The Best Things That Happened When I Didn’t Have a Job

In three days, I start working again after a five-month hiatus.

That means I’ll use the slow cooker a bit more and should try to refrain from starting movies late Sunday night. But it also means there is a role in the world of campus ministry that I can fill, and I’m excited to devote myself to something I care about so much.

IMG_3831I’ve savored the quiet days in this season more than I could’ve imagined. I was reminded that my value does not come from my job. It doesn’t hinge on having a pretty house or plans that go accordingly. I’ve learned how to change a tire, how to not feel guilty for reading for pleasure at 10am. But things weren’t sunshiney the whole time, and I often fought against the very reasons why this time was a gift – the quiet schedule.

And even though I’m ready for another change, I don’t want the lessons and memories of the last five months to fall away. I want the patterns and meditations to stick, so the following list is just as much for me as it is to share with you. It’s a list of things I’ve read, tasted and experienced that left an imprint, marking where I’ve been and (just possibly) where I’m going.

1. Humiliation & Exaltation. At the start of this non-work time, I wanted to instantly settle in – to fit and be heard and matter here. Then this: “Sometimes we want to be recognized as valuable to God in the eyes of others more than we want to be seen by God Himself.” I wrestled with this on a snowy Sunday morning and returned to it many times since.

2. The 36 Questions That Lead to Love. A study sought to determine if two strangers could fall in love based on this set of questions. One night, Thomas and I meandered through them and determined that if we could have a dinner party with anyone, Brad Pitt and Shauna Niequist would be at our table.

IMG_39963. Dexter. He wrecks my house but makes me laugh, and that’s a fair trade-off, I think.

4. The Last Granola Recipe. I haven’t made another since I found this one. I use it as a base for whatever random dried fruit/nuts/seeds are in my pantry, and I replace some of the olive oil with coconut oil. On the days I felt aimless and like nothing I did was worthwhile, granola kept me grounded.

5. Campus House. My new work home in a few days and the place where we met our Wednesday night crew. We babysit their children and eat each other’s food weekly, and I’m so thankful for these new friendships that formed right when I needed them.

6. South Carolina. The visit south to see family in May was just what we needed – full of beach time, no responsibility to four-legged ones, and this Asheville gem on the trip down reminded me why I love food so much. I say that shamelessly.

7. Beautiful Ruins. A lovely summertime book that drew me right in.IMG_4008

8. Thom’s Birthday. The night before, we celebrated with an all-request birthday menu and a big yellow cake. Then Sunday came around, and after church, we sat wondering how to make the day more special. “We can play putt-putt, or we can go home,” Thomas said. So we called our parents and somehow managed to get home in time for a carry-out pizza dinner with all of them. It was completely impractical and entirely fun, reminding me that most restrictions I perceive in life I create myself.

And that’s only a sampling. I could also mention the seven pounds of strawberries we picked yesterday, Ann Patchett’s essay collection, or how I almost like running…almost. Maybe the point is that I had the time to pay attention to all these things, so I did, and now I don’t want to let that habit go.

Here’s to something new – and recognizing the people and things that are no-nonsense good to us.IMG_4053 (1)

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