- I could make all kinds of excuses for why I haven’t written here, but truth be told it’s just been a hard year on my heart and I haven’t really wanted to. But things are getting better. If it helps, I haven’t really been writing much this year at all, which is ironic, given that one of my new year’s resolutions was to write more, but so it goes. Like I said, though, things are getting better. I don’t know what that means for the future of this blog, but it means a lot for the future of my life, I guess.
- Besides, Lin-Manuel Miranda favorited my reply to one of my tweets today, so naturally I have a big old grin on my face because of that.
- Early U2 makes really interesting working background music.
- I need someone to give me a crash course in Photoshop. Next best thing is a decent book on the subject. Suggestions?
- I’m re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird since I have Go Set a Watchman on hold at the library, and there are so many gems in here I forgot about, like when Jem and Scout go to Calpurnia’s church. Also, I am just now realizing that this is actually Jem’s coming-of-age story, a little more than it is Scout’s.
- I also just read Marilynne Robinson’s fine novel Lila, which closed that trilogy pretty nicely for me. One thing I noticed that I’m still pondering: She never calls John Ames by name directly, just “the old man” or “the preacher”. A distancing, a refusal to claim him as her own, connected to her constant thought of leaving. And she always calls her previous tribe by their names (except for Arthur’s boys, perhaps).
- Much love to you all, anyone who’s still reading this. Hopefully something more will show up soon.
I am a public librarian and so I like finding neat stuff to share with people. I also believe that learning is really important and you should keep it up over a lifetime; I’m also an active citizen of the Internet. All that to say, here’s a list of websites and YouTube channels you should visit–whether you’re a parent who wants your kid to retain their knowledge over the summer, or if you’re an endlessly curious adult like me:
Crash Course does 10-minute (give or take) videos about the humanities and science–right now, they’re running through astronomy, anatomy and physiology, government, and intellectual property law. Throw in some fun animations, plus jokes, and they manage to make even chemistry interesting (seriously!). (Bonus: The humanities track is hosted by John Green, of The Fault in Our Stars fame; the science track is hosted by his equally brilliant brother Hank.) They also have one geared for grade schoolers called (wait for it) Crash Course Kids.
Factoids, news, quiz shows, answers to frequent questions (e.g., how does your hair know how to stop growing), show and tell with random animals (corn snakes! chinchillas! [not at the same time]). Also comes in a junior version, SciShow Kids, as well as an astronomy-exclusive version called SciShow Space.
Pride and Prejudice + 21st-century video blog + did I mention EMMY AWARD?
If high-speed Internet had been a thing back when I was a kid, I would’ve probably parked myself in front of this site all the dang time. A mom and her two kids curate these videos that are (mostly) not specifically made for kids, but are super-great for kids anyway. A lot of them are STEAM-related, if you’re into that, but they’re mostly set up so that you’re not really aware that you’re learning. I’m currently obsessed with this:
What about you? Anything else I should know about?
My heart would seek a hiding place,
A refuge strong against my foes;
So may I see Thy lovely face
And in my soul Thy praises grow.
Though armies rise to wage their war
Against my flesh and heart and mind,
Though all my kin forsake me, Lord,
A home in Thee I know I find.
So hear me as I cry to Thee
From depth of woe and war and pain;
Be faithful now to hear my plea,
That I may see Thy love again.
For in Life’s land, there Goodness dwells,
And there may I, by grace, as well.
Well! I seem to have taken an unintentional hiatus…
Things got even crazier after the last time I posted–I can’t really go into it here, but I hope it suffices to say that some people I love and I have been going through a lot of change and a lot of very difficult things, and God has been doing a lot of healing work, and a lot of tearing down of idols in the process.
My church does this thing called Kaleo College, where we link to some audio and we collectively listen to it and try to get together to talk about it. For this month and next month we’re listening to this class called The Bread of Adversity, based on Isaiah 30, and it’s been reframing how I’ve been thinking about suffering and the presence of God.
With all the chaos, too, there are signs of life: A couple of friends had a kid, another couple of friends are about to have their first kid, some other friends are in the thick of the foster-to-adopt process. Some friends just got engaged. I just ran a really fun program at the library where I work. I’m having a lot of good conversations with my new roommate, with other friends, and most importantly with Jesus.
I was thinking about Psalm 23, about how the shepherd’s rod and staff comfort us, and how even when I thought I’d been utterly abandoned by God at times, He was still there, protecting me, and guess what? As terrible as some things in my life have been, Jesus took the greater force of the impact for my sake. He dressed Himself in my shame, and my sorrow, and my sin. So if nothing else, in this season, I am learning not to be afraid, and I am learning to open up myself to other people for His name’s sake.
I had a dream maybe a month ago–one of those where you’re sort of half-awake. I was married to a man created by my imagination, and in my dream he confessed to me: “I cheated on you.” Dream-me was understandably upset, and so was my husband, and I had to walk away for a while and cry it out, but then I came back and told him: “I still love you. I’m not leaving. If you want to leave, go ahead, but I want to make this work.”
And then I woke up crying, because even as I said that in my dream, the voice of God said in words beyond words: “And that is exactly how I feel about you. Come back.”
* * * *
It’s been a completely crazy first five weeks of the year–in the course of 38 days I’ve signed a lease on an apartment, totaled my car, started a new job, and accumulated all kinds of things to do. I’ve been tired and anxious and freaked out, and I must confess that in my attempt to escape I frequently turn to things to distract or numb myself. I’ve been cranky and frustrated and irritable and I find myself wanting to control other people. And as a result I feel like I’ve only caught occasional glimpses of God–even though I know He’s still there, and He is still faithful, my emotions haven’t quite caught up.
I keep circling back to the fact that despite the fact that I currently feel crazy and tired and a long way from God, He objectively sustains and loves and continues to stick around, despite my frequent infidelity. My stress and busyness and forgetfulness become tools in His hands to make me more like Jesus. That is a wonder and a beauty.
* * * *
What else is going on? Lots of things at church. I’m reading Gilead in preparation to tackle its sequels Home and Lila, and also Karen Swallow Prior’s rightfully praised biography Fierce Convictions. I’m also looking for a new car (see above re: totaling my old one–long story I don’t want to tell here). Trying to write more and maybe plan a vacation for later. Rocking out to Sojourn Church’s new album, which I stole the title of this post from. Looking to the future, always.
What’s new with you, friends?
I haven’t seen Selma yet (although I fully plan to), but I have read this interview with its lead actor, David Oyelowo, and he says this in response to the question “Why should American Christians see this movie?”:
Because you see someone who doesn’t just talk about their faith; you see someone who walks it out, with sacrifical love. The Bible says, Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.
That is not only what Dr. King did ultimately (in being assassinated); it’s what he did for those 13 years that he led the civil rights movement. Every day he sacrificed seeing his kids. He had to endure death threats. He had to endure ill health. He often went into the hospital for exhaustion, because he was constantly putting himself on the line for others. That’s what the Bible tells us to do.
It’s very easy to hold someone like Dr. King out at arms’ length, make him into an untouchable icon instead of a flawed, sinful, regular guy who got thrust into a particular time and place in history. (I’m not the only one thinking about this; I’ve seen similar sentiments all over Twitter today.) But that’s what he was, which is a comforting thought–if a normal, flawed guy can make a difference, that means I can, too. But it’s also convicting–if a normal, flawed guy can be called to that kind of difficulty and sacrifice, that means I can, too.
* * *
I just started work in a public library branch in what used to be the largest unincorporated African-American community in the South, what’s now a largeish neighborhood in northwest Houston. It’s unfortunately known for its high crime rates, something I was warned about repeatedly when I let people know I was going to work there.
I drive past a sign every day marking a street that’s called Ferguson, and wonder if that name feels weightier now in light of the events of last summer and fall. Likely not. But it reminds me.
And I’ve always been keenly aware of race, as a daughter of both the Korean forests and hills and of the American South and Midwest. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been aware of the history of minorities in this country. But now I find myself working with and for a neighborhood I’m not familiar with, and I occasionally catch myself thinking horrifying things.
This is now the opportunity for me to put into practice all the things I said during Ferguson–I am there to serve and not be served, to listen and to learn and to love my neighbor as myself, but also just to do my job well and treat people as people instead of obstacles, business as usual. Race, so far, hasn’t really been a big deal, but I still look around and think, let justice roll like a river here, too.
I’m just one woman. And I’m not a prophetess, nor the daughter of a prophetess, but if all my thoughts on the gospel and race and culture aren’t relevant in Acres Homes, I don’t know what use they are.
1. I think I’ve spent the majority of my twenties finally downloading the understanding that other people don’t think like I do, which is why I can’t think of other people as stupid or slow or weird or frustrating just because their thought processes are different from mine. You’d think I’d have gotten this before now, but I am, as it turns out, an intelligence idolater, amongst other things.
2. Oh, yes, happy 2015. Goals for this year: Submit something for publication or presentation(!), read at least half of the books on my to-be-read shelf, fit back in my prom dress and wear it somewhere. One of these days I need to sit down and write out a whole lot of things like short- and long-term goals, and plans to get there, but I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants so far this year and I haven’t made time…not the most auspicious start to the year, but I’m going to make it happen. A few weeks ago, my pastor preached on how true repentance leads to concrete, real-time action–we can’t just talk about the stuff, we have to dosomething about it. So this is the year of my doing the stuff, I guess.
3. What I have to guard my heart against, though, is doing the stuff for the sake of doing it instead of doing it for the glory of God and for the edification of others. One of the best books I read last year, Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next, made the significant point that true productivity is finding ways to do the most good for others for the sake of God’s kingdom, and I want to be better about that, and to do it in God’s strength and grace and not my own.
4. I turn thirty in four days. I feel still like so much of my life is ahead of me, like I’m still trying to figure out who I am. I think I had a lot of baggage to get over before I could even think about who I am and where I’m going, but it’s not like God didn’t know that. Here’s to my thirties being great.
5. Oh, yes, one more goal: Write a blog post at least once a week, to be published on Saturdays. Watch this space.