christmas-eve-lunch

together for christmas: a swedish christmas eve

you probably already know that my in-laws from sweden are in town to celebrate christmas with lina + me, which i think is super cool. and you may or may not know that my parents live about 30 minutes away. and my brother lives 5 minutes from me. with all of that said, this christmas was something extra special to me. having these most important people in the same place, at the same time, and over the christmas holiday, meant that, for me, this would be a christmas of being together.

it would have been completely completely if lina’s siblings + their families, and my brother’s girlfriend could have been here. but, gathering our parents in the same place, considering we are spread out over two countries, was a huge feat, making me feel totally overwhelmed with gratitude.

seeing as we are two families from two countries, we have different traditions for celebrating christmas. no matter where lina and i are during the holidays, we always try to combine traditions and celebrate the swedish + american way, as much as possible, given whichever country we are in. but, this year, we were able to celebrate both ways with just a little more pizzazz.

here’s how we did it: luckily swedes celebrate chrismas on christmas eve. it’s the big day with the family gatherings, large amounts of food, and santa’s visit. americans celebrate a tiny bit on christmas eve,but the big highlight is christmas morning + christmas day. so, we just planned to have about 48 hours of a holly jolly time! and we did it the swedish way on christmas eve, and the american way of christmas day. perfect for our double celebration!

now, that i’ve written to you a bit about our plans, i’m ready to share a ton of photos with you. today’s post will be all about christmas eve – celebrating the holiday with a swedish touch (and ending the night by transitioning into classic american traditions). of course, there are a few things missing from the swedish celebration – like watching donald duck on national swedish tv at 3pm and eating lots of fish. still, i think we did a pretty good job!

our swedish christmas eve in the states

i spent a few quiet moments, as usual, in the morning, before everyone else awoke. just letting the season soak into me + preparing myself for the day.christmas-eve-morning-presents

we had stockings to open (lina and i both filled each others’ stocking with earrings that we loved, without knowing  that the other one was giving earrings. how cool!) + then we decided to each open one package on christmas eve (saving the rest for christmas morning). zola got a little ball (as you can see) in her stocking. so cute.christmas-eve-morning-family

christmas-silly-me the table is set! and, it is featuring the swedish christmas soda called “julmust”, a very special drink. but, i love it! christmas-eve-table

our parents watched over us as we prepared the meal… i think they were a bit hungry (and perhaps excited too). my mom, lina’s mom, my dad. l to r.christmas-eve-waiting-family

cheers! sipping on some egg nog to fill our bellies a bit as we wait.christmas-eve-egg-nog-toast

more waiting… almost done!christmas-eve-hungry
let’s eat! the swedish way: lots of meat + some potatoes. hehe. we had ribs, little hotdogs, sweidhs meatballs, mushroom omelette, and potatoes casserole. and it was all super yummy.christmas-eve-swedish-food
christmas-eve-food
cheers again! with a little moscato!christmas-eve-lina-and-me christmas-eve-lunch

after the meal, what else was there to do but just lounge around?! look at our parents there… chatting, resting, relaxing. i love this capture.christmas-eve-parents

menawhile, lina and i were preparing fika: coffee, lussekatter buns, cookies, candy. mmmm!christmas-eve-fika

then… we rested. ahhhh. i think i even fell asleep. but, it was so cozy as i snuggled down under my covers. hehe. more christmas eve fun to come!my-love-and-me-christmas-eve

after all of the day’s activities, including our hour and a half rest period (ha!), we then switched gears a bit and began to bring in the classic american activities on  christmas eve: a candlelight service at the church where i used to work + a late night family viewing of national lampoon’s christmas vacation – a reynolds tradition every christmas eve. here we are at church. soooo cozy.

christmas-eve-church

i worked at this church, with these amazing people, for 8 years. it was absolutely overwhelmingly wonderful to see so many faces that i haven’t seen in a while. i don’t know how many necks i hugged + how many people greeted me/us. i saw some of my deepest, dearest, old friends. i talked with pole who’s hands i’d held in the hospital after major surgeries. i celebrated new life that some of my old youth are now carrying in them.  i sang and spoke and laughed with people that i had the privilege of sharing so many sacred + special moments in their lives. i remembered what a joy and an honor it is to minister to people. i felt as if i’d returned home. this place, is, in one way, will always be my home. and that people haven’t forgotten me… i was so touched. oh, my heart was so full of wonder + light. so. very. full.christmas-eve-light

then, we headed to my parents’ house. that’s right, we had all packed a bag, grabbed all of the christmas day food i had already baked, and gathered up all of the presents under our tree to take to my parents’ place. we were going to sleep there!! christmas eve slumber party. hehe. when we arrived, we are quite hungry, so my mom offered us tons of snacks she prepared + then we sat down for the annual national lampoon’s christmas vacation showing. cozy + hilarious fun!christmas-eve-snacks christmas-eve-goodies

after snacks + the movie, it was coming on 1 am. time to hit the sack… so santa can come!! we all retired to our bedrooms, lina + i curled up together on a tiny twin bed, which turned out to be just perfectly comfy. i laid my head down, took in a deep breath in all of the quiet + the stillness, and gave thanks for the abundance of joy that had been this christmas eve. good night!

check back tomorrow to see a glimpse of our cozy christmas day!

 

light + love xoxo

goodbye, weekly sensory overload.

well, folks. i think it’s time to retire the ole sensory overload title. i’m not retiring the category, though. so, you can always click on the tab at the top of the page that says “sensory overload” and be taken to all posts where i share how life makes my senses go crazy.

you see, i feel that i have gotten into some kind of a rut with my blog by having specific things to post on specific days. that’s not what this blog is all about – and to try to fit a circle into a square hole just doesn’t work. this blog is a spontaneous, whatever inspires me in the moment, daily life blog. like a journal. so, i am not setting any specific days for anything – expect for wednesdays, but wednesdays of wisdom will continue throughout my dalai lama series. at the end of that series in june, i will reevaluate that as well.

so, to sum up, i’m going back to posting whenever and wherever i feel like it! and that feels amazing. i know that people say that bloggers should have a blogging editorial calendar with stuff all planned out for about 3 months. that sounds great. i even kinda tried it. but it just does not cut it for this blog. that is for my fika blog – something that is a bit more professional and not a daily life kinda place.

anyway, i have a lot of stuff to share with you this week from the past week, so this will look like all of my previous sensory overload posts. but, after this, it’ll be all about just posting from day to day, whatever inspires me. it’ll be more like sensory overload as it happens – which, if i think about it, is even more awesome. so, posts will be more frequent, more focused, and more exciting!

here we go!

clouds pink tree green tree blue sky purple flowers feet road and spring trees green and blue gunni and spooky fika group zola cozy balcony bella and me ego sunshine legs beer morning coffee car snack balcony reading coffee sermon balcony video sermon parkway lina video us video parkway

as you can see, it was a week filled with some stunning nature, beautiful moments with people and pets, cozy and quiet moments of peace, and an opportunity for lina and i to have some contact with the church i worked at in sweden – they asked me to say a few words on their theme for sunday. so, lina prepared the camera and i drove us up on the blue ridge parkway, and we video-taped me talking (in swedish) to the congregation. they played it yesterday morning in church. it was so much fun to send it to them – though the sending part was an insane, long process! hehe.

over here in our little home, this week is gonna be a bit crazy. my love has a test today, then two days for study, then 4 finals between thursday & next tuesday. so, she’ll be out of commission for a week and a half. i’ve got some writing, job applying, my book club, and some planning to do for our NYC trip in a few weeks!

happy monday, dear readers! xx

my response to your response.

whoa. i am overwhelmed by the response i have had after telling my story about my experience with the UMC and LGBT issues. you people are truly amazing.

thank you!

more than anything, though, i thank you for sharing and spreading my post – on Facebook and twitter and your blogs. keep sharing! but, not to up my readership, in order to get my story out there in an effort to bring about change. i seriously want to speak up for the other LGBT candidates for minister, ministers, and individuals who also find themselves alienated and confused with their home church. so, i’m going to keep writing and posting as much as i can, in as many places as i can. i am going to do what i can, in my way, to bring about change. i promise that.

as for me, just so you know, i am very satisfied and happy with my life right now. i am not pining away, crying in the corner because i am not ordained. while all that has happened surround my inability to be ordained in the UMC has been painful and difficult, i am so certain of the path that i am on. i have left the idea of ordination behind, not so much because i can’t do it = others have kept me from doing it; but i have left it behind because i have taken time in the past few years to search my soul, listen to the silence, and discern my calling to ministry. and what i have come up with is that i do not feel that i must be ordained in order to do ministry. and that comes from my evolving definition of ministry.

4921de34551b11e3bca00e7f842800da_8

at one point, a long time ago, i learned about the idea of the priesthood of all believers, which is simply the idea that all people all called to ministry of some sort of another. that each of us have passions, gifts, and things to offer to the world that we can use, and are called to use, to make this world a better place, to spread love. all of us. each of us, you and i, have amazing things about us that make a difference to others. why wouldn’t we discover them and use them? and when we do, then we are engaging in ministry – no matter what: faith or no faith, UMC or any other denomination, religion or no religion.

and, since i believe in the idea of the priesthood of all believers, then i am called to ministry every day, and i take part in doing ministry every day that i am being true to myself – and for me that includes writing, mentoring, talking, listening…

ordained ministers are ministers just like everyone else, in the sense that they are called to ministry. what makes them different (in the UMC point of view) is that they are ordained = “set apart” for a lifetime of ministry. and by that, i mean that they have been educated, supported, encouraged, and felt a call from within to live and serve the church with their entire lives. something that i felt and experienced, up to the ordained part. however, after much thought and reflection (and based on my experiences), for me, ordained or not… i am called to a lifetime of ministry no different from my ordained brothers and sisters. i am called to share my gifts, talents, passions throughout my whole life. even though i may not be “set apart” as someone to work in a church, my ministry is something that exists beyond the church organization. this is just something that i have discerned for myself, i am certainly not knocking ordination or my ordained colleagues. this is simply how i hear god calling me at this point in my life.

IMG_4857

there is one thing that i do want to do, though, that might make my ministry more “professional”. something that i have felt called to for a while now. it’s something that i have been considering since i was in seminary 6-7 years ago. one of my professors brought it up, and it resonated so deeply with my soul, though i had no idea how it fit into my life. and haven’t had any idea how to incorporate it into my life… until now.

i want to seek certification as a spiritual guide/mentor. i want to attend a 2 year program, exploring all kinds of spirituality and counseling techniques, so that i can be certified and able to offer my ministry of presence, writing, and mentorship to others in a more professional setting – even through my own practice, perhaps. as i said, this is something that i have felt inside of me for a while now, and i seriously want to consider beginning a program in the new year. mind you, i am not certain that i want to be connected to any denomination or faith, but i also do not want to just be flying about out there on my own.

so, for now. ordination in the UMC is not possible. and by principle, that is totally not ok. but, it is ok in my life right now. it is also not time for me to consider ordination in another denomination that allows me to be ordained, though many people have suggested that i “switch” churches.

what does feel right is to explore the possibility of becoming a certified spiritual direction/guide/mentor. so, that’s what i am going to do.

and what more can i say to all of you, than, i appreciate more than you will ever know, your support, your encouragement, and your presence in my life and on this blog. thank you from the bottom of my heart and my soul for journeying with me as i seek to be faithful to who i am called to be, learning more and more as each day passes.

LOVE AND PEACE.