Saturday, February 21, 2015

Brave

A few years ago I went to China to visit an American friend from San Diego. One day she introduced me to a national friend of hers that she thought I’d have something in common with. That woman and I hit it off pretty well and we ended up deciding to go find someplace to eat while my friend got some work done.

My new acquaintance and I hopped into a cab and started heading for a restaurant that she liked. While riding in the cab she said to me, “You are very brave!” I couldn't figure out what she was referring to, so I asked. She replied, “You just got into a taxi and are going across town with someone you don’t even know!”

I kinda laughed it off but inwardly thought, Oh shoot, didn't even think of that… Should I be more cautious? She’s a friend of a friend so this can’t be that dangerous of a situation, right? I almost wanted to correct her by saying, “Actually, I’m probably just a little too trusting and laid-back to have even considered why I shouldn't get in a cab with a practical stranger in the middle of China!”

It actually turned out to be a really fun day in which this new Chinese friend questioned if I was truly American due to my ability to handle the heat of the traditional dishes she introduced me to :) But I just recently remembered her comment about me being brave because I have been getting that kind of comment a bit more lately. Often when I talk about my interest in doing church-planting in an unreached tribe in the middle of nowhere, I tend to get some form of “You’re so brave” in response. And just like in the Chinese cab, I still find the word “brave” a bit unfitting.

However, this time it’s not due to being too trusting or laid-back. More like the exact opposite. In fact, I often wake up in the middle of the night in a hot sweat, panicking about the various disasters that will surely befall me once my ministry goals actually come true. My mind paints vivid scenes over the darkness of my room of what horrific things could happen out there in the middle of nowhere. 

But then I wake up in the morning. I rush to get ready and set off on my regular commute to work. As I get on the freeway I have a wide open view of the sky and can’t help but imagine myself flying through it on a plane to somewhere far away. Gone are my worries from the night before and I want nothing more than to be transported to a village in which I can sit on the ground and chat with ladies in their local dialect.

I tend to vacillate between these two approaches on life -- complete paranoia and daydreamy denial. Often before I travel, I enter into the paranoia state. I'm convinced that either my plane is going to crash or if I actually make it to my destination I'm going to contract some rare form of Hepatitis there. The daydreamy denial segment begins once I step foot in the airport. Airports give me some kind of adrenaline rush that convinces me I'm officially living life to it's fullest and my wildest dreams are about to come true. 

Do either one of these approaches reflect a spirit of bravery? Ha, probably not. The Merriam-Webster definition of “brave” is “having or showing courage.” The definition of “courage” is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”. I think if I were able to take my two above-described ways of thinking and calm them down a bit, I might be on my way to a bit of bravery. If my paranoia were reduced to a healthy acknowledgment of danger and my daydreamy denial were turned into hopeful excitement -- and if I could maintain these perspectives simultaneously -- I think I might be brave. Does that make any sense? I mean that if I could consistently charge onto my goals with hopeful excitement while acknowledging (or experiencing) the likely dangers, I could say, "Yep, I'm pretty brave." 

I can’t help but write this without thinking of the classic Joshua 1:9 reference. “I repeat, be strong and brave! Don't be afraid and don't panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do” (NET). It seems that both my fear and denial are rooted in the realization that I cannot handle the hard things that come in life. Luckily, as this verse points out, the recipe for being strong and brave is knowing that He's the One who has to handle everything.

If I can remember that He's kind, present, and ultimately in control of it all, I can react differently when I wake up in the middle of the night in a hot sweat. I can remember all the mind-blowingly* awesome things God's taken me through so far and look forward to the even more mind-blowingly awesome things He's probably leading me into next. I can acknowledge that some of the scary things I fear could actually come to pass. But He'll be with me, so there's no need to panic. 


* I am aware that this is not a real word. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Delete

I just hit the "delete" button on a lot of this blog's older posts. Why? Well, because I'm going to actually start telling people about this blog instead of keeping it a secret among close friends. I'm hoping to be able to use this as a place to update people on my journey with New Tribes Mission. So, given the chance that I'll start receiving a tad more traffic here, I felt it was time to delete the most embarrassing things I've put up (emphasis on "most"... there are still plenty of things on here that I find embarrassing:).

One way people might find out about my blog is through this little card I made:


It's not my favorite picture of myself but it's the best I have right now:) I had a bunch printed and hope to hand some out at an event I'm speaking at on Saturday. On the back it has info on how one can financially support me if they would like to. I need $340 more dollars a month to cover housing and training fees. Then I'm thinking I'll need at least a few more hundred a month to cover food, gas, etc. I'm trying to save as much as I can right now in case I can't get much in donations.

Anyway, at the event I plan on showing this video about my friends Mark and Holly's completed church plant and Bible translation work. You should check it out!

Monday, February 2, 2015

News


Hi:) So the last few weeks have been filled with one bizarre physical ailment after the other, the latest being an infected nerve in my mouth. I don't even really know what that means. But thankfully I'm now on antibiotics and a couple different pain relievers, so my mouth, jaw, head, neck, and back should stop throbbing sometime in the next few days. 

Anyway, one good thing about not feeling well is you finally have a legitimate excuse to not work on your to-do list. So with this pain-induced downtime I've got, I figured I should pop on this old blog and say hello. 

Here's the latest news in my world:

In December I was officially accepted to begin training with New Tribes Mission this August. I'm very excited to begin a new phase of my life. I'm excited to move to a new place, meet new people, learn new stuff, etc... Most of all I'm excited that this means (Lord-willing) I will get to work full-time in missions for the rest of my life! I can't think of anything more awesome:) A year ago I was paralyzed by fears and had no direction on what next steps to take in life. I can't believe how far God has brought me from that depressing time. It's not that I don't ever have doubts or fears anymore... It's just that God seems to overcome them everyday for me... He's continually reassuring me that He will continue to guide and care for me just as He has up to this point. 

So what am I doing until August? Well, I am...

- Trying to develop a bit of a "support base". I'm mainly just trying to figure out ways for people to get and stay informed on what I'm doing. I also of course want to let them know how they can financially support me if they'd want to. My church's missions committee is hosting an event I'll be speaking at this month, so that should help a bit. I also hope to get an email list going and use this blog for more missions-related stuff in the future.

- Trying to get rid of junk. Literally. I've been digging through my closet, my attic, my cupboards... Anywhere there could be excess stuff that I don't use or hold a strong sentimental connection to. I'm going to probably be moving a lot over the next few years (or the rest of my life) and really want to simplify things as much as possible. I think it's helping me be honest with myself about my materialism and evaluate what is really essential. 

-  Trying to work hard and save up money. I work at a preschool Monday through Friday and I work at a church doing childcare on Sunday (often right after teaching Sunday School at my church... but that's for free:). It's honestly very exhausting and very poorly-paying work. I had a little meltdown last week when I thought about how little I make in light of all of the higher education I've received. It can be discouraging, but I try to remind myself daily that God has me exactly where He wants me and that He will provide for all of my needs. I'm also doing my best to not spend money on more junk:) 

- Trying to read The Bible more. Honestly, when I was getting my Bachelor's in Biblical Studies and Master's in Missiology, my Bible reading habit suffered a ton. I got really into books about theology, ministry, and culture... but somehow felt less of a need to immerse myself in Scripture. That makes absolutely no sense and so I'm working to reverse it. What has really helped me lately is simply leaving my Kindle at home and always having my little ESV in my purse. I just pull it out at random free moments throughout the day (I will never be a "morning devotional" kind of person:).

- Trying to get stronger. I have been living with chronic pain since 2009. I spent about four years going to different physical therapists, chiropractors, alternative medicine centers, etc. Nothing seemed to help. I think at some point I just kind of gave up and started simply avoiding anything that could potentially provoke more pain. One of those things is exercising. However, during my summer travels I had to do a lot of exercising, especially when I was in Papua New Guinea with New Tribes. I decided there that something had to change. I have been working on developing a discipline of regular hiking, jogging, pilates, and yoga. Some days are really hard, but overall, I am actually experiencing less pain. I'm hoping that over the next several months I will develop more consistency, greater endurance, and even less pain. 



Well, that's all for now:)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hello

Yesterday I lost a very special ring of mine and when I told a friend about it she said, "Now you gotta go retrace your steps like you wrote about in your last blog post." I didn't know what she was talking about for a few seconds... and then it clicked. Oh gosh. I have a blog. The last time I wrote on it I talked about losing two rings... and that was months ago... Oh shoot... People actually read that thing?! How embarrassing...

Yes, I get very embarrassed when I've found out that people have read my blog. Yet ironically it also makes me feel like I should write on it again. 

So here I am, writing something that potentially one to three people will read sometime in the next few months:) 

So what have I been up to since writing in May?

Well, here are the highlights:

June 2014 
  • Went to an amazingly fun Penny & Sparrow concert with friends
  • Traveled with my dad to upstate New York (to visit his family) and Montreal, Quebec
  • Traveled to Papua New Guinea  and decided what to do for the rest of my life (no big deal;)

July 2014
  • Began the application process to begin training with New Tribes Mission (the thing I decided to do for the rest of my life)
  • Came home from PNG

August 2014
  • Briefly came home to California then left for Portland, Oregon to visit my big sister and friends
  • Did a bunch of presentations on my trip to PNG
  • Got back to work (at a preschool)

September 2014
  • Started getting serious about managing my chronic pain (doing regular yoga and pilates-type exercise, trying to eat less foods associated with inflammation, increasing my intake of minerals like magnesium, trying to develop a better sleep habit, maintain better posture, etc.)

October 2014
  • Celebrated my 28th birthday

November 2014
  • Went to another awesome Penny & Sparrow concert
  • Attended a yoga class taught by Tara Stiles, founder of Strala Yoga
  • Traveled to Louisville, KY for a friend's wedding and to spend my Thanksgiving break with friends

And that's where I'm at right now! When I fly back home after this trip I will have been on 20 flights this year (besides the trips I just mentioned, I also came to Louisville in April).

Hopefully my New Tribes application stuff wraps up soon and if all goes well I'll be moving to Missouri in August to begin two years of training. Yay:)

Okay, bye!

P.S. I was going to post pictures to go with each point but I'm too lazy for that right now. So if you want to see pictures of most of those events, you can visit my Instagram:)




Friday, May 2, 2014

Seven Things I’ve Been Doing Instead of Blogging

1) Making a list of reasons why I should never blog again (e.g. it’s too trendy, I shouldn’t share personal information over the Internet, I have nothing interesting to talk about, etc.)

2) Traveling – I just went to Louisville for ten days to visit friends. It was incredible beyond words… I can’t believe there are so many awesome, caring, and encouraging people all in one little city.

3) Planning more travel – I work at a preschool and have the summer off. Two days after my last day of work I will be on a plane to Montreal, Quebec. I’m actually going to be visiting family in upstate New York but will get to see a bit of Canada on the way in and out. Two days after I return from the East Coast I will be on a plane to Papua New Guinea to volunteer for six weeks. Probably a week or two after I return from that I will be on a plane to Portland, Oregon to visit my sister.

4) Reading – I finished A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller. Life-changing. Right now I’m working on Peace Child by Don Richardson and When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. After finishing those two, I hope to finish Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield. I MUST read two books at once!

5) Wearing Chacos – It seems like everyone in Louisville wears Chacos and somehow pulls them off. When I lived there, I tried a couple pair that I thought looked a little less crazy, but they weren’t that comfy. After my recent trip I decided to just get standard ones and they are the most supportive shoes I’ve ever worn. I feel like I could walk in them for hours.

 
6) Watching Portlandia – I don’t watch TV but at the end of the day when I’m in my bedroom, trying to get sleepy, I like to watch a clip or two of Portlandia (or The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon). Below is my favorite sketch:
 
 
 
7) Trying to Figure Out What to Do With My Life – Oh the ongoing struggle!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Trying to Become a Reader Again

I used to love to read. When I was little, I would spend all of my time finding little places around my house to "hide" and read books. My regular getaways were my bedroom closet (I even put a lamp in there) and behind the dining room table. At night when I supposed to be falling asleep, I would beg my parents that I could read "just one more chapter"... And then I probably read two;)

But something happened over the years. I think when high school turned reading into something that I had to do a lot of, I lost the practice of setting aside time for personal reading. I mean, I was still a nerd and my favorite high school "class" was working in the library for one period a day. Yet still, the time I devoted each day to reading for the purpose of enjoyment began to go down the drain.

Then I went to college and grad school, majoring in a subject for which my main textbooks were The Bible and a gigantic systematic theology book. Even though I was finally able to study what I loved, reading about it now seemed like a labor that I wanted to constantly postpone. To this day I have a hard time being interested in reading The Bible because it still seems like a textbook.

The thing is, I'm still interested in a ton of other books. I like their titles, their descriptions on the back cover, and the idea that if I read a bunch of them I would know the answers to all of life's questions. I have no problem excitedly buying and starting a book. I just can't seem to finish them.

In the last few weeks I did something I haven't done in years: I actually finished reading not just one, but two books! I started both of them at least two years ago. Over the last few weeks of forcing myself to read, I've come to rediscover the awesome benefits that voluntary reading provides. It's a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone, enabling you to both relax and be productive at the same time. From reading a novel and an autobiography, The Secret Garden and The Heavenly Man respectively, I was able to mentally escape while becoming inspired to live differently. Perhaps I've shied away from book reading because I think that it will either be too much a waste of my little time or too much work for my little brain... Yet I guess I'm learning to see both the rest and the labor of reading in a positive light.

That being said, below is a list of some of the books I've started over the last couple of years and would like to finish in the next couple of months:


Give Them Grace by Elise Fitzpatrick

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield

Messy by A.J. Swoboda

Good News About Injustice by Gary A. Haugen (I officially started this about 6 years ago, ha)

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo


I'll try to report back when I finish them (but I make no promises, considering I'm not too consistent on here anymore:).
 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Life Lately


I went to a Farmer's Market on Saturday... I loved these beautiful heirloom carrots. I didn't buy any, but I did get a yummy crepe for lunch and some mandarin oranges to take home.


I've gotten to hang out with my 7-month old nephew a lot lately. He possesses an abnormally high level of cuteness. I think he looks like a porcelain doll in this photo with my dad.



With each passing day I get a little more obsessed with Asian cultures... I especially love a lot of aspects of Asian pop culture and therefore fully enjoyed watching this music video by a Chinese girl band while waiting for my "scallion pancake" the other day.



I have had a horrible time falling asleep lately, but last night I got out this book that I started... oh, a year or two ago. It did the trick and I fell asleep faster than I have in weeks (out of relaxation, not boredom). This is just another reason I need to start reading books more often (I have started and left unfinished more than I care to admit).



Tonight I made this awesome "No Knead Bread" that I found on my favorite blog, Bleubird. I didn't follow the directions precisely, but the bread still turned out amazing. The only way I strayed from the recipe is that I didn't pre-warm the pot that I cooked it in (I was in a hurry). I also didn't use a French oven like she did, but my stainless steel pot will have to suffice until I can afford one of those.

Well, that's all for now!


All photos were taken on my iPhone and edited with the Vsco Cam app.