Oh Simple Thing

About 28 days ago I started a new job. I know, I know, you’re probably so sick of hearing me starting something new. But c’mon, I’m just doing everything God has placed before me. Before starting this position I was unemployed for about 2 and a half months- the longest period of me ever being unemployed since high school.

This was difficult for me in several ways. First, it meant I had to live on a more strict budget than usual. Second, that more strict budget meant saying no to some pretty fun things, like a long vacation, or hanging out with my cousins. Third, it was difficult to see my bank account slowly dwindling after every trip to the gas station or grocery store.

I learned to put my trust in God that I would get through it and no matter what He would provide. I learned how to say no to buying some foods at the grocery store that I didn’t really need. I learned how to go without Starbucks for more than three days in a row (this is huge for me).

Now that I’ve started working again, I realized that I also learned of the things I value the most…

Usually over the weekend I begin to search my cupboards and refrigerator to compile an 58532287076__9E6D9D9A-E807-4714-B628-CE6354570ECAorganized list of what I needed from the grocery store that week. Sometimes at night I would use Instagram and Pinterest to find new recipes to try. This particular week I used those to gain some ideas for zucchini recipes because I have zucchini coming out my ears from the garden!

I found a nice curry, zoodles, and a bread that I wanted to make. I noted the ingredients I needed and planned to execute my trip to the store on Monday. However, when Monday came, I realized that I really didn’t need all of these different foods to “fluff” up my diet.

I try to eat pretty healthy, so I usually eat the same foods all the time. I also had decided that I would fly to Ocean City to join my cousins for a few nights on vacation. And this was WAY more important than buying some random ingredients to make a fancy dish.

Now that I have a paycheck, I am more conscious of where my money is going. I would much rather spend less money a week at the grocery store so I can go out with friends at the end of the week for a meal. I value friendship and community over a fancy meal to myself. So what if my zoodle bake isn’t fluffed up with mushrooms and other goodies? I’ts okay.

Friends, I think this might be a true definition of simplicity. I really felt that when I got into my car after leaving Aldi and realizing I only spent $20.46 on groceries for the week. And that included almond flour to make zucchini bread (which is NOT cheap by the way). I also decided right then and there that if this is what adulthood is like, then I can be okay with that.

I don’t mind making sacrifices for something I think I want in order to contribute to a greater goal or value. When it comes to health and fitness, sometimes that means skipping the ice cream at the end of the week, or making my turkey burgers with lettuce wraps, not buns. When it comes to friendships, community, and relationships, it’s making personal sacrifices to spend quality time with them.

I’ve learned to ask the question, “Jenny, do you really need this?” or “Jenny, is this really contributing to what you want in life?” These are such important questions to ask ourselves when making decisions. Sure, you may have the mindset of do what you want, YOLO, it’s your life… But that’s exactly what I’m saying here.

If I only live once, than I would rather live it knowing that I am contributing to bettering myself, staying true to my values, and seeking the Kingdom of God with all that is in me.

I also have found myself being more encouraging to myself when I do make choices that impact my values. I usually say something in my head like “I’m so proud of you for doing that,”  or “great job!” I also tend to just let go when I make a decision that was maybe not so great… This is called positive reinforcement. I do not want to shame myself for being a human and making a mistake. Dwelling on that mistake is not going to change anything either.

A few weeks ago one of my best friends (and first friend) in college preached an awesome message on Luke 10. If you don’t know, this is where Jesus sent out the 72 by twos to spread the Gospel. Jesus states:

Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Luke 10.4-11

Isn’t that such a simple thing? He directed them to not even carry a wallet. When I walked into the building and saw my friend who was preaching wasn’t wearing shoes, I knew immediately that he was preaching from this exact passage.

Lately I have been wanting to buy a pair of Chacos, but man, after reading this passage again I think I might just go barefoot! Who’s in!? Jesus says I don’t need those sandals!

But c’mon reread that passage above. Jesus is telling us to live simple and just do what He called you to do because that is the greatest way to contribute to your values.

He says to eat whatever is set before you, and stay in the house of peace. During this past season of my life I have been incredibly blessed by my servant-minded friends and I can definitely say that the house I live in is a house of peace!

The part of this passage that I really struggle with is the last part where Jesus basically tells us to move on if people do not “receive you.”

Matthew 10.14 Jesus states, “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”

In other words, if people do not accept that you are choosing to live for a purpose, a higher calling, and for the Lord, or if they do not respect your values and accept what you have to bring to the table, you need to wipe that dust off your feet and move on!

This may be the therapist coming out in me, but in essence, that’s self-destructive behavior right there and it’s time to put and end to that!

Jesus has called you to be on a mission just like He called the disciples. You cannot let the negative influence of others get in your way! Because let’s be real here, isn’t the negative influence of others technically the enemy?

You’re going to go through rough patches, you’re going to be spiritual and mentally attacked by the Devil. You’re going to ask God “why me?” You’re going to experience deep grief and loss. You’re going to have trials. But, friend, I am telling you to live that. Don’t pray for it to end. Live it deeply and let it teach you the lessen you’re supposed to learn because THAT is what will teach you your values and ultimately bring you closer to Christ.

I could go on and on about how we as a generation have fallen away from the importance of simplicity. Or how we have taken something so genuine and authentic as the simple Gospel of Jesus dying for our sins and rising again and complicated it beyond all measure. But I won’t do that because that might feed into the negativity that the Devil wants us all to believe.

We may have struggled wit simplicity, but Jesus knows we are human and that we would struggle. Jesus is a gracious, compassionate God that would much rather have us pick up our cross, die to ourselves, and try again!

So friends, kick off your sandals and continue on your journey with a simple mind. Be simple. Be like Jesus.

 

My Job Season

For those of you that know me, you know that the last few months of my life have been extremely trying and difficult. It just happens to be one thing after another. Forget the saying when it rains, it pours, in this case, when it rains it freaking storms. There’s hail, thunder, lightning, the whole dang shabang.

In January I accepted a position with a ministry that I thought would lead me to my “dream job.” It was not the position I applied for, but I was trusting God that He was opening a door. In February I quit my current job, moved out of my parent’s house, and started working at this ministry.

At first, I was clearly excited and nervous about this new experience. But you know that feeling of truly knowing that something is exactly for you? Just like a peace from God that you are right in your prime time. I felt this about a year ago when I was in India. Check out my blog post “A Beautiful One” to read more about that.

Needless to say, in this new job I did not feel that. I barely had peace and I always felt anxious and as if I were being judged. I had several encounters with my supervisors that left me feeling empty, unwhole, and crushed. If there’s anything I know, it’s that those feelings are certainly not of God. I began asking God if this is really where I should be.

Soon enough, he answered that prayer when the supervisors called me into the office and let me go. This was a shock to me. Other people lose their job, not me. Other people, are considered bad workers, not me. It took me a decent amount of time to realize that it wasn’t that I was a bad worker, but that God had something much better waiting for me (still waiting for me actually).

That same week, my car broke down. It was a $1300 repair. In the midst of waiting for my car to be repaired, grieving from losing my job, and discerning if I was supposed to move back in with my parents or not, I found peace. Yeah, call me crazy! I remember just laying on my old college futon in my new apartment sobbing and thinking thank you Jesus.

I started the never-ending search for a job, and eventually took the licensed social worker exam, which opened up more opportunities. I had a lot of leads that seemed promising, but everything fell through. Everything except a job with the agency I previously worked for. I was offered a full-time position with them.

You are probably thinking “that’s great!” and sure, it was, but the problem was that I also have an internship 16 hours a week and adding 40 hours of work and a few hours to complete school work meant 60+ hours of work a week! I was praying and waiting for another opportunity to come, but nothing did.

It was one gloomy Tuesday morning at my internship where I let my mind slip away during a mindfulness activity with our group patients. I realized that all of these problems I was facing were not from God. You see, at some point, that peace from God drifted. That feeling of being protected and having such deep faith in Jesus disappeared. I felt abandoned, left out on the ship to navigate the raging sea all on my own, and, to be blunt, forsaken.

I knew these feelings to be contrary to God’s character, but it was so hard to think of anything else. I just wanted to blame God for everything. I pulled the “I did everything for you!” card. I complained to a lot of spiritual friends that God was punishing me for something I did. I repented over and over and over again, but this feeling still did not go away.

Then, that morning when I realized God wasn’t actually punishing me, I realized this is not a battle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6). This was not a battle against the ministry that let me go, the employers that did not want to hire me, or my vehicle. This was a problem against the “spiritual forces of evil.” This, surely, was Satan’s handy work trying to take me down. He wanted to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10.10) not only my worth and value, but my purpose, my trust in Jesus, my love for the King of Kings.

Just when I saw the light, I began having more problems with my car. I took it to the same mechanic, and they “fixed” it for $700. However, the problem was still present. I took it back and they did actually fix it, but the next day I had a major oil leak. I ended up taking it to the dealership and the other mechanic paid the bill for that one! (PRAISE GOD!)

Prayerfully, I realized that maybe God was opening a door for me with this full-time job, so I accepted it. I thought I was on the up and up and I wouldn’t have anymore issues. However, about a week later I drove an hour and a half to visit my parents and my car overheated. This time, I laughed and told Satan his games aren’t working anymore because my God is bigger.

My step-dad graciously helped me get it running enough to get it to the dealership again. I prayed and worshiped the whole way. I said to myself  Okay God, you have my attention. Here I am. The dealership looked at it, told me what was wrong, and in some miraculous way, the problem was still under warranty and I was getting it fixed for free! They put me in a car and told me to have a great weekend and they’d call me next week.

C’mon now! If that ain’t God then what is? My dad said, “the Good Lord is protecting you!” Yes He is Daddy, yes He is.

All of these bits of suffering and trials pushed me to study the book of Job. I felt like he was really the only person I could relate to at this point. I was curious in his response to the suffering he endured. Now, I’m honestly only on chapter 6 or 7, but from what I have gleaned so far, God is speaking in the silence.

Many attribute the sufferings of Job to past sins, punishment from God, etc. All these negative things. However, these things are mostly contrary to the nature of God. God does not punish, but disciplines and we are set free from our sins when we repent. In fact, the reason Job went through all he did was because an Adversary of Satan was lookin’ to get into some trouble.

Job was seen as a righteous man. Job 1.1 says that Job was “blameless and upright.” This Adversary came snooping around saying even though Job was righteous he would most definitely “curse God” when the trials came (Job 1). God responded by saying “sure, go ahead do whatever you want (just don’t kill him) to my faithful servant and I bet your bottom dollar he won’t curse me.”

Thus began the start of Job’s suffering. The Adversary took his family, livelihood, health… He was basically out for blood. At one point Job’s wife straight up told him to “curse God and die.” Woah now. I’m not married yet, but dear Jesus, please send me a spouse that will refrain from using such harsh words with me. And ya know how Job responded? To sum it up, he basically said, “nah fam, good is is God and we are going to endure suffering in the world” (Job 2.9-10).

Later, in Job 3  Job begins to lament over his own birth. He curses the day of his birth. This man was in such misery that he couldn’t stand the thought that he had been born to endure such misery. But still, he sought God. The book of Job ends with repentance and God returning Job’s fortunes. God restores.

My home church had a guest speaker that shared about another Biblical character whom endured much suffering, but maintained integrity. The disciple John was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching. He had plenty of reasons to blame God and say I served you my whole life and this is what you did to me.

But you know what God did to John on the island of Patmos? Do you now how God used him? Read the last book of the Bible, Revelation. It was there that God revealed to him the visions. It was there where he wrote to the seven churches. John could have easily given up. He could have thrown in the towel confessing “I can’t handle this anymore.”

Actually, if you are there right now, I want to invite you to do that. Throw in the towel if you’re trying to handle this because we are not supposed to handle this on our own. Jesus is our strength. Jesus asks us to put our burdens on Him and take upon His yoke instead (Matthew 11.28-30).

John let God use him in the midst of a season that could be potentially damaging to his mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Instead, he relied on God and trusted. Easier said than done? Oh heck ya. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Friends, if you’re like me and you can heavily relate to the sufferings of Job and the exile of John, I want to urge you to not take this season lightly. I want to remind you of the importance of living out your faith, seeking spiritual community, and digging in the Word.

God is not finished with you yet. I believe you when you say life is hard right now. But aren’t we giving the enemy what he wants when we give up, blame God, and become sluggish in our faith? Aren’t we giving the enemy a foothold to come do more damage?

We need to stay the course, endure the suffering, and let Jesus be our source of life, strength, and truth. Take a deep breath and go serve the Lord. This is only a season, a Job season.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. . .

Ecclesiastes 3.1-8

Worthy

I did a thing and went to a small local coffee shop to do my work today. I even dressed a little hipster by tucking my shirt into my shorts and throwing on a button up- I still don’t think I fit in though. What’s disappointing, is that I’m not exactly in love with my beverage of choice. This is not a hit on the coffee shop that I am at, but against my taste buds that are used to drinking sugar-free.

If you read my last blog N O T | A F R A I D, then you would understand when I say how unusual this is for me to step out of my Starbucks atmosphere and go somewhere else.

But as I sit here contemplating if I should even stay because it’s such a beautiful day and I can here my hammock calling my name, the Lord reminded me of something truly beautiful and amazing.

If you know me personally, you know that the past month hasn’t exactly been the best thing in my life. That big-girl job that I talked about in my last post? Yeah, I lost it. But, please, I beg you, do not send sympathy my way. This was clearly the Lord’s doing. While I loved the type of work I was doing and the population I was serving, I struggled with the way problems and concerns were handled.

In fact, my mother, who just happens to know everything I think, had been telling me since day one to look for another job because of how stressed out I was. I wanted to try to wait it out, but Jesus was like “no Jenny, you deserve better.”

I will not talk about details of what happened, because that would take a very very long time. The agency I worked for is not a bad agency. It just had some kinks to work out, and unfortunately, while that was happening, I was not valued like I should have been.

I do not mean to sound prideful or anything by claiming that I am entitled or deserve anything, but I did except a position lower than what I had originally applied for, and therefore, I felt I was not being utilized to the full extent of my ability.

Any time I tried to bring up issues or confront other staff members, I always got backlash. But ya know, it’s okay. I’m no longer aching over it anymore and the great peace of the Lord is upon me.

I have learned so much from this experience. And it correlates from what I learned from the previous relationship I was in. Jesus wants me to know my value and worth.

In this previous relationship, I was definitely not treated the way I deserved to be. Again, I will not get into the details, but this relationship took a big emotional toll on my life. I thought God, why are you allowing me to go through something like this? Little did I consider that I had actually chosen that path for myself.

But do you want to know something beautiful about that? Jesus was right there waiting for me with open arms, desiring to just hold me and remind me of my worth and value. He did the same thing when I lost this job.

Jesus knows our value and worth. Jesus knows what we deserve. And Jeremiah 29.11 reminds us that Jesus has a plan for our lives.

Yes, I admit, that in the process of searching for jobs, going to interviews, and basically just waiting, it has been incredibly hard to trust that God is not only hearing my cries, but has that plan in place for me.

So many of my peers and mentors remind me that the job will come in Jesus’ time. The right guy will come in Jesus’ time. Everything will come in Jesus’ time. Not mine. Let me repeat that… NOT MINE.

At first, I had a little bit of fear about that. Why? Because that meant I was not in control of my own life. That meant that I had basically no say in what I was supposed to do. But that’s where trust comes in.

Psalm 37.4 says , “Delight yourself in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart.” That means we have to seek God, and trust that He knows our desires. Trust is the key word here fellow reader. Oh don’t worry, I am preaching to the choir. 

As I continued to express my doubt to those at the Bible study I attend every week, one guy reminded me to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all else will be added unto you,” Matthew 6.33.

And the more I dwell on that verse, or even chapter, the more I want that. I want to see the Kingdom of Jesus. I want to do His work. I want to be of my Father’s business. I want to serve the Worthy King. And the first step to doing that is to seek Jesus and His Kingdom.

I have to lay my own expectations down to Him. I have to push away my doubts and the voices of the enemy saying He has abandoned me and left me. I have to seek and delight myself in the Lord.

Now, I’m sure you can tell by the title that this is not a blog about seeking and delighting in Jesus. This is the point I am trying to make in all of this:

JESUS KNOWS YOUR WORTH AND HAS A PLAN FOR YOU.

To the girl that is reading this who is in an abusive relationship, Jesus thinks you are worthy.

To the employee at the agency that doesn’t value the work you do, Jesus thinks you are worthy.

To the guy that is trying so hard to impress his boss (or maybe the new girl at church), Jesus thinks you are worthy.

To the teen that is on the brink of suicide or running away, Jesus thinks you are worthy.

Our King, King Jesus, knows your name. He knows your heart’s desires, and He wants good things for you. Our Heavenly Father, loves you like no one else can (sorry Mom, but Jesus has you beat here).

It absolutely blows my mind that Jesus thinks we are so worthy that he died for us. He cares so deeply for us, His children that He does things for us that may seem hurtful in the beginning (like take away a job), but always has a plan to replace it with something beautifully orchestrated by His hands. Like the story of Job. . . I’ll let you look that one up.

The last point I want to make is about Jesus’ deep affection for us. Jesus loves us so much it’s unfathomable. Again, He loves us so much that He died and defeated death itself just so we can be with Him forever in Heaven. Wow. He not only thinks we are worthy, but also loves us unconditionally, meaning, we do not have to “do anything,” for Him to love us.

Now, this wouldn’t be a true blog about how Jesus thinks we are worthy if I did not mention how Worthy Jesus is of our love and trust in return.  His name, His being, everything about Him is worthy. And to think that someone that Worthy, a King, in fact, loves us so deeply and thinks we are worthy enough to be called His children gives me goosebumps.

Friends, please remember this no matter what heavy task is in front of you, Jesus has not forgotten about you. Jesus thinks you are worthy. Jesus loves you more than you will ever know. Seek Him friend. Seek Him first before anything else in your life.

N O T | A F R A I D

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy sitting in Starbucks. Whether it is reading, meeting up with an old friend, blogging, or cranking out some school work, this girl is OBSESSED with the atmosphere.

Yes, I have tried other coffee shops. Occasionally I will entertain the thought of a local coffee shop and support the small business, and don’t get me wrong, supporting small businesses is what I’m all about…

But they are always crowded with the same hipster crowd and there are never enough tables next to outlets forcing me to leave after my laptop dies and interrupting a state of productivity that once I am distracted from I will most definitely not ever get back until I have driven around the whole city twelve times, got something to eat, and walked into three different stores for small purchases like cinnamon or a novel that most definitely could have waited until after my paper was written.

action-asphalt-auto-6147Or sometimes these local coffee shops are in locations that are not accessible to someone with social anxiety. I mean, I’m a country girl, parking on the street ain’t no small thing for me. So, I spend my allotted coffee shop hours hermiting in many different Starbucks locations.

No, the baristas do not know my name and order by heart, just want you to know that I don’t go that often. I just don’t want to spoil the experience. It’s like that time when I went to school five minutes from Chipotle and ate it so much I got tired of it. Yeah, that horrific season of my life ended, but c’mon I can’t live without my coffee!!

Today as I sit here and blabber on and on about my deep affection for the world’s largest coffee shop that many would not even classify as a coffee shop, I am so intrigued by the population dwelling here with me.

You have the creeper dude in the corner (yes I just made eye contact with him) that I have seen at other Starbucks locations too. There is the important business man speaking through his apple headphones on a business call, but because he is using his apple headphones and not Air Pods, I am guessing that his business is a startup.

There’s the diligent college students/hipsters/young adult population doing whatever 1527186071.grees_gollum_vodo_mensithey do to occupy their time, more businessmen meeting to discuss a proposal that will score a raise from the big man back at the office, and what I like to call “the passer-buyers”- they come in and get their coffee for some odd reason because the drive thru is not promising enough that they will get their precious coffee (I’m picturing Gollum from the Lord of The Rings here). 

I got up to use the latrine because that’s what coffee does to poor souls like mine and there was a really sweet lady waiting in front of me that complimented me on my hair. We got to talking and from just a small conversation, she learned that I am a traveler and have large ambitions. Little did she know that I haven’t talked about traveling in a really long time (maybe a few months or so).

This is because I have accepted a position, a big-girl job, and know that I will not be doing any long-term traveling for quite some time. But ya know what I noticed in that conversation? I was not afraid to talk to her about my past experiences and future hopes and goals of traveling anymore. I was ready to have the conversation, use my voice, and I allowed myself to dream again.

Recently I have been limiting my goals and dreams because of the fear of not having enough money, not being successful, not being used in a manor according to the skills I have gotten from my education, and the list goes on and on and on.

adventure-blur-close-up-346885I didn’t just put my desire to travel on hold, I completely removed the potential and vision from my life. I narrow-minded my thinking and basically put God in a box. But in this conversation with this lovely woman, I learned that this desire is still quite strong in me. And just like I believe I have the desire to be married and be a social worker because God has put that there, I also believe that He has put the desire in me to travel and see His glorious creation.

When God turns our path a different direction from what we expected (or even what we have planned), that doesn’t necessarily mean He is saying we can’t experience those certain things on that path, it just means God has a beautiful plan in allowing us to have those experiences.

And we can trust that even if we don’t get that desire, then it was not truly aligned with the Lord. The very fact we followed God down the less desirable path that wasn’t part of our plans, and from our viewpoint looks like we will never be able to receive the things we desire proves to God He can trust us.

Luke 16.10 states, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Can God trust you with the little right now?

My friend, if you are feeling the same way… maybe you are waiting of that special someone to come into your life, maybe you want to change careers, have a child, make a big move, write a book, etc. -whatever it is you feel like God is keeping from you, even though you believe God has placed that desire in you, God is preparing you for that very thing, or in some cases, He is preparing you for something better!

I’m going to use the example of a recent breakup. I remember crying and being so angry about it and my mom, good ole’ faithful Mommy (no Mom I am not saying you are old), sat on my bed and reminded me that it just means God has someone better for me. Yes, it is cheesy, but whether it’s Cheddar or Swiss, that cheesy quote is good! (or should I say Gouda!)

Sometimes God has more teaching and things for us to learn before we can be handed the great desire in us. Bu ya know what, that doesn’t mean we need to fear that we will never ever in a million years receive that desire. Friend, scripture tells us that there is no fear in love and that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4.18).

Jesus is not withholding this one thing from you because He is bitter, angry, or punishing you, for these things are contrary to who Jesus is, but He is doing it out of love! Embrace that! Soak it in! Live in that love! Why? Because that alone will remove your fears!

We can stand confidently in the will that God has for us, knowing that He will not leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13.5), that He has a plan to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29.11-13), and He does not withhold any good thing from us (Psalm 84.11).

Paul reminds us that Jesus wants us not let ourselves be troubled and anxious but to submit our requests to Him with thanksgiving (Philippians 4.6-7). We are called to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” (1 Corinthians 15.58).

Friends, we are more vulnerable to the enemy when we begin to think Jesus is withholding something from us because of punishment or anger. That allows the enemy to attempt to put a foothold in our life.

And ya know what, over and over and over in scripture we can see how God worked His promises (personal and communal) to come to be in many lives! Sarah wanted a child, but had to wait, the Israelites wanted out of the wilderness, Job wanted the pain and suffering to be removed from him, Jonah wanted out of the whale, Ruth wanted a husband, Paul wanted a thorn removed from his flesh.

And while these things did not happen right away, the Lord orchestrated events with perfection to give them what they desired. So whether you are waiting on the news that the cancer is gone, or that you are going to be a parent, you can trust God and not be afraid that He has forgotten about you.

This song came up on my Pandora playlist while I was sitting here in Starbucks and it was the most amazing reminder that God is in control and we do not need to be afraid anymore because HE has won the battle. He is leading and guiding us! Take some time to get with God today and thank Him for this current season of growing and waiting!

I’m Falling Into A Routine And I Think I Like It

So here we go again. It is exactly one week since I blogged last. I definitely promised myself that I would try to blog twice this week. I don’t even think I was that busy… just lazy. Watching Gilmore Girls seemed more intriguing than writing I guess. Yep, you’re right, that’s something I need to work on.

There are a few things I noticed this week actually that I think are worth blogging about. Have you ever gotten into a routine? Even if it’s on accident. But just because it’s on accident doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing.

As of now, I accidentally stumbled into this grocery shop, meal prep, blog and Netflix routine on Sundays. It’s not such a bad thing. But here is what I noticed about routines… sometimes we get so caught up in the routine that we don’t take the time to notice what’s actually going on in the world.

I was sitting I my favorite place, Starbucks, reading a book about human trafficking. The guy who took my order seemed to be in another world and the barista took a very long time to make my skinny vanilla iced latte. The girl in line behind me was wearing leggings and a long sleeved t-shirt with her hair tied back in a messy ponytail. She looked like she had just left the gym or something. Definitely a college student.

I sat down at one of the “comfy” chairs and pulled out my book. Two kids came in and sat at the two comfy chairs closest to the window to the parking lot. The younger one took his coat off and sat back in the seat while the other one stared out the window waiting for someone. Sooner than later a gentleman with long hair in a ponytail walked in and the kids ran to him. He went to the counter to order and while he was waiting he peeked behind the corner at me and the other chairs.

I think he saw the title of my book  (“Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking”) and sat far from adult-black-and-white-body-271418where the kids could see it. I put the book down in my lap just in case. Then, a middle-aged man came in very swiftly and went directly to the outlet next to me. He plugged in his phone and went to order. Ten minutes later he came back with a breakfast sandwich and a coffee and gobbled it up as quick as he could. He sat there scrolling through his phone for a moment and then hurried up and gathered his phone charger and left.

On my way out a gentleman held the door open for me. We awkwardly headed in the same direction in the parking lot. But what made it more awkward was that he stopped at a car with the driver door wide open and said “oh sorry, this is me.” I didn’t know if he had left it open on purpose or not, so I chuckled and said, “it happens,” and went straight to my car. Poor guy was probably embarrassed.

Do these people know though? Do they know of the injustice of trafficking taking place across the globe and even in our own backyard? Do they know Jesus?

I mean, this isn’t an “it happens” kind of thing. But I’m afraid to think that those who are caught up in their routines actually believe that. Or maybe they are in denial that this kind of thing happens here in their own backyard.

It’s so heartbreaking to see that people go about their daily lives and don’t know these things.

I guess I am feeling convicted in getting caught up in a routine because I don’t ever want to be unaware of injustices happening. I want to be aware so that I can pray and do my part as a social worker/follower of Christ in spreading the Good News that even though these injustices are happening, there is still a GOOD GOD that cares deeply for victims and you and me.

Maybe this means that instead of saying “it happens” I should mention something about an injustice happening. Like, “hey did you hear about the latest statistics on human trafficking in Ohio?” OR “do you know the facts about Refugees?”

These are things I am passionate about. These are things Jesus is passionate about.

I like the way the Psalmist puts it in Psalms 9.7, “But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice.” 

Jesus sits on the throne forever. He has establised it for justice. I also love the way the big man Himself puts it in Luke 4.18-19 when He is rejected at Nazareth.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Yes, yes, yes, and even more yes!!! Thank you Jesus for paving the way in being passionate about social injustices!

So with all of that being said, I think something I want to personally work on, and something I would challenge you to personally work on, is sharing the heart of Jesus about injustices with complete strangers.

Instead of just having a small talk conversation about buying goat cheese and mini muffins with the person behind you at the grocery store and then leaving in the abyss of people and going off into your own separate life, maybe talk about how some people don’t even have access to mini muffins, or even deeper, how some families cannot afford it and therefore they sell their children in various ways to make quick cash.

Jesus does not call us to be silent. Join me in this challenge, friend.

Love Sundays

Recently, as in like three weeks ago, I moved out of my parent’s house and into my first apartment (or duplex/triplex if you will). I have a housemate that I share the place with, but other than that, I am completely out on my own!

I moved about an hour south from my little hometown because I got a new job. Basically my dream job to be exact. The Lord was gracious to me to open the doors to working for an agency called Rahab Ministries that seeks to provide safe housing and pour truth and love into survivors of human trafficking.

Since the move I have been enduring the rigorous training hours until we jump into our shift rotations. I am quite excited. However, moving an hour away and on my own for the first time has been quite the transition.

I am learning things like cooking for one person, how to budget to make sure I can still get my weekly Starbucks, and taking care of my home (like taking out the trash and cleaning the toilet). I love it.

Sundays have been my dedicated grocery shopping and usually whipping something up in the kitchen day with a little side of herbal tea and good old Netflix.

Unfortunately though, any grocery store you go to on a Sunday is surely going to be packed and loaded with everyone and their mother. Like today, I could barely find a single parking spot at Aldi!

And let me tell ya, sometimes it’s hard to have patience for the people who just stand directly in front of the freezer doors deciding what kind of veggie burger they want for the week. Okay, so that was me today. BUT it was my first time buying it! And I left my cart out of the way. I was quick.

There were a few other people who staggered and I had to sneak past them (yep, the midwesterner ‘sneak’) to get some frozen brussel sprouts, but hey what are ya gonna do. And sometimes, Aldi doesn’t always have exactly what I need. So I am stuck going to Walmart or Giant Eagle to get fresh basil or to buy individual lemons, instead of a three pound pack.

Today was one of those days. Aldi was so crowded I thought I was going to lose my mind. I also needed a cookie sheet and of course they had everything but that. So I proceeded to head to good old Wally World to finish my shopping. I fear this place because there is always the chance of me buying something I don’t need. Today it was a new wooden spoon. But hey, it was only $2.

I guess it was my lucky trip to Walmart because despite my inner groanings at the people who wouldn’t get out of way may so I could get a package of basil leaves and rude remarks inside my car at the people who wouldn’t drive on their side of the lane, I didn’t have to wait in line at the self-checkout.

I definitely thought I was in a grumpy mood. However, I was able to contain that grumpiness to myself. At this particular Walmart they scan your receipt and then an item in your bag to make sure you truly paid for them. I walked up to the guy who had the scan gun in his hand and showed him my receipt.

I simply said, “do you need to see this or scan it?” and he just kind of looked at me like I was kind of crazy. Then he said, “wow, I’m sorry I didn’t know how to take that because it was the most polite thing I heard all day.”

First, I guess I can see how asking people to double-check their receipts to make sure they didn’t steal anything can kind of step on your pride a bit. Second, I didn’t even realize that I was being that polite, which is super sad if the man was THAT surprised.

It reminded me that people are always watching us. Sure, that guy had no idea of knowing that I am a Christian, but still, people are watching our actions and deciding if we are a good egg, bad egg, or somewhere in between with the first attitude we present them with.

It is so important for us to be on our guard and paying attention to how we carry ourselves. As followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to love everyone who is put in our path, whether they stole our parking spot or served our burger with tomato when we asked them not to.

This is something I struggle with a lot. Somehow I have this preconceived notion that I deserve everything to be perfect and my way. It’s like the whole “customer is always right” mentality applies to every aspect of my life.

I hope that even in the second of my grumpiness where I mustered up a polite question I was able to make that Walmart worker’s day.

Let’s all try to work a little harder at paying attention to how we react to people. If we ever want to draw unbelievers to the Kingdom of God, paying attention to our attitudes and actions is one of the most important things we can do.

Not-So Knew Year

So here we are. Officially 20 days into 2019. I would like to think that I jumped into this new year like a kid jumping into a pile of leaves, excited and happy to be doing it. But I actually feel more like I did when I was a teenager and my older cousin pushed me into the freezing cold pool when I wasn’t quite ready to get in yet.

It’s not that I wasn’t ready to let 2018 go, but there were so many things that happened this past year that I just don’t know how to begin to process. Unfortunately, it’s things that I can’t even write about to process. I need time. But 2019 just came barging in like a rude neighbor ready to become friends and get to know each other over a burnt casserole.

Thus, either I respond respectfully to the efforts of making friendship with the new year, or I live here being stuck up because the casserole was burnt and a neighbor that most definitely won’t move.

You know how everyone is always like “new year, new me,” or always talking about how excited they are for the things to come in the new year? Well, here’s my argument, what if I don’t want a “new me,” but would rather have a slightly better, more composed, graceful, sweeter me? Okay so I won’t dream too much about being graceful…

Also, what happens when you don’t really know what is to come in the new year and you’re just settling in that pit of anxiousness? I’m not talking about the anxiousness you get when you’re on a roller coaster, no because I quite enjoy those and that adrenaline rush. I’m talking the full-blown, feeling of what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-this-year?

Maybe it’s a new form of anticipation I should be welcoming in, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s my fears of not knowing that are causing me to not be ready for this new year. When I think to my past, all the new years that I have lived through, yep, all 22 of them, I always knew what to expect.

2018 was a painfully good year for me. I say that because I lived most of the year in a country I loved, but the fact that I’m not living there now hurts. I got into a relationship where I learned that I needed to let go and move on for my own good. I graduated from college, got a full-time job, started my master’s degree, and purchased my first car.

A lot of it was bitter sweet, but I let my heart get so attached to it. The kind of attached a child gets to a toy or blanket. When I was kid I had this Teletubbie pillow and Winnie the Pooh blanket and I would not go anywhere without those things! that’s how I feel about 2018.

The memories, the goals achieved, the future plans that didn’t work out, they are all things that I don’t want to go anywhere without, including 2019. I guess I’m that child that still has the baby blankey at the first sleepover when everyone else matured out of that stage.

If you can relate in any way, shape, or form, I just want to tell you that it’s okay. In this day and age there is so much pressure to have everything figured out. But let me be the first to tell you that it’s okay to not.

If you’ve known me for any period of time, you know that this is so unlike me. You know that I usually have a five year plan marked with specific dates and all. But not this time. Sure, I have options and general ideas of what I want to do, or what God has planned for me, but nothing set in stone.

While at first this was a very freeing thing for me, it has started to consume me. It’s like it’s taking up my time because I’m trying so hard to figure out what I’m supposed to do this year that I forget about the things I am already doing.

Fortunately, Jesus reminds me that it’s okay to not know what’s next, but that He is guiding me every step of the way. Maybe I’m not supposed to know exactly what’s in store for this year, but I least I can know for a fact that there is something great and exciting waiting for me. I only have to trust God on His timing.

I believe this for you too. So, my fellow blog reader, we might be 20 days late and a few dollars short, but let’s jump into 2019 with the expectation that God has something beautiful for us and we don’t have to know what it is.