44: True Greatness

This morning on a whim I opened my copy of A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants which I received during my time at Hillcrest.  I turned the pages to this weeks section and found this under this week’s “Readings for Reflection”
“And you, too, youthful reader, will realize the Vision (not the idle wish) of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a mixture of both, for you will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, must love.  Into your hands will be placed the exact results of your own thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less.  Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your Vision, your Ideal.  You will become as small as your controling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration…”  – From As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
There’s two more little paragraphs but that’s the part that hit me this morning.  I’m starting my first semester of Seminary on campus this morning and I’m nervous.  However I have a creator that tends to know exactly what I need, even if it’s a short passage while I straighten my hair.  I think I’ll be alright here.  I may even like it.

what a day to welcome a baby to begin breathing

This is Bizzy.  She entered the world (and my heart) on Friday, August 27th at 9:06 p.m. weighing in at 5 lbs 15 oz, and 19.5 inches.  She stole my heart the moment my brother sent me a picture.  Yes, sent me a picture because as most of you know, I have started my seminary adventure and now live in Chicago, she however, was born in Colorado.
My brother has sent me a few videos and about 26 pictures of this little love.  I think he might be proud or something.  She is a little darling and although she is only a few days old, I already know that she has me wrapped around those long little fingers.  (a piano player like her Tia Eisha perhaps?)
Do not get me wrong, I am super excited for my brother, sister-in-law and my now two nieces.  I am so happy that she came out healthy and happy. I am however, not happy that she has entered the world without me there to hold her, to pray for her, to kiss her, to hug her, to sing her to sleep, to change her diapers, to dress her or to give her premature lessons on life and boys (she’s gonna be a handful if she’s half Vela…)
I realize this is not exactly my first time to be an aunt, and that I have lived away for a long time now, however I didn’t expect it to be this hard.  To shed this many tears that I am missing out on this big event in my brother’s life.  To gather around her crib and talk about how she’s named in memory of her Grandpa whose ears she, unfortunately, has.  And whose heart she also would have stolen.
In the midst of missing this event I am also beginning to forge relationships with not only my fellow first years but also other seminary students.  We are going to start getting to the point where we share with each other many personal stories and events that I’m not ready to share.  Vulnerability scares me and although I want this community to work and be deep, it’s hard.
The benefit though, is that even after five short days of community building, I thoroughly enjoy everyone I have met.  I have enjoyed getting to know some people that I already feel a bond with and am looking forward to bonding more with those I am still getting to know.
Seminary is going to be a wonderfully stretching experience for me – that I knew.  What I did not anticipate was how much my heart would hurt this time being away from my family.  I love my little Isabella, and cannot wait to hold her, to watch her parents love her and to see her big sister shine with pride.  In short, I can’t wait to meet this very special little girl.

point out now what we're careless of

I am 16 hours away from the start of my Greek final, meaning that I am only 19 short hours away from being done with Greek.  I am excited but at the same time I’m a little sad.  Yes, I realize how weird that sounds.  But to be honest, I’ve really enjoyed learning Greek.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I’m not some crazy smart Greek scholar.  I don’t know everything there is to know about Greek.  But I’ve learned a lot.
Today a few of us from class took a little trip down to the archives of the library to check out some amazing things.  We got to see the evolution of the Bible (the new testament at least).  we saw some copies of an original Greek manuscript and then a few different versions of the original Greek bibles as well as the Gutenberg Bible which is in Latin.  We saw early English translations and heard some funny quotes from the scribes who were responsible for creating the original manuscripts.
It was fascinating.  I probably uttered the phrase “this is amazing” at least 30 times in that hour and forty-five minutes.  To think that our faith has such history.  To think back to the early days when scribes sat and copied down the text so that we could eventually read it all these years later.  The process that the scribes when through and the process that critics had to go through after them.  It is an amazing story of how many people have contributed over the years to providing us with a readable copy of the New Testament.  Astonishing.
While I could go on about this for hours, that’s not the point of this post.  I am sure that a lot of these thought processes will grace the blog in the coming few years that I spend at North Park but for now, a little reflection as I look forward to not only finishing Greek but getting the keys to my new apartment, going home to get my stuff and say good-bye to Colorado, to moving into my new apartment and starting this new chapter in my life.
I think back to that day about a year and a half ago when Tim sat me down in his office to talk about life after my internship.  I remember him pulling out that application to NPTS and my heart totally dropping.  I remember him asking me why I was suddenly crying and while I couldn’t entirely voice it, I knew it had to do with feeling inadequate.  I thought he felt as though I was not ready for ministry full-time.  I thought he felt I couldn’t do this job.  It was a long journey to get to the point that I’m at now, looking forward to the next few years at NP.
People have told me I’m crazy.  People have told me it’s the right next step.  People have told me I’ll regret it.  People have told me I’m just running away from life for a while.  I’ve had the whole spectrum of reactions to the statement, “I’m moving to Chicago to go to Seminary.”  And while I know that it will be harder to leave home this time, especially with the birth of my niece approaching rapidly, I know this is where God is taking me.
These past six weeks have been brutal.  I won’t lie that spending hours upon hours in the library or at Starbucks memorizing paradigms, grammar rules, vocabulary words is not how I imagined spending my summer.  Nor have I been loving the muggy grossness that is a Chicago summer.  However, I have already seen places in my life that I’ve been growing and where God is preparing me for ministry.  He has reignited the fire in my heart for Him and for His people.
So my prayer for being in Seminary is that my heart would be open to whatever God has in store for me.  That my excitement to learn be fueled and that I would push to know Him more, even in classes that might be boring or hard to handle.  I pray that I would have people in my life that would push me to be better.  I pray that I find a church to attend and serve in.  I pray that I would care more about how I am loving others than how they are loving me.  I pray that my eyes be opened to wonders anew and that I would be able to see Him all around me.  I pray that my insecurities would not keep me from His will for my life.
All this to say, I’m glad to be on this side of the process.  I’m thankful for those in my life who have continued to encourage and support my passions and goals.  Thankful for those how have and continue to walk down this road with me and who have spoken truth into my life.  Seminary isn’t about not being good enough yet, it’s about so much more and while I don’t yet know what that looks like in my life, I’m excited to see where it takes me.

I can only tell you what it feels like

On our second day of class, after our quiz, our professor said to us, “2 quizes down, 20 to go.”  After today we have 20 down and 2 to go.  I am one week away from being done with Greek and that is absolutely insane.  What is more insane is to think that I am leaving the day after for my homebound adventure.  6 full days of Colorado funness and then back in the car to drive off to my new life as a seminarian.
My mind has been working a little bit overtime these last few days.  In classic Alicia style I have pulled into myself as I’ve been evaluating a lot of relationships in my life and thinking about how crazy my life has been and continues to be.  I am really excited about classes starting up and meeting new people.  I’m excited to continue to invest in the friendships I’ve made these past 5 weeks and to make some new friends.  I’m excited for my classes, they should all be super fun and interesting.  I’m excited for my niece to be born, even if I’m 1000 miles away.  Basically I’m excited for life right now.
This week has been especially draining for me.  Moving around so much these last couple years has taken its toll on me.  It’s messed with my sense of “home” and makes me a little uneasy about friendships.  I’ve gotten a lot better at the long distance friendships but I think I’ve become more socially awkward (if that is possible).  Last week I was so social, going out every night and meeting new people.  I really tried hard and put myself out there and it was exhausting.  And as a result I didn’t do as well on my Greek test on Monday.  So I started this week a little emotionally drained.  Trying to find community is hard, it takes a lot of effort and energy.  Which is a good thing because nothing worth anything ever goes down easy. (name that song).
The saving grace for me this week has been the couple of friendships that I have found here that are already easy and good.  People that I have fun with and enjoy being around whether it’s walking around the neighborhood or watching Bethenny Getting Married?  Even studying Greek has been made more fun.  It’s been good to already feel like I have a couple of friends that are genuinely fun to be around.  We laugh a lot and we enjoy the same types of things.  It’s been good.
The only other thing keeping me alive these days is Starbucks.  Joke all you want but Greek is HARD and the bucks just makes it that much more enjoyable.  I do love me some good Starbucks  (as if that’s a shock to anyone who reads this blog.)
This post seems a little disconnected but that’s how my brain feels these days.  The full lyric for today’s blog title is “I can’t tell you what it really is I can only tell you what it feels like” … It’s basically how I feel these days.  I can’t really tell you what is going on up there in my head, I can only try to put words to these feelings of unsettledness and the joy of new beginnings.  I think that this summer has gone by so fast that I never allowed myself to really process any of it as I went.  It’s starting to catch up with me and I’m all in my head these days.  I need to get out of my head and into the world again… maybe when Greek’s done (which is what I say about everything.)
Greek quote of the week:  a conversation between me and my friend in class during translations.  He was disagreeing with our teachers translation… for the record, he was wrong…:
Me: ‘”Did you just ‘Boom Roast’ our professor?”
Him: “No, I just ‘Boom Roast’ed the Bible”