Monday, January 7, 2013

A Couple Changes

Since I've last written, this has happened:

And so has this...

Can anyone say "Grace"?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Die Neue Schule

We are really different. One calls the bustling streets of downtown Manhattan home, while another hails from the bleak streets of Moscow. In one corner, a Korean couple quietly explains the exercise to each other. On the other side of the room, a couple from Cordoba banter playfully in Spanish. We are all very different. But one thing unites us: our ignorance.

Everyone in the class is attempting to learn a language that is not their own. And for this reason...we find a lot of commonality. German does not flow easily from any of our tongues. We are all like toddlers, clumsily trying to mimic foreign sounds. Some recklessly jump into the new language and unabashedly murder every word they utter, while others painstakingly enunciate every syllable, glancing upward repeatedly for the teacher's approval. Regardless of our approach, we are all in the same boat. A boat that is being inundated with new vocabulary, new sounds, new grammar rules. New everything.

After class yesterday, a couple of classmates and myself were on our way to get soup (side note: we got Green Cabbage soup called "Grunkohl" or something like that...a German specialty that was quite tasty). We were reflecting on how much progress we were making. Having just completed our second week of classes, we were basking in a moment of accomplishment and success.

Looking back at that moment, I have to smile. It's true that we have learned a ton. We started at ground zero and now have something to show for our work...I can find out someone's name and tell them mine. I can count to a thousand. I can even tell you that my washing machine is broken and that my grandfather is crazy (he's not really...but I could tell you if he was.) But if I depended on the German language to save my life...I wouldn't have a chance.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Dwelling Place

Tears streamed from her eyes. Eyes that had seen humiliation and heartache again that very morning. Eyes that had seen humiliation time and time again. She felt exposed. Out of control. Out of place. Being in a place that is not your home will do that to you. In one sense, you feel completely enclosed, "encerrada" as my Latino friends in the States have referred to it. You are imprisoned in your own world because you don't have unrestricted access to theirs. But not enclosed in a safe, hiding place sort of way. No, rather, while feeling cut off, you're at the very same time shamefully exposed. I could identify with her tears in a way that I wouldn't have been able to 10 days ago.

But being in a place that is not your home is so much closer to reality. For those that are born into a new family, this world is not our home. We are sojourners. Foreigners. Not able to keep the rules of this culture because they collide so much with the place we call home. The place we have not come to. Yet.

So, for now, here are pictures of the place I will reside in for 3 months. My flat is on the 3rd floor (though technically the 4th). My gracious host is Britta, who I have yet to meet. It is cozy and quaint. My favorite feature of the apartment building is the courtyard, which is nestled in the middle of 4 windowed-walls. So, when I look out my windows I can see right into the windows of the other apartments, provided that the lighting is cooperative - very Rear Window-esque (see: Alfred Hitcock). Unfortunately, no suspicious murder scenes yet. But, I will keep my binoculars near by. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All I Need

Soaking in the lyrics of this song by J.J. Heller this morning. Making copies in the church office and reveling in the great mercy of my Savior.

I don't need a thing
My good shepherd brings me all
You are all I need
You let me catch my breath
Even in the valley of death
You are all I need

All I need to be complete is your love
Your blood that covers me

You lift up my head
You provide the wine and bread
You are all I need
There's no need to fear
Even with my enemies here
You are all I need

Goodness and mercy are following me
You are all that I need
You make a home for me
With pastures of green as far as I see
You are all I need

So, if this is truth, that means: I don't need comfort. I don't need beauty. I don't need to know the language or understand the rules of the culture. I don't need to be more creative or more independent. I don't need relational security or to know my purpose. I need Christ.

Fighting hard to rest in the sufficiency of Christ.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crossing the Atlantic

How did this happen? Three short months ago Europe was not on my immediate horizon. I thought I would be getting engaged, planning a wedding, becoming much more "adult" and settled. I can only describe the past months as a divine jostling. A holy unsettling. God's gracious discipline and re-direction.

But I am here. Here to live in Berlin. Here to serve the church. Here to explore God's purposes.

Two overarching images that come to mind as I've prayed into this trip, both from the book of John. First, John 15: Abide. Apart from Christ, I can do nothing. And second, John 13: Wash feet. There ya go. May it be so.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kimbo Exposed As Farce

This was the headline as I opened Internet Explorer just now. Apparently Kimbo Slice's reputation as the "baddest man on earth" came to a crashing halt when he was knocked out by a far inferior competitor. You can read about all the gory details on

"Kimbo" was a nickname originally bestowed upon me by my 7th grade Bible teacher and henceforth propogated by family members and friends alike. Thus, when my eyes stumbled upon this tagline, my mind grappled with its content.

My thoughts went something along these lines:

"What if...? What if that really was about me? What if the chasm that exists between my words and actions was exposed for all to see? What if the image I so carefully clothe with my prideful delusions of grandeur was suddenly derobed and I was left naked with no place to hide?

Perhaps...Perhaps it would be the best thing that could possibly happen. Perhaps then I would recklessly run to the man who has always known. And fall into the arms that gave me everything when all I had to give in return was my filthiness.* Perhaps then I would refuse to wear anything other than what he puts on me.

*See Ezekiel 16

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shame, shame, shame

She couldn't have been more than 5 years old, but already she was well-acquainted with shame. Oh, I doubt she could have articulated a concise definition or even used it in a sentence. Yet her hasty sideways glance and involuntary clenching told me more than her elementary tongue ever could.

I had been reading a book in the food court when I noticed this girl out of the corner of my eye. She had just settled down in her chair when the bag of popcorn in her hands was upset with one clumsy gesture. As several kernels took their place on the ground, her eyes darted upward, desperately hoping that her action had escaped her mother's awareness.

The movement was slight and the incident relatively insignificant. But it immediately transported me to another time and place. This time I am the girl. And instead of popcorn, it is scattered feathers that are the source of guilt. I am blissfully immersed in an imaginary store, using my parents' pillow cases as merchandise. As I play, the pillows' free falling feathers seize the opportunity to find a resting place on my dad's pants - the pants that he would put on for church in mere seconds.

Within seconds of my dad's entrance upon the scene, I am fully conscious of his displeasure. His tone is severe and his lips taut as he questions how his pants had acquired feathers.

It is in this moment that I experience the captive-making effects of shame. Everything in my 5 year old frame longs to run and hide. And though I remain rooted in front of my father's towering figure, I retreat internally - hiding all knowledge of my misdeed and refusing to shed any light on the truth. As many times as he asked for the truth, I denied him access to it. Hiding. Deceit. Darkness. Fear. Shame.

It is to this shame-filled and imprisoned heart that God announces this great news:

"In Christ and through faith in Christ we may approach God with freedom and confidence."

No more has all been poured out on God's perfect Son, so that we can come close. Amazing grace.