“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

— 1 Thessalonians 5:24

God will be faithful to carry me through. This belief is enables me to answer God’s call in spite of my fears. God who called me will be faithful and empower me to do the work He calls me to to well.

How does one put into words the peace that surpasses understanding and the hope that drives humanity to action? Really, hope acted on is faith, isn’t it?

How differently I live when I focus on the belief that God will keep his promise than when I wonder at the things I don’t yet see, or the obstacles that will inevitably arrive!

Today, I am in the same state I was four years ago, both physically and mentally. I am back in California, choosing to focus on God who is faithful as I attend summer classes and believe that what happens next will be great. I will go somewhere or do something that will be greater than yesterday’s circumstances would have predicted.

I will not allow myself to be hemmed in by the parts I don’t have yet. “It will all work out,” I will tell myself again and again– “It always does”– and I will believe it.

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Who would have seen me doing my summer work in community college and imagined that I would transfer to a four-year that winter, or that in the next three years I would travel to another country and graduate from my university early?

Who can imagine what God has planned next?

 

All photo credits are to myself and my roommate from my Korean summer program, Jess.

“What’s so good about spring?”

Ask Me a Question and I’ll Tell You a Story Challenge (1)

“What’s so good about spring?”

When your younger sister asks, you don’t tell her that you don’t know; you find something. If there’s literally nothing you like about it, you force yourself to enjoy one thing because you know that having your younger siblings grow up to be as miserable as you is the last thing that you would wish on them, your mother, or the world at large. So pick something.

“What’s so good about spring? …Is that a serious question?” Or stall, I guess… but rack your brain, just in case.

Your sister blinks at you– once, twice– and and tilts her head before blinking again. Why is she such a cartoon character? “Uh…”

“There’s plenty good about spring. I mean don’t you like flowers?”

“You don’t like them. You threw them away last time.”

“But you like them. You don’t have to hate stuff just because I can’t deal with it, and– for your information– those flowers were already dead.”

“I didn’t say I hate it,” she says. “I’m just not sure I like it.”

You roll your eyes, sigh. What is there to do with a kid like this? Why can’t she just grow up well and be happy? “You like it. You’re just being like this because you want to copy me, aren’t you? You like puddles and flowers and sunshine. You don’t like thunder, but you like that it gives you an excuse to climb into other people’s beds.” Don’t look at her when you say it. You don’t know how she’ll react and it might derail you. Do anything else.

What else is there to do? You keep talking, looking at the floor as you head into the living room, five-year-old feet hot on your heels. “Spring is right before your birthday and it is the best time to tell everyone what you want. Lots of baby animals are born. There aren’t too many school holidays so you can play with your school friends more. The sun comes up a little earlier every morning so you can have more Saturday morning adventures. What’s so bad about spring?” Now, somehow, even you feel better about it.

This is when inspiration strikes you. You grab a two jackets– one for you and one for her. Sure they’re both yours and you are going to have to roll the sleeves up for Megan to fit it, but it’s not that big a hassle and even if you regret it tomorrow or immediately this could become a good memory for her. Some of your best memories are thing your parents got scolded for or later wondered themselves what they were thinking…

“Go on,” you bait her looking for her tennis shoes. “Tell me what’s so bad about spring.”

You can hear her open her mouth before she speaks and the lack of sound that follows is how you know she’s hesitating. “Aren’t you allergic to it…?”

Now you throw her an amused look over your shoulder. “Sweetie, no one’s allergic to a season.” She looks confused as you give up on her wearing shoes. “I’m allergic to pollen which the flowers and trees like to throw into the air to get blown around and stuff, but I’m not allergic to spring itself. Spring is pretty.” You pause, trying to figure out how to give her a happy spring memory without shoes or you suddenly becoming too sick to be pleasant.

You’ll need keys.

“Grab your crayons and meet me in the hall, I’ll show you.”

You sneeze seven times instead of one to three like you do the rest of the year on your way out the door. It’s a bit difficult to cover your mouth with your sister on your back, but you manage and make it to the car before your eyes start watering for real. “Strap yourself in,” you tell her digging in your back pocket for folded up printer paper. You unfold it and hand it to her after she’s buckled. “So you already know, but outside and I don’t get along very well. But spring can still be felt inside if you’re intentional.”

You hear her mutter, “intentional” under her breath like she doesn’t want to forget it. You know she doesn’t know what it means, but you don’t volunteer the definition. “How? Justin says autumn is best understood outside and Justice is always going somewhere in the summer.”

“Justin is a nature boy and he likes getting hit in the face with wind, and Justice likes the sun. As brown as that girl is to start with she’s always getting a tan and only that much sunblock away from skin cancer. If you want to play outside, the twins are your people, but spring can be inside if you let it be.” You plug your AUX cord into your phone and Priscilla Ahn’s “Dream” starts up. This is what spring sounds like. You go to the drive through at Panera for over priced mac-n-cheese then to the parking lot of that one hospital so you can look out at the field where there will be strawberries next month and there are flowers planted around the building.

You tell her to draw and the playlist sings on even as the light changes and clouds move across the face of the sun. Hollyn’s “Love With Your Life” comes on and you pull back the thing that covers the sunroof so you can get more light and take your sister’s picture. She only notices when the shutter sound comes through the stereo. Your sister smiles, demands that you show her, and then looks thrilled.

“Take me again,” she says posing too much, but you roll your eyes and concede. Then you take “us-ies” with the flower crown filters and skip Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” because you don’t want to cry in front of her today. You’re trying to make a certain type of memory. It starts to rain and you decide to record this sort of spring day in your book to remember. You include the clouds, the first drops of rain on the window, the scarf you’ve been wearing since before you decided to leave the house, and her smile.

If she could smile like this throughout the season, then maybe you could remember that in spite of the things Spring has taken from you in the dark, it gave you the promise of this child– your reason to smile.

speechless

“You know that’s not what I meant to–”

“But it’s how you really feel, right?”

I can feel my heart beating. Hard, slow, individualized pulsations. I used to think the ringing I’m hearing now was caused by surges in electric sockets nearby. Now, I know it has something to do with my blood pressure. I’m trying to breathe, but my throat feels like it’s collapsing. It’s my fault, so I’m not allowed to cry… but my eyes are welling and I can’t say what I mean to– what I need to.

“Wow,” she starts. This speech– about how I think I’m so good, how I don’t have room to talk, or to think poorly of her because of this one little thing– is a nuanced rendition one I’ve heard before. “This is why people don’t trust you,” she says. And she tells me what I deserve– which is not her or her time– and what that she’s only saying all of this so I won’t waste someone else’s time. She’s angry and there are tears in her eyes. I don’t know if she’s crying because she’s gotten herself so worked up telling me about myself or if it’s because I’ve disappointed her so.

Her breath comes through her mouth. It’s ragged and irregular. This table isn’t wide enough and I can both hear and feel it from here. She’s covering her eyes with her hands because I “don’t deserve” her tears.

“Haven’t you got anything to say?” She asks.

But my words don’t come out. Like speech function has stopped, but thinking is still on. I can’t say the word “stay” or the phrase “I love you.” It might sound like an excuse or like I’m just clinging without meaning it, but I want to say what I mean in the end. Even if no one believes me, I want to speak my heart.

Her head is on her arms now. Her words barely make it to me. “Really? There isn’t anything…?”

I can feel my teeth chattering slightly. It’s like my words got lost in the mail. Now thinking is slowing down and panic is taking over.

“Sorry.” It’s not her voice. Her body stills, my open jaw quivers a bit. The voice sounds more like mine. “Sorry,” it whispers again, and this time I feel my body try to take back the air after the word.

Using her forearms, she pushes her upper body away from the table. Mikaya nods without looking up. She sets her jaw while staring into her inner arm and turns her body away from the table so she can get all the way up without seeing my face.

But I see her face– the exhaustion around her eyes, the tightening and releasing in her forehead, flaring nostrils– and I see her back– rigid in the turn, and bending more with every long, quiet step toward the door– and I hate myself.

“No. Wait,” but the words are too soft and it’s much too late. The door has already swung closed behind her.

We need new books.

Is it just me or are all of my book-hungry double sisters having a hard time finding characters they relate to?

There are lists of interesting novels about minority women. When it comes to minority women who are headed in the directions that I’m thinking about going, however, the list becomes significantly shorter. When was the last time you read a novel about a WOC who wanted to be a teacher, homemaker, writer, artist, or digital creator? When was the last time you read a novel about a POC who is involved in church or working on merging their identities as part of their ethnic and local communities, as well as the household of faith?

I’ve been doing more reading lately and this has been on me. I don’t want to read a book like the show Greenleaf where it’s selling point is the messiness of the supposedly sanctified. My household has quite a few Christian books on, like, everything from romance and child-rearing to how to have healthy friend/family relationships and self image in the 2010s.

We need novels where the characters start where we are, accept mentors, and gain strength to overcome the challenges we live with. We need stories that point us to God and remind us why we’re working so hard to go forward.

a son of God

I feel a bit nervous broaching this subject as it is something I don’t think I’ve talked about on this blog before, but I think it’s important so I’ll proceed anyway.

From our childhood, girls are pushed to think about what sort of man they would like to marry and spend the rest of their lives with. We learn how important it is to be careful about what sorts of men we choose to love because they could be not only our lovers and life-partners, but the (god)fathers of our (god)children, uncles of our nieces/nephews, and decision makers when our lives hang in the balance.

Having been raised in a Christian family and accepted Christ as savior and lord early in life, I was told often enough that it is of the utmost importance that my future husband be a Christian. Beyond that I was given lots of red flags to look out for:

How a man treats his mother is how he’ll treat his wife.

How a man keeps his car gives clues about how he’ll keep his woman (based on the assumption that a single man’s most prized possession is his car).

What a man eats will predict how long he’ll be around.

Babies and animals are great judges of character, if they don’t like your significant other, then you’ve been warned.

My mother also told me not to marry too young or too quickly. Being poorly prepared emotionally has destroyed plenty of loves and marriages.

At various times in my short life, I’ve added things to the list of requirements and deal-breakers, but when it really comes down to it the list of things that really matter is short:

He has to be deeply in love with God.

He has to love me and be willing to fall in love with me over and over again. He has to resist and refuse to fall in love with any and all others romantically.

He has to love his parents and value family.

He has to be able to communicate well.

I have to love, trust, and respect him.

Answering God’s callings on our lives must draw us closer.

When God sends my husband to me, I want to be ready. I don’t expect to ever be perfect, but I want to be fulfilling, in my own life, all of the standards I have set for him. It’s easy to say I want him to do things and be a certain type of person.

Sometimes it’s easy to decide that as a daughter of God I can hold certain expectations of a man; however, when I think about the fact that the man I want is not just someone who will be good to me, but also someone who is a son of God, it changes things. A son of God has the right to have certain expectations of his wife. When he presents me in his prayers to the Father as the woman he wants to marry, I want to be someone that God approves of for the son he loves and treasures. Just as I am a child that Jesus died to take as his own, so is he.

I don’t want to be someone God allows his son to settle for. I want us to be people the Father is pleased to give to one another.

 

In America, poverty can look like anyone.

4 days until the next grocery day and all the rice we had for the month has already been cooked. There is a single serving in a refrigerator shared by four adults. We finished the ramen last month. We need sunblock. We ask the doctor to bill us for check-ups. We eat cheez-its for lunch. We drank water and ate popsicles when we wanted juice, but now we’re down to water.

There’s no milk so we put extra butter in the oatmeal. There’s no family dinner so that we don’t have to talk about what we don’t have and why we’re hungry. We don’t have to listen to each other’s stomachs cry or sit around drinking tea and pretending everything is okay. We consider eating candy we’re allergic to that someone gave to our house.

Poverty is not always wet socks in the winter, ill-fitting clothes, and government housing. Sometimes, it’s a dirty car, unkempt lawn, single servings of food, or watching TV through the meal hour.

concept: writing fiction

So, you’re writing a novel where the main characters are 9-14 year olds experiencing life the way 9-14 year olds do in real life. You stay involved with the story when it goes on to become a movie and that’s when you reveal that all of the characters belong to ethnic groups that are political power minorities. Make them, their neighborhood, and their life the baseline for normal. Don’t go out of your way to write them in such a way that the audience realizes you’re hiding race from them, but don’t give it up too easily, either.

Hail the entire audience as being part of the political power minority. Why don’t we make them read as brown girls like we’ve been made to read as white men?

Focusing…

IMG_20170103_122404Friday, March 10, 2017

I’m finding it harder to function lately. I live on autopilot. When I have work, I’m on time. Interactions with family and the children I take care of are what I live for.

In my necessary alone time, I often find myself feeling… dissatisfied. I’m lethargic, too, a lot of the time. I’ve been told that it could be because I don’t really do anything anymore; I used to have such a busy and demanding life with clearly defined goals, so maybe my body thinks I’m saving up energy for something. I’ve also been told that it could just be my period.

Waiting isn’t really a thing I can get around, no matter what a waste of time it feels like. I should be filling all of these long waits productively, but I feel uninspired or overwhelmed so much of the time.

Right now, my best is tweeting about music and politics and the black community, or blogging about life while listening to Scott Quinn over and over again.

If I don’t hurry up and face my fear, this could be what the rest of my life looks like, huh?

Today’s focus will be on writing a proposal and an e-mail. I’ll get just a little closer to my purpose today because I don’t think I will be okay if I still feel this way in five years.

8:10 AM (Daylight savings is on Sunday)