Friday, September 25, 2015

{Un}golden Silence

The saying goes that "silence is golden."

Sometimes, that is true. At other times, perhaps the silence clamors that the hectic schedules and busyness and cares of life have overwhelmed the quieter moments of reflection and solitude. And I don't think that is necessarily a good thing...

Perhaps that's what has happened to my attempts to blog over this past year. I mentally "wrote" blog posts, but somehow never found the time to translate those scattered thoughts into writing. I miss it. The putting of my thoughts into coherent sentences that helped me process and perhaps created a bit of inspiration or humor for those who kindly took the time to read my ramblings.

So, maybe I'm back. For how long or how often, I cannot say. It's strange, but when I was overseas two years ago, I felt like I actually had something worth writing about. My daily experiences were not exotic, but just different from life as I know it now, living in rural Amish Country of Pennsylvania.

Life today seems ordinary, even hum-drum perhaps. Who wants to read about that? I've asked myself that question, and maybe in the waiting for noteworthy, life-changing milestones to happen, events that seem exciting or unique enough to share on a blog, I've overlooked the good and significant in the mundane.

Like today. I walked through the quaint small town I've called home since this past spring. I had an appointment up the road from my house, and normally would have driven there to make sure I got home in time to start tackling my day-off 'To Do' list. But the balmy September sunshine beckoned me to walk, to slow down enough to enjoy the autumn scenery around me, to take time to wave to the neighbor man pushing his child in a stroller down our street. That walk was soul-refreshing. I need to be more intentional about taking moments like that. To practice living in the moment rather than waiting for life to '"happen."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What If...

It's been three years since I was here long enough to experience the full glory of Springtime. It is splendid indeed, from every blade of greening grass to the quickening sense of aliveness carried in the morning air, to my favorite sign of spring --  the delicate lacy blooms of the weeping cherry trees.

It's been a long winter. In a sense that goes beyond just the season of record snowfalls and blustery winds and frigid temperatures. 

It's felt like a long winter of the soul, too. 

                     ... of dryness, of questions, of silence, of frustration, of loneliness. 
                                          ... a winter of why's with not many answers. 

But Spring is here. 

                 There are still vestiges of The Winter remaining, like the final traces of snow melting on the north side of the house. But the ground is soft and warming and the crocuses and the hyacinths push bravely through the snow that once drifted high and heavy over the space that they now claim as their own.

And I sense a re-birth of Hope within that Spring has come at last... 

This past week was one year. One year since I embarked on what I would call some of the more challenging yet also some the most rewarding months of my life. At least that's what I wrote in my journal. But then I started thinking about Reward... and I asked myself if perhaps, one year from now, I could look back on this year, this moment, and pen the same line: "it was one of the most rewarding seasons of my life." 

{Journal Entry} 
April 22, 2014

"Right now, that feels impossible...

Yet how do I measure 'reward' compared to how Christ does? Reward, to me, tends to feel like some sort of personal satisfaction or spiritual fulfillment. 

What if, from the Perspective of Eternity, Reward is unseen and unfelt here on earth? Not that we never have glimpses of it, but what if the greatest harvest of Reward in Eternity will be those seasons of dryness here on earth, when I felt like the seeds I was planting were pitifully small and scarce and the soil dry and wasted?

What if someday, when I stand before the King, He welcomes me with delight and in the retelling of my earthly story, He reveals to me a greater glory to Himself through my weakness, my struggle, and my tears?

What if these days that feel like blinded trust and blighted vision are in reality, an investment in the Kingdom of Heaven that someday will be understood? 

What if the Father hears my fragmented prayers, some whispered, some wept, and some silently coursing through my unspoken thoughts, and His Spirit acts on behalf of each one, moving in my heart and the hearts of men and women behind the scenes?

What if, Reward has nothing to do with my measure of success, but is the Eternal Revelation of the impact of a life who was faithful in the least and endured to the end?"

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Lament & The Laughter of being Single ~ On Valentine's Day

I have never blogged about being single. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I think that the cyber world is already inundated with enough articles on the subject, ranging anywhere from “Top 10 Cheesy Christian Pick- Up Lines” to “How to Find the Man of Your Dreams.”

Or maybe I’m slow to catch on. It’s only recently that I’ve looked around and have been jolted to the realization that several of my friends are expecting their third or even fourth child, and the girl who was in first grade when I joined the youth group is now dating the guy I babysat back when he was in diapers.  Somewhere along the way between then and now, at the age of 28 and unattached, I have unquestionably qualified for society’s label and definition of “Single.”

Since several people have nudged me to write about this very topic, I thought now might be the time to add my sliver of perspective on “being single.” Especially since many of you may already be tired of scrolling through dozens of Valentine’s Day posts, this one might escape your attention or else it might add to your mounting frustration about the aforementioned overabundance of articles that already exist.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

And before I proceed, no offense whatsoever is intended toward the dating, engaged, or married people of our world. But that is one day of the year when I do allow myself to privately laugh and roll my eyes at the mushy-gushy displays of affection that are posted on not-so-private news feeds, when I scroll past the seventh picture of the “gorgeous roses from my boyfriend—he is so amazing!!”(seriously, how many angles can you possibly take of one bouquet?), or when I see the man in line at the drug store, clutching one of those stuffed teddy bears that holds a cardboard heart of chocolates and has a cellophane “I Love You!” balloon tucked into its other paw (funny how those things have survived several generations of lovers without going out of fashion.)

Or the couples at the restaurant, like the one I saw last night. They were maybe early 20’s, artsy, hipster glasses, and obviously in love. I guess that’s what one calls the emotion that propels a young bearded man to doodle hearts all over his girlfriend’s hand and write little notes on it too, while his eyes are glazed over with that same emotion which makes one do funny things like this in the midst of a very bustling, crowded dining area.

By now, some of you may be labeling me as a cynical old maid or a jealous hater on those who have “someone” while I do not. Before I get you too riled up by my commentary on ways lovers choose to observe Valentine’s Day, may I explain myself?

I may be single, but I am not at all against love or dating or marriage or even Valentine’s Day. In fact, I still get excited when people tell me their love story, I still [sometimes] shriek and envelop my friend in a ginormous hug when she whispers to me that “he asked me out!”, and I am one of the weepy women at weddings, trying to discreetly wipe away tears when I watch the radiant bride walk down the aisle towards her beaming groom. (It’s so beautiful, how can you not get teary-eyed?)

I’m all for chocolate and save Dove wrappers that have sappy-sounding quotes on them. I still find roses to be a beautiful expression of affection even if one young man was known to say, “How can roses be a symbol of undying affection? I mean, do you say, ‘I will love you forever. Now watch these die!’?”  Romantic walks in the moonlight after a fresh snowfall? Yeah, I’d be there, even if I do dislike the cold. Don’t even get me started on wedding boards on Pinterest. I have purposely NOT begun one because I fear that I shall become addicted and waste too much time dreaming over styles of wedding gowns or comparing bouquet palettes.

Ah, the lament and the laughter of being single…

There is a delicate balance between embracing singlehood with contentment and yet still keeping your heart soft and hopeful for the fulfillment of desires for love and marriage.  I do believe that is the crux where I find myself trying to live these days…  

If you had told me when I celebrated my Sweet Sixteenth that in a dozen years I would be “single”, I would have probably retreated to my room, horrified, and cried for a week. At that season of life, the thought of not being married by the time I was 22 would have felt like a sentence of lifelong doom and utter rejection.

Today, I look back over the past dozen years of my life - still single - and I can honestly say that I would not trade them for all the starry-eyed ambitions of love and romance that I had as a young girl of sixteen.  Am I in denial, trying to erase all the desires that I did have, even then, for marriage to a man who with his whole heart loved the Lord and loved me? I think I did go through that stage for a time. Back when it seemed like everyone, including my younger sister, had their love story play out perfectly except for me, and when wedding invitations, one after the next, came addressed to “Miss Katelyn Dye.” It was easier for me to cope by throwing myself into college, work, and any other activity that gave me a sense of identity and meaning, rather than acknowledging that nagging fear that it “might never be me” alongside the longing to love and be loved.

Around that time in my life, I remember two women who unknowingly impacted my life in this area. They were both in their 30’s, unmarried, and yet thriving in life.  These two ladies did not at all fit the negative spinster stereotype we tend to cloak around the word “single”. They had engaging personalities, were actively involved in ministry, enjoyed travel, connected with friends all over the world, dressed in an attractive yet modest manner, pursued education and home businesses, were brave enough to try new things, and most of all, took a genuine interest in my life. They loved the Lord and they freely expressed that to others and encouraged me in my own Christian walk. Perhaps it was a subconscious thought, but I knew deep down inside, that if someday I ever was their age and still single, I wanted to live life with as much passion and enthusiasm as they did.

I think one of the more important lessons I’ve stumbled across in relating to this season of life called Singlehood, is that marriage is not a reward for awesomeness or perfection. I am very grateful to have been influenced in a very positive way by books written on dating/courtship by authors such as Joshua Harris or Leslie Ludy. In the Anabaptist church setting I’ve grown up in, my generation has also benefitted from a lot of teaching on surrendering the area of your love life to Christ, how to go about starting a relationship in a way that honors God and your authorities, and the imperative importance of guarding your purity. Again, may I stress that I am very, very thankful to have had exposure to teachings such as these when our society sneers at purity or tries to redefine the life-long commitment of vowing your life to another.

But sometimes, I wonder if the lofty ideals of courtship have inadvertently pressured us to make a mental checklist of “Things I Need to Do or Be Before I Deserve to Get Married.” In talking with other young women who are single, I get the feeling that a lot of us have moments when we are afraid that the reason we are still not dating is because we haven’t quite arrived yet or somehow aren't enough. With this mentality, we begin comparing ourselves to this girl or that girl or those girls over there who either do or don’t have a significant other in her life. Sometimes, we even begin to doubt God and why He seems to be "withholding" a good thing from us when it looks like He gave it to every other girl in church on Sunday morning. 

I have many friends who are around my age who are unmarried. They are beautiful, have a great sense of humor, exemplify a close walk with the Lord, love children, are talented in the arts, radiate creativity, and are amazing cooks. My natural inclination is to look at them and think, “how on earth are they NOT married??!”  Did the friend who got married at 20 deserve marriage more than my friend who is still single at 30?

The realization that marriage and singleness are both gifts from God, not a reward or a punishment, has probably had the greatest impact on how I approach being single myself. 
For as many times as I’ve looked at my married friends and longed to have what they have, they have been the ones who have told me to enjoy the season of life I am in and the opportunities that I can embrace because I do not yet have the responsibilities of a husband or children. God’s plan for them was marriage, for some of them, at a very young age. Thus far, God’s design for my life has been singleness. Neither is better than the other nor am I any more or less deserving than then next woman.

When I view each stage of life as a God-designed gift, then it helps me to also embrace the desires He has given me for love and marriage as a holy part of being created in His image.  He has given me the desires to love and be loved by a good man, to have a child of my own, and to pour my energy and talents into supporting whatever God would call us to as a couple. When a longing is seemingly unmet, it is human nature to ignore it, to deny it, or to kill that part of the heart. As a single young woman, it is easy to slip into one of those ruts and to put on a front that screams, “why would I ever want to be married when I have my own life?!” It is much more vulnerable to admit that yes, I have these longings, and to trust God’s goodness to fulfill them when and how He chooses to.

I like to call it a surrendered hope…

Trust me, there have been moments of agony, tears of frustration and times I have yes, yelled at God when I didn’t understand what He was up to in this journey of singleness. Part of the lament of being single is those unexpected moments that blindside you when you are just tired of being strong… Tired of making your own decisions. Tired of always having to be concerned about bills and money and the stresses of daily life on your own. Tired of having to kill the roaches and the spiders and the mice all by yourself. Or simply tired of being alone.

We as single women don’t have it all together either. Take it from one at least who doesn’t. Just like our married friends, we are flawed and human and sometimes wonder who would ever want to love us for who we are. Our world might appear tidy and comfortable and exciting, but we have those moments where we just want a strong, caring guy to put his arm around us and tell us, “I’m here. It will be okay.”

But for the lament that singlehood may bring, it certainly can hold a lot of laughter and be full of life. I feel incredibly blessed that I have been able to go to nursing school, make friends from all over, have a job that I love, live in a different culture, and leave a part of my heart in countries other than my native one. I feel like a rich woman, rich in things that money could never purchase. I know that many of these experiences would not have been possible if I had been married young. To me, that is not proof that singlehood is better than marriage, but it is evidence that we have a good Daddy who longs to give to His children above what we could have ever envisioned for ourselves. In this season of life, He has revealed different facets of His heart towards me in the ways that He cared for me even in those moments that I felt most alone.

Maybe it’s mixed up, but that is a smattering of my perspective on this whole singleness thing.

 Oh, and Valentine’s Day? Yes, I celebrated it too. By dressing up in pinks and reds and going out for dinner with two good friends who also currently are not in a relationship. There we were, the three of us, sitting at a table for four smack dab in the middle of all these couples, just sampling each other’s lattes, savoring our dinner, and enjoying each others’ company, all the while laughing at the sight we must be. J

But we decided to spare the audience around us and skipped the part of doodling-on-each-others’-hands.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I am not usually at a loss for words, at least when it comes to writing. Yet in the past three weeks since stepping off the Piper plane onto the tarmac of the Lancaster Regional Airport, I’ve struggled knowing how to articulate, even in writing, an answer to the question, “So how does it feel to be home, Katelyn?”

It’s scary - how displaced and detached one can feel when it comes to reconciling the changes between the environment, the experiences, the culture, the responsibilities, and the people you were surrounded with just a short time ago with where you find yourself presently.

In Thailand, I had a role to fill, a job description, a schedule of responsibilities, a ministry I functioned under, a focus in what I was doing and who I was serving. To be certain, there were definitely those moments of unpredictability as well as the stressors of situations which never appeared in the staff manual under “Duties of the Ladies’ Dean.” Even in all that, I still had the encouragement and support of friends who became like family, and I felt a sense of belonging and purpose in where God had called me. There was something about all this which offered me more stability and security than I had realized, until life as I knew it for the greater part of the past two years disappeared from sight as the jet climbed higher into the inky darkness of the midnight skies.

It wasn’t until the first Korean flight, when I was the person in the window seat of Row 42, watching the lights of Chiang Mai until they faded into tiny pin pricks against the black shadows of the mountains, that this sense of aloneness and weakness overtook me. Grateful for the dimmed lights of the cabin, I let the tears fall.

The past year had been so fulfilling. God had taught more about His strength perfected in my nothingness, and I could testify that even in the difficulties, He had been faithful and He had been my Rock. The year had stretched me spiritually, emotionally, and at times, physically. Yet it had been a year so rich in experiences, and most of all, rich in relationships.

Now, once again, I had to uproot and move on. Three years ago, when the plane had lifted from the runway of the Chiang Mai airport and I said good-bye to Thailand for the first time, God impressed upon me the verse from Genesis 28:15, “Behold I am with you and will keep you…and will bring you back to this land.”  
This time, I struggled with feeling like that promise had been given and now had been fulfilled, so this must be it. That thought stirred an unwelcomed ache within my heart: what if this time I am leaving, never to return?

I believe that I am supposed to be here with my family in a community where traditions rooted in Pennsylvania German culture intersect with the multi-racial populations of expanding cities like Lancaster or Reading. But it is one thing to realize that this is where I am supposed to be for now, and yet that realization does not always ease the restless longing within for dreams that feel unfinished, visions that seem undone, and a place that is half-a-world away while still closely residing in my heart.

It’s humbling, admitting that I don’t have it all together. In the lyrics of Twila Paris, “Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right, but even soldiers can get wounded in the fight. People say that I’m amazing, strong beyond my years, but they don’t see the enemies who lay me at His feet. And they don’t know who picks me up when no one is around… I drop my sword and cry for just a while, ‘cause deep inside this armor, the warrior is a child.”

The sword feels heavy right now, and I am weary of fighting enemies that I thought had already been defeated once and for all. Re-entry is hard. Harder than I had thought, actually. Yet it is easy for me to use the adjustments of re-entry as a smoke screen for what lies at the root of the struggle.  Raw honesty leaves me no other option except to confess that I know that a lot of the numbness, discouragement and apathy that I am experiencing right now exist because I am struggling with surrender.  Over a year and a half ago, I had signed my name on the bottom of a blank sheet of paper, as a sign of commitment to God to say “Yes” to whatever He future plans He had for me, even before I knew what they were to be.

Today, I look at what He is writing on that page for me, and I don’t always like it. I want to take the pen, and somehow add some fine print at the bottom, a disclaimer or a subtle compromise to make this whole thing of “selling out” a little more comfortable.


The commitment has already been made. I don’t want to put my hand to the plow and look back. I don’t want to regress to waving the flag of defeat in the Enemy’s territory and give up ground that was never meant for him to have. I don’t want to come to the end of this season of life and regret living it out of a sense of dutiful submission rather than joyful surrender.

Perhaps I’m not as tongue-tied as I thought. Or maybe, trying to define the struggle with words - as fragmented and imperfect as they are - is the first hesitant step to return to that Altar of Surrender.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Girls...

They are brave & beautiful young women, they are.

My official job title may be that of “Dean of Women”, but what this really means is that somehow, I was the one privileged to live among these girls this past year.

They call it dorm life. Ten bunk beds lining the perimeter of one U-shaped room with mirrors for only half the number of its occupants and four showers to share among us. Personal space is nearly non-existent, for getting just a smidgen of time alone means crawling out into one of the concrete window wells or trying to find seclusion in the bathroom of the library to Skype home.  We share wardrobes, headbands, and pretzels from the States, and learn to live with the early birds and the night owls.

I think they are brave.

They chose to leave their homes in America and Canada and fly half-way around the world to spend four to eight months in a foreign country most of them had never been to before, living with people they did not know, and committed to studying and ministering in ways that they knew would stretch them physically, spiritually, and emotionally. This was not some reality TV show they were paid to produce. Actually, they paid to come here and to push themselves outside of their comfort zones with no guarantee of success or earthly reward.

They came from varied church and family backgrounds, some fresh out of high school, some with more travel-dust on their sandals from previous treks to not-so-touristy spots in the world. Some had dreamed and planned of coming for years, others made short-notice decisions to take this flying leap into the unknown.

They came, zealous, passionate, scared, idealistic, burdened, searching, and thirsty. Passionate about life and zealous for Christ but asking the questions of “who am I and what is God’s will for my life?”

They were thirsty for more. For more than the American dream, for more than the pursuit of career for the sake of money, for more than chasing guys and squandering their opportunities and time.  They did not want to settle for the status-quo or for a mediocre, shallow commitment to their walk with God. For them, that thirst for more of God meant leaving behind what was familiar and comfortable and predictable…

So they came. 
And we lived together. 
[Quite close together, actually.]

And in the daily moments of The Living, I watched them. Sometimes, I felt a bit protective of my girls, wanting to shield them from pain, from too much breaking, from disappointment and unmet expectations. [I've wondered, is this a fraction of what a mother feels as she watches her children grow, knowing that they need the hard things in life to make them strong, but wishing it didn't have to be a painful process?]

I watched them come out of their shells and shatter random “first impressions” from that night when they walked through the customs of Chiang Mai Airport, bewildered and travel-weary. From that night forward, it has been a journey. For all sixteen of them and for me.

I watched them learn to navigate the motor-bike congested streets of this city by using public songthaews, and cheered with them when they first hailed a songthaew to Big C “all by themselves” for the price of a 10 Baht coin. I showed them how to use the semi-automatic washer in our bathroom which seems like a luxury after washing all your clothes by hand during a 10 day ministry trip. I introduced them to khau pad guy and pad thai dishes in the local food shops and tried to convince them that they will get used to the spicy food…eventually.

First Semester Ladies
I listened to their stories of hiking through the mountains of Nepal, teaching English to university students older than they are, holding the mother-less children of Cambodia, washing the feet of the their Indian sisters, sleeping on rice mats on concrete floors, staying in hostels with dozens of rowdy school-aged kids, prayer walking in the red-light districts of China & Pattaya, and reaching out to the Thai girl who runs the cash register at our local 7-11. I’m proud of my girls. In a good, godly, humble sort of way. For I see them as young women who are learning to give beyond what they think is their limit and in the giving and the stretching, God is faithful to show Himself strong and to use their hands and their lips and their feet to be His own.

I think they are beautiful.

I saw when they unashamedly shed tears and confessed apathy after seeing the film of their persecuted brothers & sisters in Indonesia. It was my face that had tears streaking down my cheeks when I heard their testimonies in church or in dorm meeting, or by the answers to specific prayers, or in conversations that took place while sitting on the tile floor of my room. My tears were tears of undeserved yet overwhelming joy…

for those were times that I felt like I was treading on sacred ground. To get a glimpse into their souls, to hear their hearts, and to see the struggle, the wrestling, and the pain that God was taking them through as He purged and restored and then rekindled. Sometimes, I stand back in awe at what God is doing in the lives of these young women and I am invigorated by the potential that they possess. For it is in the surrender that strength and vision and endurance arise.

They are beautiful young women. They are beautiful in outward appearance of curly-haired and straight, blonde, brunette, and raven tresses, freckled, fair, and tan, short and tall, and eyes of hazel, blue or green. We have every personality among us you can imagine and then some spice and spunk and wit and humor that make me laugh and shake my head in amazement. Their taste in colors and styles vary widely but I love their creativity as individuals.

2nd Semester Ladies
They are beautiful in talents of photography, writing poetry, painting, playing penny whistles and pianos, culinary skills, athletics, harmonizing with harmonicas, singing, and gifts of mercy, exhortation, teaching and organization. Sometimes I wonder, what aren’t they good at? J

Yet in all of these outward expressions of beauty, I see that they desire, as women, to possess beauty with purpose. Not beauty for their own benefit or for merely the admiration of others, but a self-less beauty that is a reflection of who they are in Christ and a beauty of brokenness that rises forth from being poured out upon the altar for others. The kind of beauty that is courageous and willing to do hard things for the sake of the One who created them, ransomed them and empowers them. He is the One who is receiving glory through their lives, and that is indeed beautiful to behold.

Sometimes, I marvel at who am I to get to walk alongside these girls, to invest in their lives, and to find that in the end, I am the one receiving a hundred-fold more than anything I have ever given?

To be sure, no one ever said that this year would be easy. It hasn't been. We have had struggles, sicknesses, spiritual attacks, personality differences, and the stresses and stretching that come from living so closely together for months at a time. We have seen each other at our best and at our worst, at those times when we are just plain exhausted and peopled-out. Yet something that is worth having is worth fighting for… and I believe with all my heart that these past eight months is something precious that has indeed been worth fighting for.

Next year, another woman will take up the title of “Dean of Women” and occupy the little gray bedroom attached to girls’ dorm. It is a bittersweet feeling to pass on this position and to know that this year was my first and final chapter in that role. And yet, I am only a steward of this position, for it is not my own or one that I can lay any claim to. One thing I am assured of – God gave me the gift of knowing these girls who in reality taught, and challenged, and encouraged me in ways that they don’t even realize. That is a gift that I am humbled by and eternally grateful for.

As we near the end of the final semester and departure dates rapidly approach, my desire is that we can all finish well. And to each of my girls, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives. For loving me and putting up with my flaws and quirky habits, for all the times of shared laughter and serious talks, and for encouragement through notes & words. 
My prayer for you is that you continue to follow God with all your hearts, knowing that your life is not your own, and our Father who is Faithful & Good will complete the work He has begun within you.  
You are brave and beautiful women, that you are… 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By the Sea...

I don't remember exactly when the brainstorm was first kindled. 
Somewhere in the midst of the busy schedules of daily life, the humidity of hot season, and the realization that turning 28 is nearly upon both of us, we thought that a little getaway by the beach would be in order. Who says you can't celebrate 
the milestone of "Turning 30" two years early? :) 

We picked a place. Penang, Malaysia. Neither of us had ever been there or knew anyone personally who had, but flights were cheap, it was along the coast, and the location was outside of Thailand so it would count as a visa run as well. 

The trip had been planned several months ago, but the timing of it couldn't have been more perfect. The past month has been hard in the terms of needing to make some weighty decisions, and I was feeling pretty drained. In retrospect, this 4 day trip was a precious gift from God, & here is a photographic tribute...

Yay for budget airlines like Air Asia. Except for when they charged to rebook us for our connecting flight because we checked in 8 minutes late :(

Our hotel by the beach, compliments of Mel's thrifty travel agent skills on :)

The stairway going down to the beach from our hotel's bridge access. 

Sunsets by the sea... God's handiwork takes my breath away... 

Our secluded spot on the beach where we spent a lot of quiet time reading and journaling.
The sea, the sand, and the salty air are so refreshing to one's soul...
Times like these are always better when shared with a friend...
[and being asked by strangers if we are sisters? I'll take that as a compliment. :)]

On Friday, we decided to rent a motorbike to tour the island and the historic city of Georgetown. One tour guide tried to convince us that hiring a taxi and tour guide would be the better, safer option for us. We appreciated his concern (or his sales pitch to get us to rent the hotel's taxi service), but we preferred to blaze the trail on our own. The experience was every bit as adventurous as it sounds. 

Our rental bike and fearless driver. This is after we figured out that Malaysia does not have full-service fuel pumps like Thailand. :)
Yes, I am directionally challenged. But armed with a detailed map, on the look out for some specific landmarks, and we got around just fine.

The waterfront view from downtown
Georgetown is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang, and was first colonized by the British in 1786. Due to that influence, many of the buildings have been preserved in their original colonial architect as a World Heritage site. A simply charming city that is a fascinating cultural melting pot of Malay, Indian, and Chinese people, 
as well as other ethnicities.

I don't consider myself a photographer by any stretch of imagination. But even I was giddy at discovering all this quaint Old World charm... 

Georgetown is famous for their rich and creamy blend of white coffee. We were not disappointed. :) 

There were many evidences of different religions here with numerous Mosques, Hindi temples, and
Buddhist statues.

More colonial architecture...
Old Meets New: Pedal-bike rickshaws shared the streets with luxury vehicles.
Have I mentioned the beautiful architecture we saw on every street? :)
Props to a passerby on the street who offered to take our picture when we were struggling with self-timer
camera settings. :)
The waterfront yacht clubhouse

I have a weakness for old churches with steeples and was delighted to find one in Asia! 

Too many different ethnic restaurants to choose from? "Let's get a dish from all of them, " she said.
This was the Chinese dish, Laksa, I believe it's called. Made of fish and noodles in tomato curry.

And this was the Indian food, complete with authentic Chai tea, tandoor chicken, roti, and dahl. You have to taste it for yourself to understand the deliciousness of that plate. 

The following afternoon, we opted for a countryside route, winding up and down the mountains.

At one point, the actual road did not match my trusty map. But we bravely motored on and discovered the scenic route is sometimes the best one of all. :)

Last stop of the biking expedition was to purchase some real White Coffee.  
[And this is one of those "footsie" photos that I find strangely disturbing when I see them all over
 Facebook & Instagram].
But instead of buying boring "I Love Penang" tourist T-shirts, we opted for a much cuter and more lasting souvenir. Mine are the red, hers are the navy. :) 

"One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood."
-Lucius A. Seneca

Thanking God for the gifts of kindred spirits, sunshine, sand, and the salty ocean air...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Less of Me...

My biggest enemy is myself. 
The most daunting battles are the ones where it is my flesh pitted against my spirit. 

Right now, I want to climb down off the altar, run away from the sacrifice, and demand an answer to all my "why's?" 

You parted the Red Sea for the children of Israel, You raised to life the dead son of the widow woman, and You fed 5,000 people with mere loaves & fishes. You are able. You came through for them... What about me? What about others who I know are hurting and confused? 

So I agonize and I weep and I don't feel like the strong warrior woman that so many think that I am... 

But-- there is that still, small Voice. The One who invites me to wrestle with Your Goodness, the Voice that whispers when I want signs & wonders from heaven, the Voice that woos me to trust in the very character of Emmanuel {God With Us}. 

You are still there. You are the One who draws me closer to Your heart even when everything within me screams to run and take my own way. 

You are still good. You continue to perform miracles before my eyes every single day. Your timing is perfect even when it makes no sense to my earthly snapshot of the here & the now. 

I will choose to praise You, even when I can't see one step beyond where I am right now. 

I do love You. Like Job, the man who was stripped of absolutely everything and everyone he held dear, I want to say, "For He bruises, but He binds up: He wounds, but His hands make whole." [Job 5:18]

It is worth it. For You are Worthy...

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) 

Deliver me, O Jesus... 
...from the desire of being loved 
...from the desire of being extolled 
...from the desire of being praised 
...from the desire of being preferred 
...from the desire of being consulted 
...from the desire of being approved 
...from the desire of being popular 

Deliver me, O Jesus... 
...from the fear of being humiliated 
...from the fear of being despised 
...from the fear of suffering rebuke 
...from the fear of being forgotten 
...from the fear of being wronged 
...from the fear of being ridiculed 
...from the fear that others may be loved more than I 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire... 

...that others may be esteemed more than I 
...that in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease 
...that others may be chosen and I set aside 
...that others may be praised and I unnoticed 
...that others may become holier than I provided that I may become as holy as I should.