Category Archives: Faith

Unpacking the Summer

At the end of my adventures in Idaho last summer, I wrote a blog post where I talked about finding a new side of myself. I, bookworm and indoor aficionado,  learned to sleep under the stars, hike for fun, and white water raft. Part of the appeal of going to Colorado this past summer was the idea of further developing this new side of myself. 

And in a way, it was. I camped. I hiked. I white water rafted. (It is a lot more fun without the raft of paranoid middle school girls.) 

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Yet looking back, I would not say this was a summer of discovery. Rather, it became something more precious: a summer of remembering. 

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Law school is stressful. It is a melting pot of emotions and nuances and feeling like a failure. I emerged war-torn and exhausted. Going to Colorado felt like a terrible idea. As the weeks leading up to my departure became days, I kept wondering if Young Life would really would miss me too much if I just…didn’t go? After all, they’d told me there were two legal interns. Maybe they didn’t need me?

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I knew better than to bail last minute, though, so I got on my plane, read 4 books, and started a truly amazing internship. What made it amazing? 

  • I had work that mattered and that I loved. 
  • I worked with incredible people who made me feel loved. 
  • I lived with 8, wonderful, sometimes crazy women who loved me and took the time to let me know it. 
  • I participated in an internship program that provided mentors, speakers, and a small group that all poured into me and left me feeling…you got it, loved
  • Finally, I got hour after luxurious hour to read and think and be alone, to truly love myself. 

Image may contain: 13 people, including Liz Knepper, Andi Seaton, Kathleen Mattina, Haylee O'Hearn, Shelby Hoovler, Alexavier Xue, Caroline Adams, Heather Sherrill, Amy Buchmeyer and 3 others, people smiling, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

The theme you should notice is that I was spoiled this summer. I was spoiled because people treated me like someone remarkable, someone smarter and funnier and more pulled together than I ever felt. They made sure to invite me to all their activities and never took offense when I declined to instead stay home and read. I always felt included but never pressured. And considering how many times I turned them down to read, that is saying something. 

Yet while I felt beloved for my reading and bug-killing abilities, I also felt the love did not stem from my personal attributes. I was surrounded by God-loving people whose love for each other stemmed from that love for God. Certain personalities might mix better and certain skills be more praise worthy, but at the end of the day, those things mattered less than the fact that each intern represented someone loved by God and thus worthy of love.

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I was spoiled this summer because I felt unconditionally loved. I was spoiled because I got to do work that interested and excited me. I was spoiled because I got to live in the incredibly beautiful mountains with no humidity. 

I called this a summer of remembering. Why? Because it was a summer of remembering that my worth is not in what I do, or where I live, or what grades I get. It was a summer of remembering who I am when not stressed, not busy, and not networking. A summer of just being…me. Was it hard sometimes? Oh, you bet. But for all that, it was a summer beyond my expectations. 

The thing I want to take away, the thing I need to take away, is that this path wasn’t the most natural, the most prestigious, or even the most sensible. But in the end, it was the most fulfilling. God knew what He was doing even when (especially when) I doubted the most. 

Image may contain: 15 people, including Haylee O'Hearn, Heather Sherrill, Shelby Hoovler, Alexavier Xue, Caroline Adams, Amy Buchmeyer, John Sivils and Abby Welch, people smiling, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

 

(And because I couldn’t find the right place for it in this post, extra grateful shout-out to my awesome fellow legal intern, John, who now knows a lot more about Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, public sector labor law unions, and agency deference than he ever could have wanted, but who always let me interrupt him and patiently listened while I rambled away. Thank you.)

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2 Kings 6:8-17

This past week, I heard an interesting talk on 2 Kings 6:8-17. The presentation was on how we handle crisis. However, re-reading the Scripture, another element of the passage stuck out to me. As a quick reminder: 

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”

The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he senthorses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

15 When the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Super cool passage, right? But here is what I want to know. Did Elisha always see the horses and chariots of fire? Think about how cool, and terrifying, that would be! Definitely something to ask him about in heaven. 


2017

If I had a word for 2017, it would be unexpected. At this point last year, I thought 2017 would be the year I got my wisdom teeth out, paid off my student loans, and read 200 books. I didn’t imagine much else. Well…I did get my wisdom teeth out. I paid off my student loans. I read 119 books. I also spent a summer in Idaho being a camp person (Whhhhaaattttt!) and then moved to Madison for law school. It all seems kind of crazy and impulsive, and it was. 

Yet on paper, it wasn’t. I have wanted to go to law school for 18 years. I planned to go after I paid off my student loans and naturally I applied to law school after paying them off. But…Unexpected. Picking Madison after years of planning to go anywhere but there. Unexpected. Discovering that I actually hate living in the city. Unexpected. The social isolation of law school. Unexpected. Learning I don’t love law school. Unexpected. Realizing I’m okay with that. 

This was a bumpy year for me. I’m grateful for it. I am grateful for all the uncertainty and confusion and failure. It sucked and left me drained and anxious but it forced me to grow and rely more on God. It reminds me of Romans 5:3-5. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Hope. What a wonderful word. 

Thank you to all the friends and family who kept me sane this past year ❤ I am so grateful for you all. 

Goals for next year? Read 118 books and live more gratefully. Hold me to it! 


Future Nun In Denial

Last Sunday my Catholic roommate took me to mass at her church. The new University Catholic Center on State Street is beautiful and includes lovely, soaring spaces, interesting mosaics, and ornate bookshelves without enough books. (I did spot a few works by C.S. Lewis, though, so it passes muster in the end.) 

My other (non-Catholic) roommate also came along. She was a bit slap-happy from lack of sleep. When we walked into the sanctuary, she looked at the large mosaic of Jesus and loudly said, “Jesus wasn’t white!”

I was more puzzled by the peacock designs everywhere. I still haven’t gotten an answer about why those are a thing. 

Then the priest began speaking and he sounded just like Thor.  

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To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to what he was saying because I was so distracted by that. There was guest priest also present who looked like a movie actor, but I couldn’t remember which one. Maybe Rufus Sewell. 

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(I’m pausing here in annoyance because that isn’t what he looked like at all but I can’t figure out which actor he does look like. It was someone villainous. And dark haired.) 

The service ended with a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. I wanted to know how an archangel could also be a saint so I asked a priest (not the one who sounded like Thor or the one who looked like a movie actor but a third one.) He gave me a half answer about how the word saint = santos = holy and then told me I should become a nun.

This statement came so abruptly that for a few seconds I wondered if I had stumbled into a charismatic Catholic church and if this was a word from the Lord. Then he suggested my roommates also become nuns. And the girls around us waiting their turn to talk to him. In short, all young women should become nuns. He went on for some time about the benefits of celibacy. 

I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’m probably not going to become a nun.

Catholicism does run in my veins, though. One of my ancestors was the child of a Catholic priest and his housekeeper. I told this to my roommate but she didn’t get it. She kept asking how a priest could have a child. I didn’t feel like explaining that one. 

Overall, I enjoyed my experience attending a Catholic mass. They gave out dark chocolate at the end. I don’t particularly want to go back, though I enjoyed the theological discussion (and the chocolate.) Also I can also now answer people who ask me why I don’t have a boyfriend with, “I’m supposed to become a nun.” 


Reformation Day Adventures

Happy 500th’s Reformation day, everyone!

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It may only be 9 am, but my day has already gotten off to an…interesting start! I attended a Lutheran church last Sunday but was disappointed when no one mentioned it was Reformation Sunday. After all, this is the 500th anniversary. I assumed every church would celebrate!  An announcer did mention, though, that they would have Bible study on Tuesday morning, “actual Reformation Day.” 

He literally said “actual Reformation Day,” so I showed up to Bible study this morning assuming the pastor would at least mention it. But…

Nothing. Not one word. Not even a very good Bible study, either. The pastor read from the hymnal and that was about it. Afterwards, he let his dog out of the office and the dog promptly peed on my shoes and then licked it up.  No one found this strange. 

Throughout the study, the 20 somethin’ year old guy sitting next to me kept pulling out a legit, cotton handkerchief and loudly blowing his nose. I am pretty sure he had a cold. It added to the oddity of the situation. 

With a such a morning, I expect great things from the rest of this day! 


A Summer of Camp

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I am currently flopped on my bedroom floor staring at pictures from camp and trying not to cry. It is an unnerving experience. I didn’t expect this sudden, unexpected influx of emotion. Camp was wonderful, but come August, I was ready to leave. I arrived desperate for a break and camp gave me just that. It gave me time to recharge and refocus. By the end of the summer, I felt energized and eager to tackle the world (or at least, law school.) I was ready to go. 

Biking

Perhaps because of this readiness, I didn’t mourn leaving too much. I knew I would miss several of my fellow staff members, but I’ve said goodbye to people before. It was a great summer but one that had now come to an end. I was happy to stick all my emotions and thoughts into a “Summer 2017” box and move on with life. 

mountain view

I guess, though, that I should have realized that a summer like I experienced needs to be processed through. It needs to be remembered. The good, the bad, the fun, and the painful…all those things are valid and part of my experience. White water rafting, hiking, horseback riding and big base kickball, those are things I did. Me! The girl who previously ranked hiking alongside cavities, or rush hour traffic. 

Hiking

Turns out, I really like mountain biking and kayaking. I love the mountains. I’m not half bad with kids (though I’ll never be an elementary school teacher!) I really like Idaho and Montana. I proudly wear Chacos. You know, before leaving I wrote a blog post where I said, “At the risk of sounding cliche, I’m also excited to find a new side of myself.” Turns out, I did!

Eating

Camp was everything I hoped it would be and more. I found a new side of myself. I relaxed. I was challenged. I made friends. I learned to live more freely and more fully in the moment. Going forward, my hope is that the lessons I learned and the peace I experienced over the summer will stay with me. God is good. It was wonderful to be daily reminded of that this summer. Whether in the mountains of Idaho or the streets of Madison, may I always remember that God is at work and that He will accomplish great things. 

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(Photo Credit goes to Joe Jank who did an amazing job with pictures this summer)


Brooklife Church

Today Brooklife had its baptism service. Besides being a beautiful service, today was memorable because it marks one year since I really started *attending* Brooklife church. I had gone to services on and off with my family, but I consider the baptism service to be the Sunday I finally decided to join them in making it my home church. Over the past year, I became a member at Brooklife, started assisting with high school ministry, and joined a small group. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it still seems amazing to me. I’m so grateful for this church and the past year. It has really been a blessing.