Sunday, July 24, 2011

Direct Message

Sometimes, we get subtle, gentle reminders of bigger things that happen around us.  Things like hunches, feelings, or "movement in the spirit" that lead us down one path or another.

Other times, we get hit right over the head with something so direct and undeniable, it takes your breath away.

Case in point:

from our weekly church bulletin

Staring at me right in the face was a question that I had a hard time answering.  Am I still amazed, or do I still take His grace, mercy, and power for granted?  After living in a foreign country for a while, the challenges of getting through daily life become commonplace, and the work I do starts to become routine.  It becomes so easy to lose sight of the fact that the work I do, the life I live, the marriage I am a part of, the relationships I've been blessed by, the food I eat, the joy I feel, the sorrow I share-- are not simple coincidences.  In every facet of even the simplest life are opportunities to be amazed by how He loves.  As simple as the perfect cup of coffee (although, that's not so simple where I am) or a blue sky in the middle of a cloudy week.  Or as complex as a divine appointment or situations that unfold and seem to defy all scientific or logical explanation.  Yet, how easily we pass over the beautiful ways that we are reminded of His unending love and vastness in favor of mundane, circumstantial explanations!  

I could say that this was just a funny coincidence-- that my name happened to appear on our bulletin.   Printed with such urgency and accented by an exclamation point that just seems to express a cross between excitement, frustration, and perhaps final resorts at getting my attention.  Anxious to stir up the fire and wonder I once experienced when we were closer, the title simply asks if I've lost my sense of amazement.  

Sure, it's just the title of a sermon.  

But I'd rather not see it that way.  Instead, I am dumbstruck, overwhelmed, and amazed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Channel surfing has its consequences

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you a fantastical Chinese creature who seems to have grown an enlarged scrotum on his forehead.

Brownie points to whomever can come up with the best captions for these photos.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Humble Return

I've been absent for quite some time.  While I'm sure it was an absence not deeply felt, I can't attribute it to unbearable busy-ness, mundaneness of daily Beijing living, or even laziness.

This semester has been extremely long for multiple reasons- difficult students, boring curriculum, and adjustments to married life, being among them.  At the end of the semester, I had a bit of a meltdown when I realized how I'd let myself down in nearly all capacities.  I hadn't kept up my first home, or cooked enough, I didn't spend enough quality time with Chinese friends and students, I hadn't been the teacher my students deserved, I didn't exercise enough, and as we all know, I didn't keep up the blog.

I've started this blog entry about eight times.  Each time I did, the entry felt inadequate.  Who would actually be interested in reading about a new recipe I'd tried or the new oven we finally got, or my first disappointing trip I took to the ocean?  Who was interested in my photos when there are thousands of blogs out there brimming with DSLR gems and impressive angles?  And as I kept thinking about how overwhelmingly average I was, I found just another reason to delete my drafts.  And while this blog isn't truly an extension of my entire being, it seems that the inadequacy I felt about my blog stemmed from feeling inadequate myself.  Why would anyone be interested in anything I had to share when it would simply be disappointing?

Well, here we are, eight drafts later, and somehow I found something to write about.  Today, I was singing in the shower (Jason is away for two weeks, teaching at an English camp, so I indulged myself), and the song that kept coming back to me was one by David Crowder.

"He is jealous for me.  Loves like a hurricane, and I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy... He loves us, oh how he loves us."

I've heard and sung this song hundreds of times, but this time, I was struck by the amazing juxtaposition of those first two lines.  Overwhelmed by a love that is more powerful, wider, and weightier than anything I could possibly imagine, I am simply a sprout in the ground encased in the typhoon of his greatness.  His power transforms lives and maintains galaxies.  The creator of love, justice, mercy, and goodness.

And yet, he is jealous for me.  

He feels pain when I reject him.  He longs for my company when I am caught up in the little, meaningless things in life that too easily become so important.  In my underdeveloped sapling state, he fights for me, and finds me absolutely adequate.  More than simply adequate.  He finds me precious.

All this to say, life hasn't been especially interesting.  Yes, I do have a few things I'd like to share from the past few months that I haven't managed to post up on this blog.  But this necessary reminder forgoes any sort of China-anecdote or rant that my experience on this world could offer.  Because the experience of being pursued relentlessly by the Author of Love is certainly enough to get me to start writing again.

Because it's by His grace and love that I am adequate.