Monday, July 19, 2010


Let me just begin by saying that it is hotter than BLAZES in Qingdao right now. It’s not that the temperature is so high, it’s the gosh darn humidity. The weather can appear to be perfectly lovely, nice and warm with a gentle breeze off the Yellow Sea, and then BLAM! Humidity punches you in the face and puts you in a chokehold. Is it possible for air to be chunky? Because it sure feels chunky here sometimes and it makes it hard to breathe. It’s also quite dirty. There’s lots of dust in the air and when it’s mixed with the moisture it becomes a lovely dust particle skin treatment that you get under your fingernails when you scratch all your mosquito bites. I guess it could be considered a kind of exfoliating. There are probably spas here that market it to gullible foreigners.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I drove. The problem is all the walking. I can leave my lovely air-conditioned home, walk ten minutes to my lovely air-conditioned school, and by the time I’m there I find myself soaking wet with misshapen, droopy clothes, hair stuck to my neck and face, and an overall sense of nasty, sweaty grossness. It’s unfortunate. I think I prefer to be cold. I’m much more comfortable bundled and chilly than I am sweaty and overheated.

You know what Chinese men do when they get hot?



If only I had no shame…

So, I’ve been in China for six months. July 13 was my anniversary and I celebrated by having an emotional meltdown (I think that’s the standard six month anniversary gift actually, like gold on your 50th). My mom and I were skyping and the topic of dads came up. I have a long and sordid dad story and the Lord has been so gracious and caring and present in that daddy place throughout my life. I have been spared so much, but I am not without my father issues and on this day they came welling out of me in dramatic sobs. My poor mom, she was confined to a computer screen and, I’m sure, felt rather helpless in bringing me sufficient comfort.

It’s interesting the things that Jesus is addressing in my life while I’m here. I feel quite vulnerable in this foreign land without all my people; without my fallbacks and comforts; without my hideouts where I can avoid dealing with hard things. It’s like I’m being stripped bare. God is peeling back my facades and uncovering all the things I’ve camouflaged with optimism and sunshine and cheerfulness. He’s asking me to be honest. He’s asking me to confront unmet expectations and come to terms with the possibility that they may only be resolved and/or fulfilled in Him. And He’s asking me to be okay with that.

It makes me feel like a pouty three year-old who’s upset about not getting her way. I’ve shrouded my disappointment in compliance, but it’s still there. Underneath all the “it’s okays” and “I don’t minds” I’m discovering this stubborn, clinging part of myself. It’s not angry or resentful, it’s resolute. There is a part of me that refuses to let go of hope. Hope is not bad, but this hope is on my terms. And it’s primarily related to my dad. The three year-old in me is still waiting for the magical father-daughter reunion. She is still looking out the window hoping her daddy-knight-in-shining-armor will ride up on his horse and take her away with him. She is still imagining he wants her.

I wish I could send in 30 year-old Jaime to have a good, rational discussion with her, but there’s nothing rational or relenting about this girl’s hope. It’s something that only Jesus can address. It’s something only He can touch and transform into the kind of hope that brings healing and wholeness.

And I’m okay with that.

I’ve got a few more months in China and I’m sure I have a whole mess of things God wants to address in me. My heart is open and I’m okay with whatever He says because He knows best.

But I’m still not okay with the humidity.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wants & Wonderings

Sometimes it’s really difficult for me to be honest about my desires. There are definite things that I want in life, but I struggle even to allow myself to voice them. I don’t know if it’s because I’m afraid that on some level what I want isn’t healthy or right, or because maybe I feel like only the less spiritual would admit such longings. Regardless, I have dreams and hopes and desires yet unmet.

I’m not bitter. I’m not cynical or desperate or hopeless. I guess I’m just wondering. I’m wondering when and where and why and how and IF all these bottled-up wants will come about. I suppose you’re thinking that my longings have to do with getting married, having a family, typical girl stuff.

They do.

But that’s not all.

I want to stop being insecure.
I want to have discipline.
I want to write and actually enjoy it.
I want to travel the world and make Christ and His love known.
I want to be okay with hard work and sacrifice.
I want to feel beautiful.
I want to feel established as a grown-up.
*the fact that I say “grown-up” instead of “adult” attests to my lack of feeling established
I want to be entrusted with something bigger than me.
I want people to see more than niceness and sweetness when they look at me.
I want to be bold and confident and unshakable.
I want a man to think I’m adorable.
I want to never wonder if that man will stop loving me.
I want to raise children consecrated to God and His purposes.
I want to sing and play the guitar really well.
I want to be healthier.
I want to exercise and eat right and actually see it through.
I want to know my dad.
I want to break down misconceptions concerning God.
I want my life to be utterly confounding to those around me.
I want my faith and obedience to challenge and encourage others.
I want my message and preaching to demonstrate the Spirit’s power.
I want to see miracles.
I want every person I meet to know that they’re worthwhile.
I want to laugh really hard every day.
I want contentment.
I want to see whatever it is that Jesus sees in me.
I want to voice my opinions with conviction, even at the expense of looking dumb.
I want to stop fearing rejection.
I want to live on the same continent as my friends and family.
I want to be braver.
I want to NOT want all these things and JUST want Jesus.

It’s hard.

I know these are good things and I know it’s okay for me to want them. What I have to work against is being controlled by them. I have to fight the urge to let their fulfillment, or lack thereof, dictate how I feel about myself, my life, my worth. That’s why I want Christ to replace them. I want Him at the center. If all I want is Him, then I will never be disappointed. Jesus Christ is always a sure thing – His love, His plan, His purpose – and if He is my focus then my satisfaction hinges on Him, not on what He gives or takes away.

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”  -Philippians 4:12b-13

This China life is teaching me a lot about trusting God.

Please pardon the cheesy graphics (close your eyes or something so you don't have to feel embarrassed watching it), but this song is a beautiful expression of this whole process of trusting God... All My Devotion, by Kristene Mueller

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The other day, just before I was getting ready to leave for work, I heard this really loud buzzing sound coming from my bathroom. I stuck my head in to investigate and the buzzing was so loud and intense that I instantly squealed, ducked and ran out, having no idea what exactly was buzzing (reflex reaction… apparently I’m a flighter, not a fighter). I thought about just closing the door and letting whatever was in there die of starvation or something, but then I thought about it escaping into other realms of my house and I just wasn't okay with the idea of waking up with an oversized insect monster on my pillow. So I put my brave face on and walked (or maybe cowered) into the bathroom, checking every corner and crevasse for the buzzing culprit. My plan was to first identify my opponent and then select the weapon with which to bludgeon it (plunger, flip-flop, giant glass vase to trap and suffocate it with). As I continued my inspection, I noticed that the sound got louder as I closed in on the toilet, so I surveyed all the sides... nothing. Then I thought, "Hm. Is that my toilet buzzing?" It does this trickling water thing where I often have to tap the flush-button to make it stop and I thought maybe it was worth a shot to see if that same trick would make the scary buzzing stop. I cautiously approached the flush-button and did one last squealy jump backwards when the buzzing warbled and it seemed that maybe some ghastly winged creature was flying at my head. Recomposed, resolute and undeterred, I set forth again, tapped the button, and what do you know? The buzzing stopped. 

I hate it when toilets make scary China bug sounds. It causes unnecessary alarm and squealing. The whole episode reminded me of Buddy the Elf when he encountered the horrible noise coming from the evil box under the window (the radiator). Sometimes household appliances are just downright scary. Is a toilet an appliance?