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?

Stories

Aside

We all have stories. You have some, I have some. Our stories are part of the greater story of our life. Whether we realize it or not, there is a much grander story being woven together as I type. Yes! That excites me and scares me at the same time. Sometimes I think that I’ve got that moment under control. Truth is nothing is under my control. I read in a book yesterday that gravity is pushing me to earth at 9.81 meters per second squared. I don’t even know what that means, so thankfully the author explained that means I’m falling into the earth at 22 miles per hour. Okay does that mean anything to you? That is one way that God is showing me that I am not in control of this thing called my story.

So I thought I’d share a few stories from travels I’ve taken. I don’t really have extravagant amounts of time to go around this frozen city to take dreamy pictures to tell blog land how magical my life is. It kind of is just life. Just like you live your life, fulfilling your purpose– that’s what I’m doing. Just in a different part of the globe.

Okay so I traveled back here after just over a month traveling all over America. I was worn out. Seriously I was not ready to come back. I was fearful of it all. I was overly emotional and tired and just a mess. I think a HUGE reason was that for  three years I haven’t really made rest a priority. I lived a super busy life in college– and that rolled over into life abroad. Not to mention the energy life here consumes to teach and live in a cross-cultural environment. I took none of that into account and thought that I was young and could go at the speed of… well.. what ever I thought I could go at. That speed was sending me straight to burnout.

Before I had embarked on my America journey I had made plans to visit my student in her hometown while I had a week of downtime after getting back. I struggle with pleasing people and not knowing how to say no. Especially when the student already got my bus ticket to return from her city. Well, after several days of resting per my neighbors command I felt like I was ready to embark on a small adventure.

So there I was, in line at the bus station, when I noticed people had their ID cards and I remembered that I totally forgot my passport. Yo. Bad idea! Oh but when I bought my ticket it was no problem. Whew. Got on the bus (no passport needed). Listened to something and read a book and got a little nervous when the bus would kind of hit the rumble strips. Apparently that’s how they do on the highways here?

baishan_welcome

Arrived at my students town. There she was with her parents smiling as big as ever that her teacher would COME to her town. She’s such a blessing to me! We ate noodles– apparently that’s the traditional food people eat after a journey to show that the journey was successful. Her mom made the noodles by hand. She’s kind of a cooking pro and her kitchen was spotless (mine isn’t).

baishan_student

Then it started to snow, like a lot. These towns don’t have lots of snow removal equipment even though it is the frozen land of snow and ice. They made comments of concern that we wouldn’t get out of the town when planned (I had lesson planning and teaching to do! I needed to go home when we planned…). Sure enough, the next day it kept snowing and the buses weren’t going. We considered other options but held our breaths hoping that we could get out the following day when we planned to.

baishan_snow

When it snows, there isn’t a whole lot to do– except visit grandparents, eat food, and watch TV. I love meeting elderly people. I want to hear their stories. I want to understand them, but it’s a little difficult (or a lot). I loved her grandfather. He was precious, precious! His eyes smiled. He told me that they live a simple life but are happy. My heart ached as their house was covered with idolatry and fear, no true sense of lasting peace. Oh that God would Shine on this land and redeem those walking in darkness!

baishan_grandpa

Eating in one of these homes goes something like this… “come eat!” — go to the table that is overflowing with food that is way more than any of us can possibly consume. You eat until you cannot eat anymore– and the mother commands that you keep eating– it’s their happy-o-meter. If you eat more that means you like it and that makes them happy. Whew. I love eating Chinese food but sometimes I can’t.take.anymore.

Okay well fast forwarding to the following morning– the morning we had our bus tickets.  We could go! Per Chinese tradition you eat dumplings (or Jiaozi) when you depart on a journey, it’s their way of sending well wishes. So we ate dumplings for breakfast. As I said her mom is a pro. Then my student got notifications from others who had    left on earlier buses saying that they’re stopping by the police station to do ID checks. Oh remember who left their passport at home? This one. I sent an SOS to the parents and a close friend asking that they uphold this situation and that I could pass through the police check safely.

We drove across town and stopped. I held my breath. The policeman came on and walked past me and my student, he didn’t even collect her ID. He was looking for people who weren’t students. Oh how my heavenly Father was orchestrating this event that was entirely out of my control. I made it home without any problems.

baishan_snow

The trip was a graced trip. It was a short trip, but there were so many things that HE was teaching me. He was teaching me to trust Him and that sometimes I need to relax. I want to be the one serving. I want to be the one giving that cup of tea and that piece of cake to a guest. He was teaching me how to be a guest and accept their gift of hospitality, just as I wish people to accept when they’re in my home. He was also teaching me how He wants me to be receptive of what He’s doing around me. Slow down. Enjoy. Savor. BE.

Done

I’ve thought about starting a blog for awhile. I debated with myself reasons to do it, and reasons to not do it. I finally decided that it can be an outlet for creativity, to connect with others, to share the ups and downs of life as my Savior relentlessly pursues me. 

As a twenty-something who has chosen to move beyond the boarders of comfort, I can say that it’s not always an easy journey. Someone shared with me last weekend about an elderly lady who faced many obstacles in life sharing that those obstacles were beneficial. I’ve lived so few years compared to that woman but I can say that living abroad has led me to do things I never imagined I would do and to let go of things that needed to go.

You see, this whole journey is not about me– my needs– my wants– my desires. It’s about my redeemer and realizing that my rights in this life don’t really exist. I’m waiting for the eternal reward. Why let the here and now be the end-all when there are far greater things awaiting me in eternity?

I live on a shoe-string budget, as some would say. But really, I have everything I could ever need and FAR more than what I need. I am passionate about managing what’s been entrusted to me in a wise way. Sometimes I don’t make the most wise decisions but I try. I also cannot always control what I eat, as this culture I live in revolves around food. Yet, I try to do what is most responsible with the truth I know about food. I love beauty and creating, yet I don’t want to find my joy in the creations of my hands or peoples hands. I want to find  my joy in my King who crafted the world and holds me with his powerful hand. Life is a gift and I don’t want to wait til I’m in another country to fully live. I want to be
here, all here– fully alive.