City Living

Being in the midst of D.C. now for about three months, I’ve come to realize how much of a difference it is living in such close proximity with those around us.  I literally bump into people on the daily and my introverted, suburbian self just couldn’t manage to get that space that I felt entitled to. I mean, how dare everyone else shop at Trader Joe’s at the same time I do? But now it seems that we are growing accustomed to our new life surrounded by millions. City living comes with its rhythms in the day such as the bus one block away from us accelerating off its stop every 15 minutes, the man in the apartment building across from us who hacks up a lung right on cue every morning at 8:00, the sirens of fire trucks and ambulances that drive in front of our street, the faint beat boxing alarm clock of the neighbors upstairs who love to press snooze 1,000 times. And  you know what, I’m learning to embrace this new lifestyle of living near so many people. On my walks to work (about 40 minutes away), I time my pace around tourists who are taking multiple photos or students totally engrossed in their phones. I keep my ears attuned to any runners passing on either side of me and the bicyclists who seem to have a death wish as they zoom through cars in traffic. This is the new soundtrack of our lives. And while these changes started as inconveniences, they are now the constant reminders of the potential opportunities to engage with people, to meet with strangers, and to life in community with thousands of new faces that God has uniquely designed. I’m reminded that I experience all of this because we actually live in a city- in the capitol- in a place of influence, power, and the conglomerate of poverty and prestige. Because God paved the way for us to be in this place and serve His people here. And I am so grateful for everyone who has helped to make this thing called “city living” possible for us.

Advertisements

“Boots on the ground”

imageDuring my time at Seminary, I went to counselling on and off. With such a small on-campus community we lived in, it was tremendously helpful for me to have an outside perspective I could share things with and process through.  Also, Seminary is one of those times in life where faith can be sifted – ironically enough- and you’re left pretty needy in the midst of schooling, ministry, and multiple jobs.

But in one of our sessions while I was dating Dan, I remember trying to describe how different the two of us were. I was in the middle of telling her that I was constantly wanting to talk about the complexities of life and the big abstract ideas to philosophize over. And Dan always had a simple answer. Whereas I would think a question might provoke 4 hours of conversation, it might last only 10 minutes. In my mind, this was a glaring problem. So, I tried processing this with my counselor when she mentioned the phrase, “He’s the boots on the ground and you’re the head in the clouds.” And she was so right! Whereas I am prone to dream and try to solve the world’s problems with one conversation, Dan focuses on what is pertinent to today and think through the issues that are right in front of him and his responsibility.

My husband will tell you this indeed describes him perfectly. He never, I repeat NEVER gets ahead of himself. If there is a decision to be made, he looks at the very next step and rarely worries about the “what ifs.” Which is so unlike me. I am the frickin’ queen of what if.

Well, two plus years into marriage, I cannot tell you how many times a scenario has brought this key difference of our personalities to the surface and I think “he’s the boots on the ground and I’m the head in the clouds.” We have grown in learning to appreciate each other’s differences (though that will need improving forever and ever amen), and I’ve begun to recognize the many times I need to hear from my boots on the ground husband.

I get discouraged that I’m not in that great of shape and he will simply say “go run a mile now.”

I feel ashamed I’m not spending enough time in the word and he will tell me “read one chapter of the Bible today.”

I will tell him I want to be a writer some day but I don’t know how or if I am good enough and he responds, “So write something.”

I tell him my fears about our big move to D.C. to help plant a church and have no idea how everything will come together or if we are “good enough” and he comforts me saying, “We just have to take it one step at a time.”

Today was one of those days where the worries and thoughts of the unknown flooded my heart and mind, nearly paralyzing me. And I so needed my always practical, so simply answered, husband.

I’m feeling extra grateful tonight for him.

Until next time, friends. Hope you’ve had a lovely Sunday.

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?…Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”- Jesus (Matthew 6:27, 34).

Dishes

Aside

I was putting them off as per usual. But as I found a cockroach crawling around in the sink the last time the dishes were left piled up for a few hours, I figured that little sink needed an intervention. I’m forced to stay on top of them because heaven knows I don’t ever want to see one of those after picking up a bowl with some crusted food on it. {You were right, mom. About everything.}

IMG_1562It was about the third time the sink got full today and I started thinking about how much time I will spend in my life doing the dang dishes. And the more I cook, the more that will be there waiting for me. They are pretty much the kill-joy to the end of a good meal. So, in the mindset of scrubbing ever ferociously the pan I scorched while burning quinoa {RIP you little nutrient-dense wonders}, I tried to force myself to think of something positive about doing the dishes – since the sink and I are becoming besties and all spending so much time together. In the midst of this seemingly meaningless, mundane, monotonous {and any other m-word that just might fit this list}, here’s what I found:

  • Doing the dishes means I had food on the table for my husband and I to eat.
  • Doing the dishes means I have running water -HOT running water- when countless others do not.
  • Doing the dishes means I have dishes to wash. So many that were gifts to us when we were first married and serve as reminders of how we are loved.
  • Doing the dishes means I have hands to wash them so that it is not difficult for me.
  • Doing the dishes means I have a place that I can call home and a sink that is my own to use.
  • Doing the dishes means I have at least 15 minutes to quietly reflect on God’s goodness to me.
  • Doing the dishes means I get to demonstrate a characteristic of Jesus and serve.
  • Doing the dishes means I can honor the Lord by not grumbling or complaining in the midst of so much to be thankful for.

So until tomorrow, little chore.  You’re not so bad after all.

 

What a Privilege

Ohio RiverI’ve come to realize the amazing privilege it is to work. Let me tell you, when you have been out of a job for two months, there is nothing more enticing than to work again. And two months is not even that long. But this season in our lives has taught me never to take for granted the blessing of waking up and going to work. Waking up day after day with no agenda and no end in sight has been inexplicably exhausting. My husband and I have a synced calendar that was a necessity as we used to have multiple events and appointments going on daily. But now there is literally nada on there. Seriously, I got excited to see an event on the calendar only to realize it was the summer solstice.  Yeah…

It’s a funny thing to see the ups and downs of routine that I attempted to create for myself. Some days I kept myself busy reading, running, meal-prepping, cooking, or doing laundry of the smallest of loads just to do something! While other days it was difficult to get out of bed only to watch hours of Netflix and maybe change out of my pj’s. Because without a place to be or something that has to get accomplished, there was lacking a need for productivity. And for my personality, I have always been driven by routine and a deadline. So to have no pressing need to get something done because time was never of the essence, there was a lack of will-power in my day to complete anything.

I must insert here that I truly am not trying to complain about this season of life.  I recognize that there are many of you reading this thinking, “I have no sympathy for the girl who gets to stay at home all day in her yoga pants.” And I get that – I used to daydream at work about how great a vacation it would be to just stay home all the time by myself with nothing to do. But that’s just it. Vacation with no end in sight is not vacation. And rest without work I have found is far more tiring than work itself.   So this is mainly a reminder to me in the future when my calendar is once again full and I’m prone to complain about my job or the busyness of life – that I will be grateful – to be quick to praise the Lord in the rest and the work. To remember how He has made me. Remember, it was before the Fall that God created work for us.

So here it is- I have a job! Two jobs, in fact. I cannot tell you how much I anticipate with eagerness going to bed tonight to wake up and head to work tomorrow. God has been so faithful and worked in my heart in many ways these last couple months to rely on Him not only for provision but also in purpose– an issue which has come to light in this season.  My prayer for those of you who still find yourselves without work is that God show himself faithful. That God show you the value of finding discipline even in the midst of circumstances that do not require any of it. To make time with the Lord and His word a priority- even when the day may have no other priorities. And perhaps trying your best to form some sort of routine and set goals in the midst of the mundane. Those are the answers God showed me, anyway. He is indeed faithful.

*One book I found helpful in this time has been the book, Celebration of Discipline. It helped me a great deal to get out of the rut of feeling no compulsion to acomplish anything. [Otherwise known as laziness. But the other way sounded much tamer].

Well…

Transitions. Those that know me well enough know that I am the worst at them.  For instance, I’ve been known to be pretty blunt at the end of a phone conversation not wanting to hang onto that line any longer than need be. Mid-sentence, I might say, “Oh that’s cool..yeah…Hey! I got to go pee. Bye.” A class act, to be sure.

However, my husband has oh so wonderfully pointed out to me this thing that I do when I am in a group of people and there is a silence for say 5 seconds or longer. I can’t seem to help but call out the word, “Well…” As in, what’s next? As in, let’s move this conversation along. As in, I can’t take this silence any longer.  Or, I’m about to slowly moon walk my way out of this shindig and go home to sit in my pjs while eating ice cream alone and watching Netflix. (The truth of that is way too revealing, friends…)

So yeah, conversationally, I’m not known for my subtlety.

But in this recent period of our lives, we have been in a seemingly endless transition and I find myself looking at Dan, or praying to God, or hearing my heart say, “Well..” For starters, Dan and I both graduated from Seminary, left our jobs, church, and friends to move across country without any promise of jobs but with a place to stay for the next four months and a confidence of God’s leading us to Louisville, Kentucky–for now, anyway. (More details on  that soon). And after a few weeks of travel staying with just about every person we know from San Francisco to NYC, we’re here. Here as in waiting. In limbo. In this place where I’m sending my resume out to possible employers and checking my email once, twice, three thousand times a day for a reply. In this place where we have a one-way bank account and it’s not the way you want. I know we are not the only ones to have gone through something like this. In fact, we have several close friends who are going through this exact same situation right now. That fact, by the way, has been such a rare blessing as we are all in this boat together. (And we’re pretty sure it’s not the Titanic). It’s been encouraging to see our friends experience God’s faithfulness in the midst of the unknown. Honestly though, not being sure of what is next was a more thrilling idea to conceive than to live out. However, in the midst of it all, I find myself praying with a tinge of delight smiling at God knowing that He will use this time for us to look back on to show this was all part of the story– mainly because I have heard this exact thing from so many others. I’m trying to anticipate what God will do next and I find myself desiring to have the foreknowledge that all will work out- though God has not let me be privy to that kind of power. A better heart attitude that I long for is the famous chorus I have next to my bed which reads, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well with my soul.” This is our lot right now. We are not guaranteed that a job will come soon or our plans to work out. We are simply called to follow in obedience to do the will of God and not to be anxious of what tomorrow brings. And my soul is…well. {See what I did there?}

So anyway, that’s just a piece of where my heart has been these last couple weeks processing through everything. Deep, I know. But I do hope there was something there to relate to or be encouraged by if anything to just know you’re not alone. And if any of you older and wiser people have gone through something similar and have a story of God’s faithfulness through it, PLEASE share it with me. There has been nothing more life-giving in this time than hearing the testimony of what God has done in the lives of His people.

 

 

 

{Oh yeah, so I’m doing the blogging thing again. I should have added a picture to this. It’s like I’m an amateur.}

Are you jealous of my {filtered} life yet?

photo-16It’s nearly midnight and I have to be up at 6am. So what better time to write a blog post? It may just be the caffeine I had too late in the afternoon {3pm needs to be my cut-off!} but for now I’ll assume it’s due to such profound thoughts late at night. Having said that, feel free to read further or move along to some other social news while scrolling through your smart phone.

There’s somethin’ bout that Junior High age…
Lately I’ve been working with our junior highers at church. Let me just say, it’s been an experience! They are wild, energized, awkward, immature, endearing, loud, and a whole host of other adjectives. But, it doesn’t take long interacting with a junior high student to see that they are dealing with some tough issues. Trying to fit in, discovering who they are, caring about how they are perceived, what they look like, and who their friends are…to name a few.  And you know, it’s actually been quite refreshing to be around such vulnerable people. All of their struggles are on the table, in plain sight. There is no hiding it- unlike us poised, settled, mature adults. One of the biggest lessons I’ve come to realize is that just because I’m better at hiding my insecurities and difficulties in life doesn’t mean that they are not present. In fact, working with this age group has put a big fat magnifying glass on my own heart to reveal what I too have going on in my life.

Social Media.
A couple weeks back, we played a fun, harmless Instagram game with the kids. The idea was to take and post several photos with certain prompts for what to do {while spreading the word about our group}. I didn’t expect any difficulties.  And then I had a group of pre-teen girls who were asked to take photos of themselves and post them for the world to see. I was stunned at what this meant for them.  It was not just one take. It was four, ten, fifteen, twenty takes to get the perfect one. And even that wasn’t good enough. One girl showed me her phone of a previous Instagram of herself on the beach with letters and filters and said, “You think I just took this and posted it? This took at least an hour to make sure it looked perfect.”  Another girl said, “I already put up an Instagram today and it received over 100 likes. If I post another one too soon after, I won’t get very many likes on it and will have to delete it.” I then watched in shock as the girls begrudgingly decided that they would each post just one photo of the night. Then, they divvied up the photos by texting them to each other.

I had to take a second and digest what had just happened. How did a simple photo scavenger hunt become a filtering, self-analyzing, obsession-with-perfection photoshoot? What did this mean? Well, in essence they were demonstrating {on a more obvious and honest level than most of us would confess ourselves} the impact of a filtered world. Social media is the perceived control over a distorted reality to those around us.  And the consequence often times is a jealous comparison of our own lives.  No longer are we just flipping through magazines and desiring the lives and bodies of unknown models. We are now met with this at a more personal level – through our social circles. Oh, how I am guilty of this…{Let me just say there has been some unsightly introspection going on}. And this doesn’t end with photos.  It encompasses status updates, blog posts, Youtubes, etc.  Everything is an edited version of our lives. photo-15

What’s the big deal?
Let me just name a few of the “consequences” I have faced in being consumed with social media reality: 1. I see a photo of flowers a friend received from her husband with the hashtag #helovesmesomuch. And the spiral of thoughts is as follows: “Aw, what a sweet thing! Wow, her marriage must be so wonderful all the time. Wait a minute, why didn’t my husband buy me flowers today? Her marriage must be better than mine. Her life is better than mine. My life is not what I wish it to be.” Perhaps that example may seem too shallow for you guys. Let’s try another. 2. Someone has just finished reading their Bible in the early morning on their porch and it demanded a status update quoting the uplifting passage they came across. My thoughts, “Wow, this person reads their Bible at sunrise?!  I didn’t read my Bible at 5am. In fact, I haven’t read mine in a while. And when I did read it, I didn’t get such a close encounter with God as they did. My spiritual life must not be what this person’s is.”


There are several other examples I could go into. But, you get the point.  My guess is that I’m not the only one who has had these kinds of thoughts. {Or, I could just be really weak in this whole comparison, jealousy gig}. So, what do I do with this? Do I write about the evils of Facebook, Instagram, smart phones, all of social media and say, “Let’s cleanse ourselves of all of it!” Perhaps. But does that really solve the core issues at hand? So I wanted to make some practical changes with this truth laying before us. First, I must consistently recognize and remind myself that social media is not reality. It is an edited, distorted, controlled reality. It is not a complete picture of anyone’s life and I must not compare it to my own – lest it be used as a foothold. And when I do fall into comparison leading to discontentment, I must confess it before the Lord and repent of it! Second, check my motives and be mindful of the “consequences” for my activities on social media. Am I desiring others to be jealous of my life? For instance, why am I inclined to post an Instagram of myself reading the Bible? Am I trying {as a Pharisee would} to obtain recognition for my so-called holiness and thus receive my “reward in full?” Better yet, when I post a lovey-dovey status about how wonderful my husband is, am I doing it to portray a perfect relationship to others that may provoke a heightened awareness of loneliness or singleness in others? {I am not saying we are responsible for others’ jealousy or comparison. But we do play a part in it!}  The ultimate question we have to ask is: Are we placing as much preoccupation and care into who we are at the core in person as to who we portray on social media? Christians, let’s live in the reality of who we are in Christ – and not who we strive to be on the internet in order that the true light will bring about holy admiration of the One who is in us.

Gah, conviction much? At least for me. That was a lot thrown out there. And, if you happen to still be reading, I’m a little surprised. Love to you all! {Obvious Disclaimer: This blog is also a heavily edited part of my life. Please remember this. :)}

Cheers to the Jappe Induction

10465519_609149319488_6780257990949184538_o-1My husband {yeah, I have one of those now!} found my camera in the hall closet right before we left for England and apparently, he loves taking photos. SCORE. Due to the iPhone5 and {let’s be real} a bit of laziness, I hadn’t picked that thing up in a few years. Thus, Dan’s look of why the heck have I never seen this before?! So we dusted it off and put it in the carry on, making sure to get some good use out of it. And you know, if you’re going to take the time to document a trip with photos, might as well post a blog on the subject as well. But it’s been a while so let’s keep it short and simple, shall we?

Our first time overseas as a married couple and it was with my family, no less. {He survived his first in-law vacation, you guys! *Cue the applause*}. There was just one direct 10-hour flight, two undergrounds, one 4-hour train ride with a transfer, and a 45-minute bus ride until finally we made it to our destination in true American fashion – aka with a butt-load of luggage. Not gonna lie, there were a few moments in there where I may have cursed travel and all its so-called glory to its face.  {Did I just say that?!} But our arrival soon caused amnesia for all that toting around and I was once again wooed back to my first love for travel. Our hotel, clearly hand picked by my mother, was a quaint Bed and Breakfast that was made in 1865. Dan and I stayed on the third floor with our own little window sill overlooking the street.  There is no shortage of cuteness in the OH SO LOVELY town of Keswick complete with cottages, countless flower boxes, green fields, large mountains, farming lands, and older British couples who’d pass by saying, “Cheers.” Each time we passed by flowers, I would say to Dan, “Wow, aren’t those ones so beautiful?” To which he would shrug his shoulders, narrow his eyebrows, stick out his lip and reply, “Meh.” {This would repeat literally about every five minutes, waiting for him to change his mind and say, “Why yes! Those are stunning!” Persistence, people.} We spent four days mostly eating and shopping around the town, making sure to get our daily fix of Gelato.
When it came time to leave, Dan and I said our goodbyes and headed back to London. We managed to leave on a sooner train, and despite it being delayed, were able to spend a few hours in the city.  It was great to be with just the husband again as we toured around and surprisingly saw all of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the British Library, Churchill’s Statue, ride the London Eye and of course make the stop at Platform 9 3/4 all within 3 hours.  May have been a little  tired, but well worth it.

You know, traveling with my new partner for life is delightful but for now, I’m more than content sitting at home with no other trip on the books. Coming home remains the best flight there is – and knowing he comes with me is such an added bonus! Cheers, England. You were good to us.10498173_609149119888_8740291844763188807_o 10443028_609148770588_9021183175364235056_o 10553858_609148546038_1760703040149749317_o 10498382_609148266598_1733642814180542183_o 10443219_609148101928_135860401092989337_o photo-1310497128_609149434258_496088661685538335_o10450074_609149598928_3951711955520605568_o 1888959_609149334458_1154734554533398531_o