Monday, September 27, 2010

psalm 61

My dad is having a bone marrow test done today because they saw some abnormal cells or something like that in his spine. I'd say more but I don't really understand medical things, plus we don't know much more than that. Anyway, my point is that today I was really worried about it. I have been scared about what the doctors are going to find and all that, though I am really thankful that the tests are being done so that if there is something wrong, we can get it taken care of! Still, it's scary.

So I started praying today, and I felt God just giving me reassurance that He is carrying me, and my dad, and my family. He is taking care of us. And I instantly felt peace. It was funny because as I was praying, I was putting my laundry away. And then I compulsively wanted to tidy up my room, but I felt God asking me to put all that aside, and just worship him. So I opened my bible, and I turned to Proverbs, since I've been reading through that. And it didn't feel right for where I am today, so I turned to Psalms instead. I came to Psalm 61, where it says "From the end of the earth I will cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings." Amazing, right? God is carrying me, so I can rest in the shelter of His wings.

So then I went downstairs to play my Urbana cd, and as I was setting my ipod up, I saw that the napkin holder was empty, and I wanted to put some more napkins in the holder. So again, I had to actively accept God's invitation to put my housework aside. It's funny how that is such a hard thing for me to do. Anyway, I put on the song "In Christ Alone," one of my all-time favorites. I turned it up really loud and went into the living room and just lifted my hands. I didn't even sing along with it. I just stood there. And it felt so freeing to just stand in God's grace. So that's what I did.

I'm still anxious about the verdict of my Dad's test. But honestly, I've never felt so close to God as I do today. It's no wonder that when I'm overwhelmed by life's situations, worship is always the appropriate place to start. There's a silly quote that says "Don't tell God how big your storm is, tell your storm how big your God is." Well, silly isn't a good description because I actually think it's a beautiful quote. I love that God knows how big my storm is, and I can trust the burdens of my heart with Him and know that he won't invalidate my feelings. And I love that when I stop what I'm doing and just worship Him and remember how big He is, I feel secure, and I trust that He is much bigger than anything I'm going through. He's got this!

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
and my refuge, is in God.
-Psalm 62:5-7

Monday, September 20, 2010

preparing for a marriage

I hesitate to write about this topic because I don't want to freak my boyfriend out, but let me just give my disclaimer that this isn't really about that. You see, I'm a girl who has been planning her wedding ever since [insert an age or milestone event for dramatic event]. I just love weddings. I always have, so I jump at any opportunity to attend one. I love every part of it. I love when the groom walks out, looking dashing, clasping his hands in front of him with a strong stance and looking towards the door for his bride to walk in. I love the moment just before the bride walks in, when you can feel everyone's anticipation of the moment when she will start walking with her father down the aisle. I loved seeing my friend Melissa, who doesn't really cry that often, start crying when she got halfway down the aisle. I loved seeing my friends BJ and Kristie passing tissues to each other, as they both shed tears of joy at their wedding. I love the ease with which the couple interacts with their family and friends. Well, you get the idea.... I love weddings. So naturally, I've been anticipating mine for my whole life. The style of the dress, the colors, the month, the food, the playlist. I've spent my whole life planning my wedding.

But you know how those events go... you anticipate something for so long, and you build it up so much, and then all of a sudden, it's over. It's not that it was a let down; it's just that you have been planning it and preparing for it for such a long time, and then suddenly, it's the day after. My wedding day will just be one day of my life. It will be a very blessed day, one of the best of my life probably, but it must feel weird when it's over. I'm sure it takes a few weeks, once you come back from the honeymoon and have settled into your new apartment, when you realize that this day that you have always been planning for is over. I've spent a lot of time dreaming about a destination wedding here at Hore Abbey in Ireland. And I've made a lot of plans in my mind about how my wedding day will be, but it's a bit silly, isn't it? It's just one day.

That's why I think it's much more wise to prepare for a marriage, since that has much longer time span than a wedding. Preparing for a marriage has a checklist including, but not limited to:
  • Learn to forgive and accept forgiveness in return.
  • Learn to be loving in the hard times
  • Learn to share my resources unselfishly
  • Learn to put Jesus first in my relationship
  • Learn to listen well
  • Learn to communicate love in ways that my partner understands
  • Learn to give when I would rather just take
  • Learn how to grant acceptance, be an encourager and a helper
  • etc.
The list goes on and on, of course, since a marriage is meant to be a deep journey of pursuing the other's heart "as long as you both shall live."

I love weddings, so I will probably continue to think about colors and locations and playlists, but I think what matters more is preparing for a marriage. When people attend my wedding someday, they will definitely spend some of the evening exclaiming that Jess Bui is a FANTASTIC wedding planner/party thrower, not to mention a ridiculously beautiful bride. But I intend for most of their awe to be about the reverent beauty of a wedding that isn't about a perfect wedding day, but rather a celebration of the first day of a marriage. I want my family and friends to be inspired by the couple before them who are vowing to forgive and love and encourage and pursue each other's hearts for the rest of their lives. So from now on, I'm going to put more thoughts and prayers into preparing for a marriage, rather than focusing on flowers and outdoor reception tents. A marriage matters more than a wedding day.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

on teleportation and hiking

Yesterday I drove by a place called Susquehanna Scenic Vista or something like that, and I just had to check it out. As it turns out, it was basically a big hill, and it ran through the mason dixon trail. The main walkway to get to the top snaked around the hill, which I didn't think made all that much sense. I figured that going straight up would save a lot of time and energy, seeing as it wasn't really that steep, but I followed the winding path anyway. It was a fun adventure to go on, and it made me realize that hiking isn't really about the scenic vista at the top. On the walk, I got to see some horses and some really big mansions that I wouldn't have gotten to see if I had just taken a straight path up the hill. Adventures are really all about the journey and not the destination. It would be boring if you could just get straight to the top right away.

I mean I understand that whole "it's the climb" philosophy, but I've never really been convinced. I'm more of a destination kind of girl. I think that's why the idea of teleportation always excited me so much. My friend Molly and I used to pretend that we had watches that could teleport us to anywhere and any time period we wanted to go to. I like that. I just thought the value of the journey was overrated. Let's just get there already! Who really needs to learn something along the way? Not me.

I recently read that it takes most people 10 years after college to get settled into the perfect job. Do you know how miserable that sounds to me? 10 whole years?! So by the time I pay off the college loans, THEN I'll find the right job. Great. You see, when I was in high school, I told my English teacher that I wanted to be a lawyer, and she said that I should go to Lebanon Valley College and major in English. And since I'm not much of a decision maker, that's what I did. I just wanted a straight and narrow path. I didn't want to change my mind halfway through college and have to stay an extra semester or two to finish. So when I decided I didn't want to be a lawyer anymore, I didn't consider changing my major to something else. I don't think I ever would have because I love English, but it's not the most clear cut major. It's not accounting or elementary ed, that's for sure. I do love literature, and I had a fantastic time discussing it during college... but now I'm a waitress. And apparently this is part of the journey. And apparently I can't just go straight up the hill and get to the destinations right away, like publishing a best-selling book, getting married, having a baby. Sometimes I wish I could just teleport to those places instead of living this incessant "climb."

But when I think about it, what really is the destination? Isn't publishing a best-selling book and getting married still just part of the journey? I guess life is a journey in itself, and it's not like you get somewhere and then stop and enjoy the view forever. That would be boring, too. The story doesn't end when you get to the top of Mt. Everest; you still have to climb down. And I imagine that once you get to the bottom, you start thinking about your next adventure. No hiker or mountain climber would want to just teleport to the top. What would be the point of that?

In  my life, I'm craving adventure so much. It's not actually those destinations that I crave. So I want to start focusing on living an adventure and enjoying the view at each step because I think that if I'm always just waiting to get to the destination, I'm never going to be happy. Teleportation would be awesome because I'd probably zap myself to Paris right now or maybe Vietnam or 2005. But since teleportation doesn't exist, and all we have is the journey of here and now, I'm just going to keep walking and keep seeking adventures.