We Leave with Nothing but Love

Day #1 without Coffee
August 30, 2010, 8:07 am
Filed under: God, Living

For the next 2 weeks, until September 12, I have sworn off coffee from my daily consumption. It’s time to make changes for the better, for my body.

I am a coffee addict. I am a huge fan of a good cup to start the day, of the scents and the sounds of the brew. However, some good things should be put on hold for the sake of honoring what is better. I want to train myself to wake early to be excited about new life in Scripture, not in another cup of coffee.

Doing homework at Starbucks yesterday, I assumed that my normal intake of coffee would help me in doing my homework. Unfortunately, I only experienced increased anxiety, and could not help but heighten all internal concerns about everything uncertain in my life.

After severe distraction from my book-reading, I was hit by the beauty and truth of hymns sung in communion with my peers and fellow believers. It was there that I realized I need to take a handle on myself, and start my semester with more consistency and motivation to fee my soul, rather than my appetite.

After morning #1 of coffee-free Bible reading, I remember that as a Christ-follower, it is necessary to turn away from idols in order to turn to Christ and wait on His presence (1Thess. 1:9-10). May this be a good step toward recognizing idolatry in my life, and moving toward true love. Capturing beauty doesn’t require idolizing beautiful things.


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.

All that Time
June 20, 2010, 7:32 am
Filed under: Crochet, Living, Music, Relationships

While there have been countless opportunities for me to pursue something that reflects who I am, I have not ever felt more myself than now. Sure, there are conversations to be had, and a bridge to be repaired, but so far, being in a relationship with Jonathan makes me finally feel like I am on my way home.

I have always felt like something was weird about the word “home.” At the first house I remember living in, the one we lived in for 10 years, I constantly felt like I wanted to “go home” even when I was already there. And even though I had friends in my neighborhood, and I loved my neighbors’ pets, I was always ready for the adventure of moving to a different place, maybe a place that felt like home. Now that I am in college, I feel comfortable saying that San Diego is “home,” but more like a home base than home. And really, Biola is also home to me.

I have a whole playlist in iTunes for songs that pursue the concept of home, only because I am searching for anyone’s discoveries of  the meaning of home, that will help me understand where home really is for me.

For the search, Simon and Garfunkle have it right:

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again

I’ll play the game and pretend

But all my words come back to me

In shades of mediocrity

Like emptiness in harmony

I need someone to comfort me

Homeward bound, I wish I was

Homeward bound

Songs have always helped me, but sometimes when I never feel at home, the songs only reflect a sad mediocrity. So then, for the songs that discover home, I have Paul Simon’s “That’s Where I belong”:

When I see you smiling
When I hear you singing
Lavender and roses
Every ending a beginning

That’s the way it is
I don’t know why
Ay ay ay
But that’s where I belong

So, in my last post I was searching for my true feelings. I wanted to be certain about Jon’s. I wanted to be certain of our families’ approval. I had a long conversation with my mom, his mom (Momma Sue), and finally, with him. And then I had a conversation with him every night to follow until he came to see me again. And on Sunday when he asked me to be his girlfriend, it was crazy. Crazy in a good way, for the peace I felt, moreso than I have ever felt before. Crazy for the ways that we connected on so many levels, afterso many years of knowing each other. (Something like 21 years, since that is how long I have been alive in the church we have both always gone to!)

There are so many conversations to be had, and so many things I am excited to pursue with him. We are going to read a Charles Williams book together, and I am planning to visit him in Japan where he is stationed.

So here is a  picture or two that seem to reflect how perfect we are for each other so far: Looking adventurous, looking happy, and one picture of us holding the crocheted monkey that I made for Jon, which we appropriately named Yawn.

The First Week of Summer.
June 4, 2010, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Crochet, Family, Living

Making couch pillow_wedding gift

I am at my parents’ house this week for the wedding of one of my best friends. It is a beautiful union. I have been very sick. Our other best friend flew here from Texas with her husband and baby boy. I was in bed for more hours than I can count this week.

I’m so happy for my friends!

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.

One Morning with Ron Blue
May 3, 2010, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Business, Economy, God

On Wednesday morning I am scheduled for an interview with a financial advising firm called Ron Blue & Co. This firm is an incredibly unique place where Christian ethics meets the man-eating business environment. Ron Blue & Co. is the ethical opportunity to explore the meaning of wealth. While most of the clients of Ron Blue are extraordinarily wealth individuals, the company also has resources for mentorship and advising on everyday stewardship for people of all monetary situations. http://www.ronblue.com/thefounder.phpRon Blue shares my passion for financing missions. He believes in leading responsibly, caring for the people in an organization- as the body of Christ, and using financial resources responsibly to fund worldwide missions. This thirty year-old organization is founded by a man of integrity:

Ron retired from the financial planning firm in 2003 in order to lead an international effort to equip and motivate Christian financial professionals to serve the body of Christ by implementing biblical wisdom in their lives and practices, resulting in financial freedom and increased giving by thousands of dollars by thousands of Christians around the world. He is currently President of Kingdom Advisors.

So here I go, practicing my answers to the interview questions. I recently interviewed several Biola students to be my own assistant for when I am hired as the Student Missionary Union Controller. I know that there are a few pithy phrases I got tired of hearing. I won’t tell the employer that I struggle with perfectionism. I will, however, share my ambition to succeed, and I will give passionate examples.

I have a heart for missions, and the Lord has confirmed that passion since I was in the second grade. Granted, I have had several fade-outs throughout the years, but several times over, God has led me to pray for and support missions and missionary friends. Matthew 5:16 is the song that guides me home: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.” Ronald Blue & Co. is an amazing environment that stimulates the Aristotelian virtue of magnanimity. Those who are better stewards of their finances can give more to those in need. With every investment, the motive is to provide for those efforts which seek a heavenly purpose. I am excited to learn more about the Christ-centered environment, and to meet some of these intelligent Christian accountants.

Ronald Blue & Co.