Preparations

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Post written 1/3/2013

Looking forward to 2013, I realize this is my last full year before my planned move to Denver. While I don’t yet have an exact timeline for the move, I know that my time in North Carolina is fleeting.

Knowing that my time here is limited has helped me focus my goals. A lot of this went into my 101 in 1001 list, but it has also fueled me to do everything I want to do before I go.

Part of that goes into thinking about where I want to visit and what I want to do before I leave the East Coast. But more, I think about the type of person I want to be when I make that cross-country trek with all my belongings.

And when I think of that, I know that I have to saturate myself in God’s Word.

Read it.

Memorize it.

Meditate on it.

Allow those precious words to be the prayer of my heart.

So that’s what I’m seeking to do, recommitting to my Scripture reading and memorizing.

Photo by notashamed

Bring the Sunglasses

While I was unable to tell you all about Denver for the last two years, I still had things I wanted to tell you. In February 2012, I finally broke down and started writing blog posts about Denver, but just saved them as drafts. Here is the first of the series, originally written 2/29/2012.

Did you all know that Denver is cold?

Of course you know that. Denver is the “Mile High City” after all. It gets colder when you go that far “up.” Less air molecules up there bouncing around and all that.

Denver is also 2 degrees latitude further north than where I grew up (Wichita, KS) and 4 degrees latitude further north than where I live now (Raleigh, NC). Denver is in line with the Southern Pennsylvania border, if that gives you East Coasters a frame of reference. (I currently live parallel to Oklahoma City for all you middle country people.)

And the snow. It regularly snows from October to April, but of course can and sometimes does snow outside of those months. The average annual snowfall is 61 inches (just over 5 feet!).

I have never liked the “crunch crunch” of walking on snow. But in the past 7 years or so, I’ve been exposed to some large snow fall amounts on a couple of trips, and I wondered if God was preparing me for living with it. I guess He was!

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a warm weather kinda person. I spent a summer in Phoenix and loved it though it was the hottest July on record for the city at the time. So why on earth would I agree to move to Denver?

Well, besides the whole gospel-motive. (Everything dims in comparison to that, anyway.)

Denver is sunny y’all. (Do I have to re-give up “y’all” if I move out of the South? I’m totally okay with that!) Like 300 sunny days a year sunny. This one fact alone makes up for the year-round chilly nights, five feet of snow, and cool-and-cold winters (the weather changes a lot there). It may be further north and higher up ,but it still gets 400 hours more of sunshine a year than Raleigh.

I’ll be sure to be buying a good winter coat and snow boots, but I’ll also make sure that I pack my sunglasses.

Colorado Move FAQ

When I tell people about my upcoming move, I get any of a number of questions, understandably. Here are some answers to those questions:

When are you going?

I’ll be leaving North Carolina at the end of April. After spending a couple of weeks in Kansas with family as my stuff makes it’s own journey, I’ll end up in Colorado mid-May.

What will you be doing for a job?

Good question. I don’t know what I’ll be doing to earn a living! I will be seeking full-time employment in some capacity. I’m financially prepared for this hunt to take a few months, though I’d love it if it didn’t.

What’s your role with the church plant?

I’ll not have any formal title, but I hope to play an integral role. In a church there are numerous things that have to be done…and I hope to help with many things: ministry, setup, outreach, etc.

What about a church building?

While many people think of a “church” as a building, that’s not how I’m using it here. Of course, as a church, we’ll meet in a building of some type, but we will likely not have a building of our own for some time. It’s not that important to the true functions of the church.

Why Denver?

I was prepared to go wherever my friends were going, but I was pumped to find out it was Denver. Ever since moving to North Carolina 8 years ago, I assumed that at some point I’d be heading west to help with a church plant. Of course, I didn’t expect it would take me so long to actually act upon that.

I’ve never felt like I’ve fit in the south. The people here are great, but they often have different thoughts and views than I do. Me and my hippie ways will fit in better in Denver, where I’ll get to use my hippiness to reach out to others.

Are you just going to Denver to get baked?

Ha, no. The decision to move to Denver happened before the legalization of marijuana there. I have no more interested in pot than I ever have (which is to say, no interest).

How will you handle the weather?

Everyone knows that Denver gets a good bit of snow. I don’t particularly like to be out in the snow, but I’ll survive.

What most people don’t know is that Denver is particularly sunny. It’s 300 days of sun a year is more than known sunny destinations like southern Florida or California. Sure, it can get cold in winter, but overall, their winters are fairly mild.

The altitude and dry conditions make for wild temperature swings during the day. That’s great for my hippy tendency of not using A/C.

Aren’t you scared to go alone?

I’d be lying if I said I was fearless. But I don’t really feel like I’m going alone. My friends are already in Denver and visiting there last week I met a few others that were all really welcoming.

More importantly, as a believer I know that I never go anywhere alone. God is always for and with me. Recently Psalm 37:23-24 has been coming to mind a lot:

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”

What a comfort!

Go West, Young Woman

Downtown Denver as seen from one of the apartments I was considering.

I’ve not been too chatty around here lately. One reason, is that the thing that has been on my mind the most, I’ve not been sharing on social media.

But that changes today.

Later this spring, I’ll be moving, Lord-willing, from Raleigh, North Carolina to Denver, Colorado.

Here’s the story of how I came to this point:

In October 2011, I lost my job of 6 years. I was aware that the days were numbered at our non-profit in the couple of months leading up to that point, so I started praying and exploring what God might have for me next. Early on, I remember the leader of my church small group at the time suggest considering church planting*. I quickly and firmly shot the suggestion down.

But God had other plans. Within a month, I spent a very tearful Sunday that led to me asking our pastoral staff about church planting opportunities. The North American Church Planting Foundation was having their annual conference that week, so I was invited to attend.

At the conference, I sat next to a friend. When I found out from her that her husband was planning on leading a church planting team, I was sold. I didn’t know when or where they were going, but having worked alongside them in the children’s ministry for several years, I knew that was who I wanted to go with. While I did prayerfully considered the details and sought counsel, I never really had any reservations.

That was over 2 years ago. Since then I found a job that I loved, but my long-term plan has never changed. As hard as the thought of leaving what I have here is, I’m comforted by Matthew 19:29:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”

The sacrifice I’m making is truly a small one, especially in light of all that can be gained. I’ll post again late this week answering the common questions I get, but feel free to ask more in the comments!

*Church planting is where people (usually a team) leave one church (with its blessing) to start another, usually in a different area.

A Captivating Story

I recently reread C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy, recording myself reading it for my niece. I’ve always found The Horse and His Boy the most awkward book in the Chronicles of Narnia, because it’s the only one of the seven whose protagonists are not children from our world, but from Narnia’s.

Upon this rereading, I felt a greater appreciation for what it adds to the series, in particular the understanding of Aslan, the great Lion (the Christ-type in the stories).

One of the characters (a talking horse) speaks ignorantly of Aslan before he really knows him:

“No doubt,” continued Bree, “when they speak of him as a Lion they only mean he’s as strong as a lion or (to our enemies, of course) as fierce as a lion. Or something of that kind. Even a little girl like you, Aravis, must see that it would be quite absurd to suppose he is a real lion. Indeed, it would be disrespectful. If he was a lion he’d have to be a Beast just like the rest of us. Why!” (and here Bree began to laugh) “If he was a lion he’d have four paws, and a tail, and Whiskers!” (p. 214-215, emphasis added)

Not to ruin the book for you, but at that very moment, the speaker feels the tickle of whiskers of the great Lion and sees him at his side, revealing him to be very much a real lion in every way.

This passage speaks allegorically of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the greatest miracle of Christmas. To many, I imagine it seems quite ridiculous that Christians speak of the Son of God (complete in his divinity) being born as a human being.  It wouldn’t be surprising if many imagined that we are speaking metaphorically when we speak like this. To paraphrase the passage above, “If the Son of God were a man, he’d have two hands, feet that get dirty and bowels!” Yes, as a baby, Jesus cried and had dirty diapers…he was a baby.

The incredulity of this aspect of the faith is one of the things that makes the Christian story so compelling to me.

Hasn’t there ever been a story that so captivated you that you wanted to live a part of it? That’s what the Christian narrative is for me. But the overwhelming, incredible thing is that I do get to be a part of it.

I, like the foolish prince in Lewis’s story, get a chance of mercy and grace, when I have done nothing to deserve it. Then I’m called to use the gifts I’ve been given to further the story.

I’m thankful for this reminder at Christmastime. May you too, find grace and mercy in Christ this season, maybe even for the first time.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8, ESV

Note: Please don’t be off-put by my calling the Bible a “story” or a “narrative.” I do not use these terms to imply that it is in any way fictional.

Thankfully Reading Weekend

I had a lovely Thanksgiving last week with my family. The thing is, I’ve already had it. So now I have 4 days off work with nothing scheduled until regular events on Sunday.

This makes me really excited. I love time with my family, but I also love time alone. Me, my pajamas, a couch, some sports on my TV and some books to read.

So when I heard of “Thankfully Reading Weekend” I knew I had to join in.

I don’t really have any plans for what I’ll be reading, other than my usual fair. I still have Stephen King’s The Stand that would be great to get further into. I’m also behind on the number of books I wanted to read for the year, so it’d be nice to make some progress on that as well. (obviously reading long books like The Stand doesn’t help that one)

I don’t know how much I’ll read over the next 4 days as I’ll be taking a casual approach to reading, but there will be a book nearby at all times, if it’s not in my hand. Looking forward to this down time!

I hope you have a great holiday as well!

Day 334

Today is day 333 in my 101 in 1001 goal challenge. That means I’m 1/3 of the way through! So how am I doing?

All told, I’ve completed 36.6% of my goals. If you know you’re math, you know that I’m just past where I need to be to complete them all.

Specifically, I’ve completed 27 goals:

1. Stargaze.
6. Watch a sunset.
7. Watch 10 movies I’ve wanted to see.
8. Complete a 1000-piece puzzle.
10. Host a game night.
12. Stay in my pajamas for at least 24 hours.
13. Wear earrings at least 20 days in a month.
16. Say “yes” to 10 things I would have said “no” to.
17. Stay off Facebook and Twitter for a week.
19. Try sushi.
20. Ask 5 friends to suggest a book, and read them.
22. Visit a farmers’ market.
29. Walk 10,000 steps/day for a week.
39. Floss every day for a month.
41. Eat no fast food for a month.
46. Write an “if anything happens to me” letter.
53. Give up non-sports TV for a month.
62. Send an international care package.
63. Volunteer 101 hours.
65. Go to the beach.
67. Visit a state I’ve never been to.
69. Man an Easter wreath.
71. Leave a $20 tip.
76. Get a raise.
77. Get new responsibility at work.
78. Wear a skirt or dress to work 50 times.
79. Read 3 business/productivity books.

I’m in progress on 26 goals:

58. Donate $1001 (above what I give to the church). 95.9%
52. Make a list of 101 things I’m thankful for. 80.2%
72. Have $X in savings. 74.4%
55. Write 101 letters or encouraging emails. 69.3%
14. Reread (or listen to the audio of) 20 books. 65%
83. Read 5 scholarly works. 60%
86. Try 10 new recipes. 60%
48. Read the Bible through in 5 different versions. 46.4%
40. Get annual physicals. 33.3%
61. See my niece 6 times. 33.3%
75. Replace/remove 3 personal care or household items with cheaper alternatives. 33.3%
74. Pay down student loan to below $X. 32.7%
82. Read 250 books. 30.8%
57. Donate 101 items to the food pantry. 30.7%
45. Journal 500 times. 30.2%
60. Throw out/recycle/donate 50 other things. 30%
92. Save $10 for every task completed. 26.7%
56. Proactively offer help 10 times. 20%
47. Blog 303 times. 18.8%
84. Visit a national news site 101 times. 12.9%
64. Invite friend(s) to dinner 33 times. 12.1%
49. Memorize 101 verses. 10.9%
27. Hike 101 miles. 9.7%
28. Swim 303 miles. 5.2%
59. Donate 101 things. 4%
85. Visit a local news site 101 times. 4%

The other 48 goals have not been started yet.

One of those goals is: 89. Review the list after 333 days and replace up to 5 goals.

So that’s what I get to do now. I’ve decided to replace 2 goals:

42. Be able to walk up two flights of stairs without getting out of breath. – I no longer work in the office whose stairs I was using to measure this.

91. Blog updates monthly. – I’m just not blogging enough to warrant this.

In their place, I’ll be adding to the list:

Clean 10 minutes/day for a month.
Have a picnic.

The Day I Became a Sheep

Until Thursday, I had never owned an Apple product. I’m sure I’m in a very small minority of my generation of middle-class American to never have had an iPod, iPad, iPhone or MacBook.

Mostly, that’s been intentional. I’ve not been technology-deprived, but when I’ve sought out a new device, I’ve steered clear of anything with the Apple logo on it.

When it was time to replace my phone last week, I was set on getting a Galaxy S3. But before I headed out the door to pick it out, a coworker jokingly suggested that I get an iPhone.

Deep down, I know that choosing to not get a product because it’s popular is just as foolish as picking a product because it is. So, I reconsidered the evidence. I remained unconvinced until I read an article that suggested women migrate to the iPhone over the popular Android models because the narrower build fits more comfortably in their hands.

That was a point I hadn’t considered. And after trying out friends’ phones, it was true for me, too.

So I ordered a refurbished iPhone 5 that cost me the same price of the S3 I almost bought. Time will tell whether I made the right decision, but I’ve been pretty happy these first few days. There are only a couple customizations that I don’t think are possible to make on an iPhone.

So, I’m a sheep. But I at least know I chose the phone based on comparison, not on some intangible cool factor.

Because this girl is never going to be cool.

P.S. While we’re talking about phones, let me recommend Straight Talk. I’ve had service with them for the last 2 years and have been very happy. I pay $45/month (no contract) for unlimited talk, text and data. Service has been adequate and the phone selection has improved over the last 2 years (which is why I could choose between the S3 and the iPhone 5). If you’re all about the latest gadget, this service isn’t for you, but you can have your high fees along with your newer devices.

This is an honest review and commentary on both the iPhone and my service with Straight Talk. No compensation was sought or received.