Little Letter

IMG_7861Dear “Gilmore girls”,
I started watching you again for the third time and you never disappoint. But to be honest, I’m still a little miffed about the ending of the revival. I won’t spoil it here, but it sure was a cliffhanger and now I’m thinking we need another revival to satiate us.

Dear Quote,
The other day I heard, “No one hangs hard times on the wall.” That really spoke to me for some reason. It is so easy to assume everyone is fairing better than you at any given moment, but the truth is we are all dealing with the sadness and pain of life. You are never alone in hardship, ever.

Dear Paddle Board,
I enjoyed taking you out for a spin on the lake last night. But all those jet skiers were zipping around me making the water choppy and I had a hard time getting much of anywhere.

Dear Texas,
You sure are hot during the summer. Boy, just when I think it can’t get any hotter, it does! Maybe I’m a California weather wimp, but I still am not used to it.

Dear Coffee,
Just reminding you how much I love you. Never forget.

Dear “The Lilac Girls”,
Just started this new book and am already a fourth of the way through. Historical fiction is my jam.

Dear Germany,
Are you as excited as I am for my return on August 23rd? I sure hope so, cuz I can’t hardly think of anything else!

P.s. Photo from our time in Bar Harbor, Maine 🙂

What’s Your ‘Vacation Mentality?’

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I recently read this article from the NYT entitled “How to Be Mindful on Vacation.” It really struck me, particularly this part:

Think of a vacation as a feeling within, rather than a chance to bring your hurried lifestyle to another place.

Often in the past I’ve been disappointed by vacations or trips because I didn’t check off all the items on my ‘To-See’ list. I get so caught up in being a successful tourist that I forget the original reason for the trip– to relax! Of course there’s a place for sight-seeing, but I always let it stress me out way too much. This article is a good reminder that vacation is more a state of mind than anything else.

I think that’s one of the reasons I love to travel alone once in a while, because I am more aware of my environment and willing to take the time to notice small details.

This trip I’ve been on for the past three weeks has been particularly nice because I went into it without expectations. That way, when something didn’t happen, I wasn’t disappointed, instead I could just focus on all the great things that did happen and turn them into positive memories. For instance, I didn’t go to any museums in NYC this past week, something I truly enjoy. But you know what? I did get to spend extra time in Central Park. And it was lovely.

I’m curious, what’s your vacation mentality? Do you struggle with being present on trips?

P.s. Photo from here

Little Letter

IMG_3822Dear Maine,

You stole me heart. I’ll be back for it later.

Dear Vacation,

I forgot how great you can be for the soul.

Dear 22nd Birthday,

Well, you came and went and left me another year older. My dad and I saw the musical “Mathilda” in downtown Fort Worth 🙂

Dear Frankfurt,

Can’t believe I get to see you again in two months!

Dear George Saunders,

Just started reading your new book “Lincoln in the Bardo.”

Dear “S-Town”,

Shoot, you were quite the podcast. NPR always blows my mind.

Beautiful Poetry

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The other day I stumbled across poet and author Nayyirah Waheed’s work and it is so beautiful I almost wanted to cry. Below are a few of my favorites if you’d like to read:

be easy.
take your time.
you are coming
home.
to yourself.
-“The Becoming/Wings”

there
are
feelings,
you haven’t felt yet.
give them time.
they are almost here.
-“Fresh”

my
mother
was
my first country.
the first place I ever lived.
-“Lands”

i knew you.
before I met you.
i’ve known you my whole life.
-“Nafsi”

all the women.
in me.
are tired.
-Waheed
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What do you think? Are you a fan? I sure am 🙂

P.s. Photos from here

 

 

 

What Love Means

001.full_50.jpgSometimes I wonder what love means.

Once I overheard my father telling my mother how much he loved the scented autumn candle she’d purchased- the way it filled and warmed the house on rainy evenings, when overhead lights just didn’t seem quite right.

The thing is, he would never in a million years have thought to buy a candle himself. Those type of things just didn’t cross his mind. In fact, he never knew he liked them until my mother showed him.

Once I heard my brother say to his girlfriend, “I love the shower curtain you bought me.” He lived with a fellow bachelor roommate, and they had been showering without a shower curtain for months, just accepting a wet bathroom floor as a part of life. Finally his girlfriend remedied the situation with something so simple and, well, tasteful. He too didn’t know what he was missing until she showed him.

And that, I think, is one of the meanings of love. Sometime you don’t know how lovely life can be until someone shows you a different way. It doesn’t have to be big- the smaller the better- but it is new and strange and wonderful.

An Ode to Los Angeles

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I have lived in Los Angeles for twenty one years.

So, by my careful calculations, I have spent a total of two years stuck in traffic, approximately three thousand dollars on non-fat lattes, and seen a cumulative of four and a half celebrities in person, give or take a few B-level soap stars I barely recognized in Whole Foods, where they were no doubt buying gluten-free, taste-free chocolate cake.

I recently graduated from college, and plan to move to Germany in September for the foreseeable future. All this transition has me feeling nostalgic about my home city, and has made me reflect on the many things I will and will not miss about this place. It’s funny, isn’t it? There comes a certain affection for a place that is only accessible to those about to leave it.

Truth be told, most of the time Los Angeles drives me absolutely crazy. The fast paced, never-ending hustle, the obsession with physical appearance spurred on by the pervasive influence of Hollywood, the ridiculously high cost of living, and so much more often builds up until I say, “I can’t do this anymore. I give up.”

On the other hand, I love Los Angeles with a deep, fierce love that can never be replaced. I am annoyingly proud to call it home and have been known to shout out the phrase “West Coast Best Coast!” at inopportune times. There’s a reason so many songs are written about this city and not, say, Wichita (no offense Wichita, you’ve got some killer wheat fields). There’s just something so enchanting about this over-grown town, where everyone believes their dreams will come true. People come here to make it– this city is populated with dreamers, artists, entrepreneurs and creators of all stripes. Just take a walk down the Venice Beach boardwalk and you’ll see what I mean. There is no prescribed lifestyle here– everyone can live exactly as they please! I’m so grateful to have grown up amidst such diverse cultures and groups.

But. I’m leaving. I am contributing to the transience that plagues this great city. And I feel all the mixed emotions a person can feel. Yes, I know I will return to visit. I care about too many people here to not visit. And yes, who knows, I may settle here permanently again one day in the future! For now, though, I am excited to try someplace new, to call another spot in this great big gorgeous world home. 

Regardless, I’ll always say I’m a California girl through and through.

Thanks for everything, beautiful city. Stay chill. I’ll miss you.

If I were to give a commencement address to the Pepperdine class of 2017…

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…I would say:

English doesn’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness. Love isn’t right. Community or fellowship don’t quite fit either. Rather, it’s the sense that there are people beside you who are in this thing with you: When the movie ends and you stick around to discuss it. When you’d rather sacrifice a few hours of sleep to stay at the party. That night, with the guitar. Those mornings with the bottomless cups of coffee. This very moment with a sea of identical black hats.

Tomorrow, we may wake up and feel the tug of actual loneliness. This scares me more than anything. More than landing a good job, more than moving across the country or world, more than finding the perfect spouse.

This is not to say I have never been lonely before. I have, many times. I can recall sitting in my Freshman dorm room as my parents drove away for the first time and thinking, well, what the heck am I supposed to do now? But during times like this, I think back to moments when I was overcome by the opposite of loneliness. Moments like today. And it makes me confident they will come around again. They always do.

Of course there are things we wish we’d taken the time to do these past four years: sleep, attend Convo, that cute boy across the hall, for instance. And that’s never going to change, no matter how old and wise we grow. But that’s okay too. The things we did do: write for the school newspaper, study abroad, ask a professor out to lunch– are what matter in the end.

Let’s not buy into the cultural notion that college was “the best four years of our lives” and everything’s downhill from here. I believe leaving college is not a loss, but an infinite gain: it forms the foundation for a happy, healthy life as an adult in this great world, a gain so few are fortunate enough to count. As one of my favorite characters from The Office, Andy Bernard, or Nar dog, said in the series finale, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the Good Old Days before you’ve actually left them.”

Some of us in the crowd today know exactly what their immediate future holds: Med school, starting a non-profit, striking it rich in Silicone Valley. If that’s you, I say both congratulations, and you stink. If you don’t have the faintest clue what’s next, that’s not important. What is important is that you never stop being foolish enough to believe you can change the world.

That, and never stop believing in something bigger than yourself. So often society tells us that if we only believe in ourselves, we will succeed. My four years at Pepperdine have taught me that this couldn’t be further from the truth. I fail. I mess up. I make bad decisions. Luckily, I’m not my source of hope. Find something infinitely bigger to place your hope in– be it religion, family, a social cause, what have you– and race towards that with all your strength from this point forward.

If we do this, I’m confident we can and we will make an impact in this world.

So here’s to you, Pepperdine class of 2017. Thanks for being my friends, my mentors, my role models, but unfortunately not my boyfriends. Language fails to describe the way I feel today. So, although it’s not particularly eloquent, let me end with this: Above all else moving forward, I wish you the opposite of loneliness. 

P.s. This post was inspired by this amazing essay if you’d like to take a peek 🙂

 

 

An interview with my German professor

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My German professor is one of the most interesting and well-traveled people I’ve ever met. He has instructed me for the last four semesters, and I will miss his classes immensely after I graduate. His life has intersected with history time and time again, so I thought it would be a travesty if I didn’t take advantage of his insights while I had the chance. So last week I sat down with him and listened to a few of his stories. I’ve written them down in the short essay below, and I hope you find them both interesting and inspiring. Enjoy!


I hated being drafted in 1961. I’m the oldest of five children and that was the first time in our family that there was a major “break.” It was hard on the family and hard on me. I dreaded it and was not excited.

When I was in high school, I had a music teacher named Hering who was a displaced Jew from Vienna who escaped before WW II. He was a child prodigy and concert pianist who taught me piano. He was so wonderful. He himself was taught by a line of teachers who studied under Beethoven himself. There were no German classes in my high school, but this music teacher began to teach me German. It sounded so interesting to me, even though I couldn’t really understand it yet. Little did I know then that I would one day be sent to Germany.

But once I was sent to Germany with the military, I realized God was opening a big door for me. I was a Conscientious Objector, so I was trained in basic medical care instead of combat. The military gave me the opportunity to travel and see historical places, so I took advantage of it. I became passionate about learning German, unlike my fellow soldiers– I was odd in that respect! I was working at a military hospital in Landstuhl;  the whole country was on alert against Russia, who was building the Berlin wall that year (1961). Sometimes we would go out on mock field missions where we had to simulate a battle scene with Russia! I used to not wince at all when I had to draw blood, but today the thought alone makes me cringe. In 1962 there was a big 7.1 earthquake in Iran. There were over 12,000 deaths and hundreds of people who were injured . We were put on alert and thought that we might be sent to Iran to help, but at the last moment it was cancelled. I was relieved because it would have been my first time confronting death so head-on, and I knew it would be difficult.

That was the only real emergency while I was in Germany. We were never sent to Berlin, but it was always a possibility since it was a “flash point” city. The Russians were flexing their military muscles and the atmosphere was tense. I knew several people who had left East Germany and come to West Germany.

One real blessing was that I got involved in the church in Kaiserslautern. A black family took me to church every Sunday and Bible study during the week, rain or shine, sleet or snow. The preacher there, Hans Nowak,  mentored me. He was immensely talented, and inspired me to become a preacher in Germany years later.

I was in the army for two years total, and then I came back to the US. I had an expectation that I would go back to Germany one day. I didn’t know when or how, but I just knew I would. I went to college at David Lipscomb University and did my masters at Vanderbilt University. When I applied to Vanderbilt, I wrote in my application that I aspired to be involved in Christian ministry in Germany one day. One of the professors degraded me and put me down for that, but I never let it get to me! I applied for an exchange year at Humboldt University in Berlin and was accepted. I got involved in the church there, where I soon began preaching. Heinz Müller, the preacher in Berlin, was also an inspiration to me, and I’ll never forget when he said, “Du predigst nächsten Sonntag.” I was so nervous! I was an exception because I wasn’t formally trained in theology or hermeneutics, but I taught myself through experience. I became interested in Greek and Hebrew too. I worked in the Müllers’  bookstore while I studied in Berlin to support myself. It was in Berlin where I met Udo Herbst, who was a Berliner and had become a Christian years earlier. He helped teach me Hebrew.

Then after I finished studying in Berlin, I committed to do full time mission work in Munich from 1971 to 1975. There were four churches in the US who sponsored me out of the generosity of their hearts. Munich is where I met my wife, Pat, who had a job with the US government.

I still hadn’t written my dissertation, and I had a deadline to finish my Ph.D. So eventually I went back to the US to finish up at Vanderbilt University. I knew I needed to have a Ph.D. to support a family one day. Then I got my first teaching job at Abilene Christian University, where I stayed for eight years. It was hard to readjust to life in the US. Life in West Texas was somewhat boring compared to Germany.

Then in 1983 Pepperdine University offered me a job. I accepted eventually and we moved in 1984. I haven’t regretted coming to Pepperdine. I would do it again. I’ve had wonderful opportunities and met talented students. It is a ministry to me because I’ve had contact with and influence on so many diverse students. For instance, I am going to baptize a former student on Saturday, and I’ve officiated at the weddings of several students over the years. Not all the non-Christian students I’ve taught have become Christians, but I feel like I’ve influenced them positively in one way or another. I enjoy working with the very multicultural student body at Pepperdine.

If I have any advice for young people, it would be to keep your aspirations high and in alignment with God’s purposes for your life. Never let anything discourage you. Once you become convinced you have a calling in life, never let anything or anyone stop you.


Fascinating, right? I particularly related to the part where he said, “I had an expectation that I would go back to Germany one day. I didn’t know when or how, but I just knew I would.” I too have an expectation that I will return to Germany one day, though I don’t know all the details yet!  I’m so glad I took the time to record these memories in perpetuity. I would encourage you to interview someone in your life who intrigues you! Human stories are incredible.

P.s. A few photos from Berlin in the 1960’s

Little Letter

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Dear Community Group,
I love you and can’t wait to serve at the Hollywood Winter Shelter with you on Saturday. We are preparing a hot breakfast for more than 250 homeless people in Los Angeles, and I’m excited to meet some of them, hear their stories and share a meal.

Dear Guitar,
I think I’m getting better at you. Maybe.

Dear Mele,
I can’t believe how close we’ve gotten this year. You are such a gem of a friend who just ‘gets me’, no questions asked.

Dear Valentines Day,
Honestly, I almost forgot you even existed. Is that bad? I’ve got to cook up a fun way to show my friends and family I love them!

Dear Fulbright,
Gosh it’s hard to wait to hear your results. I won’t find out if I get you until the end of March/beginning of April.

Dear Internet,
You’re funny, but also really crazy sometimes.

Dear “Bridge of Spies”,
You are a great movie! I loved the setting in East and West Berlin in 1960. Plus, it was kind of cool to translate the German for my friends!

Dear Politics,
Currently trying to balance staying informed about you with staying sane. Not an easy task!

P.s. Photo of the adorable little angel I babysit (cheeeeeese!)