Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31: I Made It!

      Day 31 of 31 Days of October Blogging!  I'm really excited that I finished all of them, power outage and all.  I am blogging from the pull-out couch in my cousin's Brooklyn apartment, where my friend Kristi and I retreated earlier today.  Classes are canceled for the rest of the week and the word is that Nyack could be out of power for as long as ten more days.  
      As I sit here thinking about the past few days, I feel so blessed.  The reality of the hurricane is setting in after walking downtown Nyack last night, watching the news this afternoon, and hearing the stories my cousin and her roommate have heard simply living in the city.  Overwhelmed doesn't begin to describe how I'm feeling right now.  Please continue to keep the city and surrounding areas in your prayers, especially those who lost loved ones and homes due to the hurricane and the fire that swept through Queens.  
      October has been a good month, the past few days included.  God has remained faithful through the ups and downs, the happy and sad days, and the times I could and couldn't feel Him.  The month was full of trips to the city, apple picking, pumpkin-flavored yummies, and answers to tearful prayers.      I hope that your October was as lovely as mine.  "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2 Corinthians 13:11,14)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30: Power Outage

      Hello from New York! Based upon the few images I've been able to look at on my phone, I can understand why my friends in other parts of the country keep asking me if I've blown away yet. Nyack, at least where I am, wasn't hit quite ad badly as parts of NYC and New Jersey. There are lots of uprooted trees around campus and around town, but no flooding that I have seen. 
      Two friends and I ventured out earlier in search of coffee and non-perishables. The Village of Nyack is without power, but most of Nanuet, ten miles down the road, still has power. We found coffee at a small hot dog diner in Nanuet after seeing the inside of Panera. The line stretched almost back to the bathrooms and the restaurant was packed with people trying to get Internet and charge their phones. So, we ditched Panera and drank diner coffee. It actually wasn't bad.
      The only thing to do when there is no power is to read, so I have been faithfully catching up on classwork. Currently I am in my car charging my phone, which is the only way I can blog. I am determined to finish my 31 days! Please keep the NYC area and the entire East Coast in your prayers as 2-3 million people are without power. I am do thankful for the Lord's protection during my first hurricane! Praise be to God, for He is faithful!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29: Talk to the People

     People are all around us. Everywhere we turn, there are people of every color, size, and shape, especially here in New York.  I think I mentioned in one of my latest blog posts that I expected everyone here to be rude and so I don't always say hello to random strangers like I did at home.  
      I was challenged in my thinking by my friend Kristi, who is always saying "hello" or "have a nice day!" to random people, even people who look kind of scary to me.  Then last week I was in Panera with another friend and he started chatting it up with the guy who was refilling the milk on the coffee bar.  After these two experiences and a sermon about getting involved with people in the community in which one lives, I started becoming more aware of the people around me.  I noticed that no one actually talks to anyone else and how many people walk around with headphones in, as if oblivious to the entire rest of the world.  If anyone steps outside of the box and actually speaks to someone, everyone else standing around exchange glances like, "what does she think she's doing?"  I experienced that on the subway, which isn't shocking since each person in NYC seems to be living in a personal bubble.  
      I have two stories about people breaking out of the "don't talk to strangers" mold and pulling me out along with them.  The first occurred in a tavern here in Nyack on street fair day.  I was waiting outside the ladies' room for Kristi when I was joined by a 40's-something lady who needed to use the restroom. We started chatting about the narrowness of the hallway, which led to talking about us both being at the tavern for the first time, which led to her explaining that she wasn't from Nyack but was on a first date with a guy whom she had met online.  She said she had been so nervous beforehand that she couldn't even put mascara on because her hand was shaking.  Her giddiness and openness made me want to giggle with delight as she told me how well the date was going.  I  later saw she and her date holding hands as they browsed the booths at the street fair.  The encounter left me feeling happy and thankful that I have the kind of face that people feel they can talk to, even if they just met me waiting for the ladies' room. 
      The second story took place last Thursday morning.  I had run down to the river and was walking back to the college campus where my apartment is located.  On the way to the river, I had noticed the midde-aged school crossing guard setting up shop at the three-way intersection.  There is a middle school on the college campus, so the crossing guard comes every morning to help the students cross safely - there's pretty much zero chance they'd make it without him, as crazy as Nyack drivers are.  As I came up to the corner where I needed to cross, I realized that I was the only one waiting to cross and that I would probably need the services of the crossing guard.  I was standing there feeling a bit sheepish when the man started talking to me.  I quickly pulled the earbud out of my left ear and chatted it up with him as he asked if I went to the college, where I was from, etc.  He then stopped traffic for only me, walked to the middle of the road with his little sign, and wished me a good day.  He had been so surprisingly, unexpectedly kind, even just in his tone and the way he asked me questions that I couldn't stop smiling as I hiked up the hill to my apartment.  
      Neither of these stories are extravagant.  Nothing out of the ordinary was spoken. Neither of the people involved were celebrities or superheroes.  Yet both times I left the scene feeling happy and important, as if my presence in that particular place mattered, as did theirs.  Jesus chatted it up with strangers on a regular basis - strangers who were usually the untouchable, unmentionable outcasts of society.  Jesus taught us that no one is "untouchable," "unmentionable," or an "outcast."  He didn't ignore people as he walked on the street, so why do I?  Something as simple as a smile, a nod, a "hello," or a "how are you doing?"  could be a ray of sunshine in someone's rainy day.  So talk to the people.  You never know how you will impact a person's life.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 28: Tornadoes to Hurricanes

      Okay, so I'm going to admit that this whole hurricane business is a little nerve-wracking.  I grew up in a state that is so completely land-locked that we had to create our own lakes in order to have any kind of summer getaway.  However, I did get really used to tornadoes, which threatened to carry away entire towns at least two or three times every spring.  The routine of huddling in the windowless bathroom or hallway with the entire family and the dog until the threat passed became quite normal.  So, I'm used to strong winds, but this idea of crazy rain causing wide-spread flooding is completely foreign to me.  
      Apparently the biggest deal in Nyack is power-outages.  My roommate and I stocked up on candles, and I found my handy-dandy pink headlamp, which is hanging on my bedpost.  We also stocked up on non-perishables - you know, the essentials, like peanut butter, bread, and peanut M&M's.  Oh, and we have a stash of water.  Classes are already canceled at the seminary for the next two days.  Sorry if I lose electricity/wifi and can't finish my 31 days of October blogging.  I'll update when I can!  In the meantime, please keep me and the entire East Coast in your prayers as we face Hurricane Sandy.  I hope your Sunday has been far less windy than mine!  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 27: A Terrifical Autumn Day

       The first thing you are probably wondering is if "terrifical" is a word.  It is, in fact, a word.  My source?  Tigger, of course!  The second thing you are probably wondering is why today was a terrifical autumn day.  I'm so glad you asked!  Let me just tell you!   
      I got up this morning bright and early, rushed around my apartment, struggled to straighten my hair in spite of the humidity, and grabbed my zebra to-go-cup filled with strong, freshly ground coffee on my way out the door.  I was only 4 minutes late to the White Plains train station, where my dear friend Colleen was waiting for me. We Chinese fire-drilled in a random neighborhood so my carless NYC friend could drive for a day.  After a few misdirections from my beloved GPS Pam, we were on our way to Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, New York.  To say the drive was picturesque is an understatement.  Oh the colors!  Breathtaking, indeed!  Have I ever mentioned that October is my favorite month?

      The first order of business when we arrived at Fishkill Farms was to find apple cider donuts.  In my rush to get out the door, I had forgotten to eat breakfast and I needed strength to pick apples.  Of course the apple cider donut, accompanied by a sweet, steaming paper cup of apple cider, gave me exactly the strength I needed to tip-toe pick apples.  I discovered that tip-toe picking is the only way to go for a 5'2" girl picking golden delicious apples at the very end of the apple-picking season.  I must add that I am quite good at it - must have been all those ballet lessons as a small child.  
       After apple picking, Colleen and I decided to be extra adventurous and find a Walmart.  We got lost once again, taking lots of weird turns on East Cross Road (which goes at least five different directions), but we finally found ourselves in Fishkill at the Walmart - it was even a Supercenter!  We probably should have our own reality TV show - "City Girls Gone Wild in Suburbia."  By going wild I mean we went a little crazy buying hair products, whole wheat pasta, and laundry detergent.  You know, things that are extremely overpriced in the places we live.  I was in desperate need of hairspray and was overjoyed when I found a very large can at a very affordable price (my curls have been a little out of control lately and hairspray seems to be the only thing that can calm them down - Colleen told me I should have lived in the 80's).  At the end of our shopping excursion, we decided we should probably buy some water in preparation for the hurricane.  Needless to say, water was nearly extinct in Walmart today.  There were half a dozen boxes of Dasani waterbottles left, so Colleen and I split one, just in case we're without water for a while.  
      We were quite hungry after running around Walmart and Colleen had spotted a Cracker Barrel on the way into town, so we headed across the street for a late lunch.  We both had chicken biscuits (I of course had gravy with mine) and eggs - yummy, yummy, yummy!  The country music playing overhead was a bonus that made me feel like I was at home for a few minutes.  After our tummies were full and we could think more clearly, we hopped back in the car.  Destination: Brooklyn.  I am so proud of Colleen for navigating the crowded roads of NYC and parallel parking just one block away from her apartment!  
      The rest of the evening was full of Gorilla coffee (if you haven't tried it, you're really missing out), window shopping, walking a ridiculous amount of blocks in order to buy a new car phone charger, and yuppy burgers with seasoned fries on the side.  I even made it home all by myself without having to pay one toll.  The verdict: today was an absolutely perfect, terrifical autumn day. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26: Hurricane Sandy

      Today was definitely a typical fall day for Nyack: overcast and humid.  Gross.  Although it's probably partially because we're about to get a huge storm courtesy of Hurricane Sandy.  I was oblivious that she may make a visit on Monday until the lady I babysit for said she may not need my services next week if school is canceled, since she teaches.  I should probably pay closer attention to current events, especially if they affect me, like a ginormous hurricane headed towards my home.  
      Waiting to see what the weather does is not new to me, due to the fact that I grew up in Oklahoma, also known as "Tornado Alley."  As I'm sitting here pondering the thought that I have no idea what Monday will bring, I'm realizing that that is also true of life in general.  We really have no idea what the next minute will bring, let alone the next hour, day, week, month, or year.  Life is full of bends in the road, bends that hide what comes next until we are right at the turn.  Just a reminder to enjoy every moment, because we really don't know what tomorrow may bring.  Also a reminder of how thankful I am to belong to the One who holds the future, who isn't surprised by hurricanes with random female names, and who will never let me go, no matter what's around the next bend in the road.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 25: Simple

      I have a few thoughts that have been running around in my head, but I'm simply too exhausted to form them into a complete blog post.  Today I'll keep it short and simple by sharing one of my favorite Jesus Culture songs.  God drew me to Himself again tonight at the end of a super busy, frustrating day and I found amazing peace in His presence.  As you listen to this song, dance with God, let Him dance with you, and receive the peace that comes from delighting in His presence.  Peace be yours tonight. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24: Panera and Pumpkin Brownies

Today, I went to Panera Bread for the second time in a week. Yes, I even drove to the one in New Jersey because the people are nicer there than the one closest to me in New York.  Actually, I Mapquested it and the one in New Jersey is only one mile farther than the one in Nanuet. So, New Jersey it was!   I had a bowl of delicious Chicken Sonoma Stew, which was absolutely perfect for a rainy Wednesday.  I also had a bottomless cup of coffee with lots of cinnamon and honey (if you haven't tried it, you're missing out bigtime!).  I caught up on some reading as I sipped away on my coffee, enjoying my afternoon of nothingness.  
      Tonight, I tried a baking adventure: pumpkin brownies.  It's almost the end of October and I had yet to make anything pumpkin - that simply would not do!  So, I mixed pumpkin with my favorite thing after coffee - chocolate.  I had a few girls over for a Bible study tonight, so I decided to use them as guinea pigs - the brownies were a hit!  I tried taking a picture of them, but it looked gross (so far from reality), so I didn't post it.  I'll just say that if you haven't ever tried pumpkin brownies, you should.  Probably you should tomorrow, since we're running out of October.  Oh, and just in case you don't like the idea of so much butter and sugar, they still taste delicious if you cut back a little.  Because a quarter cup less of butter makes me feel healthier.  Happy brownie making!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23: Surprises

      I have a love-hate relationship with surprises.  On one hand, it is fun to not know to expect something, like a random snowstorm or just-because flowers.  On the other hand, the part of me that likes to be in control cringes at the thought of surprises because they remind me that I am, in fact, not in control.
      I feel as if every day since I left home has contained a small surprise.  In the beginning, I hated it.  I hated not knowing what to expect, not knowing what was coming next.  Every time I would mention my frustration with the unknown to my father, he would say, "Charissa, God is not surprised by this. He's not sitting up there scratching His head trying to figure this out."  Just being honest, that didn't always make me feel better.  And then, it happened.  Today, as I was tempted to worry about something I'm currently struggling to understand, the thought came: "God is not surprised by this, so don't worry about it."  
"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them."
Psalm 139:14-16

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 22: New Look

      I have been contemplating giving my blog a face lift for a while, and I finally did!  The busyness of the pages bothered me, so I simplified.  I welcome your feedback on the new look! 
      Today I took my first seminary mid-term.  Biblical Theology.  I think I did all right, but I am so glad it is over!  Mondays are always so long and I feel like part of my brain is jello by the end of the day.  Reading the Old Testament, my Monday morning class, was quite enjoyable today.  Dr. Widbin talked about Ruth in the Crisis of Nationalization.  Ruth is one of my favorite stories in the Bible, and although he gave tons of cultural background that should have ruined the story for me, it didn't.  I actually thought it made the story way more romantic than I had ever allowed it to be in my mind.  Thank you, Dr. Widbin, for broadening my horizons! 
      Since I've been working on my new blog design for two hours, I have no brain power left to actually write anything intelligent.  Tomorrow, however, is a new day and will bring with it a fantastic new blog post!  Hope you had a happy Monday! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 21: So You Think You Can Cook?

      So, I've been thinking about starting a new blog entitled: "So You Think You Can Cook?"  Thinking about it as in I thought of it just as I was about to start this blog post.  One of my goals for my on-my-own life is to learn how to cook.  I cook a little, but I am just beginning to enjoy it.  The stress that used to be associated with cooking is thankfully fading away!  Tonight I made a yummy chicken dish and seasoned potatoes, complemented by spinach salad and macaroni and cheese (courtesy of my friend David).  I didn't have all the spices for the chicken and I forgot the soy sauce, but I didn't burn it and it was just the right brownness!  I expected the potatoes (tossed in olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt, sprinkled with mozzarella/provolone cheese) to be crispy, which they weren't, but they still tasted good.  My friends Kristi and David enjoyed the meal - a reward for all of the studying we did today!  We had study sessions in New Jersey at Starbucks and Panera Bread this afternoon - it was such a great day!  Anyway, I am going to begin pondering the new blog idea - but don't worry, it will never be too late for coffee! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 20: Discoveries

      Living on my own in a new state has caused me to discover things about myself that I didn't know.  So, here's a short list of new discoveries:
  • Seeing the autumn leaves nearly makes me squeal with pure delight
  • It's a very good thing that I don't smoke because I can't use a lighter without burning my thumb (my left thumb has a small blister from trying to light a candle earlier)
  • I really like eating macaroni and cheese directly out of the pot. 
  • Purple shoes go with everything. 
  • God really is the best Father/friend/lover I could ever have 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 19: Feeding the Soul

      In my Spiritual Formation class last night, someone said something along the lines of, "I'm in seminary, I have to write papers, I don't have time to feed my soul." It was funny that she should say that, because I've been feeling that way for weeks.  So much busyness with paper writing, book reading, and work that I barely have time left to spend with God.  This morning as I procrastinated studying in order to sit in the Lord's presence, I thought: "This is ridiculous. I'm not going to feel guilty for 'wasting time' being with Jesus instead of doing homework. He's the whole reason I'm here!"  Have you taken time to feed your soul today? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 17: Distraction

      I'm just going to be honest, today I've been very distracted.  I had a job interview this morning that lasted so much longer than I thought it would, meaning that I was exhausted from trying so hard, which kind of threw the rest of my day off.  I can't seem to focus on anything important or stick with one task for very long at all.  I even almost forgot to blog today!  But sitting here tonight on my bed, attempting to tackle the large stack of assignments piling up, the Lord reminded me to focus on Him in the midst of it all. I've been getting distracted by my job situation, by class work, by homesickness, by every day life, and have forgotten the One who brought me here in the first place.  How sweet it is to be pursued by the Creator of the skies, to be gently pulled into His arms and reminded to take a breath and enjoy Him for a moment, to let everything else fade away and simply be loved by Him. 

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;

    I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens;

    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.
Psalm 108:3-5

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16: A Morning Run

The leaves are finally changing! Yay for fall! 
       Today was a much more peaceful day than yesterday.  I woke thinking of the verse, "sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).  I really did awake in complete peace, ready for the day. Praise the Lord! My friend Kristi wanted to work out this morning, so we headed to the gym at 7, only to find that the gym was closed.  So, we ran down to the river instead.  Now if you know me, you know that running is not exactly on my favorite hobbies list.  However, I quite enjoyed it this morning.
My spectacular view this morning.
      Kristi of course is way faster than I am, so I jogged at my super slow pace behind her, jamming out to the newly discovered Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout Radio on Pandora.  I must say it was way fun to jog to Call Me Maybe.  Made my morning!  I got to the river before Kristi, since she wanted to run longer than I did.  I stood there by the river, gazing over the water and thinking about how awesome God is. He certainly is spectacular and I'm so blessed to be His.  I may make jogging to the river in the morning a regular habit!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 15: Mail the Letter

      So here I was after a long day, exhausted and ready for bed with no idea what I was going to blog about. It hasn't been a particularly cheery day and I'm struggling yet again to trust God in the midst of rocky circumstances.  I popped on over to the Christian and Missionary Alliance website to read the daily devotional by the C&MA's founder, A.B. Simpson. His devotionals usually speak to exactly what I'm going through at whatever moment I happen to read them, even though I'm sure he wrote them years and year ago.  Today was no exception.  The analogy of writing a letter and not mailing it yet expecting an answer really hit home for me, especially since I have a terrible habit of writing letters and taking weeks to mail them. So, my blog for today is simply the devotional that encouraged me after a rough day. May you draw as much encouragement from the wise A.B. Simpson as I did! I have copied and pasted his devotional below. The link to the actual website it here.

Days of Heaven on Earth

Monday, October 15, 2012
True faith drops its letter in the post office box and lets it go. Distrust holds onto a corner of it and wonders why the answer never comes.
In my desk are some letters that I wrote weeks ago. But there was some slight uncertainty about the address or the contents so they are yet unmailed. As yet they have not done me or anyone else any good. They will never accomplish anything until I let them go out of my hands and trust them to the postal system.
This is the case with true faith. it hands its case over to God and then He works.
There is an appropriate verse in Psalm 37: Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he [worketh] (v. 5). But He never works until we commit.
Faith is a receiving-or still better-a taking of God's proffered gifts. We may believe and come and commit and rest, but we will not fully realize all our blessing until we begin to receive and come into the attitude of abiding and taking.


Faith is . . . the evidence of things not seen—Hebrews 11:1

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 14: Sunday Adventure

      Today was an adventure day.  I stayed in my apartment all morning working on my Biblical Theology paper and was feeling restless.  It was a beautiful day outside my window, so I decided to go to the city.  Around 2 o'clock a friend and I headed in to New York City.  Two hours later, we found a parking place and headed towards the subway.  Destination: Times Square.  I hadn't seen it yet and he was really intrigued by it last time he went, so Times Square it was.  I must say that I really enjoy taking the subway.  Even though it makes me motion sick.  We arrived in Times Square after 25 minutes on the subway and headed towards a pizzeria for dinner.  The tourists all over the streets and the people trying to entertain them were quite hilarious.  One random pedestrian turned to his daughter and said, "New York City is scary, but not that scary!"  Too funny. 

      So, I had my first slice of New York style pizza today.  We went to John's Pizzeria, which interestingly enough used to be a Christian and Missionary Alliance church.  The stained glass windows and architecture are breathtaking.  Oh, the pizza was good, too! It was definitely different from any pizza I've ever had but was delicious nonetheless!  After dinner we walked around a little more, stopped by the Empire State Building to look up, and rode the subway back to my car.  
         - Spontaneous trips into the city are fun and will be happening often
         - I like New York style pizza
         - Taking the train into the city is a much better idea than driving
         - I didn't pass my driver's test because of my awesome parallel parking skills
     Have a happy Monday! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13: Pumpkins and Tea

      So, I was supposed to babysit all weekend, but that got cancelled.  The mother had given me her GPS for me to use while I watched her son, so I had to meet her in Suffern to give it back to her.  I met she and her son at a park in Suffern and they gave me a little pumpkin! Now I have a fall decoration!  And guess what? There is a Walmart in Suffern!  Well, in the next town, but it was on my way back to Nyack.  Like most places in New York it was old and grimy, but the price was right.  I got a few much-needed kitchen items that were far too pricey at other stores.  I am now sipping tea that I purchased at Walmart, mentally preparing for babysitting and more paper writing this evening.  It has been a lovely day.  Doesn't take much to make me happy!  Hope your Saturday has been as fallish as mine!  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 12: Happy Weekend

      I am having a fabulous weekend.  Even though I have a 6-8 page paper due on Monday night that I haven't started writing yet.  But I've done the research.  Which is most of the paper.  I'll knock it out tomorrow just in time to have fun in the city on Sunday.  So excited!
      I couldn't really think of anything amazing to blog about today, so I thought I'd talk about the culture shock I've experienced since moving to New York.  And the way I have adapted. Or not.  
      #1: In New York, patience is not a virtue.  Especially when it comes to driving.  (And walking on the sidewalk. Which is really weird.)  By my second day in Nyack, I had taken my defensive driving to the next level.  After six weeks, I now cut people off, drive on the wrong side of the road to get around people parallel parking in the middle of the road, and turn when it is completely inappropriate.  All to avoid being honked at, of course.  And rear-ended.  Which would be completely unfortunate.  
      #2: Walmart does not exist within 30 miles of my apartment.  I never had much of an attachment to Walmart until I moved here and had a chance to miss it.  I miss being able to go to one place and get everything I need.  Plus the people who shop at Walmart are always entertaining to watch.  A new people watching spot is in order. 
      #3: People are kind of rude here.  Actually I overestimated how rude people would be, which means that sometimes I'm rude to people who are nice.  When I first got here I decided to not talk to people I didn't know because New York is a scary place.  I'm slowly getting over it, although I still don't say hi to random people in the grocery store.  Because I don't want to get mugged.
      #4: Gas is $4.19 a gallon.  Two weeks ago I crossed the border into New Jersey just to fill up my gas tank for $3.83 instead of $4.19.  Definitely new for me since I moved here from a state full of oil.  Or so they tell me. 
      #5: I haven't seen a cowboy hat or cowboy boots since I moved here.  And my friend looked at me like I was crazy when I told her I miss plaid shirts and cowboy boots.  Evidently  no one dresses like that out here.  And I've only seen three pick-up trucks.  I'm definitely not in Oklahoma anymore. 
      Well, that's it for now!  I'm sure there will be more on culture shock and adjusting to New York.  It is, after all, an adventure.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11: God Knows Best

  I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2 

       I have  always had a hard time waiting.  And being quiet while I wait.  The past few months have been constant waiting, waiting for the next thing, waiting to see what God does.  I will admit that I haven't been the most cheerful waiter for the majority of the time.  I may say that I'm waiting and being patient, but really I'm trying to control my circumstances and make things happen on my own.  The other night I was having a heart to heart with my friend Kristi and she challenged me to stop thinking about what I want and to instead lay down my will and ask what God wants.  At first I was a little upset that she told me that, but only because I knew she was right.  That night and into the next morning I surrendered my will to God, choosing to trust in Him instead of a job for provision.  Let me just say that He has blessed me with overwhelming joy and peace in exchange for the anxiety that came from trying to control my circumstances.  Not my will, but Yours be done, oh Lord.
 "God always gives his best to those who leave the choice with Him." Jim Elliot

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10: This is Why I'm Here

"The visionary who is serving God ceases to live for personal ambition, but rather for God's ambitions."  George Barna
      Chapel at ATS is every Wednesday at 2:30 in the afternoon.  I've gotten in the habit of attending every week since I don't work or have classes on Wednesdays.  Today, however, was a special day.  The Alliance Graduate School of Missions was in charge of chapel today and I volunteered to welcome students to chapel.  Our International Workers in Residence are from a Middle Eastern country, so the missions students all dressed in "traditional garb," aka scarves wrapped around our heads.  Leah and I had so much fun playing the part! We are excellent greeters, by the way. 
      As I sat there in chapel listening to the international workers share stories of God's faithfulness and the work He is doing through them overseas, I was reminded that this is why I'm here.  This is why I moved hundreds of miles away from my family to a strange state filled with strange people to attend a school I had never seen.  God gently reminded me of the dream He sowed in my heart ten plus years ago and that that dream is why I'm here.  Praise Jesus for the reminder that He who called me is faithful and that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9: A Chasing Ducks Kind of Day

      Tuesday is my babysitting only day, meaning that I have no other obligations.  I babysit from 12-5:30, split between two families.  It was a bit chilly and overcast this afternoon, but the toddler and I went to Memorial Park to watch the ducks.  He also loves chasing them, which they do not appreciate.  I must admit that I quite enjoyed watching him scare them into flying away, especially since he is the least intimidating blonde-headed boy there ever was.  Along with the ducks, there was an usually large number of gulls, as well as a smattering of geese flying south for the winter.  After thirty minutes of chasing birds, running in circles around trees, and trying to keep him from falling face first on the rocks, we trekked back home, where we vegged in front of Blue's Clues until his mother arrived home.  
      I picked the other two boys up at the bus at 3:50, ten minutes later than usual.  The nine year old informed me that the bus took a turn onto a road that was blocked off and had to back down a hill.  I can't imagine how entertaining that must have been for the children aboard!  The boys have had a hard time focusing on their homework after school, so I bribed them by suggesting we walk to the Art Cafe downtown for homework time. I figured the walk would help them calm down after sitting all day and then they might be able to focus on their work.  It was only after we'd made the 20 minute walk (okay, they scootered and I tried my hardest to get my little legs to keep up) and ordered hot beverages that the boys realized they'd forgotten pencils.  They mostly behaved as they sipped their caramel steamers and I downed my entirely too strong French press coffee.  The bribe worked, because as soon as we got home they set to work on their worksheets.  Success! 

      After babysitting, I decided to try a new recipe for dinner.  Okay, technically I've never been much of a cook, so almost any recipe I try it a new one.  I've been wanting to try sweet potato and spinach gratin, although as usual I didn't have all of the right ingredients.  I cooked a few handfuls of frozen spinach in a bit of olive oil while I attempted to slice a raw sweet potato with a paring knife.  It is the only knife I own and usually does all right for what I need it for, until today.  I felt more like I was sawing than slicing, but I eventually had enough sweet potato to make three layers of spinach, sweet potato, and cheddar cheese in my orange ramekin.  It turned out pretty well, although the sweet potatoes were a bit crunchy and I could have added more cheese.  I usually listen to reggae while I cook, but tonight was country.  One of the things I miss about Oklahoma is the readily-available country music.  I have to listen to Pandora if I want it here, since all of the radio stations are a mixture of all different types of music, with only a couple country songs mixed in here and there.  The only place I've actually heard country music playing is in an Irish pub downtown.  Go figure.  Well, I'm off to the library to attempt Thursday's assignment.  Hope you're having a lovely Tuesday!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8: Oops!

      Okay, so I totally forgot to blog today.  Or yesterday now, according to Eastern time.  But, for tonight I'm pretending that I still live in the Central Time Zone, which means that I still have twenty minutes left on October 8th. 
      Today was cloudy and chilly, but thankfully no rain.  I had Reading the Old Testament at 9 o'clock this morning - let's just say I was a bit exhausted by lunchtime.  I enjoy that class, but I always feel as if my head is about to tip over because it's so full of information.  
      This afternoon there was a random knock on my door; it was my building manager who came to tell me that I had a roommate moving in today.  Kind of unexpected since I've had the apartment to myself since classes started, but she's nice and I think we'll get along fine.  Yay for a new adventure! 
      This afternoon I went to the library with a couple of friends for a study date.  I got a good start on a paper that's due next week, which was a relief since I've been avoiding it.  Biblical Theology was really good tonight and a little less confusing than Old Testament.  After class, my friends Kristi and David came over and we made dinner.  Grilled cheese (under the broiler) and potato soup (courtesy of my friend Leah).  I love having friends who come hang out with me! 
      Tomorrow is my babysitting-only day, which means I get to treat myself to study time at the public library in the evening.  Sometimes I feel like such a nerd!  Have a lovely Tuesday, friends!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 7: Street Fair

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

      This weekend has been lovely.  Today after church, my friend Kristi and I walked downtown to the monthly street fair.  The weather was kind of sunny when we woke up this morning, but it started misting in the early afternoon.  Even with the rain and the chilliness, it was perfect. We walked around for a while, then stopped at a tavern for lunch.  It was a little ways off of Main Street, so was less crowded than the rest of the restaurants.  I enjoyed a large hamburger, and then we set out to look at the rest of the booths.  We met up with a couple of other friends from seminary, tried on lots of jewelry, and I even found a few bargains at the thrift store!  I'm so thankful for new friends who like having adventures as much as I do!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 6: Turn Your Eyes

      Today was a perfect fall day!  Chilly, breezy, orange and yellow leaves floating down from the  trees and dancing in the wind.  I even pulled my brown corduroy jacket out of the closet and wore my suede boots for the first time this season!  Tomorrow there is a street fair in downtown Nyack, for which I am very excited!  Fall is such a happy time of year! 
      This weekend, the words to the song, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" have been running through my head over and over.  Along with the song, God impressed upon my heart the truth that He never runs out.  Of anything.  Ever.  He has no lack.  There truly is "fullness of joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11)."  

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free:

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu'rors we are!

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5: New York City

      Three weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Brooklyn with my cousin Ruth.  I had never been into New York City before, except for the time when I spontaneously decided to drive around the city.  On Friday morning, I went to Queens with some classmates for the Keeping Fire Alive conference that we needed to go to for a class.  After the conference, my friend Eddie took me to Staten Island and we rode the ferry over to Manhattan.  I was trying my hardest to not look like a tourist, but after a while I gave up and went over the side to take pictures of Lady Liberty.  
     After I got off the ferry, I said goodbye to Eddie and braved the subway on my own.  I met Ruth at Madison Square Park, where we had yummy banana bread custard from the Shake Shack.  We watched a lightsaber battle in the park, which didn't seem at all out of place, and then headed back to Ruth's apartment.  I instantly fell in love with the city.  It was so beautiful and big and filled with lots of interesting things and people.  That evening, my friend Colleen met us at a restaurant in their neighborhood and we enjoyed a lovely dinner.  We then went to The Chocolate Room, where I ate the best coffee ice cream I had ever had in my life. Yum! 
      Saturday was filled with the farmers' market, people watching in the park, Gilmore Girls, and dinner at Ruth's with my cousins from Kentucky.  On Sunday, we went to the Yankees game, and I cheered for Yankees (sorry, Dad).  I then rode the train home all by myself.  It was such a fun time!  I can't wait to go back and explore more of the city!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4: Thankful
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs,and don't forget to thank him for his answer.  If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 

      This week, I have found it hard to be thankful.  It has been rainy and yucky outside, I miss my family, and I'm completely overwhelmed with class work.  Tonight in my Spiritual Formation class, the topic was prayer.  The thought that kept running through my head when I was thinking about praying was "don't forget to thank Him for His answer."  My parents always tell me to thank God for what He's already done, even I don't physically see the results yet.  It was a much needed reminder today.  What a promise: don't worry, tell God what you need, thank Him, be at peace.  So simple!  Short, I know, and nothing I haven't said before, but I hope you can draw encouragement from it! 

I am thankful for:

- A phone that allows me to talk with my family every day
- Hot tea
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (a staple for me lately)
- A God who never forgets about me, even when I forget to thank Him 
- A nursing job in New York, even though I don't know where it is yet

What do you need to thank God for today? 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3: Study Time!

"Charissa is to fall as Quinn is to a Dunkaccino."  Quinn McGarvey
      Today was rainy yet again.  I spent most of the day inside, so my friends Steph and Quinn and I decided to go to the public library to study tonight.  The library closed at 9, so we headed to Dunkin Donuts, which is open 24 hours.  Coffee?  Yes, please.  It's the perfect companion to the ever-boring Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster.  I keep hoping it will get more exciting, but it never does.  Quinn's drink of choice is the Dunkaccino, hence the quote at the top of the blog.  I hope you are having a lovely third day of October and that it wasn't quite as rainy as mine!  Happy studying to me!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2: Fall Means....Apple Crisp!

      "Embrace the current season of your life." Gabrielle Blair

      October, day 2!  My day started quite well: I slept in, woke up to the sun shining, did a 50 minute Zumba workout from YouTube courtesy of a group from Hull College in the UK, and ate breakfast at 11:00.  By the time I left for babysitting at 11:50, the sun was no longer shining and the sky was gray and drizzly.  The rain carried on all afternoon.  Needless to say, I was cold and wet when I arrived home at 5:30.  I usually study at the library on Tuesday evenings, but there was no way I was going back out in the chilly dampness.  So, I settled in for a lovely fall evening: hot bubble bath, pasta for one, decaf chai tea, minimal studying.  
      I've been planning on making apple crisp since Thursday, when I purchased delicious apples from the apple orchard stand at the farmers' market.  I had eaten all but two apples, so I decided that tonight was the night to treat myself.  If you didn't already know, I'm obsessed with apple crisp and will find any excuse to make it!  Apple crisp in an orange fallish!  And quite delicious :)  Hope your Tuesday was as yummy as mine!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 1: Happy October!

      Fall is finally here!  October is my favorite month of the year, so happy October 1st!  In honor of my favorite month, I have decided to blog every day this month.  I took the challenge last October to blog every day on a common theme, which was fun but more difficult than anticipated.  I couldn't think of a specific theme this year, but am instead hoping that by blogging every day for 31 days I will be inspired to blog more frequently than usual.  If you have any blog suggestions or anything specific you'd like to hear from me, please let me know!
      This week marks the beginning of my fifth week of seminary classes.  God has been faithful to me day by day, providing everything exactly when I have need.  I came here knowing nothing about Nyack and the surrounding area, jobless and trusting God to provide.  On Thursday during the first week of classes, I was stressed about money (or the lack of), and began to cry out to God in my frustration.  I prayed, "God, if I don't get a job by the drop-add date next Wednesday, I'm pulling out of my classes and moving home."  I have never prayed a prayer so sincerely in all of my life.  I know it's probably not a good idea to give God mandates, but He saw me in my frustration and answered my prayer!  That evening, I got an email about a babysitting job, had an interview the next day, and left the interview on Friday with not one but two babysitting jobs.  I have been babysitting for three weeks now and am loving it!  I have never enjoyed watching children as much as I enjoy these three.  I am continuing to wait on the state of New York to give up my nursing license, but am so thankful for the way God has chosen to provide during this time.  He never ceases to amaze me!
      Nyack has definitely not grown on me.  I don't even prefer it to Oklahoma, which is really weird.  However, the "village" of Nyack does have a lovely downtown, which I find excuses to explore almost daily.  Both of the families I babysit for live near downtown, so I walk there frequently.  The one child is 1.5 and loves to take walks in his stroller.  We walk to Memorial Park at least once a week, where we chase ducks who hang out on the Hudson River.  The park overlooks the Hudson River and the Tappen Zee Bridge, so I never mind going since the view is always spectacular. 
     My life is definitely an adventure.  I never know what the next day is going to bring, which could definitely be scary if I didn't know the One who does.  Since I do know Him and I know that He loves me and has wonderful plans for my life, I'm learning to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!