What are you eating for Christmas?

Overnight Cinnamon RollsThis morning I woke to the smell of cinnamon rolls baking in the downstairs oven. After a night of battling a violent cough I wasn’t feeling too great. But the aroma of food drew me downstairs.

Food has become a new concept to me. I’m beginning to realize that spiritual nourishment is just as vital to life as physical nourishment. Since August I have been studying the gospel of John through Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).

The story that I remember the most is from Chapter 3, the woman at the well. To this Samaritan woman, Jesus speaks of living water. A concept where someone thirsts no longer for material things, but instead is forever satisfied by something spiritual.

I really like this story, firstly because she is a woman, and women during the time of Jesus were not treated equally with men, but Jesus treats her as a daughter, or a beloved friend. Secondly because Jesus knows this woman’s greatest need and how to satisfy it.

While studying this chapter, my body was in a very bad condition. Chronic pain is part of my life from rising out of bed to lying down again. Some days are worse than others and I will tell you, pain medicine is never kind enough to me. Neither is the strict diet I’ve been on since February, nor the physical therapy I’ve kept up with.

So I was having a hard day with the pain in my body, and I read this story of Jesus with the woman at the well. When Jesus tells her about living water she asks how she can get this living water and thirst no more. Interestingly enough I had the same question.

“How Lord,” I asked, “How can I live without wanting freedom from chronic pain? How can I find full satisfaction apart from my earthly needs?”

Jesus tells her about the gift of eternal life, freedom from the law, a life of worship in spirit and truth. I remember feeling incompetent and confused. I asked how the Samaritan woman was able to grasp the gift of spiritual nourishment and release her want search for  love from her past five husbands.

The story goes one. Later in the chapter Jesus is with his friends and they encourage him to eat some food. But he says “no”, because his nourishment come from doing the will and work of God.

I began to see the truth in this concept of “living water.”  In my own life from my graduating high school, then college and on to my first job interview, I have always been seeking my own will, what I want to do with my life. But my pursuit of happiness apart from God’s will is always disappointing. Recently, with the revelation of this past Autumn and studying the book of John, I am now beginning to understand that there is greater satisfaction in doing the will of God, spending my life in service.

For me the will of God is accepting where he has placed me, the circumstances, the people  and the passions instilled within me: Social justice, immigration, refugees, racial reconciliation.

This morning I didn’t touch the soft cinnamon rolls, even though it is Christmas. Instead I sat and reflected on how God has given us all something better than tangible food. He’s given us the gift of eternal life through is Son, born a baby, died a savior and risen a King. He knows your greatest needs before you even do. And even more he knows how to satisfy them.

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Christmas In The Office

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I’m never late for work because I have my morning routine down to a tee.

My alarm pulls me awake. Cold cereal and a splash of almond milk. My clothes wait for me, hanging in the closet. My keys are always where I last left them: on the key rack above the cordless phone, still collecting dust.

Yes, I’m never late for work, unless it’s snowed.

“Oops,” I whisper in the cold morning air,  allowing a few visible wisps of breath to escape my mouth.

Suppose I should get into the habit of checking not just the temp but the precipitation before I leave for work. Fresh powdery snow has blanketed the car entirely. I start up the engine, thankfully the engine keeps running, and begin wiping down the windows.

My little white ford focus rumbles down the road probably louder than the garbage truck that’s barreling toward me.  The rim of a coffee cup touches my lips and I sip the first of many coffees to come. Then I try desperately to wake up the heater. But the fan won’t budge; yes it’s frozen stuck.

“Damn it,”  I curse. The words hang sharply in the still air. Why do I only curse when I’m alone in the car: at my car, at myself, at my steering wheel when it’s jammed, at my brakes when they take longer to stop than I’d like. And I have no idea where the language comes from. These words just fly out of my mouth in a frenzy of anger or fear, and when all is well I think, “Where in heaven did I learn to curse like that?”

My fingers begin to numb and I race to work thinking about nothing else but getting back into my bed when this day is over.

I work for the State of Indiana. I have a little cubicle at a small agency down deep in the basement (Lower-level as we like to call it) of the South Government building. I slip through the door and see the little white head of our receptionist resting her face on a soft warm blanket on  her desk before the clock strikes eight and the work day commences. She’s adorable.

Winter in Indianapolis, that’s probably how I should have started this blog post. Winter before Christmas is very festive with lights and trees everywhere. But some people get carried away with the Christmas decorations. A tree went up right outside my cubicle and it gives a nice touch, especially with the lights.

But then strange appearances began. People were decking out their cubes with wrapping paper and candy canes. The smell of gingerbread cookies filled my nostrils on the way out to lunch. The aroma must have been from a scented candle warmer or an air freshener but it was so bizarre. “Merry Christmas” signs hang from doors and some people even have stockings hanging outside their offices with hand written names in green. What in the world? The weirdest thing yet was a woman who had a collection of Christmas plates fit for a Christmas castle sitting all spread out on her desk beside her computer.

Jeez Louis, is Santa coming in or something? I thought Christmas decorating stopped in college.

Guess not.

I love the traditional decorations: all the lamp posts on Meridian street tide red with bows, and the lights that hang from monument circle surrounded by an army of tin soldiers. But I’ll pass on the tacky lights and creepy Christmas decor. Please, keep that at home. 🙂

 

 

Growing up in Indianapolis

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I grew up in Indianapolis, a city I never could spell correctly on my return address when I was young. I couldn’t keep track of which letter in the word Indianapolis came next because it was such an unnecessarily long name for a city. So I shortened it by just writing Indy. Yes, that was easy enough.

I-N-D-Y

These letters I penned from the upstairs of my family’s tiny Habitat for Humanity house, on the south side of the city off of Raymond Street. To me, a mere 5-year-old, I thought we lived in the countryside. Behind my house sat a grassy field and beyond it, a railroad track where the soft whistle of a train lulled me to sleep each night. The city skyline, however, was visible from my bedroom window which meant we didn’t live in the countryside or even near it. Before bed I peeked out a foggy window at the city, glowing on the far horizon with planes soaring above, blinking in the dark sky.

Never did I imagine one day I’d be working right in the middle of that faraway city.  Now that it’s Christmas time I drive to work and it awakens childhood memories.

We went into the city often when I was young and I always dreamed of one day visiting the top of the Chase Tower, the tallest building I’d ever seen. More than once I asked my mother if she’d ever been to the top. She had not, and I hadn’t the slightest idea why. Well wasn’t she curious? It was indeed the tallest building around. Wouldn’t she make a point to see what the world looked like from up there? I was shocked that she hadn’t, and told myself that as soon as I was grown up, I would go to the top of the Chase tower and look down at all the little people.

Now 22, I have yet to achieve my childhood goal. Priorities change.

I finally did get my long-awaited overlooking view of Indianapolis when I rode the Ferris wheel at the State Fair. Our little basket stopped at the very top of the wheel and my sister and I watched our city still sitting on the horizon as it did when we were young. The moment was breathtaking. Up, far above the  earth, exposed to the cool air, we sat and the rowdy Fair noise seemed to fade to silence down below us.  I realized this was my city and a great city to that. It was mine despite my birth certificate which said I was from Yonkers New York. It was my city because this was where I lived and the only home I knew.

This blog I once dedicated to exploring my racial identity. Now as I start my life as a working professional in Indianapolis I’ve decided to write more about my city, a city once so interesting to my childhood self and now curious again to me as an adult. Look for coming posts about Indy culture and lifestyle from the eyes of a female, biracial native.

#JeSuisJulie