SFT Memories

Two Friday Fives in one day, you ask? Why not?

Today is my last day at my desk job at SFT. On Monday, I move to Central Housing to work in Assignments. I am two parts excited, one part nostalgic.

Here are some memories from my time at SFT.

SFT animals

Puppies, squirrels, and creepy rats left in my drawer.

SFT Festive

SFT is festive. Also, proof that sometimes, it does snow in Texas.

SFT groups

Aw, friends. SFT of yore.

SFt shenanigans

Aw, former residents.

sft i do not know

Weirdness and truth.

I’m happy to be moving forward, but I’m also happy about all the friends and memories I’ve made at my hall.

This month on Instagram, I’ve been participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love challenge by writing letters according to her daily prompts. Here are my five favorite letters (and some of the pictures came out small. We’re going to call that “artsy.”):

photo 4 (1)

Dear Truth,

All day, I’ve been trying to think of something to say to you. It should be easy. True is my word for this year. I should know what to say.

But my words are all jumbled up. So I’m just going to ramble.

I believe in loyalty. And fairness. And happy songs in minor keys.

I believe that good coffee is worth its own separate category in the budget.

I believe in dancing. And in breakfast for dinner.

These are a few of my (little t) truths.

Thanks for indulging my ramble.

Love, me

april love fear Dear fear,

You like to show up when change and progress are afoot to see if you can thwart their plans.

I get it. It’s your favorite thing.

But this week…

…I wrote out a solid 100-day plan for finishing a manuscript.

…I sought, found, signed a lease, and put down a deposit on a home that is better suited for me than the place I am now.

…I received congratulations on the official announcement that I start my new job May 2.

So you can suck it.

Love, me

photo 3 (1)

Dear courage,

It might not take a lot of you to drink more water. Or exercise. Or eat right. Or even jump on a scale every 2-3 weeks.

But put them all together and keep track of them in writing? This has me surprisingly intimidated.

Come sit by me. I may need more of you than I thought.

Love, me

photo 5

Dear Younger Me,

Sometimes we still dress like a cartoon character.

I think you’d like us now. In fact, I think we are becoming the hero you always dreamed of.

Don’t stop dancing. Or running.

Don’t get rid of the piano.

And when you go to Public House with Hunter that one afternoon to share towers of Blue Moon, be careful when you’re crossing the street, for it is clearly uneven.

I love you. Try to relax a little, even thought it’s hard.

Love, Current Me

april loveDear love,

You show up in the simplest places and with the most wonderful people.

Thank you.

Love, me

And just because I love this picture:

photo 3

About Last Week

photo 2 (3)I’ve been talking for what seems like forever about getting a new place to live that better suits me. This year, I listed it as one of my main goals.

Truthfully? I only half-expected to make it a reality. I’ve been talking about wanting it so long and not being able to make it happen that I only half-believed that I’d actually be able to pull it off.

That unbelieving half has to eat her words, because in June, I am moving to a new place! It has two bedrooms (instead of one) and two bathrooms (instead of one). My  books and writing desk get their own room again, and guests won’t be subjected to my hair product arsenal when they need to visit the facilities.

Other happy features include:

  • washer dryer connections in a closet hidden off the kitchen instead of in the living room
  • single-story structure = all the benefits of a ground floor apartment with none of the drawbacks
  • a real neighborhood – no student housing structures
  • closer to my sister, my church, my grocery store, and walking distance from the north branch library with its book sales and bookshop (so I’m expecting the extra few miles to work will actually balance out)
  • city trash and recycling bins – goodbye, dumpster life!

I know my move-in date is well over a month away, but I’m so excited I’ve already started packing books.



photo 2 (2)

I’m seeing a duplex tomorrow. Well, one half of it, anyway. I’m going to see if it could be a feasible move to make. It’s across town – closer to church and family, farther from work.

I really want to move. I’ve outgrown my neighborhood and my apartment. I’m pretty sure my neighbors’ dog is partially responsible for my elevated blood pressure.

I’m also just to the point where I can breathe again financially. I’m scared to upset the balance.

Can I make a beautiful life in the place I am? I see little shards of beauty occasionally.  But the big beautiful I have loved before and miss terribly doesn’t really fit there.

Every place I find that’s bigger and still has the amenities that I want (washer/dryer connections, for example) is significantly more expensive. Like…sometimes double. That’s before you add the extra utility cost and extra gas it will take to get to work on a daily basis.

Which would be fine if I had a partner with an equal or greater salary. Even if we could both afford to pay only what I’m paying now, we could easily pay double. We could even make a substantial house payment if we found a place we loved that much.

There are not many areas of life where I would say I NEED a husband. Want one, sure. But need? Don’t be ridiculous.

A husband with a job would certainly come in handy here, though.

People who are single often are treated like we are less mature, less stable, and less adult than we are. This is annoying. Just because marriage or child-rearing was the impetus that flung some people into adulthood doesn’t mean that those of us without those particular circumstances didn’t have equal motivation to mature. There are many, many reasons to grow up. Partners and parents don’t have a corner on the market.

It’s easy to understand, however, how single people could appear as second-class citizens in this world. It’s hard to be seen as a proper adult when you’re still living in an apartment that’s no bigger (smaller, actually) than the one you had in college and is still in a college neighborhood. And it’s hard to afford a bigger place on one income, unless you happen to work in an industry where incomes are higher (I don’t.).

I know the progress I’ve made. I do. It just doesn’t look like progress unless I’m looking closely. I have to really want to see it.

I’m tired of working so hard to see so little.


I’m linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday, where we are talking about broken and beautiful things. Join us?

I sometimes feel like my table as seen through a glass. All my marks show, even the ones that should have been sanded smooth a long time ago.

photo 1 (1)

Marvia Davidson has prompted us to write about authenticity today. That seems like something I’d like to talk about. After all, my word of the year is “true,” so that goes right along with it.

So I set out to make a list of things that are true about me, but I only got to three.

Who am I? I am…

…an idealist. I worry a lot, and critique a lot, but that’s because I see in possibilities. I see how good things could be. If only. Maybe. Hopefully.

…an information sponge. I’m incurably curious. In personality tests, I test as intuitive, but I feel like I’m cheating. I’m not sure it’s so much intuition as it is an abundance of information lurking in my brain. It just looks like intuition because I easily see connections and patterns, and I’ve already followed them down the rabbit hole while others are still defining the problem. Or maybe that’s really what all intuition is – gut feelings based on experience and knowledge.

…efficient. A coworker once told me that I get more done in one hour than most people get done all day. I teased that he should mention that in front of people who could give me a raise (kidding/not kidding), but I was happy that he noticed. I like that I can finish tasks quickly, and it frustrates me when I can’t. I frustrates me when my marks show.

Some things can’t be rushed.

I looked back this morning at goals I’ve set in the past. I found my New Years Resolutions from January 2013. They were interesting:

  1. Stop being such a jerk (it was after an election year. I have opinions and can sometimes be mean about them).
  2. Stop participating in Facebook drama (see #1, with the special note that opposing racism and misogyny does not count as drama. Drama is useless; speaking up is important.).
  3. Stop the compulsion to fill up every minute.
  4. Stop saying “Yes” just because I can’t think of a good reason to say “No.”
  5. Stop making excuses.

At the end of the year, I marveled at how far I still had left to go. Three years later, I see progress, but I still marvel at how far I have left to go.

Being who I am is easy. It didn’t used to be. I used to get so wound up about it. I don’t get so wound up anymore. Thank you, 40s (younger friends – it gets better).

Becoming who I want to become is s.l.o.w.

I make plans for a year and work on them for five. This offends my efficiency. It also allows for more in-depth information-gathering.

I am both-and, not either-or.


I am linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday. Join us?

March really is the best month of the year in my life. I get at least one week off during Spring Break, it’s Staff Appreciation Month, and it’s my birth month!


My birthday was relaxing. We had a leisurely brunch at Crickles and Co., shopped in the afternoon for books and shoes (cue My Favorite Things), and had a great dinner at Greenhouse. If you are ever there – Mahi-Mahi tacos with mango relish. Do it.

I spent the first part of Spring Break at my parents’ farm. We mostly ate delicious things, some of which we picked right off the plant. This is the only acceptable reason for spring coming early this year.

photo 5

Anyone else think Brussels sprouts look like a sea creature when they’re growing? No? Just me, then.

I also watched from afar while Mom fed the neighbor’s donkeys.

photo 4 (1)

I tried to watch from a-near, but, well, you see the side-eye I’m getting from that one on the right. They don’t know me. That one still wasn’t too sure I wasn’t going to jump back up there and try to touch it again. That’s fine, donkey. I’ll just keep your treat.

I’ve been slowly watching a few shows. I read Year of Yes earlier this year, so I had to (HAD TO) watch Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t know why I resisted so long. I love this show. I love Christina and Bailey. And George. I love the characters so much that I find myself praying that their patients survive. On reruns of a TV show. This must be how atheists see praying all the time.

I’ve also been watching Alias and The X-Files for the first time. I have to watch them earlier in the evening before the sun goes down, though. I’m apparently easily spooked. Not enough to stop watching, of course.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but what I’ve been reading is Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. You can do a lot of reading and still not be done with that book. It’s glorious. I need it for my very own. I’m also currently reading...a lot of things. I have books stashed everywhere.

What did you watch/read/do this month?


I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – join us!



I met Miah Oren through an online writers’ group called Story Sessions (now The Coterie), and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and watch the process of this story making its way into the world. Her first book, The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith, released on Tuesday, and you should all buy it immediately.  And yes, Mom and Dad, it comes in paperback as well.

1. I can’t wait to dive in to your book! Tell us about The Reluctant Missionary.

The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith describes my journey from idealistic young missionary to depressed, cynical teacher who was just trying to make it through each week. I had unrealistic expectations for myself, my team, and my hosts. And I didn’t know what to do when those expectations weren’t met.

2. What sets your book apart from other books written about mission experiences?

I haven’t read a book about missions that addresses failure. But I wish I had before going overseas. I wrote the book so others in missions and Christian ministry will know that they’re not alone in worrying about failure and that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

3. What was the biggest joy you faced in writing the book? The biggest hurdle?

The biggest joy in writing the book was discovering how all the pieces of that experience fit together. Even in draft 17 (of 23) I was adding characters. Of course they were there all along, but I hadn’t realized how their words and/or actions fully impacted my decisions.

The biggest hurdle was probably making the decision to publish in the first place. Originally this was an email to someone who was struggling as a missionary. Then I decided to expand the story “for posterity.” When I had 200 pages and was 95% done with the first draft, it finally occurred to me that it could be a book. But I was nervous about sharing the story because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I also know that my perspective probably isn’t correct. So many things I heard via rumors and gossip, through mangled translations from another language, or that I just misunderstood because I really wasn’t doing well personally. But this was the data I had at the time.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring mission workers, what would it be?

You are not responsible for any outcomes. It’s all up to God. Whether wonderful or terrible things happen, your obedience is more important, and you’re not responsible for “results” or “success.” Only God knows what success looks like. Whether fifty people come to Christ or no one, you are doing God’s important work by showing up.

5. What projects are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on the second draft of the mystery novel I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s about a girl who thinks she’s joining a convent, but it’s actually a secret international spy/detective agency.

Writing a memoir was hard. It’s a nice change to write about fictional characters whose feelings I don’t need to consider upon releasing the book.

I’m also working on a course called Photography for Writers. It keeps growing – it might be as long as a book by the time I’m done.

Miah Oren Photography-1-2

Miah is the author of The Reluctant Missionary, a memoir about the two years she spent overseas teaching English. She writes about learning to let go of perfectionism and embracing God’s plan for her life. She lives in Dallas where she dreams of someday having another cat. Connect with Miah online at http://www.miahoren.com.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 656 other followers

%d bloggers like this: