I THINK THE TRAVEL BUG IS A COUSIN OF THE MUSTARD SEED

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I think the travel bug is a cousin of the mustard seed. Third generation, twice removed.

A friend of mine posted a picture from a place I’ve never been, halfway on the other side of the world, the ocean the color of a blue raspberry lollipop. And that’s when I felt it. The itch on my skin, seeping into my blood stream, swimming the butterfly through my veins, full force. I stopped, sighed, clicked through another picture of scenery unknown, breathtakingly haunting.  I want to go somewhere new. I don’t want to be stuck in one place forever, turning into a fossilized version of myself until I erode away into nothing. But I can leave. I’m the Little Mermaid after she got legs. I can go somewhere new. I’m not scared.  I want the jaw-dropping thrill of discovering and uncracking the unknown, taking me to heights only astronauts can reach. A star, the moon, poor demoted Pluto. A place that is not comfortable. That is not known. Incomparable. I want to check out from the familiar as if from a bed bug infested motel— fast. I want to be anything, anywhere else. The grass is always greener in a foreign place. I want the travel bug to take me somewhere new, again, again, again. A thrill I cannot get at home. I never want to stop this itch on my skin, in my blood, this sugar ecstasy— leave my jaw unhinged.

It reminds me of my stay in a hostel in Nova Scotia, where I learned there’s something magical about sharing the kitchen sink with complete strangers and washing an Englishman’s dishes.  And eating breakfast with a family from Paris and discussing our undying affection for Nutella.  Makes me want Nutella, but I digress.  And there’s the campfire, sharing s’mores and stories, meeting people I would never have a chance to meet in my everyday life.  People who left whatever it was they were doing with a hundred dollars in their pocket and traveled the world, this being a one night stop on their grand, soul-seeking, mundane-life-retreating, journey.  I listened to their voices, their excited eyes illuminated by the warm fire’s glow, the words “Let me tell you about the time I sailed the seas with my trombone…”  Made me want to write a poem about it all.  No rhyme.  Free verse.  Possibly epic.  Made me want to pack up with a hundred dollars in my pocket and travel the world. Broke by the end, but rich with stories. Wanting more, always wanting more.

But yet, here I sit. In Pennsylvania. My jaw closed.

Yet the blue raspberry ocean reminds me of you. And the mustard seed. You made our jaws with hinges for a reason. Sure, we can and should be in awe of your creation, but you want us to be more in awe of our Creator.

I want the mustard seed of faith to grow from an itch on my skin to seeping into my blood stream, swimming the butterfly through my veins, full force. I want to go somewhere new, learn something new, about You, with You. I don’t want to be stuck in one place forever, resigning to apathy. I want to be the Little Mermaid after she got legs twirling the Bible around singing “Look at this verse, isn’t it neat?!” I want the jaw-dropping thrill of discovering and uncracking your truths, taking me to heights only astronauts can reach. A star, the moon, poor demoted Pluto. A place that is not comfortable. That is not known. Incomparable. I want to check out from the familiar as if from a bed bug infested motel— fast. I want to be restless for You. I want to sit around a campfire, my excited eyes illuminated by the warm fire’s glow, the words “Let me tell you about the one time I put my faith in our almighty God…” Makes me want to write a blog about it all. No rhyme. Free verse. Possibly epic. Broke by the end, but rich with a deeper understanding of You. Jaw constantly unhinged. Wanting more, always wanting more.

Your child,

m

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TAMING YOUR TONGUE 101: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE MODERN SINGLE CHRISTIAN YOUNG ADULT WOMAN

“Blurred Lines” should be your middle name. According to the most current statistics that were just published while writing this sentence, one out of every two things that comes out of your mouth is 100% inappropriate.

If biting sarcasm were a fine wine, you would have Pinot Grigio pouring out of your pores. If gossip were counted in Chickfila nuggets, you’d have yourself a party platter. If “let’s pick out all the flaws in every single guy we know” were a game show, you’d be the host. If sexual innuendo were an art, you would be Michael Angelo. You could have painted the Sistine Chapel on your apartment’s ceiling 13 times over.

And then—BAM. You get slapped in the face by one of those flying fish while in a boat going down a river that actually has those flying fish that jump into your boat and slap you in the face. If the fish in this scenario was actually a metaphor for something real, he would be the Holy Spirit.

So you’re sitting there with your face red and it stings and you’re feeling bad because you realize you hurt someone or your own reputation has been hurt. And then the HS pours some salt on your open wound and has you flip your Bible to James 3. You realize if your tongue were fire, you would have burned down the whole forest 13 times over.

GOSH DARN IT YOU DON’T WANT TO BE A SALTY SPRING!

So you know it’s time to make amends. Time to stop having praise and cursing coming out of the same mouth. It’s time to be a fresh spring. So with the help of the HS on your side, you keep yourself accountable by:

  1. Taking a deep breath while praying for help from HS
  2. Counting to five
  3. Biting your lip
  4. Crossing your index finger and middle finger from your right hand over your index finger and middle finger from your left hand
  5. Saying “pound sign inapprops!”
  6. Changing the subject or removing yourself from the conversation

So when you are at a BBQ for your young adult bible study and your male friend says to you while holding a hamburger, “Can you grab my buns?” you take a deep breath, call on your homeboy HS, and count to five. And when he adds “They are nice and soft,” you bite your lip. And crossing your index finger and middle finger from your right hand over your index finger and middle finger on your left hand, you fasten for yourself a pound sign (also known as the “hashtag”) and scream “POUND SIGN INAPPROPS!” You throw him the bag of hamburger buns and then you immediately get into your car and drive home.

If the hashtag were a person, he would be a billionaire off all the royalties.

RESPONSES I RECEIVE AFTER TELLING SOMEONE I HAVE MY MFA IN CREATIVE WRITING AND WORK AT A COLLEGE ADMISSIONS OFFICE

  1. Enjoy it now, the world awaits.
  2. My grandson is currently holding auditions for a trophy wife.
  3. If you work at a non-profit organization for over 10 years, the gargantuan debt you unwisely and unnecessarily burdened yourself with will be forgiven.
  4. Awwwwwww.
  5. If you take your MFA off your resume, employers will actually call you back for an interview.
  6. You’re tall. Have you thought about modeling? Someone has to wear those shoes in Payless commercials.
  7. My condolences to your parents. Do you have any siblings that show promise? I’d hate to picture your parents crying themselves to sleep at night, trying to convince themselves that you are actually adopted.
  8. I’ve heard that exercise helps with depression.
  9. I have some extra food in my fridge that expired on Sunday— I’ll bring it in tomorrow.

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Sometimes I wonder if I should have been a landscape architect.

That’s what my career aptitude test kept telling me in elementary school. Even after I retook it. Eleven times.

Except that I have no desire to plant shrubbery and also I hate bees. Bees are outside. And they fraternize with shrubbery.

I remember telling a teacher in the third grade that I wanted to be a writer. She responded, “No, really. I’m serious, M. What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Today, people ask me what I do for a living. I tell them I have a master’s in writing and also work in Admissions at a college. I see them sniff and waft the air, as there must be something in my scent that gives off the fact that my kitchen cupboards are naked and inevitably I’m asked over for dinner.

But there are probably worse degrees, right? Like Philosophy. Am I even really here? Is this blog even real? If someone writes a blog but no one reads it, does it even really exist? Or, history. Wars. And dictators. With moustaches. Writing at least has transferrable skills like… the ability to write. With a pen. Or on a computer. (Versatility!)

You remember what that one guy said in response to my job and degree, right? “Enjoy it, the world awaits.” Gee thanks. Pretty sure I’m already living in this world. With a lot of debt and nothing but a gallon of milk in my fridge.

But he’s right. By the world’s standards. To the world, I got a fun degree and am in a fun job where there are petting zoos on campus during reading day (it’s true). I’m not “there” yet—I haven’t embarked on the path to success yet. I’m in a holding pattern, I’m waiting on the runway, not yet taken off to reach the heights of the status quo.

I know I’m guilty of it. I’m guilty of wanting that job in a glamorous place, with a glamorous title, and a paycheck with multiple zeros before the decimal point and not after. I’m guilty of tying my worth into my degrees, into my job title, into the world’s standards of who I should be. Heck, I’ve never even put on Facebook that I have a master’s and where I work.

I’m guilty of thinking I’ve failed.

I know you heard me crying on the phone when I called my mom complaining about the four pennies I have stored up in my savings account.

She reminded me of your truth.

You don’t ask me to be successful. You ask me to be faithful.

My worth is not tied up in what degree I have or don’t have. My worth is not tied up in the title I have or don’t have at work. My worth is not wrapped up in the place I live, the car I drive, the numbers that show up on my direct deposit into my bank account. My worth is found in You—in who you made me, as your child that you created with certain gifts for a certain purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).

To you, worldly success means nothing. To you, my faithfulness is everything.

Your child,

m