Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Review

Watching the Today show while on Christmas break has inspired me a bit to think about the memorable moments over the last year. So here it goes!
  • Brought in 2011 with some good friends from the Luther Seminary community
  • Celebrated being a couple of one year in late January
  • Had a great Valentine's Day with Groupon coupons and gift certificates
  • I lived through a semester of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) - continued discernment on potentially pursuing chaplaincy
  • Traveled from MN to IN for wedding showers in March - relived a childhood annual party theme of tea party!
  • Finished Year 2 of graduate school
  • Became a MRS. in July
  • A magical Disney Honeymoon
  • Became an Aunt and Uncle for the first time
  • Continued celebrating marriage at the Hoosier Celebration
  • Moved to the Northwoods of MN
  • Started full-time ministry job/Diaconal field work
  • Celebrated with others in their engagements and weddings
  • Celebrated the long life of Grandpa Nelson
  • Celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple
Now for 2012 we'll continue to grow, learn, and love on life. Some things we're looking forward to:
  • A quiet NYE
  • Good friends' wedding
  • Belated Christmas celebrations with our families
  • YM Network Extravaganza in New Orleans
  • Finishing year 3 of seminary - I'm officially a senior now!
  • Welcoming another niece or nephew!
  • Celebrating 1 year of marriage
  • Summer youth trips
  • Pow-Wow
  • Moving back to St. Paul for our senior year of grad school
  • Fall holidays with our families
  • Celebrating 21 years cancer free!
We're sure there's lots more coming our way, but it'd be pretty boring if we knew everything. Happy last few days of 2011 and may 2012 be filled with excitement, adventure, love, and peace!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas in the Northwoods

As a little girl my family always made a big deal about Christmas. I believe my mom grew up with many of the same traditions. My family has always had an open door policy, must have enough food to feed an army, a few variations of Christmas trees - both real and fake - with hundreds of ornaments, and lots of treats and laughter.

Well, this year is a little different as we work in a church and live a little too far to travel to be with family. So while we have a busy weekend of celebrating through worship leading, we also have celebrations of our own and with friends.

After a weekend of being together with the whole Nelson family for Grandpa Nelson's funeral, we came home to the flu bug. It took a few days of laying low to recover and then we jumped into the menu planning for the holiday weekends. We've made whiskey balls, eggnog cookies, and beer cheese soup. It's amazing how good things taste, that remind you of home, when you're not able to be with family/home like usual. We've enjoyed treats of homemade lefse and chex mix too!

There's only one tree this year in our small Northwoods apartment. Yet the celebrations will take place with friends from church so I'm sure there'll be enough food for an army and much laughter. Still on the menu for the coming days is cinnamon swirl bread (in the bread maker as I type), Swedish meatballs, and maybe a few more kinds of holiday treats.

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas season may you be content and celebrate the birth of our savior with the love in your heart and others!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chilling Smoke

No, nothing's burning down thankfully. In fact if anything is going down these days it is the temperatures outside! The "Indian Summer" was lovely while it lasted, but Fall is just as welcomed for Z & I. Winter is fast approaching in the Northwoods and there's no denying it.

There's been quite a bit of hype over winter in Walker. Many people show a bit of Northwoods pride by explaining what Winter most likely will be like up here - cold with lots of snow - and follow up with saying, "But I'd rather be here than the cities! It's is pretty here and not as muddied by the heavy foot, bike, and vehicle traffic"

Overall, I have heard that winter is supposed to be a little fierce across the entire country. There will be days when I question why I live in such a cold climate and there will be days when I think it's gorgeous. No doubt, it will be another winter that will come and go. This winter will be different though. It will be my first Northwoods winter, my first winter married to Z, my first winter doing some on-line and some on-campus studies, and more focused discerning where God wants Z and I after we graduate from Luther Seminary.

For the past five weeks Z & I have been getting up early on Tuesday mornings and making our way to Walker Bay Coffee Co. for YoH WORD. It's a chance for the youth and family of Hope to get together and be grounded in the WORD before we head to work or school (or both in my case) for the day. We randomly chose to work our way through the book of Ecclesiastes one chapter a week to start off. This is one of Z's favorite portions of the Bible and it has definitely grown on me since meeting him. Often people question why the OT (Old Testament) & express that Ecclesiastes is dreary.

Being that we are fully submersed in full-time parish ministry and learning the ins-and-outs of the congregation and community of Walker (as well as the surrounding areas) we hear a lot of things about a lot of subjects. This is applicable for other livelihoods as well, no doubt, but it seems that in the church people share on a different level. Some overly share and others are guarded. Often it is a tad overwhelming as everybody shares their desire to be known, accepted, and heard. Often we have to remind ourselves that ultimately the one word that matters most is the WORD.

This morning we read Ecclesiastes 5 and just to mix it up a bit we often use The Message on Tuesday mornings. Now as I've rambled on for a few paragraphs what we read was, "God's in charge, not you - the less you speak the better" (5:2). My response..."ooph!" I'm a talker & I come from a family of talkers & we as a people all have something to say. Often we find common grounds in asking & sharing about the weather. As interesting as the weather can be, as it does shape our day to day life to some extent, we could be much more intentional to hear the WORD and as a few professors at Luther Seminary would say, "dwell in the WORD."

Ecclesiastes is a bit dreary, but it is real and it is the WORD of God amongst us. At the end of chapter 5 we are given a bit of the Gospel & eschaton (meaning the end) promises:

"After looking at the way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that's about it. That's the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what's given and delighting in the work. It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It's useless to brood over how long we might live." 5:18-20

The weather is changing, as it always does, and life happens. Enjoy it as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes tells us to. Dwell in the WORD of God and you will see the Holy Spirit amongst you. We have been claimed by the blood of Christ and He walks with us daily through the snow, rain, and sunshine. Enjoy it! Enjoy it in the loud, quiet, cold, warm, crazy, sane lives that you have been given in Jesus name. Amen!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ

I have come to blog maybe three times in the last couple of weeks, but never knowing what was of true importance to share. I want to be able to reflect on my life as a follower of Christ & not be lost in the material driven society that surrounds me.

Lately Z & I have continued to be asked "How's married life?" and our answer continues to be "Good & Busy." Another question though that has come up in the last few days is "How is your apartment?" & this is even sometimes often followed by "Is it suitable?" I write this sitting in our somewhat of a cave that serves as our guest room & office. There is one window that lets in some natural light & just enough room for a single bed, desk, small table (serving as a second or addition to the desk), & book shelf. We have more than enough belongings to fill the closets & wall space! This makes me curious to know that if we did not think our place was suitable what these people would do about it. The fact is we live a transient life as seminary students & in ministry.

As you may know, I am continuing my education on-line this year as we are four hours from campus. In discussion with a fellow classmate about our working/ministry contexts I shared that the church is in transition right now. For instance, my job is an interim job as the church is looking for a servant-hearted & well equipped pastor to join the staff & focus on the youth & family ministry. My classmate said that all churches should acknowledge that they are in constant transition. The world around us is not stagnate, it is moving forward. The Word of God is not stagnate. It is stirring in our hearts, heads, & daily lives!

We are a sent people. Jesus sends his disciples to Go make disciples (see Matt 28:19) and out they went thus bringing the Word Incarnate by the works of the Holy Spirit to this very day & our lives. I often like to think that we are not called to live a quiet life of faith. After all, our faith did not come to us in a quiet way from God (& I am not a very quiet person). As Christ followers we are to "live a live worthy of [our] calling" (Eph. 4:1).

In my studies & recent discussions, both through school & work, it has been said that Faith Formation is a hot topic that often is blended in with Christian Education discussion. Faith formation is something that is bigger than the acts that help form our faith. Faith formation is a way of life that is for all ages. Today, and for several years now, it is not uncommon if a person or people are unsatisfied with their church to go "church shopping." Not that there is anything wrong with finding a community of believers that worship & serve in a way that connects with the individual. However, at the same time we could help be a church united, rather than divided, if we use one of our beautifully natural gifts & spoke up about the Holy Spirit works in our lives.

Yes, there are various forms of worship, & each form of worship takes preparation & time. Where is God calling you today? Recently I have joined more of the social networking world with a business Facebook, Twitter account, Google+, & I continue my blog for my need of being known & heard & feeling accepted. Yes, I just used feeling words. We as a people seem to be screaming out to be networked, connected, heard, accepted, loved. If we can scream through the internet, we can scream in the name of Jesus Christ & proclaim God's love for all people in action & in word.

How's life? Are things suitable? Living in the footsteps of Jesus life should not be suitable according to our global societies. Living in the footsteps of Jesus life should be a constant adventure with hardships, days of crying, days of joy, & an invigorating knowledge that we have a purpose in our lives. We have a life to live because Jesus is God incarnate, born, died, buried, descended into Hell, raised from the dead, and ascended into Heaven. Even if you don't follow in Jesus' footsteps that's a story worth telling.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August Rush

The month of July was busy with wedding, honeymoon, finishing packing up the alley house, & a road trip to IN for the Hoosier Celebration. We threw in a IN-KY candidacy retreat in there too. Basically it was a bunch of celebration & a little bit of reflection time.

Now a month later I find myself sitting in our first apartment watching Fried Green Tomatoes while Z's out interning. We moved up North a week ago & had the boxes & tubs emptied within a day or two. The lakes are relaxing & the sky right now is streaked with pinks & blues.

The most common question of the last month is "How's married life?" Well, it's just a part of what makes up my life. It reminds me of when I first started seminary & people asked me "Do you like seminary?" and my classmates & I said this is like asking us "Do you like your life?" Z is my best friend & it's a blessing to be able to have found love & grow in it with Z and God. Everyday Z & I reflect on what God is doing in our lives, how we have been called to ministry & how we are being ministered to. So to answer how married life is, it's just as hectic & new as life was before married life. For the most part Z & I have been in some form of transition since we graduated high school. Life is adventuresome, good, scary, hectic, & exciting.

We have been warmly welcomed in our new home & look forward to finding a somewhat normal pace of things around here. Although, we know the "normal pace of things" will change in the next few months. The vacationers will go home for the school year, the snowbirds pack up to head south, and the rest of us bundle up a little more to stay for the winter months. Globetrotting with God has brought me to way more places in the northern part of the US than I ever imagined I'd be. The unknown of where else we'll land is fairly scary, but also really exciting to dream about the possibilities.

God is Good!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

I woke up on July 2nd feeling very well rested, excited & unsure of what the day was to hold emotionally. My heart had made a wish many years before meeting Z that I would find somebody to compliment me & challenge me & love me like he does. Before I knew it was midnight & I was officially Mrs. Nelson. Thankfully I didn't lose my glass slipper & I got many a kisses before midnight.

The day truly was magical. There were silly things like outfit mishaps, but nothing that couldn't be fixed or didn't already look nice. We had some of the best helpers we could've asked for and a great wedding party as well. We had been celebrating all week long with my immediate family coming in on Tuesday & then people trickling in each day after that. It was wonderful to see our three friends come together for the music of the ceremony, our photographers being creative, & the incredible support of family & friends we have show up for the ceremony &/or the reception. We laughed, we cried, we danced, & all had a great time (at least as far as we know). Oh, and yes, my dad & I danced to Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" in honor of our dance recitals together.

We left for our Disney World honeymoon on July 4th & enjoyed the week of being away, letting our imaginations run away with us, and getting more sleep than we had in a while. We were blessed to be gifted for our honeymoon and were able to bring back some fun Disney regalia that we look forward to using in our first apartment together.

Now we're back at the alley house for another week and a half before we move completely out. Our lives are in total transition & it's chaotic, fun, & stressful. The Holy Spirit keeps the buzz alive around us & in this community. There's never a dull moment. Actually, one small life change that happened right before the end of our Disney trip was we became an Aunt & Uncle to baby C. She was five weeks early & mom & her are both doing beautifully!

Right around the corner other than moving is a trip to the good ol' Hoosier state for the Hoosier Celebration where we get to celebrate our nuptials a little more! It'll be another grandiose time for sure :-)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A couple of years ago I remember being at the ZZ Top concert with my mom & brother & looking at my brother, who I hadn't seen in a while, & saying "huh, you're 27!" He had some sort of response like "yeah yeah, I know."

Yesterday morning I woke up & as I was getting ready for the day, looked myself in the mirror and thought "huh, this is what it looks like to be 27." Life just seems more & more unpredictable the older I get. I think I must've imagined my life a lot as a young child up to a certain point. I never thought about life after 25 really. I thought about life up till my 25th birthday.

Year two of seminary is "finished." The second Spring semester is done anyway. Ever since it's been officially over Z & I have had no problem finding things to keep us busy. I'm actually taking a summer intensive course in June. I have wedding funness motivating me to be productive for the course because after the course comes the wedding. We're at 34 days and counting! Z & I are both very ready to just have the week be here & to celebrate life & love with family & friends.

For now, I'm basking in the funness of my birthday weekend & feeling overly blessed with good friends & family. On my birthday Z & I went to church at Jacob's Well, came home to have a quick lunch before leaving to help usher at graduation for the seminary, then rushed home just to leave for an excellent birthday dinner at a restaurant called The Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine. It was fun to be able to share the experience with other people. It was also very exciting to get to have roti canai again!!!

All is well & busy here & now it's time for bed. Blessings on your last day of May & the rest of the summer!

Monday, May 2, 2011

April 27th - The Day the Snow Pile Disappeared

April flew by! It's May 2nd and still only in the 30s & 40s with an occasional high in the 50s or 60s. I miss living in the slightly warmer climate of IN or OH. I think bright colors and sun lamps are an important staple of my life in MN. I've got two predictions of what the weather will be like on the wedding day (2 months from today). One being that it'll either be blazing hot with a gross heat index and humidity out the wazoo or it'll be pleasant & "cool" like it was two years ago on the 4th of July weekend. It has truly been acting like Spring which leads us to the big news of April. I won the snow melting contest! I guessed what day and time the large pile in front of the campus center would be gone in attempts to help send aid to Japan. Each guess cost $1 I think. I just guessed once and was almost spot on with the time of day. So now I get to enjoy a meal with the president of the seminary and his wife.

Aside from that funness not much is new. It's the end of the semester and in the next three weeks I'll have all the writing done for a few weeks before my summer course. Yes, I'm taking one more course before the wedding.

Other fun events...I got up in the middle of the night to watch the Royal Wedding. There was something rather magical about it, but man alive am I glad my wedding day won't be that long. Mostly I mean our ceremony. The weekend was filled with news events and my last Sunday on-call at the hospital. I must not forget a wonderful date night with Z thrown in there.

I'm tired. I'm worn out and ready to have warm weather. I'm excited about enjoying this summer as last summer was odd between taking Greek and living a long-distance relationship. We'll be in constant transition of moving this summer, but I'm excited for the changes and the new life as Mr. & Mrs. God has truly blessed us with one another, no doubt about that. Alright, homework has been put off long enough. Blessings on your May!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Maddness

No, I'm not referring to the basketball games going on. Although I sorta wish I were as I've always liked watching basketball. However, I'm really just saying that this month has been absolutely crazy. I should be reading right now, but I am not much of a reader and am reaching the end of my steam supply for the day.

The semester is half over now and the wedding is barely 3 months away. Two weekends ago Z & I traveled to where we'll be living next year to get a feel for the town & the people we'll be living alongside. It was a great and overwhelming weekend. We took in the beauty of Leech Lake, even when it's frozen over, we met all sorts of great people, and went to 5 worship services. When I decided that Diaconal Ministry was what I felt called to I was warned that I would have to forge my own way. Thankfully the pastor knows about Diaconal Ministry and is willing to help me with my project. The overwhelming part is narrowing my ideas down to know what my project will actually be. There's so many things to focus on! Learning & living there is such a unique setting being in a small North Woods town surrounded by Native American reservation land. There's opportunities galore!

Last weekend we traveled to good ol' hoosier land for wedding funness. I was blessed with friends that threw me 2 separate showers. Z & I now have fun things like plates, wine glasses, a bread maker, a dust vac, bath towels, wastebaskets, extension cords, a hammock, and so much more to start our home together. I feel like a real adult when I'm excited for the gifts like a blender or food processor which I can only hope are yet to come.

My chaplaincy internship is keeping me very busy as well. It's proven to be very rewarding, which I had hoped it would be. It's nice to learn how to be the church for people in a different way than in the classroom. Does my future call become any clearer in this? Mer, not really. I'm still trying to keep my options open & to really know what I'm passionate about within ministry.

The wedding details are simply that, details. Z's mom is working on my dress, she wins the best future-mother-in-law award for sure! Z & I are taste testing the reception food on Saturday & maybe going to the Farmer's Market to start getting an idea of a vendor to use for flowers. Aside from that it's things like compiling the music for the musicians & getting programs that need done.

Yep, life is good & busy!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Phil is not my friend :-(

Punxsutawney Phil is not my friend. All the white stuff started to melt then it snowed another 15 inches. I heard on the radio the other day that we're supposed to get a decent amount of snow clear through March. As a result I bought myself a chai latte at work. Some times I think a good chai can make the world seem a little brighter.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Have a Friend Named Phil

I have a friend named Phil the Ground Hog. No, I've never met Phil, but he is my friend because as the old story goes if he doesn't see his shadow on Feb. 2 then Spring will be here in 6 weeks & Winter will be over. Phil is my friend because this year he did not see his shadow & it is slowly but surely starting to warm up around here.

Warming up around here means that it is no longer in the negative temperatures day or night. It means that there are more than single digits being reached by the dial on the thermometer. Today it is not just going to be above zero, but it is supposed to get up to 33 degrees Fahrenheit! Yes, I am hopeful that it will actually reach this & that in the days to come it will only reach higher numbers on the dial.

I may sound a bit crazy talking like this, but just three weeks ago I made the comment out loud that if I ever had to live anywhere further North or colder than it is here that I might die. I would curl into a cold little ball & cease to be. Dramatic, I know. Well, that same day a few hours later Z & I got offered to live 3.5 hours north of here for his internship site for next school year. We had a good laugh about the coincidence of my words & God's call for us.

We immediately were looking things up about our possible future home town. We went to google, we yahooed, we e-mailed & talked with a few friends, and prayed for clarity and guidance. Well we had no red flags & after a week or more of playing the discernment game (that is never-ending) we decided that 3.5 hours north of the cities sounded promising. *sigh of relief* we know where we're going to live next year!

In the mean time I have started my chaplaincy internship. We had 2 weeks of orientation & this was my first week out on the floor full time. It's amazing how working in a new area can push you in new ways so fast. Being that I'm in a hospital I had random memories of my past flickering in & out. I then get to think about what exactly brings those on & why I'm still holding on to some things & not others & how I can use them for the betterment of God's ministry. The coming months of chaplain work are sure to teach me more about myself & the ways that I work with others.

January was a very long month or so it seemed with the bitter cold temperatures & the almost daily new snow fall. Z & I celebrated one year of dating & decided that there will be more important dates to remember for the future. Wedding stuff is just that. If anybody wants to grow pots of grass for us let us know (they're part of our centerpieces). Life is good. Jack Frost can go live somewhere else for a good 5 or 6 months now!

Friday, January 7, 2011

joy tea time

Here I am at the end of my holiday break. I know you might be thinkin' "it's not over yet?" Lucky for me the 2 J-term classes I've signed up for don't start till next week & only last 2 weeks. This also means each class time is the equivalent of 1 week's class during the normal semester. Needless to say I'm going to have a lot of reading & writing to do. I've already got a reading assignment to start & comment on which needs to get done today. Then right after that my spring semester starts since I'll be working at a hospital as a chaplain intern. The majority of the students have two more weeks till the actual Spring semester starts.

Advent & Christmas flew by this year. Maybe they tend to a little more every year that goes by. God surprised me at the end of the Fall semester with more time than I expected to have to prepare for holiday travels. It was a blessing to not have a final Hebrew exam & to know that the professor really didn't want to put us in our graves worrying about if we were to pass his class. Z & I started off our holiday break with a breakfast date. One year ago on the last day of the Fall semester we had what we like to call our "proto-date." We both were interested in each other, but didn't want to admit it & now here I am typing to you with this fun shiny circular object clinging to my second finger on my left hand. We then traveled to visit some dear friends in WI for the night, surprised one of the pastors that I had worked with a couple of years ago, & introduced Z to a crazy part of my past. From there we traveled into Chicago with hopes of getting to show Z more of the city, but time ran out so we got in a few quality hours with some of my closest friends from college. We made it to my parents later that night. The week was filled with present wrapping, visiting with a few family members & friends, & Christmas celebrations. Within a week we packed up our loot & returned to what I like to call the "cold North."

We then were able to spend a few days with his side of the family. It's fun learning what it means to be a member of each family. I found joy in visiting relatives that could teach us so much about life & the families that we are a part of. I was blown away by the love that was shown through laughter, food, presents, & good conversations. Reflecting on all this makes me think I'm an adult now. Life after 25 is weird!

We brought in the New Year with some good friends back at the seminary. One television stations was on Eastern time so we watched the ball drop at 11pm Central time with a little excitement & then watched it again at midnight with more excitement & some sparkling wine to toast to the New Year.

2010 was an interesting year. It started out in OH with some good friends from college & quickly moved to a few weeks on the East Coast where I stayed in a former Civil War Orphanage for 2 weeks & learned more about my call as a Diaconal Minister at LTSG. It there that I learned about the earthquake in Haiti & how some of my classmates close friend had passed away due to complications in the earthquake. It was there that I learned another good friend was given 2 months to live & that an elderly gentleman from my home church had passed away & his wife wasn't to be too long behind him. I also got to visit some good friends that I never see because they live out there & I don't. Then I reversed my travels & wasn't back in MN for more than 2 days & Z came in & swept me off my feet. We were attached at the hip pretty quickly. Year one of seminary ended & the adventure of Z & I being long distance for 2.5 months & taking summer Greek flew by. The bets of when Z was going to propose kept coming more prominent amongst our friends. Little did any of us know, including Z, it would happen in his car in the seminary apartments parking lot. The semester flew by with classes, wedding planning, & celebrating with many other friends that also got engaged.

2011 is bound to hold many adventures & much joy. In just over 2 weeks I start working at a hospital for the next couple of months. I've wanted to work in a hospital since I was a little kid. Within the next 1-3 months we find out where we'll be living next year for internship. In the next 5 & 3/4 months we'll be married! In the next 7 months we'll be moved into our first place that's just ours. Who knows how else the Holy Spirit will whip in & around our lives & how God will use us to be like Jesus for those we encounter & each other! In the mean time I'll sit & enjoy my mornings with my cup of joy tea & all the blessings that are a part of my life.