Addicts and daily bread.


I’ve been doing a lot of silent (happy) screaming today. Lots of hand twinkling, ecstatic smiling, eye widening, toe tapping, and seat dancing.

I applied for an internship this morning. You’d think we were made for each other. And we just might have been. If it get it, I’ll tell you about it.

Oh baby.

Excitement central over here.

Today was another French Toast morning. Also a ginormous mug of coffee morning, but when isn’t it a ginormous cup of coffee morning? As I contemplated my possible addictions to cream cheese and coffee (we all know that my addiction to coffee isn’t just possible though… it’s certain), I thought about God.

We talk about going to church in terms of being fed. And I’ve heard people say that we should be at a place in our lives where we crave God and want more and more of Him.

Something about the metaphor bothers me. Is God a hit? A dose of some substance that I need to stop the shakes and the demons in my head? Is he a temporary satisfier, something that tastes good, but I’ll need more of it later?

Somehow, that doesn’t fit to me. I think God would rather be my daily bread, something that I make time for on a regular basis and enjoy deeply. Something that I need to live, desperately but not like an addictive substance. I’m not addicted to God. I run on God. There’s a difference there. Addiction indicates unhealthy dependence, that it’s something that we have a love/hate relationship with. Daily bread is something we can’t live without and are still dependent on, but it’s something we eat as a means of living well. It’s empowering rather than creating an obsession.

I don’t think God wants us to be obsessed with him like a stalker or an addict. I think he wants us to respond to him as you would to someone who loves you deeply and is fulfilling your needs, not your cravings.

Perhaps in the end, it is God who changes our cravings so that instead of wanting single hits of his presence, a strong wave to last us til we’re ready for the next one, we want daily doses, a consistent presence in our lives that changes us continuously and keeps us healthily seeking Him.

 

There is absolutely nothing that I can’t relate to food.

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Go before.


There’s something to be said for asking God to go before you to a new place. What does a person who goes before you do? He scopes it out. He finds you a group of Christian students that you can meet with on a Thursday night in March and feel so at home that you want to come back. He finds you coffee shops all over the place and prompts you to go buy a cappuccino when you arrive over there… over there are the good ones.

He picks the right dorm with the nice flatmates and the wonderful friend upstairs who helps you so much and has a soul much like yours. He makes you run into the right people at orientation so that you can be friends and shoves nice Canadians and French people into your path at lecture so that you’ll have even more friends.

He provides sunny days when you need it most and a bicycle that you are allowed to use when the key to the bike lock is on the shelf. He makes sure that there are lots of parks in the area and that there is a Hofer (Aldi) close to you so that you can save money on groceries.

He makes the laundry free and puts you in classes with nice people who actually like literature.

He makes sure that you don’t miss all the amazing Austrian treats (like you would ever miss those).

He actually went farther than you expected and planned out your next semester in Chicago for you. Oh yeah, the classes weren’t going to be enough for a semester, so how about an internship? Oh, and here’s a perfect place to apply. Have at it.

Goodness. God is a good trip planner. He’s also a great companion, if I do say so myself. Here, have a Manner cookie, Jesus. You deserve it. It’s the least I can do. No, really. Have one.

I’m feeling taken care of today. On my own in a foreign country, but I’m taken care of.

Things you should bring to Austria


We all know how much anxiety I had over packing, how long it took me, and how messy it was. Yes, it was a long, drawn-out process. I have most of what I need, and the other things I’ve been able to either buy here or live without. It’s okay to be a vagabond in some ways.

I’m realizing that some of the things I brought are invaluable, and some things – had I known to bring them – would have been fabulous to have here. So, I’ve compiled a list.

1. Peanut butter – thank goodness someone told me before I left that Europeans aren’t crazy about the sticky, nutty substance. I packed a jar in my suitcase, so I have been just fine with my Skippy. You know how in America we have at least 5 different brands of peanut butter at the grocery store, and a few different varieties between them? Well, at my Spar down the street (and the other one I went to), there was one brand. You could pick chunky or creamy, but there was one brand, in small jars.

Nutella, on the other hand, has multiple sizes of jar, off-brands, and knock-offs.

2. Your self-deprecative sense of humor, for use when you have to communicate in English with people who speak German.

Real life example:

*Enters cafe*

“Grüss Gott. Something in German we can’t understand?”

Every single time, I’m sure I flush. “Uh, sorry, I speak English.” Make that face that you would normally reserve for when your parent or small child is doing something slightly embarrassing, but you want to make sure you’re spared the judgment of the other person. It’s the I’m-on-your-side-sorry-about-them look. I use it to apologize for my non-German-speaking side.

*Proceed to ask a stupid question about something that’s right in front of me. Make the face again.*

“Danke Schön. Tschüss!”

Ahh, a word I know. “Tschüss!”

Sometimes, if you can laugh at yourself, it makes things a lot easier. Then, as soon as you leave the cafe, apologize to yourself for acting like the part of you that doesn’t speak German is embarrassing. You do other things well.

3. Liquid vanilla extract. It’s unheard of. I’ve already asked at least three Austrians if it exists here. Twice, I got a confused, “Liquid vanilla?” and once I got a, “Oh, we don’t have that here.” Welp, that settles it. I’m going to ask my parents to bring some with them when they come. And another jar of PB.

4. Good walking shoes. I know people typically plan to bring good walking shoes with them when they travel to Europe, but really… bring the shoes with the most support and comfort you can find. I’m so thankful to have Superfeet insoles in my little sneakers, so I had little trouble walking a few miles around the city today. I walked to school, and I purposefully got lost after orientation so I could see another part of the city. If I didn’t have good shoes? None of this would be possible.

5. Your Bible. I mean, that’s such a gimme. Really, why would you go to a foreign country for 4.5 months without the holy Word of God? For one, it’s usually pretty heavy. For another thing, it’s not really light reading.

For all the reasons you might not bring it, definitely do. I brought my smaller copy so that I would be able to carry it through all the airports in my backpack. There’s just something about being in a completely different place and reading the same words and truths that changes how you see it. I’m here, and I feel different. And everyone else is different than I’m used to them being, but this is still how I’m supposed to live, this is still how God sees me. This is still true and relevant. 

I need to be reminded every day that God is for me and with me and that He’s called me higher. It’s so easy to forget that when I almost feel like I’m on vacation from my regular life. So few things are as they were last week that I could so easily leave my God behind as well. So easily. Without much effort at all. But the efforts to invite God into the newness and unknown make me feel more alive and more like myself.

Or maybe just more like who God wants me to be. I wonder if that’s why we feel such peace in obedience – because we’re one step further into our Godly identity? That’s where I want to be. That’s who I want to be. Funny how it sometimes takes a journey to think of these things.

Pack, un-pack, re-pack


I’ve blogged about packing before, at least a few times. We both know that I have a hard time packing; I have a hard time because I MUST BRING EVERYTHING I COULD EVER NEED.

Note: not everything I will need, everything I could need.

Yes, I worry about the decision about whether or not to pack that sweater and both the navy and black tank tops and the travel toothpaste. I worry that if I don’t put hand sanitizer in my purse, I might lose my mind or get hepatitis (even though I’ve been vaccinated).

I worry that I might not have enough underwear. Actually, you can never have enough underwear. I’m set up for failure because no matter how hard I try, I will never have enough!

I worry that I’ll get everything in my bag, be so satisfied that I’ve finally packed everything and gotten the zipper shut, but then I’ll remember the bulkiest, most necessary item that must go in the suitcase and isn’t in there and have to re-do the whole thing.

Pack, un-pack, re-pack, as Amber Brown says.

Stress, un-stress, re-stress, I say.

I’m making a list though. It’s long and will be comprehensive. I’ve read countless blogs about what to pack in your carry-on and suitcase. I’ve made lists and more lists and then combined the lists and added more to the list. I’ve made a plan for how I’m going to pack. (It helps that my sister is a married woman and doesn’t live here anymore, so I can lay everything out on her floor and not worry if my room is too messy for neat packing.)

It’s going to be just fine, even if I forget something that I need.

The Lord my God will be with me wherever I go, there are stores, and I’m pretty good at substituting. My whole freshman year, I baked using at least one substitution per recipe. I can re-wear outfits with the best of them, and I know how to wash clothes in the sink. I know how to deal with tiredness and jet lag. I know what it’s like to miss home and familiarity.

I will be fine.

Better yet, I think I might be great. I think I’ll enjoy myself.

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.

Film. And No Film.


Well, Minnesotans, they snow’s finally hit us.  After a day and a half of the light powder blowing everywhere, this stuff is going to stick.  At least for now. Long enough for me to scrape it off of my car tomorrow.  Then it’ll melt during the day, while I drive around.

Such is life.

I bought a polaroid camera the other day, best $5 I’ve ever spent at Goodwill.

Granted, the camera is useless right now as anything other than a lovely vintage piece of decoration.  It has no film.  And the normal solution to that would be to buy film…  Well, folks that film costs at minimum $21.99, mostly because it instantly develops and also because these cameras are super old.  Polaroid Sun600.  Who would have thought it would be at Goodwill with a little green sticker saying “$4.99” on it?

Sometimes, I feel like this camera.  I have great capabilities when I’ve got some necessary parts added to me, my “film,” but some days I’m empty and a little useless.  Polaroid Sun600 is meant to take pictures, something it can’t do in its present state.  I’m meant to…  well, the only certain things I know I’m meant to do is glorify God and live my life submitted to him.  That doesn’t require much from me except for submission.  God does most of the work there, just telling me what to do and how to do it.  I suppose sometimes my “missing film” is courage.  When Jesus says, See that guy standing behind you in the lunch line?  Yeah, him.  You should start a conversation with him.  You should step out of your comfort zone and show him that he doesn’t have to be lonely.  Okay, so that’s not usually the thing that requires a boatload of courage, but it’s things like that.  The small steps in faith that I hesitate to take because I’m not sure how many exposures I have left, if I have any, if they even make high quality pictures.

Where Polaroid Sun600 (gollee, he needs a better name.  Sunny?  Roy?  feedback?) needs film to do his job, I don’t.  Sunny/Roy/Polaroid Sun600 needs to have film.  Even the most skilled camera operator cannot take pictures on him without any. I, on the other hand, have a God who can use empty me.  He can use the small things that I have to offer.  Smiles, conversation, hugs, money, to change the world and to show it that He is God.

I have to say, that is darn amazing to me.

Reader. On a Friday Night.


This is my treat to myself since I’m going to spend my Friday night doing homework.  Granted, it’s not labor intensive homework — it’s just a whole bunch of reading — but I am, nevertheless, spending my Friday night with schoolbooks.

They’re not bad companions at all.  I mean, one of them is my world religions book, and the other is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  See what I mean?  Well, maybe that doesn’t sound good to you.  Maybe that sounds like torture.

I was thinking about when I learned to read this week.  The first memory I have of reading in school is kindergarten.  We had an assignment that had to do with coloring a picture of a pizza, and when my teacher asked for someone to read the directions out loud, I was the only one to raise my hand.  Up until a little while ago, I thought that it meant that no one else knew how to read.  Now, I think it might be something more like being shy, or maybe not wanting to be a blatantly annoying show-off.  Even now, I notice that my teachers are so used to me having my hand up that they will make their way around the room, calling on everyone else before they finally decide to call on me.  I know it’s nothing personal; they just want more than one person answering questions, making comments, contributing to discussion.  Makes sense.  (maybe that’s just wishful thinking)

I think I had this idea that if I knew the answer, I had to raise my hand.  Because, if I didn’t, no one would know that I knew the answer.

Anyways, when I realized that I didn’t know how I learned to read, I asked my parents.  Neither one of the really remembered, but when I asked each of them on separate occasions, they both said “well, we just read to you a lot.”  I was expecting stories about them laboring with me for hours and hours with learning the alphabet and drilling me on reading by myself.  I kind of felt cheated when I realized that I learned to read like I learned most other things from them, from the example they set.

So, now I’m okay with spending my night reading.  Actually, it’s the most tame of the tasks on my list of things to do this weekend. It’s the pleasure in the productivity.  My favorite of the books on the list is one called I Dared to Call Him Father, and even though I’ve only read half of it, I already would recommend it.  It’s the true story of a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity after Jesus shows up in her life.  And after she begins this relationship with Jesus, she’s learning to live in God’s presence.  That’s something that maybe I’ve never picked up on in other people’s stories, or maybe no one’s ever focused on it.  Usually, people say that the initial sense of God’s presence when you first meet Him is a “spiritual high,” that eventually it fades and you get used to the fact that we sometimes remove ourselves from God’s presence by the choices we make.  But this woman, Bilquis Sheikh, absolutely refused to do anything that would remove her from God’s presence.

That’s just a revolutionary thought for me.  Not settling to be out of God’s presence for a minute.  And, really, it makes sense, because there isn’t anything better than being in God’s presence.

Needless to say, her perspective has given me something to chew on this week.  And a book that I can’t wait to pick up again.