In the Neighborhood

Three years ago at Urbana 09 we talked about how Jesus "dwelled among us." He lived incarnationaly on earth to dwell among his people he ministered to. He lived with them, as them, and lived, breathed, and felt their struggles and pain.

I claim that's what I want to do. I claim I want to live "incarnationaly." But until I follow through with that, I am just throwing out fancy, hip Christian words to seem relevant. My claims and beliefs get put to the test very quickly.

Living intentionally "in the neighbored" is not easy. Living intentionally in a place of lower income to be with those you want to serve and learn from isn't glamorous. It can mean having to deal with shitty parking situations. It can mean having air conditioning in only room. It can mean having bugs in the apartment. It isn't the prettiest or easiest thing to.

My initial reaction to get out when things get hard. To return to my safe bubble, to return to what is easy.

But life wasn't easy for Jesus. He was fully God and fully man. He endured pain, hunger, thirst, loneliness, suffering just like any human when he didn't have to. When he was on the cross, he could have just as easily come down and said "ENOUGH! It's not worth this."

But he didn't. To Jesus, it was TOTALLY worth it. It was worth enduring all the pain, the fear, the suffering to be with his people again. It gives me hope that living this counter-cultural lifestyle of living among the least of these will be and currently is totally worth it. It gives me hope to keep pushing through the things which are difficult, the heat, the bugs, and the people who don't understand. It gives me hope I can sacrifice some comfortability so that someone could hear the gospel. I mean isn't that what Jesus did?


The 12 of London 12

Currently I am deep within experiencing Olympics withdrawals. I wish the Olympics were more than every two years. I love the Olympics, I mean love them (we are talking borderline obsessed in a good way). I do enjoy the Winter Games but I think I love the summer games more. It could be that it is the time of year, or I understand more sports (seriously what is up the ski and then shoot sport?)

What I love most are the stories. I love the stories of the human heart and spirit. I love the passion, the hard work, overcoming the odds and the joys of seeing your life's work rewarded often in a single moment. It brings humanity just a little bit closer to each other. For just a moment we set aside our arguments and our fights and cheer on our athletes - some from our country, some from our homeland, some we've never been to but inspire us nonetheless. And these were my 12 favorite stories of the London 2012 games.

12.  Dannell Leyva (Gymnastics USA) wins the bronze in the all around men's competition. Sometimes earning the bronze medal is just as amazing as winning the gold.

11. Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza (Boxing USA) winning a gold and a bronze medal (respectively) in woman's boxing. She is one of two USA women to medal in boxing, and both have become the first to earn any medal for the US woman's team. This Latina woman had to make it in a clearly defined man's sport to succeed.

10. Kirani James (Track Grenada) He is the first person to winy ANY medal for his country. And he does it with a gold. He will be just as famous if not more famous in Grenada as Michael Phelps is in the USA.

9. Missy Franklin (Swimming USA). Winner of four gold medals. Humble throughout but still kicking serious butt. And the girl is only 17. I think we will be chanting her name in Rio 2016.

8.  Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shaherkani (Tack and Field Saudi Arabia and Wrestling Saudi Arabia) The first women to ever compete for the country of Saudi Arabia. These women are breaking barriers for their country and as a woman I am proud. Their presence at these games brings us closer towards equality and recognition of women. Because of them, and many other women, every country present at the games had a female athlete representing them.

7. Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh (Beach Volleyball USA) They weren't going to come back this year. They faced injuries and having babies, and other things but in the end they decided to give it one last go. They lost one match in all the Olympic games and won their third gold medal. It feels like the end of an era but they were huge in making beach volleyball a name sport along the limes of track and field, swimming, and gymnastics.

6. McKayla Maroney (Gymnastics USA) silver medal in vault final. Vault routine elevates her to extreme badass. For the team final she completely stuck the landing on one of the hardest female vaults done on the game. In the vault final she landed on her ass in the second vault and she still won a silver medal. Not only did that start the hilarious (and she finds it funny just as well) "McKayla Maroney is not impressed" Internet sensation, but worked her way up into the bad-assess of the Olympics.

5. Usain Bolt (Track and Field Jamaica) The fastest man alive. Possibly the fastest man ever. He defended is title in the 100m race and won the 200m race. This guy is a legend.

4. Gabby Douglas (Gymnastics USA) She is the second American to win both the All Around and the Team Gold. She is the third American in a row to win the All Around gold. And she is the first African American to do it all. And she did it practically smiling the whole time.

3. Oscar Pistorius (Track South Africa) The first amputee to be allowed to compete in the standard Olympics. Even though he didn't medal at his events in these Olympics, he made history just as much as Michael Phelps.

2. Michael Phelps (Swimming USA) Most decorated Olympian ever. What else should I say about the world's greatest Olympic Athlete. Probably ever. (He is even mentioned twice in this blog post alone). 22 medals. 3 Olympics. Epic man. Legendary man. He and Usain Bolt should start a club of awesomeness.

1. Kayla Harrison (Judo USA) I don't think you can not hear her story and be reduced to a puddle of tears. She almost quit after being abused by her coach. In the midst of the trust issue, the pain, the brokenness, and the shame - she came back and fought back. And it was she who won America's first ever Olympic gold medal in Judo. I think I am the most proud to see her be an Olympic champion.



"A child's voice, however honest and true, is meaningless to those who've forgotten how to listen."

- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 


Being Small in a Big World

Up until the Olympics I felt like I was a pretty big deal in life. I mean, I'm awesome right? I tweet, I use instragram, I have almost 800 friends on Facebook. I blog and even have my own Photography website (which has their own Facebook page). People know me, and (as far as I can tell) they really like me.

Then I watched the Olympics. I saw athlete after athlete compete, their faces plastered on television. Gabby Douglas has become an instant star in the US. Michael Phelps will probably get his own statue any day now. These stars have thousands of twitter followers and fans, parsing and loving them and it hits me.

I am not a big deal. I have no gold medal. I am not an Olympic athlete. I quit basketball in the 11th grade. I don't even have a championship trophy for any sport. I was no pulitzer prize, no professional academic awards, not even a published piece of work out there for people to see. My Facebook friends don't fawn over my status updates and I don't get praise from them. And I am pretty sure only like five people read this blog anyway (my mom being one of them). Unlike Ron Burgundy, I am not a big deal.

This doesn't mean I sit around and feel bad for myself. I don't feel bad about myself at all. I give 100% to all I do whether it be participating in the office Olympics or cleaning my bedroom. It doesn't mean I can't make different in our big world. (Yes, even one person can make a huge difference in our world).

But with that said, I till am a very small deal in the scheme of things. I am just one person, who lives in a regular city in one part of our earth. I live in just a small section of our very giant world and universe. And that is ok. It is more than ok - it is great. The biggest lie I often content with is life is a story about me. While I may let myself believe the world revolves around me and my problems and my issues and my frustrations and my joys, that is so far from the truth. I am just one part of the grander narrative of life.

I think that is why I like the Olympics. It reminds me I am just a small part of the story. Doesn't mean I am not insignificant to where I am at but I am not the end all, greatest, captain awesome, person every to exist. There are so many people who are doing amazing things - bringing pride to their countries, breaking barriers and walls down, pushing through misconceptions and misunderstandings, and bringing joy to people even as small as I am.


The Nor Cal Adventure

This summer has been the summer of travel. Here are the Instragram Photos from the Nor Cal portion of this summer adventures.

Red Rock Canyons in the 395.

Mammouth Mountains in the distance.

Walker Burger. I went there when I was 6 or 7 and it was amazing to return.

Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.

The best find of the weekend: The Blue Angel Cafe in South Lake Tahoe.

My mom and I - practice travelers. 

Frozen hot cholocate or Sierradipenity.

Nicole and Chris's Beach wedding.

True Love.

The "bridge" on Emerald Bay

Visiting friends from what feels long ago. 

The Bay Bridge of terror. 

Golden Gate in sun for once. 

The view of San Francisco. 

Our drive home on the 5. Bleh.