Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Job, New Lifestyle, etc...

My God has been good to me. So so good.

His timing has yet again proved perfect. He provided for me an opportunity through a series of events I could not have planned, or executed, in any way shape or form.

You see, I searched tirelessly for a job as a teacher in this city, since long before I even made the official decision to move. They need teachers in New York, right? It's a big city, lots of kids, lots of needs.

Enter hiring freeze.

A few days after my official decision to move was made, the NYC Department of Education issued a freeze that has yet to be lifted. What this means, is that, for the past year, not only have I not been able to get a job through the normal outlets, but everyone else who wants to be a teacher in this city was competing for the coveted private and charter school spots. My limited experience and lack of a masters degree put me in the bottom of that pool.

I did not allow discouragement to enter my heart. Romans 8:28, pretty much my life verse, tells us that all things happen for the good of those who are called according to his purpose. Believing that, I coated the situation in prayer.

While I was still teaching at Worley, I had a revelation one night, that despite my many attempts to reason why I COULDN'T go into ministry full-time, God was calling me to do so, and he would provide the way.

Enter Graffiti.

I moved here for a church. Unlike most people who move here with friends, or for a job, or because they had nothing better to do, I quit my job and moved here for a church. I felt no doubt in that decision. I prayed through it significantly, and here I am.

So, because I prayed for it, God's supposed to provide the job part right?

WELL, He didn't.... or at least, not in the way I had expected him to, and because of his unique way of getting me through, I learned more about myself, and EVEN MORE about God and his beautiful ways.

I'm more thankful for the past year than I can express in any sort of words.

BECAUSE I was working so many different and inconsistent jobs, God had to provide for me in really unique ways. This enabled me to see his little miracles in a way that I cannot deny this was all a part of his plan (see previous blog posts for examples...).

BECAUSE I was not employed full-time at any one place, my time was flexible. This meant I had more ability to adjust my schedule to work with Graffiti.

BECAUSE I had time to work at Graffiti, I was able to be there for the youth through a major transition, which, I feel like, made things go a bit smoother than they might have otherwise.

BECAUSE I worked with Graffiti all year, as opposed to just last summer, God solidified a calling in me. I now know that through his power, and not my own, I can manage to be in full-time ministry, and have submitted myself to that life.

And now, after all of that, among many many other things, NOW I have the job teaching. He said, "My child, here is an opportunity, take it, use it to get yourself stable financially, prepare your life for a future in service, and learn more."

This job came to me after I had stopped looking. I decided that I was perfectly okay with the fulfillment of his provision as I had been for the last year, and I stopped going out of my way to search. I was assigned to this school ONCE last year, and several weeks later, they did a book fair at my Barnes and Noble. I met the principal again, she remembered me, and asked for my resume. (note how BOTH of my other jobs were necessary for this scenario to have occurred)

I lost her email address, waited almost two months to respond, expected I'd never hear from her (as I hadn't heard from a single principal I'd emailed all year), and didn't.

at first.

But then, several weeks later, she called me in for a last-minute demo lesson, which, thanks to my awesomely flexible job, I was given last-minute time off to prepare. Then, I didn't hear from her....

I resolved myself to all the reasons why this was probably not a part of God's plan for my life. The hours would be crazy, I wouldn't be able to spend nearly as much time at Graffiti, I wouldn't have time to spend with him, etc...

Then she called.

I received an offer I couldn't pass up. Not only that, it's in a neighborhood I've fallen in love with over the past several months, as I practically live there and go running there almost daily. It's walking distance from my apartment, which is also a plus. That said, it's the home to the largest public housing facility in the country, is notorious for it's gang life, and the poverty level is EXTREMELY high. They need the love of Jesus.

I'm really praying through the ways God can use this for his Glory, and I how I can be intentional about that, whether it be through my relationships with my co-workers, through how I best steward the income he's provided to prepare myself for a future in his service, etc... whatever it may be, his timing is PERFECT and beautiful and awe-inspiring.

He also, because of using such perfect timing, and overcoming my jaded attitude, has taught me about his timing in other parts of my life as well, and has removed a bit of my overly jaded attitude in one particular aspect of my livelihood.

"Thank you Lord, for all you do. You are so incredible and your detailed craftsmanship astounds me daily. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this grand adventure and beautiful story. You don't need me, but I certainly need you, and I feel privileged to be a part of it all. Your grace is amazing, and covers me in my weaknesses and doubts. Please don't ever let me doubt you, or your mercies, and keep my focus on your will. Holy holy holy are you Lord. Amen"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dave Barnes Lyrics

I've been skipping this song on my iPod since the album came out in April because I don't usually like Johnny Lang, BUT i finally listened to it and it is BEAUTIFUL. Now I walk down the street jammin and singing to the Lord like crazy. I am sharing these lyrics:

"What I Need"
I got a head full of dreams
And time here to scheme.
This ain't good

I'm thinking, you know
About what did and didn't go
Like it should

All of these expectations
Just mean my heart will be breaking
Why can't I see?

You give me what I need
Even on the brightest day
Even in a hurricane

You give me what I need
Even when there's way too much
Even when I'm down to dust

I troubled with time
But it's will was not mine
There's no slowin', where it was going

The wishes I willed
All came back fulfilled
I was praying, without patience

All of those expectations
Just meant my heart was breaking
Why can't I see?

I keep calm, carry on
Like nothing ever went wrong
That's what I'm gonna do
Laugh it off, move along
Get back where I belong
Live my life by leaning on you

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Returned Blessings

I've had time for a social life lately. This has been amazing. In the midst of that, I've had much more time to spend in the Lower East Side. This has provided opportunity after opportunity to try new places, see new faces, and really plug into the neighborhood of my beloved church. It has also made me have a strong itch to move into the area. This is one of my most recent prayers: that God would provide a way for me to have affordable housing near Graffiti, as I have really, more than ever, seen the importance lately of living near my church. I'm starting to see people we minister to out and about, and have also had the opportunity to open up conversation with some folks who are really interested in what goes on there. It's been beautiful.

Tonight, I had an experience that really shook up the way I feel about what I do at Graffiti, in a good way.

Mackenzie and I had decided to spend the night shopping for cupcakes and visiting Chris at work, but when we met up after my super-awesome mani/pedi/massage time, she was hungry for dinner. Me, having just had my nails done, and knowing we were going for both cupcakes and ice cream, suggested we get something cheap and light.

We ended up at the neighborhood favorite, Odessa. I've been there a thousand times, and each time I love how it makes me feel at home. How I feel like I have a place where the faces are familiar and the food is comfortable.

After ordering our dinner, in walked Eddie. Eddie is a guy who is at Graffiti's Wednesday Night Meal every week, and has been since long before I was at Graffiti. If he goes missing for a little while, I make sure I give him a hard time about it. We tease each other often. As he sat down, I shouted across the diner, "Hey Eddie, are you in here to cause trouble?" He turned and made some sarcastic remark I couldn't make out (Eddie is sometimes really hard to understand). We talked across the restaurant a few more times during dinner, making jokes, cutting up.... At one point, I saw him pointing at me and Mackenzie and whispering something to the waiter . I joked, "Eddie, what on earth kinda trouble you trying to start??? Who you telling that guy about us??!!"

"Aww hush," he responded. "Nothing, I'm not telling him nothing."

I found myself at one point wondering "Hmm, maybe it'd be nice if we paid for Eddie's dinner, I mean, he comes to our free meals and those sorts of things, it might be nice to cover his check for him." Judgmental of me, I guess, assuming that eating out was probably something he couldn't afford to do. After all, it's really not something I could afford to do.

As Eddie stood up to leave, Mackenzie and I were still waiting on the waiter to bring us our bill. She had slipped away for a second, and Eddie turned to me and said "Don't you worry about your food, neither of you, I got it covered." Puzzled, I looked at him and said, "huh?" (like I said, sometimes Eddie's hard to understand).

"I said, both of you, your meal is paid for, don't worry about it."

As he walked out the door, I looked at the waiter and said "Did that guy just buy us dinner?"

"Yeah, he did," said the man at the counter.

All these years of ministering to this person, and on a night when I was worried about dinner because I'd spent my money on something frivolous (mani/pedi/massage, remember?), he buys me a meal. My heart was bursting. I cannot believe that here I was, worried about him paying for his own bill, then worried about mine, and he covered both. It's amazing how God takes the little things we do and turns them into blessings.

Lots of people have bought me food over the years. Many times, it has been meaningful, and at times of need, but no meal that was purchased for my by any other person has ever meant as much as this one.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I want to ride my bicycle

After a year of living in New York, I have FINALLY begun biking again!

I have had the bike itch since I moved, seeing as how it's pretty much one of the best-equipped cities for bicyclers in America, but I never had the resources to purchase a bike. Thanks to a generous friend who just happened to own a bike that still had the tags on it, I am now a bike-owner.

Sunday, I picked up said bike in Harlem. I then proceeded to ride it down the East River to the Queensboro Bridge, then came the adventeure: Second Avenue. The bike map is a bit confusing, and the bike paths in midtown Manhattan are not well-marked, so I ended up riding from 59th to 14th via 2nd Avenue. Fortunately, New York drivers are much more biker conscious than those in Baton Rouge, so it wasn't as dangerous as it could have been.

After a stop to thank the previous owner and return his apartment keys to him, I rode down the river some more, under the FDR (where I had a minor spill), and then to the Brooklyn Bridge. I forced the little bit of energy I had left to get me over the bridge, and managed to get home safely. The whole trip from Harlem to Carroll Gardens took about two hours. I'm hoping that as I get into better shape and my legs warm up to biking with hills, I will be much faster.

Our Graffiti Staff Fun Day was in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this morning, so yet again, I ventured out on my new toy to Prospect Park. I really have to say that I LOVE Brooklyn in ways I cannot describe. I am very proud to live here. It's one of those places that really sticks with you if you let it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Graffiti family, then I browsed the main branch of the Public Library before taking a mini-tour of Prospect Park and its trails. I am now pretty exhausted, as my body is still not quite used to all this biking, but I'm excited about the new places I will get to explore. Exploring is so much easier when done on wheels :)

So here's to a new adventure as a Brooklyn Bicycler! (thanks to Dr. Chris)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

One year

So, I made it. I survived one year in New York City. I fully intended to update as soon as that happened, but as we all know, my life is INSANELY busy. The little time I have to update I chose to do other things. Seeing as how my readership is down to like, zero anyway, I don't think any of you (or YOU, singular), really cares all that much. That said, I'm going to try to be more faithful.

So a few things the Lord has taught me in this up and down year:

1. Home will ALWAYS be New Orleans. In the words of Dee-1 and Shamaar Allan: "Whereva you put me 504 home." The cool thing about that is, God has allowed me to go home so many times that I know that no matter where he's placed me, home is always there waiting on me.

2. Faith. Faith. Faith. Sounds so cliché but its so true. When I moved here, I had no idea how I would survive. I figured God would give me a job. When he didn't give me a job in the way I thought he would, I panicked. That said, I knew he was on top of things. With the exception of a few truly difficult weeks in August, I never lost hope. I knew he had something waiting in the wings. Then, when he did provide, he provided in an unforeseen way that allowed me to still be at Graffiti WAY more than if I had a classroom of my own. Job-wise, not ideal, but in terms of recognizing the true reason he called me here, AFFIRMING. That was exactly what I needed, and I am thankful.

3. Above all PATIENCE. I've always been one to rush my life. Run run run, it's one of the reasons I moved here. Things move at a faster pace, one that keeps up with my way ADD brain (which can't focus on the same thing for long enough to settle). I have a whole list of things I feel like I should have done by now, and I've always stressed myself out trying to get them done. I feel like by this time, I should have a five-year plan that works, a man in my life who could potentially be there forever, a pretty steady job..... I should have been to Europe, I should have an idea of when I'm going back to New Orleans. I need to move back to New Orleans before it's "too late." Etc... Etc... Etc.... but the truth is HE IS IN CONTROL no matter how long it takes for some of his answers to unfold. Instead of building up unnecessary stress in MY brain and body, I can turn it ALL over to him. All of it. And he's got me covered. There is no reason to rush. I'm young. He's gonna take care of it. I should just enjoy the ride.

Those are a few of the top things he's shown me, but there are MANY MANY MANY more. I just know that if I started trying to put them all down, I'd lose track. Easily. So there, in a nutshell, the biggest lessons.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Full Speed Ahead

People ask me all the time how it is that I can work as many hours as I do and still manage to breathe.

This week has been proof of just the way that happens, and none of it is because of me.

First of all, I am way ADD, and if I am not working intense hours in multiple places, I am more than bored, I am miserable. I don't do well with downtime. This is why I manage to fill my "downtime" with activities that stimulate my mind, and remind me of why I am here (God, praising him, serving him, etc...)

So in his way, God allows me to get by in a routine that is not only "survivable," but it is actually enjoyable.

Thursdays and Fridays are extremely long on my new schedule. Basically, after getting home late from church on Wednesday, I have to be up early on Thursday to hop the train to whatever school I've been assigned to for the day, only to run to the train after school so I can be at Barnes and Noble as close to my originally scheduled time as possible. Then, I work a full shift and get out after close, meaning I usually get home somewhere around 11:45. The next day, the exact same thing has to happen.

This week, I was assigned a job in my neighborhood for Thursday, which meant two things:

1.) No train for me to get to school
2.) No train for me to get to Barnes and Noble

Not using the subway gives more time to play with, as I didn't have to leave until much later, AND, I was able to come home for lunch (and take a nap....).

THEN, on Friday, I got out of work almost three hours earlier than planned. This enabled me to have an hour of time to myself in Downtown Brooklyn before heading off to Barnes and Noble. In that hour, I sat on a bench in front of Borough Hall in the sunshine while listening to the tunes of the keytar across from me, as a man used it to play everything from Michael Jackson to John Mayer. They were also filming Law and Order Criminal Intent on the street corner, where I saw Jeff Goldblum (who will forever be, to me, the quirky guy from Independence Day).

SATURDAY, I went for a run, which I planned on only doing for twenty to thirty minutes, as I haven't been keeping up and am out of shape


I ended up along the waterfront in Red Hook, which is now my favorite place in New York City. It's full of little bakeries, view of the harbor, old trolly cars, gardens, adorable houses, cobblestone streets, abandoned coffee factories... you get the point. There is apparently a man who sells key lime pies there that are supposed to be the best in the city. That's my next adventure. I then walked up Smith Street to work instead of Court and did some shopping both there, and at the Fulton Mall.

I call that a Saturday.

To round it all off, I have two days of subbing and Graffiti ahead of me, then I'm running to the airport, and hopping a plane to Chicago, where I plan to be completely lazy and unproductive for two whole days with my bestest friend in the whole wide world :) I see lots of really bad nineties movies in our future.

After Chicago, it's Mississippi for a wedding, some quality family time, and some adventures with friends I don't see often.

All in all, if you wonder how my schedule stays balanced, realize that these fantastic little breaks are constantly interspersed in there somewhere. It keeps me going. You just have to be willing to recognize those times. When you're life is overwhelming, be mindful of even the smallest breaks you have, and take the opportunity to thank God for them. Then, use them to take advantage of the places, people, and situations he's put into your life.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tattoo Art and Subways

I have a fascination with tattoos, and an inability to stop looking at them when I am on the trains.

I can spot a good tattoo (and a bad one) from across the car, and immediately, my eyes are drawn. I analyze, I wonder about the person on which it's drawn, I compare it to their clothes, and their hair, and decide if it "suits" them. I sometimes even wonder what tattoos people are hiding. I can't help but to think that all those yuppies in sports-coats have to have a tattoo or two, or many, hidden under their pressed collars. Bad tribal from a late-teenage beach trip? The name of a girlfriend who has since dumped them? Perhaps even something beautiful that they are not at all ashamed of, like a flower that reminds them of their grandmother, or a cross that reminds them of their savior. Maybe they just have it in a discreetly hidden place.

Either way, I can't stop looking at those you can see. If it's visible, I'm gonna look at it. If you have a tattoo on an open area, be prepared, because chances are, I'm staring your way when you walk through the doors of an F-train (or an A-train, or a 6-train, whatever I happen to be riding).

All of this tattoo-gazing has caused me to start recognizing people. I saw a blue star-design on this girl's foot that I KNOW I've seen before, and I looked up, to see a forearm tattoo that I immediately realized belonged to my upstairs neighbor. The more staring I do, the more I start to notice things I've seen before.

Once, I was riding the E-train with a friend up the west side, and I couldn't stop staring at this tattoo that was barely poking out from someone's shirt. I wanted to find out what the rest of it was. What else was hidden behind that black t-shirt sleeve? Only then, did I realize that it was in-fact, my friend's new tattoo that he hadn't bothered to show me yet.

I really think I might have an addiction.

One of my favorite mindless pastimes is to google "bad tattoos" and see what happens. I shall show you a few examples:


All that to say, if ever you are in New York, and you've forgotten to bring a book on a long subway-trek, look around you, you're bound to find some entertaining body-art to keep your mind going.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Continuing Education, Looking for Jobs, etc

I'm tired of talking about going to graduate school.

I keep wishing I had a masters, and missing school, so why am I holding out.

I have been making excuses about all of the little details that are required to get in. I also have put off applying because I couldn't choose a program.

Well, apparently the application deadline for the fall is April 1st at Hunter, and from my research, they have the best program choices, so I took it upon myself to start an application.

Last-minute, yes, but worth it, totally. Hunter doest require GRE or LAST (neither of which I have taken). One of the reasons I'd been putting off applying was that I had not taken them, but since they aren't required, I have no excuse.

I have chosen to apply for the adolescent literacy program, as my favorite part of planning lessons is literacy. Not to mention I have experience in adolescent literature and enjoy looking for ways to incorporate it into the classroom. People with literacy degrees can not only learn how to incorporate literacy into the classroom, but they can use it to be literacy specialists on a campus, a literacy consultant for various campuses, or a lieteracy tutor.

I am getting super excited about this next step, and I hope to stick with it. I hope it's not just my thought of the day. I need to do this for my sanity, and for my career.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Theology on Tap, among other things

I've been trying to plug into my neighborhood.

Since I can't afford to live in the neighborhood near Graffiti, I figure it is important to get to know my neighbors where I live and work most of the time. It's not easy to do in New York, but if you try hard enough, you can make even a big city feel like a small town by frequenting the same places.

I've always loved the old movie theatre up the street. I go there every Thursday. This week's choice is Shutter Island. I'm pretty pumped about that. Leonardo DiCaprio + Martin Scorcese + a story written by Dennis Lehane + Boston accents = my kinda show. I hope not to be disappointed.

I have been trying to eat out in the area more. Not that I need to spend the money, but when I do, I'd like for it to be in common places.

I got a library card and have frequented that building often.

I'm starting to see my customers out and about. This is my first sign that I'm getting somewhere with this "small town" concept.

Monday night, I went to "Theology on Tap," which was a lecture/discussion lead by a Priest on Smith Street at an Irish Pub. Since I grew up in South Louisiana, and have always WANTED to learn more about the Catholic culture I was so immersed in but never a part of, I decided to check it out. With Chelsea backing out at the last minute because she had to pack, I almost ended up at Starbucks for the night instead. I'm glad I didn't.

I met wonderful people from the start, one of whom turned out to be from Louisiana AND works for a non-profit who may or may not be hiring....

Then, after the very entertaining Priest, Father Joel, gave a thirty minute talk on church structure and function of basic Catholic traditions, we had an intense group-wide discussion on a variety of topics. One man brought up the idea that Christians were so much more joyful in the midst of persecution in Roman times than they are today. Someone then pointed out that the Christians who are still being persecuted today are much more joyful than those of us who take it for granted. THEN, another man added that he has an ultimate joy from having his own personal relationship with the Lord, and he wants to share that with everyone he comes into contact with.

I was glad he said that.

Then, I met a priest who does ministry near Graffiti with families in the neighborhood. That in itself made it worth going to. I love meeting people who work with my same people.

And there was free food.

All that to say, I plan on going more consistently to things like that in the Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill area. The more I get to know the people and places, the more at home I can feel. I've just realized I have to be deliberate about it. I love my 'hood, and I want to stay there for as long as I'm in New York- Lord Willing, which says a lot coming from someone as stir-crazy as myself.

Perhaps I've come a long way...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I got to be in that number

Because my church is awesome, someone anonymously donated money to fly me home to watch the Superbowl with my family and celebrate in my city. It was truly amazing. I got the chance to see a team carry a group of people to joy in a way I'm sure no team has ever done before.

I also got to see God's provision once again. I learned a lot from this experience.

1. It's okay that I don't live in New Orleans, because when it comes down to it, he'll provide a way for me to be there for the important things. So as much as I miss home and it's luxuries, and the people there, I still get to enjoy them often enough to maintain that appreciation.

2. The Lord provides in the most unexpected ways. I have no idea who paid for that trip, but it's cool that they did.

3. Jesus is a lot like the Saints players, but way bigger and more important. I'd lose no respect for any of those players if after the game and the parade, they had ducked off to their homes without ever talking to a fan. It's hard for them to live regular lives. BUT they didn't. All of them take time out to see the fans, talk to the fans, spend time with the fans, and be a part of the city. In the same way, Jesus has every right to live high and mighty and have no interaction with us whatsoever, but he DOESN'T, he wants to be a part of our lives, daily, and we should accept that offer.

4. If Heaven is anything like the city of New Orleans after that game, minus the alcohol, then boy are we in for a treat. I'm pretty excited about that celebration. I wanna be in THAT number!

In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out what it is he's got going for me here on Earth. I've REALLY been considering going back to school for journalism. It was my original major, it's what I love, and I think it'd be a job I'd be good at and enjoy. I have enough connections in the media industry that I could find good internships. The ultimate goal, of course, would be to get a job at either WWL or the Times Picayune, but that's after years of experience and exploring the world through other outlets. So prayer during this decision making time would be helpful.

I'm also in the process of designing business cards, which cost money, so I am praying I make the right decision and find a way to pay for them. They are cheap, but still, cost money. But, of course, God always seems to provide a way for me to get out of financial crunches, so lets hope he does so again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

when the SAINTS go marching in

I've never missed New Orleans more than I missed it Sunday night.

And I'd only been there five days before.

But here I was, in an apartment in Harlem, in a room full of black and gold, and jambalaya, with people I'd just met who all shared a common love: A City and a Team that for so long has lived as an underdog, and now, people care.

I've felt it all season. Almost every Tuesday afternoon these past few months, someone has walked up to me and said something like "Congratulations." or "We're so happy for you right now."


Because of a football team. A football team that for 43 years has seen many many downs, and not many ups.

For as long as I can remember "When the Saints go to the Superbowl" has been used in place of a more cliche "When Hell freezes over." We never thought it would happen. We wanted to believe it, and we dug down, and we had faith. Faith people no where else understand. We were that team that the other teams rested their starters against. We were not a team you had to bring your A-game to.

And now, after all this time, our day has come.

We were criticized for spending 200 million dollars to rebuild a stadium when there were thousands of people still homeless.

Ask any of those homeless people in New Orleans four years ago, and each and every one of them would tell you they'd rather have that stadium up and running. We don't function well without our Saints.

And back they came, roaring, with a new team, a new coach, and a new agenda.

Carry the ball for the people.

I remember in 2006 the joy I experienced when we earned a first-round bye. I remember going home for a few weeks at Christmastime, and there was a different air in the city. It felt like a different place. New Orleans no longer felt like the city that care forgot. It felt like a city that had hope. They saw hope in those boys, and their eyes were focused on the road ahead.

I remember winning the divisional playoffs, and realizing in tears that we were, in fact, only one game away from the Superbowl. Letting that sink in was intense.

I remember the pain of losing that Championship game, and being just-shy of the glory that could have been. What I remember most is thinking that the Saints had done just what we always knew they did. Sweet victories wouldn't be as sweet if they were good all the time.

LSU has my heart, and I cannot imagine being more excited and proud on the fourth row at that BCS National Championship game. I screamed and shouted, I pinched myself a few times, but I felt nothing like this. And we all know, I love LSU a wee bit more than my Saints.

But LSU is good most of the time. Or at least decent.

The Saints are a different story altogether. When the Saints are good, it means something. And it gets under your skin. I love those boys. I love how they are a part of the city. I love how they care. I love how they know what it means to us.

I may not live in New Orleans anymore, but New Orleans lives in me. Cheezy as that may sound. I can almost promise you that I will end up back there. I can't seem to keep myself away. I know the Lord has me in New York right now for good reasons, and I am learning so much in turn, but boy do I miss that city. Especially now.

There was a video that posted of a bar in the quarter where people were watching the game. And watching that last moment, I felt everything I felt Sunday night on Madison Avenue. I felt the tears rush back, and I watched those people in that video scream and shout and cry and pour out into the streets and celebrate. The whole city celebrated, brass bands came out of nowhere and marched down the street like it was Mardi Gras day.

I wanted to be in that number.

Saints Video: Bourbon Street

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I just finished reading Donald Miller's latest book, which shares a title with this post. I think it's my favorite of his books yet.

The book is about living out a great story. Since I'm always trying to live out my own personal "movie," I totally related to this. Basically, he's approached by movie producers who want to make a film about his memoir, and he realizes that his life is actually quite boring, as they are having to add story elements to make a better picture.

A lot of things stood out to me about this book, and I thought I'd share some of them.

In grand Donald Miller style, he is very open about his feelings. No holding back. He shares how when going through a hard situation, God allowed him to be numb long enough for the initial shock to wear off, and then he had one big night where he bore the brunt of it all, and then he was fine. I've been there. It's such a gift the way God carries us through those situations. I've had many of them in the last year or so, and this take on it stood out to me.

He spends most of the book trying to do things that make is life more interesting and eventful. He takes on endeavors he never thought he could handle, to add that element of conflict to his story. He builds up to them well. This is something I feel we could all use a little more of. Pushing ourselves to the limit. We are daily facing conflict, but how many of those conflicts are significant? I know most of mine are not.

He also points out that in stories, there is always a resolution to the conflict, but in life, there often is not, and we simply have to move on to the next story. The next scene in the grand picture. I recently thought to myself, before I went on this whole "romantic fast" thing, that I felt like I was living out a movie and I was just waiting on the "ending" where everything is good. In a movie, you know that it will end in some sort of resolution that is exciting and inspirational. It got my hopes up.

The problem was, I wasn't looking for God's resolution, I was looking for my resolution. Now, I'm realizing that the only person who knows the right ending is him. When we are waiting out our own stories, we are not always enjoying the ride. We are complaining that we aren't at the end yet. Why is it that we can sit through a 2 hour movie and not be waiting for the conflict to be over, but we can't do the same in life.

Enjoy the drama. Enjoy the ups and downs. Realize that God has an ending for you that will blow your mind in a way that no film ever could. God resolves. Allow him to do so. In the process, allow him to prepare you for it.

On that note, read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

Monday, January 18, 2010

And it's almost over :(

Last day in Louisiana. Not really sure how I feel about this.

Usually when I'm away from wherever it is I live, I am anxious to get back to all the things I left behind. especially when it is New York.

But right now, for some reason, I can't seem to make myself want to go back. I miss the kids. I miss my church, but I don't miss being broke and stressed and overworked.

I'm really praying about what it is God has in store for next school year. I want to teach again. Really bad. I want a job that allows me to pay off my student loans, really bad.

I've gotten very good at managing money, but I'm not really making enough of it to survive or pay off loans or anything. Which drives me crazy. I want to get those loans paid off ASAP so I can serve the Lord wherever and whenever he pleases so without worry about them.

Whatever it takes to work next year, I will do. I don't want to leave New York, but if that's what it takes, I will have to make it happen. I figure it's more important for me to make myself available to him in the future than it is to worry about doing everything right now. I'm trying to stop rushing through life. So, if it takes moving somewhere to get a job so I can concentrate on paying back loans, then I will.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This is How We Do it Where I'm From

Sugar Overload

When I return to New York, I am going on a full detox. Nothing but fruits and veggies, fresh ones, for two weeks....

or something like that.

Before heading down here, I started to notice that I've been really inactive and really unhealthy lately, which is strange, cuz I'm usually overly active and overly healthy.

So I decided it was time to try to fight the cold, deal with it, and get back into a routine. Somehow, someway.

Then I realized I was headed to Louisiana. And upon my arrival, I shoved down two pieces of king cake. This has since been followed by a series of delicious baked goods, and fried delicious food I can't get in New York.

I have now decided I'm going to eat whatever I choose to this week, even though it makes me feel like crap, because it tastes good.

And maybe I'll go for one of my long uptown runs to celebrate, or a nice run down the levee tomorrow in Baton Rouge. Who knows.

I'm LOVING vacation time in New Orleans. I cannot even describe. It feels so nice to be in a stress-free zone, with nice weather, and good food. It's kinda hard to think about how I could be here enjoying it, not fat, and not broke. THEN I am reminded that the Lord knew exactly what he was doing when he moved me to New York, and I am more than thankful for that.

SOOOOOOO I am excited about all of the things God is doing in my life. I am also super thankful that he brought me up in such a wonderful, unique, culturally enriching place. I don't know if it's in his plans that I come back here one day, but if it is, I would in no way be upset about that.

I shall now go and enjoy snowballs and king cake and all of the sugary goodies my mom has in the kitchen.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Lord is Good

Due to the wonderful provision of the Lord, we have kicked off the 2010 spring semester at Graffiti. I am super excited about what he is doing in the lives of these kids. They truly amaze me and are a blessing to my life each and every day.

In my own life, I started a new journey recently, one that involves letting go of some of the things I've been holding back from the Lord in my own life. I now see my life as a circle, kinda like a pie. And in that circle, there was a large chunk that I was trying to control myself. The rest of the "pie" was what I was letting God handle. I had given it all to him, but that small piece, I kept thinking was insignificant, because, after all, the Lord had MOST of my life, so why couldn't I have some of it?


That's all I can say. I was trying to fill that little pie with things that I thought would remedy the problem at hand. A personal problem I've been working on for years. In that, I was allowing things to try to fill that piece, and those things were, against my knowledge, spilling over into the part that God controls. This is how it works. This is the way our lives are.

I've learned that without giving God EVERYTHING, we are contaminating ourselves. I also learned that it is entirely possible to be trying to control part of your own life without realizing it. I had no idea I wasn't giving that to God. I just kept trying to do it my way and SAYING God is is in control. I was wrong. Lying to myself, and to others.

The Lord spoke to me through a few wise friends, and some quality reading, and told me I need to stop trying to take over ANY part of my life and give it all over.

And what do you know, it works. Immediately I feel like a new person. I finally feel complete and satisfied in him alone. BUT, in order for this to happen, I had to consciously hand this over to him. I had to come to a point where I let go of a few of my own loves, that I didn't even realize were harmful, because, on the surface, they weren't. BUT in terms of MY life, they were barriers. Stumbling blocks. I had to give them up.

ever since, I haven't looked back.

I now feel like everything the Lord is telling me to do is coming in much clearer than before. I feel complete without some of the earthly desires I always thought I had to have. I've stopped rushing my life, and now I'm taking every day as a blessing and each trial as a building point.

God is good.