Aware |vii

sleddingIn the fall I asked my students if anyone had a pink hat, we were trying to find one for our costume party because we were being the girls from Despicable Me. No one had one, my friend bought one. But Christmas week, my student comes up to me and re-tells the story of my search in October. Since she wasn’t able to find one, her mother MADE me this hat. Though the hat was not really for my costume or for me, my heart gushed at the sweetness of all of this. I don’t like hats. I hardly ever wear hats. But this hat, this hat is one that is big enough to not ruin my curls (on the good-curl-days), and so I wear it proudly with my hand-me-down earmuffs and northface (forthface) jacket that needs a desperate cleaning. My students are a blessing.

The other aspect of this picture that I want to explain is sledding. Sledding with a dilapidated piece of cardboard as my sled, on snow-packed stairs. My heart was light and giddy. I don’t think I’ve been sledding at all since moving here, and this was just a delightful experience, even though my rear froze and we were still outside for a long time. Oh well.

So here goes:

Cheers to 2014, a new year with many unknowns (even in the next few weeks!). Cheers to not making a bunch of lists and goals and just taking life a day at a time asking the Lord to change me. Cheers to the family that I belong to that hasn’t been all together in 5.5 years and will get to have exactly one breakfast together where we all overlap. Cheers to the friends that stick with me and want to see me when I’m in the states, even though I live on the other side of the world and sometimes stink at being a great long-distance friend. Cheers to local travels with neighbors and friends and the fun adventures of talking to taxi drivers over confusions in a dialect I don’t exactly speak. Cheers to the greatest customer service a hotpot restaurant could ever have, I’ll gladly take two more glasses of hot soy milk, thankyou. Cheers to grace and learning how much I need God to be transforming my selfish heart and the confidence that HE is the one who will do the transforming work.

What are you grateful for today?

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Aware | vi

wordArtCmas

At meals, our family holds hands when we pray. One Sunday, about 10 years ago, my grandma was holding hands with Jane, another lady from our church. The lady commented on how Gram’s hands felt cold. Gram said “you know what that means”—Jane said “warm heart”—gram replied “poor circulation”. Well you know, these colder days do make for interesting times of cold hands and feet when going out and about. Yet, I’m finding there to be this calm and warmth and this work of grace happening in my heart, a softening of sorts. It’s advent and I’m loving these days of learning to settle down and not be overcome by the crazy of the season. Slow.

Cheers to the sweet voices of She & Him serenading this home with Christmas cheer. Cheers to learning more about the art I love doing and that gouache is the new ink of choice, big cheers and confetti and throw a coconut on top for this one. And oh, Cheers to Sunday nights after markets and meetings and public transportation, to find one of my favorite newlywed couples welcoming me into their home to chat the evening away. Cheers to internet in this land, which never works like….. it…. wants to. Cheers to Ann Voskamp for writing a book to set my heart on the real meaning of this season, blessing my days and life with fresh perspective. Cheers to a colleague hearing my voice and coming to find me today, and the dinner we shared, sitting on the floor of a Korean restaurant: there is a Master-weaver putting together each moment of our days.

Grateful.

That’s how we need to live.

Aware|iv

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what I need. My soul needs to remember truth, remember the goodness of my Heavenly Father. Celebrating the little joys in daily life.

Cheers to the neighbor who shares their meals of Ravioli soup with me. I mean, being invited for dinner makes cartwheels happen in my brain– but when the word ravioli appears on my screen — there is no doubt that I will be there. Cheers to technology allowing me to connect with my siblings in different countries. Be it Facebook chats with the broski or Kakao calls from a sister– connecting with them makes my heart happy. Cheers to Instagram people who recommend new beats like this— my heart has been blessed by so many who have shared new songs to this girl who lives in the land of being in the dark about whats cool and new. Cheers to my Chinese teacher going downtown with me to make printing press magic happen on paper that glistens. New prints and lighter pockets make this girl thrilled. Oh yes, and she helped me find new calligraphy ink. New ink also thrills my heart. Cheers to my creator for reminding my selfish heart that life is not about me but completely and totally about His glory. Yes. My heart needs this truth all.the.time.

This is living life intentionally. Living on purpose and looking for ways to be joyful. Not necessarily happy– because happiness fades so quickly. But joy. That’s what we should be about.

Aware |iii

lam322-colorful-naturehues copy[hand-lettered design– by me]

It’s been an up and down kind of month. Mostly due to the lessons I’m learning about trusting God. So, throughout this I’m seeking to be aware of what He’s up to.

Cheers to my sweet student who noticed my wardrobe malfunction and kindly let me know without embarrassing me in front of my entire class–a total doll (for more reasons than this). Cheers to the magical beauties of washi tape– and the mother that blessed me with 18– EIGHTEEN– rolls of it for my birthday. I would be lonely if my desk wasn’t covered with these little rolls. Cheers to the weather not being frozen yet, the fall that is hanging around for a little bit longer this year (and the fact we aren’t slipping on frozen spit yet!). Cheers to the friend who took my mail back to the USA to send it to my sweet friends around that country. Cheers to my Korean best friend for chatting with me during my lunch break the other day. Five stars for long distance bests. Cheers to the internet for teaching me that I don’t have to grill my grilled cheese (for a crowd) one at a time but can do it in the oven. Magic.

This is how we live life aware// don’t get stuck in the mundane of life.. fight for joy! How are you fighting for joy today?

Aware|ii

gratitudeSome weeks in these parts are quiet, while some are full of adventure. Some weeks we have classes every.single.day but then we get a break. This week we’ve had a nice change of pace with a holiday that gave us a week off of teaching. For that, I am grateful.

Cheers to the “family” I had at camp this summer and the way that family-ness has carried over into the months following– to the point of getting a message that says “See you soon, mom”– these are the things that melt my heart. Cheers to the friends who came for an early breakfast today and made themselves so at home and finding my (less than comfortable //hand-me-down) sofa to be a restful place. Oh and lets not forget the ending when someone said “we should dance before this is over” and we promptly started music and danced around my little home. Love that. Cheers to retreating. The time to step away from my home and stay in a house with 25 others// laughing, crying, growing, falling flat on our faces in repentance and worship… those are moments I want to savor. Cheers to angels or something… not letting the paper lantern fall and burn up the city but carrying it higher into the clouds when it started to fall… kind of one of those “have to be there to know what I mean.. ” but yes, cheers to that. Cheers to the friend I ran into while heading to buy vegetables — he walked with me and we chatted and carried my vegetables. Five stars for you, sir. Any person that carries my vegetables TO MY DOOR gets extra cheers (okay not anyone because usually I don’t let people carry my stuff…). Cheers to the shepherd that traveled across the world to share hope with us, to bring truth and speak with such humility and grace. My heart needed that truth. So so much. Oh yes, and cheers to the neighbors who let me come hang at their house and eat their cookies with Biscoff spread — hello… where have you been all my life. You know those moments when you are at peace with the world, then suddenly your taste-buds have been overcome with a new burst of excitement. Yes. That good. I will be searching for a method to make it.

This is how we live life aware// don’t get stuck in the mundane of life.. fight for joy! How are you fighting for joy today?

Aware

Toms and hearts

Sometimes my days are lived with very little intention. I go through the day focused on myself and forgetting to live life with my heart and eyes aware of what is going on around me. I neglect being aware of people in general, my students, and even the Lord. It’s a shame and that is why I want to live being aware. Why waste days on frivolous things when you can be fostering a heart of gratitude and awareness of just how great this gift of life is.

Cheers to the leftovers in my fridge that morphed themselves into a delicious fall soup that makes you want to go create a leaf pile and jump in it. Cheers to the sweet message my student-friend left saying she misses me. I get warm fuzzies because I miss her too. Cheers to the friend whose internet doesn’t exist, creating reasons for her to basically live at my house for part of the week so that she can get lesson planning done (aaaaand check her facebook). Cheers to the neighbors who create reasons for me to craft and create and use the stash of craft supplies my home hoards. Cheers to you, coconut oil. You know who you are and you know that you make my life just a little more beautiful every.single.day. Not only do you make my food taste like island magic, but you keep my skin nourished and soft in this dry climate. How do you do it? Cheers to JJ Heller for creating sweet music to dance to in my little house.

This is how life can be lived being aware, lest I get lost in the mundane.
What are you aware of lately that makes you happy?

 

J.