Object Lesson


This afternoon I had a plan.

It was haircut time. And I was so ready for it. I ran this morning and threw the mass of it up into the messy bun that has been all I’ve really had the patience to do for weeks now. I had photos downloaded. I was jazzed.

I chose the time and made the appointment. Left home on time. Did everything right. Strolled in with time to spare.

The stylist wasn’t there. None of the employees there could tell me why, and I couldn’t ask, thank you, language barriers. I texted and called her. I sat and waited. Nothing.

I left.

Furious and disappointed and mildly panicked.

I hate getting appointments wrong. And I knew I wasn’t wrong. She’d told me to come by at 4. I felt stupid and mad and stood up and embarrassed. I’d been so excited and now was so let down. I wanted to go back to the salon and cut off my stupid bun myself and throw it on the floor and do a rage dance on it.

(Colleen in a tantrum is special stuff guys. Spe. cial. stuff.)

As I stalked directionlessly downtown my phone was buzzing semi-occasionally with texts from Nate and friends, but none from the MIA Hair Lady. People were everywhere and my messy bun flapped gently in the breeze, waving hello to the passersby. Nothing was right.

But three things happened as I came to the intersection by the movie theater: 1. I took a deep breath and laughed (a little) at my tantrum. 2. I prayed Lord-I-forgive-MIA-hair-lady-and-please-forgive-my-tantrumming-innards. 3. My phone buzzed. It was MIA-H-L.

I don’t get my hair cut often. As it turned out, she’d changed salons, 3 months ago. Very apologetic about the whole thing. New place is 20 minutes away by subway, but she had other appointments lined up. Could I reschedule? I told her to send the new directions and I’d let her know. The breath I’d been holding behind clenched teeth whooshed out as I hung up.

Oh, girl, when will you learn to hold your plans loosely?

I decided to go run some other errands and maybe see if the other hair place I used to use downtown had any openings. But first I went to find the birthday gift I’d mentally bookmarked for Nate two months ago. His birthday isn’t until April, but it’s rare that I’m downtown without him. This will save the day, I thought.

The store was there. The gift was not.

Again, the nudge. It doesn’t work out like you counted on. And it doesn’t have to.

Should I swing by the salon I used to go to? Sure it’s out of the way and I hated what they did to me last time I went there–and actually come to think of it after that experience I swore I’d never go back–but I wanted a haircut today and how bad could it be?

You could. Or you could give up your plan. Grab a coffee and head home without any real damage from today. 

I turned around in the middle of the street at least twice.

But thank God, the coffee was good. My bun still flops triumphant and greasy. And I am somewhat shamefaced to admit that in the throes of unwillingness to let go I went and TRIED ON PANTS at H&M. Because nothing puts you in a good mood like TRYING ON PANTS.

Lord have mercy.

(He does.)

Sixteen Days

Sixteen days since I last wrote. I’ve written like ten posts in my head, which counts, luckily.

Work and life get real busy sometimes and this place slips through the cracks. because it’s easier to scroll through endless other-people-words than make some of my own. Still pressing through the need to hoard the words instead of releasing them.

Here’s what’s transpired the past few weeks.

Spring isn’t just on her way. She’s here. It’s real. I keep forgetting to take Nate’s trusty ol’ digital camera to work with me because the campus is looking purty.

hello gorgeous.
hello gorgeous.

The new season means lots of things but one of them is this: We got all the way through winter and I haven’t had a single seasonal cold. For one reason and one reason only:


This stuff. hashtag bless. Every time we’ve felt that old throat tickle or sludgy slowdown, we’ve pounded back TBSPs of this stuff. And so far? so burninatingly good.

(Natch, both I and the Boy are feeling particularly sludgish today…so here’s hoping this post isn’t a jinx of some sort.)

The haircut urge is still on, guys. and it’s growing. I dreamed I had this gal’s cut a few nights ago. but I dreamed I gave it to myself and it turned out awesome and I loved it. So…*grabs kitchen shears*

(Of course, that same night the Boy dreamed I straight up shaved my head. He said it was ‘scary, but okay.’ *grabs razor*)

I just watched a Jeep commercial about driving around California and felt a wee leap o’ the heart.  Before the year is out, I’ll be there. (probably not in a Jeep. but who knows.)

Good things are happening at church: a new pastor’s been selected for the English service! Nate’s loved preaching but with us having an expiration date we’ve been praying so much for the next person to come in. There’s a lot to do there and we know it, but the wonderful thing is there’s a lot that can be done. I’m hopeful.

It feels so good to be hopeful.

A wee bit of thanks

I am thankful.

There are people who get grumpy about how thankfulness get so jam packed into this particular season and who inquire why folks don’t express gratitude more during the rest of the year, come on, right, ugh.

These are probably the same people who get annoyed by “I love you” mid-February.

But I say go for it. I am thankful all year round and I love my fambly and my Savior all year round, but what’s wrong with dedicating a holiday to it, drawing a little more emphasis than normal, surrounding love and gratitude with celebration? Calm down, cranky Facebook demagogues.

(but don’t start me on New Year’s resolutions. jk.)

Our wee little, baby little, fledgling Thanksgiving went off without significant hitches. We slept in (8.30!) and while Nate ran I made a triple batch of these beauties for the office T-day party before whipping up a salad and boiling the water for STOVE TOP STUFFING. A wedding gift that we’ve never yet used meant we could fit the entire meal (excluding salad) on one dish. Which we then ate off of communally. Hashtag life hack.

the chicken looks terrifying. which is what you get when you buy it from the back of a pickup truck.


After Nate prayed a Thank You prayer, we feasted whilst watching a Friends Thanksgiving episode marathon. The football episode…so good.

we are all Chandler Bing.

Then a quick jaunt to work for a few hours for me, biscuits in tow, and now I’m home and Boy is working, and I am resisting mightily the leftovers in the fridge til he comes back to share them. #WifeOfTheYear

I’m thankful for so much this year. Not least of which that this year will soon end.

(Is that too sour? It’s true, though it’s also a topic for another post.)

But before it does, and before we move on from this amazing, carb-laden holiday:

I’m thankful for Nate. For our sprout of a marriage. For all the laughs and plans and dreams and lazy times and busy times and serving times and for making me better, and making me believe in better. I love you.

I’m thankful that I have what I have. I could live with less and I believe I will in the very near future. For now, we have jobs and money and benefits. I’m grateful.

I’m thankful for family far away. I miss them so much. I’m missing the crop of McNieces and McNephews grow up, and I hate that, but I’m grateful that they are there and well and provided for.

I’m thankful for family close by: friends who are family who will make leaving this country so, so hard.

I’m thankful that I’m loved and forgiven and valued by the Creator Himself. I’m thankful that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. I’m thankful that no matter how dark reality is, we have hope in Him.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

How to Vulnerable

I do not like it, Sam I am.

But every bit of life these days tells me how important it is. not for you, but for me. Or, maybe some for you (that’s not in my control) but mostly, yeah, for me. It’s not just fault-sharing (that’s not the point). It’s transparency. It’s baring burdens so we can bear burdens. And even though I don’t like it, here’s some vulnerability for you:

  • I have more drafts of posts than published posts. because I am too scared to post things that don’t have jokes in them. for example,
    • I have had this post open in my browser for four days.

    FOUR. Days. That’s how hard it is to be open, even if (even if!) I’m not being a downer, but just also not one of those monkeys with cymbals. You know.

it’s actually ~miss~ chanandaler bong
  • I have watched more than one episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Yes. I am ashamed.
  • I thought boundaries were for other people, until I very, very, very mush needed them for mineself.
  • I thought that boundaries meant fear and vulnerable meant weak and independent meant free. So basically I should have my English degrees revoked.
  • I have always been scared of failure, which, as all the smart normal you-people know, is fantastically paralyzing and empty.
  • That’s the portrait of Colleen without Jesus: fantastically paralyzed and empty.
  • I am an extrovert who has to be forced to put on pants and leave the house, because as much as I like people and company, I like pantslessness and complete control of the internet more. #sloth

It’s Friday and I’m going to post this. No more waiting to see if I can make it better. Because that’s not the point. It never is.

Space to Praise

Yesterday I started running. (Again.) The last time I ran was probably in June, before a summer of crummy sicknesses knocked me out and drained me of resolve. And also laziness, and hating it. But let’s be gracious to me, a sinner, and say it was the sicknesses. In the morning I skyped with two of my sisters. Our skypes are legendary bouts of face-making and laughter and all-too-accurate insults seasoned with love. we shared and cried and talked the hard things and the hilarious, and prayed together before signing off. One of the things they prayed for me was for space to praise in.

Sounds…unnecessary? or obvious. That’s why we go to church, right? That’s why we play music, full-blast when home alone or in crowds through earbuds. That’s why we read devotionals or have Bible studies. That’s why we read our daily morning Scripture and daily evening Scripture and pray our before-we-go-to-work prayers. But no. It’s the most necessary prayer I’ve heard in a while.

The truth is this: It’s hard to praise when you lead worship every Sunday. It’s hard to praise when your mind is occupied elsewhere. It’s hard to praise when you are in charge. It’s hard to praise when your focus is anywhere else but how glorious Jesus is. At home, at work, at church, in transit. Where is that space made? Where are we free for it?

I believe firmly in finding opportune moments in the small things, the little bits of life that aren’t meant to be documented or even commented on, but which are communications of joy or grace or conviction or peace or humility. Yet there should be more than small bits of time, because praise– as much as it is found in the habits of the routine– is deliberate. It’s chosen. But it’s also a miracle.

I thought about her words all day, and that evening, as I pounded away at my self-imposed regimen, I found it. Space to praise, on a little-trafficked country road in Korea. Space to praise, sweaty, sore, out of breath and out of practice with this: running and seeking the deliberate glorification of God. Panting hallelujahs between my steps. Sunset on high clouds, songs of praise on my breathless lips. And it was life.

Today I ran again, and it was harder, like the second day always is, but the sense of accomplishment bore me up. Then before lunch I got horribly obnoxious news about money (paying bills in a second language is sometimes hard. Who knew?) and freaked out. Just. Legit. As in buried my face in (I think it was) a towel and howled at the injustice of it. I DID THE THING I was supposed to do and have been doing for months and now the thing is wrong? And I have to deal with it? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING. I howled. Ask Nate. He’ll tell you. (poor boy.)

After a bit things calmed down, what with helpful friends and longsuffering husband and, you know, lunch. But now I’m facing down an afternoon full of things-to-be-done, with eyes still slightly sore from The Meltdown and legs still crazy sore from The Exercise, and both reminds me– where is the space to praise today? Where is the deliberate choice to seek and glorify my Savior without distraction? It’s here. It’s now, as I write this. Whispering hallelujahs between keystrokes. Street sounds (including saxophone records. someone in this Korean country suburb is playing saxophone records) echoing though the windows and work to be done, here, now. Space to praise in my heart, if not in my schedule.

Thank God that He comes for us. Right? I can’t be in a cathedral right now, and I can’t repeat yesterday’s sidewalk miracle. My apartment gets zero natural light right now/ever and there’s no cloudscape or sea view to get lost in. I have a glowing laptop screen and a bed to make and laundry to do and syllabi to finalize and emails to send and and and and. I have a thirst to praise God. And that is how the space comes, not through assuming it will show up uninvited, but through taking a beat and asking for it.