happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Friday, December 30, 2011

resolutions. 2012, here i come!

i can never remember if i love or hate new year's resolutions. regardless, i generally make some. not actually tasks like "exercise 5 days a week" or "stop answering the phone when (insert any ex-boyfriend's name here) calls", but more of a new year's blue print for my life- a new year's plan. i try to evaluate where i am and where i want to go, and develop my plan from there. some years i add things like goals to meditate more often, or read the bible more regularly. some years i give things up, like 9 years ago when i gave up smoking.

this year, i'm struggling.

i have been putting quite a bit of thought into the coming year and my resolutions and i've drawn a big fat blank. well, until today. i've decided that this year's resolutions will be more about discipline and reflection than about set-in-stone goals. they will be more about appreciating what i have than amassing more "stuff". they will be about learning to live as others live instead of living the way society says i should be living. they will be about food. there has to be at least one focused on food. after all, i'm still ME!

my 2012 new year's resolutions, in no particular order:
-designate one night each week as "no lights night" and not use any electric lights in my house- only candlelight
-not turn my thermostat above 66 degrees all winter...with most days keeping it at 64 while i'm home and 60 at night while i sleep (you should know how drafty my house is to fully appreciate THAT resolution! the key is layer, layer, layer!)
-not make a single purchase that isn't a necessity for the entire lenten season (february 22-april 7th)...only food, medication, cleaning supplies, etc.. no "fun" stuff.
-(this last one is my favorite. since i am exploring an opportunity to do full time mission work in nepal, and have a short term trip planned there for sure in the spring, i am going to try, for a short time, to eat as the nepalis do. in the mountain region where i am going, they eat the same thing, twice a day, every day. nothing else. it is called dal-bhat-tarkari, which means lentils, rice, and curried vegetables. that sounds delicious. i am sure i'll love it! for about a day and a half... )my resolution is to cook and eat dal-bhat-tarkari twice a day, every day, for two weeks starting january 3rd.

here is the fun part- i am going to blog it! i will blog the recipe, the results of my first (and subsequent) cooking attempts, how i like it, and my thoughts each day as the monotony either bores me senseless or lifts me to a higher level of spiritual and culinary bliss. let's see what happens! check back on january 3rd for an update.

happy new year! see you in 2012.   :0)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

am i the "right" kind of christian?

i have been exploring the possibility of joining a faith based "sending agency" to help me fulfill my calling to cross-cultural missions. the application process has been really detailed and intense. i am glad that they are selective about who they "send" to share god's love and his word, don't get me wrong. there has to be a process to weed out the scary people, the unbalanced people, the spiritually mis-guided... but during the course of answering countless questions, filling out numerous questionnaires, doing hour long phone interviews, i started to wonder if maybe those "other" people were really ME!

i have never been so insecure in my life. well, that is probably not true- but while i'm in the midst of this, i certainly can't remember a time that i felt more insecure. i have been insecure about situations, but this is more of a spiritual angst...an insecurity about who i am as a person, and if i'm "good enough" for the task at hand. even as i write that, it doesn't feel quite right- not quite what i am afraid of... i think what i am really afraid of is whether or not "THEY" will think i'm good enough. will they believe i'm the "right kind of christian" to join their team? can i prove to them i'm worthy?

after the preliminaries, they sent me a packet of stuff. in it was something called a biblical beliefs questionnaire. i found myself calling my pastor and asking to speak with him about some of the questions. i said to him, "i need to know what i believe. can you tell me?" it sounds funny, but i haven't ever taken a list of topics and really hashed out how and what i believe about them. i didn't become a christian until i was 30- so my religious education has been zip except for church sermons on sunday, and a wonderful bible study once a week with good friends. we mainly talk about cultural and historical context,  philosophy and how scriptures make us feel, and ways they apply to our lives in the here and now- not the nuts and bolts of the bible and what is literal, what is symbolic, what we believe to be true about certain events, and more importantly how to articulate that to others. most of my religious background has been of the heart. it has been god planting himself in the center of my heart and trying to plant himself in the center of my life. it has everything to do with spirit and little to do with "knowledge". it's not that i'm not knowledgeable about scripture and the bible. i actually am- but i sure haven't ever had to articulate it to someone that would then analyze my answers and decide if they are "right" enough to represent this organization to the rest of the world.

yesterday was an hour long phone interview, which was recorded and will be transcribed and put in my file. i was asked 16 questions, ranging from which fruit of the spirit i embody, to who my favorite missionary is and why... with no feedback from the other end. no sense of if my answer was right or wrong. no leading so that i could tweak mid-stream if i was on the wrong track. just a silence to allow me to collect and express my thoughts. i never realized how much guidance i take from the feedback of others in a conversation until i was faced with none. so again...i was left to wonder, was i good enough? did i make sense? did i "pass"?

after that interview, i reviewed what is still to come in this process. there will be a physical exam, a review of my life history that covers everything from my sexual experiences to my childhood and relationship with my family, a 90 minute biblical beliefs phone interview, a 2 day in person consultation, (if i get this far) a week-long orientation, and more. i sat overwhelmed by the struggle between wanting to tell the complete truth and be accepted for who i am, and the desire to tell them what i think they want to hear so that i'll be accepted, period. i realized that my life will never withstand the scrutiny of others if i want to prove myself "worthy"....

...ahhhhhh...and then it hit me. i am not worthy. i am not perfect. i don't have to be. jesus redeemed me and my imperfections, and his grace is what makes me good enough. the point is not to be perfect. in fact, the point is to admit that i am NOT perfect and to ask for god's forgiveness and his guidance in the face of my imperfections. this process has been terrifying, but really good for me. it has helped me examine what i believe, and also examine those things that others might not approve of and start to examine them more closely to see if i really approve of them, or not. maybe there are some things that i am doing, or thinking, that need to be changed. maybe i'll find that all my ways are blameless- but more likely i'll find that i've been kidding myself. either way, it's time to find out.
regardless of how this application process pans out, i will embrace the insecurity as a blessing, and a chance for self examination, and personal and spiritual growth.

i may need a therapist when it's all over! :0)

(Note: a very good friend just emailed about my post, upset that this organization would "judge" me and others. this is what i told her:
"i am actually glad that they are asking the questions they are asking. they want to know for sure that they know me and what i stand for before sending me out to represent them and represent christ in their name. they honestly haven't said anything judgemental- they are just asking what i believe and what i stand for. it is ME that judged me in the process.")

Sunday, December 11, 2011


i am absolutely obsessed with checking the stats from my blog.

a crazy thing has happened. my blog has branched out beyond borders. not just beyond the borders of my mind, but also beyond the borders of the US. to date, it has been viewed in the following countries: USA, Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Uganda, Afghanistan, Canada, United Kingdom, and Belgium. wow! it has a slightly voyeuristic feel- to know people from not only other countries, but other continents, are looking into my mind...into my heart...into my psyche. i love it! haha.... i wonder though- who are you? how did you find me? what keeps you coming back?

i would love to hear from you and hear your story. i can guess who some of you are- i have a friend in Afghanistan, a friend-of-a-friend in the Netherlands, family of folks in my bible study in Germany and Canada, family of my own in Belgium, church acquaintances in Uganda. is that who you are? i have NO idea who the Russian and UK connections would be. please, next time you read this blog, send me a "comment" and let me know who you are and how you are. say hi in my language or in yours. i'll figure it out.

until then, i'll obsessively check daily to see where in the world you're viewing from. LOVE IT!!

** Update 12/17/11. Add JAPAN to the list! woohoooooooo!!!!!! :)