new blog site!

hey everybody,

it’s here!  i won’t be using pensamientos confusos anymore for blog posts.  check out my new blog:, and let me know what you think!  



Hey everybody (the 3 of you who read this ;)),

It’s been a very busy month (I’m married now!!), and I’m now trying to adjust to a new rhythm of life, but there are new posts in the works, and even a nice, new blog! It will be worth the wait, guaranteed. So until then, hang tight, would ya?

thoughts on 12/14/12

Today is not the day for problem-solvers to get into debates about causes and solutions.  I understand that people grieve in certain ways, but, debates are the absolute last thing that grieving families, whose hearts are screaming out against evil and injustice, who are crying in pain, want to hear, and need to hear.  They don’t want solutions; they want and need love and compassion.  They don’t need to hear about gun-control, or stronger security measures; they need emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological support.  While problem-solving has an appropriate time and place, its time is not now.

So, for the love of God and love of neighbor, mourn with those who mourn.  

Love.  Pray.  Listen.  Pass the peace. 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.


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life without trader joe’s


Or, How Sabrina is Coping Poorly Outside of Her Natural Habitat.

I miss Trader Joe’s.

That can pretty much sum it all up.

But I’ll explain, because that makes a better story.

Okay.  I’ve lived within reasonable proximity to a Trader Joe’s (2-4 miles) for the past 8 years or so (and Whole Foods, but they’re becoming over-rated).  Oh, you don’t know what a Trader Joe’s is?  Let me fix that.

Trader Joe’s is essentially a haven for wanna-be foodies who have a budget, hippies who desire vegetarian, organic, and alternative fare, and it is also friendly to those who live gluten-free.  In Southern California, Trader Joe’s is frequented by yuppies; in the PNW, well, Trader Joe’s is a given for almost anybody.  There you can find the yummiest coconut milk ice cream, the cheapest organic spaghetti sauce, the tastiest dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt, some of the most innovative food creations, cheap, organic veggies, the best junk food paraded as healthy food, and mostly, I was a very happy human being shopping there.

For four of those years, I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, where I naturally acclimated as a nerd, quasi-hippie, musician, bookworm, and an individual who is generally interested in the arts.  Health food stores are a given there (Marlene’s was the best!  Who knew local health food stores could have such lovely delis!), and vegans are so common that no one bats an eyelash in encountering one.  I was safe, happy, and comfortable in this environment.  I shopped every week at Trader Joe’s, because, for the things that I normally buy, it was the least expensive option.  When I first moved to the PNW, Trader Joe’s was a welcome, familiar place.  I also frequented Marlene’s…surprise, surprise.

I moved to the South in July.  And boy oh boy, was there plenty of culture shock in the food department.  Nearest Whole Foods?  60 minutes away.  Trader Joe’s? Around the same.  Nearest health food store (a tiny one, without a deli)?  A good 6 miles away.  The nearest grocery store?  Kroger.  The only grocery stores in town?  Food Lion, and…Kroger.  I’ve had to reassemble life without inexpensive access to organic baby carrots, natural peanut butter, free-range chicken, gluten-free snickerdoodles, sweet potato chips, organic olive oil, vinho verde, and…basically everything I’m used to snacking on.  Any (rare) equivalent I might find at Kroger’s is around 100% more expensive.

The funny thing is, Trader Joe’s requires a high collegiate population in order to place a store in that city.  Lynchburg is teeming with undergraduate and graduate students.  Why no Trader Joe’s?  Why?

And it’s not just Trader Joe’s I’m missing.  I still mope over the fact that I can’t pop over to Metropolitan Market and grab a vegan, gluten-free cupcake.  Those kind of cupcakes don’t exist in Lynchburg.  I’d have to scrounge up the ingredients to make them myself, and would seriously luck out if I didn’t have to spend half a day traveling to find them.  BUT.  I would be very happy if there was just a Trader Joe’s nearby.

There’s something to be said for eating familiar foods; it’s good for the soul, don’t you think?  Somehow, everything else will be okay, as along as I can put familiar foods in my belly.  But for now, there’s an ache in my belly and consequently, my soul, because they miss Trader Joe’s.

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advice to my younger, greek geek self.



Just for fun, here are some things I wish I had taken to heart, back when I was a young biblical languages student (and, really, some of this can apply to any Bible student, not just the Greek geeks).

1) Work hard.  A good grade doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it.  At the same time, try to get more sleep. 🙂  It actually helps.

2) Greek isn’t everything.  Neither is Hebrew.  Don’t get hung up on parsings and definitions unless absolutely necessary.  You might find that it’s more seldom than you thought.

3) Watch your pride.  Who do you think you are? Pride sneaks up on the best ones, and even leaks out in a humble form. I mean, you gotta admit that you’re always looking for subtle ways to impress with your language skills:  Listening to someone trying to explain John 1:1 in their story of an encounter with JWs, and they obviously don’t know Koine Greek. “Oh yeah, uh, I know a little bit of Greek.”  “REALLY?  You must be so smart!  Can you read fluently? Can you explain the Greek in John 1.1?!  What about in John 21.15-17? ”  They take out their Bible, and flip to a favorite New Testament passage. “What does the Greek say here?” As though it really makes a great difference, heh heh.  I know better.  *Pats self on back.*  Being a languages geek doesn’t put you above everybody else.  Stop it.

4) Just because that preacher didn’t get his Greek right, does not mean his sermon has been completely spoiled.  Be kind, not critical.

5) Just because that preacher didn’t insert a comment about the original language into his sermon, does not make him inferior.

6) Stop stressing out about getting perfect answers 100% of the time, and enjoy the learning experience.

7) I know you hear it all the time, but seriously, if you don’t practice/use Hebrew and Greek, you’ll lose them.  So, if you want to retain anything, practice it.  Keep reading it.  There are no other substitutes.

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advent reflection & resources


Advent is here!!  I cannot express just how much I love this season; not because of the consumeristic Christmas that America celebrates, but because it’s the beginning of a new church year, and it’s the anticipation of the Savior’s birth. It’s my delight to share some Advent resources to assist you as you meditate upon this season.

(If you didn’t read my thoughts on using disciplines of season, go here.  For a introductory explanation of the church calendar, and an insight as to why I love following the liturgical calendar, Glenn Packiam has some thoughts here.)

Note: this list is rather ecumenical, but that’s not a bad thing!  I encourage you to see what other resources you can use beside your usual stand-bys.  You might be surprised at the treasures you find.

Let me share with you a couple of links directly related to Advent that I wish I could’ve written, myself.  Glenn Packiam has written here about taking the time and space to make Advent about more than just Christmas, and has some Advent resources here to assist you in reflecting upon this season.

Word of Life Church has constructed an Advent reading guide, which you can find here.

John Piper is giving away a free eBook called Good News of Great Joy here.

Ann Voskamp is giving away a Jesse Tree Advent Devotional here.

For more of a somber perspective of Christmas, see Dr. Varner’s post here, giving an overview of A Not So Silent Night.  Dr. V will be sharing about Christmas devotionals throughout the season, so make you sure you re-visit his blog.

Christine Sine has a wonderful list of Advent resources on her blog, and created a Facebook event page for Advent resources that she updates weekly: Join Us for Advent. 

The Jesuit Post has a short, but rich and eclectic list of Advent resources on their blog.

My friend G. recommends these devotional/prayer books for the Advent season: Watch for the Light, Preparing for Christmas (Rohr), Christmastide (Tickle), and Be Vigilant: Daily Meditations for Advent (Duburiel; only 99 cents on Kindle right now!)

What other Advent resources have you found helpful?  How do you make the most of the Advent season?  Please share in the comments section!  I will continue to expand this post to include a collection of Advent resources (or even helpful anecdotes) as you share them.

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the discipline of seasons


I think part of me is just rebelling against the multi-tasking, fast paced, materialistic Western culture. We focus on quantity rather than quality. Maybe another part of me is just annoyed at premature pictures of Christmas trees. Maybe my natural inclination towards liturgy is offended by the former. Regardless, it has me thinking…

The conflation of the seasons troubles me (and here I am referring mostly to seasons on the liturgical calendar, followed loosely by most in my circles). And no, it’s not that I’m just a humbug (though sometimes I can be). There’s a certain sacredness to every season that is meant to be savored alone: Lent, Easter, Thanksgiving, Advent, etc. To dive into the Christmas season before Advent seems sacrilegious, because Advent has been specifically set aside to dwell on the coming of Christ in human flesh. It is full of anticipation, beauty, hope, and awe. We sense a longing for the Messiah, at the same time knowing he came to earth as a human infant, and rejoicing in the peace that he brings to earth with the advent of salvation.

I’m not trying to imply that we should never look forward to Jesus’ coming outside of the Advent season, or to only acknowledge Jesus’ resurrection on Easter, but some things tend to lose their significance as we multi-task and multi-observe. It takes discipline to focus only on one thing, and to keep focus on it. There is a sense of wonder, awe, and gratitude that is restored as we reflect on one season, and realize, through focusing singularly on that one season, what we might have missed all the other times we just skimmed over it, or tried to do too many things at once. It’s time for many of us to slow down, and reflect.

p.s. I have nothing against multi-tasking, personally; I just fail to see its usefulness in every area of life. If you thrive on multi-tasking, kudos to you, but I sure hope you find time to slow down a little, and ruminate. It just might make a difference.

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pessimism, her cohorts, and her enemies


I’ve always viewed myself as an idealist. I can dream up ideal situations of any kind. I dream of a utopia, where everything works as it should, people treat each other with respect and kindness, and give God’s creation the care that it should receive. I dream a lot.

In my mind, I am aware of the reality of sin, but that reality hasn’t sunk in. It remains a concept that lives only in my head, for the most part.

You can imagine what happens when actual reality, the kind that doesn’t live in head, collides with the utopia I have inside my head. It’s not pretty. It usually results in pessimism and loss of hope, which eventually leads to a wicked cynicism.

Picture this:

A tranquil, bright blue body of water surrounded by trees, birds singing, the sun shining brightly but not too hot. You are in a canoe, humming happily, peacefully paddling to nowhere, but eventually hoping to reach the other side of the water. Suddenly the water becomes very murky and thick, and it becomes harder to paddle. The water is almost like mud. You furiously paddle harder and faster, and only manage to inch along. About twenty feet later, a fin pokes its way through the surface on the right side of the canoe, and on the left side, you glimpse a crocodile snout. Losing all hope, you stop paddling. What’s the point? You’re just going to be eaten, anyway. And nobody will come to help.

After my ideals collide with reality, I begin to dream again. But these dreams are not happy dreams. In these dreams I imagine everything that could possibly go wrong, and WHAT IFS flood every space in my imagination. It’s paralyzing.

It’s difficult for a person in this situation to actively cling to hope. And I’m not even speaking of an individual who is going through legitimate suffering.

This applies to my current writing habits. I try and think of things to write, and then promptly shoot them down with the excuse that better people are already thinking and writing about those things, and much better than I ever could. Thus, I don’t write. Other criticisms emerge, such as: don’t use your blog as a journal, that’s sappy stuff nobody wants to read. Don’t blog that, that doesn’t sound theologically coherent. And the list goes on.


It’s easy to to abandon optimism and hope in exchange for pessimism and cynicism.

But, and this I tell (and pack the punch to) myself as well as everybody else who struggles with pessimism (you might even be reading this, who knows?): abandoning hope is stupid. Abandoning joy is stupid. Especially if you believe what scripture says is true. You have the best Hope of all hopes to cling to, and it’s the last reason in the world to give up.

So, don’t give up. Don’t give in. Pursue joy like you’re training for a marathon, and cling to hope like a gnarly burr on a wool sweater. And dwell on this with me:

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (!) 1 Pt 1.3

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sabrina’s quest, part 2

Today was my third week at Church of the Good Shepherd (a part of the ACNA), and I enjoyed it immensely.  I am finally getting used to the flow of the liturgy, although I don’t hope to have much else memorized soon.  In this post I’ll touch on some of the things I really appreciate about the Anglican way.  There are heavier, theological issues at hand, but I am not well equipped to discuss those issues yet, as I have just recently begun studying the Anglican tradition.  The following are some aspects that relate to me, according to my spiritual personality.

What resonates with me the most can be boiled down to one broad category, which I will unpack as we go along:

Anglican liturgy.

I realize that all churches have their own sort of liturgy.  The churches with which I am most familiar all have unwritten, informal liturgies.  There is singing, perhaps scripture reading, prayer, more singing, maybe a “greeting” time sermon, an offertory somewhere in there, announcements somewhere in there too,  and more singing, and then dismissal. Communion is mostly likely a monthly occasion.  All good and well, but there is a vast contrast between this liturgy and Anglican liturgy.

In the informal liturgical setting, the congregation participates little.  We sing, we greet others.  But we mostly just take things in through hearing (singing, preaching), and perhaps through observing words on a screen or bulletin, or reading scripture.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this, nothing at all.  I do wonder, however, what kind of picture we are painting of community, as a crowd that just sits and listens, and this is where Anglican liturgy comes in.

Anglican liturgy is formal, and written, currently taken from the Book of Common Prayer.  There are songs and hymns, of course. There are four scripture readings in which the church participates by thanking God together after the scripture is read.  There are antiphonal prayers.  There are congregational prayers of petition and confession.  The Nicene Creed is recited together.  There is sitting, there is standing (and shifting to face the Gospel book [or cross] when the Gospel scripture for that Sunday is read), and there is kneeling for the petition and confession, with an opportunity for both individual (space for silent prayer) and corporate petition and confession.  In a word, Anglican liturgy is interactive.  To me, this speaks more of community, more of action.

There are also perks in a written liturgy for a visual learner like me.  I can read the prayers as they are written, as I listen to them being prayed.  What’s more (and I am not implying that unwritten prayers are inferior), some of the most beautiful prayers I’ve heard were written down first.  As an avid reader and amateur writer, I always look for beauty in words.

Within the Anglican liturgy, there is a crescendo that sounds differently than it does in informal liturgical settings.  In the latter, the preacher and sermon are the focal point of the service.  In Anglican liturgy, the entire service builds up to the crescendo that is communion (or, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, etc.).  The sermon is not neglected, but this shift of emphasis is intriguing to me.  I wonder about all the weight that is put on preachers to make them into a type of celebrity, while communion is only celebrated once a month.

This leads to the question…why do you go to church?  Is it for the preacher’s sermon?  Or something else?

That is for another blog, another day, friend.

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there are some little kinks here and there as charles helps me spruce up this little blog.  I promise the end result will be worth it. 🙂