Invitation

Preheat.

Watch four minutes of Downton, Season 4, Episode 1. Poor Mary.

Bake.

The kitchen is dark and cozy. The illumination of my laptop supersedes the glow of the oven light. Right now is the most quietness I’ve known for days. Yes, The Shins are faintly streaming on Pandora and there is the muffled hubbub of cars, planes, trains, and metro close by. Nevertheless, the solitude of this time is distinct.

ceb67a20998c27dc87d36326e5b479af

I didn’t intend to be awake. No, it’s not intrusively late, but just late enough to interfere with my proposed routine. I was nearly about to crawl into my sheets when I remembered the pan of dough rising. Now I’m baking. No, now I’m waiting while the oven does the work. The decision to make a cup of tea was problematic, for I have already brushed my teeth. Fighting the urge to indulge in a snack is taking all my effort.

30-minute mark. Cover with foil.

I’ve become pretty good at this. I’ve become pretty good at realizing that when something unexpected like this happens, I am being beckoned to listen. It’s a wake-up call every time I encounter a “wrench.” It’s an invitation and reminder that right here is where I want to be, always.

d532024c1c7813688cff6bf5645a1ef7

Tonight, I am compelled to drop all busyness and enter sweet Rest.

65 minutes. Done and Cooling.

Yes, Pandora, I’m still listening.

Eating.

Thank you, Jesus for intervening in big and seemingly small ways. Thank you for your presence even when I fail to recognize. Thank you, Spirit for teaching me. May I exude this thankfulness, revealing Your joy and salvation tomorrow and everyday.

Advertisements

72.

There are a million reasons tonight’s mishap could turn into something wonderful. It will bring about immeasurable epiphanies and lessons. I expect there will be light shed on little gifts I typically overlook. Certainly, there will be multiple inconveniences. I picture them. I can’t put my finger on how I will manage, but there is no use thinking about that now.

It it what it is, indeed. This hour begins the first of 72 without my smart phone. That is three full days. The “gratification” of technology has abruptly become void from my world (but I’m still typing on my laptop).

I was standing on the platform at the Braddock Road Metro when I reached into my pocket only to find a SmarTrip card and Chapstick. Rummaging through plausible pockets in my purse and backpack didn’t do any good. I knew I had left it. Even worse, I knew where I left it. My entire gut sank. It’s still sunken, although not as deep. I’m coming to terms with the circumstance, though leisurely.

Fast forward from Braddock to Gallery Place/Chinatown.
0b4fb182c40891fe0f5ef225923b0a95
I’m leaning against a cement column, waiting for the next train toward Glenmont and wondering what to do with myself. I pull out the book I just started for my monthly book club. Before I begin reading the second chapter, I look up at my surroundings. The middle-aged, glasses-wearing man in the long black peacoat to the left is staring down at a handheld screen. A few feet to my right is a girl my age who is dressed to hit up the city. She has posture identical to the man. I look in through the windows of the train pulling up on the opposite track. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the crowd is gazing downward. I would be doing the same thing if I had my scam of a device. I would be amidst the crowd, being one with them.
But now I’m different. I feel it. And I hate it. Why can’t I just be? What’s wrong with looking up? What have I become? What have we become?
And now I’m riding through Baltimore on the top level of the Mega Bus in the very front. It’s a super view of the city up here through these great impressive windows. I’m above the very top of passing tractor trailers. It can’t be the safest spot, but I wish I would have sat up here on a few of my other 37 (or so) rides this past year.
I’m still taking it in. Three days…
I’m headed home to my parent’s house tonight. And tomorrow, I head to the Delaware beaches to hang out with my grandparents. God couldn’t have chosen a better time for me to disconnect. Maybe reconnect is more fitting of a word. I anticipate there are far greater lessons to be learned than those I can conceive. They are simple, probably. But they are going to hold great significance. I’ve always been one to hold low expectations, but this weekend, I cannot.
I find it disheartening that this seems like such a quandary – living my life without a smart phone for three measly days.
Maybe that will change. I expect it to do so. Join me?

Pre-Spring in Alexandria

image

…almost.

I’ll state the obvious… It’s not warm yet. I am visiting Georgia this week and even there, in a state that borders Florida, the temperature is not foreseen to top a “heated” 53 degrees.

No doubt, there’s a battle happening. A few days ago, I was having a discussion with five-year-old Sophie about the weather. She was asking why it was still cold even though it was almost spring. Together, we decided that winter and spring are at war, kind of like Darth Vader and Luke. We concluded with the hopefulness of spring’s triumph because it always defeats its arch nemesis every single year.

The past few weeks have given way to some sporadic, absolutely gorgeous days. These little (yet gigantic) gifts have been sustaining.

image

image

image

image

image

image

Some even more magnificent foreshadowings have struck me. Yes, these are better than sunshine, bumble bees, and ice cream cones. Today, I was reading over general summaries of the major prophets in the Old Testament. Much of what I scanned today, I’ve studied before. Daniel, in particular most astounded my recollection.

“Since much of Daniel’s prophesy has now been fulfilled in history, and that in minute detail, the book is especially valuable. It not only confounds the critics, but confirms the faith of the believer.” (Phillips, 165)

I won’t further expound on history and theology. I will simply say that the Word of God is living. Its milestones of fulfilled prophesy provide great hope for what is to come. They prove the Father’s continued faithfulness throughout history. This (almost) spring, my understanding has been stretched further than before.

image

The marks of warm days amidst the cold.

The records of passed divine visions and utterances throughout history.

The hope that both bring.

This breaking of yet another season of promise is confirming His extraordinary promises for what is to come. They go beyond the spring of this year.

From the few glimpses, Northern Virginia seems to host a stunning spring.

image

Eagerly waiting.

Excerpt taken from Exploring the Scriptures, by John Phillips

Rocks & Rivers

This place is called a coffee pub and I like the sound of it. The title, shop makes me think of an in-and -out joint, a means of transaction. The word, pub brings thoughts of community, conversation, and non-negotiable laughter. Some of my most favourite times have been hours spent in pubs (the beer kind), usually following long days on trails in the Rockies or Appalachians.

Though flying solo, frequently coming to this particular spot in Del Ray has brought quite a few memories. They range from conversing with a guy about covenant theology, over hearing the most graceless first date discussion, and accidentally (but delightfully) attending my first poetry slam. Considering the great amounts of time I like to spend in coffee shops/pubs, I’m glad to have a “base,” a go-to getaway only a few blocks from home. Ever-changing, vibrant art lines the walls. Local musicians set up camp in front of the large bay windows facing the main drive. Tonight’s mic goes to a middle-age woman whose dark spiral curls bounce as she moves, strumming her guitar. It’s been an hour and I still haven’t been able to classify her genre.
image
I am learning to adore my little town right outside the big city. It’s undoubtedly the best of both worlds. Easy metro access gives way to endless adventures in the world of environmental protests, homeless friends, and people watching on the lawn of the national mall. Still, on many days, I would rather lie low in the quaint vicinity of Old Town. Back in Colorado, there was a large, flat red rock amongst rocks nestled under a conciferous tree with views of the southern foothills of the Rockies. I used to drive the windy roads in Garden of the Gods at least once each week only to sit there. I thought it to be my own, but who am I to say that another individual didn’t also escape to that precise place? These days, I make my way to the west side of the Potomac, spreading out over the jagged river rock on the bank by the fishing docks. Rowing teams replace the western horse riding tours and the sailboats have me hooked. Perils of dropping my phone in the water are less painful than colliding with cactus.
image
Wherever I have found myself…Bethany Beach, Santa Barbara, and Zanzibar to Bucharest, Phnom Penh, and D.C., I’ve needed to find Him.

I know His presence never departs from me. This is probably my favourite of His embodiments. It is the greatest comfort to recognize Him in the midst of the business, the daily grind. Still, I find it beneficial and many times necessary to “go” meet Him. It’s almost as if I’m escaping, running away to secretly see my true love like in the most testing romance. I suppose I am.

So in Love

I’m overwhelmed with who He is. He’s everything.
image

He’s everything…and that overwhelms me in the greatest sense. Gratefulness is overflowing.

He keeps loving me.

He extends his grace when I far from deserve a second chance because of my hypocritical ways.

He tells me that He has a plan for my days, including this very day.
image

He longs for my soul and is the most intimate lover I’ll ever know.

He fills me with immeasurable joy and gives me the most beautiful perspective that I couldn’t gain anywhere else.
image

He is there. He is here. He never leaves me.

He, Himself is my home. I may feel like an aimless wanderer, but He assures me that I’m always home.
image

He is my teacher. He teaches me more than any text, instructor, or experience.

He is my shelter and makes me fearless in the most dire circumstances.
image

He makes all the good things disappear…all the things are good, but not that as grand as Him. All the good intentions, morals, theology, and just causes hit the dust. They disappear so that only He remains.
image
May others know this Love that is right there in their midst, ready for the taking. That is my prayer.

A (Gentle) “Kick In The Pants”

This past weekend, I discovered that I am indeed called to more.

Here’s the background:

Well, there was some background…a lot of it. For the sake of length, I will refrain. Basically, I have been battling my own pride and selfishness in the realm of sacrifice, living as I truly long to live. I’ve been passing people by when I’ve had the urge to do or say something. For fear of physical provision, fear of nothing happening when I pray, I’ve nearly given up.

Here’s a recent little story:

On Sunday, I stopped at McPherson Square on the way home from church for some watercolor supplies. My artist grandmother would be so proud. My phone was beyond dead (if this is possible), so I bit the bullet and stepped into Cosi for some hot chocolate and a little surge of battery. I headed up the stairs to the balcony where I opened my Bible to my last stopping point in 1 Samuel. I was grappling still. The combination of my reeling mind and forgotten journal was making me insane.
image
So on the back of my receipt I wrote, “I need closure. I feel like I should have answers, but I don’t.” I was thinking, “Where has my faith gone?”

Gazing unswervingly out the window, watching the snow fall slowly, people stroll across the intersection.
image
A short, balding, white-haired, wrinkled man trudged up the stairs with a large sack and a rolling suitcase. Undoubtedly, he was homeless. I watched as he pulled out four excessively dirty plastic cups from his sack, setting them on the table. He had some sort of powder. I was confused and curious. Drugs? Kool Aid? Emergen-C? Regardless, I couldn’t just watch. Without thinking, I closed my Bible, walked up to the man, and asked if he’d like some soup or a sandwich. Grinning large, he replied, “I like chicken.” “Perfect,” I said.

I went down to the counter and ordered some sort of panini combo meal. When I extended my credit card to the cashier, he shook his head and said, “you’re good.” I was nearly knocked over. Had he seen me talking to the man? Did he know what I was doing? I questioned, but only for a brief moment. Whatever his reason, I knew why the meal was covered. I thanked him genuinely. Amazement, gratefulness, wonder consumed my thoughts. I felt His presence rest upon me. “I will take care of you as you care for my children.”
image
When I placed the tray on the man’s table, he didnt say much. Another wide smile and a nodding of his head was the extent. I think he had finished his powders. Whatever the case, I truly praise the Lord for sending him my way.

The thoughts were still reeling, only now, I had a piece of that clarity that I so longed for. I left the cafe, feeling small against the colossal buildings, but feeling dearly loved, knowing that my Dad had my back in there. I was restraining tears as I looked upon each person I passed…His kids.

The best way I can explain it is this…

Some may call this scenario coincidence. It could happen to anyone. Anyone can buy a homeless person a meal. Any cashier can wave the fee. But everything was aptly orchestrated to show me some things. Why then would God not want me to do these sorts of acts, live in this mindset all of the time? The events of Sunday afternoon were all I needed to convince me of this.
image

Brothers and sister, we MUST live in such a way in which we act on our faith. Do we not see the ultimate example of Jesus? Is this not the Gospel? We have to “do” this justice because then, “[our] light will rise in the darkness, then [our] night will become like the noonday (Isaiah 58:10).

Talking, thinking . . .it’s what I’ve been doing.

We can’t always linger until it “feels” right or until we get our lives in “order.” Yes, God might urge us against something in particular, but we must be willing no matter the cost.

The costs of time, money, human humiliation are to be relinquished.

You and I are both called to more.

He will make His face known to those we love…and ourselves.

Beer, Squirrels, & Bubble Tea

I’m a nanny and I absolutely love it. If I’m honest, I’ve always wanted to be one. Living in an awesome city. Hanging out with adorable kids. Free room and board. A family who takes me out to eat, adds me to their climbing gym membership, and introduces me to a new craft beer just about every night are sweet perks as well. If all of this isn’t enough, I get to read Where The Wild Things Are three times each day. So, yes, this is my dream job – definitely not forever, but for now, it’s perfect.
image

It may be glorious, but like any other job, it comes with challenges. And these challenges are more than pushing a stroller up hills or getting a kid to eat their carrots. It’s impossible to measure my current trials against those of my previous jobs, for they’re simply so different. They’re different in that they’re molding my character. As I strive to be a good example and lavish love upon these little girls, I am being challenged in more ways than I thought possible. Patience, consistency, creativity, wisdom, and sacrifice are my prevailing run-ins.

Patience is a given with kids, right? Let’s just say that little people talke longer to put on their shoes and brush their teeth. These girls are teaching me to stop, to embrace the time I have with them, to bask in overlooked gifts that are simply beautiful. When we take walks, we stand under the same massive oak tree for five straight minutes to gaze up at the feisty squirrels scurrying from branch to telephone line to fence. Extensive giggles are a given.
image
I am learning even more to stand by my word and be consistent. I absolutely have to administer a consequence when it is called for. Just the same, I must have that tea party on Thursday afternoon if I’ve already suggested. Falty lines in either situation result in chaos and confusion.

Oh, how I’m pulling from my creative juices…the small amounts that I actually have! I have to be ready for an eight-hour rainy day inside or a quiet activity while the younger one is napping. I’ve never had to have so much “excitement” up my sleeve. Today is a prime example of keeping on my toes. We took a walk to “storytime” at the library this morning, but it was cancelled. Instead, we headed to the massive playground around the corner, but it was closed for school hours. I then excitedly asked, “Do you guys want to go to St. Elmo’s for hot chocolate?!” Sophie responded, “No, how about bubble tea from Thai Peppers?” Onward. I had somehow forgotten that it was only 10:45 a.m. We waited 15 minutes for the place to open only to find that they had no tapioca pearls. There was a long, cold walk home. More patience ensued with all parties. After lunch, Sophie helped me do some laundry and was more than happy. Thank you, LORD. Maybe I don’t have to be ingenius all the time…
image
If you’ve ever spent even a few minutes with a kid, you understand that they ask questions…about everything. Sometimes the answers are simple. Other times, they require a bit of consideration. Kids take words to heart! I haven’t yet been presented with, “Where do babies come from?” Still, there are things that catch me off guard. These are good – for their minds and my own. I hope and pray for the wisdom to answer them with grace and truth.

At the end of my day, I reflect upon the questions. I think about what I could have done differently. I wonder how firm and loving I was when they acted out of order. And I realize again through these little girls that He is the only one that can carry me through. He is the one who grants me the fruits of the Spirit, gives me wisdom, and loves through me. Without Him, I could not find satisfaction in this job. I am realizing just how massive His heart really is for His children…both the kids I take care of and myself.
image
Sophie and Mia -such a joy.

Thanking Him for teaching me in this season and using me to teach these little people who will one day be influencing others.

My Final Answer

Instinct tells me to write some elaborate blog about the process…that I should describe in ornate detail, how I came to choose my next life destination. But no, here I am posting a blog from the WordPress app on my Android. Plus, I already wrote a blog today.

Well my friends, I am moving to Washington, D.C. More particularly, I will be living in Alexandria, Virginia. I am going to be a nanny for two adorable little girls. Again, I could explain the decision process, but to sum it up, I am excited. I can’t wait to see what is in store. And Delaware is just a two-hour drive away. Aaahh…family. 🙂

Catch you on the flip side, East Coasters…and SOON!