Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Many Times We Come of Age

There is a literary phrase I can't stand.

 "Coming of age." 

 You will hear it in almost every synopsis of a new Children's or Young Adult book. You will read the phrase when famous authors recommend a new book. They always write, "A {insert adjective} and {insert adjective} coming of age story that is sure to inspire generations of children".

Whether it is about a book or a series of books, the main idea behind a "coming of age story" is that the main character "comes of age". She goes through specific trials that mature her, causing her to think and act more like an adult. This can be on a traumatic level, where a child goes through things that would break even an adult, or on a lighter level where the child or teen learns a valuable lesson and sees the world differently through a more enlightened and mature lens. Essentially, coming of age stories are about  growing up.

 But there is something about this phrase that bothers me more than how cliche it has become in the world of books. 

 Is "coming of age" something that really only happens once in a person's life?


If my life was a novel. When would I have had my coming of age story?

You could say I came of age when I was 7 and first saw death, the first time I realized fully and personally that this world is broken and awaits Jesus' return for restoration. 

 Maybe it was the year I turned 12. My best friend moved away, my friend's dad died of a cancer, and my own grandfather died unexpectedly. 

 But it could also be my freshman year of college, the first time I was living on my own one thousand miles away from my family.

 See, I can't pick just one "coming of age" story in my life. And maybe we're not supposed to. Because the older I get, the more I realize that I will keep having "coming of age" moments and times.

 I remember being young and thinking that someday when I was an adult I would just know what to do. I assumed that at a certain age I would suddenly know how to fix a leaky faucet, how to soothe a sobbing baby, and ask the right questions in a job interview. City driving would be easy, I would automatically know what fully cooked salmon should look like, and I would always know exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

 But that's not what happens. I am more unsure about the direction my life will take now than when I was in high school. There is always more for me to learn and there always will be. I will never stop learning, from practical life skills, new situations I find myself in, to God constantly having to mold me to be more like Jesus. Even in heaven we will still be learning!

 I am constantly growing up. 

 So how can a "coming of age story" be just one moment, one lesson, one specific time period in a person's life, whether it's a character or a real person? Even for the people with harder stories who have one moment or event they can pin-point as being life changing and maybe when they "came of age", they must also have had moments and times after struggling, wrestling, and dealing with that specific hard time- moments that also grow them and mature them and help them "come of age". 

 I am always growing, always learning, always changing- hopefully with the Holy Spirit inside of me for the better. I am always coming of age. 7. 12. 18. And now 25. I will always have new discoveries, new struggles, new things God is teaching me. 

 We're always growing up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

New Favorite Things // January 2019

I once read about a "Favorite Things" party in a magazine. Every year around the holidays some women got together to celebrate. It was always before or after the Thanksgiving and Christmas rush since they were so busy and had family obligations. But they set aside a specific time each year to celebrate the season with each other and share a new favorite thing.

 It could be a book they had discovered and loved. It could be a recipe. It could be a new lotion or product that revolutionized their life. Whatever it was, they would be one for each of their friends, sharing the story of why it became a new favorite thing. 

 So until I have my own place and can have a "Favorite Things" party of my own, here are some of my new favorite things.

 New books!

 Just some of the new books I am looking forward to reading in the next few months.

* "This Elegant Ruin" by Erin Bartels

* "The Gospel Comes with a House Key" by Rosaria Butterfield

* "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself" by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

* "The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to The Garden" by Kevin DeYoung

* "My Brigadista Year" by Katherine Patterson (not pictured)

 Soy sauce and vinegar

  For New Year's Day I made dumplings- well, I tried. The dipping sauce included 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and pepper flakes. 
 I've always loved soy sauce and vinegar separately, but putting them together has opened up an entire new world that I hope to visit many more times!

  I love Japan. I love the way sushi looks. And I've always wanted to be a "cool" person that ate sushi. But raw fish!  However, the other day I tried some. Not only did I not die, but it tasted good. Good as in I could have had another one. What????

Newly Discovered Music!
 * "Birdsong" by Kina Grannis
 * "With You" by GAWVI, and his entire album called PANORAMA
 * "Native Tongue" by Switchfoot
 * "Isaac" by Hollyn

Studio Ghibli

   It started with the movie "Kiki's Delivery Service". Then I watched "Howl's Moving Castle", and now I want to watch all of their movies. They are unique and funny and interesting and usually have a Japanese feel to them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

That Painful Thing With Feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune, without the words,
And never stops at all.
~Emily Dickinson

 I see a bird with golden feathers. A tiny bird, but she sings as loudly as her small body can. And she is perched on my soul. 

 Tiny golden bird. I think she sang louder than others. Full of hope for the future. Full of possibility and confidence that everything would go right.

 Tiny golden bird. She didn't know about birds of prey. She didn't know sorrow. She couldn't fathom a cage.

 People forget that hope is painful. 

 I find myself in a season of waiting. Before it was waiting for something, waiting for me to decide what to do with my life, waiting for clarity, waiting to know what I want, waiting until I feel ready to move toward something.

 Now I have moved. And I wait for tangible things. Like if I will be able to go back to school.

 And this waiting? Some days, it is easy. But other days I just want to know. Even if it isn't what I want to hear, I want to know if I am going to grad school or if I am saving my money to hopefully go later.  Because at least I will know.

 But the hardest part of this waiting is hope.

 I am waiting on good things. Things that seem like the right direction. Things I know God cares about. Things that I have extensively prayed about. And I am struggling with the tension of wanting to be positive and hopeful that He will answer yes, that He will give me good things, and the reality that these good things may not be part of His plan for me. 

 Please, if you believe that God will always give you your hearts' desires, don't. Don't think that God will give you money, marriage, children, your dream job, a perfect life because you ask Him, because He has promised to answer all of our wishes. That is a lie. Do not believe the prosperity gospel. God is not our genie.

 He has promised to answer our prayers and provide for us. That often is earthly blessings because we serve a good God. But sometimes it isn't. Jesus promised us persecution because we follow Him. Jesus has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. And He has promised us to answer prayer, but only the prayer that conforms to His will. He has not promised to send me to grad school.

 But He has promised me life in His name. He has promised to prepare a place for me. The Bible is full of God's promises, the biggest one to send the promised Messiah to free us from our sin. And what more could I ask for or want ultimately? 

 Tiny golden bird. You were never a part of me. You were placed gently inside of me by the hand that rules the world. You were given on the day that I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. 

 This thing with feathers only sweetly sings of the mercy and grace of my Lord Jesus and His saving work on the cross.

 As I wait, I am hopeful. My heart sings of my eternal hope in Christ. I sing my hopes and desires for this earth for I am a child of the King. And I sing with hope and confidence that Jesus will be with me if my waiting is in vain, if my waiting ends with no good thing. He will still be faithful and will be faithful to sustain me. 

"And hope does not put us to shame, because God's 
love has been poured out into our hearts through 
the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
Romans 5:5

"And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing 
age, was enabled to bear children because she 
considered him faithful who had made the promise."
Hebrews 11:11