Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When Life Was Made to be Celebrated

            Birthdays have always been difficult for me. I love celebrating someone else's birthday.. I love decorating and picking out gifts and, let's face it, one of my favorite foods is cake. But when it comes to celebrating my own birthday, it's hard. I'm not sure why... Probably because I tend to draw away from attention and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

            But I wanted 25 to be different. Twenty five felt different. Honestly, if you asked me five years ago if this is where I thought my life would be, I would have given you a map with a five year plan that would have nothing to do with living in Southeast Asia.

            I'm a quarter of a century now, halfway to thirty, and it feels... Different. Twenty four was a year of hard moments and a year of being changed, stretched, failing, and forgiving. But turning twenty five felt like a time to celebrate, and it felt like a time to let people celebrate with me.

           So we did. We celebrated because He is good, life is hard but good, and even though there are times when it feels like the world is falling apart, life was meant to be celebrated.

Morning snuggles with my main man

A sweet letter from the bigger girls

After being treated to dinner with a dear friend, I came home and found my room like this!
The bigger girls had decorated with twenty five balloons, chocolate, and flowers. 

Some of my sweet girls and the yummy cupcakes

What's the point of a birthday if there's no cookies and cream milkshake?

My adopted little sister. She's lovely. 

All of the girls and I, tummies full and sugar comas closely approaching!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When the Soul is Thirsty... Closer

      Sometimes a song will come along, and it puts words to what I feel like my heart has been trying to articulate.

      This song, "Closer", is sung by Bethel Music and Steffani Gretzinger.

      For the moments when your soul is aching to go deeper and experience grace in a fresh way. Enjoy friends. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

When you pray for orphans

      We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before we know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes. 
                                                                                    ~  David Platt

      Have you ever met someone who seemed to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders? Her eyes were downcast. She struggled to smile. Pain had left her shoulders turned to the ground.

       When I met this girl, her very demeanor spoke of a life that had been far too cruel to someone so young. We wondered if she would ever break free.

        But God....

        It's been over a year since the day we met. And she is beautiful. Healing has come from love, a secure home, a place where she belongs, and the realization that she is loved by Him. She walks with her chin up, her eyes bright, her shoulders back.

        She is my ballet assistant, and my emergency bottle fetcher. Where she was once stiff, she moves a little more to the music, and she is finding her grace.

         Her favorite movie is Beauty and the Beast. She loves the color pink, and wants to be a nurse when she grows up so she can help people.

          What is beautiful about this girl is that life, even though it has been cruel, has not stolen her gentleness. She is kind and quick to laugh and make jokes. She is making friends in school and working hard to learn. As one of the older girls, she is also trustworthy as an Ate (big sister). I have seen growth in her, and I have watched her welcome other girls into the home with open arms.

           When you pray for orphans, remember this girl. Remember that He knows her name and has a plan for her life. Ask for a family, for His plans to be fulfilled in her life, and for her heart to heal, knowing she is loved and whole.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When the Soul is Thirsty

     One of my goals for when I decided to re-enter the blogging world was to share things that inspire me, make me happy/sad, amaze me, challenge me, and make me think.

     This song is one of my favourite worship songs, led by one of my favourite worship leaders, Christy Nockels.

     It's one of those songs that i ca sing not just with my mouth, but it is the cry of my heart as well. 

Falling in love with His words... Psalm 119, an introduction

     It had been a particularly hard season. It had been a time when it felt like nothing was going right. Failure had become a close companion and would wrap his arms around me, whispering my list of faults over and over again.

     I was tired. My soul was dry and thirsty. I needed relief. I needed rest.

     During the month of July,  I took a break from social media. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest... I walked away from it all. I needed to get away from the externals that were choking my soul like smog. I needed air.

    Freedom, really. The cry of my heart has been for freedom. There were some personal issues, heart issues that needed to be healed, or the process towards healing begun.

    I highly recommend this, by the way. If you are having heart issues or feeling distant, then identify what in your life is occupying your time and is not necessary.... And then walk away for a little while.

    During this time I retreated deeper into His words. It was there I found Psalms 119.

    Made up of 176 chapters, Psalms 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. I had read it before in one of those "read through the Bible in a year" plans. Really, it was more like skimmed over it. At first I found it boring and repetitive. After all, the author repeats "the law" over and over again.

     But do you know that feeling... The feeling when maybe you read a book again after a long time or you revisit a movie you haven't seen in a long time. Or maybe you've lived in a city for years, and then one day you happen upon a new store or restaurant that suddenly becomes "your place". All of the sudden, you are seeing the world with new eyes.

     It began when I decided I would try to memorize as much of Psalms 119 as possible before my 25th birthday (make that my 26th). As I began to memorize the verses, they began to soak into my mind. I found myself reflecting upon them, asking questions and learning new things.

     In the movie National Treasure, the character Benjamin Gates (played by America's sweetheart Nicolas Cage), believes very deeply in the legend of a treasure that has been hidden for several centuries. He dedicates his life to the search, finding clue after clue that ultimately lead him to the treasure, but also open his heart and mind to the mysterious ways and beliefs of the men who hid the treasure.

      Ultimately, the journey itself was worth almost as much as the treasure.

      Digging into His Words has been a discovery of treasure... A soothing balm to open wounds and a journey deeper into His heart, His thoughts, His purposes. It is within these words that I have found life and a reawakening.

      I am still on this journey.

      In the coming weeks, I will be sharing what I have learned in these words, ways He has challenged me, things I never noticed before. I will be honest and gentle, a hopeful reflection of the ways He has taught me.

      I am not a theologian or a seminary student. I am simply a woman seeking Him, longing to be closer, and finding my freedom within the words He breathes.

      Come with me on this journey. I'll be Benjamin Gates and you can be Riley (or the dad, or Diane Kruger's character, or even Ian the villain if you wish).

Monday, September 15, 2014

A New Journey

Hello Everyone!

It's been a long time since  I have been blogging and posting to this page. It feels good. It feels like returning home.

There came a point when I would go to write something, and I just felt very... Uninspired .
I guess that would be the right word. A grey background can do that to you. Life was also busy with school, being the primary caregiver for a new baby boy, and the general work and busyness of life here in Manila.

So I walked away for a little while. I needed inspiration and  time to sort out what I really want out of this space.

And I think I have it figured out... Or at least, somewhat figured out.

If you'll notice, this space has been redone by Stephanie Gimlin, who has been amazing to work with, and I will highly recommend to anyone.

This is my space for thoughts and a little more about life here. I am excited to see how it develops.

So the wanderer story will now open another chapter for something new to begin.

I can't wait!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Falling in Love… A Little Bit of My Story

I have seen several posts around Facebook and the blogging world regarding singleness, marriage, “23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before 23” and “A response to those 23 things by a married woman”, blah, blah, blah.

At 24, I’m a little over the age bracket, so if I didn’t accomplish everything on her list, then I guess I missed my window. And, I am also not married, so I guess I don’t qualify for that list either. Yet, the posts and comments after did inspire me to right my own response. However, I will not be criticizing or analyzing what other authors have said. I don't have the links here, but feel free to Google them if you're interested. 

Rather I will share my story. Why? Because if there is anything I have learned in my 24 unmarried years, it’s that our stories are formed by who we are, and you will understand my heart much better through my story than if I simply provide a bucket list or a counter critique. 

So this is part of my story, and maybe you can relate:

Being single at the age of 24 was never part of the plan. In my perfect world, I would have met someone in high school or college and received a wedding ring with my Bachelor’s degree. I grew up in a world of princesses and fairy tales, and I truly believed that one day my prince would come and sweep me off my feet, and that would be my happily ever after.

To be honest, sharing that, although I am sure most girls can relate, makes me feel a little dumb. It makes me feel like I lived in a dream world and needed a hard dose of reality. 

Which I did receive, by the way, pretty sure by the eighth grade when heart break first introduced itself.  

But something inside of me never gave up hoping and believing in love. After all, I witnessed friend after friend meet someone and fall in love and couldn’t help but wonder when it would be my turn.

Yet, as I watched friend after friend fall in love, I began to realize that my chances of getting married right after college was never going to be realized. That dream began to fade, and I would have to prepare myself for entering the real world alone. 

I remember realizing at some point during my time in college that I had two choices: I could sit around and wait for a man to enter my life and finally ask me on a date. I could even spend my time pursuing guys and making sure I was in the right places to be available. Or, I could embrace this time that I have as a single woman and do something else with my time. I didn’t want to be single. I wanted to be in love. But I made my choice.

 In the mean time, while I was waiting and hoping for love, I chose to live.

In high school, I caught the travel bug, and I have never been the same since. So I traveled… to Honduras, Peru, Seattle, New York City, Chicago, Dallas, the Philippines, Cambodia, and India.

And eventually, I did fall in love, but it wasn’t with a man. Rather, it was with the brown skin and dark eyes of Filipino children. It was with the bright saris and smiles of Indian women. It was over ice cream with a small handful of street children, and on a tuk tuk ride outside of a Buddhist temple. It was with a plate of deep dish pizza in a windy city, and a bus ride over the Brooklyn bridge.

And deep down, I think God knew that more than a love story with a man, this is what I needed. I have this burning desire to discover… to always discover something. Maybe that’s what comes with the territory of being an observer. I didn’t realize this about myself until this past year as my heart became filled more and more with the desire to explore.

I understand that for many people, travelling becomes more fun when you are married because you have a constant companion. I look forward to that one day.

But I think He knew that I needed to travel on my own. I needed to know that I can take care of myself. I needed to draw closer to Him, and there is no way I could have done that if I had been married.

If you are married, or you married young, that’s ok. And if you’re like me and still have your original name, that’s ok, too.

I’ve noticed in my own life when I spend too much time on Facebook or Pinterest looking at engagement pictures and someone else’s ideas for their wedding/home/baby/dinner then I start to feel discontented with who I am and the situation God has given me.

When I read these other blog posts about marriage and singleness, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the feelings of bitterness I felt in their words… bitterness over their position, someone else’s position, or someone else’s criticism. So often we forget that while we may not agree with someone’s opinion, it’s still her story. While I may not agree with what you say, I can disagree well and still respect your story, your life experiences.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be filled with bitterness. I want to be filled with joy. When a friend makes a commitment to a man for the rest of her life, I want to rejoice. And when my dear friend calls me with news that she is finally travelling to Africa, I rejoiced with her as well. Because when I am filled with joy over my own life, I can be filled with joy for someone else’s happiness.

At 21, 22, and 23, I was not ready for marriage. At 24, I still feel like I am not ready, and honestly, I am not sure if I will ever be, but that’s a blog post for another day.

I am so grateful though that I serve a God who knew, and still knows, the desire of my heart. Yet, He has given me the most precious gift in providing what I need, rather than what I want.

While I wanted to fall in love with a man, He knew my heart needed to learn unconditional love in a home full of children.

While I wanted to wear a white dress, He knew my heart needed time wrapped in a sari, feet covered in dirt, and a lot of days in jeans and t shirts before I could learn to be comfortable in my own skin.

While I wanted romantic kisses and moonlit strolls on the beach, He knew that my heart needed water from a fresh coconut, near-death experiences in jeepney rides, and little hands to hold.

While I wanted to dance to love songs, He knew I needed to teach a ballet class, and to fall in love with dance all over again.

While I wanted to have my own family, He knew I needed a bigger one that expanded two continents.  

While I wanted to give my heart to one man, He knew that I needed to learn my heart belongs to Him first.

Now there are days, and these days come more frequently than they used to, when I want to be in love and get married and begin a life of adventures with someone instead of by myself. Yet, there are so many days when I really love my life, and I love the position in which God has placed me.

I would not trade this life for anything. I have been learning contentment, to trust, to say yes even when it’s hard, to be grateful in all situations, and to be flexible, flexible, flexible.

So whether you are married or single, 19, 35, or 76, my prayer and my hope or you is that you will be able to say the same about your life… that you would not trade it for the world.

I think, therein rests the secret.

At 24, I can honestly say I am in love… with this life I have been given, and the God who knows the way to my heart. 

And that’s my story.