Catching up with Taylor.


Hey Tay Tay,

I’ve been reminiscing about our non existent friendship lately and felt the need to reach out again. We’ve both had a lot happen in our lives since I last wrote to you.

Let’s just do a quick recap of everything I’ve already told you, okay?

1. Dear Doppelganger – Wherein I let you know that there is a very long list of people who have told me that I look like you, and I listed some of our similarities.

2. Dear Taylor – More of a catchup letter, just letting you know I’m still here and still look like you. I also expressed concern for your heart, as you had been through quite a few boyfriends prior to that letter.

3. Copycat Hair – I accused you of copying me. I mean, you cut your hair short the week after I did. And it was dramatic, for both of us.

4. Updates for Taylor – Where I let you know that Austrians don’t know who you are (well, not most of them) and told you that we had more in common, just after I saw you on Jimmy Fallon discussing your gnarly glue gun scar.

5. Taylor and me, 2015 – Where I posted this lovely collage of us:

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.58.54 PM to really drive home my point. I also caught you up on my life.

Aside from these posts, I’ve made a series of videos, some to try to get you to donate money to my Charity: Water birthday campaign (it’s too late now. You missed your chance), some just for the sake of dancing (2,390 views of the awkwardness on that one!).

I’m starting to resign myself to the smiling and nodding life. Yes, I do know that I look like Taylor Swift. Isn’t it funny? No, she doesn’t know me. Yes, I’ve tried. 

Is that so bad? No. I cannot tell you how many times you’ve been a conversation starter with people. I’ve met so many people that I would never have spoken to otherwise. I’ve had more meaningful encounters with cashiers, customers, strangers on public transit, and just about everyone else I would normally have little to talk about with.

So, thank you for looking like me (HA! has anyone ever told you that?).

Also, thanks for looking out for artists. I wasn’t sure what to think of your letter to Apple, but I love a whole bunch of indie artists who don’t have the budget you do and would be hurt by three months of streaming without pay. You’re using your power for other people, which is exactly how I think you should use it.

I was just typing something about how you’re on almost every radio station… and then “Bad Blood” came on Cities 97. OH MY.

Anyways, if by some miracle of the internet you see this, please come to Minneapolis and have lunch with me. Or bake cookies with me. Let’s be friends. That would make approximately 1500 people happy (I’m thinking of all the people who’ve told me I look like you… remember that this is not an exaggeration).

Happy Tuesday,

Ashley

Theological Equations and Children


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imageThis weekend was VBS at my church. It was a full two days (plus a recap tomorrow during our worship service) of games and science experiments and Bible stories. I got to wear my nerd glasses, which always gives me a sense of smartness… and a headache (plastic lenses, they’re not easy to see through).

Things I learned:

1. Kids are unpredictable, to say the least. My mom and I lead the Bible story rotation, so each age group would come to our room and hear the Bible lesson for the rotation. The three groups were: PreK, K-1st grade, and 2-4th grade. Now, who would you predict would be the most restless? Of course, the PreK kids who haven’t been bound to desk chairs in school and have boundless energy from their naps and snacks. Of course, it was the oldest kids who were the most restless and the kindergartners who were the most well-behaved. But really, everyone was pretty engaged.

2. People’s obsession with substituting numbers for words will NEVER END. The theme of the curriculum we used was “SonSparks Labs,” so it was sciencey and chemistry oriented. We had a science experiment to illustrate the concepts from the Bible stories we were teaching, which were actually pretty cool and good visuals. But of course, the takeaways were written on posters like this: “GOD’S PLAN IS 2 LOVE US 4-EVER.” Do people think this is cooler than letters? Is it suppose to be relatable? I don’t understand. But it’s a real obsession.

3. There’s always something new to be gotten from the story of God’s love for humanity. I listened to my mom tell the story of the fall three times on Friday night, told the story of Jesus paying the penalty for our sins and rising from the dead on Saturday three times, and heard the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit three times on Saturday afternoon. And with each story something new would stick out. When I told those kids about Jesus and his love for him, the story didn’t feel old. I guess that’s what it means that the word of God is “living and active.”

4. VBS songs are catchy. Few words, repetition, and a three-note variation in the melody means that they’re ringing in my head. And they will be probably all week.

5. The Bible is God’s word. And it’s true. Our room was called the “Story Center,”and my mom, being quite aware that kids hear stories all the time, most of which are fiction, wanted to be very sure the kids knew we fit in the nonfiction category. “This story comes from Genesis, which is in the Bible. The Bible is God’s word, and it’s true.” Then later, “Can someone read this verse from the Bible? … which is true.” I think I was the only one conscious of the repetition, and it was a good thing to do. It made me chuckle to myself. Now I’m reminded, too.

As tiring as it is to corral and teach kids for even a day, it’s rewarding. Even when they don’t raise their hands and pray the prayer, you can just tell that they’re at least getting a piece of the story that has changed the lives of so many people. I leave the experience hoping that it plants seeds of faith in their lives.

Anniversaries and carpal tunnel


Today marks four years since I started this blog, which is pretty long to stick with something, especially when you know that you’ve grown up quite a bit since starting it. There are posts I wish were different, but we leave it because it shows growth, right?

I also finished my third week of my internship today. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a real concern sometimes. I’ve been getting into The West Wing lately, and there’s an episode where Donna is concerned that she’s going to get carpal tunnel and wants OSHA benefits (which apparently, White House staff don’t get… in the 90s). What do you know – a few weeks later I’m working a desk job and feeling a little stiffness in my wrists.

Okay, so I don’t actually have carpal tunnel. I know that manifests much more slowly. Aka, not in three weeks. But I looked up strategies for avoiding and some stretches to help alleviate stress anyways. And I did them subtly at my desk.

I know. Worrying about things that are so not an issue. I mean, people work longer hours than I do with less concern for their posture and don’t have carpal tunnel. You just have to do what you can to prevent the pain. Also, you have to try not to be melodramatic about things.

Aside from the fear of carpal tunnel from excessive computer use and slight worries that I’m losing my eyesight and will need readers soon (you think I jest…), I really do love working my internship. Here are my top reasons why:

  1. I am given responsibility and independence, but I am a supporter and therefore am just assisting in helping others get their projects done. Instead of the barrage that inundates some of the people who have real jobs, I just get assigned tasks as I finish them.
  2. My desk is in such a position in the office that I see everyone who comes in the front door. Granted, there’s a back way to come up, through the adjacent building where the rest of the company works, but if they come in from the elevator, I’m right there to smile briefly then go back to work.
  3. I’m not condemned for not knowing anything. One of the perks of getting rushed into a position to fill a need is that people have so much grace for you when you have enormous gaps in knowledge. And they don’t expect you to catch on right away. There’s a learning curve, and they let you ride it.
  4. I get to interact with books everyday. So far I’ve done a lot with the data surrounding the books that will be published soon. But I also read and store reviews, so I’ve gotten to hear what people think of them. And I just finished reading one of our YA novels, so now I’ve read some of them. Either way, there’s a big focus on supporting reading, readers, teachers, and librarians here, and it’s so in line with my values. If only I could take you on a tour of my bookshelves.
  5. People there aren’t crazy. They aren’t job-obsessed, for the most part. They all do what they do well, but it’s rare to see people staying past 5:30 on a normal day. I stayed til 6 one day (to make up hours from the previous day) and hardly a soul was in sight. There was one other car in the parking lot when I got there. It’s healthy.
  6. It pays.

That’s not all that I like about it, but if I get even a twinge of carpal tunnel, at least you’ll know that it wasn’t from a horrible job I didn’t like.

But I’m not going to get carpal tunnel.

Permission to be ignorant


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That’s my view right now. I’m sitting on the upper deck of my backyard and enjoying being outside after a full day inside without windows.

The soundtrack is one of my neighbors using some kind of leaf blower, which doesn’t make a lot of sense since most of the leaves are currently on the trees. Not a whole lot about this particular neighbor has ever made sense though.

All of you professionals who work 40+ hours a week will probably smile and nod as you read my thoughts about entering the full-time office work life and think awww, little intern. I wish I was through the newbie phase and into the seasoned veteran phase, but I’m not. 8 hour workdays don’t feel long to me, per se, but it’s definitely longer than I’m used to sitting at a desk and using a computer screen.

Every day when I come home, my right eye is a little bit bloodshot. It recovers pretty quickly, usually before I go to bed, but I must have that look all day. I try so desperately hard to keep good posture in my desk chair (which is not even, I’m sure of it. It’s lower on the left side) that my back is sore by the end of the day… and I thought the point of good posture was to prevent back pain?

People coddle interns a little bit. I mean, that doesn’t mean they give you all fun tasks and hold your hand while you do them (because much of my work thus far has been of the repetitive and solitary, but necessary type), but they thank you for doing them and ask you if you have a minute to talk about a project and explain things in simple terms. Rarely are you expected to know anything about the company, systems, people, or product. I have permission to be ignorant, which gives me latitude to ask all of my questions. (I have many…. so many)

Ignorance is bliss – not that I don’t wish to know things, but in being perceived as ignorant, I have a great capacity to learn from the experts. And the tasks they give me are educational in and of themselves, since they deal with the titles we publish and the people who write them and a whole bunch of other data that is starting to become familiar.

It’s great to be an intern – enough responsibility to feel productive but not too much to jam the works if I mess up, enough hours to make money but a set schedule that allows me to leave at my scheduled time and not only when I’ve finished my tasks, enough to do that I’m busy all the time but not so much that I’m overwhelmed with the weight of the world.

And Ashley surveyed her internship aside from the slight discomforts of sitting at a desk all day and saw that it was good.

Belly of the whale


I was doing well with keeping up on my food blog. So well, in fact, that I couldn’t even remember the URL to link to it in the previous sentence, and last post was a month ago.

*Sigh*

We can only do so many things well, right?

So, instead of actually altering a recipe or making anything life-changing, I just grabbed my favorite fancy pancake recipe from Minimalist Baker this morning. I have a favorite basic pancake recipe, but this one is just really tasty and pretty healthy, so it has a place in my repertoire.

Those chocolate chip banana oatmeal pancakes are fabulous. I didn’t use a flax egg though, because that sounded a little too vegan/hippie/granola/weird to me. I used a regular egg. I’m a rebel, what can I say?

Speaking of rebels, I’m reading through the minor prophets (and so is my sister… which was totally not planned and proves that we actually are twins somehow despite the three year age gap) and just finished Jonah. There’s a rebel for you. Jonah’s a prophet, and he gets word from God that he needs to proclaim to a Gentile city that has been living godlessly that they need to repent or they’ll be destroyed.

God says, “Go warn these people that I’m not having their debauchery and destructive behavior anymore. Tell them their wickedness must end.”

So Jonah gets on a ship and heads the opposite way. Smart, Jonah. God just warned a city that was disobedient that they needed to get their act together, so you think now is a good time to disobey?

You know this part, most likely. There’s a storm, and the sailors cast lots to figure out whose fault it was (it must have been a pretty bad storm, obvious that it was more than a natural phenomenon but a spiritual thing). Who should the lot fall on but Jonah, our little runaway friend? They’re afraid and ask him what they should do to make the storm stop. He say, “Throw me overboard.”

But they don’t want to be responsible for murder, so they try to row back to land. It doesn’t work, so over the side Jonah goes.

I wonder about this part. Did Jonah jump? Did they actually throw him? Did he sink for a long time before the big fish swallowed him?

There was a big fish, and when Jonah gets swallowed, he prays. His prayer recounts recent events,

You hurled me into the deep,

into the very heart of the seas,

and the currents swirled about me;

all your waves and breakers

swept over me.”

(vs. 3)

Then he says something interesting, considering that he’s still in the nasty belly of a fish.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;

the earth beneath barred me in forever.

But you, Lord my God,

brought my life up from the pit.”

Those who cling to worthless idols

forfeit God’s love for them.

But I, with shouts of grateful praise,

will sacrifice to you.

What I have vowed, I will make good.

I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.”

(vs. 6 and 8)

He’s still in the whale. He hasn’t been thrown up on the land yet. He’s been saved from drowning, but I bet that it wasn’t like those cartoon drawings of him where the whale is super spacious and basically sanitary and he’s able to kneel and pray, with ample light for him to see.

He’s in the belly of the whale (even though the Bible doesn’t actually use that word), which is a term literature folks use often for the part of the book where things are darkest. He hasn’t even seen the extent of God’s salvation yet – not in being thrown up and not in watching an entire city of “more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who [could] not tell their right hand from their left” repent and turn to God, who does not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

There are a couple ways he could be thinking of this: 1) Not being tossed about in the water right now. Not struggling to stay afloat. Not drowning. He’s been saved from that. Sure, maybe it was out of the frying pan and into the fire, but he hasn’t died yet. 2) He knows that God sent the big fish to be the vessel to carry him safe to shore. He’s recognizing that God is determined to have his word preached to the Ninevites, and that nothing will thwart his plan. Maybe he even realizes that God will make the fish spit him out on the land right by Nineveh – which is strange since it’s landlocked (if the Nineveh I found on Google, located in Iraq, is the right one).

I wonder if this is a model for us when we find ourselves in the belly of the gigantic fish. I wonder if – even though running from God should definitely not be our MO – this is a pattern of praise for the deliverance before it happens. Not a name-it-and-claim-it mentality but praising God in the middle of the trial, waiting period, or dark time because we know that when he acts, it will be good.

I wonder about that. I wonder if that’s what Jonah was doing.

Drivel.


I just heard Alistair Begg, as I passed through the living room to go write on the deck, chide his listeners to not read Cosmopolitan or any other “drivel” like it. I love that word – primarily because it makes me feel British to say it (or Scottish, since that would fit better considering Begg’s heritage) and secondarily because it’s a good word.

The first meaning in the dictionary (we’re using the Random House one this time) is drool or mucus dripping from the nose.

Drivel. Yes. Mucus dripping from the nose. Spit. What a picture that is, and what an apt description for some of the content that floods our modern world. It was a convicting little phrase to hear, especially considering that if that’s all I’m consuming, I’ll be full of mucus. I think of all the pointless “news” Facebook puts in my sidebar. Sometimes I scoff at it: “Famous Woman wears outfit on street, and it’s not flattering.”

These are the headlines we see. And sometimes…. sometimes I click on them. I take the bait and read the story. It’s like my Cheetos binge problem. Then, instead of adding something substantial or stimulating, I’ve got a little more completely pointless celeb gossip to make my conversations shallower.

What is drivel? My drivel is the stuff that I don’t have to think to read or that don’t make me think about anything differently than I did before. It’s the music that hands meaning to you on a silver platter, but when you reach out and take it, it has no substance to grasp. It’s the conversations that start and end without going anywhere. No one should care about drivel.

But don’t we sometimes care? We scoop up the drool in our hands and call it precious information and valuable to our lives. We’re so confused.

I think we need better evaluating systems. I mean, on top of that, we need better media coverage and more good writers and speakers and artists, but sometimes they’re just catering to the audience. We want easily digestible, but in our search for something that will go down smooth we’ve skipped over all solid food and gone to body fluids.

This is the part where we all feel empowered to get our library cards and our best conversation topics and fill up on the good stuff. I bet we’ll have to start slow though, because when you haven’t eaten for days and down a four-course dinner, you usually throw up.

How to be a better shopper


If you think this post is about saving money, it’s not. We’re not talking bargain hunting here, (partly because I have choice words for the people who get a great deal on a quality piece of clothing made with dignity and turn their noses up at it).  I’m talking about how to buy well and in a way that makes the most of the experience.

First off, even when you have a vague idea of what you’re looking for, tell the sales associate when they greet you and ask if they can help you. I know, I know. You think if you do that they’ll follow you around and try to oversell to you, and you’ll end up with things you didn’t want. You picture yourself leaving multiple bags full of jewelry and scarves and pants you’ll never wear again. This is usually not the case. In most stores, employees have other responsibilities, and while the customer comes first, they won’t be your shadow. They do want you to buy, so they’ll try to show you things they think you’d like. Most likely, they’ll point out a few things that might fit your bill, start a dressing room for you, and let you roam free while checking in every now and then.

This assumes that the salespeople know their product and are helpful. If they don’t, accepting help won’t really be helpful, but on the off-chance that they were not hired erroneously and were trained well, talk to them so they can point you to things you might otherwise overlook (i.e. things that look horrid on hangers but great on people, product that is hiding because it’s too crowded for it to be displayed well, something that’s folded that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, etc).

Secondly, the way you conduct yourself in the fitting room has a direct relationship with the way we will perceive your character. You can try on as many things as you like, but if the associate brings you everything you ask for and you leave it on the floor when you exit, that’s going to reflect badly on you and make it difficult for those of us who clean out those dressing rooms to want to serve you well. I know what you’re saying, But it’s your job! Yes, it is my job. And I love to do my job well. I take pride in it. But I’m going to be putting your clothes back whether you leave them inside out on the floor (or inside out on the hanger… still not helpful!) or hung decently well. Common courtesy to your fellow (wo)man dictates that you think about the person who will have to clean up after you and be kind. Trust me, if you leave your fitting room with at least attempts at cleanliness, we will think much more highly of you. You never know how that will benefit that salesperson… or even you.

Thirdly, there is always a back room. Now, this doesn’t always mean there is more stock of what’s on the floor, but it means that it’s always worth asking. This is just using your resources, people. We salespeople are here to assist you in buying from us. We have ways of getting what you need that you may have no idea about.

Fourth, wash your clothes before you wear them.  I want to repeat that with a megaphone from the top of a high building. WASH THEM. I know sometimes you grab a shirt from the bottom of a beautiful pile that obviously was just placed on the floor after being manufactured. You think it’s never even been touched, but trust me, it has. It has not only been touched, but tried on – sometimes many times in one day. It has been handled by salespeople and small children and people coming into the store who haven’t washed their hands or bodies recently. But that just means I (and other people like me) am doing my job well. I can fold a pile of shirts so it looks like it’s never been touched, but oh, has it ever. You are (almost) never the first person to try on a piece of clothing. It’s fine when you’re just trying, but when it becomes yours, please wash it. Set my germaphobic mind at ease and promise, okay?

I feel like I shouldn’t have to add this last point, partly because I know my audience here, and they are all kind people. I do also know that sometimes shoppers can be a bit cold to the people working retail, even when they are perfectly nice people. But, I’m going to say it anyways, be nice. You know what that looks like. It doesn’t mean you have to inquire about my life or my day. It just means being pleasant, patient, and listening when I try to tell you that I can save you more money if you open a credit card – even if you vehemently do not want one.

Looking forward to seeing you all put this into practice next weekend.

Spitball self


Today I helped make a powerpoint, ate some junk food, and requested books by Feuerbach, Calvin, and Barth from the library. For some reason, I was the first in line for all of those.

I bet there’s still a waiting list for 50 Shades of Grey. If only people would wake up and see what they’re missing in literature.

I’ve had four days at my new job, one whole workweek down (because they let me have Fridays off!). I walked past one of the companies that didn’t hire me yesterday on my way to the baseball game downtown. It’s the second floor of a building on Washington Avenue. I felt a little wounded as I walked by, even with the comfort of knowing that what I have now is better. Oh, I just want people to like me and to think I’m a valuable asset. Don’t we all?

So now I’m sitting alone in my living room hearing the faint noises of my parents watching TV together downstairs and wondering if corn chips go with Lambrusco. I’m going to bet that any self-respecting wine snob wouldn’t do this.

I’m wondering how you develop a sense of self, partly because I think I’m in some pretty critical stages of doing so with all this newness and the many transitions that I keep finding myself a part of. Webster’s is a surprisingly thoughtful source for what a self is, referring to ownership, individuality, and wholeness.

I find tension in my ideas of what “being myself” is, because I think of being myself as doing, saying, and being the way I feel most comfortable in my own skin. I feel most myself when I’m listening and speaking without feeling the need to impress someone with my response, when I’m reading a thoughtful book, when I’m writing something a little bit different than what I’ve read, when I’m cooking.

Yet here’s the tension: I’m not called to be myself. God never said, “To thine own self be true.” (That was Shakespeare.) The God of the Bible tells me to take up my cross daily (not comfortable, puts a target on you, is conspicuous), to love oppressed peoples (going out of my way, taking on expense, being seen with possibly not lovely but beloved people), and to seek God (to pursue that which is beyond my understanding, to both rest in the knowledge that God is holy and to surrender to His work within me).

Spitballs. More spitballs.

I’m a dearly loved creation, given gifts of the Spirit and a calling in life (whether I’ve found it or not), and God is constantly refining me and making me new.

Is this tension coming through? There’s value in the way I am because of how God has made me. And even more value in living into my calling. Yet God is still working on me, still making me whole and complete and fixing what’s broken when I don’t live rightly.

I’ve heard people talk about salvation as lifelong, that God’s salvation is the recurring theme in our lives. That is never stops. I can say that I’m saved, but really, what I mean is that I’m constantly being saved.

Maybe this tension is a question of reliance, a matter of where I lean and where I put my confidence. If I put my confidence in my skills or abilities or character, I’ll find myself leaning on a balloon. It will eventually be unable to support my weight. If I put my confidence in knowing that God is shaping me, I’m leaning on Him, which means that I have to walk where He leads.

I think I’m trying to say that in Christ I have a different idea of my self, that thought there’s some comfort in the fit of His calling, the way He gives me strengths and calls me to use them, He’s also calling me to see myself as not my own but bought with a price. I have some ownership in the sense that I decide who I will follow, but I find fullness when I follow the one who made me and calls me.

This feels like a convoluted thought process, but I’m going to publish anyway. That way we’ll have something to come back to when the thoughts are more clear.

Baseball statements.


A great night to watch baseball!!! #thegreatamericansport #twinspics

A post shared by Ashley (@tswiftstwin) on

Tonight at the Twins game, in the bottom of the 8th, Torii Hunter got in the umpire’s face after he had had it with the bad calls. He got in his face and someone else (possibly Paul Molitor… you never can tell from the 300 level of the stadium) had to hold him back from the guy. Torii then stormed towards the dugout, then turned and threw his hat, threw his glove, then threw his jersey. The stadium cheered because we always want to believe that we’ve been wronged when the umpires call it against us.

I didn’t really know how to respond to that. I was disappointed in him initially. Come on, will that really do anything? Baseball players are known for being the good boys of major league sports. You see so many fewer arrests and scandals, unless we’re talking A-Rod.

I was sitting in 323, hundreds of feet away from home plate where the umpire was making his sketchy calls. So, don’t take my word for it. If it comes out that they were perfectly in the clear, whatever. But a good number of those “strikes” looked awfully low to the ground, and somehow they managed to never rule in our favor on the questionable plays. Could be legitimate.

Whatever the case, Hunter had had enough. He was through – and he knew his only way to make a statement about it was to throw himself out of the game. It was like he was saying, If this is the way baseball is going to go, I don’t want to be a part of it. I wonder if the same umpires had been making those calls throughout the entire series.

The whole thing was so emotional. I could have shed tears while it happened. It didn’t feel like a diva thing, like a I make thousands of dollars per game, notice me! deal. It felt like a guy who was at his end.

I heard a little boy talking to his mom as we walked out to our cars.

“But he’s always so happy!” (little voice, probably 3 years old)

His mom laughed and answered him, totally aware that the people around her were amused, “Yes, he is always so happy, but he got really mad tonight. I guess the umpires were making a lot of bad calls.”

It got me thinking about what it would take for me to throw my glove and my jersey and storm away from something I was really invested in. (I mentioned this aloud as we walked out, and my mom said, “I smell a blog!”)

What would it take? When is it worth it? I’m no drama queen. I don’t like being the center of negative or controversial attention. I’m not even sure I like being the center of positive attention. Most of us are like this, I think. We live day to day without getting up in arms about every little thing because we know it isn’t usually constructive. And we want to make lasting, effective change if we’re going to do it.

But when is it good to throw something, to say with all that you have that it’s not right and you are willing to risk your baseball season (or equivalent) to make a statement?

I hope I’ll know when it’s time. I hope I’ll feel the fire and be ready to take the heat when it’s time to stand up.

I’m not sure I stand behind Torii Hunter completely in his choice of actions tonight. I don’t know what he said to the umpire. I don’t know what the umpire did in response (besides sticking to his call and repeatedly showing the crowd). Maybe there was a better way to handle it. But either way, he’s a reminder that statements don’t have to be verbal. And that sometimes it’s worth taking the heat in order to say something that must be said.

Planning to be faithful


I don’t think I’m allowed to plan my life anymore. I’ve told you before – I have a sick love for planning, and re-planning. I apartment-hunt in my free time for a move that might happen a year from now. I half-worry, half-daydream about my future career, the books I’ll *hopefully* publish, the family that might someday come to be my own. If it’s possible to have thought ahead about something, I will have or will be doing so shortly, right after I finish thinking about which of my three desired careers I should pursue first.

It does make me tired. I know you were about to ask. All the planning and re-planning and worrying does tire me.

And THINGS NEVER PLAY OUT THE WAY I EXPECT. You know I’m serious when I use all caps. That’s not a regular occurrence here, folks. But it’s true, so I’ll all-caps it again. IT NEVER HAPPENS THE WAY I EXPECT, OR THE WAY I PLAN, OR THE WAY I THOUGHT I WANTED IT TO.

Let me just tell you a funny little story about my plans and how God said no.

Summer begins in May for college students. This means we need jobs. Some students plan ahead and join programs, do missions, travel. Some start looking for jobs in March. Some get them when they get home.

I started applying in early January.

I know. It’s sick.

I applied early because career advisors tell you that you need to do that, get your resume in before the crowds submit theirs, stand out as the person with initiative and organization. I applied early because I knew it’d be competitive. Publishing is a hard field to break into. You need an internship. You might need more than one.

Most internships these days don’t pay. At least not consistently. The internships I applied for were mostly stipend-pay. I applied for four. I interviewed for two. And I got – NONE.

No one wanted me (or if they did, they didn’t want me enough). I have probably twenty drafts of my resume, and it’s been past all the people to check it over. All the people. I have experience already. I thought I did well in the interviews. They liked me. But apparently something was lacking, or someone else fit better. So, there I was, internship-less. I have jobs – that wasn’t what was bothering me.

I felt like I wasn’t being efficient. Three weeks of working retail went by, and I kept telling myself (without fully believing it) that God must have something else in store for me, not about my career planning.

But by last Sunday night, I felt like he didn’t. I felt like everyone else had gotten something new and exciting, and I got old and not in my desired field. So I sat in my bed and shed a few self-pitying tears and finally told God that I would be faithful with what he had given me. Hadn’t he provided work that yielded paychecks? Hadn’t he given me friends to be with this summer? Hadn’t he given me books to read and plenty to keep me occupied? God, you’ve given me enough, I said. I will be faithful to the relationships you’ve given me. I will be faithful in the work you’ve already assigned to me. I will look for your guidance in the everyday and stay quiet to hear your still, small voice above the cacophony of the world.

I thought, This must be what I need to learn. I must need to learn to be faithful with what I have been given, to be a steward.

Apparently not.

I had followed my mom’s advice (99.9999999% of the time, a good idea) in reaching out to her friend who works for Big Name Publisher in sales. We had coffee the Friday before this little meltdown/Come-To-Jesus-Moment, and we talked about publishing. She gave me some tips on my resume and said she’d be willing to forward my cover letter and resume to her contacts at Minneapolis companies. I’d forgotten that was a possibility. I was just happy to be talking with her. Two hours after we left, I had drafted a cover letter and dusted off my resume and sent them to her.

She waited until Monday to send the emails out, to keep them from getting lost in people’s inboxes over the weekend. So thoughtful. I hope to be like that for other people. She copied me on the emails she sent to her contacts and said she was impressed with me and thought I’d be a great intern or future employee (at which I blushed… even though I was alone).

I expected to possibly be contacted by someone willing to do an informational interview with me. Maybe to have someone say they’d keep my resume on file. Internships are filled by this point. Nothing would come by that route.

Two hours after she sent those emails, I got a call. A call. On the phone. With a real, live person on the other end offering me a position at Well-known Educational Publisher.

God is too good to me. Is that heretical? Too good. I would have been happy with a small-time internship at the little companies I had the courage to apply to, the ones that could not offer more than a possible stipend and a resume boost.

Not only did they offer me the internship, but it’s paid. I’ll get minimum wage. (Yes, that is an exciting thing!) AND. AND. And. AND. It’s full-time.

Full-time, paid, with a good reputation to boot.

Now I’m positive I’m going to be learning this summer.

I don’t want to take this as a-see? God DOES want me to use my summer. And he FINALLY got on board with my plans and is helping me to do what I want to do.

Because that’s dumb.

This is my (and yours, if you have made it this far in the abnormally long post) reminder that God writes my story. And God doesn’t depend on ordinary means. And God doesn’t need me to even apply for a job or interview for it for Him to give it to me. This is my reminder that God’s plans prevail – and that they are good, whether it’s obvious or not.

I start tomorrow.