Archive | December, 2008

Reflections

30 Dec

What a year this has been …
So much has happened in 2008 and I can’t believe that it’s almost over!!
It’s definitely been a year of highs and lows.  There have been some wonderful times – Bruce and I got engaged, we’ve settled in with a wonderful church family, moved into a nicer apartment and definitely grown in our relationship.  But there have been some stressful times – wedding planning is taking its toll on both of us, we haven’t been as steady financially, I’ve had some doctors appointments and tried out some new medications to get my hormones under control (I think it made them worse), I had the worst academic semester of my life and my anxiety has resurfaced.  I have SO much to be thankful for, but I think I’m ready to close the door on it.  I have definitely had my share of stresses and I think I’m ready to start fresh.  That’s what I love about the new year – even though you can’t officially start fresh, symbolically you can.
Bruce and I are packing up to go to PA for a few days.  It’s going to be a very quick trip.  We’re leaving this afternoon, staying in a hotel somewhere tonight, finishing the drive tomorrow, visiting Neal and Alex and then going to West Chester for my cousin’s wedding / New Years bash.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, but I get a little bit tired thinking about the trip!!  I don’t know how I used to travel the way I did in college!!  Right now I’m packing up and getting ready for the trip and then I’ll pick Bruce up around 1 and we’re going to go from there.  I’m praying for an uneventful trip.
I think I’m ready to start a new phase of my life spiritually.  I’m going to try to be more diligent about daily prayer and devotion.  I’m going to spend time reflecting and meditating, connecting to God and trying to release my tension and anxiety.  It’s not so much a resolution as it is a refocus.  I’ve never been good at following through on resolutions so I think I’m just going to look at this as making a change that will strengthen me and those around me.
Blessings into 2009!!
Sarah 🙂

Blessings & Hope this Holiday Season

26 Dec

all my love,
Sarah 🙂

Christmas Eve Sermon

25 Dec

Sarah Keck
December 24, 2008 – Christmas Eve, 7 p.m.
Pilgrimage United Church of Christ (Marietta, GA)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

This well-known Advent hymn was written in remembrance of the cry of the Jews being held captive in Babylon in sixth century B.C. Come. Come. Emmanuel – God with us. Save us – Israel – from captivity. And God’s children cried out.

I think many of us can relate to “captive Israel.” What a year this has been. The U.S. is officially in a recession. Bailouts have been considered for Wall Street, the housing market and the automobile industry. Millions of jobs have been lost and homes been foreclosed. Food banks and pantries have bare shelves. Homeless shelters have no room. Millions more died of hunger and treatable diseases in the Third World. And God’s children cry out.

That mourns in lonely exile here.

How terrifying must it have been. Nothing tangible to prove God’s existence. There was no ark; no tablets etched with the Ten Commandments; no visible encounter with the living God. And God’s children cried out.

A recession can be a very lonely time. Every man – or woman – for themselves. Young families trying desperately not to lose houses and college funds. Older families trying desperately not to lose retirement funds. No help in sight. No end in sight. No relief for the millions in barren villages all around the world. And God’s children cry out.

Until the Son of God appear.

Wait. This sounds like hope. The Son of God is going to appear. In the flesh; walking on earth; tangible proof that God is with us and that we are not alone. The prophet Isaiah promised long ago: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6 NRSV)

Isaiah was right. Last Sunday we heard of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and telling her that she would bear a son, the Son of God. And tonight Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem where she gave birth to her firstborn son, the Son of God. The Messiah. A savior. Emmanuel – God with us.

Okay, so maybe the captive Israel was saved, but what about us? What about God’s children who cry out today? Those who are struggling in the United States; those who wake up cold, hungry and sick all over the world; those who need Emmanuel now.

In the late 1700s biblical scholars started to turn away from religious models of looking at scripture and began to look with historical models. The “Quest for the Historical Jesus” was an attempt to piece together the biographical realities – the facts – of Jesus’ life – including his birth. Now here’s what I don’t like about this particular quest. “History” – to me – implies something of the past; something that the door is closed on; something that isn’t going to happen again. I don’t think that’s true when it comes to how we should view the Christmas story, how we should view the Christian faith, and how we should live our lives.

I think: When we celebrate Christmas tonight, this year and every year – when we sing the familiar hymns, when we hear the familiar stories and when we share in the familiar fellowship – we should do so as if the Son of God is born today, as if Emmanuel – God with us – is here, is with us now. Not celebrate something that has happened but celebrate something that is happening. As if the hope that Christ brought 2,000 years ago is being brought to us here today.

Rejoice!! Rejoice!! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Emmanuel – God with us – is coming. There is hope. God’s grace, love and mercy will shower us all in the year to come.

Rejoice!! Merry Christmas.

Amen.

Christmas Mystery

24 Dec


The two big ones are for me!!!!!  But I have NO idea what they are.  It’s driving me crazy!!

Bruce and I have spent the afternoon relaxing and getting ready for worship.  I tweaked my sermon while he worked (only until noon) and then he came home and we watched Friends and played “Friends scene it?”  Only the true fans play the game while actually watching the show.
I made a final trip to Target today for some last minute gifts (I can’t say what they are because Bruce is sitting next to me on the couch while I’m typing this!!), hair clips (my hair is getting too long for bobby pins to work) and a black shawl for me to wear with a sleeveless dress on New Year’s Eve (my cousin Jodi is getting married and the reception is a black tie New Year’s party).  All things considered, Target wasn’t that bad.  The isles are big enough in the store that I wasn’t tripping over people and they had extra registers open so I barely waited in line.  Apparently Publix wasn’t as pleasant.  Bruce ran over there to get some groceries for tomorrow and came back mumbling about Christmas idiots smiling!!
Now it’s time to finish getting ready for church and head out.  I’ll post my sermon tomorrow.
Have a safe and merry Christmas!!
Peace & Love,
Sarah 🙂

Blinking Cursor …

24 Dec

I told myself I would write my Christmas Eve sermon today (it is tomorrow after all).

So far today I have … 
– Cleaned the kitchen
– Picked up my amazon packages at my leasing office
– Gone through and filed misc. stuff that was on my desk
– Updated my wedding registries and website on the knot
– Starting reading for J-term
– Watered the Christmas tree and poinsettias 
– Put out all of the Christmas cards we’ve gotten in the mail
– Knitted several rows on Baby Grant’s blanket
Productive, huh?
Too bad I’m still staring at the blinking cursor on my sermon document!!

2008 Cookie Baking Extravaganza!!

22 Dec

Kari came into town after her last exam of the year and we spent Saturday baking cookies … here are some pictures of the final results!!

We started with Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies … 
… and then moved to a more traditional Chocolate Chip (mini chocolate chips, of course!!) …


… then made a batch of Butter Cookies dusted with Powdered Sugar … 


… (more of the Butter Cookies) …


… they’re yummy with coffee … 

… then we adapted a recipe for “Valentine Sugar Hearts” by using Christmas Cookie Cutters instead 🙂 … 

… and finally Bruce asked for Ginger Snaps … we found a recipe and started working on it, not realizing that it yielded EIGHT DOZEN … 

… Bruce approved of the recipe and now has LOTS of Ginger Snaps to snack on!!

What a fun day, although we were TOTALLY exhausted (as were the oven and the electric mixer)!!  But what a great way to get into the holiday spirit after an extremely tough semester.
Happy Holidays, everyone!!
All my Love,
Sarah 🙂

New Testament Nightmare

18 Dec

Okay, I did NOT do well in LTJ’s New Testament class this semester.

But … I learned a lot.
It’s a shame that I’m not considering switching to the other section of NT because my GPA can’t handle another semester of LTJ.  It’s a shame that even though I’m learning something the testing is too much that I’m going to need to switch out of the class.
I’m very frustrated.  I tried so hard this semester.  I don’t know what I could have done differently.  I’m trying desperately to think of things that I could have done differently but I was just completely over-scheduled this semester.  I was doing too much and there were simply not enough hours in the day for me to do everything.
I really need to look at my life and make some changes.  I cannot handle another semester of this – especially because I’m going to be completely engulfed in wedding planning.
What can I do?  What can I give up?  A class at school?  No – I want to graduate on time.  Work?  No – money speaks.  Church?  Absolutely not – I can’t even believe I put that down.  Bruce?  Oh great, now I’m considering spending less time with my fiance when I already don’t spend enough time with him (and we live together!!)  Friends & Family?  If I have any left – I spent so little time communicating with people last semester that I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to have any friends left.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! … Why oh why did I decide to come to Candler?  Look at what it’s doing to me!!!!!
Okay, in the meantime I’m just going to try to relax.  There is a Blue Christmas service at church tonight and Kari is coming tomorrow and we’re going to bake Christmas cookies on Saturday.  Whitney and I having a cookie exchange tomorrow, too!!  This doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for work but I think I really just need to chill out right now and not be so concerned with working all the time.  I know money speaks really loudly, but there comes a point where self care needs to speak louder.
For now – I need to shower and get ready for the day.  The youth were putting on a toy drive for MUST and there is some donated money that we need to go spend today so I’m trying to get a group together to do that.
And I’m going to try to not obsessively look for my other grades to be posted.
Try.
Well, that’s highly unlikely but how about this – I’m going to try to not obsess about it?
That’s more like it.
Love, hugs & peace,
Sarah