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Wonderment

Today it was so hot we turned the AC on.

And then it started raining.

Hard.

I heard it before I saw it, and when I saw it, I yelled, “It’s raining!” and ran to watch water meet earth, to feel sky water meet skin.

My brother asked me why I had yelled, but I couldn’t put my finger on it–there’s just something magical about rain, isn’t there?

I went outside, then brother, then sister–we had a water day the natural way. No sprinklers or hoses or pools–just sky.

What is it about water falling from the sky to fill your life with wonder?

And then later the car ride to church was one of the best I can remember–nothing extraordinary–just infectious laughter and singing and playing and I blame it on the rain, on the unexpected wonder of it all, on the brilliant sunset and the hope that comes from appreciating small things like falling water droplets in hundred degree weather.

Mary

Today, my great-grandmother passed away at the ripe old age of ninety-one. And there’s this theme in my mind that I’m struggling to pull together, because the thing is, I didn’t know my great-grandmother, Mary well at all.

There are a couple things I remember about Mary–I remember that she smoked when she was still independently living on her own, and that she smiled a lot when she lived in her convalescent home. Beyond this, I have to rely on my grandma and great aunts and uncles to get a picture of this woman whose existence was crucial to my own.

This week I’ve been thinking a bit about how sometimes you can discover things about yourself you never even knew. Like for example, last week I found a scar on my lip I didn’t know I had, and I thought, “Whoa. How has this little imperfection been a part of me, right here on my lip, without me knowing anything about it for years?”

And today, as I was rereading some of my great-grandmother’s poetry, I remembered the first time I learned that Mary Gallegos was a poet in her own right. There was this feeling of connection, this weird sense of a sort of poetic inheritance that I had received.

I’ve come to understand something about myself–that poetry is my second language, my heart language. And reading my great-grandmother’s poetry, I wonder how it’s possible that decades ago this woman, with whom I share flesh and blood, but almost no relationship, was writing these words of deep pain and longing in a form of writing so dear to me.

There was always this poet in her that I never knew. And it makes me wonder what else I don’t know about myself and my story. But Mary’s story is a part of my own, and I have to wonder if poetry is in my DNA, if it runs in my genes like the Dutch and the Mexican do, if maybe I wouldn’t be who I am without my great-grandmother, for more reasons than just the biological.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year

I hoped the passage of time

Would ease this sorrow of mine

And maybe at night I could

Fall asleep without tears”

–Mary Gallegos

Take the Next Step

Most of us have heard it said over and over again that, “There’s no such thing as a bad question.”

I understand the intent behind the statement, but I disagree with it on a number of levels, one of them being Biblical.

I watched this sermon by Holly Furtick yesterday called, “I’m Just a Girl” (http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/im-just-a-girl/) and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Holly talked about Mary and how when God called Mary to be the mother of the Son of God, Mary asked Gabriel a question,

“How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

Holly made the point that Mary wasn’t doubting God–she was merely saying, “Okay, awesome. How? What’s this going to look like?”

In response, Gabriel explains to Mary how she’ll become pregnant by God’s very Spirit. Whoa. Cool.

We know that Mary’s question wasn’t doubtful because of how differently things went down for Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, and her husband, Zechariah. Zechariah was also told that he was going to miraculously have a child, but he asked Gabriel a different question,

“How can I be sure?” In other words, “Really?”

And then Gabriel told him that because of his lack of belief, Zechariah would lose his ability to speak until the day his miracle child was born. Whoa. Harsh.

Sometimes we ask the wrong questions.

I highly recommend watching the sermon, but I want to quickly share the main thing I took away from Holly’s message:

Sometimes we ask God to tell us what to do with our lives. “GOD, HELP WHAT DO I DO? Make the path clear, Jesus!” And then we wait. And wait. And complain because it seems like God isn’t answering us. And then we wait some more.

But sometimes we’re asking God the wrong questions.

Sometimes God has already told us what our next step should be, but we didn’t like that step, or we decided that we needed to wait for the whole plan to be clear before we moved a single inch. Sometimes we pray for clarity and God’s actually waiting for us to move in on the opportunities he’s already set before us. He usually doesn’t give us the whole map, just one specific direction to follow, and when we can handle the first one, he’ll give us the next, and when we can handle that one, he’ll give us another.

The only prerequisites for being used by God are a willing heart and the courage to take the next step.

What’s your next step?

Holly’s message: http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/im-just-a-girl/

 

 

Becoming Family

When I was younger I used to pray and ask God for community. I didn’t realize I was praying for community at the time, but I was–I wanted to be close with other people’s families, to spend holidays with them and have a level of comfortability with them where we all sort of just felt like one big family. I wanted people to know me and I wanted to know them.

I think my desire partially stemmed from being an only child for ten years and not really having close relationships with my extended family. It was just me, mom, and dad for so long but while God created my parents with more introverted natures, he created me to crave and thrive on close relationships.

I’m saying all of this because when I was younger I started praying for families who we could become family with and then freshman year my family moved to Japan…without me. And while I understood why they left and supported them in their mission, my heart sort of broke from the distance. The move was for an indefinite amount of time and when the summer after freshman year came around and I realized I didn’t really have a home to go to…it was sort of, well, sad.

But then one of my roommates invited me to stay with her and her family in St. Louis and I got to know her parents and siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles and close family friends and I realized how much of an answered prayer it was that my family moved to Japan–it was devastating, but it opened up doors for me that would have never been opened if my family had stayed local. All throughout the school year, families from my church opened up their homes for me during holidays and weekends and I had the opportunity to get to know them on a deeper level, just how I had always hoped I would.

I’m writing this specifically tonight because I’ve been feeling a little homeless lately as I’ve tried to figure out how to avoid a two hour commute through L.A. traffic on Wednesday mornings. I’ve been making it work by spending Tuesday nights at my best friend’s apartment, but she’s in Brazil for the next month and a half so…I’m homeless again.

And I was sort of giving way to anxiety when I got a text from Summer saying that I could stay with her and her family. And I realized once again how much of a blessing it is to be some version of homeless for a time, when people open up their homes and allow you to become a part of their families. Tonight, I am grateful for uncertainty and not sleeping in my own bed.

The Hustle Before the Harvest

Monday nights are Dad and Sara date nights–it’s something we’ve done since I was young, with a short intermission during college, but I’m pleased to announce that we’re back at it!

So if you’re wondering why neither of us respond for an hour or two on Monday nights, just know we’re likely eating dessert or junk food somewhere, talking about life and the random thoughts that cross our minds.

Tonight we talked a little bit about money and what’s it’s been like to provide for ourselves at different points in our lives–specifically the times we both relocated from California–him to Japan, and me to St. Louis for the summer.

While our jobs and lives were drastically different, there was one thing we had in common–we didn’t have cars. Bikes were our primary mode of transportation, and hitching rides with friends was a necessary and somewhat frustrating means of survival.

I’ve been thinking a lot about St. Louis recently–I spent the summer of 2014 there with my good friend, McKenna Tucker and her family, who I had never previously met. The Tucker family was generous enough to let me stay with them rent free in a spare room, while I figured out how to do life without my family after surviving freshman year of college.

I think I’ve been thinking a lot about my time in St. Louis because I remember showing up there with only half of what I had packed (the airline lost my luggage for about a month) and with probably twenty bucks in my bank account, and I felt a lot like I do now–very poor and very desperate.

That summer I quickly learned two very valuable things–the art of frugality and the art of the hustle. It was a deeply humbling experience–I submitted application after application and went to interview after interview, and when I finally got my job in the fitting room of Marshall’s, I rode a borrowed bike through the humid Creve Coeur streets to work each day.

My dad learned similar things as he rode to interviews on his bike and found he had to coax his friends to give him rides to Costco for groceries (an otherwise 3 hour journey). He was deeply humbled by his dependence on friends for things that were so basic and easy during life in the U.S.–going to the store, paying rent, reading mail, etc. He prayed A LOT in Japan.

And when we were talking about our current financial situations, Dad and I landed on this one idea–we’ve got to trust God. It’s a given that we’ve got to do the work–the Bible says if you don’t work, you don’t eat. But Proverbs 14:23 also says, “All hard work brings a profit” and Galatians 6:7 says that we will reap what we sow.

I don’t know how long it is until harvest, but I do know that God will bless hard work–mine, my dad’s, and yours. So hang on. God has always provided for my family and he’ll provide you what you need too.

Note: The picture featured above this article was taken when I visited my fam in Japan in December of 2013–thankfully my photography skills have come a long way, since 😉