Out of the Box

Getting creative with Christianity, crafting, cooking, copious usage of alliteration, and the rest of my life

Great, another crappy situation August 7, 2010

Filed under: Adventures at Home — Grace @ 1:00 pm

So being home hasn’t been the relaxing time I wish it could be. I’m trying to work on my summer service project, which I have to complete if I want to be able to go back to school, and it’s not going well. As if it wasn’t hard enough motivating myself to do the work, my youngest sister has decided to try to sabotage me. She doesn’t want me to go back to school and is doing her best to make sure I can’t.

So I thought, “Hey, if my sister keeps interrupting me during the day, I’ll just stay up late and work when she won’t bother me.” Well, so much for that theory. It’s after 3 AM and she’s knocking on my door and won’t go away.

So what do I do? I can A) let her sleep up here with me, like she wants, which would make my dad mad at her, B) try to reason with her and get her to go downstairs, which I tried – it didn’t work, C) ignore her, which I’m currently trying to do and which makes me feel like a jerk, D) well, you tell me.

Update: I wrote this at about 3 last night, but didn’t get to post it, because someone turned off our internet router. I thought it was my dad, so I didn’t go turn it back on. Just now I found out that it wasn’t my dad after all. Turns out it was my sister. I lost hours that I could have used to work because I had no internet to do my research.

At school this doesn’t happen. At school no one repeatedly keeps bugging me when they know I have important work to do. Hey, while we’re on this subject, at school I don’t have to listen to constant fighting; at school the people in charge aren’t constantly doing their best to inflict emotional damage on everyone within reach; at school I’m more likely to be able to do something if there’s an unpleasant situation. Of course, at school I’m generally overworked and sleep-deprived, but it’s worth it, both for the superior education I’ll get there, the opportunities I wouldn’t have anywhere else… and the escape.

Of course, it’s pretty pointless for me to long for school when it’s looking more and more possible that I’ll get kicked out for not completing my summer work. Thanks, sis. (And thanks, things-that-come-up-whenever-I-really-need-to-work. And thanks, laziness. And thanks, all-possible-forms-of-exhaustion-combined.)

…No. There’s no way I’m going to let anyone take away one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’ll get this done.



Thoughts on this summer August 2, 2010

Filed under: Adventures in Toronto — Grace @ 1:14 pm

Quick summary:

  • Four weeks – absolutely nothing.
  • Fifth week – Monday and Wednesday, taught ESL and was very excited. Later that week, found out that the CNBC was going to make me stop and transfer to a sports camp.
  • Sixth week – worked at the sports camp. That weekend, got the news. Came home the following Tuesday.

Of course there was more than that. So, lessons learned:

  • 24 is an awesome show.
  • Real Chinese food is (mostly) quite good.
  • Air conditioning is unnecessary.
  • You can find some pretty weird creatures in your basement.
  • Real maple syrup is a lot different from the gross flavored corn syrup we buy at the grocery store.
  • Horseback riding is fun.
  • You can never have enough watermelon.
  • Jiaozi dough doesn’t keep long.
  • There’s nothing like a theological argument to make things awkward.
  • I’m hopeless with a camera.
  • I’m a walrus?
  • Exercise is a good idea.
  • Seagulls can have an attitude.
  • I have no self-motivation. At all.
  • Having a good attitude makes things much better.

There are a lot of lists today. Oh well.

Despite all of the… difficulties… my six weeks in Toronto weren’t too bad. I met lots of great people and got to experience independent life (to some extent). I also gained a few pounds and lost a few marbles, but hey, you win some, you lose some.

Now that I’ve gotten burned, would I do anything through the Sojourners program or NAMB again? Maybe. At least, I might be willing to, but I doubt I will. Next summer will be my last summer before college, so I might stay closer to home to get ready and everything. And if I end up as a missionary, I would prefer to work with a nondenominational organization.

But anyway, to any of you who are considering doing something through Sojourners or a similar program – learn from my experience. Contact the places you’re going request; make sure nothing has changed since they wrote the job description; make sure they aren’t going to spring any last-minute costs on you. If it takes them over a week to get you doing something, complain. And if whatever convention you’re working for decides to mess with what you’re doing with no consideration for how you might feel about that – well, tough, because there’s nothing you can do about it short of going home. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be under a convention that A) cares or B) listens, or hopefully both.

(If someone’s about to accuse me of having a bad attitude, well, maybe so, but there’s a different between making the best of things and saying that the people who put you in that situation aren’t at fault in any way.)

Knowing how things turned out, would I do it over again? That’s a hard question. The surprise fundraising I had to do gave me experience in baking, entrepreneurship, and sneakiness, the last of which will be useful if I end up as a missionary to a closed country. 😛 I got to experience international travel; I got to live on my own; I got to experience a different culture. I made a lot of friends. And I did get a small taste of teaching ESL, which was fun. So yes, I guess I would do it again. And maybe it was worth it after all.



Filed under: Theological Thoughts — Grace @ 3:57 am

Rules are not what Christianity is about.

I know it’s easy to get that impression. Even when people stress the fact that we’re saved by faith alone, they quickly add on a long list of rules that Christians supposedly should follow. We have to read-our-Bibles-daily-and-pray-a-lot-and-go-to-church-and-give-money-and-do-evangelism-and… the list goes on. Not that these things aren’t good ideas, but for goodness’ sake, are they really the point? Does it do any good to weigh people down with lists of commandments to keep that will supposedly make them good Christians?

This idea that following rules would make you right with God – isn’t that what Jesus spoke against?

Look – Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment was to love God with every fiber of your being. The second was to love other people as much as you do yourself. He went on to say that these two commandments were the equivalent of all “the law and the prophets”.

So tell me, where in there do you find the concept that pleasing God requires adherence to a bunch of rules? The answer: Nowhere. Jesus clearly said that those ARE the rules. Where in there does it say that homosexuality is wrong or that women can’t preach or that you have to be baptized a certain way or that you have to have the gift of tongues or that church has to happen on Sunday mornings with deacons and a choir and a half-hour sermon? Nowhere. So where did we get all of those ideas? Are we turning into Pharisees? God forbid.

Can it get any clearer? This is not about religion, not about rules – it’s about relationship. It’s not about laws, but about LOVE. Is this so hard to understand?

If you love God, you don’t need rules to tell you to spend time with him. If you love people, you don’t need rules to tell you to be kind to them. That was Jesus’ point. So why is it not ours?

Think about it.


Home again, home again August 1, 2010

Filed under: Adventures at Home,Adventures in Toronto — Grace @ 11:38 pm

This is belated, since I got home on Tuesday. But oh well.

This seems to have been the summer of transportation issues. First the subway incidents, and then my plane ticket sends me to the wrong gate (or, more likely, the gate changed and I should have been watching the TV screen, but hey, I’m new to this) and I finally realize what’s happening and get to the right gate five minutes before the plane is supposed to leave. It was a really close call. But it all worked out.

As the plane got close to Raleigh and started descending, I was struck by the contrast. The view of Toronto from the plane had been almost all buildings (and Lake Ontario). The view of Raleigh from the plane had so many trees. It looked much more like home. 😛

That was Tuesday afternoon. Visitation Tuesday night. Funeral Wednesday afternoon. After that, not much.

I have nothing else to write that won’t depress me and you.

To come eventually: Maybe some thoughts on camp. Maybe some thoughts on the summer in general. Maybe just some depressed rambling after all, as if I can’t do enough of that inside my head.


Vegging out July 28, 2010

Filed under: Lifestyle — Grace @ 4:41 pm

So… I’m seriously considering becoming a vegetarian. (And all the people who just saw me eating fried chicken at the funeral say: “Huh?!?” I didn’t really want to, but I wanted to answer a lot of questions even less.)

Anyway, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have no way to justify killing something so I can have a few moments of gustatory pleasure. Especially when I have other options.

Actually, if I’m going to take morality into account, I should probably become vegan because of the cruelty that dairy animals and egg-laying chickens no doubt face, but then I wouldn’t be able to eat anything. *sigh* What to do, what to do…? I guess I probably won’t go that far, although I may change my mind. Well, maybe someday I’ll get some chickens and goats and the problem will be solved. 🙂

To clarify, I don’t think it’s inherently wrong to kill an animal – think of the Native Americans from way-back-when who didn’t have much else to make tools and clothing out of. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t have soybeans either. 😛 But the thing is, I actually have a choice.

There’s no question that becoming a vegetarian would make life somewhat inconvenient, but dying needlessly makes animals’ lives pretty inconvenient too. But where do you draw the line? Is it okay to eat it if you didn’t buy it? It’s too late by then anyway. And what if you’re in some foreign country where you’ll become anemic or something if you don’t? This is a multifaceted issue. Or maybe I’m just making things too complicated. Anyway, I think I’ll abstain as much as possible and continue to think about this.

Oy vey. How in the world did my extremely conservative family wind up with “liberal wacko” me? 😛


Well… July 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Grace @ 11:30 am

I’m going home early. My mom died.

It’s sort of a strange situation, because she was in a car accident in 1999 and ended up with pretty severe brain damage, so she’s been in what the doctors call a vegetative or nonresponsive state ever since. That basically means that she lay in bed mostly unconscious and couldn’t talk to us, and we’re not sure if she could understand what we were saying. It was like a coma. So even though she technically died recently, she sort of died ten and a half years ago. That being the case, I’m not sure exactly what to feel.

Anyway, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be flying home Tuesday. The funeral will be on Wednesday. And then I’ll try to stay sane until school starts. Wish me luck.


Calling July 23, 2010

Filed under: Theological Thoughts — Grace @ 4:11 pm

So what am I going to do with my life?

I’ve been wondering this for quite some time now, as everyone does. Once I thought I would be a writer, but then I found that I’m not very good at writing and don’t even like it that much. Then I thought I’d be a veterinarian – until I realized that I wouldn’t be playing with cute, fluffy animals; I’d be giving them pills and shots and they wouldn’t be happy about it and they wouldn’t like me much. Other dreams have come and gone, but eventually I came to realize that whatever else I did, I would have to live as a full-time Christian, as all Christians should. (Never mind that I presently stink at that. :P) As to what that would look like… well, I know that I’m easily distracted, so I might be able to be more effective in some sort of inherently Christian career. All of this led me to seriously consider planning to become a missionary.

No, for those of you who might wonder, I haven’t felt a “call to missions” as such, but it just makes sense. And I haven’t been “called” to anything else, either, so what in the world exempts me from the Great Commission? (Hint: The answer to that question starts with an “N” and ends with “ot a darn thing”.).

I basically thought about three possibilities: A) North American missions (career or lifestyle), B) International missions, C) Bible translation. This summer that list has been refined a little.

For starters, at a conference here in Toronto, a former missionary to the Philippines told me some shocking statistics about the percentage of resources spent on North American missions vs. what goes to unreached people. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was ridiculous. Anyway, North America is getting more than its fair share, so I think I should go elsewhere, preferably to some of these unreached people who will otherwise remain so.

Then I started thinking about Bible translation. I fully support it, just as I do North American missions, but in the same way, I now believe that it’s not what I personally should devote my life to. Is it what Jesus or the early apostles devoted their lives to? Didn’t the early Christians (and early Jews, for that matter – Abraham, etc.) get along fine without a Bible? Not to mention that I’m still trying to figure out where I stand on Biblical inerrancy and all that stuff.

So – international missions. Just like those three emerged as the possibilities that made most sense, this one makes the most sense of the three. It honestly looks like that’s where I’m heading.

The next step is figuring out where. The world is a pretty big place, after all. One strong possibility is the 10-40 Window. (I’m a little confused about that page’s “Historical and Biblical Significance” section and why in the world that matters, but the rest of it has a lot of information.)

Don’t tell my dad that I might go somewhere dangerous. It’ll scare the heck out of him. 😉

Anyway – this is all just speculation, but hey, maybe someday I’ll really go to the 10-40 window – maybe to the Middle East or to North Africa or to China or somewhere else entirely. Then again, maybe I’ll go somewhere outside the 10-40 window. Or maybe God will tell me to stay in North America. Or maybe they’ll find life on Mars and I’ll be the first interplanetary missionary. Whatever. There’s no way for me to know now what’ll happen in five or ten years.

Since not much is certain, I think I’ll stick with the strategy I’ve been using. Graduate high school. Go to college. Continue to study language, because I love it and because I can use that knowledge anywhere in the world – yes, even here. Prepare for as many possibilities as I can. Learn how to live this missional lifestyle, because I won’t get far as I am now. And wait. It’ll be clear when it needs to be.