"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord..." Psalm 19:14

Saturday, December 19, 2009

America, here I come!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I got to go ice-skating today, with my friend Tawnya, and even though I was dressed for summer (*sigh* 85 degrees today) ...it really felt like Christmas. Here's just a quick update on the latest happenings...
  • I am flying to L.A. on Monday morning -- can't believe it's been five months since I was in America. Wow. Looking forward to family, cheeseburgers, socks, clean(ish) air, white mochas, Target...
  • Even more wonderful than that, during our school's Christmas chapel, two of our sixth grade girls came to know Jesus! So stinkin' exciting! We're praying for them, as they grow and learn what it means to follow Him!
  • Last weekend, I got to talk on the phone with a bunch of you at the Karshner Christmas party!!! (For those who don't know, Karshner is the school I worked at last year. My friend, Sarah, passed around her phone so I could chat a bit with everyone!) It meant so much to me, catching up with you guys and hearing your voices! I miss you, friends!

a little bit of life in pictures...
Friends at the ICS Christmas party. (I helped decorate, what fun!)

Christmas pancake party! Complete with fresh fruit, great company, and The Muppet's Christmas Carol!

This about sums up my school week. Parties and book reports.
Out of control.

Love you all and am praying that you are filled with joy and peace this Christmas, as you remember the One who came for us and showed us real love. How I wish to know that Love more fully every day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I don't need a dating service: confessions of a Christian single

I'm 24 years old (and yes, I realize that's not very old). I'm a Christian. I'm single. And I'm tired of it. No, I'm not tired of being single. And of course I'm not tired of being a Christian...but put them together, and it just wears me out. I'm gonna try not to be cynical here, because quite frankly it's against my nature, and I'm kind of anti-critical. But...the church is deeply failing the singles population. That's just the plain truth.

I got so into this topic, I decided to do some research, Look at what I found:
  • 41% of the US population is single (US Census 2005).
  • 51% (yes, over half) of all US women live without a spouse (NY Times 2007).
  • If I'm doing the math right, over 46% of 20-40 year olds in America have never been married (US Census 2008).
Right away, we realize: 1) There are more of us than you think. 2) Singles cover a wide range of ages. 3) Just because you're older and single doesn't mean you're divorced. And yet, when you're single in the church, what are your options? Staying up late with the lively college group, going to "singles" events that translate into dating services, recovering with the older, single and divorced population... All great ministries, but is that really what most singles are looking for? I'm just one person, but if I'm anything like other singles, there are a couple things that need to be cleared up...

Just because I'm single, it doesn't mean I want to hang out with single people all the time. In fact, it probably means the opposite. At least for me, being single makes me crave stability all the more. And yet, we're placed in these "singles only" groups with a revolving door of people who move, or get married, or get bored. We're only invited to families' homes on holidays, when family is what we long for. I know it's awkward for single people to hang out with married people, but have you ever wondered if it's just because we're not used to it?

Marriage is not the solution. Yes, marriage is good, and who wants it? We all do. But, it's condescending and disrespectful to the singles population when we're expected to swim around, disconnected from the church body until we get married and "graduate" into the regular world of families. It seems more like people feel sorry for us all the time, instead of believing that we, too, have something to offer the church.

What's funny, the Barna research group finds that four out of five single adults would say they are Christian (2005). And yet, how many thriving and successful singles ministries can you think of?

Maybe it's about time we try something new and rethink the church's strategy (or non-strategy) in reaching the singles population. I mean, when I read about the New Testament church, I don't see anything about dividing the single and married people up. I don't see anything that says it's better to be married. In fact, many of the greatest early church leaders were single (and Paul even advocated for it). And the early church was all about community. It didn't matter if you were single, or married, or anything. If you were a believer, you were cared for and had a place to belong and serve.

I know that is still the message the church hopes to give singles. I know there's no one to blame for this failure and that all of this has come about by accident.

But it's time people do something.

So, singles, don't give up on the church. And married people, don't give up on singles. May it begin with us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

simple joys

...Like decorating my own little plastic Christmas tree (pictured above), even though I'm miles and miles from "home." I bought the ornaments from the Thai craft fair, and I strung the popcorn myself (only took like THREE hours, haha).

...And continuing the holiday spirit right into my classroom, where the kids and I listened to Christmas music and made paper chains and snowflakes (not to mention the fake fireplace!). These kids are awesome! The room looks great --I gave them the plan and they made it happen! My students...they give me joy every day!

...Or celebrating with a dear friend (Karly) our common Korean heritage at ICS's annual "International Day." I even learned how to really say my given name: Mee Seong Lee = "E Mee Song" There were 26 different countries represented at the festival, which also included some fantastic performances and, of course, unbelievable food.

...Reconnecting with old friends in a foreign land. (This is me with Jill, the girl I knew in college who just happens to be living in Bangkok too right now!)

...Bonding with 6th graders. (That's my adorable homeroom class. Oh maybe adorable isn't a good 6th grade word...) In fact, we spent lots of time together this week, including a lock-in for the whole middle school (yes, that means they stayed all night and tried not to sleep, haha). What amazed me more than the kids' excitement were all the staff members who came, volunteering so much time and energy. ICS staff, you are legit! If that's not love, and if that's not serving Jesus...I don't know what is!

They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
The eyes of all look to You,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
Psalm 145:7-9, 15-16

I just love this picture of God, opening His hand and setting before us all of our needs at the proper time. It tells me that He has purpose and timing in each gift He gives. It tells me that what I want and don't have is still securely in His grip. I know each of these really are such simple things, but to me, they have been little evidences of God's tender and thoughtful love for me. May we delight in the joys God has poured out to us, and may we proclaim His goodness to a hopeless and hurting world.

(Pictures below for those of you who don't have facebook! ...Or don't check it. :)