- The other day (the 10th) was World Suicide Prevention Day. I’ve said it in multiple media, but if you’ve ever considered harming yourself, please, please talk to someone you trust. You can talk to me. I understand, I promise. I’ve been there.
- That being said, if you know someone who’s depressed, the best thing you can do is listen to them and be there for them. No advice, unless they ask for it. Be Jesus to them and let them know that they’re loved and wanted and cared for. They may not believe you; keep telling them and showing them anyway.
- I say all this because, as I’ve alluded to, I’ve been having a pretty hard time this year, and a bunch of people have made sure to look after me, and a couple of weeks ago I got hit by a wave of gratitude so hard that it made me ugly-cry. So spread kindness. You might be saving someone’s life. I hope I can be that kind of person.
- That being said, I’ve also been learning this year that I’m not as empathetic of a person as I’d like to be, and that kind of sucks. I mean, it *is* kind of hard to be empathetic when you’re in the middle of a depressive cycle. But I’m like that when I’m healthy, too, unfortunately, because I am by nature someone who lives inside of my own head a lot, and unless I really work at it, it’s easy for me to be really self-righteous and judgy and to look at people and be like, “Come on, get it together” when they really, sincerely cannot get it together for whatever reason. And quite honestly, that is a terrible, unkind way to relate to people, and I want to be more like Jesus in this regard.
- But like I keep thinking about this year, virtue is like anything: It has to be worked at and practiced. Godliness has to be put on like you put your clothes on every day. And eventually it becomes really familiar and second-nature, and you don’t have to really think about it, you just do it, but it takes practice.
- There’s a song we’ve been singing at church called “That I May Please You.” It’s really simple melodically and lyrically, based on part of Hebrews 10: “I deserve much worse than this/I have trampled underfoot/And regarded as unclean Your Spirit and Your blood.” It goes on like this, a confession and a prayer to be made clean and whole, and why? “That I may please You and exalt You/In my body and my mind.” The phrase “in my body and my mind” has really stuck with me, especially as in this year I feel like I’m really starting to get that God actually cares about what I do with my body and how I feel about it–that He wants me to eat well and exercise and be chaste because my body belongs to Him, not me. Same goes for how I think and what I think about. So. This has been a good prayer for me.
- But it’s also a cry of praise, because I do sin in my body and my mind. I deserve much worse than what I receive. But God has washed me clean and is making me whole. Hallelujah.
- Doctor Who is back (yay).
- Current reads: Desiring the Kingdom (on how Christian worship forms Christian education, especially as that worship is enacted in physical space–against the belief that we’re all just idea buckets and that the body doesn’t matter); Onward (from the head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Council, on loving our neighbors well while being people of conviction); thinking about starting up Harry Potter again
- Actually, here’s a quote from Desiring the Kingdom:“Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head in order to guarantee proper behavior; rather, it’s a matter of being the kind of person who *loves* rightly–who loves God and neighbor and is oriented to the world by the primacy of that love. We are made to be such people by our immersion in the material practices of Christian worship–through affective impact, over time, of sights and smell in water and wine” (p.32-33).
- Back to the body and worship: What we do with our bodies affects our souls, and vice versa, which is something I’ve believed for years, but I think I’m just now coming around to understanding. For example, what does the way my church sets up in the YMCA gym teach me about worship? What does kneeling during prayer do, as opposed to standing or sitting or lying down? What difference does it make if I cross myself or not? What do physical rituals teach my soul? These are still things I’m kind of working out.
- I do know one thing: Physical ritual grounds me more firmly in the real world, which, as someone who lives inside my own head a lot and has occasionally had trouble dealing with my own thoughts, has been really, really helpful for me in healing. Just saying.
- Oh, and also, how does this affect how I think about eating and exercise? Or how should it, I guess.
- I say this right after I’ve discovered this website called Joy the Baker and she posted a recipe today for PB&J sandwich DONUTS, which I shouldn’t eat because a) although likely extremely delicious, they are probably also terrible for you (probably?!), and b) I’m one of those people who shouldn’t eat gluten because it does all kinds of bad things to my body (although, to be completely honest I still eat it sometimes anyway [and usually feel like crap afterwards]). But knowing that, I still kind of am curious about them, so what does a good theology of the body tell me about this now?
- If you’re reading this the week it was published, for the love of everything good, go listen to the cast recording for Hamilton at NPR’s website here. If you don’t know anything about the show, read this. And then be astonished at the music.
- There’s a lyric from a song on that album that I can’t get out of my head: “Love doesn’t discriminate / Between the sinners and the saints / It takes and it takes and it takes / But we keep loving anyway.” My musings on this may turn into a whole separate post, stay tuned.
- Ummmm what else.
- Still working, still doing the stuff. November and December are probably going to be 20 kinds of busy, so I’m trying to get ready for that. My friends’ wedding, maybe going to a conference, then the holidays and all that that entails–plenty to keep me out of trouble (or get me into it :p).
- Oh, yes. Today’s the equinox. We’re finally tipping over into fall, or whatever approximation we have of it in Houston. The light is a little more golden. The sun rises later and sets earlier. It’s kind of cooler, and I’m wearing more plaid shirts again. This is the best time of year for me–if I could keep the station tuned to autumn all year, I think I would. But there is a season for everything, including seasons, and heaven has its purposes even for Texas summers.
- That’s all, friends. I love you. Thanks for being here.
- 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.