Archives for category: Money

As I am sitting here, I am wondering if longing for something is healthy at all. Some longings heavily based on reminiscing seem dangerous. Dwelling on the past can be borderline sinful, something that’s concrete, at least for me.  It clearly is not God’s desire to dwell on what once was a part of my life & things or experiences I am missing. Longings. But have them I do so maybe blogging about them will help keep my thinking from clogging.

  • Volunteering.  I miss the support that being a part of a program provides.  I miss the deep encouragement of knowing that I had friends to live with & love 24/7, a job to keep me purposeful, a roof & amenities that I did not have to worry so much about.  I worry about all of those things now.
  • Minnesota.  I miss it for the above reason, but also for the warm neighborhoods, gorgeous gardens, “Minnesota-nice”, all the state pride, frozen lakes, feet of snow, the joy of returning spring, Viking-mania, Lake Woebegone, the Beaver Island Trail for biking, the parks & the tater-tot hotdish.
  • Living within walking distance of 98% of my closest friends.  College creates community.  Really good community, too, even when it includes many people you do not care for.  You realize this as soon as you are out of college & suddenly you do not know any of your street neighbors & your best friends are more than an hour driving distance away.
  • City life.  I feel drained when I am not in the city.  Maybe that is because of all the people, all the agendas, all the possibilities for good friends & growth.  Out here past the suburbs where it is not quite the country but the nearest theater is half an hour north, I do not see people unless I need to spend money.  We drive everywhere.  There is little community.  No one is ever outside, which is the worst part.  If I lived in D.C. I would find parks & benches & patches of grass for lunch or anything else I could get done sitting down.
  • Having a sincere, big-picture purpose.  In college, I did not need to think a lot about what my life’s goals were, or understand my genuine motivations for life, or determine my purpose.  In the short term, even though I grew to not enjoy my major, I knew my purpose was to go to school, do my work, pass courses, do things with friends, eat, call home once in a while, etc.  As a volunteer, a lot of what we did was dictated by the program.  Sure, there was more wiggle-room for figuring out my long-term purpose than in college, but when we were not working, meeting, eating or retreating, we were passed out in front of “How I Met Your Mother” reruns… my point is now, without much else giving me purposeful shape to my life, I feel restless, sometimes listless, unsure & doubtful about what happens next.
  • My own coffee pot.  I share morning coffee with my folks now.  This is extremely petty of me, but they like their coffee a certain way & at different times with varying degrees of mess.  I sincerely miss being able to make a pot of coffee to my taste & not have to worry about it all being drunk in ten minutes or a big coffee/cream/sugar mess on the counter top.  I have to safe-guard the pot when I make coffee nowadays.  But coffee is one of my prime worldly comforts so it is not that big of a surprise that I am so irked.

Also: I entirely deleted both Facebook & Twitter last week.  It has not been long enough for me to know if that was the craziest thing I have ever done, especially about the former.  All those connections lost, especially considering my aforementioned “community” longing, makes me think yes.  But they are both huge distractions while I job search & are two things I care way too much about for God to be impressed.

The Bible is explicit that after I place my faith in Christ, I am no longer a bondservant to sin, but rather one to Christ.  I am no longer a slave.  Faith in Christ means freedom from the things that used to hold us captive and freedom to cling to the Person who was meant to truly captivate us.  Some versus that mention this included Matthew 6:24, Acts 16:17 and probably most powerfully Romans 6:16-22.  I had an enlightening day that revolved around this idea.

Caitie and myself got up a little earlier to try our hand at the local public transport, to much success.  We rarely take the bus for things as we choose to be as cheap with our money as possible, and rather we walk.  But today we  rode the bus triumphantly, transferred a few times, and managed not to get lost.  We made it to a nearby mall for some errand shopping, transferred again, and walked to a local thrift store.   We agreed during our walk that living in solidarity with the poor is deliberately freeing – in the way that you’re not in bondage to money.  We were compelled to bring very little cash with us for our trip – always cash and no check or credit card.  We were purposeful with our time and planned ahead as to what we needed, so there would be little temptation to buy impulsively or irresponsibly.   It was wonderfully refreshing to start my day with fifteen dollars and end it with just some odd change; something draws us these days to live simply and sustainably, in a habitual way.  I have to give the credit to God, who is motivating and shaping us in mighty ways during these short months.

Of course, in no way are we suffering along with the poor in deciding to spend less or bring less money when we run errands.  I’m not comparing this to the panhandler’s plight and I don’t mean to romanticize or compartmentalized poverty.  But living in solidarity with the poor, in this way and in others, has been an important first step in gaining perspective and empathy for those who are in desperate states.  They are the first necessary in making it a lifestyle to shun riches and indulgence, to begin living out the charism of Saint Francis, who saw living with and among the marginalized something to be cherished.

Lately, and by that I mean since I got here to MN, I have dwelt a lot on my sinfulness. Well really it ebbs and flows. I conveniently forget all my problems stemming from my sinful desires when I’m, in fact, in the process of sinning. Many times I am conscious of it and I stealthily avoid feeling convicted for days, or weeks, and I’m ashamed to say it. Sometimes I am only conscious of it in hindsight, which is always the scariest way to be confronted because I have made a commitment in following Christ which means, sincerely, being committed to getting rid of all the crap that’s built up in my soul… when I don’t realize how terrible I’m being or when I don’t see how much I am not glorifying God, that is scary. I want to live my life in a way that is so open to the Holy Spirit’s leading that I am convicted the moment I grieve Him with my thoughts or words or deeds. Well, I want to want to live my life that way. At times I don’t even desire that, and I’m just being honest.

So, segue onto what’s been on my heart lately, one particular item that I struggle with so much, so often, that I am to the point where I think about it every day, devoting every other hour to it.

Judgment.

I’m not talking apocalyptic judgment here, nor God’s justice… but my own struggle with it. Big time. The worst of it – and this is probably a little surprising – is my judgment of others that proclaim Christ. This kind of culminated this evening as I read this entry from Matthew Paul Turner’s blog “Jesus Needs New PR”.

I already have a little of a beef with this guy because he blatantly doesn’t like A LOT of people. Alright – I won’t make that blanket statement. But it is painfully obvious when you read his blog or Tweets that he’s upset with a ton of Christian ideology or theology. He’s not quiet about his distaste for exclusive Calvinists or the already poorly viewed Charismatics (i.e. Joel O$teen, as MPT writes). In fact, his whole ministry seems like it’s based on mockery, a kind of ridiculing that is borderline ridiculous to me sometimes. I am constantly bombarded with his views on things or ideas or persons he doesn’t like. Like @johnpiper, who he frequently gives negative shout outs to over Twitter. Apparently reading John Piper’s Tweets makes him want to be a Buddhist. He writes, “Which might very well be more Christ-like.”

Yikes. That hurts, especially because I am drawn to Biblical ideas the way John Piper is on a multitude of levels. Matthew dismisses Piper as a fundamentalist and calls it a day. So you’d think that MPT and JP are polar opposites the way Betty Crocker is different from the Jolly Green Giant. Yet, according to this recent blog post of his, they both at least share a hatred for one thing: the prosperity gospel. Piper is widely known for believing that this so-called gospel is an abomination. There’s hundreds of videos of him on YouTube and commentaries on his Desiring God site to prove it. There are sure to be more commonalities between these two Christian heavyweights but you would never know it, because MPT seems most consumed with distancing himself from JP by putting him down or making jokes about him – and believe you me, there’s a slew of people behind JP, on this list of things MPT thinks is stupid. All that is said and done and yet I know an incredibly small amount of his own theology or simply what he believes. All I really know about him is what he enormously dislikes. I hate that almost every word out of his mouth is some slander to another follower of Christ who he thinks is being stupid or ridiculous. But what do you stand for? What do you love, MPT? What does Jesus Christ mean to you? How are you letting your words shine light on the Father? Could you open up something good or encouraging or slightly positive?

And that, my friends, was a WHOLE lot of judgment on my part. I don’t know if you caught any of that, but I sure did. As I read this blog post of his, I immediately began to resent his comments on Joel O$teen. I began to judge him for being judgmental towards his brother in Christ, and I wanted to write a snarky comment about how he was failing to be the salt of the earth or be apart from the world or plainly how much of a jerk he is. And most of the comments he got on the post were similar to those initial, gut reactions of mine. But just as I had those thoughts, I was hit in the face with how terribly judgmental I was being, and God reminded me just how badly I struggle with it. Even in the seemingly tiniest sense, passing judgment is still the same. I’m still taking upon myself what is ultimately God’s attribute and His role only. He is just and will judge as His holiness allows, and like any other sin that doesn’t glorify Him, it grieves Him when I do this.

So judgment is on my mind and heart bigtime right now, and I know in my soul that Jesus Christ became incarnate, died and lived again for me, for this reason.

P.S. I have to amend that I actually do think Matthew is hilarious from time to time. He is brilliantly talented at picking out the ridiculous things we do as Christians, and uses satire to kick us into gear, to rethink what we are doing or saying or idolizing in place of who we are called to be as followers. My favorite series of his is “Jesus Picture of the Week”.

If I want to get a flu shot through Catholic Charities this year, I’ve got to pay a $24 fee. Technically I’m not a paid employee of the Children’s Home, just a full-time 40hr+/week volunteer, so that disqualifies me from receiving a freebee. Yikes. I suppose it makes sense, as paid employees are also covered under Catholic Charities’ health insurance plan, but still… I’m a volunteer. Which means I don’t get paid. Yet I’m serving the Catholic Charities at a full-time capacity. It stinks that the ones who can’t afford to get a flu shot are the ones charged… even if those persons are working just as much as paid employees. And I’m not the only one in this position at CC. I mean, $24 is a big chunk of the stipend I get each month. But I suppose it’s worth not getting the flu, which is more viable this season than it’s ever been in my lifetime, even though I’ve never gotten it before… but can you blame me for being frustrated?

Yet, I’m reminded of how by making the move out here to live with nuns in Minnesota, I made a commitment to living also in solidarity with the poor.  Not being able to afford a flue shot is definitely a circumstance millions in the country are in right now, and so I am blessed to even have this option presented to me so conveniently.  Counting my blessings.

Physical (a.k.a. blood pressure, eyes, ears & throat check up) = $90.

Fingerprints by the FBI to get a personal copy of my criminal background = $30.

Plane ticket to fly out to Minneapolis = $150.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for my spending woes just trying to be a part of this volunteer program in Minnesota. When does this whole experience become “priceless”?

I know I’m not the first college student to flip out over paying back all those bank loans, so that helps. But it still stinks. I’m trying to defer my college loans for the time that I’m working with the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. It’s a non-profit, so it doesn’t seem like getting my loans deferred would be a big hassle. But oh… how wrong.

First off, the program only lasts for 10 months, and there’s a minimum time requirement of a year for the request to be considered. Then there’s the fact that obviously, this is a religious organization. Even though conducting ceremonies or services is not part of my new job description, the entire program/ministry has religious motivations. So that’s two fouls.

Then there’s my health physical… of course the Sisters need to know from a professional that I’m in good health. But without my father’s health insurance, basic physicals are really pricey. Any tests are about 15 bucks a pop. How can I afford this? It seems all the money I made this summer is going quickly down the toilet. And it’ll go faster if it turns out I can’t get my loans deferred. Yikes.