Happy Easter and A Prayer

Happy Easter to those who celebrate this holiday! I hope that you have had a joyous, awesome-filled day. 
And, if you don’t celebrate Easter, I hope that you had a beautiful Spring Sunday. 
See y’all tomorrow!
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Marvelous God,
Today, you have risen! Today, we are humbled and amazed at what You did so very long ago. And today, we celebrate and rejoice in You and in Your gift. 
Lord, we confess that we often forget Your gift. We often forget Your mercy and forget that You sent Christ after us. We confess that we get caught up in the intricacies of life and forget Your love. 
But, Father, we ask that You use this holy day to remind us. To remind us of Your love, and Your kindness, and Your mercy, and Your gentleness. And we ask, Lord, that You will be near those who don’t feel celebratory today. We realize that holidays are not always joyous for a thousand reasons, yet we know You are here.
God, we can’t thank you enough for Your life. We can’t find the words to express Your awesome-ness. But, Lord, we know You hear us when we pray.

Not Actually Dr. Pepper

This isn’t actually about Dr. Pepper. Even the Diet kind. 
It is about the Spiritual Formation class I have been teaching for the last seven weeks. It’s with a group of 7ish women of all ages and it has been amazing for me, and I hope for them as well.
Tonight, we were talking about The Sacramental Life. When I first thought about that chapter, I imagined things like communion, saying a rosary (though, I’m not Catholic) etc. But I was deeply surprised when we got into it.
It was actually more focused on Sabbath and the blurry lines between spirituality and secular-ness.
Where it got interesting was when the authors started discussing the Trinity — you know, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Because, that’s so simple to understand. Anyway, there were two takeaways from this:
In the person of Christ, God became human (incarnation). And by doing this, he affirmed all human activity — from the religious sacraments to laughter and sorrow and more. Because God lived it (through Jesus) nothing is exempt or “unholy”, everything received equal honor and thus is sacred. Our jobs, our sleep, our gardening, our cooking, our praying… everything is sacred.
The next part is the Spirit. You know, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit allows us to move past the material things and to become the hands and the voice and the mind and the arms of God. The Spirit lets us become the person God created us to be and then the world gets to experience God through us.
These ideas, while maybe not awesome in the true definition of awesome or whatever, are still eye-opening to me. I strongly believe in St. Francis’ saying: “Always preach Christ; use words when necessary.” This makes me think about my life in a more harmonious way — rather than either faith or work, it become faith and work, all through the St. Francis lens. My job is a calling, even if I’m not in ministry as a pastor or what have you.
I don’t know, something feels wonderful about this. I love it. I think it it really important for me on my spiritual journey. I feel like this is the key to something which I was missing.

My Heart’s in the DRC

I have about 800 things which I want to blog about. They just keep running through my head. So that means that tonight, while I make taco soup and wait for 10:30 to come around to pick up the husband, I will be blogging and saving and getting my thoughts down. 

But, for now, I want to talk about my heart. Not my literal heart in that the thing which keeps me alive (although I’m quite grateful for it). I mean my heart in the sense of what I followed onto this career path, what I listen to if I’m making good decisions, that heart. 

In August of 2007, I read an article that has literally changed my life. It’s by Eve Ensler and it’s about rape in the DRC. It was published in Glamour, and I tore it out and kept it folded in my wish box for a long time.
From Amy’s Picasa Album. Link at bottom

The second I read that article I believed without a shadow of a doubt that one day I would go to the DRC and work in that hospital or with another group and work with these women whose lives have been shattered by rape. By rape in a way which we can’t fathom and don’t want to. These women are amazing, and I want to know their stories.

I told my husband (who was my boyfriend, at the time) about this. He was not pleased. And still isn’t. My husband wants me to have nothing to do with the DRC. He says this out of a his concern for my safety, not because he doesn’t want me to follow my heart (we moved to Nebraska for goodness sake’s. He’s all about me following my dreams.) And I believe him. But I just can’t turn it off. 
Recently, I started reading a blog called The King Effect. And, it’s amazing. It’s a woman who decided to move to the DRC to do something about what was going on. 
And I want to be her.

I’m looking into Fulbrights. As a graduate students certain parts of the world are more open to me than undergrads. I’m going to the DRC one day to work with these amazing people. I promise. 

Photos of her time in the DRC can be seen here: https://picasaweb.google.com/amy.ernst114

Teenage Spirituality

I volunteer at my church. Specifically, I work with the youth group. 
Even more specifically, I am co-leading the confirmation group this go around. We have 7 guys, which has been fantastic. And very different. I don’t know if you’ve ever hung around with teenage guys, but they are totally different than teenage girls.
Now, I am also a therapist-in-training, for those of you who didn’t know. This means that I deal with emotion on a fairly regular basis both from my clients and from myself. 
But sometimes, sometimes it catches me off guard. Like tonight. One of the guys from the confirmation class had a hard, hard weekend. He lost a good friend of his suddenly, and, as with anyone he is in a state of shock, and sadness, and he’s questioning everything. Just like any of us would. 
And tonight, while we’re talking about what happened in class he begins to get emotional. 
If you’ve never seen a teenage boy begin to be upset, it’s heartbreaking because the pain is palpable. And as myself and the other leaders try to get our bearings, one of the other boys stands up and walks over and places a hand on the first. 
It was so beautiful. So amazing. And so powerful. 
And made me unbelievably grateful to be a part of this process.

oh Anne Rice…

picture found on tumblr turned into a polaroid

Okay, okay. You have probably heard about Anne Rice and her quitting of “Christianity not Christ.”

Now, this has been written about a billion plus times, and I don’t particularly have anything new to say. I’m still a bit on the fence about it all… but wanted to share this person’s opinion, because I think it’s absolutely perfectly written.

Spunk and Spirituality: As We Are or Are Not What We Ought to Be

This was what I personally thought was the best:

I wonder at times what God thinks of our assemblies, offerings, and songs–if He is ready to spit us out of His mouth for being neither cold nor hot but merely lukewarm. Somehow, the petty bickering and divisions that so plague the Western Church seem to have little to do with worship or righteousness. They certainly pale in authenticity when compared to the rest of the world where believers in Christ bear testimony to their Savior despite threats and persecutions, peril, slavery, and the sword.

Here we go. This is crux of things. And, I (though deeply ashamed to admit it) am entirely too guilty of being “lukewarm” in hundreds of ways.

Q: Accepting of people?
A: Well, maybe. I mean yeah, but only if you’re right.

Q: Be kind to people?
A: Well, that’s so much easier if you’re just handing me change… if I have to work with you, erm.

I’m entirely to quick to judge other parts of Christianity, but be completely accepting of other religions. How is it fair to be so critical of my spiritual counterparts when I claim to (very strongly) believe that there are multiple paths?

And on and on it goes. Ultimately, I think that Rice has a brilliant idea* but I do think that it probably should have been a much more personal (thus quieter decision). And there goes the judging again.

And, if you want Rice’s thoughts on this click here

*I could never do it. I find too much peace and comfort in my practices.