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This life is therefore, not righteousness, but growth in righteousness,

not health, but healing,

not being, but becoming,

not rest, but exercise.

We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it,

the process is not yet finished but it is going on,

this is not the end, but it is the road.

All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.

– Martin Luther

I feel alarmingly wonderful! Basically I have been steadily improving since I left the hospital last week, which I expected to plateau at some point. But I keep feeling better and better! I have been trying to think of why this might be, and there are so many variables floating around that I can’t pin it down exactly. Let’s discuss. It could be:

a) The three blood transfusions I got last week. I don’t know what exactly was in that blood, but it must have included Magical Energy Potion.

b) I basically took a week-long break from classes and spent it with family instead. If that’s not good for mental health, I don’t know what is. Aunt Holly and Uncle Glen were in town, and I got to spend extra time with them.

c) Catching up on schoolwork has been less tricky than I anticipated. One minor hitch was that my Symbolic Logic professor assigned me extra homework to get me caught up (so mean! and not even logical!) BUT it ended up helping me understand the chapter. Surprise, surprise.

d) My tummy does not hurt anymore. (applause)

e) The weather has stopped being soul-witheringly hot. Instead it is delightful! I try to be outside as much as possible.

f) I’ve been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. It’s good for my brain and good for my heart.

g) Friends who are concerned about my iron deficiency keep offering to take me out for steak.

h) All of the above?

Well, well, well. It has been a while, has it not? Trust me, I have a good excuse.

As you are possibly aware, I had a brief stint in the hospital recently. I had been feeling sick to my stomach since around Labor Day, but it was intermittent enough that I kept thinking I was better. These vain delusions kept me from seeking medical attention. Finally, late Friday night (or early Saturday morning), it got bad enough that Anne drove me to the ER, and I stayed at the hospital until yesterday afternoon. I won’t get into all of my issues, but my weekend involved: anemia, an ovarian cyst, surgery to get rid of said cyst, an internal hernia that may or may not exist (please pray that it doesn’t), and getting lots of holes punched in me. If you want to hear more about these lovely things, you can call me and we’ll discuss it.

Even though all of that was pretty miserable, everyone was so nice to me! Anne stayed up with me all night at the ER and made subsequent visits whenever possible. Mom drove down early Saturday morning and stayed with me the whole time, talking to the doctors, sleeping in a chair next to me, keeping people updated on my condition, etc. I was visited by a lot of sweet people. My friends drew/painted me lovely pictures, and played me music on the banjo and mandolin.  Gordon and Dad even drove down on surgery day. Basically I feel very loved to have so many people looking out for me. And thanks so much for all your prayers! They seem to be working. God is good!

Now I am back in Kansas for the rest of the week, since my parents figured kidnapping me would be the most effective way to get me to chill out (definitely true). I am in moderate pain but getting better, and a bit woozy from the pain meds. I plan to do some serious napping this week before I have to start in on all my homework. One benefit of this unforeseen vacation is that I get to spend more time with Uncle Glen and Aunt Holly, who are coming to Wichita today.

I think you can now consider yourself updated. I hope all of this made sense–I’m afraid the Percocet has compromised my capacity for logic and chronology. One last thing: until further notice, please do not make me laugh. It really hurts.

There is the lesson of “Cinderella,” which is the same as that of the Magnificat–exaltavit humiles. There is the great lesson of “Beauty and the Beast”; that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. There is the terrible allegory of the “Sleeping Beauty,” which tells how the human creature was blessed with all birthday gifts, yet cursed with death; and how death also may perhaps be softened to a sleep.

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Catharina von Schlegel 1752

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

William Walsham How 1864

I hope you all had a lovely Easter. I did. I originally planned to journey up to Kansas for the weekend, but ended up staying in Oklahoma in an attempt to Get Stuff Done. This was somewhat of a bummer. Easter is my favorite holiday and I’ve never not been at home for it. Fortunately, many of the things that I love about it (quality family time, the Hallelujah Chorus, the Widor toccata) are not absolutely crucial; the crucial part is that Jesus died and rose again! Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Despite the lack of quality family time, it’s been a nice weekend. I ate fried chicken and watched Almost Famous and Sherlock Holmes with friends, camped out at the library and worked on my paper, camped out on a picnic blanket and worked on nothing, went out for Indian food with internationals, watched Synecdoche, New York (it’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen), dyed eggs, etc. Rachel’s mom and sister spent the weekend at our apartment, so I got to meet them. They’re friendly people.

Last night my friend John and I were looking up banjos and noise-canceling machines on Craigslist when all of a sudden Lin called to ask if the health center was still open. (He is our quirky Taiwanese friend.) Lin apparently cut his hand on a shattered glass while washing dishes, and was moaning about all the blood. John and I sprung into action and ran over to his apartment to save his life. At this point Lin was feeling braver and started bragging to me about his high tolerance for pain. Then we all went to John’s house because he has a better first aid kit and patched up Lin and gave him candy, and that was that. This experience made me realize a few things: 1) I don’t know any first aid. I’m glad John was there and knew what to do, because my only contribution was to clean the kitchen and reinforce gender stereotypes. 2) I don’t have a first aid kit. Why don’t I have a first aid kit?? Didn’t I used to? I don’t know. 3) Even though I’m good at remaining calm in emergencies, that’s about all I can do. Other than that I am as useful as a bump on a log.

After this adventure, I went on a walk and saw a guy in Kraettli dancing with a dagger! Talk about another accident waiting to happen. (I had my knife with me as well and thought about challenging him to a dance-off, but there’s no way I could have won. He was good.)

Now it’s Monday again. You know what that means – Cake Day! Celebrate responsibly.

The other night I had a terrible dream. Here is the Sparknotes version: Chinese dignitaries were staying in my family’s house and they happened to watch a Youtube video where my friend Annie lit a banana on fire like a candle. They thought it looked pretty cool, so naturally they had to try it, and they burned down the house, killing my dad and a little old lady! It was awful. I cried myself awake, and then typed up a full synopsis (which I cannot bring myself to post here, as it is too depressing). When I called Dad later on that morning to make sure he had not actually been killed in a freak banana fire, he did not answer. The terror! Actually by that point I’m pretty sure I thought it was funny. And I did get to talk to him later, no worries. He even gave me a way to turn bananas into hallucinogens, which is probably a parenting no-no.

Last night I went to Taiwanese Culture Night, which was both fun and enlightening. They had some carnival-type games, and I won a prize at the ring toss (depth perception WIN). There was a presentation which included a kung fu dance with shiny golden fans. I want to learn kung fu. They even fed us dinner! Sigh. It was SO DELICIOUS.

I sat next to one of my friends who is a Chinese student getting his master’s in political science. He provided a running commentary on the political history behind the decorations and costumes, which was quite helpful. Somehow we ended up discussing Jesus, sin, prayer, the gospel, etc. He had a lot of really good questions, and knows more about the New Testament than a lot of Christians do! This conversation lasted through the dance performances (I know, how rude), through the dinner line and then dinner, and then he went to RUF (the campus ministry I go to) with me and we continued our discussion. He has a deep respect for Christianity and faith in general because his grandparents were Christians and seems to be very hungry for truth. Please be praying that his heart would be opened and that he would understand the love and grace of the gospel and the hope that comes from that!

On a completely unrelated note: this website is entertaining if you’ve ever thought it would be fun to control a solar system. You can pick how many planets and moons you want and mess with their orbits, then start it rolling. Mine keep crashing into each other spectacularly or hurtling off into the depths of space, which is one of many reasons why I am not God. See if you can get a binary star system to work, mine keep ending in almost immediate explosion.

Happy sigh. It’s Sunday! Sundays are my favorite day of the week this semester. This semester I decided to actually treat Sunday as a day of rest, which I’ve never really done on purpose. In the past, I would usually be restful if it was convenient to be restful, but getting things done definitely trumped resting. This resulted in more of a procrastinate-then-scramble-to-get-it-done system, which is exhausting! Any kind of rest that you get using that system ends up being poisoned by the cloud of Whatever You’re Supposed To Be Doing that looms over your head. SOOO all of that is behind me now. This semester, I am doing no classy things or worky things on the Sabbath. Just church and spending time with friends and/or Jesus. This has led to activities that I normally wouldn’t have time for on a Sunday, like:

  • Teaching a friend how to drive so she can get her license before returning to France
  • Having lunch with my Taiwanese neighbor and discussing in great detail the words to the hymns we sang in church that morning
  • Arts and crafts time with Rachel (after we finish our project I will put up pictures!)
  • Going on reeeeally long walks
  • Guitar/banjo/mandolin/bass/djembe jam sessions with friends
  • Movie nights with friends – my favorite this semester has been Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Pumaman, and tonight is Munich
  • Ok, so probably none of those sound terribly exciting, but trust me, they are a lovely lovely break from the normal chaos.

Exodus 20:9-10 says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God,” and I think that the six days of labor or pretty important to the Sabbath concept. I’m glad God included that in the instructions, because otherwise I would get addicted to the Sabbath and only do that. Aaaall week. Instead I am trying to work hard (for the glory of God) and then take a break and rest hard (for the glory of God). God definitely knew what he was talking about when he said to do it that way.

Also I believe it’s important to not be too legalistic about it. I have a tendency to want to know exactly where the line is – can I read a book for class? What if I enjoy this book and it doesn’t feel like a chore? Can I clean my apartment? But Jesus talked a lot about the Sabbath and made it clear that it is about what is going on in your heart, not just about things you’re doing. And this summer, I found out (fortunately not firsthand) that, in order to avoid exerting themselves on Shabat, some Ultra-Orthodox Jews will pick up rocks the day before and pile them at waist-height so they can throw them at people who break the Sabbath (i.e. drive, chop vegetables, try to stop riots, etc). And yeah, that’s a very extreme (and darkly funny) example of what NOT to do on Shabat, but legalism is a slippery slope, and I don’t want to end up with the mentality that it’s only something I have to do.

Also, I feel like any discussion of Shabat is incomplete without a mention of Hebrews 4. Jesus is our rest and we who believe enter that rest! I am very excited about this. This semester God keeps blessing me with a sense of peace and comfort and rest that is not limited to just Sundays.

I’m curious: how do you feel about the Sabbath? Do you treat it any differently than the other days of the week? (Don’t worry, if your answer is “not at all,” I promise not to go old-school Jerusalem on you and start chucking rocks.)

Anne is up in Chicago this weekend being a bad influence on Frances and touring UIC. Have fun, ladies!

Good news! I am back in my Oklahome. Break was AWESOME. I read a lot, played a lot with the dog, befuddled the cat, watched some assorted nonsense on TV, saw Avatar in 3-D, ate a lot of delicious food, sewed an apron, etc. etc. Now that I’m back, I feel like I am already back in the swing of things, even though things don’t quite have a swing yet.

I’ve already met a few new internationals and instigated a Walmart expedition. Tomorrow there is some kind of Bingo party for the internationals, and I hope to get to go to part of it. I will meet a lot more foreign kids and also dominate at Bingo.

Today was the first day of classes. I had Communication in Contemporary Chinese Contexts, Israeli Culture Through Film, and Morphology. “What on earth is morphology?!” you ask, and you are probably thinking it sounds like a class Harry Potter would take. It’s something linguisticky, and I am hoping to find out exactly what soon. When my professor was “defining” it for us this morning, she said that morphology “is really crunchy and very baroque.” If that somehow provides you with any clarity, PLEASE pass it on to me. Anyway, I think I’m gonna like it a lot.

The weather is odd and awesome. It’s so warm! I’ve been wearing short-sleeved shirts and leaving my sweater at home.

I was going to lend an old textbook to a friend, but it has vanished! (The book, not the friend.) Our apartment is small enough that it is physically impossible to lose something, so I have no idea what happened. This deeply perplexes me. I blame our samurai ghost.

For anyone who knows Milena and is interested in finding out what became of her over the break: she spent New Years in Minnesota with her host family and their pet monkey, spent a few days in Chicago working through a list of landmarks that Frances gave her, and then went to New York City (on a whim, apparently) to meet a friend. I saw pictures, it looks like she had a lot of fun.

I made sweet potato fries and they were delicious! I don’t even like sweet potatoes!

Back to work at the lol library. I like it there. We have another staff cookout planned for this weekend.

I have a good feeling about this semester. I had my doubts at first, and I am still thinking it will be a lot of work. However: Jesus and I will do fine (he’s got my back, says he).

My current obsession: goji raspberry V8 fusion. It’s tasty and good for me!