When One Door Closes, Another Opens: Closing the Smith Chapter in Order to Open the Princeton One

It hit me earlier today that my life is forever changed after this week. Ok, perhaps not forever changed, but changed from what it was only just a week ago. Only 8 weeks ago, I was still a Smith student, and all of a sudden, I’m now a seminary student. As I said before, I expected that I would feel differently upon entering seminary, but at times, I don’t notice that my life down here in New Jersey is any different from when I lived in Northampton. I mean, I didn’t expect that all of a sudden, my life would be different in the way that I view the world or how I identify personally, but I at least expected that I might feel differently about myself having begun this journey. Well, ok, perhaps I did. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I halfway expected that seminary would become the sudden catalyst that initiated the drastic transformation of my life. And well, to be honest, that just hasn’t happened.

I think the first sign that Princeton, NJ has become my not-so-temporary home for the next few years was my attempt at church-hopping this past Sunday. As many of you know, I’m soon to be under-care with the Reformed Church in America, which means a whole lot of things – actually an overwhelming number of things, or so it seems – but most specifically, it means that I will be literally “taken care of” by the denomination during my time and training at seminary. With this comes the not so obvious obligation to attend a church of the same denomination. When I applied here, I thought that since I would be just down the road from my own denomination’s seminary (and by right down the road, I mean like 15 miles…which in reality is NOT right down the road, I have come to realize…), the area would be swarming with RCA churches, and would therefore give me numerous choices as far as a Sunday home is concerned. However, I am now realizing simply how wrong I was. The RCA churches around here are few and far between, and when they do pop up, they are tiny, struggling congregations, which is a nearly impossible situation when I compare it to my highly successful (and well-known, apparently) RCA home in Bronxville. Coming from a church with a well-funded and highly-attended congregation, I have become accustomed to a certain style of worship, and a style of being just in general. But never in a million years did I picture it to be a challenge when it came to finding a new church home. The churches around Princeton Theological Seminary are adorable, and have an energy that is a mix between excitement (at the prospect of a new attendee – not member) and also an energy of struggling (if that makes any sense) at the same time. It is evident that many of the congregations – including the one I attended in nearby Rocky Hill, NJ are filled with God’s love and presence, but at the same time, are not unlike the RCA churches I have heard about at home – they are filled with love and life, but not with funds. Or rather, the number of members are dwindling, and so are the funds (mostly from tithes).

I absolutely hate to see houses of worship suffer and slowly face their demises, but at the same time, I wonder whether or not I will ever come to find a church that even equals that in which I was raised. Perhaps it is because it was my home for 20 years, or perhaps it is the people, but there is absolutely nothing like The Reformed Church of Bronxville, and I have no shame in saying that. So, I suppose I should say that I have high standards (perhaps even too high) when it comes to finding a new church. I want a traditional/liturgical service (which isn’t that hard to find, surprisingly), a mixed congregation (meaning mixed racially/ethnically, and age-wise, gender, etc), and a good-sized congregation (aka more than the 10 people that attended Rocky Hill Reformed this past sunday). I want a congregation that seems to come to life on Sundays, not one that just scrapes by. I understand that this is a nearly impossible feat in today’s economy, but I suppose that I need a place that I will hopefully call home to seem lively and passionate about God, not just there to sing a few hymns and hear a sermon as though they are just wrote behaviors.

Sure, I sound picky, but in my opinion, finding a church is yet another sign that I have transitioned away from my four years at Smith and have begun to settle into the next phase of my life. I already feel settled down here (aka I have my grocery store, my target – all the important necessities), but I want to feel spiritually settled down here as well, and until I find a church, I think that will take a while. The biggest question on my mind at the moment is: what if I don’t find an RCA church that works for me? Well, to this question, I usually try to offer the following answer: I will find the right church for me, regardless of the denomination, because if my denomination doesn’t understand what makes me tick, then they don’t appreciate me for who I am, and who God made me to be. But fortunately, I have an amazing classis, so I don’t think this will be a particularly tasking problem.

So. Where do I go from here? Well, since I promised to bring potato salad to next week’s BBQ at Rocky Hill Reformed Church, I am pretty much promised to them on Sunday. But as for the future, I think I’m going to try some places within walking distance. I’ve heard amazing things about Nassau Presbyterian Church, and since that is close enough to RCA for me, I think I’ll give that a try. I mostly like the idea that it is within walking distance, which saves my car (the Forester thanks me eternally for that…don’t you Subaru?) from miles that it doesn’t need…must I continue? I think I’m going to try a few of the churches in Princeton for the rest of the summer weekends I’m around, and let God do the rest.

So how does this end? Well, it feels super weird that I won’t be going back to Smith in September, because there are so many people there that I call friends and family, and whom I will miss dearly. But at the same time, I know that if I were meant to still be there, I would be. God wants me here right now, and I must continue to remember that, relishing in the small pleasures and building new relationships. These relationships won’t replace the ones that I love very dearly at Smith by any means, but this is the next chapter of my life, and with every chapter comes new characters!

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Recapturing My Love For Running: Finding Unique Ways to Communicate With God

I have returned to running after having been sick in early April, and then having to take a month off to fully recover. As I have stated previously, I try to make my running more than a physical experience, but also one where I can communicate with God as well. For me, I saw running as a form of worship – a way to worship God in what at times can be seen as a rather unconventional way. In my opinion, I was able to worship God simply through running, as given what I have been through in college – the number of lung infections, pneumonia and bronchitis – running is worship enough. I must preface this with the statement that I don’t think my various illnesses are the result of countless tests and trials from God; rather, I think they just happened, but that God looked after me during them and allowed me to rise above them and be stronger for it.

Another hurdle I’m attempting to tackle at the moment is the change of scenery. Ordinarily, my way to worship God through running came in the form of some of the most beautiful cross country trails in the world. (Second, of course to the hiking trails in Northern California…there is no topping those spectacles…) Out there on the trails, it was very quiet, very solitary. I could be alone with just God and my thoughts, pounding out my problems, rejoicing in my successes and small victories, without having to worry about dodging traffic. So, now that I am home and away from the beautiful trails of Western Massachusetts, I am forced to find a new environment in which to worship God. And obviously, there aren’t the same breathtaking views and wild, muddy, puddled and winding wilderness trails that I have become accustomed to, so the search is on.

So what does a wild former city-slicker like me do in this case? Well, for starters, I signed up for a 5K and a 25K down in New Jersey to inspire me to continue running. In the past, I haven’t been that great at sticking to workout plans (sorry coaches…); I often find them boring and repetitive, and I’ll give up before I even get into the interesting parts. But this time has to be different. I have now graduated from college, and there aren’t any coaches telling me to workout “for the sake of the team” or whatever. This time, the only person I’ll be working out “for the sake of” is myself. It is the way I can chat with God outside of the church, where at times, I feel pressured (or rather feel as though my voice won’t be heard otherwise) to pray the correct ways, sit up straight, uncross my legs, fold my hands, to no end. While I understand that the church has its traditional ways of doing things, I feel that sometimes, my voice is best heard when it is allowed to run wild and free of such constraints as “the right ways” to pray, sit, etc. To bring things back to the beginning, this is why I have started to run again. I figure that since I am going to seminary, I’m going to need all the help I can get from God before I go so that when I get there, I will be ready, strong and able to learn the important information that will help me help and teach others.

So I’ll continue to run. Eventually the aches and pains of getting back into shape will go away, and I’ll be able to return to the same state of physical fitness that I was before I got sick. Once my mind is quiet, once the bodily noises are silenced, I will be able to hear the voice of God again, talking to me, giving me words of encouragement and wisdom that will make me stronger and more capable!

Someone once asked me, “why do you talk to God when you run? Doesn’t God only speak to people when they are praying in church? How do his hands reach outside the walls of a church?” I wanted to laugh, but in the end, I could only smile. I was always raised to believe that God is everything and everywhere; He is the embodiment of every living creature, plant, animal, human. Therefore, God is present in every interaction I have with my environment, dog, parents, friends, family, etc.

This is no different from when I run. When I run, I am able to see the grandeur, the sheer magnitude and beauty that is God’s creation here on Earth. I am able to praise Him for creating the things that I love most, and pray for those who aren’t able to see what I have been blessed enough to see. When I run, I am at my most basic form – I am away from my cell phone, computer, TV, etc, and therefore, undistracted. I am able to hear only God, only what comes to me in nature, not what comes from my iPhone, MacBook, or TV. Everything is pure and the way that God intended it to be (minus having to dodge high-priced SUVs and soccer moms in BMWs and Mercedes Wagons…I am not sure that God intended for there to be road rage and aggressive driving…Ha!), the sounds of birds singing, my body doing what it was created for.

Ultimately, I run because it is what my body was created to do – it is a way for me to praise God for delivering me from the few challenges I have faced over the last four years. Through the simple act of running, I am able to thank God for standing by me, for helping me to get stronger and healthier than I ever was before. I am able to share with God what is nagging at me, what I am excited about, and what I need guidance about. When I run, God hears me, and more importantly, I am able to hear God more clearly than anywhere else (ok, besides the mountains and valleys of Northern California, but that is for another day entirely…).

I signed up for two road races – a 5K in July, and a 25K in October. I’m hoping to pick up a few more running events in the meantime, and I’m sure a few will become available in between. I have never run a 25K before – that is 15.5 miles, for those of you (like me about an hour ago…) who aren’t easily able to calculate the conversion between kilometers and miles. The longest distance I’ve ever run was like 7 miles, so I’m doubling my longest milage ever. BIG STEP FOR ME! But I think that during this time, not only will I be challenging the limits of my body, but also I’ll be able to spend more time running, thereby spending more time with God in the process!

More News To Follow!

Worry Not About Tomorrow, But Only About Today: Learning Small Lessons and Having Infinite Faith in God’s Grace

To say the least, yesterday was overwhelming. On one front, we learned definite articles and adjectives in Greek this morning, which transformed the class from completely manageable to a complete mystery. To be corny, it’s now all “greek” to me. (ohhh where has my brain gone?) Also on my mind was the decision as to whether or not I wanted to take Greek Pass/D/Fail or for a letter grade. Both options have their positives and negatives, and if it were all up to me, I’d just take it for the pure mental exhilaration of it. However, the decision as to whether I can take a class for a grade or not isn’t entirely up to me. When I entered seminary, I had to declare whether or not I was interested in what we call here “ordination track.” What this means is that I am on track to be ordained into a ministry position after seminary ends in three years. Because of this, most decisions that I make regarding class selection and extracurriculars are basically at the mercy of either the seminary or my classis/denomination. But my life rocks even more in that because I selected to attend a Presbyterian seminary (as opposed to RCA’s equivalent seminary 15 miles down the road – New Brunswick Theological Seminary), I can’t deal just with my classis (or in Presbyterian terms, my presbytery), I must also deal with a 3rd party that will evaluate the seminary’s ability to prepare me for ministry, and my readiness to serve in a church. I would love to say that most people only have to deal with a regional church body (such as a classis or presbytery), but I honestly don’t know whether or not this is true. But in my case, in order to get the approval to take certain courses, I have to get not only the approval of the seminary and my church’s regional governing body, but also the approval of an “outside” group as well.

It was this that most stressed me out, or rather overwhelmed me today. Unlike Smith, PTS doesn’t have individual academic for its students, which means that you are basically on your own to coordinate with your classis and the degree program you’re a candidate for to schedule and register for classes each semester. As I might have mentioned prior, I get the amazing opportunity to register for my first semester in 2 weeks. However, as a pre-Junior (a pre-first year essentially), we are here earlier than everyone else, and on top of this, we have the same amount of guidance as those that aren’t on campus yet – NOTHING! hahah well, limited guidance, perhaps not nothing. So, we are on our own to talk to your classis reps and figure out what classes we can take for the degree and what we should take to get ordained. Doesn’t this sound like every reason why I went to seminary in the first place? Obviously…not.

However, something I have learned as a result of all this stress is that the things I worry about most – meaning the future, most specifically at the moment – are the exact things that I shouldn’t be worrying about. In other words, I’ve come most recently to the conclusion (or rather the realization) that I came to Princeton Theological Seminary because it is where God wants me at this point in my life. I couldn’t feel more certain about that fact now that I’m here. I worried for so long about how to pay for seminary so that it wouldn’t incur anymore costs for my parents, and just when I thought that I’d have to pay full freight, an amazing scholarship offer came through. Each and every time I’d worry about something coming together, God would open another door (or window) and amazing new and unforeseen opportunities arose. Is this what faith is all about? That’s a question I’m not entirely sure I have the answer to. But at this point in my seminary journey (of course, bearing in mind that I’m literally at the very beginning and still have a long road to walk), I feel as though I’m here because of the hard work I  put in, but also because this is the way my life is supposed to go right now according to God’s plan for my life. It is especially interesting that this is coming out of my mouth (or rather my fingers), after all that I tried to reason out last semester (let alone last year) and all that happened leading up to my leaving SCF.

Much of why I left in the first place had to do with the fact that I wasn’t sure where I stood on the concept of God’s will versus free will, and more importantly, whether I believed that I needed to “give everything up to God” in order to be a good Christian. It’s extremely hilarious how themes reoccur when you thought that they were dealt with, putting them away – hopefully forever. But here again, the concept of allowing God to take the wheel when it comes to my future is an extremely frightening concept for someone like me. I was raised to be an independent and headstrong woman who always took charge of her future. To rather blindly surrender my faith to this “God” guy who is highly talked about but hasn’t performed any miracles on my front lately seems simply outlandish. But in an obscure way, that is what faith is at its core – it is about surrendering the things that are the hardest to yield, with the understanding that everything will be ok as a result. Obviously, sometimes things don’t turn out to “be ok” according to our standards, but in God’s eyes, what happens instead is far better, even when it isn’t. Every time God acts in my life, good or bad, is for the better in both His eyes and in mine, as there is something new to learn around every corner, over every mountain and under every rock.

So what’s the lesson I’ve learned through all this? I suppose the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I don’t need to consistently be concerned with what my future’s going to look like; I’ve worked hard for the past four years to arrive at this point, and now it is time to sit back and enjoy what I’ve worked for. Ok, maybe not sit back and relax, because based upon what I’ve heard from middlers and seniors, seminary is no walk in the park by any means. But what is more important now is rebuilding my faith and in the process, placing more of my faith, and trust (and therefore my future) in God’s hands. After all, I’m not entirely sure that I’d be here at PTS if not for God’s hand in my life. And for all of y’all that know me well, that’s a huge step for me faith-wise! I absolutely can’t wait to see what else is in my future! Or rather, what else God has planned for my life. But for now, I can’t wait to see what God has planned for my tomorrow.

Planning for the Future: Registering for My First Long Semester At PTS

As most of you know, I’ve been planning, dreaming, and even sacrificing in preparation for this day for the last four years. I quit lacrosse so that I could attend my afternoon classes, I started looking at seminaries my sophomore year in college – heck, I decided that I wanted to go to seminary in the middle of my first year. I’ve been motivated and driven to get to this point for what I can remember of my past several years. But now that I’m here, the reality is far more frightening – terrifying in fact – than the fiction I’ve been dreaming about. In two weeks, I have to register for my fall long-semester classes. Basically, PTS’s year is divided into two long semesters (10 weeks each) and several (2 or 3) short semesters (3-4 weeks each).

One amazing thing about seminary is the ability to chat with the older students (aka the middlers and seniors – 2nd and 3rd year seminary students) about their early seminary experiences. They have such knowledge and wisdom to share about which professors and which preceptors to have for the various required subjects for the M.Div program. However, I don’t think I realized coming in how simply impossible the next year would be academically. It is only day three in seminary land down here and already I feel as though I have this huge mountain ahead of me. Dean Walters at Smith told me that seminary was a time when all your beliefs and preconceived notions are broken down and rebuilt so that you can become a better minister, chaplain, social worker, etc. And while this is true, it has become extremely evident that this is the kindergarten version of a grad school reality.

So here comes my problem. I’ve heard these horror stories of the various combinations of classes that are required for me to take to complete my degree – happening all at once, like we are supposed to take them. To be brutally honest, I think I’ve begun to doubt myself and my abilities a bit here. I know that I’m smart and that my work at Smith has helped me to grow into a competent and thoughtful scholar. But the people here seem smart beyond words – beyond Smith words. But perhaps this is one of the struggles – or rather challenges – that I am supposed to face during my time here.

I wrote in a letter to an amazing friend who is too facing a huge life change and challenge at the end of the summer that God only gives us the challenges and struggles that he knows we can handle and conquer, and no more. And while I believe that to be true in this case, it is yet again an example of “easier said than done.” It is so easy to sit here in my awesomely huge dorm room – Alexander Hall – looking out at the Luce Library (One of PTS’s soon to be 3 libraries) and think about the future in some weirdly abstract manner, thinking of classes in terms of the future, rather than as entirely separate entities – each a separate building block that will work with all the others to make the structure that will be me in ministry. But at the same time, I only have one building block – my summer greek class, and that, without a doubt, is not enough to gauge what the rest of my three years will look like. Heck, I can’t even begin to think about what the future is going to look like, let alone what the day after tomorrow is going to look like. All I can do is look to tomorrow, and worry about my quiz tomorrow morning on 2nd declension nouns and chapter four vocab words. Beyond that, God will guide me in the right direction when the right time comes.

I think all of this is a great lesson for the future – worry about the immediate future (tomorrow, maybe even the day after) before allowing the future future to consume you. And in my case, as my wise friend Elizabeth told me, nothing about seminary is going to be easy, but that is why we have Christ to lean on. So take advantage of that shoulder, because He is someone who will be there through the good times, and the tough times with the same loving look on His face and the same friendly hand stretched out to welcome you. This has always been a tough task for me, as I am a bit too headstrong and independent to always give away my freedom to pick and choose what happens in my life – as opposed to leaving it up to God whenever and wherever applicable. I don’t necessarily think that I need to give every aspect of my life up to God – I’m just not sure that that is in the cards for me, and not my style. And I don’t think God would want me to change me – because He made me this way on purpose, or so I think.

But in this case, I think God is really trying to reach out and smack me on the back of my head. To tell me what, I can’t tell you now. But I think this is yet another learning experience – to teach me that I am absolutely worthy enough to be here, equally as smart as everyone else, and capable of doing as well as I possibly can, and NOTHING MORE than that.

Ultimately, I think my experiences in seminary will be about doing what works best for me – only me – and nothing more. Far too frequently I find myself making sacrifices in order to make things work for the greater whole. But this is one of the first things in the course of my life that I am doing just for myself. Not for my parents, not for my biffles, not for my friends, but just for me and only me. I think I find this slightly shocking because a good part of me expected to come to seminary, and automatically be changed in my habits and mentality. However, surprise surprise, that was untrue. I don’t think I will truly understand the person I am supposed to become until God decides it is the right time. And drastic changes – not unlike those I was expecting to undergo – just don’t happen overnight. (And it is simply irrational to expect such to happen)

So what is the moral of the story? For now, it is as follows:

I am here because it is where God wants me to be. (I know this because if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have overcome the hurdles I have faced over the last year.) All the changes I will undergo will be revealed to me when God sees that I am most fit, not when I want them to come. And until then, I must be satisfied with the daily reminder of God’s incredible glory and grace – simply being present at Seminary each day, working only one day at a time and loving each minute!

 

Love y’all! Miss each and every one of you!

 

Day One – The Journey Begins!

Complete first day of seminary? CHECK! I am a pre-Junior, which in seminary terms means that I am a pre-first year student, as the official first year hasn’t started, and won’t start until September. However, I consider that I have started seminary, as a whole number of things are very different from my undergrad days at Smith. Firstly, I had to attend orientation this morning, which included all students, regardless of whether or not they were new. At the beginning of this orientation session, we had worship. Not the type of worship that my small InterVarsity fellowship had in college, but the more familiar, more comforting style much like that of the church in which I was raised. We sang traditional hymns, passed the peace, read from the Word, and received encouragement. What was different than usual, however, was the sheer enthusiasm everyone had for ministry and for PTS in general. Both staff and students alike seemed so happy to be back, or to be entering for the first time (like myself). I felt so comfortable sitting in a room with others who worshipped the way that I did, knew the same responses, liturgy, everything. It felt, to be most blunt, like returning home. While it is only the first day, I feel more at home here than I have at any other place (besides the home I was raised in).

A second huge difference was the number of offices devoted solely to helping people like me navigate the twisted roads toward a career in ministry. There are people whose only job is to help me figure out what I have to do to become ordained RCA and get a job. They understand the requirements I have to fulfill, and the steps that are necessary to take. They seem to truly understand what we are going through, and unlike Smith at times, actually appear to care whether or not we get there.

And then…Greek started. I have to say that I was hesitant and nervous (to say the least) about beginning class so quickly after having just graduated from college. (Just a short 8 weeks ago, from yesterday to be specific) I was expecting a challenge unlike any I had yet navigated. But no! My professor is filled with enthusiasm, life, excitement for the subject that he teaches, and what is more, he wants to see each and every student succeed and go on to be the best minister, teacher, social worker, etc they can possibly be. Where does such an enthusiasm come from? I was shocked to see how much time he spent explaining things, rather than just telling us to go and look for the answers in a textbook or dictionary. He explains in every way possible until we understand. Shocking!

But perhaps the most shocking thing about the day thus far happened in the middle of my Greek class. He was busy talking about Greek in context, and all of a sudden, he mentioned that it was similar to being a Christian. Stop, hold the phone! No one else seemed phased by the mention of faith openly in the classroom. Had this happened at Smith in some circumstances, others would have felt offended, and responded accordingly. But here, everyone for the most part is a Christian, and having such a discussion isn’t outlandish or out of the question. I think this is something I’m going to have to get used to the most, because at Smith, the discussion of religion happened only through academic means, and rarely in the classroom, with the exception of the Religion Department. People aren’t afraid to talk about their faith within context. I love that faith exists on campus, and that much of the goings-on relate to my faith and that of the other students. But it appears evident that the professors and students don’t think it to be necessary to discuss prayer or scripture or the church constantly. It isn’t as important as making friends and forming bonds with other like-minded people. That is what makes it different here from at Smith in some ways.

I have been both told and asked about the fact that because I’m going to seminary, prayer will happen over anything and everything. And let me tell you: as far as I’ve gone into seminary (and yes, that is only one day, thanks), if it hasn’t happened thus far, I don’t think it will happen on a regular basis. My professor didn’t open up or close class with a prayer of his choosing. It didn’t seem to be that important to his presentation and teaching of the material. In his eyes, or so it seemed, his goal was to help us master Greek as best as possible in an 8 week period. Not to help us best enrich our prayer lives, or to pray for/with us.

Do I love it here so far? Absolutely! I’ve met some cool ladies (and gentlemen too!), and I can’t wait to continue with my classes and get to know my professors, tutors and other floor mates! GO Alexander Hall!

More to come later, time to study for my Greek quiz tomorrow!

A Dream, Finally Made Reality

It seems as though it has been forever since I last wrote. While I would love to claim that I have been super busy with important preparatory work for going to seminary, that would be a complete lie – for good or worse, my life has been extremely quiet over the last 7 weeks since I was “commenced” from Smith College. I’m not going to spend the time dwelling on the change that such an end has brought about, because all of you alums out there can understand completely how I feel! To sum it up, it hasn’t quite hit me yet that I am a college graduate. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I won’t be returning to Morris House in the fall, seeing all my friends (including my biffles…). Instead, in one week’s time, I will be heading off to seminary, where I will be building and developing new friendships, and hopefully kindling a new relationship in good time (although, I’m going to let that part happen when it is supposed to – I think I tried to shed the stereotypical “Smith goggles” when I graduated, and am heading to seminary with an open heart and open mind!). With all this said, it feels extremely weird, and extremely wonderful that in one week from tomorrow, I will be moving into Alexander Hall 210, where I will be living for this coming academic year.

Over the last year, or rather, since November when I was accepted to Princeton, I feel as though I’ve been slowly building an idea of what seminary will be like, but with the tremendous nurturing of several friends, one of them extremely new (and male…haha), I am beginning to see the joy of entering seminary with an open mind and heart, ready to face and attack whatever is thrown at me. This definitely must apply to the beginning of my New Testament Greek class next Monday. I am not a language person, and prefer to stick to English as frequently as possible – I have yet to master English, so I figure, why try to learn another when I don’t have this one mastered? But anyway, Greek is something that will only serve to heighten my ability to translate and interpret New Testament scripture in the future. I think this is yet another instance where I will be challenged in many different disciplines: my  patience, academic achievement, etc. Am I nervous/tentative about taking Greek? Absolutely! But I must grab life by the you know what and run with the challenges I have been dealt. As I recently told a friend, God only deals us the cards he knows we can handle, even though we may think otherwise. I just have to continue to remember this, even when things get tough, as I’m sure they will at one time or another.

So, over the last few weeks, I have been reading books from PTS’s reading list (a mix of Systematic theology, church history, and preaching – MLK, Bonhoffer, and the basics of sermon writing), as well as thinking back on my time at Smith. Part of me feels so excited that seminary has finally arrived, as a large part of my existence over the last two years has been spent preparing, applying, and just dreaming about what seminary would be like. But now, it is actually happening, and sooner rather than later. It is only now that I have been able to examine the experiences I had and the people I met over the last four years at Smith, and remember how the most wonderful times outweigh the moments that I will choose not to remember in the future years to come. The other half of me, however, is a bit scared of what it means to be starting off at a new school in just 7 days – meeting new people, making new friends, getting adjusted to a brand new town, a new housing arrangement (my first dorm experience ever!), and in some ways, a new identity. I have made these friendships at Smith that I believe will (and hope at the same time) last a lifetime, and those ladies will be the first people invited to my wedding (which will also I hope happen!). But what will happen to these friendships as I immerse myself into a new academic community, where there will be more people with aspects in common than not?

I have many questions that have no answers at the moment, but I know that one week from now, the answers will begin to unfold. But more importantly, what are the things I am most looking forward to?

1. Chapel once a week (5 days a week once the academic year starts in September)

2. Preaching class! (Nuff said…)

3. Meeting amazing Christian men and women

4. BOYS! (Nuff said, x2)

5. Preppy Princeton, NJ

6. Finally feeling like an adult after so many years of living as a teenager

I hope that in the next few days, I can begin to prepare myself mentally for the huge (or so they seem…) changes that lie ahead!

More to come soon!