Monday, October 3, 2011

What's your cookie dough?

I attempted to go to bed early last night when a very lengthy (and I mean like, 5 message long) text came through on my phone. This friend and I have been through the trenches together. We were partners n crime in the times with both of us were furthest from the Lord, and now, as we grow in our faith, we constantly pray for each other and get to encourage one another through totally different seasons in life. No amount of sleep is ever worth losing this precious correspondence with a dear friend, especially when one of us needs prayer.

So as I read through the texts and prayed about what I could say to encourage my friend, an analogy came to mind.

We were discussing how, even though we know we've been forgiven by the Lord, and we are totally different people than we once were, it sometimes feels as though we've lived two different lives, and that the one we live now is not the one we planned for.

and its not

cuz our plans aren't the same as the Lord's until we are focused on him and his will.

"The heart of a man plans his way but the LORD determines his steps" - Proverbs 16-9

My friend and I are both bakers, and I was able to draw from my own struggles and come up with the following analogy:

Imagine you are in the kitchen, baking cookies for a bake sale (or some other similar event). You've gotten about halfway through the process of blending all your ingredients, when the coordinator calls you and says "Oh my goodness, you're baking cookies?! But I REALLY need you to make brownies! I told you that! We've got plenty of cookies."

So you look down at the half-mixed batch of cookies you've got going and your heart sinks. You weren't paying attention to the specifics of her request the first time around, you were just eager to help. You're intentions are in the right place. You've been craving the cookies. There's nothing wrong with the cookies. They're gonna be great, and you've put a lot of work and used up much of your stock of basic ingredients.

You, being the clever kitchen problem solver, start to think of ways you can stretch what you have left, dig out some of the cookie ingredients, use the basic mix you've already started, and get some brownies goin!

No problem. There's gotta be a way.

But the more you add and mix and try to manipulate, the brownies, though coming together, still have these remnants of cookie dough in them, and it's just one big ole hot mess. The more you try to mix, the more frustrated you get.

You think "Why couldn't she just be satisfied with the cookies? What's wrong with cookies?" and you know the answer: nothing. The cookies are good, they're just not what you were asked to make.

You are so stuck on incorporating the cookies and not wasting all those ingredients, so you just keep trying to make it work, when honestly, sometimes you just have to sacrifice your previous attempts in order to get better brownies.

This might take a trip to the store so you're not trying to squeeze what you can outta what you've got left, doing some dishes, cleaning out all of the excess, but in the end, the brownies are even better than the cookies you planned to make, and MUCH more helpful to the cookie-overloaded bake sale.

Our plans are truly like this. I know for me, I spent my whole life planning for things to turn out one way, and I keep trying to salvage bits of that so that it doesn't all go to waste, despite the fact that I know good and well what God really wants for me. In MY plans, I figured by now I'd be married, with a kid or two, and I'd be teaching while raising my little family.

Obviously, this is not how my life turned out, and I am in no way sad about this, but I had to realize, sometimes dying to myself means letting go of the cookie dough.

We have to be willing to let go of our own dreams, even if they're good ones. Yes, I often feel defeated when I think about this, in the same way that I would not want to run to the store to get more sugar when I know I could find a way to save the sugar and still make brownies. But in the end, running to the store is the better option. I am learning daily how to align my dreams with the Lord's plans for me, but in that, it means I often have to toss my silly fleeting ones out.

I have to realize that the life I have is NOT the one I planned, it's better. But I still have to make up for my mistakes from the times when I was NOT seeking his will. Thankfully, he's always willing to drive me to the store and buy the new butter. I just have to be willing to get in the car.

I keep pulling more and more from this analogy, so I'll stop before it starts to get ridiculous.

But I leave you with this: What's your cookie dough?

Friday, September 30, 2011

If Ignorance is Bliss It's Cuz She Never Heard of This

I pray daily about whether or not I'm in the right place right now... and in less than a week I have to know for sure. Though my image isn't clear, just when I think I've got it figured out, I'll have moments like today.

It's Friday, I'm recovering from one of the worst 24-hour illnesses I've had in years, and the last thing I wanted to do was stay after school for several hours. So, when one of my students walked in and reminded me that I was supposed to help him with his project (which was due DAYS ago), my stomach sank a little, realizing that the other work I desperately needed to do was going to have to wait. I had been looking forward to getting my grading done, grabbing a pumpkin spice latte, and strolling the streets of Harlem while listening to Andy Mineo's new mix tape (which you should definitely click on the previous text and download for FREE if you haven't done so already). I'm into these long walks around the city, especially when it's in neighborhoods God has laid upon my heart.

So, I begrudgingly pulled up a desk for my kid, and set my computer up on another desk, while I walked him through the beginning steps of his project. I decided to put on some Jesus hip-hop in the background (which I like to do during class sometimes), and after a few minutes discussion on our favorite rap artists and some reminiscent late-90s Cash money "I'm from New Orleans, I knew 'bout Lil wayne before you were born, and this is what we do" moments, we bonded over a love of all things hip hop, and I put on the aforementioned mix tape. I've always struggled with the fact that I absolutely love the sounds and beats and hooks and such of hip hop, but the language and themes drive me nuts, so when I discovered the amazingness of legit Gospel Hip Hop, it was like an answered prayer. I now like to share. The Westbank in me is very thankful. I shared with him my thoughts on this music, and how I like it better because the talent is the same, but the message is so much sweeter. We continued to listen, and he jammed along.

So now to the point. A few minutes in, while he's working on his project, the kid turns to me as I'm grading timelines, and says "You know, sometimes I wonder about God. Like, how is it possible that he like, created everything but like, he was never created?"

Floored moment. Quick prayer.

I proceeded to answer him in my best "we can't put God into our human box and try to rationalize him, he's way bigger than us," explanation. He then pressed on with a variety of other questions like, "So if he's God, how could he just suddenly turn himself into like, bones and skin and organs n stuff and put himself inside Mary?" and "If this guy can save the universe, why would he let himself die and get beaten?"

This conversation lasted for about half an hour. I don't have time to put everything into details, but suffice it to say, I got to do some seriously awesome sharing in this time. I got to share about how amazing Jesus's love for us truly was, and how he GAVE HIMSELF so that we wouldn't have to suffer - and that our stupid ways put him in that position. We talked about heaven and hell and spiritual warfare. We talked about Grace, and forgiveness, and good and evil. He had some fantastic stories and thoughts to share. I was so blessed by this conversation.


I was completely floored by the way God opened up doors today.

I think my favorite question was "Well, how do you KNOW he's real? Like, what makes you feel so confident that God is there?" which allowed me to share the amazing things he's done for me, and how his Holy Spirit is living, breathing, and flowing through my life.

So amazing. This kid's an aspiring rapper, and has shared some pretty creative and clever rhymes with me in the past few weeks. I'm so thankful that there are guys out there with the same talents as this kid who use their talents for his Glory so they can specifically reach this group of people, and seeing as how these are my kids, I am more than thankful for their willingness to serve in this way.

I'm also really thankful I didn't dart out the door and grab that latte this afternoon. This was soooo much sweeter.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why do I keep trying

Why do I keep ignoring the Lord?

What am I trying to do? What am I trying to accomplish? I voiced these questions to a friend just a day before deciding to make another Danielle-centered decision. Why am I so focused on my OWN desires when I know the greater reward he has for me?

I have been working at a school for two weeks now, and it's a GREAT school. It's everything I looked for in a school.

but I am unsatisfied.

I have realized that I am unsatisfied because, ultimately, I don't want to work in a school (at least not as a teacher). Rather, as I've known for at least three years now, I want to be in full-time ministry.

But I keep makin excuses.

I have loans to pay off. I need to go back to school so I can be better equipped and therefore need to go make some money first. Etc.

Like God can't take care of that.

I knew 100% in my mind that he wanted me to work at Graffiti again this semester, and I've chosen not to. Technically, I'm on a trial period at this school, and, in all honesty, I feel myself sabotaging my chances of getting hired. Like, I submit lesson plans late without care, etc. I do like the kids, I do like my staff, and it's a great neighborhood, but it's not ministry. It's just not the same.

Then agian, other days I love it. I don't feel what I'm feeling right now. I feel like I definitely made the right decision by putting myself in a situation in which I can start working toward those loans, move into a cheaper apartment, and go back to school.

It's all a mess.

The truth is, even this morning diggin into Monday morning Jesus time, I read the passage about beinga anxious. We are higher than the birds, and they don't worry about having their needs taken care of, so why should we?

I guess I'm just going to keep praying that in the next few weeks God will show me how what I am to do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pumkin Spice Lattes The Good Word

In the madness of starting a new job, I've also had to create for myself a new routine. In said new routine, it's especially important to pray through how my time with the Lord can be best spent. He's provided me with the time to spend, and I need to steward my time in a way that I can both keep my job, and more importantly, grow daily in my relationship with him.

This balance is crucial, in that I am on a trial period with my job, and it's not just a trial period for them to test me out, but also for me to see if this is truly where God wants me for at least the next ten months of my life. but more on that later.

What I wanted to share most, is the ABSOLUTELY RADICAL AMAZINGNESS I read while enjoying a pumpkin spice latte last night (ahhhh, fall!). I took myself to starbucks so I'd be removed from the distractions of work and my apartment. It's a routine I plan to work into my routine, even if it doesn't include starbucks (considering the only time of the year starbucks is my preference is during the fall when the pumpkin spice is in full force)

Have you ever had one of those moments where you were diggin through the word and you just wanted to stand up where you were and do a little dance because you were so pumped up and charged by the passages before you. That was me, last night. These moments rock my world.

I marinated in the words of Titus 2:11-14:
"For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, waiting for our blessed hope, then the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for his own possession a people who are ZEALOUS for good works."

Retyping that, just blew my mind again. Dude, GAVE HIMSELF FOR US so we will be ZEALOUS for good works. What?! He wants us to live upright, self-controlled, and godly lives while we WAIT for him and his glory. really




don't read this lightly. In digging deeper last night, I came to know that the Greek word for waiting connotes eagerness. It's not like when I'm waiting on the train for work, its like, when I'm waiting from the time of the superbowl/BCS national championship games to the time when the first ball of the season is kicked off in the late summer/early fall times infinite numbers of awesomeness.


we are waiting on the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE. This big dude, who knows more than we will ever ever every understand, comprehend, or pretend to know. Things we could never wrap our mind around. He's coming to bring us into his fellowship. Like, for real. Take that in. and in the meantime, he wants us to be CHANGED by his promise.

Like, what is salvation if we don't let it soak us up. Why on Earth would we want the things of this Earth when we can be friends and live in community with the most infinite, unimaginable, greatest person who ever walked this earth. Like, think about this. Really think about it. I read this stuff every day, and sometimes I get complacent, but when I truly sit in amazement. WOW.

you'll prolly want to dance around a starbucks too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A couple of New England days

Four years ago I posted this blog about how fantastic Boston is.

Ever since, I've talked about moving there. The summer after NYC, I went to New England for two months, which rocked my world on so many levels and brought the most amazing people into my life. I cannot imagine how different things would be if I'd have stayed in Louisiana or come back to New York that summer. Truth is, though, that love for Boston was what pushed me over the edge when making decisions about where to be a summer missionary that second year. God used images I couldn't get of my brain, baseball, people, and lots of slaps in the face to send me there.

I love the history, the ocean breezes, the accents, the scent of salt water, the seagulls, the immense passion for EVERYTHING (seriously, people in New England are passionate about anything they like- which I why I fit in so well with them). I just wish folks would transfer that passion into something like, oh, I dunno, loving Jesus. I tell you if all of the New Englanders would simply fall in in love with the Lord, they'd start workin on winning the world over so fast we wouldn't know what hit us.

I really could go on for hours and hours and hours and hours and ramble and go on and on and on and on and on about how completely flabbergasted I am in how God has brought people into my life in the last seven years from Baton Rouge, Providence, Boston, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Mississippi, etc. and twisted our lives around and intertwined them in ways that completely blow my mind. I feel like, at the root of it all, is New England. It seems to anchor all these connections somehow. Like all roads lead to Worcester or something like that.

Because of the ways God has used the next region north, I have always assumed he's going to have me land there at some point, even if only for a few years. And this may be the case. I have absolutely no opposition to it WHATSOEVER. Believe me, I'd love to go to more Red Sox games.

The point of this particular post is this: I don't think I'm moving there any time soon.

This is a new revelation. And a great one. One I've been praying for.

You see, I LOVE New York in immense ways I cannot describe. I wont even bother trying. Suffice it to say, this place feels like home and always has. I know I won't be here forever, or at least, I don't plan to be, but lately, with all the transitions in my life, I've been praying that God would show me if it is time to bow out or if it is time to settle in. And the overwhelming answer is SETTLE IN.

Having had this feeling for the past few months, and particularly since my return from Chicago, have become pretty comfortable in it. THAT SAID I knew that hopping the Lucky Star to Boston for the Red Sox game was going to be testy. I could see myself getting that same feeling I always get when I arrive at South Station, where I just KNOW I have to move there. But I didn't.

Upon my arrival, I had a couple of hours before the next train to Providence, so I prayer walked around the common, Chinatown, the meeting house, Quincy market, etc. During that time I kept praying God would show me if I was supposed to be in that city, and what needs he would reveal to me there in the meantime. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but I kept thinking "I kinda wish I was still in New York, I miss it already." This was foreign to me, I'm in BOSTON Im supposed to overwhelmingly excited to be there. But I wasn't. I loved it still, and I had a great time, but even in Fenway, it was like, God was saying "I know you love it here, but it's not the time." and I was PERFECTLY okay with that.

I'm super thankful for this trip, and the time I got to spend with Maria, who is AMAZING. I'm thankful for the long walk around Providence I took this morning (I really could write a whole post about that). I'm thankful for great weather, and Fenway Park. I'm thankful for the comfy megabus ride home (so much better than the Lucky Star ride there).

Most of all, I am thankful that God confirmed what I've been suspecting all along.

I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

With only five days left, I give you, picutres.

The View from the Hancock Tower

Whirlyball (Basketball meets Lacrosse meets Bumper Cars

Overpriced Underwhelming Beignet at Taste of Chicago

The View of my Neighborhood from the Beach

One of many gorgeous views of the Chicago River

Where I live- Baumhart Hall

My BFF :)

Cloudy Day Skyline/Beach View

Broken August

As August approaches, I am trying my best to lean on faith and pray that this is not, yet another, broken August.

Two years ago, I posted this . August 2009 was one of the most trying months of my life in terms of discouragement. It set me up for a couple of years of adjusting to constant change and unpredictability in life. I remember it being tough, but I also remember the good times that went along with it. I recall long walks around Williamsburg. Taking the bridge to church so I wouldn't have to buy subway passes. Baking baking baking.

I learned so much about leaning on the Lord, and he, of course, provided. This has been evidenced over and over in the past couple of years. That said, I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be doing in August, and it's scary.

Come September I can get back into routine with School Professionals. Fine. But August is a challenge. I need to find something else to do with my time to bring in more dough anyway, and August is the perfect time to do that, but it's easier said than done.

Also, I'm getting that whole "I'm 25 and what the junk am I doing with my life" complex again. All around me my friends are growing up. I got yet another call from a friend today who made a very adult, life changing decision. I feel like a mid-twenties teenager. I'm not moving forward right now, and though I'm trying to rest in the present, it's difficult not to wonder when I'm going to start hitting normal strides. I've been craving a normal life lately. It's a bizarre feeling for me, as I tend to enjoy instability and adventure.

I want normal. I want to have a career. I want to have a family. I want to know where I'm headed, but I'm don't. I have none of the above, and it's kinda freakin' me out.

So all that to say, I think it's time for me to get back to New York, settle down for a little while, and pray hard about the next steps, how they're going to happen, and what that's going to entail on my part.

I pray I do not have yet another broken August.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hey Fighting Tigers

As I was before the 2007 season, I am super primed up for football season (and well all know what happened then). The following link explains why:

That year, I argued that we were preseason #2, we had a tough schedule, and if we got through it, we were guaranteed a spot in the BCS game. We got through, barely, with two losses, but we won. This year, I've been arguing superstition about always playing in the BCS game when it's in New Orleans. I argue tough schedule like last time as well, only with a #4 ranking this time around. Let me explain.

1. Oregon
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama
5. Stanford
6. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
8. South Carolina
9. Texas A&M
10. Wisconsin
11. Notre Dame
12. Ohio State
13. Florida State
14. TCU
15. Michigan State
16. Penn State
17. Virginia Tech
18. Nebraska
19. Missouri
20. Mississippi State
21. Arkansas
22. Florida
23. Auburn
24. West Virginia
25. Miami

Now, that MIGHT be the most obscure top 10 of all time, but we start the season playing #1, we can make that work. Then, we have to play two more top ten teams over the course of the season. NOT TO MENTION the five, count 'em FIVE other top 25 teams we must beat. If we can knock out Oregon in that first game and set ourselves up for greatness, we are guaranteed a spot.

I'm not gonna lie, I really wish I was in grad school at LSU for this. I'd be at every game just like 2007. But I guess we all gotta grow up at some point.

Plus, a National Championship in New Orleans for the third time in a row. We own that place. Lets make it happen.

Geaux Tigers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


So I've realized I've become really complacent in my prayer life. This is something I've been struggling with for a while, and I've not been intentional in fixing it, which is really the problem itself, if that makes sense.

Allow me to explain.

I read a book a few years ago about praising God through the everyday blessings, and I got really good at it. So I do this, constantly, and it keeps me close to him.

I also have had LOTS of good thinking time since I got to Chicago, and so I've tried super hard to be so enamored by the Lord that my thoughts default to him in these times. But they don't. I want to be closer, I want to direct my mind to him, but I always get distracted. It's driving me nuts.

Also, I've realized that I don't come before the Lord in a way that allows me to truly be still in him. I always tell people I will pray for them, and then I pray for them once or twice, like, right on the spot, then I forget altogether about what I'm supposed to be praying for and I end up only praying for my own requests - most of the time at least.

I often pray for people/places/things (nouns) whenever I think of those specific people/places/things, but it's usually a quick prayer like "Oh yeah, God, take care of that." I don't truly take time to enter his presence, praise him, and present my requests.

I think I got so satisfied with simply praising him over the little things that I forgot to set aside special time for him. Both are necessary.

Human Example: Jess is my best friend. I text her little thoughts and jokes and stories throughout the day. Same with my parents, grandparents, and other friends, but mostly Jess. Does this constant form of communication mean I do not have to make time to actually call or spend time with these people? Absolutely not. I have one day off in Chicago and my first thought was "You better spend it with Jessica." We meet for lunch whenever we can, and when we are in different cities, we make time in our busy schedules to call each other. If suddenly Jess were to stop calling or stop trying to hang out with me, I'd be kidna paranoid, I'm not gonna lie.

So, why do I think I can still have a deep relationship with the Lord if I don't take time to truly sit and spend time with him. I mean, I read the word every day, and I have a little prayer time, but not like I crave, not like I should, and I want that to change. I want to be intentional in my prayers.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chicago So Far

Though I expected to be insanely busy while in Chicago, I'm actually facing the opposite dilemma.

I'm spending most of my time in deep thought, which is not always a good thing. We have INSANE amounts of time to chill, and though I have desperately needed that in my life, it's about to twist my head into all sorts of knots.

I'm overwhelming myself with thoughts of my next steps and how to make them happen, and it's scary. I'm daydreaming even more than usual, and that's dangerous.

My time here has taught me some valuable lessons, for which I am super thankful. Primarily, I've learned to relate to an ENTIRELY different demographic of kids, and I realized that a lot of the struggles of teenagers are universal, BUT there are unique circumstances faced by each demographic that fall into their own category. I'm also reassured that the group with which I primarily have experience is DEFINITELY the group I am called to be around. I feel a little lost in this mix, but I'm enjoying the experience nonetheless.

I'm also EXTREMELY blessed by my living circumstances. We have the most amazing location, and even though I'm a little tired of looking at the same restaurants and high-end stores over and over, I will probably never live in a neighborhood this classy again, so it's great to enjoy in the meantime. I'm two blocks from the famed Water Tower, and that means I'm steps from the Magnificent Mile (which is really only magnificent if you have a magnificent bank account). I am forever admiring the architecture in this city - and it's pretty famous for it.

Of all the coolness in my hood, there are two things that stand-out the most.

One, I can walk to the beach, which means I can run on the beach, and the fact that Chicago's beach is right in the city makes it my favorite beach of all beaches. There is not much more in the world that is more beautiful to me than a city skyline, but throw in some blue water and sand, and you've got quite the masterpiece.

Two, call it what you want, but one of the many nicknames of my neighborhood is the "Cathedral District." There are BEAUTIFUL churches all over, and when I'm on town duty, I like to plop myself down on their stairs and entranceways. The other day, I stumbled in to Fourth Presbyterian's afternoon jazz service, which sits in the courtyard between its French Gothic building and it's English Gothic building. There I was, worshipping, to jazz, on a BEAUTIFUL Sunday afternoon with the shadows of skyscrapers like the Hancock Tower keeping me cool.

I'll post some pictures of some of my adventures as soon as I get them uploaded to my computer.

In the meantime, I still want you to send me stuff (see address below).

Monday, June 20, 2011

If you wanna reach me...

I like old fashioned mail. stamps. letters. i think you've heard of it.

if you feel like sending any while I'm in Chitown, this is the place:

Danielle Jeffcoat
Discovery Internships
c/o Conference Services
Loyola University Chicago
26 East Pearson- Baumhart Hall
Chicago, IL 60611

I'm taking a facebook hiatus, so you gotta reach me via all those old fashioned things like, oh, I dunno, cell phones, email... but letters would be cool. or cookies. or New Orleans Blend coffee.

Just make sure it gets there before July 24th, otherwise, send it to brooklyn. i like getting mail there too :)

Friday, May 6, 2011


My last post was about a Saturday
But it's been a while, and I think Friday's are more fun, so here goes.

I decided yesterday, for a number of undisclosed reasons, that it'd be okay if I deliberately took the day off from life. So, I did.

I tried to take the day off from my computer but it didn't quite work out HOWEVER I did succeed to turn off my phone at 11 last night and not turn it on again until 11 tonight.

I slept in. I made pancakes. I took a nap at 11 am.

I should do stuff like this stuff more often.

I took the R train to Bay Ridge, cuz it's my favorite. Got a mani-pedi, cuz it's cheap. Shopped at Ny and Co, but didn't buy anything. oh, and my love of hats was confirmed at Century 21. Amazing. Hats make me smile.

Watched The Hangover. Didn't think it was as funny as everyone else did. Won my first ever eBay auction and landed myself a #46 Jacoby Ellsbury jersey (event though he's #2 now- it was cheap, and i miss his old number).

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I ate lunch with some of my Summit kids. The joy of living across the street from their McDonalds. They are adorable, and funny, and apparently the new social studies teacher bores them. Figures.

Then there was this whole pleasant interaction with a postal worker because I needed to buy a butterfly stamp (which is the 64 cent stamp), and I wanted to buy some flower stamps but all they had available were classic Hollywood.

So like, little things, right. And my roommate is out so I have the place to myself. Little things.

Blessed. Blessed. Blessed.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A free Saturday- what?!

"Oh what a wonderful day was a Saturday in Brooklyn! Oh how wonderful anywhere!"- Betty Smith

It's taken me years to finally read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Why has no one made me read this before? To all of you who read it, and didn't force it in front of my face, shame on you. This is the most beautiful and poetically written book I've ever read, and the fact that it centers around poor folks in Brooklyn pushes it over the edge. I imagine this shall turn into one of those repeat reads I break out every few years. So far I only have two of them, this will make three.

It occurred to me when I went to bed last night that this is the first time in a seriously long time (I'm talking, over a year), that I've had a Saturday with no plans other than Bible study. I hope to continue this trend, as there is no greater freedom than being able to wake up early on Saturday, drink a warm cup of New Orleans Blend coffee, read a Bible, and to have no time limit on this ritual.

I decided to take advantage of this by turning mundane activities into great adventures. This is a talent I have polished over the past five years or so. Todays first agenda item was grocery shopping. And I don't mean a regular PathMark, grab some Lean Cuisines and cereal run, I mean, I made an event of it, as city shopping should be.

Before most of Court Street had even let the light come into their resting eyes this morning, I was strolling the mile up to Trader Joes. I stopped along the way for a bagel at the local hippie grocery store that seems to somehow have confused Carroll Gardens with Williamsburg, then set my feet toward Atlantic Avenue. I navigated the aisles of the bank-turned-Supermarket looking for a list of very specific ingredients for some yummy recipes I'd looked up. After buying the basics, and enough sauces, spices, and seasonings to stock the kitchen of an up-and-coming chef, I ventured to the Union Market. Though I am opposed to over priced groceries with snooty labels for the most part, this store happens to be the only place I know where I can buy purple potatoes. Seriously, they're black on the outside and purple on the inside. Amazing.

I then hit the produce stand across the street, where I loaded my already-too-heavy bags with fresh carrots, broccoli, onions, apples, and so on. As I looked down at my load of groceries, I contemplated trying to walk them all the way to my door, but the muscles in my arms and shoulders begged me not to, so I waited for a B57 while admiring the dogs and children of the brunch-goers.

Oh a Brooklyn Saturday...

I made an event of cleaning my room and putting together my loft, of which I am very proud, and for the first time since I moved into my fabulous apartment, feels like a bedroom of my own. Seeing as how it was three PM and I'd already accomplished my to-do list for the day, I decided that the best way to enjoy the rest of this beautiful sunny afternoon was to walk to Bible study. We met just across the bridge in Manhattan's financial district. This time, I hit Smith street and window-shopped along the way, before crossing the ever-so-majestic Brooklyn Bridge and making my way to Park Place. These are the kinds of walks that remind me just how amazing it is that I live in this great Borough, which is a part of this fantastic city. The night ended with a post-Bible study outing to a pub around the corner, consisting of quality fellowship time and a baked potato.

You see, this day could have been just like any other day. And from the sounds of it, it was. But for me, it was beautiful. A little blessing and a welcomed return. No worries, no deadlines, no cares, just a chance to thank God for the amazing opportunities he has given me. I wish more people could learn to take advantage of this joy. It's seriously in each of our lives every day, we just have to be conscious of it.

Praise the Lord for Brooklyn Saturdays.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Greater Victory

Full Circle.

That's what I'd like to call the last six months of my life. After a year of searching, I got a job teaching in Brooklyn, then, six months later, I am again unemployed. That appears to be full circle.

Only it's not. You see, those six months taught me crucial and strong lessons, and rather than a full circle, I'd like to think of it as a great leap forward.

From about week four, things have been shady at my workplace. My kids were AMAZING, like, incredibly amazing, in ways I cannot describe. For their presence in my life I will be forever thankful. Each of them had something special to share with me, and there is not a single one I feel I could have done without. I will miss them daily, but I at least know I can continue to pray for them as they make their way to great things. And yes, they will do great things. I'd like to think that in the short time I was in their lives, I was a part of that.

Now, I won't go into great detail over the shadiness I witnessed, or the many injustices I feel me, my coworkers, and my children suffered through at the hands of big egos, but what I will say is that it has been a true test of faith. God has shown me how to 100% hand the reigns over to him. I would not have survived this long without his help.

I went to work each day coated in the armor described in Ephesians 6. Each morning, I woke up to spend time in the word. The worse things got, the earlier I woke up. Though I lived but a ten minute walk away, I awoke between 5:15 and 5:30 so I could soak up the necessary nourishment I needed to get through each challenging day. (I also consumed lots of coffee, but that's a different thing altogether).

Just today, I heard a pastor say "Sometimes Satan's greatest tool is to give us exactly what we want." That's exactly what happened with this job. It seemed so perfect I couldn't pass it up, knowing that deep down, I was being tugged the other way by the force that I usually am able to follow. But for some reason, I chose otherwise. I now put myself in a position of full on spiritual warfare. Not just minor battles, but flaming arrows as described in Ephesians. It was like the Hunger Games being waged in my soul. But armed with Christ, I pressed on.

It would appear that being "terminated" would be Satan winning. But oh how true is the contrary. I had been waiting for an out for a while, and praying that God would either give me the strength to leave, let me out, or help me regain my vision and purpose. Well, he did the last two. I regained my vision, and then was let go, and I've never felt better.

THAT, friends, is victory in Jesus. When you can lose a job, and be truly ecstatic about it. I immediately extended my trip home from one week to three. Hello Mardi Gras, and I left for Washington, DC two days earlier than planned, where I had a FANTASTIC time by the way.

I've had overwhelming support from concerned parents at the school, who also witness the injustices there and are glad I got out. They have reassured me that my time there was worth the impact it made, and that is all the comfort I need.

I've witnessed an LSU National Championship (among many other nail biting games). I've seen the Saints win the Superbowl after a never ending series of heartaches, but I now know what it's like to watch God outright win a raging spiritual battle, and man it feels SWEET! I cannot imagine a greater victory.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

So it's been a while

I keep promising myself I'm going to update.
but honestly
i'm too tired.

I'm too tired because I work like, 70 hours a week.

but wait a second, I worked like, 70 hours a week when I had THREE jobs. This is just one...

I work a LOT. A lot a lot. I work to advance the minds of great 7th graders. My kids are classic. They're amazing in ways I cannot describe in words. I wake up every morning excited to see them.

These past five months have been extremely difficult, and I cannot go into too much detail here, but lets just say I've learned a LOT about what happens when you are not at peace with a decision, and how God, like any good father, picks you up when you've fallen and been broken simply because you didn't listen to him and heed his warnings.

My struggles are both externally visible, and deeply internal. I feel his molding and pressing through the pressure I've been exposed to. I've learned to lean on him in an entirely different way than ever before. This time it's not financial, but it's entirely spiritual.

The past few years have taught me a lot of things about change. Moving to a new city, even if it does feel like home, is challenging, but starting a new job in a scary and tough environment, wow, I had no idea what I was getting myself into....

I'm excited to see where God leads me next. I wish I had the time, energy, and stamina to detail the lessons he's been teaching me, but for now let me leave you with this:

Through our darkest struggles, he is there carrying us. He upholds us with his righteous right hand. He gives us fiery arrows to shoot at our enemies. He hears us when we call, and he seeks our desire for him.

I've stopped looking at my future and daydreaming about what MIGTH be there, and I've started living for the present, which makes each day valuable and exciting. Waking up each morning knowing that this is yet another day God is going to do amazing things makes that 5:30 am alarm worthwhile.

And with that, I ask you, please remind me to update more often :)