Community trailblazing.


I’m on a search for community. Actually, I think I’m looking for a specific community, but I’m not sure exactly what it looks like yet. I just know I haven’t found it… yet.

I’m social and introverted. Let’s all remind ourselves what that means: I love people, but I don’t get energy out of every encounter with people. Group events wear me out. I like to do my laundry on Friday nights and spend a couple hours a day in solitude. It’s not lonely, I don’t hate people, and I do like to interact with people… one-on-one.

So, as an introvert, I’m trying to choose carefully the times that I spend with people. I have to be intentional about what I spend my social juice on. It’s better for everyone if I interact with others while on at least a 50% full battery than trying to fake it on empty. That’s just real, folks. I can function as an extrovert for a short period of time (like on two-week group mission trips where there’s a good reason to pretend to be an extrovert and a time limit), but I have to come back to my introverted lifestyle afterwards.

It sounds selfish. It sounds snotty. It sounds like I don’t think people are worth my time. But they so are. They SO are.

I’ve had a hard time finding a place to spend my large group time, not because I don’t fit but because it’s just not exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve been trying to find a spiritual group on my campus that fits at least on most levels but have not yet been successful.

I talked to Jesus about this because it seemed like a good idea. I sort of complained. I told him that what was already here didn’t fit what I was looking for, and the group that I had thought I’d like to join had an uncertain future. I told him that I was frustrated with this thing.

Then I started feeling slightly chided. I’m not a fan of chiding, even when it’s holy. But I got this impression that Jesus isn’t going to let me complain about not having my ideal spiritual community if I’m unwilling to contribute. Ouch. That hits so close to home, like right in the living room. If I’m unwilling to do anything to change the way that things go, I can’t say that I was dissatisfied.

I think God’s trying to make me into some kind of trailblazer.

 

How long?


Here’s a little confession to get your Friday started off right: I’ve had a tab open on my computer for almost a week with the guitar chords for ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on it… just waiting to have time to try out Celine Dion, acoustic style. Whew, so glad I got that off my chest.

So, I like to pray for people, but I can’t pray for everyone everyday. I mean, I could, but I think my prayer life would get pretty stagnant. So, I divide them up by category and pray for different group every day. Today is Friday, the day that I pray for freedom for the captives around the world.

Today, I found myself asking God to be present with every woman, child, and man who are enslaved today. Then I got on a small thought bunny trail, That’s a big prayer, but God is a big God. He can handle that. He can be present with everyone who has been oppressed at the same time. He could set them all free right now if He wanted to… wait. He does want to. 

Then the thought that I get ashamed of every time if pops into my head came back, doesn’t He want to? Why hasn’t he, yet? Why has this gone on so long?

Here’s what I think. 1) Faith without any doubts probably isn’t very strong because it’s never had to survive the fires of uncertainty. So this whole doesn’t God want to set the captives free? thought is a good thing. 2) God could set people free all by himself, right now, but I think He’s using us instead.

Think about that. God could do this independently. He could loosen all chains right at this moment. He could have done it ages ago, but He’s using the church. He’s asking us to be a part of it. He’s saying, Here’s something that is so horribly wrong, this injustice against My children. It breaks my heart, but I want it to break yours. I want to break your heart for them and use you to set them free so that your heart and the hearts of captors and those who were ignorant of this injustice before will see how horribly people have been treated and never let it happen again. 

I don’t have a scripture to back that up, but I have this sense deep down in my soul that God isn’t acting with his mighty power to break the chains instantly because He wants to partner with us, so that we will learn how to treat each other, not abusing our power or gaining power by hurting other people.

It isn’t because He’s not good, because He is. It isn’t because the problem isn’t massive and urgent and incredibly important, because it is.

How long will it take? How long will we live comfortably while other people live in chains? How long will we say that it doesn’t affect us, even though no country in the world is unaffected? How long will be allow other people to be oppressed? How long will we be the oppressors? How long will it take for us to care and take action?

How long, church? How long?

Heat waves and Jesus.


Can anybody say, ‘heat wave?’ Then in the same breath, can you say, ‘sticky, sweaty, crabby, brainless, and whiny?’

That was the past couple days. Fortunately, it’s cooled off a bit today.

Last night, as I washed the grime and sweat off, I felt worn out. Man, heat really takes it out of you, I thought. It makes you feel crabby and lethargic and gross. I don’t think I acted like Jesus much today, but I was just so warm. I was so sweaty. It’s understandable.

Then it hit me.

Jesus totally understands hot weather. He lived in the Middle East. If there’s a chance He wouldn’t understand something, it’s probably the perpetual winter of the Midwest. Jesus was hot and sweaty and dusty, all day, every day. If not because the weather was hot and humid because He was walking around healing people and bringing the dead to life and preaching on hills.

That makes His kindness while He walked the earth even more outstanding. I don’t know if I just assumed that it was sunny with a high of 75 every day of Jesus’ ministry, but I’ve never thought about weather.

I could say that it motivates me to try harder to love people even when I’m hot and sticky, but it actually makes me want to throw up my hands. And I think that’s what Jesus wants me to do, to accept the reminder that I can’t live a life worthy of the calling I have received without Him. There’s always going to be something that affects me: tiredness, irritation, busyness, snow… you name it.

So I have to just throw up my hands. It’s not about trying harder. It’s about depending more fully.

Closet working.


I’ve always wanted to believe that I’m a really focused person, that I rarely get distracted and have the capability to zero in on one thing for an extended period of time.

I wish that was true.

I’ve learned in the past year, with much reluctance, that I’m incredibly easily distracted. I read an article in the Huff post last week about characteristics of introverts, and being easily distracted was among them. I reluctantly looked back on all my experiences with trying to study last year, particularly when I was with another person or around excessive stimuli. Yes, yes, I am easily distracted.

You’ve probably already realized this. You, who read these posts and know their erratic nature. I’m glad that I’m on board now, too. If I know that I’m easily distracted, that means that I can cater to myself. I can pause my music while I blog so that I can fully finish one task without my mind wandering. It really is better to do one thing well and in one sitting without constant mind-wanderings than to try to listen to music and eat pretzels and write a philosophy paper at the same time, especially when I know I will inevitably be distracted by a certain section of the music that resonates with me or a particularly salty pretzel. It will happen.

This is why its good that my desk is in the closet. Yes, that’s a literal statement. My desk is in our closet (mostly because there wasn’t room for it elsewhere), but that already keeps me at least 10 feet away from the kitchen, and my roommate isn’t in my line of sight while I work.

Sometime in the next week (aka, after all the furniture is in place and all the boxes are put away), I’ll share pictures of my apartment with you, then you can see what I’m talking about,

Here’s the takeaway: if you are easily distracted, put your desk in the closet or in a similar environment. Then, get your stuff done.

Watches and heat brain.


At some point in the past week, my watch stopped. I didn’t realize til today when I slapped in on my wrist and it read 9:45… while I was eating lunch. So, I reset it to 11:23, just to make sure that it wasn’t going to start up again.

And, for some odd reason, I didn’t take it off. No, instead I spent the entire day feeling as though time had stopped because my watch battery died. It’s still 11:23, just in case you’re wondering.

The heat wave that has swept across the Midwest this weekend doesn’t help with my presence of mind either. It hardly matters what time it is, because regardless of the hours and minutes, I am hot and have been sweating for quite some time now (though I wouldn’t know exactly how long since my watch died). Air conditioning is a beautiful thing while you’re in class, and tank tops, water bottles, box fans, and cold showers will have to suffice in its absence.

It’s supposed to be hot on the first day of classes, right? That drives people indoors, makes it a treat to be sitting on a metal chair in a cool room, even if the classes aren’t your cup of iced tea (though mine certainly are this semester).

This is where my brain starts sputtering. I’m sure I have more to say, but the heat and sweat are forcing conciseness.

Forgetting and moving in/on.


image

Yep, It’s already happening. I’m already compiling a list of things I forgot at home. It’s another one of those moments where I just have to resign myself to my humanity and be thankful that UPS exists.

I know, the green Sharpie pen doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal, but believe me, it is. You can’t just leave your favorite pen at home. Not when you’re a writer. At least I didn’t leave my Tide-to-go pens at home. Nope, they’re safely packed in a little cardboard box.

Today is move-in day, which feels weird since I thought I just moved into my freshman dorm pretty recently. Or maybe that was moving out. Time has really begun to fly by this year. It has a jet now, I believe. Or maybe a rocket. Maybe just wings. Either way, I’m sure I’m not ready for this. I’m still wrapping my mind around being a first year college student, but now that ship has sailed.

I spent the last few minutes trying to articulate something about how to embrace transitions, but then I deleted it all. Let’s be real; I don’t know what I’m talking about. I know that fully embracing the change before I felt its reality helped, but I don’t have three easy steps for how to embrace it. I really don’t know what I’m doing, but I know who is doing it with me. I know that I’m following Jesus into sophomore year and that it’ll make all the difference.

Side note: Sometimes people knock on the door while you’re blogging in your pajamas, and it’s the person who owns the apartment your parents are renting. And you’re the only one available to answer it. So you just pretend that you aren’t wearing pink, striped pajamas and that you have done your hair and makeup this morning. And it turns out all right.

So, there’s Saturday for you.

 

The wise fool hits the road.


Sophomore: combo of “Soph,” which means “wise” and “moron,” which… well, we all know what that means. All credit for knowing what that means goes to Mr. Joel Solliday, who told me that at the start of my sophomore year of high school (the year we spelled it ‘sophmore’ on the sign in our hallway for homecoming week… wise fools….), and I’ve never forgotten it.

I’m in my last few minutes of being home, and I wanted you to be a part of this. I’m sitting on my bed for the last time for a couple months. From here on out, I’ll be coming to you live from a corner of the library, my bunk bed in my tiny studio apartment, or one of the many Chicago coffee shops.

I’m so at home. And by that, I mean that my sister is playing the piano (she’s practicing for a wedding tonight), my dad is still packing his bags and showering – meaning that we’ll be leaving late, and I’m tapping out a blog post.

The anxieties that prevailed in the last few days have started to subside as I collect kitchen supplies and finalize my schedule for the semester. But mostly, I’ve been learning that fear doesn’t have a place in my life. Granted, that doesn’t mean that I’ve shown it the door and switched the locks for good. I think it will take a while (if not my entire life) to overcome that. Jesus is greater than all my fears, but that doesn’t mean that I always trust Him. Yes, I do realize how ridiculous that sentence is. I was tempted to change it, but it’s true. Even though I know that God holds my entire life in His hands and walks alongside me, I still fear and still question.

I really am a wise fool. I know a truth that should overcome every anxiety I’ve ever felt and more, but I still cling to the horridness of being afraid at times. I bet you do, too.

In a few minutes, Jesus and I will take Matilda and the newly-healed Pearl and my parents, and we’ll walk out the door and drive to Chicago together. And my parents will move me in to my apartment, and they’ll leave. But Jesus will remain. My parents and sister and friends and the rest of my support system from home will be a phone call away, but Jesus will grasp my hand and never let go.

Oh, for grace to trust Him more.

Let’s hit the road.

Tips for freshmen.


Photo on 8-21-13 at 8.39 PMWelcome to my room. This is what it looks like today. And I don’t even think the picture encompasses the worst of the mess. This is what packing mode looks like for me. Gotta have everything out so that I don’t forget it.

It’s a giant, cluttered, holy-terror mess. And it’s all gotta get packed into boxes tomorrow.

And by ‘all,’ I mean ‘fewer items than are pictured.’ Limited car space, you know. This is when it would be helpful to know the future. Will I really need my toolbox this semester? Will I wish that I had left my printer at home? Will I use this whisk as much as I think I will? 

I do have some experience with this whole living away from home thing, though. So I thought I’d pass on as many tips as I have.

  1. Bring a Tide-to-go pen. Or three. Really, if you bring nothing else, bring this pen. Keep it in your backpack and by your bed and in your purse (unless you’re a dude. Then ditch the purse).
  2. You probably won’t wear all the clothes you bring. If you don’t love it, you won’t wear it at school in front of the people who might see you and not know that you usually have great style, you’re just wearing your least favorite shirt today. I mean, really, why own a least favorite shirt? Why not donate it? One man’s least favorite shirt is another man’s favorite shirt.
  3. Try not to buy lots of things online after you get to school. If you aren’t motivated enough to go out and get it from an actual store, don’t let yourself use your hard-earned money to buy it online. Unless you get free shipping and it’s something like socks. Not like I bought socks online or anything.
  4. Take significant things that you already own. Don’t just take a whole bunch of new things that you just bought at Target. You need some remnants of home to keep you from being homesick. Even the toughest get homesick.

That’s all I have for now. And the packing awaits.

 

Modern day miracles


I’ve been known to think I’m hilarious when I’m home alone for an extended period of time. I tweet too much, sometimes about things like grilled cheese or dancing with my elbows. It’s a small problem, but today I’m going to solve it by going to see some technological geniuses. I’m realizing that it might be wise to continue this post after I’ve had some normal human interaction, so I will do just that.

Standby.

2.5 hours later, I’m back with a good story sans bad jokes. After I left you, I headed to Best Buy to visit the Samsung people to see if they could do anything for her. Poor Pearl had her battery taken out again and again as they tried to do a factory reset then tried to get her into download mode.

I withheld my comments about how I felt like they were surgeons operating on my child because people don’t always appreciate metaphors. I also withheld comments like “Will that work?” and “What are you trying now?” because I figured that would be annoying. I support my decision to sit with my hands in my lap and try to not worry about expenses. I also support my decision to ask Jesus to fix it. I mean, why not?

Bobby the Geek (that’s not derogatory. That’s what they call themselves.) got to a point where he didn’t think there was any hope (in my vivid imagination, we were in a hospital, and the heart rate monitor was slowing down while he held the defibrillator paddles and hung his head in defeat while clothed in a white lab coat). He sent me back over to the Samsung area to look at expensive phones that I can’t afford. When I explained to the woman there (who was incredibly nice and had been my initial contact, so she knew about my difficulty) that I wasn’t in a place to drop $300 on a phone, we went to the cheap phone area where Matt (or Mark or something like that) explained that the cheapest phone that would still fit the bill was $80. I didn’t have time to buy it then since I was headed to a bang trim at 3, so I told him I’d come back tonight after I talk to my parents and get things figured out.

I went back over to Bobby to pick up Pearl’s corpse, but he had made progress. It was in download mode! We watched with baited breath as he downloaded the Android operating system on it, saying “I don’t know how I got it to this mode, so don’t ask questions” and “This may work or it may not.” That worked. Then he downloaded the software, again giving disclaimers as he went.

I just kept asking Jesus to fix it. Look, Jesus, I know that this isn’t that big of a deal, and it’s just a phone. I know that it can be a distraction, but you know I don’t have the money to buy even an $80 phone right now. You know that I would be so happy to just be able to wear this one out and save up for when my contract runs out. That would be just fine. You are bigger than this glitch. You are bigger than Pearl’s epilepsy. You do modern day miracles with technology. You could totally use Bobby to fix her. Please, God. Fix it.

As I watched without breathing as Pearl turned on and came back to life, I was reminded that Jesus cares about my life. Jesus is fully aware that this matters to me, and even more than that, He’s involved. He’s seen my bank accounts and knows that Pearl was my alarm clock, communications manager, guide, and sometimes my lifeline. He gave me three days without her. Then He lead me to Bobby, who said “It’s a good thing you came in when you did, because I think I’m the only one here who knows how to do that.” Yeah, Jesus. You’ve got good timing. That’s why I felt the need to make a grilled cheese with avocado before heading out…

Yes, Jesus does modern day miracles. Our technology isn’t too advanced for Him. He isn’t mystified by cellular seizures and taught the best of the best how to troubleshoot. Even if Pearl dies soon, I’m thankful for the extra time and that I at least have a phone for the start of school. That’s good enough for now.

The weekend Pearl went on strike.


Pearl went on strike this weekend. She told me that she wanted higher wages, and I told her, “I don’t pay you. You’re my phone. I pay other people to use you.”

That’s when she started having seizures.

I did everything I could, and so did Will, the AT&T guy. We tried and we did factory resets, and she just kept relapsing. I have to say goodbye to my poor, epileptic phone this week.

And say hello to some kind of replacement.

You see, I thought about this. I thought to myself,  I would really like to not be governed by stuff. Who says I need a phone? Okay, well maybe that’s a smart choice for living in the city on your own. Maybe you’d like to keep in touch with your parents and friends and sister and grandma who doesn’t have facebook? You’re locked in to paying a data plan until next March. Are you really going to fork over all that money for nothing? Yeah, exactly. Find a used smartphone that will last you for six months.

I really wanted to be the kind of person who could have their phone break and be okay with it. I mean, I am okay with it. I haven’t cried or broken down. I’ve been pretty stable… minus all the times I’ve looked at people using their phones and think YOU DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU HAVE IT.

I miss my friend, Pearl. I wish she’d stuck around for the rest of our contract together. I wish she would get better and stay with me. But sometimes you have to let things go. Goodbye, Pearl. I hope you get rid of your epilepsy someday.