Friday, April 19, 2019

Day 3 & 4: 4 minute success!

Day 3-4

I was sick for day 3, so my meditation looked like a nap. A fretful nap where I reminded myself to defrost ground pork.

Day 4, I listened to this. She guided me through a few centering moments of noticing my breath. I actually found this extremely helpful as well. I kept my mind just focused enough to not wander off course too badly.

This is Good Friday, so we all have a lot to meditate on. I feel better about day 4 and my mind feeling clearer. While I did open my eyes 3 minutes in because it felt like 20 minutes, I was able to do fairly well until 4 minutes.

I'm going to try and increase my time by 1 minutes a day.

Things I learned:

It is good to have a short, small guided voice helping me start the meditation process.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Day 2: Sometimes frogs ruin meditation

Day 2

This morning I made some significant meditation changes. I listened to this on Youtube. I have problems with a lot of nature sound meditation music because I get caught up in the scene. I notice the patterns of the seagulls calling out or the frogs croaking. I then wander off into where the frogs live and if there's a sufficient fly supply for his family. It turns into frog family reunions being interrupted by savage crocodiles.

This music is simple and void of nature.

I also discovered that I need to find God as I picture scenes. Me, floating in space, as I look down to earth. I try to mentally push aside all the narratives that could come streaming in and relax in the peace of it all.

I also put on noise canceling headphones to drown out the noises I clung to in Day 1.

I didn't ask God for anything. I didn't pray a single thing. I just sat and allowed myself to be in awe for 3 minutes. It was not without distraction this morning, but the music and headphones helped keep me present. I focused on the goodness of God in the patterns of a tide. Calmly ebbing to and fro as if being conducted by a masterful hand. I found my mind fixating on the simplicity of God's order.

This order is all around me, I just miss it in the complexity of my thoughts. This was a good step back from my mind and a good step forward in my relationship with stillness.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Day 1: Meditation Multitasking

Day 1

Our VPN was down, so I decided that was God's way of telling to meditate while I cut strawberries in my kitchen. Normally, I want to listen to a podcast or music or a Rami Malek interview on Youtube. I looked at my watch, 9:44 am. Ok, I would give myself until 9:49 to be quiet (with the added bonus of getting fruit chopped for dinner). I had now decided that multitasking meditation would be my jam.

A solid 15 seconds in and my mind introduced itself to these these players:

A hole being drilled 2 floors up.

Groups of wandering policemen outside my apartment complex.

My own acoustic remix of "Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs." But, only that line over and over because the rest of the song's lyrics are filled with incoherent gaps.

Look how fast I can cut bananas.

Maybe I should do some game show about home cheffing.

Audibly telling the left over pico de gallo how much I loved it.

I haven't even seen the minute hand move and all of these things had happened.

Day 1 was a total meditation fail.

Things I learned: 

1. I cannot multitask and meditate.
2. I need to sit down with maybe some quiet, pan flutey type music to drown out any peripheral noise.
3. I might even need to leave the house.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Taking Silence for a Spin

I cannot be still. 

I cannot meditate. 

I am dismissive of silence. 

As a kid, I would oftentimes run to the car before my mother and crank the radio volume to full dial. When she stuck the keys into the ignition the radio would screech notes at an undiscernible decibel. My mother would wince and I would laugh with all the hilarity I believed that prank deserved. While I am not claiming causation, I am now an adult woman and notoriously play my music loud. I want to be fully embraced by the notes and lyrics of the music. If I am interrupted as I listen, I actually pause the song instead of turning down the volume. I cannot handle both relational and musical input at the same time. It feels like getting tapped on the shoulder and being cut in on during a slow dance during a Brian Adam's song. 

We have some pretty major decisions waiting for us in the carpool line. We know they are coming. And instead of an excited kindergartener looking for their mom’s car, I have found I am a angry and annoyed 12-year old full of angst as the car gets closer and closer. 

This week, I’ve picked up Emily Freeman’s, “The Next Right Thing.”  

Here’s what Mr. Amazon says: 

If you have trouble making decisions, because of either chronic hesitation you've always lived with or a more recent onset of decision fatigue, Emily P. Freeman offers a fresh way of practicing familiar but often forgotten advice: simply do the next right thing. With this simple, soulful practice, it is possible to clear the decision-making chaos, quiet the fear of choosing wrong, and find the courage to finally decide without regret or second-guessing.

My go to decision making process is brainstorm until I have squeezed every ounce out of an idea. This requires full mental attention while doing just about everything-making coffee, doing homework with the kids, folding laundry, etc. Basically, the most present I am is with the churning and pressing of my own thoughts. I then take those ideas and poll my people. They get to hear all my great ideas and tell me what’s great and not great about them. 

Then, I ask God to notarize it all. 

That’s how I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. But the decision fatigue is exhausting and I can’t keep doing it this way. 

Over the next 30 days, I am going to chronicle my inability turned to (hopefully) ability to meditate and listen to the Lord. 

I’m not publishing these posts to social media, so if you end up here, let’s claim it as divine serendipity. I don’t need the parade of onlookers to distract me from learning to listen. I already play to the crowd enough in my life. This needs to be different. 

Chapter 1: 

“Unmade decisions hold power.” 

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

If I were the man at the pool

What if I was the man by the pool of Bethesda? (John 5)

Laying there for 38 years. There's nobody to help me get into the pool. The only proximal hope that I will be healed. And even that is far away when your community decides the distance is too far to travel. That act of moving me from this grounded mat to the life-restoring pool is too big a burden for them to shoulder. They have all moved on to baking bread, bathing infants, and bringing wares to sell at market. The longer I bake here in the sun, the lighter the burden feels for them. Amazing what time can do. For many, it heals. For others, it commits the pain. Time only heals wounds when they've got healthy people injecting antibodies of community into the pain of another. This replaces the pain with moments of joy. But, for some of us, it only replaces our pain with more recent pain.

So, where does that leave me?

I know. It leaves me stranded on this island of a mat, longing for the life of the waters. Yet, the waters remain a mirage to me, while a reality to others. I hear the cheers of others as they are lowered into the pools and raised with sores healed and limbs moving. I hear the jubilation of family members who thought the prison doors of a stroke would remain forever locked.

Here I lie. 

The scuffles of the poor and lame have become a cadence of hopelessness to me, Until, that is, the swirling fog of dust settles to reveal feet standing at my eye's level. Someone stops. The cadence of passing strangers halts. For me. They halt for me. Certainly I will be asked to move while someone else is brought to water's edge.

A voice.


Both speaking to me. 

"Do you want to be healed?"

I'm not even sure I know. I've resigned to the plane of hopelessness for so long that sitting upright in healing expectancy...I can't even visualize it.

"Get up, take your bed, and walk." 

After this man, those eyes, that offer to be healed, I found myself rolling up my mat. As if I have been transfixed by his presence. I pick up the mat that has held my life in its straw. I actively tell my mind how to move my toes. Movement has been archived for 38 years. 38 years is close to life expectancy for me, but I have very little to expect from life.

Until now.

I put one foot in front of the other; cautious at the potential betrayal of my healing. For so long I have seen and heard victory for others. I have abandoned the idea that victory was for me. My body seems to be the object of other people's gratitude. I've heard it, "I am grateful that my body has not failed me  like that man's on the. mat."

But not today.

Today is victory! It's my turn for victory!

My walking pace quickens as if my synapses have woken and am remembering how to walk. I swing my head around to thank the man and he is gone.

No name.

He simply healed me and went about his day. He restored my body. He restored my life.

I want to know about this man that require me to walk in my healing and nothing else.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Project Based Learning-Creating Books!

**This is a class assignment for a certification I'm getting*

"I'm getting married in white culottes, never working in an office, and I want to be outside." This was my fourth grade checklist for the adult version of me. Thank goodness the school system I was slotted into had a track that held Project Based Learning (PBL) up as a virtue. 

This is my all time favorite Ted Talk. My desire as a teacher is to teach my students to take their peer reviews and teacher feedback not as criticism, but provisions to get them to, "Embrace the Shake." Within writing, this means finding their voice and way of communication that meeting the requirements and yet remaining true to themselves. Some students melt under the fire of critiques. I want to foster a classroom that constantly, embraces the shake, and works through our weaknesses to turn them into strengths.

Image result for refugee camp

PBL encourages the strengths and stretches the weaknesses of each student. In any PBL, there will be sections students enjoy and other sections they merely get through. My hope with this PBL, is that they will learning not only to improve their writing and research skills, but also learn about the world outside of their own.

PBL-Refugee Camp Book

Project Theme and Goals: 

This is an English class project for secondary students. The students will be empathetically researching the lives of children in refugee camps. As a group of 4 they will put together a collaboratively written book of short stories that will touch on key areas of a refugee’s life. 

Before starting, each member of the group will read a different book written by a refugee. They will share with their group things they learned in that book. As a group, they will need to do thorough research on a specific people group who are currently living in a refugee camp. 

The objective for this project is to get the students to understand the lives of other students who are struggling with different and yet, maybe, similar issues. Also, to get them to think through how studying literature can help a group of people in need. The end resulting book should have an underlying theme, tying the entire project together. For example, the theme of hope or family. Another objective is to learn about all the elements, processes, and staging in publishing a book. This needs to be a professional quality book that we would see on Amazon. 

While I am looking for a professional, end product, I am also looking to challenge their perspectives along the way. The entire process of researching and understanding refugees, receiving peer feedback, and teaching editing should foster humility in my students.

While PBLs can be fun and creative, they still need feedback. I've outlined a detailed rubric and monitoring plan here.

Here's a link to another PBL I did. We are walking through Joseph Campbell's, Hero's Journey. 

I love Campbell's discussion about the process a hero goes through in a story. In the classroom, we would walk through C.S. Lewis', The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The links are here for a unit lesson plan.


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

How Obligation can be a Generosity Thing

***I'm guest blogging today over at ***

I've been thinking on the concept of obligation for a few months now. For most of us Americans the idea of being obligated to someone makes us want to flash mob Times Square while singing, "You Don't Own Me."

But since moving to China in 2003 I've learned that obligation doesn't bind me with shackles, it binds me with mutual generosity.

Go over there and tell me what you think. It's not an easy pill to swallow, trust me. The night my now husband and I had the "Determine The Relationship," talk, I quickly responded with, "Just because we are dating now, don't think that means I want to see you everyday."

I get it, friends. I totally get the panic that can come with being obligated.

And with that, I appropriately leave you the last chorus of Lesley Gore's song:

I don't tell you what to say
I don't tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That's all I ask of you
I'm young and I love to be young
I'm free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please
And don't tell me what to do

Monday, January 02, 2017

Thrive Interview: Contentment

Contentment. At times this has been Diet Dr. Pepper and cheap animal crackers. Other times it has meant sitting with my 3-year old on a tire swing at the park, not swinging. If there was swinging involved, there would be no contentment on my part.

I've written for the ministry a few times and am grateful for their extended reach to women all over the world. Their content is honest, Biblical, diverse, and thorough.

Below is the interview I did:

Thrive interview: Contentment

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Letter to the Christian Parents of Overseas Workers

Dear Christian Parents of Overseas Workers-

First off, this isn't a passive-aggressive right hook to my own parents. They have truly become a loyal and faithful support system to our family. But there's a thing happening. It happens every year starting the second week of November and not letting up until January. Christian parents are saying things like, "We wish you were here eating turkey with the family." Or, "I can't believe we will be celebrating Christmas this year without the grandkids." Or, "I can't wait until you're home next year so we can all celebrate as a family."

These seem like benign phrases that merely express a longing to be together as a family. The problem is that your child who is overseas feels the loss even deeper than you'd think. They see messages like these and wrap their holidays in guilt, homesickness, longing, loneliness, isolation, and want. For many of us, we don't have a community to even eat a bowl of rice with, no way a Thanksgiving spread is gonna happen. We teach English classes on Christmas and worship to a youtube video. And the thing is that these can be godly, holy moments if we allow them to be. But when we have family and friends talking about us returning "home," all the time (especially during the holidays), it becomes infinitely more difficult to be present here.

Christmas is the time we need you to remind us of why we are here. This season is busy, exhausting, and requires every bit of Holy Spirit to choke back another decorated sugar cookie. But when we are present, we get to open our lives up to the community and share the most radical birthing story in the history of the world. When our head is in the game, this glorious season becomes a launching pad to engaging our community in a more meaningful way. As a Christian parent, please remind you kids that their time and energy is worth it. Sure, tell them you miss them. But end that sentence with a, "But God needs you there to be Jesus to your people. That is the most wonderful gift I could get this Christmas." Don't wish them home. Trust me, there are many days their heart is already on that plane. Your kids know it's not easy on you either.

They need believing parents in their corner of the ring praying, wiping up their bloodied noses, and telling them to get back out there.

                                                   Yours Truly,


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Creating our own Glass Ceiling

I’m frustrated this week. Frustrated at low cut jeans, because well, I’m a 40-year old mother of 5. I’m frustrated that a new computer charger costs $100 here. I’m frustrated that I can’t eat bagels because my stomach has turned into a tantrum throwing 2-year old. But maybe something of a little more consequence has tagged me this week. I’ve been frustrated with my gender.


I’ve found myself more and more unsettled as this election has rounded out. This is not a political post, but a call for women to stop. This is my proverbial shofar call to stop talking about voting for Hillary because she was a woman. If you agreed with her platform and voted for her in response, then great. If you went to the voting polls and cast your vote for her BECAUSE she was female, that’s less than great. If we as women want to continue to make progress in salary equality and gender imbalances, we’ve got to stop doing things like this. While I haven’t asked Hillary Clinton personally, I have a hard time believing that she wants your vote simply because she was born with two X chromosomes. She would rather you make a smart, thoughtful decision about a person and a platform, not a gender. The former is simply patronizing. Like when the P.E. teacher picks the uncoordinated, awkward kid as captain of the dodge ball team. It’s a pitied choice.

Voting for her simply because of her gender isn’t actually breaking a glass ceiling, it’s reinforcing one. It’s walking up to that ceiling and smashing your face on it, looking childish and uninformed. I saw a similar phenomenon when Sarah Palin was first toying in public politics. People blindly followed her lead without having any clue as to what she thought on issues. If we as a gender want true progress, we’ve got to prove ourselves through education, information, question asking, intelligent dialogue, and working insanely hard.

We aren’t going to earn more respect in places by whining, remaining ignorant, complaining, and knocking one another down based on superficial criteria.

We are better than this. We can scream loudly for change when we actually have something worth hearing, otherwise it becomes screechy white noise.

While I disagree with some of her politics, I truly admire her culmination of 30 years of public service. My mom has worked in a male dominated industry for over 30 years also. It takes wisdom, intellect, perseverance, and gutsiness. These are the characteristics we teach our daughters. We don’t want them to expect doors to fly open simply because they are female. We want them to walk through doors because they’ve earned it. And when you walk through a door knowing you deserved it, you’re head is held high knowing you didn’t get there based on an invitation of pity.

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