Friday, September 19, 2014

A Lukewarm Christian Is As Bad As Lukewarm Coffee

Things learned in Philly:

  • "yous" is not nearly as catchy as "y'all"
  • scarf weather comes much earlier here than Arkansas
  •  A good book can take you far
  • It's hard not being close to your best friends
  • If you're nice enough to a friar he may buy you a beer
  • Three year olds don't quite grasp the concept of a structured environment
  • What was once "daily wear" now constitutes as "dress-down" wear
  • The quest for the best cheesesteak may in fact never end
  • A mother's advice whether in person or over the phone is still unbelievably helpful
It's weird, I was talking with my friend and old roommate, Margaret, who is living in Boston for the year and going through something similar to me. We were seen in Arkansas as these big city slickers coming from St. Louis but here we are seen as country-folk. In the last 4 years she and I have gotten really good at being the outsiders. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it sucks. I am normally one to thrive on difference. I like talking to new people from new places doing new things. I think Margaret would agree. For the past couple of days though I have been getting an itch for familiarity. I'm sure this is normal, but it's also bothersome. 

I was talking to my incredible advice-giving mother today about the new stress of where to go from here. I know, I know, you must be surprised to hear me planning already. (ohhh the sarcasm) Anyway, after expressing the frustration to my mom about the backwardness of the American education system and how expensive life is, she helped me to realize how incredibly blessed I am. Blessed with the time to do my research. Blessed with the time to build my resume. Blessed with the time to also pause the grad school application process and explore a new city. A city that I'm not sure I'll be ready to leave in a year (hence the open tabs on my computer to different MSW programs in Philadelphia). I am blessed beyond words in so many areas of my life, and while I wanted to scream earlier today with the curse of grad school, she helped me turn it around. 

Along with all these blessings, I am also blessed with the time to read good books. I am currently rereading Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. In one of the chapters he discusses what a "lukewarm Christian" is and how easy it is to become one. Let me share a section that really hit close to home. It's kind of long, but bare with me-I will make a connection at the end!

"Lukewarm people do not live by faith: their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't trust God if something unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them-they have retirement plans in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live-they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God on a daily basis-their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God." 

Here's my connection: I have seen and experienced the people Chan takes a whole chapter to describe. I don't believe I am currently one of those people by any means-but I do have a fear of becoming one. My mom reminded me today that I can't function without a plan. Sometimes I am content if I know I'm living out God's plan but sometimes I try to take the reins and it doesn't always end in contentment. My mom suggested that maybe my plan for the year is to do what I'm doing: using the time I have been blessed with to explore my options. The option from God's plans will shine through eventually, I can't forget that. 

I need a plan. But I also need God. That is how I know that I am more than lukewarm. 

I have been reminded by countless people that grad school is expensive and social workers don't make a lot of money so I better plan for that. What if God's plan isn't for me to make a bunch of money and live comfortably just yet? Maybe these student loans that everyone is telling me I should be scared of is just another way to depend more on God. After all, anyone going into social work or really any helping profession isn't normally doing it for the money. My career and my life won't be based on monetary success. It will be based on how well I can follow God's plan. 

More to come from Philly later!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sometimes a girl just needs a water-ice

Things I've learned since moving to Philly-

  • You can fit a surprising amount of stuff into two 50 pound bags at the airport
  • But if you have nice parents they will ship you what you couldn't fit!
  • Philly is nothing like I expected, but everything I needed
  • They say things differently here
  • The Augustinian Catholics like to make jokes about the Jesuits
  • There is no better snack than chocolate covered almonds
  • Living on a budget is going to be hard
  • Journaling is good for the soul
  • Having roommates is different than living in community (Augustinians are big on community if you didn't know)
  • Being a plane ride away from family is much different than being a car ride away
  • People from ALL walks of life take public transit
  • When you ask "where's the best cheesesteak?" no two answers will be the same
  • Rittenhouse square is where it's at
It felt like a movie. I had gotten my two bags from baggage claim and I just stood there for a second. Anxious. This is it. I'm here. And then proceeded trying to (and failing) gracefully roll two huge bags, a backpack, a carry-on, and the purse I had shoved into said carry-on in order to follow TSA requirements, out to the curb to have someone I had only talked to on the phone and in email come and pick me up. Nerves kicked in, what if I was the one with the most stuff? Should I be more excited? Less excited? Who am I going to be living with? Are they anything like me? Where am I living? What am I doing?

Long story short-I love it here. I love the people I work for, my fellow volunteers working at all the different sites, the neighborhood I live in, the girls I live with, I love it all. 

It felt like a movie. A picture perfect day, my boss told me to get off early and go enjoy the weather. I took the not so picture perfect public transit and got off near a quant little coffee shop, took an iced coffee to go and walked to one of the squares here- Rittenhouse to be exact. I got there, picked out my bench and just sat for a little bit. This is it, I thought, I am here. At that moment I was so happy  could have cried. Instead, I said a prayer, thanking God-the guy that made this all possible. I was so supremely happy. Looking back 6 months ago I was having panic attacks, wondering what I would be doing post-college. Never could I have dreamed of this, but man is it incredible. 

Being here has been a little hard of course. It's an adjustment living in a new city with new people and new jobs. I live with 3 other girls, all very fun, who are adjusting just the same. It's hard being away from home when exciting and/or tough things happen and I can't be around familiar people to experience them. It's tough not being in a school setting-what I am so familiar with and not focusing on what's next (I'm already worrying about the future) 

That being said, I had a little bit of a tough day today. I have been thinking of a friend who I wish more than anything I could give a hug to at this moment, I miss being able to talk to my mom and dad in person. I miss being near my sisters who are starting new areas of their life like me. I miss the proximity of my friends from high school and college. Nothing detrimental or agonizing happened today, it was just one of those "ick" days. One where you can't really describe to people around you why you may not be your chipper self because you don't know exactly why yourself. 

So you know what I did? I splurged. I got myself a water-ice (or what the rest of the world calls a snow cone...kind of...its not really one of those either-whatever, just look up "philadelphia+water ice" and you'll see) Oh and its not really a splurge to buy one from a street vendor but when you make $25 a week it can be. 

Okay now your wondering where the God is in this post-let me explain. It seems like God and I have this little agreement. When I start to have one of those "ick" days I try and find something to do to just get out of my head for a little while. Stop worrying for a bit to be reminded of His power (The whole 'cast your cares on Him for He cares' spiel-1 Peter 5:7-great verse to live by if you're an anxious person like me). Anyway, this weird thing Philly people love, water-ice, was what I did to give myself a break. I indulged in a sugary treat-half of which I spilled on the ground, childish I know. It was as if I had changed the channel and I was in another movie, happy music playing in the background, girl walking home in the sunshine, eating her water-ice, chit-chatting with people around, a man walking his two beautiful dogs, another person giving high-fives just because, happy news from home, and a little time to myself on a comfy couch to just enjoy the gift of life God has given me. Life in a new and exciting town. Life in a place that I feel fits. 

So, while I know I am not promised all good days this year while I am in Philly, I think I'm going to keep up my deal with God. He did a fantastic job reminding me of His gift to me today and the least I can do is indulge!

More to come from Philly in a bit!