Monday, December 24, 2007

kingdom of light shine on us now

i have a friend. i would tell you her name but if the wrong people read it, then she'd probably get questioned. i would put up a picture of her, but that'd have the same result. so i'll tell you her story. When i met her she was a soph (maybe) in college studying english. we met at the school cafeteria and had dumpling soup, because i told her i really liked dumplings (not so much in soup i learned). She had just accepted Jesus a week ago (on christmas eve) and was SO excited. We agreed to meet at least once a week to study The Book and just hang out. She quickly became my best chinese friend.

Sometimes we'd meet upstairs in a coffee shop to study, other times at McDonalds (one of the few places with heat and air conditioning). Every single time we'd get together, she'd rattle off a handful of her friends names who she had told about Jesus and who now wanted to study about Him with her. literally this girl was on fire, making the most of every opportunity to tell of the Joy that was in her.

one of the most exciting days when i got to "dunk" (baptize) her in one of the large rivers that ran though our city. I'm not sure what she was more anxious about, the obedience of this step, or the fact that her head had never been under water before. The second most exciting day was two weeks before i left to come back home.

we'd been meeting now for about 8 months and she was like my sister. My name was no longer anna but nana (a serious sign of endearment, taking the second syllable of your name and repeating it. only your BEST friend calls you this). we gathered the 20 or so students we had been meeting with all year and walked 5 flights up a dark stairwell to one of the students apartments. no air conditioning, 115 degrees, 20 chinese students and 3 americans. all in this living room. singing and praying and telling the stories of how they came to know Jesus. Their chinese was too good, and mine was not so much, so i only caught every 3rd word. and my name. how humbling it was to hear my name woven into their stories. i was sitting in the middle of a chinese house church.

two weeks later i left-and sobbed all the way to beijing. We kept in touch. sending presents and cards and photos and emails. every time i'd see the characters for her name in my inbox, my heart raced. i wondered what my friend had to say.

i got this email tonight. it broke me-and reminded me of how much i HATE satan and the light he tries to extinguish.

It is Christmas Eve here and I am thinking about you. My life used to be bright when i was meeting the other group members regularly and contact you often. You were my sunshine. I was happy then and I felt I was loved by the Brothers and Sisters and all my friends,especially by you. I shoud have kept following Him faithfully.But my faith toward him became weak since i met the chicago guy. I spent a lot of time sending emails to him and chatting with him on msn. I thought he and I would love each other and we would be happy together .So we met in **** this winter ,but unfortunately, he didn't love me . He just said" I like you " .It really made me upset. I should have listened to you and waited patiently for the one. Since I haven't gone to the church for several months, I could barely feel His guidance . I got a little lost.
How have you been ? I often thought about you when I was lying in bed quietly and thinking about those days that you were in **** .It was happiest days I've ever had. We hang out with each other and sang songs for Him together and studied together. I was so joyful and had a thankful heart for Him and for everything i had got then. I want to browse your blog often in order to know how you are doing, but i can't be able to browse it,because many western websites can't be browsed in China .Chinese government doesn't allow Chinese people to visit western website.
I am so sorry for not being so cheerful on this cheerful day. But I really wish you a white Christmas. And I miss you a lot a lot.

"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine" Isa 9:2

I'm praying in her land of great darkness, on the night she first met Him, a light will shine.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

wishing and hoping (and waiting)

so Henri Nouwen is pretty much THE MAN.
[from Watch for the Light, a collection of readings on Advent]

"Waiting is open ended. Open-ended waiting is hard for us because we tend to wait for something very concrete, for something that we wish to have. Much of our waiting is filled with wishes. We are full of wishes, and our waiting easliy gets entangled in those wishes. For this reason a lot of our waiting is not open-ended. Instead, our waiting is a way of controlling the future. We want the future to go in a very specific direction, and if this does not happen we are dissapointed and can even slip into despair. That is why we have such a hard time waiting: we want to do the things that will make the desired events take place.

But Zechariah, Elizabeth and mary were not filled with wishes. They were filled with hope. Hope is something very different. Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled, but fulfilled according to the promises adn not just according to our wishes. Therefore, hope is always open-ended.

i have found very important in my own life to let go of my wishes and start hoping. it was only when i was willing to let go of wishes that something really new, something beyond my own expectations could happen to me. Just imagine what mary was actually saying in the words 'i am the handmaid of the Lord...let what you have said be done to me" (luke 1:38). She was saying "i don't know what this means, but i trust that good things will happen.'"

and then Jesus was born. Holy heck. amazing!

Monday, November 19, 2007

an old friend

"you don't stand in front of a mirror before a run wondering what the road will think of your outfit. you don't have to listen to its jokes and pretend they're funny in order to run on it. it would not be easier to run if you dressed sexier. the road doesn't notice if you're not wearing lipstick. does not care how old you are. you do not feel uncomfortable because you make more money than the road. and you can call on the road whenever you feel like it. whether it's been a day...or even a couple of hours since your last date. the only thing that the road cares about, is that you pay it a visit once in a while" -nike ad in What Women Want.

i went running on lamar today for the first time in a month. after the race, i joined the gym at work so i had just been running there. but i had today off and with nothing to do at 8 o'clock this morning decided to put on my shoes and head out. i had forgotten how much i love running up and down lamar. how well i knew it, and how well it knew me. hitting 4:30 at 71st street, during the rock out section of Heaven Hear Us. 8:30ish at 75th street. not quite realizing that my pace was that fast. my legs just went into muscle memory. knowing exactly where the hills were, and how hard they'd have to push in order to stay on pace. if i could just make it to the bear house (a house wtih a bear figurine in the front yard made out of a tree trunk, sits at the top of a hill before 69th) then i know it'd be flat until home. i turned on 68th and didn't even realize that i was on my street until i ran past my neighbors house.

i got home and felt like i could have run for miles. people often have different experiences when they run. for some it's a form of meditation almost. i had never experienced that, always being super aware of my surroundings and what was going on, that i was never "tuned out". until today. it was perfect.

for probably the first time ever i stopped "thinking". my mind went somewhere else and i let it go. and i was richly rewarded. i didn't have to fake my excitement in running through ankle deep leaves. i didn't have to rationalize why i needed to breathe and walk until the 3rd tree after 71st. thr road just knew. like an old friend would know. and it smiled and drew me deeper into it's comfort.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


So the last 20 minutes of work today was amazing. mainly because i didn't really have much to do (some would argue that i never have anything to do) and just stared out the window at the sunset. it was definitely one of those Lisa Frank sunsets where the sky is 15 different colors and looks like a nebula. i would glance away for a second and the sky would change like a kaleidoscope. Nothing like having a west facing window 5 stories up in downtown kc. so beautiful.

by the time i had left work, the sun had fully set. so i drove home in the dark. i LOVE when it starts to get dark at 5:30. there is just something so serene about driving home in the early evening and being able to see the stars. or lights. Everything seems simpler, more clear in the darkness. you can actually see the light.

I drove down the highway, the kc skyline on my left, the buildings freckled with office lights still on. ruby and diamond strings of head and tail lights stretched out in front of me while Amos Lee's soulful voice carried my cares away. it was one of those moments where the world just is. life might be heavy or light, confusing or understood, chaotic or peaceful, but in that moment, life just IS.

And you can sit at work irritated that its 5:30 and you're still there, or you can look out the window and wonder in awe at how creative and beautiful our God is. You can sit in traffic and be bitter, or you can see jewels sprinkled everywhere you look, and a hear a soundtrack that couldn't be more perfect if someone had spent years planning it. And though the darkness has it's arms around you, you can't stop staring at the light. funny how that happens...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the race part dos

so i'm not limping anymore. which is a good thing-i think. As much as i liked the "reminder" i actually like not being in pain a little better. hmm. i hope that i don't need the limp to remember this...

Over the last oh i don't know how long i've had issues grasping the fact that i'm loved. broken friendships and relationships, shattered trust, gossip; they all contributed to the lie that no one really loved me, i was just merely tolerated. The way i responded to every situation reflected that idea about myself. I spent more time rationalizing why people were doing what they were doing and trying to convince them that they really didn't want to hang out with me, then i did actually enjoying whatever we were doing. This definetely carried over to my view of God. I didn't see Him as a lover, someone who i could love and who loved me.

One weekend near the end of this summer i had a HUGE breakthrough of truth and finally accepted the fact that I was loved by God and could love him with my whole heart (it's a really beautiful story, but that's another post, for another time). For about 2 weeks i was solid. i couldn't stop smiling-i was seeing everything through the lense of a beloved daughter. it was amazing. Then over time that weaned. the lies started seeping back into my mind and heart and it was a battle to not let them take over. I don't know if i've ever faught so hard in my life as i did in those moments. thankfully this time around i had a firm grip on the truth and was never fully consumed, as i had been in the past.

when i started telling people about my race, i did it more out of excitement and anticipation then anything else. So when my friends told me they were coming to watch me-i blew it off. 7 am on a saturday. standing outside for 2 hours just to watch me run by. yeah right. who does that? but friday night they remind me that they're coming. maybe they weren't just saying it to be nice.

i start off the race anxious. one of my biggest fears being that i don't know where they will be and i'm embarassingly afraid of needing a walk break right where they are and end up walking by them. lame i know. so i'm running and half scanning the crowd looking for people, consenting to the fact that there is probably no way that i'll be able to see them anyhow, and i just need to forget it.

running through the plaza, i look up and there is joey and ryan. HUGE smiles and waves. my heart catches, nothing about being at the race was convinent for either of them. a mile or so later i come around a corner and there is crystal and her dog gunner. She's jumping up and down running alongside me, yelling encouragment for me. at this point i tear up. really? all that excitement and looking foolish just to encourage me? i get to the finish and there at the end of the chute is wendy bell and two of our young life girls. i'm so excited that they're there i forget to keep moving, which wendy promptly reminds me. so we go to the finish where they boys are standing and just talk. and hug. lots of hugs. i really love hugs. ali tells me i made her cry when i crossed the finish. everyone's proud of me. i try to play it off, it's no big deal, blah blah. but inside i'm praising Jesus for each one of them. They are my blessing. Their love is my blessing. When mile 10 hit and i could barely walk and with every painful step was begging God to show me what he wanted me to remember this phrase is what i got:

you are loved.

henri nouwen says it so beautifully....
"That love that came to you in particular, concrete human friendships and that awakened your dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved was real and authentic. It does not have to be denied as dangerous and idolatrous. A love that comes to you through human beings is true, God-given love and needs to be celebrated as such... when you try to die to that love in order to find God's love, you are doing something God does not want. The task is not to die to life-giving relationships but ot realize that the love you received in them is part of a greater love...You can and must hold on to the truth of the love you were given and recongize that same love in others who see your goodness and love you"

i am loved.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

the race part one...

i finished the race. I say that only because that is the first question everyone asks me. "did you finish?" in my mind it sounds rediculous but knowing what was going on with my muscles last week, maybe it's not so absurd. When i was talking to a friend last sunday faced with the very real possiblity that i wouldn't be well enough to actually race i made the observation that it might not be about 13.1 miles one october afternoon. Maybe it was about the three months of training leading up to it, maybe it was about coming so close and not running it. I just wanted to be open to what ever purpose God had in it. I forgot that i had even said that until this moment. or maybe it was about the last 3 miles.

"So jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. when the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the soket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "i will not let you go unless you bless me" Genesis 32:24-26

Last week i had a dream and part of it i was fighting with a older man (i thought it was someone's dad). i don't remember much but that it was like hand to hand and i was defending myself. if i didn't fight him, he was going to kill me. I had this dream two nights in a row. After the second night, i emailed my friend (who i always email my crazy dreams to) and she just responded how it reminded her of the story of Jacob wresting with God. interesting.

So saturday i'm cruising along. the weather could not be better. i made a new friend at the start, anne who was amazing! She even waited for me while i had to stop and pee at mile 3. Anyway no problems through mile 4. At the second drink stop i grapped gatoraide and the cup was so full i managed to spill it all over myself. red gatoraide. all over my face, my shirt and my leg. nice. Then i was having problems breathing (stupid activity induced asthma) so i told ann to go ahead and i'd catch up with her later (i never did). The course was beautiful and after the first two hills, relatively flat or downhill. At mile 8 i ate/gagged on my gu. nasty, but it helped keep my energy up. I had put a lot of random songs on my ipod and they seemed to fit perfectly along with my run. like i felt like i was in a movie that had been masterfully sountracked.

mile 10. i had never run further than 10 miles during traning. i was kind of dreading this point. you know. make it or break it time. so i cross the mile 10 marker, look down at my watch and i'm only 2 min off my pace (stupid potty break-never drinking that much before a race again). came to my rescue is on my ipod and at that moment it breaks into "my life be lifted high, my world be lifted high, my love be lifted high". it was such a beautiful moment. my eyes filled up with tears. i ran worshipping Him. Then i stepped and sharp pain shot through my right leg. left. right. pain. so i slowed to a walk. still pain. right on my hip socket.

i put pressure where it hurt and started to run again. Pleading with God to stop the pain. wondering if you needed someone else to lay hands on me for the spirit to heal me or if just my hands and prayers worked. i tried it anyway. swearing if i saw anyone i knew i'd stop and have them pray for me. the pain subsided a little. i continued to run. Then the pain came back. i walked a little more. At this point frustrated with the whole situation i started to get angry. Then i remember what susannah said about Jacob. it was his right hip. i put pressure back on the socket and started to run again. trying to remember the story. Why had God hurt his hip? what was the purpose? eyes welling up again. Ok God, what are you getting at?

The pain came and went for the last 3 miles. sometimes i was able to run for a good 4 min before having to walk. Then there were times where every step i took made me wince, clench my teeth and groan. suck. I managed to run out the last bit and finished in 2:16. i wish it could have been faster, but considering that i'm still limping 2:16 is probs a dang good time.

Jacob's hip was touched and dislocated so that he limped for the rest of his life. every step he took reminded him of the blessing that God had given him. he was never to forget.

i think i've figured out what i'm not supposed to forget...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

it sounded like a good idea at the time

Three-ish months ago i decided that I'd run the kc half marathon. I had my hal higdon training schedule and was ready to go. A month into training i'm running one saturday morning and step on a pretty thick rusty wire. Don't ask me how the wire managed to not bend when i ran on it or how i didn't see it. all i know is that i stepped on it, it went through my running shoes and stuck in my foot. i could barely get a grip on it to pull it out. but i did-and continued to run the rest of my 4 miles. Thanks to julie and a perscription of cipro-i survived.

Three weeks after that i'm running at 5:30-in the dark and trip over the most ridiculous patch job of sidewalk i've ever seen. i meant to take a picture and post it but i forgot. we're talking the tar with rocks mixture randomly splattered over 6 feet of sidewalk. and i bit it bad. For better or worse, there was no sliding, just all my weight on my knees and left hand. The gouge on my left palm finally healed a couple of weeks ago.

Then on my last long run before the race, i'm a half mile from home and my whole body cramps. and i NEVER cramp. it started in my calves, which i thought was odd, then spread to my hamstrings and lower back. At this point i slowed my pace and considered walking the last bit. Up my back and around my neck and shoulders. When my forearm started cramping, i gave up and walked. Which is kind of an overstatement. For 17 hours i couldn't stand up straight or move faster than a shuffle. it was horrible.

on sunday, feeling totally selfish and awkward, i asked my friends to pray for me. I didn't know what was going on with my body, but it definately wasn't fun. They prayed what i so desperately needed-rest, and peace, and strength that was not my own. I took the day off on monday to do just that-rest. it was good though i could have used 15 mondays between then and now. What is awesome is the number of people who "just happened to think" of me that day. I felt so covered by and washed over in His grace.

a day and a half out. i think i've felt every emotion under the sun in the last 2 days. Mostly fear. What if i start out too fast? What if my knee gives out? What if i can't get my shoes tied comfortably? (I've been having issues with this lately) what if the hills are too much or there's no wind or 80 year old grandmas pass me? I know. all irrational, but my mind is flooded with them. That and trying to remember everything i've ever heard about racing. alternate between gatoraide and water, eat 2 hours before race time, don't forget your inhaler (dang it-i'm sure i'll forget it. i have all week).

But there have also been moments of feeling like a total b.a. i've trained for this, i know i can do it. I'm totally shooting for a sub 2 hour race. i love the pain and the burn. i do.

Thanks to those of you who kept me accountable-some days knowing you'd ask how my run was was the only reason i ran. To those who saw me trudging up lamar and honked and waved. To those who endured my incessent complaining about my wifebeaters making me chafe. To those who made fun of the fact that i tripped on almost every run i went on. And to those who know this is a big deal, even when i try to play it cool and pretend it's not. You guys are awesome.

13 weeks of training coming down to 2 hours of racing. Here goes nothing...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

worst. feeling. ever.

so i have this thing with words. i LOVE them. speaking them. reading them. writing them. I take pride in my ability to love people with them and i hate the fact that they can cut so deep sometimes. Words are my crutch. when life gets confusing or hard, i process. rehashing every inarticulate detail to my friends/roommates/anyone who casually asks how i'm doing. if no one is there i journal. pages upon pages upon pages of questioning and pleading and praising. and usually by the end of it, all is well with the world again. funny how that works out...

i've never really had a problem with words, or a lack of them. i was the kid whose desk was pushed up against the chalkboard because if anyone was in 5 feet of me, i'd find something to say to them. even one the first day, in my first class in college i got asked to stay after because i sat in the front row and talked through the entire lecture.

but for some reason the last 3 days i've been at a loss of words. i feel like everything i want to say is caught in my throat. i try to swallow but it does no good, i try to speak and they just won't move. all my words are just sitting there, causing a dull ache. man it sucks. i feel like there is so much to say right now, so much to write but its just not coming out. I wonder if this is anything like Zechariah felt when Gabriel silenced him? I wonder if he had a lot to say during that time that just had to sit in his throat? I can only hope that when the lump is finally gone, i'm like Zechariah and the first thing that i utter is praise!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


It's been 2 years and one week since i have been back from china. I was talking to a friend on sunday and i realized that i had missed my two year statestide anniversary. it seemed appropriate though, being that for the first time really since then, china doesn't define me. Oh, believe me, i have more china stories to tell then time to tell them, and still really love my zhong guo peng yous, but that's just not where God has me right now. For the first time i'm not looking to where i'm headed next. I'm here. I'm home. And it feels awesome.

Put down and cultivate roots. There is no fruit without roots. Roots give us strength. They bring stability when the wind blows. Roots mean we belong. A rootless person is a person who floats through life, never having stayed long enough or committed deep enough to really give himself or herself to a place or a people. Roots give us depth. In times of drought people with roots will survive, even thrive, while others dry up. There are seasons in everyone’s life of dryness. But a person with deep roots draws from the water that flows far beneath the surface. There are different kinds of roots: emotional roots, relational roots, cultural roots, and spiritual roots. Love the place God puts you. Love the people God joins you with. Invest your life in a small community of people where you are known, held accountable, and are loved.-Floyd McClung

Monday, September 24, 2007

i was a running

it makes me laugh that i get up earlier on saturday mornings to run than i do during the week to go to work. But there is just something about the stillness of 5am on a saturday morning. If i could get my whole run in while it was still dark, turning the corner to my house, running into the sunrise, that would be perfect, but alas, that would be a 4am start time-and it's not quite that worth it.

i love how my mind wanders during these runs. usually when i start out, i can clearly see orion on my left and i wonder how in the heck people used to navigte by the stars. or how you can definately tell the yards that don't clean up after their dogs. it's like all my senses are heightened. except of course my sight. a wire stuck in my foot and biting it bad on some shoddy sidewalk repairs would testify that i don't pay attention to what's right in front of me.

anyway. i digress. a couple of weeks ago some friends (who are also training for the half marathon) and i were talking about how fast their paces were compaired to my not as fast pace. one of them made a comment to the effect of in sports and stuff...when it gets hard, guys push harder, and girls give up. we bantered around for a bit discussing the valdity of that statement (case in point of that being totally false, anna chambers!) and it just struck me how easily i give up when stuff gets hard. like the uphill mile stretch between 95th-87th on lamar. on saturday i was determined to make it up the whole thing without giving up when it got hard. knowing how easily i talk myself into just walking from here to the next driveway, i literally had to tell myself that "not today. we're not going to give up today".

whats true in the way that i run, has been soo true in my life recently, especially with friendships. When things get hard, it is SO much easier for me to just walk away. to give up. to not fight. because it's ok, and i'm ok, and i'll survive without them, so lets just deal with it and move on. and it sucks for a little bit, but then i'm ok and on to the next thing/person/whatever.

i talked to one of my best friends last night after not having a legit conversation in over a month. we've both been SUPER busy and just not able to connect. in my head i had rationalized that our friendship had just evolved to the "hey how's it going? good. good. see ya later" and was ok with that. But just in filling her in on my life and being challenged by her and honestly just being in her presence was soo refreshing to my spirit. I had forgotten how well she knew me and my heart. how i didn't have to explain why i am the way i am, she just knew.

i had almost given up. but this time i couldn't walk away. i couldn't just deal with it. my spirit knew what i needed and it ran toward that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

beautiful chaos

holding my breath. at the sound of your voice my heart beats faster. beautiful chaos. The world spinning but my gaze fixed upon you.


reaching out-taking my hand steadying me. drawing me in close-righting my world. Your embrace answers all the questions, quiets all the fears.

i breathe again. drawing in a sweet breath. You exhale. speak. giving life-inhale.

the smell of you etched in my mind. The words you speak etched on my heart. i draw in close to hold onto this moment. to not forget anything-the smells-the sounds-the feeling.

you sense my fear and remind me "do not be afraid-I will never leave you"

Thursday, August 16, 2007


"Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the LORD.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it."

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

i love that His love is relentless! and i love that i'm finally beginning to understand that!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

i am loved...

so yesterday i was at work, texting a friend back and forth. i asked him how he was doing and he responded that he was blown away by God's amazing knowledge. i thought about that for a bit and responded how I feel God's amazing knowledge of my heart and desires, but have a hard time remembering how well he knows what loves me after the moment passes and life gets more complicated. His reply, "write it whatever it takes! What he is doing should never be forgotten". it seems elementary, and slightly foolish but i figured it was worth a try. some are pretty random, so be fair warned. for your enjoyment (and my remembering), here is some of my list...

*getting hit on though a post-it note left on my car
*falling asleep to the sound of rain (it's my favorite, second to waking up to the sound of rain-ps i really love rain)
*frozen pizza, diet coke, and nerds for dinner EVERY night for the last month (and probably the next coming few as well)
*the fact that my friends only tease me a little about my eating habits
*getting a free pair of oakleys right before running on one of the hottest days of the summer so far
*roommates who listen to me talk about the same things incessantly (and still love me)
*chats that last until 2 am (it wouldn't have been that late if i wouldn't have said the same things over and over-see above)
*physical touch
*encouragement from friends exactly when i need it (that whole perfect timing thing)
*wearing a man's white v neck undershirt to my corporate job today (i am slightly rebellious at times-what can i say)
*being able to see my tattoo through said shirt. it made me smile when i noticed it. :)
*playing volleyball with some pretty stinkin awesome friends every week!
*compliments (even though i'm still learning how to really receive them, they do bless me!)
*early morning texts and emails at work (seriously, want to make my day, this is a surefire way to do it!)

so yeah. that's a random smattering of how I am loved. When i stopped and thought about it, i too was blown away at how well the God of the Universe knows my heart and exactly what makes me feel loved. As i've focused on that, the things of the world have seemed strangely dim. thanks friend!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

does this mean I'm an adult?

I'll be the first to admit that although i work in the financial industry and am dealing with the stock market every minute of my day, I know virtually NOTHING worth anything about it. Buy low, sell high is about all I got. It used to not be a huge deal. My coworkers were mostly women in their mid-30's who were more worried about their kids homework than how much their stock tanked that day. so I could evade my whole lack of stock market knowledge, and just talk about their kids. My plan to hide my ignorance was working. That lasted until 2 days ago.

About a month ago I got a promotion, and last week I started my new position in a new group. My new group consists of me, a spunky grandma, and 4 guys from 22-35(we'll post more on the boys another day). Liz (the grandma) used to be a for real trader for some big company in nyc before coming to where we work now, and the other guys, well, they are pretty heavily invested and watch the market like hawks. I think I used all my market knowledge within the first 5 min of our first conversation. They were being sympathetic with my apathy until they found out I hadn't started my 401k.

You would have thought the world was going to end in 5 minutes by their reaction. Oh man. when I first started working here, I was planning on being here no longer than a year, so buying into retirement was the LAST thing on my mind. 2 years later, I had maybe a passing thought, but that's about it. So after a crash course in Roth vs. traditional IRA's and quick assessment of how much i could actually afford to invest in them, I am now planning for retirement?!?!

Crazy I know. Who thinks about that at 25 for real? But according to this handy graph they showed me, I'll be a millionaire by the time I'm 85...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

a new perspective...

"When will love ever find me?
All my life all I have craved is to be seen
Who cares anyway?
Cause when it's over all that matters is the love you gave away"

~Rosie Thomas, death came and got me

Saturday, June 23, 2007

china moments

Once you've lived overseas two new phrases are bound to enter your speech. (insert country name here) days and (insert country name here) moments. For me china days are days that NOTHING seems to go right, appropriately named in that in china, most days doing even the smallest mundane tasks seemed to take all sorts of energy and paitence. Thankfully i don't have very many of these days.

now china moments, on the other hand, are definately increasing in frequency. especially with smells. I was in a rose garden a couple of weeks ago with a friend and the breeze shifted and it smelled like china. i just stopped and breathed as deep and long as i could, trying to make that smell/feeling last. On the flip side i was walking around the plaza one night with friends and we were at an intersection and again i could have closed my eyes and been in china...funny enough the smell that time was a sewer drain mixed with car exhaust-china smelled like this more often than not.

The question i've really been wresting with lately is if i want to go back to china. you'd think it would be a given, as much as i talk about it, but it really trips me up. I LOVE china. i love chinese people. i love *some* chinese food. I love the fact that it smells like a sewer-good grief. but am i supposed to spend the rest of my life there? i don't know. I don't know if the love is familarity or God. i look at pictures, i see people, i smell smells, i have china moments and my heart practly explodes. but does it do that because i know life there, i know what it feels like or is that where God has placed my heart? but really, how could you not want to spend forever there?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

and then i laughed

Tonight some friends and i went down to the plaza to celbrate Jessica's 25th birthday. After an amazing dinner at bucca di beppo we wandered out to mill creek park and played all sorts of childhood games (when was the last time any of us had played red rover?). After the games we were standing around and this VERY drunk woman wearing a dress that was barely decent staggers by us, maybe 20 yards away. I turn to look at her right as she bends over to pick something up off the ground. And then i laughed. A really obnixous loud laugh. i wish i could say that it was an embarassed don't know what to do in that situation laugh, but i don't think it was...i think it was more along the lines of an "are you kidding me????" laugh.

and then she staggers off along the path and i kind of watch her as one would watch a car accident, but quickly return to the conversation.

about 20 min later i notice one of my friends is sitting off by herself so i go sit with her to see what was up. She looks at me with tears in her eyes and said "i can't stop thinking about that woman. we saw Christ in the flesh and we laughed at him". it was like a kick in the stomach. .

it reminded me of this quote by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
"For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his..."

what a beautiful (and humbling) way to think about that moment. to think that that woman was fearfully and wonderfully made by the king of the universe and he delights in who she is and just is longing to draw her close. it brings me to my knees in repentence, drenched with HIs grace. the grace that allows me to live above satan's lies and believe that this moment will be redeemed.

"Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison and did not take care of you? Then he will answer them "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me" matt 25:44-45

give me eyes to better see...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

5 years ago...

this is what happens when you combine google with being really bored at i was such a dork (some would argue the use of past tense there)!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

have a nice day....

"We are TODAY accepted in the Beloved, TODAY absolved from sin, TODAY acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! Soul-transporting thought." ~ C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, April 06, 2007

birthday parties for prostitutes...

i absolutely LOVE this story. And as i've thought this week about what Jesus "with joy set before him..." went through on the cross and why he did it, i keep coming back to this story about Tony Compolo and Agnus. It so embodies what Christ desired the church to be after he left.

A few years ago Tony flew to Hawaii to speak at a conference. The way he tells it, he checks into his hotel and tries to get some sleep. Unfortunately, his internal clock wakes him at 3:00 a.m. The night is dark, the streets are silent, the world is asleep, but Tony is wide awake and his stomach is growling.

He gets up and prowls the streets looking for a place to get some bacon and eggs for an early breakfast. Everything is closed except for a grungy dive in an alley. He goes in and sits down at the counter. The fat guy behind the counter comes over and asks, "What d'ya want?"

Well, Tony isn't so hungry anymore so eying some donuts under a plastic cover he says, "I'll have a donut and black coffee."

As he sits there munching on his donut and sipping his coffee at 3:30, in walk eight or nine provocative, loud prostitutes just finished with their night's work. They plop down at the counter and Tony finds himself uncomfortably surrounded by this group of smoking, swearing hookers. He gulps his coffee, planning to make a quick getaway. Then the woman next to him says to her friend, "You know what? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm gonna be 39." To which her friend nastily replies, "So what d'ya want from me? A birthday party? Huh? You want me to get a cake, and sing happy birthday to you?"

The first woman says, "Aw, come on, why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to put me down? I'm just sayin' it's my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I've never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?"

Well, when Tony Campolo heard that, he said he made a decision. He sat and waited until the women left, and then he asked the fat guy at the counter, "Do they come in here every night?"

"Yeah," he answered.

"The one right next to me," he asked, "she comes in every night?"

"Yeah," he said, "that's Agnes. Yeah, she's here every night. She's been comin' here for years. Why do you want to know?"

"Because she just said that tomorrow is her birthday. What do you think? Do you think we could maybe throw a little birthday party for her right here in the diner?"

A cute kind of smile crept over the fat man's chubby cheeks. "That's great," he says, "yeah, that's great. I like it." He turns to the kitchen and shouts to his wife, "Hey, come on out here. This guy's got a great idea. Tomorrow is Agnes' birthday and he wants to throw a party for her right here."

His wife comes out. "That's terrific," she says. "You know, Agnes is really nice. She's always trying to help other people and nobody does anything nice for her."

So they make their plans. Tony says he'll be back at 2:30 the next morning with some decorations and the man, whose name turns out to be Harry, says he'll make a cake.

At 2:30 the next morning, Tony is back. He has crepe paper and other decorations and a sign made of big pieces of cardboard that says, "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" They decorate the place from one end to the other and get it looking great. Harry had gotten the word out on the streets about the party and by 3:15 it seemed that every prostitute in Honolulu was in the place. There were hookers wall to wall.

At 3:30 on the dot, the door swings open and in walks Agnes and her friend. Tony has everybody ready. They all shout and scream "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" Agnes is absolutely flabbergasted. She's stunned, her mouth falls open, her knees started to buckle, and she almost falls over.

And when the birthday cake with all the candles is carried out, that's when she totally loses it. Now she's sobbing and crying. Harry, who's not used to seeing a prostitute cry, gruffly mumbles, "Blow out the candles, Agnes. Cut the cake."

So she pulls herself together and blows them out. Everyone cheers and yells, "Cut the cake, Agnes, cut the cake!"

But Agnes looks down at the cake and, without taking her eyes off it, slowly and softly says, "Look, Harry, is it all right with you if...I mean, if I don't...I mean, what I want to ask, is it OK if I keep the cake a little while? Is it all right if we don't eat it right away?"

Harry doesn't know what to say so he shrugs and says, "Sure, if that's what you want to do. Keep the cake. Take it home if you want."

"Oh, could I?" she asks. Looking at Tony she says, "I live just down the street a couple of doors; I want to take the cake home, is that okay? I'll be right back, honest."

She gets off her stool, picks up the cake, and carries it high in front of her like it was the Holy Grail. Everybody watches in stunned silence and when the door closes behind her, nobody seems to know what to do. They look at each other. They look at Tony.

So Tony gets up on a chair and says, "What do you say that we pray together?"

And there they are in a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon, half the prostitutes in Honolulu, at 3:30 a.m. listening to Tony Campolo as he prays for Agnes, for her life, her health, and her salvation. Tony recalls, "I prayed that her life would be changed, and that God would be good to her."

When he's finished, Harry leans over, and with a trace of hostility in his voice, he says, "Hey, you never told me you was a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to anyway?"

In one of those moments when just the right words came, Tony answers him quietly, "I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning."

Harry thinks for a moment, and in a mocking way says, "No you don't. There ain't no church like that. If there was, I'd join it. Yep, I'd join a church like that."

i bet he would. shoot i would. i so want to BE that church! who's in?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

short of breath

Feel I'm on the verge of some great truth
Were I'm finally in my place
But I'm fumbling still for proof
And it's cluttering my space
Casting shadows on my face
I know I have a strength to move ahead
I can hardly leave my room
So I'll sit perfectly still
And I'll listen for a tune
When the mind is on the moon

i woke up this morning craving space. physically. emotionally. spiritually. wanting space to just be and chill and breathe. to breathe deeply...which is something i'm not doing so well lately...actually i don't think i've ever known how to do this. i feel like i need to be breathing, but it's just not happening.

i think that there is a lot for me right now that's underwater. And He's trying to get me to take a deep breath before i go under. did he miss the part that i'm not so good at that? i feel like i'm sitting here trying to get all the air out of my lungs before i go under. i know, it doesn't make sense to me either. He so bad wants me to breathe and i'm just not.

And if I stumble
And if I stall
And if I slip now
And if I should fall
And if I cant be all that I could be
Will you, will you wait for me

so i last about two seconds and have to come back up gasping for air. and it's the same story over and over. i wonder how long He'll watch me bob up and down. i wonder how long he'll have to wait before i finally figure it out...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

here am i

preface-i really LOVE the things going on in my life right now and i REALLY, REALLY love my friends here...but...

tonight the gathering was all about sending and going. And i knew it was going to be a rough night. i thought i'd be ok. i was wrong. pretty much there isn't a day that i don't think about being overseas, or think about my friends, or even the things that drove me insane. I didn't love china when i first got there. it was really hot and really smoggy and the long term workers were really weird, that lasted about a day. then i loved it. For the 9 months i was there there was only one day that i wanted to be back in america. one day. out of 270-ish.

the week i left we had a little house church with the students we'd been meeting with all semester. they called it their tuesday get together group. There were about 15 students and 3 workers crammed into a small apartment in the middle of the blazing summer without air conditioning. think about everything you've heard about chinese underground house church...that was it. All the students went around the room sharing how they came to know christ. they were speaking in chinese, so i only caught like every 3rd word, and my name. it was beautiful. MY name was in their stories. beautiful and humbling. i looked at their faces, and it was a montage of my time there. remembering their journies and mine. I left two days later. it was the hardest thing i've ever done. walking away. believing that i was being led back to america, but definately not feeling it.

and understand that He reigns. and that He's moving. I might not be there to see it, or tell the stories but He is continuting to show His glory in the dark places. He doesn't need me. that's really hard too. He's bringing His salvation to that city through those 15 students who get together on tuesdays. who risking future jobs, higher pay, class status, and respect continue to share his love and grace with all those around them.

so here i am. knowing that he's called me to kc for now. and being ok with that. just not knowing the "why". and daily dealing with that. daily laying whatever plans i have for myself on the altar. releasing them. letting go. and that's really hard. but i have to understand that God is in control of this moment. and be obidient to that.

Monday, February 19, 2007

little of me

here's some more tagore for you. i figure he's a nobel laureate poet, we'll let him do the words...

Let only that little be left of me
whereby I may name thee my all.

Let only that little be left of my will
whereby I may feel thee on every side,
and come to thee in everything,
and offer to thee my love every moment.

Let only that little be left of me
whereby I may never hide thee.

Let only that little of my fetters be left
whereby I am bound with thy will,
and thy purpose is carried out in my life---and that is the fetter of thy love.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the weight of glory

stop. feel the weight of this moment. it's my arms around you. pressing you-guiding you. feel my touch-feel my hands on your back "do not fear for i am with you". you must walk to the edge-don't run or you might miss it. don't look back-that's not for you to worry about. i will guide you. i will continue to push you when your feet sense the edge and instinctively don't want to take one more step. trust me! but this is real. do NOT treat it lightly. Are you sure? I will continue to push you because I believe in this. I need you to believe in me me. Believe IN me. Believe me. Let go and believe me. the closer you get the harder I'm pushing. Not to force you but to let you know how much I believe in you. You can do this. You can. Why are you scared-I know the plans-you don't have to.

sometimes when God speaks you grab the nearest thing and start writing. in this case it was a paper napkin. beautiful!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

a little too close for comfort

this was the view of the chem plant from the camera on top of our building this afternoon. it was a little eerie driving out of the city tonight and seeing the city scape with a backdrop of thick black smoke. gave me chills. because they didn't evacuate us (statestreet is 2.3 miles away from the plant) we had to continue pricing funds (i guess it would cost a lot of people a lot of money if we didn't send the right prices to NASDAQ). so when i was telling becky about it, it had gone into the no big deal category, "so they're was a chemical plant that exploded in north kc, no big deal, we're ok". needless to say, when she got outside and saw the smoke, she immediately called to check up on me. :) thanks friend!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

1 year, 4 months and 12 days later...

so its time for the weekly china post. ha ha. For as much as I'm thinking about it, i'm really suprised it only comes up every now and then. I just got an email from my good friend, and old teammate, merry. She's 4 months pregnant and absolutely adorable! Anyway getting her email and seeing her picture brought everything back so clearly and vividly. Like I can smell it and see certain instances like I had just walked off the street and up the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. And I got to thinking that if I could re-live any part of my life it would be my time in china. Don't get me wrong, life is good right now and I'm learning a lot and excited about what God's got in store, but I'd trade it in a heartbeat to just be with those people in that place again. I can't explain it. I wish i could make sense of why I feel how I do and put it in a nice box wrapped with a bow, but it's not wrapped up, or even near a box. a year and a half later i'm still as torn as when i stepped off the plane.

Here is meredith as a rockstar and a mom.

Monday, January 29, 2007


So I'll be the first to admit I'm not the most patient person. I always end up in the slow line or in the right lane wanting to turn right on red when the person in front of me is going straight, multitasking like crazy to get on to the next thing. But recently God has put a spirit of waiting on me. And I LOVE it.

This Sunday at church I just got really excited about the waiting process. Not about what I was waiting for (because I don't really know what that is and I'm sure at some point I'll be excited about it), but just about WAITING. And how beautiful it is. Looking forward to waiting, it goes against all my internal wiring, I don't get it, but it's good. It reminded me of a poem I had read by Rabindranth Tagore.

Tagore was from an influential Bengali family and was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in literature (in 1913). His poems are phenomenal. Oh my goodness. I don't know much about poetry, but his collection "Gitanjali" is incredible. Every poem is like a deep breath that you hold in for a second just to taste the sweetness.

I just love how this poem captures what my heart feels in this time of waiting.

"This is my delight, thus to wait and watch at the wayside where shadow chases light and the rain comes in the wake of summer. Messengers, with tidings from unknown skies, greet me and speed along the road. My heart is glad within, and the breath of the passing breeze is sweet. From dawn to dusk I sit here before my door, and I know that of a sudden the happy moment will arrive when I shall see. In the meanwhile I smile and I sing all alone. In the meanwhile the air is filling with the perfume of promise."

Monday, January 22, 2007


i love snow. I love the beauty and stillness of it. I love how it transforms everything and everyone. I love snowball fights. I love how they bring out, the kid in us. The long stifled voice that goes back to recess on the playground days and organizes teams and makes up rules on the fly. "single elimination, if you hit someone on the other team, one of your teammates gets to come back in", "1-2-3-4-5-turn-throw", "five throw?", "no five turn throw", "how do I get up from this snow angel?" "you totally just put a boob on our snowMAN" I love it. I love that for 30 minutes one sunday we just forgot that we were adults with jobs and responsibilities and just played. Thanks friends!

i love snowmen.

isn't this the most sculpted snowman face you've ever seen? And it seriously took the girls no time to make it. incredible.

Friday, January 19, 2007


so my favorite candy used to be sweettarts. I could eat A LOT of them. All at once. Now i don't so much like them (i've moved on to the more mature candy of nerds), but i got some for Christmas so i took them to work. after eating probably a 5th of the amount I used to be able to eat, my face started to get really hot. And my eyelids started sweating. I'm not sure physically why, or how this happens, or even that your eyelids can sweat, but it's so weird. I've never heard of anyone else's eyelids sweating. No other candy does this to me. only sweettarts and only my eyelids. this isn't new, it's happened since i was little, but i had forgotten about it until five minutes ago when my face got really hot...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

breaks my heart

lately I've been thinking about what breaks my heart. What are the things I'm so passionate about that I would lay my life down for? I'm sitting here watching a PBS program on life inside china. This episode is about freedoms in china. When you live there, you hear the "party message" and experience the red tape every day, but you almost become used to it. Just start to think of it as life as normal forgetting that it is not normal, or just.

They just showed a clip of a raid on a house church. The police (psb) take those who were meeting out into the street and start beating them. They then bulldoze the house. Just because they were choosing to worship in their homes and not in a registered church.

I never experienced persecution. Some of my friends did. Getting pressure to join the party, and stop meeting with us (second to needing to study, joining the party was the answer we most often got when our friends stopped calling us). Those who did choose to study with us would have to hide their bibles and study in secret. They know the cost of following Him. It is so real to them but still they shared His truth with their classmates. Trying to feel out who would be interested and who would turn them in to the class monitors. They share boldly knowing what will most likely happen if anyone finds out they're a Christian. And their friends are believing, and telling others, and they are believing and the Church is growing. And it's beautiful.

China definitely breaks my heart. Everything about it. The people, the language, the culture. The void in their eyes and their answers when you ask them what they love, what they're living for. How can you not love them? How can you look at them and the smile they're pushing through and not die inside at the hopelessness of their lives without Jesus?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Holy cow! Last night was the best episode of 24 ever. Seriously. I sort of pride myself on knowing what's coming next in 24. After watching it for a while you start to pick up on the writers subtle hints and what's going to happen, who is the mole, when CTU is going to get taken over, when Jack is going to get captured etc. And the premiers started like that. Milo is back (which is random because I can't remember how they phased him out, I'll have to go back and watch). And I was making my predictions to how stuff was going to fall. And then at 9:53am...Yeah...The writers are genius. I NEVER would have thought they would have what they did the last 7 min. of the show. It's going to be an incredible season!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I've found recently (well I've known it for a while) that I "know" a lot of things. like it's almost my standard response. Pose any thought, idea or question to me and most likely the first words out of my mouth are "oh I know..." But do I? I think that my mind knows these things. I know that God is going to provide for me. I know that His timing is perfect. I know that He will blow me away with what He's planning on doing in and through me. I say it, and I think it, but I totally don't live my life most days dancing in this knowledge.

so tonight at the gathering we had just a beautiful outpouring of the spirit. And I was praying for this girl in front of me all sorts of things and then I pr'd over her eph 3:16-19. And all of a sudden I was just repeating these words over and over "that she would KNOW". When I finally realized what I was saying, I was struck. That although I was prying for her, that was the cry of my heart as well. That i would KNOW, really, truly, deeply KNOW how much God loves me. That I would KNOW it's width, and depth and height and length, though I can't even begin to understand it, that I would still KNOW it. And through that knowledge I would be able to pour that love back onto Him with out of control passion!

"I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."-eph 3:16-19, new living


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

They're married!

This last weekend I got to go down to Texas to see two of my china teammates get married. Their story is such a great example of God's faithfulness. Amanda is probably one of my closest friends. I seriously could not have survived China without her. I remember the first time she told me she liked Brent, then sat with her while her heart was breaking thinking he liked someone else (which coincidentally was the same week he decided that he REALLY liked Amanda), screaming over the phone when she told me about their "not a date" date, laughing with her about all the various rules they had to follow, holding her hand as he got on a train to leave the country. Praying while two second delay skype conversations were happening in the other room, getting an amazing voicemail from Brent telling me he needed to ask about "jewelry". I am so excited to have been along for your ride my friends! I'm way excited to continue to adventure with you through this next stage.

It was also really refreshing to see about half of our wh team. I didn't really ever expect to see some of them again. Like Rob who just happened to be in Mexico during December (he lives in Australia) or nate who just got back from the field last month. I figured this would happen, but we all just sort of fell back into step when we got around each other. Amanda and I couldn't stop cracking each other up (and talking REALLY loud). I had almost forgotten what it was like to be around people who know all the nooks and crannies of my heart, and yet they still love me. The highlite (aside from the wedding) was us getting to eat dinner together after the wedding. In China, every Sunday after church, we'd always go out to eat. Some of the funniest things happened at our meals together. This one was no exception. It's been a long time since I've laughed that hard. AND thanks to my stellar guys, I got a birthday song and sopapila. The wait staff came out singing happy birthday and bearing softserve with a candle in it. I was so surprised, I almost asked whose birthday it was. I don't know that I've ever really been surprised on my birthday before. Way to go guys.

After dinner stace and I had to leave to drive back to Kansas city. It was really hard to leave. We kept trying to stall, anything to stay around them longer. It was like the airport trips all over again. I am so thankful for the time I had with them, but it didn't make it any easier to walk away. It felt like I was re-entering America all over again. Leaving those who knew me so well, who I could let it all out with, and entering a place that I'm not for sure accepts who I am at my deepest level.

I sure do love you guys and can't wait until the next of us gets married so we can all get together again! zaijian!