When you get delayed.


Sometimes it’s someone else’s fault that you get delayed. And sometimes you can only blame yourself. In this case, it is best to not punish yourself for the mistake. Rather, it might be a good idea to buy yourself another cup of coffee, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and you’re only 18, and just roll with it.
Yeah, I went to the wrong track at Union Station. Meanwhile, the train I wanted to be on was departing on the other side of the building.
Even the best laid plans fail sometimes. Especially when it includes public transportation.
So I’ll be here, on this bench til about 8:35.
Usually when this kind of thing happens I realize that it was actually helpful later. Like maybe it will keep me from making the same mistake next time. Or maybe I’ll learn something helpful in the next 25 minutes of being here that will save my life in a few months. We’ll see.
Right now, I’m really thankful for this bench. And my scarf since it’s breezy in here. And the ticket in my pocket that will get me where I want to go. I’m thankful that Jesus travels with me, even when I delay myself.
It’s Friday morning, and I’m at Union Station. We’ve talked about how I used to always get stuck behind trains when driving. And eventually seeing trains became a reminder to me to be patient, that the train has an end, that sometimes waiting is good. I’d forgotten that since trains are so commonplace for me now, and I’m now the one on the train, making other people wait.
Patience. Trains. Right. Still relevant.

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Nails and Santa.


Typing is pretty much the only thing I can allow myself to do while my nails dry.  I’m not the most patient of people, so I tend to try to drive/read/clean/cook/do my hair before my nails are completely dry.  As a consequence for my impatience, I nearly always have to re-do one or all of my nails.  It’s unfortunate.

didn’t realize before that you can’t really see my wrists. I promise that those are my hands though.

My mom, knowing that I like to have pretty fingers, brought me back this nail polish from their cruise (even though the stuff is actually made in the United States).  It’s blue now, but you just wait until I get out into the sunshine.  It’s gonna turn green.  I’m a little too excited to watch that.

Hey, if you don’t take at least a little delight in the small things in life, you’re going to have a pretty sad existence, always waiting for something big and exciting to happen.  Nail polish is a small delight.  Jesus is a big delight.  I have both, therefore, I am set.

In case you didn’t stop by the North Park post office where they have a lovely countdown posted, I’ll be the one to let you know that there are 26 days until Christmas.  And, as I’ve mentioned, I’m trying to learn how to put Jesus at the center of how I celebrate Christmas.  So, I was just wondering what I do with Santa.

I used to really like Santa.  I remember being really excited (and also nervous) to go see Santa at the mall.  I had cut out a picture of a red, plastic play cash register from a magazine one year to make sure that he picked out the correct one.  So, it’s obvious that I believed at that time that Santa was really the one who brought me presents.  I don’t remember ever really having a moment of disillusionment though. I hear people talk about having a moment where they realized that Santa wasn’t really coming with the reindeer and elves to their chimneys every year to bring them presents.  It sounds like a horrible experience, so I’m glad I don’t remember it if I did have it.  (Mom?  Dad?  Shed some light on that?)

I’m conflicted about whether or not to like Santa.  I mean, he has a great history, starting with the monk who went around helping poor people (one of the most famous stories is about him rescuing three sisters from a life of slavery or prostitution by giving them a dowry so that they could get married.  Neat guy.) and going on to the similar figures who brought gifts to children.  I don’t have a problem with that Santa. I guess I just have a problem with Santa encouraging an excess of “stuff” and being the main advertising ploy used by companies during this time of year.

It’s like we’ve distorted every good thing.  We have lots of things in our lives that can be good – in moderation and in their proper places -, but we’ve decided, in a lot of cases, that it’s not enough there.  It must be more, bigger, better.

I want to still like Santa.  Actually, I want to live like the original, spreading TRUE Christmas spirit – freedom, joy, and hope in Jesus – to all around me.  Huh, looks like Santa kind of lives out the Jesus call if you look at it that way.

 

 

On finals.


Here’s a little poem about finals:

They’re coming soon.

No need to wait.

Study hard,

Don’t procrastinate.

A few more weeks

of papers and tests,

then it will end,

and we can all rest.

That’s the best I could do right now.I hope that encourages you to work hard if you have finals, knowing that the end and your reward is in sight.

The people who made Christmas break a month long for college students were so smart.  It’s just enough time to get rid of the feeling of burnout and to rejuvenate. I’ve always loved Christmas and looked forward to it, but this year it is even more attractive to me.  Not only does school halt completely for those four weeks – no classwork at all, since there’s no carryover from semester to semester -, but I’ll get to be home.  And there will be snow (please, Jesus!) and twinkly lights.

There will be familiarity.  And family.

But, anyways, back to today.  Today got off to a good start because

1. Kathryn and I figured out how to control the heater in our room so that it won’t feel like a sauna in here.  That is a definite plus.

2. Because it’s no longer a sauna in here, I can stop wearing my summery pajamas and wear my cozy flannel pants.  It’s like immediate happiness when I put those on.

3. There was coffee.  Nuff said.

4. Christmas music is playing.

5. Jesus still cares about the little things.

And now, back to hard work.  Finals are temporary.  So are the snack breaks that I’ll take to help me get through to the end.

Onward, dear friends.

How to get rid of a telemarketer.


I get it.  You’re all busy people with life to live.  You have better things to do than to listen to someone ask you for money, support for a political candidate, or for someone who doesn’t live at your house.  I’m sure you’d rather just have your friends and family call you.  Or people who want to give you money or support.

I get that. I’m the same way.

However, I’m also the person who frequently gets the short end of the stick in these matters.  Caller ID is a fabulous tool, but I implore you to not use it to figure out which numbers to pick-up/hang-up on. (If you aren’t familiar with the pick-up/hang-up tactic, then you’re going to have to go somewhere else to learn about it.  I’m not about to teach that.)

Sometimes I just want to say to people: I understand how much you don’t want me to call you.  I get that you aren’t really willing to have a chat with me right now.  But hanging up on me or just not picking up – even though we’ve called you ten times – is far from the right way to get rid of me.

It’s true.  For one thing, I’m a human being.  I’m just a human.  I’m a student who works this job partly because I like it a lot (minus the people who are less than kind) and partly because I needed a job.  That’s most people’s case: they’re just human beings who needed employment.  They’re doing their best.  Probably… So don’t hang up.  Even if hanging up on me did work to get rid of me, it would dampen my spirits a bit.

Plus, that’s just not a nice way to treat people.

I don’t know if this is consistent with other callers, but at my job, we have to keep calling until we get a hold of you.  For almost every segment, that means that we need a yes or no.  Picking up and hanging up won’t take you off of the call list.

Here’s a more appropriate response to a person that has a message that you aren’t interested in accepting:

Step 1: Friendly hello.  When they ask you how you are, respond and ASK THEM. Trust me, you’ll be in the minority of people.

Step 2: Listen.  Hear them out.  Don’t do the cut off thing.

Step 3: Politely decline.  Put some real regret in your voice.  Give a good reason why you don’t want to.  (make it true too.)

Step 4: Ask if they would mind taking you off of their call list (if you don’t want to be called again, that is).

Step 5: Wish them a nice evening and good luck with their other calls.

You will have been Jesus to that person, undoubtedly.  It would be even nicer of you to donate/do what they ask, but that’s not always possible or good.

I hope this is helpful.  It seems like the world at large needs to hear this message.

Starting the countdown


Now playing: Relient K’s Christmas album, Let It Snow Baby… Let it Reindeer.

This one’s on the top of my list of favorite Christmas albums, along with Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters, Vince Guaraldi, Dave Barnes, Michael W. Swith, Amy Grant, and She & Him.  Then there’s also Bing Crosby because we can’t leave him out even if some of his songs are kind of strange.  And there’s also the first Harry Connick Jr Christmas album.  He made another one a couple years ago that has a song on it called  “The Happy Elf”…  evidence that it’s not as high quality as the first one.

Next step towards making my habitat Christmassy is to buy Christmas lights at Dollar Tree.  Kathryn and I want blue lights or purple, but if it’s going to be more expensive, we’ll go with white.  It’s just the way that things work when you have a slightly limited budget and might need cereal more than blue lights.

Today marks 28 days until Christmas.

I have so many memories of Christmas as a small, medium, and current size person.  Funny thing is that most of them are from the time leading up to Christmas.  I mean, I have great memories of waking up on Christmas morning, putting on my bathrobe that had hearts all over it, and having my parents cover my eyes as we walked past the Christmas tree (which apparently had unwrapped presents from Santa underneath it), down the stairs, and to the stockings.  The memories of Christmas Eve services, holding candles and singing Silent Night have special places in my heart.

I think I’ll just admit right out that I enjoy a lot of the parts of Christmas that are totally commercial.  As much as I want Jesus to take first place (during this and every season), it’s not bad to enjoy twinkly lights and candles and cookies as well.  Everything in moderation and in its right place.  I’m sure that the first Christmas in Bethlehem lacked the glamour of an American Christmas. I’m sure it was much closer to a silent night than we’ll ever get.

And then again, there are those moments of awe that trump all the rest of it.  Flashy displays and excitement about giving and receiving presents all fade quite a lot when one is struck with the thought that he came for me.

He came for me.

For the son of man came to seek and save that which was lost.

Speaking of Christmas


Air travel is such a weird concept.  I’m still not used to it.  You wake up in one place, hang out for a bit.  Then you go to this magical building, walk into a skinny vehicle of sorts, and walk out of the skinny vehicle to see a completely different landscape.

It’s a Christmas miracle.

Speaking of Christmas, it’s exactly a month from today, as my sister reminded me. I’m about 2/3 of the way done with my gift-buying, which enables me to focus less on that and more on finishing up the semester with a strong work ethic.

It’s so cliché to say that I really want to focus on Jesus and the real reason for -not just the Christmas season but – life, love, HOPE.  But I do.  It’s all fine and dandy to say that, but what does that look like in my life? Does that mean that I do anything differently?

One year, I decided to read the Christmas story every day in December.  It was good to re-read the climax of God’s story, but it became rote after a few times.  And if there’s anything that I don’t want the story of Jesus humbling Himself and coming down to earth to be, it’s boring or mundane or tired.

I want to revel in the story this year.  I want to marvel at the fact that the God that I serve loves a world that rejected Him time and again so much that He would sacrifice for them in order to restore the relationship that they once had.

As much as I enjoy twinkly lights and cookies (which is a key part of the season for me, as I’m sure you can predict) and giving gifts, there’s got to be more to it, more substance, a deeper and richer spiritual holiday.  Not a holiday from being spiritual.

I have 24 hours of Christmas music on Matilda now, on a playlist entitled, “Christmas extravaganza.”  As Stacey, Kathryn, and I finish up our homework from the weekend, we’re ushering in the season by clicking play.

Welcome, Christmas.

unofficial winter.


Remember when we talked about how darn confusing weather is?  How I thought I was all ready for cold weather but then it got warm again?  Well, the weather decided to take a turn for the cold and windy and cloudy on Thanksgiving night. It’s seeming permanent now.  So, promptly at 6:00 at the next morning, my dad and I headed out to shop for a big, puffy, long, warm coat that will help me to weather the winter.  (and a few other things along the way.  I’m proud to say that I saved much much more than I spent and did not trample anyone in an attempt to buy more things)

It may be incredibly narcissistic of me to assume that you’re interested in my coat, but I’m going to show it to you anyways.This coat is not only long enough to keep the tops of my legs warm, but the hood actually fits over my head.  That may be normal for you, but as a gal with a resemblance to a giraffe, it’s rare for me.

So, there you have it, my official declaration that I am ready to brave the winter’s cold.  I’m decked out.  Add a pair of socks, a scarf, and some pink mittens, and you have the full package.  I’m determined to figure out exactly why winter exists this year.  What benefit could there possibly be from having 5 months of snow, ice, bitterly cold winds, and people getting sick from being inside with all the germs too much?  Maybe nothing, maybe something.

So far, all I can think up are:

1. drinking more hot beverages.

2. Christmas happens during winter

3. snow looks pretty when it flutters down (notice the word “flutters”… I don’t think it is very pretty when it blows all over the place and blizzards to the ground)

4. more appreciation for spring, summer, and fall

5. appreciation for heat

6. ice skating on real bodies of water

We’ll add to that list, hopefully. Welcome to the unofficial start of winter, folks.

 

Mountains and making it.


Climbing mountains is so easy.  Not that people haven’t died doing it, but with a reasonable goal, plenty of water, some trail mix (with or without peanuts, but you must have chocolate chips), and a couple of cousins you can make it to the top.

Look!  I made it!

There’s a clear goal, and it’s obvious once you get to the top – because you can go no farther.

When you’re a writer, how do you know when you’ve made it?  Is it when you sell your first manuscript for a price that might actually help you pay bills and/or buy a car or residence?  Is it when you get to quit your second job slinging hash?  Is it when you quit your corporate world job that has been secondary to love of writing for years and admit that your true passion is in the power of the pen?

Is it when you’re recognized as a writer?  Or do you recognize yourself?

Do you even have to make money at it before it can be your identity?  Does someone else have to affirm this for you to be it?

Can I possibly ask any more questions without giving you any answers?  Is it possible that these are questions that maybe most people don’t know – or haven’t taken the time to think up – answers to?

Really, though, I’m wondering exactly when C.S. Lewis and Charles Dickens and Joan Bauer and J.K. Rowling and all those people got to put the suffix of “,writer” (and no, that wasn’t a misplaced comma.  Think about it.)  after their names.

It seems a lot easier to climb a mountain. To have a clear idea of what you’re going to be, to lose ambiguity.
Maybe someone needs to redefine what “making it” means. Maybe it’s just doing what you love and loving what you do.

 

The annual Thanksgiving extravaganza post.


8:59am

I’m celebrating my second Thanksgiving of blogging – currently from the comfort of my very own bed.

Last year, I kept a running commentary of everything that went down on Thanksgiving day and posted it at the end of the day, with pictures of course.  If you want to re-live (or read it for the first time) the joy of that day, be my guest.

Eventually I’ll get out of bed so that there are more exciting things to share with you.

11:40am

I kept my promise and got out of bed.  And, let me tell you, it was worth it!  It’s my daddy’s 50th birthday today, he made pancakes (it seems backwards, but he enjoys making breakfast.), and Brooke and I gave him a subscription to a really neat gift-of-the-month club.  They’ll send him a box full of fun, gourmet snacks every month for the next three months, AND with every box they give him, they’ll donate a meal to a child in need – in MN they give them through Second Harvest Heartland.  (Interested in giving that? Got a foodie philanthropist in your life? check it out here)

At breakfast there was more catching up, which was great, but – more importantly- there was BUTTER.

there were pancakes. and, as always, my daddy put chocolate chips in some, just for me.

that’s real butter. so good. sooo good.

Since breakfast ended, I’ve been continuing to take advantage of the free laundry offered at this Bed & Breakfast (I like that… I might start referring to this place as the Home B&B. we’ll see if it catches on), rollerblading around the neighborhood, running into neighbors who stop their cars to graciously chat with me for a few minutes – until more cars come, and breathing in deeply the aroma of home.

It’s nice to be here.

Next up: shower, another cup of coffee, and getting ready to go to Stella’s for the food extravaganza of the year!

1:11pm

As my blood sugar got low, I caved and warmed up leftover macaroni.

No regrets here.  I’ll be just as hungry as I was a few minutes ago in about 30 minutes.  Yay for metabolisms.

1:42pm

If my dad is ready, we’ll be leaving in about 3 minutes, with 6 or so dishes of food in tow.  Most likely that won’t happen since my dad is notorious for not being ready to go on time.  But, since it’s his birthday, we don’t give him grief for it.

7:36pm

Garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, whole wheat rolls, quinoa salad, pumpkin pie, meringue cake, and turtle cake (no turkey for the only vegetarian at the table).  Now you know how I spent the last 6 hours.  Just add one of my favorite families, great conversation, and a snowstorm, and you have the whole afternoon.

I’m so thankful for those traditions that stick around year after year, like the garlic mashed potatoes and meringue cake and Thanksgiving with people who aren’t family by blood but are integrated  into our hearts like family.  Tradition is great in times of transition.  I’m thankful that my family includes food in every tradition, nearly.

Yet, along with the tradition, I’m thankful that my life isn’t stagnant.  I’m grateful that God is taking me places – literally and in my walk with Him and in my imagination – that are new and fulfilling.  I’m thankful for new friends, for the transitional experiences with them that build us together.  Transition seems key to growth, at least when I look back at my life.

Garlic is close to the top of the list, but I’ve got so many more meaningful things to be thankful for.  You’re one of them, since you’re taking the time to read this.  It’s nice to have companions on this journey.

Rejoice always; pray continually, giving thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Hey, free laundry.


Brooke and I traveled home today.

Can I repeat that?  I’m home.  HOME.  Where the fridge is stocked with hummus, real cream, real salsa, real butter, and lots of other real food.  It’s where my parents show us pictures of their cruise, and when we say they’re tan they just laugh.  (they really are tan… especially compared to their ghostly daughters)  It’s where my sister and her boyfriend make Glorified Rice (aka marshmallows and jello and pineapple with rice).

It’s where we have a bathtub and nice carpet.  And where someone makes dinner for 4 people, thus the food still has flavor.

And Jesus still came home with me.

And the laundry’s free.

I’m a big fan of this place.  I’m a big fan of sitting on the couch in the living room and discussing a book with my dad.  I’m a big fan of the place where my mom rubs my back for 20 minutes when I tell her that when I wake up I feel as sore as if I’ve been lifting weights in my sleep.

It smells good here.  And I think that good smells in and of themselves are enough to make your soul feel at home.  Nothing like a familiar scent to notify your olfactory senses that you are in your natural habitat.

Deep breaths of home.  I’m filling myself up with home, with love, with good food, and with all the things that I love.

Hey, I think I’ll sleep in my own bed tonight.