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.)

Mobile Word Ministry

I learned from my mother, who always told us the same story: ‘I said I’d never marry a pastor.’ ‘The last thing I wanted was to be making babies and oatmeal.’ ‘I swore I’d never be in the same room with anyone under 12 if I could help it.’

Thus saith Sally, 35-years married to a pastor, mother of 10, sometime 4th-grade teacher, and purveyor of millions of bowls of oatmeal.

Lesson being: never say never. (courtesy of my mother, and also, the Biebs.)

So I didn’t. I never said never.

I just thought it.

But then came The Boy. And I retroactively realized that the never (verb) never rule applies to thinking as well. And I couldn’t be happier that I got it wrong.

From our first post-engagement Bible study, lo these many moons ago.

Because this guy’s got a calling from Jesus. He’s the most pastor-y person I know. He can’t help it. I married a pastor-in-training, a pastor in heart and head and all but employ.

We believe that God has a place intended for him to minister…for us to minister, as much as those italics make me squirm.

And the first step–scratch that. The millionth step already, in two lives full of steps, is here. “The ministry blog” we called it to ourselves, during the 2014 Spring of Planning that became the 2014 Summer of Inevitable Delays. The labor of love from the girl who spent years blogging sporadically about things that didn’t matter at all, and The Boy with a gift for saying things that matter very much but to whom ‘blog’ was a sound you made about food you disliked. But it’s real, and it’s up, and the words God gives The Boy every week are for everyone to read. Now it’s called Mobile Word. Because the Gospel isn’t static but dynamic. Made to move. Just like we are.

Devotionals every Tuesday, reflections on the Word and the Walk every Thursday.

Go and read. And may it bless you the very most.

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.

Let’s do this

Here we are blogging! In a shiny new space.

Greetings, internet strangers and non-strangers alike. First posts are always weird so we’ll keep this short. Check out the About page to get to know us (Colleen and Nate). Just a few points to note:

  • Colleen is the one writing. Hi. Daily life update-y communiques are my forte.
  • Nate and I are working on another site, which isn’t quite ready yet but which I’ll post about as soon as it’s up and running! We’re very excited about this for so many reasons which I’ll detail in another post, but, essentially, the devotional material Nate has been developing for the past few years will be up and online soon!
  • We are just entering our final year living in South Korea. A year from now we’ll be living in or near San Francisco, California! So I will be trying to capture the fun stuff from our final year in Korea and why we’ve loved it so much here for the past few years. Then, you’ll get to come along with the madness that is trusting God with a total uprooting move next year!
  • My goal for this blog is to be vulnerable, faithful, and open. This means that I’m going to talk about more than just sarcastic or snarky things, and more than just impassioned rant things. (hello, old blog.) This avenue of communication, like every other aspect of my life, belongs to Christ. And like every other part of life, it’s a work in progress, as I grow and trip and fail and keep going. This point is for me…because I know I’m going to need this reminder. I’m going to need to look back to this point, where I’m very sure that openness is necessary, and showing my faults and errors is part of growing in grace. Because no matter how badly I fail, Jesus is more than a match for my mess.
  • Amen. I lied about keeping it short. Amen.