2015 Reflections

I thought about writing a post about this past year and then about the new year to come; but then I found a blog post that did such a wonderful job portraying what I wanted to say. This past year has been a crazy one with many ups and downs, but as always it was full of meaning and lessons to be learned. I learned about myself: how to embrace my emotions, overcome fears, and that I need to be true to myself.

These quotes are an important reminder and summary of my journey through 2015. Sometimes short quotes share more than I possibly could, so please enjoy this short post!



being positive in a negative situation is not naive. (1)

In 2015, I started this blog. I wanted to be more open with my writing and needed an outlet that was encouraging to others in a place of darkness. Creating this blog has been a challenge and full of such fun!

In 2015 other events happened of course: I got married to the coolest guy ever, I started student teaching, and I was able to travel to some pretty wonderful places. All in all, 2015 has been a great one and I can’t wait to see the joys of the new year!

Enjoy the Holidays, friends!

Much love. Much grace.

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An Open Letter To My Favorite Author

You changed my life.

I am sure many people say that phrase about tacos, celebrities, and other entities… but truly, you changed my life.

See, when I was alone, I would pick up your books and the stories would take me on wonderful adventures of travel and friendships. When I was feeling the burden of loneliness, I could seek companionship in your characters and their lives.

During the years when I was learning how to love myself and how to be confident, you helped show me how confidence can change a life. That being a leader is wonderful and can be done with grace. You showed me how I can lead without abandoning who I am, or what I believe.  You showed me that loving who I am is the best way I can lead and love others.

When I was learning how to navigate relationships, you set the bar. Yes, your characters are imaginary, but to me they felt so real. Your stories were such beautiful examples of how to love, and how to be loved. From your books, I was reminded that I was a “peculiar treasure” that deserved to be cherished, not mistreated.

Your books taught me not to be afraid of change or of reaching out. They taught me how to seek friendships, accept the change that happens, and embrace new things. You taught me how to face the challenges life can give me… and to succeed.

Your books brought me life-skills, advice, and companionship. I will treasure the adventures with your characters forever.

Your books changed how I saw the world. They changed how I viewed my classmates, parents, and the need for compassion in the world.

Your books caused change in my life. You writing these books, caused me to see a whole new world.

You changed my life.

Thank you.

Much love. Much grace.

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**My favorite author of all time is Robin Jones Gunn. She is truly a fun writer. While the books I was particularly fond of are for teen girls, I grew so much while reading them. Be sure to check out her writings for women of all ages!

The Truth About Refugees

Liz a dear friend of mine. I have known her for about 4 years and while she is younger than me, I have always seen her as a mentor and leader. She is full of such compassion for others, especially those in from other cultures who are in need. Her gracefulness is an attribute I strive for everyday. Liz is such a wonderful woman and I hope you enjoy her post as much as I do!

When Chelsea first asked me several weeks ago to write a piece about refugees, I had no idea that by the time this was done, refugees would be a major, controversial news topic.

When I wrote the first draft, almost no American news outlets were talking about refugees. There had been no attack on Paris. There was no nationwide debate over admitting Syrian refugees. No one was breaking down the refugee process, and no governors were sending letters to the White House about refugee policy.

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Photo by: Mitra Dhital

But now that all of that has changed—now that we all know more than we ever knew before about refugees and have arrived at our new opinions of what should be done—what I have to say hasn’t changed a bit.

You see, my husband and I spent the last two years working for a refugee ministry in a major US city, living in an apartment complex that housed several hundred resettled refugees. Our complex held mostly Bhutanese-Nepalis, but we were also blessed to have neighbors from the Congo, Burma, Cambodia, and Iraq. For two years, it was our job to help them with anything they needed, most often dealing with the medical and immigration systems, though we also led citizenship classes, taught Bible stories to the kids, and helped a house church get started.

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Nepal is right between India and China. Bhutan is North of Bangladesh and Southwest of China.

Through months and years spent eating together, living together, and worshiping together, we became friends and more than friends with these precious people. We walked together through sicknesses, births, holidays, and everyday life. We learned that they and their children have experienced more trauma than most of us can imagine. Every refugee story is unique, yet each has a tragic common thread—violent displacement from homes and land, coupled with fear for their safety if they try to return. Most of our friends had spent upwards of twenty years stuck in UN-controlled camps, not allowed to work or relocate, waiting and praying for something to change.

Unfortunately, the trauma doesn’t necessarily end for most refugees when they arrive on US soil. After years of waiting, they are suddenly thrust from shacks or tents into a modern apartment in a large American city. Many don’t know what a refrigerator or oven does, and they often use these appliances as storage space. We even heard of a family in another city drinking toilet water because they didn’t know how to use the sink! Most families feel overwhelmed, isolated, and helpless after arrival, unable to speak English, drowning in culture shock, and with little or no natural support network. The volunteer agencies that are legally responsible for refugees after arrival do all that they can, but usually the agencies’ resources are stretched impossibly thin. Often, all they do is rent an apartment, drop the refugees off at it, and give them a bus pass to get to English classes.

What refugee families need most as they walk through the long transition period is a friend who can help them gain confidence and competence in their new host culture. This can be through something as small as taking them to the supermarket or having a meal together—things that anyone with a little time can do! These sweet people have come to our nation from war-torn lands, often with no access to the Gospel and little hope for their earthly lives, and they are here in our cities, waiting for someone to notice them, care for them, love them. You don’t need any special qualifications to help them—just find out if there are refugees in your city and who is helping them already, and existing ministries would be happy to have you volunteer!

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Photo credit: CNN.com

It is my prayer that this short piece helps you see refugees a little less as a political discussion and a little more as people. Rather than arguing over whether or not to accept more, why don’t we spend a few hours of our time showing the love of Christ to those who are already here? Why don’t we welcome the stranger with love? Why don’t we walk through life with other people just as broken as we are, other mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, and see what we can learn from each other? I don’t know whether or not Christ would approve of the politics on either side, but I know He is honored when His people choose to show love. May we reflect Him in our lives as we serve the orphan, the widow, and the stranger.

Grace and peace.

Liz

Liz is a proud graduate of Louisiana Tech University, though she currently does absolutely nothing related to her degree. She and her husband have spent the past two years working with a refugee ministry on the West Coast and are briefly back in Louisiana before moving overseas to work with Muslims. She enjoys reading, hunting, fishing, learning about other cultures, and thinking about exercise but not actually doing it.

Book Love: Quiet

This past month* I have been reading a fantastic book that I have been wanting to read for about 2 years now.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

When I first heard of this book I had just arrived back to the States after being in Eastern Europe for two months. The culture there was much  more quiet, intentional, and soft-spoken than my American culture, but it was an environment I enjoyed, and even thrived in. The quiet culture of thinking before speaking, not feeling the need to speak to random strangers, and even enjoying a pause during a conversation was a culture I loved.

So after enjoying my summer of gentle culture, coming back to the United States was a loud, brash, abrupt awakening. And honestly, I was struggling to adjust back to the loud colors, language, and voices of my home culture.

That was when someone referred me to the book Quiet. She said that this book would not only help me adjust, but possibly help me understand my louder, more extroverted counterparts.

I could not find this book anywhere. I searched for about six months before giving up and just decided that I couldn’t read a book that was nonexistent. Then (a year and a half later!!) in October, I was walking past the Psychology section in Books-A-Million when the red words caught my eye. To say I was excited is an understatement (ask Mr. Yell… haha!) so I grabbed the book checked it out and began to read one of the most well-constructed, non-fiction research based books I have ever read.

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The author, Susan Cain, does a brilliant job of researching and presenting her topic of Introversion in an Extroverted society. She brings up issues in our culture, how she believes they can be solved, and speaks with truth and authority. Her research is quite extensive, which sounds boring, but she presents her research with stories, examples, and interviews which makes the book much more of a fun read.

She brings to light the plight of introverts, not because they are introverted, but because American culture seems to have no room for those who are introverted.

Being an introvert, I felt so understood by reading this book. Introversion is an issue I see in our culture today, and introverts do have a tendency to try to hide introversion characteristics. This book made me understand myself, and extroverts much better than I had in the past.

Cain’s explanations and solutions are intriguing ideas to introduce to our loud society. Even if you believe that a society cannot have a preferred personality, reading this book will make you look a bit closer to friends, family, coworkers, and the media.

Book Love

I would rate her book highly on my personal reading list, and hope you enjoy it as well!

Be sure to check it out, take a read, and tell me what you think of the book!

Susan Cain’s TEDTalk is just a small portion of her book but is still worth the time to listen to, especially if you are unsure about buying her book. Listening to her speech will give an insight to her research and the book, Quiet.

Much love. Much grace.

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Interested to see your personality type? Take this fun quiz to find out!

*It took me a month to read this book due to school work and other life factors. Not because the book was disinteresting, hard to read, or  lengthy.