Confessions of a Missionary: “Who is more hardcore?”

Well it has been a very long time since I have posted anything on this blog, so I thought why not repost one of my most read blogs. So, without further adieu, I give you (for the second time), “Confessions of a Missionary: Who is more hardcore?”

Life on the edge of the margin.

When comparison makes its nasty little bed in your heart…

 “The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s’ lake…” – Sebastian the Lobster

I’ve been involved in some sort of global missions since 1998.  And…the only reason I’m beginning this blog with that statement, is because I feel that it will give reference to what I’m about to write about. The last thing I want to do is type up some sort of resume in attempts to somehow “give weight to my words”. Truth is, it doesn’t matter how many short-term trips I’ve been on, or how long I’ve been on staff with a missions organization, and it doesn’t matter how long I’ve lived in Asia (because we both know, it’s not been that long….) What DOES matter, is that no matter where we’ve served, travelled, lived, taken teams to, pioneered, we remind ourselves daily that we are “but…

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Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart

but the very next day, you gave it away…

Okay, this song is like the Groundhog Day of “Christmas Songs”. Every Christmas is last Christmas. To break it down for us, this song was released by a British Pop duo called WHAM! George Michael anyone? It was released in 1984. So technically, “Last Christmas” was 1983. 1983 was about 31 years ago. So for the past 31 years, one person in the world (probably George Michael) keeps remembering Christmas in1983, while the rest of us perpetually remember the literal last year’s Christmas… over and over and over again.

Additionally, this song has nothing to do with Christmas. I mean, other than saying the word Christmas and alluding to wrapping up a heart (as though it were a present…which if taken literally, is literally morbid and if taken figuratively…well, I just…can’t even), I find no Decking of the Halls in this song. The words “fire” and “burn” are in the song which could very loosely be representative of a fireplace…but still…loosely representative. (In all of this, I will say…this song is SO catchy!)

But….
Not a Christmas song. 
Rant Over…

Anyway, I was accidentally listening to this song the other day and as much as I dislike the song, I felt the Lord speak something so gentle and yet so simple to my heart. Isn’t that totally weird and yet kind of amazing when God does that thing that He sometimes does, and speaks purpose into an accidental moment. In this case, it’s doubly amazing because my irritation for this song is so far beyond me actually being able to hear anything but the voice in my head that says “Make it stop!”

He speaks purpose into an accidental moment…

“Anna, what are you giving your heart to?”

This is what I felt like the Lord was asking me…to which I kind of just sat there and began reflecting on life this time last year…on life “Last Christmas” (ironically enough). I thought about my relationship with the Lord and processed through this past year, and began dreaming and hoping for the future. What do I want to give my heart to….what is worth giving my heart to?
If you receive my newsletter, you know that a huge transition is coming my way. (If you do not receive my newsletter and would like to, I would love to email it to you so please let me know…also you can read more about it in the “About Me” tab

The transition that is coming my way, (that at times feels less like a warm fluffy blanket and more like a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant ::: Insert Christmas Vacation props) is incredibly exciting and yet one that will require some huge steps of faith. I only have about one month left in this beautiful nation of Taiwan before I move back to America. I want to spend this month cherishing every moment with the people around me, and reflecting with the Lord on my season here. I am so blessed to spend Christmas here. So blessed.

THIS Christmas (see what I did there?) I want to reflect even more on this question that I felt the Lord asking me, and then hopefully turn it into a “New Years Resolution” of sorts…
What are you giving your heart to?
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More blogs to come this month so check back in a couple weeks or so!

True Life:: Is Beauty also the Beast?

I do not pretend to think even for a moment that my thoughts are new. But…I do pretend. Actually, I think a lot of us do. Like mentioned before, I do…often…and here is how.

#nofilter #selfie 

I pretend every time I edit, crop, lighten, boost, frame, fade and blur…every time I choose Hudson, Sierra, Lo-Fi or Mayfair. I pretend every time I take a picture of myself next to a soft light lamp, in direct sunlight, with the camera held high make the “angle” more flattering, in front of the sunset, after I have put on nice makeup or styled my hair…every time I choose 1 shot out of the 10 that I just took… one after the other in hopes to get a least 1 “good one”…

The fact is, the more apps that come out for beautifying and altering, the more I find myself comparing and yet…lacking. I end up creating my “ideal” self that in the end, doesn’t even really look like me. It actually looks more like a girl with a better tan, smoother skin, a glow-ier glow, and softer face lines. Please hear me, I definitely have an appreciation for art and realize that editing pictures requires technique and “the eye”. I get that. What I am talking about, is when I alter the picture of myself because frankly, sometimes I just do not like the original, the true, the unrefined and unedited version of me.

And… I really hate to do this… but I’m goin’ there–Do you remember that one John Mayer song that “maybe” some of “us” listened to in high school…something about “our love was comfortable…” etc. Remember that one line in the song that goes like this…eh hem…”I loved you gray sweat pants, no makeup, so perfect…” I’m just sayin’- I’m not convinced that a “gray sweatpants, no makeup” picture would be my first choice for my profile picture. I’d like to think that it would be. Would it be yours?

…which brings me to my next point.

I write this post because today I almost changed my Facebook profile picture, to a picture that looked more refined, more together and more…beautiful. A picture that was both softer and glow-ier. It hit me how absurd this was when I asked my room-mate’s advice as to which picture I should put as my profile picture. Seriously, I DID that. (Insert a lot of question marks and are you kidding me’s here) After my room mate chose which one she liked, I walked away and thought…not “WHAT am I doing?” but “WHY am I doing this?”

Again, I am not saying that editing is bad (hence me LITERALLY just posting a picture on instagram with…a filter *gasp* and chances are, I will probably post another one sometime this week)

I am just asking the question… Why?

Okay and…I’m not tryin’ to get all “inspirational speaker” on you right now because let’s be honest, we both know that could end awkwardly. For humors sake, can you just imagine with me what that could potentially look like? “Okay everyone, stand on your chair and on the count of three, yell “I – AM – BEAUTIFUL!” Yeah…definitely not happening.

I just want the truth of what Jesus says about us, to infiltrate and if needed, COMPLETELY invade our hearts today. I want it to be so loud in our minds that every other voice or “assumed voice” is silenced. I want the confusion that we create for ourselves to cease. I want the projected view of self to be completely restored into the knowledge of the King of the Universe – who created us wonderfully and intricately. He alone is the one who can make things intricate, and layered. Complicated? Maybe in the sense that we will never fully understand the power of His creating hand while on earth… but not confusing.

I love what my grandfather (the greatest photographer I have ever known) says about beauty in one of his photography books:

“These fine art prints distill beauty with their simplicity”.

Beauty WITH their simplicity. It is no wonder that I often feel I am “lacking something” when I get lost in the world of “a little more of this and little less of that…” It is in this world of on-going changes and filtering that things can potentially become confusing; and it is in this world where it becomes easier and more comfortable to pretend.

Pretending.

I just have to wonder…when we pretend that we are something/someone we are not, could it mean that we are willingly choosing to believe that being created in the image of God is not enough to make us feel accepted and loved today?

My heart is to not over-spiritualize social media in all of its facets. Really, it’s not. BUT… it really is my prayer that those of you who read this blog would feel the freedom and the acceptance of the Lord today. I pray that you look into the mirror with unfiltered eyes and see the son or daughter who was made in the image of the Living God.

So, when was the last time you asked Why? Were you prepared for your answer? If it is not outward beauty that you feel this way about, then what is it? 

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True Life:: Translating Gone Wrong

Do you ever have those dreams that take you back to your high school hallway, or perhaps the classroom…a stage or maybe some other location that would have the potential to be the breeding ground for fear, public humiliation or embarrassment? Yeah, me too. Those are the worst. It is an ongoing mystery to me, just how real those dreams can feel. Such a mystery, that even while in the midst of dreaming, no amount of “I’m pretty sure this is a dream” soothes the panicky feeling that elevates your heart rate, and causes you to break out in a mild sweat.  But then magically, reality sets in aaaaand BOOM, you’re awake! “OH my gosh, I am in my own bed….that didn’t happen, thank you God….no one has to know about this”

Several weeks ago, I had that experience. The only difference, was that I was awake…and standing in front of a lot of people…translating for my friend…from Chinese to English. This was a big morning for me. I was only translating the “MC’ing” part of the morning, but nevertheless, my Chinese was going to be put to the test. I have no problem being in front of people and actually enjoy it. I enjoy interacting with a crowd, entertaining…what have you. However, translating….now THAT is a completely different game. There are different rules, techniques and even tricks. When translating, you are not thinking in your native tongue, you are thinking in the language that is being spoken and then translating it into the culture to whom you are speaking. It is an art. A messy, beautiful, amazing, interesting, confusing art. I like art. Well, actually I like music which is a form of art and I like cooking…which could technically be labeled as “culinary art” right? Anyway, the beauty of art  in my opinion, is connection. It is the connection of  ideas, thoughts, dreams, truth and emotions.

With my personality, I naturally like connecting things. I like connecting ideas, people, theories, truth…etc.  Little did I know, that cultivating this ability in a second language takes time and practice and even…embarrassment. I will spare you (and myself) of sharing every messy detail of what happened that morning. However, I will say, that there were definitely times of me looking at the base leader and his wife with eyes of “HELP!!” as I was trying to navigate through the spiderweb of language that I managed to get myself tangled in. There was even a time when I handed the Mic to the base leader to translate a sentence that I just completely mis-translated. When I took the Mic back, everything went into super slow motion “Annaaaaaa, what are youuuu doooinngg to yourselllllfff?” The inner dialogue spoke louder than my friend sharing and thus begins the “Ascent to embarrassment mountain” with the whole base slowly trailing behind me. At least that is how it felt for a solid 5 minutes or so.

After that morning, my pride felt totally crushed and my little heart…just crumpled into a little ball on the ground (I realize that sounds pretty dramatic…but, it kind of was…kind of).  Of course, anything that anyone would have to say to me afterwards, would invite a waterfall of tears.  I was in such a delicate place of vulnerability and embarrassment that I myself didn’t even know what would make any of “what just happened”…. better. I just wanted to walk away and pretend that the person up there wasn’t me and that THAT didn’t just happen and I’m “better than that”
Few things compare to the feeling of vulnerability. I mean, true vulnerability. The kind of vulnerability that when walking away from the conversation, your whole body just kind of goes numb and you don’t even know how to respond to whatever just happened. There is something to be said of vulnerability+ embarrassment.  I feel, at times that it is one in the same. At times, I feel that one cannot go on without the other. It’s almost as if sometimes, it’s good to feel embarrassed, it’s good to remember that you are “but dust”, it’s good to be in a place of remembering that “Hey, I’m not all that and a bag of chips” #early90sreference



I believe that perhaps with momentary exposure such as this, freedom and grace replace the embarrassment, insecurity and humiliation. I mean don’t get me wrong. I often remember that moment of standing in front of like 100 people feeling totally embarrassed. In fact, I remember it on almost a weekly basis.

However, the only difference between today and “that day” is that for some reason, I feel a little bit more free. I feel a little bit more comfortable in my own skin. I feel a little bit more humbled and reminded that it’s about Jesus and not about me. I feel a little bit nervous for the next time, but encouraged that it is in moments like this…moments of exposure and vulnerability, that I grow closer to Jesus…that I feel WELL AWARE of my need for Him and His grace.

So, to those of you learning a language and to those of you trying new things: I hope that you feel encouraged today that even in your most embarrassing, humiliating moments; moments that you feel a noticeable loss whether that be of pride, strength, ability…etc., that Jesus has something valuable and precious for us to gain. It may be embarrassment for a moment, but it is grace for a lifetime.

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