Thinking in the dark

When I was a kid I always left a light on at night. I saw an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not where they showed what was left of a woman who was buried alive, and after that I couldn’t sleep in the dark anymore. I was afraid that I’d wake up locked inside a coffin.

I find it funny how I went from that to this, to feeling at peace in moments like this where all I’m left with are the darkness and my thoughts. I feel safe, protected from people’s judgment and sometimes my own.

I think of all the wonderful memories I had been blessed with, and I smile because it always feels nice to know that regardless of present circumstances there has been goodness in my life. It gives me hope that goodness will still come.

I think of the things I never should have done and I cringe because no amount of thinking could ever undo them. But I always make sure not to entertain those thoughts too long so I push them away in a corner.

And I think about the people I love and what I love or hate about them. Either way, I always think of how crazy amazing it is that I have them in my life. Sometimes, I find it unbelievable that I’m loved by the people I love and that I love the people who love me.

I think about my fears but instead of the darkness fueling them, it swallows them up one by one until the only thing left is my confidence to overcome them.

And then I think of my future and the things I hope it brings with it – fulfilled dreams, accomplished goals, exciting adventures, a really good job and, on sentimental nights like this, a genuinely good guy. On nights like this, the endless possibilities of the unknown excite me more than they terrify me. So I keep myself consumed with these thoughts until my thoughts turn into dreams. I love that. I love falling asleep to the images of the future I want for myself.

And I love thinking in the dark. It’s when my thoughts are the loudest.

Lost: dog. Found: jerks.

We found a dog yesterday outside the school premises. He was obviously loved by its owners because it looked well-groomed and healthy. But after asking the people nearby if the dog was theirs and everyone answered in the negative, we took him in. We named him Mocha because of the color of its fur and because we like mocha.

After talking about it among ourselves, we decided not to put posters of Mocha in the streets. He didn’t have a collar, name tag or anything so it was very possible for anyone to claim ownership and we’d be left with the choice of either believing them or not.

And today I had to make that choice.

Earlier this morning, two men came to the school saying they heard a dog barking. One of the men said he just lost his dog and thought that maybe it was his. I like to think I’m not the type of person who would judge people on their looks, but for some reason these two men seemed very sketchy to me.

And they proved me right when they said they lost the dog late last night. We found Mocha at eight in the morning. When the man claiming to be Mocha’s owner got the sense that they answered wrong, he immediately changed his answer to noon. I asked him what time exactly and, after some hesitation, he said 12.

They didn’t get the dog.

But now I am so pissed off. One of my co-teachers told me she talked about the situation to someone yesterday so I figured either of these men overheard it. And I just can’t believe how a human being could hear something like that and say, “Looks like I’m stealing a dog today. Lucky me!”

If those two men show their faces again, they won’t be seeing Mocha that’s for sure. They’ll come face to face with Thor, my family’s German Shepherd.

God talks, God listens

Every now and then, I feel  the need to put into words my faith and, more importantly, how God reignites it by reminding me two things:

He talks.

Last week, I was in a bookstore, trying to decide which notebooks to buy for my Sunday school kids. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this fact about me but I LOVE notebooks and having to choose one is a very serious and meticulous process for me that could literally take an hour. Anyway, after looking at all the wonderful notebooks on display, I finally sort of settled on one design, meaning I already had the notebook in my hand but other notebooks were going through my mind. Casually and without really meaning it, I said loudly enough for me to hear but soft enough that no one else would think of me insane, “Fine, I choose you. What do You think, Lord?” And I started to walk toward the store counter. But right there at the end of the aisle was a stack of notebooks that basically screamed, “Pick me!” They were cheaper too.

So I turned around to return the notebooks I was carrying and when I reached that part of the aisle, I saw my phone right there on the shelf with all the notebooks that now seemed easier to ignore. I didn’t even realize I put my phone down until I saw it there on display, waiting for some other notebook-loving girl to take it home with her.

Seriously, one of the things I enjoy most about God is His sense of humor. I left that bookstore saving more money than I would have, with notebooks I completely adore and with my phone still in my pocket.

He listens.

I teach at a small private preschool that you can describe as traditional and what I like to describe as classic. A few days ago, my mom and I talked about the decreasing number of students enrolling in the school, especially for the next school year. We talked about how we think most parents nowadays want to send their kids to bigger, more modern and progressive schools. She told me to pray about it. I said I would. Typical me though, I completely forgot. But last night, I finally remembered to include it in my prayers.

And then earlier today, two couples showed up to inquire about the school. One couple added their names to the reservation list and, although the other didn’t, they gave the impression that they were considering enrollment.

Another thing I love about God? His impeccable timing.

To remind me that Life is beautiful

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And that just because I don’t see it right now doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

And that life goes on and that I should go along with it.

And that just because nothing BIG is happening in my life right now doesn’t mean that nothing is happening in my life.

And that even though there are moments in life when I find it almost impossible to not focus on the bad, the difficult and the ugly, I have witnessed and experienced so many moments of incredible beauty and infinite peace.

And that Life is always worth living and will always remain so.

Family Talks

My parents called my brother, Karen and I for a family meeting yesterday because they wanted to discuss something with us. The discussion turned out to be one of the longest talks we’ve ever had as a family. We started at ten in the evening and finished at two in the morning.

Throughout the whole thing, the one thought that kept replaying in my head was, “This… This is growing up and getting old, this is family and life and death all rolled into one conversation.”

Once we were all settled in, my dad began telling us his ideas for dividing properties among us and upgrading life insurances. He enumerated the possible scenarios that could happen and what he wants us to do about them. That’s the first time I had to view the inevitability of my parents’ death seriously. Even with my grandparents who are already in their nineties, I’ve rarely allowed such a thought to cross my mind, let alone with my parents who are still in their early sixties. But there was no way around death last night.

Because after we discussed inheritances and all that, we talked about my grandparents and how we need to bring the entire family together before it’s too late for them. Karen and I brought it up. We’ve been talking about this with each other for some time now and we felt that last night was the perfect time to share it with the rest. Our family makes it a point to come together on my grandparents’ birthdays – my grandfather’s in August and my grandmother’s in January. But we’ve never been complete. There’s always been a family or two missing. And Karen and I feel it’s time to change that. We’ve both been feeling this urgency to have a complete family reunion as soon as possible because our grandmother isn’t getting any stronger. Every night, she and my grandfather both pray for the whole family, naming each of us one by one. Every night. The least we could do is get together and show them they raised a family that knows how to be one.

Then my mother brought up marriage and we laughed. My brother’s beein going on a couple of dates recently but so far none of them are serious, my twin sister is in California with her eyes set on grad school and nothing else, Karen is enjoying her single life and I’m determined to do everything I can do while I can still do them. None of us are in a serious relationship and none of us are actively looking to be in one, so marriage isn’t necessarily something we think about with earnestness. But my mom persisted. “Pray for your future spouse and in laws and children,” she said. We were all nodding our heads to appease her. I think we wanted each other to think we weren’t taking her words seriously, but I think we all did toward the end. We aren’t desperate to get married, but we are desperate to have a good marriage if or when the time comes. When you have grandparents like ours, you realize early on that a good marriage is the best thing that could ever happen to you.

We talked about other things too – my mom’s exaggerated fear that my brother has a drinking problem (he doesn’t), our mutual understanding that my twin sister won’t be leaving California after finishing grad school, our cousin’s impending marriage which we’re all pretty nervous about, my parents’ retirement (soon) and all whole lot of other things that we felt were worth losing sleep over.

My dad concluded the whole thing by saying this, “Whatever happens, do not forget: you children have each other. Look out for each other, love each other and when you all have your own families, know that this family is still here.”

I hadn’t thanked God for my family as much as I did last night.