Best Thing I Ever Learned From…

For awhile I’ve wanted to start this new series on best things I’ve learned from people, places, and things. Some of the anecdotes may be funny, some may be serious, but I’m excited to reflect on people, places, and things I’ve encountered that have impacted me in any positive way.

Since it’s been raining literally non-stop for almost two weeks here, I thought I’d start this series off with a bright, light-hearted one: best thing I ever learned from… the sun.

Because sunshine, I miss you, dearly.

Fall anywhere in Europe is basically a recipe for gray skies, some wind, and no sun. It makes me feel painfully, vitamin-D deficient and pale (and if you know me, you know I’m not exactly pale…). But every time fall comes around, I kind of have to laugh at myself. Because just a few months earlier, in the dry, scathing heat of the Texas summer, I find myself holed up in the corner of my house, basking in the ice-cold air conditioning, far away from the burning, could-cook-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk heat. Smack dab in the middle of summer, whenever I have errands to run and have to be outside for any prolonged period of time, I find myself internally groaning and wishing for cooler temperatures, knowing most of my strength will be sapped by the summer sun, leaving me with energy only to splay on my couch watching re-runs of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.

Dare I say struggle bus? Continue reading

Am I There Yet?

I’m directionally-challenged.

I don’t know what “turn southwest” means (I mean, is that left or right?!), and sometimes when my Google Maps app lady tells me to turn right, I accidentally turn left thinking I’m completely correct. I could chalk it up to normal human error, but even then, I still have the hardest time deciphering (what should be simple) highway directions. My internal conversations as I approach and am on highways goes a little like this:

(heart speeds up) Must… edge… into… oncoming… traffic… safely. Anddd success!
Hm, do I take this exit?…
Or THIS exit?
Wait, no, I think I just exited too early.
Or…wait… Am I even on the right highway?
Okay, I’ll take the exit in a quarter-mile.
Wait, there are two directions to exit in. Is it left or right? Left. Or. Right. LAYO, CHOOSE!
(veers left)
Google Maps Lady: Rerouting…
(face palm)

Such is my life when I’m out on the road and not too familiar with my surroundings. Yes, I definitely panic when I’m waiting on the Google lady to tell me where to go, and she hasn’t said anything in 5 miles, and I see a stoplight coming up, and I wonder, do I turn? Am I going straight? What do I do, Google Maps lady?? It was at a time like this recently – when I began to internally panic as I drove to my destination – that God really started to tug at my heart and speak to me about patience and listening to Him in my life. Continue reading

Hope in Christ

Happy Palm Sunday! This week leading up to Easter is my favorite time of the year (even more so than my birthday, which is a lot). I’ve been asked: is it because of the bunnies? Or the Easter eggs? Or the chocolate?

Well, not quite.

Easter is my favorite time of the year because of one main reason: the sheer hope that it represents for us all. Maybe it seems trivial, but hope? That’s a priceless gift that’s worth getting excited about, and it’s one I’ve come to treasure greatly over the past couple of years. If anyone’s ever thought about life and what it is we are all here for on this Earth, without hope of any kind, there is literally no reason for life. I mean, if we have nothing to put our hope in, and nothing to hope for, what’s the point? Is the point to just go through the daily metro, boulot, dodo routine of life, die, and be done? Even if we want to be noble and say, “Well, I want to leave a legacy behind” or “I want to make an impact on this world through some good deeds,” what is the point if there is no hope of that legacy or those deeds meaning something beyond this finite world? In my eyes, there would be no point.

We’re all searching for something to inject meaning into our lives. Different people seem to find that meaning through various avenues, but for me, the absolute best way I’ve found purpose for my life is through the unending hope that comes from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Because of my salvation through Christ, I have hope of an eternal life beyond my present one, and all the Earthly work for Christ and His kingdom are building blocks for those glorious future days. That’s what Easter’s about, which is why I love it: it’s about remembering and being thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and celebrating His resurrection, which brought the free gift of salvation – and consequentially, hope – into the world. Continue reading

No Longer Slaves

You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

My sister emailed my family this song a few weeks ago, but I didn’t get around to listening to it until now while (finally!) reading emails. Turns out, it’s the perfect message for this mid-semester morning.

It can be so easy to dart our eyes around quickly and stumble into listening to the world’s message on every front in life, especially during stressful times. The common lies that we choose to hear and believe are sometimes shocking. Concerning school: “You should be scared. That exam is going to be so difficult. And you definitely didn’t study correctly for it. Plus, you’re not even smart enough to be doing this.” Concerning relationships: “You never do anything “fun.” Fun friends do this. Why can’t you just shut up and join the crowd for once?” Concerning identity: “You’re not unique in any way. You are not special. You’re just like everyone else.” Concerning ability: “You don’t have any talent whatsoever. People are probably laughing at you behind your back.” Concerning practically everything else: “You should be worried. You should be hesitant. You should be filled with fear. Good luck getting through this.” That’s why the constant refrain of this song couldn’t be any more powerful or true:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God. Continue reading

Goodbye, 21

I love birthdays.

And that’s an understatement when it comes to my own – I adore my birthday. I get so excited for it when each new year begins, and then when February itself actually rolls around… caution: birthday on my mind! This year, since it’s my golden birthday (eek!), I thought I’d do a fun thing and share some random (seriously, random) things I’ve learned over these past years. And with that, the first nugget:

Trust God.

I remember writing a “song” when I was younger that consisted of this one line (I’m definitely not a songwriter!): “When in trouble, trust God, ’cause He’s the only one that can help you!” Even though that was many years ago, I still remember the tune I came up with for the song! No matter how old I get, I feel like each year, I get the opportunity to trust God in a deeper way based on whatever I’m going through at that time. It’s a great yearly lesson for me to hone in on. I was quite young at the time, but if I were to add to the song now, I’d add something about trusting God at all times, not just in troubling ones. The results are pretty sweet and adventurous when we can trust God in the good and the bad.

Parents and sisters are the BEST.

It’s always such a riot talking with my parents and sisters on Facetime or over text. My family is awesome and I miss them like crazy! They never fail to build me up or make me laugh, and they understand my quirks like no one else can.

Cooking & baking from scratch is a good test in patience.

I like popping pre-made food into the oven, waiting the required 20 or so minutes, and then eating to my heart’s delight. But cooking from scratch requires…shudder… preparation. And lots of patience from a loudly-grumbling belly.

Choose your guns and stick to them.

It’s not easy to be swayed by acquaintances (let’s be honest, a “no” to a relative stranger is easy to pass out), but it’s much easier to be swayed by friends or people we know really well. Sometimes, I’ve found it’s a good thing, especially when it concerns food. But in other times, I’ve learned that if I have a set plan in my head beforehand on busy days where I need to be productive, going along with the crowd is no bueno, even if I’m the only one going my own way. I always find that I’m much, much more content accomplishing the things in my plan rather than trying to please friends by saying yes.

And yet, spontaneity is an adventure waiting to happen!

Then there are times when plans that have wiggle room can be amended, leading to memorable adventures. With fun pictures! Continue reading