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.

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.


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.

The irreverence of autocorrect.

Autocorrect is so irreverent.  I’m a fair weather advocate for autocorrect.  Sometimes it’s helpful, and sometimes it changes “bittersweet” to “hitters week,” and I almost don’t see it.  It almost made that heartfelt tweet into something incredibly confusing and possibly violent.

I type things about Jesus on my phone all the time because He’s kind of a huge deal.  I’ve never, ever, ever typed “Jesus wept.”  It’s a good verse but not one I typically share with my friends to encourage them.  Still, every single time – every single time – I type “Jesus,”  it predicts the next word as ‘wept.”

Obviously my phone doesn’t really understand my faith.  I think I need to tell it about how Jesus does so much more for me and all of humanity than weep.  Because, really, that’s not the point of it.

Pearl, you need a better understanding of Jesus than that.

She predicts what she thinks I’m going to type next, so I’m just going to let her pick the words of a sentence about Jesus.  Let’s see what she thinks.  Here’s her sentence suggestion (I picked the top suggestions after “Jesus wept,” one word at a time):

Jesus wept over Jerusalem the time to time and money on the phone with a coffee cup of coffee and tea and coffee and tea and coffee. I saw the pictures of the other person is a time of preparation for the first time but I know that the struggle of high school drama does not compare to the word spoken to you by the way to fix the problem.

Well. That made a lot of sense.

Apparently I tie Jesus in with coffee a lot and talk about high school drama (have I ever typed that?!?!?).  I suppose this is just a reminder to check my texts before I send them, making sure that I haven’t said anything atrocious.

Oh, autocorrect.

Technology challenge day number 2.

Today, it’s May, and I’m trying to figure out what faith looks like when your phone is out of commission.

Photo on 5-1-13 at 5.17 PM

For real though.  I think Jesus cares about me when I lose my main method of communication.  So, I don’t think it was entirely stupid or shallow of me to pray over my phone when it started having seizures this morning. (This has happened before… sketch.  Here’s the post from the first time.)

But then should I have expected it to immediately start right up?  Should I presume that Jesus wants to fix my phone?  What if He was the one who made it go haywire?  Maybe I should thank Him in advance for the lesson He’s going to teach me through this period of time without my mobile device.

Maybe Jesus wants me to simplify my life, go back to having a flip phone (actually, I didn’t have a flip phone… it was a sliding one).  Maybe I need to live without a phone in order to appreciate what I had when I had one.

Since Pearl seizes up every time the battery is in her, I took the battery out.  I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I have put the battery in about 5 times today, just to see if she had a miraculous recovery.  Is that what faith looks like?  Checking up to see if Jesus has answered my prayer in the way I wanted?

I’m not sure if that’s how a faith-filled person should act.  Here is what I am sure about:

  • I shouldn’t be devastated when my nice, little smartphone stops working
  • There’s definitely something to be learned from this.
  • I will survive.  Maybe even thrive.

So, that’s Wednesday for you.  Trying to figure out how faith fits into technology crises.

Technology challenge day.

Today hasn’t been the most productive of days, and I blame that on the fact that facebook has suspiciously been unavailable on the school wifi.  I think it’s a social experiment, personally.  I know that facebook is typically thought of as a distraction, but I think I get more done when I know what everyone is doing.

Just kidding.  I definitely don’t get anything more done.

The other thing to blame is that Pearl went insane this morning.  (Pearl is my phone, by the way.)  After a couple conversations with the Samsung people, I have learned that the only way to change things is to take her in to the AT&T store.

So, that’s how I’ll spend my Saturday night.  I won’t finish my annotated bibliography right now.  I’ll just set things aside and go downtown to the support place.

As difficult as dealing with tech support can be at times, I’m thankful that it exists.  Pearl has been vibrating and blank screening since 9am, which I suppose is kind of like a smart phone seizure.  Poor girl, she must be sick.

Yesterday I needed my own type of tech support.  I was malfunctioning.  I don’t believe I’ve talked about Street Ministry before, but it’s where we spend some time with our friends who are homeless.  We share a meal with them from 9:30 to 11:30 on Friday nights.  I really can’t think of a better way to spend my time, and I always leave feeling quite happy.

But yesterday after classes and yoga, I was just feeling so sleepy.  I’d forgotten that I really do enjoy spending time with my friends on the street.  I’d forgotten that there is such a blessing to be had in spending time with people that I don’t normally associate with – people that are typically on the fringe of society.  I leave feeling so full, something that I never feel after 10pm.

Jesus offers good tech support when I malfunction.  I’m thankful for that.

Stop and go and in between.

One of the best features about Pearl (my phone) is her ability to get me anywhere I need to go.  I may have mentioned before how directionally impaired I am – I know which way to go, but not right when I need to go that way.  It’s usually right after I pass the exit/turn/driveway that I realize it was where I wanted to be.

Funny how there are so many driving parallels to life.

I noticed something about myself today as I was trying to find my way to my hair appointment from my nannying job.  When I know where I’m going, I hate red lights.  Not many people like red lights, so that’s probably not surprising.  That feeling when you’re about 100 yards away from a light, seeing it turn green, then by the time you get there, it’s red.  Then you have to stop.  And sit.  And then when the light finally turns green, you’ve gotten on this cycle of hitting red lights, so you spend another two minutes at the next light.  And then another two at the next one.

It’s a horrible compounding system of wasted time.  Granted, I’m glad that we don’t just have to hope for the best when we go through intersections.  I’m grateful for the order that it provides.

On the other hand, when I don’t know where I’m going and Pearl is giving me directions, I’m grateful for the red lights.  It’s time to catch my bearings, read the street signs, make sure I’m not going onto a one-way the wrong way or something.  It’s time to pause.

I sometimes forget that the forced pauses – the red lights – are good.  That when I can’t do my homework because it’s at home and I got stuck somewhere else with time on my hands, it’s okay.  There must be something I need to think about or pray about.  Or maybe I just need time to sit and think by myself.  I’m such a champion of efficiency when I have a to-do list (except if cleaning my room is on the to-do list… then that’s an exception) that any unplanned break is an annoyance.  It’s a wrench in my plan that was going to help me get my homework all done by the time Bones came on.  It was going to enable me to go to bed at 9:00.  Whatever the lost benefit, it must have been something I didn’t really need.  Maybe I just needed that moment of peace.  Time to take a deep breath and remember that I wasn’t meant to hold my anxiety in.  I wasn’t meant to function on my own.  I wasn’t meant to bear burdens that I have no idea how to handle.

Or maybe it’s raining outside, and I just need to open the windows and let in the fresh, wet smell of renewal.

Ah, renewal.


Pearl, being closed, and getting found.

For those  of you who were holding your breath awaiting my choice of name for my phone, the wait is over. After much input and deliberation, her name is (drumroll please)…… Pearl!
For those of you who weren’t really that interested in what I decided to name my phone, here is this post’s dedication:
To: BJ, a faithful subscriber, truck enthusiast, and friend. Here’s to you.
BJ was a leader on a couple of trips I’ve been on in the past few years, always trips with too many students and too few chaperones. One of my favorite memories from Panama last year occurred right at lights out in our hot, sticky girls’ dorm, when one of the many female students called out to Miss BJ to ask a question right as she was turning the lights out on what was surely a 15 hour day of ministry for all of us. Her hilarious reply was, “Miss B is closed for the evening. ”
(Just so you know, she answered the need after that lil joke.)
After reminiscing about that moment a bit with her this weekend, I started thinking about being closed.

Now, what does that mean? I no longer possess the energy to fulfill any request you may make of me with any competence.
That seems like a good enough reason to be closed. I think I say “no, I’m closed” for lots of reasons. (I don’t usually use that phrase, but I’m saving it for a perfect time in the future.) I say no because I am busy, because I’d rather spend my time doing other things, because I don’t particularly care for the requester, because I think it would be harmful to say “yes”, to keep myself from getting into awkward/dangerous/unwise/otherwise negative situations.

I wonder how many of my reasons are valid.
That may be a question I answer later on.

I went to church today in Chicago at James MacDonald’s church, Harvest Bible Chapel. I spent the sermon pondering several of the themes of his message while he spoke and thought about how well they could fit together in a blog post… Then I remembered where I was and why I was there and started paying attention to what he was saying again.
He was speaking about what motivated Paul to do all the church planting and service and preaching and to endure all the persecution and suffering that he did. One of the main ones comes out of II Corinthians 5:17, “for the love of Christ compels us…”
The love of Christ. Paul’s love for Christ? No. That doesn’t get you anywhere when you’re telling burned out and feel like you just wanna be closed. Jesus’ incredible, unfailing, redeeming, compassionate love. That is what sent Paul to plant churches, to endure beatings, to share all that he had. Then MacDonald went on to talk about why Paul was so amazed by God’s love. Because-as Paul puts it- he, “the worst of sinners” was redeemed and sanctified. Jesus called him while he was persecuting and killing Christians. He found Paul in that horrible place of unrepentant sin and brought him into a full life of service to Himself.
That got me thinking…
Where did Jesus find me?
Where was I when Jesus captured my heart and made me want to live for him?

It’s a question I’m still trying to answer because I feel like I’ve always had Jesus in my life, whether in my rearview mirror as someone I’m aware of but not concerned with, or someone who is in the driver’s seat of my car.  Actually, those aren’t the only two positions I put Jesus in. Sometimes He’s like the cars who follow me for more than three turns, so I get paranoid that they’re following me with malicious intent, and I try to shake them. (that actually is my criteria for determining stalker behavior, three turns…) but I know Jesus isn’t a stalker, sometimes just a presence that makes me uncomfortable since my life isn’t in order.

It’s like when I tell people they can’t look in my room when they come over.  We’ll just stay in the kitchen… it’s too messy in my actual dwelling.

So, where was I? I don’t have the kind of testimony where one moment changed my life forever. It’s more like I’m the seashore, and Jesus is the waves crashing down on me. He keeps coming back and pouring newness on and into me, a process that refines me and pulls me closer to Him. Just like the sand is made smoother and is drawn towards the ocean. I’ve always been a little rough, not always beautiful like those white sand beaches, but the rescue come sin the form of renewal and refinement.

Here’s where I was: I was with me, myself, and I, under the impression that I was all that mattered. I was living under the delusion that God doesn’t get any more personal or real than just knowing about Him.

If you ask me this question in twenty years, I’m sure my answer will include something about the fact that at 18 I still didn’t know everything about how to be a follower of Christ – but I was learning.  Then, if you ask me twenty years beyond that, I’ll say the same thing of my 38-year-old self.

I’ll still be getting washed.  Still be getting refined. Praise the Lord that He’s not finished with me yet.