Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Food for Thought

...and also an excuse to duck out of writing a legitimate post. Win.


Eventually I will blog for reals again, maybe. I'm just so done with talking about me, and 18 units has me somewhere close to drowning in homework on most days. But don't worry! I haven't given up yet. So you shouldn't either.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Year Well Spent?

So here I am, staring down the inevitable end of break and move back to my home 3,000 miles away from home, and I'm wondering...did I manage to do anything worthwhile during my four and a half weeks of vacation?
It's a fairly depressing question, which means I don't think I want to know the answer. There were so many things I was looking forward to doing when I got home, but while I was here I couldn't remember what all those things were. Now, slowly, they're coming back to me...now that I'm almost completely out of time.
Maybe it doesn't matter that I don't have much besides a pile of presents to show for my Christmas break. Maybe the worth of the activities I chose to devote my time to can't be measured in a tangible way - maybe what counts are the laughs shared with friends and the conversations over food and the moments spent in companionable silence. Maybe it's the time spent reevaluating and refocusing and reconnecting.
Or maybe I wasn't really productive at all.
That possibility makes me think. Hard.
What would a life lived so that every moment counted look like? How does mine compare? What do I need to change?
What would I have done differently in the past year if I was living every second of every day to the fullest?
What should I start doing differently now?
I read once that statistically, New Year's resolutions are doomed to fail. Great, let's just stay stuck in the same old rut then, since we're never going to stay committed to improvement. How defeatist.
I don't want to be a statistic. I want to live in such a manner that I have something to show for this life I've been given - not so that I can flaunt my accomplishments, but so that I don't get to the end of my life and realize how much time I've wasted. What's the point of watching another episode of Bones when I could be spending time with a friend or, better, strengthening my relationship with God? I don't want to doubt the wisdom of the way I spent my time anymore. I want to know that I used what I was given well.
I'm not sure what this looks like practically just yet. It'll be a process - finding new ways to make my time valuable rather than burning away the excess, as I'm so accustomed to doing. It won't be easy, but I'm pretty sure that I'll realize, somewhere down the road, that it was worth it.
So...here goes.

(I know what you're thinking...well that was great, another reflection post. I know. I'm sorry. I don't know why this keeps happening. I hope things will be different in the future.)

(Also, 50th post. Yay.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

In Summary...

...my first semester of college was fantastic and I have incredibly mixed feelings about going home. You know how when you over-mix two colors of paint, you almost always get a grayish-brown sort of color? Yay for memories of childhood fingerpainting disasters. Anyway, I have no idea where that analogy was going. Moving on.
Basically, I can sum up these past four months in two words: crisis averted. That was sort of my catchphrase. So many things could have gone wrong but didn't, or did go wrong but had little to no negative impact on anything. God is gracious.
I've struggled, I've stayed up too late, I've procrastinated, I've made mistakes. I've made friends, I've gone on crazy, memorable adventures, I've laughed till I cried, I've learned about reconciliation. I've grown and changed and learned a number of new, useful things - like how to splint my broken drying rack and make cookie dough without leaving my room. I've learned to go without a lot of the things that were commonplace at home and I've embraced countless opportunities that I never had in California. I've experienced fathomless joy and heartache, happiness and sorrow, gain and loss.
Through it all, I know that God has been at work in my life and in the lives of those I've grown close to. I prayed that He would teach me to rely on Him during this extended period of time away from home, and He has. He is the same God here as He is in California and He has never left me nor forsaken me, nor will He ever do so in the future.
I'll miss the woods and the ponds and the stars, because it's when I'm standing under the pitch-black night sky, staring at the diamond-bright reflection of the stars in the glass-smooth surface of Gull Pond, that I feel most reassured. When I'm there I cannot doubt that God exists and He has good plans for me that will bring glory to Him. There I know that He is in control, that He sees the bigger, perfect picture even though circumstances seem hopeless from my perspective. But those truths aren't contained to the Gordon woods, and it's this knowledge that I'll seek to carry with me on my trip home.
I'm so incredibly blessed, to be going to college in Massachusetts and to belong in two places now. I can't wait to see my family and friends and crazy monster puppy again. I'll be home for Christmas; you can count on me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Late-Night Musings of a Sleep-Deprived College Student

[first edition.]

"Mercy triumphs over judgment."

Four words with so much meaning. A lifetime of consideration and evaluation compressed into 8 syllables.
Those who judge will be judged; those who are merciful will be shown mercy. How often do I live in the light of this truth? I'd rather believe myself above condemnation, labeling others as I see fit and never stopping to think that in judging them, I am judging myself.
It's human nature to judge people at face value. It's kingdom nature to love and accept them without question. Jesus preached a radical message when He said "love your enemies" and He lived His everyday life according to this command - to such an extreme that He called sinners, the enemies of His perfect holiness, His friends! He knows the deepest, darkest sins and thoughts anyone has ever had. He is intimately acquainted with the depravity of humanity. He sees the depths of our hearts, and He not only loves us unconditionally, He gave Himself up to be crucified by the very people He came to save.
In order to forgive our debt, He had to pay it Himself. And He did, willingly, painfully. What kind of love is this? He didn't just show mercy to the most undeserving of criminals, He took the judgment we deserve on HIMSELF. He was punished, we go free.
Who am I, then, to judge anyone? I, who am equally guilty of death. A sinner in the company of sinners. How dare I think that I have the right to label, write off, or condemn anyone? How dare I think even for a second that I am more deserving of God's love and people's praise, that I got to where I am today by some greatness of my own?
I am nothing but for the grace of God. It is He who formed me, knew me before I was, saved me out of the darkness I didn't know I was in. He called me and worked in my heart so that I would be able to respond. I am here because He knows what is best for me far better than I do.
My pride must be crucified on His cross. He died so that I might be liberated from the burden of my sin; why do I insist on clinging to it so tightly? In Him there is grace and mercy and the fullness of life. In sin there is only misery, condemnation, estrangement from Him and those I love. I pray that I might live in a place where I understand my great and constant need for Him, for His mercy and forgiveness. I want to learn to extend that same grace and mercy to others, for I deserve it no more than they.
And may the good news of the gospel and the grace and freedom it brings be my only theme, all the days of my life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I am here.

And here is a very good place to be. It is a place of wonder, awe, and new experiences. Here is where adventures happen and learning takes place. Here is so vastly different from everything I've known before that sometimes I have to remind myself that this is real, this is now, this is happening.
Here is a contradiction of a place. While there is great joy, there is pain here too. Here is the reality that wherever I am, from this point on, here will never contain all the people I love, all the places I want to be in. Here is lonely sometimes, but I know I am never alone.
Here can be stressful, but here is rewarding. There are new friendships and new interests to be pursued here. Here is often sleep-deprived, because there is often too much excitement taking place to miss out on. Here is full of inspiration and overthinking and time spent running in the woods or praying by the pond.
Lately, here is cold. Right now it's raining; later tonight it will probably snow. Today here entailed sleeping in, watching a soccer game, scorekeeping for a volleyball game, seeing a play with a friend. Here is busy, here is full of life. Here is participating and planning and remembering. Here is wistful and wanting, yet satisfied and full to bursting.
Here is not the easiest place to be, but I love it all the time. Here is blessed and here is good. Here is not perfect, but here is love and peace and, maybe most importantly, hope. Because here isn't always where I want to be, but it's exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I know. The title of this post lacks any and all kinds of cleverness. But it does very effectively state the topic and what's been on my mind for the past week - seeing as I moved in, participated in a ridiculous number of orientation programs, and started classes in the past eight days. It also may serve as a subtle warning that this is yet another post about what's going on in my life presently (cue the groaning and eye-rolling). And if it didn't...well...hopefully the last sentence did a better job.
I love it here. By the grace of God the transition was as smooth as a cross-country move could be. I think I was just so excited to have a bed in a definite location again after LaVida (one of the most amazing experiences of my life; possible post on that later) that it was easy to settle in. However it happened, it's been a season of new experiences and new faces and a LOT of forgetting that I need more time to walk places than I think I do.
My world has expanded, and I like it. I have a pond in my backyard; it's the greatest thing ever. I also live in a house full of teenagers and somehow it's still peaceful enough to sleep at night. Not that I've been sleeping much.
God is so good. He brought me here safely in so many ways and He's here with me now, holding my hand through the learning process. I was terrified of leaving when I was still at home; here I'm content. And constantly amazed at the reality that I see before me every day. I live in this beautiful place, with people who have already accepted me for who I am and with whom I have begun to build friendships. The Christian community is alive and well and thriving in the richest sense of the word here - in fact I am off to a nighttime worship service in about thirty seconds. I can't wait.
In terms of small blessings, my favorite things so far have been having unlimited internet, even though I shouldn't be up late enough for that to matter, and eating cookie dough with a spoon and not feeling guilty about it, and having my own milk and bananas. Walking everywhere is great too - it gives me more time to think.
So this is where I am - physically, about 40 minutes outside of Boston, and mentally/spiritually, amazed. God is good, whether I'm walking to class in the sunshine or doing homework in my dorm while a hurricane rages outside (the hurricane was seriously disappointing, by the way. At least in this area). I pray that this will be my theme throughout college, no matter what challenges I may face.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

And The Results Are In...

So here's what my week of (slightly unconventional) thankfulness looked like. It was harder than I expected - not because I couldn't find things to be thankful for (quite the contrary) but because I wanted to write down the same things (namely friends and photographs) over and over again.

But I tried to be original...as well as genuine. You can be the judge of how that went. I don't know if it helped in terms of slowing down time, but as I'm sitting here surrounded by suitcases and more stuff than I knew I owned, I'm fairly awestruck by how blessed I've been. I have more possessions than I could ever need and I have a family that just might miss me and friends that accept me unconditionally for who I am. I've already been on some incredible adventures and now, standing on the cusp of the biggest adventure yet, I know that I'm ready for this. And I'm so grateful for everything that's led to this moment - all the good times and the laughter and the encouragement, but also the hard times and the tears and the struggles.

Anyway. Enough soliloquizing. Without further ado...my slightly eclectic, occasionally odd, and surprisingly personal list of things that, by God's grace, I recognized as undeserved gifts this past week.

1. Lazy mornings. I woke up feeling a little bit under the weather, so I stayed in bed until I felt better in the early afternoon. It was glorious. Rest is a more important blessing than I realize most of the time.
2. The sunlight patterns on the floor. I really can't explain this one...I just really like the way the sun comes in through my blinds, in tiny patches of light.
3. Cheesecake. It's proof that God really does love mankind, I think. So delicious.
4. Smiles - and photographs to preserve them. Seeing happy people makes me happy.
5. Laughter - and video cameras to capture whole moments forever. There aren't words for the joy I feel when I'm laughing so hard that my eyes tear up with the people I love most in the whole world.
6. Thoughtful notes. I've saved most of my birthday cards over the years, because my friends always write such nice things in them.
7. The feeling of appreciation. Hence the saving of birthday cards. It's nice to be able to go back and remember that I am loved.

1. A good night's sleep. Life is so much easier when I'm well-rested.
2. The smell of scones baking. It's such a morning kind of smell that makes me excited to get up.
3. Telling stories around the breakfast table. Good food + good friends + good conversation = the best way to start a birthday.
4. Piles of blankets and pillows. Another one of those things I can't explain. The aftermath of sleepovers is my favorite kind of mess.
5. Head-clearing drives. No music, no phone calls, just uninterrupted time to think and pray and perceive more clearly.
6. Aimless wanderings. I don't like doing nothing, but I like having nothing to do. Especially with a best friend. In Barnes and Noble.
7. Companionable silence. Sometimes silence speaks more than words ever could, and those moments are some of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had.

1. Rain. There isn't anything I don't like about rain - it's cool and refreshing and it makes colors more visible. The ground smells good after rain, and the air feels cleaner. It's such a blessing - and I'm just thankful for it for superficial reasons.
2. Those moments when I come up over a hill and have a clear view of the sky. The clouds were amazing after the rain, and I was amazed by God's handiwork when I got to see them.
3. Sitting and listening to people talking, laughing, and enjoying life during the "shortest party of the week."
4. Powerful songs that speak to me right where I'm at.
5. Peaceful moments of observation and reflection. Especially when I happen to have my camera on hand.
6. Finally getting to sit down and breathe a sigh of relief after a stressful experience.
7. The simplicity of a child's reasoning.

1. Checkmarks that indicate completion. I appreciate them on humorous birthday cards too.
2. Quick reconciliation. Staying mad at someone is just not worth it.
3. Reassurance. It comes in many forms, but it's always a blessing - whether I realize it or not.
4. Flavor, and food that's full of it.
5. Movies that are so funny, it feels like an obligation to quote them repeatedly.
6. Spending time with people who quote said movies repeatedly.
7. Making faces at stoplights with said people.
8. Joy so overwhelming that there's no room for sadness.

1. sweat that means I accomplished something before noon
2. childhood memories, shared and relived
3. baking - the way individual ingredients combine to make a finished product that is more than the sum of its parts
4. family dinner, and time spent together in the kitchen
5. unexpected compliments
6. sudden inspirations
7. caminando con mi papi y hablando en espanol
8. team efforts - better together than alone
9. train whistles at night

1. Undeniable evidences of blessing
2. Dreams that make me think
3. My car engine starting, which is something I should be much more thankful for than I am
4. Having enough gas in my car to take the long way home
5. Promises of return - not goodbyes, just see you laters
6. Text messages that make me smile
7. Contented fullness after a delicious meal

And finally, for the last day I spent in California...
1. memories
2. amazing friends who have always been there for me
3. providence
4. grace
5. love
6. family
7. hope
8. and most of all, life.

(I posted this from the Logan Airport in Boston, by the way.)