Monday, December 27, 2010


Misery, scars, depression, despair, brokenness – these make up our world. People strangling their own screams for help. Damaged beyond repair, they turn and silence the cries for help of others. Blind people leading blind people. The world is full of desolation. In a room full of friends, their laughing faces conceal a black gaping hole of despair that has consumed their lives. The quiet ones as well as the loud ones suffer the same. Abuse, pain, fear, distrust – this is reality. Despair has no preference.

Despair. It is a hopelessness that reaches the very soul. It petrifies and freezes those who might have a chance at life. It makes life devoid of good. Nothing can free. The abandonment of hope is the abandonment of life. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. No one cares. I am alone.


Allow that word to marinate in your brain and heart. Lies - an untruth that people allow themselves to believe. LIES. A false statement that is deliberately used to deceive others or one’s self. Despair is a lie that whispers that there no hope. False. Hope is living and healthy. According to George Bernard Shaw, “He who has never hoped can never despair.” Therefore, one who is despairing did at one time have hope. Consequently, hope is achievable. Hope is the belief that what is wanted can be had.

In the morning with the sunshine, hope arrives. Many people believe that night has no hope. Generally, dawn is considered as the arrival of hope. Yet, in the dark of night, there are stars. These specks of light hold promise of the morning to come. The moon personifies the patient, enduring hope within one’s heart. There is hope.
The reality of this world is sobering. Nothing within this world is enduring enough to be confident of it persisting long enough for hope to be placed in it. This entire world is fickle. It is slippery. One’s fingers cannot grasp onto anything that persists. Nothing is concrete. Hope that will never be disappointed cannot be found in this world. That is a sure way to despair.

Real hope is found in things not of this world. Yet, things not of this world are unexplainable. These do not fit the logical part of one’s brain. Hope is God. God is hope. Both the idea of God and Hope are abstract concepts. Without hope, life would be hell. Without God, there would be no hope. Concrete hope is found in God for “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength” so says Isaiah 40:31. Hope is not tangible. Yet, it greatly influences the human population. Likewise, God is not often tangible, but He continues to influence the human culture. God is Hope.

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” –Martin Luther King, jr.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thank You Note

Dear Jesus,

At my house, we write thank you notes. I think that surprises people sometimes. I mean, we've always done it. When we were little, we couldn't play with any of our toys until we wrote our thank you notes. I thought it was a cruel and unusual punishment then. After all, I had spent all Christmas Eve in a squirming bundle of sleepless expectation waiting for Christmas to come. In the early hours of morning, I'd dash down the stairs to behold a Christmas tree swimming amongst a pile of gifts. With childish dexterity,I would turn the Christmas tree lights on. Then, in wonder, I would go a couple of feet away from the tree and lay on my stomach and just gaze at this brilliant picture. There I would wait. The expectation was great.

Anymore, Christmas is not like that for me. The reality is working eight to nine hellish hours in a busy bakery up until Christmas Eve. During that time, I forget my wonder. My eyes glaze over in exhaustion as I wait in a horribly long line of other last minute Christmas shoppers. People are cranky and rude. During that time, I forget my childish awe. Christmas is not what it used to be. I have become a disillusioned old hag.

And yet, in all of this, I find that I am grateful. Thank you for this season that is so widely celebrated. When I drive anywhere at night, my way is lit by Christmas displays and colorful bushes. Perhaps some do celebrate Christmas for the wrong reason. However, someone recognizes the fact that something needs to be celebrated. I am thankful for the music of hope and cheer that celebrates Your birth and Christmas magic. It lightens my heart. Thank you for giving us a reason to exchange gifts and promote generosity. Sure, some might feel obligated, but when else are you encouraged to give in this way?

Jesus, thank you for being my best friend and wanting to know me. Thank you for choosing us. I still don't understand why.

Please stay close to me.
I love you.


Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holy Night

Always, these words give me pause. Always, I stop and consider the holiness of a God that would die for humans. Always, I am quieted in this song.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Monday, December 20, 2010


What is surrender?

I got thinking about this and so I went to my friendly to find out what they had to say about surrender. I was dreadfully disappointed with the definitions that I found. Let me give you the first two definitions.

sur·ren·der   [suh-ren-der]
–verb (used with object)
to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress: to surrender the fort to the enemy; to surrender the stolen goods to the police.
to give (oneself) up, as to the police.

From this definition, I get the idea that surrender is bad. Surrender is something that only criminals do. Surrender is for the bad guys in the movie where the good guys finally win out. Surrender is the waving of this tattered white scrap of clothe on the end of a shattered stick. Surrender is to be scorned.

"Don't Give Up!!!"

This phrase has become a motto for Americans. Surrender is for the weak. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to obstinately pursue your own way and never give up. To surrender is to proclaim your weakness.

Personally, I have always hated the word surrender and any word that was in any way, shape, or form connected with it. Surrender is not something that I willingly embrace in my own life. When I was a child, I was often called 'stubborn' or 'obstinate.' Just because I'm older doesn't mean those names don't apply to me any longer. In fact, I'm probably just better at hiding these sometimes unpleasant qualities.

What is surrender?

Surrender cannot be totally bad. After all, war comes to an end with a surrender. May haps, surrender is more of an accurate measurement of strength because surrender is a letting go of one's own will. The following are some quotes that seem to describe what surrender is.

I was being called to surrender the very citadel of my self. I was completely in the dark. I did not really know what repentance was or what I was required to repent of. It was indeed the turning point of my life.
Bede Griffiths

If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

If you want to make someone feel emotion, you have to make them let go. Listening to something is an act of surrender.

Brian Eno

The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.
Julia Cameron

Give up all bad qualities in you, banish the ego and develop the spirit of surrender. You will then experience Bliss. - Sri Sathya Sai Baba

At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice. - Maya Angelou

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Companionship: Winter Colds

It starts with an irresistible tickle in your throat. It's midways between a laugh and a cough. You are never quite sure if it will reveal itself as one or the other. However, you start popping vitamin C like it's some sort of candy.

The next day, one's voice is thick and deep. It squeaks when you are serious and rumbles when you are giddy. I find that I become quite garrulous as I explore all the odd noises that this voice which isn't quite my own is speaking. One moment, I feel sultry. The next moment, I feel like a pubescent boy.

And then, you hit a brick wall. Your head feels as though it has been slammed against this brick wall multiple times. Your nose is like a fountain of snot. Sleeping is difficult because your head pounds and your nose tries to drown you in a pool of liquid boogers.

Blankets become a must. Sweatpants and big t-shirts are mandatory. A delectable novel is the medicine of choice. Vitamin C sticks closer than an enemy. And somehow in all this comfort, your face still feels like it's going to fall off.

Thank you, Winter Cold, for making life a bit more miserable.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Hit List

December 11th. Another member of my Dominican Republic team, Kirstin, found out about a fatal car accident that killed her mother. The next morning, her sister died from injuries. Her father shall survive. Kirstin has other siblings.

I hate that this has happened. I hate that there seems to be some strange hit list floating about for fatal car accidents. I hate that my DR family continues to watch different members of this family deal with grief. I hate it.

It hasn't even been a year since we left the Dominican Republic and two of our team members have dealt with the death of family members. Currently, our rate is at least a family member a semester. Where ever this hit list is...I want to find it and destroy it.

My mom told me that she never had to walk beside a friend who was grieving the loss of a parent or sibling in college. I want that. I don't get that.

Death is sweet for those who have the certainty of heaven and death is bitter for those who are left behind. My heart grieves.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shop With A Cop

The cellphone alarm crankily threw its wake up alarm at my sleeping ear. It took me a while to separate my dream from reality since the music became a part of my dream that I cease to recall. My eyes creaked open and my hand scurried to find this obnoxious noisy object so it could be silenced. After all, two of my roommates still wanted to sleep. The other had already flown out of the room like a sleepy summer storm. It was six thirty in the morning.

Within thirty minutes, Alysha and I were in the newly scraped off car driving 45 minutes to a high school. We had agreed to be Spanish translators for the program Shop with a Cop. We were groggy and tired. Miraculously, we made it to this high school that neither one of us had ever been to. If you know Alysha's driving and my navigating skills, you would understand why this type of arrival is so very miraculous.

Upon entrance into the high school, we were overwhelmed by a huge mass of humanity that was somehow carefully organized in family groups. Little ones were everywhere complaining in English and Spanish. A prayer was said over the program while the families enjoyed juice and donuts.

Eventually, we all relocated to Walmart. At this destination, each family was paired up with a cop. If one had gone to this particular Walmart on this specific Saturday morning and walked to the very back of the store, this person might have been stunned by the long line of families that took up more the half the wall. Another line of Police men and women, firemen, and emergency workers was created opposite the line of families. Where these two lines met in the middle of the store, stood a woman with a list of names of families. She connected families with their cop and sometimes inserted a translator into the mix.

Of the children of these families, there were about three hundred. Each cop knew exact the amount of money to spend upon each child in these families. It was quite the orderly process.

Although I was a translator, truly I got to practice my English skills more than my Spanish. The mother, Elbia, who was pregnant had her three daughters with her and they were bilingual. The mother could understand English as well. I was more or less another set of hands and another heart to love on this family.

The girls piled pink sparkly clothing into the cart while the cop wrote down costs. The youngest daughter played hide and seek with the cop while the middle daughter asked me what the cop had in his belt. She was far to shy to ask him herself. I asked. The eldest daughter stayed by her mother's side and aided her as she found clothing for the girls. It was a happy occasion as the girls found clothes for themselves.

Shop with a Cop. (i didn't find any articles written about the Shop with a Cop program that I participated with. however, this is the gist)

The most that I did during this Saturday morning was drive an hour and half round trip, become a part of a delightful Hispanic family for an hour, watch a person's dream of caring for neighbors happen, and become dreadfully slap happy once the lack of sleep hit me. Honestly, I did nothing this morning. Yet, I did see a dream happen. Somebody saw a need. Somebody dreamed a dream. Somebody acted. Now, many somebodies get blessed because of that first somebody.

Most of my morning was spent standing and watching the wheels of this program work. And I am thankful.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yellow Hermit House

There was a day where I was set on being a hermit living in a yellow cabin with a big dog. This was my happy place. It was a simple place. This was where it would always be sunny and laughter filled.

It's still a fond thought.

However, I could not imagine utterly isolating myself from people even to devote myself to writing. It would be a rather boring existence and what more...I would be confined to live in the reality or unreality of my brain for the extent of my isolation. My brain, though I love it, is a torturous place.

My yellow hermit house is not dead.

It's still a dream.

And maybe, I'll vacation there even if I might not live there.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Light a Candle

Even amongst the commercialism of Christmas, this time of the year is holy to me. I feel as though I walk on holy ground always as snow covers the blemishes of the world. Music is holy. It sets the tone of the heart. The lyrics below are from my favorite Christmas song "Light a Candle" by Avalon.

light a candle
for the woman who is lonely
and every Christmas is the same

for the children who need
more than presents can bring

light a candle
light the dark
light the world
light a heart or two
light a candle for me
I'll light a candle for you

light a candle
for the homeless and the hungry
a little shelter from the cold

light a candle
for the broken and forgotten
may the season warm their souls

can we open our eyes
to shine through the dark

light a candle
light the dark
light the world
light a heart or two
light a candle for me
I'll light a candle for you

and in this special time of year
may peace on earth surround us here
and teach us there's a better way to live
and with every (every) flame that burns
we must somehow learn
that love's the greatest gift
that we could ever give.....

light a candle
light the dark
(light the world)
light the world
(light a heart or two)
light a heart or two
light a candle for me
i'll light a candle for you
light a candle (oh yea)
light the dark (everybody needs a light)
light the world
light a heart or two
light a candle for me )
I'll light a candle for you
light candle for me
I'll light a candle for you
light a candle for me
I'll light a candle for you

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh, the Odd Lens with which I view the World

singing though there was an empty porcelain jug within the depths of your being. When you sing, the music echoes about in this jug and spills out. You are empty of anything, but that song. that moment. you are a vessel of the music.

I think winter may or may not be out to turn all of our bladders into a frozen chunk of pee.

Sleeplessness is followed by a strange clarity of mind that does not seem possible. Eventually, the body screams for sleep...and the mind does a crash landing into a headache which incapacitates the body's ability to persevere. Sleep becomes a necessity.

If I don't eat the cookies, they will eat me.

Pet Peeve: LOL Oh, no. That wasn't a joke and I'm not laughing out loud. I'm actually staring sardonically at the computer as you make a fool of yourself for not knowing that LOL makes me think of your tongue hanging out of your face in a desperate sort way. Wait. You mean, it actually means that you laughed out loud. That's a hard one to believe since we're only having this conversation through a computer. Just know, that I'm not impressed by your ability to LOL every other word in our conversation. It's kind of annoying. Thank you (oh, this is not pointed specifically at any poor old tongue-hanging-out-of-your-face person who is always in a conniption of LOLing)

I think steps were created to see if we could actually fall up something. Let me allay your fears. I can fall up.

Mice. Forget the gym. Get a mouse. Chase it around the house. Get a work out for free without leaving your room. An added bonus is the vocal warm-up that will naturally occur.

Me: "I can't study and eat because I would eat far too much and gain so much weight."
Roommate: "I look at the weight gained as a natural burden of education. The weight signifies how much education and learning that I have had."
(actual conversation occurred. above sentences paraphrased.)

i shall not apologize for this piece of ridiculousness. however, i shall explain here that i'm functioning on very few hours of sleep. right now, i feel as though my thinking capabilities have been heightened and my amusement at the thoughts in my head is narrating my current existence.