Saturday, December 29, 2007

The blessing of a break

Well, I’ve been back in California for two days now and pretty much over whatever jetlag I may have suffered—maybe those homeopathic no-jetlag pills that Marsha got me really did work! Anyway, I’ve been enjoying the last couple of days. I don’t have anything to do until I go back to work on the 2nd, and back to class on the 7th, and I’ve been sleeping, eating, sleeping, watching movies and more sleeping since I got back.

Actually, I did quite a lot of that while I was in Hong Kong for three weeks. Not so much of the sleeping. And a lot more eating. But these last few weeks have been a time of recuperation and reenergizing.


As many of you know, I was back in Hong Kong for the first full Fung family reunion in five years (check out THAT alliteration!).




And what a glorious time we had. With nine of us (three brothers, two sisters-in-law, one niece, three nephews) packed into our parents’ four-bedroom apartment and our parents a short drive away, much time was spent together, watching late-night football/soccer, talking, playing cards, drinking lots of tea … and did I mention the eating? (I’ve still to break through the 140 ceiling, though …) We saw the sights over the first few days, and did plenty of shopping.





Hong Kong also meant having home-cooked food, and lots of it. And a fully-stocked fridge (yes!). ☺


And seeing old friends.


Being in Hong Kong also meant being away from Pasadena (yes, I’m very good at drawing logical conclusions). But it meant space and time to process, something which I hadn’t had occasion or opportunity to do in a number of months. So I was afforded the chance to gain a more objective perspective after months of barreling along just trying to hold on to the speeding locomotive of life and not to get left behind. And it was good, especially with re-rooting me in God and removing unnecessary and unhelpful expectations from certain relationships.


I’m happy where I am. Life is still tough. Responsibilities still remain (and, according to the parents, will only increase). But the blessing of a break is welcomed. Thank you, God.


I hope that you have had and are having a peaceful and restful break, and that you see God’s richest blessing in your life this new year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hong Kong Hello

I’ve been in Hong Kong for a week and a half now. It’s been a blast so far; it’s the first time we’ve had all the family (parents, three sons, two daughters-in-law, four grandchildren) together since 2002, so understandably it’s a little bit exciting. ☺ These last ten days have been a taster of what I missed during the busyness of the last few months: being able to enjoy life, to spend time with people, building our relationships, playing cards, laughing, sleeping in, eating with friends, being able to read for fun (I read Tuesdays with Morrie in a couple hours this afternoon), to spend some quality time with God.

I haven’t slept all that great—those of you who know me won’t be surprised. But I’ve gotten more rest than I did during the last couple of quarters! And I’ve had time to process a lot of thoughts that I didn’t previously. I even managed to catch Arsenal playing, though the Seahawks losing to the Panthers balanced out the jubilation of watching Arsenal finally beat Chelsea (first time in three years!).


There’s still much processing to do. I’ve yet to articulate any of the lessons I’ve been learning from the last few days, or put on paper any of the things that God’s been telling me; so there’s no moral for this blog, just a little update.


I hope your December is peaceful and blessed, wherever you are.

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's been two years

Propinquity: I miss it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thirty Good Days

The last month has been busy like you wouldn’t believe. It’s still busy—we’re coasting into the last week and a half of the quarter, and I have two papers, a final project and a final exam (having already completed three short papers in the last week).

It’s also been a lot of fun (mostly; I’m not going to document my vehicular week from hell). Let’s start with a month ago, when Tim was here for a week. What did we do?

We went to see Lifehouse in San Diego with Naph.



We saw Gabe and Maribeth and Matt.


We were able to go to the beach and go shopping for cheap stuff (the exchange rate is ridiculous).


We went to see Colbie Caillat in Malibu, with Amanda and Candice.



And we played lots of cards and dominoes.




And then it was Amanda’s birthday, for which we went to the Griffith Observatory and ‘hiked’ (for about a half hour, so it doesn’t really count).




And then, after a couple more weeks of paper-writing, class-attending, and working, it was my birthday weekend! And what a weekend it was. I’m not really one for huge parties where I don’t get to talk to people; instead, I got to have six (yes, six) meals with various friends.


First, pizza and The Office/Scrubs on Thursday night with the ‘marrieds’: DJ & Mara, Matt & Sara, and John & Grace, (except Grace was ill).
Then, on Friday morning, had dim sum with the usual crew. Chuck, Andy, Wendy and I all had birthdays last weekend—hooray for Valentine’s babies!


On Monday (my actual birthday), I went out for Chipotle lunch with Jon and Will, from work; and then Monday evening, post-class (woohoo for class on my birthday!), a few of us went to Chandra’s for dinner.



Tuesday night was celebration #5, with Gabe, Maribeth and Matt, and Micah & Christie.



And finally, on Wednesday night, Benjie treated me to birthday sushi.



Thursday night was Thanksgiving night, which I enjoyed with my neighbors, and yesterday, we went to see the Christmas tree get lit at One Colorado. (It was a little bit underwhelming, I have to say; though my arms did get a serious work-out from carrying Eli).




So it’s been a good month; a hard month and a hard-working month, but a fun month. I’m looking forward to Christmas and heading back to Hong Kong in just under two weeks. Whoop!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I love, you love

I was thinking about how we love the things that those we love, love. Does that make sense? We come to love the things that are dear to those we love because they are dear to the ones we love. So we care about social justice, about helping the poor and oppressed, about human trafficking, about spousal abuse, about inner city violence, about war and peace, about loving our neighbor, about our own well-being, because these things are on God’s heart. Because he cares about them, and because we care about him, we come to care about the things that he cares about.

I looked back at the years when Ally and I were together, and I realized that we didn’t really do this. I love to play sports, and to play music; she loved to play hockey and to dance. But over the three years of our relationship, she came to see me play soccer once; she heard me play music (outside of a church context) once or twice; I saw her play hockey once and I went dancing with her … less than once. We didn’t share the things we loved with each other; or at least we didn’t take an interest in the things the other person loved—I know that was true for me, anyway. And that was probably a good gauge of how the relationship was, even though things seemed rosy otherwise and we seemed ‘compatible’.


If I don’t share my life with the ones I love, if I’m not taking an interest in the things they love … I’m worse off.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Dear Dad

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Love,

Jus.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

To the ones I love ...

This is for you:

So far away from where you are
These miles have torn us worlds apart
And I miss you

Yeah, I miss you


So far away from where you are

Standing underneath the stars

And I wish you were here


I miss the years that were erased

I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face

I miss all the little things

I never thought that they’d mean everything to me

Yeah, I miss you

And I wish you were here


I feel the beating of your heart

I see the shadows of your face

Just know that wherever you are

Yeah, I miss you

And I wish you were here


I miss the years that were erased

I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face

I miss all the little things

I never thought that they’d mean everything to me

Yeah, I miss you

And I wish you were here


So far away from where you are

These miles have torn us worlds apart

And I miss you

Yeah, I miss you

And I wish you were here


From Where You Are, Lifehouse

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Poetic venting

Caterpillar to butterfly
without the cocoon

Changing, growing, becoming

all out in the open for everyone to see

Wanting to be hidden

in the safety of obscurity


I feel like a child

jumping around trying to wave my arms so people will see me

“This is not who I’ll always be

Don’t write me off yet

Wait till you see who I become

what I become

I’ll make you proud”


I guess if you’re sticking with me now

you must love me more than I love myself

coz I don’t think I would …


Maybe that’s what I need:

your perspective

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Please pray



View Larger Map

Here in Pasadena, we're not immediately affected by the fires, but the sky is filled with smoke and the air is soot- and ash-laden. As I'm writing this, hundreds of thousands of people in Southern California have been displaced from their homes. And with the winds continuing to blow and no rain forecast in the coming week, all we can do, it seems, is hope and pray that the winds die down and God sends some rain to bring some respite.

Please also pray for all of those affected.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quick post

Life has been real, real busy lately—in fact, I’m only able to blog tonight because I can’t sleep right now (too many thoughts, too much to deal with, too much to sort out). Anyway, like I said, things have been busy: work, school, sports, keeping up with friends, etc.

This next week is also busy: tomorrow and Saturday is Prospective Students Weekend (hey, possible newbies!); Tim gets in on Sunday (yay!), we head straight down to San Diego to see Lifehouse (yay!); Monday I have a paper due (yay?); Wednesday I have a midterm (umm …); Thursday we go see a Lakers pre-season game (yay!); Friday we go see Colbie Caillat (yay!); and Saturday we have a crazy day of flag football and soccer (yay!). So I’m simultaneously looking forward to the week … and dreading how tired I’m gonna be at the end of it (and we’re only halfway through the quarter).


More thoughts when I have time … hopefully.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tree 6369: A Short Story

Here's a short story I wrote ...

Tree 6369


She was full of life and energy, a breath of fresh air, and she exploded into my life one summer. It wasn’t like my life was particularly boring or meaningless up till then, so when I say that she was a spark, it means that she really was. Quick-witted, quick to laugh, quick to become attached.


I fell fast. My dad used to say that we don’t ‘fall’ in love; we always have a choice about who we love. I don’t think we can choose or simply decide not to feel certain emotions, to feel certain ways—all we can do is decide what to do with those feelings and emotions. All I know is, the moment I saw her, I was in over my head. And that was the start of it.


She made me step outside of my comfort zone. Because of her, I’d do things I never thought I would—cast aside responsibilities far too tightly-gripped, act spontaneously, step out on a limb. Sometimes, when I had time to catch my breath, I’d wonder if I was becoming more or less myself. She challenged me, tested me, stretched me, with late-night conversations, penetrating comments accompanied by sly smiles while her eyes glittered with mischief. She made me feel completely comfortable in my skin for the first time in years. Every touch was intoxicating, every word inebriating, every laugh breathtaking. She was like no one I’d ever met.


I suppose the term for what happened would be a ‘whirlwind romance’. The ‘whirlwind’ part is especially apt: she came in without warning, stirred stuff up and threw it all around, and then left as quickly as she’d appeared. She said that I knew her so well that it scared her away. I never did understand that.


“Isn’t it a good thing to know someone well?” I asked.


“I’m complicated,” was all she said. Her smile wasn’t reflected in her eyes.


Isn’t it funny how a person can turn your world upside down and make you laugh, make you hurt? And yet that person may not be the one you spend the rest of your life with. Coz I’m realizing that if you open yourself up, there are lots of people who can turn your world upside down and make you laugh, make you hurt, and not be the one that you spend the rest of your life with. Maybe that’s just the way it is; maybe that’s just the way of life.


Before she left, I wrote her a letter and left it on her table. I don’t think I said those three words. But I meant them.


“You’ve captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love."
Song of Songs 4:9

Why DTRs should not be conducted over Messenger

Why DTRs should not be conducted over Messenger

Her:
I’m thinking.

Him:
You're thinking … what?

Her:
That I need to think more …

Him:
About …?

Her:
About talking about this so indirectly.

Him:
You mean, talking about you and me like we're not talking about you and me?

Her:
Yep.

Him:
Okay …

Her:
Yikes, well, my roommate’s pestering me to go to dinner coz we’re meeting people. We’ll talk, though.

Him:
Okay.

Her:
Okay. Talk to you later …

“Later”: at 10 months and counting.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Things I've discovered

Things I’ve discovered in the last couple days (in no particular order):
  1. I wear my heart on my sleeve
  2. to “cut a rug” is to dance
  3. watching Pride & Prejudice makes me miss England (and English girls? Haha.)
  4. I can score a touchdown in flag football—beginner’s skill?
  5. although I’m the youngest of three, I’m a functional first-born; nonetheless, I do display some youngest child tendencies, e.g. for (mild) spotlight-seeking
  6. Tim’s coming to California!!

Thanks to friends and family who’ve listened to me, talked with me and prayed with me. You keep me going.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Discomfiture

God spoke to me through my crazy dreams last night. Not so much in an audible booming voice, but more in what he revealed: about relationships, about life struggles, about my wanting to escape, feeling pressured and pursued (not in a good way).

I want to remain in Christ.


See, for the last couple weeks—I guess, since the end of summer assignments meant I had more time to process—I’ve been incredibly frustrated with life. And over the last few days, I’ve come to realize that one of the main reasons for this frustration is that I can’t have what I want. Not right now, anyway; and this applies to a number of things in my life. But I know that it’s not the right time, it’s not the right season.


And so the gist of Brandon’s sermon in church comes home: life—the Christian life—is made up of seasons. And the one that I’m in now is one of frustration, of helplessness, of waiting, of patience, of difficulty, of discontent, of struggle. And I’m realizing that that’s okay—I don’t think the psalmist was particularly exuberant when he expressed his feelings of abandonment by God in Psalm 22; I don’t think he was in a particularly happy place. But he knew where to turn. And so do I.


God is preparing me, reshaping me, pruning me. And it hurts. It hurts like hell. And I kick and shout because I don’t like it, because I don’t want to be hurting or in pain or in difficulty. But my Father holds me tighter in his arms, tears in his eyes because he hurts to see me in pain, and he whispers: “I know this isn’t nice; I know it hurts; I know you would rather be anywhere but here. But it’s for your good. It’s for your future. And after this season, there will be a season of joy. Though the sorrow may last for a night, the joy comes in the morning. After the hurricane, the sun will burst through.”


It’s like that picture I had a few years ago—for a friend originally—but I realized soon after that it applied equally to me, and to probably all of my Christian brothers and sisters. It was the picture of a horse, straining at the bit, wanting to be given its head and being released to run. And God, the rider, was crouched close to the horse’s ear and saying, “Just a little longer, and then you can go as fast as you want …” There is a time for everything, a season for everything (Eccl. 6). If we try to push ahead, to force the right time to come around, we’re working on our agenda, on our timing, which doesn’t—can’t—take into consideration the bigger picture, the universal scheme of things.


There’s a human desire to see things done the way we want them done, at the time that we want. But life is bigger than us.


Fortunately, God is bigger than life. And it’s in trusting him—especially in the times when we just want out—that we grow the most. Coz that’s what relationship’s about: growing in trust and love, learning to let God do what he’s doing, coz he knows far better than we do what he’s up to.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I take it back ...

I do actually like the rain. I stood outside in the pouring rain for a little while tonight.

I miss rain ... [as long as it doesn't disrupt any of my best-laid plans.]

But seriously, listening to rainfall and having that as your lullaby, while curled up with a warm duvet/comforter? Wonderful.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Storming in California

It was a year ago that I first experienced rain in California. And I wasn't too impressed.

Now this ...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mid-September

So it’s been awhile since I let y’all know what’s up—since Seattle, I’ve been busy finishing off my summer class assignments and exams, which I did on Tuesday of last week. So it’s been a week since I got done.

Since then, I’ve been trying to recover from the year. It’s been long and hard, and I’m worn out. My body and spirit are tired—not just in the way that will be remedied by a good night’s sleep, but on a deeper level: I feel tired in my very blood stream; I’m BONE tired. And I’m not quite sure how to remedy it, or whether or not I’ll be ready for the new school year to start in six days’ time.


Seattle

I was in Seattle for a week, from August 25 to September 1. I had a great time, catching up with Hannah, Phil and Jason, people I hadn’t really seen in years.


I hadn’t been to Seattle since Christmas 1992, when I was ten, and it was cool to walk the streets of a city for which I have much affinity but (if you think about it) not much reason to have this affinity. There was a part of me that really felt at home in the Pacific Northwest, with the mountains, the trees, the various lakes, the beautiful port of Seattle, the cooler climate, the drizzle.


For the most part (six days out of seven), it was warm, sunny and breezy. And I commented more than once that if the weather was like that the whole year round, I might consider moving. But it’s not. So I’m sticking to California for now …


So much to say

There’s so much I could write about. I could write about the trials of relationships and dating and match.com; I could write about keeping in shape and healthy and P90X; I could write about finally finding a church to be a part of—Ecclesia; I could write about being desperate for changing and starving for truth.


But I only have so much time to write about life, and if you want to know more about these things … ask me.


If any path had been different

I often wonder about the journey that God has led me on; it’s been, at times, long, tortuous and trying, while also being a wonderful process of learning and loving. I think about how things could have been different if I’d made different choices, or if something or other had worked out differently …


Oh, what I could (have) be(en). I could (have) end(ed) up:
actor, rockstar, lawyer, novelist, professional athlete, cop, politician, pastor, doctor, teacher; in London, Morocco, Hong Kong, Seattle, Texas or DC.

Sometimes, I look back. And then I look forward. And wonder where I’m going. Time will tell, I suppose. Right now, I feel like a running back, waiting for the right gap to open up in the opposition’s defense so I can go for it and really hit my stride. But the right gap is taking its time to open up at the moment, so patience and perseverance are a constant prayer request.


Photos

I realize that some of you who are on my blog don’t have membership with Facebook, and so don’t get to see many of my pics. So here are some links for you to check out:


Seattle trip album #1

Seattle trip album #2

Back in California

Thursday, September 6, 2007

From the pen of a loved one ...

Busy lives. People rushing. Cars honking, bicycles, rickshaws, taxis. Self-involved.

See the world through your own eyes, not understanding perspectives or preferences of others. Focused on here and now not there or then.

‘Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ I don’t want to live with my eyes on trouble every single day. To be consumed with here and now and limitations and problems. To live in the bubble of what I see, hear and do.

I want possibilities. Endless possibilities. The Far Pavilions and the horizon and the dreaming spires. I want ideas and dreams and gifts and waiting and hoping. I want to know the creator of the world in everything I do. To know the Spirit and the Soul behind the world at work in my character and personality. Not to stick with here and now or me exactly as I am.

Impatient for change but change takes time. Cogs and wheels turn. Things are set in motion. Things grow and are harvested. Things rot. Some are reborn.

God has plans for me. Far beyond small ideas he wants world-changers.

First he wants me-changing – hungry and thirsty. Pure through and through. Humble and meek. Giving mercy and receiving mercy from others. No room for fierce individuals with ideas like a fort that they hide inside.

Open, ready, generous, eager.

Come on Jesus.

Ally Maughan, 6th July 2005

Monday, August 27, 2007

Suffering

… it’s only when you hit bottom and are desperate enough that things start to get better. (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, 105)

… we are learning how to suffer well. Not to avoid it but to feel the full force of it. It is important that churches acknowledge suffering and engage it—never, ever presenting the picture that if you follow Jesus, your problems will go away. Following Jesus may bring on problems you never imagined.


Suffering is a place where clich├ęs don’t work and words often fail. … And it is in our suffering together that we find out we are not alone. We find out who really loves us. We find out that with these people around us, we can make it through anything. And that gives us something to celebrate.


Ultimately our gift to the world around us is hope. Not blind hope that pretends everything is fine and refuses to acknowledge how things are. But the kind of hope that comes from staring pain and suffering right in the eyes and refusing to believe that this is all there is. It is what we all need—hope that comes not from going around suffering but from going through it. (Bell, Elvis, 170)


La vie est dure. Life is hard. It is hard to be a Christian, but it is too dull to be anything else. (Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, 43)

Past, Present, Future

On Saturday, I was on two planes and in three airports. I always journal when I’m on planes and in airports; maybe it’s all of the time I have while waiting, or the association that I have with airports as symbols of transition and change that stirs something in me. Maybe I just think a lot and these are some of the few times I have to write my thoughts down.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about time. I’ve now been in the States for over a year. It’s been a tough year—probably the toughest yet; but it’s been a good year—one of the best. I don’t feel like I’m living what Brennan Manning describes as “a life of surrender without reservation” (The Signature of Jesus, 91). It’s where I’d love to be.


Things are busy, life is busy, there’s always a lot to do, Brennan acknowledges. But his subsequent comment jarred me from my stupor of busyness: “What of prayer, silence, solitude, and simple presence of the indwelling God?” (104). Take time, get out of the busyness for a while, center down, practice the presence. It is the difference between a tired, strenuous, stretched-thin, mediocre existence, and the fullness of life.


***

You’ve probably heard that saying, “The past is gone, the future is not yet here; all we have is the present” or some variant of it. It’s so important to dwell in the present, to make the most of the opportunities we have in the here and now, not missing out on them because we’re looking back at what once was, or looking forward to what might be.


Of course, we learn from the past, we remember the past; and we look forward to what is to come, we work towards hopes and dreams. But the only thing we can do anything about is the present.


And rest assured, time and experience work themselves out in more than just a straight line. For instance, I’m continually astounded when songs that I’ve written years ago for someone else come to speak exactly into my situation or into someone else’s situation; songs like “I Miss You”, “Undone”, “Somewhere I Don’t Need to Care”, “What Happens Now?” and “Her”.


Human experience differs as cultures, times and situations change. But on another level, it’s basically the same. Hence the appeal of the Bible: here, we find stories of tragedy, of dysfunctional families, of hard lives; songs of love; words of advice that hold true today; examples of people who lived ordinary lives, hard lives, faithful lives. And it speaks to us. Because we’re human too.


***

“Only the one who has experienced it can know what the love of Jesus Christ is. Once you have experienced it, nothing else in the world will seem more beautiful or desirable.” (Manning, Signature, 42)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Music = Mnemonic

I love music. I always have. If I’m awake, you’ll rarely find me without music, unless I’m spending some quiet time with God. I suppose this aspect of my life comes down to being a creature of culture rather than being my parents’ child, coz I don’t remember music being a feature of our household. So it’s interesting to see what a huge part it plays in my life.

Anyway, I was thinking about some of the songs and their associated memories in my own life. Here’s the few I can remember:


  • Boyz II Men, ‘4 Seasons of Loneliness’; Celine Dion, Falling into You and ‘My Heart Will Go On’: Rachel, Christine and my GCSEs; playing downball after school with Gabe; making music with Dawen.
  • Rich Mullins, Songs: summer 1997 in Melbourne.
  • Aerosmith, ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’: summer 1998; watching Lethal Weapon 4 with Phil.
  • Edwin McCain, ‘I’ll Be’; Shawn Mullins, ‘Shimmer’; Paula Cole, ‘I Don’t Want To Wait’: Dawson’s Creek, Katie Holmes, my A-levels at boarding school.
  • U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind; David Gray, White Ladder; Coldplay: Parachutes: Emma, Katie Holmes-a-like, and my first year at UCL; drinking lots and lots of tea with Sukhi.
  • Lifehouse, No Name Face: Smallville, my second year at UCL, Katie, going to Paris.
  • Jars of Clay, The Eleventh Hour; the Bridget Jones Soundtrack: Ally, Uganda, and falling in love; lying under the stars, waking up early; making a best friend.
  • Fono, Goesaroundcomesaround: leading cell group with Tim, my final year at UCL, Rachel.
  • Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown: my first year at LST.
  • Duke Special, My Villain Heart: Daren and Helen.
  • Jack Johnson, In Between Dreams and A Weekend at the Greek: fall/winter 2005, lots of movies and late night chats with Danie.
  • The Fray, The Reason EP; anything by Ben Folds or Guster: Laura, summer 2006, graduation.
  • John Mayer, Continuum: fall 2006, moving to Pasadena, starting at Fuller.
  • Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas: Christmas 2006, Urbana, hanging out with Jeff and the CPC gang in St Louis.
  • Lifehouse, Who We Are: Tim and Tiff’s wedding, Colorado, summer 2007.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wisdom & Concentration

My verses for the last couple weeks:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. (Eccl. 12:12b)

A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way? (Prov. 20:24)


Thankfully, paper #3 is done. I just have one more paper (7-page) to do by Saturday. I’m fairly impressed with myself, thankful to God and to my study-buddies for helping me concentrate. Somehow, I managed to reel out a 4-page book report in a weekend, a 15-page research paper on inerrancy in four days, and a 10-page research paper on New Testament ethics in three days.


Maybe my multitasking (i.e. writing papers while watching baseball, movies, and taking multiple breaks) really does divide my concentration …


Nah, any correlation is surely only chance. ☺

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Single?

It’s been a week full of crazy conversations about relationships and being single and DTRs*.

Sure, there are advantages to being single.


But sometimes, as one friend put it, “All I want is to know; I just want to know that in the end, something will work out …”


And when it’s a subject this close to home, just saying “Trust God and he’ll pull through” just doesn’t quite cut it.

***

* Abbr. for “define the relationship”, which may be described as: “‘the talk’ when a male and female who've been seeing each other a bit decide if they're officially a couple.” Go here for the “Unofficial [Christian] Singleness Vocab Guide”. You’ll be enlightened. Seriously.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Muse


In some exciting news (well, it's exciting for me), I wrote my first song for the first time in a long time; it’s called “Muse/Claire”:

You're my muse;
this song's for you
and all you help me do.
You lift me when I'm blue ...
When I see you,
the words come crashing out,
emotions singing loud;
you've got me spinning round.

You're my muse;
I may be in love too
when I stand next to you
and your eyes see right through
my hiding place.
You hold my heart in your hands,
cradled gently
coz you understand ...

This song's for you
and only you.
This song's for you;
there's only you.

You may never see
the effect you have on me
and how you make me be.
So what I'll do
is keep on writing,
keep on singing,
and hope that one day you'll hear me
and you'll know somehow ...

It’s good to be able to write again.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Poor Wayfaring Stranger

Today, I spoke to:
  1. Laura, my wonderful Wheatonite friend, who I met randomly in London over a year ago. I hadn’t spoken to her in a few months, and it was so good to talk. She’s in North Carolina, will be heading back to New York, and then on to Illinois for the start of the semester. I haven’t seen her since last summer.
  2. Tim, my best buddy, who I met at church in London almost six years ago. I hadn’t spoken to him in a few weeks, so it was good to see how he was doing in his new job, and to share how things had been going for me the last few weeks. He’s a couple weeks into being a doctor in Kent, and I saw him a month and a half ago for his wedding in Colorado.

After talking to these two, I’m missing friends. The life of a global traveler, a third culture kid, isn’t unexciting: moving around, experiencing different cultures, cities and countries, making lots of new friends, trying out new lifestyles, visiting new churches, eating different food. And, it’s true, I have friends (and/or family) all over the world: Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Nigeria, France, Germany, the UK, and the US.

But … having friends everywhere means just that: they’re everywhere. I can’t just hang out with Tim and Tiff whenever I want, or Laura, or attend Pete and Jo’s wedding (tomorrow), or see my niece and nephews in Australia, or have my mom’s home cooking. Every time I transplant, I leave behind great friends and great memories, and though, thanks to the wonders of global communication technology, I can still keep in touch with friends and family, I miss being present with them.


Perhaps this is especially brought home at this time, when so many friends are going away for the end of the summer: Liz back to MI, Chuck back to OK, Matt & Sara to Fresno and Canada, Stephen to Argentina. To be sure, I’m missing their company.


But I’m also going to have a chance to get reacquainted with old friends: I’m heading up to Seattle at the end of August, when I’ll get to see Jason (baseball in London), Hannah (church in HK), and Phil (also church in HK), people I haven’t seen in years.


As the old song goes, “This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through …”


One day—and I can’t wait for it—I’ll see all of these people in one place, and we can hang out for a very long time.


[Could be heaven. Could be the day I get married. Take your pick.]

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Broken Romantic

After my ‘poetic’ post a few days ago, I got a few responses from friends (and family) asking if I was in love and who was she, or extolling my romanticism. Actually, the post was inspired by a woman—one of my best female friends; it was in the context of a conversation with her that we reminisced about the time I sent her a poem that I’d been studying in an A-level English Lit class, coz I loved it so much (‘Words, Wide Night’).

As for the second question … I remember the days when I was young and impetuous; whenever I thought I was ‘falling in love’, I’d let myself go all-out. In those days, I suppose I was a romantic, buying gifts and flowers, hanging out so I could open doors for whoever I happened to be ‘in love’ with at the time. It feels like an age ago …

Now … I’m a little more jaded, more cynical, more aware of my limitations and how much it really, really hurts when things don’t work out the way we hope. Now, I’m (a little) more guarded, more broken and put-back-together:
The broken clock is a comfort; it helps me sleep tonight
Maybe it can stop tomorrow from stealing all my time
I am here still waiting though I still have my doubts
I am damaged at best, like you’ve already figured out

I’m falling apart, barely breathing
With a broken heart that’s still beating
In the pain, I find healing
In your name, I find meaning
So I’m holding on, I’m holding on, I’m holding on
Barely holding on to you

The broken locks were a warning: you got inside my head
I tried my best to be guarded; I’m an open book instead
I still see your reflection inside of my eyes
That are looking for purpose; they’re still looking for life

I’m hanging on another day
Just to say what you will throw my way
And I’m hanging on to the words you say
You said that I will be okay

The broken lights on the freeway left me here alone
I may have lost my way home; haven’t forgotten my way home

I’m falling apart, barely breathing
With a broken heart that’s still beating
In the pain, I find healing
In your name, I find meaning
So I’m holding on, I’m holding on, I’m holding on
Barely holding on to you
Lifehouse, 'Broken'

Scars

“Scar tissue that I wish you saw …” (Red Hot Chili Peppers, 'Scar Tissue')

***

Just below my left knee is a scar from slicing my leg open roller-skating when I was about 12. When I was 14, I managed to explode a small (fortunately almost-empty) canister of gas while throwing a tantrum; as a result, I have a faint scar on my nose that shows how close I came to being blinded. A couple of years ago, a kid fractured my fibula with a bad tackle while playing soccer; it still aches now and again, and mildly affects my ankle when I run. Last year, I jammed my right ring finger playing sports; now, whenever I uncurl my fingers, it clicks.

I’ve picked up a few scars over the years; we all do. Some of them are physical; some are emotional; some psychological; some spiritual. Living in a fallen world, there’s no way to not get hurt in some way or another. And some of the wounds that we suffer hurt like hell.

I wonder if we’ll bear these scars—these healed-over wounds—on our new bodies, our bodies fitted for eternity. Each scar carries a memory, an association, good and bad: for instance, when my leg got broken playing soccer, Ally looked after me the entire weekend, driving me around and basically nursing me through my grumpy times.

Upon noting that Jesus still bore the scars of the nails in his hands and feet after the resurrection, one of my friends posited this hypothesis: maybe we’ll bear the scars that we bore for the sake of the kingdom; and they will be scars that we can be proud of.

Now I'm not glorifying pain, or making light of (by philosophizing about) deep wounds (especially emotional) that we suffer. But I found this definition helpful:


Scar:
  1. a mark left by a healed wound—an area of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin (or other tissue) after injury. A scar results from the biologic process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process.
  2. a lasting aftereffect of trouble, trauma or suffering.

***

“I’m feeling alive all over again, as deep as a scar under my skin; like being in love, she said, for the first time …” (Lifehouse, 'First Time')

“There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (Rom. 5:3-5, MSG)

***

A scar is what's left when a wound heals over.

I was so sure ...

“Maybe you’ll get married before you graduate,” my friend joked. I laughed, my mind going back to two years ago …

***

On August 7, 2005, Ally and I got back together for the last time. Of course, we thought it was the last time because we’d be getting married—that was the basis on which we got back together. We’d dated on and off for three years, we’d known each other for four; and we’d exhausted the other options, it seemed—there was no more time for ‘let’s just see what happens’.


Of course, in retrospect, this is not the best reason to get back together with a view to getting married. But retrospectively, I know that it didn’t work out. Looking back on my thoughts that week, though, I found myself alarmed at how sure I was about our decision. The conviction and confidence I had that nothing could sway my decision is shown up by the fact that we didn’t last two more months. I had a sense of peace about committing the rest of my life to this person that, two months later, became: “[we] broke up (again) tonight. It felt clear. It was right. We both knew it.”


I wasn’t in the right place at the time; I learned the hard way about the fickleness of emotions.


I’m still learning. And probably will be for many, many years …


***

P.S. I was reading 1 Chronicles this morning. In 26:32, it reads, “Jeriah had two thousand seven hundred relatives …” (and that’s just the men!). For those of you know how small the Christian world is, I’m employing this verse as proof that we might just be the new Israel. ☺

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Poetry

From A-level English Lit. classes, I came to love poetry; these poems in particular:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:

But thy eternal Summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou growest:


So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
William Shakespeare, 1564-1616

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.

The room is turning slowly away from the moon.


This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say it is sad?

In one of the tenses I am singing

an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.


La la la la.

See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills

I would have to cross to reach you,


For I am in love with you and this

is what it is like or what it is like in words.
Carol Ann Duffy, 1955—

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy birthday, Aims!

Yesterday was my niece’s 11th birthday—happy birthday, Aims! (For those of you who think I’m a bad uncle for sending belated greetings, I already sent her a card in the post.)

It’s a little bit frightening to think that Aimee is almost as old as I was when Clem and Justine got married. When they got married, I was a scrawny, 4’5 13-year old with huge glasses and unruly hair. Now, well … a few things have changed, as things tend to over the years.



I'm a lot busier than I was when I was 13. That's for sure.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Beckham and Being Here

I realized that I forgot to blog about one of the events of the last couple weeks … I met someone.

Haha. No, that wasn’t it—if I’ve told you about it, I’ve told you about it. If not … I might tell you about it.

Seriously, the event was, of course, David Beckham’s debut for the LA Galaxy in a friendly against Chelsea last Saturday. My friend Micah was generous enough to get me a ticket for the game (for my birthday), and so I went with him and Christie, and his dad. It was okay …


Who am I kidding? It was awesome! I got to see Becks, and Landon Donovan, and all the Chelsea players (though I would’ve preferred it if it was Arsenal, and Henry hadn’t left). And, Posh and Katie Holmes were in the box behind us, so we saw them, and … I was fairly excited the whole time.


I really hope he raises the profile of soccer in the States—it was the first sellout that the Galaxy had had in a while, and the highest rated soccer match on ESPN, so there were some positive signs. But at times it felt more like a spectacle than a soccer match, solely focused on Becks. I think, for the game to take off, people are going to have to see it as a viable career and a credible sport to keep playing after high school.

As for me, until I get my fitness back (which I hope will happen soon), I’ll keep putting my beaten-up body out on the pitch once a week (and twice a week in the summer) to kick around with Fuller folks. One of my friends invited me to try out with him for a semi-pro side, but until I can offer more than a hard sprint every two minutes, I’m going to pass.

“Be Here Now”

On another front, the first lot of Fuller folks whose admission I helped process (coz I work in the Admissions Office, for those of you who don’t know) started at Fuller this summer. I’ve been at Fuller for coming up to a year now, and I feel like part of the old guard, watching all these newbies come in, excited and looking forward to their time here.

Not that I’m not enjoying my time here. But you can tell the people who’ve been at Fuller for awhile. Well, I can tell that I’ve been at Fuller for awhile.

In many ways, it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next couple months—to see how new friendships form and new relationships (there are always new ‘special friends’ popping up), to see what friendships last and which ones don’t. It’s been interesting, and a little sad, to note that of the people I hung out with the most when I first started at Fuller, I only still hang out with two of them.

[At the end of my first week at Fuller, with Rachel, Stephen and Nikki.]

So I wonder what’ll happen with these new friends that I’ve made (and will make). I wonder what’ll happen in the coming months as surgery looms, and my second year of Fuller, and internships. Will I have any more time this year than I did last year to write music and to find a creative outlet? What will God reveal to me this year about my future?

At times like these, I often have to remind myself to chill out and trust God. Ecclesiastes 11:9 has been a regular verse for me during these last few years:
You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your hearts give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

In other words, as a friend said, “Be here now.”

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Love and Marriage

July 27th is a special day. It’s my parents’ wedding anniversary. As of tomorrow, they’ll have been married thirty-nine years, which is pretty amazing. Now I’ve only been around for twenty-five of those years, but I’ve been able to appreciate their sacrificial love for each other, their respect and honor of each other, their mutual submission to each other—in short, they’ve been an awesome example of Christian marriage, and I know my brothers (who are married) and I (who am not) both appreciate their embodiment of the gospel and their faith in their marriage.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, and happy anniversary!


P.S. Happy birthday to Ally (Friday) and Jason (Saturday) for this weekend!

P.P.S. Oh, and the facial hair thing? I shaved my face clean two days after I posted that blog. I realized that I will likely never be the goateed, ear-ringed and tattooed alter ego that I once thought I might be—it was a passing phase. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to grow facial hair, I had an earring for a few months before getting annoyed with it, and I keep shying away from getting a tattoo. I think I’m just going to give up on this idea …

Before shaving my 'facial hair':
And after ... big difference, huh?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Facial hair and air mileage

The reason for the enigmatic title of my blog? They’re just the topics I’m writing on. First, facial hair: I’m trying to grow something on my face for about the ninth time—the foliage is and has thus far been disappointing. As an Asian, I’m not particularly endowed with a lot of non-head hair. And I’m discovering that absolutely no hair grows on my cheeks or on my jaw line. I just have a kind of fuzz on my lip and a little soul patch that’s a little lower than the normal place of a soul patch. Plus … I look virtually clean-shaven from anywhere beyond six feet away. That’s how successful my facial-hair-growing-experiment is going. Exciting, no?

What’s more exciting is the mileage I’m going to be racking up this coming year—actually, it’s not that exciting for my pocket, but otherwise, it’s freaking awesome! So at the end of August, I’m heading up to Seattle for a week to visit Hannah and Jason (who’s jetting over from London), and of course the MARINERS!! Yeah, I’m going to (pending the purchase of tickets) watch the Mariners-Angels series at Safeco Field, which will be my first trip to Safeco and my first time seeing the Mariners outside of Angel Stadium. So I’m looking forward to that.


And then in December, I’m heading back to Hong Kong for three weeks (7th to 27th). It’ll be the first time that all the family (all the brothers and all the kids) are together in five years, so it’ll be an amazing experience. We’re all (parents, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, one niece, three nephews and me) staying in the four-bedroom apartment that I grew up in … so it’ll be cozy. But I can’t wait for that, either.


Finally, just by way of update, I finished my first two-week intensive (Systematic Theology 1) last week, and I have my next one (NT Ethics) starting on July 30th. So these two weeks that I have in between, I’m working on my coursework and my distance learning class (Philosophy), as well as working part-time in the Admissions Office. Summer’s busy.


But it’s still summer. And things are going well. Thanks to those who expressed encouragements after my last blog. Things are a lot better and a lot clearer than they were three weeks ago: I spent a lot of time processing, praying and talking things through with friends and family, and I’m happy where I am. Not 100% content … but will I ever be?


Anyway, until next time …

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday morning reality check


Monday morning … and we’re back in California. I never thought I’d be sad to be back in CA, but I kind of am. I knew it was going to be hard readjusting after a week of relaxation, reacquaintance and reconnection. I miss Tim and Tiff, and being able to talk honestly with them and pray with them and reminisce about old times—sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever live near them again. I miss the London crew and being able to talk about football with people who live football and how Henry’s transfer to Barcelona really, really sucks. I miss hanging out with new friends like Tiff’s family and the Florida girls. I miss the blueness of the skies, unblemished by smog—okay, here I’m being a little bit pernickety, since California skies are still pretty blue (bluer than London ones, anyway!).

But in some ways, I’m glad to be back. Because this is home now; this is where God has me for this season; this is where my stuff is. Because here, I have my own bed and my own room (i.e. I don’t have to share a room with snorers or a bed with roll-overers ☺). Because this is where my life is, with all of its joys and sorrows, struggles and heartaches: this last week in Colorado was a breather, a time to catch my breath and catch up with God, when the routines of the previous months and the worries of life were suspended, at least for a little while; but this—California—is where I’m growing up. Because here, I have friends with whom I can talk about baseball until the cows come home, and they know their stuff.


I needed last week. I needed to be able to share my deepest struggles with my best friends and to be able to pray with them for their marriage and other things. I needed to be able to take time out to just have fun (even though sleep—and consequently, rest—was at a premium). I needed to be able to make new friends who enjoyed my company and found me funny—yes, people here do that too, but it was nice to know that I haven’t lost it. ☺ I needed to be able to play music and be encouraged by people’s response to it—I’d been struggling with whether or not I still was meant to tread the path of music, and playing at the wedding, and people’s comments afterwards, instilled in me once again the belief that I can sing. I needed to listen to Lifehouse’s new album—hearing the band that really got me started in writing songs inspired me to pick up my pen and try my hand at creative musical expression once more. All in all, I needed last week to redefine my purpose and my direction, to reinvigorate my spirit, to renew my joy in life and to hone my calling.


I’m back in California, and I know I’m in the right place for now. I know that I’m here to prepare for pastoral ministry. I don’t know whether the pastoral ministry will follow immediately on the heels of my time at Fuller, or will crop up later in life, but I know, without a doubt, that I will be involved in church ministry at some point. I also know that I will not be called to one thing for the rest of my life. I know that music will play a role in my future, whether in the church or outside of the church. And wherever I am, whatever I’m doing—since I believe that who I am is greater than what I’m doing—I know that God will use me as long as I let him. It’s his story, after all.


Two weeks ago, almost to the day, I wrote this:
God … I don’t know where I’m going. But I do trust that I’m following you. I’m not 100% sure that my relationship with you is as good as it could be, but I know that it’s better than it has been this year. “Pain is part of learning who you are,” sing Lifehouse; and it is. I’m learning that this year: that as I go through the toughest, most painful, and (oxymoronically) best year of my life so far, I’m figuring out who I am, who you are calling me to be, and what you are calling me to.

I have faith that you will prove faithful. Help me to remain grounded in you.

He is proving faithful. He is leading me. He is growing me, molding me, forming me, shaping me, guiding me. He is strengthening me and encouraging me. He is my Rock, my Salvation, my Savior and my God. I am found in him alone, and my foundations are laid on him. I will not be shaken; (I will not be stirred—heheh). I will live with integrity, seeking to make the most of what God has given me in the here and now. And listening.