We can be set FREE from our brokenness, for $19.99!

JK, it’s actually for free… not some Jenny Craig Program for the heart or something…

Last week, my women’s Bible study group was studying about brokenness. And as I was one of the youngest in the group, I didn’t feel like I had much life experience to share. People shared about broken relationships with spouses and family members and parents. People shared about death and mental disorders and other severe chronic ailments…

Mine? A breakup… sounds quite silly and young… actually. Continue reading

Wedding planning is a microcosm of marriage

Wow.. I can’t believe how many topics we’ve covered in the past 3 days.

I’m not going to lie, there are many times that we get so discouraged, because these discussions (or fights) can get intense, and personal, and we can feel very vulnerable.

Issues that we’ve covered in 3 short days:

– Birth control methods, responsibility, medical risks, statistics, etc.

– Moving, possessions of each person, do we ship it, buy new things, which things to keep and which to throw out, different tastes, etc. (I hate your lamp, I like my table, I wouldn’t pay 5 cents for your shelf, etc)

– Registry or cash as gifts, information from other couples, one location or multiple ones, what information/perks/deals are useless or useful

– Sticking up for the other person (we’re on the same side)

I’m thankful that sometimes in the middle of the fight, when we’re both fuming at each other, we stop to pray. (Because we’re both speechless at some point… which is very very rare…)  Sometimes we’re not that angry yet, and we still have some sanity and have the lucidity to say, “I think we should pray.”
Sometimes, it’s because of pure scheduling. Because it’s time for our weekly devotionals, and we needed to pause our fights, so we could pray and do our couple’s Bible Study time. (Is it ironic that we were on Ephesians 5 this week? the part about Husbands and Wives?)

This morning, we had a short phone call before work, and we were loosely discussing some topics (can’t even remember what…) But we very easily agree on most things. In fact, we have the same opinion and mindset on the majority of things. I guess on the few things that we disagree on, sometimes they are significant issues to us and we become more emotionally charged than usual, and we get into very heated arguments.

A few of my women mentors at church (some newlyweds, others married for a few years) say that the top three things that couples fight about:
Money
Sex
Family (children and parents)

Our pastor tells us that marriage is a journey. I’m excited for it. I really am.

It’s just tough when there’s crying times (like last night) and difficult discussions (where you feel like you’re head is about to explode).

Thankfully, we can pray. Somehow, that always calms us both down, and renews us, and reminds us about what is ultimately the most important thing.
Christ – and being like-minded to Him.

 

 

PS. I know that by no means are we done fighting, there is a long road ahead of us. But with Christ as our head, I’m not too worried about it. I’m not to wary, I’m not fearful. 🙂

I got engaged! :)

Below is the recount from my now-fiance about the proposal:
(Editor’s note: He’s not really a gangsta thug… he just really likes that line…)

How we got engaged

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church..
-Ephesians 5:25

From the start of our relationship, one thing I knew about my proposal is that it would be the first time I would tell Erin that I loved her. To me, a word of such complexity and responsibility could only be meaningful when paired with a lifelong commitment. It also made it a lot easier to figure out what I would end up saying to her on bended knee.

The venue was also pretty easy. We met in the sanctuary of her church; I couldn’t imagine any place more romantic to ask her to marry me. Valentine’s Day was the obvious choice for timeline. By February, we had passed the 6 month mark, and I figured if she hadn’t run for the hills by then, I better put a ring on it before she realized I was getting the better end of the deal.

On the morning of Valentine’s Day, I packed up my equipment and headed to the church. My buddy Seth lent me a camera that could shoot photos at preprogrammed intervals. I also packed a tripod, roses, guitar, basin, towel, and a couple other supplies that I had mailed into Philly weeks before.

After setting everything up, I called Erin:

“Do you have a key to the church? I think my car key fell out of my pocket when we were there yesterday.”

Over the phone, I Jedi-mindtricked her into stopping by the church after lunch.

Two hours later, we were standing in the sanctuary, ready to look for my car key. On the stage where I saw Erin for the first time was a chair with a single rose on it. I had her sit down.

On our first date, I sang her a Mandarin pop song a capella, figuring I could at least impress her with my linguistic effort. Based on her paralyzed reaction that day, I figured I had to step it up a bit with a guitar accompaniment.

I chose “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train. We’ve both loved that song since we started dating because it captures so much of our relationship. For instance, the part about me being a gangster thug, or the part about her doing brain research. But I really resonated with the final stanza:

I can be myself now finally // In fact there’s nothin’ I can’t be

I pick up the guitar and start strumming. It should be noted that although the chord progression of the song is straightforward, I have great difficulty with strumming in any kind of structured pattern. As I get to the end of the song, I improv the strumming for dramatic effect and just hope that my emotional effort is distracting her from my musical deficiencies. 

I set the guitar down, and pull a box out of my pocket. Erin’s face changes from content happiness to a downpour of tears. On one knee, I tell her for the first time that I love her – that I want to love her for the rest of my life. I ask her to marry me. She says yes.

..he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him..

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
-John 13:5-8

I’ve always been captivated by the image of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples: the master of the universe, kneeling at the feet of those who worship him.

Ephesians tells me to love my wife in the same way. I may be pretty self-absorbed, but I wanted to at least start my engagement off on the right path. I pulled out a basin of water from under the stage and washed her feet. With her soft feet in my hands, it really hit me – this is the woman I want to love sacrificially for the rest of my life.

We prayed together for a bit. After planning and rehearsing this moment for months, I actually hoped that I could just execute with emotionless automation. But sitting there together, alone in the sanctuary, with a sparkling symbol of commitment on Erin’s hand, the room was filled with a quietly overpowering sensation of boundless love.

We made our phone calls, headed to dinner, and started wedding planning…

 

Read: Our first date

Psalms 119:50

v50: My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.

I read that verse and like, oh wow. How beautiful! At the same time, I can feel the determination and the utter confidence in the author’s voice when he declares this. He truly is thinking: my sole comfort is God’s promises. And the idea that it “preserves” my life. It rescues, yes. It saves, sure. But it preserves?

That makes me think of preservatives that are added into food products. It is added so that the food item stays fresh, clean, soft, damp, whatever. But it’s added so that it can maintain the item at the same “—ness” that it was intended to be.
And I realize that God’s promises maintain me and my life, as it was intended to be, as He intended it to be.
Whenever I’m in suffering, where do I turn?
Even if I turn towards “God”, do I turn and ask for His immediate rescue and help? Or do I have this large encompassing peace, because I know I’m constantly preserved by His promises. And that He WILL deliver?

I feel like I’m forgetting something

Psalms 116

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

Lately, I keep feeling that I end my days without finishing all the things that I need to do. And everyday, I feel like I have more and more unfinished things… and I try my best to finish all these tedious things (phone calls, ordering, emails, reimbursement forms, filling out forms, emailing reminders, making appointments, meetings, panels, events coordinating, training sessions, etc etc…) and I keep being unable to do the main thing, my research. The bigger picture, the bigger project. I get so tied up by all these things, and I think “Oh, I’ll just spend this whole morning and hopefully, I’ll finish it all up by the afternoon, so I can focus on my main task: my research”

But by 5pm, the tedious tasks are still not all finished, and more pile in through the door, inbox, phone, texts, etc etc… (more pop up into my mind).
And then I spend the next day working on it. and the next. and the next.
I only meant to spend Monday morning on it, but it’s Tuesday night, and I’ve spent Monday and Tuesday (two whole working days) to complete all my tasks, and I finished a few more tonight at home. I’m hopefully going to do an experiment tomorrow…

But as I was getting done with my tasks, I still felt unsettled… Like I still haven’t finished something yet. I remembered about an email reminder, an announcement I needed to send. I checked my planner and among that a few other reminders, checked my upcoming meetings for the week, and even next week. Made sure all new appointments have been penned in… etc… Seems like I’ve done everything, and no more tasks to complete, well, as of this current hour… until tomorrow’s flood of new emails and such…
And I keep feeling that today is like yesterday, like I still have unfinished business… and I remember.
I forgot to do my devos. I did not read God’s word today.

I reread Psalms 116, and saw v 2: I call out to God for as long as I live.

I’m so inundated with tedious tasks… that I forget the most important and life-long thing, to call upon and remember my LORD.

I keep thinking that I’ll spend a few hours to “finish” my tasks… but then it’s a myth, because hours become days… and days become weeks… and pretty soon, I miss out on working on my main research… and progress falls behind…
That’s how I feel, I get distracted by little things, tedious tasks, lists of things to do, that I must complete, and I get distracted from the bigger picture: God.

I think “ohh, I’ll try to finish all my tasks and lists first, then I’ll get to God” … but that day never comes, because new tasks and lists keep piling in, building up on my desk, inbox, planner, memory, post-its, etc etc…
And God just keeps getting pushed back, again and again and again. Things always jump the queue.

That is until, I freeze frame, hold up, pause, focus, come home, retreat to God. And then, my heart is settled. I’m finished. I feel that today is complete. regardless how many more tasks waits for me tomorrow morning…

Psalm 113
6 who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?

This reminds me of the scenery from Acts 7 when Stephen was being persecuted, and it said that Stephen looked up and saw Christ peering down at him, standing and looking down. Perhaps eagerly, and very much involved and aware of what’s going  to his people and his beloved ones.
I think it’s a very comforting feeling and knowledge when we can trust and believe that God is highly involved in our lives and yearn to be.

Recap from Acts 7, David Guzik Commentary:
c. Jesus standing at the right hand of God: It is significant to note Jesus is standing here, as opposed to the more common description of Him sitting (Matthew 26:64; Colossians 3:1) at the right hand of the Father.
i. Why is Jesus standing here? Jesus stands in solidarity with Stephen at this moment of crisis. He does not impassionately react to the problems of His people.
ii. We might also consider that Jesus is standing to give a “standing ovation” to Stephen, whose fate makes him unique among believers. Stephen is the first of all martyrs among the followers of Jesus.

Perhaps that’s some comfort to us, no matter what situation we’re in right now, that Christ is not cold and aloof to us, but passionately involved and aware and engaged.

another versed that touched me:
9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.

It seems to say that God will satisfy all the desires and yearning of our hearts and that even the woman with the sufferings of being unable to have a child can have the joys of a mother because God gives joy and content.
I guess that can go to say God can settle the fleeting hearts of the single people, who yearn to date and be in a relationship. And that He can satisfy them wholly and completely. as though a happy mother/wife/girlfriend, God can settle the heart to that extent.
Dunno if sometimes you still get bogged down about the dating thing, but I thought maybe this verse would encourage you, that there’s a promise and a place which says that our God will settle the childless woman as a happy mother. Thus perhaps for our age group/times, it is that God, right now, will settle the single woman’s heart as a happy wife.
I guess it also means for people who are unemployed or unhappy with their jobs, that God can settle their tumultuous hearts and give them joy and peace.
And the hurting people and broken hearts and families.
That God can settle them. This God who stoops down to look at our world, our earth. This Christ that stands and is intently engaged with our situations.

mmm… very encouraging, and very touching, very amazingly comforting and… makes me stare in awe. a bit shaken.

Do you ever get tired of doing the right thing?

Do you ever get tired of doing the right thing? or being the good person?
I sometimes get tired/fed up on it.
Probably because I want to hate on someone or confront someone, and I’m reminded how much God loves me, and how little I love others….. 

Psalms 105 and 106 are similar… in my opinion, where they recount God’s goodness and faithfulness, despite Israel’s disobedience.

In Adult Sunday school, we’re also talking about Joshua and Judges, and how the Israelites start disobeying, at first just a little bit, but that sows the seed of sin, and then eventually it gets so bad, that the people can’t even recognize God when God comes to them… because they are so far from Him.
In the college group that I advise, we’re on Acts, on the chapter of Stephen, and him being stoned to death.  Stephen, in the chapter, also recounts history, and shows them how they and their forefathers always resist the Holy Spirit and kill the ones that God sends.
It’s really weird… I wonder why I’m reading about all the same thing in 3 different places…
Do I resist the Holy Spirit sometimes? Do I do as I please?
I think I do… sometimes I know I should be nice and loving and gracious, but to protect my dignity or my identity, I won’t.
Recently, our women’s small group is learning about being detached, detached from everything, and being attached only to God. It says that no matter what is being threatened, our identity, security, addictions, that we’re able to say, “For the love of Jesus, I will let go.”
I think I struggle with letting go.  I can’t, no… more importantly… I won’t. I refuse to let go because I think that I’ve been offended and that I’ve somehow been threatened. And I want to fight back, defend myself, set the other person straight.
I want JUSTICE.
But I want it my way, not God’s way. I’m unwilling to let go of my power and my agenda of getting justice, and letting God. I’m unwilling to let go.
I think this is a reminder that I need to obey God, from the very beginning, and from the smallest parts in my life, so that seeds of disobedience and sin are not sowed into my life, and later become a snare to me.
I also need to stop resisting the Holy Spirit and be willing to think of God and all the Jesus is, and be willing to let go. Even if that means letting someone else lead, even if that means letting someone else win, even if that means taking the hit… unjustly.
But it’s hard, so hard, because that requires me to put myself down. Even when I think I’m right (or even when I really am right), I need to hold my tongue.

An image that has helped me greatly when I was a teenager, but now I’ve forgotten, is the image how Jesus stood before trial, and not responding a single word when false accusations and venom were spit at him. Though he, the Son of God, was at no fault, and could kill them all at once, he made no response.