It's taken us awhile to feel some sense of ownership in the city of Austin. Preoccupation with our feelings of "newness" can do that—make us perpetually feel like outsiders. But we're taking more steps toward thinking of Austin as "our city." We love so many aspects of this place. And yet, a visit from people we know and love can accelerate that love, as we strive to be good hosts (and show them a bunch of cool stuff) it gives us more perspective and appreciation for Austin.
Our friend and Molly's roommate from Purdue, Anne, came to visit us this past weekend. We tried to give her a true sense of the city with our activities. I really enjoyed what we settled on. First (and what spurred the visit in the first place), was a concert featuring The Oh Hellos (definitely a favorite of mine) and NEEDTOBREATHE at an awesome outdoor venue. It sure was a hot night, but the concert was really well-done and lots of fun. We went to an awesome bakery the next morning, and then we packed a picnic lunch for a trip to Hamilton Pool Preserve. This place is incredible and we'll be back. We're so glad you came to visit, Anne!
We visited the Austin Farmer's market for the first time on Saturday, and I'm still wondering why we didn't get there sooner! This is what came home with us (we just couldn't resist the kettle corn).
Things we've learned/practiced/realized now that we've been here for awhile:
- I can drive places without a GPS! (sometimes)
- I don't forget to bring my reusable grocery bags with me everywhere (The city of Austin doesn't provide them at grocery stores, unless you pay a small fee)
- We found a good egg supplier (yay!) at the farmer's market (local, pastured eggs)
- I know the difference between "clean sweat" (when you go outside right after a shower) and...the other kind. ;)
- Our apartment is finally situated the way we want it, which is good, because I start work in less than two weeks! It's an exciting transition. :)
- We found a church we love, and we're excited to be more involved
I keep reminding myself that we're not just visitors here. Austin can teach us a lot and help us grow, but that's not all. We have a lot to offer Austin. The temptation is to feel silly and needy because we're new. Needing people is not a bad thing—we would be in denial to think we can thrive without people, but I don't want to be a freeloader christian. There is work to be done everywhere. There is work to be done in Austin. We are able to do work here. Discrediting what we have to offer devalues our God-given purposes and talents. We're still figuring out the specifics of this role, but no matter what, we are responsible to do work, even if its in our interactions and demeanor with others.
C.H. Spurgeon puts it like this:
Lights also have a very cheering influence, and so have Christians. A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kind words on his lips, and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes , and diffuse happiness around him.
All of that (above) is only possible because of this (more Spurgeon) :
Walk in your path of integrity with steadfast steps, and show that you are invincibly strong in the strength which confidence in God alone can confer. Thus you will be delivered from anxious care, you will not be troubled with evil tidings, your heart will be fixed, trusting in the Lord. How pleasant to float along the stream of providence! There is no more blessed way of living than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We have no care, for He careth for us; we have no troubles, because we cast our burdens upon the Lord.
Because we are close to Him who carries all our burdens (as His followers), we don't have to carry our own, and that leaves us even more available to do work for His glory. This is what I need to remember when I feel incapable of contributing to Austin. By my own devices, I am incapable of that. But through Him, His leading, and His burden-carrying, it's not about me at all. It's about Him. And He's all about Austin. I hope I spend my whole life propelling myself to do work in and around the people and places that God loves. Starting now.
Fall feels like a number of transitions, one right after the other. We are now bridging into late fall, with lots of frost in the mornings, first sightings of bare trees, and darker, cozier evenings at home. Of course, there is talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon too, along with early preparations for those. I do tend to be swept by the momentum of this season, if I'm not careful. I'll admit that Christmas music accompanies us throughout the day sometimes, and I've already done most of our shopping, but I do want to be intentional to savor the almost-but-not-yet. To not wish away November and it's baring of trees in favor of the glow of Thanksgiving and Christmastime. There is great beauty and contentment in this month, as well. I don't want to miss it.
We've taken to a regular "cozy hike," as we've termed it. A nearly wooded path, my favorite spot for fall color, a wagon, an eager toddler, a cozy blanket, and snacks. I look for the bright red leaves, since those are a favorite for both of us. And we also look for acorns and pinecones, treasures on the ground.
I'm typically in a rush to wish away the hot days of summer, to exchange them for cozy days, sweater season, cool mornings. I'm an optimist, and that optimism frequently couples itself with being future minded. Constantly looking forward with hope, but also sometimes looking forward with misplaced longing that can inhibit me from being present. But this past weekend, the events of both days were lovely, and being present felt easy and good.