A year ago today, I moved from New York City to Atlanta.
This morning, I re-read my last New York post on my old blog. I remember that day like it was yesterday...every single thing I did, what I wore, where I ate, who I spent the day with, how I felt.
If you know me for even five minutes, you know my love for New York. The city captured my heart and awakened my soul in a way that I could never have dreamed. God taught me more in the years that I was there than in just about any other time in my life. Which is why it's odd that I left, I suppose. Some were surprised, but I wasn't. I think I always knew that New York was a temporary gift to me, that my time there would eventually expire.
Regardless, I think that my hyper-awareness of the fact that my time in New York would end eventually is what gave me the passion for attacking every day with the zeal that I did. I didn't want to miss a single thing, not a city block or concert or a friendship or a restaurant or an opportunity. Maybe that's why I was okay to leave. I just reached a point where God said to me, "You've done what you came here to do, and now it's time to go."
I don't intend to make it sound like it's all been easy, though...like leaving New York and settling into Atlanta over the last 12 months hasn't been hard. In fact, if I'm being honest (I can be honest, right - you're friends?), I would venture to say that it's been one of the hardest seasons of my life. I miss the city every single day. I miss walking out my apartment door and walking down Broadway or over to Central Park. I miss my friends there and the community we shared.
Yet I am covered with the peace of Christ. I am restless, yet restful in Him. I sometimes feel like I don't know where I'm going, yet I trust that he has ordained my every step. I struggle, yet I praise Him for carrying me each and every day.
And I'm finding a new intimacy with God, different than how I experienced him in New York, but just as good...if not better. He is teaching me to wait, and to wait well. To trust his plans. To seek him purely for who he is and not for what he gives me. To fall in love with him and experience anew his love for me.
So, on the one year anniversary of my move to Atlanta, I return to the qavah hope that I have studied and clung to before. I wait and I hope eagerly, anxiously awaiting what God has in store for me. He will not delay. And while I do miss New York, I do so sweetly. I'll always miss it, but it's no longer where God has me. I am where I'm supposed to be, and I am full of hope that he moved me here for a reason. He is preparing me and refining me in ways in Atlanta that he could not do anywhere else, and that fills me with an abounding joy. As I wrote a year ago -
"I know to some, moving to New York in the first place was the bravest move of all. But not for me. This city is my heart, and I could no more deny God's call to move here than I could choose not to breathe or blink. I don't know what the Lord has next for me. I know that it involves living in Atlanta and working at Chick-fil-A, but beyond that, it's a mystery. But as I dare to imagine a different life beyond this city, I am not afraid. I am not apprehensive. No. I am full of hope. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who was and is and is to come, will continue to be faithful, and I can't wait to see what's in store."
What would happen if 13,000 leaders gave up their birthdays to help change the world?
I suppose I should back up for a moment. charity: water is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. As a part of their movement, they've encouraged people to do something simple - give up their birthday for the sake of getting clean water to people who need it most. You may have heard about Will and Jada Smith participating - as of today, they've raised over $86,000 through their birthday campaign.
So this brings us to today. Challenged by what I saw at Catalyst, as well as what I saw my dear friend Regina do for her 25th birthday, I decided I was in. I'm giving my 28th birthday - December 27 - to charity: water. And I'm asking you to join me on this journey.
My goal is to raise $5,000, which will fund one well and provide clean, safe water to 250 people. If you regularly give me a birthday gift, or perhaps even if you don't, I would be honored if you would partner with me to help build this well...$28 or $280, or even $5 or $10.
For me, the why is simple:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"
I used to be a Christmas season purist, insistent that the holiday festivities could not - no way, no how - begin prior to Thanksgiving Day. And on that Thanksgiving Day, I would
faithfully watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, with its Rockettes and Christmas music and Santa,
eat turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie (which I make every year because I love it so much, even though no one else in my family does),
turn on Christmas music,
decorate the house for Christmas with my family, and
prepare for Black Friday shopping with my mom.
It was a hard line. Day before Thanksgiving = no Christmas season. Day of and beyond = Christmas season.
But the older I get, the more relaxed about this rule I become. Maybe it's because I'm starting to realize all of the work that goes into celebrating the season with all the oomph that I love. Maybe it's because I'm impatient. Maybe it's because I'm becoming more laid-back with age (not likely).
Nevertheless, I think I'm open to the idea of starting Christmas season, oh I don't know...today? Thanksgiving's only three weeks away and Christmas a mere seven. I'm thinking I need all of that time to do everything Christmasy that I want to do, like
decorate my house and my mom's house,
bake lots of Christmas goodies,
watch Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Miracle on 34th Street and Christmas Vacation and The Holiday and You've Got Mail, which isn't a Christmas movie but feels festive anyways,
eat a Peppermint Chocolate Chip milkshake from Chick-fil-A,
sufficiently run Mariah Carey and Amy Grant's Christmas albums into the ground on my commute,
do all of my Christmas shopping,
celebrate at parties and celebrations with friends and coworkers, and
drink plenty of Starbucks cups of coffee from the red cups.
So I think, for me, it's settled. Welcome Christmas season 2010!
I was delighted to see that my friend Erin tagged me in her blog quiz. According to her, I answer the quiz and then pass along the love. Fun, fun! Here we go...
1) If there was an extra hour in your day, what would you spend it doing?
I'd curl up in a comfy chair with a large mug of coffee, turn on some music, and read a book.
2) What movie have you watched the most? You've Got Mail. It is, without question, my favorite movie of all time. I own the DVD, yet I still watch it every time when it's on TV. I know every word, every character, every place. Plus, it reminds me of life in New York City.
3) Which is worse? Being in a place that is too loud or too quiet?
Complete silence weirds me out. Give me lots of noise - people talking, horns honking, music, whatever! I am quite adept at zoning out if need be...one time I fell asleep at a Braves game.
4) Are you generally an optimist, a pessimist or a realist?
I think that I am somewhere between a realist and an optimist. I am very practical, but I do tend to believe that things usually just work out for the best.
5) Who is your favorite celebrity crush?
John Krasinski, aka, Jim Halpert from The Office. He is adorable in character and in real life, and his goofy, sweet personality is just my type!
6) What is the top thing to do on your bucket list?
I sadly do not have an official, written down bucket list. I need to get on that! Off the top of my head, though, I'd say go on a mission trip and/or write a book. Maybe I'll write a book about a mission trip and cross both off the list at once.
7) Would you rather be a great photographer, dancer or singer?
Singer. I have a pretty good voice, and I love to sing anywhere and everywhere - in the shower, on a stage, in my car, and especially leading worship. But to be a truly GREAT singer? That would just be awesome.
Now, I tag five people to complete my new quiz below!
1) Describe your dream job.
2) What is your favorite thing about your childhood?
3) What is the best concert you've ever been to?
4) What is your favorite book and why?
5) If you could relive one day of your life, which day would you choose?
6) What quality do you value most in a friend?
7) In exactly 8 words, describe your week.