Sunday, October 28, 2012

A rambling that seems to have a shopping theme.

Is it that time again? The time of the week where I procrastinate and write to you instead of doing the myriad of tasks I should be doing? Ah yes, I think it is that time. Well, let's see. I could report on my state of life, shall I do that? Ok, well then, I just realized I have my shirt on backwards (thankfully I haven't left the apartment since I changed into it), I discovered I have a deep love for grocery shopping (not just because I like to eat), and I woke up at 6am yesterday to go shopping (women turned into vultures and everything was four dollars!).

Let me start from the beginning.

Don't be worried, I have a history of wearing my clothes backwards on accident. In elementary school it was the red gingham dress made out of the extra material from my curtains. In college it was the sequined dress that had a confusing neckline. So really I am not going to worry too much that my lack of sleep is impacting my sanity seeing as I seem to just be continuing a rather unfortunate trend.
And speaking of clothes yesterday I went to one of L.A.'s finest treasures, a sample sale (See here for last year's sample sale review). Clad in our try-it-on-in-public outfits of leggings and tanks we trekked into Los Angeles for a warehouse sale where everything was four dollars. The experience was ridiculous. The doors open and women pour in and just start grabbing things and throwing them into the huge bags we are given. There is no grace, love, or excuse me's, just sheer force and frenzy. The theory is, once you have a full bag you circle up with your gal pals, try everything on, switch around what doesn't fit, and then let some other group go through your reject piles. It is intense. I ended up with a shirt and a cute dress. I got a little overwhelmed.
And speaking of shopping, grocery shopping is my new favorite hobby. I realized this week that when I need to detox the best cure is a walk around the grocery store (Preferably Trader Joe's or Whole Foods). Or when I need food, I go then too. The bonus is that I seem to make a lot of friends in grocery stores. I don't know how but I always end up having conversations with strangers. My face must say "I'll listen to you, tell me your life." This week it was old ladies (coffee tastes better when someone else makes it), Whole Foods workers with ear tattoos (showing me their favorite frozen food), or my favorite, the short Polynesian man who wanted to discuss the effects of gluten and the trail of my necklace->Kenya->pastor father->I must be a church-going girl. Hilarious. At any rate I love grocery shopping.

And that's all you get for tonight. Eventually I should be able to tell you in detail how the Liberation Theology of Gustavo Gutierrez relates or doesn't relate to small Christian communities in Africa (30 page paper anyone?), but I think for now you will just have to settle down and contemplate how to get me to stop wearing my clothes backwards. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Logic of Cupcakes and Friendship

There seem to be special moments in life when something you have always known suddenly becomes real. It is like a lightbulb suddenly brightens even though the switch was always on. For example, the day in high school when I realized that a cupcake was a cake...in a cup. Magnificent logic!
Tonight was a similar moment. All of a sudden I thought to myself, Wow. I know some really amazing people. Obviously that seems slightly mundane and normal but hear me out. Tonight I realized that I have had one friend for 18 years. 18 years! That is so long it is ridiculous! Though we have lived far apart for a long time now I can still count him as one of my dearest friends and I am so blessed that we are still involved in each other's lives, even if sparingly.
Or get this. I have a family in India who let me name their baby. One day I will get to hopefully hug this amazing little boy but for now, how blessed am I to have made friends in India who loved me enough to let me name their first son?
Or one more. I know these godly men who taught me what I deserve in a husband, who taught me that I can be respected and that gentlemen do exist. And even though they gave me the ugliest nickname ever I get to smile every time I pass "Myrtle Street" in Pasadena and remember that I am loved.
And don't even get me started on my amazing support system from Christ's Church in Georgia, or the fabulous girl friends I have who love me enough to write me real letters, or the incredible people surrounding me here at Fuller. Don't even tempt me to talk about my team that I lived with in Spain because then I will never stop talking!

I guess what I am saying is wow. May I never take these people for granted and may I never ever think that I can do anything alone. I have tried so hard to be "independent" since I left college and I have sometimes mistakenly coincided that with "isolated." But tonight I realize that, at least in my life, independence is a myth, because I could not be who I am today without all the amazing people I have met along the way.

My life is enriched by each and every one of you. I am entirely and undeservedly blessed.

Note: The writing of this post was interrupted when a good friend texted me for a favor, asking for a ride home. Of course I said yes and after a confusing encounter with a small lost Chinese woman we got to have a great ride with lovely conversation. It was an absolutely blessed way to end my day. Was it chance that an exemplary friendship encounter occurred while writing this post? I think not. God always knows what He is doing. :) 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh How God Speaks!

"God will see to it that the man who finds him in his earthly happiness and thanks him for it does not lack reminder that earthly things are transient, that is is good for him to attune his heart to what is eternal, and that sooner or later there will be times when he can say in all sincerity, 'I wish I were home.'" -Bonhoeffer, Letters from Prison 

So I am sitting in a coffee shop reading Bonhoeffer's letters from prison and I am just in meshed in this reading. I feel like I am getting this intimate peek into his life and his struggles and he is so real it starts to feel like he has written these letters to me. I resonate with his pain, his sorrow, his optimism and his tiredness. I become sad with him and hopeful with him. 

And as I am reading these letters I just start to have these aha! moments. 

As he talks about separation from loved ones and times of war I stop and pray for my friend Kyle who is in Afghanistan, and for the loved ones who I know are missing him so dearly. And as he writes intimately to his best friend I stop and I praise God for giving me kindred spirits too, for the friends that are far away, yet with whom we still desire to share every detail and struggle. And as he writes about his struggle to console his fellow prisoners after bombings, the lack of words he has when they look for comfort, my heart cries out "I know! I know what you mean!" For my girls on the rez are hurting and their pain is so deep and so real and I have no words. For one cannot explain away sorrow and pain. There are no words I can say that will make the people that have died come back and live. And so as Bonhoeffer writes I just get it again, that aha! moment. And I suddenly know the one thing I can do for my rez sister. I know the one thing that won't fix things but that momentarily may make her smile. 

In response to distress: "So I don't try to explain it, and I think that is the right way to begin, although it's only a beginning, and I very seldom get beyond it. I sometimes think that real comfort must break in just as unexpectedly as the distress." -Bonhoeffer

And I smile. Because years ago a godly man was imprisoned by a Nazi government and his struggles and words to his loved ones, his tries of comfort for his family and his painful truths to his friends, are speaking the same truths to me today in a world quite different from the one he was in. 
And I praise God because Bonhoeffer never knew his letters would be influential in my life but God knew when those words were written that so many years later there would be a girl in California, sitting in a coffee shop with her friends, reading them and chewing and swallowing every word. 

"When you wake up in the morning, may God strengthen your heart and keep sadness from being in it; may he show each of you, each day, tasks that are worth doing...may he smooth out all your ways and bring you together again happily; and may he also grant me the day when I see you both again. God bless you and all of us. From my heart. Your Dietrich" 
-An excerpt from a letter to his friend on his leaving for military duty. I just found it to be such a lovely sentiment. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eye Twitch and Awkwardness

In 2003 I was a high school freshman with an eye twitch. Still stuck in that horribly awkward middle school stage where I had grown ten inches in three years and still didn't quite know what do with my hair, I was stressed out. I had entered into a high school program that was the equivalent of most people's freshman year in college and I was working hard to keep up. The classes were tough and seemed designed to weed out the weak, and I wondered if someone somewhere was giving me the stink eye, out to get me with integrated calculus and 7:30am classes. Though I was smart enough to get into the program, the other 99 kids all seemed a lot smarter than me. Hence the eye twitch. With awkwardness and stressful schoolwork combined, my nerves were on edge.

So tonight, in 2012, I came home with an eye twitch and instantly recalled that this had happened before. I immediately reassured myself that at least this time I could endure with great hair and good fashion (let's admit, I can still be pretty awkward in personality) which lifted the stress substantially. Because who doesn't feel good when you are wearing a neon yellow shirt? But I was annoyed that I had not learned this lesson among the myriad of others, that stress does not produce results.

So I decided. Not today. Just as I changed from awkward gangly-girl to gorgeous super model, ok, too far..ahem... to well put together and groomed (most days) I choose to also transform from stressed out to...not stressed out.

Over the last year I have been less stressed than ever in my life because I realized that stress does no good. In the end, everything gets done. Life goes on. Sometimes we get As, sometimes we get Bs, and all these years later we forget most of the things that stressed us out, and the things we do remember we can laugh at. Life is too short not to have joy. Even the hard work and busy schedules and lack of sufficient sleep can be a source of joy if we keep the right perspective.

So let's do it! Because, let me tell you, it took some really great friends to teach me the art of eyeliner and a hair straightener. So case in point, if we help each other out, by prayer, encouragement, love, and great advice, then we might just be able to get through this life. Find joy in everything, realize how good we have it even in the midst of trials, and we can lose the stress. Together we can lead happier, calmer, lives.

And along with that, I can get rid of this pesky eye twitch. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

'Tis the Political Season

Politics.

First reaction? Bleck. The bane of my existence (dramatic much?). Boring. Dumb.

But alas, I am a grown-up with the right to vote and this time around I happen to be in a politics class. Theology and Politics to be exact. Yep, that's right. The only girl in a class of eight boys with a male professor. They are all married, so don't get your hopes up for me. I strut into that class in my pink cardigan with my silver heart hair pin and pull out my purple pen instead of the pink one because, you know, I don't want to look too girlie. I have to assert my tough I-don't-take-crap-from-nobody side. I think purple pens illustrate that pretty well.

At any rate I love the class. It is more a historically based class where we read the greats like Ragatz, Barth (silent h), and Bonhoeffer. And I hold my own because obviously girls are just as smart as boys. But when I come home and turn on the Vice-Presidential debate I get a head-ache because apparently politicians don't know the basics like manners and being polite. I do get a kick out of the fact that they refer to each other as "friend" though because really, they aren't fooling anybody.

So I consider this political season a success because not only did I vote, stay informed by watching debates and keep up with Major League Baseball, I also did not yell or completely disengage and decide to move to Iceland, which I hear is nice this time of year.

And next week, when I go back to my Theology and Politics class, probably wearing one of my super cute Fall outfits and a head full of knowledge, I will continue to channel my inner Margaret Thatcher and be super awesome in the face of a world run mostly by men.

Kick-butt economic policies, strong sassy attitude, and fabulous hair. Maggie you are my hero! 



Monday, October 8, 2012

Hope


hope

noun
1.
the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.


It is my opinion that hope is one of the main things that drive us in this life. The Bible talks about the hope of becoming like Christ and the hope of His return. We live in a constant state of hoping that things will turn out for the best and that Christ will return and make everything right. Therefore it is one of the saddest occurrences I know of when someone chooses to give up hope and end everything by their own hand. Having been through the experience of losing someone in this way I know that it is so hard for those left behind to understand. Why was the love they had not good enough? Why did they not just talk to someone? What made it seem like nothing could get better, that death was the only way out? 

The reason this is on my mind is because one of the students on the reservation I lived at this summer killed himself last night. His girlfriend is one of "my" girls from my time there and she is expecting a baby in a few months. He had recently gotten his GED, was working at the t-shirt printing company of the ministry and had been coming to the weekly youth group. But something drove him to give up hope, to leave everything behind. 

This young man was also the cousin of another one of my girls. This past weekend her other cousin died in the hospital from excessive drinking and her uncle also killed himself. They simply gave up hope, or never found it in the One thing that would satisfy, the One thing that would give them something to live for. 

My heart is entirely saddened for the many who knew and loved this young man.  I know the pervading sadness that makes everything ache when someone has been lost and it is too late to try and catch them. 

So what will we do? Will we sit here, hear this news, and simply feel sad yet continue with our lives? No, I don't think that is the path to take. I believe that we should take this moment to make a decision, to make a choice to be intercessors. There is power in prayer and I believe that if we all make a conscience decision to pray every day for the Native reservations in America, though it could take the rest of our lives, change will happen. Satan has a grip on these lands and we must intercede for our brothers and sisters, we must renounce the power of Satan and proclaim the sovereignty of Christ. No eighteen year old should have to deal with this much death and despair in a lifetime, let alone one weekend. So please, join with me in prayer for these people, for my students, and for every teenager out there who is dealing with the same sadness. We have a choice, to sit back and be glad that we did not grow up in a place like the reservation, or to take five minutes out of every day to pray for healing and reconciliation in a place where hopelessness seems the best option and death seems to be the only way out. What a lie that is to be fed, and what truth the love of Christ can bring. 

Will you join me? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Enjoy!

"Every man must give account on the Day of Judgement concerning the good things he refused to enjoy."
-A Rabbi whose name I forgot to write down in class

I love this quote because we so often get bogged down in life that we forget, or refuse, to enjoy all the good things we have been given. So today, and tomorrow, and the next day, let's make a point to enjoy all of the lovely things we have surrounding us. I assure you, if you look closely, there are many.