Saturday, December 17, 2011

Posting on a plane

just cuz I can!

I highly recommend Virgin America for your California flights.  You can check out a Samsung Chromebook for free, get free in-flight WiFi, and return the netbook at the arrival gate. Seems pretty dedicated:

Download Speed: 511 kbps (63.9 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 256 kbps (32 KB/sec transfer rate)
Sat Dec 17 2011 19:28:11 GMT-0800 (PST)

So I've been getting work done and chatting on the plane.  Greatness!  Also the seats are much comfier, and you can keep ordering drinks from your personal entertainment screen.  I don't get the weird purple indirect lighting but it feels supermetromodcool.

I will live in the Bay Area someday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bye Bye Ye Ye

Grandpa Wesley passed away Sunday morning. Death is wrong.

Our family's meeting in San Diego for his funeral Thursday-Saturday. Please keep us in your prayers. Personally I need much mercy and divine joy to complete my exams and papers... in a weird headspace these days. But so grateful for all the condolences, the families who have been feeding me, Lisa and Sam for helping me find last minute plane tickets, everyone who's made me laugh and rejoice and (attempt to) whistle while I work.

One of my favorite books this year is the Jesus Storybook Bible. Sally Lloyd-Jones wrote it for children but I have wept at its beauty and at the whispers of His name. Here's an excerpt from the Isaiah story:

There was once a man called Isaiah, and his name meant 'God to the rescue!' ... God let Isaiah know a secret. God was going to mend his broken world. He showed Isaiah his Secret Rescue Plan: Operation 'No More Tears!'
One day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth--as the waters cover the sea. Everything sad will come untrue. Even death is going to die! And he will wipe away every tear from every eye. 
Yes, the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for him. He will come! 
I promise.
Swhere it's at. Isaiah remains my fav book in the unabridged Bible. Thanks Rebecca Jerry and Kash for reading together this fall.

Come Thou Dayspring

the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

// Zechariah

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

where before there was only guilty silence: a new song

without him i hide my lips in trembling shame;
in him i open my mouth in petition and praise.

// Valley of Vision

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

grace, grace

sin and despair like the sea waves cold threaten the soul with infinite loss;
grace that is greater—yes, grace untold!—points to the refuge: the mighty cross.
// julia johnston

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sandusky Sunday. Tebow & Tiger.

Love watching athletes who play with heart. Knock his game if you want but he's seriously vocational about football and that image is... anxious sometimes. Too good... Another Tiger Woods would make us feel better, Larry Taunton wrote in USAToday:
"When it comes right down to it, we don't want heroes who are truly good. We want them to fail the occasional drug test or start a bar fight from time to time... When Tebow say that glory goes to God and the credit for a victory goes to his teammates, coaches, and family, we are suspicious... we don't believe that anyone can say such things and really mean them. So we wait... In the meantime, we always have Penn State's Jerry Sandusky..."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy 61st Anniversary to Gram & Paw!

:o) & (o:
celebrating them here with words from my bro Jonathan's proposal poem from this weekend:

this is an invitation to interdependence,
as two become one and all Glory goes to the Son.
praise due, not to us but to the Lamb who cried, "it is done!"
– because of love.

not an only-for-this-season love,
or a he-bought-this-for-me type love,
not a we’re-both-from-the-barrio,
or here’s-the-prenup type of love,
but an excessive affection that sees
future, present and retrospective.
patient, kind, protective, common and elective,
ever-pushing and pursuing,
ever drawing the same conclusion:
that He is the ultimate bridegroom
who died for me, and for you.

and though He couldn’t bend his knee
because of the nails in His feet,
he dropped His head and proposed –
will you marry me?
and today in this way
miss pan, i humbly do the same:
will you marry me?
and with MJ & MJ's very different weekend
remembering that we are still all a part of the same story,
the same invitation to celebrate to feast to be one with the One.
i believe in happily ever after.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Learning to be a child, 5.

Lovely Thanksgiving at Ave Z, where the sidewalk ends in Brooklyn. It was a PCA dinner, the liquor poured freely. Kept getting summoned by Orli to the kids' table with her big brother and five of their cousins. Miss Esther can you please open this bottle for me? or to carve some turkey or reach the high shelf or to tag Noah because he was too fast and kept declaring no tag-backs or to pull some cransauce out of her hair... Delightful.

So it is I think with childlike prayerfulness. Not manipulating the Father into obliging the request by way of puppy eyes and pouty whines...

But please Daddy! I have no power to do this on my own. It's help! I am not big enough!

not capable enough? for what?

i fall to my knees and pray to the Father...
i pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources
he will empower you with inner strength...
may you have the power to understand
how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is...
then you will be made complete
with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

// Eph 3, NLT

not able enough to grasp His great love for me.
the King's Table is His Kids' Table--and there is joy! much joy.
in basking in Love we are too small and frail on our own to know.
too unknowing to feel how established, rooted, moored, secure we are.

Love we are too much His children to thwart.
Love that will not let us go.
there's power and help here, gifts for the asking,
to begin tasting, seeing, sensing what "surpasses knowledge":
the love of Christ. the filling with fullness.
how He loves us. the King, He loves me.

Daddy, do more. do more than all we ask or imagine.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

when i forget my name, remind me.

God dignifies us with our True Identity.
Especially when the only images we can see are the veiled corrupt mimicries. 
Especially when wrestling the self and facing sin--both my own and those done unto me, and all the things that persist on earth to steal, kill, and destroy... The loss, death, ruins... oh they could crush our hearts.
Especially in real warfare, the darkness threatens to overtake the light by which the image of God is perceived.
God dignifies us with our True Identity.

Unless I glance at my sin and gaze upon my Savior, in whom my true self holds and is hidden--engraved on His heart that calls and draws me by name. My real name, it is written on His hands, in His wounds that heal me. When I forget my name, remind me.

Your sins do not define you.
Your identity is as a redeemed,
reconciled, justified, cleansed
son or daughter of our loving Father.

dearest MJ & MJ, who remind me my name. i'll remind you too.
so be that, in faith.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Love of a jealous kind, 9.

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Envious love is basically selfish, it's basically about you. It starts being upset because I've lost love, but it ends in nothing but destructive anger. It's all about your ego, it's all about your hurt pride. Therefore what happens is love gets replaced by anger. Love goes away and you get very angry and you can even attack the person whose love you lost because you're so angry at them.

But then there's godly jealousy... In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul is being sarcastic, strong, confrontive, angry. Paul's love for them is angered love... His love is angered love, but it's godly because it stays love. Godly jealousy is angered love that stays love--and it's not so much about you and your hurt pride--it's about the loss of the relationship. 
Put another way: Godly jealousy is love fighting extinction; normal jealousy is love gone extinct because of your self-centeredness and because of your hurt pride... and now you just hate the person who loved you before. But godly jealousy is angered love that stays love, and stays committed to rescuing that crumbling love relationship and getting that person back.  
What provokes His jealousy is idolatry. 
Envious human jealousy, when you push, replaces love with anger... The selfishness and the pride just take the love and destroy it, you don't love them anymore. You just hate them... Godly love gets angry, but stays love. 
Human love, if pushed, will kill the lover who rejects. But God's love, when pushed, will die for the one who rejects Him. Will die--and has died, He has given Himself for us... Why is it in spite of our spiritual adultery can God stay with us and not reject us? How could God's angered love stay love? Because He died for us.
// "The Jealousy of God," Tim Keller's 2011 March 27 sermon on Exodus 20:1-6.

thank You for rescuing, reclaiming, loving me
for severe mercies that wound vanity until it is slain
for *loving-kindness and unrelenting pursuit after my heart.
Lord create in me a heart after Yours.
one that becomes more like Your heart in the seeking/seeing of it
*Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness (CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain).

Friday, November 18, 2011

where Love was always leading me

it’s okay, this is just the end
don’t be afraid, this is where it begins
everything here had to fall apart

but in the ruins of a broken heart, i found peace like a river to attend my soul...
i found it here at the end of me

we don’t have to fight the very things that might lead us back home
every wound here is a place to start the healing of a broken heart

the end of me is not the enemy; it’s where mercy gets the better part of me

// joel hanson & jason gray

Monday, November 14, 2011

I still have a dumbphone. And an iPod that I don't use as an iPod. And friends who do the same.

"I keep a running list of the names of people I meet. Look, there's you."

"Daang you meet a lot of people! Is this so that you can look em up real discreetly in your iPod when you forget their names cuz that happens to me... Always awkward." Sometimes when people friend me on Facebook I don't remember having met them in person, it's a real problem.

"You know what else, I keep track of the things I do every day in this note--"

I scroll quickly through the places, dates, sentence fragments. "Wow, I once knew a guy who did that!"

"Really?" He winked and nudged, "He must have been really cool."

"Yes." I pause. "The very best."

GMH. A happy memory trace. Non-flashback. I smile. The psych class has been too demanding and puts me in a bit of a credits pickle for graduation. Would love to stay the fall for Dalli Jen Monet MeOak Sophia too but I don't think I can justify that. I can put away my playthings and grow into my Taiwan dreams.

A child's anticipation.

tell me, if love and patient joy are the only weapons against darkness and long despair:
what is patient joy? long-suffering joy?
is hope its fuel?

:') watched this 10x this morning teehee

hope is the tree that bears the fruit of Joy, Steph said.
patient Joy... it grasps onto hope and True Promises.

so we work and watch and wait.
with hope in our hearts.
anticipation in our pee-bags.

for this season to change.

in the meantime there are yellow boots, pendulum swings, morning chocolates, and many sunrises to help you stay a child at play. to help you be certain. it won't be long.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sola Gratia

7. Resolved, to persevere in pleading for the souls I love, in trust that Your love and plans for my friends are exceedingly greater than my ambitions for them. In Your power to work immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, and in frank recognition that You display this power in such a way that You will not share Your glory with another... Resolved, to pray for friends the miracle of conversion, especially for those who seem "impossible," as though it ever takes any less than a miracle. With You, all things are possible.

8. Resolved, when tempted to give up laboring hope for someone's salvation or to count evangelism futile, to take heart--to remember my baptism and be grateful. Remember, once you were dead. Remember, you who once hated Him are now a trophy of his mercy. Remember Saul turned Paul.  Forgetful heart, how can good news--and believing in it--be futile?

Friday, November 4, 2011

falling tears from failing eyes

how is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song — all without lifting a finger that we could see. you have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. Ii you have not abandoned us, explain yourself...

we strain to hear. but instead of hearing an answer we catch sight of God himself scraped and torn. through our tears we see the tears of God.

// Nicholas Wolterstorff. Lament for a Son. Eerdmans: 1987, p. 70.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who then are the mourners?

The mourners are those who have caught a glimpse of God's new day, who ache with all their being for that day's coming, and who break out into tears when confronted with its absence... The mourners are aching visionaries. Such people Jesus blesses; he hails them, he salutes them. And he gives them the promise that the new day for whose absence they ache will come. They will be comforted. The Stoics of antiquity said: Be calm. Disengage yourself. Neither laugh nor weep. Jesus says: Be open to the wounds of the world. Mourn humanity's mourning, weep over humanity's weeping, be wounded by humanity's wounds, be in agony over humanity's agony. But do so in the good cheer that a day of peace is coming.

// Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son.

Monday, October 31, 2011

can't hide beneath my sheets.

snowed here over the weekend. a joyous time of ignoring the impending frostbite in our soggy socks and our numb fingers. first snowfall, first snowfights, in costumes and all. mine was yoshi. great ironies. God laughs. the plumber and his princess are all over facebook today. you've blocked me and even ignore me when i ask you why. why, alyosha, do you feel the need to hide from me? to what end? if you are trying to spare me the details of how happy your life is without me, how can you possibly expect that to work when we share all these friends? it's not your happiness that harasses me, it's your exclusion. your silence keeps me ruminating. do you not care or do you just hate me? if you are punishing me, it hurts, it's working, please stop.

it was 27 degrees saturday so i had to dig out all my winter gear. a scarf nearly windswept off the roof. raccoon hat and blue weatherproof gloves, fluffy fleece sweater and the black arm warmers i insisted you wear. and jacket pockets, still full of paper snowflakes for you, when you least expect it from a cirque so lame that the super salty buttered popcorn was the happiest part, aside from you of course. pen refills. guilt-stained flannel sheets and tearful down comforters. bright eyes and full hearts. these were the things i put away in march as your affections melted. i havent had to see them since then, but winter decided to crash our happy halloween here. and memories of you, how you visited me at my very worst, they came crashing through too...

friend, what happened to you? you were never one to turn your back on someone in need, a blind eye to hurt and responsibility, or to resign to the "irreconcilable." am i to blame, did i injure you beyond recognition? you've pushed me out and brought her in, a replacement in your life. a replacement among our friends. you've made it impossible for me to belong. you who always welcomed me home before now prolong my exile. you can stay, i guess. i will go. you can keep them too.

or maybe, at the end of today, i guess i have stayed, and you have left. life moves on, you move on. everyone moves except the paralyzed.

o Lord, heal. say to me, arise, go, tell.
i'm singin the same lines all over again,
so renew Your song in me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

i keep going back

i search for shelter near the mines we swept
i guess forgiveness hasn't happened yet
there are no words that i can say to you
to turn this careless sky from black to blue

// jars of clay

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

True Sense

Isaiah is probably my favorite book of the Bible. Many mornings spent steeping in its sunrise glory and praying for that hope in Chapter 60 to rise and dawn in my life. In our lives. For Christ, the hope of glory, to come through.

"... and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind."

Today 65:17 filled me with hope and pause. A side effect of heaven is that the new, the real, the true, will so outshine the shadows... But these words for the first time gave way to deep, deep peace about the flashbacks and vivid rememories I've been so fearful of lately.

For years I've counted on being able to think myself into the right corner. God is bringing his grace to reside somewhere deeper in my being than the intellect and deeper than biochemistry, but that pruning has been so painful. I'm verging on crazy at moments.

But it clicked today, that in the new, healed order, there will be no flashbacks. All I will see is the only thing that has been Real all along. Everything else... just shadows of its substance. A dim reflection. So I wait by faith, live by faith. Not by sight, my earthly perception of real and non-real (however reliable that perceiving may be or however mentally stable)--not even by the mind's eye and its crazy ways of seeing. Seen things are transient.

To put stock in worldly sights as though it were real/permanent. Now that would be truly crazy.

One sunrise closer to that day, when we shall see with unveiled faces.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Holiday Talk with Ellen Lin

Back for more, after our lovely conversation about Labor Day. We could make this a quarterly thing. And Thanksgiving is the always the fourth Thursday of November, apparently.

Ellen: hey what day is thanksgiving?
 me: thursday
 Ellen: but which one?
 me: 11/24
  the last thurs of november always.
  or is it the thursday of the last full week in november
  i forget
 Ellen: hah i have no idea
  but i think that sounds right!
10:36 PM me: why do you ask
  do you need me to google things for you again
 Ellen: hahaahha i hate you
10:37 PM i love googleeee :D

Friday, October 21, 2011

October is so in between.

try to remember the kind of September
when life was slow and oh-so-mellow.
try to remember the kind of September
when grass was green and grain was yellow.
try to remember the kind of September
when you were a tender and callow fellow.
try to remember, and if you remember,
then follow...

there is a curious paradox that no one can explain
who understands the secrets of the reaping of the grain?
who understands why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain
or why we must all die a bit before we grow again?

deep in December, it's nice to remember
although you know the snow will follow.
deep in December, it's nice to remember
without a hurt the heart is hollow.
deep in December, it's nice to remember
the fire of September that made us mellow.
deep in December, our hearts should remember
...and follow
// The Fantasticks.

Hound of Heaven

They were You
They were You
They were You

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When she is cast off.

Sweetest Day. A year ago he didn't know it existed. Now he doesn't care that I exist.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
too good and too true
that You'd take my shame
and wear my weakness
so i could bear Your Name
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
El Roi, my sweetest and best
You saw me standing in the face of my need
a soul that only You can redeem
For the LORD has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD, your Redeemer.
(Isaiah 54:4-8 ESV)

Exile is not a forever place. The restoration--including emotional--that God promises (Isaiah 40:1) is real, and very near. Especially in the wilderness, Kun reminded me this week. That place from where you would run after free water. The favor of God is of far more worth than the favor or man. How do we experience the favor of God though? Is it not largely through life in His family, in the community of faith? How do you endure the disfavor with faith and hope, rather than with disaffected resignedness?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Will you let a thorn in your flesh prick your heart?

Psalm 73:21
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward You.

2 Corinthians 12:7
So to keep me from becoming conceited...
a thorn was given me in the flesh keep me from becoming conceited.

How will I choose to see the hard providences in life, you know, those gifts I would rather return? Asaph in Psalm 73 and Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 lay out some options. As always these include the cynic's way and the scenic route. A nice wordplay from the musical The Fantasticks with Chris, Eugene, Iris the other night.

Embittered and conceited?
The weight of sin is blinding, it defaults to seeing by the eyes of flesh and blood, which can never see or inherit the Kingdom of God... To do so would be like allowing optical illusions to override what's really going on... Do you think that trapeze artist can actually fly? Are this life, this world, and their seasons permanent? Is that levitating magician really slicing up his assistant? Do the wicked really prosper scot-free? Foolish.
Or content for the sake of Christ?
With true vision learn to sing Asaph's song, "Truly God is good..." and with pure hearts, see the Father and the perfection of His gifts.
be Thou my vision Jesus...
one day nothing will distort Your image
and i'll see You face to face--
a truly beautiful and utterly beautifying sight.
one day there will be no other light but You, O bright Heaven's Sun,
and everything will be in its real form, whole and pure and true--
including my still deceitful heart that offers only half of itself in worship.
even today help me to see You in part,
and see everything by the light of Your presence.
let earthy gold grow dim, give me faith to live by,
give me Yourself; i can't trust my eyes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Illusion & Temptation - The McGurk Effect

Is seeing believing? Is it an advantage? Why did Jesus say to the crowd seeking to fill their bellies, "You have seen me and yet do not believe," and to Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed"?

It seems easy enough to differentiate what we see from what we hear.
The McGurk Effect is a linguistics phenomenon from articulatory phonetics
that shows how visual input overrides other sensory information.
"Our sense of vision takes over... allowing us to maintain a coherent view of the world."

To live by faith and not by sight?

At evening service last night, Scott preached on the temptation of Jesus and highlighted the nature of temptation. The Tempter frames the dialogue in such a paradigm that makes you believe the best option is to give in -- it appears that your options are narrower than they are (Scott Strickman). As though you could freely choose and rightly choose before being chosen, any more than a tiger would opt for a bowl of porridge over a hunk of meat (Kathy Keller).

Following John the Baptizer's announcement that the Kingdom was at hand because its King had arrived, was a crucial time to undermine the word of God. He countered the voice from heaven saying "This is My Son..." with earthly reason "If you are really the son..." and with visual temptations of visible kingdoms. The Tempter speaks again and again his same refrain, "Did God actually say...?" And sinners choose again and again what they see, what is delightful to the eyes.

God dignifies us with our true identity.

This season in my temptation to despair, the Lord repeatedly draws near to dignify me with my true identity. Even when my own rebellion has laid me low, He says, "You are My people, I am your God." You are not a reject or damaged goods, that's not your identity, you're a child of God, a daughter of the King--so be that, in faith (Michael Hwang).

And believe in the words of your Maker, though now you know in part. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Peter 1.8). Soon you shall see Him face to face.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On Hindsight.

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something."

(Steve Jobs, 12 June 2005 Commencement address to Stanford)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

SEAsia Trip Report & Moving Forward

Shared this morning for a rushed six minutes at the 10:30am service. I intro'ed and Ali did slides outlining organizational progress and goals, and why we should and how we could concern ourselves as a church to better support our missionary in Sabah.

From EPC Missions Committee we hope that moving forward, our church can more fully enter the story in Sabah rather than just hear and tell it, so that our engagement in this trip would bear the fruit for the kingdom that the investment of resources, time, and heart made by the church in our travels should.

Grant us discernment and new hearts to invest wisely in the kingdom, not just engage in spiritual tourism.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sometimes lost, always found.

Stood up for Alyosha's honor and humanity today but it sucked all of mine right away. I deflated, felt extirpated, like I was just a guilty stain, that he just needed to vomit and flush me out.

Really if he even indicated he misses me or that I was ever worth anything--you know, like a woman preoccupying her mind in search of a lost coin, the shepherd's mindful numbering of that lost sheep, the child retracing her steps to find that lost sticker whose gummy reverse was no longer sticky from her moving it between her hand and her shirt... or a friend lamenting a lost friend... then it wouldn't do such violence to my lost heart.

Instead, he builds so much happiness on my heartbreak. Tosses me aside like litter, drops me carelessly. As it goes with any trash, whether it's just a little wrapper to get at the thing you actually want, in which case you'll hardly even notice it's missing. Or whether it's a big mess and heavy burden, in which case you are relieved and rejoicing to be rid of it. Why am I so easy to part with? Why was I forgotten and overlooked? My evaluation of myself and his of me... So condemning. So suffocating. And I got so lost in those tears and fears.

In the shadows of that steep valley the LORD came after me, He found me. He wrapped His words around me and absorbed my tears with His rod and staff in ways 2-ply tissues couldn't.
I see you, girl, I see you,
and I've got you like none other.
I noticed you'd turned your gaze from Me...
so I came looking for you.
I'll always find you.
I'll always reach you.
I cast away sins, not sinners.
You have Me, you'll always have Me.
Maybe someday, Alexeichik will not cast me out with my sin.
Maybe someday, but not today.

So I will wait and watch, pray and plead.
So I will wait and hope, not for the maybes and somedays, not for him.
But I will wait for the LORD alone,
Who always comes through.
Who sees AND finds me.
Who knows AND loves me.
Who forgives AND heals me.
He is the Lifter of my head.
He is the Fixer of my gaze.
I will wait and take heart, be hidden in Him, be found through faith--because the lost her is not the true me. Though I lose myself, I am not lost if He makes me, He is no loser; He's a Seeker & Chooser, a Finder & Keeper.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I feel stuck

And all I see
It could never make me happy
And all my sand castles
Spend their time collapsing

Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
And let that be enough

It's my birthday tomorrow
No one here could know
I was born this Thursday
22 years ago

And I feel stuck
Watching history repeating
Yeah, who am I?
Just a kid who knows he's needy

Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
And let that be enough

Monday, September 26, 2011

so we are always of good courage.

We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

so we do not lose heart.

Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.


Bike rack friends like Rachel, Rafa, and Jay are such a special breed. You get acquainted checking out each others' rides, show you care and remember by noticing each other's new bar tape and pedals, bond over cocondemning that douchebag's inconsiderate lock job and scheming to protect the world from his ways by applying spermicide to his seat. Dwight worthy.

So Jay you wear a helmet now finally?
Yeah close call this summer almost got doored. And you? You're cycling more, I see your bike out here every day...
Cycling?! No cycling is for people who wear spandex. I am biking more though it's my primary mode of transportation...

But actually I have been wearing more spandex than ever in my life. We laugh about D III athletics and mascots... Beavers, really? And how quadraplegics would cover more ground, get it? Am grateful to be back on my pony with the hurts-so-good daily burn of micro-tears, and a good exhaustion at every night, remembering that not so long ago, a fat suit and ugly clothes felt like armor. Learning the discipline of sleep because tomorrow begins tonight, there was evening, and there were new mercies, a new day. Blessed are You o Lord Who daily renews....

Day at a time, lezzgoooo.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tears in Heaven

Weep, but not as those who have no hope.
He'll let your tears into heaven, you know--
They're not just gonna disappear like they never mattered.
He'll let them in, so that He can wipe every one of them away.
And you'll see him clearly, with eyes unmarred by tears,
You'll sorrow no more.
Someday, someday soon.
Someday in a short while, He will.
Lord, come dab just a few today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In these days, we return not only to our hurt but also to Your help.

President Obama reads Psalm 46 at Ground Zero.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear...

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God...
God will help her when morning dawns.

Come behold the works of the LORD...
"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Friday, September 9, 2011

To RBC, a free bird.

Before the abolition, there was once a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, "You're free." 
With amazement she responded, "You mean, I'm free to do whatever I want?" 
"Yes," he said. 
"And to say whatever I want to say?" 
"Yes, anything." 
"And to be whatever I want to be?" 
"And even go wherever I want to go?" 
"Yes," he answered with a smile. "You're free to go wherever you'd like." 
She looked at him intently and replied, "Then I will go with you."

Adapted from Surprised by Grace, by Tullian Tchividjian.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Notes along a mournful mountain climb, 2.

A week into NYC, I was off and up set with the cold dawning that the climb that I had thought and hoped would end at Easter was not over. It had just begun. Until we see Him face to face, it will always just be beginning.

I have not died enough. I was crippled in the shadow of how staggeringly high the hills were yet. How fortified were my high places. How deeply rooted were my idols and fears. How those unsummoned memories were prisons still.

But He is for my joy. More joy, more freedom, more wholeness than I wanted for myself. More than all that was secured by Lyoshenka. More rest and safety, then, than he could shatter. More love, not less.

Along the way, I've wondered if I hadn't lost my way.
Why does it feel like death, if this be the path of life?
If my climb was the worthy one. How do I know?
Repentance is much more than a U-turn. Repentance is a climb. A long and arduous climb where we fight against the gravity of our sin, the weight of our flesh, and the weakness of our will. To repent is to press on, to take another step closer to the summit yet unseen. 
He leads me in Right paths. 
The Shepherd found me in the deep ravines, broken and lost. He rescued me, and restored me. He is teaching me to climb these high hills in search of the rising sun. 
Here we go, back to the mournful--but joyful!--mountain road.
Simply amazed, I am not abandoned.
You can never lose me.

You give me a cloud of martyrs--those who've died well.
SO GRATEFUL today for Jerry/RBC/Jon/Irene/Mox/M/George/Nikelle/Kev/Kash.
You give me Yourself. You died well.
You make my steps sure.
You say, die well, and so live.
you'll get there, you know.
to eternity's shore.
day at a time.
sunrise to sunrise.
I'll see to it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shepherd my anger.

I feel angry… not angry at someone in particular, but about many things in general. I don’t do anger well, Jesus, so really shepherd my anger. I usually stuff it deep—into a dark cellar where it grows like mold. I don’t want old hurts to barrel into the present situation, making it hard to stay engaged, gentle and kind. I’m certain I want to honor you more than I want to feel vindicated. // Scotty Smith

When the unsummoned, unwelcome past invades the day, Lord act. Heal. Love.

When I'm not certain of your love, I resort to unhealthy, destructive choices.

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). I don’t want to be swallowed by something big just to be brought back to gospel sanity, yet again. So shepherd me now, Jesus, to your glory and my growth.

Monday, September 5, 2011

You are autumn.

still I notice You when change begins
and I am braced for colder winds
i will offer thanks for what has been and whats to come

// nichole nordeman

Monday, August 29, 2011


My new roommates are Diana, a Colombian from Queens, and Alena, a black girl from Bronx. We belong on a brochure. Sophomores, to remind me how to love, to remind me of redemption. "Like your NYC... your freedom!" Di said, and warned me before all the cry-worthy parts when I finally watched Tangled this Irene (supermarket stimulus & city-wide binge-snacking Netflix-watching lock-in) weekend. Girlfrands had been nagging me to watch for a while because apparently I am her, JJ thinks so too.
Heal what has been hurt...
Save what has been lost, bring back what once was mine.
They note,
1. mother captor "knows best"
2. crazy unstable jailbird breathing free air bipolarity
3. flashbacks
4. "when will my life begin?"
5. big hair & freckles
6. "i'm not scared anymore"
7. "never even knowing just how blind i've been"
   "no. he wouldn't!"
   "see for yourself!"

And of course, she's wieldy with cast iron. I want her forearms, and her magical sing song voice.

Let's make floating paper lanterns!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

turn my sorrow into treasured gold.

lately i've been praying in jeremy riddle's words:

please keep my eyes fixed on You
please wound my heart so deep in You
keep me asking, keep me near
keep me abiding that i may bear fruit
keep me close to You

-- "full attention"

prayers that have invariably killed me.
because God delights in giving new life.
he grants more love, not less.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

To simplify is to recenter.

Simplicity, however, should not be confused with simplistic...
Simplicity does not rule out precision, craft or finesse... nor is comfort out of the question...
Simplicity transcends fretful anxieties about status; it can be rustic or urban, rich or poor, old or new.
It places human life back in the centre of the picture...

// Terence Conran

Friday, August 19, 2011

F for Forgiveness

". . . you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. . . To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. . . how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves."

// CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

luke 10.37

weak and wounded sinner
lost and left to die
raise your head for Love is passing by

// chris rice, on album "short term memories"

see Him there

go and do likewise.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Take care, Esther, til we have faces.

sorrowing i shall be in spirit
til released from flesh and sin

Take care, Agur, learn to walk--it hurts to fall.
Take care when you invest, that you do so as to free, not to buy.
Take care when you embrace, that you do so as to accept, not to engulf.
Take care with that white-knuckled deathgrip, when you cling on for dear "life."
Take care with that deadly, injurious, unduly possessive mimicry of Love.
Take care lest you love something to death--its and yours.
Take care––your heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.
Take care––in that desperation, to turn unto Life.
You need a Savior, there is only One.

I Heart NY

Did you, did I, ever think I could say I love NY? 
I'm so thankful for this past summer, and this past year.
For renewal and redemption. New heart, new eyes, New York.
For being moved toward greater degrees of freedom than I thought possible--than I knew I needed.

God keeps doing what only He can! Yay!
I've never been so glad, relieved to return to this city.
The moment my long-delayed plane landed I was ready to go go go!
I've missed the pace--and the people--of this city.
I've missed my bicycle--(thanks YungBros!)
Yay for the 6 mile midnight ride to get pedaling again.
Yay for surprise snail mail! Keynotes Nate's IV staff support letter! Yay!
And Hannah's two pages written in IPA! Only us!
I'd forgotten about my green papasan chair.
My bookshelves and high ceilings.
I forgot I had a Tempurpedic bed.

Thank You for bringing me to a city I need! And for rescuing me always.
Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone. :)
You make me certain.
You love my fears away.
You send worms after the shady plants I settle for.
How can I but thank You?

Giddy and grateful at the moment. :)
Help me remember.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Many friends have given me WAY too much credit for my short stay in the slums of Sabah. Not that it wasn't glorious... just the glory's not mine.

Let me assure anyone tempted toward such praise with an open admission:
I definitely did not outstay the novelty.

My camera compositions are as subjective as my reporting is selective.
I capture what is newsworthy, new to me.
But a lot of it is familiar too.

For example, I wrote about walking these planks...

but there were also these boardwalks,

and these.

This school,

but also this classroom,

and this one.

In any case, shanty as they may appear from outside,
many of the houses were quite amenable!

with gas stoves...

electric wiring, wall art (including freakin precious moments),
and overhead lights...

floors, ceilings, and safe hydration...

more-than-full meals...

couches, fans...
in the upper left you can see part of the TV's surround sound system!

there and here, i have more than enough.
learning to live with less,
to live simply, so that others may simply live...
so that i might truly Live.
excess is not abundance--
LORD, help me to see true worth.

Don't run from the tension.

Death is there.
Honesty is there.
Redemption is there.
// Jamie George

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

LMGTFY may or may not be a love language... Questionable.

 Ellen:  is labor day a national holiday?
 me:  lol yes
 Ellen:  oh haha okay
whats it for
 me:  women giving birth
just kidding...
 Ellen:  HAHAHAH
oh thanks
 me:  oh youre welcome
anything for you
i will even google things for you
 Ellen:  lol how did you do that
 Ellen:  hahah stop it!
just tell me
i dont get it
 me:  LOL
 Ellen:  ohh wait
i got it now!
 me:  step 1. go to
 Ellen:  found it!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm convinced frisbee is a love language.

Makasih Ate E, we played in the rain for your birthday today!

Totally lit up my inbox yesterday
Warmed my heart today.
Leaving Malaysia tomorrow...

Monday, July 25, 2011


but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. when i was a child, i spoke like a child, i thought like a child, i reasoned like a child. when i became a man, i gave up childish ways. for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. now i know in part; then i shall know fully, even as i have been fully known. when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.

this year wean me from the world, dress me in your righteousness, carry me by your grace. grow me, LORD and let me see you more.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On not hearing.

My temptation, whether in encounters in NYC/Chicago or in the five classrooms yesterday (20-60 students each, 20-30 minutes each) and the two mass evangelisms (one where I shared a brief testimony to 1700 high school students) was to construe the evangelistic distance as a rhetorical or discursive one, only. To attribute conversion to homiletical prowess, a keen understanding of the target human's condition and circumstance, an adequate grasp of the gospel, and thorough preparation.

But I'm not the Savior. And beyond those failures that we must rightly bear responsibility for, maybe we have domesticated the gospel, which takes a miracle to hear. I suggest that the nature of the gospel itself bears much responsibility for being incomprehensible. Edwards after all, great mind that he was perhaps knew and honored the gospel enough to be truly grateful and surprised when even one in Northampton had ears to hear and a heart to respond. He was genuinely taken aback and overjoyed when after seven years of faithful preaching, there suddenly stirred a revival. Does beg-pleading, like a used-car salesman, cheapen that field of buried treasure you would sell all your possessions to buy if you only knew its true worth? Desperation to be heard (at any cost) can swirl you into apostasy, as any idol pursued (at any cost). Today if they hear His voice, not mine--this is the evangelistic distance.

I guess my question, given that faith comes by hearing is, is it possible to hear, really hear, without conversion? I venture yes but that this is far less common than mmm... Well, Christ doesn't seem to count every seed among true hearers.

The temptation is to present the gospel as more accessible than it truly is, to offer false assurance, remove the offense––but also the power––of Christ's victory over death. Or to locate the solution only in my speech and performance, as though salvation were by works of man rather than confrontation with the person of Christ himself. Christ alone.

Holy Spirit, enable true preaching and evoke true hearing. True belief, true repentance, true religion. Risen Lord, continue to work out Easter in hearing hearts whenever the story is faithfully told.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On kind strangers and rowdy children in airplanes.

I had a window seat in my own row, but directly behind me in 3A was a screaming four-year-old boy, who kept pushing on my seat back, YELLING, counting the clouds as we flew past "MOM! Cloud! Two cloud! Fwee cloud! Mom! Look! Fo! Fye Cloud! ... Eleven cloud! ... Nineteen cloud! Twenteen cloud! Twenteen-one!! Twenteen-eight! Twenteen-nine! Tihrteen! Fourteen!" His count resets after 29 in an infinite loop from 13 to 30). "Moutain! Wow!" and so on. His mother and grandmother kept apologizing and hushing him.

Twenty minutes in I gave up my exasperated sighs and eye-rolls and vain attempts to nap, and befriended him instead. Incredibly humbled at and rebuked by Jesus' patient love for children. Rafa calls himself "Fafa," and together we counted clouds, mountains, trees, boats, the sea, and islands... in indoor voices.

His mother and grandmother (who had worked in Tianmu, Taiwan for several years) thanked me, asked the purpose of my trip, and exchanged contact information and offered to drive me to my hotel. But I didn't know where I would be staying. So they insisted on waiting with me or taking me to their home until I was contacted by the team or otherwise arranged my lodging.

The island's hospitality is quite something. Please pray that people would be hospitable to the gospel of Christ Jesus who is a rather intrusive stranger at times, but gracious to call and make us friends--and children--of God.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On beautiful feet.

Beautiful. In Tagalog. Of course (thanks Mom and wiki). No wonder I couldn't find the meaning of "Maganda" in the Bahasa-Malayu dictionary.

She had touched her hair to my dirty feet and said beautiful. Curious. Scandalous. In every village, children salaam my hands and call me all sorts of things, mostly Ate E or Lita Aster or Teacher, but what she did I have not encountered a second time.

What are beautiful feet? Pedicured feet? At our first 007 meeting this summer at Laura's, Lucy said my month old chipped navy blue nail polish made my calloused feet look diseased. How many southeast Asian women have massaged and beautified my gross, neglected feet? Monday night I got to reverse this for Dutch, Darling, and Tetet.

Lord, send me with your words. As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Give me maganda feet. Shoed with the readiness given by the gospel of true salaam.

Monday, July 11, 2011

SEAsia Update #3.5

Some visuals, as promised.

The toilet pictured was reasonably clean, but if you see the little glimmer at the end of its tunnel... That's the sun shining on the open, oft pooped-upon sea. Sad. As for the other toilets... I'm glad that numerous trips to Asia and some genetic squatting gene have warmed me up to the squat pots here. Which drain to nowhere.

For the village houses pictured (mind you this is the least materially poor most solidly constructed of the kampung-airs), you really have to be here to know what it's like.

Let's just say, if I could send you a scratch-n-sniff Polaroid, I would not because I love you.

SEAsia Update #3


School has been suspended for the next week or two, and I am cleaning to make the safe house safer and more house-like. Yesterday's events do not shake me behind my diplomatic safeties but this is not the case for the messenger pigeons here or the smurfs at the YMCA.

Speakin of shakin, a 6.2 earthquake hit Negros this morning around 5am. Expecting aftershocks and minimal damage but still grateful to have been here, not there. The messenger pigeons phoned home and their broods are safe. As for the SMCI campaign I was supposed to join this coming weekend, so far 37000 students have been splattered with good news and 22000 have asked for follow-ups. I don't know if I will still be flying into Dumaguete City. Waiting for a word.

The Martians invaded one of the YMCA's yesterday morning. I am truly humbled at the smurfs courage and determination to smile and laugh for each other. After teaching math and English at a YMCA yesterday morning, I spent the rest of the day with three teenage smurfettes and one of the pigeons. They joked around over the anxious undercurrent to be strong for their friends. We had girl time and an English-only rule and I gave them pedicures. They were very interested in my love life, so I began by talking about being hung up on an ex and ended with a story about this impossibly good invisible man who washed and bandaged my feet. Sometime after, last night, the pigeon took me aside and was in tears and we called Papa up about it. This morning a smurfette came to my room crying and admitting fear but saying not to tell the others because we need to lol together through the tension. We had breakfast together just us two and talked to and about Papa before the smurfettes went back to the Y. Now two pigeons and I are hangin at the house and we await further instructions.

The pigeons and smurfs are laying low for now. Continue to yell at the sky for their safety, that the Martians won't invade the YMCA. And for health--theirs moreso than mine. I'm never as diligent at home about spf, sleeping, vitamins/supplements, hand sanitizers, and washing with soap, so I am probably in better health abroad than usual. I doubt the slums are much worse than the subways and Harlem, and at the end of the day I'm air conditioned and showered. But smurfs live and swim in poop. Such is poverty. What poop are you swimming in? Even before he got pwned on the plus sign, even before he got borned in a poopy barn feeding trough, Massuh became a fetus swimming in a bag of his own poopies. Though he had castles in the clouds he became po' to make us rich and filthy to make us clean.

Sorry(but not that sorry) to be ridic and cryptic. It was fun and not that necessary. But just in case the Bahasa-Martians are on the line. Thanks all. Miss you and grateful to be body surfin on the things you lift up when it looks like you're talking to yourself. Today's a good day to write or chat me at least for the next few hours we just chillin.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

SEAsia Update #2

10 July 2011, 4:30AM.

Good morning Islamic morning prayer bullhorn! Good morning punctual rooster! Please let me sleep more. If I find you, I will eat you, although...

It feels like we haven't stopped eating the last few days, as we've been getting acquainted with the various slumvilles along with the band of food bloggers who have been raising tremendous financial support for Goducate's work in Sabah--their goal this year is 100,000SGD. The fifteen of them, led by Dr. Leslie Tay, are united by passion in eating. But through the budding relationship between I Eat I Shoot I Post and Goducate, many of these epicureans are hearing about the Lord of the Feast for the first time. Many of them were moved emotionally, especially by the "sacrifice" of those who are the gears of Goducate. Who though they were rich in the world, poured themselves out as an offering for their fellow poor. With us constantly the last few days were a Filipina missionary who oversees the work in Sabah and who is often away from her three children and her husband, a pastor in Kuala Lumpur, and from her homeland where she has legitimate papers and jobs... A local Chinese recycling tycoon who is an elder at his church, who donated Land Cruisers and other 4WD's as well as a house now used as a training center, and who chauffered us around since our arrival... And of course Dr. Paul Choo (now Papa Choo) whose wallet is thinner than it once was but whose heart is fuller and whose ministry is larger every day...

Praise God for the many conversations that were had since we all met Thursday. They marvel at "sacrifice" and compassion for the least of these. And they ask why, how. May there willingness to ask, seek, and press in bear fruit. We are grateful for the opportunity to share the way we understand all that we've encountered (I've been praying, as a foreigner in SEAsia and in this world but also especially for our times spent in the slums, that God would tell me what I am seeing and help me see things the way He does). The way I see it, poverty is swimming in your own poop.

Pray for those foodies to know Christ and to hunger and thirst for righteousness. May their curiosity deepen and our new friendships continue. Maybe I'll even follow through on their many invitations to show me what Singaporean eating is all about, and on their inviting themselves to food-tours of Chicago/NYC now that they have a host/friend in us.

Pray for Ali and Steve and PC's return home. I'm so thankful for them and I learn so much from these brothers who plant one developmentally minded foot each in both the City of God and the City of Man. Remember Ali especially as he flies to NYC Thursday, he has been away from Wendy and you all for six weeks. He and his gargling stomach have endured much especially from traipsing around with Singaporean foodies, ever since a spicy pawn he ate in Indonesia. We did have high tea yesterday during which he taught Steve and me how to play croquet, which he then did not win. They've just left for the airport and will be attending church this morning in Kota Kinabalu, then returning to the Sings--Steve to his work and his Lish, Makeila, and the gestating one. I'll be staying here, living with the missionaries and walking alongside the teenage teachers, girls who just a year ago were themselves Goducate students. When I look at them I see God's gracious hold on Ellen, Connie, Carissa and such girls.

Please continue to pray for the locals. Both the majority Muslim Malaysian population of the town and the displaced, stateless migrants of the slums, who constitute the largest unrecognized refugee population in the world. The UN has taken no action here and Malaysia is not a signatory to the declarations for the protection of children's health.

Pray for me both at home and abroad to love the LORD with all my heart, soul, and strength, and my neighbor as myself. And against falling through rotting wood planks into poop, mosquito-borne malaria, farmer's burns (not tans), theft and assault. Also I may need to drop another $250 to rebook the correct flights to and from the Philippines and anti-malarial pills tickle my gag reflex. Will be heading to a local church for service soon. Until then I will be thanking God for you while I improvise my "universal" travel power adapter with a nail file to accommodate that darned American third prong.

Love, peace and fried chicken grease (the foodies' last meal was KFC for yesterday's dinner... they were not pleased),


P/s Feel free to write back, let me know how you are and how I can pray for you. I'm textable! Technology is amazing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On clean hands and dirty feet.

The missionary said that if the villagers name you, you accept the name. Not only does accepting their acceptance demonstrate humility, but for the missionaries also this helps preserve anonymity in the event of immigration raids on the village. A frequent thing. Just last week a teacher and a TA were taken into detention, which technically means 90 days in custody then deportation. But the police, of course, accepted bribes for their release.

Yesterday under the high noonday sun in a slumville--the poorest of our kampungs, a group of seven young girls of varying ages no older than nine or so were laughing and walking with me. I tried asking their (very long) names, shaking hands, telling them mine when the tallest among them took my hand and suddenly dropped to the ground and bending her forehead to my feet called me Maganda, which the other girls approved with nods and smiles, What, don't do that, I wanted to say, I froze. Quick what do I do, stoop down with her? Pull her up? But it was over before my shock was and so I did not carry through a response in time.

My shoes are disgusting. Maybe my name means Smelly or Poopy. I don't know, but I do know from that silly Urbana 09 song that Magdan in Arabic means glory maybe they're cognates somehow? This is a predominantly Muslim community after all. The only English they were saying to me was hello and thank you. Not a bad choice of first and only two words to learn in a language, I think.

I looked at their feet.
Some were crusty and dirty, bare and bleeding.
Would I wash them? Wouldn't He?

Lord, grant me a pure heart to love like you do. Give me clean hands for their dirty feet.