Late to the Game

NYE sunrise, 2013. Sunrises don't change too much.
NYE sunrise, 2013. Sunrises don’t change too much.

I read a lot of blogs (I guess most bloggers do).

At the beginning of January, there was so dang much optimism in my bloglovin feed…you could feel the enthusiasm.

And also the cliches, accompanied by all the cliche-disclaimers. (I say this as a woman who drinks green juice for breakfast every day. #kale).

The same sorts of things cropped up in post after post: get in shape. be present. eat healthily. cut down on screen time. have it all!

Now, though, there’s a lot less optimism and and lot more teeth-gritting. Fewer smoothies, more pick-me-ups and mugs of hot tea. Fewer yoga pants, more snow boots and mufflers.

I like this part better.

This is where the New Year is just the Year, just what we’ve got in front of us that we have to do, and we are going to do it together.

New Year’s resolutions always seem rigged, like we’re setting ourselves up to make excuses later. Just the thought of getting through a new year is enough, let alone trying to keep resolutions made with NO IDEA what sorts of yikes-y things will conspire to keep me from doing them.

On the other hand, I happen to love ridiculous unreasonable dreaming.

It’s a dilemma, lemmetellya.

So this close-of-January post is my compromise with the resolutions.  For the next eleven months I’m going to keep dreaming, keep starting and doing, keep remembering that 2015, just like every other year, isn’t about holding to a list. It’s just about recalling the mercies that come new every day.

  • This week I started exercising again, with a 70 minute walk with my neighbor and soul-sister Jeong Hui. For two days I’ve gotten up when The Boy does, and I’ve gone for a run (not with him, but with him. You know.)
  • For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to drink 3 liters of water a day, and I hate it, but it’s getting so that I hate it more if I don’t do it. Progress!
  • I have more excitement about this blog and more posts and more drafts than ever. It feels like a switch has flipped, and I’m excited about writing, and less scared about sharing, and more motivated to produce, and have more to say. I won’t promise to write twice a week–because I am 99% sure that won’t happen. But there may be something here that wasn’t here before (#Belle) and I’mma run with it.
  • This year will bring BIG. HUGE. CHANGES. Year 2 of marriage, closing the Korea chapter, moving to a brand new place. I want to take these challenges head-on. I wanna arm wrestle them and be okay with losing.

Walking with Jesus is teaching me to be okay with losing, which goes against every good-girl, honor student, valedictory instinct I have.

That’s the best part of this year so far, and the one I want the very most to keep going.

On Sunday

This is The Boy.

hello Boy.
hello Boy.

We’ve been married since January 2014.

He’s the best.

He plays guitar like a dream and grins like a kid and runs like a total nut, but more than anything else, he loves to learn about Jesus. Wants to plant a church and preach, and study the Bible with all comers, forever and ever, amen.

Actually, wants to doesn’t catch it. Needs to is better.

For five years, since Jesus changed his life, since he moved to Korea with two weeks notice, he’s been learning and sharing and teaching and preaching the Word.

On Sunday, he preached in front of a church.

blurry, because using flash in church is NOT reverent.
blurry, because using flash in church is NOT reverent.

It’s incredible to see anyone doing what they were created to do, but this is something special. How God opened closed doors and answered unsaid prayers to make this possible. How the message came together in just two days. How open that Boy is to the Lord’s leading. And not to be biased, but it was good. I forgot he was my Boy while he was up there. He was just the messenger of grace to people needing truth.

On Sunday, the Boy preached his first sermon. Next Sunday, he preaches his second.

We are a thankful and humbled household this week.

Go here to listen, and here to keep track of future messages.

January 21, 2015

It’s dim in the apartment. The morning was cloudy and when Nate left for work it was raining. Weak gray light comes through the frosted windows and I am on the bed alone, and I’ve been crying.

It’s not the first time I’ve cried like this, and probably it won’t be the last either.

I have hurts that are still healing, though I can’t quite see how. Broken bones get casts.  Antibiotics fight infection. Hydrate and amp up your vitamins when you catch a cold. Deep cuts require stitches and tumors get cut right out. But what oh what do you do with hurts in your spirit?

I’ve learned brand-new things over the past year that I never thought would be necessary, and the lessons haven’t stopped with the calendar change. Secretly, without really admitting it to myself, I wanted them to. I very much wanted 2015 to mean that 2014 and all it had carried was DONE. Capital letters.

But this week has shown me otherwise. Gentle questions and unassuming probes have uncovered uncertainty where I wish I were sure, reminded where I want to forget, questioned where I have no answers that satisfy or comfort.

I cried last night before I slept, and this afternoon I cried again. Prayers wrestled with each other as I laid the whole mess out before God:

I’m done. I’m done. I’m done. and No more. Please. I can’t. struggle against Finish the work, God. Show me more. Do what you must. Surrender takes more muscle than rebellion.

After a morning at work and lunch with Nate, alone now, I lay it down before the Father.

I am trying a new thing.

Not to find an answer. But just to say what’s in my head and my heart, and then to listen. Not to think of a fix, but to just trust and sit and ask Him to join me. To feel all the weight of the sorrow I would ordinarily dodge. To remember that He knows that weight, and that it’s never been my burden to carry. I’m always crushed when I try.

I have all the time in the world to spend in His presence, but I’m guilty of finding anyplace else to waste it. So today I’m choosing to sit and wait. I don’t know for what: for the bones to set, or the scars to heal, maybe. Maybe that will come later. But I need to be in God’s presence, and that will not happen passively. Surrender’s not passive, and neither is waiting. It’s against every twitchy instinct I have, but when I read this and this I know I’m not alone, and that maybe I’m on a good track.

God, I surrender, and I’m waiting here for You. 

Handel’s Messiah: December 2014

This is a bit of a throwback, but It’s something I meant to post about and never did, so let’s be trendy together and call it nostalgia. Or um vintage. Yeah, way vintage guys. Way.

One of the nicest things about The Boy is that he likes method and tradition and routines. I think this is nice because I appreciate aspects of those things without being able to maintain them myself. Kind of the same way I feel about zookeepers. What a fun job it must be that I will never ever be good at.


My one exception to tradition maintenance is Christmas. I have all the tolerance in the world for Christmas traditions and routines, and also very strong feelings about which ones I like to follow and which ones I will not. That’s the same thing as tolerance, right? Yes. Moving on. Nate only has one Christmas tradition he feels super strongly about, and it was a new one to me: every year, Nate goes to see Handel’s Messiah performed.

(swoon. he’s so classy.)

This was a Pagaard tradition that’s now been inherited by our 2-member Pagaard extension, so we’re keeping it going. Of course, living in Korea limits the opportunity to do so. By ‘limits the opportunity’ I mean there is ONE place in the whole of Korea that annually produces the English version of the Messiah, in a little Methodist church up in Seoul, a 2 hour train-ride north of us. Nate’s gone every year for four years.

(swoon swoon swoon.)

So we took a weekend off in mid-December to see the show and see Seoul lit up for Christmas. The company that does the production is volunteer-based, which means it’s a labor of love. (Let’s just say that this year, there was a lot of love.)

(Our pictures are also a labor of love, in that we similarly have the very best possible intentions. And yet they turn out like this.)

RIP Beard
RIP Beard

Once in Seoul we checked out Myeongdong, one of the bigger shopping areas in Seoul.  It’s insane and busy and packed and fun to wander in–when it’s above freezing.

Don't know that guy. but the pose works.
Don’t know that guy. but the pose works.

Then, gloriously, this happened. I love this place. Some of this stuff was flavored like Ballantyne…scotch? Whiskey? I am ill-equipped to answer this. and there was a Guinness milk chocolate flavor in there too. Neither of them got me tipsy, so don’t worry Mom.

IMG_0043Eventually, we got to the main event.

The choir, gearing up
The choir, gearing up

The church was full. We sat with Koreans and Americans and South Africans and Austrians and all of us were totally captivated by the movement of the music. A few of the instruments weren’t tuned properly. Nate has perfect pitch, and I grew up with people who have perfect pitch pointing things out to me, so it got a little painful at times, but you know what? It was so great. People from everywhere, crammed together, hearing this incredible story of prophecy and fulfillment in Jesus, for us, going on to the end. I’m getting goosebumps a month later, thinking about it.

Christmas isn’t Christmas because of the manger but because of the Cross, and because of the Resurrection and the Ascension and His promise to return.

Behold, I tell you a mystery;
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…

The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

I want to post all the rest of it. Because it’s just that good. But go here and read it and be reminded of the Truth.

After the Messiah we walked around Seoul to see the lights…

Seoul Christmas Light
Seoul Christmas Lights 2
Festal Cheer!
Seoul Christmas Lights 3



So Festive.

Our hotel was located on this mysterious stretch of road in Seoul between some majorly bustling areas which somehow manages to be completely dead after 9pm. In Seoul, literally one of the largest, fullest-of-people, busiest cities in the whole wide world. Luckily, we found signs of life nearby (Korea has a habit of building soju bars and meat restaurants in close proximity) and ended the night on a delicious note.

Korean side dishes. Nom.
Korean side dishes. Nom.

2014 marked our final winter in Korea, so we’re a little extra aware of everything about it, and extra grateful for everything we get to experience here. It’s weird and amazing to consider where we’ll be hearing the music of the Messiah next December. I can’t wait.


Anniversary Weekend in Seoul

Our first wedding anniversary came around last Sunday! 1 year of marriage means something different for everyone but for us it was:

  • canceling all our weekend stuff
  • train rides
  • long walks, some of the wild-goose variety
  • a visit to the foreign foods market (peep the haul, yo):

  • ALL THE FOODSsssssss which led to
  • intestinal distress (ah, romance)

and finally…

is my arm actually out of a socket? is it? IS IT?!
  • staying off all social media until we could get home and watch the Seahawks game (or, wherein I display major #Proverbs31 qualities)

The whole point of the weekend away was to think and do as little as possible but enjoy being together, which we accomplished thoroughly despite all the terrible things our relatively health-adjusted insides do to us when we stray from the Path of Green Juice and Daily Spinach, Amen. That means neither of us thought about the camera often enough to bother with nice pictures of anything. But here are a couple of other things from the weekend:

1. Super romantic date night:

bonus points if you can name what we're watching!
bonus points if you can name what we’re watching

2. The next day, as we attempt to repair the damage done by footlong subs, burgers, fries, pizza, and ice cream (consumed in roughly 14 hours). A study in contrasts:

Classy Nate
…….and Colleen.

That about sums it up.

Here’s to a whole year of Husband and Wife. Hot dang.