Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reflections on Being Thankful

It has been a while since I posted anything.  I can attribute this to a number of factors.

1. I usually only post when something's heavy on my heart. I'm now a social work student, which means there's ALWAYS 200 things that are heavy on my heart, thus making it difficult to choose one.

2. As stated above. I am a social work student, and while not nearly as busy as I expected to be, I'm still pretty busy between field, and class, and oh, my paying job.  I have a lot of downtime, nonetheless, but as much as I love writing, I spend a LOT of hours writing my thoughts, so doing so in my downtime is not as appealing as at other times.

3. I tend to post about things God is teaching me, but I've allowed myself to be distracted from his teaching lately, and this is me being transparent about that.

I'm sure there are other reasons, and for the three people who actually read this on a regular basis, I apologize.

Now that November is over, I do have something that's been on my mind throughout the month.

From November 1st to November 30th, social media was abuzz with THANKFUL posts. Each morning as I sat on my futon/bed watching Full House and checking my phone, I browsed through a number of posts starting with Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and so on.  The number was followed by something very specific that the person was thankful for. I loved catching up on everyone's gratefulness.  It was wonderful to see so many people recognizing the blessings in their lives and looking for those little every-day things that often go unnoticed.

I did not participate.  I chose not to because, if you look through my status updates on facebook, 99% of my thousands of posts are about something I'm thankful for - though I may not explicitly use the word "thankful."  There's simply no way I would have been able to narrow it down to one a day. Whether it's having the office to myself (the reasons I'm able to post this right now), or getting a free hat and gloves from Kmart, or seeing the smiles on my teenagers' faces, or playing superhero with Brandon and Tyler, or simply enjoying the sounds of that random saxophone player who lives in my building, hundreds of times a day I get a chance to see how blessed I am.

This practice of recognizing blessings is something I've been doing for about six years with a fair amount of consistency.  I read David Crowder's book Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi, which is a study of the Psalms.  He tells stories about how he learned to recognize the millions of ways in which God gives him gifts throughout the day all day every day.  I started attempting the same, and it changed my life.

When you focus on all of those little things, even on the junkiest of days, you feel pretty amazing.  I must think 100 times a day "Wow, this is really cool," or "Man, I'm so thankful for this opportunity," or whatever.

Already today, for example, I've recognized the following:

1. My 2.5 mile walk to work = built in exercise
2. Nat King Cole Christmas music
3. Crossanwhiches
4. I DONT live in a detention center
5. I get to work in a detention center
6. I hang out with some pretty amazing kids all day
7. My supervisor doesn't make me want to jump out a window
8. I have an amazing amount of sustained focus in Grad school that's totally new to me
9. Full House
10. Chi blowdryer
11. My iPhone
12. The beautiful view when crossing the 145th Street bridge.

Just to name a few.

I hope that posting thankful posts throughout November helps everyone to realize how thankful they are every day year round. Makes every day bright and sunny :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In Offense of Defense: Me being a walking oxymoron

Leaving my thoughts and opinions on one side or the other of this "Chick Fil A controversy" out, I have had the following thoughts in the last few weeks, as I've watched yet another culture war play out. I have had more thoughts, but in an effort to not negate the point I am actually making here, I'm going to leave those opinions somewhere else.

Consider the above paragraph the last thing you'll hear me say about Chick Fil A.

What I saw today was a group of people who shared a common belief rallying together by the millions to support that belief.  I was incredibly encouraged by this, yet dishearteningly discouraged by it all at the same time.

You see, often times we hide ourselves behind a mask of societal culture wars without even realizing this is what we are doing. I am as guilty of this as anyone else. Trust me.  I have a degree in political science, am about to enter a career in social justice, and I deliberately surround myself with people from a variety of backgrounds so as to broaden my opinions and see things from all points of view.  When it comes to engaging in culture wars, I could be your commander in chief.

It is this most recent culture war though, that God has used to convict me on this issue.  You see, I am people pleaser.  I enjoy seeing everyone happy.  I like for everyone to win. I also get a huge kick out of playing Devil's Advocate, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that, should I ever get this first round of grad school loans paid off so I can afford MORE school, I could eventually become a lawyer.  I enjoy engaging in dialogue. I revel in making a point. Obviously.

What I realized though, is often times, we become so focused on beating dead horses that we end up losing sight of our original motives (again, guilty as charged).  Particularly as Christians. We run the risk of crossing over from the point of "I love you and I want the best for you and everyone else," to "IN YOUR FACE, in the name of Jesus." It's a fine line, and it's easily blurred, but if we get so caught up on making points, it is sooooo easy to forget why we were making those points in the first place.

This week, instead of replying to posts on Facebook, various blogs, or newspaper articles on the fly, I've begun a new exercise in self-control.  I'm not saying this is something everyone should do, I'm just candidly expressing to you what I've learned through this latest round of "Who's Intolerant: Me or You?".  Prior to pressing the "post" button, or "send," or whatever, I've thought through my motives for saying what I want to say.  Is what I have to say going to resolve anything?  Am I going to open the eyes of someone else to a point of view they maybe haven't thought of, and if so, why?  Am I seeking self-glorification or am I trying to glorify the Lord?

Then, the most important question of all: Is what I'm saying going to harm my ability to share the love of Jesus with anyone else in the present or future?

This is not to say I haven't haphazardly posted something for the sake of good dialogue.  Again, there's nothing wrong with a good discussion on a topic, so long as both sides are willing to hear each other out. The ability to debate is crucial to our ability to function as a society.  It's key to getting things done.

My point is, we need to make sure that what we debate has value, and that if it doesn't have value, that what we say is in no way going to be a detriment to something that does.

Today millions of people across the country united for a common cause, and while I do feel this cause has value on both sides, it led me to question why we aren't doing this more. What's our REAL reason for placing one cause above another?  Is it because perhaps this particular cause benefits us personally in some way and perhaps something else might not?

I don't know. I don't have the answers to this, but it's an observation.

Jesus taught us to be radical.  I get that. I'm all for that.  My question is: What are we being radical ABOUT?

Where's our passion over the thousands of kids in this world who have no homes, while thousands of families cry and plead to have children but are facing barriers in doing so?

Where's our passion over the educational injustices of society? Where's our love for people who are working hard for their families, sometimes doing multiple jobs, but still do not make enough money to support them?

PLEASE, by all means, be passionate. Be radical. We've now PROVED by the millions who sat in long lines to eat chicken and drink lemonade today, that we know HOW to be passionate about something, so go and do it where it counts the most. No excuses.

"Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.  For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish -- that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder" - 2 Corinthians 12:19-20, ESV

(and yes, I recognize the inherent hypocrisy in saying "here's my radical view on why we should or shouldn't have radical views" but bear with me, there's really no other way to make say it)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reasons to Wake Up in the Morning

I'm the kind of girl who likes to live for a purpose. This is easy when I'm actually busy. You know, when I'm working 60-70 hours a week, having a social life, being around the kids I love, singing at my church.

Aside from those things though, a girl can get lost in the endless supply of mindless activities  that leave one feeling kinda funky.  And not cool music on a Tuesday night at the Maple Leaf kinda funky, but the other kind of funky. The kind where you can forget to take showers because you have no place to go for a few days kinda funky.

So anyway, being out of my normal routine and trying to establish a new one has been more difficult than I thought it'd be this summer.  Assuming I'd find a steady source of income, I moved in with my parents back home to save some money. What resulted was a summer full of unsteady work, no money, and endless hours at the gym because really, if I'm going to spend my mornings watching "Say Yes to the Dress," I might as well be on the treadmill while I do it, thus increasing the chances that I might one day get to look nice in one of those dresses myself (or so I tell myself).

Typically the most exciting part of my day involves heading over to a friend's house, where talk about life and I get to play with her kids. Maybe if I get really lucky, the baby will poop and I'll change a diaper, thus giving me a hint of a purpose for about twenty seconds.

While itching to get back to NY, I'm trying to embrace this "vacation."  The little bit of work I have gotten involves listening to free live music by some of my favorite artists, so that's kinda like vacation, and then I babysit in a really cool neighborhood.

Today I decided to stop moping, and start embracing life Danielle style again. Refusing to give into the funk.  I've been gifted with this amazing ability to see all of the amazing little blessings God gives us EVERY day, but lately I've been brushing those blessings aside and asking for more.  Never being satisfied.  This is not cool.

So today, I had one of the most "normal" days I could have for someone who has no job and no kids to take care of.  I went to the New Orleans Museum of Art, as it was free day today.  I spent about fifteen minutes in the guest shop enjoying THIS book. I packed a bag lunch with peanut butter and jelly, some terra chips, and two oreos, as well as a VIA packet of the Starbucks refreshers and sat by the ducks in City Park while watching young families stroll about and not feeling the least bit jealous.  I took a stroll through the sculpture garden, which, fyi, IS free and is not part of the standard admission to the museum (as I had previously thought).  I finished off my nifty little day in the sunshine by trying a snoball place I hadn't tried before, and being pleasantly satisfied to find out that it was ranked as one of the most crowded places to spend an afternoon for a reason (and I EMBRACED the long line, enjoying the satisfied look of teenagers enjoying snowballs on the sidewalk, and dad's buying cotton candy flavored treats for their kiddos).

Today I was reminded of how I prefer to view life.  Rather than always seeking the next opportunity, I had to step back and embrace the day.  Yes I'm ready to start grad school, but I'm vowing to take advantage of the time I have now - as I won't have much time to enjoy the little things once paper writing takes over. I'm taking the Francie Nolan approach to the next month, and despite the fact that Im not watching the trees grow in Brooklyn, I'm really having a heck of a time enjoying the moss-covered vines of New Orleans.

"Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well-dressed. Let me be sincere- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost." - Francie Nolan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Picking and Choosing

I have so much to say on this topic that I should probably outline it so I don't end up going off on some rant, but since I don't like outlines, and I like to write what I think, you'll have to bear with my ranting so that I can get through what I have to say.

I just finished a book on God an the American Government entitled The American Gospel. It discusses the many facets of forming our country, and maintaining its principles, and how God comes into that. I've been bombarded lately with thoughts around this topic, and perhaps it's due to the impending Presidential election, or perhaps it's because God has some message to send me through it, nonetheless, I have begun to really God and the government more than ever (which says a lot, because as Christian with a political science degree, believe me, I've done a LOT of examining).

First of all, let's get this straight right away, THIS IS NOT A COUNTRY FOUNDED ON CHRISTIAN VALUES, there I said it, despite what every preacher in Texas ever told you, that is stretching the truth beyond all stretching. If this was a country founded on Christian values, our native population would be a WHOLE lot more than 1% of our current population, because we never would have taken land that wasn't ours and forced those who it belonged to to leave simply in the name of dignity. If this was a nation founded on Christian values, various denominations and groups at the founding of our nation would not have had to run from their communities and start new colonies for the specific purpose of having a place where they could worship God freely (Roger Williams, the Quakers....). As a matter of fact, Im pretty convinced that if this nation was founded on Christian values, it would be comprised of no more than the land that currently occupies Massachusetts and perhaps Southern New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and maybe a few parts of upstate NY.

Now, allow me to move forward with this concept.

First of all, the "Separation of Church and state" thing, I'm all for that. Allowing churches to have a say in the government opens the door for the government to have a say in the church. no. thank. you. no sir. This idea was originally placed in our government for the purpose of PROTECTING the church, not to disregard it. Somewhere along the way we've twisted it to make it look like we have this big, bad, evil, pagan government who hates Jesus. This is simply not the case, but if we keep painting that picture, it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pretty sure the government will start to hate us (well, those who haven't already), because, let's face it, we make them feel like we hate them.

And who should feel like they're hated by Christians?

no one.


but THAT'S the message we send. Don't look like us, don't act like us, and we hate you. You disagree with us, we hate you.

Woah now. WHAT THE HECK????????? Seriously? Jesus DIED FOR US. we did NOTHING. He owes us NOTHING, and yet, we condemn people for acting different? how is their sin any different than yours?

OKAY, there was one of those rants I was talking about. But do you see what I mean?

back on track. government. politics. jesus.

So my big issue is this:
Why does the conservative right feel the need to use this wonderful all-powerful loving God of ours to push their agenda? It's like, we pick certain issues, mostly social issues, that we feel are morally "wrong," and choose to vote and align ourselves with a certain political party SPECIFIALLY because of those beliefs. Are you kidding me?

So why is it okay to pick and choose? I'm not perfect, and I'm no Bible scholar, but didn't God call use to help the poor?

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." Deuteronomy 10:18

"If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother." Deuteronomy 15:7

"I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." Proverbs 13:23

"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13

"Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" Matthew 19:21

"'Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages.' He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it." John 12:5

I just selected a few. I could have chosen many more, but did I misread any of that? Like, God says that NOTHING we have is ours, so why do we insist upon saying that we don't want to share it around?

Someone recently told me that they understood the idea of sharing with the poor, but they didn't feel like it's the government's business to tell them that they have to. I GET THAT. I really do, but this same person has ardently argued that the government should ban abortions. I'm okay with that too (I'll get to that in a second), but you can't say the government can control one thing we're commanded to do but not another. I mean, seems like kind of a double standard to me. Just a thought.

And let's put this in perspective, if you want to ban abortion at the government level you do realize you're going to HAVE TO begin supporting social programs for the needy, right? because we're gonna have to do a LOT of education to prevent unwanted pregnancies, then, when women DO get pregnant, we're going to have to be willing to support them emotionally and perhaps even financially. We're going to have to be willing to adopt the unwanted children, and guide those who are not guided because they are unwanted by their parents. We're going to have to be willing to step up to the plate. Let's face it, we're not going to stop people from having sex just because "they should know better if they don't want to get pregnant." This is 2012, sex is everywhere, people do things they aren't supposed to do or should probably not do given their current circumstances ALL THE TIME. You're telling me you've never done something you probably shouldn't have and then had to face the consequences?


WE ARE NOT PERFECT. Not a single one of us. That's the beauty of the church. It's full of crazy jacked-up people who need to be restored and who need to see our purpose as living for the glory of God and not the glory of man. We should be WELCOMING people.
As far as welfare goes, I'm in no way advocating for enabling people to not work and to not lead productive lives and discover their gifts by giving them free money and checks all the time. I believe it is our duty to help people to see their gifts and to use them to enhance the overall society. This is the key to preventing violence and creating harmony, as we should all do what we were created to do.

My friend put it best today i a long text conversation she and I had:

" As a Christian, all you do is take what you didn't work for. jesus paid your debt on the cross, which is an infinitely bigger handout than food stamps. Also, the church is called to provide for the poor. Should they reject our help, because they need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps in order to have dignity? The American dream is sending countless people to hell who demand to be self-made men. We can debate 24/7 about whether generosity is something that should be compelled through laws."

So, God never drew a line and said "I'm sorry, my grace stops here, once you've past that, I can't deal with you anymore." He didn't judge us. Who am I to say where grace stops? Who am I to judge others? When God says help the needy, help the poor WHO AM I TO JUDGE WHAT THAT MEANS?????????? Like, let's be real about this. There are circumstances I don't know or understand that prevent people from having the blessings that I have, and God is the only being with the authority to judge who gets those blessings and when and how and why. NOTHING I own is mine. Nothing. So if we're operating on Biblical principals, if God says give, I give. If God says save, I save.

I do not have the financial resources to help in the ways I'd like to. As a matter of fact, I'm often dependent on others to help me (I live in someone's living room for crying out loud) BUT, part of the reason I do not have those financial resources is because I've been given a calling that utilizes my gifts in a different way, that can have just as much of an impact as money. If I wanted to gain wealth, I could. I'm an intelligent person. I'm just as capable of having one of those wall street jobs, being a lawyer, whatever the case, as anyone who's doing them. And I love those people, I see nothing wrong with ANY of those careers. Let's get that straight. I just know that my calling is to feed the emotional needs of kids, which means I cannot feed my, or their, pockets.

That's a little off topic, but lets just say, the point of the argument is we can't pick and choose what parts of the government we want to be faith based. If we want a faith based government, we have to be willing to allow our leaders to decide when and who to help financially as well, and be willing to give when they say give. That's just the way it is. I"m not advocating FOR a faith-based government (I already went over that reasoning), I'm just saying it's something to consider.

Let's not confuse politics and Jesus. They do interact, but they are not one in the same.

Rant over...

for now.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What do you Mourn?

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted"- Matthew 5:4

Today at our fellowship meal, there was a cinnamon stick in my plate, which apparently meant I'd won a prize (It's Graffiti, we do things a little differently). I got to pick from a stack of books, and I chose a thin Bible study guide to the Sermon on the Mount.

Tonight, in an effort to boost productivity, I went to the Whole Foods conveniently located two blocks north of my current living space. There, I separated myself from distractions while searching and applying for jobs. In order to best make use of my time, I decided to open the new study guide I received today an began studying.

I've read this verse a thousand times before, and I always thought Jesus was solely referring to people who were in mourning over some personal loss. You know, his glory is magnified in our weakness kinda thing. We'll be blessed by his comfort, yada yada yada. Not that any of that isn't true, but tonight I realized there's something even deeper going on here.

A popular worship song holds the line "Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for your kingdom's cause." As I read this verse tonight, I realized that the mourning Jesus is referring to is a mourning brought on by a heart that breaks for his cause.

God's not asking us to walk around saddened and depressed all the time. He's asking us to open our eyes. Look around you. What opportunities of service are you missing out on? What are you not praying for? Living in a major city brings daily opportunities for me to see needs and pray about ways I can meet them, the challenge is simply being diligent enough in my prayer life to ensure that I am seeing these things.

As anyone who knows me is well aware, my heart breaks deepest for issues involving kids, particularly teens with sever disciplinary issues and behavioral disorders. I often catch myself praying for random kids on the train, reading articles about crimes committed by teenagers and praying for the criminal himself alongside the victims involved, that sort of thing. I pray that God will continue to open my eyes to ways I can personally impact the lives of these kids, so much so that I'm furthering my education to work toward that cause.

It is so important to realize that our present circumstances are strategic. God does not randomly assign people to things. He has tasks, and he so willingly lets us be a part of making things happen even though he doesn't really need us.

So as our heart breaks for things, and we mourn for things, we must humble ourselves and realize that, though we are not needed, God allows us to be a part of his plan, and we should be seeking opportunities to take advantage of that. Is there any more incredible form of worship?
In my own life, it is the recognition of things that are breaking the Lord's heart that allow me to mourn, and then be blessed in return. I cannot express the rewards I've experienced so far in my work with these kids, and the fulfillment I get knowing that God's using me to be a part of it.

So I ask you: What do you mourn? What breaks your heart? What are you doing about it?

If you don't know, pray. God will reveal things to you that you never dreamed. Allow him to break your heart for what breaks his.

I am not perfect, and I know there are plenty of things I am overlooking, but I earnestly seek his guidance and hope that he will show me the path to be best used to bring him glory.

Please share ways that God is breaking your heart, using your gifts, etc. so I can be in prayer for you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Freedom isn't Free

While living the life I never expected (and being super thankful for it), I also have come to realize how much of me is still stuck on the life I expected.

This last month or so has been quite the eye opener in terms of where I am right now. The truth is. I don't know where I am. That's the problem.

When people look at my life, they often note that I have all the freedom in the world and they're so jealous and blah blah blah, but folks let me tell you


Too scary. To a certain extent, one seeks freedom to make choices, and I understand the blessing that this is. I get that right now, God could call me to do just about anything anywhere and I could do it (minus that whole finance issue, but I don't really ever worry about such things). Unfortunately, he hasn't made it super clear where he wants me right now.

I'm learning patience in terms of his calling. I am having to realize that for now, I need to sit back and just enjoy the ride, but never knowing what the next day will hold is nerve wracking.

I went home last week for a wedding, and I just returned Thursday night. While at home, I came to the realization that if I would have missed my flight on Wednesday, I could I have simply stayed there, found a quick job, and been in the exact same position I'm in in NY. No home of my own, no real job, no real commitments. It would not affect anyone. I would not be putting anyone into a bind. I would simply be transferring my life to another location. When home is as wonderful as it is, it's difficult to resist the temptation to do just that. I could sing more, I could spend more time with my family, I could attend the thousand and one wonderful spring and summer events in South Louisiana. Very very very very very very tempting.

But I didn't miss the flight. I picked up a snoball and a mochasippi and made my way to the airport.

Then I got delayed.... in Chicago. Upon landing I received a text from the airline stating that my flight had been moved back about 2 and a half hours, meaning I wouldn't get back to NY until one AM (not cool). So, since I have all the freedom in the world, I simply asked Southwest to switch my flight to Thursday night, and I had a sleepover at Jessica's house. All day Thursday, I roamed the streets of Chicago with no plan, and no direction.

I then had the same realization as before. I could have missed my flight out of Midway that night (and I ALMOST DID), got a job in chicago, crashed on Jessica's couch for a while, and it'd be no different then what I was doing in NY right now.


I probably sound like a spoiled brat right now. But really. I'm learning to lean on God in a totally different way than I ever have before. I'm an emotional wreck. I'm seeking his direction on so many levels. I know much of it will be resolved when I find out if and where I'm going to school next year, but still, that leaves decisions about what to do in the meantime wide open.

His plans are not my plans. Believe me. He's really made that nice and clear. It's humbling though to be twenty five going on twenty six, and to feel like you've accomplished NOTHING in terms of your calling and goals, and to wonder why that is. Why is he waiting so long for my life to start. Why am I twenty five, with student loans, and no significant place in anyone's life but my own. It's so hard not to be self centered in these situations, and I HATE being self-centered. I just want to feel like I'm working toward SOMETHING significant. I want to feel needed somewhere. Right now, I don't feel that way.

So yes, freedom seems great. When no one is depending on you there's a definitely release of burdens, but God's calling is to help others, and not having anyone depending on me is one of the worst feelings I've ever experienced. I just can't wait to see where he's going with this one.

Something big's about to happen. I know it. I just know it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

30 Red and Pink Balloons

Though I've been single on Valentines Day for twenty five straight years, last year marked another reason to sit back, reflect, and celebrate this day... and it has nothing to do with romance.

On this day last year one chapter in this epic page turner I live ended, and I moved on to a new one. It's been quite the journey on this life I never planned.

In the past year, I've been on stage with some of my favorite artists, I've lived in one of Chicago's finest neighborhoods (as well as one of New York's), I've moved out of an apartment I thought I'd be in for the remainder of my time in NYC, I've made decisions about my future, I've cleaned up bad decisions from my past, etc. etc.

I can't say I'm disappointed. I wake up each day honestly never knowing what's going to happen next, and I try my hardest to take the time to see how God is blessing me through each unpredictable day.

So as I walked through the streets of Washington Heights carrying 30 red and pink balloons today, I couldn't help but laugh and smile and realize what a crazy life I live, from riding in cabs with major music/TV stars to putting band-aids on two year old hands. Though none of this is anywhere close to where I pictured myself being at this stage in life, I am enjoying the ride, being completely blind to where the next turn will take me.

I leave you with a clip of one of the strangest songs from one of the creepiest shows I know, Yo Gabba Gabba. This plays on repeat sometimes now that I'm living with kids under five (and the balloons today had it stuck in my head). I warn you, it will be stuck in your brain:

Thursday, February 9, 2012


In the post below, note how I said that God was going to do something big and miraculous through this situation, and he didn't disappoint.

Upon reading a facebook post of mine about how I was going to be effectively homeless at the end of January, a dear friend offered up her home for my enjoyment while I save money and look for a new place. I am now sitting on a my futon in the Upper West Side living room of my friend's place, where I have been living for nearly two weeks now with her and her two beautiful boys.

Each time I step out of the train at Central Park West, walk over one block, and take the elevator up to be greeted at the door by two sweet hilarious preschool aged kids, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and praise for God's provision. I am now living in the most convenient location I can imagine for my work, and I am loving every minute of the company of a friend I admire in so many ways. (I'm also completely enamored by the ability to do laundry by simply taking an elevator down four floors and dropping it in the washer, then going back home to watch TV and be productive while it washes....)

I've been doing a lot of tutoring in homes I feel I could write volumes about, and with kids who are functioning nowhere near their grade level, but I will try to be more disciplined in writing those stories as they happen because there are too many things I learn to fit into one blog post. Suffice it to say that being in a home where Mom doesn't work, Dad's in jail, there are six kids from infant to seventeen, and the TV is the only thing drowning out the constant high-volume screaming has made me realize more than ever how privileged I am. Here I was worried about having a place to stay, when I knew that ANY situation God placed me in would be better than the dirty apartment in which this family resides. My God is way too good to me.

I also want to shout out my friends who helped me move for making me feel so loved. Chris, Courtney, and Hilton showed up at my apartment on a Saturday morning so they could spend the beautiful day carting my things between apartments, a storage unit, and a UHaul truck. Elizabeth called me upon finishing her work for the day and asked if she could join the party. None of these friends asked for anything out of the deal, they were simply loving. Elizabeth even went so far as to treat me to Shake Shack so I could relax once it was all said and done. Upon my return to my new place, I walked in to find that Karen had already organized my things and had bought me a welcome present. I've never been so overjoyed from the unconditional love my God gives me and manifests through my friends. I do not know how I would function without them.

I will do my best to be more diligent in updating this blog, as I daily have stories I could tell, but for now, I'm fighting sleep and am way past my bedtime

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Do not be anxious

Such simple words. Yet so hard to follow.

I have been very anxious lately, and I'm having to remind myself that, in all of the anxiety I've experienced in the last few years, God has come through in big, unforeseeable ways.

You see, when I was working at Summit, my anxiety was all work related. I was struggling to keep up with the extra things that were constantly being dumped on my plate, and I felt as though I was constantly treading water but not going forward. I eventually reached a point where I had a routine and was no longer stressed over my workload, but my constant interactions with a person who was completely unhealthy for me fed this anxiety in a way I've never experienced before. I learned to lean on the Lord in ways I hadn't before. I never struggled financially though, and that relief was a nice rest from the off and on ups and downs of my money situation I had experienced previous to that job.

I am now back in the money crisis again, and though I know the Lord will come through, I'm having to force myself not to hit doomsday scenario in my brain, because, after all, even at doomsday what's the worst that could happen? I overanalyze and work through every possible SOLUTION, but none of them seems like a solution without a miracle.

Yet, when have I not experienced miracles? I think back to this post from right after I moved here, and I'm mind-blown that, when I thought things were at their worst, somehow he came through, and I didn't have to move home (which is, in my mind, typically the "doomsday" scenario I think of- even though moving home is my eventual goal and I'd be perfectly happy to do so if the time was right). I have to remind myself that I know God wants me here right now, so he will provide. I've just got to learn to be more responsible with my finances. Big time.

You see, I have to find a new apartment, and FAST, and without any money to do so. PLUS I have to pay off expenses for this place before I can move out (though the details of all of that are quite boring and I'll save you). Essentially, at the end of January, I either need a financial miracle, or a place to stay while I house all of my things in a storage unit. I'm not really sure how that's all going to work out. PLUS, my student loans are eating at my heels, and here I am trying to apply to grad school, which costs money, while paying application fees. Aye aye aye.

I KNOW it will all work out, but I'm struggling to remember that whole Matthew 6:34 "Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient is the day for its own trouble." I live in future thought, and it's driving me nuts.

Also, Jesus didn't really have a place to live either. "Foxes have dens and birds have nests but the savior has nowhere to rest his head." (Matt 8:20). duh. pay attention, Danielle.

I'm so ready to see how God intervenes in this situation, as he always does. I KNOW he has me here for now for a reason, and after a "oh my goodness New Orleans is even more amazing than I've ever remembered" vacation where I seriously considered throwing in the towel and moving back home, I IMMEDIATELY felt a sense of peace and belonging the second I returned to this city. I know he has a plan and it involves New York, I'm just ready to see how he continues to make that happen.

Believe me, if there's anything I've learned in the last three years, it's that he provides in big ways, and I LOVE seeing how he does it. It's incredible, and totally manifests my dependence on him. I guess he just got tired of seeing me try to do things on my own for a while.