TWENTY TWO

Friday, August 29, 2014

In a couple of days, August will be over.
In a couple of hours, it will be my last night in Naperville with my family.
In a couple of (more) hours, I will be a Minnesota resident.
In a couple of weeks, I will be a full-time worker. 
So, so, so weird. 

I was taking a look at my baby steps for August; reflecting and reevaluating how this month went. I completed a lot of the tasks I had set (minus the bonfire and Japan scrapbook), but overall, the month was a pretty tough one. Creatively, I felt no motivation or juice left in me to make anything. Physically, I felt like a squishy sloth (lolz @ the alliteration) all of the time. I wasn't eating healthy or being active or sleeping regularly, so my body often felt sluggish and slow. (But hey, calories don't count in your birthday month.) Spiritually, I was inconsistent; very reactive to my surrounding and circumstances versus standing firm and remaining bold. Overall, I treated August as an 'interim' month, just a fill-in until real life began. Don't get me wrong, the break was really nice and probably much my last one ever, but everyone around me was starting life and school and work, and for me, I was on pause. 

And let me tell you, I hate pausing for too long. I just hate it. I've never been that kind of person. I hate being stagnant. It makes me restless and lazy and crazy. I need change and movement and projects and challenges and surroundings and new grace thrown my way. I like to be elbow-deep in work, in growth, in dreams — and not just any kind, but meaningful work, intentional growth, and ginormous dreams/prayers. Hey, that's kinda catchy. Maybe I should make that my slogan for the year... ;) 

One of my "baby steps" were to turn 22. I'll save ya the suspense, I succeeded. I turned 22. I'm sure the suspense was just killing ya on that one. Anyway, with a new year, I made a list of 22 vows/dreams I'd like to do before I turn 23. :) This is my first time doing this so I threw in a mix of lifestyle changes, bucket list-worthy tasks, and also some simple ones. It's on the calm side — nothing like go bun-jee jumping or drink 22 shots in 22 hours or whatever people actually add to their bucket list. But this is mine, and this is what it looks like. Inspired by Elise's #makeitpublicmakeithappen, to share things with you. Here it goes!

22 VOWS:

1. Memorize 22 verses.
2. Cook 22 dishes.
3. Read 22 books.
4. Send 22 letters.
5. Do quiet time daily.
6. Take more photos.
7. Develop more photos.
8. Learn something new.
9. Start a bible study.
10. Pick up a new sport/physical activity. Barre? 
11. Develop Etsy shop.
12. Be deeply invested in a community.
13. Be intentional with my time and relationships and money. 
14. Run a race.
15. Visit 22 different cities.
16. Write a song.
17. Call family often.
18. Serve at a retreat.
19. Give the blog a makeover + ad spaces.
20. Volunteer. 
21. Love my job.
22. Love God more than I did the year before.

XO. CHEERS!

FRIENDSHIPS & STORIES.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I believe in friendships. Not because I have perfected the art of it or am currently in perfect friendships. But because it is through friendships God has taught me grace and love. It is through friendships I have experienced healing and joy and freedom.

I believe in stories. Not because I am good at telling them, but because it's through stories God shows me fingerprints of Himself. I've always loved stories — reading them, exchanging them, and even writing them. And when I first met God, and as I continue to experience Him, He reminds me of the greatest story of them all - the story about the cross and how it radically changes my life.

BABY STEPS (AUGUST)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014



It'ssssss August! And you know what that means? Birthday month — for both this blog and myself! My favorite month of the year. :) I thought it was only appropriate to do a 'baby steps' post for this month with so much happening right now. In the past, entering August = entering a new school year, but since I graduated in May, I am officially done with school. No more first day of school outfit, no more syllabus, no more books... Entering August = entering real world. If you've been following me on Twitter or Instagram, then you know that I am actually relocating from Illinois to Minneapolis in just a couple of weeks for my new job. (!!!) Ah, it is so surreal. I want to try to document this transition into young adult life as much as possible on this blog. Hope ya don't get sick of me! Cheers! 

--

send out thank-you letters | My missions trip to Japan was only possible thanks to a huge support system from family members, friends, and my church. I bought a huge stack of stationary to send out hand-written thank you letters to all of the individuals who supported me. Gotta get this done ASAP! I'm already behind!

have a bonfire | Because, summer.

go on a picnic | See above.

create a japan scrapbook | It was a month that changed my life and I don't want to forget any of it. :) I want to create a scrapbook with some of my favorite verses and photos to really capture the memories.

develop photos | I have so many photos stored on my external hard drive that were never published, not even from Italy (!!!), and I want to print them all out to line my future walls.

continue 'if:equip' reading plan | If you don't know about IF or Jennie Allen yet, stop everything you are doing (including reading my blog) and click here. This is a community & resource I am so happy I discovered and don't know what I did without. It was a timely discovery, and immensely helpful into my re-entry back to the US. I love all of the womens' heart of the If community, and they press me more into Jesus daily.

donate old clothes | Purging my closet was a chore that was much needed. Like, yesterday.

buy furniture | Because real world apartments don't come fully furnished? Shocking, right? I know. It was for me, too. I need to get me some real couches, rugs, kitchen stools, and the whole shabang. Grown up toys. 

celebrate twenty two | Yup. Taylor Swift on repeat, please.

say goodbye | Cue sad music here. A huge part of moving also means saying goodbye. I've lived in Naperville for 10+ years. It's going to be bittersweet move. Sweet to begin a new exciting journey, sad to leave behind all of my best friends and loved ones. On the bright side, maybe this will call for one last summer bash, though? 

move to minnesota | Entering real world. 
-----


XOXO: What about you? What are your goals for this month? Join the conversation!


JAPAN REFLECTIONS: THE MOCHI CAKE GOSPEL

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Every weekday in Japan, we did "campus ministry."  We went to two college campuses between 11:30-3pm, during students' lunch breaks, and tried to connect with as many students as possible - inviting them to J-House or scheduling more lunch dates. Everyone had their own strategy or approach, but the goal to introduce them to Jesus and share His love was all the same! 

Towards the end of the trip, I was getting to know this girl, E*, pretty well. It was my fifth or sixth time meeting with her, and I considered her one of the closer friends I had made in Japan. One day, I was trying to tell her how the CFC team celebrated a team member's birthday by making mochi cake. I assumed mochi cake was a Japanese dessert, but she had never heard of it before! I tried to explain to her what it looked like, what it tasted like... And I was getting really excited because I believed the cake to be SO good. I remember thinking, "I probably sound like a crazy fatty right now, but I don't even care cause once she tastes how good this mochi cake is, she'll understand, too." 

I met with her again the following day, and the VERY first thing she said to me was: "Jenny! I was so tired when I came home from school last night, but I was so curious about this mochi cake that you described, that I looked it up myself online and want to make it soon." And I don't know why it clicked all then, but in that moment I was just so ashamed and rebuked. Because my enthusiasm and confidence was so evident when I shared with her about food, but I wondered if that same joy came across when I shared about Jesus. When I shared the gospel with her, I remember trying to water down the truth and make it more digestible and relatable to her. There was less conviction.

I wondered if I shared the gospel with that same enthusiasm and joy, if instead she would have returned and said, "Jenny, I was so tired when I came home from school last night, but I was so curious about who this Jesus was, that I went home and prayed and read my bible last night." 

I think that moment was a huge reality check for me. Forcing me to re-evaluate how much I believed Jesus to be my one and only joy... Re-evaluate my convictions behind evangelism, and I wanted it to be different. I didn't want to talk about the gospel with such worry or timidness. I wanted to be bold and excited. Knowing that if, they, too, just tasted Jesus, they would understand what the crazy was all about. 

Praying that I will first taste Jesus daily and out of the overflow of that goodness, share it with everyone with excitement and joy. :) 

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8

What about you? What do you think about evangelism and do you have any stories from your experiences?

GOING TO MADISON, WISCONSIN

Monday, July 28, 2014


It's been hard to blog consistently these days, because I've been so caught up with apartment hunting. I'm moving to Minneapolis in exactly one month, and I'm trying to confirm plans quickly! This is my first time moving out of state and on my own, so there's just more factors needed to be considered, making the process a bit longer. But once I do settle on a place, I can't wait to share about it. here. 

I wanted to take a break from japan talk, and show of glimpse of what else my life has looked like this summer. The other day I was organizing photos on my iPhone and I resurfaced some shots from a trip E and I took in June I never shared. We visited MN to check out the city for the first time, and on the way, we made a pitstop to Madison and enjoyed lunch there. It was our very first time in Madison and we found it to be absolutely lovely. There were so many unique food trucks, people walking around the streets, and just a nice bustle to the city.

^ E packed me food for the 6hr. drive! Grilled chicken, green beans, rice, and siracha. He knows me.
   
^ We ate lunch at Graze, a restaurant known for cooking and serving only local foods, so everything was fresh and delicious. Plus, a majority of the lighting was all natural with floor to ceiling windows. Definitely recommend this one.
   


E & I haven't been on too many road trips, but long car rides are our favorite. Always filled with good conversation, odd games that we make up on the spot, coffee, and massive amounts of food. (: Definitely want to add more road trips on our bucket list. 

JAPAN REFLECTIONS: CHOOSING JESUS.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's been three days since I've been home, and each day has looked a little different so far. I don't feel that busy but somehow time is moving by so fast. (It probably doesn't help that I'm sleeping through large chunks of the day, too. lolz) 

I stopped at one point today to ask myself, "I wonder what 'post-missions' will look like on day 10. Will I just have compromised in more areas? Will I love God more or less? Will I even still be talking about Japan?" And it made me wonder what this time of "post-missions" really even is. I don't know, but I know what I don't want it to be. 

I don't want it to be where I'm always walking one step toward sin, and one step further from a pure life in Japan. I don't want to believe that Japan was the best of times, and each day is just anticipating lukewarm faith... And I don't think God wants that either. I want to believe that God is still working. He is infinite; He didn't exhaust his blessings or promises in one month. He is generous; He is always waiting to pour out to His children. He is big; He surpasses time and place and doesn't stop based on time-zone. I'm praying, for myself and for my teammates, that we will not be content with daily 30-minute QTs and old blessings, but that God will continue to reveal Himself to us this summer in even bigger, more intimate, and more exciting ways! God doesn't just save souls or answer prayers in Japan, but here, too.

One thing God taught me in Japan was that every choice I made was significant. During prayer time, I could choose to fall asleep or fight to pray. I could choose to seek peoples' approvals or seek God's. I could choose to pretend I am strong or admit I am weak. I could choose to believe in works or believe in grace... Every choice mattered because in the end, I think it always just boiled down to the same one: myself or Jesus.

I love that the lessons and blessings I received in Japan still have ripple effects now, because today, I was reminded of that same lesson. As I tried to imagine day 10, I thought, "man, if this is the rate I am going, day 10 just doesn't look so good for me..." That fear led me to dissect and evaluate why. If I intend to do well, why can't that sustain me? And I realized, that good intentions are not enough; because life is not an accumulation of intentions we have, but the choices we make and actions we take.

Today..
I intended to write my testimony, but I didn't.
I intended to clean my room, but I didn't.
I intended to wake up early, but I didn't.

I had all of these great intentions, but in the end, I go to bed tonight with an unwritten testimony, a messy room, and a poor sleep schedule. It is not enough to have good intentions, I must choose to act.

And I think that — small choices and actions — will make the world of a difference from now until day 10. I think that will make a world of a difference to experiencing more of God and not experiencing Him. I cannot just intend to have a deeper relationship with God, I must meet Him daily in prayer and in the word, I must be willing to sacrifice and obey. And I think that's the difference between home and missions sometimes, that we choose to do our devotional. There is no magic spell or formula, it's an accumulation of choices made. (Plus a wholeeee lotttaa prayer, but das a different story.)

Konichiwa! :) INITIAL THOUGHTS COMING HOME.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hello blogland,

First things first, thank you so much to those who were for praying for me while I was in Japan! Those prayers were definitely heard and used by God! I am home safe and sound. (:

I've been in America for less than 24 hours, but Japan already feels like a distant dream. I'm moving through life again but I can't remember how I got here. As much as I want to readjust to my old routine, I'm resisting the urge to jump in so quickly. Not quite yet, I tell myself. My four-week missions trip to Japan is over - and there is so much sadness, relief, and hope packed into that statement. It was a precious and sacred time, and I want to process it all as soberly as possible. I've never been known to be patient, but they say that good things take time, and this is definitely a good thing so I'm willing to let it take as long as it needs. This is something I cannot rush through.


I find myself spacing out every few minutes, and I can't move as quickly as I did before. One of my commitments for today was to wake up early and stay busy, but I ended up waking up a little before noon. Jet lag: 1, my body: 0. I'm brushing my teeth slowly, walking slowly, driving slowly... I don't know if it's all jet lag, or if it's my also spirit trying to be still and cling onto God, because I find myself constantly praying and I don't even realize it... Praying for boldness as I text friends back, praying for patience as I talk with my parents, praying for purity and integrity in my thoughts, and praying for protection from temptation...

I don't know what my emotions or thoughts are right now, I just feel kinda numb. But I know that God knows my thoughts and my heart, and He will clarify and reveal them to me in His time. I just need to be still and know that He is God. :) The fact that the God in Japan is the same God with me now is such good assurance, you have no idea.

I can already sense temptation and distractions, and part of me wants to turn on the TV or social media as an escape from reality or quick-fix from my numbness. So I've committed to stay away from TV and Facebook for awhile; not because those things are bad, but because I know these next few days are crucial, and Satan will use anything to distract me. I need to be intentional about silencing every voice that isn't God's so I can hear His more clearly. I need to lean away from the world and lean towards God.

To be honest, I don't know how long I can fight this intentionally to be pure, but God keeps whispering, "one day at a time," and I feel okay. God will carry me through today; and He will give me fresh strength, fresh grace, fresh hope tomorrow. I need not to worry. (:

Thanks for reading! I will probably be here tomorrow, too, so come back! I've committed to writing a blog post each day regarding Japan. A lesson I learned, a memory I had... Anything to keep this processing time fresh as possible. 



Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground