when you are a regular wanderer

Everyone has a “lost in Manhattan” story… That’s what they tell me, anyway, and it’s meant to be some consolation.

I wasn’t exactly lost last night, but I don’t exactly mind when I am. Most people regard wandering as accidental and unfortunate – because accidents shouldn’t happen on the regular unless your life is Amelia Bedelia (ahem).

I am a regular wanderer and last night my wandering footsteps were chasing the colors in the leaves and the warm light hidden on the horizon. After work, I blitzkrieged my friends to see if anyone wanted to suck the marrow out of the autumn day and several responded. So, I said yes to plans in Manhattan and yes to plans in Brooklyn with more optimism than is New York appropriate.

I ended up at Madison Square Garden on quite the transit detour on the A (where I sat beside a tired looking middle-aged cosmetic surgeon who had obviously had work done on his cheekbones). I heard about his 14 hour work day and his second home in Conneticut and his 3 day work week. After a few loop-de-loops and train hops, I successfully toasted Oktoberfest beers with Ashley on the High Line, where we giggled at the people gathered for stargazing. We wanted to say, “We’ll save you the trouble: you can see about five, but there is a star-studded blanket beyond these city lights that is very visible from Iowa.”

From there, I navigated another underground maze to catch a train back to Brooklyn. Except I didn’t look at the sign on the train I ran down the stairs to catch.

After I sat down in a huff, a curly haired hipster smiled and said, “Well, that’s the most graceful near-miss if I’ve ever seen one.” I kind of just sighed and said, “Yeah… now to head home.” But as I said it, I looked up to realize I was on the wrong train headed in the wrong direction.

“This train isn’t going to Brooklyn, is it?”
I could tell he wished he had better news, “Nope.”

So, I scooted out and caught another flying metal bullet to meet up with group number two in Brooklyn at Alice’s Arbor, where the wine was already poured and a girls night was underway. After the right amount of laughter and story swapping and dessert devouring, we parted ways and I waited for yet another train to see Patrick and marvel, blurry-eyed, at the thoughtful gifts he brought back from Europe.

And THAT, friends, is how you stretch a day from 5:30 am – 2:00 am. Start unnecessarily early to catch the Autumn waking up on Eastern Parkway and then let the day roll out in front of you until you’ve tucked it in on the other end.

That is how it’s done in NYC, at least by this Amelia Bedelia character. Say yes to things, chase autumn to pieces, sit on park benches, wait for trains, take the wrong trains, laugh at misfortune, and always be willing to toast.

That’s how yesterday went down for this regular wanderer.
Today, I’ll turn in early.

when you’re in an earthquake, sing

God provides.

Sometimes, He provides less than what we ask because He wants to give more than what we think.

That’s what happened tonight, anyway. My new roommate and I plodded our way to the 5 pm service, weary of apartment hunting and feeling like the persistent widow at the Lord’s door. “Please, Lord, provide!” We thought we were asking for His provision of an apartment today. We thought that was the only way His provision would happen.

And He did provide, but we’re still without an apartment. Instead He gave us Himself. We sat and drank in the words of the sermon from Psalm 77 and then we broke bread and drank the wine of communion.

He provided Himself and we got filled up.

He provides always, because He is a Provider. It is not in His nature to do anything else. Today His provision was Himself – which is not technically an apartment – but is more than abundant to meet our needs.

This is the firm foundation I can sing upon when there is an earthquake underfoot.

joy falls like confetti

“The Gospel changes what I fundamentally boast in – it changes the whole basis for my identity. Nothing in the whole world has any power over me – I am free at last to enjoy the world, for I do not need the world. I feel neither inferior to anyone nor superior to anyone, and I am being made all over into someone and something entirely new.” Tim Keller

I probably could not have chosen a better book of the Bible to study leading up to my New York move. Galatians is freedom’s anthem and I’m loving it’s accompaniment to my new Brooklyn steps.

Freedom.

Nothing like couch-hopping to remind you of all the reasons you don’t have to boast. And in this beautiful in-between place before I find an apartment, I feel crazy freedom to enjoy my new “home.” Because the world does not have power over me – to make me less secure or less approved or less stable or less free.

The world cannot make me less free.

Even in the most in-between of places and most uncertain of phases, freedom means joy. The sun streaming in the window this morning, the breeze sweeping through Hawthorne Street, the full Saturday stretching out it’s weekend arms – in everything joy falls like confetti. This is a freedom the world cannot steal, a freedom hidden so deep and kept so safe because God has claimed the sacred space.

I am free to enjoy the world because I do not need the world. It’s really a very fabulous thing – because need means dependence. If my freedom depends on the world, I’m like a runner in a race without a finish line. I’m desperate to get to a place where I can be free of all the running, but the end never comes – the distance looms ahead of me and always increases.

But I do not need the world for freedom or fulfillment. Because Christ already crossed the finish line for me, I am free to enjoy the race. I can run with abandon and determination and the kind of joy that makes me giggle. I can run without worry or fear. Because I know Christ is for me, my footsteps are light and my eyes are open. This is my freedom in Christ – to enjoy the world because I don’t need the world.

I am being made over into something and someone entirely new and I am not in charge of that process. I’m just running with my eyes fixed like flint on the One who granted the grace for me to run at all. As I run, I will boast in Him.

And it is for freedom that we are set free.

this tree grows in Brooklyn

What happens when an overflowing cup is set outside in a downpour – can it get more overflowed?

I don’t know the logistics or the practicalities of that question, but I can tell you that, yes, a cup that “runneth over” can get caught in a mid-summer downpour and that, yes, the overflow can grow. I can tell you this because it happened yesterday.

It was a quiet day – too quiet. I interviewed for a job last Monday in Brooklyn and they said they would let me know “by the end of the week” and it was already 5 pm EST. Somewhere in the middle of the day I realized I wasn’t waiting for the call. I wasn’t out-of-my-mind anxious or afraid or weary.

I was full to brimming with joy. With or without this job, I was moving to NYC on August 25th. With or without this job, I was trusting God to provide. With or without this job, I was enjoying God’s presence.

I didn’t need this job to confirm my cross-country move because the Lord already confirmed His faithfulness in my heart.

I didn’t need anything to be figured out before I got on the plane. I didn’t need this job to feel peace about moving. I was already overwhelmed with peace in the middle of all the madness.

But, God granted such a special grace yesterday when he unleashed the heavens on my already overflowing cup. I had just finished writing a blog post about this excitement being like jumping on a hot air balloon ride without a destination. I still knew nothing about the next month, but I was giddy with anticipation.

That’s when the downpour happened – a call from NYC and the invitation to join the team in the Cypress Hills neighborhood. I felt like my heart said, “Really, Lord? I was already all in, job or no job… and then you provided way before I felt desperate. This is too much.”

Anything else I write today will just sound like mush because I’m swimming in abundance. Why would God grant more when my cup is already overflowing? I don’t know, He’s just that good I guess.

This tree is going to grow in Brooklyn and I can’t wait to spread my roots! I’m super pumped to share Brooklyn space with one of my favorite bands, The Lone Bellow, and this is one song I’m sure I’ll be singing on these same streets. I’ve posted it before, but it’s too good not to share again.

oh, hey fear. welcome to the party.

My friend Nicole wrote recently in an email,

“let’s chat soon! which party of nyc are you moving to?”

I don’t think it was intentional, the party part, but I loved it because I’ll be moving to the party in Brooklyn very soon. I spoke to my future roommate again on the phone a couple nights ago and God could not have orchestrated a more beautiful combination (we’re both planning to use hammocks as beds and our phone convo ended in prayer). But I’ll tell you something that might surprise you – fear is moving with me.

bat-crazy-mad-fear

Yes, bat-crazy-mad-fear is a real thing and when it comes, I either bury or break it because those are the only two options. I can bury it in the proverbial luggage I carry around and hope it stays hidden or I can break it with the sword of Truth. Bury or break the bat-crazy-mad-fear, those are my options.

And then there are times like now when it all gets so woven in I don’t know where to swing the sword. The joy and the bat-crazy-mad-fear and the contentment happen all at once. I know because it happened to me this week – like my affections were marbles and some sticky-fingered kid threw them out on the cement where they all ended scattered in asymmetrical, haphazard fashion.

I guess this is some strange sort of confession (more personal than my previous posts on fear here and here). It’s good to be honest about this sort of thing – not having “it together” and not being able to muster the bravery all my fear requires.

It’s good to be honest because bat-crazy-mad-fear is not something you can ignore or bury. Not for me, anyway.

It’s all the bold questions about saying goodbye to my cases and buying a plane ticket to the Big Apple and feeling so small under the starry Midwestern night sky. It’s the realization that I may never be as adult as the world requires and I may never be the kind of success that makes sense. It’s the rumbling in my belly that I’m not sure where I’m going, even though I’m moving in a very specific direction. It’s big questions about significance and little questions about insecurities. It’s the reason I spent hours agonizing over my packing list before visiting Patrick in NYC. It’s sometimes the conversation when I stand on a scale and the voice in my head that lectures me on finances.

My bat-crazy-mad-fear is a real thing and I’m sure it’ll get packed in my bags when I move to the party in Brooklyn. I won’t pretend that I can master it or banish it from my days. That just sets me up for unnecessary, epic battles in the future. Bat-crazy-mad-fear is a thing that will keep showing up in my life, but I’m learning.

I’m learning that the fight is not so much about coming out swinging – not so much about the grip I’ve got on the sword. Instead of trying to strategize fear out of my life with the knowledge I have of the Word, I am learning to just love the Word more.

That’s it.

Just love the Word more.

“Fear not, for I am with you. . . . I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

When I read this, I don’t want to fight fear. I just love that God promises to strengthen, help, and uphold me with His righteous hand. He’ll do the fighting, I’ll do the believing. Because fear is coming to the party in Brooklyn and I need to believe God’s presence is always going to be a bigger deal.

Perfect love (not perfect people) will cast out fear.

So, I will stand in my imperfection and I will admit that fear is always lurking somewhere. I will get honest and broken about the bad-crazy-mad-fear that threatens my hope and then I’ll surrender to the love that can cast it out. Oh, and then I’ll pray that God will help my unbelief when I start thinking my sword-wielding is more important than the sword.