We Leave with Nothing but Love

Day #13 Without Coffee. Numbers.
September 11, 2010, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It has been a strange, long road without coffee for these two weeks. I think it has been a lapse of habit I won’t remember well, simply because so many other strange events have taken place. I am very much looking forward to my next strong cup.

Tomorrow, after nine days without talking to my boyfriend, and 14 days without heavy caffeine, I will wake up early to continue working out a lot of struggles that have come up in my 3-month relationship. May I know love more than ever before, and show it as much as possible in a Skype conversation.

This week, I have been to San Diego to see friends and family for a crazy day and a half, I have worked many hours and slept many hours, in order to try to shake off this sickness that has haunted me for over 3 weeks now. I have spent a day with a very sick, very on-fire Christian lady. I have prepared for new missions teams to embark this winter. I have encountered much awkwardness, and simultaneous improvement with my coworkers and supervisors. I have rescued a dog. I have intruded in the home of the lost dog, since no one was answering the phone or the door, and the door was unlocked. I have been shopping and driving for hours for a staff retreat. I have had a staff retreat, had some heart-to-hearts with coworkers, and had an escort to scare off the loonies on Skid row. I have been yelled at and cussed out for strolling along Skid row. I found out my sister is having a baby girl in February, her first daughter, and my second niece. I have walked out of  a mission on Skid row and watched a couple of African American drag queens having a shallow conversation as they walk down San Pedro Street. I have showed up for a dinner a whole day early. And I have determined that my week was full of plenty of things besides homework, so it is now time to sit and enjoy my education before I sleep and have more dialog tomorrow. Hopefully it will be just a good, honest conversation.


Much Ado about Love
September 6, 2010, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So obviously there are several ways to describe love. What of it? There are really only a few people that we will always love, that will actually always be in our hearts. Why care much about loving buddies, and what does it really mean to connect God’s love with the love we have for our friends?

Jesus said once that His disciples would be known by the love that they show. He said that the two greatest things to understand would be to love God first, and then to love others more than we love ourselves. That is the economy of God’s law for our era. No matter if God seems distant and ambiguous in this culture. Love is something to pursue. Right?

He then said that there is no greater love than his who would lay down his life for his friend. Sacrifice. How much vulnerability does this kind of love require? Do you have to be transparent about your love for God if you were to love others? And how hard is it to start being more vulnerable with people enough to admit mistakes, and to pray with them?

Coming from the mind of a lifelong, committed Christian, this is easy for me to spill out. By God’s grace, I have convictions about what love should look like as it progresses in a positive way for any connection between people or groups. But for someone who has much more intense experience with darkness and grossness and doubt, how does that conviction begin? What does vulnerability look like when it first begins to take place? What is my role in this?

August 14, 2010, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Virginia Wolf has much to say about relationships. Several platonic and romantic relationships are described beautifully in her book The Waves, which I read on my flight home from Japan. Bernard has a story for each of his friends. Each of his friends is a story. Neville tells Bernard that he is more than just a story, and suddenly they discover each other and himself from a huge step of confrontational friendship.

I had spent two weeks with Jon and his buddies and their wives/girlfriends. It was amazing. And I observed a whole new community of relationships in a way I never knew I could- from the military perspective. The para-rescue squadron was full of many silly men, and good men. They serve our country, and the most sincere men serve God. I loved each of these relationships that were formed, and I loved rocking out with Jon in the car, drinking ChuHai (a slightly alcoholic soda) and singing Journey songs. I loved waking up and watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia together, and then having all kinds of adventures all day. I loved all the good food (esp. the Garlic House- the new beat of my heart). And I loved being able to invest in my relationship with Jon. We had great times and a couple miscommunications, and learned that we have a lot more to learn about each other. We went to Zumami Island… And basically did tons of things I have never done before. For example, playing “I have Never” with a couple bottles of wine and two other military couples.

I hated that I didn’t get to talk with Stacy.

It was an amazing trip, and I hope that the relationship continues to blossom. There are several levels that are waiting to be reached, but so far so good.

Then two days later, Royal Family Kids Camp. On my way to the church I listened to Jars of Clay.  The other counselors in my cabin had much to say about relationships, and I was very grateful for that. One had no support from her family, even though she and her boyfriend are amazingly legit. The other was happily married until her husband pulled out the divorce papers. Another was happily married for 40 years until her husband left her. The last has been happily married for 30 years or so, and had amazing stories to share about diamonds and husbands.

The kids at the camp challenged my heart to stand against the winds of tragedy. So much of what happened will not even blossom or show fruit for years, since these girls are still learning how to even take in life’s processes. A week with precious children hurt by the world showed me that not everything can be explained by God or by love. How can an orphaned 9-year old really understand that it’s okay if her dad died and she doesn’t know her mom… God is her father and loves her.

God doesn’t take children to baseball games or fishing or skipping rocks on a lake. God isn’t a mommy with arms to wrap around her.

She called me Mommy all week. We cried together almost every day.

I wished I had not ever thought about going to this camp, but then again, I can’t imagine who I would be without having this week in my life.

On my way home in my own car, I listened to Jars of Clay again. Suddenly lyrics held a whole new kind of life:

I never minded calling you a king
If that meant that i could count on you
To give me everything
I never thought to ask you
I always thought you knew
It was never my intention to question you

You never minded calling me a child
Well, i guess that’s how i acted all the while
But you live through every tantrum
You see through every lie
Though they seem to be more common
I just wanted to know why oh why

Unforgetful you, unforgetful
Unforgetful you, so unforgetful

You never minded giving us the stars
Then showing us how blind
And unaware of you we are
You painted me a picture
And showed me how to see
Though I just won’t behold it
Unless it pertains to me

July 21, 2010, 1:25 pm
Filed under: God, Poetry, Relationships, Uncategorized

Sometimes there is a regrettable moment. Or series of regrettable moments.

Sometimes there is an opportunity to take, regardless of the daunting speed and pressure.

Sometimes the pressure turns into a diamond, or the discomfort turns into a pearl.

Sometimes I want to cry because I can’t seem to communicate my deepest, purest desires.

Sometimes I wonder if the pure desires are actually the ones at the forefront after all.

Sometimes my relationship with God seems the most real and significant thing in my existence.

Sometimes my guard is down, and I have to beg mercy, that God would help me remember what that guard looks like again.

Sometimes I regret, with a strong desire to do better, to be legitimate.

Sometimes I regret, wishing that life would just be done already.

Always, God is good. Forever, His Word is true and powerful. Never will He stop loving His children. And every moment has been providentially permitted.

Investigate my life, O God

find out everything about me;

Cross-examine and test me,

get a clear picture of what I am about;

See for yourself whether I have done anything wrong-

then guide me on the road to eternal life.

(Psalm 139:23-24. The Message.)

My regrettable moments are over and have been forgiven. Internally, I have processed them and moved on after months of prayer and quiet.

New and beautiful opportunities are afoot.

The image of a lion, and SMU
May 8, 2010, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have always told Chris, president of Biola’s Student Missionary Union, that he looks like a lion. I have been a coworker with him since last April, when I was hired as the new assistant controller of SMU. Ever since the first retreat last spring, the one where all of us new SMU staff went camping, I have felt the presence of God under his leadership and in the group of student workers who collectively make the Student Missionary Union. I’m tearfully typing that the staff is, once again, being transformed by the passing of batons to 26 new staff members. Five people will return from last year’s staff, but everyone else, including the president, will be replaced. For most of my life, I understood the image of the lion to be like Aslan, and “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). In this context, he is the one who removes fear and replaces it with peace, because He is the capable leader. This is the image I have when I think of SMU for this past year; we have been cared for excellently and courageously.

Then Torrey Honors brought in the image of a violent, flesh ripping, terrifying lion. This happened when we were assigned to read the book of Hosea, and the lion is an image of judgment upon the disobedient Israelites: “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one will rescue.” (Hosea 5:14). And I am reminded that the same God who leads us in His peace, carrying the burden of our sins, is the same God who chastises those whom He loves. He brings us to submission, and leads us to justly perform the duties for which He has created us.

Now it I must determine whether it is my duty to allow the new president of SMU, Luke, to be gone for two weeks next semester. He would be leaving the country for a big conference, using Skype to contact us, but otherwise leaving SMU and his classes altogether for his once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity. As SMU vice-president/controller, I would have to fill his shoes. This means, leading staff and Board of Directors meetings, meeting with directors to discuss their progress and their needs, and researching ways to move SMU progressively in its existence as the largest student-led missionary organization in the world. While I do tend to be an ambitious sort of person, I feel that I would not be able to give what SMU needs as both Controller and President.

I’m already experiencing a sense of abandonment and expendable-ness, now that so many people are leaving Biola, and don’t need me in order to move on with their lives. Now the president is going to abandon us for over two weeks, and needs me to perform duties I didn’t sign up for. I want to consider justice as Plato defines: having and doing what is one’s own. Would it be just for either of us to let this happen? Is this really an opportunity the Lord is providing to provide an opportunity for all of us to grow through distress?

Here’s the other side of the coin. The new president would be going to Lausanne to attend one of the largest missions-oriented events the world has ever seen, an event that happens maybe once every fifteen years or so. It would be foolish not to go, given the opportunity. Furthermore, Chris told me that I am very capable, and believes in me to be able to fill his shoes while doing my Controller duties during that time. Tonight at the goodbye dinner, I received an award for being “The most adorable problem-solver in the office (and) the most likely to cry while receiving this award.” Chris said that if he would have given me the “grace under fire” award. This is very assuring.

I have hired a worthy assistant, capable of flourishing, even under pressure. His talent and intelligence tell me that he could also support me during that time.

My mind and heart are not at rest. I simultaneously feel pleased to feel so trusted, and terrified at my lack of ability to handle this. Don’t they know I’ll mess everything up, or miss the chance to put out an amazing effort? Don’t they see my incompetence?

Jeremiah 20:12 Reminds me that the Lord knows my mind and heart, and is the one who brings us through times of testing, more pure and strong. Matthew 6:33 reminds me that as I seek first the Kingdom of God, the things in life will be added to me. He provides as I need.

Sometimes there are times of quiet, with a few friends and a few responsibilities, and a little bit of stamina-building. Other times there is a lot of noise, a huge tumultuous whirlwind of events, and impossible strength required in order to get through. And then there are the times that just seem so out of the ordinary and unjust, so trying and so daunting, offering very little insight into the success of the future.

Actually, I think I’m going through a bit of all of that right now. The paradox about living by the strength of the Lord is that life feels simultaneously impossible and feasible, both terrifying and peaceful. I know I have everyone I need, especially the Lord on my side, and yet I sit here feeling so alone.

March 14, 2010, 1:39 am
Filed under: Crochet, Living, Music, Uncategorized

Thanks to Andrea, I am left speechless by this beauty:

Actually I have found a new spot to promote the creative genius of crochet: ravelry.com

My account name on the site is shareshare (just like on etsy.com)

I found this pattern for a hat that I made for my roommate’s mom, who always takes good care of us! I used blue Caron One Lb. yarn, and followed this pattern: Divine hat. My laptop’s webcam is such bad quality, but here is how mine turned out! And included are two other scarves I’ve been working on.

The Art That Ends This Work Week
March 5, 2010, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I find myself exhausted, blinded by lack of accomplishment, and highly inspired by this work of art.

Working on the mind’s response to imaginative literature as a topic for my Torrey term paper this semester. Primary author sources: C.S. Lewis, Plato, and Lois Lowry, and Dostoevsky. Probably a few more too.

Here is Ok Go’s “This Too Shall Pass”: