This post is special for two reasons. Firstly, it welcomes in a new year and decade. Cheers to 2020! May God bless us with stability and peace where we need it, the courage and faith to obey Him, and joy through his Spirit.
Secondly, this is my hundredth blog post on this site!
Now, I could write 100 somethings to celebrate that fact, but lists that long tend to be overwhelming. Instead, I’ll share twenty assorted things that I have learned over the past decade, and particularly over the last five years.
Feel free to add your own in the comments!
Being away from family isn’t the easiest, since I am blessed with an amazing one, but friendships can be just as sweet.
Working the opening shift is the best. Especially when you can see the sunrise through your window.
Being vegetarian isn’t hard when you have reasons for it! (The same goes for anything; if you have convictions, you can act decisively, even if it is difficult in some cases.)
Language acquisition requires active communication in that language. You have to practice.
Math and piano also need continual practice even once you reach a certain level. You can lose your skills even if you excelled at one point. Not everything is like riding a bike.
It’s rewarding to obey the prompts of the Holy Spirit.
Find yourself a church community. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.
Colorful lipstick is the bomb.
There is no shame in getting counseling. In fact, it’s quite helpful.
Refugees are awesome people. They are courageous, innovative and dedicated creators, survivors, and humans.
It’s best to wait for what God has promised instead of going against his timeline or words. That can actually hurt you, but what God has promised is so, so good.
Zero waste is the way to go. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and buy biodegradable!
Cacti make great pets.
Race DOES need to be talked about since the underlying issues have not yet been solved. You can read the story of how I came to realize that here.
It’s okay to let people go as you mature and move into different stages of life. Your high school friends might not be your best friends forever, and that’s okay.
At the same time, pursue relationships you want to keep.
Know the reasons why you believe what you do or live a certain way.
Be open to difference!!!
Be compassionate and empathetic.
Happy new year, everyone! Subscribe for more blog posts, including a special guest post in Memoirs of the Trees.
Being in a relationship helps me understand God in new ways. As I understand my boyfriend better, I am stretched to be more patient, observant, and thoughtful. I also see God in him, not only in how he treats individuals but also in the ways his personality differs from mine, highlighting fresh aspects of God’s nature in his image.
Every time it’s fall, and sometimes when it’s not, I think of a certain tree:
a tree that greeted me on my way out to class and in from work,
a tree I loved because it was my favorite color,
a tree that defied the expectations of aging
and worked from dark to light.
It wore the mauve of fall overtaking summer’s green
then blushed bright scarlet before fading into orange.
Like the office assistant who brightens your weekday
with hellos, hard candy, and care,
though you may not know her well,
so was this tree to me.
It was my favorite for its unconventional beauty,
a constant each fall day
on my walk by Fischer.
It’s Tuesday morning, October 22, 2019. Outside, it is raining and windy with a real feel of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Chicago Teachers Union is STILL out on every highway bridge demonstrating to gain support.
Teachers have been on strike for about a week trying to meet demands that they initiated as proposals months ago. It took an extended strike to get any response, and they’re still negotiating to get things on paper and ensure that the capped class sizes will be enforced. (You can read more from the local news here.)
I remember when my mom was a teacher for a bit, and I was temporarily made to act as her mom because her work was round-the-clock and exhausting. That was in a private school with allegedly better resources (though no qualified nurses or counselors, if I’m being honest).
The point? Teachers deserve to be paid better. They have to live, too.
Moreover, the things CTU is asking for are for the benefit of the students, especially the students who feel the lack of resources most significantly. I’m proud of the CTU for prioritizing that.
Counseling comes to mind as a necessary resource. This summer, I tutored a boy who went to one of the best high schools in Chicago but had to leave due to severe bullying and mental illness that led to suicide attempts. His school counselor was his only safe person before he had to leave, but she was only there because it was a well-resourced school for highly intellectual students.
For those who think striking might harm the students, consider the long term benefits of having better schools. Adequate resources were not provided at the start of 2019 when teachers asked, and their proposals weren’t considered until they went on strike.
Just imagine what happens if there is an emergency but no nurse! Can the students really thrive if teachers are unable to give them the attention they need because classes are too full? And what about the kids who need counseling, the kids like the one I tutored whose lives may be at stake? I certainly don’t want to risk that over the course of years.
The Chicago Transit Authority has offered free transit to students during the strike, and school buildings are open as safe havens during the day. Students are being cared for as their teachers fight to secure better resources for them beyond this week. And that devotion is just another reason why Chicago teachers deserve increased pay.
Today I visited the Garfield Park Conservatory on the Westside of Chicago. It’s one of the city’s gems, this free green space. Local workers take lunch breaks there, and others come from around the city to explore the beauty of the cacti, ferns, flowers, and gardens.
The sounds of water streaming physically relaxed and grounded me, while the warm sun and cool breeze outside caused me smile and enjoy the present. A number of critters meandered in and out of the building from the gardens out back. I noticed a rabbit outside, saw a squirrel inside, and marveled at the way the grasshoppers blended in so perfectly with the ground. The fern room, with all its moss and foliage, made me feel at home, though I’d originally come to see the 38′ 1″ agave americana extending through the ceiling panes.
It’s free to enter, though the Conservatory suggests a $10 donation per adult for the upkeep of this beautiful, refreshing place that has been around since 1908.
Several things struck me today: the incredible views, the intricate and endlessly variegated patterns and textures of the foliage, and the way the colors popped. God is truly a magnificent Creator, and I pray you will be blessed by his work through these photos.
Here is a sample of the sweeping views:
Behold God’s creativity with patterns:
…And with texture, even among ferns alone:
Compare all the different shapes and textures just in this one shot:
The texture of this next flower was almost nonexistent. It looked super soft and fuzzy, but I could barely feel it. I thought sensation had left my hand!
(Note: I don’t know if you’re allowed to touch the plants. I did touch some leaves, one unexpectedly papery and another textured like pigskin, but I don’t recommend such behavior. Just read and obey the signs, especially by certain cacti.)
The pops of color were also marvelous. Greens primarily filled the Conservatory, but red and pink veins created contrast within plants, and violet, fuscia, and yellow flowers added pizzazz to the greenery. My favorite plant from the entire Conservatory was the purple “dragon” flowers below. (I renamed them that because they resemble dragon scales to me.)
All photos belong to me. For more information on the Conservatory, including its special programs, visit https://garfieldconservatory.org. Be blessed!
We gather for people like Devon.
We hurt for young men like Devon.
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.-Psalm 29: 10, 11 (NIV)