Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Wish Adult Nap-time Existed...

I need a nap. Like a three day nap.

I've been a really pathetic version of myself today. Well, this week...actually, for the last two months. I haven't gotten a lot of good sleep or good rest since sometime in February...maybe even January. Sometimes, I'm able to get it together and be the normal me, but most of the time, when school's finished for the day, I'm D-O-N-E. Stick a fork in me. For real.

The problem is, my social life happens after school.  So, I go from being in a job that requires almost all of my energy to be moderately successful during the day to then go and hang out with people that I want to spend my energy on but have very little left to give. This usually manifests itself in a quieter, sleepy version (some might say grumpy or less patient, but you won't hear those words out of my mouth) of me. Borrrrriiiiing.

Weekends (I've got it down to a time period- Saturday and Sunday, seriously) are the worst for this bratty version of myself . Especially if I'm coming off of a hard week at work. And this last week (uh, month...two months) was hard. Crazy busy, super stressful. Emotionally and physically exhausting. And of course I've got two surprise parties, bible study, game night, special lunches, and a breakfast to attend this weekend. All lovely things that I'm so glad to be invited to.

And all an opportunity to show off this disaster that I am.

Oh these poor people.

I say all that to tell you...


I have lots of work to do and some plans made but I'm hoping to take some time, a day or two, and hole up in my house. I plan to not take a shower (don't judge), eat home-made food (haven't cooked in my own house in at least a month), watch a bazillion movies, take naps, write, read and anything else that allows for a lot of laziness and lack of movement.

Okay, I'm off to my Filipino friend's home to play some Mexican Train (dominoes) and eat delicious Indian food. Be jealous. Be very jealous.

Photo Update

Here are a few photos from the last several months of life. Also, I've discovered a new online website that lets me play with special effects. Love it.

Friends at a conference in Beijing- Fall 2011     
Jeremy's last night in Qingdao: our very best Baman and Piderman poses- November 2011

Winter Ball...somehow I got pushed to the back- December 2011
We went for a walk during Christmas vacation...a 5 mile walk...we were quite exhausted by the end- January 2011
Mustache Bash- February 2012

The whole mustached group- February 2012
We had a murder mystery night. I was Frenchie...a boy. I have no talents for accents so I just kept yelling "Sucre Bleu!" all night- March 2012
"Frenchie and Paris"- Murder Mystery Night- 2012
We were matchy-matchy inverts of each other. Totally picture worthy- March 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Journal Entry: To Love

My friends and I talk about inter-personal relationships a lot. A. Lot. I've come to find that it's one of my favorite topics. I really enjoy learning how people work, what they think, how they feel. Figuring out where someone is coming from, being able to understand them better, empathizing with them, finding out their needs, meeting that need if possible...I love it. Really and truly.

The only problem with all this talk is that it makes one responsible for the information. Which is not really a 'problem'. It's kind of awesome. There is nothing cooler than figuring out what makes a person happy and doing it. What joy it brings! But I do find that loving others (that is what we're talking about here), as fulfilling as it is, can be hard work, regardless of the type of relationship (friend, family, boss, etc.). This is truest with people who are different than me (which is like everyone). And the different-er (yes, I said 'different-er'), the harder it is. Learning what makes them happy, what brings them joy, how to encourage them, love them, sometimes it's so opposite to what I know or need that it's almost like learning a foreign language.
And then there are questions rolling around in my head like...

How do I show love to people who live 6,000 miles away from me that I only see once every two years?

How do I show love to people who are in positions of authority that have caused hurt?

How do I show love to people in my immediate community, in the expat community, in my apartment complex, in my fellowship, in my city?

Learning to love and HOW to love others has been a theme for me this year.  Removing myself and allowing Christ's  love to flow through me... do you know how hard that is? <--Lame. But it's true. It's hard to get rid of me and my selfish kind of love and let His love take over. Because when I do that, it means I have to forgive more, let go more, understand more, ask for forgiveness more, do more. Loving others, I'm learning, is about giving up my rights- fairness, justice, opinions...sigh. Do you know how hard THAT is?

As I'm learning how to show love to those around me, I've started to do a few things. But it really only applies to my immediate community. I'm still trying to get the other stuff figured out (people who aren't in my immediate community, people who have hurt me, people who are harder to love, etc.). And this is not a comprehensive list. Nor am I doing all of these things well. I am barely scraping the top of the barrel of 'loving others as Christ loved us'. I am SO still learning and growing in this area. And will be for the rest of my life.

  1. Consistently pursuing people. Taking time to meet with them one-on-one. Or inviting them to hang out with the big group or smaller group. Mostly just including people who need to be included.
  2.  Asking questions. And not "how are you doing" or "how was your day" kind of questions. Deep , personal questions, even the hard questions, with a lot of followup.
  3. Really listening to what people are saying. Sometimes that means reading between the words of what they're trying to say and listening to their heart. This takes practice, something I'm still really working on.
  4. Sharing where I'm at, what I'm struggling with. Pushing through the awkwardness of being vulnerable and just diving in. A little bit of realness goes a long way.
  5. Sending notes and cards and emails letting people know that they noticed, that they are important, that I'm praying for them, that I care about them, what they mean to me, what they've taught me. This is probably the hardest thing for me, but I'm learning that it is SUPER important to those around me.
  6. Praying for people about specific things on a consistent basis.
  7. Doing things for others- being the living, moving body of Christ to those around me. Fulfilling a need, both physical (running an errand for them) and emotional (letting them talk until the cows come home because they need someone to just listen to them and validate what they're saying). Although this is one of my 'love languages', it's one of the hardest things for me to do because of time. Or lack thereof. But it's also one of the things I find most fulfilling.
I mostly wrote this post for me. A journal entry, of sorts. Sometimes God teaches me these big things but I don't write them down and even though I remember the gist of the lesson, I don't always remember the specifics. Super frustrating. And because I believe the Christian life is kind of works in the shape of a coil, I know I'll continue to revisit this 'learning to love and how to love others' over and over again. It'll be nice to look on this and reflect, refocus and maybe even get a little deeper.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Extremely Extreme

    I am told that I speak in hyperboles.

    This was said to me yesterday after I made the comment "Her hair makes me want to throw up." We were watching a movie and I really hated the woman's wig. It reminded me of a red-haired horses tail. Gag.

    I do speak in extremes. But sometimes I just NEED to. It's the only way to get my point across. If I just speak like a normal person, the point may not get across. And getting the point across is oh so important.

    Life, in general, seems to be running in extremes for me these days. I am extremely tired. I am extremely busy. I am extremely filled. I am extremely drained. I am extremely happy. I am extremely sad. I am extremely stressed. I am extremely peace-filled. Things are calm. Things are crazy. School is great. School is too hard. Friends are wonderful. Friends are hard work. I have no emotions. I have too many emotions. I can't cry. I can't stop crying. I love my life. I wish for a different life. God is using me. How can God possibly use me? He is always there, I feel Him. Where is He? Why can't I hear Him?

    Rarely is there middle ground.

    I kind of feel like I'm living a half life in some ways. I'm so busy and tired that I'm rarely ever able to give more than what is absolutely required of me within the limits of my job and other responsibilities. Sucked dry and barely scraping by physically and sometimes, mentally and emotionally, even spiritually. But in another part of me, in my insides, my heart is so full so much of the time from the love and care I receive from those around me. I see God consistently working in my heart and through others around me, teaching me, guiding me, convicting me. His love is tangible so often.

    This is more of a commentary than anything else. I don't think there's anything to be done about it.This season of life isn't really a negative thing. It is what it is. A time of growth and pain and tiredness and joy. To the enth degree.

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Life Update

    I refuse to even acknowledge how long it's been since I've written last. Time runs away from me like its pants are on fire. And don't even get me started on where I should go to scrape up enough energy to write. Sigh. I'm a blogging failure. 

    I like that I totally disregarded my first sentence. 

    I'm am lying on the guest bed at my friend's house right now. She banged her head in the wee hours of the morning (a couple of days ago) and has an awesome purple-y black eye and a concussion to go along with it. After several days of serious pain, she decided it was time to have it looked at. So, I spent most of the day at a Chinese hospital, where a truly gracious nurse whisked us in and out of several different dilapidated testing rooms to eventually be sent home with a promise of results of the CT scan tomorrow. It was quite the experience. I actually got to go into the CT room and stand with my friend to comfort her while they did the scan. She asked me to talk to her while they were doing it. Well, who can just start talking about something on command? So, I decided to sing "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" instead. It was one of those only-in-China moments. Standing in a semi-scary hospital room, wearing my special x-ray shirt, singing a hymn while a friend got her brain examined. 

    It's been really nice to take care of someone today. I love to take care of people, to help, to fix, to solve. However, because this community is so chocked full of people who feel the same way, I tend to step aside and allow others to do it...'too many cooks in the kitchen' sort of thing. It was nice to be needed today. The last few weeks have been so focused on my job...I'm just tired of it. It was lovely to have to focus on someone else, to be able to serve. I was just praying/thinking this week that I needed an opportunity to get outside of my own little world to help someone...

    What have I been doing that's been so all-consuming, you ask? Sigh. From May to February every year, I work on putting together a conference for my job. I've explained it all to you before, right here.  This year  (March 1-3) was the biggest conference we've hosted thus far. We had 25 schools (about 380 students and teachers) from all over Asia in attendance. I wear many hats during the planning period and the actual conference- organizer, director, teacher, task delegator, budget manager, bus and hotel planner, leadership team over-seer, crises manager, hostess, and head of PR. It is an overwhelming job. But this year was really fulfilling. My student leaders and admin staff (go-fers) took ownership of the conference and did an outstanding job. They were committed and respectful and knowledgeable and hard-working. They were everything a teacher would want them to be. I really couldn't have been prouder. It was one of those years-of-hard-work-with-these-kids-and-it's-finally-coming-to-fruition moments.

    Let's see...besides the conference and the concussed friend, I have a few other things to tell you.
    • I've decided to stay with my job for one more year. I'm still praying about where God wants me next. 
    • Practice for the big community play is underway. You all in America should feel sorry that you'll be missing my stellar dance moves for this play. Stellar.
    • I am staying in Qingdao for Spring Break. I'm hoping to do some community work or something. I just want to be productive and helpful.
    • I have no idea what I'm doing during my three weeks off this summer. I thought I had a plan but now no longer do. Praying for clarity.
    • I should SO have more to tell you than this. I mean, it's been two months! 
    • Hm...
    • I think I'm teaching a different class next year. With all my traveling and conference stuff, it makes it difficult to teach other subjects. I'm looking forward to a little change.
    • I have completely given up guitar and Chinese for now. Hopefully, both will be picked back up soon now that my life is calmer.
    • I've been reading a book about poverty. Probably going to be making some changes. I'm just not sure what yet. Oh and I've been watching "The Elephant Room". Interesting. Irritating. Thought provoking.
    •  I am participating in March Maddness. No, I know nothing about college basketball. It's just fun to play with the guys I work with.
    • I'm going to have to do another post focusing on what God's doing in my life, what I'm learning, what I'm thinking about. I'm too tired to do it now.
    Okay, I feel like the list is sufficiently long, even if it is insufficiently 'deep'. And I must get off of here. I have a long night ahead of me, filled with wake-up calls every two hours to check on the concussed friend. Yay.