Pilgrim Way

  

 Yesterday I made a little list about what it’s like to live in limbo, since we’re between homes-jobs-places at the moment.

It’s a weird sort of way to live and a new way to me. I’ve been wrestling with how to think of it since we left Korea.

It’s an adventure!

It’s a honeymoon!

It’s a vacation!

Well, yes. To all of those.

But that wears off after a week or two.

And then you’re just living with family, talking big about Plans and Dreams that are, so far, non-existent.

After a while, you start to feel like you’re dreaming. Where are we? What life is this? 

It’s hard to stay focused on anything when you have nothing to do but look around. When you’re in-between communities. When there are a thousand tiny tasks to do–and you do them, but they seem to dissolve and disappear as they’re accomplished.

Since we left Korea I read Pilgrim’s Progress for the first time in a million years, and since we arrived at my in-laws’ I found an old favorite again: Hind’s Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard’s incredibly moving, convicting story of Fear and trust and Love. I ripped through it in two days and have heavily hinted to Nate that he needs to get on it, because I need someone to talk about it with. The books are similar: heavy on the allegory and symbolism and Scripture. The movement from lost to found and everything the comes between. Journey stories.

Two things have stayed with me, lodged in my brain and directing my thoughts and prayers these days.

First are the houses. Places of rest along the King’s Highway, on the road to the Celestial City. This is where the pilgrims take a break from the harsh conditions of the road, where they’re protected from enemies and have space to reckon with themselves.

Second are the altars. Whenever Much-afraid encounters obstacles or enemies, she stops and builds an altar. She builds with whatever she can find. She offers whatever was being challenged: her will, her desires, her very heart.

That’s where we are.

On purpose.

For the first time, we have no demands on our time other than what we create.

And a thousand things want to devour that time. I can feel their pull. Stay in bed a little longer. Read another blog. Watch another cooking show. Go for a walk. Send another email. 

I give in to those daily. Several times a day. And sometimes, in some seasons, it’s hard to hear anything else. But here, it’s different. Here, I’m hyperaware that the only thing in the whole world holding me back from the presence of Jesus is me. My choices. My desires. This is always true, but it’s never been more starkly clear than right now.

What do I really want? 

What can I offer

What do I need to see here?

And on the way, as I ask, as days pass, maybe I’m learning things I didn’t know. Maybe in the unknown, in the fear, in the going, I’m picking up pebbles, memorial stone that He will somehow transform one day.

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Ten Things Tuesday: Limbo Edition

  1. Life in limbo is where we are: one part family time, one part future-planning, one part tv-bingeing, one part PNW-gazing. Seattle in the fall is no bad place to be in-between.
  2. I currently have about four different variations of my resume saved on my laptop. #jobsearchprobs
  3. Lucy the #sexistgoldenretriever went to puppy school on Sunday, and between that and us being here for two weeks, she’s basically our best friend now.
  4. My in-laws have at least four channels that show food-based programming at any given time.  It is very hard for me to get anything done.
  5. Currently re-reading: this classic. It’s making me think thoughts about what it means to be a pilgrim.
  6. Currently re-reading 2 (because limbo= time): this classic. It’s not making me think anything outside of how much I love her writing.
  7. Having a functioning American phone again is an adjustment. Still getting the hang of it. Which doesn’t make much sense since I had a phone in Korea. But it’s true.
  8. The minutiae of limbo: round after round of Phone Tag, Mailman Stakeout, Email Surprise, and Who Packed It?  It is at once frustrating and funny.
  9. Lucy just stole a tissue from the bathroom garbage can. I take back #3.
  10. The best part about limbo is that it gives you time for a different view of things.

Like this:

    

 

Ten Things Tuesday: Creepin thru Bavaria

This week’s edition of the newly revived Ten Things Tuesday is dedicated to the fact that Nathan does not pay attention when I have a camera.

of course it is hard to pay attention when you’re asleep.

  1. Flight out of Korea to Russia.  Many emotions make a man sleepy.
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  2. Admiring St. Michael’s in Munich, early on a Sunday morning.
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  3. Peering out of our window in Hallstatt, Austria.
    IMG_0457(it looks like he’s pointing at me but he’s just mid-scroll on the Kindle.)
  4. Winding, green-arched, village streets are SO done, you guys.
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  5. Sleepy and beardy in Southern Germany.
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  6. Duesseldorf trams don’t make you sleepy, just pensive. (but I think he was going for thoughtful)
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  7. Daydreaming at a Salzburg bus stop.
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  8. Amsterdam, whatever, blah blah blah.
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  9. I don’t sleep well in trains or planes or buses. Which is good because I am not this cute.
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  10. I mean come ON.
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I hope I never stop sniping pictures of him. I hope he never stops falling asleep on my shoulder.
And he’s not too bad awake, either.
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Ten Things Tuesday: the Brief Catch-up Edition in Sort-of Reverse Chronological Order

I didn’t plan to start blogging again on a Tuesday, but what luck that I did! List posts are the best sort of warm-up. Here’s the no-frills version of what we’ve been up to. Pictures and detailed posts on our summer adventures coming soon.

  

  1. We are in America now. We have the phone numbers to prove it.  Yesterday we went to Old Navy and I bought a pair of jeans, for the first time in about 5 years.
  2. Fall is here in the PNW, as the kids call it. For reasons unknown I am shocked by its arrival.
  3. We spent time in Connecticut with my family and hung out with my 2 year old nephew, who v casually claimed my entire heart and kept it with him there. Rude.
  4. Nate got ordained. I started calling him “Rev” as a joke but forgot to keep it going. Now it’s not even a thing.
  5. We went to Europe. I ate all the bread they had and we walked everywhere.
  6. Gelato.
  7. We went to a Bayern-Munich game. I got punched in the head. It was a lovely time.
  8. We visited two museums and liked one of them.
  9. I accidentally got invited to a Roma music and dance workshop. I discovered that I am not skilled in the art of Roma dance.
  10. We said goodbye to Korea.

It hasn’t yet sunk in that we’re here here, here as in regular life, as in we currently have no flights booked anywhere.  We’re figuring it out as we go, trusting that God called us here and is keeping us in his will.  Vacation has been amazing–and much needed– but I’m feeling ready for what’s Next.

Goryeong: Sunday, May 24

Korea in the spring…slays me.

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Photos of hikes and leafy jaunts Nate and I have taken over the past two months pile up in my folders, but for weeks nothing has really reached out and grabbed me. Nothing has given me that insistent nudge: share me. Nothing has stirred me the way that Korea springtime usually does. Who knows why. But though Spring has been around for a few months now, and is starting the uphill climb to summer, I’m only now catching up with it.

Last weekend one of our favorite families in the whole world invited us for an afternoon in the countryside. Jeong Hui and I met because she mistook me for her son’s new English teacher nearly two years ago, just after I moved to Gyeongsan. Our conversation led me and Nate to the Bible study that’s been our Sunday evening staple ever since, at a small, homey church literally two minutes from our door. She and her family are one of my favorite experiences of real, Gospel community. She and her husband Deok Si have 3 kids: Hana, the oldest, Han Byeol, who is the middle child and does nothing that anyone else is doing and thus is in zero pictures (girl, I get it. do you.), and Han Bit, who is crazy and my favorite person.

Jeong Hui invited us to visit her parents’ home last Sunday afternoon to take a half-day trip. Our awkward moment: we bought a watermelon as a hostess gift because that’s how you do in Korea, and did it without consulting Jeong Hui because we assumed that she’d insist we bring nothing, and sure enough, when we toted the monster melon out to the minivan, Jeong Hui burst out laughing and shaking her head. “No, we insist!” we gaily caroled, and then Jeong Hui said,

“My parents have a watermelon farm…”

Hysterical laughter is a great way to start a road trip.

The afternoon with her family was that proprietary blend of serenity and ease with notes of desperate language barrier awkwardness. Lots of bowing, lots of smiling. After nearly 4 years, it takes on its own rhythm and all I have to do is remember not to fight it.

We drove down to the river nearby with its winding paths and signs identifying various wildlife, and Han Bit begged to stop and see if he could find the rabbits he released last summer. He pouted when Jeong Hui, hardhearted, refused. He got over it when he stuck his head out the window to bark into the wind. (although in Korean dogs say mung-mung. Not woof or the ever-inexplicable bow-wow.)

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We took all the pictures as the men talked fishing and Han Bit tried to steal a boat. The light was magic. Everything was magic.

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Hana can smize for days.

 

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how do you say Huck Finn in Hangul?

 

I realized I hadn’t been out of the city in so long, I couldn’t even really recall the last time. Han Bit found me flowers to photograph and Mom and Daughter talked together.

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such a sweet friend.

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I didn’t want the sun to set. I didn’t want to leave.

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Every occasional car that passed overhead made the bridge rumble like a tractor trailer. Thunder and blue skies.

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This is Korea in spring, after the cherry blossoms and festivals go away, just on the cusp of scorching summer days. These bluesy-soft mountain sky edges and purple breezes, these tall grasses and velvet airs. This is what I’ve been hungering for and this is what I’ll miss so much when we go.

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This, and these.

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Note the Rice-Mask Bandit in bottom center.

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