Baby Twitchell Update

•September 28, 2009 • 2 Comments

I am finally writing a blog to update everyone on the progress of Baby Twitchell. We had an appointment today and heard the heartbeat!! I am 15 weeks and the baby is exactly where it should be. I have gained a total of 1 lb, which the midwife said is fine. I currently am getting over a TERRIBLE cold, but starting to get a little relief. Unfortunately, I think that Aaron has caught it.. sorry honey!! We are counting down the days for baby to come on March 22nd. We still have not decided if we want to take childbirth classes, we probably will not with everything else going on.

Things continue to be busy here in Princeton. Aaron is back in school taking Latin, The Book of Job, and a Latin Reading course. This is a little bit lighter load as he spends time with PHD applications and GRE studying. He is busy and we cannot believe that he will already be graduating this year on May 22nd! Still unknown what’s to come after that..

I am still nannying for the Kirwan family- which I LOVE!  Grace and Kaitlyn are in preschool now and Elsie and Patrick are super fun. It is so nice to have a stress free and fun job. Plus, I am able to go to my doctor’s appointments. Aaron is volunteering at Nassau Presbyterian Church in the youth group, leading a small group and teaching Sunday school. All that and he still has time to cook and clean for me.. He is an amazing husband and I am so thankful that I have him!

I will be doing a better job of updating this on the progress of baby Twitchell and keeping you all informed.

If you are interested, we have a wishlist on:

Love and miss you all!!


New Pictures..

•March 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

Here are some links to some pictures of random things.. Most of them are new pictures, but some have been sitting for awhile waiting to be shared… Enjoy!

The Gospel According to Jack?

•March 2, 2009 • 3 Comments

I have been wanting to discuss this issue for some time.  It has come up on Facebook in several instances because everyone posts about being excited for 24 and Jack Bauer is awesome, etc.  Here’s my beef, and I will not mince words.

How hypocritical is it for evangelicals (read: fundamentalists) to decry the ‘over-sexualization’ of today’s media in one breath, and in the next be so obsessed with 24 that they constantly sing its praises via Facebook and Twitter? Why is it okay to glorify torture, violence, vengeance, etc but any hint of ‘promiscuous’ sex or ‘illicit’ sexual behavior brings the ire of the evangelical community?

So educate me, those of you Christians who watch 24 but not Sex in the City? Preach abstinence in the morning but are entertained by torture in the evening?

Vocation & Calling

•March 1, 2009 • 8 Comments

Why not pour out my soul and allow the world (or slight few of its citizens) to peek in at my inner struggles?

One day I decided to participate in a much-maligned facebook tradition known as ’25 Random Things.’ I diligently filled in the required fields with part-emo, part-comedy values in hopes that people would chuckle sympathetically to themselves and generally like me more. One of the things I elucidated was that I don’t think I am a very good student; and it’s pretty much true.

I am very thankful for friends and family who would stand up and defend my own claim against myself (wait a minute, the only person who did anything of the sort was a former PhD student at  PTS whom for all intents and purposes I don’t really know that well; thanks to her but not to anyone else).  However, only I know what my GPA is and only I know my study habits.  Only I know how well I am able to focus on my studies and only I know how many afternoons I have wasted when I should have been reading and studying.

Some people would read this and think, ‘everyone has some problems studying,’ or ‘it’s normal to have to fight against slacking off.’  This is true.  Yet, any graduate student and professor would tell you that in order to even be placed in the Good Stack of any admission committee, one must demonstrate a supranormal ability to shut oneself in an office or comparable study area and remain there for an extended period of time for an in ordinate number of days in a row. I’ve met some extroverted PhD students, but they are the exception, not the rule.

My grades for the courses which are germaine to my area of interest are not too bad; in fact they’re pretty good. But my overall GPA is barely going to get me considered for the PhD programs to which I would like to apply. It may be the case that I will have to complete a one-year ThM, STM or MTS degree (Master of Theology, Master of Sacred Theology and Master of Theological Studies, resp.) in order to supplement my MDiv. Here is why:

An MDiv degree is primarily intended to prepare women and men for the ministry to the church. There are only a handful of institutions whose MDiv programs are suitable for doctoral preparation, as that requires one to be well-trained in the discipline of research. Incidentally, the research component is what sets a PhD apart from a DMin. Anyway, even if one attends a seminary or divinity school that is generally known to be good doctoral prep, these days that individual will likely need even more training to be considered ready for the rigors of doctoral study. In 2007, only one student was admitted to the PhD program at PTS without a ThM.  The ThM allows a student to spend one year focusing on one area, often culminating in a dissertation or thesis of some kind.

I am counting on some good letters of recommendation, an oustanding GRE score, a published writing sample and a stellar Statement of Intent to qualify me for a doctoral program. I am also counting on an understanding wife who, when told that her husband must spend yet another year in a Masters-level degree program before even beginning a PhD, will graciously oblige and continue to love and accept me.  Thankfully, said wife has amazingly already agreed to said set of circumstances.

The ThM degree is usually considerably less competitive than other Masters-level programs because it is rarely funded. Yes, this means that I will have to spend another $15,000 or so before I begin ‘real graduate school.’ For those of you who now think I am crazy, save it.  I understand how this all sounds, which is why I have been in angst over my vocation and calling for the last few months.

Adding to my conundrum is the fact that I have demonstrated and affirmed gifts for both hospital chaplaincy and parish ministry.  This significantly clouds my thoughts of the future. Why not just take my hard-earned and well-lived MDiv and find a great church in which to serve, maybe as an Adult Educator, and get Board certified as a Chaplain so I can serve in that capacity as well? These would be extremely noble, rewarding career choices.  If, perhaps, I feel like I want to do some more teaching, nearby colleges  almost always hire lecturers with ‘only’ an MDiv to fill spots on staff. These positions are poorly-paid, but they would only be part of my career. I think I would be happy with a couple of different things on my plate: a church, a hospital and a classroom.

Not only all of this, but I would be more free to continue filling my call as a missionary to Latin America.  I have always maintained that no matter what road I go down in my career I will always travel to Latin America.  So why do I continue to fight this? Who knows…

So, without further ado, here is my tentative plan of action

  • Continue in my MDiv as if I am preparing for a doctoral program.  Work hard, take productive classes and try to finish the next two semesters (the last two that will show up on any transcript sent to a PhD committee) with a bang
  • Apply to 7-8 PhD programs, including 4 top tier and the rest 2nd and 3rd tier schools in order to broaden my chances of being accepted
  • Apply to 2-3 Thm/MTS/STM programs
  • If I get into any PhD programs, evaluate them and decide whether and which ones to enter
  • If I do not get in to any PhD programs, but am accepted to one of the Master’s programs, I can evaluate whether and which one to enter
  • If I get into neither, I will consider my options at that time, especially the scenario I painted above

I have said all along that I was not sure that God was actually calling me to PTS.  I came because it was my desire, and I do not think there is anything wrong with that. Indeed, I think  most people incorrectly interpret their own desires as God’s calling. Sometimes they are the same, often they are not. And making a decision based solely on the former is not always a bad thing. Sometimes God can turn a decision we have made based on our own desires INTO a calling and a vocation. Or else God has been leading me here all along; I cannot be certain, and I do not worry about it in those terms.

I learned last summer through the Enneagram that I must guard against making decisions based on how I believe others are viewing me. That is, I am often too concerned with my image (please do not comment and say “DUH”). So I have also spent a considerable amount of time evaluating my goals of PhD studies through this new lens of self-reflection. Luckily, I am pretty sure that my aspirations for graduate school run deeper than image, but I suppose I will only be sure when that time comes.

Encompassing all of these questions and statements about my future are two things. First, my love for Erica and her security. My decision is our decision, of course. And none of these musings would be possible save for her love and support.  Second, even though I just said that my decisions have historically been based on my desires and not so much on “God leading me,” at this point in my life I will be looking for a plan and sense of call.

If you are interested in the places that I will be applying to, you can check out the set of links entitled “Graduate Schools.”  I have placed asteriks in front of the schools to which I will apply most likely. Of course, being the postmodern that I am, these selections are subject to change.

Yes, we are still alive…. and kickin’….

•February 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I (Erica) am writing a quick post to update everyone and let you know that we are still alive… Our lives here in NJ are very busy.. Aaron is in a new semester with three classes, an adult education internship at Nassau Presbyterian and is working as a research assistant.. He is really busy and when we do have time together it is when we are both working on stuff sitting beside eachother on the couch.. The dogs are doing well. They have not enjoyed the cold weather, but they are surviving. I have been working about 45 hours a week, caring for my favorite twins- Kaitlyn and Grace. As of Valentine’s Day, there is another set in the family (so now they are my favorite foursome!!)- Elsie and Patrick. They are soooo cute, but add a lot more work! I am definitely getting my baby fix right now and loving it. Real Estate Law is my current studying endeavor and so far, so good.. We will be going to Guatemala in July to teach English in a school and work in a medical clinic. We also get to spend a night in the rainforest at the end of the trip.. I am so excited! Please pray for us as we try to come up with the funds for this!! Also, Aaron’s 10-year high school reunion will be happening this summer. We will be coming to visit Washington and then drive down to Portland for the festivities. So, hopefully we will get visits in with all of you! My sister is coming to visit the end of March and I am super excited! There is not much more to report. Aaron and I continue to grow together as a couple and fall more in love each day. He is such an amazing man and takes such good care of me, while juggling everything else! I am so proud and grateful for him. I hope you all are well and miss everyone!

That Time of the Semester

•November 18, 2008 • 5 Comments

Boy nothing slows down the blog like a lack of controversial topics!

It’s that time of the semester when things get a little crazy in my head.  The new curriculum structure has made things interesting, and we have about two and a half weeks of Fall semester remaining, not counting finals which end on December 13th. Here are a couple of highlights so far

  • Leading a small group in Presbyterian beliefs with Princeton Registrar David Wall, and getting to know him on a different level
  • Working with Dr. Elaine Pagels on an article about the Gospel of Judas
  • Working with Dr. Elaine Pagels on anything at all.  Hell, I’d dust her office if she asked 🙂
  • Serving on the Adult Ed committee at NPC with Dr. Jacq Lapsley, Dr. Beverly Gaventa, Judy Guder (wife of Dean of Students and missional theologian Dr. Darrel Guder), Joyce MacKichan-Walker, Presbyterian Educator of the Year
  • Taking History of American Protestantism with Dr. James Moorhead, noted church historian who is currently working on a new History of PTS.  He has turned out to be one of my favorite lecturers
  • Taking Early Church history with Dr. Kathleen McVey, also one of my favorite professors
  • Reading Athansius’ On the Incarnation of the Logos in Greek
  • Reading the Greek New Testament with greater and greater ease
  • Attending the national conference of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston (coming up next week), and receiving travel money from the seminary to do so

It should be noted that these are only highlights concerning my academics, not my and Erica’s life at home, which has had its own ups and downs (mostly ups, thankfully).

Here is what I am working on to finish up the semester

  • A 20-25 page paper on EITHER the use and appropriation of the early church fathers by late 19th-century fundamentalist theologians, particularly the Princeton theologians OR the nature of conversion in the same movement, but not limited to Princeton
  • A 10-12 page paper on the politics of Origen’s soteriology, especially concerning Athanasius, 4th century bishop of Alexandria
  • Auburn Theological Seminary is sponsoring a forum on Jewish-Christian dialogue this Spring, culminating in a trip to the Holy Land in May or June.  I submitted my application and am waiting to hear the results
  • I’m preparing to teach a 3-week Adult Education course on Christology for Advent called “The Christ Who Comes To Us.”  I intend on creating a very sacred hour of studying the person of Jesus Christ, focusing on the long history of our understanding of his nature
Studying and Relaxing

Studying and Relaxing

It was a beautiful Fall here in Princeton, as you can see.  October was amazing. It’s been colder the last few days, and rumor has it that this winter is going to be a cold and snowy one. Good!

Erica and I wanted to come home together in December but it was too much money. So just I will be visiting in January in between semesters.

Paco and LeRoy are doing well, we got them new sweaters for the cold weather; Paco hates his and whenever we put it on he stands still as a statue.

Erica continues to enjoy her new job as a nanny; it’s hard work but much less stress.  She is also trying to push through the remaining months of her MBA.  I am very proud of her.

There is an update.  Do not expect much participation in the next few weeks as I will be trying to finish the aformentioned papers, which I will probably upload for your viewing pleasure, because I know that EVERYONE is interested in all the same things as I am 🙂

It’s Finally Over

•November 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

It’s ten to midnight on election night. A lot of thoughts and emotions have been running through my mind. First, I’ve wondered if my rhetoric has been appropriate over the last few months. This is to be expected; I HATE hurting people’s feelings but often become too wrapped up in the subject at hand to realize that I’m being rude, condescending, etc.  So I look back and wonder if this has been any different.

Second, I am absolutely thrilled to have been a part of this historic election. Just fifty years ago this country was in the throes of a civil rights battle. Just one hundred and fifty years ago we were battling the institution of slavery.  Even now we struggle against racism, sexism, discrimination based on sexual orientation, etc.  But tonight… tonight America spoke for change and the wheels have begun to turn.  I am profoundly affected by the magnitude of this event and will be processing it for many days to come. Earlier this evening, Erica had to leave for an appointment, leaving me watching the polls results by myself. I was scrambling to see if anyone was on Facebook or Yahoo to talk with, but with limited success. I guess I just needed someone to bounce my thoughts and reactions off with. Luckily my buddy and neighbor Kent was also flying solo so he brought his scotch and milk down and we watched and waited.

Thirdly, I think the relationships with my family and friends were tested in this process. There were some issues that seemed to pull at the very fundamental fabric which we all believed make up this nation and our personhoods. People felt that there was MUCH at stake and circumstances were ripe for dissent to lead to resentment. But it speaks to the quality of people with whom I choose to associate that we have been able to discuss these issues via this blog, or texting or emails or phone calls and emerge a little stronger. I would like to offer my sincere apology to anyone whom I may have offended during this election season, and my sincere appreciation for my friends and family and their thoughtful participation on politically motivated posts.

May God now work. May God now send a spirit of change and renewal upon our world and upon our country. May God bless us first as human beings, next as citizens of this world and next as citizens of America.