Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wasted Minute?

A year and a half ago I took a five week long trip to Hong Kong that I almost never really think about anymore.

Sure, it crosses my mind now and then, but I think about how tired I was; not about the late nights chatting on the balcony. I'll think about the ferry ride, not about the performance we did near the star ferry right before it rained on us. (It rained during the last song, I think) I'll think about a song we sang there, not about the feeling of God moving among us as we worshiped. I'll think about the times I doubted, not about the times in prayer when God whispered to my heart.

Do you see what I'm saying? I think about the trip, but only when something reminds me about it, and I don't take the time to remember the most important parts.

I'll think about the fire God placed in my heart, and wonder when it died.

Incomplete, failed... those two words often taunt me. I have a tendency to not finish things. So a lot of the time when I try to think of the good from the trip, instead I think of the hopes and dreams I had upon coming home, and I think of the past year and a half, and think how I'm not in any form of outreach, I'm not learning more about the japanese culture, and I haven't been on fire for God.

So I lost everything I learned during the trip, didn't I? I failed to carry out my end, right?

Maybe, but I've been starting to see a greater arch in this story than I once thought. I don't really know what happened to first few months after I got back. I know there were good times, and I know there were bad. Mostly I know how March through November went, know that I didn't look to God much during that time.

Yes, that sounds like I just listed that I can label Hong Kong's work in my heart, and then the months I mentioned, as being more incomplete days, as being failures. If I only stepped back, then what's the purpose?

The point is I still lived those days, I still have those experiences, and even though I fell I kept standing back up.

I may not think about Hong Kong much, but the lessons I learned still stick with me. I still make myself pause when I find I'm comparing myself to others again. I still remember that I have to be careful how independent I am, that it's okay to ask for help. I still remember that there are groups I can feel at home with, and people who can stick together through thick and thin. And I still remember the pure joy of worshiping God with the rain pouring down around us.

Hong Kong did leave its mark on me, just not the one I'd expected. I thought I'd catapult into action, instead I had to wait.

The past while taught me things too. It taught me that dawn creeps in slowly, often unnoticed. It taught me that action isn't everything. It taught me the breath is precious. It taught me to hold on to God and any glimmer I see of him with all that I am. It taught me that Love doesn't care what condition we think we're in, it sees more than we ever will.

I think this is all pretty incoherent, but I guess it's simply this. I don't think about Hong Kong very often, and I'm often tempted to think that I've lost anything I learned from then. I haven't. I look back at the last year and feel like I've gone nowhere. I haven't. I may not see everything, but I can see enough to know that no second ends up completely wasted.


The shadow proves the sunlight... but the sun is most brilliant when mixed with clouds.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beauty and Love

Every move I make is generally criticized by Daniel or Camila, or both. I tend to have to steel myself constantly to withstand the barrage that is always forthcoming. There are times when I get to just hang out and have fun with them, but there's always this underlying jealousy. I exist, and therefore I threaten their security. Nothing I do can change how they always watch for me to do something they can get mad about.

So lying awake at night, (because this is when I start letting myself "un"steel) I often times want to be around someone who I know won't do that. A knowledge that would soothe the pain. My pretty much constant wish is to be around people who don't look at me in search of my flaws.

Recently one of my friends mentioned struggling with appearance, with wanting to look how she would consider beautiful, with needing to fit that image.

That launched me into this thought train.

How can someone be secure in who they are and how they look? We're told that our value is in God; We're told that He made us and He sees us as His most wonderful creation; We're told that our value should not come from man.

I've heard doubts expressed about how God could see someone who's "under par" as beautiful. And then doubts about how that could make any difference in wanting approval from others.

My thought to that first one is simply that in order to comprehend a lot of attributes of God we have to comprehend that he loves us.

That one simple factor seems to change so many things.

The conclusion I came to while lying awake at night, like I mentioned above, is that in wanting someone who wouldn't look at my flaws, I wanted someone who loved me. Love transforms how people view things.

I'm not sure how to explain it... I guess that when I get to know a friend, when I come to love them, I don't see their flaws. I may be aware of them, but they're not what I look at. Characteristics that they view as ugly or as an annoying habit, I find I come to cherish. It's a part of them, and because of that I like that characteristic. Often it's our quirks that distinguish us from everything else, and those are the things our friends come to love us for.

When I think of God, and how he views us, I have to remember that he's aware we're imperfect, but he sees us through eyes of Love. He sees the way you think, the way you look, the way you act, and it makes him smile because it's you. He sees the way I think, the way I look, the way I act, and it makes him smile because it's me. Each physical feature, he sees as a mark that screams your name. We're one big fingerprint ;)

As for how we find our value in God and not others, I'm still working on that. One way I deal with that is simply to find people who place value in more for the way that God places value in me. That way they're not sending me a different message than God is, but reminding me of how He sees me. In the end though, we do need to be willing to accept how God sees us and not need our peers to corroborate that. I've felt that now and then, and the best I can tell, it comes from spending time around Him and reading His word. In knowing Him and finding a place in his arms, knowing he loves. I think the security of not needing the value of others comes when Jesus is our life, when nothing else does matter.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Falling

I was laying awake last night, thinking, and this thought crossed my mind; "I'll always fall." I paused. That thought was one I would have assumed would be discouraging, but it wasn't. It was actually encouraging and comforting. You see, I don't make a habit of falling down. I have fairly good balance. I climb trees all the time but have never fallen out of one. Even when I do fall, I manage to catch myself in a way that I can stand up and jump right into whatever is going on. (Which looks really weird when there isn't anything going on. "Attack!! Oh, hi *sheepish grin*") I trip often enough, slip now and then, but I always catch myself and keep from falling. But in the metaphorical sense, in the spiritual sense, I'm not like this.

You see, I fall a lot. I mess up. I make stupid choices. I say the wrong thing. I wallow in self-pity. I harbor bitterness. I'm prideful and we all know what that comes before.

A lot of times it feels like as soon as I regain my footing, I'm falling again. I'm not used to falling, I feel like I should know how to keep my footing. But I'm finding that I'm only like that physically. It's nearly impossible to keep my footing in any other way.

There are so many people who have helped me up after each fall. Somehow I grew into the mindset that every time I fall after someone has helped me up, it's an insult to them. They just helped me, why'd I go and fall again? If I'm gonna just fall and make the standing up worthless, then why stand up at all?

I'll always fall. And that's okay, because every time I stand back up, I'm learning something new. There's a difference in the falls. I'll always fall, but that doesn't mean I have to mess up the same way twice.

And you know what? If I mess up the same way again, it won't really be messing up the same way. When I look back and I see points in my life where I thought I was doing exactly what had already happened, I can now see that it wasn't the same. It felt the same at the time, I thought it was the same, but it wasn't.

I'm not sure how to explain the difference. I think the biggest difference is that every time I stand up again, I learn something. And that knowledge can't ever quite be forgotten. It can be ignored. But even when it's ignored it's still there, and it changes actions and thoughts and feelings. It makes falling down different.

I read a book a little bit back. The main character was obsessed with labyrinths. She viewed them as spiritual journeys, walks. The thing about a labyrinth is that you enter in the same place that you come out from. You walk through, you reach the center, and then you walk back out. Was it pointless? You didn't go anywhere, you just went in a really winding circle. You came back to the same spot. But you didn't. The experience of walking through the labyrinth was something, and standing at the point you entered you look at the world with a little more insight. With the things you learned in walking through the labyrinth.

I view falling as kind of similar. You backtrack. You end up where you left. But you end up just a little stronger. You learned something, and even when you fall next that knowledge cannot be taken away from you. Every time you fall and then stand back up, you're taking another step. Saying, "I learned from this fall."

I'll always fall and, so long as I stand back up, I'll always learn.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

<3 = y

Love... it keeps coming back to that.

Last year I realized that nothing has any value without love. I began understanding some aspects of love, that there are people who love, who want to see me, and who will have my back in a fight and will fight for me when I can't fight.

This August I felt there was no way I could be loved. All my attributes I thought of as the "good" seemed gone to me, but most prevalent was what I'd done. The stains. I thought that there was no way any one who I'd betrayed by failing could forgive that and still love me, still want to be around me. I felt I had hurt God and several other friends deeply, and didn't think that they could love me. Care, possibly, but not love. One of those friends proved me dead wrong. She held me and showed me hope, showed me that though I deserved nothing, she'd still pour out love on me. I couldn't understand it, but I couldn't deny it. And I couldn't deny that if she could react like that, than God could too.

Over the months, that's faded and I've noticed another factor.

I accepted she loved me despite what I'd done, but now the question became, "despite what I'm not?"

I started asking myself questions, trying to figure out what could be lovable about me, how I could have endeared myself to my friend, how she could miss me as badly, or even more, than I missed her.

Finally I asked. How could she miss me? She reminded me I'd forgotten one factor; love. She said unless I can understand how much she loves me and how happy it makes her when I curl up next to her and talk to her, tell her what's on my mind, then I won't understand how she can miss me.

It slowly clicked. Once again, I can't understand how, but I can believe she loves me. That much I've learned to accept. I kept thinking of my cat, of how much I love when she curls up in my lap and sleeps, trusts me. . . (she's actually doing that as I type this up) Yes, I just compared myself to a pet. I don't mind being likened to a pet :P

This didn't sink in though, not in the way it needed to.

Today during communion I took it alone. First, I frantically read through 1 cor. 11, trying to see if I would be "condemning" myself to take communion the way I felt. I came to the conclusion that if I could admit my sins and believe Jesus did die and rise, that was enough. I didn't have to change my heart, only God can make any true change. So I took communion and prayed, I told God where my heart was, I repeated a few things over, and started singing some choruses. "I will walk on water, and You will catch me if I fall...If I could just see You, everything would be alright. If I could just see You, this darkness would turn to light." "I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing, with a broken heart, that's still beating, and I'm hanging on, to what You say, You said everything will be alright" "I want to touch You, I want to see Your face"

After a while, they started playing the worship song "His love endures forever." As I sang that, bit by bit it began clicking.

God loves me. He doesn't care what I've done.
God loves me. He doesn't care how I come.
God loves me. He wants to hear my heart.
God loves me. I'd pleased Him by telling Him the truth, how my heart felt.
God loves me. I don't have to do anything.

I'd been thinking I couldn't come until I'd decided to let him change me, until I had faith, until my heart was in a different place.

How come I knew I could go to my friend in any mood, in any condition, and know she'd still love me, be happy I trusted her, but not know God was the same towards me... It dawned on me that a week ago someone had told me to pour my heart out to God every day, but I hadn't understood. I thought, 'I can't pray." But today it clicked that I don't have to offer Him faith, I don't have to offer Him instant change, I just have to talk to him, treat Him as I would a close friend.

His love endures forever... I can pour my heart out to Him in any condition, and He still smiles. (Even if it's a smile at how foolish my thinking is)


...Fyi, my subject is a weird equation of what's been running through my mind. "Love is the answer" which I changed to "Love = [the variable/question]" which got changed to " <3 = y "

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two lives

I’ve thought a lot about the fact that Daniel and Camila don’t understand how different my life was before they became a part of it. They often times assume that I didn’t have a life before them. Yet I assume the same thing. I don’t try and wonder what their life was like before coming to the US, I don’t think about the memories they must be bombarded with. I see the effects that their previous life has had on how they act, who they are, but I don’t think about the pieces they must miss, the pieces that much wrench their hearts not to have anymore.

My memories of life without my two younger siblings are blurred, in a lot of ways it does feel like I didn’t have a life before them. In a way I didn’t. I didn’t have the same life, that life was very different. So much changed.

It’s probably similar to them, except I think that it’s probably more distinct of a difference for them. Their two different lives probably feel way more different than mine do, and mine feel different enough as it is.

Except I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand that they had different life. I can tell myself their life didn’t start two and a half years ago, I can tell myself they have things that they hold on to from the past, but I can’t fully understand what that feels like.

As my relationship with Camila grows, I realize this: I will never fully understand what she lost and she will never fully understand what I gave up.

"Beauty From Pain"

by Superchick


The lights go out all around me.
One last candle to keep out the night
and then the darkness surrounds me.
I know I'm alive but I feel like I've died.
And all that's left is to accept that it's over.
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made.
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder.
I feel like I'm slipping away.

After all this has passed, I still will remain.
After I've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain.
Though it won't be today,
someday I'll hope again
and there'll be beauty from pain.
You will bring beauty from my pain.

My whole world is the pain inside me.
The best I can do is just get through the day.
When life before is only a memory,
I'll wonder why God lets me walk through this place.
And though I can't understand why this happened,
I know that I will when I look back someday
and see how you've brought beauty from ashes
and made me as gold purified through these flames.

After all this has passed, I still will remain.
After I've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain.
Though it won't be today,
someday I'll hope again
and there'll be beauty from pain.
You will bring beauty from my pain.

Here I am, at the end of me,
tryin' to hold to what I can't see.
I forgot how to hope.
This night's been so long.
I cling to Your promise,
there will be a dawn.

After all this has passed, I still will remain.
After I've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain.
Though it won't be today,
someday I'll hope again
and there'll be beauty from pain.
You will bring beauty from my pain.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Short Update

Sorry I haven't been posting in here lately. I don't really have a post for y'all right now, but I do have something I've been doing the past few week.

The writing forum I'm on that all of you should have heard of by now, CleanPlace, (CP) is doing a vlog. Each week there's a new prompt, and then a group of vloggers respond to that in their own vlog that week. We each have assigned days, and the vlogs go up on CP's blog. But it's also fine to post them on our own. I've been one of the vloggers this round, (we do it in monthly sets) currently I've made three. Next week will be the last one.

So, here's the three I've done so far if you're interested,

Vlog 1
The prompt for this week was to film thirty things within ten feet of where you were videoing.


Vlog 2
This prompt was to interview someone significant in our lives.


Vlog 3
This time we were supposed to read an excerpt of our favorite story (or just one we liked) and film the introduction in a public place.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Crumbs

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
-Matthew 15:21-28


On the whole Pre-destination, election topics/theology... I don’t have a formed opinion. I haven’t looked into it enough, thought about it much. I don’t necessarily think it’s something that’s extremely important to know, other than just agreeing that God is in control.

When I look at that passage though about the Canaanite women, it always gives me hope. Jesus was telling her “I didn’t come for you. I was sent only to Israel. You’re a dog. I’m feeding only my children.” Yet she still kept crying out, she knew Jesus could heal her daughter, she knew He was capable, if only he chose to. Her faith that He could, and her persistence in asking finally won out. Even though Jesus was sent only to Israel, he still granted her request.

I guess for me this makes me go, even if God has specific people chosen to be saved and ones chosen not to, he’s not going to turn down somebody who seeks his face. This doesn’t go against predestination in my opinion, since you could argue that anyone who he hasn’t chosen, won’t seek him. Therefore, no one who hasn’t been appointed beforehand will turn to Him with a right heart, because only God can change hearts...

Maybe I’m making sense, maybe I’m not. I feel like I’m just rambling. I just wanted to say that. It’s been on my mind.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Catching Up

A lot has happened since I last posted an entry in here.

The two things foremost on my mind are things that have happened this past week or so.

Sassy, our cat, (who I supposedly love every inch—no, centimeter—of) disappeared for a week or two. She came back last Saturday with a hurt leg. I was overjoyed.

The whole time she'd been gone I'd been convinced she'd was dead. Sassy normally doesn't disappear for that long, so I feared the worst. I spent so much time when no one was around just sitting down and staring off into space, sometimes crying. My repeating thought was, “God, not my cat, not now. I can't do this. Not her.” ...So, as you can imagine, I was overjoyed to have her back. I love spending time with that cat, it helps that she tends to prefer me over the rest of the family. I feel bad about it when my lap is the only one she'll take, but it does make me feel pretty pleased. The fact that her leg was hurt didn't matter much. She was back!

We took Sassy to the vet on Monday. Her knee was badly hurt. Surgery would be costly, long recovery, and possibly not work anyways. We chose removal of her leg.

The operation went well, Sassy just came back today. She looks kind of odd, since they shaved a whole section of fur off her backside. Still.. she looks different, but she acts herself.


The other thing happened on Monday. Many of you know about the writing forum I'm on, CleanPlace. It's for christian teens to learn more about writing in a safe environment. Full of amazing people.

I've met several of them before, and not once have I been disappointed. In the past year or two I haven't really made any new friends there, I've simply kept the ones I made in the first year I was on. (2006)

I've made just about one new friend, a Cper that joined last August, I think. “Anywhere” is her online name, and the one I call her by. Over the months she and I have become good friends, and it's been exciting to form a new friendship online. It had been awhile.

Well, things worked out, and she came down this Monday to stay with the Burklins until mid April.

Anywhere got here about 2:30 in the afternoon. I was at the Burklins' at this point in time, so Mercy and I hurried out the door. Through the excitement of her getting here, and everybody shouting out to let people know in the back of the house, I was under the impression Flynn was a good ways behind us, coming out the other door. I was wrong. Instinctively, I closed the door. Right in front of him. :oops: It wasn't crucial though, since we all kind of stopped walking forward once Anywhere ran up and hugged Mercy. And didn't let go. :P She hugged all of us in turn, all for a good while. (Had to make up for all of those chat hugs that didn't really count)

All of us where excited, giggling, Mercy and I were chattering, Anywhere was simply trying to let it sink in that she was with us. We had some tea in hopes of calming all of us down, it kind of worked... but I think more of it got spilled than drunk, we were laughing so much.

Having her here has been amazing. It's so neat to hear things she says so often in chat, but suddenly understand how she says them, what facial expression, tone of voice, and when she laughs right after it. I love the random hugs she's always giving, and just having her there, knowing that there's pretty much nothing I could do that she would have a problem with.


Last night, I ate supper over there, then all of us who are a part of CP, (CleanPlace) (That's Flynn, Mary, Mercy, Anywhere, and I) went on a walk on campus. We ended up at Speer Chapel so Mary could play the piano some.

I found myself a perch on the wall on the balcony. Scared a few of them when I first sat up there, my feet hanging down with about 15 feet of air between me and the ground. But I liked it up there, and sat there listening to Mary playing the piano, thinking and praying. Something recently came to my attention that caused a lot of hurt in one of my friends a while ago, and she's only lately been recovering from that. So I was basically asking God why he let it happen, and if any good had come of it. He pointed out several things, and reminded me that he cares about our character, and what's six months to him when it creates the change he wants?

That was immensely good. I'm still not exactly happy about the event, but I'm will to say “Okay, Lord, you do know how to turn things for good.”

Anywhere described my pose as poetical, and said I pulled it off really well, with the vaulted ceiling, my draping cloak, my flowing hair...all of that helped. I was mostly just aware of how much I loved it up there. For those of you who don't already know, I love perches. I spots, so long as I know I'm secure in those spots. If I'm slightly off-balance, I'll move.

Anyways, that's about all I have to say, since I don't think I'll go into the details of Anywhere's visit simply because most of you don't know her at all and would probably wonder what in the world I was babbling about.

Hope you all have a blessed weekend!
-Mary/Lintehwesta/Linny

Ordinary Day

This is a post I've been thinking about for a while, and have had mostly written for several weeks. It seems presentable, so I'm going to go ahead and post it.

I was once talking with a friend about a song titled “How to Save a Life.” The song is actually more about the regret of not being able to say just the right thing and magically save somebody. Anyways, to the point. My friend commented on the fact that it would be neat to have God use you to the extent of impacting somebody in such a way that it saved their life. Spiritual life, that is. And no, that was not the phrasing used, just the general idea that I remember.

It occurred to me then that this friend had impacted my life in such a way that God used it to help me turn to him, when I was ready to give up and walk away. I hadn't told her that until the day we had this conversation. It had been several months, at least, since God had used her in that way. Yet I hadn't said thanks...

“Ordinary Day” by ZOEgirl. Talks about God being in the crazy, difficult ordinary days. There's a line that says something about seeing a stranger, and how he must be an angel because he smiled when he walked by. The implication is that this stranger made the hectic day just a little better.

I don't thank my friends often enough. For being there, for laughing with me, for loving me. And on the occasion that God greatly uses a friend to teach me something, too often I forget to go to them and say that what they said that day changed me.

God has continually used my friends to stretch me, to show me things, and to remind me of His love. Every change in me I can point and say it was triggered by a friend.

So, for that, thank you. You are all awesome, and I love you.
-Mary

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reflection

The beginning of this year has been a little different. Normally I spend weeks immersed in the year before, thinking about it, measuring it, deciding what exactly happened... This time, I only did that a little bit. Mostly, I've been in the here and now, and processing last year bit by bit, as time allows and in smaller chunks.

2008 wasn't a really memorable year. Nothing big happened. Or rather, lots of things happened, each alone is important, but looking back they all blend together. World Mandate, Spring Break, May, June, Hong Kong, dropping ballet, Lissi visiting, NaNo, Sam visiting, my siblings coming for Christmas break.... To name a few. There's more, but they're personal and pretain to other people as well, so I won't mention them.

Each of those things has shaped me, and I've changed. Mostly just in the past few months. The visits I mentioned really shook my life here at home, and changed a lot of things in me. Just in the beginning of this year, I've noticed that some things which would have caused worry, or some other reaction from me, didn't phase me at all.

Best thing I learned this year? Love-- in giving it, receiving it, specificaly in relation to God, my Savior.



And this time, I looking forward to 2009 eagerly. Very eagerly. God's already been moving this year in powerful ways, and I've started sowing for a deeper relationship with Him.

I can't be close to God if I don't sow the seeds for it. We'll reap what we sow, and if all I'm sowing is letting other things take up my time instead of prayer and his word, then I'm not going to reap a close relationship, I'm going to reap emptiness. So I've started sowing. One of the biggest ways has been that I'm getting up each morning to pray and read the bible. That's been going well, and I'm already seeing fruits.

God is awesome, what else can I say? I love him.