Friday, July 31, 2009

The Inevitable...

Saturday morning, I am sitting in my apartment listening to Sara Groves "He's Always Been Faithful" song on repeat. I am reveling in the Lord and His faithfulness to me. Today marks the beginning of August, and I find myself wondering how I have survived this long here. It is amazing to think of all that has happened, and is still happening despite the fact that so many people I love are leaving this place. As I changed my five different calendars, (yes, I have 5), I was overwhelmed with all the emotions and the only thing I feel in my heart is thankfulness. Here is my next date with Wrapping It Up. I will walk you through this cup of tea, because I believe it is crucial to all persons who experience transition. Let's face it, whether you want to or not, you will be in the same place that I am one day. This tea date calls for peppermint. It's quite appropriate in light of the refreshing taste it leaves in my mouth. Wrapping It Up looks at me from his seat on the floor and reminds me that there are only 7 weeks left in Korea. He says, "Are you ready to leave? How are you going to deal with this?" Tears well up in my eyes as I sit in my lime green camping chair. "Think about all the wonderful people and things that have happened and are happening now." he continues and sips his cup of peppermint tea. The memories are flooding back to me. Memories of September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June, and July. Friendships of all shapes and sizes, trials and triumphs, falling and getting back up...the list continues to flow through my head like the Red River. All the while the lyrics "He's always been faithful to me," are playing for the twentieth time, yet it is not enough, I feel I will never grow tired of those words. "All I have need of His hand will provide, He's always been faithful to me." I feel paralyzed by the words, by the gaze coming from across the room. "You know this is the key to leaving," says my visitor looking at me with those piercing eyes that always make me feel 5 years old again. "Be thankful for what has been, what is, and what will be. He has always been faithful to you, He always will be. I know that you feel like you don't know where you are going or what you are doing, but He does." Now I have to breath deep the peppermint aroma and take a few gulps to help ease the tears that won't stop coming. They are falling the like the rains of Daegu in monsoon season. Moments like this remind me that no matter how much I dislike Wrapping It Up and his family, they have all had their therapeutic moments. Wrapping It Up shows me the pain, and the joy in it all. My thought process is interrupted as Wrapping It Up utters another phrase, "Remember Julia, you don't have to have it all together, that's not possible." Relief floods over me, and for the millionth time in my life I lay down my gynormous burden at the cross. "He's always been faithful to me." I breath out. These are the moments when I know the love the Lord, the moments when I am brought low and reminded that I am just a person. He is my King, I am the servant. All I want to do now is sit at His feet for a little while, until He tells me what we are doing next. I feel the comfort of His arms around me holding me in the midst of this turbulent world. Now I know that He loves me. I always know it in the back of my mind, but somedays I believe it well, and others I do not. This beautiful moment is one that will stay in my mind when I need a reminder to press on.
I look across the room and realize that Wrapping It Up is still there, "Sorry for neglecting you, I was just having a moment, or ten I guess." He smiles and shakes his head, "It's no problem, I have always enjoyed listening to this song. My job is not always talking. Well, I am finished with my tea. Isn't peppermint so refreshing?"
"Would you like another cup?" I offer.
"No, that's okay, I have to get going, I will see you later, I'll call ahead of time to let you know what tea I will want." He gets up slowly, humming the song quietly, and leaves.
Dear friends, leave well, and even if you are not leaving now, remember He is always faithful to us. Try some peppermint tea this week, it is one of my favorites these days. Love you.

P.S.-Inspired by my visitor over my vacation I visited the green tea plantation in Boseong, South Korea. The picture is the green tea field.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For my dear friend...

This post is dedicated to a dear friend of mine who has stuck herself in a bad situation again.

For you my dearest friend and...
For all the broken-hearted.
For the fools who so diligently place their hearts and hope in another broken person's hands.
For the collapsing feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are once again, let down.
For the pedastool that you always put those men on, they can only stand on it for so long, friend.
For the rapid fluttering of your elated heart when "that" person is near.
For the excitement they bring to the world, when suddenly, everything is new and full of color.
I say all this for you, because....
Love has the power to move mountains, change hearts, change lives, change minds, give life, bring freedom to those in bondage, and so much more.
The world yields for love, yet so often, we find that our imperfect love is just blind infatuation.
I love you friend, and hope you see that life does not begin in these things, they are merely just a grain of sand on the ocean shore.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life starts now.

I read something profound today that sparked great thoughts in my mind. There is a chapter in the book, "Cold Tangerines," and it is called Waiting. It is about how we are all waiting for our lives to start, and we think if only we were richer, thinner, lived in a different place, or had a different job, then our lives would really begin. This is why so many people love the epic movies with the turning point, the moment that defines the beginning of rest of their lives. I was watching a movie last night thinking that my life was a bit dull, and if only I had a bit more adventure than this humdrum business. I quickly retracted my statement when I read this chapter. Life has begun, it is happening now, nothing gets more exciting than this. We are living a life with the God of the universe who has a purpose for us, and we must take captive every moment we can. For who knows what is written that we do not see, and whose live are changed as a result of the things that we consider dull. Honestly, my life is not boring, the fact that I live in South Korea kind of knocks it off the charts. Even more exciting is that I can see God's hand moving here, and there are things that I know I cannot see as well. What I cannot see makes me even more excited than what I can see. Here is a toast, amidst my many cups of transitional tea to the adventure of life, and the glory of God that it is purposefully exercised in our world.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tea Time

Tea Date #1: Bhavani is gone. We all went out for the last time with her yesterday. The choice of tea for the occasion was sweet with an awkward taste that tends to linger, and finishes with an unemotional response. I am sad that she is gone now, but I didn't cry. It really hasn't hit me yet, I wonder when it will...

*Bhavani is the one in the middle.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Ocean

My love for You is like the ocean shore.
You will find it shallow apart from the water.
When the water has completely consumed it's expanse, it reaches to unsearchable depths.
Depths of great mystery that no man can define or know, but You.
Without the water, I fall to pieces and am formless.
With the water, You can shape me in anyway and fulfill Your purpose for my existence.
Consume all that I am with Your water, I desire nothing less.
The crystal blue depth revives my weary soul.
Let the tide roll in with all Your mighty waves.
Move me with Your ebb and flow.
Oh that my love would be like the great depths of the ocean floor at all times.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do you remember your security blanket?

It feels like the fall again, some of the trees even look like they are changing colors, or maybe they are just dying from the heat index. I am now brought face to face with the fact that I am desperately impoverished once again. It was the looming cloud over my fall months and even settled into my winter. Honestly, it was the grace that helped me attempt to learn humility, servant hood, and love at different levels than I had been willing in the past. Once again, I revisit the fact that there is nothing good in me, I have nothing to offer apart from the Lord. This reminder has been quite gloriously highlighted by my desire to string along a certain person; like a child drags their security blanket behind them on the ground. It is actually quite the twisted relationship. No, wait, I recant, that is no relationship, it is a twisted addiction. The child claims to "love" this blanket, yet drags it through the dirt and refuse of this world. I think if the child honestly loved it, it would carry it properly in its arms. It would not ever carelessly touch the ground, it would be protected, but this blanket merely exists to fulfill a level of need and selfish desires. This person is my security blanket. For the sake of posterity and in case any of you should ever meet said person down the road in your life, I will not say his name. Rather, I shall call him Collin Firth. Collin makes me feel like I am in a familiar place, and I have confidence in this place that I know. It does not surprise me as so much of this year has. He is also an attractive human being who may be attracted to me as far as I can tell. That is never a bad thing in a girl's eyes (unless you are not attracted to that man). Finally, when you mix all these factors together over a period of time at room temperature, rotating the bowl every so often, the result is a validated human being. I honestly feel excitement when Collin is around, even though I know he is not the best thing for me right now. My friend says it is because I am bored at times. Knowing me, and the fact that I love painting word pictures or referencing metaphors, I will give you another one for this debacle. It is like the flamethrower at church, I love the rush I get from the fire that shoots out of it. I love the fact that I can control the strength of the flame, and I never waste a second thinking of its dangers. In reality, it would take the smallest thing for the fire to get out of hand, and for the adrenaline rush to kill me. I have no wisdom in my head regarding how I might stop or destroy what has become an idol, because this has been my fall back with similar versions of Collin over the span of my life. I am only asking that the Lord takes the flamethrower out of my hands. That He becomes my validation and security. It's time to grow up and surrender my blanket.

Prayers and wisdom are always appreciated.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My coat rack

The state of my apartment resembles the state of my life.
A hook is missing from my wall so my coat rack is hanging slanted.
Gravity is taunting it, waiting until the final hook gives way and crashes to the ground.
When will it no longer be enough to hold the weight of everything I have piled onto it?
It does not realize how much danger lies in hanging by one hook, naively holding on, and for what?
Only in the moment that it begins to completely become unattached to the wall will it realize what is at hand.
Only at the time that it is falling, will it's eyes be opened to the peril it was living in for so long.
How long will it take to repair once the damage is done?
I suppose for now the coat rack enjoys the thrill of living on one hook.
It knows it ought to let go, but life would be so dull otherwise.
Why does this stupid thing thrill it so?
The good natural thing, has become the dangerous thing.
It will be humbled, it will be brought to its knees, and it will be pieced back together from the shambles left laying on the floor.
The soiled garments that once hung on it will be cleaned.
It will fulfill it's purpose once again.
It will hang on the wall, and display the beauty it's master has placed on it.
Adjusting to two hooks will take some time, after living so long in the other manner.
It was almost like second nature, but continuing in that way would only mean death.
This time it will be stronger, this time it will remember the danger of the thrill, and it's fall.

Let me close this metaphor with a reassurance that nothing overly dramatic or awful has happened to me. I am just referring to some issues that the Lord has opened my eyes to over the past weekend. They have been prevalent for so many years, but only now can I see it. May you have the grace to see yourself rightly this week, and walk away from those things.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hello July!

July has arrived subtly over the green ridges of the Apsan mountains here in Daegu, South Korea, and I am facing a new chapter of my journey here. I dub this one sweet and sour. Reality has come knocking at my door, I have been refusing to answer, looking through the key hole and wishing that my visitor would just leave. It doesn't quite ever work that way. It always returns in some form or another. I am deciding to embrace it now so as not to have it come back and visit me in later years, resulting in something more emotional or ugly than the present. I like to think of the summer months in Korea as the harvest time. All the new teachers begin to come, and all the old begin to leave. Reality's estranged side of the family that is visiting me now as I have come to know so fondly is named "wrapping it up." Yesterday, I went to a good bye party for four different people. This past Sunday, I also said good bye to two other friends of mine from church. I will be one of the last of my group of friend's to leave, except for the few who are or have resigned. I hate being left, I would rather leave than be left. The feeling leaves me with an inexplainable lack of words to describe the feelings in my heart or how the blood begins to pulsate in a different manner through my veins.

"Wrapping it up" and I have a few tea dates ahead of us. I am not sure which tea I should buy in preparation for it, I must be careful because my visitor's family tends to be picky. "Wrapping it up" has many siblings. There was "Wrapping it up Austin", "Wrapping it up Germany", and the most recent one was "Wrapping it up Lubbock College Years." Each sibling was different, and preferred a different kind of tea. One was mild and decaf camomile. The other one wanted Chai, and the last one wanted Passion Tea from Starbucks. I have a feeling that this visitor will not want green tea, even though it is the Asian sibling. We will sit outside and enjoy the summer weather when it is not too hot, and have tea multiple times over the next two months. At the end of these two months, when the summer sun begins to fade and the breeze begins to hint at the coming of fall, I will have my final visitor in Daegu, South Korea. That unavoidable September month will bring a rollercoaster of emotions, and something stronger than tea, by that I mean coffee. = ) My final friend is named "Say what you need to say." I will spend time with those who mean most to me here that are left, and have deeply moving and beautiful talks over coffee. Then I will board a big jetplane on September 22nd, that will take me to the next chapter that I have yet to name. It is really too soon to say now, but I will tell you when the time comes closer.

Why I tend to struggle more with my current visitor than any of the other siblings of the past is, because there are SO many DIFFERENT feelings associated with "Wrapping it up Asia." I revel in the thought of no longer teaching the same tedious monotonous curriculum every 3 months to rude or overworked children. I revel in knowing that I will not be stared at in Italy. I will have access to a bathtub, an oven, and to family! On the other end of the spectrum, I have invested so much, in so many people here, and it grieves me to leave them. To not know if they will ever have changed hearts or lives. Leaving my church family here will tear me apart on some levels. This is my first time to not shop like a consumer in a market for a church, but ask God how I can be a part of my church instead of just criticizing it. The thought of leaving certain students of mine also grieves me deeply. There are specific ones that I love so much, and know that I encourage them since they are outcasts in their own culture or family. I have been pushed and shaped so much in this place that it will always hold a special place in my heart, and yet if you asked if I wanted to do it again, I would say no. Too many extremes on both ends of the spectrum. I haven't cried yet, I don't really know when it will happen. Right now, I am doing the only thing I can, stocking up on different kinds of tea so my visitor will not be disappointed. I fear not the future or what it holds, rather I want to live in my present well. Have a cup of your favorite tea for me this week.