Sunday, February 19, 2012

the idiot

This week I finished reading The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It tells the story of Russian Prince Lef Nicolaievitch Muishkin. He is an epileptic who was sent to Switzerland as a youth and placed in a sanatorium. As a young man he returns to Russia, and The Idiot chronicles his experiences.

Basically, the Prince is incredibly good. He is honest and trusting. He loves well. He always believes the best of people. He is all the things we should be.
Yet, he is despised. He is rejected and hated. He is treated as a freak of nature. His sincerity is doubted. He is simply unbelievable, too good to be true. He is an idiot.

I am still pondering this book. It left me with a lot of thoughts. It left me wondering if the good guy wins. It left me wondering if naivety is a gift or a curse. It left me wondering why we often question others' motives rather than taking them at their word.

Most of all, it left me hoping for the label of "idiot" if it means that I bear the qualities of love, peace, compassion, honesty, and goodness.

"Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful." 1 Corinthians 1:27

Sunday, February 12, 2012

face of God

"This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not with the match, he touched Jacob's hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
Then the man said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!'
But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'
'What is your name?' the man asked.
He replied, 'Jacob.'
'Your name will no longer be Jacob,' the man told him. 'From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.'
'Please tell me your name,' Jacob said.
'Why do you want to know my name?' the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
Jacob named the place Peniel (which means 'face of God'), for he said, 'I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.' The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip."
~ Genesis 32:24-31

I feel like I have been doing a lot of that recently. Wrestling with a lot of different things. Life has been full. I have had much to do, much to consider, much to learn. There have been difficulties and struggles. There have been joys and a warmed heart.
But, wrestling.
I have been thinking about Jacob all alone in that camp. I have thought about Jacob wrestling until dawn. I have thought about Jacob's relentlessness. He refused to let go until he received exactly what he was wrestling for--a blessing. He did not succumb to the pain of his dislocated hip. He continued on. He may have even taken a stronger grip in an effort to combat the pain. He was not going to give up.
This is where I am. I am holding on. I am gripping hard and refusing to leave until I get my blessing. I am pressing in and pressing on. I am believing in the goodness that lies ahead. I am determined to be obedient, to fight until the end. I want to see the face of God in this.
And, when the sun rises (and it will), I might walk away with a limp, but I think all of life's important battles leave us with permanent reminders...lest we forget Who is really in control. So, to Peniel I go...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

things that make you...

...well, I am not sure exactly what they make you do. Giggle? Furrow your brow in confusion? Roll your eyes? Stop in your tracks? Catch your draw before it hits the floor? Go huh, really?

But, here are a few random things from my week, let me know what they make you do!

1. My landlord came up to my apartment the other day to collect the month's rent and utilities. His first words to me were (in Khmer, of course), "You were so beautiful and white when you came back from America, but you are already ugly and black." He giggled and told me he was just kidding, which I knew he was, and I laughed to...but mostly at the fact that I don't think I have gotten that much darker in the last month.
2. I have officially determined that, against all laws of nature and gravity, my hair gets curlier as it gets longer. Weird.
3. There are heroes living in corners of the world that most people never see. One of those heroes is a woman who has voluntarily taken in the most beautiful (and difficult) epileptic little girl who has irreparable brain damage. I wish I had gold stars to give her.
4. Betel nuts really do stain your teeth a nasty color.
5. While sitting in a sweet grandmother's tiny wooden house, I was asked in Khmer about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. What would I say to them? How would I help them? about being caught off guard...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about nutrition and health and different kinds of foods recently. I think part of it stems from wanting to get back on a normal diet after often being at the mercy of others' choices while in America, and some is likely a result of a class I am taking that has talked a lot about health inequalities.
It is no secret that I really enjoy cooking. I love fresh food and trying to make things from scratch. I love vegetables and fruits. I like variety and lots of colors. I like creating things and adapting things. In many ways Cambodia has assisted in this. There are many things I enjoy that I have to make from scratch here, or I prefer to now because I do not want to sell my left arm to buy it in the supermarket. I have learned that it is often easy (and so much cheaper!) to make my own. I make my own tortillas, pita bread, English muffins, seasoning mixes, soup bases, hummus and so much more.
I much prefer to eat non-processed foods whenever possible, and I am thankful that being here, with all kinds of fresh produce cheap and accessible, makes it completely affordable. Seriously, it makes my heart so happy to be able to buy a pineapple for $0.50 or 2lbs of tomatoes for less than $1.00.
That being said, as I have researched and become more educated about health benefits of different foods, I have realized just how much most people are lacking good nutrition in their diets. The amount of processed food available to us is staggering, and I really do question what they put in bread to make it last so long when my homemade bread molds in just a couple days. Then, I look at the diets of people here which consists of much more fresh ingredients than processed ones...for those who can afford it. For those who cannot, rice porridge and instant noodles make up a less than nutritious substitute. It kind of makes me want to be a dietitian. Not really, though. It does make me wonder how much better our health and lives, in general, would be if we ate less macaroni and more mangoes, less burgers and more bulgur. I do not have the answers, and I will not pretend to.
Truth is, I am still going to drink my morning coffee and have the occasional diet coke, but I am always on the lookout for new ideas to improve the nutrition in my life. And, I am just trying to eat more broccoli than brownies...