Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
I’m holding on to hope that one day this could be made right 'Cause I’ve been shipwrecked and left for dead, and I have seen the darkest sights Everyone I’ve loved seems like a stranger in the night But oh, my heart still burns, it tells me to return, and search the fading light
I’m sailing home to you I won’t be long By the light of moon I will press on Until I find my love
Trouble has beset my ways and wicked winds have blown Sirens call my name, they say they’ll ease my pain, then break me on the stones But true love is the burden that will carry me back home Carry me with the memories of the beauty I have known
So tie me to the mast of this old ship and point me home Before I lose the one I love, before my chance is gone I want to hold her in my arms
Friends, an unsolicited fun fact that could give you an advantage if you ever play Two Truths and a Lie with me: I’ve gotten through airport security with no government-issued ID before. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to get past the TSA guys with no driver’s license or passport, here are some tips. It helps if you go prepared with a color copy of a government-issued ID, a bill or bank statement with your name, and a police report saying that you were pretty dumb while vacationing in California and left your belongings on a bus. If you follow these simple steps, you can make it through security with little to no glitches. Jamie even described it as “underwhelming.”
I frequently think about California these days. I’ve never really felt the pull to live in NYC, but I do wonder about California every now and then.
I lost some things over winter break 2012 in Los Angeles, after X.ado tour. Thinking about the LA trip brings back memories of Malibu, watching the sun spill over the waves, Jamie and A.Do cooking ramen in a massive pot, Michael climbing (and falling off) trees, Dan and Minae taking pro pics, Ashley being a pro hostess, and Tim complaining that we didn’t hang out (even though we did, technically). What comes first to mind is not the moment I left my purse on a public bus or the frustrating aftermath of dealing with not having an ID, money, or a cell phone. Ashley and Jamie went with me to two police stations to file a lost items report, but I only really remember eating soondubu at BCD afterwards. Memory is a funny thing.
Thank you, Ashley, for being such a considerate and self-sacrificing hostess. Your mom is a most wonderful, most lovely woman too, and it was so apparent to me after meeting her where you get your goodnatured kindness.
There is a Chinese idiom that my mom loves:
It translates roughly into, “At home, rely on your parents. Away from home, rely on your friends.” Thank God for parents who are too good to me, who instead of reprimanding me for being an idiot offered to drive from Arizona to California to pick me up if they wouldn’t let me on the plane. And thank God for friends who freak out for me - often even more than I do for myself - and stick with me even when I prove to be forgetful and incompetent. Too much undeserved grace and love.
The first draft of this post was written at Gate 44H in the LAX airport in December 2012. It had been living in Drafts collecting virtual dust until now.
My knees used to be unnaturally dark because I would crawl around on the carpet at church and not know to wash my knees. My mom would make me wash my feet before bed, but never my knees. My home church back in Arizona used to meet in the basement of another church building. We rented it. As a little girl, I knew every nook and cranny of that basement from years and years of hide and seek. I still dream about it occasionally. I wonder if everything will seem smaller if I go back and visit it now. I’ve driven past the building once or twice when I’ve been back home for breaks, and it’s been abandoned, graffitied up - a critical piece of my childhood that’s just broken windows collecting dust now.
It must have been fifth grade when the adults asked me and three other friends - overconfident, overeager middle schoolers - to teach the Friday-night little kids class. Why they thought this would be a good idea, I still do not understand. I am mostly an adult now, and I definitely would not ask a gang of eleven year olds to supervise a room of five and six year olds.
My friends and I took our lesson planning fairly seriously. Every Friday after school, I would schedule out the evening’s activities down to the minute. We wove paper baskets for Easter and performed a play for Christmas. When we got to the story of David and Bathsheba while going through the Old Testament, we got mildly tripped up: ” - and he saw her and lusted after her.” “Teacher, what does ‘lusted’ mean?” “Uhhhhhhhh…” Actually, come to think of it, we got pretty tripped up over many Old Testament stories. Why are they so often considered children’s stories when most of them are hardly age appropriate? It was usually safer to pop the VeggieTales rendition into the VHS player and sit in the back of the room eating the prize candies we had bought for the kids.
One time a mouse appeared out of nowhere while we were teaching. It was the first time I had ever seen a real live mouse, and I was fascinated but also unsure of what to do. The room of five and six year olds immediately exploded into chaos. The mouse must have been pretty freaked out too because it scurried into a side classroom and hid beneath the carpet. A human adult was notified and came in with a broom which he used to beat the lump in the carpet until the mouse was pronounced dead. Another time, we put wet paper on top of a lamp to dry, forgot about it, and almost started a fire.
That all of us survived teaching with only minor cuts and bruises is truly a miracle. I cannot, however, say the same for the dead mouse.
If loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell, and to that degree, here on earth, we decide in which state we would like to live.
People check in every now and then to see how I’m doing spiritually. Recently, I’ll mumble something back - “Oh, you know, it’s been hard to be consistent without the tight-knit Christian community on campus.” The bigger issue, however, is that over the last couple of months I’ve felt my heart grow cold to the city around me, to the strangers on the subway, to the beggars on the streets. In every small decision of disobedience, of silence, of inaction, I’ve quenched the Holy Spirit and pushed God a little further away.
Yesterday, at church, God thoroughly shook me up to see things clearly again. It was one of those moments where a simple truth that I had once understood was suddenly brought back and I was awestruck at the goodness of God for being so patient with me when I forget simple truths such as these.
Generosity is the heart of God
This is a passage that I’ve read so many times before, but yesterday, it blew my mind. In Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees try to test Jesus by asking if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus takes a coin and asks whose image is on it. ”Caesar’s,”they reply, and he says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
The word image that Jesus uses here is the same word from Genesis when it says that God made man in his image. Caesar may put his image on a coin, but God put his image on us! So render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give God what is God’s. WHOA. God has made his mark so clear on us! He demands and deserves our hearts.
Generosity is not about what I have but about how I think. Can I out-give the widow in Luke 21? Have I ever given out of what I don’t have? And the thing is, generosity is fun; generosity is life-giving; selfless generosity is God’s example to us.
Little Drummer Boy is probably my favorite Christmas song. Such a simple, innocent desire to worship the baby Jesus. Happy t-10 days, friends!
When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love. You’ll drive hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while. You don’t mind staying up late to talk. Walking in the rain is romantic and not annoying. You’ll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you’re crazy about. When you are apart from each other, it’s painful, even miserable. He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together. We need to be like this with God.
Making the transfer from the Yellow to Orange line at L’Enfant, the train doors closed a second before I reached the platform. It’s just one of those days, I thought. Working on a Sunday afternoon when it’s a beautiful 60 degrees out and autumn is definitely not what I signed up for when I accepted this fellowship. Yes, I am learning a lot; yes, I enjoy what I am doing, but they’re not paying me nearly enough for all the overtime. Just as I sat down to wait for the next train, a young Muslim girl approached me to ask which train to take to get to the White House. I told her she should get off at Farragut West, and without missing a beat, she told me that she was going to the White House Fall Garden tour and that she had an extra ticket, did I want one? It’s only for today and the only way you can get a ticket is through your Congressman or something. (I don’t even know who my Congressman is here in Virginia…and yes, I work at a political magazine.) I paused a moment, thinking about how I really ought to get to the office, but it passed quickly, and I accepted the ticket from her. We made our way over to the White House together, chatting the entire time, and I think I made a new friend out of it. Always a fan of spontaneity. :)
I was feeling good when the day started out. My roommate brought up a package for me from the valet - new boots that I had ordered earlier this week. They fit perfectly and I wore them around my room for a few minutes, admiring my new foot-ware in the mirror even as I was still dressed in my oversized pajama t-shirt. In fact, I was feeling so good that I made my way to the fitness room downstairs and worked out for an hour before lunch. First time in…let’s just say it’s been awhile.
After lunch, I was watching TV and painting my nails when I got a text from my sister saying that she had gotten into a car accident. On the highway, she overcorrected from a lane change and lost control of the vehicle. The car flipped three times and was completely wrecked. She was okay.
OH MY GOD. Praise God that she’s okay, was my first reaction. Grateful. But as I spoke to her over the phone, trying to keep calm and ask the right questions while reminding her of how I’m always here for her and how much I love her, I started tearing up. What if, I kept thinking. There were too many combinations of things that could have happened.
So my heart is heavy but joyful. It’s hard to believe that the car was totaled but she got out without a scratch. The trauma surgeon said she was completely fine. Thank you Jesus.
How are you supposed to react to something like this? After a renewed realization of how precious and fragile a human life is, do you hold tight to your loved ones and never let them go, or after a few days of shock, is it back to business as usual? And what is this driven by? Fear of losing them? Fear of death? Fear of tragedy?
God has given me a spirit not of fear but of POWER, LOVE, and a SOUND MIND.
Have you ever had that moment when you think about something simple that you usually do without thinking, and end up not being able to do it because you’re overanalyzing it? Like when you write a word too many times and it starts looking funky and the more you look at it the more weird it looks, and suddenly it loses all familiarity to you and you almost want to look it up to make sure you’ve been spelling it right all these years. Or when you think about the way you brush your teeth and second guess where to brush next and suddenly you mess up your brushing routine and awkwardly try to pick up where you left off? Or when you forget the words to your favorite song?
Analyzing and overanalyzing. Thoughts for the day.
Why I enjoy the dark:
All my senses are heightened. Even sight. It forces my 20/20 eyes to work harder. Resistance is necessary to build strength right?
I am hyper aware of all the things I rely on but rarely even think about: heating, cooling, lights, internet, my phone, running water, a working elevator…
Made the yummiest dinner tonight. I couldn’t see what I was doing and I put in a pinch too much salt but it was so wonderful to eat under candlelight. Did you know that people eat more at restaurants when the lights are dim?
Also people look prettier when the lights are dim. True fact. ;)
I have a legitimate reason to burn candles.
I am forced to do something other than go on the internet (which is why I am writing this post on my iPhone? Touché).
It feels more safe. Less exposed. More places to hide. Like under my oh-so-warm blankets.
Goodnight world. Praying I’ll have hot water tomorrow morning.