Dear, kind marathon runner.


Dear, sweet, kind, wonderful marathon runner,

We had a lovely conversation tonight while I was at work.  I asked you for money for my school, and you said no.  But that’s not what made this so lovely.

You were friendly.

Oh, you will never know the extent of what that meant to me.  You shared kind words and true regret that you weren’t able to give to the university at the time.  You said I was sweet.  That kept me smiling for the rest of my shift.

Some people just say no and hang up.  Some people make up excuses for why they are never available to talk.  Is there a better time that I could reach him?  no?  never?  Some people are friendly enough until they realize that you are trying to raise money – for a worthy cause – and shut down all semblances of kindness.

But not you.  You have expenses, Ms. Marathon Runner, but you said I could call back next semester.  And, boy, will I look forward to that call.  I’ll look forward to kind words and patience.

Thank you for being different than most people I talk to. Thank you for understanding that this is my job, and I don’t mean to call during dinnertime or when children are screaming or when your finances are tight.  Thank you for picking up your phone.

I hope you win the marathon.  You deserve it.

Love,

Ashley

P.S. While I’m thanking people, thank you Tide for making Tide-to-go pens so that I didn’t have to wash my whole quilt when I got salsa on it tonight.  You people are amazing.

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Technology challenge day.


Today hasn’t been the most productive of days, and I blame that on the fact that facebook has suspiciously been unavailable on the school wifi.  I think it’s a social experiment, personally.  I know that facebook is typically thought of as a distraction, but I think I get more done when I know what everyone is doing.

Just kidding.  I definitely don’t get anything more done.

The other thing to blame is that Pearl went insane this morning.  (Pearl is my phone, by the way.)  After a couple conversations with the Samsung people, I have learned that the only way to change things is to take her in to the AT&T store.

So, that’s how I’ll spend my Saturday night.  I won’t finish my annotated bibliography right now.  I’ll just set things aside and go downtown to the support place.

As difficult as dealing with tech support can be at times, I’m thankful that it exists.  Pearl has been vibrating and blank screening since 9am, which I suppose is kind of like a smart phone seizure.  Poor girl, she must be sick.

Yesterday I needed my own type of tech support.  I was malfunctioning.  I don’t believe I’ve talked about Street Ministry before, but it’s where we spend some time with our friends who are homeless.  We share a meal with them from 9:30 to 11:30 on Friday nights.  I really can’t think of a better way to spend my time, and I always leave feeling quite happy.

But yesterday after classes and yoga, I was just feeling so sleepy.  I’d forgotten that I really do enjoy spending time with my friends on the street.  I’d forgotten that there is such a blessing to be had in spending time with people that I don’t normally associate with – people that are typically on the fringe of society.  I leave feeling so full, something that I never feel after 10pm.

Jesus offers good tech support when I malfunction.  I’m thankful for that.

Stairs and Fridays.


Couple things before I really get going:

1) A friend and reader remarked yesterday that perhaps my intense reaction to the decaf americano was a signal that I’d had too much caffeine.  While he may be right, I’ll just have to say “no comment” on that one – other than the thought that at least I didn’t vocalize my thoughts to the poor Starbucks patron. :)

2) I have fallen in love with Etsy.  This is probably a problem, but it also means that I can find unique gifts for people.  You better hope you’re on my Christmas list.

3) Also (this is an update from this afternoon) – it’s hug a vegetarian day!  So, go hug your friendly neighborhood vegetarian – which just might be me if you live in my zip code.

Now, on to the thought of the day.

I was climbing up the six flights of stairs to my public speaking class this morning (124 stairs, just so you know… I’m always winded when I get to the top, even though I do this three times a week) and praying for my sister Jesus, be with her every step (set foot firmly on step number 80) of the way today.  

Fridays are a lot like that climb up the stairs.  You know it’s good for you to keep going all the way up.  You know that you won’t get to where you need to be if you don’t finish. Yet, sometimes it’s a little painful. Or just exhausting.  Sometimes you wish you’d taken the elevator mid-flight.  Sometimes you wish that you’d cancelled all your plans and commitments for Friday so that you could start the weekend early.

But we all know that it’s better to finish strong, right?

Friday can sometimes stretch itself out and feel like it will never end, but then it does.  And you’re at the top of the Friday staircase.  And you might be a little winded, but then you get Saturday and Sunday to recover – or maybe not a full recovery but at least a little bit of one.

So with every step of this Friday I’m asking Jesus to help me to not only get through today but to live it to the fullest.  I’m asking for grace for other people so I don’t overreact to their Starbucks orders.

Happy Friday, folks.

Americano… decaf.


You could say that I like coffee, but I almost feel like that would be lying.  I’ve been drinking it every morning in order to breathe and speak and think properly for the past 5-6 years.  (We’re not going to talk about whether or not it’s an addiction.  We’re just not.)  You might say more accurately that coffee is my best friend or spouse or the best gift God has ever given to mankind.  (exaggerating a little bit on that last one, but I’m proving a point here)

I not only love coffee; I’m devoted to it.

So when I heard someone behind where I’m sitting in the Starbucks that is less jazzy, more acoustic now (fine by me) order a grande decaf Americano I wanted to turn around and say something along these lines:

“WHAT?”  *indignant, angry, hurt, shocked face*

In case you don’t know what an americano is, it’s espresso with water added.  Sounds gross, right?  Especially if you’re a froofy coffee person (I’m not).  But in addition to that, this person got it DECAF.

Why not just get all the coffee beans in the world and stomp on them with your dirty hiking boots while singing country music?  Why not just personally insult every person who has every enjoyed a cup of coffee?

Maybe I’m overreacting.

I guess my real question is, Why would you pay for that at Starbucks? 

Good question, right?  I mean, it’s not even giving you a kick to start the day.  And it sure as heck can’t taste good.  But it probably cost at least $4.00.  WHY, Americano person, why??

I did pay $4.99 for my grande pumpkin spice mocha, but that’s just a once in a while treat.  I usually pay $2.14 (with gift cards) for my grande Pike Place roast with room for cream.  And that’s only on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Maybe the decaf americano was that person’s treat of the week. Maybe it’s their favorite thing ever (in which case I would recommend a taste bud transplant), and they just needed it today, like I really wanted my pumpkin spice latte. (limited time only, you know)

It’s yet another lesson in not jumping to conclusions about people I know nothing about.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Americano… psshhhh.

Brownies and plans.


Things I’m contemplating at the moment:

– whether to eat raspberries or a Symphony brownie that my mom sent me.  I’ll probably choose both, as usual.

– if I drink coffee right now, will it keep me up past 11? We all know nothing good happens after 10:30pm.

– why do I feel the need to plan out my entire life right now?

People ask almost every day what my major is.  It’s a popular question on a college campus when you meet someone for the first time.  It gives you a glimpse into who the other person is, knowing what they want to do with their lives.  Granted, it’s a glimpse, but it says something.

Hang on, gotta get those brownies.

And I’m back, with both brownies and raspberries in tow.

I would like to clarify something to the world at large (or maybe just to the twenty people who will see this today): I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years.  Actually, I don’t know where I’ll be next year.

It’s funny; I’m a really good planner.  I’ve got my major all planned out (co-constructed, remember? that communications/writing/philosophy mixture) and my study abroad picked and my advisor assigned and my dream job in mind (sort of, even though there isn’t really a good paycheck involved).  But let’s get real folks.  I’ve done that sort of planning my entire life.  And I definitely didn’t end up where I thought I was going.

For example: Four years ago, I thought for sure I was going to go to Wheaton.  And study English so I could teach.  Then I was going to go to Grove City (two years ago) and study psychology so I could be like the people on Criminal Minds.

I’m in neither place, studying neither one of those fields.

I imagined that I wouldn’t date in high school.  I did.  I didn’t know about the journeys God would take me on – literally – and the ministries and people I’d meet.  Heck, at the rate that my plans turn out the way I make them, in three years, I could be pre-med with a music minor and married.

[I’m pretty sure that the pre-med won’t work out, for a lot of reasons.  But, mainly, blood. Also, not really feeling the married at 21 vibe.]

I have a friend (won’t name any names, but you know who you are) who has planned out all her kids first and middles names, has dictated that her husband WILL drive a pickup, and she knows where she will live.  These are non-negotiables.  She’s probably picked out her death date, too.

It’s nice to plan.  I’ve made plans.  I like my plans, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure that they will even come close to happening.

It’s an exciting ride, this life journey.  We think we know what’s ahead, then come twists and turns and an ending no one expected.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

Just one more cup of coffee and one less class.


There are those days when you just really need to rely on God’s grace.  For some reason, today is one of those days.  And now that I actually understand what it is, I can rely on it much better than before.

I’m back in the jazzy Starbucks, but they’re not playing jazz today.  They’re playing the Avett Brothers, if my ear does not deceive me.  And that’s quite alright with me.

Let’s talk about my new job.  I am now a proud Phonathon caller for my school. (NOT a telemarketer, as I was reminded last night at training)  If you’re an alum, I might just be calling you in the near future to ask you to donate.  I’ve been properly trained, so odds are, you’ll give.  And I have a fancy schmancy headset that makes me feel like I should break out dancing and singing “Bye Bye Bye”.  I will be working the phone lines from 6-9:30 every Monday and Thursday and every Sunday afternoon/early evening.

Now, those of you who know me well (or at least know that I go to bed at 10:30) might be seeing something funny about this situation: the end time.  It’s past nine.  Stephanie and Mel, the girls down the hall have joked that if I don’t get in bed by 11, the universe will fall out of alignment.  Don’t worry, folks.  I’ll still be getting in bed early.  Your universe will stay as aligned as it is now.  This setup will just force me to have a little more planning ahead, which I’m totally fine with.  I like planning ahead.

So when I can’t plan ahead, I’m a little bit more reliant on God.  Hence the need for grace.  There are some things you just can’t plan ahead in – and you probably shouldn’t.  So, the best thing to do is to take things one day at a time.

Hello, Tuesday.  It’s really nice to see you.  You’ve only brought me one class today, and that’s so sweet of you.  Plus there’s no work or choir tonight.  Then on Wednesday I have – oh, wait.  just Tuesday for now.

Actually, how about just the 9:00 hour on Tuesday.  Oh Jesus, grace, please.

Maybe I should just focus on the next fifteen minutes.  Likely all that will be required of me in those is to it and drink coffee.  Ah.  Living fifteen minutes at a time.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Burning and muffins.


Yesterday, I burned myself on the oven.  Not too badly, don’t worry.  I still have all my skin and all. I just have a little burn on my hand that’s going to take a couple weeks to get back to normal.

But, no, it wasn’t when I was making muffins.

Sidebar: here’s how I made them:

Take a yellow cake mix in a box.  And a can of pumpkin.  And a bowl.  And a spoon (not pictured).

Put the cake mix into the bowl.  (see the spoon?  now you know what I’m talking about)

Add the pumpkin.  Be amazed at how orange it is.  Feel full of the goodness of fall.  Relish the delight of baking in a small, understocked dorm kitchen (but with your very own muffin pan…  coming soon)

Mix a little (vigorously with the spoon – only one that was available in this kitchen), add some water.  Mix a little more.  Add a little more water.  Go upstairs to your RA’s room and ask to have some cinnamon.  Sprinkle some cinnamon on the bowl.  How’s your day been, RA?  Good?  Thanks for the cinnamon. Take bowl back down to the kitchen.

Spoon into your very own muffin pan.  Put in the oven for about 13 minutes.  (depends on how well your oven works.  You might wanna play the time thing by ear.  Watch closely.)

Take muffins out.  Let em cool for a bit.  Wash your muffin pan, put the second batch in.  Let those cool, then amaze your friends with your incredible pumpkin muffins.  And eat them for breakfast the next day with Greek yogurt and coffee.

End sidebar.  (but really, try making those muffins.  I think next time I make them I’ll doctor the recipe a little bit.  I’ll let you know how it goes.)

But no, I was very careful when making these muffins to not burn myself.  It was when I was heating up leftover Lou Malnati’s pizza that I burned my hand.

Just when you think you’re home free from burns, you get careless and burn yourself.

Be careful, folks.  Ovens are hot.

Significant joy.


The Minnesota Vikings are winning today, and – just like the last time they won – my Jared Allen Vikings shirt is dirty.  Not like “oh, I wore this once” dirty, but like “I worked out in this” dirty.  So, I’m thinking that I’m significant to this process of them winning.  I’m going to start working out in my Vikings shirt every week that they play.  It’ll be a sacrifice to not rep my MN pride on a day when they’re doing so well, but if it will help them win, I’ll do my part.

Another thing I was thinking is that maybe I should stop talking about the little joys in my life as though they’re insignificant… because they’re not.  I went grocery shopping today, and I was thinking to myself as I walked the mile to the grocery store This is a nice walk.  It’s one of those little pleasure in life, a walk through nice fall weather when the sun is shining.  Then I got in the grocery store and found all the things I needed. Oh, this is nice.  I don’t get to shop much while I’m in school.  And I’d feel guilty if I did.  Grocery shopping’s good.  I can buy things – because I need them – and not feel too bad.

It was a fairly significant joyful feeling.  So I’m going to call those things significant joys.

More of those from today:

– there was plenty of pineapple at breakfast.

– I got a phone call from a friend while I was looking for hummus, and he had a funny story for me.

– I successfully found all that I needed in the foreign grocery store.  It did have a weird layout, so that was a challenge.

– I found a recipe for muffins that includes two ingredients.  So I’m going to make those and get back to you on how it goes.  Minimal ingredients is awesome when you don’t have your own stocked kitchen.

– There’s leftover Lou Malnati’s for dinner.

– I saw a bunch of cute kids on my walks today.

– between the walk to church and the grocery store, I’ve walked 4 miles today.  That means I don’t have to work out this afternoon.

– Individual Greek yogurt cups were on sale.

– Church this morning was full of everything good.

– I am the proud owner of a new muffin pan.  Really, really proud owner.  Bakeware is exciting.  It pretty much makes you a legitimate person.

What are your significant joys today? I forget to think about those sometimes, but when I do, the list gets long.  And then I remember that life is good.  How silly of me to forget.

Not a shelf.


I’ll start with a note about what I’ve been eating today.  I ate a normal breakfast, but lunch consisted of apple pizza and apple pie.  And it wasn’t healthy at all.

But it was delicious.

 

And deep dish pizza is for dinner.  I’ll go back to eating like a rabbit tomorrow. (aka salad and salad sandwiches from the cafeteria)

I was thinking about shelving today.  It’s totally normal, because that’s one of the first things that I see when I wake up.  My shelving unit with all my post-it reminders.

It’s an ever-growing collection of things I want to remember.  It makes my life much less stressful, to at least know that I will remember these things.

Anyways, shelves.  This morning, I was telling Jesus about the things that I knew I needed to give over to Him, again.  Then I got this picture in my head of what I keep doing with the things that I worry about needlessly.

I treat Jesus like a shelf.  I put my problems and cares and worries and issues up there when I’ve had enough of them, when I think I’ve worried enough to actually do something.  Then, when I start feeling like I’ve left it there long enough, I take it back down.  And when it’s up there, I’m still looking at it all the time.

I’m pretty sure that Jesus doesn’t want to be a shelf, something that holds things when it’s convenient for me.  I’m pretty sure that Jesus wants to take the role of the God who holds my cares and shortcomings and takes care of things and replaces worry with peace and then throws my sins and such into the deepest pit ever.

I’m pretty sure that it’s not supposed to be convenient for me to give things up.  Not because Jesus makes things difficult for me, but because worry is clingy.  It’s like a barnacle or a parasite.  It’s rarely convenient to get rid of a parasite.  And I doubt that many of us would want to put it on our shelves, to take it back down and keep it with us.  Why would worry be any different?

Shelves are nice for post-it notes or for my graham crackers and peanut butter.  Not worry, anxiety, troubles, cares, etc.

 

TGFF


I love Fridays usually.  Today’s no exception.  I didn’t have any reading due, any assignments to figure out, any papers to write, and my classes didn’t require much out of me.  I can spend most of the weekend getting ahead in my classes and enjoying the Apple Fest in Lincoln Square.

I heard two ladies talking today about how they were doing.  The gist of their conversation was that they weren’t have such great weeks – so busy, you know – but (and here the resolute tone enters) at least today’s Friday.  Big sigh.  Now let’s do yoga (that’s where we were).

Friday means a lot to us, doesn’t it?  Saturday and Sunday might not actually bring that much less responsibility or much more relaxation than the rest of the week, but Friday makes us think that we’re going to be okay.  Knowing that we’ve lived life for another week and will hopefully make it back for another one brings relief.  I don’t live for the weekend since I like my daily life during the week, but Fridays are definitely something to thank God for.

Along with rain and Fika (wanna know more about that?  Go to last Saturday’s post) and street ministry.  And ice cream Snicker’s bars.  And hugs.  And letters.  And finally being able to buy stamps.  And having a job.  And liking your co-workers.  And good music.  And good friends.  And Jesus.

There’s a practice room calling my name right now.  And some music that really wants to be played.  Happy Friday.  Thank God For Fridays. TGFF