When your love affair with the city continues the minute the sun comes out

dinner at Highline
~~~

I have to admit, I’ve always been a goal setter. Making lists, devising new plans, adventures, and seeing them come to light… that’s one of the reasons why I love the New Year. A fresh start…not necessarily “new year new me”, but a chance to evaluate and think about the continuation of bettering myself. Each year, I think about where I’ve been, who I’ve interacted with, enlightening conversations, achievements in physical activity, and goals accomplished. This year, my focus is on being present, being mindful. I’m slowly developing a meditation practice. I’ve gained a lot of insight from a friend in Arizona who coaches at Mindfulness Life Center and through research. I have noticed if I do the practice in the morning, I am a lot calmer throughout the day, but I need to work on my attitude. Sometimes it’s hard when certain events happen that make a person feel unappreciated at their job, when things don’t go how I anticipated, and things are taken the wrong way. I should be more accepting, more tolerable. But it’s really hard, ok? I’m working on it.

Another thing I want to do this year is read more. Mostly because I miss reading and I want to make it a point to read every month…my goal is 2 books per month. Suggestions welcome! 🙂 I want to keep learning, so taking free online courses or random classes in Shanghai will be something I will make it a point to do too.

because brewed coffee is a simple indulgent
that makes mornings better.
so does Trader Joe’s chocolate.

~~~
January 8th. Today in church the song hit home: perhaps because it explains my abroad life…it re-emphasizes why I can’t sit still…I have to go where He leads me…every place I’ve lived has felt right where I needed to be…I’m still changing from the inside…more walls fall down year by year…

“Called Me Higher” by All Sons and Daughters

I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again I feel something everyday…even though I can’t explain it…even in the frustration, the questioning, the sickness…somehow there’s peace.

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside

And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home obviously you called me to leave, and now I don’t know where to go next…but I wait for your answer…
Never let these walls down break my walls down…everyday, it’ so easy to build up walls in a foreign country, where people come and go, it’s so transient here Lord, it’s hard to open up and be real. But it’s what is so important, to Be Real. It’s something we all crave, but these days it’s so rare to find connection in such a connected world.

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy light the path before me because I basically don’t know where to go or what to do, and I’m so lost without you. Should I stay or should I go, should I go back “home” or somewhere new…show me, Lord. I’ll go wherever you lead me to… You know my heart’s desires and frustrations and sadness and longing, but Your will is the only way and ultimately you guide me…I give all this to you…

Cause You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord

Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

~~~
(Jonah Part 1 of 4) Today’s sermon was about Jonah. Jonah was a prophet, in those days it was a person whom God chose to deliver a message of grace, mercy, and joy. God wanted him to bring this message to Nineveh, to restore borders, to bring grace. Jonah had a choice to obey God and he ran. Ran away. He forgot what the message would mean to the people of Nineveh…to show them forgiveness…something this harsh and brutal nation needed. I suppose it would be a scary thing to have God say “go for me, speak for me…” So this prophet said no. And ran.
And in his running he was caught red-handed in prejudices, narrow world view, disobedience…on a ship in a storm. On the ship the sailors were facing their reality and calling out to every god imaginable, and ending in calling on Yahweh..Jonah’s God. Our God. And Jonah? He was fast asleep in the lower deck, blocking out God, blocking out reality. This shows the contradiction: I love God and fear the Lord (so why do you run?) This instance exposed Jonah’s heart and when the sailor’s woke him up, He would rather be tossed overboard than face reality of running. (Little did he know…)
4 Take Aways:
1. You can’t run from God (Psalms 139:7-10)
2. Storms are meant to get our attention.
3. It’s not over till it’s over. (We ask Why?, God asks When?)
4. God’s initiative plus my obedience equals more than we can ask or imagine.
~~~
when a complete stranger scoots over to you
after grabbing her mom’s phone
and wants to take a selfie.
tucked back in a cozy booth
my nails match my wine
classy, right?

 

 

January 11. One Week. One week until I’m back under Nebraska skies and blue and icy cold freshness. Can’t wait to breath again. At school everyone is on each other’s nerves…teachers and students alike. The last week should not be allowed. The job of an Oral English teacher becomes math and science exam monitor and “can I just take your class?”…basically I am over this week.

Tonight I had to get a glass of wine to decompress.
I had an awesome lesson planned and it was an epic fail mostly because the students are so checked out that they don’t give a crap. Something has to change for next semester because I’m annoyed at their lack of participation…especially when they blatantly sleep and tune out…I’ve really never met such disrespectful students…. and they have to pass the TOEFL test…so between keeping them “entertained” (heaven forbid we don’t have a movie clip one day) and “engaged in English speaking” we have to practice TOEFL test prep. First Graders are angels compared to high school. What was I thinking? I am only determined to finish this contract with a better attitude before moving on. Deep breaths. Tutoring my dear friend, yoga, church, and wine and texts from friends get me through these rough days.

i get weird looks for ordering ice water
oh how rice has become a staple
random mirror on the wall

 

 

 

a bleak day in the ‘Hai

 

 Cheers to Friday the 13th and the start to my holiday! Dinner at Highline.

must order: Butterscotch Pudding and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
girl scout thin mint ice cream bar

~~~

January 14th. 🌅When your love affair with the city continues the minute the sun comes out. Seriously though, these past couple weeks have been rainy and gray and smoggy. Press repeat: I was made for Sunny Days. My mood? Instantly lifted, as the fluffy clouds give way to rays of sunshine on this gorgeous Saturday. I had to have a lazy morning in bed before an afternoon of cleaning begins.

 

my favorite shade of blue
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