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Blurred.

I’ve been at odds for a couple of days over what I should be writing about next. And for a while, in the midst of a long-winded lecture about sociology during which I had the beginnings of a new blog post, I thought it would be a continuation of “how things get screwed up.” But I scrapped that almost immediately, but perhaps one day it’ll pop up again.

What I have been noticing recently is how blind I am without my glasses. If anyone’s ever tried mine on for size, they’ll know that my prescription isn’t that bad; the main reason for my having them is because of the double vision that my one near-sighted and one far-sighted eye can cause. (Single derivatives would often appear as double derivatives.)

But ever so often, whether I have my glasses on or not, I’ll be allowing myself to listen to God, and there’ll be a painting or a movie or an image burned into my mind clear as day. What I saw last night caught me off guard. A lump caught in my throat, a breath stopped mid-inhale, a sudden tension in my shoulders.

I’ve avoided talking about this topic too much ever since I wrote about it last. What I had not anticipated and had greatly underestimated was people’s willingness to ask me about it. To pop the question, “Who is this person you like?”

And I’ve thrown people the same answer: “Don’t worry about it.” And of course, the conversation continues anyway, “Are you over it?” And the answer on the outside is, “Don’t worry about it,” but the answer on the inside is, “No, no, I’m not.”

Over the years, having only really liked two people “in that way” before, I’ve developed an interesting skill: hiding it. One “liking someone” debacle is enough for a good decade, really; I got messed up for a year and a half, and I’m still recovering. And after that… well, I never really got to tell him how much I cared about him, even as a friend, because I was too busy hiding how much I liked him. And as opposed as I am to keeping secrets, I say to you: this time, you will never know.

When things repeat in the Bible, they tend to be important; I attempt to apply this to life as much as possible. So when the two people I probably interact with the most during my day ask me within just a few days, “Who is this person?” I get worried. And then, while sitting at Catalyst, everything around me falls away for just a split second, filled in with an image equally as short in span; that makes me confused.

It was probably one of the clearer images that I’ve gotten, the type that spills out like a glass of water that dropped on the hardwood floor and goes, “Hey, it’s Me.” We’re about to hug; a simple gesture of affection with no telling signs of anything more than a beautiful friendship — when suddenly, everything fades, and I’m in what I like to call “my space.” Not like the social networking site, but that place in your mind where you go to be.

I have three that often occur to me: a grassy hill with a single tree, a beach with perfect sand, and where I went this time — empty space. A purely white dimension of existence where I find myself talking with God the most; a place where I’d like to think I’m at my most honest, the most myself I can be.

And there it ends, but at the same time, it didn’t. I had taken a single step into my space before the world came rushing back to me, and there was something waiting there for me. Something that made my heart leap and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It’s like an answer to a question that you have on the very tip of your tongue, but you just can’t reach it. Grasping at something just beyond your reach. A fading memory that you wish would stay.

It occurred to me to go and hug the person that I like at random, just to see if it’d allow my mind to grasp that answer at the very edges and reel it in, but I stayed my distance. That part was easy. It was easy to run from what it felt like I should have done. It was easy to hide myself amongst the crowd, just another face.

It’s starting to set in, what it means to fear and what fears I have in my life. Mark Study took another turn for the awe-inspiring, and I had half-heartedly taken it in. I had described to my partner my fear of hurting other people, and this was true enough. I loathe the idea that I can hurt the people that I care about and how simply and unintentionally it can happen.

But what stands on equal ground — maybe even higher ground — to that is my fear of being hurt by other people. Admitted that in itself, that was a fear, too. I value my own strength with great, possibly too much, pride. I’ve fallen down, hard, and stood back up each and every time. Confessing my capacity to be hurt is not normally on the menu.

As I said, though, I don’t like keeping secrets. I attempt to divulge bits about me and my life, slowly so as not to overwhelm whoever has the time to read my dissertations or listen to me rant. And then I pray that they don’t think any less of me for what I’ve said or how I act, and I can never really tell.

But there’s also something else I’ve been hearing, something that I find extremely true and yet don’t particularly like: “Learn to love Me before you can learn to love others.” I’m still trying to figure out how to do that; the ambiguity fuels my dislike. I like clear-cut answers; I rarely get them. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try.

Pattern: every time God gets crazy confusing, I eventually step into something new that blows my mind. And the journey that gets me to that something new — it’s always an adventure.

So this one’s for You, because You make my life amazing. And for you, because you’ll (probably) never know.

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“Nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group have been indicted on sedition and weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to murder law enforcement officers in hopes of setting off an antigovernment uprising.”

So I’m browsing the news as I sit here at work, and the first article I come across is one about the Hutaree, a far-right group that desires to use violence to spur rebellion. The catch? They claim to be doing this in the name of God. The article even kicks it off with a bang by immediately deeming them as Christians.

Things like this jacked up my idea of Christians all of the time. “Christians oppose gay marriage.” “Christians deride Muslims as ‘terrorists.'” “Christians support war in Iraq.” “Christians this,” “Christians that.”

And as I was reading this article, I realized, How many other people in the world are having their views of Christianity and God messed up by these things, too? Countless, I imagine.

My high school days found me surrounded by a respectable group of people who were more or less non-religious, save for one or two. We cursed, drank, smoked, drove dangerously (Okay, maybe that’s just me.), and didn’t care much for God or how He could affect our lives. What we had was not a dislike or an aversion, but a choice to not seek any sort of religious solace. We, for the most part, deemed ourselves as liberals, people who greatly disagreed with the status quo of America. We had varying opinions, but the for the most part, what we sought was change from what we believed was a fundamentally Christian nation that had instilled fundamentally Christian laws into place.

And in a way, we were correct in our assumption: America was built upon Christian foundations, and many of our laws have Christian roots. But in a large way, we were wrong. We were wrong to generalize our idea of Christians into people who were brutally opposed to anything besides what the Bible told them. We were wrong to believe that all Christians were the same. And (I say this with the greatest amount of love possible) those who were Christians among us supported our claims with their actions and ideals.

Even moreso, however, was how the media painted Christians. Every time the church appears in media, it’s around some sort of conflict that’s going on. How churches are exempt from certain taxes, how churches feel about the war in Iraq, how churches feel about same sex marriages. And despite having learned with great impression that the media is incredibly biased, we accepted what the televisions and radios spoon-fed us about them.

But remembering that media is, indeed, biased, and having gone through what I can only explain as an experience of Jesus this past quarter, I have to say: the media does not represent, in the least bit, the vast majority of the Christian community. You only ever hear from the Christians who “hate gays” and “want those Muslims to get what they deserve.” Or, if they’re not captured in such stern opinion, Christians who would say otherwise are certainly not affiliated with their church. Or maybe it’s because those with harsh opinions are prone to utilizing God or the Bible as their evidence against same sex marriage or for war.

In a country with a burgeoning population of Christians, one who is not might think, “Wow, those people are all the same.” However Christians are denominated — Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist; Intervarsity Bruin Christian Fellowship, Korean Campus Ministry, Grace on Campus — if one is not part of the church or the fellowship, Christians seem to get lumped into a giant mass in which individuals are indistinguishable from one another.

In a country where individuality and independence is prized, you’d think it wouldn’t be that way. But more often than not, it is.

This is what the Hutaree believes:
“Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment. The Hutaree will one day see its enemy and meet him on the battlefield if so God wills it.”

First thought: Clearly, God did not will it. After all, you were arrested.

Second thought: If a class of thirty-seven high school students based their opinions about Christians on what they had read in news articles, seen on TV, heard on the radio, and experienced with their peers; how many people must think worse of Christians by reading this news article? I can imagine it making headline news; it must be getting tons of views as I type this out. Heck, I can even see the headline: “Christians plan to overthrow government.” Overexagerrated? Yes. But have headlines been overexagerrated before? You bet.

I won’t lie to you, I was pissed when I read this article. Pissed that not only had the Hutaree taken what was essentially an opposite path to what I’m learning with my fellowship, but that the media had taken that, reported it, and done nothing to distinguish them from me.

But in that moment, I also realized that what anger and rage I felt was probably similar to what drove the Hutaree to violence as their way of doing God’s work. They might be angry because they feel that this government, founded upon the ideals of Christianity, has strayed far from the path that they believe God set out for us. Or they might be angry just because they think the government screwed up. Far be it from me to deride opposition to authority; I’m all for that, but one thing I detest with utmost certainty is violence. One thing I’ve learned in life is that violence really isn’t the answer.

And as I write this, analyzing as my fingers move across the keyboard, I’ve had time to calm down. And think.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, Christianity and I were at ends with each other. I’ve had time to see that the reason for that was because I had been surrounded by Christians whose beliefs were on the other end of the spectrum from mine. See, I believe in pro-choice under certain circumstances, I believe that same sex marriage should be allowed, I believe that war is wrong, I don’t believe that any one religion is right or wrong, I believe that God loves indiscriminately, and I believe that love is the answer. It’s not that the Christians I grew up around were wrong; maybe they’re right. But they are different, and they never really gave chance to a teenage firl to explain her beliefs, understandably. And I can safely say that the reason that it’s possible for me to even remotely exist amongst Intervarsity is because they accept how I feel and what I believe. Because some of them believe similarly or they see validity in my belief or they work to understand it.

So, if you’ve made it this far, take one thing away from this oh-so-rant-like blog post of mine: not all Christians are the same. Because I, who am a Christian, do not believe in banning gay marriages or in instigating war or in using violence in the name of God. Because the people I’m surruonded by now, who are Christians, do not all believe in banning abortion or that everyone who isn’t Christian is wrong. Because there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions or even more Christians out there who are not who you think they are. And so I tell you: we are not all the same.

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Spring!

I’m back! It’s been an interesting and adventurous spring break, but I guess it’s time to get back down to the nitty gritty.

That means school.

That means studying.

Now, anyone who knows me know my adversity to studying, but I’d like to think of this quarter as a comprehensive exploration of three different possibilities in my life. It goes like this:

Communications Studies 10
Sociology 1
Physiological Sciences 5

In all technicality, I’m still a Physiological Sciences major. And who knows? Even though I’m fairly determined to change majors to Communications Studies, things could turn around again by the time spring quarter of next year rolls around. Life happens, you know? And besides, I’d take a miraculous C- in Chemistry 14B as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from God any day. The big man upstairs could be telling me to stick to it. Or he could just be redeeming my GPA so I never have to see chemistry again.

It’s all a big mystery; Lord, You sure work in strange ways.

So I find it necessary for me to do this whole “exploration thing.” I could end up liking Communications or Sociology or Physiological Sciences more than the others. Either way, I think of them as convergent paths; I still don’t think I’m going to medical school, but I like paramedic school as an alternative.

In the meanwhile, it was nice having a break from all the studying and stress. I’d like to think that my acne levels have gone down significantly in the past nine days. I find myself sorely missing all of my friends and experiences at Cerritos High School, but I can’t live in my little bubble forever, right? Besides, the bubble wasn’t that great. It really wasn’t. But the people were, and they’re the ones that make the experience count. We just have to remember that it takes effort to stay in touch and maintain the friendships that we’ve built. They say that you never really keep your high school friends, but there are always exceptions to every rule.

It’s even more interesting when two very separate parts of my life become intertwined. With my high school friends one day and with my fellowship the next; two things that are very different but both make me extremely happy. It’s odd when that happens. It makes me question whether this life is actually better. It certainly is different, but better?

But then I remember. Both lives are better because of who I am now. I don’t know if I’m any better, but I certainly am different. And I like myself better this way. And I am very much happier this way. And because of that, my life (singular) is better.

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Last night, our Hedrick small group (which I just recently starting partaking in) hosted a night of study, chillaxation, and creation for everyone. I spent a good seven hours, well beyond the time of the event, sewing, making origami, and fooling around with Play-doh. Needless to say, it was awesome. The result?

Well, I ended up with four heating packs and a giraffe. Two of the heating packs were for myself, but I think I’ll give one to my mom. She’ll be amused by the fact that there’s rice in a bag that I sewed.

Others ended up with heating packs, too, as well as lots of pandas and other origami animals. The guided animal origami paper I bought cheats, though. It has pre-cut perforations to make parts of the animals, which is totally unnecessary. Sarah and Sunjin Kim tried to make a heating pack that would wrap around a neck… but it ended up being bite-sized. At least an infant can use it!

Everything about last night was a process. Making a heating pack, for instance, is huge. Cut the fabric, sew the ends, turn it inside out, fill it with rice, close the open end. That’s a simplified version. The most difficult part? Threading the needle.

If you can’t thread the needle, you can’t sew. If you can’t sew, you’ve just got rice and cloth. It’s simple, but it’s difficult and important.

It’s kind of like planting a seed.

Or pulling out the book that you need for your homework.

Once you do these things, there’s a lot more work to be done. But the hard part’s over. You’ve already begun. It’s like riding a skateboard down a hill; once you start, you can’t really stop.

And when you finish, you’ve made something of your own accord. It might be something as simple as a heating pack, as beautiful as a flower garden, or as relieving as a complete homework assignment. Either way, it’s yours. As long as you tried your best with it, you should be satisfied with the result, no matter how many flaws there are to it. A misplaced stitch, a single weed, or an incorrect answer can’t really take away from the bigger picture. I, for one, am most certainly pleased with my heating packs.

I wonder if God feels that way about me.

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” -Mark 1:11

—–

Have you noticed the new theme I put up? It makes me quite happy. I like having color in my life, and I realized yesterday while looking over my blog that the brown and black just didn’t say enough about who I am.

So hopefully this does. Hopefully my blog will make people smile more just because it’s so gosh darn cute. Yeah, expect a different header picture. Expect as many photos as I can muster to take. Expect me to design this site for what I want it to do: to allow people to experience my walk with God alongside me and to see His grace and glory in my life. And sometimes just to tell people about what’s going on around me.

This redesign is like a launch-off pad for the next step in my faith:

God redesigning me.

(Photos later.)

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Kingdom.

Why not queendom?

Feminist wiles aside, this post is going to be an exploration of my role in the kingdom of God. What I think it is, what it is, what it might look like in the future.

What do I think my role is? Well, quite frankly, I have no idea. It’s kind of like being a newborn child of about two months old. The metaphor was fair enough to write an anecdote about, you can go look at that page on your own. Anyway, people kind of muse at babies and how they develop so quickly in the first stages of life. Physically, they begin walking and talking in just a couple of years; mentally, they begin to process the world around them and who the important people in their lives are; and emotionally, they’re a rollercoaster of crying, giggling, and pooping (frighteningly accurate of how I am).

In reality, the baby’s not doing anything but what comes naturally to them. But everyone’s still amazed by it anyway, because watching something grow is like seeing how we ourselves once were or seeing how good something can be.

Yeah, it’s kind of like that. I have no idea what I’m doing; I go by impulse and instinct. I get a lot of “Watching you grow…” and “It’s good that you…” statements, and they’re well appreciated. But I don’t think I’m doing anything too special, just whatever comes to me with each passing moment.

What’s actually going on is hard to to tell from my own perspective. But what other people recognize as happening I can’t deny; there is, in some scope or another, a modicum of effect that I’ve had. So I’d like to think, anyway.

People point out to me that having invited someone to Mark Study and to have that person commit to it and coming to Catalyst is pretty amazing. But I honestly don’t think much of it; I just brought it up one day, is all.

“Isn’t that what we did with you?”

It’s true. That’s pretty much where my journey started. Someone saw a need in me, and they decided to act on it. And they, as well as others, have been walking with me ever since. It’s been a pleasure.

So now, it’s my turn. But who am I, as that infant, to extend my hand to another? Too early? Too little? Too unknown? I’m not sure. But I know that there’s more that I could do. I’ve been distant; for that, I apologize.

Maybe it’s because we couldn’t go to Can This Wait. Maybe it’s because I’m not doing leadership next year. Maybe I feel displaced in my role, like it shouldn’t be this way. It’s not my place. I can’t do it right. I have failed.

But of course we’ll always believe that we could’ve done more, that there was a better action to take and a better result to be had. Retrospect is 20/20. But I think that my new glasses prove that we shouldn’t always be looking behind us, especially when we can barely see in front of ourselves.

But it is what it is. All I can change is what I do now and what I’ll do later. All I can do is offer you someone to talk to and a place to go. All I know is that I care about you, and I want you to experience the same awesomeness that I’ve experienced. Is it enough?

What the future might look like:
“He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.'” -Mark 4:26-29, NIV

Lesson? Trust God. All we can do is plant the seed, but we have no control over how it grows.

I won’t deny that one of my greatest challenges is trusting God. I’m the type of person who hates to sacrifice control and knowledge to just leave everything up in what seems like open air. But I’m trying to remember that trusting Him is just like allowing life to occur on its own, rolling with the punches, riding the wave. But also God-centered and prayerfully.

In times of my life when I don’t know what to do, I need to leave it to Him. In times when I don’t have any control to begin with, He does. And I have to trust that He will push me in the right direction, that where everything goes after that will be closer to what it is that He intends for me.

I don’t have to know the ending.

I just have to know that it’ll be right for me.

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On Friday, I went longboarding for the first time. And I didn’t fall on my face!

I look like I have to pee.

When I was little, I was really scared of skateboarding, so I didn’t think that I could longboard. Ever. It’s really not that hard, though. I think going snowboarding over winter break helped me get the hang of it; it would just be worse to fall on concrete than on snow.

These three are pretty cool kids for going with and teaching me, you know? They borrowed my camera and took some pictures while I was at work… needless to say, they were hilarious. Find them on my Facebook!

I had a lot of fun, and I’m really excited to go again some time!

Yesterday, we had a girls’ night in at Evelyn’s. We cooked! It was good to be cooking again after such a long time… making cereal and kimchi bowls just doesn’t cut it sometimes.

The Menu
Quick Potato Chip Chicken
Pasta with Herb Lemon Butter Sauce
Cornbread
Salad
Condensed Milk Chocolate Walnut Graham Cracker Thing of Awesome

Sorry, if I forgot anything! I was really impressed with how each of us had a hand in making our meal and quite satisfied with the result. I’m also really glad that I got to chill out with Liz Namba in the kitchen… we had a lot of fun making tons of chicken and having private dancing moments that nobody saw.

I love my Sistahood!

PS What does protege even mean?! I’m scared.

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Conversations.

“Let everything
that has breath
praise the Lord.”

Needless to say, I was swamped with conversations last night after Mark Study. What we learned was something incredible. It was something that none of us understood or even thought of before. Maybe that’s what sparks conversations. Maybe we just need something incredible to get down to it. Or maybe it has nothing to do with that. Either way, what we learned changed everything about what we thought we knew about Jesus.

All sin can be forgiven.

Or, in the terms that I prefer it in, there is no unforgivable sin.

We need only to acknowledge the Holy Spirit and receive that forgiveness.

It’s a difficult concept to grasp.

Conversation I: Pray for me, friends. That I may be given the strength, courage, and love that I am lacking through Jesus. Pray that I would remove the bitterness from my life and forgive those who have sinned against me. Pray that all of my anger would be washed away in the tides of His love.

I sometimes believe that I don’t want that. Forgiveness, I mean. Sometimes I feel like I deserve to be damned for all of the things that I’ve done. That even if it is true that all sin can be forgiven, I am simply unworthy of such mercy. There is darkness that not only surrounds me, but engulfs me and my heart. I know it. I fear it.

But I want to believe that God can deliver me. That He and the love that has come into my life can pierce through that darkness with the greatest of ease and reveal to me a heart that is good. I need to know that and believe that God can do that, otherwise…

Conversation II: Praise God. Praise Him that He would lift a friend and a brother out of the darkness. Praise Him that He would answer the call of one of his children. Praise Him that He would heal the wounds and remove the doubts. Praise Him that He would show His love.

Otherwise, what would it all have been for?

Friendship, fellowship, love. I’ve allowed these things to slip through my fingers like grains of sand before. But if I hold fast, not even the sand can escape. I must hold steady, so that it may sit perfectly atop my hand. I must not grasp it tightly, for it will then flee from my grip.

So delicate it all sometimes seems, yet so strong it, in reality, is. I know this because it is through Your healing that I have been able to receive them, and by them, I have received Your healing. For that, they are strong.

Conversation III: Would you reveal your love? Take this pain and this hurt and turn it into something new. There is potential here, God. Potential to change what has been into something wonderful. And because I care, because I love, I ask that you’d begin this transformation. You did not intend for our lives to be lived alone and on the outside. You did not intend for us to neglect what is in our hearts. You have a greater intention, a greater love than that. Rein us in with Your love. Dispel all of the lies that we believe about ourselves, about the world, and about You. Would you pour out Your love?

I have believed the lies before.

“God isn’t worth your time… God does nothing… God doesn’t exist…”

“You aren’t worth my time… You are nothing… You might as well not exist…”

We are broken. For that, we are capable of hurting one another. For that, we hold bitterness in our hearts. For that, we can no longer pour out our love and God’s love to others.

But I’m learning something new. Something that tells me that it’s possible. Possible to be healed, possible to forgive, possible to change.

Conversation IV: God, I ask that you remove this hardness of heart. One of Your sheep desires to return to you, so I pray that you’d remove the obstacles in their way. Give hope, courage, and faith. I weep for those who are held at the edge of Your light by the bindings of this world. I lift father and son to you, and I hope that you would show both of them the truth. That we do not seek to conform, but to learn and to grow. That this desire is born out of love, love in the truth and in You.

Sometimes we’re held back from what we need by what we hold on to.

I have to believe not only that I can change, but that I’ve already changed. That everything I’ve done, every part of myself that I’ve ever despised is different now. Better.

Painful places filled with joy.
Bitter places filled with forgiveness.
Dark places filled with light.
Empty places filled with Jesus.

I have to. And I do. I know I do, because…

Conversation V: Is this the right time? To confess something that I have done wrong against myself, against my friends, and against You?

I have revealed to you that you are not alone. I have shown you that I forgive you.

But will they forgive me?

Because I am in them and I forgive you, they will forgive you.

Why now?

The passion in you is lit.

I can’t. There’s too much else that’s going on. There’s too much else beyond what I want and what I need here. There’s too much to be celebrated for me to ruin it.

What are you afraid of?

Me.

Why?

Because I don’t believe that I can do or be any good in the world. I don’t believe that I can hang on to the people in my life. I don’t believe that I can stay the course. I don’t believe that I am worthy of You. It’s not that I don’t believe in You; it’s that I don’t believe in me.

I created you. I am with you. I am in you. For that, you came to me. For that, you have a purpose. For that, you have community. For that, you have accountability. For that, you are worthy. It’s not that you don’t believe in you; it’s that you don’t believe in my ability to lift you up in your darkness.

I’m so tired.

Of?

That darkness.

Then let me take you from it. Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to you.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”

-Psalm 139:23-24

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