Saturday, August 25


I'm migrating.

I'll return now and again, but if you'd like to follow me where I go, please let me know via comment.

It's been grand.

At first I thought it was just because he was a guy: he'd spill food or drink on my carpet and instead of apologizing and/or rushing to the kitchen to get a wet paper towel to clean up his mess (like ALL of my other guests ALWAYS do), he would mush the spot around with his finger a bit until the stain had spread over a larger area, dissipating the saturation of the stain colour a bit. I tried to be nice and patient, so instead of pointing out his messiness in front of everyone, I would make a mental note to myself to return and clean that spot up later. I did not attribute to him any sort of selfish lack of awareness, or meanness, or anything other than the fact that perhaps his mother doesn't make him clean at home, and so he simply doesn't know how to.

But I know better now. For in doing some house-cleaning, I discovered a piece of window hardware hidden behind a bit of clutter. An important piece of window hardware. A piece of hardware that keeps the window open and prevents the window from FALLING INTO MY ROOM WITH ANY GIVEN GUST OF WIND. I knew immediately what had happened: he had opened the window and had allowed this piece to fall out and had not replaced it, for after he left that room way back when, I had noticed that the window was propped up with something else. The window was so stubborn and tight, it had NEVER needed propping up. But now, it will ALWAYS need propping up -- at least until I spend a lot of money to pay someone to come and fix my window structure -- because this important piece was allowed to drop out and was not put back in.

And the worst part is this: HE DIDN'T EVEN TELL ME. At least have the decency to say, "Hey, I'm sorry, I broke your house." At least leave me with SOME ability to give you the benefit of the doubt and SOME room to think you're a good guy at heart. At least be HONEST. At least offer to HELP fix what you broke. At least PRETEND you care about people other than yourself. At least leave me and others with the impression that you're not a selfish, self-serving, lying infant who not only can't clean up after yourself (in SOMEONE ELSE'S HOME, no less!), but also can't take responsibility for breaking things that DON'T BELONG TO YOU.

Actually, it gets worse: he likes to criticize others for not living up to his standards of what he thinks they should be. BUT AT LEAST OTHERS DON'T BREAK MY HOUSE!


(Post-script: he hasn't been back to my place since, and I'm not surprised. If I broke someone's house and fled without saying a word, and it was pretty clear that I was the culprit, I would feel too ashamed and wretched to show my face too.)


FOCUS . . .

Driving home this morning from running errands, I drove past two maroon-coloured vans. They were going kind of slow, so I had the time to read the gold print that ran along their sides. After I passed the first maroon van, I almost slammed on my brakes, right in the middle of the highway. I was so shocked, because I thought the lettering read: "Great Communism Church."


I quickly recovered and revved up a bit to overtake the second maroon van, driving a bit in front of the first one I had passed. I HAD to have a second go at it, you know?

Thankfully, my curiosity was satisfied in a much less shocking way: "Great Commission Church."


My first-grade teacher always did tell me I read too quickly for my own good ....

Thursday, August 23


My conscience has been needled.

Several months ago, I was complaining and bemoaning a particular condition, a "state of things" that I disagreed with. This "state of things" prevented me from being a part of a community I had once been intimately tied into, and I spent a long time stewing in deep anger, resentment, and self-imposed loneliness. I finally worked and prayed through it, and I think God really did change my vision and my heart about the "state of things." By the start of this summer, I made my way back into the community I so longed for, and although I wasn't totally happy about the continuing "state of things," I just accepted it and trusted that God would bring me around, even despite myself.

Just about two weeks ago, I discovered that a miracle had occurred. The "state of things" didn't bother me anymore. In fact, when the "state of things" didn't exist temporarily, I even sort of missed it. And just the other day, the "state of things" made me really happy, and I was happy that my home was the place where the "state of things" could exist in peace and care.

And then today ... I embarked on a new adventure that has the side effect of eliminating the "state of things" completely from my life and from the community. I will likely never experience or be in the vicinity of the "state of things" again. I feel just terrible. Some would say that this is God dealing with the "state of things" once and for all, leading the rest of the community to focus on some other important things it needs to focus on right now. But I would say that I still feel badly. As if all my months of complaining and bemoaning struck a chord in the Lord's heart, exasperating Him to the point of saying, "FINE. You hate this 'state of things'? I'll just remove it from you. NOW, how do you feel?"

I know the Lord wouldn't do that, be exasperated with me and act out His will so crudely and make me feel this wretched. Nevertheless, my answer is: "I feel guilty."

Wednesday, August 22

SO TRUE . . .

The more I think about it, the more I am sure that Mrs.G is totally correct: it's a shame that I will be experiencing something really neat, something that could edify and bless people around me, something that will be thrilling to me and will make me so happy, and something that folks around me could and should completely support and pray for me about ... and I can't and won't share about it with anyone but the select three who know because of the prospect of gossip and undercurrents that would cast my excellent experience in the most negative and sordid of lights.

That stinks.

(By the way, Mrs.G is so nice and she does good math, unlike me. This is her latest theorem, as yet unproven, but hopeful nonetheless: MC Estoppel+even more knowledge=powerhouse for God)


You know what else stinks? Decision-making stinks. Especially the "either way you play it, you just can't win" decision-making.

I have to choose between two things I love. Well, more accurately, on the one side is something I have only recently come to love dearly, but which cost me a great deal to learn to love. So much effort and agony went into growing this love, that honestly, it just seems like a waste to walk away from it now, even for just a short time. And on the other side is something I haven't yet experienced but am SURE that I will love. So much prayer and excitement went into pursuing this love, that it just seems like it was meant to be and I dare not walk away from it at all.

And lying right in the middle is a third choice. Not a bad choice, but a second choice, nonetheless. I might seriously regret choosing Door Number 3, or I might think it was the wisest, most profitable compromise I've ever made. Might, might, might. What a cursed word.

This stinks, this stinks, this stinks.

(But all this complaining immediately makes me sick of myself complaining: after all, don't I have some great options in front of me? Whatever I choose, I am edified. Whatever I choose, I am supported. Whatever I choose will be temporary but enriching. Whatever I choose will be turned by God for His glory. So maybe it doesn't stink after all. It's just a little bit difficult.)

... for loved ones to know and follow Jesus.

... for God to not give me a selfish husband.

... for my friends' dreams to come true.

... for a clear path to walk.

... for my own dreams to come true.

... for rescue, recovery, healing, an end to suffering, restoration and aid.

... for the strength to be a good helper.

... for guard against insecurity, fear and hopelessness.

... for rest.

Friday, August 17


I don't know anything about mining and have never been even remotely interested in it, but following the story of the trapped miners in Utah is like reading the most exciting, most tragic, most harrowing, most gut-wrenching book ever written.

Miners get trapped but are presumed alive. Air holes are drilled into the space where the trapped miners are believed to be; oxygen is detected, but no carbon dioxide. A camera is dropped into another hole and signs of life are seen, but still no miners. A microphone is lowered and when all other machines are turned off, some sort of noise is heard over a span of five minutes - no one knows what that noise was. Rescue workers start drilling a bigger hole and need to go in about 2,000 feet; 800 feet in, the hole collapses again and several rescuers are killed. Rescue efforts are put on hold until the mountain is deemed safe, but no one knows when that will be. And looming over all of these events are the friends and family members who are beyond waiting at this point; "dread," "anxiety," "fear," "sadness" all seem like the most inadequate words these days.

Lately, we've been talking a lot at NHF about praying for big things, believing on God for humongous miracles, and not being people who would relegate miraculousness to days long past. So I guess we just all have to keep on keepin' on ...


At least 510 people are dead and 17,000 people displaced by the magnitude-8.0 earthquake that hit Peru earlier in the week. And as if that wasn't devastating enough, now the local police are warding off looters and mobs by shooting their weapons into the air. It's a terrible thing all around.


Tuesday night, four coordinated truck bombs went off in a residential area in Iraq, killing at least 250 people. Add this to the list of things I don't comprehend: deliberately choosing a residential neighborhood, housing your countrymen, women and children (whether you like them and their religious beliefs or not), and blowing up four enormous trucks with the singular goal of killing as many of them as you can. The hardness and evil that must have been in these perpetrators' hearts and minds is more gruesome to me even than the imagined sight of mangled and dead bodies.


A crazy-huge flood in North Korea has killed about 85 people, left about 60 people missing, left 300,000 people homeless, destroyed 58,000 homes, decimated 222,400 acres of farmland, and wrecked more than 800 public buildings, 540 bridges, 70 portions of railway, 30 water reservoirs, 450 agricultural structures and 500 electricity towers. It just doesn't seem fair, does it, to kick these folks when they're down. The effort is to see truth, that it's not a kicking as much as it is a divine act with some sort of purpose, a good purpose somewhere down the line. Not our will, but Yours.


Two South Korean women who were being held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan arrived in Seoul today. During an airport interview, one woman apologized for causing such concern. WHAT?!?! Woman, you did a GREAT thing. You went to Afghanistan on a mission of mercy, help, grace, love. You were brave and adventurous, and you survived a hard, horrifying ordeal. What in the world do you have to apologize for? Shame, instead, on your country-folk, who raised you up in a culture where you have to apologize for being bold and big-hearted and loving your God.


And on the home front: what does it take to bring loved ones to the banquet table? To stir in their hearts a longing for all that is good? To melt from them the ice-casing of bitterness, insecurity, pessimism and a criticizing nature? To show them love and not have them hold it off at arms-length? To have them lay down the things they hold up as defensive walls, and see just a little glimmer of light?

Answer: lots and lots of prayer, lots and lots of tears, lots and lots of patience, lots and lots of every good thing only the Lord can give me.

Thursday, August 9


It's true, people are not what they seem on the outside. A person's facial expression, her tone of voice, the amount of sleep she had the night before, can colour so much. But none of these things speak her heart and soul.

I make many assumptions about people -- ironically, usually about people I don't know very well. In contrast, it's the friends closest to me -- the ones I know the best and whose inner thoughts I probably could accurately plumb -- whom I afford the greatest caution. I could safely make assumptions about them and their thoughts, but I don't; I am more wary to not step on their toes and to not delve into them too deeply or sharply. I see now that I've got it backwards.

Instead, I should exercise safety in abandon with these closest and dearest. Assume the best from them and allow the same. And the space and grace that I afford to them now, I should instead focus onto those I have yet to warm to.

Duly noted.

Tuesday, August 7


Let's say that there is a plate of food on a table. It is delicious, the tastiest morsels of any food imaginable. It is hot food that never gets cold, cold food that never gets warm. It is satisfying, warming, nourishing, strengthening. It is cooked perfectly inside and out. It is free, and it is always available - one never has to ask permission to eat it, or to come near it, or touch the plate on which it sits, or even to shove one's face right into the middle of it. It never diminishes - the more one eats, the more the plate is refreshed and replenished, so that one can always eat more. And no matter how much one eats, one never gets bloated, gassy, sick, nauseated.

If such food existed, and one had a little nibble of it and knew how wonderful this food was, why would one not keep coming back for more? Why would one take a shy bite or two, then walk away from it? Why would one hold it at arms' length, staring at it, grumbling about not eating it, complaining about the plate on which it is presented? Why would one come late to and leave early from the banquet at which such food is offered?

I don't know either. It confuses me.


This isn't the food I'm talking about, but these are some things I produced over the weekend. I've discovered a particular talent for making frosting from scratch (my arteries clog just watching myself throw the ingredients into the mixer) and decorating cupcake tops. And I've reminded myself to never make entire large cakes, anything larger than 6 inches around. It just won't turn out the way it's supposed to, and gravity will always, always work against me. (The memory of the droop in my fridge makes me giggle now, but at the time I was too chagrined to remember to take a photo. It's a shame -- it really was hideous.)

I love the colour of red-velvet cake:

Red-velvet cupcakes with white-chocolate-cream-cheese frosting and chocolate sprinkles:

Chocolate-sour-cream cupcakes with peppermint frosting:

Lemon cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting and shredded coconut:


And here's something else I'd love to nibble on for a long, long time:

I tell you, those folks over in Cupertino really know what they're doing. Things like this make me wonder: how many computers CAN one woman decently have?

Monday, July 30


Another Korean hostage - a man - has been shot dead by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

UGH. My stomach. If I feel like retching all the way over here in suburban New York, what must the friends and family of this man be feeling back home in South Korea? What must peace-loving Afghans be feeling as they watch the public face of their country be transformed into that of a murderer?

I love (in the hating sort of way) how the Taliban says they shot this hostage dead because the governments involved in the negotiations did not listen to their demands. Uh, NO. I think it would be more accurate to say that the Taliban shot this hostage dead because they are a morally bankrupt gang of killers and oppressors.

I am torn by governments' unwillingness to negotiate with terrorists (or in this case ... no, yes, they're terrorists). On the one hand, I think that is the higher calling of a legitimate government - to not stoop to the base, disgusting level of people like the Taliban and give them any sort of legitimacy or claim to power by conversing with them as if they are rational players. On the other hand ... these hostages need to be freed!

I am also confused by the reaction of the church back in Korea, from which the 23 kidnapped Koreans came. I understand that they, too, want more than anything for the 23 -- now 21 -- to come home safely, unharmed, alive. But to disclaim spreading the Gospel, if that is indeed what this team was doing ... isn't a Christian's claim that life with Jesus - dead or alive - is better than life without? Aren't we called (and don't we all proclaim with confidence, when we're safe and comfortable) to lay our lives down for Christ and His Gospel? But what do I know - I'm not scared, hungry, sick, injured in a Taliban holdout somewhere in the middle of Afghanistan. If I were ... would I, too, say I was only there giving medical aid and was decidedly NOT proselytizing?