I'm home now, I'm coming around

Seven months ago I got a letter in the mail from my apartment complex with the reminder that it was time to renew my lease.  I took a month to pray about what to do because I needed to move, if only simply for the reason that my rent was too high.
Six months ago I made the decision not to resign and thought to myself, I have two months to find a new place to live. Mostly thinking about which surrounding suburb to look for a place in.
Three months ago I moved to Minnesota.
Today I came home from work with the strong desire to make something.  I had all the ingredients for soup but my recipe was for making it in a slow cooker.  Because it’s been cold with a few little flurries, soup sounded like the right thing.  So I decided that I would experiment with making the soup on the stove.
So I cooked the quinoa.  I cooked the chicken.  I started mixing all the things into the big soup pot and as I did I recapped my day.  Something about the stirring motion and watching all the ingredients swirl in the pot slowed my mind enough to think through the small moments of my day.   What seemed inconsequential in the moment now flooded my senses.  That moment in the hall with this person, that side conversation, that deep breath in while I felt the warm cup in my hands.
It wasn’t a particularly interesting day, a pretty standard Monday.  But as I took stock of the day I couldn’t help but smile because I’m starting to feel settled.
I had a conversation recently with a friend about what “home” means.  She’s married and has created a home with her family.  When she thinks about home and family she thinks of the one she has now – not her family of origin.  I think that’s really true of people who are in that stage of life – married with children – they have this space they created with their spouse, their traditions, etc.  But for those of us not in that life stage – what is home?
Life pre-marriage tends to have less stability (or so it seems) – so our idea of home and family is still wrapped up in our family of origin.  But the problem is, I haven’t really lived in my mom’s house for almost a decade.
I often feel a little stuck in the in-between.  My hope is still that someday I’ll be married.  I’ll create a space with someone else that is just ours.  And because of that everything in this stage seems temporary because I’m renting and I know it’s not long term.  But I’m not yet ready to buy a house or a condo.  So “my home” needs to stay a concept for a little longer in that this exact space I’m living in – this one bedroom apartment filled with all of my things – is not a forever space.
But that’s okay.  It’s all lessons in learning to be content in my stage of life.  Hope for the future can still exist but while I’m here in this space, I might as well set up camp.
As I reflected today I thought about how I love my church.  I love the people around me.  I see the potential of some really meaningful friendships and community spaces.  I’m three months in and starting to have rhythm.  I’m starting to feel more comfortable reaching out to people.  I’m finding my place here in this physical space.
Tonight in the simple act of cooking myself dinner I realized that this place is feeling more and more like a a place I could call home.
*blog title from Tegan and Sara’s The Con

#FridayFive – the perks of being 30

I’m only ONE day late this time!  I’m going to get the hang of this by the end of the month.   #FridayFive was started by my fellow FTL Launch Team member who writes a blog called Mrs. Disciple.  Each Friday she posts a topic for us all to write on and a place for all of us to link up.  Today, as I wandered over to her site and I scrolled through her post I realized that she and I actually met in Austin.  We chatted for a few minutes after dinner at this great BBQ place and I didn’t realize she was the same woman that writes this blog – which I’ve grown to love.  So sorry, Kelly, for being so slow on the uptake!  (That’s the phrase right?) That just goes to show you how crazy that weekend in Austin really was for all of us.
Anyways, without further ado… This week’s #FridayFive is:

The Perks of Being 30 (and single)

I’m throwing my own little flair into this one – adding the “and single” part for me.  So many times in my life I get asked why I’m still single at my age, whether overtly or more subtly.  And no – not by anyone who actually has a relationship with me, but it comes up.  So I’m taking this chance to be a little thankful for the life that I lead.
Confidence in myself – It wasn’t like a magical switch on the day I turned 30, although that would be nice.  But it’s a been a slow feeling growing within myself over the last few years.  I’ve suddenly began to find that self-confidence people are always telling me about.  The one that comes from actually listening and believing the encouragements people give me and owning those things I’ve been gifted.
Getting to be the fun Aunt – not just to my three little loves but to all my friends’ kids.  This is an extremely rare opportunity that I get to have where I get to invest in the lives of my friends and their littles.  Being so far away from my own family, it means that much more to me to be able to be Auntie Alicia to my friends’ kids.  I realize that this stage won’t last forever, but for now, I’m loving the opportunity.
Stability – It took me a while to get to this place.  I’ve moved around a lot since college – I always had an expiration date on my position, on my living situation, on my time in any given city.  But now, this place I’m in, it’s more permanent.  It feels stable but not stale.  It definitely feels like I could be here for a while.  I have a great job, a great apartment, great friends – all in all, it’s a great life.
Friends – Oh these friends of mine.  Being 30 means that I have adult friends – real adult friends.  There’s something about being a little bit older and making friends – it’s at the same time extremely hard and extremely rewarding.  It takes work because you aren’t just naturally surrounded by like minded people the way you were in college, in grad school – but it’s also extremely rewarding because we’ve grown out of our insecurities and mean spiritedness.  We’re kinder, we’re more accepting and we’re more vulnerable.  My friends are amazing, they love me well through all the ups and downs of life.  It took me a while to find them, but now I have them and I want to hold onto them forever.
Free Time – Even though my job keeps me really busy, I also have a fair amount of free time.  Time to read, write letters, color in coloring books (yes I’m serious), hang out with friends, etc.  It’s a perk of being single and again, I realize it won’t last forever.  But for now, I’m really enjoying the independence and flexibility of spending my time exactly as I would like to.

That was fun!  Looking around at this stage of life and taking stock of what I’m thankful for in this time.  I know these things will change, will only get better as I move through the stages of life.  But for now, I’m really enjoying this time of life.  I didn’t freak out about turning 30 like I feared I would a few years ago.  I ran full throttle into my thirties.  Thirty, flirty and thriving – ain’t that right?

our whispered words are louder than bombs

I have a very clear memory from a solitude retreat I took my second year of Seminary.  It comes back to me frequently, like a still voice from the Spirit reminding me to keep myself in check.
I was taking a walk through the neighborhood by the church I was currently attending (that I now work at).  I was walking past all of these cute houses with kids playing in the yard and I felt that feeling that most single girls of a certain age feel… I want that.  I don’t want to be stuck here in Seminary.  I want to be in my call.  I want to know where I’ll be spending the rest of my life (or just the first chapter).  I want to know who I will be spending it with.  I want to have the wrap around porch where I can sit with my friends and watch our kids play.  I don’t want this – I want that.
Then a line from the Shauna Niequist book I was reading at the time rang through my ears, “Don’t try to fast forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned.”  (From Bittersweet).
I didn’t know then that that neighborhood would be one I would drive through several times a week once I received my first call.  That neighborhood would be one I would take prayer walks in with our kids on our All Church Retreat.  That neighborhood would be canvased by me, alongside our leadership team and staff.
That moment floods back to me a lot.  When I see someone or some situation that I wish I had in my life, Shauna’s words continue to ring true in my ears.  It reminds me that I still have a great life to live right here right now.  All that stuff awaits me in the future – maybe, who knows?  I know there are things in life that I want to have, that I want to experience.  And I know that my God loves me and wants to give me the desires of my heart – in his way, in his timing.
I know someone who says that when we’re waiting it’s because God still has something left to teach us.  The immature person in me wants to tell God I’ve learned enough – I’m ready for my hearts’ desires.  But the mature person in me tells me that there are mountains of lessons to learn before I’m fully ready for that next step.  I’m still in process, as hard as it is to admit – it’s true.
Jesus tells us not to worry in the Sermon on the Mount (See Matthew 6).  He tells us to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, live righteously and he will give you everything you need.  Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Some days I need to repeat this to myself multiple times.  Some days I live it out without reminders.  And plenty of days fall in between the two extremes.  I just continuously remind myself that in a world where I’m told my worth is determined by whether or not I have a ring on that finger and kids in tow, those messages are not from God.  That is a future that I have not yet earned.  For now, I will seek the Kingdom of God above all else, try my hardest to live righteously and trust in the fact that He will give me what I need, when I need it.