The Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved

I’ve never been big on resolutions or the like, but I might have come up with a few that I can keep in mind over the course of the next 351 days.

 

1. Eat amazing food.

2. Meet new and interesting people (or creatures).

3. Notice little things…like evidence of Santa Claus.

4. Drink coffee.

5. Reach new heights.

6. Look past the dreariness to see the promise of a new day

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Delicate twigs surviving the first snow

delicate swirls surviving the first snow

Delicate is a word that I have recently used to describe my emotional state.  The days surrounding the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) have been challenging.  They make me realize the specific people and experiences that I hold close to my heart.  So, when I saw the weekly photo challenge, I knew that I had to participate…if only to force myself to face up to my weaknesses.

delicate artistry in God's creation

delicate artistry in God’s creation

I have a deep-rooted appreciation and respect for the beauty of nature.  My weakness?  I am easily distracted by modern comforts and attractions.  Hulu has, on more than one occasion, stolen time that could have been spent outdoors.  Now that snow is hiding my world (see the first photo), I am missing these delicacies.

A strength?  I don’t mind getting a little chilly while searching for new delicacies.  I also don’t mind climbing a mountain to find the delicacies.  Over the past six months, I have had my share of summits.

delicate pathway to the summit

delicate pathway to the summit

Those can also be delicate.  Although I might like to be a free spirit and throw caution to the wind, a shale-covered pathway like the one I found in Canada required a delicate foot.  For most of the trip, I was fun and fancy free.  But in the moments leading to this summit, I lost a bit of confidence.  As I followed a French mountaineer (fellow CouchSurfer), I questioned my sanity.  This guy was booking it…and I was about to fall to my death.  Nevertheless, we managed to make it all the way to the very top (he wasn’t content with the slightly shorter peak where we first landed).

I also experienced the delicacies of mountains over the summer when I spent some time in the rocks of Wyoming with a friend.  Oh friends…another delicate topic for me.  Friendships, for me, are more than delicate; they are fragile.  Sometimes my mind and soul prefer to be independent and risk forcing me into the state of a hermit.  But, since my move to St. Paul, I have hated that lonely state.  Today though, I realized that I am not alone.  I have at least one friend.  The friendship formed so delicately that I hardly noticed.  It’s a beautiful feeling when someone tells you they are glad you’re around.

I realize now that delicate can mean many things.  I’ve been going with the idea that delicate means fragile, or requiring great care.  But delicate can also mean pleasing to the senses (according to m-w.com).  I think I like that definition…especially because it works for each of my examples.

 

EDIT

Another thought just entered my mind and it refuses to leave: the delicacy of life.  I am not one to get lost in current events, politics, or headlines.  But recent events (just google “Connecticut shooting” if you’re lost) have tugged at my heart…the heart of an educator who has a special appreciation for the vitality of children.  There is a delicate aspect of life that is easy for us to forget because we have living down to such a science.  We eat XYZ and take vitamins B, C, and E and drink 8 gallons of water and jog for 20 minutes 3 times a week.  But, despite all of our attempts at preserving our life, it can be gone in the blink of an eye.  Therefore, we must cherish our breaths…and the breaths of those around us.  My prayer this evening is that you will take your breaths and realize their delicacy.  Make the most of them.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

The word “solitary” could easily describe my life.  I have always been a solitary person, often retreating to be alone with my thoughts…my books…my words.  Through these moments, I have deepened my understanding of myself and the world around me.

Solitary travels have allowed me to explore new spaces on my own time.  I have wandered through various cities, never having a specific destination in mind.  At times, these wanderings were less than intelligent.  I might have placed myself at risk…but I was too lost in my own thoughts to be considered by such pettiness.  Through solitary moments like this, I developed a sense of strong, willful independence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitary moments have also allowed me to push aside the distractions of the world and discover the beauty that surrounds me on a daily basis.  From a bike ride to a walk through a park to sitting on my own front porch…I have noticed little things in moments of solitude.

 

 

 

And thus…I have learned to breathe in deeply.  In breathing deeply, I have lost myself in the scent of flowers.  I have surveyed rose bushes, with a friend leaning over my shoulder, and found the solitary, brilliant rose that survived harsh storms.  She stands alone in honor of her friends who have fallen…and as nature’s token of appreciate to me, for I take the time to see her beauty.  I do not lament the loss of the others.  Instead, I honor her for standing strong.

Through my travels (which seem few compared to those which I desire to complete), few places have left me feeling so “solitary” amongst many than the beach.  There is a magic that happens when you look out into the horizon and lose yourself.  Even your thoughts are washed away in the salty spray and you can’t help but wonder, “How did I get here?” And then you realize that you are far from alone.  There are those who have guided you through the journey and lifted you up when you have found yourself crumpled in a heap.  There are those that you have guided and helped.  And there are all of those ahead of you…no matter how solitary you try to be, you cannot make this journey alone.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10

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My Own Sardis

Mont-St-Michel

The pastor at my church has been going through the churches of Revelations (see chapters 2-3…actually, you should check out chapter 1, too).  It has been fascinating to consider how the messages that appear to be designed for the people of Ephesus or Pergamum apply to our lives.  Yesterday, we were on The Church of Sardis, which my pastor described as “The Dead Church”.  According to him, this is the saddest of seven epistles.

Consider, for a moment, that you meet Jesus.  Somehow, through some immense moment, He is there.  He looks at you and says, “You are dead.”

Cut to the heart.  That is what this church must have felt.  They had fallen so far away from the passionate love that comes from living and breathing in the Spirit…to be called “dead”.  I loved the metaphor, used by my pastor, of Spirit as water.  The Spirit does for the soul what water does for the body (yeah, I’ve heard that before…but it clicked this time).  We have the choice to drink in that Spirit…or, we can just suck up coffee, soda, and kool-aid.

Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

The sermon was deep and powerful.  As it came to a close though, he said that we cannot blame a dead church for our lack of growth; instead, we can choose to “wake up” (Revelation 3:2).  This statement started my wheels turning.  Although I haven’t dwelt on this much, I realize that at the end of May, I will have to return to my hometown; in turn, I will have to return to the church where I grow.  A church that I now characterize as “dead”.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful place to grow up.  There were so many loving, helping, guiding hands around me.  But there came a point where I was doing more leading than other church members.  I was a leader in the youth group and my spiritual growth no longer seemed so great a concern.  The focus was on bringing more people in and discipling them.  When I graduated, I didn’t know how to be discipled.  All I knew how to do was lead small groups and participate in everything possible.

University chapel

But, then I came to college.  I found a church that enveloped me with love; I found a family that didn’t ask for every ounce of strength.  Instead, they gave…they inspired…they lifted.  Whenever I go home and attend that old church, my heart breaks.  I know that there is something different from dried out hymns and over-wrought sermons.  I know that there are people who give hugs to homeless people and smile at noisy babies.

I know there is something different…something with life…but, what will I do when I go back for an entire summer?  As I started thinking about this yesterday, I thought that maybe I should just find a different church.  It’s just for a summer…but if it’s just for a summer, why don’t I just throw myself into that old church and try to bring some life into the old dried out leaves? (John 15:1-17)

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4. Monday: Unplugged

Disclaimer: Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to completely unplug.  What did I “plug” into?  My phone (1: I was helping a family move in and I needed to touch base with them and 2: Someone called me to work for them one day later this week) and my DVD player (I needed a Cary Grant fix).

BUT, there was NO computer usage.  That is a really big deal for me.  I even took my computer on vacation this summer…to Gatlinburg, Tn.  How lame am I?  I did have an excuse though–online class.  It did a really good job of messing up my summer all around.  But, we’re over that and we’re moving on to a discussion of yesterday!

It started bright and early with a 7-9 am shift at work.  No big deal.  Then, I helped that family move in.  I continued the theme from Sunday, “Kids”, since this family has three kids under the age of six.  Part of the time, I just kept them corralled out of the way (things like refrigerators and monstrous dressers require a clear pathway).  I was really sweaty after that, so I took a shower.  Then I ate lunch.  And went out…to go shopping…ugh.  But, I got new shoes:  

I have wanted a pair of Pumas since I first saw some of the sleek looking sneakers.  And, I kinda sorta (if you stretch it really, really far) had a good reason to get them.  My knees & hips have been sore lately.  I blame it on (a) standing on concrete floors all the time at work and home and (b) bad shoes.  Thus…new shoes!  Legit, good for you, supportive shoes.  I also got groceries yesterday.  Ugh…why is food so expensive?  Anyways…being unplugged.  Between the 6 am wake-up call (and after midnight pillow and head rendez-vous) and lifting heavy stuff for three hours, I was exhausted.  So, I fixed myself some macaroni and cheese!


 Yeah, it’s the blue box stuff–I’m picky about my mac & cheese.  Anyways, yesterday was a really great day for me because of the mac & cheese . You see, I have, historically speaking, had big issues with macaroni and cheese: it’s always lumpy.  Since the very first time that I tried to make the yummy, gooey mess of unhealthiness, I have always ended up with clumps of the sauce powder ruining the whole dish.  And yesterday, at age 21, I managed to make perfect macaroni and cheese.  Feel free to be impressed.

I wrapped up my evening by starting on a scrapbook for spring break (road trip, camping, couchsurfing…pure awesomeness!), assisted by Mr. Cary Grant–gotta love him.  It was fabulous.  And, you know what?  The whole day made me think–gotta love brain power.

I thought about how much time I waste on my computer…especially in comparison to how much time I spend doing other things that are even awesomer (is that a word?  spell check doesn’t think so…oh well).  This might have been the greatest thing I’ve gotten out of the past five days: time is of the essence…don’t waste it in a virtual world!

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Planning to Savor Time

Did you read the post from yesterday?  If not, you might want to go back and do that…it would help this one make a little more sense.

So, I was thinking about that list…reflecting on how to put it into practice…make it real.  Reality is important, you know.  So, I decided that, over the next five days (starting tomorrow–Friday), I am going to try to do one of those things each day.  I figured out on which day I would do each item and kind-of an idea of how.  Here’s the plan:

  1. Friday: Baking.  Like I said yesterday, I’m already planning on making some brownies tomorrow!  It’s my turn to bring “goodies” to church and I decided that I want to make brownies and make brownies I shall!  I’m sure that there will be one…maybe two left over for me…with a nice cold glass of milk.  Mmm!
  2. Saturday: Stargazing.  I was going to start this process today and just hit the road, find a great field to lay in…but the weather is crummy.  So, I found this snazzy website (accuweather.com) and figured out the best night to go stargazing in my area.  I’ll probably take some coffee, maybe a brownie, definitely a blanket…I’ll eventually figure out the rest.
  3. Sunday: Kids!  Yes.  I volunteered to sub in one of the children’s church classes this Sunday (before I knew that I needed to bring goodies).  But, no worries.  I get to hang out with a room full of energetic, excitable, and always entertaining 3-5 year olds!  (Yes, I realize that this will be right after staying up half the night staring at stars.)
  4. Monday: Unplug.  This is going to be the hardest…hopefully I will still feel refreshed and rewarded afterwards.  If nothing else, I’ll go to bed earlier because I “don’t have anything to do”.  Or, I can get started on…
  5. Tuesday: Reading.  Yep.  I need to figure out what book I’m going to focus on.  Obviously I can’t spend the whole day with my nose in my book (I did that a lot in my younger years).  So, how shall I adapt?  Look through cookbooks for things to eat next week.  Order textbooks (ugh).  Ummm…maybe I should even try to write a book!?

Okay, so that’s the plan.  Tomorrow will probably be the easiest day…Sunday will be oober easy too.  The others…well, they will remain to be seen…suffered…er, conquered.  I really want to persevere, though.  Time has flown by this summer and I feel like all that I have done is go to school and go to work…I know there’s been way more than that.  But, work and school have consumed my life, especially these last few weeks.  So, here’s to starting off the new school year right–savoring these last moments of youth…ew, not something I want to think about yet!

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Losing Time

Do you ever get the feeling that life is just rushing by?  Do you ever feel like you want to hit a pause button just so that you have the opportunity to catch your breath?  Do you ever feel like you have missed that one crucial moment that had the potential to shape the rest of your life?

Good grief.  That’s pretty depressing to think about.  I’m in college.  These are supposed to be the best days of my life.  Instead, I feel like the energizer bunny…running on coffee and the drive to succeed…and the hope that I’ll get to sleep when I’m dead.  Seriously.  There are days when I have just had to tell myself over and over and over “You can sleep when you’re dead”.  I will reiterate: that’s pretty depressing.

We have now established how depressing it is to reflect on the rapid passing of time.  So, what should we do about it?  Or–not “we”, I suppose.  What am I going to do about it?  Here’s how I plan on trying (this will get back around to the “lukewarm christian” part…maybe):

  1. Unplug.  I am too dependent on technology.  I’ll admit that.  I was without my cell phone for five hours this evening…near torture.
  2. Bake.  I’m already planning on doing this Friday…and the best part?  I don’t have to eat all of the brownies that I’ll be making.  I’m taking them to church!!!
  3. Go stargazing.  I love stars and since I live in an urban-ish/city-like area, it’s hard to see the stars.  I want to see them so badly though…I’m going to set aside a night to go for a drive, find some darkness, and reflect on the vastness and beauty of God’s creation.
  4. Hang out with some kids.  I’m helping with children’s church on Sunday!  Nothing can renew your heart like the heartfelt smiles and quibbles of kids.  It is their hearts after which mine should be fashioned…yes?
  5. Read.  During the first two weeks of summer, I read six books.  I’ve read one since then.  I want to read a book in the one and a half weeks that I have until classes start back up.  I have several on my shelf…it’s decision time!

Okay.  That’s a nice list of five.  And, now I should get back to the “Lukewarm Christian”part…yeah.  Wow.  Poor planning.  I don’t know how I’m going to do that.

God wants us to enjoy life…yes?  I think he does.  Like any parent, His heart is filled with joy when He gets to see His kids enjoying life.  When I allow myself to get so caught up in the quibbles of classes and the cattiness of work, I lose sight of why I am here.  I am here to revel in the glory of God and worship Him with every ounce of my being.  Gotta get back to the reveling!

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Beautiful Things

Have you heard of “Gungor”?  That’s okay…it took me a while too.  Here, check them out: http://gungormusic.com/.  They have this song called “Beautiful Things”.  I like it.  The first time I heard it, I was at church.  We sang it a few times, and I always liked thinking about the words: “You make beautiful things out of us.”

That’s crazy, right?  And, then we used it as a reflection/prayer/thinking song at a girls’ Bible study one night.  And, then I finally got around to looking up the words and really really thinking about them.  They are so powerful!  I love them.  They are so true!  I can apply them to my life!

So, that power…did you read my last post?  That’s okay if you didn’t…I’m not sure that I did.  I was reflecting on God’s power and how easy it is to forget about that power and how present it can be in our lives at the present moment (haha, yes I meant to do that).  I took those French words and I wrote them on my mirror with a dry erase marker…snazzy, I know.  I saw them when I was getting ready in the morning and it was nice to just stop and reflect (whoa–another punny thing) on them.

This week, I decided to change my words: “Out of chaos life is being found in God.”  (I put in “God” instead of “you” so that I wouldn’t think that life was coming from chaos through me…that is definitely not true…I am chaos).  And, I also wrote “you make beautiful things”…I’m pretty sure I’ll remember that that one is God.  I am looking forward to getting ready in the morning (crazy since I get ready at 7 am–ew) and seeing those words.  Hopefully they will set the tone for my day and for the coming week (which looks to be fairly normal–yea!).  If I can remember that, no matter what chaos seems to be attacking me, like a midterm (yeah, I do have one of those), beauty is hiding somewhere.  I just have to patiently wait on the POWER of God to reveal itself.  He’ll put those rose colored glasses on me and I shall find the BEAUTY in the chaos…the pain…the stress…ah, those things that are my life…in which God finds beauty.  Gotta love an optimist.

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God is Good

February 25th…wow, talk about an epic fail at blogging.  But, I have an excuse–kind-of.  I don’t really like to make excuses.  Just explanations.  So, an explanation: look at my planner.  The sky begins falling right around, hmm, February 25th.  Yep.

The assignments began piling up.  Spring break ran me over.  Extra-curricular responsibilities threatened my sanity.  Life was CHAOTIC.  And now, here I am: in finals week.  I have three things to do this week: presentation, test, piano jury.  There are five days in the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday . All three of my things occur on one of those days: Wednesday.  Can’t they be spread out?

No.   That’s enough of the wining.  That’s all I have done for the past week.  I just need to smile and be happy…but it’s hard to be happy when I’m losing a roommate!  That is sad.  She’s transferring next semester, so it’ll just be two of us in an off-campus apartment next semester.  The one that is leaving is the one who keeps us grounded…life might get a bit crazy.

But we can do it!  I am so blessed just to be able to live off-campus…finally.  We a snazzy young lady that I enjoy hanging out with.  And, we’re going to have a great landlord.  The whole process has been–and continues to be hectic.  But, ya know what?  Life is good.

Life is what you make it and I choose to make it good…because God is good.

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