Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Years in New York

Tomorrow I am heading off to New York to spend my last few days of 2007 with some friends in Jews for Jesus. We will be doing some outreach, bible studies, and having tons of fun. Please pray for us during this week. I'm not sure exactly what type of evangelism we will be doing, but I know that anytime I have done ay evanglism with JFJ, crazy and amazing things have happened. I'll be back on the 1st since the real world doesn't seem to rest.
Have a great New Years. You Chileans, please don't stay out past 7 or 8 am. :)
And you "not-so-Chileans" stay out at least till 1am. It's New Years!
See you all next year!!!

Hopeless romantic rantings


I realized last night that the moments that are most romantic to me, the ones where I feel my singleness more than ever, are the mundane activities of life. Like putting on my pjs and brushing my teeth. There was this moment last night when I looked up from brushing my teeth and caught a glimpse in the mirror. I was standing there in my pjs, face freshly washed, eyes tired and longing for the pillow. And I almost expected to see someone behind me. Not like the scary movies where you shut the medicine cabinet and see that dark figure in the mirror, but more of a comfortable, Alison Krauss music in the background, soft yellow lights type of figure in the mirror. I know I am a hopeless romantic, and life is much bigger than these daydreams. But in all honesty, is life really bigger than a compilation of the mundane? What could be more real in life than the reality of falling asleep each night next to the person you love?

These are my hopeless romantic rantings.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas gifts

Every year, kids write hundreds of letters to an old man with a white beard who allegedly lives in the North. And every year kids get thousands of presents with big red bows on them. I'm not a big present person. Well, I am. But not a holiday gift person. I melt over roses and cry when I get care packages filled with my favorite chilean candies (thanks Ash and Dani). But gifts that are given on holidays like Christmas and birthdays seem to be given more out of obligation than the heart. Chubs and I give each other gifts for those holidays, but always extremely late. Our Christmas presents are often in May, sometimes in June. But the presents are less about that holiday and more about the chance to give the other person that gift that you had worked on for a few weeks. I appreciate those friendships in my life that run deeper than gifts, indeed even deeper than time or distance.

Today is the 6th day I have spent in solitary confinement and it has been good. I have really just relaxed. Caught up on my One Tree Hill reruns (shhh.. don't tell anyone that I am secretly addicted). Gone to sleep at 4am watching the Catholic scholars debate some early church manuscript on some random topic. And spent a lot of time thinking. One of the things that came to mind during this welcomed imprisonment is the fact that the Lord has given me so much this last year. I consider these my Christmas presents for the year- given from His hand to me over the past 12 months. These are the gifts that I truly cherish:

- I started off this New Year on one of the most amazing vacations ever imagined. Travelling the beautiful country of Chile with my mom and Nigel. There was one part of the trip in particular in which my mom and I shared a moment that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And I have the Kevin Johannsen cd to help me relive it.

- I got to see two of my best friends marry incredible godly men. Rachel. Chubs. I couldn't have asked for more godly men than the ones that the Lord brought to you. Rico. Dave. May the Lord bless you men as you love and serve these women.

- The friends I met this year astound me. Sarah is truly my sister and I don't know how I lived the last 24 years without her in my life. Michelle is "my fav!". I moved so far and so soon. I would be lost without her as my partner in crime.

- And of course the friends of old. Man, these girls never cease to amaze me by their love for the Lord and the way He uses them to touch my life and the lives of everyone else around them. Ashlee, Danielle, Rachel, Chubs. You have blessed me incredibly this past year.

- From a very young age I was infactuated with Israel. It was my dream to go there and see the land that my ancestors had lived and died in. When I was in college, I became oddly obsessed with India. I found a love for Bollywood and Indian food. This year, I got to visit both of these countries that I had dreamed of for so long.

-My dream of going to seminary came true. And not just any seminary, but Westminster! And all of my expectations have not been dissapointed. I still walk down the hallways pinching myself sure that I am living in a dream.

- This last year I experienced some of the greatest heartbreak. Yes, this was a gift. Every heart break I have experienced has been a result of my heart being attached to something the Lord needed me to give up. And looking back I see how faithful He was to take me out of and away from everything that served as an idol in my life. Many of these things may be restored someday, but for now I am placing my utter and complete trust in the Lord and His timing.

-One of the best gifts that I have received is the chance to spend time with my dad. The Lord has answered my prayers that I had almost considered vain and He has given me so much time with my dad this year. My dad has always been a very special person to me and although we have had our bumps in the road, it has been the greatest treasure to spend time with him this year.


To all of my family and friends, don't forget that the greatest gift we could ever receive is the restored relationship with the Lord that we have through Christ. His love runs deeper than the deepest pain of this life and is the ultimate fulfillment of any and every dream of happiness we have. God is good. He is faithful.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas... once upon a time

Once upon a time... there was a God who created a world and placed a special creation of His as His very representative over the rest of the creation. This representative was called "man". Man enjoyed a very unique and intimate relationship with God. Man knew who he was and who God was, and he enjoyed his relationships with God, other men, and all of creation. Everything was in it's right place.
But things went wrong. Man choose to leave that right relationship with God. Sadly, man's relationship with woman and all of creation was dependent on his relationship with God. Man no longer lived in joy and peace, but in pain and frustration. He wanted so badly to get back to that place where he once was. With God. With other men. With creation. All of his life, he tried to get back to that place. The problem was that man couldn't restore the relationship, only God could. But God is a just God and knew that the only way to restore the relationship was the right way, the just way. So God came down Himself as a man. He became The Man. He came down and lived the life that man had created, one filled with brokenness and pain. God, became man, suffered, and died- all to restore that relationship that man had ruined. And being The Man, He lived perfectly, always trusting God, always living in light of the relationship He had with God.
The great news is that His life as the perfect man, granted Him the right to a restored relationship with God. Now, He offers that right to all men. Whichever man comes to Him, to God, receives the right to a restored relationship with God.

What a beautiful story! This is the story I live everyday. Even Christmas. To be honest, I don't really like Christmas. The music, the lights, the fruitcake. Without going deep into my psyche, I will just say that Christmas is not my favorite time. I don't like pretending to be jolly and happy, and yet I feel like I am forced to when everyone around me seems to be living the "Winter Wonderland" life.
In the past I have handled this season in different ways. I used to try to fit my square life into the circle peg of Christmas, screaming the inadequacies of my life from the rooftops until everyone I loved felt the arrow I inadvertently had pointed in their direction. This of course only led to pain and lonliness. When I realized that my method was not producing the happy family scenes that the CBS family Christmas movie, I changed my tactic. I decided to ignore Christmas. This worked, kinda. But there was something still wrong. I couldn't take away the fact that everyone around me was enjoying the time. Was it wrong to like Christmas? Was it wrong that these people around me were so happy?
My jealousy had almost blinded me to the gift that Christmas gives us. The Lord created us to be in relationships. With Him, with others. We are so far from it yet still we strive to reach that closeness with others. We long for intimacy. Few times in the year is this expressed more clearly than Christmas time. At Christmas we see all our desire for restored relationships out in the open. Moms and daughters laughing over old photos, Dads and sons watching football. Stories, laughter, more stories. Aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, second cousins' hairdressers. You get the picture. At Christmas we get a glimpse of the very thing the Lord created us for. Now that is something I can thank God for.

Okay, sorry for this one- I'm bored.


So... this is what you get when I have been stuck in the house for way too long. So... yeah... I have a new camera- thanks mom.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Stomach Flu.. ech

I have never had the stomach flu before. Thursday night I started to feel sick. Really sick. I spent most of Thursday night throwing up. Since then it has been a vicious cycle of nausea, fever, and aching. The amazing thing about being sick these last few days is the absolute change in the way I am handling being sick. I know, it sounds pathetic, but I am the BIGGEST baby when I am sick. I cry over nothing and sit in a perpetual pity party. I am such a baby. My friends and roommates can attest to this. One time I burst out crying in youth group because I had a fever. My emotions actually feel uncontrollable when I am sick and I spend a good amount of time crying.
But this time was different. I got sick, and as usual called my mom. Even when I was in Chile, if I got sick I called my mom. I just need her to know that I am sick, even if she can do nothing about it. So I called her Thursday, let her know. I didn't cry, didn't sit in a pity party. I was miserable, don't get me wrong. I would easily categorize the throwing up as violent, but I didn't cry. There were moments when I was in so much pain but I never got that depressed feeling that I usually get when I am sick. There was a moment on Thursday night when I felt myself trying to feel pity, but realizing that I couldn't. I also realized that it was a gift from God. I was immediately filled with gratitude and began praying that God would continue to give me the grace I needed to get through this. And He has.
Even with it being Christmas time (not my favorite time of the year) and all my friends having left to go home to their families for the break, even being all alone and very sick, I am still okay. This must be the work of God in my heart. There can be no other explanation. Really, the change is so dramatic that I almost don't believe it's real. The Lord never ceases to surprise me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter


I am not an east coast girl. I have no clue how to deal with snow. Real snow, the kind that fall from the sky and makes your life so much more conplicated. And the thing is, I was not really thinking all this through when I signed up for this east coast seminary thing. So now I am just waiting in dread for the white mess to begin. I know it is not that big of a deal, and yet it is more stressful to me than anything else I have had to deal with here. I am just not mentally prepared for living here. I actually start to panic when I think about it. When I think about the fact that I am living out here on the east coast.
It's okay, I am going to learn to appreciate this whole "seasons" thing. We don't have them in California. I mean, sure it gets a little colder in December and in March it rains a little more than usual. And in the summer it warms up to 75 in wonderful San Francisco. But honestly, it is almost always a day when you wear at shirt and a sweatshirt. That way you can be ready for the "warm" and "cool" of the day.
I do love fall. I loved it in Santiago when all the trees on my street turned wonderful colors and the leaves would line the sidewalks, making a red and orange splashed walkway to my apartment complex. I loved the light wind that would brush my cheek as I walked along the bright streets. It is truly romantic. Someday I plan on walking those streets under the arm of my husband, enjoying the immense beauty of it all. I'll have to figure out a way to appreciate the winter the same way. Maybe I will make the snow a great excuse for staying in bed with a good book. That might work for me.

CHUBS


When I was 12 I met a girl named Annalisa. She was tall, skinny, with long blonde hair, and one of the most innocent girls I had ever met. I was coming out of a harsh context where I had learned to wear harsh eyeliner and a thick shell of emotional protection from the cruelty around me. I started at this new school and when I met Annalisa, I thought I was too much for her. Too mature, too cool, too "bad" for her. After a year in my new school, I began to realize that all that I was before was a facade. And I found refuge in my friendship with Annalisa. We found laughter and joy in our time together and discovered that we worked well together. We went into high school together and ran for class president and secretary. We ran that class. Man oh man, we had more parties, more BBQ's, and more fundraisers than any other class in the history of that school. We were on fire. We came up with the name "chubs" for each other. It came from the idea of "chubbing out" on some snacks. We each called the other "chubs" and although everyone else in our class was confused by the name, it made sense to us. The name stuck.
In the middle of sophomore year, things happened and I changed schools. Could we keep our friendship going when we didn't go to the same school, attend the same church, or even live in the same town? Well we did. Somehow we kept our friendship. Every year we would meet up once or twice (usually in the summer and Christmas breaks) and we would sit in some coffee shop for hours, and I mean hours, talking and giggling.
For the last 10 years we have kept our long distance friendship going and last weekend, I was honored to stand beside Chubs as she married a godly man. Annalisa and Dave were married last saturday in the church her parents and grandparents were married in. I flew out to California the week before the wedding and got to be a part of the preparations of the big day. Chubs has been so faithful to Dave through the years of singlehood and it was so touching to see them come together before all of us and and vow unto the Lord to serve and love another for the rest of their lives.


Chubs, you have been a faithful model of a godly woman. May your life as a wife continue in this great honor. May the Lord bless you and make His face shine upon you. May your marriage bring blessing to all around you guys and may the Lord bless your ministry together!

bedtime driftings

So what does an absolute nerd think of before she goes to bed?
I have always read before going to sleep. When I was yougner the books were usually short novels. I liked ones based around the Holocaust where a young heroine fights for survival. I felt somehow close to them, I understood them. The other books I read were Loraine McDaniel books. All teenage love stories about cancer ridden girls. Sick, I know. But I loved those books and I would imagine that someday I would get cancer, go to the camp that all the cancer kids get to go to, and meet my prince charming. And we would battle our cancer together.
Anyways, I have noticed a definte change in my reading material. I still read every night before I go to sleep, but now I read theology. I don't even mean Christian living, I mean actual academic theology. Like last night I was reading on Radical Orthodoxy and it's interactions with Reformed THeology. And as I turned off the light to go to sleep, the thoughts in my head were way too nerdy. They actually made me laugh out loud. I thought about Calvin and his thoughts on the eucharist and whetheror not our tradition today follows his ideas. I thought about the fact that church involvement has been on the decline for the last 40 years and yet we find megachurches drawing thousands of people. That led to me thinking about the comment that the author of the radical orthodoxy book had written about baby boomers going back to church later in life. He commented that they were choosing their churches not based upon the denominations they had grown up in, but upon the services offered by the church. Interesting. And then I thought about the generational divide in churches with some congregations filled with over 60's and others whose oldest member is 35. How can a church attract both older and younger generations? And is it the churches' responsibility to attract anyone?
The point is: these are actually the thoughts that run through my head as I lie in bed at night. Ugh. I guess the nerdiness of my life is at an all time high.

Long time awaiting

I know its been a while since I wrote here. I have thought a lot about this blog. I'm sure no one even reads it (except Sam and Rachel) and really, should anyone read these thoughts? This blog has become so confession for me. I have found myself time and time again turning to this medium for my therapy, working out the craziness that I find in my heart. It used to be a way of telling my family and friends about my time in South America. I had all my connections in one central area and I knew that through the blog I could inform those I loved of my wellbeing. But now my connections are more arbitrary. I don't have any centrality in my life. I am geographically in Philadelphia. I am mentally in California (James would argue that I never mentally left California!) I am academically in Jerusalem, Geneva, and Scotland. And my heart, my heart still resides in Chile. I still cry sometimes over mi pais. Not as much as I used to. But when I am honest with my situation, and I allow myself to feel those desires that I usually deny myself, I long to be back in Chile. I am no where and everywhere all at once. This is where I am writing from.

I always seem to have Carrie Bradshaw's voice in my mind, opening the scenes of my life with such feminine clarity. The constant commentary on my life is sometimes encouraging, sometimes pathetic. But always entertaining. I think I actually believe that I live in a sitcom. I am finally through the madness of finals and have a moment to rest and reflect on the last three months. I am at Elcy's Coffeehouse, one of my favorite places to sit for a few hours. The next few blogs will be more of a emotional purge after the binge of the past few months. I hope whoever reads them can find it in their heart to forgive my distracted ramblings, and maybe they might see the heart behind the madness.