Something’s missing.


I have to say, that although I love college, there’s one thing that is missing. (besides the insect that I saw scurrying across my floor this morning – still don’t know where it is… it’s unnerving)

Children.  Babies.  Toddlers.  If you know me even remotely well, you know that children are one of my favorite things, that I have a baby radar.  Not that I want kids of my own right now, but there’s a reason that I picked a job where I get to be with the youngest in our population.

I miss those little ones.  I learn so much from them.  And they give me so many funny stories and blog topics.  It’s a tragedy to go so long without holding a baby or playing legos with a cute little someone.

Wanted: babies to hold for about half an hour.

I was thinking about something else today.  Typically, if you’re genuinely friendly to people, they’ll reciprocate.  Exhibit A: the people in the post office are seen as crabby, but if you’re nice and make jokes about how you’ve never seen such a clean dollar bill in your life (trust me, it was funny), they might just be nice back.  They might say, “Have a good day, hon” and send you on your way with your stamps.

Just thinking about that.  As I’m finding myself walking past so many people that I don’t know on a daily basis, I’m realizing that when someone smiles for real at me, I start doing the same for other people.  And it makes me happy.  And it might just make them happy.  And it cost $0.  And it wasn’t really painful at all.

Just thinking.

Oh, and by the way, this is post number 250.  Seemed like a significant thing to say.

Bread and butter.


I’m trying to develop a reputation on campus as the girl who always has a tub of butter with her.  So far, this hasn’t been a practical endeavor since butter needs refrigeration, but I”m compromising by buying day old bread at Jimmy John’s, spreading butter on it, and eating it as I walk to class.

Bread and butter is one of the most simple pleasures in life – one that has been lacking at college.  You’ve heard me talk about the horrible problem of no butter in the cafeteria here before, so I won’t harp on that.

Today, it’s a whole bunch of little things that make me happy:

1) I did my speech, did it fairly well, got a good grade, and now have three weeks without anything to do in my public speaking class.  It was another thing that I had put in Jesus’ hands, and kept having to put it back up there after I took it down to worry about some more.  And, what do you know?  I only said about one stupid thing and said “um” a lot – which I expected.  It’s hard to un-learn that.  Turns out I can trust this Jesus guy.

Okay, so maybe they’re not that small.

2) Learned today that I can create my own major and still study abroad and graduate in three years like I’d hoped.

3) My advisor is great.

4) Lotsa bread and butter.

5) Got another page written on this difficult essay

6) Took a dorm-made mocha to Comm class today, got out twenty minutes early.

7) Received a letter from my daddy and a Starbucks gift card from someone else

8) Was finally able to get cash since my bank accounts got synced – you don’t realize how nice cash is until you don’t have it!

I won’t recount the little things that made me tired or overwhelmed.  They’re just not worth it.

 

You’re a witness now.


I’m back in the jazzy Starbucks, and I’ve got a few things to say.

Number one: I’m convinced that my heart doesn’t beat in the morning until I start to drink my coffee.  Absolutely convinced.

Number two: I read a really good book that I hated while I was reading the first half, but now that I’ve completely finished it and analyzed it a bit, I’m realizing that it’s incredibly significant to me.  If you’ve ever struggled with the creation account in Genesis and modern science and wanted to understand it a bit better, The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton might be a helpful read.  I’d let you borrow my copy, but I rented it.  So go on Amazon or to your local library.  You’ll find it.

Number three: This one’s mostly for me.  God is so faithful.  I just have to keep records.

Here’s how God has been faithful to me this week.  (And I’m keeping the record here instead of in my journal because now there are witnesses to His goodness and when I forget, you can remind me.)  I applied for a job last week.  I sent in my first resumé, completed a phone interview, and was told I’d be notified in a week.

I was really tempted to worry, folks.  Real tempted.  Because I have this faulty notion in my head that when I worry about something as long as possible, I can make things happen.  (It’s never worked before, but hey, whoever said I thought logically?)  I have this idea that if I let me stomach get in knots for as long as possible and keep my brain coming up with all the possibilities of what could happen, that I’ll be better off.

Well, I decided to try something different this week.  I decided that if I say that I trust God, I should probably live that way.  So I told God that I wasn’t going to worry about the job.  I told Him that I was putting the whole thing into His hands (and to help me, as a visual person, I pictured it in my head), and whenever I started getting that knotty feeling in my stomach, I pictured it there.  Or put it back up there if I had taken it back into my own hands.

And what do you know?  I had a nice, worry-free week.  That would have been enough, proof that I can trust God.  But to make things better, I got the job.

*wild applause for Jesus*

It was an experiment.  When I put the job into His hands, I put some other things up there too.  And I’m learning to trust on a daily basis.  Learning that my worry doesn’t only not do me good, it doesn’t help the situation I’m in.

The cliché fits: Don’t worry; be happy – when you’ve transferred the worry-inducer to someone capable.  We should always add that caveat.

It’s dangerous to say that I’m trusting God on here, because I really shouldn’t lie to you.  It’s going to keep me accountable.  Also, I have a sticky note system that does that. (more on that later)

We inaugurated fall.


It’s only September 17th, but it’s fall now.  And this is solely because it rained tonight and brought a cool breeze with it at the same time that I was making pumpkin bars with my friend down the hall.

There was an inauguration of the season as soon as the cream cheese frosting and sprinkle of cinnamon were laid atop the beautiful pumpkin goodness.  It was a beautiful moment.

Then I brought back the delicious goodness to share with Kathryn.

And within two minutes, that plate looked something more like this… actually, exactly like this.  Notice the evidence that we scraped off every last bit of cream cheese frosting.

Fall is another reminder to live where I am.  We’ve talked about this before, you and I.  Autumn is one of the most fleeting seasons in the Midwest – or at least in Minnesota.  True autumn (where you need a sweatshirt but don’t need a jacket and eat pumpkin things and the leaves turn pretty colors and fall down and allergens are awful) lasts for little more than a month, usually.  Then the bitter cold comes…

but we don’t need to go there yet.

We’re going to stay right here, where it’s fall and beautiful.  Looking ahead is good, but there’s something great to be experienced right here, right now.  I will only live this time of my life once, so I’m going to do it right and be all here.

And right now, being where I am means I need to bring this post to a close and read some Plato. (doesn’t that sound so scholarly?  so collegiate?)

Overdose.


After we kept hearing about Margie’s ice cream for weeks, Mel and I decided to take an adventure last night.  Hop on the el, get off at Montrose, and be amazed at how many choices there were.  Not only did we have to choose what sundae we wanted, but we had to choose which two flavors of ice cream to get in it. And if we wanted nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry as well.  And if we wanted to eat inside or outside.

It was a stressful process.

then we got our sundaes.  And it was stressful in the best and most delicious way possible.

That’s two scoops of ice cream: chocolate and moose tracks, completely drenched in hot fudge and whipped cream, with bananas on the side. It was amazing.

And this is about 20 minutes into the sundaes.  We persevered as long as we could, wishing we had bigger spoons, but it was just too much ice cream.  So this was our stopping point.

We were so full.  As in full past capacity.

“hopefully we don’t throw up!”

We were too full.  We made a pact that next time we go, we will either split a sundae at least three ways or get something a LOT smaller.  I’m the type who needs to eat every two hours, but I was full for the whole evening… and now, in the morning as I type this, I think I still am.

It was too much ice cream.  An overdose.  And it’s sad that you can feel such mixed feelings about something so wonderful: ice cream sundaes are fabulous, but overdosing on it makes you pretty uncomfortable.

This makes me thankful for the things in life that you can’t overdose on: love, JESUS, etc.  I’m so glad that I can’t overdose on Jesus.

And that Jesus doesn’t seem to overdose on me.

So often I think of Jesus like I was last night, thinking, man, I shouldn’t have gone that far in that sundae.  I should have split it.  It’s just too much.  I can’t handle all that this sundae brings me!  I forget that Jesus isn’t tired, and He’s not tired of me.  (although He doesn’t lack reason to be)  He doesn’t get to a point where He’s sick of talking to me and guiding me in His way.  It’s remarkable, something no human can or will do.

It’s a phenomenon I don’t understand in the least, which is why – I suppose – it’s hard to wrap my mind around it.  I blogged about this on Churchwith.us a while ago, but I still consciously wrestle with the idea that Jesus is tired of and disappointed with me, that I’m bothering him when I can’t get to the point in my prayers, that He doesn’t want to carry my burdens.

false. false.false.

Take a read of this post.

Thank you, Jesus, for not being sick of me.

 

 

 

I think I’ll be Swedish.


I’ll be honest that I didn’t expect to experience so much Swedish culture in coming to college.  As a non-Swede and non-Covenant church member, I’m sort of a minority, but that means that I get to experience a lot of new things.  I’ve met people from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Ecuador, Vietnam, South Korea, Iceland, and more, all on the North Park campus.  Shameless plug: if you’re looking for a cross-cultural college experience without leaving the country with a small student population in a big city, come here.  Really.

One of the Swedish cultural things I’ve experienced is fika.  Fika is my new favorite thing.

Here’s the official definition: “both a Swedish verb and noun that roughly means “to drink coffee,” usually accompanied by something sweet.” (from wikipedia) In my case, it meant going to the pink campus house and drinking coffee with a whole bunch of new friends.  Oh, and don’t forget the table with pumpkin maple sugar homemade cookies and caramel mocha cookies and raspberry cupcakes and puppy chow.

It’s such a nice tradition, to stop everything around 4:30 and drink a cup of coffee and eat a cookie and talk to people.  Apparently, in Sweden everything stops for fika.

America doesn’t stop for much, really.  But I think if we’re going to stop for anything, coffee is a good choice.  Or for people, to be relational.

I think I’ll be a surrogate Swede.

Sharing loads.


I’ll never understand coin-operated laundry systems.  At least, not in my dorm.  Apparently, my tuition dollars are not enough to cover the cost of laundry, so I’d better give them an extra $.75 to make up for that.

As an out-of-state student whose bank doesn’t have an ATM closer than 30 miles away from campus, I had to get a new account when I got here.  And since banks are notoriously slow in operation, I still do not have the capability to get cash.  (It’s in my near future though, fortunately!)  And since I never got around to buying a roll of quarters before I left, I am cashless.

A gracious friend of mine down the hall has been helping me out with the no-quarter issue.  We’ve done laundry together and discovered that if we’d only put our laundry into the machine it would have been a waste of money – these washers have a huge capacity.  So, we share a load and get all of our laundry done faster and for less money.

We also share other loads.

Burdens.

Troubles.

I’m not one to do this very often, and Myers-Briggs told me that it’s my personality type to bottle things up.  Not real healthy, right?  So, today, for a little while, we shared our burdens.  Turns out, we’ve got a similar weight on our backs.  And even though we can’t really figure out how to relieve the burden entirely, in some ways, simply sharing it makes it seem lighter.  Maybe it’s just the idea that we’re not carrying weight alone that makes it more bearable.

I think this is why we were made with a desire for companionship.  God, so wise, gave us people around us to share life with, to share loads with.

And not just in laundry.

Future Olympic champion, ready made.


I think I’ll join the 2016 Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. I’ve had dreams of being an Olympian for a long time – stifled with reality as of late – so it’s time to realize those.

2. Who doesn’t want to go to Brazil? Really.

3. I even have a sport.

I walk fast.  Thus, I will train and join the race walking team.  I even did a little research during the summer Olympics: they walk 12 miles.

I really do walk fast.  I can cross campus in about 3 minutes flat.  If I’m really booking it, maybe less.  I pass people on the sidewalk frequently, making a point to not be snotty about it and smiled graciously.  I try to not send the message that they are too slow or in my way.

They’re not.  I’ve just got places to be.  I guess you could say that when I’m walking to class, I’m less interested in the journey than the destination.  It’s different when I’m walking around the lake looking at the fall colors or moseying downtown. If I’m walking around my neighborhood here alone, I definitely walk fast.

Part of this is long legs, part of it is just really not seeing much point in taking forever to get somewhere.  It’s definitely a sign of some internal desire to not have to wait, to determine my own path, to just get where I’m going.

This is why I don’t like waiting on God.  When I’m in transition, I’m always praying things like okay, God, whenever you’re ready to tell me what’s next or what I should be headed towards, that would be great.  I love to plan ahead and scoot right over to where I am going.  I’m not really interested in the long, drawn-out process that will get me there… Oh, that’s part of the point?  It is? Am I supposed to like waiting?  Because I don’t.  I know you have good stuff ahead… and that’s why I want to get there.  I’m willing to be obedient… but can we just walk a little faster?  Can we arrive?

The best part about a plane trip is not – to me – the takeoff that initiates the travel, the beverage service, the in-flight movies, or the announcement that we are at cruising altitude so everyone is allowed to finally use the bathroom (even though that is often a welcome announcement).  It’s the part where the captain says to the flight attendants, “Prepare for landing.”  Then when you get close to your destination and look out the window at the city glimmering in the dark (because that’s the best time to land) and you feel the landing gear come down on the bottom of the plane.  And you hold your breath as you wait for the bump that means that you’re on the ground, at last.

I like to arrive.  I’m sure that needs to change.

Misunderstandings and cupcakes.


Two things right off of the bat.

  1. I know that people say you shouldn’t use food as a comfort mechanism or as a way of rewarding yourself, but I disagree.  You have my permission to go ahead.
  2. My and Kathryn’s new motto is “Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake”  – going with the permission I have just granted.

Also, I should say that today is a Paul Simon’s Negotiations and Love Songs kind of day.  I’m not sure exactly what constitutes a Paul Simon say, but that day is today.  The sun is shining again, the weather has heated up, and I don’t have too much homework.

And now for the real reason I wanted to blog right now.

I just realized yesterday that I have misunderstood grace for my entire life.  Boom.  That’s a big deal, folks.  I’m not sure how I never was corrected on this, but I equated it with mercy.  Basically as the thought that I don’t deserve forgiveness, but I get it anyways. I was at church last night for the prayer meeting, and the pastor was talking about grace.  And I was thinking to myself (rather foolishly) aw, he’s using that word wrong.  He doesn’t get the definition.

Because this is the gist of what he was saying:

– when you’re back’s up against the wall, grace is going to get you through.

– when you need comfort, grace will give that.

– grace in our spirit produces fruit that blesses others.

and I just sat there like, what?  And, since I was reluctant to think that I had misunderstood for so long, I thought about how that could possibly fit into what I had thought grace was.  And then I realized that it must not be what I thought it was.

I have no idea how I made it through 10 years of private schooling without understanding grace.  I think it was the acronym that confused me a little bit, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  I thought more about the “expense” part and thought about how Christ’s sacrifice brought forgiveness.  Forgiveness = riches?  Sure, I thought so.

But now I think I’ve got a slightly clearer perspective.  And I’m going to try to articulate it.

God has mercy on us, offering us forgiveness even though we don’t deserve it.  But then, on top of that forgiveness, He offers us His grace.  And grace is God’s kindness to us, the way He offers us the peace and joy and comfort we’ve never known.  And He empowers us to do what we need to do and to offer grace to others.

I’ve definitely experienced grace.  So now I get what that is.  Really.

Grace.  Huh, who knew you could misunderstand it for so long?

Jazzy Starbucks.


If you haven’t already caught this drift from my previous posts, I love Chicago.  And my campus.  And my classes.  And the school nurse who flushed out my ears (hallelujah, I can hear).  And my advisor.  And the people who work in the ARA.  And the girl I met who is exactly a foot shorter than me.  And the girls down the hall.  And the friends from the other hall.  And the zumba classes.  And walking everywhere.

And this jazzy Starbucks.  It’s a sunny day outside, perfect weather for a light sweater and jeans (apparently the heat’s coming back tomorrow, so I’m savoring this).  I guess I’ve never spent much time in Starbucks since Caribou was so much closer to my house.  I don’t know if it’s a company policy to play classy jazz music, but I like it.  It doesn’t really fit in with The Lost World of Genesis One, my study companion for today, but I like it.  It’s like while my mind is reviewing the reading, my ears are getting a special treat.  

I like this jazzy Starbucks.  It’s a funny environment, a coffee shop.  Most people are here to be alone and to work with their coffee.  Then there are a few who are here to catch up with another person.  And then there are those blessed people who work here.  (Oh, Jesus, bless those people)  All here for different purposes, most likely will never know exactly who each other are.

And it’s not awkward in the least.  Are there studies done on the coffee shop culture?  If not, researchers are missing out.  What is it, exactly, that not only brings us in to get our cup of life-giving juice, but to stay?  Some people here are just reading books or surfing the internet, no real need to stay.  It’s a strange community.  And there’s my professor.  He’s here for the beverage that I will see in his hand in class in 25 minutes.

If it wasn’t weird, I’d go take a poll of the people in here.  Why are you here?  What brought you here?  Why are you staying?  Are you feeling lonely?  Why not? What beverage did you get?  

Oh, the joys of the imagination and a cup of coffee.