Monday, February 25, 2008

Grace filled Driving

Being new to the driving world, I have a few observations (well, at the moment I can only think of one, but I'm sure there are more).

My one observation for this post is that whenever I drive, there is always something that I notice that could have gone very wrong but didn't. On that curve, I could have swiped the side of the cars I was driving by. There were the few times where something actually noticeable happened. Once downtown I almost switched lanes straight into a taxi that was sitting in my blind spot. This morning when as I checked my blind spot to be able to switch lanes, the huge pickup that I would have gone behind stopped suddenly. Good thing I looked forward again before moving over.

Then, there are always the things that I don't notice, but I'm sure could have happened. With all these things, there is a realization that the only way I am alive from second to second while driving is by the grace of God.

Now, driving in Chicago especially is crazy. People have remarked that they can never drive anywhere without at least one thing going weird or happening in a different way than it was supposed to.

And, please, don't think I'm a bad driver. My dad says I'm good; I think no matter how good you are, the fact that you are 1) imperfect and 2) with other people on the road mean that your survival depends totally on the hand of God.

Jesus is the only reason I stay alive when I drive. And I have a feeling that that little thankfulness in my heart that I didn't crash into anything or knock down any trees during my drive will be in my heart as I pull into the garage for quite a while.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

One Amy

"Amy, do you want to be rebellious with the bagel slicer or should I?" The church has a little sign posted on their new bagel slicers (bagel slicers are an invention straight from HEAVEN if you didn't already know). It reads something like:
This bagel slicer is to be operated by
someone 17 years of age
or older only.
Well, maybe this blog should be renamed the blog of confessions, but we used the bagel slicer. And we're only 16. *gasp* Anways...Amy did the dirty work; she chopped no fingers off in the process.

Oh, Amy. Today we had to walk home from church, and, well, first we got stuck on two sides of the street because she crossed and I didn't (had to wait a whole light...totally me). Then, down a little hill off the sidewalk, she found a little lake of ice. The fun thing was that it was a lake of ice that was on top of the ground; we had such a fun time being able to walk on and break ice without falling through it into life-threatening frigid cold water. Then she decided to pick the biggest slab of ice up and carry it home. I protested...and took more pictures.

Amy makes me laugh harder than anyone else. I love all her little comments, all of her quotes. She finds the craziest things to do (like picking up the hugest pieces of ice). More seriously, I love the way she loves Jesus. I have long desired to want Jesus the way Amy does. Her heart is so convinced that the only way for her to live is to be sold out for Christ and to love Him with everything she has.

Recently, Amy and I have been having great conversations that make me feel more and more like I deeply know this this girl. Let me just tell you, friendship is totally from Jesus! He made us to need companionship, and these recent times with Amy have made me feel so companion-ed. We find that the more and more we open up with each other, the more joyful we are in our friendship. The more we understand each and open up and let the other one know what happens in our heart, the more we love each other, I think.

Also, I feel like I've noticed a strange phenomen. I have such a hunch that part of it is Jesus working with us. Oftentimes, if one of us is having a bad day, the other one is doing better. A lot of the time, we don't both plunge to the depths on the same day. The other one is there able to encourage, and pray for, and be a smiling face.

I love Amy. No one could ever replace her, and the gift of having a friend like her to pursue Jesus alongside with is priceless.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Field time

Today our whole high school and middle school went on a field trip to the art museum. We took the cta, which is always an adventure (moreso for all the people who suddenly find themselves faced with wriggling through this young, loud HERD in order to get to their door). I love that transition that happens in Mrs. Palaparthi's 7th grade classes...never again is a school bus to be seen. CTA all the way, baby.

Anyways...we went to the Art Museum. WE went to the Art Museum. When you think about it, that "we" isn't really the Art Museum type group...anyways. I had a blast. But I kinda have a confession to make.

I haven't felt that immature in a very long while. Man, that sounds bad.
We just acted normally for us. We took funny pictures and laughed a lot and I said "SHHH!" every five seconds
Only thing is, those pictures are with with sculptures:
And paintings:
And one of those metal gloves from the knights (but we were supposed to put our hands in it, so I think that one was okay for taking a picture with):
So. There it is. The confession. Part of it was that we, by nature, are absolutely bored in the Art Museum. The other is that the group I was with included two boys who did things like jump in the elevator. We girls protested numerous times, but they did it anyways, and, lo and behold who happened to be at the door when it opened? A security guard who said, "I wouldn't do that. We have problems with the elevators." and our teacher who heard the security guard. Haha.

I just felt so silly, because there we were, entertaining ourselves as we ran around the Art Museum trying to find all the paintings containing the things listed on our Scavenger Hunt. We laughed and were the complete opposites of the mature women spending their day exploring the Impressionistic Paintings or the foreign couple who is loving the great collection of the amazing Chicago Art Museum.

Everyone got pretty tired from all the walking (which is how we ended up in the previously mentioned elevator in the first place...Jessica insisted that we take an elevator somewhere. She didn't even know where...just somewhere...we HAD to take an elevator.)

And, Amy, just to let you know. One of my friends loved the idea of scaring the furniture guards, even though we never got there to do it. One of the boys scared enough guards anyways. Oh, and then there was the time when he put his hand out too far towards a modern art exhibit and the little alarm beeped. Then, of course, they had to try it again. We girls shooed them away before the could do it any more. That didn't stop them from making up what a song would sound like if they just put their hand out past the sensor in a certain rhythm. AND, we went to go find the Big Empty Room; it was down the hall to the special exhibits, so my guess is that maybe they don't leave it empty anymore... =( But, we tried.

The Art Institute of Chicago. There we were.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Driving through Judson University...Starring Annie, Amy, TY, and my mom

Please Say Something Fantastic.

I like the word fantastic. I had a fantastic day. That is a fantastic dress! Those fantastic contacts help me see so...fantastically.

Today, Mr. Pan, Abby, Amy, and myself drove down to the main Chicago library to get some books for school that could only be gotten there. When we walked out of the book section to go down the escalators, I stopped to ask the guard a question. The guard said that he had to search my bag. I was puzzled..."You do?" Didn't I see the sign, he said. Was it my first time there, he asked. Open it, he ordered, which was followed by "and you. and you." to Amy and Abby. Once he had sufficiently decided that I was not hiding one of the encyclopedias on the history of the world or whatnot in my little purse, he asked what my question was. Here I go..."Well, we heard a kinda crazy rumor. It might totally be wrong. But, ummmm, is there a lego floor here? Like, a whole floor of legos?" "Lego floor? No." and then he had to tell his friend Security Guard #2 about my question. This is not a museum, he said.

Off we went. Without seeing any legos. Not one single lego.

NOTE TO SELF...on how to eat hot peppers:
The correct procedure for eating a hot pepper is as follows:
  1. Take bite of pepper
  2. Relieve your burning mouth with apple juice, milk, water, any sort of non-carbonated beverage will do
  5. Return to your life as best you can. Yes, you are forever changed by this pepper encounter, but, life will still be good.

How would I know this, you might ask? Well, here's what I did tonight:

  1. Watch everyone else take a bite. Now I want to.
  2. Take a small bite
  3. Mouth burns...drink some apple juice
  4. It wasn't that bad. Burning wears off quickly
  5. Soon, I notice strange burning at the corners of my mouth. Oh dear, I must have had hot pepper juice on my fingers, and then I touched my mouth.
  6. Strange burning in my eye soon to follow...oh dear. Why didn't I wash my hands?
  7. Wash hands
  8. Rinse keeps stinging, but not for long
  9. hours later...while flossing teeth, finger touches tongue and tongue burns. My word, how many times do you have to wash your hands to get this stuff off?? It's like the plague of the hot peppers.

In other news...I like cake. 10-4, partner.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love breaks through.

The past week or two, I've felt like I was surrounded by walls. These walls kept me from experiencing the fullness of God, and they kept me focused on myself, and they kept me scared. The thing is, though, that inside those walls, I was more consumed with how I was going to get out of them than how sad I was that I was in them. I felt responsible for the fact that they were there.

Usually when I feel trapped, the feeling that follows is one of wanting to be rescued. This time, this want to be rescued was my wrestle match. It was so hard for me to reconcile myself to the idea that maybe Jesus would rescue me from a prison I built for myself. The idea, "Why would Jesus rescue me from something I got myself into?" kept coming over and over again. I feel very familiar with the nature of my God who rescues the oppressed and is fiercely protective of His children. His anger is kindled against Satan, and the enemy has some serious consequences awaiting him. What I was having a hard time with, though, was feeling guilty of sinning and feeling responsible for fixing it.

The Lord inserted strategic moments into all of this. In a short instant messaging conversation, my sister shared with me how Brother Yun (The Heavenly Man) had shared that day in the prayer room at IHOP about an experience he had while in prison. Jesus appeared to him and said, "Your prison is real, but I am the TRUTH, and the Truth will set you FREE" then all the doors of his maximum security prison opened and he walked out, like a Bible story! I heard this and thought it was awesome, but couldn't quite apply it. Amy could: "The sad times you feel are real, but Jesus is the truth and He will set you free." That was crazy. awesome. timing.

Through all this, I can kind of tell myself the answer to my question. When you think about how Jesus saved us in the first place, it wasn't at all based on anything we did to deserve it or to earn it. The forgiveness that rushed in and washed our heart that first moment we said Yes to Jesus, that same forgiveness is there for every day after.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8
Today in Bible class, Hosea also had my answer. Hosea is the crazy story of how God called one of his prophets to marry a prostitute and love her and be faithful to her to illustrate the situation Israel was in with God. Israel had walked away, decided to put other things before God, yet as God called them back to Himself, He promised His unending love and faithfulness to them.
This book blew my mind during Girls' Bible today. We just read through it, out loud, starting at the beginning, and God's method of rescue struck me. He described where things were at, and how He was making the place of sin miserable for Israel. He was making it unfulfilling and unfruitful.
"'And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers
and forgot me,' declares the Lord."

And then, the next thing He says outlines His strategy:
"'Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her..."
And He goes on to promise his betrothal with unending faithfulness and righteousness and in steadfast love and in mercy.
These verses struck me with their frankness. God couldn't have said, "I love you" very much clearer. These verses are different than Isaiah or Jeremiah, or the other places the Lord's heart of love is unveiled.
It struck me that He saw where she was and He pursued her. He made her sin miserable for her, and then He pursued her with love. That strong arm of love is the same one that surrounds me. That reassurance from the One who never changes is true in every moment of my life.
The answer is yes, Jesus will come after me. Yes, when I sin, he will bring His love and His kindness, and His kindness will move me to repentance. I can't climb the walls to get out of my prisons; Jesus has to break through them. I didn't know if He was willing. But, yes, I've found...He is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Cruel Valentine's Day

The school office has two desks. One is the front desk where any helpful person can sit and open to the door when the two-toned ring pierces your ear, throw away most of the mail that comes, and give band-aids to cute small children. There is another desk, the one with the computer that works, that is in a different part of the office than the front desk. The problem is that when there is only one (singular, single, the loner, a.k.a. me) person in the office, that leaves only one person to open the door. As mentioned before, the only computer that works is on the desk which is not by the switch to open the main entrance to all those who wish to enter. I don't think I can even describe the feeling in me when I am sitting comfortably at this desk, typing away, and the doorbell rings. Ouch.

Valentine's Day is almost here. My Candy-gram job is to sit and type up all the little message that go onto the Candy-grams. I have to say that what this makes me think about, though, is all the people who don't get candygrams. I'm sure you know the type of feeling, if not this exact situation (which, I have witnessed for, oh, about nine or ten Valentine's Days). It's time for the Candy-grams to be handed out! Who got one? Who got two? Did I get one? Oh, I hope I got one. Oh! I got one. Oh, it's from Mom and Dad. Oh, of course they got me one. I wonder if anyone else got me one...

And then the jump in your heart when you did.
And the pat-yourself-on-the-back-because-it's-okay-you're-going-to-survive if you didn't.

Now that I'm older, I can take it. I can by myself chocolate if I need some. But, I feel bad for the little first grader who didn't get any. It's a cruel system, this situation where the little girl has to watch her friends get Candy-grams and not her... =(

The good thing is, it isn't REALLY a cruel Valentine's Day. As easy as it would be to become terribly bitter and eat 3 pounds of chocolate tomorrow because I don't have a "Valentine"...I can't. Because I do have a Valentine! It's not a boy. It's Amy. She's just so sacrificial that she says she'll pretend to be a boy if I want her to be. But I don't need that, Amy. I love you just the way you are!

I bet you don't have as great a Valentine as I do!! =)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ingenious Suggestions

Here are the ideas recently that I have received about what my blog should contain. I will separate them by persons from which the ideas were received, though they shall remain anonymous....
Did you know that Annie feels a great sense of justice in drinking milk when eating macaroni and cheese? Is this not a strange idea, since Mac & Cheese is in itself already a very dairy-rich product? Hmmmm...



BULLETIN: I have been informed that there are quite a few mature Christian women who are quite ready for a) some mature Christian men to please come find and marry said women or b) some other Christian men to come, hurry up and mature, then find said women and marry them.

Some nice chocolate cakes (at least one every two months) could be a possible reward, I'm sure.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Donk. Sploosh.

Today is both an on day and an off day.

It is on because I feel amazing productive: I've cleaned a bathroom, done some laundry, done some homework, and am now tackling a long list of computer projects.

But it is slightly off (but thankfully this "off-ness" isn't disturbing me at all -- makes a good blog :). Things I try to do randomly spill all over the place or disappear. Or I get stuck in the snow.

Explanation: When I tried to taste the noodles for the mac & cheese, at least two of them just flew off my spoon into unknown recesses of the kitchen...I finally got one into my mouth -- they were done.

When I poured milk into my glass, it dripped down the sides.

When I tried to pull into the driveway, I pulled too far over and got stuck in the snow. This did turn into a successfull experience, though, because I learned how to rock out of being stuck in the snow. I now feel like an official Chicago/snowy Midwestern driver.

I was trying to re-fill the little soap container from the mega-way more soap than anyone could ever use in 10 decades container (from Sam's Club - could you tell?) and it overflowed...then, I tried to set it on the counter so that I could go get a paper towel to wipe off the mega-container which had soap drips on it, and thud it's on the bathroom floor and I'm watching pink soap ooze onto the bathroom rug.

Then, there was the store experience. My dad and I were supposedly only going for milk and toothpaste, so I said we didn't need a cart. Of course, we ended up picking up the bagels and the bread loaf and the creamer and the orange juice and the cookies. We were walking through the aisles carrying all this phwams of stuff when donk. sploosh. the orange juice is all over the Jewel floor. After the Jewel guy said they would clean it up, and we walked away, I wondered and wondered and, sure enough, over the loudspeaker: "Right away. Cleanup in aisle 4." Now, I have to say that my dad was carrying the orange juice (if it had been me, I probably would have rolled up in a teensy little ball and died three times), and we are very blessed that the lady behind us had enough sense to pull back and not get splooshed with orange juice all over her. Yay for Cleanups in aisle 4.

But, yet, today's off-ness is more interesting than discouraging. Today is a good day, and it feels like the good day that it is. I had a great night - Amy, Mr. Pan, and I went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant where a team came and did the drums and dragons for the Chinese New Year and we had Jamba Juice and then went to Moody's Founders Week to listen to Josh McDowell. Then, we surprised Noemi at her house with ingredient for her first root beer float! I love root beer floats.

Have a lovely week, and try to have at least one root beer float sometime in the midst of it. That or orange juice that hasn't been spilled on Jewel's floor.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Untitled...but titled


Monday, February 04, 2008

A Tiring Few Days

So, a very long time ago, I bought an incredibly exciting purchase that, to today's date, I have done absolutely nothing with. It was this totally cute scrapbook:

that matches my journal. I had planned to keep it going as events happened, chronicling this momentous year of my life. Well, that hasn't worked out so well. Tonight I finally pulled out it, some post-its to assign pages to events, and my blog to remind me of what has happened this year. I need to keep this going. It's a way to have something nice to look at five years from now, but I think it would also be a practical way for me to step out of this cycle I find myself often in called passivity. I've practiced sitting instead of doing a lot, and I think it's time for some change.

So, how a look at the last six days of my life:

Wednesday: 10 hour drive to northern Wisconsin
--about a day and a half playing LIKE MAD in HoneyRock cold and snow--
Friday: 6 hour drive back to Chicago

matching "braids"

a wonderfully quaint half-opening barn-type door

large fires makes these two happy

Friday night: cram everything together in preparation for the weekend
Saturday AM: leave house at 6:30...arrive in Kansas City around 10.
Saturday PM: Wedding of one Anna to one Jim

Sunday: around 1 PM, we set out for Chicago. not to happen.
Sunday: around 6:30 we have to pull off the icy road and stop for the night, about 60 miles east of Des Moines
Monday: Let's try again. Finally get in around 3 PM.

So, I didn't get to drive at all on the way home, because of the bad weather. A lot of the second day, there was really bad fog. I have 11.26 hours of driving done, which leaves about 40 hours yet to drive. =(

We did have a fun little story, though, as we looked for a Culber's. My parents wanted to make up to me the non-driving thing with some Culver's ice cream; we doubted if we could find one, though, with how far into Illinois we were. Decided upon Wendy's in Culver's stead, we got pulled into the restaurant and went in. My mom decided to ask, just in case, if there was a Culver's in the area. "Well," the girl said, "I don't know if there are any others around. There might be one in Joliet -- I don't know." There's one around here?" my mom asked. "Right there" was the reply as they looked out the window they were facing to see what else but a Culver's right across the street. Blame it on the fog.

I'm tired. And my muscles ache. And I'm pretty sure they are just aching because they're screaming "I'm tired!" louder and more demandingly than a group of angry monkeys who decided never to brush their teeth.