Shameless Sunday


I would so like to win something. One time, my sister won a year’s supply of ice cream (which meant that she got 24 coupons for free half gallons… aka NOT enough for a year) and four tickets to see Doctor Doolittle when it came to the Orpheum, all because she wrote a cute little poem about what she would say to the Kemp’s cow if she could talk to him.

I want to win something. I don’t need to in order to validate myself, but it would be so nice. I kind of would like to win a car. I think that would be great.

Or maybe a reality tv pilot (even though being on a reality tv show is just about the last thing I’d like to do). Or how about a road trip? That’d be second best to a car.

But I’d really like the car.

Oh, hey. It looks like I made a video for this contest to win just exactly one of those three things. It looks like it might be at this link.

I think it might be around 2 minutes and 56 seconds long. I think that you can vote approximately 11 times per day for me if you play the bonus point games. I think that you have until September 30th to repeatedly vote.

I’m shameless. I’m using my little platform for self gain.  But really, vote for me?

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Honest Saturday.


It’s time for some honesty. First of all, I spelled ‘honesty’ wrong the first time I typed it. Whoops.

Second, I’m not ready for school yet. I feel like it’s July (despite the perfectly fall-esque weather over the past couple weeks). I’ve done most of the things that I wanted to do this summer, but I’m still not ready for it to be over. I’m not ready to leave the comfort of a suburb where I have my schedule and my habits and my people all figured out. I’m not ready to head back into the hustle and bustle of Chicago life where I have to figure out new classes and new jobs – heck, I just finally got all settled into my summer jobs.

I’m not ready to be away from the people I know best and the comfort of having my own room and a fully stocked kitchen (that someone else stocks) at my disposal whenever I’m willing to cook. I’m not ready to leave the suburbs, where you can leave a bike parked outside a bakery without a bike lock, and it’ll likely still be there when you come back in a few minutes. I’m not ready to say goodbye to my parents and sister for two months.

But since when are you ever fully ready for the next stage of life? If I waited until I felt ready, I would never go. I could probably always think up one more thing I need to make for my apartment or one more thing I have to find on clearance before I head out. I could always think of one more person to say goodbye to, one more dish I wanted to make in my kitchen. I could always feel that I hadn’t hugged my family enough or shown them how much I love them.

And really, when I think about my life in Chicago, the noise, the adventure, the food, the people, the excitement of new classes, it makes it easier. I’m excited, though not ready. Jesus will go with me, anyways, so I’ve got continuity there. It’s more than I need, more than I could think to ask for.

6 days to make the most of every opportunity and get as ready as I can be.

Break blog


I’m on my lunch break at work, a much needed half hour off during a longer shift than I’m used to working.
Can we all just admit that sometimes it’s hard to offer grace to other people? Sometimes we just get in a funk where we want everyone else to cater to us, to be as gracious as they can be, but we aren’t willing to reciprocate. Sometimes we just want to keep to ourselves and be crabby. We want to out on our sullen, “don’t talk to me” faces and only do what we feel like doing.
But then I remember God’s grace. How cheesy it sounds to say that, but I remember that verse in 1 Corinthians, that “His grace to me was not without effect.” that His grace had changed my whole life. I’m living in the grace zone. And I prove how much I need grace by my ungraciousness.
His grace to me was not without effect, and when I’m willing, God will fill me with his grace to extend to others. When I’m willing to partner with Him, I can show people that God’s grace has an effect.
That’s what I need to remember as I head into the second half of this shift. I will be gracious because of his grace to me. Not because of anything I’ve done but because of his great love. This, dear friends, is amazing grace.

Blessings, not sheep.


Today, as Bing Crosby suggested in White Christmas, I will count my blessings instead of sheep. I’m not super interested in sheep numbers, anyways, so this isn’t a big sacrifice. I just kept finding myself rejoicing at these little things, and I want to share it with you.

Blessing #1 People have been throwing work at me this summer. Do you remember the beginning of summer, where I didn’t have a job, had no promise of a job, and had actually been rejected for some?  I chose to be certain that Jesus would take care of me (since I haven’t always trusted in the past, but He’s ALWAYS come through for me), and lo and behold, I got two jobs within two weeks of each other that paid well and suited me. Then I got to cat sit for two different families. I got more babysitting jobs than I could handle. I worked a corporate event and had offers to work more. I got to keep freelance copyediting. AND I just got an email asking me if I was up for doing some more editing work. Is God taking care of me? Yes, yes He is.

Blessing #2 I met a nice lady at the bank today who helped me get a money order so that I could finally, successfully, renew my passport. Then – here’s the real miracle – I went to the DMV without an appointment but waited less than five minutes for someone to help me. I was out of there in fifteen minutes. Is God taking care of me? Yes, I would say He’s going beyond the call of duty.

Blessing #3 I got to help my dear friend, Rebe, pack up her car this morning before she left for school again. I also got to grocery shop in her basement (since her mom buys stuff on major sale/double coupon days and has an enormous stockpile), so I have plenty of pasta and diced tomatoes to take to school. More importantly, I got to say goodbye and hug her tightly. That hug has to last until Thanksgiving. Does God care about my friendships and my groceries? YEP.

Blessing #4 Even though it’s hard to say goodbye to my loved ones – which I’m preparing to do – I’m know that Jesus is going with me and has some ideas for what we’re going to do together this year.

Bonus Blessing There’s coffee ice cream in the freezer. And my mom is going to buy me some school clothes.

I hope you are able to find all the blessings in your Wednesday.

This fine Tuesday.


Last night, in that fuzzy moment of half-consciousness right before you fall asleep, I had a thought I’d never had before. So, of course, it took me out of my stupor a bit. I was intent on falling asleep before 11:30 though, so… I texted it to myself.

I know, whatever happened to a pen and paper?

I actually have to text myself a lot so that I won’t forget all the little things that pop in my head at inopportune times. Then I see that I have a text and get all excited before I remember that it’s just me, reminding myself to do something.

Anyways, without further ado here’s what that text said: “What if you only gave when you felt like you had a lot to offer?

I had been thinking about being at church the day before (my Sunday night church) and realizing as they said to pass the offering bags that I didn’t have much cash in my wallet, as in not enough to really do anything.  I mean, I’ve got a whole lot of change in my purse, but that would require rooting through the thing while Craig was speaking, and I didn’t really want to be that girl.

Plus, I was in the front row. And, change is noisy. I was with a group of girls that I went to high school with, and when they said, “People on the right, pass the offering bags down the row, and the person at the other end can bring them to the foot of the cross during the last worship set,” I thought to myself, Well, we’re all pretty broke here. I mean, not broke, but we all have our own churches in addition to this one and not a whole lot extra to give, I’m sure. Maybe I shouldn’t even pass the bag. I’ve only got a little bit, here. I mean, what is that going to do anyways? I should just wait til I have more to give.

I know. I’m dumb. God can work with anything. Mostly because it’s not about the amount but about the sacrifice and obedience. I got that gnawing feeling in my stomach that I get when the Holy Spirit isn’t satisfied with my obedience level, so I reached down to the end of the row (funny that I was the person on the right end), grabbed the bag, and stuck my tiny little offering in it. Then, I passed it along.

Now, obviously I’m not telling you about my giving so you can pat me on the back for it. This is a story about growth, not being good the first time around.

What if we all waited until we felt like our offering was enormous and plentiful before we gave? Well, the offering bags wouldn’t be very full, for one. What if we waited until we felt like we had plenty of elbow room in our schedules before we gave time to the people who needed it? What if we only spread kindness when we felt like we had a surplus of pep and encouraging words?

There are days when I’m prepared to give, but I think that part of the joy in giving is being ready to offer whatever I have on the spot, even if I don’t feel like it’s enough. Even when it looks like it won’t make any difference. I need to be faithful in the small things and offer what I have, especially when God asks.

Let’s see how that plays out on this fine Tuesday.

run, run, run.


Partly because I feel guilty for eating so many carbs last night and partly because it’s a beautiful day outside, I’m going running this morning.

I’m not one of those people who can just wake up and run. Where’s the pomp and circumstance? Where’s the dily-dallying? No, I wake up, drink coffee with Jesus, eat pancakes, charge my iPod (because I absolutely cannot run without it… I mean I could, but I’d get to the end of my street and be unable to muster the motivation to go any further), make a new running playlist (entitled ‘RUN RUN RUN’ because having fresh music is key to having a successful run, particularly if it’s over 150 bpm), change clothes, and sit down to blog before I head out.

I know. It looks like I don’t really want to do this. I’m not sure that ‘want’ embodies it, but there’s some part of me that thinks this is a good idea. It’s enough that I will eventually head out the door. Eventually. I think. As long as I stretch for at least 15 minutes first.

I will run because I think it’s worth it. I may not start a habit of running on a regular basis today, but I’m planting the seed so that someday the habit might stick. I will faithfully run whenever I feel like it (hah, did you catch the contradiction there?) just in case this might turn into something permanent. I mean, maybe permanent just means that I do it more often than once a month. Or maybe it means that someday I take up running as a hobby (Lord, forbid).

I suppose I shouldn’t put this off any longer. The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can shower away all memories of the experience and put on my new, green maxi skirt. There’s some motivation.

Bony arms.


I find that I have increasingly little to offer God. I mean, there was a time when I thought I was an invaluable asset to the Most High, but there’s nothing remarkable about me.
I raise bony, angular arms in worship. I lift up a heart that is cracked, calloused, and sensitive. I can’t get anything in my life together on my own. When I try that, I get tired and beaten down and weary of trying to be good.
I’m amazed that God still asks me to be a part of what He’s doing. I mean, when I do group projects, I don’t allow the weak links to do anything important. I look for capable people to help me when I need it. I’m controlling while I’m cooking because, who knows, someone might crack the eggs wrong. Then we’d have a problem.
That being said, since He knows my vast limitations and the extent of my brokenness, I don’t know exactly why God wants me to be a part of His work. I wouldn’t let me.
I think it has something to do with relationship and love though. He loves me too much to not be in relationship (hence the restoration through Jesus’ death), and what better way is there to build relationship than to work together?
God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. That ensures that we grow and He gets all the glory.
This is why my bony arms and my rag-tag heart and my willing spirit and weak flesh are valuable. Not because of anything in me, not because of anything I’ve done but because God wants to work with the incapable. This is why God is counter-cultural, friends.

Scatterbrained Saturday.


It’s one of those days where I have nothing and everything on my mind. Nothing cohesive. Everything jumbled together. Thoughts like why did I dream that my house was on fire last night? why was that person outside my house when I jumped out of the second story window? obviously in the dream. Did they set it on fire? Why was my first response to call the doctor? Why didn’t he pick up? Also, this lipstick that I just found under my sink is a great color. And I think I want a quesadilla for lunch even though the salsa we have now is kind of spicy.

Yes, folks. It’s a list kind of day. Not a list of any particular kind, just a list so that we don’t have those awkward segues we sometimes have from one topic to another.

1. If I were to count and do the meticulous research involved, I’m pretty sure that this post would be the most viewed on my site. WordPress tells me what posts people view everyday (not like your name and address, just a number of how many people viewed a post), and this one pops up all the time. People must find it when they search “how to get blueberry stains out of car upholstery” on Google, but the funny thing is that only about a sentence of that post is devoted to an actual cleaning how-to.  It’s nice to think that I’m not the only one who has ever had a blueberry pie throw up on the seat of my car. (that’s what happens when you let the pie ride in front)

2. I leave for school in 13 days, which is causing both excitement and anxiety. There’s stuff to get done before then. Plus, once I’m there, I won’t be home for two months and will a pretty busy time of it. I’m trying to just write things down as I think of them, not panic while I think of it. August 23rd doesn’t seem so far away.

3. My sister gets married 5 months from today. It feels like she just started dating the guy – but that was over four years ago. So I’m pretty certain that the remaining five months will fly by. Goodness gracious, we must be adults then if she’s going to be married. Where did childhood and adolescence go?

Thank you for bearing with me on scatterbrained Saturday. 

Yoga and Jesus


Usually I can’t listen to music while I write. It ends up taking too long for me to focus because I’ll want to sing along (usually singing harmonies to pretend that I’m a backup for my favorite artists) or seat-dance – which looks like a whole lot of shoulder movement for me. It’s hard to dance and type at the same time, so I usually have to forego one or the other.

“Give Me Back My Girl” by Fiction Family is my jam right now. I’m quickly losing focus though, and that’s kind of what I wanted to blog about, so I suppose I should press pause.

Pause. It’s not a word that we actualize much, is it? We don’t pause much. We have texting so that our communication doesn’t have to pause even if we can’t speak to each other with vocal chords. Everything is automated so that we can multi-task. We speed up, not slow down. Slowing or stopping is weakness. When I watch Smallville with my parents (shoutout, Benny J! we’re on season 8!), everybody sighs when I have to pause it to use the bathroom.

This is why I need yoga. I can’t do anything while I do yoga. I can’t use my phone or even really talk while I do it. Kickboxing? Oh yeah, I can text and kickbox at the same time. I’ve been known to blog from the stationary bike. I listen to music and overthink a tornado in my cranium while I run – which isn’t very often, as you well know. But I can’t multi-task if I’m going to do yoga right. I have to focus on my ‘victorious breathing’ (hey, I don’t name the stuff) and body alignment and make sure that I don’t fall over. Sometimes the instructor even makes me close my eyes.

It’s good for me to take time to do yoga, because a) I think it’s started to develop some arm muscle where there was previously nothing. This is good. b) I’m seeing so many parallels between yoga and my walk with Jesus. c) achilles tendonitis, say hello to Downward Dog (again, I don’t name them. they might be worse if I did).

Disclaimer: I don’t do weird yoga. If they ask me to breathe into my spleen, I tune out and never come back. If they tell me to look inside and see all the goodness in me, I pray and thank God that He is the reason there is any. If they say to empty out my mind, I let go of my worries and tell Jesus to catch them and show me what to do. Yoga, for me, must be holy, otherwise there isn’t much point. I attend a Holy Yoga class with some friends every Thursday that incorporates this more intentionally into the practice. So, there you go.

In yoga, you aren’t doing a whole lot of aerobic exercise. It’s definitely not easy, especially when you get to more advanced poses, but there isn’t as much panting and sweating as there would be at a spinning class. Yoga is about breath, stretching, and strength. They ask you to put your body into positions that you wouldn’t ever get to in your normal life.

example: crow. this is the one I’m in the process of conquering. that is not me.

You don’t conquer this the first time. You just don’t. It’s a stretch to get your knees on the sides of your upper arms. Your wrists hurt, and you fall over sometimes. After weeks of attempts, the longest I’ve been able to hold it is 8 seconds. (yes, I counted)

Yoga asks you to try. it says, This is a hard pose, but you’ll never get it if you don’t start attempting. Trust your body, trust your preparation. Lift up one foot, then the other. You’ll get a little farther this time than you did before. It accepts you as you are but invites you into something more challenging, promising you that you will change and will adapt.

Jesus does the same. He knows my humanity and limitations even better than I do. He says, Come into the challenge. I want to use you. I know you’re not ready, and you’ll need to stretch and learn as you go. But come anyways, learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your weary soul, even in the stretching and the attempts that aren’t perfect. That’s not failure, that’s growth.

Jesus never leaves me behind in the dust. He never says, You’re too lame and unskilled to join me in this mission. He brings me along and lets me learn as we go. I can’t imagine walking with a better guide.

Budgets.


I like being an adult. I enjoy independence and being taken a bit more seriously. I like taking myself seriously, too. However, having to make a budget and have the discipline to stick to it and NOT among the list of things that I enjoy about adulthood. It’s real and necessary, though. Reality is nice, but not when it shows me that my income and my expenses are just about equal. Goodbye, frivolous spending and leftover money to save. Goodbye, slightly more expensive habits born of living with my parents.
I guess it’s just the start of a phase of life where I have to be extra responsible and disciplined about my finances. I suppose that wouldn’t be a bad habit to stay in forever.
We chose a good place to do it – a little coffee shop in downtown Stillwater, this adorable little town on the banks of the St. Croix river, about an hour away from where we live. It’s a perfect example of our budgets in action. We got up at 5am to carpool, brought our own lunches, and limited ourselves to only buying coffee and tea while we’re here. You can do so much on the cheap if only you aren’t concerned about appearances and exercise a little discipline.
And I’m going to need discipline in this area if I’m going to follow God into a career as a writer, where making a steady paycheck might be hard. It’s best to learn before you’re forced into that lifestyle, right?
Budget-making forces me to think about my priorities. what do I need to spend money on? What can wait until I have a stable job? Can it wait forever if I never have a stable job? Do I really need to buy toothpaste? Maybe I should do this with my time, too, make a spreadsheet of how I want to spend my minutes.
I’m running out of summer time. The warm weather minutes in the comfort of home are ticking away, much faster than I anticipated. I’ve got 16 days left to be a homebody, to work at my jobs and see my family and Minnesota friends. That’s 23,040 minutes left.
Time to make the most of every opportunity.