A Lock

August 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Job Search, Life, Seminary, Work 

Masterlock PadlockI grew up in Tenafly, NJ.  We had one Middle School and one High School.  I attended both from the early to mid-1980’s.  Because it was a small town and most people went all the way through the school district, the middle and high school gym programs shared locker room locks.  At the start of 6th grade, you paid a $4 deposit and received a lock.  At the end of 12th grade, you could turn it in for your $4 back.  It had a key slot on the back so that the gym teachers could open them.  The picture on the left is similar, but the lock that I had was so old that the knob that you turned was silver metal.

I clearly wasn’t the first person to use this lock.  Let’s assume an age of 20 years – probably two people had used it before me for 7 years each.  Maybe three people.  This lock traveled with me throughout middle and high school.  Some summers it came with me to camp on my footlocker.  For some reason, I didn’t turn it in after graduation.  I know that I used it for storage over break in my dorm at Rutgers, and probably as a bike lock once or twice after graduating from college .  It has been sitting in a cabinet here at my house since Carolyn and I moved in, with a piece of paper – now yellowed – with the combination in my handwriting.  It probably hasn’t been used for 20 years.  And yet, it still works.

Yesterday, I bequeathed it to a friend.  We met in seminary and she’s one of my favorite people.  She’s moving far away for her first job after college and seminary.  The lock is attached to a moving pod that is following her in a week or so.  And so the lock, now in the hands of someone 20 years younger than me who wasn’t born the last time I opened it on my high school gym locker, continues to serve.  And I’m glad that a little piece of me goes with her to her new home.

The Temptation of the First Career for the Second-Career Student

October 25, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Job Search, Princeton Seminary, Seminary 

As I’ve said before, I’m a second-career student at Princeton Seminary.  My undergraduate degree is in Computer Science, and I spent 20 years (more or less) working in Information Technology in various capacities.  A few years back after a few prior years of wondering whether I belonged in corporate America and in IT, I experienced a layoff.  That caused me to spend some time thinking about my future, and I decided that some form of ministry was my future.  I’m in my second year at Princeton Seminary.  I’ve had one very successful summer serving as a Chaplain intern, and I’m interning in a church right now.

One of the things that we are reminded of, often, regularly, all the time, is that we who are in seminary (and the ordination process) are discerning our call and vocation.  We are taught that serving the church in some form (pastor, chaplain, seminary staff, etc) are a few possible vocations, but that God calls many people to a “secular” vocation.  In that secular vocation, people are called to do their secular job while living their Christian identity.  Hardly a week goes by without someone asking us what our sense of call is.  I felt a strong call to chaplaincy this summer, and I’m exploring my sense of call to congregational ministry in my current Field Ed placement.

For the first half of the serious discernment about going to seminary, I was also looking for a job in my first career.  Many people had told me that discernment is better as a choice between two options, rather than a yes/no choice of one option.  There were a few times before I made the decision that I needed to seriously look at seminary when I almost was chosen for a job.  I feel that these were God’s way of nudging or shoving me to seminary.  The last was a position as a project manager at a local community college, that I missed by “this much” according to someone at the college.  That was really the final straw that pushed me to seminary.  Interestingly, about a year later (after I’d been accepted, while I was waiting for the fall semester) I got a call back from that college asking if I might be interested in interviewing again for the position – it was open once more.   I refused immediately – I had already decided on a different path.

Recently, school has been taking most of my time.  For some reason, this middler year at Princeton, with Princeton’s new schedule and Field Ed is requiring a LOT of my time.  At the same time, I’ve been offered the chance to work on several small IT projects – some web development, some email migration, some “fix my computer” work.  I’ve had to turn down a few and make sure that the rest understand that I’m very busy with school and not as available as I have been in the past (particularly the year before school started).

At the same time, there’s a temptation.  The IT work is easy for me, compared to my seminary work.  There’s a reason for that … I have years of experience in IT and only a small amount of experience in seminary.  I’m doing a lot of “first time I’ve done this” at seminary and in my internships.  When a friend needed a quick blog installation last summer, I was able to get a framework installed in an hour – domain name and all.  It has taken me more time than that to write a few prayers for Field Ed (it’s faster now).  So there’s a temptation to say – “I can DO my first job, why don’t I stop school and go back?”

In the stressed student, this creates a few mental options for what is happening:

  1. It’s a test.  God is making sure that you are really committed to the path that you are on.
  2. You’re going down the wrong path.  God never really meant for you to go to seminary – you misunderstood and it’s not too late to turn around.
  3. So somebody offered you a chance to make a little money doing what you used to do.  Why not?  You can do the job, and it’s easy for you.
  4. Your future will have pieces of your past and pieces of your future. Keep up the skills.

I’ve tended to see these recent requests in light of option 3, after spending a little time flipping back and forth between 1 and 2.  In between flash cards and readings and writing papers, of course.

I believe that in my case, option 4 is the most likely.  Why would God call someone this late in life and just throw away all of the skills and experience that were built over those years?  At every church that I’ve interacted with, I’ve used my IT skills.  Right now I’m scheduled to be the computer/projector guy on Sunday at Field Ed, and I’m working on converting the church’s email to Google.  But those aren’t the skills that give me life.  Helping people understand God and the message of Christ, helping them process grief or loss or celebration, helping them to worship God – those are the things that are giving me life.  The IT job is fun at times – don’t get me wrong.  But right now I just can’t see doing it full-time again.  I can see ministry in some form being my future full-time – with a little project management and a little IT work in the mix.

And yet, it’s tempting to look back.  So I must turn my head and look forward again.

How I Saw It – my Testimony at the Worship in a New Key Service March 13, 2011

March 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Job Search, Religion, Work 

At my church, our alternative service is called Worship in a New Key.   One occasional element of this service is personal testimony by someone from the congregation about their own experience that is relevant to the scripture or sermon.  I was asked about a year ago to tell my wilderness journey story but the time didn’t feel right – my journey wasn’t far enough along.  I was asked again to speak this week, and it felt right. Below is the text and audio of my story.

Barren WildernessAudio: Mark_Smith_WINK_Testimony_2011-03-13

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11

Today’s scripture talks about Jesus’ time in the wilderness.

Each of us at times ends up in the wilderness.  Sometimes we’re there for a short time, sometimes we’re there for a while.  We each have our own path into the wilderness, and we each have our own path out of the wilderness.

My wilderness time is recent.  Some of you know my story but for those who don’t, here’s a brief summary.  On August 12, 2008 – a few days after the mountaintop experience on the youth trip to Montreat – I was laid off from my job … suddenly and without any idea of what was coming.  For 18 months I searched for another Information Technology job with little luck in this difficult economy.  Throughout that time I periodically got a sense – louder every time – that I should be looking to attend seminary and go into ministry.  Ultimately that message got so loud that it was impossible to ignore and I will be starting my Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Seminary this fall.

But this story is about the wilderness.  And this particular wilderness was very hard.  Losing a job these days is like a quadruple edged sword.  In one shot you lose your income and your security, part of your circle of friends that you’ve seen every day, your 40+ hours a week purpose in life, and likely a huge chunk of your self-esteem. If you’re like I was, a lot of your sense of self is tied up in what you do and how you do it – and all at once you are told that that no longer desired.  Even when you’re told that it was an economic decision – for the good of the company, nothing personal – that sense of failure is there.

The first thing that I did was to start looking for a new job. I was offered outplacement services, and when you go to these outplacement services they teach you how to find a new job. And one of the first things they teach you is that finding a new job requires having and showing a good attitude. In other words, you have to hide the feelings that you’re feeling so intensely in order to make those feelings stop.  For some that might be possible – for me it was painful. I think the hardest part for me was the isolation and purposelessness – the change from being in a small cubicle but surrounded by neighbors and noise and conversation about work and other things, to being alone at home in a room in front of my computer for hours at a time doing what I felt was accomplishing nothing. …

I’m an Introvert, and even introverts need people contact from time to time.  The networking with strangers required by the job search was stressful for me, and on the flipside, the excessive time alone was also stressful.  One-to-one time with trusted friends was incredibly valuable to me.

Leigh [Leigh Stuckey, who gave the sermon before I spoke] spoke  about the character of the human Jesus – about faith and how God expects us to be.  With a few notable exceptions, I have most often experienced God through other people. In my wilderness time I was not alone.  There were times that I didn’t see it or didn’t believe it, but God was with me.  God was with me, often in the form of the people who surrounded me.  My wife, who was and continues to be incredibly patient and caring while I go through heavy emotional weather.  The staff of this church who took time to listen to me and encourage me – particularly Jill and Rich Richards.  My friends in the church.  The youth and advisors of the Sr. High group, who told me quietly that they were praying for me and how I inspired them throughout this journey.  Now I’m a heavy Twitter and Facebook and Internet user, and I found that my Twitter friends and Facebook friends far away and local were absolutely wonderful when they gave me advice, words of encouragement, face to face time, and occasionally something productive to do.  All of these people were the face of God to me, sometimes intentionally, and sometimes just by being themselves.  They let me be me, let me know that I was loved and valued, through a time when circumstance and rejection told me otherwise.

I’m almost out of the woods now.  I can see the path that I will take, and I can see the edge of the wilderness from here.  It’s been a difficult time and a growing time for me. I am ever so thankful that God let His presence show through the people around me, and I thank God for them.

Job Opening – Assoc. Pastor for Youth and Worship – Lawrenceville, NJ

March 3, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Job Search, Religion, Work, Young Adult, Youth 

My congregation has an opening for an Associate Pastor.  The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, NJ is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PC(USA)) and is part of the Presbytery of New Brunswick.  Information on our congregation can be found at the church website and the PC(USA) statistics page for the congregation.

DISCLAIMER – my role.  I am a Deacon among my roles at the church, and I served as the Chair of the Mission Study team which completed its work prior to the creation of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee.  I do not serve on the APNC, but have been asked by them to help advertise the position.  I will be happy to answer what questions that I can via any communications method including in person.  The APNC requests that specific questions about the position be directed to them – specifically to Thomas as listed below.

Position Description

Associate Pastor for Youth, Young Adult and Worship Ministries

The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, NJ

CIF ID #04928.AEO

Contact: Thomas Emerick, APNC Chair: thomas744@mac.com

Fulltime Position, intended to begin September 2011
Reports to: Pastor, Head of Staff

Responsibilities include:

Youth and Young Adult:

  • Overseeing the administration and execution of programs offered to 6th to 12th graders, College students, other “college” age youth and young adults at The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, aimed at spiritual and faith development.
  • Supervising the Seminary Intern for Youth Ministry (10-15 hours per week/School Year)
  • Training, equipping, coordinating and encouraging lay leaders and parents is a primary means for providing ministry to and with youth
    • Conducting regular (up to bi-monthly) leadership meetings
    • Providing staff support for Youth Ministry Council
    • Facilitating youth participation in the leadership of the program
    • Providing programs that include parents in youth ministry
    • Teaching and equipping lay teachers to provide educational experiences for youth.
    • Working closely with a Session member liaison to youth ministry
  • Planning for, and coordinating the Confirmation experience for confirmation-age youth (currently 9th grade) and Mentors.
  • In coordination with Assistant Youth Ministry Director and Seminary Intern, coordinate and provide leadership for weekend retreats, outings and events
  • In coordination with Assistant Youth Ministry Director, plan and provide opportunities for mission experiences locally, regionally, nationally and internationally for all youth, which includes Summer Mission experiences.
  • Participating in the Presbytery Youth Connection
  • Providing consistent and clear communication and publicity about all activities.
  • Developing and utilizing computer technology (e.g. website, email, etc.) in the publicity and promotion of the youth program.

Worship – Worship in a New Key:

  • Work with Head of Staff and other staff on developing and planning for all aspects of WINK, including scheduling worship leaders, preachers, planning liturgy, etc.
  • Provide primary preaching and sacramental leadership for WINK, by preaching/presiding once per month (minimum), and coordinating a rotation of other clergy to fulfill these roles.
  • Work with WINK Music Coordinator, and WINK Planning Team, on weekly planning, as well as long-term, strategic planning for WINK service.
  • Preach monthly at WINK service, and at least twice per year at traditional service.

Young Adult:

  • Maintaining significant contact with young adult members of the church who are in college, the military, in the workplace or have just graduated from college.
  • Providing programming, such as Bible Study and fellowship gatherings, for Young Adult members and non-members of the church.

General:

  • Participation in weekly staff meetings
  • At least monthly supervision with Head-of-Staff

 

2010: My personal Year in Review

December 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Candidate Process, Job Search, Life, Religion, Seminary, Work 

I haven’t done a Year in Review post for a few years because I didn’t have any good news then. The two New Years after the layoff were times that I survived rather than showing improvement. This year was different. Very up and down, but averaging to up.

I started the year still looking for a secular job and having little luck, depressed after just barely missing out on a job right before Christmas. (Irony: after I made my decision to change direction, the person that they picked left and they wanted to interview me again.) That all changed with two days close together in January. One day a good friend accompanied me to a job fair at Rutgers, which turned that day from a depressing trip to a job fair to a day with a friend and by-the-way time at a job fair. We also had lunch with the campus Protestant chaplain at Rutgers and I found myself asking her to have the local seminary contact me. Later I realized that I had no idea why I’d asked for that. A couple weeks later I had a rough Monday morning and the same friend met met for coffee. That conversation led me to make the decision that I had to do serious vocational discernment and seriously consider seminary. What followed that decision is a long story that gets told as the year follows.

February found me stretching in many ways. I started auditing a class at Princeton Seminary and meeting with folks from the seminary and my church about my sense of call. I started serving on my first presbytery committee. I started spiritual direction. And at this point in my journey I was on a dual track – religious vocational discernment and secular job search.

March found me working a part-time job for a local ecumenical group serving as the project manager for a June justice revival weekend. It also found me working full-time (to start) for the US Census counting noses at group living facilities and service-based locations (shelters, food banks). Regretfully the Census job didn’t pan out as advertised and the “full-time” work ended up being at best 15 hours a week and only lasted 3 weeks. But it did give me a technical break in unemployment that allowed me to form my own small business. That business continues to provide a small amount of income and will hopefully do so as I go forward in school. March also found me being approved by the Session of my church to apply to be an Inquirer in the PC(USA).

April found me making what was nearly the final turn to the new direction. The justice revival work got going in earnest. I started the Youth Ministry Certificate program at Princeton Seminary with a retreat before the annual Youth Forums. And I started some steps to take care of the space between my ears.

May was packed with growth for me. The work between my ears got going in earnest. My justice revival work was in high gear before the June weekend. I got to be in the audience of The Daily Show and spend a great evening with two friends. And I got to go to the Unconference (in Maryland in 2010) and make new friendships that I hope to have for years if not forever.

In June the justice revival happened and was an amazing and tiring weekend.  And I began preparations for July.  Also in June I began working on the family stresses that were created by my discernment process and change of career.

In July I got an opportunity that I’d been hoping for since I returned to the church and started working with youth – I got to go to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium.  The youth director at my church wrote the Small Group Manual, and as a result I was able to attend as Small Group Staff, Small Group Leader Trainer, and as a Small Group Leader.   My presbytery’s delegation was housed across the street from the dorm that I was in, so we got to spend a lot of time together.  I had a blast, and attending Triennium cemented my sense of call.  After that trip, the last obstacle between me and my new career path was resolved, and my new journey began.  At the end of July, Carolyn and I got to take a short vacation that we desperately needed – giving us time to reconnect and re-explore each other.

August was a quiet month of preparation work.  I spent the time getting ready for the new year at church (in my new role as President of the Deacons, and with new youth staff) and preparing to meet with CPM.  The Committee on Preparation for Ministry of my presbytery approved me as an Inquirer at the end of the month, beginning the official process towards ordination as a PC(USA) minister.  I also began my work on applications for Princeton Seminary.

September was a very busy month with the beginning of the church year and with seminary application preparation.  At the end of the month I submitted my Princeton Seminary application and kicked off the process of obtaining references.

October was a time of celebration.  Carolyn and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  We also one week later spent 3 days visiting Princeton Seminary in the role of prospective student and wife.  Both of us felt very comfortable with that visit and very much at home.  And the big celebration happened a week later at the end of the month, when I received my acceptance for the MDiv program at Princeton!

November brought a chance to enjoy success and reorient myself to my new direction.  I delivered my commitment letter to Princeton Seminary while attending the Emerging Adulthood seminar early in the month.  The rest of the month was spent completing some work between my ears and preparing for the holiday season.

December has been a time of waiting and preparing.  With the help of friends, I’m working on preparing for seminary.  I’m building lists of books to read before I start.  I’m trying to decide about whether to pursue Summer Language (an intensive 10 week program for Greek or Hebrew) or take one last summer trip with my church youth group.  And I’m reorienting my thinking.  One bright event of December was a chance to meet a Twitter friend from Atlanta, one of her friends and a local friend for lunch at Drew University.  I also unfortunately spent the end of November and most of December fighting a sinus infection that took a lot of my energy.

Overarching the year were a few events that do not fit the chronology well.  From late spring until today (and continuing) I’ve been doing a lot of work in my head to grow, and to process the changes that such a large career shift creates.  That large shift has also produces some stresses – in family, in friendships, and in relation to my church.  I’ve worked hard with those involved to try to navigate the emotions produced and the logistics involved.  This in turn has created further growth and improvement in me, in my relationships, and hopefully in the others impacted.  This work has been HARD, but well worth it.  And the relationships that have been involved I believe to be stronger now.  I won’t say that pain is necessary to growth, but I will say that getting through pain successfully often produces growth.  Last, a note that a few serious illnesses of family members came in the fall and that was rough too.  Those family members are on the mend.

Also not fitting the chronology well were the growth of a few new and old friendships through shared experiences.  I can only hope that I have given to them as much as they have given to me.

All in all, this year was a very up and down year.  I am thankful for my wife and friends who supported me through it, who listened to my ravings and pain, and who continue to stand by me.  While it has been rough most of the roughness has taken place in the service of growth in the right direction.  And there have been some glorious moments of celebration and happy-dances.  I’d never have believed that I’d jump up and down in my kitchen past age 40 until the day I opened my seminary acceptance letter.

I end the year with a new direction when I had no direction.  I end the year with strengthened relationships.  And I end the year with new friends that I value greatly.  And I end the year with a much, much stronger sense of the direction that God wants me to take, as well as many reminders that God is always with me.

I’ll take it.

Trading Limbos

November 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Job Search, Life, Princeton Seminary, Religion, Seminary, Work 

Sometime last week, I realized that I’ve traded one kind of limbo for a new kind.  A better kind, from where I sit.

For the past 2 years while I’ve been out of work, I had a soul-crushing type of limbo.  Any day I could get a response to a contact or job application inviting me to an interview.  Any day could start the process of becoming employed again, in as soon as a few days to a few months.  A number of times that process happened over the 2 years, but that was a very small part of that time and never resulted in ultimate success – a new job.  The rest of the time I was left with the depressing, esteem-destroying time trying to make that happen.  For most people there’s only one path out of that limbo, and it’s always the last path that you take.  (That’s a lot like the truism that you always find your lost items in the last place you look.  If not, then you’re wasting your time after you do find them.)  Some folks get lucky and get the choice of two paths out of the unemployment limbo, but to me that looks more like two branches of the same last path.

I’ve taken an unusual path out of that limbo – the path of further education – made even more unusual by my future vocation.  This is a riskier path and I likely wouldn’t be taking it except for a few unusual circumstances.  First and foremost there is God’s call to ministry that I have discerned (and will continue to discern in the years ahead).  Second, there are some things about my place in the world that are fortuitous (whether you credit God, good planning, or dumb luck) for this path.  I live near one of the most prestigious Presbyterian seminaries (and I seem to be comfortable in the culture there).  My wife has a very solid income that is big enough to support this.  We were able to (and chose to) save severance and unemployment money.  And we have chosen a lifestyle that doesn’t include the expenses that others need to plan for – mainly children and their futures.

So now I’m in a new limbo – one with a time limit.  Barring some major unforeseen circumstance, I know what I’ll be doing next September.  I have ten months to fill which hopefully will include me bringing in a rather small amount of money.  This limbo is much more comfortable that the prior limbo – having a solid sense of the future and my direction is so much better than not being able to plan events and vacations more than a week or two in advance, because one might have a new job that would prevent whatever you are planning.  I’m even able to see the calendar for the Summer Language program next summer (still on the fence about that) and next year’s academic year.

But it’s still limbo.  I need to figure out what to do with the next 10 months.  I would prefer to make some money by doing small church-related projects like Revive!  (last spring’s justice revival, which employed me as a 15-hour-per-week project manager for a few months).  I can make some money from my itty-bitty tiny computer consulting company.  I could go to a temp agency and see what they’ve got.  I’ve also got some time to work on myself, to try to continue the personal growth that the last 6 months has included (and the last 2 years, for that matter).

So I’ve exchanged one limbo for another.  And I’m in a better place as a result.  But the future is still not completely clear.  But … part of my growth of late has been comfort with ambiguity.  I’m feeling good about all of this.

Sorry it’s been quiet

June 8, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Admin, Job Search, Life, Work 

Hey, folks.

It’s been quiet here because there are decisions being made about my life and work-life direction that unfortunately aren’t really bloggable.  I’m looking at a fork in the road and trying to decide which way to go, or even if I can make some kind of hybrid path down the middle.  Blogging about it could make folks from either fork concerned that I’m not 100% committed to that fork (though if I chose it I would be), and therefore I’m not writing here.  Rest assured that I will be committed to my path once I choose it.

And if that sounds cryptic, it’s the best that I can do.  Friends on Facebook can probably get a better read on what I’m talking about.

Thank you for your patience.

Busy Week

May 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Job Search, Life, Religion, Young Adult, Youth 

This is gonna be a very busy week.  I’m going to be out and about in several communities with lots of activities.  Perhaps I’ll meet you at one of them.

Yesterday the ball started rolling with the God Complex radio show at noon EDT.  That went very well.  Later in the evening I had the Board of Deacons meeting at church which also went very well and very fast.

This morning I’m going to have to mow the lawn due to the impending days of rain (again).

This afternoon I’m going to the Presbytery of New Brunswick meeting, and assisting in the pre-presbytery event on “Working with Facebook”.  Before the meeting I have a networking meeting with someone in New Brunswick.

Tomorrow is relatively quiet.  A networking meeting in the morning, and the DVRA ham radio club meeting in the evening.  I may go get my driver’s license renewed during the day – it’s time again.

Thursday afternoon begins the Princeton Seminary Institute for Youth Ministry Conference on Emerging Adulthood.  That runs Thursday afternoon and evening, all day Friday, and Saturday morning.  Friday evening, I’ll miss dinner and the recreation to attend a fundraising dinner “Southern Hospitality on the Lawn” related to my church.

Saturday morning I’ll miss rehearsal for Deacon Sunday.  Saturday evening my church youth group is holding a Cabaret and Silent Auction fundraiser for the summer trips.

Sunday morning is Deacon Sunday (I’m doing the Call to Worship), grocery delivery for Crisis Ministry in Trenton and the end of year party for our customers, and the Worship in a New Key service.

Monday I may get to see Carolyn again.  This is really a nutty week.

40 Prayers of Hope and Gratitude, for Bruce

May 2, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Job Search, Life, Religion, Work, Youth 

Tomorrow is the birthday of Bruce Reyes-Chow, a friend and currently the moderator of the PC(USA).  On his blog, he asks for some very charitable birthday “gifts” to him.  One of them is “a list of prayers for 40 things for which you are grateful, gives you hope or are in need of God’s healing“.  (Besides – he needs a little love.  The first comment on the post attacked him for a position of faith and politics – on a post related to his birthday!)

I can do that.

  1. For my wife, who I am VERY grateful for.
  2. For my family (parents and siblings) and the relationship that we have that didn’t look too likely for a while.
  3. For Barbara, Jill and Kathy – former co-workers who are being very supportive during my career transition.
  4. For the youth group at my church.  I am both grateful for them, and they give me hope.  Some of them need your prayers for healing.
  5. For the horde of Twitterati who follow my every tweeted move, give me music when I need it, give me information when I need it, and entertain me.
  6. For Rich, Jeremiah, Jill, Gooitzen, Elsa, Aaron and others from my church family who are being very supportive during my career transition.
  7. For the many recent and near-future seminary graduates that I interact with, who are both a source of hope and in need of prayers to find their destinations.
  8. For S (who will remain otherwise nameless here but I’m sure is reading this), for being/assisting my sense of call and helping me to explain my Montreat experience.  You know who you are.
  9. For the children in my neighborhood, who remind me of the relative importance of parts of life.
  10. For healing for those on all sides who have been hurt by the whole Amendment B business.
  11. For my cats.  Gratitude for them being there for me and entertaining me.  Hope that they radiate (particularly when it’s snack time).  Healing for both as they age and begin to suffer the effects.
  12. Hope from the members of my church’s confirmation class, who were able to teach parts of the lesson that I was teaching.
  13. Healing for two youth workers waiting for transplants.
  14. Gratitude for those who have let me put my skills to work for them while I’m seeking a job.
  15. Gratitude for my sister whose birthday is today (sharing it with Bruce’s “Middle” child).
  16. Healing for everybody else hurt by the economy.
  17. Healing for everybody else hurt by greed.
  18. Hope and healing for those with obstacles between them and what God is calling them to.
  19. Healing for those affected by swine flu Hamthrax H1N1 and gratitude that it is turning out to be mild for most.
  20. Healing for those suffering from mental illness.
  21. Healing for Mom, who had two teeth pulled yesterday.
  22. Hope for/about Sara, who is taking the first steps in a new direction.
  23. Gratitude for and hope from Rich who is letting me find my place in the youth ministry.
  24. Gratitude for Lorelei.  Everybody needs a Lorelei, some of them the same one.
  25. Gratitude for two places on the entire planet (outside of my relationship with Carolyn) where I have been able to be myself 100%:  Camp Johnsonburg and Montreat.
  26. Healing for the people whose prayer cards come to me each week after worship.  Hope that my prayers are helping.
  27. Healing for the people of Sudan, of Somalia, and other places where oppression and violence reign.
  28. Gratitude for Tim, Jessica, Jessica, Nancy, Carolyn, Andrea, and a few others who have been there during my darkest hours (whether they realize it or not).
  29. Gratitude for the Project Open Door task force – it was great working with all of you, and I look forward to the next steps.
  30. Healing for all of those who feel that fighting about minutia is more important than loving one another.
  31. Hope and healing for all who feel that being somewhere else is what they have to do.
  32. Gratitude and hope for all of those who I’ve networked with during my career transition.
  33. Gratitude for the opportunity to play the drums again for a purpose.
  34. Hope (healing?  help?) for the God Complex radio staff and talent that we’ll be ready by Monday.
  35. Healing for those that I have hurt and have not reconciled with (and for me to do so someday).
  36. Gratitude for polity – specifically that of the PC(USA).
  37. Gratitude for that unexplained good mood that strikes sometimes.
  38. Hope?  Healing?  for my personal discernment in this season of change.
  39. Healing for all of my issues that I’ve chosen not to mention here.
  40. Gratitude, hope for/from, and healing if he needs it for Bruce.

Happy Birthday, Bruce!  Welcome to the over the hill gang.

Staying Busy

Recently I have been thinking about what I do with my “non-work” time.  With my career transition, I’m able to use time for “non-work” activities during the day, hopefully to the benefit of others.  Someday I hope that I can combine my vocation and avocations.

This led me to thinking about listing all of the various things that I do.  Some people put them on their resumes, but mine is already too long and I’m not sure what it would add.  So I’ll list my “sideline” things here for your interest/amusement.  I know that once I find a job I may have to cut back on some of these (indeed – several of them have been started since my career transition started with the caveat that I may have to stop at some point).

Work-related

Recently I’ve been providing computer services to others as a sideline.  Mostly this consists of PC maintenance, including some hardware work, installing software updates, and a lot of fixes to things like “my computer does X when I do Y – can you fix that?”.  This is done for various forms of renumeration including lunch and good will.

I’m also going to be helping another church do some brainstorming of what they want on their church’s website.  And yet another church has asked for help with their website, but I don’t know the specifics yet.

Local Church

I have a lot of roles at church:

  • Deacon – currently serving on the Board of Deacons, assigned to the Prayer Team and enjoying serving Communion on occasion.  I’m also the designated “e-mail reminder” person who sends a note to the people assigned to jobs each Sunday.
  • Open Door – recently completed a stint as co-chair of a task force studying issues of hospitality to visitors and the community.  I’m likely to serve as a member of the new Session committee being created to continue this work.
  • Webmaster – of the church website and the weekly e-mail that goes to almost 400 people.  This role also has me serving as the social networking expert surrounding our presence on Facebook and such.
  • Youth Advisor and member of Youth and Young Adult Council – nothing that I do at church brings me more joy than my work with the Senior High youth group.  I’ve also been involved in supporting the youth director with strategic planning for the youth council lately.
  • Percussion – most members of the church have been surprised to learn that I was classically trained as  a percussionist in high school.  I’ve been using those skills on snare and cymbal, djembe, congas, and other instruments in both the alternative and regular service.  Apparently I’m not as rusty as I think that I am.

Greater Church

  • The God Complex – serving as Webmaster for the new weekly Internet radio show that is hosted by Bruce Reyes-Chow and Carol Howard Merritt.  This involves blogs, web hosting, e-mail and other stuff that I don’t even know about yet.
  • I will be assisting my local Youth Director with the Small Group manual for the next Youth Triennium.  Not in a major way – just reading and editing.  I hope to turn that into a trip next summer, but that would require some creative planning (anybody need someone to man a booth or serve as a chaperone?).
  • This blog seems to provide value to some.  I’m also on Twitter and most of my friends there are church-related

Other Stuff

  • I’m a member of the Delaware Valley Ham Radio club.  I’m a general-class ham – KC2SMS.
  • I’m one of the keyholders for the ham radio emergency equipment for the local Red Cross office.  The Princeton Red Cross chapter is the “center” for ham radio for the state’s Red Cross groups, mainly because we are centrally located.  Monday night will be the monthly equipment test for the Red Cross and the NJ State RACES/ARES folks.

So, I’m keeping busy.  If I were being paid for all of that at a reasonable salary I’d have a full-time job.  As it is, it’s more like 1/2 to 2/3 of my days and some of my non-work hours.  I like to help people, and I usually don’t care whether I get paid or not (though getting paid is important for other reasons).  My hope is that someday I can use these skills for a paying position with some meaning to the world.

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