Friday, June 5, 2015

New beginnings

Tonight was wonderful as it was bittersweet.
I tested for my second degree senior black belt in Taekwondo. (The short sausage-making explanation: it's the last level of second degree and the final phase before I can test for third degree black belt.)

I passed, which was great. I also cried many tears. It was a hard test in several ways: it was my first one in six years without my master instructor James Rich. I miss him sorely and I felt his absence so much tonight. This test also is my last one locally at my school. From here on, all my tests will be before a national board of examiners.

Change is hard. But it is good. Tonight, I had a taste of my new normal. I had the privilege of testing before David Church -- the new master instructor at my school and one of James Rich's former students. I'm excited that I'll be training under him, Shea Church, his wife and another Taekwondo instructor, and Julius Agh, one of my favorite instructors, as I prepare for the journey to third degree black belt.

James Rich, tonight was for you, sir. It was far from perfect but I got it done. Thank you for all you poured into me these last six years. I'm grateful for new beginnings and the road ahead with Mr and Mrs. Church and Mr. Agh.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

Onward. Warrior mode, always.

My new A-Team: Mrs. Church, Mr. Church and Mr. Agh :)
I wouldn't have made it through tonight without the encouragement, support and prayers of precious friends. You know who you are. Thank you. You mean so much to me.

It was so awesome having a handful of friends come watch my test tonight and cheer me on. Megan, Julie, David, Elizabeth, Michael, Juhee and Patrick: You rock my world!!!

Julie and a very sweaty Lola
With the awesome Juhee.
David, Elizabeth and Michael -- some of my surrogate
siblings. Love you guys SO MUCH!!!
When it was all said and done, I went to have ice cream and cake with some of the coolest people on earth.
Sam and Mary Ann. Oh, we also showed off our muscles.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A kiss from heaven

I saw this magnificent full rainbow over my Taekwondo school after class this evening.
Right before this moment, my friend Chandra texted me a photo of a double rainbow she had seen in another corner of Knoxville with these sweet words: "Just saw God's majesty in a double rainbow and prayed His amazing and abundant grace over you."

God's majesty, indeed. What a (double) kiss from heaven!

Chandra's double rainbow
God, thank you for this beautiful reminder that your promises are true: you are trustworthy; you are with us in the hard places of life; you will not forsake us or abandon us; you are good; you smile upon us. Help us to believe who you say you are in spite of the doubts and pressures that are pressing in. Help us to believe who you say we are: beloved; held; yours.

"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
--Numbers 6:24-26