Monday, December 6, 2010

Do everything without complaining... (Phil. 2:14)

As a New Yorker, there’s a lot I want to complain about. But as a Christian, there’s a lot more to be thankful for!! So in the spirit of thanksgiving:

-- Our apartment doesn’t have a dishwasher… but it at least has a garbage disposal. And if we had a dishwasher, I might never know the joys of coming home to find an empty sink thanks to my amazing husband.

-- Our apartment doesn’t have a washer/dryer… but it at least has laundry in the basement, which is more than a lot of New Yorkers have! And my weekly trips downstairs provide a great way to meet other people in our building.

-- I have to walk up four flights of stairs every morning just to make it above the subway stop… but it’s really good exercise—and sometimes it lets me justify getting a deliciously high-cal holiday Starbucks drink!

-- The subway can get more crowded than a mosh pit… but when people are scrunched in around you, what a great opportunity to be a light and to be kind rather than pushy. And it helps me not take for granted when I finally get a seat!

-- After work, the last thing I want to do is be stuck on a subway with obnoxious and obscene high school guys, crying babies, blaring headphones, and Mariachi bands… but it does make me appreciate coming home to our quiet apartment!  And sometimes the musicians are actually pretty entertaining.

-- The streets are crowded and loud… but that makes me feel safe! If I was walking down a dark, empty street, that would be a lot worse.

-- When we have a singing at our apartment, our neighbor bangs on his ceiling (which is our floor)… but at least if people can hear it, maybe that means God can use it for His glory!

-- Everything is so expensive… but we are really blessed by churches and individuals who are helping us afford to live here, and our dependence on them and on God is good for our faith!

My goal is to continue focusing on the good things happening here instead of all the bad things. It really seems like in such a dark place, God’s light can shine the brightest, and it does. I’ve been so encouraged by the Christians up here and the ways they serve our great Father. Here’s to lighting up the darkness!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Somewhere Beyond the Blue

This is my third week of work as a receptionist at a legal staffing agency, and my job is a blessing. It’s 9-3 Mon to Fri with a 45 min commute each way. (I take the 1 train to Times Square, then ride the S shuttle to Grand Central Station, then walk 7 blocks on Madison Avenue. That sounds cool, but it’s just a lot of people rushing to work!)

It kinda feels like I’ve been dropped into a world of pencil skirts, pantyhose, and grayscale clothing. The first morning on the subway, I looked around at all the businessmen (and women) reading their New York Times and drinking their expensive coffee, and I felt SO out of place. But then I realized THAT’S OKAY! In fact, maybe that’s a good thing! My purpose is not to blend in, but to be a light; not to conform, but to be transformed. If this world is not my home, it’s okay to feel like an alien sometimes. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue!

Honestly, my life right now doesn’t look like I pictured. It’s not spectacular or glamorous—although I do have a nice red coat…  but it’s just from Marshall’s. My life doesn’t look like Amy Carmichael’s. Or even Linda Maydell’s. I pictured myself doing “missionary things” like baking homemade bread and bringing it to the homeless people on the street. Or learning a new language to teach the Bible with. Or taking soup to sick Christians across the city.

Instead, my life looks pretty normal and I do pretty normal things like laundry and cleaning and sometimes having a Christian over for a meal. I greet visitors at church and put the grape juice in the Lord’s Supper trays. That seems a far cry from homemade bread and homeless people, huh? The idealistic Julianne wants to do big and important things for God, when in reality, I need to be content doing the small things—because he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10). And I guess the little things, after awhile, add up to be pretty big things, too.

Oh to be like Thee!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Lord Himself Goes Before You

We’re here! After much planning and praying and packing, we’re here.

We've actually been here for about a month already. And here's what I've noticed about the city:

1. It's not my comfort zone (at least yet). Life here is very different than it was back in Tampa! For example, instead of driving to Publix, I walk down the street to a small and crowded market and carry all our groceries home. Same with the post office and pharmacy and shopping in general. We walk to church. That’s definitely different! We do our laundry in the basement of our building (which feels a lot like living in a dorm again). We’re becoming a lot more familiar with the bus and train routes. And I think we’re gaining a new appreciation for warm clothes.

2. It's full of sin. And I don’t just mean that sin is tolerated or accepted here. I mean sin is completely glorified and made to look so sophisticated. Although a lot of what we see or hear on a daily basis is very blatant, many of the godless attitudes and values of the city creep up in such subtle ways. It’s teaching us to be prayerful and watchful on a daily (and sometimes hourly!) basis.

3. It's in desperate need of the Gospel! While the majority of people seem self-satisfied, there are some here who are searching for God in such a sincere, earnest, and beautiful way. Although there’s a lot that feels discouraging about the city, the opportunities to help and encourage and serve the souls here are deeply rewarding—and we’ve only been here a month. After dinner and a conversation about seeking the Lord, I received this text last week from a Korean girl (whose English isn’t the best): “Thank you for sharing gospel tonight. Yours owesome. Thank you be my teacher and friend either. Bless you!!” Needless to say, we are so glad to be in a place so in need of God’s light.

In times of transition and change, I’m always reminded of Moses instructing Joshua as the Israelites are on the brink of entering the Promised Land. In Deut. 31:7-8, Moses tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous… the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid!”

I'm not sure what the city holds for us—whether good or bad—but I know God goes before me! And we have nothing to fear.