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T-Minus…Not sure June 27, 2009

Posted by amberpeace in family, living as a 20-something, relationships.
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I’m excited for my vacation, don’t get me wrong. Sleep hasn’t been coming as easy as it should, and everyone needs to hope that I can drive to Bushnell, IL in one straight shot. I hate pulling over to sleep.

Katie (teenage sister 2) has been staying with me since Thursday evening and helping me keep the house in general order. There has little time for anything though, besides cleaning. That means no bags are packed for Cstone, or wedding invitations have stamps on them.

By the way, our post office had no wedding stamps. So everyone is getting liberty bells. Oh, and the postcard stamps nowadays? Polar bears. That’s right, polar bears. Who’s coming up with this?

Work until 11am tomorrow. Some sleep. Some driving to Knoxville. Some more sleep. Then – it’s time to head to Bushnell. 1 week of glorious music, vendor food, little sleep, and running amuck. I don’t even know how often I’ll see my siblings on the festival grounds. Mary and Katie are working 10 – 2 on the beach, I’m working 5pm – 2am on the Gallery Stage, and Joseph will be wherever.

There will be twitter updates.

Cornerstone is almost here!

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Body as Community April 18, 2009

Posted by amberpeace in εκκλησία, Living, relationships.
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At 5’11” and 102lbs, she looks monstrous. Her hair is stringy, her eyes are hollow, and her nails are broken and yellow. She has arms covered in little bruises and burns, and her knees and enveloped in scars. She has fallen so often one wonders if she ever thought of staying down and indeed she has. Stumbling, she is shoved one more time and finds herself face down in pine mulch on a Smokey Mountain trail.
So this is where she ends, face down in mulch. Let’s not think about the components of mulch. But strong hands grab her and she is staring into the faces of loving Christs wearing tee-shirts and Chacos. The girl is led by the hand to the Table. There, the Christs wash her feet and hands. They brush her hair and bandage her wounds, and anoint her head and face with oil.
They sit to the left and to the right, all around the table. A bowl of soup is placed before her. In the center, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine command the scene. A chunk of the bread is handed to her.
“This is for you.”
A glass of wine is poured and placed before her.
“This is for you.”
She eats; she drinks; she is nourished.
A Christ asks her a question.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Soul.”
The Christs nod, as if they expected that to be her answer.
She stays the night, and the next night. Soul feels no need to leave her sanctuary. Soul works hard, plays hard, and prays hard with these Christs. They constantly wash her feet and cover her head with oil. Soul, in turn, learns how to do these things to the others. She is there in eager anticipation when a new one arrives, there to care for them as she was cared for on that first night. Health returns to her frame. She suspects that the simple meals of soup, bread, and wine nourish her more than calories might suggest. Her nails grow, her eyes are no longer hollow. Soul has found body.

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An Epiphany April 11, 2009

Posted by amberpeace in family, Living, relationships.
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We have left on our own pilgrimage. Behind us is everything we hate – chaos, lies, discord, and alcohol. In front lays everything we love – Jesus and music, but mostly music. We’ve hated each other for the past 15 years out of necessity, but this one week is most sacred to us. Hate is impossible. Even when we argue we are aware that we’re wasting time. Arguing is for back there, in the hills. Excitement and awe are for out here.
This is Mary’s first time away from the mountains. She fell asleep some time back, but has now awoke to corn and soybeans. She can’t comprehend it. There is nothing but flat, and to us this is just as exotic as seeing a lion in the wild. We’re snaking our way across the farmlands and Google Map has told us wrong. We’re passing through small places with names like St. Augustine’s Hamlet.
A sign tells us that we’re in Avon. The only Avon I know provides me with great moisture benefits. As we drive through, Mary and I silently take in what we see. Clean little houses with clean little yards flying their clean little American flags. The sidewalks look swept and the trees look like something Martha’s Vineyard would be proud of. We pass in on one road a primary school, a middle school, and a high school. Mary speaks, “Is this really here?” The whole town takes about seven minutes and as we pass two horses and a camel beside the “Leaving Avon” sign, I have an epiphany. I look at Mary and say, “I’m suppose to be a Midwestern housewife.”

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The Body of Christ, Eucharist April 9, 2009

Posted by amberpeace in εκκλησία, living as a seminary student.
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Mutt. Mix. Melting. Those are the words that describe my spiritual and ecclesiological background. The Baptist piety of my soul yearned for the mystical connection of the Catholic Eucharist. Milligan College, in it’s well-intentioned attempt to show me the path of good congregationalism and “being like the early Church,” convinced me of the need for liturgy and high church. Something beautiful and redeeming happened when I chose to kneel in my pew. When I graduated from Milligan College, I left assuming I would never return to this community. I finally joined an Episcopal church and was confirmed into the Anglican Communion. I was going to live life as an Episcopalian. I was going to marry an Episcopalian. I would have small Episcopalians running around in topsiders and seersucker. Maybe they would play lacrosse.

God’s cosmic plan is never my plan. Less than a year and a half later, I returned to the Milligan and Emmanuel community. Now, a problem has arisen. I have labeled myself as Anglican. I hold Anglican beliefs, but I am not the 39 Articles personified. I am not attending the Episcopal Church in Johnson City. I’m not even fellowshipping at any time with the church. Instead, I am back at the church that I know and love, Grandview.

Is this wrong? I have spent many, many conversation on this topic. I surprise attack people. We might be discussing composting and suddenly I ask, “Is it okay for me to have communion presided over by someone who isn’t a priest?” For some reason, I can accept that Eucharist presided over by an Orthodox, or Roman Catholic, or Anglican priest is legitimate. Have the smells and bells indoctrinated me, or have they taught me a truth?

In my heart, in my gut, I cannot believe that it is a truth. Baptist piety is a fire that refines every thought that enters me. I am too troubled by the idea of denying the priesthood of all believers. I know many can tell me how that is different than the ordained minister I see at the alter. I cannot accept that. There is something wrong with the idea that I, as a layperson, cannot walk up the bread and wine and then ask the Holy Ghost to change the elements into the Body and Blood of Christ. This makes my prayers less effective. That belief means I am less than a person ordained. “No,” I am told, “it makes you different.” No, it makes me less.

But still, I struggle. In a few months, I will have a wedding. There will be communion, and I am terrified. What if I am not supposed to have communion? What if my beliefs about Eucharist, the Church, and the Body of Christ are wrong? The problem with Baptist piety, that runs so deep, is that your fear of punishment never quite goes away. I am a sinner, dangling like a spider on a thread, hanging over the fire.

In the end, my heart says that I will champion the layperson. I have been called clueless. I have been called ignorant. I’m pretty sure I took a grade cut because of my position. The fact is astounding that the Body of Christ can be so divided over the Body of Christ.

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Breathing December 28, 2008

Posted by amberpeace in Emmanuel, friends, Living, living as a 20-something, living as a seminary student, living as a student, relationships, school.
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That’s *almost* what I’m doing now, breathing. My classes and finals are finished. I’m no longer learning to balance a full time job and a full time student load. I hope that by February, when classes restart, I’ll have the balancing more under control. The two biggest chunks that had to be cut from my life were attending church on Sundays and having sporadic hanging out time with friends. 

Not getting to attend on Sundays is a bit of a downer, because there are people I want to see at Grandview, but I have the opportunity to go to Evensong on Saturday nights and Adoration on Tuesday nights – both offer Eucharist, which is vitally important. The other, the hanging out, is more difficult and I believe has caused some people to assume I’m blowing them off. Frustrating is a bit of an understandment on that one. Sure, some people understand. The ones who have children, and spouses seem to get it. The other friends I have though, the ones who go to school and work part time, I get questions. “Where have you been?” “Why aren’t you hanging out anymore?” I’ve had a few cold shoulders in the recent days because, I think, a few people assume that I just don’t care about them.
Let’s see. A week  has 168 hours. 40 of those are spent at work. It takes me about 35 minutes to get to work. That’s an hour tacked on to the four days I work. 2 hours. I sleep 7 hours a night. That’s 49. I had 8 hours of in class work this semester. That’s in class. That’s not the studying and group work I need to do. So that leaves me 69 hours left to cook, clean, study, meet with groups, and generally get done what needs to get done. That seems like a lot, but when it’s broke up into All day Wednesday and Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday mornings – It really isn’t. 

But like I said, the classes are over. I worked two 8 hour shifts and two 12 hour shifts early this week so I had Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday night off. My sisters are visiting. It’s been nice. This coming week I’ll do a bit of overtime, but that means I get Saturday night off again, so I can go to a wedding. I’ve been able to actually cook mine and matt’s meals, so we don’t have to eat out because I’m too worn out to make anything. Things are getting clean, laundry is getting done and, God willing, when February comes I will have Matt on a routine of how to do things so we can both work, study, and not go insane. 

It’s Christmastide now. While most people are taking down their decorations, the Traditionals have just put theirs up and will leave them up until Epiphany. Next year I hope to have a rosymary topiary in place of a faux christmas tree and see if I can find somewhere to give me enough holly to decorate the entire downstairs so I can have more Church traditional decorations.

Whatever you’re doing to end or begin your Christmas celebration, celebrate Christ.

The truth about Christmas Cards December 18, 2008

Posted by amberpeace in family, friends, relationships.
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I hate Christmas cards.

There I said it.

I do not like them because I do not understand them. Why do I want a notecard that has just your name on the inside or, worse yet, a form letter that you send to everyone? Why would you want one from me?

Myth: Christmas Cards are a nice way of saying that you’re thinking of someone

Fact: No they are not. If you were really thinking of me, you would send me a personal letter, or a personal email. Christmas cards only mean that you’re thinking of a person if there is a personalised note inside, like the one my bff sent me this week. Signing your name to an impersonal quote created by hallmark is not.

Myth: Christmas cards are a good way of showing everyone how your family is doing.

Fact: Christmas is not about your family. In fact, Christmas isn’t about family at all, unless you’re talking about the Holy Family. Photo Christmas cards completely miss the point. Completely.

So that’s my feeling on Christmas cards. I admit here that I tend to open Christmas cards, look at them, and then put them back in the envelope. Then I usually toss them out a few days later. I tried to send Christmas cards once. Then I realised I was only doing it because I felt pressure from everyone sending out their 200+ cards a season. Mine didn’t even make it to the post office. 

Today is a holiday November 27, 2008

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Jeremy Frye November 13, 2008

Posted by amberpeace in friends, εκκλησία, relationships.
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On Saturday November 8, 2008, a young man I know, Jeremy Frye, went hiking with some friends at Grotto Falls, in Gatlinburg, TN, where he took a fall from the top approximately 30 feet to the ground below. After several hours, he was airlifted to UT Medical Center, where first assessments showed that he had a fractured skull, crushed vertebrate, severed spine, and blood around his lungs. The doctors said that short of a miracle, Jeremy would never walk again. Jeremy had surgery on the 9th. I’m not sure what all went on during the surgery, though I know it includes putting metal in his back.

Before the first surgery, Jeremy was completely responsive with his upper body. He could squeeze the doctors hands and lift and move both his arms. He could also follow a light with his eyes which means no brain damage or swelling. He did some test on Jeremy’s legs and lower body and although he didnt move he did make face and grunt when he was pinching. So he could slightly feel on his thighs but still nothing any lower. The most amazing news is that his spine is not seperated and his spinal cord is not severed, It is only bruised. There is no clear damage to the nerves.

He has 3 broken ribs on his left side and 5 broken ribs on his right and his right lung completely colapsed. His left collar bone is broken. He is on a 6000 calorie soft food diet through a feeding tube in his nose.

Yesterday, they went through the front of his neck to fuse some neck vertebra together.

There is a website http://helpjeremyfrye.com

Please pray for the Frye family. If you live in the Knoxville area, think about donating blood or platelets. He’s A+ and they will reserve for him specifically if you tell them. If you think you’re in a financial situation where you could donate anything to them, there is a page set up for that. Few people are well-off enough to deal with the medical expenses that are going to mount up for the Fryes, not to mention the fact that Jeremy is going to be out of work for a long time.

Thank you.

Who are we? November 5, 2008

Posted by amberpeace in friends, εκκλησία, Living, living as a 20-something, politics, progressive, relationships.
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Who are the people who voted for Obama?

They are future ministers, current teachers, southern daughters, northern sons, medical students, mothers, professors, writers, republican, democrat, independents, and all hopeful. We know that those with many must give to those that have few. Poor does not equal lazy. Muslim does not equal terrorist. Feminist, queer, and black are not bad words. Diplomacy does not equal shoot first and never ask questions.

My friends and fellow Obama supporters. We believe in something different.

My friends and fellow Obama supporters. We believe in something different.

While you’re in the voting mood November 4, 2008

Posted by amberpeace in εκκλησία, Living, relationships.
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Like most people who aren’t self-centered, I like to give. I live to give notes, I like to give food, and I like to give gifts. When it’s someone I know, I give a nice personal gift that I’ve spent much time considering – either picking it out, or making it myself.

However, the people at ACLU do not need my crocheted hats. So there are four causes that are near and dear to my heart. They are the ACLU, To Write Love on Her Arms, Appalachia Service Project, and United Palestinian Appeal (stop cringing, Gina). Unfortunately, I can’t give my money to all these excellent programs. Let me give you a run down of what they are about.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation is the arm of the ACLU that conducts litigation and communication efforts. The Foundation provides legal presentation in cases involving issues of civil liberties and constitutional rights ranging from administrative hearings to trials and appeals. In addition, the Foundation educates the public as to civil liberties and constitutional rights by disseminating literature and other publications. The ACLU Foundation preserves and promotes civil rights and liberties as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Like making sure my future children don’t have to attend a school where creationism is taught.

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Because people still think you can just “cheer up” and “get over it”

Established in 1978, United Palestinian Appeal, Inc. (UPA) is dedicated to providing aid to Palestinians in need, especially children, in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. UPA provides both emergency humanitarian relief and long-term development programs to Palestinian communities striving for economic and social development in the wake of ongoing conflict. We strive to deliver efficient charitable services at low overhead costs in the areas of education, health care, child sponsorship, and agricultural and community development. Because you can’t just tell a whole nation to get up and move (except we might have done that to the Native Americans).

Appalachia Service Project (ASP) is a Christian ministry, open to all people, that fosters human development by addressing the housing needs of Central Appalachia. Each year through our ministry about 15,000 volunteers repair homes for 400-500 low-income families in rural areas of Central Appalachia. Our goal is to make homes warmer, safer and drier for families in need, while offering transformational experiences for families, volunteers and staff alike. Since our founding in 1969, over 240,000 volunteers from across the nation have repaired more than 12,500 homes. Appalachia Service Project serves the mountainous Central Appalachian region where Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia come together. Because there’s really poverty here, too.