Sunday, January 25, 2015


I'm like Alice in Wonderland: "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it." I easily get caught in the quarter life crisis trap, where as a 20-something post-grad I'm a little miffed about my future, my purpose and the meaning of life.  Just a tad of existential thinking.  And like many others, I sometimes find myself at a standstill.  I stand on the street trying to decipher a map in a different language, and everyone else whizzes by in a blur, seeming to know where to go and what to say.   And you know in your heart that they don't know anymore French than you do, but they've learned how to live without a script, take chances and trust they've made the right decision.  It can be frustrating to be in this place where you don't feel like you're moving forward. Where the images in front of you are unrecognizable, indecipherable and confusing - where you've fallen into a moment where you're not sure how much more you can continue to have blind faith.  I know our lives are written in pencil but we get fed up, wishing it was sharpie, so we wouldn't have to work so hard to fill in the blanks.  But it's time to change and accept change. It's time to live before I die.

Wouldn't sharpie outlines constrict our freedom? Wouldn't they limit us to everything, everyone and everywhere we can learn and experience in this vast universe?

We weren't gifted with nicely wrapped packages, but we continually expect God to explicitly tell us what our gifts are and how they fit into His plan.  Instead we were gifted with free will, an abstract piece of art given to us to decipher and interpret.  It's our choice to allow him to guide us in that understanding.  All we have to do is accept this gift, decorate our souls with it, and remember that it's ultimately up to God to fill in the blanks if we are willing to trust his penmanship.  And with time, the image will fit into a mosaic of "the bigger picture." Live intently with this wisdom. Live fully with this wisdom.

Do you want to say you lived every day like it was your dying day, or like you were dead inside, waiting around for life to knock on your door and invite you into the great unknown? Without open-minded trust, it's almost impossible to stray from the latter.

Our gifts are constantly being renewed and transformed all of the time.  Take a step back and embrace life's inevitable change. I know it's hard. It hurts. But let go, and let God. Live before you die.

And most importantly, remember to remember who you are.  You know yourself better than you think you do.

"Blessed are those who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing."


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Slàinte, 2015

Last year I re-vamped my first official 'New Year's Resolution' list from 2013, hoping to create something tangible rather than overbearing.  This was the 2014 list:

1. Journal daily 
2. Read The Bible in its entirety (chronologically and cover-to-cover)
3. Start song-writing
4. Perform daily meditation 
5. Run a half-marathon or 5K
6. Don't let my happiness depend on the approval of others 
7. Constantly work toward having a selfless attitude instead of a selfish one
8. Search for a career outside of the US 
9. Stop dwelling on the good/bad times of my past and remember that each day is a fresh start
10. Save money for a cross-country road trip
11. Dive back into mission (whether it's by supporting others in their efforts or going on my own trip)
12. Instead of always trying to document moments on social media, give myself completely to the person and situation (more face-to-face communicating)
13. Travel to 3 new countries 
14. Learn something new every day outside of the classroom 

The items crossed out are the ones I've accomplished either somewhat, or wholly, this past year.  Although some were more along the lines of vague mood-changing, character-enhancing goals, I can safely say that 2014 was a year of vast growth, even if I didn't fully achieve certain resolutions. I'm so thankful for having another year to keep striving for some of the goals still unchecked from this list--and thankful for everyone who has helped me get where I am today.

The thing I love about New Years' is its universal celebration of life.  We take a night to reflect, reminisce and ruminate over the past 365 days, telling stories to friends over a glass of champagne in our sequined dresses and silk bowties.   As the clock strikes 12, we break out into Robert Burns' famous "Auld Lang Syne," a momentary wrinkle in time; its Scots language flows with a nostalgic, gentle lilt, bubbling over with bittersweet images of people and places we've shared in moments and memories.  After reaching another of life's highly magnified milestones, a lot of thoughts were swimming in my mind during the second verse as I jogged through 2014 memories, as well as aspirations for the upcoming year.

In 2015 I'm focusing on a more organic lifestyle with the hopes of getting more in touch with my roots (spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally).  In a highly materialized and consumer-oriented society, it's extremely difficult to find, and maintain, happiness in the simplicity which God's creation offers us every day.  I always come back to my favorite verse, Romans 12:2: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will."  In order to keep faith and joy in a broken world, it's vital to be rooted in our creator; it requires sacrificing comforts or habits that draw us closer to our selfishness and drag us further from God's intended selflessness.  Sometimes when we feel unsettled, it's easy to slip toward the former and away from the latter.  It's important to recognize our struggles and focus on strengthening ourselves as humans.

That being said, here is my bucket-list of 15 resolutions for 2015.

1. Train for and run the Pittsburgh half-marathon in May, helping to create a lifelong physical health routine.
2. Focus on building up the youth in the church, whether it's powered through Bible study, giggle-infested movie nights or conversations over ice cream sundaes.
3. Spend time outdoors every day, inhaling fresh air and exhaling stressful toxins.
4. Travel to 3 new U.S. States/2 new countries. . .experience life from others' perspectives.
5. Minimize social media/internet (Facebook, instagram) usage to stop unhealthy comparisons with others; keep these resources for staying in touch with long distance friends, or as a creative outlet, instead.
6. Aim to be more present, reciprocal and respondent instead of sulking in the past, and floating toward the future.
7. Continue working toward an international career/graduate school.
8. Limit Netflix/tv to one night a week and spend more time in relation with others or reading/writing/studying, etc.
10. Learn 'Blackbird' and finger picking on the guitar/continue learning how to play the mandolin.
11. Have a "Seize the day" and "C'est la vie" attitude.
12. See the world through rose-colored glasses (or stained glass if you prefer).
13. Find how to incorporate love into areas of my life where there has only been hate.
14. Slowly start a writing project/launch new blog.
15. Make more of a personal effort to spend time reflecting on scripture/applying scripture to life's circumstances.