Thursday, January 24, 2013


"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it..."  Song of Solomon 8:7

It's been a long and frantic week. As the flood levels rise across Mozambique, the anxiety in my heart mirrors the motion of the water. My friends are stuck; quite literally, they are stranded on rooftops, and time is running short.  Meanwhile, relief workers organize food and water drops to the most dire areas. We do all that we can, and then we just do more.

And the bottom line is that I'm so tired. Between the closing of the year, and planning the ministry agenda for 2013, and organizing the Bishop's trip to Mozambique in April, and pulling together relief efforts, while simultaneously interviewing women who are only 23 and will quite possibly die of the most aggressive breast cancer known to woman-kind...  I'm just tired. Today I'm tired.  Today I'm road weary.  Today I've seen too much suffering. Today I know too much. Crying doesn't change anything, and at the end of the day, I come home to my comfortable bed that hasn't been washed away with the rest of my belongings, but I'm just putting it out, I'm tired.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Living the Both/And

Yesterday I flew into San Diego for a big, fancy-schmacy social work research conference where I am giving lectures on the progress of my dissertation research thus far. As I slide into this new role of misfit missionary extraordinaire, I realize how much I stick out like a sore thumb at these researchy events now. I have steered from the tried and true path of academic success to pursue something very, very different, and almost everyone gives me distrusting looks as I gingerly step on their tenured toes. And yet, I also fit in perfectly. I know the lingo, I've conducted the studies, I've published the papers...basically, after 5 years of doing academic jumping jacks, I know my shit.

And so I straddle this very weird line. Science versus Religion. Academia versus Ministry.

When I took this job last year, I wrote a post about the importance of the Both/And as I was trying to wrap my head around this funny place in which I find myself.  As this idea gains traction and matures in my mind, I'm starting to ask two questions: 
  1. How best do these two worlds of mine collide? 
  2. To what end?  
I think the obvious answer to question two is: the glory of God. And this is always the answer to the question twos of our lives - the questions of why. The answer is so that we can be light. And shine, shine, shine.

The answer to the first question is sticky. The how. First things first, when two things are new to each other, there should be introductions. science, meet United Methodism.....rigorous research, meet unbridled worship.....informative lecture, meet passionate song.....head, meet heart......truth, meet spirit....  
I think this is a good place to start.  Let's first get familiar with one another, shall we?

I know there's a lot of ground to cover as these two worlds begin to melt together, but I can see the makings of a beautiful friendship.  May this place of fusion be the fertile ground out of which this ministry grows.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Year to Harvest

As I anticipate all that is to come in this new year, it seems that 2013 will be a year of harvesting.  After years of planting, sowing, watering, and tending to, if all goes as planned, this will be a year of reaping in some areas of my life. Three big items come to mind when I think about the anticipated harvest in the year ahead.  Here's the list: 

  1. Come hell or high water, I will finish this dissertation, defend it before a committee or professors with mile-long CVs, and graduate from this doctoral program this year. After 5 LONG YEARS, I'm ready to be finished.  I'm aiming for a late spring/early summer defense, and your prayers are appreciated. And your patience is also coveted as I somewhat humorously insist, for a good 6 months after completion at least, that everyone I come in contact with call me Dr. Bollinger. Ha! What a load off my back it will be to finish.  And what a humongous opportunity and accomplishment, for which I will be forever grateful!
  2. Since dreams become realities sometimes, I will also record a full length album of original music this year!!! Woot!  Yes, you read that right!!  I've been working with a wonderful producer at Shock City Studios here in St. Louis who is helping to make dreams come true.  His name is Tony Esterly, and he scooped me up and basically paved the way to make this happen.  After years of writing songs and singing with bands, I will finally have a professional recording of the music that makes my heart come alive. We are hoping for a summer 2013 release.  I'm so flipping excited!
  3. I will also travel back to Mozambique once for sure, and possibly twice.  During the first trip in April, I will have our Bishop and the rest of the Missouri Conference leadership in tow - and what a trip it will be!  We will be solidifying some plans as a leadership team and will be beginning a whole new chapter of ministry that has been in the making since I started this position. It will be a time of hard work and great celebration with our Mozambican brothers and sisters.  
So, the year ahead is a big one, and I'm looking forward to it with great anticipation and excitement, knowing too that it will be a year of hard work. Your prayers, support, and patience are all necessary as I keep my nose to the grindstone, but anticipate the celebration that is to come.