Don’t Forget Rain Boots

It rains here practically every day.

I’ve learned that people in the Deep South handle rain differently than Oklahomans.  When it sprinkles in Oklahoma, all the girls take the opportunity to bust out rain boots, rain coats, and umbrellas.  When it pours in New Orleans, students seem to walk across campus as if it’s merely cloudy.  Needless to say, I often look ridiculous walking across campus.  I’ve never seen anyone using an umbrella, but I don’t leave my dorm without mine! AND if it’s ever pouring when I leave my room (or even sprinkling), I’ll likely put on my rain boots and certainly my rain coat. (Maybe I’ll become a trendsetter?)

Clothing is not the only thing impacted by this rain difference.  In church Sunday, the pastor asked, “Who here has ever had to pray for rain?” Forgetting my location, I raised my hand and continued looking at my notes.  When I finally looked up, I realized that I was the only one in sight raising my hand.  Although the people around me were laughing with me, I totally understood the pastor’s illustration better than them. 😉

I’m clearly not used to living in a wet climate.

Yet, I am also not used to living in a dry climate.  Figuratively, that is.  I’m used to laughter, silly teenage girls (that I love dearly), crazy phone calls, having to wake up early and go to bed late, juggling too many activities, and having to count calories.  Here, it’s almost always quiet, I rarely see a teenager (who would’ve thought I’d have withdrawals?), the calls I receive are mild and always civil, I get plenty of sleep, I don’t even have to check my calendar when someone asks me to do something, and I have to remind myself to eat.

There are certainly pros and cons to both sides of my life and I’ve had to remind myself to be thankful in Oklahoma and in New Orleans.  Yet, while I’m in this dry season, I’m reminded of what ministry education looked like in the Bible.  Yes, there was formal training (you can’t argue Paul didn’t go through formal training), but there was also a lot of desert training.  Jesus, Ezekiel, and Moses are just a few examples of leaders that were trained in the desert.  Their ministries were not built with ease.  Instead, their ministries were built with temptation and hardship.  Although I would never compare the intensity of my calling, suffering, or temptation with that of Jesus, Ezekiel, or Moses, I’m grateful the Lord has provided formal and desert training for wherever He’s leading me.

So, in true Okie fashion, I find myself back to praying for rain.  Now, I just have to remind myself to wait expectantly (rain boots and all) and see the blessings along the way…even when it’s just sprinkling.

Seminary Gumbo

New Orleans is known for its one-of-a-kind, fantastic cuisine. Though my dorm room “fine dining” normally consists of packets of oatmeal, homemade smoothies, and scrambled eggs, I have not been disappointed by any NOLA dish . . . even from the seminary’s cafeteria (people actually come from the community to eat there).

One classic NOLA dish is gumbo.

Gumbo is one of those dishes with a little bit of everything. My (limited) experience with traditional Creole Gumbo has included shellfish (shell included), okra, celery, onions, bell peppers, and a ton of really flavorful spices (…with a kick!) all swimming in a tasty broth.

gumbo

In seminary, I’m finding myself in my own pot of gumbo. While swimming around a new city, I’ve found that nothing is clear. When I think I’m going one direction, I’m often going the opposite direction. When I think I understand what a new French word means, it usually means something completely different (and it’s Cajun). I also find myself running into unexpected roadblocks. While I expect to find meat that I can simply eat with a fork, I find a full shellfish in the middle of my bowl. There are also things I’m used to like okra, onions, and bell peppers. Yet, right when I think I know what I’m eating or I’m comfortable…bang! The unexpected kick hits!

I’m also learning there are a few essentials to surviving this “dish” for which my Okie pallet is definitely not accustomed…

Jesus. As cliché, wholesome, and staged as that may seem…I really would be lost without Him. He provides perfect peace, direction, and comfort. I’m grateful to go to a school that wholeheartedly believes that truly believes John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (HCSB).  Jesus is certainly the only way to the Father.

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Navigation system.

(Disclaimer: I was stuck in traffic while taking this photo.  I do NOT advocate taking pictures while driving.)

(Disclaimer: I was stuck in traffic while taking this photo. I do NOT advocate taking pictures while driving.)

Shower shoes.

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Traveling companion.

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Hairspray.

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Roommate.

Though I have NO idea what they are, they're quite entertaining...

Though I have NO idea what they are, they’re quite entertaining…

I probably would’ve asked the Lord to place me in a seminary beignet…light, fluffy, and covered in powdered sugar. I am so grateful that instead He’s chosen to wrap me in His arms, teach me endurance, and carry me through this seminary gumbo.

The Big Easy

Greetings from N’awlins!

A week ago I left home to travel to the “Big Easy.”  While “big” describes my new home well, “easy” is not a word I’d use to describe any part of this adventure.  Yet, the Lord has continued to prove faithful.

He began His sustaining work long before I loaded my car or said my first “good-bye.”  From the clarity of His calling, the promises of His Word (specifically, God’s provided Psalm 37:23,24 for this journey), and the encouragement of His church, I have truly felt His love each step of the way!

In the midst of packing everything I own to follow Him, God provided support and direction.

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In the midst of heart-wrenching good-byes, God provided peace and comfort.

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In the midst of a long drive with a lot of blind spots, God provided safety.

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In the midst of processing a new chapter and a physically demanding move, God provided support and humor.

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In the midst of discovering a new home, God provided relief.

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In the midst of final good-byes and new beginnings, God’s providing joy and peace.  I’m continually reminded of James 1 and Philippians 4.  I am grateful for the relationship I have with Jesus and that He helps me love Him more and more each day.  He has truly provided the most remarkable promises and support system ever.  I am continually grateful.

Although the path He’s called me on may not be EASY, He’s certainly BIG enough to handle it.  I’m excited to see how the Lord uses this next season for His glory and humbled by the calling He’s placed on my life.

By the grace of Christ . . .

Welcome to the Big Easy!