Social Media Break thoughts: Instagram

I've officially made it through 1/5 of my social media fast. And so far, I am loving it. This is what my heart needed in so many ways. 

I knew well before this last week that Instagram breeds envy in my heart. I've become a champion of unfollowing people I find myself rolling eyes at. When someone I've lost touch with becomes overly-grateful (listen, I'm all about gratitude, but with some people, it's just better if I don't know) or their marriages seem too perfect, I simply unfollow. I've yet to regret this, and I think I need to do it more. Instagram makes it easy to celebrate your life. And life is worth celebrating! But can I have the time of my life without 100 people validating with a double-tap how much fun I had? Can I treasure a friendship without putting it on blast? Can I be myself without being a brand?

Instagram often leaves me feeling like my life is lacking. And I confess that I want my Instagram presence to be enviable. Because really I want a cute life. I want a cute life, with cute shoes, and cute activities, and a cute boy (whose chest I always put my cute hand on, in every single picture). 

But God has not called me to a cute life. He has called me to my life. Which is better than cute. 

Ways I've broken my little fast:

  • I'm still on Pinterest and Groupme. I just felt like I should confess. I rarely check Pinterest and never interact with others on it. Groupme is just my jam.
  • I had to check Facebook the other day to see what time an event started. 
  • I'm getting my haircut this afternoon, so I had to check in on my hair idol, Connie Britton, and see what she's doing these days on Instagram. Looking to maybe move my part a little more to the middle. 

A December to Remember - Without Instagram

I love social media. I wish I could be cool enough to say, "yeah, I mean I have it, but I don't really use it except to keep up with some bands you've probably never heard of," but that's just not me. If I do something I want to snapstory it, capture it adorably to Instagram, and then have a mildly snarky tweet about it later. I keep Facebook around because about once a month it proves itself to be helpful. But, boy does it noisy. And, boy do I like the validation I get from it. 

I can tell you right now which of last week's tweets got eighteen favorites, and which got zero. I've been thinking about it for a while, and I've decided to take the first 25 days of December - or Advent - to just take a break. 

This morning I deleted the apps off my phone, and I can tell you already I am craving hopping back on. 

  • I wanted to show a student 567h8 - an instagram account that will actually enrich your life
  • There's a workout that Danielle Cevallos recently posted that I've been meaning to try
  • How else am I supposed to know what everyone else in the Skimmbassador's facebook group thinks of this week's This is Us episode that I watch yesterday, but today their opinions matter

I'm a big-time believer that I am a part of a generation that looks to quick-fixes for deep heart issues. When I feel lonely or bored, I scroll through a screen instead of the 100 other, better uses for my time. I settle for swallowing someone's sound bite, instead of reaching out in love to an old friend. I judge before I listen or seek to understand. 

I have two major thoughts about my social media sabbatical:

  1. I get really annoyed when people pat themselves on the back for quitting Facebook. So I feel quite hypocritical for writing a blog post doing just that. But I also know that I have to tell a lot of people I am doing something so that their potential perceived disappointment if I fail holds me accountable (this is also a great race-training strategy). I want to take a break from the social media world quietly, and break back in quietly. 
  2. I am eager and expectant for what God will do with this time. My hope is that my longing for cheap entertainment and connection will turn into a desire for real enjoyment and deeper friendships. That this time of waiting will be turned into real joy. Kind of like Christmas. 

 

A Turkey Recipe, A word on hobbies

On Tuesday I exited another hot yoga class with my friend Megan and thought, "I really love being bad at things." Which I then cataloged as a "weird thought." 

I've written before about how I've found joy in not excelling in my hobbies. Any long time reader of my blogs knows that I run slowly and I'm ok with it. There are just some things that I've been able to untangle my identity from and truly enjoy despite potentially embarrassing myself.

There's also so much joy in doing something that seemed impossible. Megan and I have both discussed our appreciation that you're not allowed to leave yoga class early because otherwise we would just quit. 

Here's a sweet picture of me and some RUF students after the Pittsburgh 10 miler. I walked the last three miles while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and hoping that my legs would not fall out of my hips.

 

 

They all sweetly waited for me to finish, because as I've said before the Northeast is RUF's best kept secret student-quality wise.

They all sweetly waited for me to finish, because as I've said before the Northeast is RUF's best kept secret student-quality wise.

Another bucket list item I crossed off in the last month was I cooked a turkey. It was way easier and less dramatic that everyone made it out to be. And it was so beautiful. Like I kept showing pictures of it to my friends during Friendsgiving. And at church this morning. And this afternoon.

 

Oh whoops. There it is. 

Oh whoops. There it is. 

How to make a no-drama Turkey

  1. Tell everyone you are in charge of the turkey for Friendsgiving and that you've never made a turkey before. This will lower your friends' expectations, and all the moms you know will give you all their pro tips.
  2. Buy your turkey in advance. The internet was very strong in this suggestionGet the cheap one from Trader Joe's. You've already lowered everyone's expectations, why raise your credit card statement?
  3. Remind everyone that this is your first turkey.
  4. After you've researched all the thawing instructions on the internet, and had a minor freakout, take the turkey out of the fridge several hours before the dinner.
  5. Brace yourself for gutting the turkey. Our sweet turkey only had a neck and giblets. It was disgusting and I made my nurse-roommate help me because she is more accustomed to bodies.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  7. Remind your friends that you love them so much that your willing to touch raw meat for them. Then start seasoning the turkey.
    1. Fill the "cavity" with 1/2 lemon. A ton of onions, carrots, and apples.
    2. Then realize that you forgot to add spices, so cram in salt, pepper, parsley, and basil.
    3. Rub Crisco all over. This Katharine Ritter pro-tip came to me by way of Sarah Howard, and I think really did the trick.
    4. Season the outside, again, try not to think about the raw-meat factor.
    5. Gently slide your turkey into an oven bag and throw in extra onions, apples and carrots and the rest of the lemon. This really helps your turkey look pretty later. 
    6. Discover a little cranberry juice in the fridge, and pour appx. 1/4 cup in the bag for good measure.
    7. Using craft twine you bought sophomore year of college, tie the feet of the turkey together, and close the oven bag, set your turkey on the turkey pan you are borrowing from your new best mom-friend at church. (Kimberly also has an amazing blog that you should check out. And she and her husband are Baylor grads, so you know they're solid.)
  8. Speak sweet affirmations to the turkey and slide it into the oven. Gweneth Paltrow is all about this with make-up. I have never followed any of her other instructions in life until this turkey. 
  9. The internet was also very mixed about how long it takes to cook a turkey. Ours was 18.44 pounds, and took 3.5 hours. I poked a ton of holes in the oven bag. And about one hour into the roast realized I didn't put flour in the bag as per the directions, so I just prayed the plastic wouldn't melt to the turkey and ruin friendsgiving. It didn't.
  10. Cook the turkey until your meat thermometer reads 165 in multiple places on the bird. 
  11. Allow the turkey to hang out outside of the oven for at least an hour before serving. 
  12. Make one of your guy friends cut the turkey when it comes time. You pulled a raw neck out of a bird's butt earlier, don't fret about pulling it's cooked bones a part. This is why God puts us in community with one another.
  13. Accept all compliments on the turkey. This is key. Don't make eye contact with your friends as their taking their first bites and try to read their minds. It doesn't work. 

Here is the hard thing about hospitality, and organizing Friendsgiving, and really life. You can't control people. You can only love them. You can't control outcomes. You can only pray for the best, prepare for the worst, and show off your accomplishments on your blog that all your mom's friends read. 

I'm learning that in owning failures and victories, I have more space to own my failure before the thrown of God, and rest in the victory of Christ. 

 

I'm into pink right now, and other things

October is almost over, and personally, I'm grateful. My opinions on fall echo my opinions on bacon, it's fine, but I don't really get the hype and sometimes it does weird things to my skin. 

And here's the sitch on Autumn in the Burgh: we actually have it. Like the air is crisp, and the leaves are beautiful, and everyone and their mother has set up their gourds, scarecrows, and "happy fall" signs. But fall is just pre-winter. And winter is not my jam. Cold weather makes me want to crawl in a hole, and holes are not a safe place for me, an extrovert.

Last year I experienced a "mild winter." To me, this feels like when Pittsburghers tell me Yuengling is a good beer, or traffics not that bad, or "hey Eat'n Park is good;" it feels like a lie. Anyway, last year was mild, and this winter is supposed to be worse, so I've come up with strategies to get me through:

  • Wear appropriate footwear - no Chacos below 50 degrees
  • Listen to happy music
  • Plan a beach trip
  • Be willing and ready to use my Rest Initiative counseling more often (side note: RUF's greatest ministry to their interns is the Rest Initiative. Seriously I am so grateful.)
  • Tell people I have strategies for winter so they hold me to them
  • Hot yoga
  • considering a tanning membership, yes I know it's bad. But also "you look tan" is my favorite compliment, ok?
  • Get amped about the things I can do in winter that I can't do in summer. Except most of those things involve the potential of falling, which is my greatest fear. So if you have a low-risk, outdoor winter activity you like, hit me up. 
  • Paint a wall of my room pink ?

I'm surprising even myself with that last one. Since about age nine I have detested the color pink. Just straight up thought it was dumb. But I don't know, I'm starting to like it. Right now I'm waiting on some pink paint to dry on a canvas so I can paint hanging leaves. Leaves are my new lions. 

Recently, the concept of hospitality has really been pressing in on me. First, I spent a year being salty about how inhospitable I felt Pittsburgh was, then I read this article, then listened to this sermon, then talked to my sweet friend Hannah about how I really just want to be an event planner, then I ordered this book as a part of the intern reading program.

So it's looking like this blog is going to get a little noisier about hospitality. I don't really know what that looks like yet. But stay tuned. I could be what happens when Martha Stewart, Beth Moore, and Tim Keller are thrown into a salad spinner. And if you're one of the people who stayed at my house this weekend when I didn't even clean my bathroom, or you've graciously eaten my over cooked chicken at taco night, you get the sweet privilege of say you were there at the start. 

This morning I got to share my testimony at church as a part of becoming a member, and I got up on stage, and just started talking and totally ignored the pre-written thing I had. Which was fine, except I had this great line that I totally forgot to say, so I'm saying it now.

Since finding out I would be coming to Pitt, I have likened myself to a few Old Testament characters. At first I felt like Jonah, two middle fingers up at what God has for me. Then like Job, suffering and complaining at a loss for perspective on who God is. Now I feel sort of like Esther, working through strategic party planning while not really knowing what God is up to, or what my future holds.

Busyness is not Holiness - A lesson I am relearning

As sure as the waves crash against the shore, as sure as the sun rises, Apple has rolled out a new update that I do not want. And I live in fear that I will accidentally accept it and no longer have to swipe right to open my phone.

In a recent e-mail to my RUF girlies I wrote, "Complaining about how busy you are is like complaining about traffic, or how hot it is outside. We know. We're all experiencing it too." 

In Pittsburgh, like pretty much anywhere where people are building their resumes, busyness is viewed as an unofficial fruit of the spirit. Some of my students seem to be in a competition to see who can sleep the least, eat the worst, and talk about it all the most. Time and again, I've been told that what I perceive as a lack of care or hospitality in the culture and church here is actually, "people are just busy." Meanwhile, I am so eager to fight against this in the name of soul-care, that I stress over being late to my pre-planned "rest" activities. 

But here's the deal, we make time for the things that are a priority. That which you do not have time for is not a priority. Which is actually super convicting when I start to think over the things I simply have not found the time to do; the current events I choose to ignore. 

Busyness has ugly side effects. Failing to love others well, care for ourselves, care for God's creation, serve His church. 

The greatest thing we could ever need to do has already been done for us in Christ on the cross. Activities cannot hold the weight of our identity, only Jesus can. And in Him we can find the freedom to invite others into our busy mess.

Often the realization that I am too busy makes me run in another direction of just getting busy with other things. Other things that will make God proud. But he is already proud of me, my busyness or lack thereof cannot change my status before him. 

I can do the most and never come close to what needs to be done. So I probably need a break from trying to do the most, and you, sweet reader, do to. 

Busyness is not holiness. Only God is, and through Christ, me too. 

Clown Town at the Feet of the Throne

It has recently come to my attention that there are certain phrases that I say that others do not. "Cool at the pool," "Scuttlebutt," "Taco Tico." There are other Gospel truths I throw around casual conversation perhaps too casually, "the world is still spinning and the Gospel is still true," and "we live in a broken and fallen world." These phrases ebb and flow with the hype/turnt/lit's of the vernacular. 

My sweet friends that I went to Nashville with this summer will tell you I said, "super dupe," way more times than anyone should say anything.

The two I've been hooked on lately are "clown town" and "(something negative about my day) but Jesus is on his throne." "Clown town" I'm pretty sure came from Rose Buddies, which if you're looking for a Bachelor recap podcast I would recommend 10/10, except that it's not for innocent ears, so you didn't hear about it from me your local ministry intern. It's also fun along side the phrase "not my circus, not my clowns" which I say quite often. "Jesus is on his throne" came about because we've started reading Hebrews in our staff meetings.

Last year we read the Psalms in staff meeting and I really appreciated it, because I feel like I can often identify with the drama of the Psalmists. I too speak in ultimatums, exaggerations, and finalities. And if I have enemies you already know it's the parking situation in South Oakland. 

Anyway, in Hebrews One, the author is talking about who Jesus is, specifically his role in the trinity. Our campus minister Derek (who no one would ever accuse of repeating himself, especially not me or anyone who has ever tried to talk to him about running) has said at all our staff meetings where we've read Hebrews that Hebrews one is an excellent place to look at if anyone is accusing Jesus of being a mere man.

I love the image that verse three provides,

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

Jesus sat down because his work was done. He made purification for sins, and is now seated on his throne. I love that. Where is Jesus? He's on his throne. The most important work, the work I need the most, is done.

The past few weeks have been clown town. They've been even more clown town for my students. We live in a broken and fallen world, and it so often feels like things are spiraling out of control, but Jesus on his throne.

The number of times I've spelled "thrown" instead of "throne"...

So today I am resting in God's loving sovereignty, his glorious majesty. That despite the apparent clown town, Jesus is on his throne. 

The Pre-School Freakout

An update: I updated my phone. Very excited about the new emojis. I've also had the same watch for 3+ years, but it broke and I got a new one. Lots of change over here.

This morning I sent my weekly "Wednesday E-mail" to my Pitt RUF girls, and promptly ate my words.

Here is the relevant part, but if you want to read the rest of the e-mail you can do so here.


Ok so, this morning I was talking to Rachel about how for the past like six academic years I've had a little freak out right before school starts. It usually starts out with me being generally excited, then I remember one responsibility, then like 12 more, then I would remember that if I failed one class, I would not graduate on time. And I couldn't not graduate on time because Baylor ain't cheap, and that didn't fit in with the perfect schedule I had in my head for my life. Then I would remember that at some point I would have to pay sorority dues, and it would all spiral into this "OH MY GOD MY LIFE IS FALLING APART AND THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO BUT CURL UP IN A BALL IN MY CLOSET AND CRY."

Or one time I cried/hyperventilated on the hike out of Crater Lake, I don't discriminate on location. It was all 30% rational stress, 70% lack of perspective on who God is. 

Every year. Except this one, but it could still happen. 

This past year I started this thing I call "throwing it up to the Lord." I realized after some particularly heavy one-on-ones that I am not in fact in control, and am simply incapable of carrying my own burdens let alone yours. So after I leave one-on-ones, as I'm praying, I literally lift my hands like I'm throwing a ball upwards. You may have seen me do this on Forbes Ave, if you haven't I would be more than happy to post a vid to my snapchat story this afternoon for your enjoyment. 

You don't know what this year is going to throw you, but I can promise you that you cannot do it on your own. You need Jesus. You need God's word. You need to throw this year up to the Lord. It could be the best school year yet, it could be the worst. But we have Immanuel, God with us. Not God on the side cheering us on, not God as the finish line. God with us. A God who is more in control, more loving, more true than we know. 

So this year, instead of a pre-freakout, let's pre-pray, and pre-let it go. 

"For we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." 
Romans 8:28


And then after I went to lunch I freaked out about how the school year is about to start. And year two of the RUF internship is basically like senior year of college where people ask you what you're doing all the time, and you had better have an answer. I had started to think that Romans 8:28 was true for everyone but me. 

I was half laughing at the irony of the situation/half wanting to cry to my Kacey Musgraves playlist because what on earth am I doing. And I was sitting in my pity party and opening God's word seemed taxing, but I'm super behind on the scripture part of the study program, and if you're going to climb out of a freakout hole, you have to do it one Gospel truth at a time. 

"But by the grace of God, I am what I am," 1 Corinthians 15:10.

By the grace of God, I don't have it all figured out. By the grace of God, I am in Pittsburgh. By the grace of God, I don't know where I'll be next year. By the grace of God, freshman outreach in three weeks is going to be beautifully hectic. By the grace of God, I'm starting half marathon training (I wrote that last one so I would actually do it, gotta use my fear of disappointing people to my advantage). By the grace of God, I am what I am. 

Deeper Friendships

I have not updated my iPhone in almost a year and a half because change stresses me out. I do not like it. Change I can control is fine, but change I don't have a say in is scary. I know, I'm missing out on the middle finger and upside down smiley face emojis. 

I just joined spotify a week ago, not because I have strong principles about paying artists for their craft, or because I want my children to be able to make fun of my old music tastes (which is what I told people [upside down smiley emoji]); but because change. 

Anyone that thinks I have glided smoothly into young adulthood with graceful bliss is sweetly mistaken. I've recently had a lot of people tell me "it looks like you're having fun!" I am. I also almost cried at Trader Joe's yesterday because there were a lot of people, and I was hungry, and I wanted to buy a new duvet at IKEA, but that stuff ain't cheap. 

I say this, not as an irksome "lol if you think I'm perfect" blog post. No one thinks that, I know. I recently told someone that exactly zero of the Pitt RUF students are under any illusion that my life is "all together." You're welcome kids. But I think it's valuable information to know that the sixth months after graduating college were some of the most challenging, least cute months of my life. 

Like senior year of high school, college, motherhood, probably retirement (but those people don't write a lot of blog posts...) post-grad is a season life is often glamorized and often under-delivers for a little while. However, that doesn't mean it can't be super sweet. It doesn't mean it you can't have fun. I am living in the golden era of friendship in my life thus far, and that's after telling my college friends that I felt confident I would never have "real" friendships in Pittsburgh. 

Living in this golden era, I fail at friendship pretty regularly, but I've got a good little squad that let's me quirk it up anyway. 

I have the following thoughts for making the most of the hardest season for friendship.

  • If you move to a new city, don't immediately insult what appears to be a core value of that city. I did this with cargo shorts in Pittsburgh. I am still living that down. There are people that know me as "the girl that hates cargo shorts" and I know them as the boys that wear cargo shorts. We're all sinners living in a broken world. 
  • Acknowledge the hardness of the situation. It is totally ok to ask God for better friends. We are made for community. The weird thing about not being in school is not seeing your friends every day, or even regularly, so it's harder and takes longer to make meaningful relationships. 
  • Ask people to be your friend. Almost every young adult I know is in a place where they want more friends, but it's like we've all agreed not to talk about it. Hop over that foolishness, and tell that new cool person that you need more friends and you want to be friends. 
  • There's only so much friendship that can grow in one hour meetings every few weeks, sometimes this is all you're going to get, but fight against it, hang out with the same person twice in the same week. It's gold. 
  • Go to the trampoline park. Last fall the guys are now my most dear neighbors invited me to go a trampoline park with a group of people on a Friday night. Looking back now, I have literally no clue why they invited me, and I don't really remember why I went, but I do remember feeling self-conscious about not being able to do any cool trampoline tricks beforehand. It turned out to be totally ok that I'm not a super jumper. 
  • I've said this before, but hospitality is invaluable. Host a regular dinner/brunch/porch drinking. Make it an open invitation. Keep it going. Fellowship happens best over the breaking of bread together. Be a gatherer. 
  • Let go of unfair expectations. Really this goes for every area of life. But you're life will not look like an episode of "Friends." Because it will be better, because it's yours and hopefully you'll have a job you actually go to.  

Last night I was playing the fast-pace locomotive strategy board game that is "Ticket to Ride" and I had a moment of "if I was watching a video of my life now a year ago I wouldn't have believed it." We can't know the work God is doing in our lives. You can't know the foundations you are laying on awkward coffee meet ups, or when you introduce yourself to the girl next to you in spin class. 

Sometimes you'll be friends with more guys that wear cargo shorts than you ever thought possible. And God is good in that way.

Bigger Dreams

This season of life is feeling a little bit like my senior year of college, people keep asking me what I'm going to with my life (which I totally do too, so no blame) and just go into this five minute long spiel (did you know that's how that word is spelled? Raise your hand if you learned something new today!) l about how I really have no clue, I just know I like not having sit in the same place all day, but really God has never not provided for me so I'm not going to stop trusting him, but it'd also be nice to have some sort of direction. 

This season of life is also incredibly sacred. Several people told me how beautiful Pittsburgh is in the summer. These are some of the same people who think Yuengling tastes good, that putting french fries on a salad is an acceptable thing, and that Steel Cactus has a good chips situation (you can't be mad at people that have never been to Torchy's, but come on); so I didn't totally trust them. But summer in Pittsburgh was undersold. Summer 2016 is slowing catching up to summer 2014 as the best summer ever. 

A few days ago I replaced the Princess Diaries quote on my bathroom mirror with a list of general prayers for the next year: "Bigger dreams, Deeper friendships, More compassion." 

Anyone who has ever given me one inch of brainstorming space knows that I am not short on ideas that probably won't work. I'm totally a "let's throw it all to the wall and see what sticks" kinda gal. I have a lot of ideas, but not a lot of dreams because dreams might not come true, then I might be disappointed and I handle disappointment like your average four-year-old. Not well.

But my sweet friend Steph Poe is really great about speaking to my dreams. She is also really good at being my "Katherine, you are being dumb" friend, which everyone needs. If you don't have a friend that tells you when you are being dramatic and pays you for babysitting with soy candles, you are doing life wrong. 

I often get caught in a "God is sovereign, he's going to get his way, so what's the point of dreaming" web, and really that's fooey. Because it's actually a little more like "God is sovereign, and I am deeply loved, so I can step out in faith, and dream big dreams, because my motivation, my satisfaction, my identity is in the Gospel, and that's not going anywhere." 

So anyway, I'm really grateful to be young, single, and living in Pittsburgh because I get to do fun things like take weekend trips to Niagara Falls, and answer 10:30pm phone calls from college students, and paint cows on canvases on my boy neighbor's front porch on a Saturday morning, and dream big dreams. 

The Art of Being Bad at your Hobbies

When I started running, really running, about two years ago I was cruising at about a twelve minute mile. Now, two years, countless 5ks, three 10ks, and a half marathon later I still average a twelve minute mile on a good day. You may notice that I have not improved, because I have not. I run farther distances. Some days I feel really runnery and do a sprint work out. But then my neck gets weirdly sore and I go back to distance. Five miles ain't no thing. It will take me a little over an hour. That's just how I put one foot in front of the other. 

Young adulthood has held a lot of change, see all of my other blog posts. But in the year since graduating college, since I no longer have homework and sorority life to occupy my time, I have hobbies. None of which I am excellent at.

There is certainly a time and place for excellence. As a Christian, I believe that I am called to do all things to the glory of God. But I think this can look like settling for less-than-excellent when it comes to hobbies, or activities done for the purpose of rest. 

I have a few reasons for this, none of which are super developed. But I get a lot of joy out of and experience a lot of freedom in pursuing activities that I know I'm just bad at. I'm a very goal-oriented person, and it's just really good for me to have some non-goal areas of life. For example....

Painting. I met this girl at a wedding who paints wedding bouquets among other things, so I started following her on instagram, and in one post she encouraged her followers to "just pick up some brushes and paint," so I did. And y'all, it is usually very abstract, and very simple. But I love it. I started painting on cardboard instead of canvas, because it's cheaper, and I have a ton of amazon boxes just waiting to be recycled. I've painted lions, Pittsburgh's skyline, a door, flowers, and it usually gets thrown away or shoved into my "art corner." Also pro-tip for gathering gal pals: buy cheap acrylic paint, and on sale canvases, and get painting.  It's just the most relaxing time. Plus I get to use that creative side of my brain. 

Yoga. I love a good yoga class. But I never try to find a good yoga class, just one of those things. I used to try to follow along with youtube videos, but I would always get bored 12 minutes in, and end up checking facebook. But then a few months ago I started a nightly routine of yoga before bed. And it's amazing. I roll out my yoga mat in my room (I try to vacuum before or else I get distracted by the amount of hair I've shed that day), put an episode of the Office on my laptop and stretch it out. It would probably make an actual yogi crazy how little attention I pay to technique or actual yoga patterns. Mostly I just do a lot of warrior/downward dog/child pose/that one that I think is called pigeon. 

Running. When I took that running class at Baylor, it really bothered me that I was the slowest person. I wrote a great blog post about it, but that website is down, and I can't figure out how to bring it back. But trust me when I say, that the Lord really used that class to humble me. Running makes me happy, it's good thinking time, I love accomplishing little goals that have nothing to do with pace. Plus no matter how slow you're going, people still give you the runner's nod. 

Entertaining. I love having people in my home. I recently bought a book on etiquette/party-throwing by Kate Spade New York, and it is making me feeling very excited and very inadequate about future events hosted by yours truly. So I've moved "entertaining" from category "want to be known for how awesome I am" to "hobby." That way I can just get away with cleaning my bathroom and not having crisp hand-towels available to my guests. 

Which really brings this blog post home. This past weekend I was talking to a friend about how we used to be shining stars, and just don't feel like we are in our new respective cities, but how that's probably God's grace towards us. I am not called to be a shining star. I am not called to be the best at all that I do. I am called a beloved child of the King. And he gives me the freedom to hold the warrior two pose for a shorter time than I would at some fancy yoga studio. 

An Open Letter to the @odessyrejects twitter account which makes me laugh

One of the beautiful things about the University of Pittsburgh is their commitment to giving students four months of summer, which means that for me the school year is pretty much over. Praise hands. 

The end of the school year has made me all sorts of sentimental, reflective, sappy, and also totally lost on what day of the week it is since we haven't had small groups this past week. 

A couple of ministry and life updates and just some things I'm super grateful for:

Next week the Pitt RUF staff, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 Pitt students, are headed down to Panama City, Florida for RUF summer conference. We're going to spend a week on the beach, attending seminar, large group, and strengthening friendships. I'll also be stocking up on vitamin D so I can make it through next winter I'm super excited. Our students are super excited. It's going to be awesome.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, I'm fifty shades of grateful for my community in Pittsburgh. My expectations for post-grad friendships were low, and these people have blown those up. 

Here are my tips on making friends in a new city as a young single person:

  1. Pray, pray, pray. 
  2. Ask people to be your friend. When I first met my gal pals Sam and Caitlin, I thought they were amazing, so at the end of our coffee date, I was "Hey, y'all are cool, will you please be my friends?" And now we're friends. They're still amazing and sometimes let me show up in tears on their front door. These are the people you need. 
  3. Host a weekly dinner. As an extrovert, I would eat every single meal with my friend group if that were possible. I make tacos because most Pittsburghers don't have very high expectations for tacos and tacos are easy, I would make pierogies in Texas, or fish in Kansas. Ask your friends that you asked to be your friend to bring things every once in a while, but also know that hospitality is such a sincere form of generosity. Plus the more you cook for your guy friends, the more likely they are to help you when you have to go to the hardware store. 

I'm super psyched for year two as an RUF intern. I will be continuing to lead and develop a Greek Life bible study, as well as going hard in the paint with freshmen outreach. Every time I see my freshmen girls from this year, I am just so proud of them and how much they've grown over the past year. I first met them as basically high schoolers, and now they're basically college sophomores. 

In my oh my gosh the year is over reflection, I've been thinking a lot about how God has been so faithful this year. Really, really faithful. In the tears, in the laughter, in the community, in the loneliness, God has been there, and God has been at work. I am so grateful to be able to stand at this halfway point and look back about the past twelve months as an intern, and be full of hope and promise for next year. 

It's been good. 

In other less, reflective news, yesterday I discovered the twitter account @odysseyrejects and I was rolling on the floor. If you have college girls in your facebook news feed, you need this in your life. 

Also, I am currently in the process of fundraising for year two. If you would like to help close the $12,000 gap, you can do so here, make sure to type in my name. Thank you!

Wonder and Be Astounded

This semester has just been plain wild. Wild good. But gosh I have yet to have a "normal" week. 

Back when I moved into my house in August, I stuck two post-its on the mirror of my bathroom (my bathroom that does not have a ceiling, that has a toilet that requires two flushes 60% of the time, the plug on the sink is 80% of the way down, and will not come back up, and I also want you to know I have to side-step the furnace to get into my shower)(for as crazy as this state is about car inspections you would think there would be something about bathrooms in rental houses, but I digress). One is a quote from Princess Diaries, "well, this is about as good as it's gonna get;" Princess Diaries is one of my favorite movies, and this line always makes me smile. On the other post-it is Habakkuk 1:5, which I am just now realizing the irony of juxtaposing the two. 

Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.

This has become the verse of my year and it's mostly because back in August when I was trying desperately to make the green-glowing, low-ceilinged, former garage that is my bedroom feel homey I looked through the Naptime Diaries print shop. And I liked this print because it had a map on it, and ever since I won the Deerfield Elementary School geography bee in sixth grade, I've loved maps. Like I find looking at maps soothing. I took the verse and ran with it. 

In summary, thanks to the fact that I knew that Spain was the "olive oil capital of the world" in 2005, I have a verse that has become my anthem. Because I feel like that is exactly what has happened in the past year, I would not have believed if told, but God is doing a big, big work. 

There are doors of ministry being opened wide with welcome mats already laid out. And it's really cool to be a part of it. There is growth and redemption in areas of my heart that I had neatly packed away to be talked about never. And I get to work with the most incredible students ever, and I love it. 

And I think the thing to wonder and be astounded at the most, is that God would love a sinner like me. But he does. And He invites to come along and serve, and occasionally think I'm good at it, then get prideful, then experience humility, and wonder and be astounded at the whole thing all over again. 

Tacos, Rock Climbing, and Latte Art

An anecdote to start us out: I just said out loud to my empty house, "Oh yeah, I have La Croix!" and jumped up and danced. So if you have room temperature La Croix at your house, you have a reason to celebrate too.

A question I keep getting asked, having successfully survived my first semester as an RUF intern is, "has your experience matched your expectations?" And I have really no way to answer this without pointing back to the Gospel. More on that in a minute. 

My time in Pittsburgh has been more wonderful, more challenging, more joyful, more heartbreaking, than I ever could have imagined. There I have been fewer parking spots, tears, and miles ran than I planned on. But it's all in God's grace. 

The ever-wise Bethany McCraw once told me, "God protects us from knowing what he has in store because we wouldn't be able to handle it." Amen. I feel like this has been especially true of post-grad life. 

Had you told me one year ago that I would be spending my Saturday afternoon at a climbing gym with my guy friends, I would have said, "Sorry, I think you have the wrong number."

God is gracious in both the ways He gives us more than we deserve, and in the ways He protects us from what we want. Other than the weather, and the apparent total lack of infrastructure, I love Pittsburgh; a feat that seemed impossible just months ago. 

I also have all these new hobbies: spin class, painting, going to Espresso a Mano and hoping the red-headed barista draws a heart in my latte, being annoyed about Serial's new schedule, hosting Taco Night, buying winter gear (I wear hats now!), La Croix, and perfecting my kale chips recipe. 

It's all Grace. 

God loves me more than I will ever know, and I am more sinful than I will ever be self aware enough to admit. If I knew the depths of either I would overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion. So praise hands for everyday glimpses of both. 

Things I am loving right now:

  • The "Fifth Harmony" Pandora Station. You're welcome Drea. 
  • "Nobody's Cuter than You" by Melanie Shankle
  • MY SPACE HEATER - nothing has drastically improved my quality of life so quickly ever before. Absolutely essential for Winter in Pittsburgh Basement Living

Welcome!

Welcome to the new blog!

My domain rights were up on the old blog, and there's a ton of little reasons, but I am so excited to start a new blog with a new name. 

Being real, I can't totally remember how I came up with the name "Unofficial Seating Charts" back in 2012, but I think it had something to with God teaching me a series of lessons on giving up my extreme planning tendencies. Those of you who know me well will know that control is still an idol for me, but more recently, and more loudly God has been teaching me about His Grace. Grace has been a theme throughout my whole life, and especially in this first season in Pittsburgh I've been growing in finding Grace. Grace in the mundane, Grace in the unexpected, Grace in the wild.

2015 was a wild year, 80% absolutely incredible and life-giving, 20% I'm ok if I never have to do that again. Since this time last year I've ran a half marathon, graduated college, moved cross-country, helped my parents move cross-country, lost two grandparents, been on 18 flights, blown out two tires, started a new job, left friends, made new friends, learned what "pierogis" are, raised $35,000 for my salary and expenses with RUF, joined a fantasy football league, and somehow managed to do a headstand. Plus some more stuff. 

And 2016 is shaping up to be quite a ride as well. So I hope that you'll join me here in Found Graces as I look to connect my story to the greater story of God's Grace.