A Postcard to My Past

I was struggling to sleep, so I started to just look up random websites on my laptop. There’s a website that a buddy of mine showed me a while back called “The Wilderness Downtown”. The design and concept was pretty stunning. It was to a song by Arcade Fire called, “We Used to Wait”. As you interacted with the site, you were given an opportunity to send a postcard to your past self, typing whatever you wanted. I decided to play along and thought about what I should write. I looked back on the past couple of years and thought about what I would write to my past self…

Continue reading A Postcard to My Past

Will

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 
your kingdom come, 
your will be done 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from the evil one. –Matthew 6:9-13

I am an analytical person. I think about all the possibilities, the permutations, the psychology, the mentality, the strategies, the tactics in the things I take part in. Thinking about what happened that Saturday, I couldn’t really get it out of my head. Always thinking about all the possible options that I could have taken. The plays that I could have made. The mistakes I made. The error that sealed up what could have been. When you’re so close to doing something incredible, only to suffer and fall to the hands of defeat. It’s that feeling that you really never want to feel. Continue reading Will

Questioning

These past two quarters of grad school have been quite an experience. When I say experience, I mean both good and bad. In the three classes that I’ve taken, I’ve learned a lot. I give a lot of credit to my instructor for her help and loyalty to her students in assisting them when they need it. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would be struggling a lot. It forced me to ask for help when I couldn’t figure out the answer. It made me think differently about syntax and about linguistics in general.

At the same time, it’s been a rough time, especially this past quarter. I don’t think I went a week without bitching and moaning about the problems that I encountered in the class. How do I set up this rule to ensure that these arguments are working? Are the semantics for this sentence correct? How do I implement these features in order to ensure that I get the full realization of the phenomena that I’m working with in my language? How do I make sure that this rule works without breaking this other rule? I think you can get the idea.

But over the past couple of months, it’s left me questioning a lot about what I’m doing.   Continue reading Questioning

Bye 2009… Hello 2010

Well, happy new year. It’s not only a new year, but a new decade too. A friend reminded me that we both had been around for four decades (80s, 90s, 00s, and now 10s). That’s beside the point. 2010 definitely has a lot of things coming. Two events that stick out to me are the Winter Olympics up in Vancouver is coming up quickly and the World Cup down in South Africa. But before looking forward, I felt it would be good to look back on 2009.

Continue reading Bye 2009… Hello 2010

Life and Death at Exit 32

I was on the median just off Exit 32. Cars were speeding by, with no care or concern for the slick roads on the freeway. A new blanket of snow made it difficult to find some items that we were hoping to salvage. As I walked up and down trying to find random items for my friend, I tried to recall what happened the night before on that median, even though the new snow left no trace. Continue reading Life and Death at Exit 32

The Reality of Christmas

It’s been several days into the Christmas season. And what does that mean? The thing that while we love getting from others, but we also dread finding for them: Gifts. I still wonder where the concept of giving gifts during Christmas comes from, but regardless, it’s there. As I’ve been approaching this and thinking of ideas for my loved ones, it’s been rough thinking something up for each person.

While I’m usually the one that looks for gifts that will be useful and practical for someone, this year, I’ve wanted to go with something that’s more sentimental and cheap and using the rest of the money that would have been spent on gifts to donate to more charitable organizations to use more wisely. Why the change? Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had more of a changed heart with regards to Christmas. Maybe it’s the fact that my eyes are finally open to the reality of the world around me and the needs that so many people around me need answered. Or maybe it’s the realization of the current events that have made us fearfully aware of the path we’re taking today. Let me explain. Continue reading The Reality of Christmas

Questioning the Past

I admit. I got curious and started wondering about my past a bit. Given the amount of free time that I have in between studying for GREs, soccer, being a part of and serving ministry, and work, I start thinking about it. And usually, when I think, it’s like giving a mad scientist access to a bunch of explosive and dangerous chemicals. Sometimes… things can explode. Thankfully not this time. Instead, it left me a bit more thankful of where it’s brought me today. Continue reading Questioning the Past

God’s Canvas

… I was driving back home from a friend’s house in Kirkland at around 4 am Friday morning. The drive itself left me thinking and frustrated about one of the things I did that day. But as I crossed the 520 bridge into Seattle, I took a look to my right to see a beautiful sight. Along the horizon, there was a sea of colors painted across the morning sky. It was a clash of the former night sky and the morning rise. The dark hues of blue fighting to remain as the lighter shades started to shine brightly. The plane of orange along the horizon prepared the sun for its glorious appearance to the city. As I saw this, I was just in awe. The sky was God’s canvas and all I could think was “That’s a beautiful painting, God. You never fail to amaze me with what you can do and what you’ve done and shown in my life…”

It was a little over two weeks ago when all the conferees at Mt. Hermon began their trek to their homes, with memories and thoughts of God’s game plan in mind. But as I start to reflect on all the amazing moments throughout that last week in June, it reminds me of one thing: It’s all about you, Lord. It’s always about you. When I made the commitment about a month ago to cabin lead at InterHigh, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I began to have a lot of fears and worries start to take control of me. Will I be able to do this? Will I be able to handle that? Am I going to have to do this alone? I was concerned about my performance and leadership at camp… but that was the wrong mindset. It wasn’t about me first. It was about Christ. It was about God first.

As we walk along in our path in life, we’re walking into an unknown darkness that leaves us, at times, struggling with fear, worry, and temptation. Maybe it’s our grades, our relationships, or our careers. In a society where we’re so focused on individualism, we can easily become engulfed into thinking about ourselves and selfishness. We’re in a world where success is a means to survival and prosperity and instant gratification and sin are a way to personal, but temporary, happiness. These obstacles will always be scattered through our paths. And from there, we can succumb to those things… And it leaves us wondering and asking: where God was to get us out of that rut?

The answer is simple though… He was right behind us the entire time, waiting for us to turn around and call for Him.

During the week, I was reminded of Joshua and the battles he fought to regain Israel. There were a lot of actions that someone might think, “Why the heck am I doing this? Walk around the city this many times and look like a fool? Are you kidding me?” But Joshua didn’t. He wasn’t concerned about himself, he was doing what God told him to do and followed His will. As he did, cities fell, and Israel returned back to the control of his people. It was a matter of trusting God and God would fulfill His promise. He didn’t leave them stranded. Nor will He do the same to us. It’s important for us to get away from those thoughts of our own self-preservation, self-concern, and selfishness and to just say, “Christ, take me. Use me for your kingdom”…

When we say “Jesus isn’t a religion, but a relationship”, it’s exactly what it means. We don’t just go to church and small group every week and just read God’s Word everyday because we have to. It should be because we want to seek out a relationship with Him. Communicating with Him, glorifying Him in our everyday lives… but ultimately trusting Him and seeking His will. There is no relationship without those things in mind. Once we do, those once mountainous obstacles become anthills that we can just step over. It’s a matter of thinking about God and that it’s always putting Him before ourselves. He knows us better than we know ourselves. It reminds me of Psalm 37:3-7. When we commit ourselves to Him first, He will make something of the lives we live and see out our hopeful desires and dreams.

… As I got off the bridge and onto I-5, I thought about how much larger God is than my life. While I focused on myself and my concerns, I was left paranoid, in fear, and frustrated. But as I started to put more trust in Him, things started to work out and I could really start to see the works in His kingdom. As I thought about what I did that day, I realized the selfishness and the sin I committed towards my friend that day. I needed to look to Him to help me through the realization that I now had to deal with. While I was not happy with what I have on my hands now, I know that He loves me and He will provide for my needs. Rather than try to paint my own picture, I allow God to use me as His canvas to paint a picture of His love, His glory, and will for me for everyone else to see.

As I passed the UW exit, I looked up and I saw a cross shining brightly over the highway off the Calvary building. I smiled with a sense of relief. It was just another reminder of all the things He’s done for all of us and just how amazing a God He is.

Reality Check…

The past year has been frustrating to say the least. There have been some bright spots, but for the most part, it had taken its toll on me. I’ve tried to maintain a positive attitude despite the problems that have risen and the events that affected me. The three concussions in the past year forcing me to quit a game I’ve loved to play for the past few years… all the job rejections that I’ve had to deal with… the relationships that I’ve cherished so much have started to fade away… my mental health slowly deteriorating due to my head injuries… my inability to work out my relationship with one of my best friends… and much more.

Over the past couple of weeks, these things started to overwhelm me. And in doing so, emotions started to flare a bit more. I started to get a lot more upset and more apathetic about things. My mind kept thinking “Screw going to church and the retreat. This job hunt is pointless. My degree was just a waste of thousands of dollars. There’s no point in staying in Seattle anymore.” I just surrounded myself with negativity and tried to verify my current situation with blame and anger. While I didn’t show it in public, I was constantly fuming. Negativity just swarmed my thoughts frequently. I started returning back to my old ways, becoming ticked off at life and isolating myself from everyone else whenever possible.

Then I was reminded of how selfish I started to become again…

Thoughts flooded my mind of the current state of the world and all the tragedies that have been occurring over the past few weeks: The hundred thousand people in Myanmar that have lost their lives, and the many more that have lost their homes, loved ones, and much more due to the cyclone. The ten thousand that died due to the earthquake in China in the past few days. It wasn’t just that, but other events as well: The genocides in Darfur, the HIV virus epidemic, the war in Iraq, and the struggles going on in Israel, the homeless that are across the US. So many of these events came up and forced me to think about my life right now… and how fortunate I should feel.

I’d become unthankful despite what God’s provided for me throughout my life. He provided me a place where I can live, a family that loves me for who I am despite my downfalls and struggles, a great group of friends that care about me and help me get back on my feet when I fall, two great roommates and a best friend that listen, give me advice and help me through the tough times. And ultimately the love that He alone provides me through the best of times and the worst of times. I had forgotten everything He’s done for me that it left me feeling broken and asking His forgiveness for what I had done. The fact of the matter is I could have be somewhere else in this world right now, struggling and suffering much, much more. What I have to deal with is nothing compared to what many in this world have to deal with.

All that I can do is be thankful for how good of a life that I’ve been given. For me to wallow in such self-centered thoughts and be frustrated about my future was not the kind of person that He asked me to be. It’s to use my resources and gifts that I have to provide to those that are in need for this world. And to be thankful for how amazing a situation I am in right now. God gave me a reality check and a swift kick in the… Well, you can pretty much finish this sentence. It’s what I needed to realize how good I have it right now.