Monday, November 30, 2015

Things I Learned this Fall

Here are ten random things that I learned this fall.

I wish I had the brain of a two-year-old.

Since we're moving to Bangkok in a couple of months, I decided to try to learn all 44 Thai consonants. Gotta start somewhere, right?

I practiced in the cracks of my day usually with my two-year-old Grace watching. After a week, I had memorized about half of them.

While I was patting myself on the back over my little accomplishment, Grace started reciting them. All of them. She had all 44 consonants down solid just from watching over my shoulder. Schooled by my two-year-old.

Now if only I could switch brains with her when learning Thai becomes my full time job...

One of the best ways to recharge my soul is to spend some time in a place where leaves outnumber humans a million to one.

When you change lanes on a CA freeway, you're supposed to (1) find your space, (2) blink your blinker for five full seconds, and then (3) change lanes.

(1) stake out your spot but don't give any indication that you are intending to change lanes,
(2) begin moving into your spot, and then
(3) blink as your tires cross the dotted lines. Any more blinking forfeits your space.

Questions are powerful.

When I hit a confusing spot in life that has no easy answer, I usually feel uncomfortable, so I tend to rush ahead to force some sort of answer.

Of the 180+ questions that were asked of Jesus, he only gave a direct answer to four of them. The rest of the time he responded with another question or a story. (I owe this insight to my pastor Tom Hughes' sermon series based of his book Curious.)

For the past couple of months, I've tried to hold the uncomfortable questions before God. Questions like: How do I hold onto the big picture as I engage in the mundane details of life? and How do I engage with national and global news without feel utterly depressed and discouraged?

As I have held these questions before God, I've had flashes of insight into deeper truth than I would have found if I had rushed ahead.

A one-year-old can produce an unbelievable amount of snot in just days.

One week, Cora was sick with a really nasty cold, I swear I wiped about half a gallon of snot off her face.

Here's a pic from a really dramatic diaper change. I just want to scoop her up, wipe off her nose, and snuggle her. Pretty sure that's what happened once Michael was done changing her.

Finding a piano in an unexpected place is magical.

On an overcast afternoon in September, my family strolled down a wooden pier in Central California eating free samples of clam chowder and watching the seagulls flap around. Suddenly, we came upon an old, wooden, upright piano. It drew us in with its magic and we played for a while, serenading seagulls and passers by with our slightly out of tune playing.

It reminded me of a time when, on my regular commute home from law school, I unexpectedly stumbled upon an upright piano in Los Angeles' Union Station. A man who was homeless was pounding the keys with rusty skill and gusto. Being homeless, he probably rarely played, but I could tell he loved it. I can only imagine what a magical refuge that piano was to him.

Two months can pass between a baby's first steps and when they actually start walking.

Cora took her first steps a a couple of weeks before her first birthday. And that was it. She refused to walk for two months after that. She's definitely walking now, but even still prefers crawling.

It is very satisfying to have high hopes for something and for that thing to come through.

This happened twice this fall.

(1) Except for the few times they've majorly flubbed. (i.e. Cars 2), I love Pixar movies. I had high hopes for Inside Out. We watched it the day it came out on DVD and every hope was satisfied.

(2) I had high hopes when I heard that Sara Groves, my favorite singer/songwriter, was releasing an album. Since it came out, I've listened to it almost daily. The lyrics. The music. It's all so delicious. And I later found out that the album was birthed after several years of anxiety, depression, and writer's block. It's curious how the most painful stuff can produce the best art.

It is possible to write a gripping novel full of middle school drama. 

The novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio centers around the story of a fifth grader with severe facial abnormalities/differences (I don't know how to say it PC-ly) and his first year in a regular school. It's really quite good. And its message of kindness is one we could all take to heart these days.

It is possible to die with joy and grace.

Steve Hayner was the president of Columbia Theological Seminary when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died less than a year later. On his journey from diagnosis to death, Steve and his wife, Sharol, chronicled their experiences online. Their words have been turned into the book Joy in the Journey.

The title is appropriate. I was dumbstruck by how their struggles oozed with joy and grace. I wish I lived my little day to day struggles with the courage and hope that they lived Steve's last months.


  1. I really enjoyed this post, your lessons, and your humor! I so agree with your recharge idea: "One of the best ways to recharge my soul is to spend some time in a place where leaves outnumber humans a million to one." And, I am with you about Steve Hayner being amazing (I was in his church in Seattle). Thanks for bringing me a smile this morning!

  2. I just love all of this especially the insight on questions. I will be chewing on that one for awhile. Thanks for sharing on Emily's page! Prayers for your upcoming adventure. So thankful God has already gone before you.


  3. I am loving the piano thing.


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