In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time Away

Today, we are going to drive up north to visit with my family for the weekend. I have a little business to take care of this morning, but then we will hit the road.

If you are following the weather, you might be a little concerned for us. A winter storm is moving into the area, and the Twin Cities are expected to get 5-7 inches of snow. There is a lot less snow further north, so we are hoping to miss the worst of it by driving north as early as possible. So far, the snow hasn't fallen, but it should start soon.

What are we doing? I'm not sure. It will probably be playing pinochle with my family and chatting. There may be square dancing involved (which also involves a trip into Canada, since that is the only place to square dance anymore). I also may visit my sister in another town, as she is great with child.

How can I do this? Well, for the time being, my job is only a 1/2 time position. I've been working pretty long days for the first half of this week. This morning, I'll have one meeting before Richard gets me for the long drive north.

Time with family is good. This is a good addition to Lent.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Brad's Interview

A little more press about the Sexuality Study. Brad did a nice job in bringing up the discrepancy in the proposed policy. Jeff Strickland, the reporter for the Star Tribune, seems to get what is going on. It's funny that many of these comments didn't make it into his first story.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friends in the News

I'm wrapping up my first week at this new job, and it was quite a week to begin. Yesterday, the ELCA released both its Statement on Human Sexuality and its recommendations on rostering (that means making ordained pastors and commissioned lay ministers) people who are in same-gender loving relationships.

Our Exec. Director and Communications Director spent a lot of time talking to the press yesterday. They handled them quite well. They got their word out about what we agree with in the statement (there is quite a bit that we agree with), and what we profoundly disagree with (there is some of that as well). There are also a few things that the statement leaves out.

Our local TV station, KARE 11, ran a story on the release of the statement. They found some old footage of my friend, J's, ordination (I'm not bothering to link to his blog, since it seems to be a dead blog at the moment). J is no longer at the church where he was ordained, so their footage is a little out of date. He has moved on to another congregation on the east coast. I was the assisting minister at his ordination, so I appear in the footage. I'm the one NOT wearing a red stole.

Also, another friend, Brad, is being installed at a new congregation this Sunday. Our local paper used him as the face of gay clergy, using his photograph along with the story about the Sexuality Statement. It also ran a story about his installation. I learned through this story that my friend is listed as "on leave from call" because he is in a relationship. It saddens and worries me that he had to take this step to be installed.

The cool thing is that both J and Brad are my co-directors of The Naming Project. They have been working hard, along with me, to create a camp for young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. We continue to work, even as jobs shift (all three of us have changed jobs since we started TNP).

Today, please offer up a prayer that God's children can heed the matter where that call might lead them. Pray that human barriers will fall before that call.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First Day

Yesterday, I began my new job at Lutherans Concerned/North America. Before I began, I had images of Hillary Clinton walking into the State Department, amid cheers and hoots. It wasn't quite like that.

I called my co-worker to ask when I should arrive. I knew that I probably couldn't do much without him, but I also knew that he tends to come in quite later than others, but stay later into the night. He told me to arrive between 9-10. I'm still used to getting to work between 7:30-8:30, so that seemed so late. I slept in a little bit, and leisurely got ready to go.

When I arrived, there were only two other employees there. Now, this place has a staff of 8, including me, so two is pretty regular. I walked in and said hi to the first person I saw. He said, "Hi...Welcome to Lutherans Concerned." We laughed, and then he showed me where I was going to be working. It was pretty much set up for me, with a new computer and everything. I found that I already had an email inbox with about 75 messages in it. I spent the next hour sorting through the emails. Some were spam. Some were welcome messages from board members and regional coordinators.

Then, the work began. There is a lot going on at Lutherans Concerned, so there is much to do. We realized that this week held some pressure, because the ELCA is releasing it's (almost) final draft of a sexuality statement. We wanted to be prepared for the release, so that has become the main focus of the week.

So, I'm in it already. There are still transitions to complete. The nice thing is that I've been around Lutherans Concerned for quite some time. I served on the board of directors and worked events for them, so I'm quite familiar with how it operates. That means a lower learning curve. But now I'm in the heart of the business. And there is a lot of business.

OK - I need to go to my second day of work!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Departure

Friday was a day filled with hugs and explanations of my new job ("Lutherans Concerned/North America educates and advocates for the full inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the Lutheran Church, it's ecumenical partners, and global missions"). I greeted former teachers, who had become mentors and friends. I visited with students who I have had the opportunity to be a mentor to. I chatted with colleagues who have walked along this journey of employment with me. I told people that after work I was going to happy hour at Tracey's, just across the freeway. They were welcome to join me.

Just before I was to leave, I got an email that a final charge that I had made with my procurement card had been declined. Apparently, I had underestimated the amount. Unfortunately, I had already turned in my p-card, so there was little I could do. I'm sure they will be able to handle it on their own.

Finally, it was 4:30. I gave my laptop computer to one of my bosses. I hugged a co-worker. She looked at me and said, "You will go to the door. Pause. Turn around. Look around. Smile. And keep walking." I smiled at her and walked out the door.

I didn't stop at the door. I walked all the way down the hall. I stepped out of the Science Building and into the Quad. I kept walking, carrying my framed art under my arm. I looked at all the buildings as I passed by.

Richard had dropped me off, so I had to walk to Tracey's. I didn't realize that I would have a piece of art to carry, so I felt a little awkward. I walked down the sidewalk, to the pedestrian bridge that crossed the freeway. I walked up the ramp. At the top, I finally paused. I turned around and surveyed the campus that I knew so well.

I recalled first arriving on that campus as a junior transfer student in 1998. My parents drove me there in a motor home (no one else had that!). I recalled graduating from that campus in 2000. I recalled coming back to the campus several times to visit friends. I recalled getting a job at the Youth & Family Institute after getting kicked out of Youth Encounter. I recalled being told that I was not really an employee. I recall coming back 9 months later as a legal employee. This was a campus that held so many joyful and painful memories. It was a part of me. It is a part of me.

I took a deep breath and turned around. I began to walk over the pedestrian bridge. Traffic was heavy, and the sounds of cars rushing under my feet filled my ears. The noise of the traffic felt like crossing the Red baptism. I realized that I was crossing away from a job...a life of my past and into a new future. And exciting future. A future I am called to live into.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saying Goodbye

This is my last week at this place of work...where I have been for 6 years in my current position. Before then, I spent 2 years as a contractor. Then I was a student. I have deep connections with this place.

On Friday, that will all change. Actually, as I think about it, it's already changed. I'm transitioning out. I'm getting a sideways smile that says, "We are glad for you...but why are you leaving us!" I'm getting a lot of compliments. It's good.

My new job is going to be a new challenge. I'm going to be working for Lutherans Concerned/North America as the Associate Director. This is an organization that is also dear to my heart. I've done a lot of contracting work for them, planning their events. I've served on the board of directors. I've been a member since 2001.

Now, I'm going to be a staff person. One of my friends joked that I will now be "professionally concerned". It's true. There have always been things that were outside of my purview, but now I will be facing them head on. To be perfectly honest, I don't know what I'm getting myself into. I don't think anyone does. The job description is pretty vague at the moment, but it will involve a lot of work.

LC/NA is a lean organization. At one time, it was completely volunteer run. Today, there are seven staff in St. Paul, who do the bulk of the work (along with many, many volunteers). Stepping into that will be a thrill for me.

My only regret is that I have no time to mentally process this transition. I am ending at my current job on Friday and starting at LC/NA on Monday. LC/NA is in need of my presence immediately, so I couldn't postpone any longer. However, that will come at a cost. I just need to be intentional about self-care. There may be times when "no" is the most appropriate answer.

For now, I'm focusing on the "goodbye". Next week, I'll start the "hello" process.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

...and now another week...

In the ever-dramatic saga that is my life, I've now entered another week. Another week means another overwhelming emotion. I've had pride, despair, and now I'm into hope.

Yes, that's right: hope. I'm hopeful for the future.

Here's what was happening while Richard was getting laid off. I was negotiating my way into a new job. In fact, I said yes to a new job just the day before Richard lost his job. I held onto that information for a few days, discussed things with Richard, and on Tuesday of this week, I typed up my letter of resignation.

In chapel at Augsburg, the text was about the calling of James & John. They dropped their nets to follow Jesus. Since that moment, I have been thinking about nets. Maybe James & John had fishing nets, but they also had safety nets. These nets provided a "safe" existence where they could get by. Perhaps they could even practice their passion on the side. But nets are confining as well. You can get trapped and caught up in nets and never get to move forward. Even safety nets stop you from going the places that you may be called to go.

Even the benediction that day spoke to my situation. It was taken from South Africa. I can't seem to find it on line, so I only paraphrase, "Go my people. Your place is not here. Go." I realized that I was being called to something new, scary, and exciting. So I took it as a message.

I decided that my resignation announcement should be, "I'm dropping my nets."

Where am I working? Well, concern for privacy will keep me from revealing that too quickly. I need to start at this new place and settle in. I also want to find out how much they want me to discuss their work in my blog. It's possible that I would also be starting a blog for this organization.

Suffice it to say that I'm excited about this move. It will use my gifts and skills. It will also push me in new and uncomfortable ways.

Even in the midst of need to drop the nets.

Monday, February 02, 2009

What a Difference a Week Makes

My recap pointed out that my week might be shaped by my attitude. If that's the case, then I have had a pretty bad attitude.

Two weeks ago, I was all excited about Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama.

Last week, I settled back into reality.

There are a few things I need to process on here later, but the biggest is that Richard was laid off from work. I got a text message from him that read, "I just got laid off". I texted back, "seriously?" I'm really hurt and angry at this. In fact, Richard thinks that I'm taking it harder than he is.

I don't like corporate America.

There, I said it. I think that they are too quick to shed jobs, but still expect people to spend money on crap. Even though I'm in an MBA program, I still think that corporate culture is totally blinded to anything other than the uplifting of the self. I don't think it's sustainable. I think that it idolizes money over everything else. In short, I don't like corporate America.

Yup, I'm cranky today. I've been in a sad/cranky mood for most of the week. I don't like it when crap just happens to us. I don't like that I had to pick up my partner outside of his work that he loved and poured himself into. I don't like that we had so many conversations about how to "play the game" to get ahead, and it doesn't matter for anything.

I'm starting to think that responsibility is overrated. It sure doesn't seem to get you anywhere.

I'm pretty pessimistic right now, I know. In reality, my attitude is shifting a little. But I'm still dealing with what this will mean for us and our family.

I'll process more later. Thanks for letting me rant.