“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” OR Happy Birthday to me!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9

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This past Saturday, April 27, was the five-year anniversary of my being saved. I found myself thinking a lot that day about how things change in five years; how much we grow (physically, emotionally, mentally), how many decisions we make (whether right or wrong), the people that come and go. I think it is important to reflect on our lives often, not just to reminisce, wish for the past, or dwell on regrets, but to realize how far we have come in our lives and all the events and people that God has placed in our paths along the way.

April 26, 2008, I was in a car accident (ironically on my way to an event at church) that I came away with just some scrapes and bruises. I don’t know if I have any pictures of my car anymore – it was considered totaled after it flipped over, both of us upside down on the side of a country road. I rounded the curve too close to the outside, hit some gravel and overcorrected, then swerved violently before finally flipping over and landing upside down. My stomach still drops when cars make swerving motions, and I still feel anxious when I hear the sound of screeching tires. I called my mom sobbing because I didn’t know who else to call; she has Multiple Sclerosis, so there wasn’t much she could do for me other than making some more phone calls and worrying about me. Real smooth, Holliday. Real smooth.

The next 20 minutes were such a blur, but the people that I encountered are still pretty clear. A man drove by the scene shortly after and called 911 for me; I remember he had a verse of scripture on his shirt. I had been following my friends’ family so when they realized I was no longer behind them they came back for me; their hugs were so comforting at that moment. The police officer in the ambulance told me that God had a bigger plan for me that day. God certainly provided me with comforting people that day. How else could it be explained?

Later that day, my boyfriend at the time had asked me, “If things had turned out different [AKA if you had not made it out of this alive], do you know where you would be right now?” I had been attending church regularly for the past year. I volunteered for church events. Heck, I had been on my way to bond with a group of women from the church to make soup! I had never done drugs, I didn’t drink, I didn’t swear; I was a good person. But somehow I knew that these things weren’t enough.

So the following day, Sunday, I walked into Pastor’s office and prayed to God to save me and take hold of my life. I was baptized a couple months later; my testimony verse is Romans 5: 3-5, which says

More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Over the past five years, I have stumbled. I have looked to God for selfish reasons. I have tried doing things my own way. I have been impatient. But just as well, despite all of these things, God has never ceased to bless me. No matter how many times I fall, God has never failed to pick me back up. He has thrown things in my path that, at times, seemed insurmountable. But He has also blessed me immeasurably.

Five years ago today, if you asked me where I would be in five years, I would have never guessed where my life is today. I never would have thought I would get accepted into SUNY Geneseo, get involved with InterVarsity, meet so many wonderful, amazing people, and receive my Bachelors degree. I would never have guessed I would meet and fall for a tall, red-haired guy named Tom at a church event. Who knew I would be accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University, and move to New York City?

There are so many things that I never would have imagined for my life. But God is funny in that way; we think we know what we want, we think we know what is best for us, but God knows so much more and has so much more planned for us. Like Isaiah 55:8-9 says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

These past five years have shown my how much deeper my testimony is; in the beginning, it was because I was afraid of dying and going to Hell. I realize that I was saved even though my reasoning may have been pretty shallow – I mean, being saved is being saved, we shouldn’t feel the need to compare our testimony with others.  Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian and he has a short skit that addresses this need to compare testimonies and the desire to have a “good” testimony (watch it here). I have grown to realize that my whole life is a testimony to God; He has gotten me through pretty crappy stuff, sometimes without my consciously realizing it.

Who knows where I’ll be in five years? I sure as heck don’t! And I don’t really feel like limiting myself to who/what/where I think I’ll be in five years. Whatever I think, God’s plan is so much better than I could even imagine. Cheers, God. Here’s to another five.

Yes, Virginia (and everyone else), I live in New York City

So for those of you who did not know, I have been living in the City That Never Sleeps.

Yes, Virginia, I have been living in New York City for two and a half months now…and I forgot how many people I didn’t tell. I guess maybe they thought I was just working as a substitute teacher and glamorous Walmart supervisor for these last few months. Others, well, either don’t care to know my whereabouts or thought I fell off the face of the earth?

I was actually accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University back in August last year, but coming in the fall was too soon to get everything prepared to leave home. That’s a whole other complicated story (AKA: my life), so maybe one day you’ll hear about it. I’ve always been told that my life would make a good book; I think I should get better at blogging first, then I’ll consider it.

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I applied for two schools: University at Buffalo and Teachers College. I had already been admitted into UB’s Math Education graduate program, and was planning on starting in the fall, so I had a fallback plan if TC didn’t accept me. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance of getting into TC; I mean, come on, it’s affiliated with Columbia! I’m just this small-town girl (though, technically, Batavia is a city), I never received huge awards from high school or college, my grades were good but they could definitely find better people to take my place. It was quite a stressful summer waiting to hear from TC.

And then, on an August evening, I got an email from TC directing me to the ‘decision’ page of my application. This was it. I mentally prepared myself to read, “We are sorry to inform you…” or something along those lines. So when I read, “We are happy to inform you…” I just about wet my pants. I think I screamed.

As excited as I was, the idea of moving in only a month was terrifying. Like I said, it wasn’t going to be as easy as students who move away to college freshman year with parents to take care of all the messy details: house, transportation, the actual moving process, etc. So I knew that if I accepted admittance into TC, I would be deferring to the spring semester to allow me more time to prepare myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially.

I only told a select few because I didn’t want to announce it publicly over Facebook that I was leaving town to go to NYC. There are multiple reasons, but one of the bigger ones was due to self-doubt and pride.

Okay, sure, I got accepted into this crazy awesome graduate school, but…What if I can’t hack it in the city? What if I come back after a semester because I hate it there? What if I fail my classes, living far from home, life in general?

And when I did tell people, I would make it seem like I was prepared to fail. That way, if I didn’t like it or ended up not doing well, I would be willing to come home without making a huge scene, reapplying to Walmart (that would make 5 stints there), and assume my old life back home.

If I hate it, no big deal – I’ll just come home.

It was definitely a defense mechanism but, looking back, it was only defense from myself. Everyone I told was nothing but excited and supportive; we were all people living in a small city in western New York, so just thinking and talking about going to and living in a huge city like NYC was thrilling.

Absolutely everyone was pumped for me. Everyone but myself. It’s not that I wasn’t excited. The problem was that I was so excited I was afraid I would overlook the possibilities of failure and end up getting clotheslined by life.

Why do we do this to ourselves? If any of my friends came and told me they got accepted into a prestigious college and/or were moving somewhere, I would be ecstatic for them! A couple of my friends have done this actually (not for school but for jobs) and I couldn’t be happier. And I’m so glad they told me so that I can be excited for them and support them! But when it came to myself, I was so bent out of shape about the negative possibilities, doubting my ability to do well in school or survive a new city, that I wasn’t willing to share it with anyone but those I was closest to.NYC skyline

So to those of you whom I didn’t tell, I really apologize. I was afraid that if I told everyone and made this huge hype, it would blow up in my face and I would end up falling flat on my tush. Then I wouldn’t just be letting myself down, but I would feel as though I failed all the people I told, all the people that believed in me. I felt as though my failure would extinguish any fire in the hearts of those coming from a small city and wanting to explore living in a bigger city. If I couldn’t do it, I know it would discourage me, but would that also discourage others?

I’m glad to say that I love it here. These past two+ months have been exciting, challenging, eye-opening, and amazing. I’ve been wanting to write about my experiences here, but there was still such an uneasiness with letting people know and actually knowing myself whether I liked it here enough to stay. I plan on being here for the next year, and after that, who knows? Maybe I’ll love it enough to find a job here for a few years before I settle down and start a family; I don’t really want my future kids growing up in such a huge, overwhelming city. Or maybe I’ll find a job in another great city. Maybe a different country. Who knows? I do know, now that the cat is out of the bag, that I’m excited to write about anything that may come up.

Cotton Candy…in the bible?

Sometimes The Message makes me laugh. I usually cross-reference verses using BibleGateway between ESV (English Standard Version), NIV (New International Version), NLT (New Living Translation), AMP (Amplified Bible), MSG (The Message), and LOLBT (LOLcat Bible Translation). Granted the last one is just for a laugh.

So I was leisurely searching around in my ESV, found a passage in Isaiah, and wanted to see parallels from other translations. And The Message gave me this:

Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? 

–Isaiah 55:1a, 2a (MSG)

cotton candy

I understand that this particular translation is meant for a more contemporary, new-age group of Christians looking for layman’s terms; no thous or shalts or cometh-ing. But some of the content, to me, sounds just plain silly. I mean, come on, you couldn’t come up with something other than cotton candy? I realize that the lolcat version includes cheezburgrz, but it is also not being sold and used in churches. Then again, I guess a pro of The Message is that you can read the bible as an infomercial and sound legit. Now we just need a ridiculous commercial to go with it.

Which reminds me: a couple of friends posted this on Facebook this week; it was a post on Mashable regarding infomercials. I laughed so much I was crying. True human beings in all our imperfect glory.

He will quiet you by His love

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

–Zephaniah 3:17

Bible Heart Pages

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life. Believe me, I know. Coming from a small city in upstate New York, there’s always downtime; Main Street is empty after midnight, houses are blanketed by darkness while their inhabitants sleep.

But in large cities like New York, there is always something going on; unless a power outage ensues, it will always be daytime in Times Square. Taxis are always on the lookout for potential passengers, even on Monday evenings (or, I guess, technically Tuesday mornings) at 3 a.m. Hence the nickname “The City That Never Sleeps”. Because someone, somewhere, is always awake. Always.

In the midst of all the people and places and things to do, it’s easy to lose a sense of peace. Even when I’m alone in my room, I constantly feel like I need to be doing something. Having internet helps a ton – there are always shows to watch, people to stalk on Facebook, random facts to be found. (Read my post about FOMO).

Being back home in a house with no internet (hello public library!), I find myself opening my bible. Now I guess this could be seen in two ways.

1) Seeing as I have nothing better to do (unless I want to spend all weekend in the library) I guess the bible is my best option.

Or 2) with the slower pace here, I don’t feel rushed or a dire need to be going, going, going.

Let’s go with option 2. Yeah, that sounds better.

So here in my silent house, I opened my bible and started scouring for passages about quiet, silence, and peace. My index doesn’t provide a vast array on the first two…and normally I would search the internet to supplement, but we’ve already discussed that situation. Peace, however, is a topic in which the bible has much of.

One such passage is 2 Timothy 2:22, which says,

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Youthful passions can be interpreted many ways, depending on what you as a young whipper-snapper like to do in your free (or not so free) time. I’m going along with this FOMO theme – needing to be here, while being over there, and still thinking there might be something better somewhere else. In layman’s terms, I think it’s telling us to SLOW THE HECK DOWN and, instead, pursue these other more important qualities.

I always forget how much I enjoy just thumbing through my bible, looking at what I’ve already highlighted, and finding more passages to highlight and try to internalize. And it’s times like these, in the quiet stillness of my large house (okay, not huge, but it’s much bigger than my dorm room in the city) that make me remember.

Does anyone else struggle with this, even if you don’t live in a large city?

Bleeding Love

So I successfully donated blood today! Because of my donation, up to 3 people’s lives have been saved. Yeah, buddy. In October, I was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, so between a lack of nutrients (affecting my iron levels), a bunch of medications, and straight up feeling like poo a lot, I have not donated blood in over 8 months.

Now you may be wondering why I’m so pumped. A little insight:

  1. I was a regular, donating blood about every 3 months for over a year
  2. Last time I donated, which was in July, I passed out
  3. I have been turned away 4ish times due to low iron levels

So yes, I am happy they sucked a pint/pound of that red gooey stuff out of me. I mean, for one thing, you get free water/juice and a snack after you donate. ELF Fudge cookies, anyone? But also, being a poor college student, I can’t afford to donate wads of money to charities. But I have blood (O negative, no less) that someone can use. I’d like to think that if I ever needed blood, I could either be given my own blood (kind of weird, huh?) or another O- donor could save my life.

So for all of you reading out there, you may one day need blood. Without donors, you might not get it. Return the favor, donate blood!

March is Red Cross Month, so go to redcross.org and find a donation location near you!

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I have a problem…

Ok, let me know if anyone else has this problem. It’s escalating and festering even as I write this. It’s gnawing at my ankles. An itch I can’t scratch. I just can’t stop thinking about it. It’s annoying…

My problem: I’m thinking of all the other things I could be doing right now. At this very second. Reading a new book I just got today. Watching some YouTube videos. Episode (or three) of Game of Thrones, anyone? Not to mention all the homework I have to do before next week’s spring break…

I seem to have the attention span of a 3 year old. Or a dog. It’s like having three people telling me to do something different, at the same time, all equally tantalizing:

“Sit for a treat!”

“Go fetch the ball!”

“Who wants to go for a walk?”

What on earth is a dog to do? Or in this case, a human being in the 21st century, constantly bombarded with “better” options. I find it difficult to make the most basic decisions anymore! And now with social media always telling us the epic things our friends/acquaintances and family (hey, Grandma) are doing, there’s the ever present FOMO.

I learned this term about a month ago, and the pastor at the church I went to last week dedicated an entire sermon about it. UrbanDictionary.com provides multiple definitions, but in essence, FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. Raise your hand if you, like me, suffer from this. I would raise both of mine for emphasis, but it’s difficult to type without hands.

For those of you actually reading this (probably not many) I think this FOMO epidemic is causing an inability to commit. Everyday is like entering an ice cream shop, constantly feeling overcome by the vast varieties presented to you, and being told to choose only one.ice cream choices

I want cookie dough. But I also enjoy mint chocolate chip. Oh, but, my oh my, doesn’t that cookies-n-cream look divine? Ooh! Is this flavor new?

I mean, really. It’s never-ending! This FOMO topic is a huge one, and there’s already so much online about it. It’s definitely something I would like to delve deeper into, but I’ll leave it here for now. Contemplate, give ideas on overcoming FOMO, and/or tell me what you’re favorite ice cream flavor is.

Troubling Customer Experiences

Oh well thank you WordPress for giving me a question to answer…to start the gears turning…get the thinking juices flowing…so here we go…except I deleted the original (failing at this already!) so I’ll paraphrase:

What has been your most troubling experiences as a customer?

As a customer? Hm, well, that’s tough. I guess there are always those irksome experiences surrounding food preparation:

That hairnet doesn’t exactly look secure…what else have they touched with those gloves?…Oh my gosh, he just sneezed. Did anyone else see this?! And I don’t think that the angle at which he diverted his head was quite enough…

Personally though, I have had the most troubling customer experiences on the employee side of the spectrum.

Fact #1 about me: I have worked at Walmart a total of 4 different times. Yep. You read correctly. Four. Different. Times. In 4 years.Jillian Michaels, Walmart

Jillian Michaels must have missed the memo on dress code with her cleavage and lack of sleeves. Well, she’ll fit in with many of the people I’ve worked with then!

Now, it would be ridiculous to try to sum up my experiences in one blog entry (my first one no less!), so I guess I will simply open up the floor to this fact and see where it leads.

I suppose I could give a little intro to some sort of answer to the question posed above:

  • customers complaining about lines being long
  • customers complaining about prices being wrong
  • customers using bras (on their bodies) instead of pockets or purses
  • customer’s body odor while making their purchases

See what I did there? Walmart jingle in the making. More to come soon!