Overstuffed suitcases and a whole lot of blue.


I have some confessions.  They mostly have to do with how much I’m packing into my two suitcases and backpack to take back to school with me this afternoon.  I’m not only bringing sweaters and pants and warm clothing such as scarves, mittens, and my winter coat.  I’m also bringing peanut butter pretzels and Gevalia coffee, Trader Joe’s hand soap, earmuffs, two aprons, and more coffee mugs.  Plus, my fake Uggs and the cleaning cloth for Matilda (she’s been needing a dusting and a de-fingerprinting for a while).

And I further confess that in the excess of things (much of which was given to me by my mother… she’s in on this too), most of it is blue. Blue suitcases, blue backpack.  Blue jeans, blue new shirts, blue journal, blue pattern on the pink mittens.  I’m even wearing two shades of blue right now as I write this and try to stuff yet another pair of shoes into my suitcase.

You could say I’m just trying to take as much of home with me as I can.  And I think that would be an accurate assumption.  That’s probably what I’m trying to do.  I’m taking my favorite pretzels and coffee to make my diet more similar.  I’m bringing the cold weather attire that I know well because it’ll bring back memories of Minnesota winters.

I can’t bring my literal home with me.  It’s just not practical to fly an entire building to Chicago when I have a perfectly nice 15 x 15 foot space to live in with Kathryn.  Sure, it’s been nice to take bubble baths and shower without wearing flip-flops and have a immaculately clean bathroom to myself.  I’ve enjoyed the luxury (yes, it is a luxury) of walking ten feet to a fully stocked kitchen and baking cookies with my mom.  I’ve savored the hugs and chatting over coffee and pumpkin waffles in the morning with my parents.  There was such soul comfort in getting to wrap my arms around the people I spent years with in school here, and hearing about their experiences bridged the physical gap well.

You could say I’m a little bit blue myself to leave home after such a short time here.  Fortunately, the next month holds a lot of family.  It will only be one month (actually, exactly from yesterday) til I’m home again for Thanksgiving and my dad’s 30th birthday (again…. weird how that keeps happening).  And in just two short weeks, I’ll be in Holland, MI to visit my dear sister for the weekend.

And, as we already know, I’m not leaving alone.  I’m taking Jesus back to Chicago with me.  He’s my most intimate traveling companion.  We’re going to the Humphrey terminal after lunch this afternoon, then we’ll go to Chicago and head back to North Park.

I’m pretty thankful for that.  I’ve got a good travel buddy.

 

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Jesus came home with me.


This is my workout for the day, writing.  I know you wouldn’t, but don’t judge me for that.  Thanks.  You guys are great.

It’s a strange feeling, this being home thing.  I thoroughly enjoy all of it, but I feel like a familiar stranger in my house.  I lived here for 18 years, but I haven’t been here for the past two months.  Eating breakfast while sitting on the barstools at the kitchen counter felt totally natural… but also completely foreign. At school, I eat on my bed, where the cereal boxes on the shelves and the almond milk in the refrigerator and the coffeemaker are all within arm’s reach (though I might have to lean a little bit).

Here, I sit with my mom, high quality coffee, pumpkin cream cheese bread, and Greek yogurt with pears and cinnamon.  She’s been updating me bit by bit on what I’ve missed, and I reciprocated by sharing with her some of the things I’m learning as well as introducing her to all my friends from school via their facebook pages.

A theme in my life lately has been Jesus.  Now before you write that off as cliché and typical of every post, hear me out.  I’ve been following Jesus sincerely since the beginning of middle school, I think.  I went through a process of learning what that meant and deciding that I wanted to be a part of it that continues today.  So it’s not like Jesus being around is new to me.

Our campus pastor, Judy Peterson, offers a benediction at the end of chapel services, and she often describes Jesus as going “before you and behind you and on your left and on your right…. May He be your most intimate traveling companion.”

She’s not just talking about when I travel via plane, train, and automobile.  Life’s a journey, and she’s encouraging us to see Jesus as the one who goes with us everywhere.  I don’t know about you, but a traveling companion plays a big role in my journey.  He offers not just advice on which route to take but companionship for the road, things to think about, etc.  I’m learning what it looks like for me to wake up as a steward of the life Jesus has given me, inviting Him to eat breakfast with me.  I’m learning how to take Him to class and choir and work with me.  I’m learning what it means to introduce Him to my friends sincerely and without formal presentation.

I’m learning that it’s not like a midget dog that fits in my purse and goes everywhere with me.  It’s like having a trusted friend who sticks around no matter what.

I like traveling with Jesus.  Today, our travels take us shopping and to see some greatly missed friends.

 

Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home.


Yeah, I know you’ve technically already heard from me today.  Oh well. I wrote that yesterday and posted it really early this morning, so it doesn’t count.

You wanna know where I am?  You wanna know?  Take a guess.  I haven’t been here since August 20th.

You might have guessed. I’m sitting on my very own bed (which feels very near to the ground after sleeping on a bed with risers for so long) with a cup of coffee that matches the walls around me.  My daddy is in the kitchen, within yelling distance, since he came home early to work at home.  My mom is downstairs, a short 14 stairs away.

Oh, I’ve missed this.

Independence is great.  I love living on my own in the city and being responsible for myself on a daily basis.  That’s my daily life now. But it’s a real treat to have someone take care of me.  And I’m not even sick.

Our society really values independence, don’t we?  I feel like every ad campaign is directed towards showing me how this product will make me more capable, give me an ability to do more.  And if I can do more, then I need people less, right?  We go to school so that we can get jobs and be independent, right?

Or maybe that’s not the goal.  Maybe that’s a lie that we’re being fed.

I’m sure more qualified and thoughtful people have written more in-depth and longer and more Biblical and all around better things about this, but I’m just thinking about it today in relation to how my day’s gone.

I was so independent this morning.  For real.  I rolled my two suitcases and carried my backpack (packed independently, AND I figured out when I needed to leave and how to get to the airport by myself) to the Kimball station – about 3 blocks.  Then I proceeded to try to get all my suitcases and myself through the turnstiles (morning brain… the caffeine wasn’t in my bloodstream yet) and got stuck.

Okay, so maybe not totally independent.  A nice man came and showed me that by collapsing the handle of my suitcase I could fit it under bars, thus freeing me from my incredibly embarrassing position.

Well, I’ll never see them again, I’m sure.

From there on out, though, I was really independent.  I transferred trains all by myself.  I mean, I sort of followed people into Midway, but I read the signs too, so I knew where we were going.  I checked my bags at the correct airline desk and got through security fairly smoothly.  I mean, I did have to go to the bathroom pretty badly from the time I got onto the orange line of the L til after security, but there aren’t any bathrooms at Midway until you get through security, so there’s no way around that.  And I did put my fleece zip-up on top of my laptop in the security bin, which is apparently a no-no.  Needs to go in a separate bin by itself without anything above or below it.  But that’s just because I’ve never travelled with a laptop before.

I didn’t freak out when I was picked for a random shoe test.  I just stood there waiting ever so patiently, while preparing to run to the nearest bathroom as soon and I was cleared of having bombs in my Skechers.  (really?  do I look like a bomb threat to you?)

Jesus is really nice to me.  I mean, for real.  Security took at least 45 minutes, something I hadn’t thought would take so long (and neither had all the people around me either, apparently) so after I had visited the nearest restroom, I got to my gate just as my section was boarding.  Perfect timing, Jesus.

After that I was totally independent until I rolled my luggage out to the car.  There I got in the passenger seat and was driven to lunch.  Paid for (thanks, Mom), and taken home.

Even through all these experiences where I was on my own, I still needed that guy in the Kimball station to help me figure out the turnstiles.  (I have no idea where I’d be right now if it weren’t for him.)  My smartphone can tell me how to get somewhere, but it can’t give me practical advice about how to not get stuck.  When I’m having a bad day, I can’t just smile at myself and make my own day.

(can you do that?  I’d like to know if that’s possible.)

Somehow, doing yourself a favor never feels as nice as having one done for you or doing one for someone else.  We weren’t meant to go it alone.

And that’s probably why it feels so good to be back here, to be back in my support system of familiarity, to be in my childhood bedroom (I’ve been in here since I was a baby… well, I should say I’ve slept here since then) where I don’t have to wash dishes in the bathroom.

I’m about to see if I still remember how to drive.  I’ll let you know if that goes badly.

 

giving my heart a rest.


Today [just fyi, I’m writing this on Wednesday night, BUT you’re seeing it on Thursday – or later, depending on what kind of relationship you have with this blog] was full of new adventures.  Adventures in absentee voting for the first time (accompanied by coffee and conversation with my friend and witness for my ballot in her apartment), rock climbing for the first time since… seventh grade?

Also, I saw a guy carrying around a fake basset hound.  I’m not sure why or where he got said animal, but he was carrying it while he watched some of his friends play basketball.  Then I met a guy named Willie.  I’ve never met anyone named Willie before, so that was exciting as well.

It’s the little things, people, the little things that keep life interesting and good.

Little things like a little flight home to Minneapolis tomorrow.  Little things like when my mom says that I can pick where we go for lunch after I get in (Chipotle is what I’m thinking right now).  Little things like not having to eat in a cafeteria for four days.  Little things like not needing to shower with flip-flops on and having my own bathroom for a few days.  Little things like hugs from people I love and miss with all my heart.  Little things like not having to work.  Little things like a long overdue haircut with someone who intimately understands my hair. (trust me, I can’t trust just anyone with the crazy curls God gave me…)

Can you tell that I’m excited?  I’m sure you have similar things that you miss when you aren’t home.

I’m going to go back to where my heart is because then it’ll be easier to transfer my heart to Chicago.  I’ll bring back my apron and some other things I have been wanting.  And it’ll give my heart – that sometimes aches for home and familiarity – a rest.

And now for a completely unrelated side note to close out this post:

Sometimes I read through my old blog posts, mostly to remember what I’ve already said before and partly to gain inspiration.  I always cringe at the typos (I’m so sorry… I may be able to compose thoughts decently, but I’m a pretty clumsy typist. Thank you for your forbearance with me.), and sometimes I get taken down Memory Lane so far that I forget the real reason why I came on my computer — probably to look up something for a class or to email someone important.

I was just reading through a post from this time last year, and I came across this verse from Daniel 9 — which happened to be my Granddaddy’s favorite prayer in the Bible:

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.

That speaks for itself.  Just thought it needed to be shared.

lobster quadrille and kisses


Let’s take another trip to this place:

When I was younger [elementary age, I believe], on a few occasions I pulled out our big children’s book of poetry.  It was a thick book with 12 or so themed chapters with tons of poems.  It had a green dust jacket that was a little bit tattered around the top and bottom of the spine, so I guess it must not have been a new book, but I don’t really know where it came from.  I’ll have to ask my mom when I go home (!!! 2 days!).

Anyways, there were poems from Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, etc.  It was from that era where children’s literature is more instructive than child-friendly, as illustrated by poems like this one:

In the family drinking well,

Willie pushed his sister Nell.

She’s there yet because it kilt her.

Now we have to buy a filter.

Talk about gruesome and macabre.  The point of telling you about this book isn’t to recount gross poems though.  The point is that I know the Lobster Quadrille By Lewis Carroll by heart.  And I never memorized it.  Never.  I may have read it a few times, but all of a sudden, one day in middle school I realized that I knew the entire thing by heart.

I really didn’t ever memorize it.  And I don’t think I read it that much.  Just, all of a sudden, I knew it.  And still do know it.  It’s not even really a poem worth memorizing since it doesn’t have much meaning – particularly taken out of its context in Alice in Wonderland.

That’s one of the weird phenomenons that I’ve been thinking about today.

Also, I decided to change my Starbucks Tuesday/Thursday dates to be Beijo de Chocolat dates.  (And by date, I mean date with myself and Matilda the laptop and whatever homework I have left… don’t get excited)  Beijo is an award-winning, internationally known Brazilian chocolate shop down the street from my dorm.  They have superb coffee, tea, CHOCOLATE, and crêpes(on Saturday mornings).  I was reminded a little bit ago that I’m not really a fan of some of the things that Starbucks supports (not that I condemn Starbucks customers, but I’d rather buy coffee regularly somewhere else, I’ve decided), so I’m glad to have another option down the street.

Beijo is a little bit quieter, less populated, with (I think) better coffee and decor.

But the sizes of drinks are the best part.  I don’t order small, medium, or large.  I don’t order in tall, grande, or venti.  Nope.

I order in hugs, kisses, and love.

Not that I ask for coffee and they hug and kiss me instead (how awkward that would be….).  The sizes are abraco, beijo, and amor, Portuguese for hug, kiss, and love.

And I really just enjoy that.  A lot.  Another reason to love the place God has put me: good coffee.

 

hugging Jesus.


At our youth group Christmas formals, we used to give White Elephant gifts.  One year, I brought a friend with me to the formal.  I won a red light saber (I fought hard for it), and she won a Huggy Jesus.  It was basically the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen.  It was a stuffed Jesus that you could…hug.

I was just doing an assignment for Bible class and had a moment of brilliance.  I’ll just give God the credit since I’m sure it wasn’t something I could have thought up without Him.

My life is supposed to revolve around Jesus since I claim to follow Him, right?

This is the part where you nod.

I was just thinking about how people say that people “embrace” a certain thing or lifestyle.  Then it clicked.  I’m going to embrace the Jesus-follower lifestyle.  And this gives me such a good mental picture.

I wish you could paint on WordPress because then I would paint it for you.

We all know what a hug, or embrace, looks like, right?  If not, please go find a trusted friend and ask them to demonstrate for you.  Hugs are so great.  I’m pretty sure they have the power to make anything better coming from the right person.  Anyways, back to what hugging is.  It’s wrapping your arms around something and pulling it close to you.  I do this to Bunny everyday.

I’m going to hug Jesus.  I’m going to wrap my life around Him and keep Him close by.  (I mean, I know He never leaves me, but that doesn’t mean I always acknowledge His presence, you know?)  I’m not going to hold Him at arms length.  I’m going to let Him be close and change the way I live.

I’m going to hug the person who made the entire universe.  And I think He’ll hug me back.

Wash your hands before you jump from space.


A couple of matters of business before we get things going this morning.

1. It’s Global Hand-washing Day, so you need to promise that immediately after reading this, you will go wash your hands.  Apparently it prevents the spread of disease of something… I don’t know, but that’s the word on the street.

2. If you enjoy good music and haven’t listened to Mumford and Sons, particularly their new album, Babel, then you owe it to yourself to do so.  Immediately after you wash your hands.

Okay, now on to the real thing I’ve been thinking about:

What makes a man want to jump from 120,000 feet and free fall at supersonic speeds?  This has been bothering me since I watched the youtube video of the space jump.

It you have’t seen that, then you should definitely look it up before continuing.

I watched that little white speck that was Felix Baumgartner hurtle through the air at 800+ miles per hour last night.  I marveled at his courage and at the fact that he broke the sound barrier. I also was amazed at how smooth his landing was.  It was almost ridiculous. I mean, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t ever want to skydive from a much lower height (partially because I’m afraid of heights, partially because I don’t want my insurance rates to go up… or die), but if I did, I would have to be holding someone’s hand that I love all the way down.  But then I would totally trip on the landing and end up tangled in parachute.  It wouldn’t be graceful.

He was all alone in that little capsule, and as much as I tried to tell myself that it probably had to be that way, for some reason that made me so sad.  He jumped out without having someone’s hand on his shoulder beforehand, reassuring him that it would go all right.  He didn’t have anyone up there.  And that makes it all the more courageous to me, that he couldn’t look anyone in the eyes and say that he was afraid and have them comfort him, reassure him.

The good news is that he’s back to earth safe and sound.  And he’ll probably never want for support in any of his daredevil feats ever again.  And likely ad campaigns will provide for him pretty well too.

Good for you, Felix.  And Red Bull.

Going home… soon.


“If home is where the heart is, then my home is where you are.  But it’s getting oh so hard to spend these days without my heart.” – Relient K

I’m not sure where to call home right now.  I’m pretty sure I still consider Minnesota and my parents’ house “home”, but Chicago’s quickly becoming the place where my whole life is.  I know the bus and L systems pretty well now (and if I don’t, praise the Lord for google maps), have some favorite hangouts and restaurants, a favorite grocery store.  I’m used to street noise and sirens.  I don’t think I really hear sirens anymore, which could be bad for driving in Minnesota, since you’re supposed to pull over for them.

Sometimes, my heart is here.  Actually, pretty often.  My heart is with the people I’ve come to love over the past two months, the neighborhood that I adore, the deep breaths of fall air taken while strolling about downtown, the ease of the public transportation system, experiencing Jesus every time I go to my church, walking everywhere I go…

But today, my heart is in Maple Grove.  My heart is with my parents, in our kitchen, talking on a Saturday morning over a cup of coffee and waffles.  My heart is in a suburb where I will get to drive Audrey.  My heart is somewhere where I don’t have to eat cafeteria food.  My heart is at a restaurant with the friends I graduated with.  My heart is with familiarity.

I guess that’s the long and short of it.  Familiarity and the comfort that comes with that.

By this time on Thursday I will have been home for a couple hours, for the first time since August 20th.  Thank you, Jesus, for airplanes.

No surprises.


I just wanted to show off how beautiful my campus is in the rain.  I’m truly in love with it.  (photo credit for the rain boot picture to Mel)

I started thinking before I drank my coffee this morning.  It’s remarkable that it was a coherent thought, but there you go.  It was coherent.

And here’s what I was thinking:  I wonder what God’s response is when I finally surrender things over to Him?

Here are the possibilities I thought up:

1. The Hot Potato Theory – “ah, *catches problems, etc like He’s not sure what it is or what to do with it* what’s this? uhh, I’m not sure what I should do with this. Wasn’t expecting that one. umm, this is so awkward because I told you to come unto me and give me your problems, but I didn’t actually expect you to.  And this is heavy.  Umm, can you take it back now?”

2. The Unconcerned Theory- “Oh, look it’s something you care about.  Isn’t that just a nice little problem? I’m sure it matters to you, but it’s really not that big of deal in the grand scheme of your life and a much smaller deal in the grand scheme of my plans.  I’ll take care of that later… if I get around to it at all.”

3. The Impossible Multi-tasking Task Theory – ” You have a problem? Yeah, I see that, but as you can see, I have my hands full right now.  I care about you, but I just have to much to do that I can’t possibly take care of that at this present moment.  There are just way too many things to take care of. I’ll take care of it later. I promise.”

That’s pretty much all my un-caffeinated mind thought up.

But I’m pretty sure that none of those are accurate.  How ignorant would I be to think that God’s never seen my problem before or is intimidated by the things that weigh me down?  How little I understand God if I think that He does not take interest in the things that matter to me?  How small must my view of God be if I think that He can’t manage the entire world and take care of me at the same time?

I’ve come to the conclusion (which I’ll probably have to remind myself of later) that God is knowledgeable, caring, AND powerful enough to take care of me.  It’s one of those truths that allows me to rest.

 

 

Shown, not told.


It’s the basic premise of any creative writing class.  You show the reader what you’re trying to say, not tell them.  So I won’t tell you that I’m happy today.  You’re just going to have to read between the lines of the ensuing stories and word pictures to understand that.

I’m sitting on my bed amidst a pile of dirty sheets and towels that need to be washed.  I have enough quarters to wash them… but not enough to dry them.  Quarter shortages are a real problem in college.  I’m all dressed up… and sitting on dirty sheets.  Well, I mean they’re not really that dirty.  You wouldn’t know it from looking at them, but I’m sure there are dust mites and such in there.  That’s incentive enough to wash them.

Anyways, back to that statement: “I’m all dressed up.”  That’s because I gave a speech about the Moai of Easter Island.  (google that if you don’t know what they are.  I’m sure you’ve seen them before.)  Public Speaking is one of those classes that doesn’t require too much from you most days, but on the ones where you give your speech, the expectations are pretty high.  Because Jesus helped me to give a good speech, I got a good grade, but that’s not the best part.

I think I’ve talked about this before, but I used to be confused when people talked about how if you have Jesus running your life people will see you and wonder what it is that makes you that way.  I mean, tons of people who aren’t Christians or even religious at all are friendly and smiley.  I think that when we’re really living our lives with Jesus in charge there must be something else though, something that sets us apart.  I don’t even know what name to give that quality, but I know I can’t take a lick of credit for it.

I was leaving class today after I gave my speech – the last one in the room because I was talking to other people in my class and had to get all my gear from presenting stowed away in my backpack – and stopped on the way out to wish my professor a good weekend.  He wished me the same and told me again that I’d done really well on my speech.  He told me that I seemed older than 18 and had a positive ethos.

And I’m not telling you this to brag about how much my prof likes me.  It was the look he gave me after he said that that was worth mentioning.  It was like he had questions about why I am the way I am (whatever that looks like).  It was like he was trying to figure it out.  Maybe like he saw something in me that really isn’t me at all.

I hope he saw Jesus.  I hope that’s the conclusion he came to.  It sure seemed like he was wondering why I am the way I am.  And I can attest to the fact that it’s all Jesus.  He uses coffee to help, but it’s all Jesus.

I walked to the post office with joy bursting out of me, feeling the relief that comes after getting a big assignment out of the way and knowing that he has a favorable impression of me.  Then it just got better.  My grandma had sent me a box of cookies and a lip balm.  And I got my first paycheck in my PO box.

Then I had a lovely conversation with my friend who makes sandwiches in the cafeteria about her weekend plans while she put cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber on a bun for me.

It’s just a day full of good things so far.  Jesus is good.