Major life milestones are a cause for celebration, reflection, and, at least for me, getting a little sappy. The past four years have been a wild ride – it’s been messy and beautiful and confusing and fun and anxiety-producing and life-giving and both really, really weird and really, really lovely. It wasn’t perfect, but I think it was everything it needed to be and more. Celebrations this weekend have been both beautiful and bittersweet.
More than anything I’m grateful. For all of the hard work and learning, certainly, but even more so for the people who have held me up, cheered me on, held space for my tears and questions and ranting, and helped me remember to be a whole person in the midst of all the wildness that is grad school.
So, humor me as I publicly and obnoxiously brag about some of my people for a second. These are (many of) the folks who carried me through seminary, and they are seriously the best.
Matthew, thank you for not letting me ghost you on Bumble way back when and for becoming the sweetest, goofiest, most loving adventure partner I could ever ask for, for not batting an eye at the weirdness of what it means to date someone in the church world, for being a loyal encourager and reminding me that I am strong and capable even when I don’t feel like it.
Jess, thanks for agreeing to be my roommate and for being my first Twin Cities exploring buddy (for discovering with me that Hamline Ave will actually not take us straight back to our apartment like we thought, for faithfully reporting back on your best coffee shop/brewery finds, and, most importantly, for discovering that glorious used book section at the Roseville Barnes and Noble), for our rants and life chats on the denim couch (may it rest in peace), for having the courage and self-control to say “no” when someone literally turned up at our door with a box of free kittens, for being unapologetically and wonderfully you and helping me do the same in return.
Erica, my deepest gratitude for also putting up with me as a roommate, for knowing more than anyone what it means to fight to hold onto true and meaningful friendship because of how desperately we need each other in the midst of the hot mess that can be one’s twenties, for never saying no to Dairy Queen, for investing as much of your life as I have into watching Jane the Virgin, for letting me nerd out about theology and church and for teaching me almost everything I know about social work and hospice care and for making me a much more thoughtful person because of it, for your spunk and sass and fierce friendship and the fact that you seem to have enough faith in me to think that I could somehow ever run a marathon (heck, even a 5k) with you.
Caitlin, thank you for the countless adventures, brewery and coffee shop dates, and pizza and wine nights, even when they have to be over FaceTime. Thank you for your incredible hospitality (for even labeling all of your cupboards whenever I stayed at your house!), for sharing your pets with me and for letting me be your and David’s third wheel for most of our friendship, for complaining with me about Midwestern winters and wondering why we ever left sunny Colorado, for being “kind, caring, and considerate” (in that order!), for being truly and deeply loyal, for understanding that sometimes we introverts just need to sit in each other’s presence and not say anything at all, for making me laugh harder than anyone else with your dry humor and ability to just tell it like it is.
Elly, I am beyond grateful for the love and light you poured into me when I was a student at Concordia and for your faithful, thoughtful, compassionate friendship ever since. Thank you for asking pesky questions about life and vocation that only you can get away with, for instilling in me a curiosity about Israel/Palestine that encouraged me to go experience it for myself, for the phone calls and texts and all of the ways you’ve graciously accompanied me in the past seven years. I am honored to be your friend and colleague.
Adam, thank you for being the greatest mentor and supervisor, for your gracious nodding and listening every time I plopped myself down in your office and launched into a spiel about how complicated my life is (#firstworldproblems), for embodying a kind of leadership, innovation, and thoughtfulness that I hope to emulate.
Renee, thank you so very much for being the best internship supervisor I could ask for, for your leadership, hospitality, and encouragement. You and the Heart River crew have restored in me hope for the church, for our world, and for the future of Word & Service ministry. I was skeptical, but landing in Bismarck/Mandan for internship was truly the best thing that could have happened. 😊 And a huge shout-out to Sylvia for welcoming me so graciously into your home, for showing me the finest of Bismarck, for not making fun of me for how much of a mess I create in the kitchen every time I bake.
Kristen, Luther was never the same after you left! Thanks for all the life chats (both in person and over the phone), for reminding me again and again that I’m not crazy, for text conversations about Christology and soteriology and church leadership, for being way better at sending letters and cards than I will ever be, for always being available for ice cream runs – and for faithfully saving those DQ and Culver’s coupons.
Caroline, thank you for the study dates and introducing me to K-dramas, for chats about everything from vocation and global ministry and online dating, for making the best homemade ramen and always having such a fabulous tea selection and a place for me on your couch. Thanks for being in my circle of badass clergy women.
Jenna, I am so grateful for the “study dates” that turned into long life chats over coffee and ice cream, for the Harry Potter nerding and the Denver reminiscing. Thanks for humoring me as I probably talked your ear off about psychology even though you know way more about it than I do these days.
Molly, I would have been lost without our often bleak-sounding phone calls that actually always filled me with life and joy and gratitude. Thank you for your words of wisdom that I literally wrote on sitcky notes (i.e. “If I could tell past self one thing, it would be ‘Calm the f*** down. It’s going to be fine.’”) Thank you for patiently listening to my struggles as I stumbled around trying to figure out life, for helping me find the humor in every situation, for your blatant honesty in all things. 😊
Jenne, have I mentioned lately how glad I am that we became friends? Thanks for agreeing to meet me for that first friend date at a Minneapolis coffee shop, for always being available for walks and coffee ever since. For the conversations about church, social justice, dating prospects, vocation, and community. For helping me process the craziness of that volunteer year in Denver. For being such a quality human with a compassionate listening ear and truly wise insight.
Amy, I miss our long walks around the lake! Thanks for sharing your kayaks with me, for the authentic, soul-searching, life-giving conversations, for inspiring me with your genuineness and joy and sense of adventure.
Tammy, we didn’t hang out enough, but every time we did, I left feeling renewed and usually a whole lot calmer. Thanks for your wisdom, your humor, your thoughtful questions, your presence over these years. Truly.
Amanda, the other half of AB squared. ❤ Your phone calls from Wisconsin and Oklahoma, your thoughtful cards, your animated stories about your latest awkward encounters, your listening ear, your empowering Bitmojis, and your willingness to ask hard questions with me about life and faith have meant more to me than I can express. Thank you.
Maureen, my travel and research buddy, thanks a million for your “let’s just rant about grad school for a bit” phone calls and for sharing your spunk, your thirst for travel and adventure, your energy, and passion and joy for all that you do. Thank you for being my friend through all of the transitions of the past few years. And thank you for staying true to the rules about finishing your drink if you’re ever in a bar “Wake Me Up” by Avicii comes on.
Macy, so, we were maybe better at saying things like “We need to get together!” than actually getting together, but the times we did sustained me in only the way times with your soul sisters can. Thanks for being your beautiful, faithful, compassionate self. And also for introducing me to Ruby. 😉
Nicole, thank you for your joy, humor, and friendship. For always being willing to jump right in where we left off whenever we both fell off the face of the earth for a bit, for inspiring me with your adventurous spirit and obvious dedication to living life to the fullest.
Tyler and Andrea, I’m glad I so deeply inspired you to follow in my footsteps. 😉 Just kidding. Thanks for the laughs, the heart-to-hearts, the phone calls, for checking in on Chaco, and for traveling all the way down to visit me that one weekend when I was kind of a wreck and needed to be in the company of old friends.
To my crew of incredible deacons and soon-to-be deacons, both those I have met in person and those who just patiently took my curious phone calls, for long walks and coffee dates, for your solidarity in the classroom #deaconpower, for encouraging me both in person and from afar, for dreaming with me about the future of our church and all of its potential. Lydia, Brian, Abby, Mackee, Shera (maybe one day we’ll actually meet in person?!), so many others, thank you.
It’s amazing how your oldest friends can manage to carry you through new phases of life. Thank you to the friends who live far away from me now, but whose very presence grounds me, centers me, gives me so much joy. Allison, Ariel, Jennifer, Jill, looking at you.
To my beautiful, dysfunctional, utterly delightful camp community. You all taught me what it means to be a thoughtful and faithful leader, what it means to stop taking myself so seriously, what it means to love deeply and fully and joyfully, even when it is hard. You taught me that it’s okay to ask for help, to allow myself to cry even when I don’t know why I’m crying, and to be my full, authentic, messy, created-in-the-image of the Creator self. Thank you. ❤
To my campus ministry community. You challenged me, shaped me, encouraged me, loved me, and (not-so-gently) nudged me to consider seminary in the first place. I may have resisted it at the time, but I’m grateful.
To the Bethany Lutheran crew, thank you for your nurturing presence, your continued accompaniment, and your affirmation of the leadership potential you saw in my ever curious, occasionally awkward, sometimes over-eager middle school-and-beyond self.
To the incredible Luther Seminary faculty and staff and to my classmates and colleagues. I am so grateful to have gotten to listen, to learn, to read, to wonder, to question, to write, and to wrestle with this big and spacious and mysterious and beautiful faith with you as my guides and companions. Thank you.
To my incredible family for literally everything. Thank you will never be enough. ❤