The Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser

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

Changing Weather Patterns

So, I just moved to Minnesota.  In every conversation that I have with a native, the topic of weather comes up.

“Have you ever experienced a winter?”

“You don’t know how to drive on snow, do you?”

“Do you have a coat?”

The list could go on.  The inquisitiveness is just one of the things I’ve noticed in this breed of Scandinavian-blooded people called Minnesotans.  There have been a lot of subtleties catch my eye, but none more significant than their phone use…or lack thereof.  This is one of those things that could be associated with their age (most of the people I’ve been spending time with are over 25…I’m fresh out of college).  But I do think that their background plays a hair of a part.

I am use to having half conversations with people.  There is always someone or something at the other end of the cell phone interrupting, butting in.  Whenever there is a dull half of a moment, the phone comes out.  If you are in a group of five people, chances are at least one person is active on their phone…chances are it’s more like three.

But things are different here.  I have whole conversations with people.  I have conversations without ever seeing the phone!  I was beginning to doubt that was possible!  I am so relieved, though, to find out that it is.  So, what does this mean for the breed called Minnesotans?

It means that they are more real and independent.  They don’t require connections to people 24/7.  Instead of losing themselves in a virtual world, they would prefer to invest their time and energy into you (or whoever happens to be standing next to them).  I love that!  These people make me feel like I, an AmeriCorps volunteer hailing from Arkansas, am significant.  It took my best friend and roommate of three years a lot of effort to make me feel that way.

Best Garage Sale Find Ever

 

These people are great.  And, in case you were wondering, I do have a coat.

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The Source of My Power

I started student teaching this week.  Some people call this an internship or a practicum or something else that may or may not make sense.  At my college, we just call it “student teaching”.  There are a lot of people who were excited about student teaching.  It is the last step to receiving the degree.  The last step in this four-year journey to doing what they all want to do.  Have wanted to do.

I’m not like those people.  I was, at one point in time though.  When I started college, student teaching was my goal.  I wanted to go into that classroom and just immerse myself in the process, soaking up every possible bit of knowledge in order to eventually lead my own group of students to discover all that the world has to offer.  Here I am, though, three and a half years later!  I don’t want to teach in a classroom.  Teaching in a classroom is the most terrifying thing.  I don’t wanna! (imagine a little kid throwing a tantrum…now you’ve got the picture!)

And so, I went into the whole experience with this mindset: “I know I can do this.  I have been through three and a half years of school.  Add to that all of my experience with kids and in classrooms.  All I have to do is use my knowledge and it will all be over in less than five months.  I’ve got this!”  That’s the pep-talk I used on my first day…after crying myself to sleep the night before.

What kind of crack was I smoking?  Did I really think that I could get through the next five months based on the fact that I had been to school and liked kids?  Last Sunday morning, I wrote down one thing from the service: “If I can do it on my own strength, it’s not worth doing.”

In that case, I sure as hell hope that I can’t student teach.

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My Story…Today, at least

Friday was rough.  I was facing my future and it was a terrifying prospect.  I dread the next five months (I’ll be student teaching…and I no longer want to be a teacher).  And beyond that, well I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  So, obviously there is a lot of terror–known and unknown!  But then I came across Psalms 121 (thank you awesome Facebook friends!).  For some reason, my favorite part was verse 6: “the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.”  That really spoke to me: God isn’t going to set you up to be miserable.  I found such relief in that verse.

All right, that was kind-of random, right?  Well, I have to open up my heart and let those fears and the comfort that I found in that verse out (that sentence was awkward–sorry).  I am a part of this Christian organization on campus…and a part of the leadership.  We’ve been talking about how we want to become closer to one another, the other members in the group.  Part of that is opening up and just being real, or authentic (that’s the name of the group–Authentic).  I’m not very good at opening up or being real.  I like to keep things in, especially the scary things and the things that are emotional.  But tonight, we are just sharing.  It’s called “Your Story.”  We’re all supposed to show up with a verse in mind and be prepared to talk about how it’s impacted our life.  If I was just any other member, I wouldn’t really have to talk.  But as a part of leadership, it’s kind-of expected…especially since I am probably the “least known” member of leadership (I’m the only senior…I’m quiet…I live off-campus…etc).  This sense of community is important.  It is what we are all about…but it’s terrifying.  To share my burdens and my fears.  I don’t want people to know that I am weak and that I am terrified of what is to come in my life.  Tonight though…I’m ready to share.

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Existence

So, I’m sitting at my computer…trying to think of something to write.  It has been quite a while and I have a nice little chunk of time before I need to start chopping up some fruit.  And, if I’m typing, then I will stop stuffing chocolate chips in my mouth.  Yes, semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Unfortunately my mind is blank.  I can’t think of anything deep or complex or even just slightly amusing to share.  My life is surprisingly mellow right now.  I don’t have any big exams or assignments in the next few days.  I didn’t work this morning…I don’t work again until Saturday.

So, instead of just leaving my computer to read or do something productive, I start browsing the internet…trying desperately to find something to spark an idea for words.  I’m wandering…wandering…whoa!  Steve Jobs died.  That’s pretty big news.  The next big news items, right below that headline, deals with Amanda Knox’s recent release.

I realize that these two news items are a pretty big deal but…why?  Why are we, as humans, so obsessed with the lives of people who have no direct relation to us?  I have never met Amanda Knox.  Nothing that happens to her actually affects me.  Now, the same can’t really be said for Jobs (I am currently typing on a snazzy MacBook Pro and, tucked into my backpack, there is an iPod touch…and iPhone is on my Christmas list).  But, is his death really newsworthy enough for the whole nation?  Okay, sure.  Make the argument that his death will drop Apple stock value.  But in the long run, what is his significance?

What is anyone’s significance?

When you stop and think about this great space we live in called “the world”, can you really find any true purpose for your presence here?  Are you doing anything to help anyone?  Will your actions prove to be beneficial in the long run?

If I was to answer these questions about myself…just off the top of my head…NO.  Right now, I am a college student with no career plans to speak of and only vague post-graduation plans (that happens in May…too soon).  My focus is on getting good grades and keeping my apartment clean while my roommate scurries around freaking out about her anatomy test and physics assignment.  Nothing that I do now is impacting the world on a broader, deeper level.  My existence is, when you boil it down, purposeless.  But, then again, that is just from my perspective.

When my roommate got home from a study session last night, we sat (actually, I sat and she stood) in the kitchen talking for a while.  We do things like that often (I like to plop down in our hallway…or a floor anywhere, really).  She came to the conclusion that she is most fulfilled and driven by relationships.  Having a great career is important to her, but it will not be fulfilling in and of itself.  She wants to have someone with whom she can share that success.  I, on the other hand, am terrified of sharing my success/life/house/kitchen/thoughts/fears/loves/desires/bed/etc.  So when I reflect on my purpose, I don’t really look at the people close to me.  I look further out–how do I matter in the world?

Maybe, just maybe though, I should consider my purpose in this apartment and in my family.  I could make the argument that certain members of my extended family couldn’t care less about my existence…but we won’t go there.  I’ll think about my parents and my nana and one of my cousins…I matter to them.  They miss me when I am gone.  And, when my roommate left a little while ago, we bid adieu for 24+ hours due to our hectic/conflicting schedules (I’ll go to bed before she gets home….and leave before she gets up…and get home around 5 pm tomorrow when she leaves to study again…).  That was sad for both of us.  We enjoy one another’s company (most of the time…I don’t always like sharing, remember?).  If I hadn’t been around the past couple of nights, she would have had cereal for dinner.

As I said last night, I am not a relationship-oriented person.  I have to work to make relationships matter to me.  But in the end, once I figure all of that out, relationships are what will give me a purpose.  They are where I will find fulfillment and joy…maybe.

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An Affair To Remember

Last Sunday (as in–not yesterday), I heard a sermon about love (how great is it that someone was willing to by-pass the typical 9/11 spiel to talk about something as beautiful and pure as love?!).  But, it wasn’t exactly about loving others when they do bad things.  It was about developing a loving, passionate relationship between me and God.

Relationships are not my forte.  To be blunt, I suck at relationships.  I prefer to be independent and self-centered…especially independent.  I don’t like thinking about how I am incapable of controlling my own life or developing a path to success for myself.  In reality, success should not be my ultimate goal…unless success is defined as: falling in love with God over and over and over again.  And, I am far from qualified to control my own life.  I have no experience in control (unless you count the attempts I have made over the past 21 years).

This blog is rambling on and on…this, I know.  I should get to the point…a point!  I want to fall hopelessly and eternally in love with God.  But, that is terrifying because when you FALL, by definition, you have no control over what is happening or where you are headed.

I’m slightly a control freak…Type A…perfectionist…OCD…there are plenty of labels that work and they have all been used to refer to moi.  Now, I have something to be proud of–I’m not as control freak-ish as I was three years ago when I started college (most people get more organized/controlled/etc…I did the opposite).  Nevertheless, I am still terrified of letting go of EVERYTHING…signing over all the control to God (He’s the one who actually has it…right?)…and falling.

Love affairs are typically spontaneous.  They break the rules.  They inspire new feelings and new discoveries.  Let’s hope my love affair goes so “well”.

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Telling Doubt to “Shut Up!”

Would you like to hear something very sad?  The pastor of the church I am currently attending is sick…well, recovering from an oober infection.  So, he has not been in church for the past several weeks.  This means that various members of the church have been presenting the “sermon” over the past several weeks.  Last week, the lead guy in the worship team presented a “sermon”/lesson/devotion…yeah.  He shared story of Jesus walking on water from Matthew 14.  He shared this story and then moved on to a few points.  But, there is one that kind of stuck with me.

When we let doubt slip into our mind, we have a tendency to start sinking.  I completely understand this concept.  I started classes last week…and I’ve still been putting in 20-30 hours at work per week…and I started working on the school paper…and I’m on leadership for this other organization…and…good grief, it never ends.  This would all be fine and dandy if everything could remain calm and organized.  Does anything ever stay calm and organized?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.  It defies the laws of nature…like Murphy’s…or something like that (if anything can go wrong, it will…right?).  Anyways, enough science mumbo jumbo (I love how, after one sentence, I’m just done with it…I tried to help my roommate with her physics homework tonight…it was better than my econ homework).  So…parentheses killed my train of thought.

Little things start to go wrong…either I forget to do a homework question, or I miss a quiz question, or I don’t get an e-mail that I’m waiting for.  Those little things have no right to mess up my life.  Unfortunately, those little things weasel their way into my brain and begin to eat away at my self-confidence, but more importantly, at my reliance on God.  I like to think that I am strong and independent.  But without God, I am nothing.

I must never doubt that, no matter what kinds of weasels are living in my brain, God IS in control.  I have to tell doubt to “shut up” and get out of my brain…no weasels for me.  I’m more of a cat person.

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Blessings

It is often easy to forget how incredibly blessed I truly am.  The chaos of (ah–I just got fingernail polish on my keyboard!) life is so incredibly distracting.  And, I tend to get bogged down in the messy details or complex big picture, forgetting to smell the daffodils and honeysuckle (I don’t really care for the smell of roses).  So, I am just going to take some time to stop and reflect on some of the ways that God has blessed me…just today.

  • I had a bagel for breakfast!
  • I got out of class early.
  • The nice guy was working at the registrar’s office.
  • I made it to my interview early.
  • I got the job.
  • My dad was excited that I got the job (my mom…ehhh).
  • I finished reading a chapter and writing up my notes.
  • I don’t have to do a group paper today.
Whoa!  I’m not even to noon yet!  And, after noon, my day got even better.  I got up with one of my best friends.  We got our the cartilage at the top of our ears pierced and had lunch together.  Then, we just roamed the mall for a while.  For dinner, I caught up with one of my cousins and her husband plus their two kids (who I haven’t seen since January).  That was just delightful.  I got to feed her 7 month old daughter…mac & cheese with veggies, yum!
Good grief.  God has blessed me beyond words.  I cannot say how wonderful today has been, even though there have been frustrating moments.  There was a moment when I wanted to break down and yell at the world.  But, when I look at all that I would have missed if I had been wallowing…man, I hate to think about that.  Even worse?  Thinking about all of the things that I have missed out on wallowing during my life.  That makes me want to live life to the fullest…and quite wallowing!  Just be blessed!
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God is Good…still

You know how easy it is to forget the stuff that you really want to remember?

Sometimes it is hard for me to remember how good God really is.  It is easy for me to get bogged down by all of the details of life…like tests and presentations and piano juries (which all went quite well, thank you very much).  Or, just the little things like fixing dinner and cleaning my room (if you could see my room, you might not consider this a “little” thing).  Life just has a way of overwhelming me.  It doesn’t happen that it doesn’t take much to send me running to hide in a corner away from sensory stimulation.  I like simple things.  I like small groups of people.  Big crowds make me uncomfortable.  Cluttered desks make me nervous.  And, dirty kitchen counters make me want to cry.  So, it’s easy for me to forget how good God is.

How is it that I remember partial biographies of jazz artists (I learned them earlier semester and then whipped one out at a wedding this weekend–Astrud Gilberto), several developmental theorists, and a handful of French tenses…but I forget how good God is.  Should that idea be ingrained in my memory by now?  That is how my life began…that is the opening line in the story of my life–no.  It’s the dedication!

It all makes sense now.  No one ever reads the dedication of a book.  Maybe I should think about this a little more.  I have this life story written in a book somewhere…by God.  Yes, he is the author (He has more experience than any of the authors being published today…and more copies sold!).  Chapter 1 began with the story of my parents…and somewhere along Chapter 6 I was baptized…and somewhere around Chapter 19 I almost gave up on God…now, we’re almost to Chapter 21 (yeah!).  But, let’s go back to the dedication.

………

I don’t really know what it says.  I don’t want to try to put words in God’s mouth. But maybe it goes something like this “To the world–may she be a shining example of my love.”  No, that’s too good for me.  “To the world–teach her so that she can teach others”–I like it, but still too good.

“To her–so that she my know I am here and I am Love.”

I think I like that one.

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Father/Daughter Discussion

I realize that I just put up the posting from my first attempt at leading a Bible Study, but here’s the next one.  And, it is closely following the actual physical gathering and study.  The other one, yeah, that actually took place a couple of weeks ago.

Anyways, moving on.

Take a moment to stop and think.  Reflect on your relationship with your mom/dad/aunt/uncle/grandfather/wolves that raised you.  Now, focus in and condense all of that reflecting into two adjectives: one good and one bad.

For some people, coming up with a bad adjective is hard but for most, I think that the good adjective is a bit more difficult.  It’s not that my relationship with my parents has been miserable, but…the bad moments tend to remain in my mind.  So, here are my adjectives: stressful and educational.  Want to guess which is which?  Yeah, stressful is bad.  One of the biggest problems that causes the stress between my parents and I is communication.  I, personally, suck at communication…and my parents aren’t really that great at it either.

To see a father/daughter communication fail, I suggest you check out Mo Willem’s Knuffle Bunny.  Yes, it’s a picture book.  I promise, though, you will enjoy it…you would probably enjoy it more if I actually read it to you, though…can’t happen, though.

Anyways, so, this book–epic communication fail.  Nearly any daughter (or son–sorry if you are a guy reading this…I did present this in a girls’ Bible study) can relate to little miss Trixie in the story.  We can compare events in the story to events in our own lives with our own parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/wolves.

But…how does the Trixie/daddy relationship compare to the “You/God” relationship?  God is not going to misunderstand our requests and He is not going to drag us home when we pitch a fit…even when he knows what is best.  Here is where I might suggest that you pull out a Bible for visit http://www.biblegateway.com and look up Matthew 6:25-27.

Take a few moments and reflect on these verses…think about how they show up in your life.  Think about the times when you think you know where you’re supposed to be going, how your life should flow…and then BAM.  The “bam” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The “bam” is just God’s way of reminding you that you are merely human and your experience running a life is limited.  His experiences, though, are limitless (think every person on the earth now + all those that came before + all those that are still to come…yeah, there might be a limit but I’m not going to try to add those  massive numbers).

God, as our Father, knows our needs even when we suck at communicating our needs and when we want to ignore his attempts to communicate with us.  And, more importantly, he cares deeply about each and every need that we have…and he addresses them in the very best possible way.  We can trust him to have our back…and he will always find our lost bunny.

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Make a Mark

So…oober oober delayed.  My failing.  Please forgive me, now…moving on…a Bible Study.

Before you continue reading, I want you to stop and think of a time when God used you in a surprising way.  (Pause for thinking!!!)

A lot of times, we tend to look at particular aspects of our lives and think that they are pointless, not good enough, or insignificant.  Lucky for us though, God can take insignificant things and make them significant.  To get an idea of this in the real-world, check out Peter Reynolds’ book The Dot (yes, I am an elementary education major).  No matter what we think that we can or can’t do, God can find a way to use us.

1 Peter 4:8-11 says  (and I’m putting this in my own words) that we should live loving, showing hospitality, and serving.  These three things can come out in various ways throughout our lives.  We might hold the door, help someone carry their bags, or just take the time to listen to a friend.  God can use our little bit of time, our smile, and even our ability to cook to bring glory to his name.

We have to let go of the grumbling reluctance and the fear of being used so that the smallest things in our daily lives will become the significant things in his plan.

 

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