Six lessons in six months.

Today marks six months. Six months of what you may ask. Well, six months since I started a new job in Philadelphia, six months since I left my family after attending my grandfather’s funeral, six months since moving from my “City of Dreams” to the city of “Has potential, Needs Improvement”, and six months since I said my “so longs” and “see you laters” to my community and began long-distance relationships with each of them.

Six months is such a long time. And six months is a blink of an eye. These past six months have been hard, oh so hard, but they have been incredibly good to me.

I like to call these my “beauty from ashes” months.

And lessons were taught and attempted to be learned. Here are six those.

1.) It’s okay to admit hard things are hard. I traveled for 13 weeks with few breaks this last fall and I’m currently on a two week tour of the Midwest for work. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but there were dark days. When I finally admitted that being away from home and splitting my time between airports, hotel rooms, and unfamiliar college campuses was not the most glamorous of lifestyles, I had the freedom to be okay with the bad days. Accepting the bad days made the good days that much better.

2.) Sometimes eating alone can be more life-giving and peace-bringing than other things you expect to be life-giving and peace-bringing. I still prefer sharing my meals with friends and family, but after hours of talking with students and staff, you realize there is hardly any time to think. I have started to use my alone meal times for devotionals and reflection. See, life-giving and peace-bringing.

3.) Even if you basically live in airports, hotels, and unfamiliar college campuses for thirteen weeks straight, there is still time to make time. Make time for friends, for family, for God. These things are important and will keep a busy person (and not-so-busy person) sane.

4.) If you put your heart to it, long-distance relationships will be fine. Actually, they’ll be better than fine, they’ll flourish. Again, there is always time for these relationships. I have the best friends and family. They’ve made living in Flipadelphia and traveling so much more meaningful and joyful.

5.) There are few things more important than being with family in times of struggle and heartbreak. ‘Nough said.

6.) Eucharisteo is vulnerable. Eucharisteo is necessary. In the midst of struggle, newness, and change, being thankful is hard; I know from experience. Choosing to be thankful and living in a eucharisteo way is allowing yourself to break down the walls you’ve built and say “yea, things are hard and they are new, but I’m thankful for this journey.” It changes perspective. It changes lives.

Six lessons in six months. Here’s to years more of learning.

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Home Away from Hope: Learning to Give Thanks

“Eucharist (thanksgiving) is the state of the perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creations, redemption, and gift of heaven.” -Alexander Scheming

It seems unreal that it’s been just over three months since I packed up my Northeast Minneapolis home, loaded my car with my essential items for living (read: every single pair of shoes I own), and wished Minneapolis a temporary good-bye. I left Minneapolis knowing I would return one day soon, but my heart was heavy nonetheless. I was moving to Philadelphia to begin an eight-month position working for a university in the northern suburbs recruiting for study abroad programs and learning about the field of education abroad. I was happy and sad. I was excited and terrified. I felt joy and sorrow. I feel like I’ve been living life in juxtaposition since July, but through that God has been teaching me incredible amounts about who He is, whom He created me to be, and the purpose behind this move.

I’d be lying to you if I said this move has been easy. I’d be lying to you if I said this move was exactly what I wanted. I even prayed to the Lord after my interviews to not allow a job offer to happen if it wasn’t exactly where I was suppose to be in this season. Well, imagine my shock, excitement, and horror when my now boss called me to offer me the position. I spent many days talking with friends and family processing through the offer, and spent seemingly countless nights lying awake trying to figure out what I had gotten myself into. In the end, I did accept the position (obviously—I kinda spoiled that at the beginning) and I did move out to Philadelphia and God is graciously teaching me about lots of things, especially thankfulness.

I’m in the process of reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I started this book while I was on a plane, after a long week of lots of travel for my job. I was feeling tired, cranky, not excited to be flying back to Philadelphia…just very unthankful. Her words smacked me directly between my eyes.

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.”

“The only real fall of man is his noneucharistic life in a noneucharistic world.”

“…the only way to be a woman of prayer is to be a woman of thanks.”

These words brought me out of my broken, selfish, unthankful self to a place where I could see my sin and the ugliness of living life in a noneucharistic way.

With the traveling nature of my job and living in a brand new place, I have the temptation to close up, have the mindset to just “get the job done,” then come back to Minneapolis where I can begin to live again. Friends, let me tell you, this is not how God lets us function. Jesus is good to us for not letting us hole up in ourselves for too long. He is good to us for letting us read words that will speak directly to our core. He is good to us for showing us that there are things to be thankful for in this life.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

So what does this mean for the rest of my time in Philadelphia? It means that I get to have God continue to redeem me into a more whole Kari. This means that I get to fight through the times I would much rather live a noneucharistic life in a noneucharistic world because it seems easier. This also means that I get to scream EUCHARISTEO! to the ends of the earth and worship our Lord, our Lord who gives us the good days, shows us through the hard days, and loves us unconditionally.

Check out http://www.womenathope.com for more stories from Jesus-loving, God-fearing women.

Silence.

A couple times over the last two weeks,
I’ve had the chance to literally just sit outside in silence. I can hear the crickets buzz and birds chirp. My mind and heart settle peacefully and it’s as if I can have an uninterrupted relationship with God. It’s so good for my soul, for my heart; a perfect way to clear my mind. God has given me these moments to show me how good it is to sit in silence sometimes. I wouldn’t be able to hear certain things if I don’t.

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incredible.

i am learning an incredible amount here in philadelphia.

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God is blowing my mind with His faithfulness and grace toward me. He is showing me the importance of prayer. Prayer changes things. God listens. I’ve known this in theory for years. I’ve been learning this in such a deep way this week. I’m excited to see what God has in store.

I am learning the ins and outs of education abroad. I am feeling confident in what I’m learning and I’m feeling excited to finally get out on the road to start putting to use all the information occupying my mind.

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It’s okay to not be busy every day. I love being busy, but I need to make room for Jesus. My schedule is not as packed as it has been the last few months and I’m taking advantage of spending that time with the Lord. This is training for me because when I get back to Minneapolis in March, by the grace of God, this will continue.

There are people of faith all of the country, who love Jesus and who love God’s children. I have gotten to experience that through reconnecting with an old friend and her husband. I have gotten to experience that through the women’s bible study I’ve joined. It’s amazing the way God works in different parts of the country, heck, world.

Mostly though, I am experiencing and learning about God’s character, who He is, and who He will continue to be. It is really is incredible. God is incredible. Really incredible (thus why I am giving two thumbs up below).998758_10100330722681603_1520939251_n

week 1: #karimovestophilly

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It’s officially been 8 day since I stepped foot on Philadelphia soil. These 8 days have been long. I miss Minneapolis, my friends and family, and my routine. But these days have also gone by so quickly. My head is filled with so much knowledge about higher education, education abroad, and Arcadia University in general. July has been the month of change and I’m trying to figure out my new normal. It’s been hard, but it will be worth it. I’m looking forward to learning more at work and getting on the road. I’m looking forward to exploring Philadelphia and I’m looking forward to establishing a new routine! I’m also looking forward to visitors (hint, hint). There’s a lot to look forward to!!

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Praises:
-Time spent with family and friends in Wisconsin and Minneapolis before I left.
-Safe travels from Minneapolis to Madison back to Minneapolis to Oshkosh to McFarland to Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. A lot of miles were put on the cars and 0 incidents to report.
-For my Mom and Kelly-the two ladies who lovingly drove to Philadelphia and back home for me. They put up with my anxiety. They put up with my crabbiness. They put up with me as I felt every emotion on the spectrum. They are amazing. I love them.
-For God’s presence and calming spirit, especially over the last couple of weeks. While there was a lot happening that needed my attention, I got through it by grace alone. So thankful.

Prayer Requests:
-That week 2 at work will be just a productive as week 1.
-That I will continue to meet people and connect with co-workers.
-That I would continue to connect with the women at the bible study I started attending last week (4 week study on 1 John) and that God would bless me with a church family.
-That will find time to be in the Word and prayer this week
-For my lovely friend, Stephanie, who is moving to Hong Kong at the end of the month-that she will have safe travels, uneventful times going through customs, fun meeting all the other teachers at her school, and adventures as she figures out her new normal.

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