Life Without Fluff

Welp. I've just come to realize that it has been 10 years since I first started blogging here. While I have struggled to be a consistent journaler since I left my carefree high school days, I am thankful for a writing outlet such as this.

Although it had been nearly a decade since I graduated from high school, I was still in what felt like a perpetual state of being a student. First came college, then came my first not-sure-what-to-do-in-life crisis, then came my Bachelor's stint, then came my second still-not-sure-what-to-do-in-life crisis, then came my Master's stint, and then, I suddenly stopped being a student last year. It was quite an odd feeling at first, but I quickly got used to it and even reveled in it.

Despite not being a student, I continued to serve in the (international) student ministry in my church, and somehow felt like I was leading a double life every day. I would only be a friend to my co-workers every week day, from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and then I would spend the rest of my time with friends much younger than me, doing things I was slowly losing the capacity to do. An entire year of this eventually led to my tank running way below empty, and, unfortunately, a massive blowup.

With some distance between then and now, God has given me some clarity, but much is still left to confusion, anger, and pain. However, I am learning that I do not need to understand it all, nor do I need to fix it all. All that God is requiring of me is to fear Him and to trust Him. And so, here I am, trying yet again to exercise faith as I walk into September and join the ministry in my church comprising of young professionals. As September closes in, many fears and doubts keep circling in my head: What if it doesn't work out? What if I don't find solid relationships? What about the bridges I have just burned?

But alas, all I can do is fear Him and trust Him. Also, God, in His cool and glorious fashion, gave me just the right word today as these thoughts surfaced again: "You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me." -Psalm 139:5

So there I have it. He'll take care of what is to come, and what is behind me, too.

On a less serious note, this alpaca friend of mine has been making me smile stupidly all day. My housemate is simply the sweetest, and always brings back souvenirs that make me squeal. Yes, including the Swiss Army knife that one time.

"Huh? I can't hear you with all the fluff around my ears."


None Like You

This 25th year of mine has been extremely exciting and extremely mundane at the same time, with the mundane preferred over the excitement at times.

The first half of the year has greeted me with many disappointing realities of life; realities like broken relationships, unmet expectations, being stuck in the same spot, and sheer loneliness. Not that any of them happened to me.

Just kidding. They all happened, some of which are still happening.

But as I walk through them all and keep my feet from fleeing as they are always wont to do, God has greeted me with many wonderful realities of life, too; realities like the pleasure I find in my work, family and friends who voluntarily stick with me through the seasons, my awkward but sure growth from the sorrows, and, the most real thing of all, His sufficiency for me. The Bible does not kid when it quotes God as saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I stopped keeping track of how many times I have already messed up, but it would be even harder for me to keep track of how many times God's grace has rushed over me like a torrent. There is none like Him.

Remember these things, O Jacob,
    and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
    O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
    and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.
-Isaiah 44:21-22


The Good Work

Today, I hit my one-year mark of working full-time at the Nebraska Department of Education. I am finally off probation. Yay!

I am thankful for a great many things related to my work. Beyond just the income, I am also thankful for these other things it brings me: joy, friendships, food conversations, a nifty standing desk, opportunities for growth, the example of a good boss, and the occasional treat in the break room. Teehee.

I am also thankful for all that God has taught me, and perhaps is still teaching me, through my work this past year: to welcome interruptions, to be generous with my reputation, to give my best in the littlest tasks to the biggest projects, to be fearless at admitting wrong, to find interest in people, and to hold all good things with open hands.

Truly, God has been faithful in every way. I am often overwhelmed by God's goodness during my morning walk to work each day...and then I just become overwhelmed by the work throughout the day. Oy.

Also, as an update to my previous post in March, I discovered a week ago that I got the work visa; good for three years, and maybe more. God could not have been more clear to me that He is not finished with my Lincoln chapter just yet. While work has been on one of the sunnier sides of my life, other areas seem to be permanently residing on the non-sunny side.

I am deeply in need of His fresh grace and mercies as I learn and re-learn how to walk humbly with Him and to love those around me. It has been t-u-p-h, but God still remains good.

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"
-2 Samuel 7:18

Honored to form a right-skewed distribution with these cool kids, one of whom is also my boss.


A Surrendered Will

The past few weeks have gone by rather slowly, and rather painfully. I have struggled to find the words to speak with God, to be a part of the church, to remain true before others, and to let endurance grow. Just recently finding out that the possibility of staying in Lincoln is now much higher for me than I previously thought, I am once again gripped with fear, frustration, and rage. I know that my God is faithful and good, and only the best will come from following Him. But sometimes, my messy emotions and auto-repeated thoughts can drown this promise out. While every fiber of my being desires to flee, all my soul can do is say, "Yet I want Your will above mine."

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." -James 1:2-3


Mr. and Mrs. Ng

So, my best friend is now wedded to her best friend.

What a great privilege it was to celebrate with them, and to walk with them. God is indeed so very good, and I praise Him for such a stunning display of His love and grace from the bride and groom themselves, and for the perfect weather, and for each person going all out to make this wedding day one for the books. Of course, there were far too many highlights of the day, but one thing I will remember and cherish for a long time to come is the delicious nasi lemak breakfast. And the chicken rice lunch.

Just kidding.

What I will truly remember and cherish for a long time to come is watching the groom's face as they exchanged their marital vows before God and His body, the church. His face was giddy with delight, much like a child who has just received the best Christmas present ever. Indeed, she is one of the best gifts.

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Ng.
December 17, 2016


Homebound and Not In a Hurry

I have now lost track of the number of flights I have taken back to Malaysia, but here I am again, waiting to catch my first flight out of Omaha for my long haul back home.

2016 has already been quite the year, yet there is still so much more to celebrate these next two weeks with my best friend's wedding and Christmas with the family. Year after year, God has overflown my cup with His goodness and faithfulness.

Just last night, each of us were sharing at our last Candlewood International Fellowship gathering of the year how God has grown us these past few months. While I always feel like God is teaching me 10 lessons at a time, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to share one thing, and that is the lesson of not being in a hurry.

With my level of joy being highly correlated with my level of productivity far too many times, God has been training me to receive delays, interruptions, and fruitlessness with humility and joy. These things, as most perfectionists can attest, are nearly impossible to endure, much less with gladness. And yet, it is not, for all things are possible with Christ. I am still at a distance from where I need to be, but much further from where I used to be. I praise Him.

"You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." -James 5:8


Giving Thanks

'Tis the night before Thanksgiving, and with a bottle of beer by me, and the Christmas tree all decked out downstairs, I am suddenly reminded of this dusty blog that I own.

Reading the last post I had written back in 2014 when I first came back to Lincoln to begin my graduate career, I am simply amazed by all that God has done and brought me through. A lot can happen in two months, so imagine how much more took place these past two years.

Words escape me as I try to describe the many seasons God has carried me into and out of. Still, I must try.

My first year of graduate school was filled with many dramatic moments, as far as I can recall. I was quickly placed in a role of spiritual leadership and stepped down just as quickly when the weight of my life became too heavy to carry. I made an urgent trip back home when, in just one week, my grandmother had heart failure, my uncle got diagnosed with cancer, and my dad was scheduled for a heart surgery. I started developing a desire for marriage and at the same time struggled to collect my messy feelings for a friend and brother. I moved into a rented house and shared a room with another person for the first time in my life. I started baking scones.

My second year of graduate school was filled with less dramatic moments, but dramatic nonetheless. I graduated and, after three job interviews, received all three job offers. I had the utmost pleasure of having my parents visit Lincoln for the first time since God planted me here in 2010. I ran a red light while vacationing with my parents and got into my first car accident in the US of A. I wrote my first research paper in my role as a statistical research specialist at the Nebraska Department of Education. I had my first work travel to Chicago for a software conference. I started wearing spectacles, jewelry, perfume, and lipstick (gasp!), not necessarily in that order.

There is no life I'd rather live apart from life with my Jesus. I am thankful for a job I thoroughly enjoy, kind co-workers and bosses, the international student ministry God has called me to, my household, my church, my family, my friends who have become like family, my driver's license, the cozy penguin flannel pajamas I am currently donning...but I am most thankful for my Jesus who is infinitely better than all these things. May He give me grace to still declare this long after my youth and strength are gone.

There are many mornings when I wake up and cannot believe that God has given me this portion. And yet, He has. I praise Him with all of my being, and cannot wait to worship Him face-to-face with all of Heaven. It is a day to come soon.

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." -Colossians 2:15