Flood Day.


April showers bring… flood days.

What a beautiful way to start Thursday: sitting in the dark, listening to the cars outside my window whiz through the puddles.  Ohhh, and there’s the thunder.  Rainy days are special to me, not just because they make me sentimental and cause me to rethink all my life choices.

I have a beautiful memory of standing out on my driveway a couple years ago, all decked out in my rain boots and rain coat, holding an umbrella.  I was there to watch the lightning and listen to the rainstorm symphony.  It really was like a 5-sense concert: thunder crashing in my ears, lightning flashing bright across the sky, the sweet, sweet smell of rain and renewal, raindrops hitting my face since I wasn’t content to just sit under the umbrella and not experience anything.

The symphony played for me.

Really, it was like God had just wrapped up a love song for me in the rain.  He conducted and watched me revel in His majesty.

Lord of all creation, of water, earth, and sky, the heavens are your tabernacle.  Glory to the Lord on high.

Eventually, I had to go inside.  The rain has started to settle down a little bit, and it seemed like the lightning show had ceased.  I don’t know what it was in me, but I just wanted to see the lightning light up the sky again.  Just once.

So, I sheepishly asked, Jesus? One more time?

This was His response.

Oh, how He loves us.

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Skating dreams


For the past couple weeks, I keep finding myself wanting to go skate.  Like, on ice.  In my mind, I’m skating on a piece of ice that extends indefinitely in every direction so I have no danger of hitting the boards.  There’s no one around, so it doesn’t matter that I haven’t skated in at least a year and will probably not look the most graceful.

And let’s be honest, I’m kind of a klutz since I have feet, so no one needs to see that.

I don’t know what it is, but I, like Joni Mitchell, want to skate away on a river.  (She’s from Canada, I’m from Minnesota…  this must be the reason)  I mean, I’m not picky.  I’d take an extra smooth lake.  Or just a gigantic ice rink.

It’s not a dream that I can fulfill right now, like many of my dreams.  However, I can fulfill the dream of having my philosophy paper edited.  I can fulfill dreams of productivity.

I could even do it in the library.  I could put away my laundry the day after I laundered it…  I could be Jesus to the people around me.  That’s a dream worth fulfilling.  I could drink another cup of coffee.  I could wear a skirt today (it’s Skirt Wednesday, so that’s a definite need… people set their calendars by me).

I’ll just start there and work my way towards an ever-lasting ice rink.

Ripple effect.


One of my accomplishments from college I’m pretty proud of: I can now clean hair out of the shower drain without gagging.  This is big, folks.  It probably took a semester, but I can do it now, perhaps even while smiling.

I’m making a difference in my dorm, one shower at a time.

But, really, I think it does make the world a better place that I take the time to do that.  It’s so easy to forget that my actions have a ripple effect.  Will you just humor me and imagine a little scenario with me?

Y’all are so obliging.

Because I cleaned out the shower drain today, someone else will see the absence of hair later today.  It might just make them a little bit more prone to shower than they usually are.  Then, because they smell so good, they will make their roommate so happy that they will walk around with a smile on their face for the rest of the day.  Then they’ll smile at someone who has had a really rough day.  And it’ll be a real smile, enough to lift that person up just a bit.

I practically just made someone’s day.

That’s not all I’ve learned during this year at college, but it’s definitely a life skill that I treasure.

Four weeks.


I’d like to overdramatize my tax mailing process for a minute if I could.

I had carefully paper clipped all three of the form sets together, made sure that I’d only used staples where they allow you to, written the addresses on a sticky note for each separate place, and grabbed my stamps.  I carried them carefully down to the post office to mail them off, bought three 8.5” x 11” envelopes, labelled them, and carefully placed the stamps on the proper amounts.

Then I THREW THEM in the mail slot and NEVER LOOKED BACK!

Until next year, taxes.  Until next year.

One of the wisest things my mother has ever said to me is, “Don’t wish time away.”

That’s just about the most ridiculous thing to say to a college student nearing finals.  (Granted, she hasn’t said that this year, but I can hear it echoing in the back of my mind as I head down the home stretch of my freshman year.)

But it holds so true.  Where am I right now?  Right now, I’m sitting on my bed in my dorm room, listening to the afternoon traffic start outside my window on Foster Ave.  I’m eating strawberries and contemplating the homework that needs to be completed for tomorrow.  I have work tonight, and the weather is pretty warm.

I’m here.  Even though a significant portion of my brain would like to go to a place without stressors and hecticness, I’m here for four more weeks.  I’m here.

I’m here.

I’m here.

I’m content to be here, happy even.

I won’t wish the time away.  You can probably tell that I have to convince myself… maybe you have to do the same.

These four weeks are valuable; I don’t want to miss them.

 

This is love.


“Greater love hath no man than this: that he spend over an hour talking about taxes on the phone with his daughter.” (John 15:13 slightly amended)
My dad has been filing taxes for years now, and since this was my first year AND I had the burden of having to file in two states, I needed his expertise.
Needed, as in, “Dad, what does ‘adjusted gross income mean?'” “Daddy, why is this negative number?” “Where do I write that?” “WHY do I write that?”
And about 67 other similar questions.
This is just one of the many reasons that I’m thankful for my dad. I thought I already loved and appreciated my parents before I went to college. I was already doing my own laundry, paying for a fair share of things (like gas and stuff), and being relatively independent before I left, so I didn’t anticipate too much change.
I didn’t expect to call home at least twice a week. I thought they’d be the ones calling me, asking why I hadn’t been in touch for the greater part of a month. I was just so busy! You know, college… Lots to do, lots to see, not much time for parents.
How foolish I was.
It’s quite appropriate for them to claim me as a dependent on their taxes. Sure, I keep track of myself and buy my own groceries, decide what and when I’m eating, do my own laundry (not that that’s a change, but now I pay for it in precious quarters), and all that, but when I have emotional, moral, spiritual, or financial dilemmas, I know who I need.
I need the same people I’ve always needed.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop needing them. Not when I turn 21, not when I have my own family, not ever.
I’m okay with that. I think they are, too.

Beautiful exchange.


I walked up to the divine customer service counter, sure that my exchange wouldn’t go through.  The items I held had lost their tags long ago, were far past the typical 90-day return policy cutoff, and they had signs of use.

I held them anyways, waiting my turn in line.  The best I could hope for was getting rid of these.  I doubt they’re worth any store credit, much less enough credit to get the things I want.

Let’s see here; I’ve got a garment of Anger, one of Bitterness, another of Pride.  I’m wearing Anxiety (maybe I should have changed my clothes before I got here… how embarrassing).

And the things I want?  Holiness, Forgiveness, Grace, Mercy, Humility, Peace…  I would ask for more, but I think there might be a direct exchange program.  I probably could give them my Fear and Shame, too.

As I should have expected, when my turn came (which was pretty instant), I didn’t even have to ask.  Jesus, the ultimate service personnel, simply looks at me with compassion and love.  I look down and realize that I’m not longer holding my long-expired, rags of attire.  Instead, I’m clothed in all the things I wanted and more.  Hey, that’s long-suffering – I didn’t even know I needed that!

He clothes me in his righteousness and reminds me to come back all the time – or maybe just stick around.

It’s a beautiful exchange.

Waffles and decisions.


IMG_2269If you’re going to study on a Friday night, you should do it with a waffle.  I already ate mine, otherwise I would take a picture so you’d know how to do it rightly.

You should probably head to a cafe with a phone booth inside and chandeliers and jazzy music (like “On the Street Where You Live” by Dean Martin) and a funny name.

Take good friends with you, too.

It’s been rainy all week, drizzly and gloomy.  But the gloom is good.  It fosters an atmosphere of thinking and reflection.  I make life decisions in the rain.  Decisions abound as I slosh through the puddles in my plaid rain boots.

My hair frizzes in the rain though.  My makeup washes off.  But it doesn’t really matter because I’ve been productive in these puddles, with these droplets of water falling from the clouds.  We can’t just love the rain for the green grass and drizzly, decision-making atmosphere.  Love it for the frizzy hair, too.

I’m taking all the rain has to offer.  And I’ll accept the sun-kissed skin and the brightness when it comes, too.

Update: we are now witnessing a blind date going on at the table on the other side of the room.  It’s fabulously awkward and romantic.

Welcome, rain.


DSCN4657I’ve posted this picture before, but I thought it fit the type of week we’ve been having in Chicago. So, here it is again.  It’s a day to wear wellies (yep, I am calling my rain boots ‘wellies’ because I like it.  Doesn’t matter that I’m not British) and slosh around in puddles

I really love the rain.  I love Karen Carpenter, but I have to disagree that “rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”  Mondays, yes.  Rainy days, no.  I love the days when the sun warms your skin, and the sky is clear all the way across the horizon, but I don’t get anything done on those days.  I have too much of an affinity for sunshine to ignore it when it graces me with its presence.

I can feel it.  Today will be productive.  I will make myself a cup of hot chocolate with my almond milk and the Penzey’s hot chocolate mix my aunt sent me last semester (I’ve been savoring it) and hole myself up in the library near a window and write my papers.  And I’ll get everything done.

Oh, rainy days, you are a gift from God. Precious, precious gift.

I look forward to days when sunshine is abundant, but for today, I’ll relish the rain and drear.

Making do.


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This is what we had tonight to make dinner: bow tie pasta, half a jar of store brand pasta sauce, and mozzarella cheese. At least, those were the things we had that would taste good together. I didn’t think hummus or a cinnamon raisin bagel would really fit in.
So, we made do with what we had.
Most people would have put the pasta, the sauce, and the cheese in a 9×13 pan. That would be the most common way to do things, wouldn’t it?  That makes sense since that’s they way lasagna usually works.  Granted, lasagna usually doesn’t use bow tie pasta.
I guess we’re not common.
And our kitchen supplies are wanting in many respects. We’ve used this muffin tin for so many things (brownies, garlic bread… muffins, cupcakes) that it only seemed appropriate to let it help us make dinner tonight.
It seems like we were just making do with what we had, but really, it turned out to be a great way to make pseudo-lasagna. Portions were easy to measure out (just scoop out three muffin cups). Cleanup was easy.  Then I got to take my muffin tin to the library with me since I didn’t really want to walk back to my dorm just to return it.
Sometimes the stand-in works better than the tool intended for that purpose. Like those jeans that come with patches on them, some things are better if they’re imperfect.
Or maybe just usable. I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I was flawless. Would I be good for anything?
Let’s add that to my list of questions.

Not glaring, like Jesus.


Jesus doesn’t seem to care much about my convenience.  I mean, really, I was in the middle of glowering at someone, and that’s the time he picked to speak up.

*nudge* Hey, Ashley, I need to remind you of something. (Isn’t He polite?)

Not now, Jesus.  I’m busy glowering.  This person needs to know how upset I am with them, so I’m going to glower.  It’s going to bore a hole in their soul.

Then he proceeds to ever-so-gently remind me that glaring at people never changes their hearts.  They might deserve the dirty look, but it won’t change anything.  And if I’m doing everything I do as if working for the Lord and not for men anyways, why would I do it with such a mean look on my face?

There’s that little voice in the back of my mind that pushes me to set aside my feelings about the current situation and assume the Jesus attitude.

It’s hard.  I don’t think I got all the way there.  I got on the gladiator sandals and the traditional beard but didn’t make it to the toga-type garb and sash that every artistic depiction of Jesus is wearing.  I think that Jesus appreciates the tries though.  I think that He’s helping me put on His likeness.

I think He’s still shaping me, clothing me, forming me.  I don’t think He’s given up hope that I’ll respond like He does in situations like this in the future.

He’s giving me his eyes, the ones that don’t glower, the ones that see beloved humans instead of trouble-makers and annoyances.

Humanly, I’m an adult.  Spiritually, I’m still a child.  Hence, the simple lessons like be like Jesus.