I was gonna blog about something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, but for some reason I just couldn’t get myself to do it.  Maybe it’s because there just isn’t anything really for me to say right now.

I guess this post is for the few readers (actually just one) who have asked me to update since it’s been a few months since my last one.  I think this blog is slowly dying…and for good reason.  Who needs to hear all my blabbering anyway?

What I can update on is that life, although extremely difficult at times, has been better to us that we’ve been giving it credit for.  Things may not happen how or when we prefer them to, but we have no other option but to believe that He’s still always on time.

Today is May 3, 2010.  365 days ago, we left Southern California and landed in Boston, MA.  There are days when we say, “I can’t believe we’ve ONLY been out here for a year.”  Then there are those days where we look at each other and say, “Wow!  It’s been a year already??”  I guess it depends on when you ask us.  Let me just be honest for a second here and say that it’s been a tough year.  No, “tough” sounds too positive.  Let’s just say that this past year was quite a bitch.  I’m pretty sure that in this past year, Est and I have experienced every possible emotion and thought ranging from Cloud 9 all the way down to full on depression.

Now we’re a year out and tomorrow begins Finals Week.  5 days, 6 finals (are they kidding me with this??).  One of us is job hunting, and one of us is trying to survive academic probation (talk about a dark cloud looming overhead).  Who knows, maybe God’s kept us in this liminal state for the past semester for a reason.  I’m sure He has, and I don’t know if I’ll ever figure out what it is.  Whatever, some things are best left unknown I guess.

When I opened up this post I was ready to write about a ton of things I/we had learned this past year, but for some reason I can’t remember what they were.  What I can say is that if nothing else, this past year has taught us what it means to be grateful and faithful.  Not that we’ve mastered the two, but that we’ve understood the importance of them and how little of them we truly have.

Growing up I can’t say my dad and I were always on the best terms.  “Grateful” was definitely not a term I’d use to describe my feelings towards him.  Getting married and moving across the country has put a complete 180 on that, though.  Not a day goes by without me thinking of all the things my dad taught me about being a man just by being who he was, imperfections and all.  If it weren’t for him and my mom, Est and I would be living under the front porch of one of the frat houses on our street.  He’s still the one phone call I never screen.

I used to think of faith as a big harness hanging me from a sturdy rope or something pretty and metaphorical like that.  Not that that’s wrong, but I’ve realized that often times faith can also look as if I’m hanging on by a string and although I know it won’t break, I’m sweating bullets and praying that I won’t fatigue too quickly and lose my grip.

Not exactly sure what the flow of this post was except to update you all on what’s been going on and I figured our 1 year anniversary was the perfect time to do so.  Let’s hope the next time I update the post will be about blue skies, academic deliverance, job security, and…winning the lottery!!

*edit*
I forgot to say thanks to everyone for being with us out here, even if you’re in sunny SoCal.  You know who you.  We love you all.  And special thanks to my best friend who gave up so much so we could do this together.  You’re the best!

I normally don’t observe Lent.  Usually I tell people that it’s because I don’t think there’s anything that I really feel compelled to give up.  The truth is, as a creature of habit it’s really hard to throw a monkey wrench into my daily routine.  This year I was convicted during Josh’s sermon about how everything we have is temporary.  It’s all on loan and somewhere along the road we’ve given them much more credit than they were due.  Here’s what I’ll be fasting and why…

Facebook
Facebook is probably the website I check the most.  Considering that this is the busiest semester we have in all 3 years of grad school and also due to my borderline academic status, I really need to do well.  What does this have to do with God?  Well, I feel like being here is a totally undeserved gift and I want to honor that blessing and be a good steward of where God has placed me to pursue what I feel is His calling in my life.  Also, when I wake up in the morning, my first inclination while I eat breakfast is to check Facebook.  There seems to be something wrong with that.

Facebook also makes me feel connected.  Being on the opposite coast, Facebook is another means for me to stay connected with those that I love the most on the west.  Giving up Facebook would be a reminder that those relationships are secondary to the most important relationship I have.  It’ll also make me much more accountable to reaching out to and prioritizing my loved ones in more substantial ways.  Fasting Lent will also make me more accountable to this blog and make me “update” people in a more substantial way than a 160 character status update via Selective Tweets…that is, if people actually read this thing.

Soda
I love Coke Zero.  I pretty much love all things caffeinated (I can’t give up coffee just yet though…we’re taking baby steps here!), but Coke Zero is like my secret lover.  I love an ice cold can (actually I prefer fountain soda) of guilt-free cola on a daily basis.  If I could, I would have a can with me at all times.  Yeah, I’d say I’m a tad dependent.  I don’t feel guilty or anything for my relationship with Coke Zero, but every time I crave a can, it’ll be a reminder of what I really need to be craving and dependent on for energy and enjoyment.  To protect myself from loopholes, I expanded it beyond Coke Zero to all soda.  Right now I’m drinking a can of Raspberry Seltzer Water.  Oh boy…

So what are you giving up for Lent?

“There’s no rest for the weary just another day grinding up stones”
– “No Rest For The Weary”
by Blue Scholars –

A few months ago I started thinking about time, or the lack of it.  Finals were just around the corner and I was swimming with fear and I just remember saying to myself everyday, “There’s just not enough time.”  What a sad way to start the day, huh?  ::end self-pity rant here::

People have a tendency to say, “If it matters, you’ll make time for it.”  Whenever people say this to me I just want to punch them in the face (ok maybe that’s a tad dramatic).  Sure, there’s a ton of truth to that statement.  But to make such a general blanket statement about someone else’s priorities can be irresponsible at times.  Sometimes people don’t get to choose what they make time for.  Sometimes life hands certain people circumstances beyond their control and 24 hours is literally not enough time.

Fast forward a bit to winter break.  We took a family trip to Taiwan to see the relatives and visit my grandparents (I hadn’t seen my grandfather since before his stroke and coma incident) and I was fortunate enough to have some serious conversations with my grandfather (much to my surprise).  What he kept emphasizing to me was how hard it was to come to grips with the fact that there might not be much time left for him (so sad, I know).  Then he went on and on about how he wanted me to promise that Est and I would have grandkids in the next year before it was too late for him.  I just kept telling him that when you’re in grad school, unless my newborn somehow knows how to cook, clean, and hold down a job to support himself, there just is not enough time for raising a kid in grad school.

Back in Cali (after Taiwan) I was having a lot of great conversations with some dear friends (you know who you are!) about time, rest, busy-ness, and everything else.  One conversation that sticks out to me right now at 1:41am is the one I had with Abe the night before we took off to come back to Boston.  He asked me if I felt like I was ready to go back to Boston and if I’d had enough time with friends and family to feel replenished.  The first thing out of my mouth was, “There’s never enough time.”  This time, though, the words had a different feel.  It was actually a very comforting thought.  I realized that the truth is, when you’re referring to those you love the most, you can never spend enough time with them.  Just ask my mom.  She sees my nephew everyday yet still manages to comment on every facebook photo about how much she misses him.  It felt good to know that my relationships with people wouldn’t be put on hold.

Fast forward to the present and I’m about 5 weeks into the Spring semester.  I’m learning, slowly and painfully, that rest isn’t found in just the naps you can sneak in, the nights off from studying, or even the Sundays sitting in the congregation – although all these things sure help.  It’s found in seeing the bigger picture, and seeing the One that is painting it.

And that’s what I think I’ve really been mulling over the last few months.  It’s the idea of the larger scheme of things.  We may be out here for 3 years, we may be out here for the rest of our lives (though I prefer 3 years).  I hope, though, that in the time we’re given here that my picture goes beyond acquiring a ridiculous amount of debt, 3 letters behind my name, and a career.  There’s gotta be much more than that right?

Step, step right over the line
And onto borrowed time
When it’s life, not waiting to die
Waiting to divide, to divide
– “Borrowed Time” by A Fine Frenzy –

A couple weeks ago, after I had said goodnight to Esther and told her that I’d come to bed late for the umpteenth time, I found myself asking myself, “Is this all worth it?”  Since then, I can’t seem to get that question out of my head and it seems to apply to every situation.

Is it worth it to leave home, comfort, friends, and family to do something that has no definite guarantees of success?  Is it worth it to try and establish a whole new life knowing that you’ll probably have to leave again in 3 years?   Is it worth missing out on your new nephew’s first three years of life where the extent of your relationship is confined to watching him blow raspberries on webcam?  Is it worth leaving the church you love, the community you love, the worship team you love, and try and rediscover community as the outsider?  Is it worth not being there to walk with your best friend in his new marriage or not be with other friends as they have (or try to have) kids because you’re pursuing something that you could very well fail at?  Is it worth taking Esther away from everything she loves and is comfortable with simply because you’re doing what YOU want to do?

And then, after telling myself to suck it up and to stop being such a drama queen, I look 10-15 years ahead and imagine, “What if I DIDN’T?”  What if we never took the risk?  What if I never gave myself the chance to fail because I was too scared?  What if I played it safe my entire life?  Could I really live with myself after that?  Could I teach that kinda lesson to my kids?

I guess in the end, all I can really believe is that One Day It’ll All Make Sense, but for now I have to believe that I’m always better off taking risks with God than you are playing it safe by myself.

A good friend gave me a reminder this past weekend of the verse that encouraged me to begin this journey in the first place.  Enjoy.

-nev-

The weather in Boston is crazy.  One day it can be super hot and in less than 24 hrs it can become cold and rainy.  Some days it’s completely fine except for that 10 minutes that all the rain in New England seems to fall in the city.  It’s ridiculous.  I’m from Southern California.  I think we see as much rain in one year as the East coast sees in one week.  This week was no exception.  Yesterday it was in the 60’s and it rained all day long.  Today it hit mid to high 70’s and was bright and sunny.  I started thinking about this on my walk to church today.  If it weren’t for the Winter we’d never appreciate the Summer.  What’s my point?  Well this past week Esther and I celebrated our one year anniversary.  It’s crazy to think that just a year ago we were walking down the aisle, moving in together, and starting “forever”.  All week long people have been asking me, “Was it harder than you expected?”  It’s really hard to answer that question because calling your marriage “hard” just sounds so negative.  That’s different from marriage being “hard” in general because it is.  Looking back on this past year has made me realize a lot of the “winters” that Est and I have endured.  I don’t think I’ve had a year with as many transitions (living situations, school, moving, work, church, etc) ever before in my life.  This week, when people asked me about the first year of our marriage I just told them, “It wasn’t hard, it was challenging…but it was awesome.”  You never appreciate the Summer without some harsh Winters.

Happy One Year Esther!  Love you!

So I used to hate the show Making the Band because I thought it was completely lame and P.Diddy annoys the hell out of me.  However, his new show Making His Band is totally awesome because it features real musicians playing actual instruments.  No dancing, no skimpy clothes, nothing but pure musicianship.  Me Like.

What was interesting to me about this show is that some of the musicians are “church musicians”.  This is what leads me to this blog.  On the first episode the main conflict was between Mike and Kris.  Mike is originally a drummer but for some reason auditioned on keys and made it into the house as a keyboardist.  The whole time he kept saying that he feels much more comfortable on the drums yet he continued to work really hard at his auditioning pieces on the keys (he was almost cut after the audition but the judges let him stay on the show as a drummer).  Kris on the other hand BLEW the judges away on the initial audition on the drums.  He showed them chops and flair that absolutely floored them.  That kinda got to his head because he definitely slacked off on his drum pieces for the second audition.  During the episode, one of the things Mike said was that church musicians such as Kris got by on flair and chops, but had no solid technique to make them legit.  Needless to say, Kris butchered his second audition and was asked to leave the house.  When the judges told him they were disappointed because he blew them away with his fills and chops in the initial audition they also asked him if he had practiced hard for the second audition (the second audition was simple fingering and rudiment exercises performed at random bpm’s).  His response, “No, not really.”  How sad.

The whole conversation between Mike and Kris really got me thinking about the idea of “church musicians”.  Growing up in the Church as a “church musician” I think a lot of my fellow musicians and I learned to label “Church music” as something sub-par, something to be somewhat embarrassed about.  Whenever people would ask me what I play and where I play I’d say “I play bass and guitar…but I just play for my church” as if there was nothing noble about it at all.  True, some church music isn’t really all that technically challenging and most of it is by ear (and some of it is just downright cheeseball) but I think a big reason why we’re so shy about the fact that we play “church music” is because we don’t pursue it with excellence.  Excellence doesn’t mean we need to be freaking Guitar Heroes or Beethoven on the Bass, but just digging deeper to get to the next level.  I think the big problem is we (or I should say, I) usually don’t approach church music with the same reverence that we would approach a regular gig where we’re practicing and rehearsing constantly, drilling the songs into our heads, learning all the changes and grooves, etc.  We naturally take pride in anything we pursue with excellence right?  That should apply just as equally to “church music”.  So what if the song (or all 5 in the pre-sermon top set) are “4 on the floor” for the drums, driving 8th’s by the bass, and a I-IV-V chord progression?  If we really realized the privilege we have in what we do, we’d choose excellence over “just getting the songs”.  After all, the Sunday gig is probably the best gig of all.  This probably means I should start practicing again.

Here’re some “church musicians” who pursue excellence.  Norm Stockton is so awesome.  The keyboard solo is a bit intense but it still sounds great.

-nebola-

This post is literally about a church and a closet.  I like to use catchy lines for titles, but i couldn’t think of one.  For some reason i was tempted to use, “The Chronic-WHAT???-cles of Narnia!” but i didn’t think that’d make any sense.  anyways, let’s begin shall we?

in my first post i talked about making boston home.  i talked about how we’d been praying for community and wanting to dig into our surroundings and to do all that we’d have to find a church first.  it was priority #1.  the fact that i was able to go to church every sunday in my first two sessions of school here, considering that all my tests in the first summer session were on mondays still tells me that God had some sort of grace and sovereignty in the whole situation.  

so we’ve been going to highrock brookline for the past couple of weeks and we really enjoy it.  it’s close (so close that if we miss the bus we can walk and still get there relatively on time) and the people are very welcoming – me likey!  interesting thing is that as soon as we started going there things around us started to crumble.  we got bad news about a leader and friend back home, a friend lost her mother, esther’s rashes were attacking her body without mercy, and our closet fell.  you might think that last part is really lame (and it is) but the whole ordeal was such a pain in the ass it deserves to be blogged about.  most of you know that our landlord is a chump and we had to call the city on him.  so he sends people to “fix” the closet but they do the worst job ever so i just decide to redo it myself.  after numerous trips to the hardware store, i finally have it finished and as soon as esther puts clothes on it again, it falls again.  finally, after 3 weeks from the initial closet disaster, i’m proud to announce that we have a functional closet again!  

the most significant moment in this whole closet ordeal is that we were able to borrow a power drill from someone at highrock.  you might think that that’s no big deal but to us, in that moment, it was big.  to know that there are people in our close proximity that we can turn to reminds me that although it’s not all working out the way WE were hoping it would, god is helping us lay down some roots.  the prayers for community and support were heard and even though it remains a hard transition, we’re not doing it by ourselves.  

and last weekend a friend asked what we wanted for dinner and i half-jokingly said, “korean bbq” expecting him to just take us somewhere that would pale in comparison to home.  instead, he whips up a homemade korean dinner and turns it into a community feast with friends…and it felt like home…even if for just a couple of hours.  (props to hojeezy and tracy…simon, we still have yet to see your face for the past couple of weeks)

it looks like things are getting better.  let’s keep our fingers crossed.

-n-

Check out these weird people… You wonder where I get it from?  It’s in the genes.

did i just get your attention?  i thought i would.  but wait, there’s a perfectly good (well, that’s up to you to decide but i think it’s good) reason i chose that title.

it’s about 12:20 am and i just said goodnight to esther.  we said our nightly prayer and she went to sleep.  i stayed up to “study” but there’s so much on my mind that i just can’t seem to stand looking at a boring textbook written by the same professor i’m gonna see in about 7.5 hrs.  anyways, if you know me, you know that i’m a reactionary person.  if i see something wrong, my immediate response is, “let’s fix this”.  esther always complains that my sudden outbursts of emotion scare/annoy her (she HATES watching basketball with me).  this past week has been filled with craziness.  passing of life (i’m not talking about michael jackson, although i was so sad by that news that i played a “tribute to MJ” on my itunes all night), heartbreak, the delay of new life, and realization that some people may not be with us forever.  i’m being somewhat vague out of respect, but trust me, it’s been a storm of a week.  when i heard a lot of the news that i heard this week my only reaction often times was, “holy sh…”  i’ve been walking around this week with a “ball in my throat” and tears in the corner of my eye (i rarely cry but this week was definitely an exception) and all i want to do is go home and be with friends and family.  this week has proven to me that life seriously can suck many times and there’s nothing you can do about it.  sometimes, life just hands you some crazy sh….

then i realize that this is when Jesus asks us if we really believe in Him and if we really are The Church.  this is when the word “community” which we toss around so much gets tested and when we realize that Grace really is good.  this is when His Word comes to life and we realize that while people criticize us for having a “crutch”, we’re grateful because if not for that “crutch” we would be forever crippled and life would be so much worse.  this is when sh… can turn into something holy and divine.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  -2 Corinthians 12:9-

to our friends and family back on the west coast, we love and miss you and we’re with you every step of the way.

nev