Where Else Would I Go?

For the first time in a (very) long time, my heart suddenly feels quiet. 

I'm not sure of why exactly.

Maybe having finally finished the last requirement for Wheaton and, for the first time in almost three years, not having a nagging (or screaming!) feeling in the back of my mind reminding me that I should be doing some reading or writing a response or researching something or preparing for a class.

Maybe, having lived in Sichuan for two and a half years, the incredibly (and I do mean that in the most literal possible sense) slow pace of walking has finally sunk into my body.  Although I still find myself setting out from my apartment at a briskly purposeful American stride, more and more often I find that it slows to a stroll by the time I'm halfway across campus, even if I'm not hanging out with students.  And I notice the irises growing everywhere, the strange patterns of ripples on the surface of the small lake on campus as ducks chase each other across the water. 


The Light Seems to Have Forgotten Me (deepest fears 2019)

Each time I give my students a chance to put their thoughts into written words, I am blown away by the facility and creativity with which they express themselves in English.Each year when we talk about loneliness and fear, my heart is broken by the glimpses into their own cracked hearts.

It’s my honor to share some of their responses with you in the hopes that you may get to know them a little bit more and ask for hope to be brought into their lives, that they would know that they have not been forgotten by the Light.

My deepest fear is abysmal sea There is endless darkness on the bottom of the sea And the unknown things I’m afraid I’ll be swallowed up.
My deepest fear is that I am not strong enough to hold my whole family.
In my heart, the deepest fear just is That I can’t find anyone to talk. Because I don’t bear silence And I am hungry for coming up And talk with others.
My deepest fear is that some life realities. Some people who need help. Some people who encounter all kinds of hardships. I’…

Saint Patrick's Day & Hebrews

I haven't done much to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day (except for accidentally wearing green?) but I did listen to the rendition of Saint Patrick's Breastplate that my friend Tyler made for me three years ago after I pestered him about writing a new tune for it... maybe with banjo.  (Sorry, I don't think I have a great way to upload Tyler's version.)  I wasn't fully prepared for the emotions that would swamp me as I listened to the words of that prayer.  Three years ago I was deep in one of the hardest springs of my life.  It was filled with what felt like a never-ending chaos of drama, of relationships crumbling, of people making poor choices and bringing catastrophic consequences down on their own heads (and others', sometimes.)  Also, I was getting ready to leave Bloomington and go settle down in China for three years.  All of these things have a way of messing with a girl's head and leaving her spirit dizzy and exhausted.

I'm sure that I'm fo…

Favorite Lines from Delta

It was spring semester of my junior year in college that friends began introducing me to the music of Mumford & Sons.  Ben R and Caitlyn in particular come to mind, both more or less forcibly sitting me down and saying, "You have to listen to this."  I wasn't convinced at first, but they grew on me, and since then, their music has been a deeply integrated part of different stages of my life. 

That summer (before my semester studying in China,) my roommate Joanna and I bonded over Sigh No More.  My memories from my first fall teaching in China are soundtracked with Babel.  When I lived in Bloomington, I fell in love with Wilder Mind (despite the very different sound) one song at a time, as they'd play on our radio station at the coffee shop and I would think, Wow, who is this by?  ..wait, this is also Mumford & Sons?

So I wasn't too surprised when I also fell in love with song after song on their latest album, Delta.  It's probably no surprise that it&…

Yet a Little While: spring semester 2019

I've never had much patience for Buttercup of The Princess Bride.  She names her horse "Horse," fails to recognize her True Love when he is (barely) wearing a mask (maybe it was the mustache?) and generally comes across as incompetent and shallow.

So I've always sort of ended up snorting at the line, "It was a very emotional time for Buttercup."  Seriously, your True Love is kidnapped by pirates and killed and it was a very emotional time?  C'mon girl, grow some depth.

However, this year I find myself saying a lot, "It is a very emotional time for Hannah," and that's about as well as I can generally describe it.  I am strongly wired for anticipation, which can be very enjoyable (I get a gleeful feeling looking at wrapped birthday gifts long before it's time to open them) and also awful when what I'm anticipating is of the leaving-a-place-and-people-and-job-I-love-and-moving-around-the-world-again variety.  The past semester was ful…


After three and a half years, here's what I'd tell myself back at the beginning.

There will be too many students for you to know them all.  It's okay. They will see you and yell hello, hold your hand, or slip away with an awkward laugh -- it's okay. By the time you're done, you'll have taught thirty-seven classes of students, well over a thousand individuals. You won't remember all their names, but you taught them and graded them, listened to them and laughed with them, scolded and encouraged them, and it is enough.
You'll dream of old students sometimes, despite the intervening years, and they will remember you, too. You'll walk the streets of Beijing, talk about their jobs, eat meals together.   It doesn't always end on the last day of class.
You will laugh, and cry, and panic, and want to give up, and want to throw a textbook at some of your students. But you'll settle for throwing chalk, and laughing, and laughing, and laughing. It will get easier,  but there will …

At the end of 2018

Here I am, thinking about what to write at the end of 2018 (and feeling like a time traveller since I'm in China for it this year!)

"What will you do tonight for the new year?" Phila asked me this morning, and rolled her eyes when I suggested sleeping.  So now I'm trying to remember what all has happened this year.

A year ago, I had just surprised Susan and Natalie (and quite a few other people) by showing up for Nat and Jason's wedding and I was in Virginia, hanging out with the Wilsons before going back to PA to finish off the surprises.  This year I'm looking forward to being in Thailand soon before heading back to the US briefly for Abbie's wedding.  The past year has been full of travel and transition, despite the stability of living in the same apartment and keeping the same campus team.  I feel extraordinarily privileged to live the life that I do, to get to call so many places home and so many people my favorites, but the continual transitioning f…