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.

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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.

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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.

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.
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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?

Pepper In My Teeth

It looked scrumptious. The plate held vibrant hues of green, red, yellow, and purple. My tomato and avocado omelette was worthy of an Instagram upload.
Shortly after Andrew (my terrific tattooed waiter) slid the plate onto the slab of pine did tragedy take a toll. Instinctively, I reached for the pepper grinder. I inherited the “excess pepper trait” from my grandfather. Not a moment after I began vigorously turning the grinding mechanism, the darn gadget split in two. Pepper balls coated the formerly alluring platter and rolled onto the table.
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My cheeks turned pink for all but fifteen seconds, surprisingly. Normally, my blushing is endless. Having accidents like this pepper “catastrophe” is not uncommon for this girl. I should cut Revlon powder out of the daily routine and save twelve dollars a year.
Searching for a sympathetic soul, I tried to play it cool. The J.Crew couple at the table next to me didn’t offer a glance. They had been quietly snickering since before I ordered my green tea. A waitress came my way when she saw me sweeping up the black beads. I declined her gracious offer for a re-make. The wait staff was overwhelmingly kind and the manager also offered me a new omelette. Three offers later, I still declined. They insisted on fresh avocado, and I had no choice but to oblige.
Scraping the food was tedious and I munched on a couple of balls, but I couldn’t waste it. I hate wasting food. The extent of my “food saving” may be repulsive by Western standard. I eat whatever I drop on the floor. I don’t think twice about finishing Sophie and Mia’s leftover waffles. If I don’t like something, I smile and swallow. Liver in Uganda once each week was one of my greatest feats.
When did this happen? When did I become a scavenger? It began when I started internationally traveling. It is only honorable to eat what is in front of you in third world places. They often kill their only goat for you.
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Even Jesus advocates conservation. In The Book of John, He tells the disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
Jesus doesn’t want anything reusable to be thrown out. This extends further than the food category. Clothing, recyclable papers and plastics, furniture. Why should He discriminate?
This concept goes further than tangible materials. It is not His wish to see a life wasted. He desires for us to live with full purpose.
More than hoard, we should savor. Savor is more palatable, like my tomato and avocado omelette. We need to use what we have been given to its abundance.
The Apostle Peter (if you believe he wrote the book) asserts, “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
We were not meant to waste time by wondering. Life has exploratory phases, but we must not waste too much time. We have great things to do. Let’s discover those gifts and step into savoring abundant life through relishing in them. He has given us the task of distributing His grace.
I can still taste the pepper in my teeth.

Drug Stores Forever

I have eccentricities. Some of these quirky habits are classified as Super Single Behaviors.

What is an SSB?  It is as it sounds. I learned of this phenomenon a few years ago when one of my traveling buddies brought it up during a late-night guitar jam sesh and “in-depth” conversation in Romania. She heard the phrase coined on a Sex and the City episode. I’ve never seen Sex and the City. Apparently, in the show, one of the characters from the sexy city had a habit of standing at the counter, reading trashy magazines while eating cereal.

You get it, right? Definition: A frequented mannerism of single persons, not necessarily bad in which judgement should maybe be implemented. And it usually involves food with some kind of oddity to accompany.

What is my SSB? Oftentimes when I get the munchies (usually well into the evening), I grab my jacket and walk the two blocks to CVS. Sometimes, I buy the overpriced Ben & Jerry’s. Other times, I buy a chocolatey Chex Mix. I flounder between the two aisles while deciding. Mind you, I’m typically a quick shopper. Ask my mom and my sister and they will confirm that I dislike shopping. When the SSB is in motion, however, time knows no limits. I linger, for I must make the perfect decision. If I need an extra moment, I’ll wander further to the magazine aisle and read National Geographic or something of the like. I’m usually disappointed at the limited selection, but don’t feel like catching the bus to Barnes & Noble. Back to the snacks. I check out. The girl up front knows me. I don’t go in all that often, but enough that she knows my solo, late-night custom.

One of my other SSB’s is the infinity of purchasing canvas sneakers. I would own every existing pair of Tretorn, Gola and Keds if I could come slightly close to justifying the act. Furthermore, I like wearing the kicks without socks. That gets kind of gross after about four wears. But I recently learned (thanks to Pinterest) that storing shoes with tea bags in them helps absorb  and eliminate the stench.

I hope I don’t sound like a loser. Who am I kidding? Everyone has at least a few Super Single Behaviors, even my non-single friends. I think I’ll dare to say these habits get carried over into marriage. After all, my parents have some quirks. And I’m pretty sure these idiosyncrasies have existed since well before I was born.

I am hopeful. I don’t think I’ll ever have to relinquish my love of drug stores.

I hope I’m walking up to the magazine rack with that looming question when I’m 65…just like the elderly gentleman browsing alongside me tonight. He was behind me in line a few moments later, goods in hand.

This is fairly meaningless, I’m sure. Nonetheless, tonight, I am embracing my super singleness (hopefully like a champ). Thanking God for this season and that He loves even these whacky things about me…and you.

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Pre-Spring in Alexandria

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…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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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!

Mikey & Me

Nearly two years ago, I had the incredible, unforeseen opportunity to attend a house church for Nepalese refugees in Denver. I drove up to the apartment complex where they congregated with my friend Astrid who had heard about this growing community. We would find that this all began because of the incredible call on a pastor and his family to minister to these new arrivals. Then, the tens of people crammed into each others small spaces just about every night of the week in hopes of new friendships in this foreign land and to encounter Jesus. Soon after my first experience with these beautiful people, I wrote a blog. It was the beginning of a spiritual turning point in my life and the beginning of new friendships.

Camping with Nepali Youth, Summer 2011 Credit: Astrid Sky

On Sunday, I was able to visit this community once again. It has been over a year since I frequented the trek from the Springs to Aurora. To put it plainly, this bunch has grown. They’ve moved from apartments to a rented house to a church down the street that has graciously donated their space. I recognized many of their brown faces, but the vast majority of them were fresh to my recollection. While the congregation is primarily Nepalese, there are also some Indian, Pakistani, and Hispanic folks. Take a look at what today, is NayaLife Community Church.

As I looked around the vibrant room this past weekend, I felt my inner being come alive. Three months in the States had almost done me in, but my passion for the nations had suddenly been rejuvenated. Hindi, Nepali, and English choruses with scattered clapping, kids twirling in the aisles, and an elderly man jumping up ahead. Yes, this spiritual intoxication did occur, but it was what happened after the service that most stimulated my spirit on Sunday afternoon.

“Hey Mikey…He Likes It!”

I have a seven-year-old Nepali boy to thank for that. For the sake of sparing name mutilation, we’ll call him “Mikey.” I met Mikey two years prior while facilitating a makeshift Sunday school class. He didn’t remember me or the time we spent building ginormous block towers and bridges, but we still got along quite nicely despite the time lapse. We were outside in a courtyard waiting for a post-church citizenship class to finish.

Before I continue, I should make clear that He offered the following information. Maybe I prodded with the question, “What do you like to do after school?” But he still freely spoke of the reality of his life. You see, in his free time, he likes to help his mom because she can’t speak English (this little boy’s is excellent). He wishes he could play video games, but he can’t afford them. “I am saving my money and have three dollars,” he informed me. He told me of his old shack in the camp. He likes his new house better. “At least we have things to sleep on now,” he told me. He then explained his old blanket on the dirt. “I’ve seen places like this,” I thought to myself. But suburbia has kicked back in.

My backyard in Haripur, Nepal (November 2011) Credit: Stephanie May

REFUGEE:   one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution

Synonyms: alien, displaced person, foreigner, outcast

The opposite of refugee is, citizen.

CITIZEN:  an inhabitant of a city or town; especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman

Synonyms: freeman, national, native

Mikey and his family are doing fine. Their struggle carries on, but they have been introduced to and follow the God who carries them. They are no longer refugees, but citizens…citizens of heaven.

If there was ever a reason to stay in Colorado, this very group of people would without a doubt be a major draw for me. I regret having to say “hello” and then “goodbye” so quickly once again. I’ve come to the conclusion that the LORD has called me to be His hands and feet amongst forgotten people no matter where I find myself…overseas, in a big city, or in suburbia. My Father’s very heart is for these.

September 29th

Fall

My brother makes fun of the remarkable fascination that girls tend to have with the autumn season. Chris sarcastically quotes, “OMG, I love fall weather! Hoodies, boots, and bonfires!!” This reasoning is rightfully justified. Simply log into any social media venue and check it for yourself. But you know, I’m more than okay with it. In fact, I myself am indulging.

My mom and I went for a gorgeous little hike at Brandywine Creek State Park last weekend. Vast, rolling fields of golden rod and ancient, changing oak trees that have been lingering since the time of the Lenape Indians in Delaware. Late in the afternoon, we headed to Trader Joe’s for some necessary groceries. Pasta, limes, sweet potatoes, red onions, and other typical things filled the cart with the added pleasure of some fall-esque items that my mom graciously let me toss in as well. Pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin bread mix, AND pumpkin spiced coffee grounds. All three come highly recommended by my family.

On Love

I get weird when I talk about love. I could forever talk about the greatest Love, the love of Jesus. When it comes to Shakespeare’s unrequited love, I’m not too familiar. I only know what I’ve seen in movies, read in books, learned from hearsay. But now, another source has been thrown in the mix. My sister has fallen in love. And oh, she’s fallen hard. She and Nick are incredible together and their relationship has opened my eyes a little wider. I’ve seen many friends fall in love, get married, have kids. I can honestly say that seeing my sister in this boat turns the tables. It’s really real. I wish I could elaborate a little more. I’ll just say that they are perfect for each other, for they are one another’s best friends. And let me be honest once again…it gives me hope…hope that if and when I get married, it won’t be to anyone less than my best friend.

Endeavoring

My friend Kelley once gave me a piece of advice that I often reflect upon. I’ve been thinking about it even more since I’ve had ample downtime as of late. She suggested writing down all the things I would do if I had the time or means to do them. Of course, taping that piece of paper on your mirror or the back of your bedroom door is a must. Random spare time gives way to tackling these items. I’ve been thinking about the things that I would now put on that list…

Conserving Passion

I’ve felt a bit complacent since being home. I’ve been talking to God, digging into the Word, worshipping, spending time with people who I immensely love. But I guess it’s a given. I was overseas, ministering for a year. My world was broadened and I gained immense perspective. I’m back to the place where I started. I’m physically in this place, trying to live with that broadened perspective. It takes a whole lot of humility and listening to the Holy Spirit. Biting my tongue. Examining the deeper issues. I’ve seen the least, the poor, and the enslaved. I almost feel guilty for being here. I’m not helping them. But I desperately need to be  right here for reasons that I know and for others that I don’t comprehend. Seasons…

Sharpening Iron

I have superb friends. God definitely loves me through my friends. They somehow seem intrigued by my minuscule life. They are interested in being a part of it…pouring into me and allowing me to spout off some things back at them. I could list examples, give names, tell their stories. Thank you, ALL of you. You guys are helping me to move forward, inspiring me to keep my eyes focused on the Kingdom that is at hand.

And well, my sweaters and boots are still in Colorado. It’s not too disappointing because I’m headed out there in just a few days to be reunited with them and some people I’ve dearly been missing. Colorado…it’s been a good while since I’ve stepped foot in that majestic state. I’m leery to go back because I am uncertain of how long I will remain. I still don’t love change. I’m still learning to love it…just like last year and the year before that one. There are factors that life has dealt. These factors make the near future unknown. But, I must return joyfully knowing that He has determined my steps (Proverbs 16:9).

He is unchanging STILL.

The roots are deep. Experience is underway. There is more to see. There is more to do. The roots will go deeper. Future experiences will surpass the former. Ultimately, this LOVE will grow stronger.

“Take me anywhere, Jesus.”

One should know that I’ve been listening to Mumford’s Babel while writing these snippets along with 90 percent of the world’s cognizant young-ish people. How could I not? Those lads have some impressive boots.

Good morning.