the most hopeful thing I’d ever done

Two years ago this week I came to the Bay Area to look for an apartment.  I vividly remember Jen driving me across the bridge from the East Bay (where she lives) to the Peninsula (where I would live).  I had this tremendous sinking feeling in my stomach – “What the heck am I doing?” – “Oh my gosh I am very far from home” – “Oh crap, I’m going to live here” – “This is a really long bridge.  I’ve seen pictures of an earthquake and bridges like this!”

Ok, I didn’t really have that last thought then.*  But since Kevin and I moved to Union City, I cross that same bridge every time I go to my office.  It’s normal now – the new normal.  Life has changed so much in the last two years.   I met a wonderful man – now we’re married.  We’ve found a church community we love, and I feel so much more settled in my InterVarsity work here.  I’m almost done with my master’s degree.

Moving to California was the most hopeful thing I’d ever done.  And I knew it.  I kept saying it to myself as I packed up all my earthly possessions.  I said it to myself when I was looking at tiny apartments that cost twice my Austin mortgage. And I tried to say it to myself through the tears when I dropped Carrie off at the San Jose airport to fly home after our giant roadtrip here.

Hopeful because I had a great life in Austin.  I loved my job, my church community, my house, loved it all. And still I sensed my own desire and God’s invitation to pick up and move.  So moving, leaving what I knew to try something new.  I had to be hopeful, or I’d never leave.  I am grateful for all the meaningful goodbyes I had in Austin, they carried me through the darker and colder times here.  A shoebox of affirmations from the IV Regional Leadership Team and a shoebox of sending notes and prayers from Mosaic are still treasures of mine.  Like the writers of the psalms, I got to stretch my faith – remembering the community and good times of the past while looking forward to the new communities here.

Every year we graduate students (and send staff) who are off to new things.  I told the graduating seniors that it takes at least a year, more like a year and a half to really transition.  Leaving their college communities can be really hard.  I imagine they have sinking feelings too sometimes – and I pray hope for them – that they would find joy in these growth opportunities of transition.  Here’s to many more ‘most hopeful things.’


*I still have yet to feel an earthquake, though K says that most earthquakes won’t be much worse than when the train goes by our condo


june 4 in pictures (and in my heart)

Pro-democracy protesters link arms to hold back angry crowds, preventing them from chasing a retreating group of soldiers near the Great Hall of the People, on June 3, 1989 in Beijing. Protesters were angered by an earlier attack upon students and citizens using tear gas and truncheons. People in the background stand atop buses used as a roadblock. (AP Photo/Mark Avary) #

You can see more images from The Atlantic of Tiananmen Square in 1989 and today in 2012.

This news event shaped my childhood and my ethnic identity.  It continues to shape me and my ministry.  I wrote this a few years ago:

And I’ve spent the last 8 years working full-time with college students.  When I think about Tiananmen Square, I look at my students and imagine men and women their age captivating the world with their hopes and dreams.  Now more than ever,  I believe that college students can change the world.

Read the rest.

I’m pretty interested to hear Chai Ling (one of the main leaders of the movement) speak at Urbana12 in December!

Holy Saturday


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. 

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

                                             – W.H. Auden



I was introduced to this poem at Mosaic – used in Holy Saturday liturgy.  I read it out loud to myself this morning.  


Advent, revisited.

My poor, neglected blog.  It’s already Advent again, and I haven’t written anything in months.  But, it’s because I’ve been busy – waiting.  But actively waiting – making preparations for a wedding in the new year.  Isn’t it strange how sometimes waiting feels active, and sometimes it feels passive?

I was in a meeting with a staff a couple weeks ago where I talked about the difference between actively waiting and passively waiting.  And I realized, that passively waiting feels most powerless, and it’s where my heart goes when I’m tired.  Anyway, the actively waiting has been very busy – and while I’ve had lots of blog-worthy thoughts, there has not been much energy to write.

But now I’m procrastinating during a seminary paper and thought I’d just put this up here.  I have a thing about Advent, and not listening to Christmas carols during it.  It short-circuits the waiting, I think.  On December 1, someone told me “Merry Christmas!” and that December was for Christmas music.  I beg to differ.  Most of December is for Advent music.  The waiting, sometimes active, sometimes passive – the difficulty, the day-to-day.  Too often our American Christianity focuses only on the easy, the celebration, the triumphant parts of the faith.  And there is so much more than that.

Anyway, to help me remember that, I have listened to my Advent playlist from last year – reposted below, but with an additional song that I added after posting this last year.  Makes me smile, looking back on that late add – but it means more to me than romantic love – in the end, the truest love prevails.

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”   (November 21, 1943) – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1. The Laugh of Recognition – Over the Rhine – ‘c’mon boys it’s time to let it go // everybody has a dream that they will never own… it’s called the laugh of recognition when you laugh but you feel like dyin”

2. Bitterness Hotel – Martha’s Trouble ‘well i don’t know how I got here, it’s not where I want to be’ (a lovely band I met in college – they moved from Houston to Birmingham)

3. Long Lost Brother – Over the Rhine – ‘I thought that we’d be further along by now // I can’t remember how I stumbled to this place’

4. Only God Can Save Us Now – Over the Rhine ‘who will save me from myself and the night’

5. Remembrance – Balmorhea my favorite hometown band – I especially love 2:20-4:00 here.
6. The Waiting Room – Sixpence – ‘when will it happen, baby? // it could be near, but then maybe it could be far // here we are in the waiting room of the world’

7.The Cure for Pain – Jon Foreman – ‘I’m not sure why it always goes downhill, why broken cisterns never could stay filled’

8. Some Peace Tonight – Martha’s Trouble ‘Let me run and hide from the fear that is in me // My head is spinning and I need some peace tonight’

9. First Breath After Coma – Explosions in the Sky 3:20-4:20 is a great section, but for this playlist, the 4:20-5:30 is right on, and then the melody at 5:30 always sounds a little like ‘o come let us adore him’ to me…

10. Windmills – Mutual Admiration Society (orig. by Toad the Wet Sprocket)‘there’s something that you won’t show, waiting where the light goes // and anyway the wind blows, it’s all worth waiting for’

11. The Revolution Choir – Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band there is a land it is full of giants // but do not lose step and do not be frightened // cuz there is a great fire, it came from the mountains // we wait in the watchtower, just tryin’ to keep it lit //it cannot be too much longer’ (I miss singing this with my Mosaic family.)

12. All is Full of Love – Death Cab for Cutie (orig. by Bjork) ‘you’ll be given love, you’ll be taken care of… you have to trust it’

13. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples – ‘got my hand on the freedom plow, wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now // keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’

14. Travelin’ Thru – Dolly Parton ‘Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on // But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone …//  oh sweet Jesus if you’re listenin’ keep me ever close to you // As I’m stumblin’ tumblin’ wonderin’ as I’m travelin’ thru

15. Tension is a Passing Note – Sixpence but tension is to be loved // when it is like a passing note // to a beautiful beautiful chord’

16. God Believes in You – Jill Phillips (orig. by Pierce Pettis) ‘when you swear you don’t believe in him // God believes in you… blessed are the ones who grieve // the ones who mourn and the ones who bleed // in sorrow you sow, but in joy you’ll reap’

17. Brave – Miranda Stone Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at you, you’re being brave

18. Up to the Mountain (MLK song) – Patty Griffin ‘Then I hear your sweet voice, oh // Oh, come and then go, come and then go //Telling me softly You love me so’

19.  True Love Will Find You in the End – Daniel Johnston, covered by Mates of State   Don’t be sad, I know you will // Don’t give up until // True love finds you in the end

has it already been a year?

This time last year I was packing up everything to move across the country.  In fact, exactly a year ago, the truck pulled away with all my earthly possessions (except the essentials).  As I rehearsed many times last fall moving is like a break-up – at first you notice every day or week that passes, and then the month-versaries, and then eventually you start to notice less how long it’s been.

So now it’s been a year, and I swear the fall went by so so unbearably slowly.  So many days of waiting for the sun to come out (*not* just figuratively).  And now it’s summer, and HOT.  I love it.  Don’t get me wrong – I still think Austin may be the best city in the country – I haven’t gotten rid of my real estate there and visited 4 times in the last year.   But I guess I’ve sorta made a home here too.  It still doesn’t feel comfortable, but better than just bearable.

So this time this year, I pack again but for a week-long vacation with my co-conspirator and awesome family.  Looking forward to a week of sharing a bed with my 3 year old niece, and lots and lots of sunshine.

*picture above taken with my old canon point and shoot.  cal botanical gardens.

21 – an old norcal birthday

Today was a good birthday party – friends, food, and bocce ball.  And it was good to have so many old friends there too.  In a year where I’ve felt so new and unknown it was great to have 4 friends there that I’ve known since college.  And new friends too!

A couple nights ago I remembered this isn’t my first birthday celebration in Northern California.  I celebrated my 21st birthday here, visiting friends before heading out on my 2nd trip to XJ.  We went to dinner at Chevy’s ‘fresh-mex’ where they give you a sombrero if it’s your birthday.

I’m surprised that I’ve had about the same haircut since then.  🙂  I miss that old denim shirt.  I’ve been trying to remember what that Sabrina thought life would be like.

I had just graduated from Rice the month before, and would start working in Information Technology right after the China trip.  I was wrestling with whether I might ever be able to join InterVarsity staff. That mission trip felt like a consolation prize. While many of my friends went ahead into full-time ministry, I felt like I was headed into the wilderness.

And at times it was wilderness – in the transforming and painful ways that wilderness works.  We don’t get maps for life (at least not accurate ones).  Som-brina (tm KC) had no idea what was ahead – what the next 12 years would hold.  The adventures, heartaches, friendships, conflicts, medical scares, joys, travels, and heartbreaks.  The money and power, and later feeling poor and powerless.  The excitement of new ministries and planting a new church.  Ordination!  The sadness at leaving.  And new adventures in California!

I’m glad she didn’t know.*

This is how it works

You’re young until you’re not
You love until you don’t
You try until you can’t
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

-r. spektor (from the album ‘begin to hope’)

*By the grace of God, I can say that in hindsight about the past journey.  But in the present I often still want the map.