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Photo by jimmy brown

By Tina Teng-Henson

Boxes of files neatly line the shelves and the center section of our garage. Some are filled with manila envelopes, each containing mementos, clippings, photos, and important documents from every chapter of my life. High school, college, every job I’ve ever had. Other boxes date back farther, containing letters from penpals in elementary, middle, and high school. What else? (more…)

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By Liz Chang

I am constantly in awe of the colors of fall leaves. I could probably sit and gaze at a tree with fiery red, orange and yellow leaves for hours. I especially love seeing trees that have the full gradient from green to yellow, orange, red, and all the shades in between. (more…)

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Photo by Alex Bellink

By Melanie Mar Chow

When is the last time you had a good belly laugh with others? The themes for the AAWOL blog this year comes from John O’Donohue in his book, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. “Anam cara” can be loosely translated as “soul friend” and yes, we all need a friend, especially for our souls. (more…)

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praying woman

Photo by guppydas

By Sarah D. Park

I used to be on worship teams, though truth be told, I’m not a pretty singer. My tone cannot carry soft songs that make people cry during the bridge. My range is somewhere on the high end for most men and the low end for most women, forcing me to find a more comfortable harmony.  I can barely sing most melodies from start to finish, with my voice trailing off at some point. (more…)

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path

Photo by Martin Brigden

By Tina Teng-Henson

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (more…)

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Photo by Mike McCune

By Liz Chang

In my work with clients who have a history of abusing substances, it is a common theme for drugs to be a tool for coping with difficult emotions and challenging situations in life. But drugs aren’t the only distraction available. There’s Netflix, podcasts, books, pets, shopping, social media, parties, chores, errands, and the list goes on. Distractions are plentiful and not inherently bad. But they often give us the easy way out from facing difficult emotions and challenging situations. They can be cause for us to miss out on opportunities to reflect, grow, problem solve, and engage with the Spirit of God.

When I think about the many stories of Jesus walking through a crowd or walking in a crowd, I realize that Jesus had his options for distraction too. While he didn’t have all the technology, he had plenty of social situations to dilute his attention and presence. But he paid attention. He took notice. He heard. He saw. He responded to individuals who could have been overlooked in the crowds.

The list of distraction options are my crowd. When I am walking in my crowd in day-to-day life, sometimes I use that as a gut reaction to avoid grief, disappointment, stress, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotions. My crowd can help me minimize my experience of those emotions that seem unbearable in the moment. But those can be missed opportunities for experiencing the ease of God’s yoke. When the Spirit of God is what empowers me, can I learn to pay attention in the crowd and be strengthened to take notice and respond?

Jesus modeled this for us during his ministry on earth. He didn’t react to questions from Pharisees and Sadducees with avoidance, defensiveness or fear. He didn’t allow the crowds to distract him from taking notice of those who reached out to him. He responded with thoughtfulness and compassion.

Presence requires willingness to move beyond quick reactions into a mindset of thoughtful and compassionate response. This takes practice. And catching those opportunities builds on our sanctification and foundations of faith and relationship with the living God.

What’s in your crowd?
Who or what are the things in your life that are reaching out for your response?
Can we take the time to notice and respond to what God is doing in our lives?

Liz Chang resides in New York City and is a family therapist at an intensive outpatient treatment center for drug addiction. She is a License Marriage and Family Therapist and graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is an aspiring photographer and is a cat mom to Instagram cat @bennyslyf. She and her husband enjoy going for walks and exploring new neighborhoods, parks, and restaurants.

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Photo by Steve Snodgrass

By Joy Wong

“Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19 NRSV

I recently stumbled upon a piece of literature encouraging stay-at-home moms. (more…)

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