously still awake with lots on my mind.

I love that we’ve been able to travel with our girls so they can visit family and friends elsewhere and experience a bit of life outside of Seattle. I’m glad that we can create traditions with them for birthdays and holidays. I hope that they’ll hold on to these moments with a smile and warmth in their heart, like I do as I write this blog post.

Loving my family. Thank you God for them.


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