Saturday, January 31, 2009

weekend travels

yesterday, i did it. i went to dook...and came out alive. i walked right up under that big, arrogant chapel and spent the day inside a building where i could potentially be spending much more time in the next three years.

all joking aside, it was a good visit. good, but not great. i didn't have that recognition of "yes, this is where i want to come to school," yet everything I heard & saw was all very positive. it really is a great school--renowned professors, emphasis on spiritual growth in community, amazing field education opportunities. so it's a very strong option, but i just didn't have that feeling, that connection. i hope that i will be able to visit all 3 other schools, and maybe at one of them i will get that feeling. otherwise, i don't see much that pushes one ahead of the other. they're all great schools or i wouldn't have applied. so maybe i'll have to actually make a decision instead of relying on my gut. i guess that's probably what adults should do, huh?

i also got to spend some time with a few of my favorite girls while i was in the triangle :D

the weekend prior i traveled to DC to see my dearest Betsey. what a wonderful city to live in! i haven't been there since high school, and even though i had an extra day to spend with her & Luke, i felt like we only got to see a fraction of what the city has to offer. i think we all agreed that the National Gallery of Art couldn't be rightfully experienced without devoting several days, at least, to its galleries. i also enjoyed catching a glimpse into the life of my newlywed friends--to see their shared joys & struggles, the home they've made for themselves, their relationship as it grows.

here's our visit to the Smithsonian (note: the guy in green is not Betsey's husband)

Monday, January 19, 2009


i have slept from 11pm to 11am the last two nights. nyquil is my happy friend. now i'm just praying for snow and school cancellation tomorrow so i can sleep that long for one more night. the odds, of course, are in my favor. if there's one thing southerners can't do, it's handle a snow flurry.

being sick is just NOT fun. it's debilitating. all day friday, sunday, and today i have either been in my bed, on the couch, or somewhere shuffling between the two. i have done nothing but put a significant dent in the current 1000-page book i am reading, and have watched an inordinately large amount of college basketball and NFL playoff games. no working out, no church, no errands completed. i did make it out of the house for a girls' night and a vietnamese dinner, though it nearly killed me.

it is nice to rest though. i know it's obvious to most of us that we don't do enough resting in our culture. i was lucky that this particular weekend had an extra day-off attached to it so i wouldn't have to take off work. but even if it wasn't going to snow tomorrow, my mom said, "whitney, you should call in sick if you don't feel better and stay home." i NEVER have done that. i always try & tough it out. i go to class. i sing at choir. i force my bleary eyes to stay open & i stifle my coughs. sometimes i even force myself to workout, and that never turns out for the best. it's hard for me to stop moving, and i've had to do a lot of that this year, sick or not.

even though i know that the ball will start rolling again, that i'll get over this cold, that i'll soon be back in school with a full plate again, for now, i'm just going to sit here with my electric blanket, my box of tissues, my book, and my nyquil, and rest.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

flavor of the week

i take kids to the potty by day, i change diapers by night (err, by afternoon)--suffice it to say that my resume has been successfully beefed up this year, no? i started my new afternoon babysitting job this week, and have survived so far, despite less-than-encouraging stories from my coworker who knew the little girl i'm watching from another preschool. she's going to be a challenge, to say the least. there's also the eight-month-old brother, who i adore already, despite being sneezed upon, having pee leaked upon and peas wiped upon, and very nearly being spit-up upon by said boy. it's hard to resist his rosy little cheeks and that sweet nestling of baby fat propped up on my hips.

(hmm, i'm feeling wholly uninspired with nothing much to say. i haven't updated in awhile, though, so instead of something intelligent, witty, or deeply theological, here's a little bit about the rest of my week:)

one of our three-year-olds announced (without prompting) this week that "the president is Barack Obama." we were wholly amused and equally impressed. her pronunciation was perfect.

i was given the opportunity to lead my Bible study this week while our pastor was away in Haiti. our readings were from Daniel, and I managed to wrangle up some controversy! i planned to do so in several ways, and while persecution and disputed authorship/date failed to grab much of a bite, we caught the bait on resurrection (see Dan. 12:2). thank goodness for my class on death & afterlife. it was enjoyable to discuss because once you lay out all the Biblical references, there isn't really a definitive answer to whether or not being eaten by sharks will affect your chances at the resurrection of the dead or whether there are levels of reward and punishment within heaven itself.

amanda & mallory--my kids have given me more compliments on the earrings you both brought me from africa! today i had one who couldn't finish his lunch because he had leaned into my lap in order to tap my earring back & forth, saying excitedly "boop, boop." there's no sincerer form of flattery, i would imagine.

i haven't touched my grad school applications since last saturday, but i'm planning on finishing them up & submitting the final two on monday. besides hounding people for the last few references, i'll be over the first hurdle. updates to come, of course.

i'm about to watch the tarheels have another go at winning some basketball. this weekend was positively abysmal for the sports fan (unless you are an arizona cardinal or demon deacon, that is). let's turn something around, shall we? before all we're left with is baseball...

Thursday, January 8, 2009


update! all my recommendation letters are in, so my application to Duke Divinity School is complete! i have two of my four applications done, and the third is nearly there. although i'm racking up credit card debt in applications fees, score report fees, and transcript fees, i'm really excited!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


the wind is blowing through the trees in my backyard so violently that i feel somewhat compelled to yell "Dorothy, Dorothy" before heading off to the storm cellar. or maybe, as i'm sitting here on my bed looking out the window, i should just prepare myself for a flight through the sky and a run-in with a very nasty witch. it might be nice to escape from kansas for a little while.

i was hired for a babysitting job today! through the efforts of some wonderful women with my church, i basically got the shoo-in for this twice-a-week sitting. the hours will be perfect, 2 to 6. the children are three (as are my preschoolers) and eight months. seeing as how the three-year old girl latched onto my leg when i was about to leave, and then proceeded to throw a fit when her mother unclamped her arms, i'm guessing that she likes me :D wouldn't it be nice if all relationships were so easily initiated? though it's only two afternoons each week, i feel like this job is an answer to prayer and will probably be a good deal more enjoyable than retail anyway.

last night after zumba a girl approached me in the locker room & said i looked familiar. i had been thinking the same thing about her, and we figured out that we went to church together when we were young. it just struck me as oddly fasciniating that after years of growing and maturing, our faces still bear enough of a resemblance to our childhood selves that we can be recognized. i mean, it's probably been close to 10 years since i would have seen this girl, and she wasn't even one of my closest friends at church. memory is an amazing thing, is it not?

my application to Duke Div School (I can use the alternate spelling for Dook when referring to the div school, I've decided) is due this Saturday, and ironically, I'm not stressing about my essays or test scores, or even the fact that, yes, this is Dook I'm applying to, but arghahgah, one of my recommendations isn't yet in. I haven't heard from this professor since Dec. 1, when he agreed to write a letter for me. I've called & emailed and just don't know what else to do. It's making me super worried, and though I'm trying to be at peace about it (because what good does worrying do me?), I can't help it. If this letter isn't in, my hopes for merit scholarships are out, since this is the final deadline for consideration. And I probably won't even go to Dook (even though it is a really really great div school) because I want to venture outside of the Triangle for this next portion of my schooling. But still. I want to have my options open, and I don't want to have wasted the time & energy of my other four recommenders. Gah. Sorry, I needed to vent some of that out. Any possible suggestions?

we're discussing Job in b-stud tonight (yes, the WHOLE book). hmm, what can i pick a fight over? i'm dying for some drama, and hopefully Job will be chock-full of it. the idea of a heavenly council? perhaps to start, but i'm guessing the questions of divine justice and innocent suffering should be enough for us to pull the gloves off and writhe around in some controversy. sweet.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

one Sunday morning

it's the first Sunday of the month and that means it was my turn to teach Sunday school. my dear fourth & fifth graders--they never leave me with a dull moment. i've mentioned here before how intelligent and intuitive these kids are. so i was a bit miffed while preparing my lesson yesterday--the online curriculum completely glazed over the significant controversy mentioned in the lesson's Bible passage. We were to study Colossians 3:22-24, and this passage opens with, "slaves, obey your masters..." the curriculum (which i hardly ever follow exactly because it's created for a group with much larger spaces, numbers, and resources than our own) had the leader saying something ridiculous like, "we're not slaves, though sometimes we may feel like it (?!), ...." i decided to just ask the kids what they thought about this verse. in return, i got a mini-report on sojourner truth--okay, so these kids might be a little young to weigh the full significance of such a controversial statement against the principles of their faith, but i hardly want to shy away from it or disrespectfully mention it in passing.

we need to stop taking kids for granted. as a preschool teacher, i know that it's easier to just spoon-feed the Bible stories and to not worry about leaving out chunks because it's too hard for little minds to understand. but this can't become a pattern. we need to encourage children to think, to challenge them with the tough issues, to hit them with the confusing and contradictory stories. if we start this at the elementary level, i'm willing to bet that the likelihood of these kids chucking their faith in high school or college will decrease. they won't have to wait for a skeptical teenage peer or a disgruntled professor to drop the controversial mess on their heads--they'll have already gone there with their parents or Sunday school teachers. even if they don't come up with the answers, at least they'll know the questions are out there.


after teaching my lesson and taking a brief respite at home, i decided to do Sunday Mexico-style. which means i went back to church. i finally decided to check out this progressive church in Charlotte that's been making all sorts of headlines and growing so fast that its busting at the seams of all three campus locations. the church offers a 1pm service, which i can attend without missing my home church.

i need your opinion on this, though is two-timing on your church a bad thing? a couple of months ago i wrote a post about my points of contention with my current church and my decision to look around a bit (which fizzled pretty quickly). at that point, I was focused mainly on the lack of fellowship with people my age. that's still true, but now i've been pushed to action again because i've lost my heart for worship. i haven't really met God in worship in several months. actually, the last time i was consumed in worship was when i did visit another church for just one week. and that's what i need. i recently went back through my journal from last year, when I was attending Bible Church and IV meetings every week, and the girl who wrote those passoinate entries is unrecognizable--and that saddened and scared me. so i've decided that it's not selfish to seek an atmosphere where I can meet God. of course, God is always there, inside and outside of every church. but i've had a hard time showing up. i've just been singing, going through the motions. and that translates into an unfamiliarity with God that rolls over into quiet times and prayer. and that really starts to hurt--to leave a gaping hole. it's not a lack of desire for relationship with God, but it feels like I've been confusing the time when we were going to meet--showing up too early or too late.

today, i felt like i was on time. i was shuttled into this high school auditorium and made to sit directly next to the person who filed in before me--there are so many people that they can't afford an empty seat. i also ended up only a few rows back--right in the middle of the action. and the music was LOUD. i love loud worship music--i like to close my eyes and not be able to hear my own voice, even though it's practically screaming in praise. i like the unison and the pulsation of one body in worship. it's like the music consumes you and wraps up your soul and you have no option but to respond to God in a mighty way. and this morning, i didn't know one song, not one. and yet i was singing along with more passion and meaning than i have in a long while. it's the heart behind the words, and the hands raised in true devotion, and the teenage kid jumping up and down in front of you. this church is alive. and it's becoming a huge movement in charlotte--the pastor announced this morning that several thousand people came to Christ during their services last year, 400 of those at their Christmas Eve services alone.

i might should save a lengthy commentary on the pastor for another day. so let me just briefly say that the man is extremely charismatic. and he's a little bit offensive. i almost decided that i didn't like him and wasn't going to give him my time of day, but then i realized, he's grinding on the status quo and calling people out in what i imagine would be a similar manner to our radical Jesus Himself.

but is it fair to go to both? i don't want to leave my home church. you already know that I love teaching Sunday school, and i love knowing all the faces, and my pastor is awesome--his messages almost always speak directly to my heart, and this is where i grew into my faith, etc, etc. but like i said, i'm seeking that vitality. that meeting with the holy spirit. that intense atmosphere of worship. i'm not denying that those things are present for people at my church, but frankly, i haven't been meeting God in worship there. and i've decided to stop blaming myself for that and instead go out & seek God. is that okay? please comment, i would really value your opinion.

if i do continue my two-timing ways and do attend regularly at this church, i know I need to give back and not just show up there to feed and consume and take. because i could do that. it would be easy to just show and participate in worship, maybe even join a fellowship group and participate in other member events. but i don't want to be a church moocher as well as a two-timer.

Elevation Church

Thursday, January 1, 2009

to my friends

for lack of a better opening line, happy new year! i hope this one is full of blessings & challenges for your life.

i want to take a moment to cherish the reunions i've enjoyed with friends these past few days. in 72 hours i visited with 8 of my closest friends, and was reminded of how deeply i value you all.

rachel--i'm going to be honest & say that i never expected us to become such good friends! i was really nervous to co-lead with someone i didn't know, but how blessed we were in our relationship, which grew into so much more than life group leading. thanks for always being honest and for wrestling with me over paul, etc. i'll never forget the night that our small group baraged us with questions and doubts and you stood up for truth and righteousness and goodness in such a way that left me dumbfounded over your willingness to let God speak through you. you are thoughtful and intelligent (definitely capable of being one of the top 60 writers in the country!) and loving and i am so thankful that our paths finally happened to cross.

betsey--i hardly know what to say. you've become such a part of me that it hurts not to see you every week. i love being able to laugh with you one minute and having a serious discussion in the next. you are so genuine and real--i'm glad you showed me what it looks like to live that way. thank you for the honor of being in your wedding--it was a beautiful day for a girl with the most beautiful soul. i couldn't be happier for you and Luke, and wherever life ends up taking the two of you, i just pray that i would never be too far away! i love you!

kristen--our delicious bread maker! only one of your many, many stellar attributes. when you mentioned at lunch that you sometimes measure yourself inadequte against the likings of such IV staff workers as our beloved Alex Kirk, i couldn't help but remember how often i have admired your wisdom and frankness and boldness and wondered if i myself could ever speak so wisely in relationships of my own. you are an AMAZING minister and i am so proud of the huge step of faith you took in moving to Boston! perhaps i'll be your neighbor next year :D

anna--you were one of my very first friends at carolina, and i'm so glad we had all that time together. i hardly think i could've survived the second soprano section without you by my side. we had too many laughs to count--from the midnight throw-up extravaganza that you completely missed to drinks at Top-O on that last day of Glee club. here's to many more good times!

ashleigh--i am so thankful that we had the opportunity to live together this past summer, even though it was for such a short period of time (and somewhat drama-filled). i appreciate your deep engagement with all the issues that touch your heart--one never lacks for a serious, passionate conversation with you! thank you for sharing your experiences in seminary--your advice means more than you know and i am so glad to have someone in such a similar boat to the one in which i currently find myself sailing. keep me updated on your journey!

holly--i am so proud of you for tackling the huge task of elementary school teaching! i know it's been stressful for you, but you are making such a huge impact and learning so much. i know we are only a couple of hours apart, but i miss not having you nearby because you are such a dear friend and your company always makes my day better. our summer before senior year in charlotte--i think i would've been miserable without you! thanks for all the memories of zumba, and church in a bar, and shooting squirrels, and word-in-motown, and....all the way back to playing soccer & hanging out at camp occaneechee.

mallory--dear, beautiful mallory! you are such a ray of sunshine! i miss living with you, and your vaccuuming at all hours of the day & night, your laughter we could never misidentify, and your constant kindness and joy. i hope that your last semester at carolina is all that you could hope for. thanks for the beautiful earrings from Africa that will expand my international jewelry collection :D i hope to see you often now that you're stateside!

kristen--dearest friend and roomie, i've missed you! though i admire you so greatly for embracing the role of humble servant in Chicago, i don't like being so far away! so i'll just have to come & visit you this spring, then move up there over the summer :D i'll be thinking about you as the days get colder, as you work on a certain relationship, and as you continue your amazing ministry! you are awesome and i'm so glad to be your friend!

when i stop and think that i knew none of you (except holly--girl scouters!) before i stepped foot on carolina's campus, it blows me away. we hail from all different corners of the state (which has now become glaringly obvious) and yet we came together, and in the course of four short years began to share each others lives. i can only pray we will continue to do so--i know we will!

how many more of you i wish were on this list! you are close to my heart even though distance separates us. please know that i think of you often.