Sunday, December 4, 2016

Letters to my younger self: Part 2

Dear 14 year old Tash,

I'm going to fast forward a few years - this second letter is about someone you become best friends with much later. You never would've picked it. But God was aligning your paths before you even knew the others name.

I'm going to share this particular moment with you, so that you understand that some friends are seasonal and some hold a lock and key to your life, infinite bodies that stand the test of time. And by some miracle you get a handful of those.

You're in your mid-20s...yeah you get old, it's not so bad actually. You can eat like it's your birthday every single day and no one can stop you.

Long story short, in the months, weeks and finals days leading up to your best friend leaving for China, you'll be right there through all the tears, the hate and the laughs. Keep making her laugh, it'll keep that fire in her burning.

Two weeks before her "big night", I know you hate spoilers so I won't say what it's for.  You're going to fast and stand in the gap for her, but she's not going to know. No one will know - keep it that way. Keep praying in the quiet place, He's going to cover you both. Because guess what? You're going to China to see her.

Ok girl, look...China is going to be difficult and it's going to leave you lost. Listen carefully when I say this - you're not going to make it on that plane to see her, you're not even going to get on the next available flight because they're all booked and you're going to disappoint your best friend.

Take a breath.

He has covered her.

All the fasting and prayers whispered in bathroom stalls, cried over wooden floors and sung into the night...and all you're going to do is watch that plane pull away from the terminal. And you're going to want to cry. Don't. 

Take a breath.

Remember what God taught you in the quiet place. Turn around there's a woman watching you. She'll help you. She won't understand you, but she'll see it in your eyes. Make sure you thank her, thank everyone.

You'll need to find your luggage. They're going to point and laugh at you, you're going to walk in circles for hours and you're going to find yourself sitting on the cold tiled floor of Beijing airport - stranded. 

Take a breath.

Remember what God taught you in the quiet place. You have no idea, but there's a woman praying in her Beijing apartment. She's asking God to lead her steps today, and He's going to lead them to you.

Take a breath. He has covered you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Letters to my younger self: Part 1

Dear 14 year old Tash,

I know you hate it here. I know you miss your friends in Canberra. You're lost and you're not yet willing to find your way. I'm going to write a few of these especially for this exact moment when you're sitting on the floor, the carpets a bit rough but you don't mind it. And you have that song on replay - you know the one. 

You don't understand the concept yet, but you're a Third Culture kid (TCK). All those years of being a nomad alongside your parents have lost its magic. You don't want to leave anymore, this time it hurts. 

And you probably won't believe or understand me when I say this but your adaptability is more complex and robust than you know. There's a transient dynamic ingrained you - don't forget that.

Yeah grab a dictionary, we educated now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dear Sister

My sister you are worth more than the world. There is nothing within these blue walls that can ever determine your beauty or your worth. 

You have not deserted her
Your time is a puzzle
Pieces we are not to assemble
Only moments to enjoy
You are glorious
And in her pain she will know
You will carry her tiring limbs and aching bones
You will not let her feet set against jagged rock
She will be yours until time is complete.

She will breathe you in
And consume your life
Let the world speak
But only to you she will listen
Keep her away from her reflection and mirrors
that tell her to change.
She will only look into you and see herself.
Her true self.
And in you she will see wonderous beauty.
Scars, blood, sacrifice and love.
The marks of Brilliance
the same marks that cover her.

You have not deserted her.
And you will not.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Pastor & India

The days were long and the heat merciless upon the skin of four season natives. Every step was sweatier than the last and every word closer to another sip of cool water. The red dirt mirrored the sun as it stained our shoes and burnt through our comforts.

The flesh was forcefully expelled into a transparent domain of microscopic monitors, while the spirit was left to explore a realm it has been to many times before. A realm the flesh cannot dwell within, only adjust to.

My Pastor, an ordinary man with an extraordinary calling, a well of dad jokes, white non-tropical skin, a star shine smile and a rich forest of wisdom. What an honor it was to assess risk & resolve alongside you in the wildly exotic & maddening heat that is India.

I watched you react to the children's smiles and deep hearts of joy, knowing more than most of their dark and desolate pasts and in the same moment I watched you turn to your own children silently thanking God for His grace. I saw your spirit jump when you taught men and women from the farthest and nearest parts of India about The One who's thread of love connects us all. I heard your laughs when your family's need for WiFi seemed to outrank their need for water. I saw your heart brim with conviction when Phyllis spoke gold, diamonds and gems onto a dinner table of open treasure chests. I heard you honor my parents at a Sunday Service where you spoke on letting God's grace pour out and over flow into others and into aspects of our lives. That's what you did for me that day. Even if only half of the congregation understood half of what you said, there wasn't a spirit in there that did not understand.

I remember looking at the dreadfully stained and dirt washed walls of the Boy's Orphanage with you. I saw sadness weigh onto your heart as you said, "this is something we have to help with." 

On our last day we were squeezed into a hot van, beeping and speeding away to the Cochin Airport, Rehoboth behind us, and another adventure before us. We sat together and I remember thinking, "what a blessing and honor it is to be able to share this time with my Pastor." I asked you many laughable things and many reflective things. I will always remember that time, I thank God for it. It's not every day you can share intentional, inspiring and strengthening words with your pastor while an elephant casually walks past on the street. 

This post I offer as thanks to you God for this man.

Romans 10:15
And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Boohoo Social Medial says I'm Fat

"I'm so fat"

"Look at her, she's tiny."

"My skin is disgusting."

"How'd he get so big?"


Good thing Heaven doesn't have a body fat criteria.

Because you're actually P E R F E C T.

Why does society think they can control my flaws? Why does society think they can dictate the very shape I was born in? Why does society ostracize me from what is considered "beautiful?" Why does society determine my worth by face value? Why do I believe them?

There is no genetics lottery. You didn't miss out. Even if there was one, you've BEEN winning since the day strange men and women checked you out of your 9 month holiday. 

When one of my closest friends came to me feeling deflated and exhausted from her constant battle with the parts of her body that she hated, I felt sad and even angry that we were fastened to this interminable cycle of artificial beauty and acceptance. We who are HUMAN. Flawed beyond belief, project upon ourselves and even worse, upon others this facade of the "exquisite", right down to these precise impossible symmetries. Does this not sound completely deranged? We love others because society has taught us that the size of their waist, biceps, the color of their eyes, the shoes they wear is what determines WHO they are. I'm sorry but your brown eyes and blemished skin tells me your probably not worth my time. Insane.

We all have insecurities. Let's be honest though, women are thoroughly more illogical, complicated and really just bordering on mental institutional at times. That's another post and a half. It kills me that we men and women can be so dissatisfied, almost disgusted by what we see when we look in the mirror, because of a laughable whimsical criteria of what is "attractive", "beautiful", "wife/husband worthy". 

The media does this to us. Social Media especially, has monopolized this role. Luckily none of us are on Social Media alot, said no 21st Century human ever. We are bombarded by these expectations and projections every day, subconsciously allowing them to build and permeate into our thoughts, decisions, which eventually trickle into our lifestyles, and onto those closest to us, beginning the cycle again. 

Okay. Let me just remind you. God made you in His image (Gen 1:27). He doesn't make mistakes, you are perfect. To dismiss what you see, is dismissing His Great Work and Love. Even more, you were fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), Christians love throwing that one on a poster. You know what wonderfully means right? It's when something is EXTRAORDINARY, STRIKING and BEAUTIFUL. Anyone can tell you you're beautiful. But when God tells you, it builds hope, trust, strength and courage. He doesn't do it to stroke your ego, he says it because he KNOWS you, KNEW you, before you knew anyone or anything. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jer 1:5). 

Real beauty is from what flows from your heart (Prov 4:23). There aren't enough clothes, diets, make up, exercise, clever words that can cover up what's within. Don't rationalize your beauty, just because you don't look like these social media constructs. You are perfect. 

"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outwardly appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). This scripture demolishes all stereotypes.

I struggled with body image for a long time until I remembered that God made me, not to be pleasing to the eyes of mortals, but to His eyes alone. So let's BE THAT. Take care of the meat sack or temple (lol) He's given you. Nourish it, give it some time in Creation, but don't subject it to a false reality. You are perfect. Don't forget it.

Friday, May 22, 2015


* Pulls cobwebs away from rotting keyboard *

Let's cut the small talk. I've been hitting snooze on my blog alarm. I threw the old thing out, installed a solid metal cage with 50 hungry crows. No Food. No snooze facilities. Easy math.

2015 began with a hefty dosage of Hep A, B, Typhoid and Malaria vaccinations juiced into my blood stream. 15+ hours later of grueling, narrow spaced travel and an old Indian woman's feet on top of mine for 4 hours, my exhausted body and bordering on maniacal mind finally settled on South Indian soil. The moment I stepped into Kerala's late evening heat and forced my fatigued limbs through it's thick walls of humidity, I got an immediate sense of the this nation's vastness. A vastness I would in time learn was not restricted to kilometers.

REHOBOTH. A name forever ingrained me. The name of the girl's orphanage I traveled 7000+ miles for. I knew only what I heard from the mouths of those who had gone before me and prepared the way.

Morning broke before the sun had a chance to rise. Enormous booming roosters filled a pitch black canvas with shattering crows. The few hours of sleep we attempted were swiftly snatched away into the Indian night. The little energy we gathered quickly disintegrated as we woke unwillingly.

Once the skies brimmed with blue and the deep orange sun infiltrated our unpracticed skin, I stood in wonder at the surrounding rows of coconut, banana and rubber trees, cassava, sugar cane plantations and spice gardens. This was Fiji on HYPE. My heart settled in the peace that the familiar brings.

The Familiar. What a strange notion. Strange that one would travel 7000+ miles to escape what is attainable and FAMILIAR. Yet, here I was clinging to its loosened coat tails. I've found that the more you desire places and things that remain unknown to you, the more you acknowledge what you do know.

Our purpose in Rehoboth was simple, on the surface anyway. Organize and classify the Primary and Bible College's Library, mind you there were hundreds and hundreds of books to sort through, in searing heat. We taught English and books from the New Testament and led devotions. Every morning we woke, took cold showers, walked red dirt paths to a beautifully laid out breakfast of vegetable curry, local coconut stew with rice, toast, spreads and tea, always tea. I enjoyed the work in the library, knowing that my minuscule tasks of classifying each book was a gain for one of those smiling little rascals.

Meeting the girls of the orphanage was something I was continuously processing long after I left and even now. I'm not going to pull you in with a World Vision, Humanitarian sob story. I was very aware of my position. It was not easy to pull away the lenses of development from these interactions. I was in constant realization of the long colonial ties and its legacy. I, a product of Western ideals and comfortability, face to face with what society has determined as the "other". I hated that this was the box history would classify us in. Yet, what I also was very conscious of was the paradox of the meeting of two young colonial souls. India and Fiji. I wasn't just another Westerner passing through the Third World with a better, more sophisticated version of life. I was a carrier of a history similar to their own, rejecting of my educated concepts of the "Other".

BUT, my realizations didn't stop there. As I met one pair of wonderous eyes after another, I found that I was more broken than any of the homes many of them came from or didn't come from at all.

What they saw was not what I achieved, who my parents were, where I'd been, what I've done. They only saw who I was in that moment. Nothing else mattered. They knew what brought me into their home. Jesus. And that was enough.

How is it that I can leave home and come home? How is it that we've never met, yet I love you. Because a GREATER Love, loved you and I FIRST. And that's all that matters.

I didn't miraculously discover God in that orphanage. It was them I discovered, His people, His servants. Diligently working away for a Kingdom Coming. God wasn't on top of any of the mountains I climbed either. He never left. He was at the morning service in Auckland when I decided to go to India and He was there on the flight back. This was no spiritual renewal or pledge to bettering myself. This was me being obedient, that He would be made bigger and I only a fragment of a mighty plan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Things that kill me

In your twenty's you sift though unending phases of vocabulary slaughter. From the over use of certain adjectives like "super" and "legit" to the misuse of words like "literally" and "retarded". Pop culture encourages us to remove what grammar and punctuation we have left and replace it with various hip hip bars and/or movie quotes, whether it makes any sense or not. And of course we oblige, because frankly clear and proper communication is too mainstream. And like many of our generation, I too have unequivocally annihilated the true sentiment and meaning of words, that are now useless to me in sentence structure. One crucial point in my vocabulary phase was the substitution of  "Oh.My.Gosh" with "Dead". If a situation, a person, a type of food or anything that I see conjures a reaction similar to a heart attack, then I would simply be "Dead" and/or "be killed". So ultimately, what might be described as otherwise morbid and actually horrendous is an expression of euphoria and elation. So with that useless paragraph being said, this is a bunch of things that "kill me" as well as make me "dead".

Let's not be daft about this, this is the greatest thing to come out of the Southern Hemisphere since Super Rugby and Tim Tams. I eat this cereal every single day and every single time I die, no lie.

The end of every Game of Thrones episode:
I'm another death away from applying for a heart transplant, no one's safe not even me.

The RSA Springboks:
I mean what the hek are these boys made of? Valyrian steel with a hint of Smaug blood and slices of Jinchuriki DNA?

Peanut butter:
A good friend of mine recently asked me if I was seeing a "special someone". I told them yes, his name's PB. 

Anime Food:
I want it more than the actual edible food before me, in other words I am prepared to consume my computer screen.

Lupita Nyong'o on every red carpet:
I have no words to describe her ability to look like the most extraordinarily breathtaking human, then she throws a piece of heavenly tailored delight on and it's just "dead dead dead dead" from there. Two of my fav looks from her.

Acai Bowls:
I had my first one on a recent trip to Hawaii, and then proceeded to have one every day till I had to leave. The acai berry itself isn't sweet like one would assume, instead it has this beautiful bitter, dark chocolate and blackberry taste which is more evident as an after taste. It's prepared as a type of smoothie, which then becomes the canvas for crunchy granola, fresh fruit and honey for sweetness. I completely died with the first spoonful. And then my friends took me to a place where they put a ice cream scoop sized dollop of peanut butter on top and I went into cardiac arrest. Here's a pic of that same one.

Celtics vs Lakers: 
Finding out the Boston Celtics wins and losses record for the 2013-2014 season (25-57) were just as pathetic, if not more than the Lakers (27-55). I say more because while we were on the longest losing streak in Laker history (go team), the one team we happened to break that streak against was Boston. BECAUSE SHOOT I don't care if the Lakeshow lose every game, as long as it's not to Boston. It just made me exceptionally happy that even though we sucked beyond recognition, so did Boston.  

So tell me you bunch of clevers, what "kills" you?

(2nd image: Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)