Living My Story

This week marked six months of living in Osaka, Japan.

osaka

WOW. Seems like all I can say…

Thank you, Father, for your grace. There is no other way… is what comes next…

Most times, I’ve been flying high. But I’ve had my share of moments where I’m curled up in fetal position, bawling my eyes out.

But that couldn’t be further from me. I feel everything. Deeply. So if there is joy, I’m the happiest of them all, but when there is sadness, I’m the one with the biggest pile of snot rags.

snot rag pile

And I don’t want to live my life any other way. I am most alive when I’m feeling deeply. And I’m so grateful that I’m becoming more and more free in this.

This morning, I woke with the news alert on my phone of the death of Nelson Mandela. And this part of the article really spoke to me:

“One of the most difficult things is not to change society — but to change yourself,” Mandela said in 1999 at a tribute to billionaire businessman Douw Steyn who had made his Johannesburg residence available to Mandela as a retreat after his prison release in 1990. (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/05/opinion/battersby-nelson-mandela/)

The writer went on to say:

To this day, Mandela’s weaknesses, his turbulent youth and his sometimes tempestuous relationships with women can still detract from the iconic status that Mandela achieved in his own lifetime.

But, the responsible airing of his weaknesses — including his own acknowledgment — in fact humanized Mandela and focused on his extraordinary strength of character and commitment in overcoming both his weaknesses and adversity in his own lifetime. It augmented Mandela’s greatness.

Shortly after God continued to speak to me through this:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

Earlier this week, my CNN app alerted me of the tragic news of Paul Walker’s death, which happened on his way to an event for Typhoon Haiyan hosted by the non-profit organization he founded. I read more articles in the days that followed and was touched by how he lived his life fully.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Indeed, there is no other way to live than with a heart wide open to receive the fullness of life He offers. And in receiving this, to embrace the shifts and changes that come in the process.

The last six months have stretched and grown me in ways beyond measure. Yet, much of the time, it’s like I’ve regressed. Because if I had to sum up how I’ve felt, what comes to mind is: helpless. dependent. inefficient. inept. frustrated. exhausted.

But with surrender comes so much joy and peace, plus an infinite supply of love and grace.  And that’s what makes it all worth it. This life is all mine and all for me.

While I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be a blockbuster movie star or the president of a nation, I’m living my life completely and authentically. I’m sure of the way I’m walking and I trust the One who is by my side with each step.

And I say this, not because my current status involves living in a foreign land. This experience just happens to be a part of my story as does everything that came before… and it’s all much different than the story I was writing!

But boy oh boy, is it a beautiful one… here’s a recap of the last chapter:

friendshhip_1friendship_2friendship_3

THANK YOU, FATHER. Thank you for life entrusted to you that is beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you for writing the best stories.

~Your favorite daughter~

xoxo

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; -Hebrews 12:2

Down to my last yen

I do my best to maintain a positive outlook on life and it helps that I’m wired to lean towards optimism. So whenever I write, it can be pretty upbeat and ‘flowery’ (pun intended after my last post!).

But today, my intent is to share that this journey isn’t always a bed of roses. Nor am I always incredibly positive about my life. Because at 35-years old, this is definitely not what I imagined.

Last night, I had to take money from a ‘stranger’ because my debit card did a disappearing act.

So allow me to explain…

Yesterday, I awaited the special delivery of my visa paperwork. My application was approved this week!! YAY! So I will start working soon, but still have a few more steps in the process to complete.

This is great news, right??

Well, for some crazy reason… I started to freak out. I started to doubt the nature of  my new job, which in short is independent contractor work. So I will be teaching English and paid per lesson taught. The more lessons, the more money. But, also, there isn’t any guarantee on my scheduled lessons as it is primarily dependent on the client’s choice of instructor.

So, the freak out begins… Will I be able to pay my bills? Will I have to eat ramen (by the way, instant noodles were invented in Osaka so I guess the good news is there isn’t a better place for me to be in this case!!)?

And then it got really good… How much longer will I have to suffer like this? Will I ever make the kind of money I used to?

Pathetic, I know.

And while I’ve come so far, there are still times when I am burdened with feeling that I’ve let my parents down. Not to mention, the concern I have over what others may be thinking such as, 1) Poor Michele. I hope she eventually finds her way 2) Weirdo Michele. She’s gone off the deep end with her faith 3) Oh Michele. If she could only understand that there is no perfect job or circumstances.

And oh my… as I write out the crazy talk in my head, I feel so much better. Because 1) I know that not all who wander are lost because it was when I wasn’t wandering that I was completely lost 2)Yes, I have gone off the deep end and there’s no turning back 3) This is not breaking news to me.

Whew. Now that that has been handled, I can get back to my story.

I literally had cents to my name yesterday…. see?

last cents

This is equivalent to about $2.50. And I tried to use the ATM to withdraw money (this was the first time I’ve had to do this). Well, the ATM wouldn’t work. So I did further research only to find out that not all ATMs here take international cards.

Thankfully, I had enough on my train pass to get me to the next station over where an appropriate ATM was. I easily located it and approached it with much anticipation only to open my bag and discover that my debit card was nowhere to be found…

Really, Michele? You left it sitting at home??

So I went back home to get it… only to find it was NOWHERE. I’m telling you NOWHERE. And a great benefit to my teeny tiny place is that I could quickly conclude it was nowhere.

All the while, I had dinner plans for the evening with someone I had just met at the church I visited last Sunday, and I felt like a complete moron with the first impression I was making by texting her all my drama!! But she was patient and I’m so glad didn’t let me cancel on her…

Because it was an amazing evening and ended with my beautiful new friend sending me on my way with some cash.

The End.

Can you say humbling???

So be careful what you pray for. I’ve asked God to make me completely dependent on Him… and like a good Father, He is answering.

Another moral of the story: Don’t wait until you are down to your last cents to get money out of the ATM in a foreign country, or any country, for that matter.

PS. Please don’t judge me. I can’t believe I let it get to that myself!!!! So grateful He always has my back!!!

Don’t mean to get all flowery…

I’m so overwhelmed with my new home. In such a good way.

Who knew I would love public transportation so much? It’s one of my new favorites in life.

And whenever I get on the train, I look out the window and reflect and get so stinking emotional over my life. I cannot believe I’m living in Japan. Three weeks in and still having to pinch myself.

But on that note, the transition hasn’t been easy so those emotions are definitely a mixed bag. I just barely made a turn. Culture shock definitely had me. There is little to no English anywhere. I have had to play the guessing game right down to the basics… it looks like salt… it smells like salt…Image

But is it salt??? Sidenote: And I can’t even believe I felt sorry for myself. Why should there be English anywhere? They don’t speak English here!!

And I’ve never lived in the city and I’ve moved to the third largest one here with 2.5 million people residing in it so this has been a big adjustment.

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Needless to say, I have been incredibly humbled. I have never felt like such a little girl in such a big world as I do now.

And yes, the world is big. BUT, I have an even bigger God.

And in my smallness, it’s all the more humbling that to my Father God, I’m His world and that’s what’s keeping me from getting completely swallowed up. He’s so amazing and beyond what I can wrap my brain around, but I know that I mean the world to Him.

And I marvel at His hand in my life…

The last 24 hours were spent with my super smart and sweet and amazing friend, Isabella. She’s German. We met about three years ago in Phoenix. At that time, she was living in Freiburg, Germany and I was in Scottsdale, Arizona. But now, she lives far from home in San Diego, California and I just moved to Osaka, Japan.

And she just happened to be presenting some of her research (like I said, she’s super smart) at the 11th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry that just happened to be held at the Kyoto International Conference Center, which just happens to be about a 45 minute train/subway ride away from me… and did I mention I’m loving public transportation?

So a train ride and a transfer to the subway with another transfer later…

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And for me, Kyoto was a sushi restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale where I’m not even sure I fully remember my last time there because I drank a little too much sake!!

But now?

Kyoto is a beautiful city and one of the most visited by tourists in the new country I’m living, where I met up with my brilliant friend while she was meeting with brilliant people from around the world.

And I have a confession: I ate some sandwiches at the conference provided by the sponsoring pharmaceutical companies. And since I wasn’t an official conference attendee I probably shouldn’t have helped myself to the sandwiches even though it was Isabella’s prompting.

And not to split hairs, but, ten years ago, I was working for a pharmaceutical company handing out free food… so I’ll choose to view today as reaping what I had sown… free food benefits!!

Oh my… I’m chuckling at my new life.

That couldn’t be more appropriate actually. I am reaping what I’ve sown.

My life is blossoming like never before and I couldn’t be more grateful.

In fact, Isabella was staying at the Hana Hotel in Kyoto.Image

Hana = flower, and the room came with a tiny, beautiful origami flower.Image

And the Kyoto Botanical Gardens just happened to be next to the conference center so we decided to spend our day there.Image

So flowers was our theme. Totally unplanned by us. But totally the day our Father had planned all along. He’s so kind.

And I’ll take this because why not?

My life is rich beyond words. It is colorful and precious and intricate and fragrant…Image

And so beyond anything I could have imagined…

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What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? John 3:10