Friday, October 26, 2018

never say never.





In August 2015, I didn’t make a joyous arrival onto UNC’s campus like most freshman did.
I drove onto campus in my dad’s vintage blue Chevy truck, my strapped down belongings fluttering in the highway breeze and my eyes fixed outside the window...
trying to muster the tiniest amusement at my dad’s comments about local landmarks.
Chapel Hill was my parents’ stomping ground...and I wanted no part of it.

We passed the giant stone-walled sign that marks campus and my heart sunk.
“Welcome to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - I’m going to Carolina in my mind”



I was definitely not going to Carolina in my mind.


I was angry and terrified, brokenhearted and homesick.
And I allowed those feelings to turn into a massive ball of discontent.
College didn’t appeal to me. America didn’t make any sense.
I was lonely, confused, and still undergoing intense culture-shock after moving from Japan just two weeks before.
No, I was not going to Carolina in my Mind. I was back in Iwakuni - in smells of salt air and mokusei.



This all sounds very dramatic. I was really just like a five-year-old being drug to Kindergarten...and I wanted out.




My parents helped me move into my first dorm room and my sweet Madre did what she always has
done best - made an unfamiliar place a home. She set up my coffee maker, set out my favorite mugs,
strung my folded cranes, and made a place for me to have my quiet time in the morning. In my refrigerator,
she left treats from Trader Joes and beautiful napkins to eat them on. I sat in my creaky wooden desk chair, trying to
stay cool in the Carolina heat and trying not to burst into tears.



“This is going to be the slowest four years ever. I’m going to do all I can to get it done as quickly as possible
so I can leave”, I asserted.



Okay.” Madre responded, full of experienced grace. “Just don’t forget to enjoy the little things along the way”




I thought I was so mature - so cultured and above it all.
When we’re angry and discontent we think we know better…さすがね。



My parents left, and I quickly transitioned into get-it-done mode.
I poured myself into my schoolwork - so much so that my walls were taped with Biology processes and
equations from my chemistry labs. I studied from 8am until late into the evenings and sacrificed social life for
sociology study guides.



I neglected all fun for the sake of “getting it done as quickly as possible”.

And I was miserable.



Then spring came and something changed. I joined an outdoor sports class and my walls slowly melted.
I learned to play again. I made friends. I laughed more. I picked flowers and stayed up late talking with my
suitemates. I even began to take a little bit of pride in my Carolina Blue. Chapel Hill slowly became my own.



I learned to accept my circumstances...to find joy in them. And I learned that there’s even more maturity in making
the best of things than in standing steadfastly against them. God was gracious. He always is.






Fast forward 4 years.




I’m a senior at Chapel Hill now. And every time I drive past the stone
“Going to Carolina in my Mind” sign, my heart kinda swells. I see sweet memories and gratitude
where I saw dread and confinement before.



This place has been so good to me. The Lord has been so good to me through this place.




In the time I’ve been here, much has happened.
The place I thought would limit my horizons actually expanded them and I’ve been granted so much more
than I thought was possible.



I traded biology for a business degree. I learned that empowering people through economic development is my passion.
Spending endless hours in the Japanese department challenged, groomed, and grew my Japanese skills.
I was shepherded by Senseis who genuinely care and who want to see me succeed in Asian business.
I was even able to go to Japan again - once to learn and once to lead others in their learning.



Who woulda thought. Grace on grace on grace.




I built relationships with friends who made Carolina home and who became like family.
The friends that cry and pray over me at my lowest moments, and who celebrate with me with during the highest moments….priceless gems.



I hurt some, healed a lot. I even found love again in a very patient boy who encourages me to be
my best in Him with humility and with a great sense of humor - even when he’s miles away.
There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll leave it at gratitude.
I’m so thankful.
No, moving to Carolina didn’t confine me as I thought it would. It freed me.

If I’ve learned one thing during my time here it’s to never say never;
to trust when I cannot see;
to listen to my Madre;
and to enjoy the little things along the way.



So now, I’m 前向き. I’m forward-looking and excited for things to come.
Even though there are days when I would do anything to rush the future along, my path reminds me to be
content in the journey - because He’s proven that its such a worthy, joy-filled ride.



That time will come. In the meantime, I have the days before me - a hip surgery I didn’t know I’d have and a
trip to Central Europe that I never thought I’d lead. Next year, I have a Masters in Accounting to complete - one I said I’d never do.
After that? Who knows. Probably more things I said I'd never do.
I’m perfectly okay with it all.



And next time I move somewhere, I know I'll be looking out the window with much more excitement than
I did 4 years ago.



There are far better things ahead than we leave behind, after all.




Sorry its been so long friends.

Love and joy always,
G



Sunday, January 14, 2018

rooted and rested


I wrote, once, that every season has a smell.
I still believe it.

If I were to characterize the last few months in smells, it would be such a whirlwind. There would be whiffs of bagels from the business school and the musty smell of my Sensei's office.
I would smell paper and eraser shavings...sweaty running clothes and a whole lot of coffee.
Constant coffee, actually.
(Probably too much)

To be quite honest, I probably didn't stop as much as I should have to smell them.

I fell into the lie that busyness is necessary and that unless I'm running around doing something productive, I'm being lazy. 

That's not true, of course. 

I'd forgotten. 

There's wisdom in intentional stillness - there's growth in the quiet. 

I began the New Year purposing to slow down and to reject anxiety and to choose rest.
Effectively, to give myself a break.
I was wiped and refusing to believe it.

I determined to rediscover the art of slowing down and to remember all there is to be learned in the quiet. 
Quiet is quite beautiful, you know.

So far, it's been great. 

I'm sleeping more and seeing more and smelling more (again).

I missed it.

Throughout the process, I'm growing.
And as always, it's a good feeling.

I'm excited for the weeks ahead and the smells they bring because I know I'll be better able to enjoy them.

I know they'll be busy.
There will be 18 credit-hour smells, work smells, volunteering smells, and even some smells from Japan...(Yes, I'm going back friends. Be on the lookout for updates and pictures).

But I'm stoked and ready to sniff up a storm.

Bring it on, Spring 2018.

I'm ready for you...
One day and one smell at a time.

I can't wait to see all you hold.

Love always,

G





Friday, December 22, 2017

a hopeful undertone



































Sometimes it takes my breath away - the speed of the last 4 months.

It's been a whirlwind.

This semester has been tough. But it's been equally as lovely.

Once again, I laughed a lot, cried some, and learned a whole lot in the process.
さすがね。

I learned not to take myself too seriously...to put the schoolbooks down for a bit of fun.

I learned what it means to take a different route - to stand still while the crowd swarms toward internships and corporate career paths.
I'm learning to look into the face of my Creator to see where He would have me go.

I'm learning to release guilt, reject anxiety, and walk forward in joyful obedience.

I'm learning how beautiful it is that the Father desires to be intimate with us. He wants to be with us. Even when we reject him at our worst.
Hot dang, what Love.

I'm very thankful.

Stress is real. Homework happens. And the job search is intense.
We lose people we love, don't care as much as we should, and say things we don't mean.
People can be insensitive. Professors aren't always understanding.
Sometimes, I just wanna sit down and eat all the dark chocolate chips.

But there is goodness to be found.
Lots of it, actually.

This is how we root ourselves in the Father's delight - in repeating truths to ourselves and in choosing to believe in a bigger story.

So that's how I march on.

A soldier He has called me.
A soldier I shall be - lifted by a hopeful undertone and rooted in His delight.

Sorry it's been so long.

As always,

G

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Why Nanzan.
































People always ask me, “Why Nanzan?”
I’m never quite sure how to answer.
At first, it was the cost-value and the dates that matched perfectly with my plans. It was the amazing academic program and the promise of finishing with the ability to speak more Japanese.
Yes, the studies were wonderful - the senseis were incredible and I learned so much Japanese.
(I've started thinking in Japanese. It's all sorts of confusing.)

But, as my time at Nanzan comes to a close, I realize I was there for quite another reason.

Quite honestly, the academic aspects of my time in Nagoya are mere fragments of what I experienced there.
There was so much more to be learned...so much to be gained.

I've seen the Lord bring me friends who are so close, I can't believe I've only known them 6 weeks....friends who I know I'll connect with for life. 

I've seen the Gospel work vividly in this country, in this city, and in the lives of my friends.
I've felt the overwhelming weight of His love, been reminded of the clarity and truth of the Gospel, and gotten so many opportunities to boldly speak of that Love to those around me.
I have new vision...the Spirit is on the move. 
And He's been so good. 
さすがね?

Every time I leave this country, I always wonder how is it that a heart can be split so strongly between two opposite sides of the globe?
It's the weirdest feeling.
And even for the many times I've made this trek, it doesn't get any easier.
Japan is a part of me.


But even though I leave Japan, sad at the passing of such a golden season, I'm not completely forlorn. 

This is only the beginning. 

Yes, I leave Nanzan University with more than just improved Japanese and an over-stuffed suitcase.

I leave with teary eyes, a full heart, and eyes open to take in all that the Lord is doing.
I leave grateful. So grateful....
and so much better able to answer that ever-present question,

"Why Nanzan?"

Because the Lord knew I needed it.

That's why.
Because He always knows best.
And He is faithful to take good care of his children.

驚くばかりの恵みなり...

Always,
G


Thursday, June 15, 2017

some days.



















some days don't go as planned.
some days are helter skelter and not at all like you would have thought.

some days are tired days.
they are the days you wake up after studying late into the night...the days you can't drink enough coffee.

some days you wake up with no voice and a presentation to do.

those are the ゆっくりdays.
they are days for savoring.

they are the days you allow yourself to slow down - when you remind yourself to look up and breathe in that Japanese air you love so much.

these are the days you allow your brain a rest and take your time painting flowers in art class. the days you stay even longer after class to talk to the 75 year old sensei about his career as a famous artist and his time at Nanzan.
they are the days for squinty-eyed jokes and pouring through old art books together.

there are some days you spend too much time in conversation with your friends over white rice lunches.
those are the days when you end up running to your next class...laughing the whole way as you hold down each other's dresses.

they're days for breathless smiles and knowing glances - twinkly eyes and Japanese puns.

those are the days you decide that grades are important, but not as important as your gambaru...your effort. Those are the days you cut your losses and laugh with your sensei in stead of taking your imperfections too seriously.
and you find you actually learn more that way.

they're not perfect days.

no, they could never be.

but they're happy days.

and I'm thankful for them.

until next time,

G

"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God." 
philippians 1:9-11

" 私は祈っています。どうか、あなたがたの愛が、もっともっと満ちあふれますように。同時に、霊的な知識と洞察力も、さらに深められますように。 10それは、あなたがたに、善悪をはっきり見分ける力が備わり、主が来られる日まで、だれからも非難されることなく、心がきよく保たれるよう願うからです。 11どうか、神の子どもにふさわしく、親切な良い行いができますように。それは、大いに主をほめたたえ、主の栄光を現すことになるのです。"

(ピリピ人への手紙 1:9-11)