Thoughts on Trajectory

I spent part of this past weekend babysitting some friends' kids.  Or, well, not babysitting.  As both I and their oldest son described it at various times, I was mostly there to hang out with them and make sure they didn't burn the house down or kill each other.  At some point during our time together, I realized that the first time I was ever in their house was in February.  You know, like this past February.  Just over nine months ago.  I sat on their couch at a birthday party, incredibly jetlagged, trying not to fall asleep and struggling between the desires to eat the delicious cake they had and feeling like I was about to die from sugar overload.

Since then I've spent uncounted hours hanging out in their house, slept on the couch more than a few times, eaten many meals around their table.  (This could be a story of how grateful I am for unexpected friendships, but that's for another time.)

And as I considered -- nine months, really that's not that long -- I t…

Rings of Experience

These memories are not yet fuzzy: the hallways and staircases of the Duangtawan in Chiang Mai; the Causbys' living room in Dujiangyan; the view from my tiled balcony looking out on Qingchengshan.  It's incredible to think that my body -- so small, so fragile -- has experienced all these places and more, that the rhythm of walking from my apartment to my classrooms ended less than five months ago.  The air conditioned Billy Graham Center at Wheaton, standing in the Kuang Si waterfall in Laos -- airports and buses and train stations --

These are all a part of me now, because we are shaped by both nature and nurture.  If nutrition and trauma and rays of the sun can reform our bodies and rewire our brains and reprogram our cells, then I must believe that all these places I've lived, the people I've spent time with, the languages I've spoken, the meals I've shared -- all of these have also made and unmade and remade me, in elegant, intricate ways that I can't e…

Three Months in America

*dusts blog off*

It's been a little while.  My mind has been busy and the rest of my life has been too.  And now, suddenly, it's the very end of September and I have most of my work schedule for Sheetz and I've been back in the US for three months -- when did that happen?

(As Imagine Dragons sings,
All my life, I've been living in the fast lane
Can't slow down, I'm a rolling freight train...
I am the color of boom.

I'd say that I like my life to have plenty of margin, but the choices that I make (consistently) seem to indicate that I enjoy having it pretty full, so...)

At the same time, most days it feels like I've been here way longer than three months.  I've moved into my apartment, become friends with the stellar roommate who God so generously provided, started working with the Village Church, gone through confirmation classes, been working at Sheetz for over a month, traveled to Indiana and New York to see friends, started working on a class with t…

Wrapping up the last semester

On Friday I gave finals to my last two classes (minus one student who didn't show up -- I think it's impossible for finals to ever go exactly as planned.  From my first year of teaching, when students were late because they got locked into their dormitory, to a student throwing up in the back of the classroom while others took their finals, to a student sobbing through her interview because her boyfriend broke up with her a few minutes before -- if it's not one thing, it's another.  But it's never boring.)  Grades are almost done (I think, I always hold my breath a bit until they're officially approved by my department contact!) and then I can really dive into dismantling my apartment, cleaning, and packing.

My mind can't really comprehend it.  The last few summers have been jam-packed with Wheaton classes, traveling, and trying to cram in time with people in Bloomington and Pennsylvania.  But this summer I have a one way ticket (finally, hallelujah!) and I…

Hope is Alive (courage, spring 2019)

Earlier this semester, we had a class about courage and hopes.  Students had the homework to talk to someone in their life who they consider brave and ask what motivates their courage. 

I wanted to share some of their answers. 

I think my roommate is the bravest.Last night our water dispenser caught fire in a short circuit, she pulled out the power in a hurry. At this time I have been crazy.

I think the bravest in my mind is my grandmother.She was born in the 1950s. Life was very hard at that period. She never complained about the situation at that time, but bravely faced it. Life request that she must be brave or die of hunger.
In my life, I think my uncle is very brave.Because he is a fireman.Whatever difficult he meet, he never give up. When fires broke out in some places, he is always devoted to saving everyone.
My friend think their family give them brave.They said: “When I want to give up, my family always tell me: Don’t give up.Hope is alive.Hope is alive.”
In my life, I think my si…

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’…