Archive for July, 2011

Starting to Feel Real

So today I had the final meeting with my internship supervisor regarding the plan for confirmation for the upcoming year.

No big surprise, I’ll be teaching it…but that’s okay. Teaching confirmation is actually something that I have come to enjoy…shh, don’t tell my old pastor…he drug me into teaching kicking ans screaming 3 years ago…if he finds out how much I enjoy it he’ll say “I told you so.”

But getting back on track…the point of today’s meeting was simply to go over a few lessons that I prepped from the curriculum that we were thinking about using. That portion of the meeting was actually pretty short. We went over the lessons and decided that they should work okay. He asked me if I was comfortable with the material…which was actually cool. It would appear that he trusts my judgment…and that’s a plus.

After that part of the meeting was over, he asked if I wanted to see my office. The last time I saw it, a month or so back, they were in the process of wiring everything up, so it was very much a work in progress.

Now its all done. I have a computer and a phone…as well as a great big white board that will serve as both a place to take notes (something I do a lot) as well as a place to doodle if I get bored. BONUS!!!

While we were sitting there, I received my first email. It was from the office manager who was sitting in her office.

The cool part of it was to see my name at the beginning of the email address. Its certainly not my first new email address, but it gave me a little jolt to see it on a church address.

I don’t start for about a month yet, but its starting to feel real.

Reliving my youth

For any of you that don’t know my background, I’m originally a farm kid from RURAL!!!! Iowa.

I grew up on a farm and experienced all the perks that come with it. You might not believe it if you see me in my normal day to day activity these days, but I know how to rangle cattle. I can easily tell you the difference between soybeans, corn, and wheat (though admittedly we never grew wheat).

Most importantly…I can drive a tractor.

A few months back, we lost my grandma and now the family has been preparing for an estate auction, which will occur in a couple weeks. 

One of the big steps has been to pull really old farm equipment out of the extremely over grown grove to be viewed and potentially sold on the auction.

Now my dad and my brother, who both live close to grandma’s farm have done the bulk of this work. I helped out one day back in October, as my brother and I had way too much fun with chain saws working our way into the grove to gain access to these various pieces of equipment.

Today I did the same thing again. They were on the verge of having the project done, but we were in town and my brother threw a joking guilt trip my direction to come along and help out. I was up early enough, and since I won’t be able to attend the auction, today was likely the last chance I’ll have to get to the farm…so I took advantage and went over to help out.

I wasn’t dressed for it in any way. I wore shorts, a t-shirt, and sandles to traipse around in an over grown grove and mud…good times.

But all in all it was a good day. We got a lot of work done and muscled (which actually means moved with the tractor) a lot of stuff around. One of these things involved an old pull-behind combine that had been parked in that grove since before I was born. I’d climbed over it countless times as a kid and never thought it would ever move. 

It’s moved now.

Following getting the work done, I helped out my brother by driving his truck home for him and as I was driving I noticed something that hasn’t happened for awhile.

Dirt under my fingernails.

Been awhile since I’ve done anything that gave me that result…but it was a good feeling.

Dirt under the nails and driving a tractor around.

Reliving my youth? Yah maybe…and you know what?

I loved every minute of it.


Okay…summer classes are unofficially over.

Side note…has anyone ever noticed that I like to throw around officially and unofficially?  I do that a lot don’t I?

Oh well.

I just submitted my final assignment. My psalms prayer journal, which was the only thing still pending from my summer classes, is complete and I just sent it off.

Cue huge celebratory dance here….

pause……still pausing

Okay…I just did my little happy dance of celebration, but no one was around to see it…which is probably okay.

Where was I…lost my train of thought in an attack of adult ADHD.


Sorry, I’ll focus again.

Long story short. The work is all done. What’s unofficial about this status is that grades are not submitted yet…so technically these 3 classes are not yet “in the books.” But I’m not too concerned about getting the passing grade. It’s only a matter of time before Luthernet changes the three classes from WIP (aka Work In Progress) to P (which technically stands for Pass, but we like to say its P for Pastor).

At that point, my credit total will stand at 20.5, which is a pretty good spot to be at the beginning of internship.

I’ve mentioned before that I won’t be taking any classes during internship. So I sit here in a brief quiet moment (as the kids are playing nicely with each other in their room…someone alert the media…this is an amazing occurance) and its really sinking in that I have no homework to do for the next 14 months or so.  September of 2012 will mark my return to classwork.

Instead, I’ll be working again. Doing ministry again. I’m excited about this.

I haven’t worked full time for almost a year now. If you remember, I gave up my job as a trucking broker at the end of August last year. I worked half time at my old church back in Iowa from September through the end of the year before moving to Plymouth and starting full time classwork. I haven’t worked at all since that time.

So it will be good to get back into the swing of working. It will also be nice to have the break from school work. To be able to finish work for the day, come home and enjoy time with my family without being distracted by the school work that needs to happen before I go to bed for the night.

It’s going to be different. This has been my reality for the last 3 years, but now I’m onto the next step of my seminary education.

That’s pretty exciting.

No Registration for Me

Several of my co-bloggers on the Life at Luther blog are talking about fall registration.

In a way, it makes me a little sad. I’m not registering for fall this year. I won’t be registering for January, Spring or June either.  About the one possibility will be possibly registering for a late summer cross cultural experience next August, but at this point even that’s a bit of a long shot.

I do have a “class” on the schedule, but its Internship…and I didn’t have to register for it. They did it automatically for me…which was kinda nice.

Speaking of internship, that brings up another thing.

About a week ago, I had a short sit down with my supervisor to hammer out some final details before I start up in another month and a half. At that meeting, we discussed getting together with the congregation’s youth director to start some tentative planning for confirmation, which will be one of my duties as intern.

That meeting happened this afternoon. I ventured south from my house to Eden Prairie and had our sit down. It was good to meet a couple more members of the staff and begin a little bit of planning.

As I was driving home, and sitting in afternoon rush hour traffic…something that I’m going to have to get used to again…it occurred to me that a year ago (namely the summer of 2010) I was involved with a batch of meetings at my old congregation doing the exact same thing.

At the time, I was involved simply as a teacher. My contextual work would involve teaching confirmation and we were revamping the confirmation program.

Perhaps it was a bit of foreshadowing, because I ended up getting hired by the congregation as a lay minister to assist the pastor. Now I’m sitting in the exact same type of meeting in preparation for a duty that I’ll serve as intern pastor.

I’m starting to sense a trend.

Something Aggrivating

For all you potential students out there…this one’s for you.

For all you current students who get aggravated at the same thing I’m about to talk about…this one’s for you too.

One requirement for Luther students, and I think for all other ELCA seminarians as well, is health insurance. You have to have it you are a full time student. The seminary offers a plan, or actually, offers a way into a plan that seems to be universal throughout the seminary’s, but from what I’ve seen of details its pretty expensive for coverage that really isn’t that great.

But if you don’t have your own insurance, you have to get it. It’s automatic and will auto enroll…or so I’m told.

You see, I’ve never actually gotten it. Prior to moving to the cities, I was covered under my wife’s plan at our old church back in Iowa. Coverage was excellent. So I didn’t need to worry about getting the seminary insurance…well that and I was also part time which throws another kink in the works too, but I won’t really go into that.

While my insurance situation has changed now, I still have coverage. We pay for it ourselves, which admittedly stinks, but I have it. It’s better coverage and it’s cheaper than the plan offered automatically.

Here’s the annoying part. If you have your own coverage and want to waive the seminary plan, you have to log into a website and fill out a questionnaire. Based on your answers, the website can deny the waiver.

I’ve filled this thing out 4 times since starting seminary back in 2008. It’s been denied all 4 times for one reason or another. Once it was because my coverage was inadequate out of the country. I wasn’t going out of the country. In fact I’ve only been out of the country twice in my lifetime, and neither time was during seminary. This time it was denied because my current plan doesn’t have chemical dependency coverage. I’m not too concerned about chemical dependency…I think I’m doing okay there.

So, now I have to start jumping through hoops to make sure that I don’t end up automatically enrolled and have a nice $3000+ fee show up on my seminary account this fall.

Step 1…email the help line listed on the website. I actually did that last night. Waiting to hear back from them today.

Hopefully there isn’t a step 2, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was.

So all you hopeful students out there…be aware…health insurance for seminarians, while a very good thing…is actually a big pain in the summer time before you even begin classes.

The Pondering Never Stops

I’m sitting here thinking about the course of action to take during upcoming stuff…and I’m reminded of sermon prep.

When I’m preaching, I spend the week in what I call “percolation mode.” Basically, it’s thinking about the sermon without activily thinking about the sermon. I know what you’re thinking, that makes no sense what so ever. To explain, it pretty much means that in the midst of my normal day to day activity, the sermon is buzzing away in the back of my mind.

I’ve been in the same mode for awhile regarding my upcoming internship.

Potential students that may be reading this, keep in mind that seminary involves many “next steps.” Sometimes its the next step of the next class on the horizen. Sometimes its the big paper that’s pending a week or two down the road (speaking of which I’ve got one of those in the works as well). Sometimes its CPE or internship or cross cultural. For a lucky few, its graduation (though that one’s still a couple years down the road. Sometimes its preparation for endorsement (a step in the candidacy process). Sometimes its placement and approval (something I’ll start thinking about in a year or so).

Right now, my “school percolation” has involved whether or not to take classes during my internship. It is an option during a full time/1 year internship. Not everyone does it, in fact I think that most don’t but it is an option. However, the supervising pastor needs to give their approval to it, and there is a limit of 1 credit per semester.

So if I really wanted to…and I played my vacation time card correctly…I could potentially take up to 4 credits during my internship. 1 during fall semester, 1 during the January intensive, 1 during spring semester, and finally 1 during the June intensive.

Now, while my asirations for classwork weren’t quite that enthusiastic, I was considering it. As I’ve looked at potential classes I considered taking a half credit this fall and then a full credit next spring. So out of a potential of 4, I was looking at 1.5, all in the online format.

My supervisor was open to the idea, but hadn’t really made his official call one way or the other. So it was still up in the air.

However, as I’ve been percolating on it, I’ve come a decision on my own, or rather with my wife’s help. Many different aspects have come into play in making this call, but in the end I’ve decided not to take any classes during the upcoming year.

Rather I’m going to focus on learning and doing ministry at my internship site. I’m going to use the lack of homework to be able to focus on my family around work at the church.  I feel pretty good about this decision, and while it will still leave a credit load that will be pretty full senior year, it is doable. I’ll basically have 9 credits to fill over the course of spring and fall semester (with January constituing my cross cultural exprience).

So now that I’ve made that call, I have just realized that for the first time in 3 years, I don’t have classwork to think about come September.

That’s a weird feeling.

Thie Issue Continues

So my posting from a couple days back seemed to generate quite a bit of interest. THere was some disagreement, which is fine.

But the long and short of the issue is that it is a reality. The Minnestoa government has shut down because of the faiulure to reach agreement on new budget.

You all know my feelings on the matter, and if you don’t, read my last post.

I just read a different article that seems to expose some more of the partisen bickering that apparently led to this. See it here.

This is what aggrivates me about politics. It just seems to be so stinking partisen…like its just a big game for who can make the other side look worse.

Weigh in people…what’s your take on this whole thing?

Someone Explain This To Me

Okay, so it is my understanding that the Minnesota government couldn’t get their…he hem…act together to get a budget in place. The result…

Government Shutdown.

There are articles all over the place but you can see one here that outlines the basics.

As I read this…I can sum up my response in one word and that word is “What?” (and for any of you who know me really well you know that my one word phrase is actually a three word phrase that is…unrepeatable in polite conversation.

How in the world can these people get away with this stuff? Now, I admit that I’m not in the meetings. I don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, but let me offer a message to the politions out there that have screwed countless people out their jobs for a yet to be determined amount of time, patrons of state parks, oh and anyone that’s cruising down the interstate really needing to pee.

We elect you…your job is to run the government that we elect you to. Part of that is getting your act together, putting aside partisan crap (and in my head that’s a slightly stronger word), and get it done.  You don’t come to a concession by the end of the deadline, you’re fired (Donald Trump style)…okay maybe not but pass a simple resolution to continue funding as is until such time as the new budget is done.

But honestly, this shouldn’t even happen in the first place. I’ve been in budget meetings…they suck…no doubt there but in the end you stay there until its finished. I don’t care if you like it or not, you get it done. That’s your job…don’t like it, you shouldn’t have run for office…so wipe your nose, quit acting like a whiney little kid that can’t cooperate and play nice and GET IT DONE!

Are the legislators sitting in the state capital building right now? Somehow I doubt it…Granted they might be, I’m out of state right now so I have no idea if they are there or not, but if I had to venture a guess I’d say that they’re all out enjoying their weekend…not concerned with the fact that their pay checks will keep rolling in.

Too bad those countless other state paid employees can’t say the same.

If you’re wondering, yes I’m annoyed by this whole deal. Grow up and do your jobs people…otherwise get out of the way and let someone else do it for you.