Thankful for Leaving TUFW

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:18–20When I found out it was happening, I never would have guessed I’d be thankful that my college, TUFW, closed after my junior year. It was my home for three years. The place where I met my then-fiancé/now-husband, the place where I came out of my shell and got over being painfully shy, the place where I learned the skills I needed to do what I love for a living, the place where I made life-long friends, and the place where I encountered God in deeper ways.

When I found out I wouldn’t be returning for my senior year, all I could do was worry about how I’d finish my degree without having to take out loans for a fifth year of college at a different school. On top of that, the news shattered all the plans Jonathan and I had for living in Fort Wayne after we got married that summer.

We found out in October that the school would close in May, and the advance notice gave us time to grieve, process, and plan. And it gave Jonathan and I time to come to terms with the fact that God could send us wherever He wanted—even Africa. Our options were wide open.

It turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened. Yes, it was hard to see my school close and my community dispersed. And it was hard to see our plans go to crap, but if TUFW hadn’t closed, we wouldn’t have moved to Minnesota. Jonathan wouldn’t have had a job that wanted him right away. We wouldn’t have ended up at our church. And I certainly wouldn’t have given up my career plans in order to help build the kingdom of God.

Moving so far away from my family was the hardest part (six hundred miles is a little far for a weekend trip), but it gave Jonathan and me a chance to make our own home and figure out what “being us” was going to look like. It gave me a chance to get to know his family better. It gave me a chance to find out, for the first time in my life, what it’s like to be part of a growing, Bible-believing church family.

And our classmates ended up spreading out all over the country and the world. So many of them are doing things they never would have done if our school hadn’t closed. Just one more reason to be glad God doesn’t always show us the big picture. If He had, I never would have started down the road that led me here.

(In case you’re wondering, I was able to transfer to Taylor’s other campus and take the rest of my classes online. The difficulty of that season is another story entirely.)

Missed my other thankfulness posts? Read post #1 and post #2.

When It’s Not Enough

A few Saturdays ago, Jonathan and I drove over to Noodles for a quick dinner before we headed to a community college to see a play. As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed an older man with long, gray hair standing on the corner with a sign: “Homeless. Any help is appreciated.” I wasn’t surprised. In previous months, I’d noticed quite a few homeless people in the area, asking for money or food.

Photo credit: ab.photo (Andrew Brown)

So I told Jonathan we should get him a gift card for the Chipotle that was next to Noodles because it was healthier and you get a lot of food for your money. I have no idea if it’s a good idea to give a homeless person a gift card to a restaurant, but that was not the first time I’d done it. Usually we make a point to give them food, but this time we didn’t have any with us. And, if I’m being honest, we were in a bit of a hurry.

Since the line for Chipotle was out the door, we decided on a Noodles gift card. I went to save a table and wait for our food while Jonathan went back outside to find the man, who had moved in the short time since we’d seen him. Jonathan headed up the hill and disappeared, and as I looked out the window, I noticed the homeless man cross the parking lot and head in the opposite direction. After about ten minutes, Jonathan came back and said he had found the man and delivered the gift card. I was confused.

“Did he have long hair?”

“No. He was wearing a baseball cap and a leather jacket.”

“It wasn’t the same guy.”

“Oh. Well, he appreciated it. He said he’d come and get dinner tonight. He didn’t even know what Noodles was or where it was, so I told him it was right around the corner.”

About halfway through our meal, I noticed a man sitting at the table behind us that fit Jonathan’s description. He didn’t look at us, didn’t make eye contact when we left. Maybe he felt awkward, maybe he didn’t recognize Jonathan. We left him alone and walked out to the car.

As we pulled out of the parking lot, I noticed a homeless man standing on the corner with a sign like the others, “Homeless and hungry. Please help.” And my heart broke.

I turned to my husband. “What are we supposed to do? We can’t feed them all.”

So here’s the unanswered question I’ve had rolling around in my heart for the last few weeks: What do you do when your help isn’t and can never be enough?

Lately I’m . . .

Seeing life in hi-def. Okay, not really. But I got new glasses yesterday and everything seems way sharper. Nothing like having crappy vision to make you appreciate the finer things in life (okay, pun intended—sorry). Though I’m still not sure if I like them.

Planning our trip to Yellowstone. ROAD TRIP! I can’t believe we leave in less than two weeks. We’ll be staying in a different place almost every night, but we’ve got reservations for KOA cabins so we don’t have to haul a tent all over the place. I can’t want to see Mt. Rushmore, the Tetons, and Grand Prismatic Springs again. A few years ago, I visited the area with some of my family, but Jonathan has never been west of Minnesota. Seriously.

So we didn’t actually see this moose in Yellowstone (it was in the river next to the place we stayed), but close enough. This year my goal is to see a bear. From a safe distance.

Rethinking my wardrobe. I’m so tired of waking up every morning, rifling through my dresser, and coming up empty. I feel like I hate every article of clothing I own. But really, the problem is more that I hate the way I look in the clothes I own. I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts about the 30 x 30 challenge, and it’s helped me realize I need to stop buying clothes and work with what I have. ‘Cause I have A LOT. And, in case you’re wondering—no, I do not have enough self-confidence to post pictures of said clothes like Kendi does. This pile of clean laundry is all you get.

Staying inside. It’s freakin’ hot here. And humid. Today’s heat index was 104. And we’re under air quality (thank you, Colorado wildfires) and heat warnings.  Having grown up in a house with no AC, I am SO grateful for ours. And I am taking full advantage of it.

Editing a book. My friend Kristie (Jeff’s wife) is turning a Bible study she wrote into a self-published book, and I get the honor of copy editing for her. Sometimes I wish I could do things like this full time, but for now, I’m enjoying where I am.

Reviewing like six books. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I’m pretty sure I’m reviewing at least four this summer. I have one review due Friday (watch for the post!), another due at the end of the month, and two more books on the way. So much for a slow, easy summer ; )

Preparing for my little sister’s visit in August. I haven’t seen her since Thanksgiving, and 8/16 can’t come soon enough. I’m making all sorts of lists and mental notes of things we need to do. Like walk through Uptown, visit the Stone Arch Bridge (I’m pretty sure she’s never seen the Mississippi), take pictures in the sculpture garden, and go to a concert at Lake Harriet . . . And that doesn’t even include the list of restaurants I want to hit while she’s here!

Tent of Hope

For almost as long as we’ve been married, Jonathan and I have volunteered for Walk on Waters, a soon-to-be-official nonprofit that serves the city of Savage and the surrounding community. Jonathan serves on the board as the communications director, and I’ve taken on the role of webmaster (new territory for me—I’m definitely still learning). Together we design, create, and edit promotional materials for WOW (Jonathan does the bulk of it).

Last Saturday was the ministry’s biggest event: Tent of Hope. Each year, during Savage’s Dan Patch Days, WOW partners with several local churches to offer free, much-needed services to those in the community who find themselves in difficult situations. The event is held at Bridgewood, a church across the street from the fair grounds where Dan Patch festivities take place. This year, we offered groceries, hot lunches, clothing, family photos, and haircuts. And that’s just the beginning—local worship bands played live music (in English and Spanish), teenagers played soccer with the kids, the Gideons handed out free Bibles, and volunteers staffed a prayer room.

Jonathan and I attended to get pictures and interviews. He followed the camera guy around all day, asking volunteers and participants questions, and I carried around our point-and-shoot trying to take decent pictures (again, not a professional) to use for our promotional materials.

To be honest, I wasn’t that excited to attend the event and wander around for four hours, but it was pretty cool to see the results of the hard work that goes into all our promotion efforts. And to see churches from several denominations working together to bless the community—I wish I saw things like that more often.