The Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser

moving across the country…to discover what God has in store

Dreading the Change

Before the week is out, I will no longer be a Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser.  The time has come for me to pack up my bedroom and head south…

to sweet tea

to boys who hold doors open

to higher education

to God’s will for my life

I have to focus on the good things that are waiting for me in Tennessee.  If I consider the less savory things like the humidity, heavy foods, and disrespect for cyclists, my heart will only hurt more.  You see, for the first time in my life, I want to stay.  I’ve always been a go-er.  I never got stickers for resting well during nap time in kindergarten…I wiggled too much.  And I’ve always envied people who have moved around a lot during their lives.  Well here I am, moving after spending only one year a place…and my heart is breaking.

This is a testament to God’s work in my life.  He has revealed to me an ability to love and connect with people that I didn’t know hid in my heart.  Over the past few weeks, my emotions have run the gamut.

Excited!  Excited!  Excited!

Nervous…need a place to live…uhoh…

ANGER—What the hell, God?  This is the worst idea ever.

Me…angry?  Nu uh…oh wait.  What the hell, God?!?  I’m happy here!

Hmmmm….peace…peace…ohmmmm

*tears* nooooooo!

Yeah, that about sums it up.  During a time sitting down by the river, I realized that I was really angry at God.  For the first time in my life I feel like I am in a really good place, and He wants me to leave all of that behind.  It didn’t make sense to me.  And it still doesn’t make sense to me, but I have come to a place where I accept that God has a bigger plan.  He calls us to be faithful during these times of trial and uncertainty…that’s how He is able to prove His greatness to us.

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Does that mean that I am packing up and heading out tear-free, heart fully mended?  No.  I have come to love my house church family, my neighborhood coffee shop, the little boy that I tutor, my climbing gym, easy access to bike trails…this city has so much going for it.  But I am comforted by the knowledge that God has something going on for me about 850 miles away.  I have no idea what it is…and it’s a little exciting to think about it.

*brightening* Nashville has a good music scene…right?

Making new friends means finding new coffee shops

I get to see how God is working in other places!

(Also…the name of the blog will have to change…time to start thinking)

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Just Another Leg of the Journey

You know what’s great?

IMG_2048Cookie dough?

Yes.  It’s great…but that’s not what I was going for.

Climbing a clean 5.10c?

Yes, that too…well I think.  I haven’t really done it.  But no, still not on the head of the nail.

 

The fact that, even though you leave a place, you can still be a part of it?

Yes…seriously, yes.  That’s what I was going for.

You see, in just over a month, I will be moving away from Minnesota.  If you read my last post, you already knew this.  I recapped the past year or so of my life and discussed this impending move.  What I avoided though, was a mention of my dread.  I dread leaving behind relationships…experiences…oatmeal stout…lessons.

Really though, the only thing that will be staying behind when I hit the highway heading south is the oatmeal stout (Southern states prefer lighter brews).  The relationships, experiences, and lessons all live in my head and my heart.  Nothing can take those away…because they have been part of the journey that God put together for me.

DSCN0985And Nashville, Tennessee will be the next part of my journey.  You see, I believe that life is not about a destination.  It is about the journey.  Corny, huh?  If it’s only about a destination, or an end-game, then we waste a lot of time just getting there.  I prefer to think, though, that that is time invested.  Yes, invested in the journey.  (A crazy college professor would be very proud of me right now…”time invested, never time wasted”.)  As much as I want to stress about the next leg of the journey…as much as I want to try to map out every step of the way, I know that it would be pointless.  First of all, I gave up on planning when I realized that God always chuckles at my plans.  Ans secondly, I’ve seen that the best journeys are improvised, sprinkled with hiccups.  That’s what helps us learn…to breathe deeply and eat spoonfuls of sugar.

(An investigation into my journey, inspired by The Daily Prompt)

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This Rainbow Chaser’s Future

Great White Northern Regions

Great White Northern Regions

In my last post (yeah…back in March…whoops), I mentioned that I was planning to spend future posts looking at the future.  I hinted that I was going to continue avoiding the box and I think that I will be successful in my avoidance.  While I am following a path that seems natural and expected, it feels adventurous and new to me.  I feel like I will be completing something, coming full circle in a lot of ways.

When I graduated from college a year ago (crazy to think that!), my life was up in the air.    To see what I was feeling at that time, check out these posts.  I felt like there was a lot undone, as far as my education went.  I had a degree in Elementary Education that I didn’t want to use, at least in the traditional way.  It was missing pieces and I was missing pieces…what to do, what to do.  Patience and trusting God eventually led me to a position as a literacy tutor with AmeriCorps in Minnesota.  I knew that more schooling was in my future…but I didn’t know where or when or how.

So back in the fall, I started looking into graduate programs.  That required the GRE.  This is the part where I get a little giddy.  When you take the GRE, you can automatically have your scores sent to four schools.  At that time, I was applying to three…I figured though, why not?  Let’s just add one more for kicks and giggles.  Being the bold individual that I am, I put down the number one graduate school for education…Vanderbilt.

This makes me giddy because, as God would have it, Vanderbilt was to be my place.  After having my GRE scores sent there, I figured that I should probably go ahead and apply.  Turns out that they had the type of program that was right up my alley, so applying with enthusiasm was easier than I had expected.  And accepting their offer of admissions was easier than I had expected.

Last go around in Nashville

Last go around in Nashville

Yes, yes.  My friends, the Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser is relocating to Nashville, Tennessee.

And you don’t have to warn me about the “hotter than hell” summers…deep down in some hidden part of my soul, I am southern.  Southern born and raised.  I know about the heat, the twang, the swayt (yes…I meant to spell it that way) tay (that too), and having doors held open by well-raised young men.  In some ways, it’s kind-of nice to think about returning to my roots…just one state away at least.  See what I mean about coming full circle?

I’m completing my educational experiences (although I will never stop learning) and I am circling back to my roots (hopefully I  never have to get any closer).  While I don’t know exactly what my future holds besides this cross-country move, I know that the Twin Cities have been good to me…thanks to God’s merciful hand.  And I can trust that Nashville will be the same.

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Revisiting My Fear of the Box

Dream series

a glimpse into MY dreams

A year ago, my life was topsy turvy.  I had no plans and that was terrifying.  I was banking on one program: a teaching assistantship in France.  When I didn’t get into the program (I found out in early April), I was heartbroken and wrote:

“I had just known in my head and my heart that it was so right for me!  I wasn’t ready for graduate school or a “grown-up” job.  I just needed someplace to go for a year while I cleared my head.  It was the perfect scenario–go teach in France for a year and come back with a fresh outlook on my life.  But God broke my heart.”

The topsy turvy nature of my life continued for several more months until, like when a woman’s water breaks, everything started happening.  I interviewed for a tutoring organization in Minnesota and, within a month, I had moved to Minnesota.  God gave me exactly what I need: a year to go someplace and clear my head!  The move was less than unexpected (I didn’t even remember applying for the position with AmeriCorps!)

*sidenote: I’m back in that coffee shop.  The conversation that I get to overhear?  Learning about someone’s experience with a c-section*

Anyways, I jumped into the unexpected and trusted that God had something in store for me.  Boy, did I ever underestimate Him!  Looking back and looking forward (yeah–I’m talented like an owl), I can see how this is exactly what I needed this year.  In many ways, France would have been easy.  I doubt that I would have had the honor to work with kids from refugee families, living at or below poverty level, and who don’t speak English at home.  I wouldn’t have developed a throbbing passion to work in the early childhood field, preparing three and four year olds for the world that is public education.  The classrooms that have surrounded me this year have given me more direction that I have ever had.  And more importantly, I feel that God is in that direction.  He’s right here with me, pointing me there!

looking back

looking back

I had a specific purpose when I started this blog post…and it was to look forwards more and backwards less.  But this reflection on the past year has been refreshing.  I’ll save the thoughts on all of the tomorrows for another day.  You aren’t going to want to miss it.  Let’s just say…I’m pretty sure that I’m not in the box.

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Alternate Perspective

ImageThe other day, I sat in a coffee shop for two hours with a friend.  (Never in my life have five months left me feeling  comfortable and confident in calling someone a “friend”.)  Our conversation ranged from the current state of education, cross-country skiing plans, and our plans for the future.  I chuckle at that last one because neither of us have any concrete plans.  

I do know, however, what I don’t want to be doing in the future.  My friend was careful to suggest that living in the negative could be a risky endeavor.  Her advice was appreciated and, clearly, has been present in my mind.  But there is just so much that I fear in my future…because of my past.  I’m always concerned about the way that other people are going to look at me and think…

High School: She was the teacher’s pet.  Everything she did was perfect, of course.  None of the teachers would ever criticize her because her parents might get pissed off and go after them.  She slid by on her parents’ reputation and never did anything worthy of note.  In five years, she’s going to be back here working in the elementary school in her mom’s old classroom.  Her life will end up right back where it started…but with more cats because she’s scared of boys.    

ImageCollegeThis chick is such a cliche!  She goes to the Christian club all the time and is super-nice to everyone.  Everything she does is “perfect” and she can’t disappoint anyone.  She’s going to graduate and get a job here in Springfield probably.  She’ll work in one of the elementary schools for the rest of her life.  Maybe she could do more, but she thinks too small.  Oh wait…she doesn’t want to be a teacher?  She’s screwed.  She’ll probably move back home and work at a gas station.  Or maybe a farm.  There are farms in Arkansas, right?

Now: So, this girl moved from Arkansas, or Missouri kind-of.  And she’s doing AmeriCorps for a year.  Why would someone move to Minnesota to do AmeriCorps when PeaceCorps could have been an option?  It’s kind-of lame, ya know?  It’s like she’s afraid of moving on out into the real world.  Is she going to move back home after her year here is over?  Weak!

The way I see it, the whole world has an opinion about my choices.  And their opinions are critical.  Nothing that I have done is especially worthy of criticism.  But on the flip side, nothing that I have done is especially risky.  So where does that leave me?  Conflicted.  

Nothing new there.

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Time for Cake: Very Inspirational Blogger Award

While I was in high school, May was a very exciting time.  It signaled the end of the year, the coming of summer.  Forget the final exams that were just around the corner; there were also medallions and certificates around the corner!  As an “out of the box/closet” nerd, these were the biggest accomplishments that could be acknowledged with hardware.  Each year, there was an award for the highest achieving student in each subject area for each grade level.  It wasn’t unusual for me to receive one of these awards as well as some other random award.

Since May of 2008 (my senior year), I haven’t really received any awards.  So you can imagine my glee when I was nominated for the

vib

by HMC at Soul Stories, “a blog from the heart, to mess with the head” (check it out!!!).  I like that tagline…I was also incredibly flattered by her description of my blog!  Anyways, this award requires me to do a bit more than walk up on a stage and smile.  There are RULES involved.  Let’s see how well I can follow rules.

  • Display the award logo on your blog
  • Link back to the person who nominated you
  • State 7 things about yourself
  • Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them
  • Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements

Seven Things About Moi!

  1. DSCN0996I’ve given up planning big things in my life…like where I’ll be a year from now.  I leave that to God.
  2. I love to bake.
  3. I am currently an AmeriCorps volunteer, serving as an elementary school literacy tutor.
  4. I can say “high five!” in Hmong.
  5. Climbing is awesome…as of now, I’ve got 5.9 skills (or so I’m told).
  6. There is currently a bat hibernating on my kitchen counter.
  7. I studied French for seven years.

Phew!  That was hard work…I don’t like talking about myself all that much.  Actually, that was the easy part.  Now I have to nominate 15 bloggers for this award!  I’ll be honest: this is challenging, as I spend more time writing on my blog than reading other blogs (I’m sorry!!  I promise–I love all of you.) .  So, I was very methodical and particular about nominating some snazzy blogosphere peeps.  I can’t just throw this award around willy nilly…so here goes nothing.

And that is that!  A special thanks to HMC, again, for her flattering words and this nomination.  Hopefully you have some fun visiting one of these other blogs and, if you are one of these other blogs, congrats!

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Think Global, Act Local: Poverty

DSCN6989

Be aware: we’re about to get seriously philosphical (if I can spell that word)…philosophical…there we go.  I wanted to be independent and figure it out on my own; youshould be impressed with my epic spelling abiltiies…argh.  Abilities?  Yes.

Spelling…that is a global issue that affects me locally.  No…I mean yes.  It could be a global issue, but that’s not what’s on my mind on this snowy Minnesota day.

WEALTH.

photo Yes, wealth is on my mind.  I am currently reading a book called Crazy Love and I just read a chapter that made the hamster in my head start spinning on its wheel (His name is Winifred, by the way).  If I am to be perfectly honest, most of the chapters send Winifred into a frenzy, but this particular chapter connects to today’s prompt from The Daily Post.  It’s called “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God” (Chapter 5).  Chan, the author, counters the oft-seen idea that many Christians are lukewarm.  Instead, he says that being lukewarm means that someone is not a Christian.  That is a frightening thought for someone who has described herself as a lukewarm Christian (yes, I am referring to myself here…take a look at the original name of this blog!).  He highlights the problem of poverty in many places that make me, an AmeriCorps volunteer who receives a twice monthly living stipend, look rich.

(WOW!  I am in a coffee shop right now and it just got ridiculously loud…not cool, peoples.  Not cool.)

photo-1I have developed this tendency to look at the people around me, the people who have real jobs and receive a real salary, and I think about how wealthy they are.  A morning at a coffee shop isn’t a big deal for them.  Filling up their gas tank isn’t nearly as painful for them as it is for me.  And they can give to God without feeling it right in their gut.  Wow.  That last one really makes me think.  I’m going to be perfectly honest and lay some guilt right out there for you.  I feel like I’m giving my widow’s mite when I drop a check in the offering box on Sunday mornings.  Talk about a “holier than thou” attitude!

My coffee and cinnamon roll this morning would likely break the bank for half of the world’s population.  And I feel proud of myself for surviving on less than minimum wage for a year. So, how do I take the thoughts that Winifred has spun up for me and put them into action? At this point, changing my perspective will be the stepping stone, I think.  When I take myself off of the pedestal and realize that I am rich, I might have hope of action.

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Two Basic Fears of Snow-Driving

Yes.  I just gave an “Olympics’-official” name to the process of traveling from one place to another via a vehicular transportation module when snow is descending/has descended upon one’s world.  The process of driving in the snow is so detail-oriented that it deserves to be recognized as an official somethingorother.  There are numerous stimuli approaching the driver, stimuli that must be processed immediately in order to avoid fatalities (of street lamps, non-hibernating squirrels, grassy knolls, or drivers).  As drivers process this stimuli, their goals can be summed up by identifying two basic fears.

1. Not Going

2. Going

You understand perfectly, don’t you?  Just in case something is unclear, allow me to elaborate.

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1. Not Going: I encountered this problem a while back…on two occasions during my first massive Minnesota snow.  The first incident occurred when, after coming to a complete stop at a stop sign (I’m such a law-abiding citizen), I couldn’t go.  My tires spun, whirring to me that they had lost traction.  Yes, my tires talk to me.  I waved the people behind me around while I tried to figure out what to do next.  Luckily, I was on the “up” of a mild incline.  I was able to roll backwards a bit and find enough traction to propel myself forward through the intersection…all the way to the next one where I did not come to a complete stop.  Don’t judge.  

The second incident was a bit closer to home…like…in my driveway.  I came home to find that our street had been plowed–yea!  And the plows had left a nice little present…a pile of snow blocking our driveway.  It was late-ish in the evening and I was feeling lazy, so I decided that I would just bully my way over the pile of snow.  Umm, no.  I got stuck…my front tires didn’t even make it over.  There was no going for me.  About half an hour later, after shoveling, carefully arranging some cardboard, and reversing in first gear, I was able to get out into the street so that I could properly shovel the driveway.  

These incidents are minor compared to problems that other drives have dealt with when, for whatever reason, their cars don’t go.  They might get smacked from behind.  They might get stranded without any food, water, or electric blankets!  So, you can see how “not going” can be particularly problematic.  Let’s leave this tragedy behind though and move on to the other problem/fear.

2. Going: It seems strange that, right after discussing the problem of “not going” we should move on to a problem of “going.”  It will make sense though…hang with me.

Snow and ice are ridiculously slippery (just in case you live in Ecuador and don’t know about these things…PS: if you live in Ecuador, I’m psyched that you are reading my blog).  So, when approaching a stop sign, there is always the risk that the car will not stop.  Or, there’s a risk that the front wheels will decide that they are ready to stop, but the rear wheels come to the conclusion that there are a lot of inequalities in the world and attempt to slide up alongside the front wheels.  No one enjoys this very much…particularly the driver sitting above this sibling duel.

Oh…my experiences with “going?”  I made about three lights flash on my dashboard earlier this week because I braked so hard and long.  About twelve hours later, my dashboard was back to normal.  That’s totally safe, right?

Clearly…I am not an expert when it comes to driving in snowy/icy/wintery conditions.   I summed up years of experience (which I don’t have) in two small points.  Any more experienced extreme sports enthusiasts care to comment?

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Losing a Callous

Whoops!

Whoops!

For the past several weeks, I have been climbing regularly.  Last weekend, I noticed that my elbows were terribly achy, so I decided to scale it back a bit.  This weekend, I came home with a ripped up pinkie finger!  But, I refuse to let a bit of loose skin stop me from moving up.

See that?  It’s pretty mild compared to what I found when I googled “climbing callous”.  Apparently there are multiple schools of thought on callouses and how to maintain them, or whether or not they should even be maintained!

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These bad boys are holding on!

That google experience also led me to consider the definition of a callous.  According to Merriam-Webster, there are two definitions of callous.  What I have is 1a: “being hardened and thickened.”  Well, that’s what I had…until I ripped my pinkie open.  I still have hardened and thickened skin in multiple places on multiple other fingers, though.

Back to handy dandy MW, though.  There’s the second definition set for callous: (a) feeling no emotion(b) feeling or showing no sympathy for others.  Sometimes I wonder if I am callous or have developed callouses in certain situations.  And I have no choice but to come to the conclusion that I have

There are certain things about which I am passionate, things that I value.  Towards everything else, I tend to have a more callous attitude.  Wow, that sounds terribly generalized doesn’t it?  So let’s get specific.

Kids

I love working with “at-risk” kids in high-poverty areas.  From what I read and learn, there are apparently a lot of people who don’t have a passion for these kids or who can’t handle working in that environment.  But I have a passion and I can handle the environment…so that is something that I want to pursue.  Kids who don’t fall into this boat…I couldn’t care less.  I am callous towards them.

But the winds of God are blowing…and the sailboat of my life could be heading into uncharted waters.IMG_1336

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In the Morning

Before I go to bed, I could check out my window to see if the roads are clear.  To see if snow is falling.  To see if my windshield is icy. 

But after I go to bed, much can happen.  As darkness descends on the world, chills ripple through and bring about change.  Snow falls.  My car disappears.  Water chills.  The road ices.

Right now, the road is passable and tomorrow holds promise.  But when the whispers of darkness grow to a roar, who can say? 

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*Trying something a little difference in response to Your Story: Whispers of Darkness 🙂

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