A Fresh Season

Even though the Bible already says this, I am still often perplexed by how God's ways are completely different from man's ways. This year was not at all what I expected it to be, but life with God is hardly ever dull.

While, on the outward, summer seemed to be the brightest of the four seasons, I felt like my life was in a perpetually dark place. And now, with it being wintry and cold outside, my joy has never been more full. There are times when God enables me to catch a glimpse of His purposes in my life, and the past few weeks have been packed with times like this. Despite the first half of the year being filled with anger and pain, I can now see His faithful love in these very sorrows. God, in His mercy and kindness, would not see me continue down the road I was on, and allowed trials in every area that I might come out refined and made whole. What had felt to me like a striking from the hand of the Lord was, in fact, the loving kindness of the Lord.

Too much has happened for me to note it all down, but a few of the numerous things I am most thankful for this year includes:
1. Recognition of the reality of Jesus Christ, and the reality of my life in Him;
2. Purified relationships when all is said and done;
3. The privilege of offering up to my Savior that which I hold dear;
4. Receiving the vision for my life from the God of the Universe; and
5. Loving the person that I am, and am becoming.

My God is a God of wonders, and His faithfulness never ceases to captivate me. I am even more in love with my Redeemer, and I praise Him with all that I am.

"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" -Job 2:10b

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.


Post-Half Marathon Musings

With the Halfsy a day behind me, I am beginning to realize how much sacrifice is involved with the goal of training well and performing well---especially for a seasoned non-exerciser like me. To name a few of my alleged sacrifices:
1. Finance: New running gear, from the bottom to the...shoulders. The registration fee. Oh, and pre- and post-race massages.
2. Diet: Abstaining from my favorite junk food, which happens to be all of them.
3. Social: Saying no to activities to stick to the training schedule. Also, losing cool points with my on-and-off hobbling.
4. Physical: Encountering a foot injury. Not to mention the daily onset of muscle soreness.
5. Mental: Going mental. (I kid.)

Was it worth it? O YEA.

This 12-week experience has taught me a lot of things, especially the importance of discipline, and the importance of encouragement. God has been unbelievably faithful to me even in this, and has shown me that He deeply cares about the things that I care about, even right down to the number on my race bib. (Inside family story.)

And now, for a final recap:
Race: The Good Life Halfsy
Where: Lincoln, Nebraska
Date: Sunday, October 29, 2017
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Weather: Insanely cold and windy
Distance: 13.1 miles / 21 kilometers
Performance: 3:14:12 or 14:48/mile

Also, my office Halloween costume tomorrow muahaha.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." -2 Timothy 4:7


Growing Pains

The past 2 weeks have been extremely eventful on many fronts.

Work has been filled with "healthy tensions" (as my boss calls it) and encouraging interactions with people in education research. While these things sometimes leave me with a throbbing headache, I am immensely thankful for the opportunity to grow professionally and personally. One interaction with a former statistics professor made me see the importance of being content with where I am at and what I am doing. While I still desire to go back to school again for further equipping, I thank God for helping me see the value of the work I am doing right here and now, and for refining the motivations behind my work.

My body, I suppose, has also been undergoing healthy tensions as my running distance continues to increase. I ended up looking like an Asian zombie at work one day, and was just about told to go home even before the lunch hour rolled around. I rested as much as I could, and felt ready to go the distance. Sadly, my mojo died the following week when I sprained my right foot. I ended up really looking like an Asian zombie as I limped around all day at work. I can't count the number of times I bursted out laughing at myself. I suspect more hilarity will ensue as I return to my training this week.

Oh, and I also turned 26. God has been so good to me.



Battered and Fried

A few months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a half-marathon. "This is as young as I'll ever be," I reasoned. So I did. I paid the fee, downloaded the beginner's training schedule, resolved to increase my fruit intake, bought a pair of mad expensive running shoes, and got to running at least thrice a week. Actually, "running" may be a bit of a generous term here; "jogging" would be more appropriate.

I am now entering into week 5 of training, and just about ready to throw in the towel. I told my brother -who has completed two half-marathons to date- that I used to be tired all the time. But now, thankfully, I only feel tired and sore all the time.

Today, right after I got home from work, I mustered up just enough energy to climb up the stairs, change into my pajamas, and fall on my bed. I woke up from my restless nap just in time to find out that I missed the monthly all-church prayer. Bah.

The half-marathon will take place at the end of October this year. Just FYI in case you stop hearing from me after that. You'll know why.

Double bah.

I do have to admit, however, that I have been feeling extremely good despite the aches from my long runs. The production of endorphins probably has a lot to do with it, but I am also thankful that I am already getting to experience the value of hard work and discipline. Clich├ęd, but pretty darn true.

The purchase which led to my ramen-noodle diet.


'Tis September

Sometimes, each season feels like an entire year to me. This summer was certainly just like that, and while I will miss the longer daylight hours, I am quite ready for fall to arrive.

I recently thought about where I was, where I am right now, and where I am going, and I couldn't help but marvel at the redemptive work of my good and faithful God.

It was just a few short months ago when every fiber of my being wanted to walk out on God, the church, and this normal Christian life. Many sunny days were spent fuming, driving around town for no reason whatsoever, filling up on worldly junk, and avoiding reality. But even in all of this, God met me. He met me in my anger in the form of a loving sister who spared her Thursday mornings to have coffee with me; He met me in my aimless driving in the form of invitations to friends' homes; He met me in my junk consumption by showing me its temporal joy; and He met me in my avoidance of reality by being the most real thing I have ever known.

I am learning, as much as I do not want to, that I truly need the church, and that forgiving is simply a part of loving. I am also learning, perhaps for the googillianth time, how to accept what is and look to Jesus as the best 'what is' of all time. In short, I have been aging much quicker than I normally do.

I praise Him for carrying me to this moment when I am able to thank Him for the valley. What great things He has done for me, and in me.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." -John 6:68


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