Farewell!


This has to be short and sweet because I haven’t even tried to zip my suitcase yet.

This is my last post for a while – as I will be in India until February 4th.  I’m already learning, and I haven’t even gotten to the airport yet.  I can’t even imagine what I’ll be feeling when I come back.

I’ve been asking God over and over again to crush my heart for his children who are enslaved.  I want to be so torn apart for them that it moves me to greater action than I have taken.  So that I am able to make a difference by the grace of God.  That is my prayer.

If you don’t know much about human trafficking, I encourage you to educate yourself.  It seems like a small thing to do, like it couldn’t make a difference, but the more people who know what an atrocity it is, the more people we will have praying for the end of modern day slavery.  And once you hear about it, you won’t be able to keep it to yourself.  Ending the ignorance and apathy is the first step to ending slavery.

It’s not pretty, I can tell you that.  It won’t make your day brighter, and you might cry.  But I am certain that sorrow is a good thing in this case.  These people deserved to be cried over; don’t let the threat of a broken heart keep you from visiting these sites:

Love146

International Justice Mission

And now, with that exhortation, I will put the finishing touches on my bags.  Adios, WordPress people!

Lord willing, I’ll be back soon, with much to say.

Advertisements

Broken Hearts Parade.


Let’s just say that the whole packing thing isn’t helping me keep my new year’s resolution.  That I would always be able to see my floor.  I have a legitimate excuse: two weeks out of the country, that’s what!  But then again, I have a feeling that I’m creative enough to come up with excuses for the rest of the year too.

Remember that empty suitcase from Thursday?  Yep, it’s still empty.  My floor, on the other hand, and my bed and desk chair have become covered with the things that will eventually have to be crammed into that little thing.  It’s psychological or something.  I can’t bring myself to put the first few things in there for fear that the way I pack them will hinder me from fitting all the necessities in.

It’s a disease.  The Panicky-Packer Disease.  Suitcaseanxietyitis.

On the other hand, I’m having fun practicing to wear a scarf on my head.  (pictures below illustrate that.)

  yep.  I like the scarves.  These pictures make me look so much paler than I really am.  Come on, Photo Booth, show the small vestige of skin pigment I have left!  Oh well, that’s probably what I’ll seem like to the Indian people.  Tall.  Blonde.  WHITE.

I keep having these moments where I’ll – all of a sudden – be completely overcome with excitement so that I can’t breathe for a minute or so.  So I just take these really shallow breaths and make excited faces… then keep packing.  Sometimes I laugh out loud because I’m so excited.

(I don’t think I’m very normal.)

Granted, I don’t really want to be normal.  I want to be extraordinary.  I want God to take me places I’ve never been, places I never thought I’d go, make me into a person I never thought I could be.

Hence the excited faces, because that’s what I’m about to do.  In 2 days, my Jesus is going to go with me to a far away country that I’ve never been.  Then I’m going to meet new people, see new things, try new foods, feel new things, have my heart broken completely (that’s the goal), and then I’ll come home.  I’ll be in my “normal” place, but because of what I’ve seen, I’m sure I’ll never be the same again.

And THAT is very exciting to me.

I’ve had this line going through my head today, “break my heart til it moves my hands and feet.”  And that is really the goal of this trip: to be so broken by the injustice and malice and evil that is human trafficking, that it moves my hands and feet and all the people with whom I share my stories.

It’s not just about wearing the scarves and long skirts and eating curry.  Actually, it’s not really about those at all.

Break my heart, Jesus.  Break it.

Love146’s broken hearts club (go there!!!   click the link!)

Happy.


This post is dedicated to Emma, faithful reader, exhorter, and subscriber.  YAY!

I’ve had three happy days this week.  Happy as in, even when things didn’t go my way it didn’t really matter.  I bounced around my house, smiled frequently, sometimes laughed while I was alone because I was just so happy.  And there really wasn’t any visible reason.  I didn’t have anything unusual happen to me this week, besides an extraordinary amount of homework.

Okay, maybe that’s not all true.

In the past few weeks, as I’ve been preparing to leave, I’ve been asking God to fill me with Himself.  And I think that these past three days have been the fulfillment of that request.  Nope, they weren’t perfect days, but I have this inexplicable joy in my heart, something I can’t create on my own.  (trust me, I try to be conjure it when I’m crabby some days.)

I’m being filled, hopefully in order to be poured out on someone else.  Someone else in India.

I have no idea why God is sending me there.  Really, as you might have reading in an earlier post, I’m not at all equipped for this.  I have no idea what it’s like to be in slavery.

But one thing I do know: that God has called me there.  I know that God has been pulling me to go since at least last March.  And I have yet to find out why.

Next step: put the things that I’ve piled up on my floor into my suitcase.

look at that lil thing. I put my purse next to it for scale. it's SMALL.

unzipping... hmmm, what will we find?

AHH! it's empty!

And now, I need to go pack.  and do homework.  or both.  but which one takes priority???

Film. And No Film.


Well, Minnesotans, they snow’s finally hit us.  After a day and a half of the light powder blowing everywhere, this stuff is going to stick.  At least for now. Long enough for me to scrape it off of my car tomorrow.  Then it’ll melt during the day, while I drive around.

Such is life.

I bought a polaroid camera the other day, best $5 I’ve ever spent at Goodwill.

Granted, the camera is useless right now as anything other than a lovely vintage piece of decoration.  It has no film.  And the normal solution to that would be to buy film…  Well, folks that film costs at minimum $21.99, mostly because it instantly develops and also because these cameras are super old.  Polaroid Sun600.  Who would have thought it would be at Goodwill with a little green sticker saying “$4.99” on it?

Sometimes, I feel like this camera.  I have great capabilities when I’ve got some necessary parts added to me, my “film,” but some days I’m empty and a little useless.  Polaroid Sun600 is meant to take pictures, something it can’t do in its present state.  I’m meant to…  well, the only certain things I know I’m meant to do is glorify God and live my life submitted to him.  That doesn’t require much from me except for submission.  God does most of the work there, just telling me what to do and how to do it.  I suppose sometimes my “missing film” is courage.  When Jesus says, See that guy standing behind you in the lunch line?  Yeah, him.  You should start a conversation with him.  You should step out of your comfort zone and show him that he doesn’t have to be lonely.  Okay, so that’s not usually the thing that requires a boatload of courage, but it’s things like that.  The small steps in faith that I hesitate to take because I’m not sure how many exposures I have left, if I have any, if they even make high quality pictures.

Where Polaroid Sun600 (gollee, he needs a better name.  Sunny?  Roy?  feedback?) needs film to do his job, I don’t.  Sunny/Roy/Polaroid Sun600 needs to have film.  Even the most skilled camera operator cannot take pictures on him without any. I, on the other hand, have a God who can use empty me.  He can use the small things that I have to offer.  Smiles, conversation, hugs, money, to change the world and to show it that He is God.

I have to say, that is darn amazing to me.

Reader. On a Friday Night.


This is my treat to myself since I’m going to spend my Friday night doing homework.  Granted, it’s not labor intensive homework — it’s just a whole bunch of reading — but I am, nevertheless, spending my Friday night with schoolbooks.

They’re not bad companions at all.  I mean, one of them is my world religions book, and the other is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  See what I mean?  Well, maybe that doesn’t sound good to you.  Maybe that sounds like torture.

I was thinking about when I learned to read this week.  The first memory I have of reading in school is kindergarten.  We had an assignment that had to do with coloring a picture of a pizza, and when my teacher asked for someone to read the directions out loud, I was the only one to raise my hand.  Up until a little while ago, I thought that it meant that no one else knew how to read.  Now, I think it might be something more like being shy, or maybe not wanting to be a blatantly annoying show-off.  Even now, I notice that my teachers are so used to me having my hand up that they will make their way around the room, calling on everyone else before they finally decide to call on me.  I know it’s nothing personal; they just want more than one person answering questions, making comments, contributing to discussion.  Makes sense.  (maybe that’s just wishful thinking)

I think I had this idea that if I knew the answer, I had to raise my hand.  Because, if I didn’t, no one would know that I knew the answer.

Anyways, when I realized that I didn’t know how I learned to read, I asked my parents.  Neither one of the really remembered, but when I asked each of them on separate occasions, they both said “well, we just read to you a lot.”  I was expecting stories about them laboring with me for hours and hours with learning the alphabet and drilling me on reading by myself.  I kind of felt cheated when I realized that I learned to read like I learned most other things from them, from the example they set.

So, now I’m okay with spending my night reading.  Actually, it’s the most tame of the tasks on my list of things to do this weekend. It’s the pleasure in the productivity.  My favorite of the books on the list is one called I Dared to Call Him Father, and even though I’ve only read half of it, I already would recommend it.  It’s the true story of a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity after Jesus shows up in her life.  And after she begins this relationship with Jesus, she’s learning to live in God’s presence.  That’s something that maybe I’ve never picked up on in other people’s stories, or maybe no one’s ever focused on it.  Usually, people say that the initial sense of God’s presence when you first meet Him is a “spiritual high,” that eventually it fades and you get used to the fact that we sometimes remove ourselves from God’s presence by the choices we make.  But this woman, Bilquis Sheikh, absolutely refused to do anything that would remove her from God’s presence.

That’s just a revolutionary thought for me.  Not settling to be out of God’s presence for a minute.  And, really, it makes sense, because there isn’t anything better than being in God’s presence.

Needless to say, her perspective has given me something to chew on this week.  And a book that I can’t wait to pick up again.

Happily and increasingly inadequate


I’ve quoted Max Lucado before, but what he says in this quote is so pertinent to what I’ve been thinking about lately that you’re just going to have to deal with the redundancy.

“God does not call the qualified.  He qualifies the called.”

That is one of the most scary things in the world right there.  That’s like saying, “Hey, you have no way to do what I’m going to ask you do.  But that’s okay, because through the experience that I’m going to lead you through, you’ll become qualified.  It’ll probably include making mistakes, having awkward misunderstandings, and being humbled, but you’ll become an expert.”

It’s definitely the most effective way to learn something.  I was in a sailing class at camp one summer where we were taught how to make the special knots for the ropes, told what a rudder does, then sent out on the water.  When my sailing partner and I begged for more instruction before heading out into the lake, our teacher said that she’d learned when someone had just put her in a boat with no instruction at all.

Obviously, that worked out pretty well for her.

I didn’t have a great experience with sailing.  It included less sailing in a nice zig-zag pattern with the wind pushing us swiftly along and more getting stuck in the weeds along the side of the lake while my partner cried.  Then the sailing instructor would come out in a kayak and tow us back into the open water.  Time and time again.

Holding onto that image is really crucial for me right now, as I prepare to head halfway around the word.  13 days from now, I’ll be on my way to India.  And honestly, even though God has explicitly called me to this, dropped the opportunity in my lap without a request from me, and I know that He wants me there, I don’t know why.  Why me?  I don’t really have anything to offer the people there.  I’ve never experienced an atrocity as great as being trafficked into prostitution like the women whom I will encounter.    My prayer lately has been simple: God, I know this is right.  I know you want me to go.  I know you have an incredible purpose for choosing me, but I am inadequate.  I have no expertise.  So, you’re just going to have to be on close communication terms here. I’m going to cling to you, to wait for you to instruct, then do whatever you say.

Which is probably exactly what He wanted me to say.  Funny how our lives sometimes take us through the ringer just to bring us to a place of complete dependence.  Because the more I think about what I will be doing on this trip, the more I have no idea what that will look like.  I’m becomingly increasingly inadequate.

And that is my joy.  That because I am inadequate, I will be required to rely completely on Jesus.  I will have amazing tales to tell of His instruction and divine appointments.

13 days.  13.  13. 13. 13. 13. whew.

2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for my blog, how nice of them!  Take a look and see what we’re accomplished together.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fail.


I was going to have a mouthwatering picture of the cookies my mother has been tempting me with this afternoon, but, due to circumstances that are too dumb to recount, the picture is not here.  So, I want you to use your imagination with me.  You know those puffy sugar cookies with the thick frosting (usually colored in a bright color according to what holiday is coming up) that are sold at Target and Cub?  They’re the ones that kids love to bring in for their birthday treats, the ones that leave you feeling happy and fat.

Well.  My mom made those.  Out of a white cake mix.

I just polished off three of them, and I’m still waiting for the regret to sink in.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Okay, so maybe I just regret that I’ve already eaten my allotted amount of the top triangle of the food pyramid for the day and can’t indulge again later.

And now, in an effort to get my mind off of the container full of those delicious tempters, let’s reflect on failure.  It really isn’t a “nice” topic, per se, but I’ve been realizing how much of a failure I am the past couple days.  Now, don’t go feeling bad for me; don’t start thinking that I have no self-esteem and am going to go around hanging my head and always be on the verge of tears.  Healthy people are the ones who know that they are inadequate.  Even healthier people are the ones who see those inadequacies as ways for God to show how good He is.  To show that He redeems us in the places where we fall short.

Here’s an effort at being relatable: does anyone else have days where they feel like 90% of what they said was

a) pointless

b) seen as random by the person to whom it was spoken

c) incoherent or just not well though out

d) all of the above

That has been my week.  I’m sure that my late bedtimes and early wake ups weren’t helping me either.  I look back on how many things I said that were either a,b,c, or a combo of the three and just want to take a nap, to take a break from being conscious for a little bit.  If I’m not conscious, I can’t say stupid things.

And though the thought of just wanting to escape is enticing, the thought that God can redeem my speech to make it useful and powerful and glorifying to Him is much more inspiring.  That gets my heart pumping blood faster.  It makes me want to take care of my brain better to enable it function on a higher level, to go to sleep when my eyes plead with me to make a day of it.  My calculus teacher has the philosophy that “you can sleep with you’re dead!” — as an exhortation to us to stay up late doing our homework instead of skipping the extra problems for extra hours of sleep — but I think that if you don’t sleep, you’ll die sooner.  Which is, perhaps, the objective of those who refuse to sleep.  It isn’t mine though.

I feel like I’m sitting here, holding out my worthless or inappropriate words in my cupped hands, waiting for God to put His words in my mouth.

 

Juicy Fruit and Retrospect.


Juicy Fruit.  Ah.  The commercials made it look like the people chewing it were actually chewing fruit.  They looked blissfully happy and like they wouldn’t care to be doing anything else.

And Juicy Fruit was basically the forbidden gum.

If my mom bought gum, it was Dentyne Ice, the really strong minty kind or something with breath freshening power.  So she wasn’t anti-gum.  She was just anti- sugary-gum-that-doesn’t-freshen-your-breath.  I really wanted to chew Juicy Fruit, and I bought it with my own money once or twice, just to treat myself.  I can honestly say in retrospect that it wasn’t as tasty as the people made it look.  It was good, but after a few minutes the flavor was gone, and I didn’t want to chew anymore.

Last night, while my 7-year-old babysitting charge read to me, she was chewing Juicy Fruit.  I didn’t have to ask; the smell brought back the longing to chew sugary gum.  To spend my precious dollars on a pack with maybe 5 strips of gum in it.  Strips of gum where the flavor would be gone in about 3 minutes.

Just one of the things in this world that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I was thinking today again.  I was thinking about how I often make decisions based on what has been good in the past.  Or what I thought was good.  I make decisions based on other decisions that turned out well.  I try to apply the principles from some situations in my short history to the ones that I face today in order to make a choice.  That may be too vague to illustrate well.

I’ll give a more vivid example:  When I was eight, when I met another kid in the hallway, it was fun and safe for me to say hi and smile and be as friendly as I wanted to be.  (in most cases, that is.)  Now, like I sometimes want to, if I try to apply that principle to my life in Chicago next year, being super friendly and open with everyone I meet on the street, I could end up mugged, beat up, or dead.

See what I mean?  The principles don’t always fit.  Not that it isn’t true that friendliness is a good quality, or that if you are a friend you’ll have friends, but when I try to squeeze 8-year-old reasoning into a 17-year-old’s circumstances it’s like I’m trying to put pieces from two different corners of a puzzle together.

Not that I can’t learn from my past decisions that worked, but I’m learning that things aren’t always right.  That sometimes things are good for a time and then they aren’t anymore.  And, since I am someone who wants the best God has to offer me, I need to know when things are good and when they are not.

*sigh* This life is always about reevaluating, isn’t it?  I guess that’s what keeps us sharp and in line with God’s will.

 

by the way, in case you were curious.  this is my 100th post here on wordpress.  :)  woohoo!  *throwing confetti and blowing kazoos*

Enter Title Here.


This may end up being some of your typical musings about the new year. I may end up listing my resolutions. Or maybe I won’t make any. Maybe by the end of this paragraph I’ll have decided that they’re useless. Or maybe I’ll have a list of twenty.

Just goes to show I don’t even know what the next five minutes holds, much less 2012. I’ve got plans, don’t get me wrong. I know what I’d like to happen in that year. I’d like to have a grand heading for 2012: NOT THE END, BUT THE BEGINNING. (even though that’s a little cheesy) I’d like to have a life-changing experience in India, graduate with the best grades I could possibly muster while still keeping the connections with my friends strong, spend the summer preparing to go to college, and have a fabulous first semester of higher education.

Should I add some resolutions to that? On one hand, if I’ve made a resolution, it means I’ve taken a serious look at my life and thought about where it could use improvement – which is always a good thing; humility and perspective make a good combo. Then again, I usually don’t keep the way I thought I would. Last year, I wrote down about 6 words to describe who I wanted to be in the next year, and I posted them in my bathroom. It did make a difference in how I lived throughout my day, but it wasn’t the radical, tangible change that required losing 20 pounds, having a new filing system, and getting rid of my excess stuff.

Even if I don’t actually implement the resolutions that I come up with, I think that the reflection and sobriety that comes with that will most likely be beneficial over harmful.

Honesty is paramount to making resolutions that will actually make a difference in how I live, so it’s confession time:

I am a messy person. I have organized thoughts (at least some of the time), but in the tangible, I live creatively. There are clothes creatively strewn across my floor right now and things creatively jammed into my closet. I also have creatively stacked papers that I will eventually need but don’t need right now on my floor, my desk, and my dresser.

I will probably have a roommate in college, or maybe two. I would like to be a neat person, a considerate roommate.

SO, resolution #1: to always be able to see all of my floor in my room and to have the clutter minimized. And to put away my laundry the day after it is cleaned.

Maybe I should stop there. If I make only one resolution, I’m more likely to keep it. And if I don’t keep that one, I’ll feel like a complete failure. What? You didn’t keep the ONE, SMALL resolution that you made?

You know what? I think I will. I’m sure I’ll come up with other self-improvement projects throughout the year. God will show me where I fall short, and He will continue to mold me spiritually.

Maybe I’ll post pictures weekly to keep myself accountable to that.

Maybe I won’t.

As I sit here with Macky, my sister’s laptop, the realization that each year contains so much change, so much growth, so many wrenches in my plans, countless tears, even more laughs, sickness, health, decisions, transitions slaps me with nostalgia. And then, from that sentimental moment comes wonder at what 2012 will bring.

I wonder. I wish. I pray. And, at the end of all of that, the truth that God is the one who has already written my story and has gone before me takes away any anxiety that could arise when pondering the unknown.

So, without further ado, here come the last 12 hours of 2011.