March 24, 2015 – Discovering NPR

Lately, I’ve been listening to NPR on my twenty-minute commute to work (or Classical QED, if I’m not interested in the NPR bit). One morning, I heard this bit:

It’s an interview about how anonymous Syrian filmmakers create films to show the conflict in a different light. The piece is only around six minutes long; take a listen it you’ve got the time.

Now if only I could find some of the videos…

February 11, 2015 – To post something

One of my goals this year is to post on my blog at least every two weeks. I have not succeeded in the last month and a half, as you may have noticed. Some of it is from lack of ideas of things to write about, some from being busy, and some from the fact that I do not have internet in my apartment, but honestly, those are all excuses.

So, in the interest of posting something, I would like to share this link: I hope you look at the article, but if you won’t, it explores the idea of what people would say if they talked about and to men the same way they talked to women. (eg. “He must have slept his way into that job,” and “You’re really funny, for a boy.”)

The way we talk to people and about people displays clearly what we think of them, and it reinforces our perspectives of them, no matter if they are true or not. The more your thoughts travel down a certain pathway, the deeper it is dug in your brain.

When I read the article above, I was aware that the author was specifically pointing out the horrible way people look at and brush off and tear down women, but I don’t want to stop with just thinking about how we treat women. My mom quotes the verse in Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver,” as a reminder to us to speak carefully. I challenge you to consider what you say about anyone and everyone; it’s the first step in changing your thoughts.

New year every second

New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays, and I am not a holiday person.

New Year’s Eve is that it is all about being right where you are. On New Year’s Eve, we think about the past year, but our focus isn’t on lamenting or praising or wishing for the things that happened in the last 365 days. New Year’s Eve isn’t actually about dreaming or worrying over the coming year. On New Year’s Eve, we are thinking and reveling in being in the very moments that are happening right then.

I was watching the activities in Times Square last night, and I was struck by a conversation that one of the reporters had with some spectators. The reporter asked a group of people from Virginia their wishes for the coming year. One said he wanted a part in his city’s theater troupe; another expressed the wish of being accepted to nursing school. But one of the friends had no wish. It struck me that he probably did have things he wanted out of 2015, but he was so focused on where he was that he couldn’t think of them.

On New Year’s Eve, we all count down together, marking seconds, until our calendars change, and people say it’s a special time, but that second of difference between December 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015 is no different than any other second in any other time of the year. The difference is that we notice it and mark it, and that gives it a different meaning.

What if we lived all year long with the same kind of presence that we do on New Year’s Eve? What would our lives look like if we lived every moment so wholly grateful for the present? And, of course, what could we accomplish, what could we grow into, if we lived every day with the intentionality we give to New Year’s resolutions?


October 16, 2014 – On reading other people’s blogs

There aren’t a lot of blogs that I follow, since reading print on a screen is a thing I dislike. (It’s difficult to stay focused when it’s so easy to scroll down, skipping for interesting words and the start of new paragraphs. Plus, a virtual page is hard to underline, impossible to fold up and save in your pocket so you remember it every time you reach for your phone, and difficult to rediscover on your kitchen table under the stack of magazines and recipes.) But I do enjoy hearing other people’s thoughts. One blog is written by a girl I knew in college, writing about writing, and I agree with much of what she says; she is an encouragement that there are other people struggling to write out there. One blog is by my best friend, dappled with colorful and artistic pictures of her life; hers is a calming, peaceful collection of thoughts. One blog is written by a woman who is almost but not quite related to me; she shares about her life and struggles as a person committed to creating art. There are others, and I always seem to find fascinating perspectives that people have shared on Facebook, some I agree with, and some I do not.

Reading other people’s blogs makes me wish I had more thoughts.

Actually, I tend to have lots of thoughts; it’s the processing and understanding them that is more difficult for me.

Reading other people’s blogs makes me wish writing was a more natural expression of my own thoughts.

I was a writing major in college, partially because I love words and communicating, and partially because it was the only major I got excited about.

And as much as I like to write, I am grudgingly coming to the realization that I am a vocal verbal processor. No matter how much I would like to say that I think best when I write, it’s not true. I can think and process when writing, but my go-to is talking. When I have new thoughts or something happens, usually my first instinct is to look for someone to talk to, another head to sift ideas through and another person to laugh at my life stories. When I explain something to someone else, I am explaining it to myself again, and I see it from different sides, realizing things I missed the first time around. And because a conversation has to start somewhere, from somewhere, it seems easier to organize a clump of thoughts when sharing them.

I would like to be a writing verbal processor; it would make living alone so much easier. (Have you ever tried to share an explosion of thoughts over text? Not so great.)

If I was a writing verbal processor, it would be easier for me to ponder and respond to the experiences and thoughts of the bloggers I read.

I wonder if this is a skill to be developed. I can but try.

October 8, 2014 – Need of Grace

From The Valley of Vision


O Lord,

Thou knowest my great unfitness for service,

my present deadness,

my inability to do anything for thy glory,

my distressing coldness of heart.

I am weak, ignorant, unprofitable,

and loathe and abhor myself.

I am at a loss to know what thou wouldest have me do,

for I feel amazingly deserted by thee,

and sense thy presence so little;

Thou makest me possess the sins of my youth,

and the dreadful sin of my natre,

so that I feel all sin,

I cannot think or act but every motion is sin.

Return again with showers of converting grace

to a poor gospel-abusing sinner.

Help my sould to breathe after holiness,

after a constant devotedness to thee,

after growth in grace more abundantly every day.

O lord, I am lost in the pursuit of this blessedness,

and am ready to sink because I fell short of my desire;

Help me to hold out a little longer,

until the happy hour of deliverance comes,

for I cannot lift my soul to thee

if thou of thy goodness bring me not night.

Help me to be diffident, watchful, tender,

lest I offend my blessed Friend

in thought and behavior.

I confide in thee and lean upon thee,

and need thee at all times to assist and lead me.

O that all my distresses and apprehensions

might prove but Christ’s school

to make me fit for greater service

by teaching me the great lesson of humility.

September 23, 2014 – An awake mind

Tonight was a reading night for me. I intended to do nothing after work but read and write, and then go to bed early. I have twenty-one new books from a booksale this past weekend, plus four I borrowed from my good friend, plus another  borrowed one, plus one I got in the mail, plus five other books I bought a few weeks ago. My kitchen table is hosting Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, The Joy Luck Club, The Valley of Vision, Camino de Santiago, my journal, my study notebook, my Bible, and a running magazine to round everything off.
Somehow, reading around my run and cooking and eating dinner, I did not do as much reading and journaling as I had hoped. To be sure, I am now almost finished with the snapshots of some American-Chinese women, I know a little more about how to plan my pilgrimage, and I have a page in my journal devoted to answering some emotions, but I still feel that there is so much I could have done, so much I could still do.
I hopped on Facebook for a minute and saw a blogpost from a woman I know; I have never read her blog before, but from the one post, I knew it was one I would have to look into. (It will have to wait for another time when I have the freedom of WiFi.)
But why is it that an active, thinking mind sometimes seems more capable of seeing all that could be done than on what has been done? Do awake minds turn more readily outside of themselves, questing always for more knowledge and understanding and growth? I have found myself actively seeking conversations about books and serious, hopefully meaningful, topics more now that I’m reading routinely. My mind feels stretched and exercised, and I am ready to engage in discussions.
So tell me, what would you like to talk about?


September 22, 2014 – “No pain, no gain”

I will freely admit that I am a wimp when it comes to the dentist. Even a simple cleaning is difficult for me, the scraping and whirring and vibrations, not to mention the difficulty of swallowing when there are tools and hand in my mouth. Part of my problem is when metal touches my teeth, I get shivers all over my body. (I won’t even let silverware touch my teeth. Ug.) Braces were torture.

Last month, I had my first filling. While I knew it would be unpleasant, I confess I had no idea what I was in for. The shot, the drilling, the stretching of my jaw, I didn’t know to expect any of that. (What did I actually expect? I have no idea. Let’s not talk about that.) I cried in the dentist’s chair.


To my horror, the dentist told me I would need a second filling. As I lay there with the horrible drilling smell and the Novocaine making it difficult to breathe and swallow, I sincerely considered not coming back for the second procedure.

As I tried to reason with myself (cavities only get worse and better take care of it sooner rather than later), I suddenly realized the beauty of the phrase, “No pain, no gain.”

That simple sentence is usually brought out in an exercise/sporting context. “Ten more push ups! No pain, no gain!” “Five more suicide runs! No pain, no gain!” As I am not a sports person and I do not like pain, it has never been particularly motivating for me. I like to run, but I run because I enjoy it, not to feel sore muscles and painful feet and knees.

But the idea of suffering pain to do away with something, that is more understandable and relateable at this point in my life.

Pain to remove the cavity, sure, but also pain when cutting unhealthy things from my life.

Pain when someone questions my perspective, causing me to rethink my conclusions (usually leaving me better for it).

Pain when God shows a sin in my life that needs to be uprooted.

Pain when I realize that it’s going to take far more effort, intention, and grace to do away with the sin than I’d first thought.

If I turn away and reject the good pain, there is only the festering, unproductive pain of decay to expect. So I’ve started finding comfort and motivation in “No pain, no gain.”Still not as a sports illustration, but in a spiritual and personal way.

Do you have any usually phrases that encourage you?

September 15, 2014 – Read my thoughts

I’m devouring books again.

I was a great reader in high school, but during my college years, I couldn’t indulge my habit. Pleasure reading would have greatly interfered with my required academic reading. (Indeed, one Easter break, I started reading The Phantom of the Opera but didn’t manage to finish it before classes started again. Consequently, I was two days behind in my homework.)

When my reading groove is going, I am fast. For novels, I don’t try to figure out what will happen before it happens, because I am usually wrong and also I like to see what the message of the story is before deciding what I think. (It’s a conversation where I have to let the person, or book, have their say to be sure I understand and am able to speak on the same topic.)

While reading fast means I can get through lots of books quickly (Elanor & Park took me one day, as did The Memory Keeper’s Daughter), it also means I miss things. I have a friend who takes months to read something that I can finish in a few days, because she is processing and writing and responding the whole time. It had never occurred to me to try to regulate my pace before, but since that conversation, I have started connecting and thinking more about what I’m reading. I have been getting better at reading slowly and thoughtfully; The Undertaking lasted three weeks, since I intentionally set the book down after every chapter. My new CSLewis books will be similar reading; if I want to make sure I digest them, I need to take smaller bites of ideas and chew thoroughly. (Also, I hope to find people willing to discuss the books with me. I’m slowly coming around to admitting I’m a verbal processor.)

Maybe my intentional slower reading of certain books is why I am suddenly able to read more than one book at a time, provided they are different types. After all, what are you supposed to do between sections of The Problem of Pain or Sisters: the lives of America’s suffragists when your reading gears are still going? Why, pick up Geisha: A Life of course, or else Seven Daughters and Seven Sons.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by how very many books there are and how, even if I do nothing but read for the rest of my life, I couldn’t read them all. Thank goodness for the ability to build a “Want to read” shelf on GoodReads.



September 12, 2014 – Snippets of thoughts

Quiet nights bring different considerations. Here are a few of mine, while listening to Benjamin Francis Leftwich:


Relaxing can be found is different ways, sometimes even doing laundry.


I’m learning the power of deciding not to entertain thoughts that I don’t need to.


“…when pain is to be borne a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.” -CSLewis’ The Problem of Pain.


I’m particularly attached to the word indefatigable right now. I keep setting it in front of other works, like indefatigable grace.


“…grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 2 Timothy 1:2b.


Peace is something I tend to forget about.


“Make my mind free from fear, you know I can’t do it on my own.” -Josh Garrels’ Children of the Earth