When I was a junior in high school, I tried to organize an evangelistic music concert at my school with my campus Christian club. I thought it would be a great way to engage my classmates, and on top of that it would be pretty cool/fun. Everything was going well except that the advisor who would sign off on all the necessary paperwork wasn’t as sure that this endeavor was going to be a good idea. She told me, “I’ll pray about it,” and one month before the concert was supposed to occur, she put her foot down and told me to cancel the project.

‘Great,’ I mumbled behind the advisor’s back. ‘Why couldn’t you tell me that before I put in months of work?’

Senior year rolled around, and my church was planning its annual mission trip to Mexico. A friend and I were asked to oversee part of the team, helping to plan and coordinate the daily activities that we would be doing with the kids. With only a week until the trip, it became apparent that Mexican drug cartel activity would pose a significant danger to the team should we choose to go down. So, with tears in his eyes, our Mexico mission coordinator announced to us that, for the safety of the youth, he was cancelling the trip for that year.

‘Great,’ I grumbled to myself. ‘Why couldn’t you tell me that before I put in months of work?”

The summer after my freshman year in college I helped out with a summer ministry at my church. The leaders asked me to oversee a portion of the ministry and report back to them. So I made a spreadsheet, got all the information, and sent over an email explaining everything that was going on. The following week, the leaders did the exact same thing.

“Didn’t you get my email?” I asked. “I did this exact thing last week and emailed you the results.”

“Oh. To be honest we got your email but we didn’t read it.”

‘Great,’ I thought in exasperation. ‘Why couldn’t you tell me that before I bothered to put in work?’

The summer before my last semester in college I began to apply for graduate school. My GPA was less than perfect, I was missing prerequisite classes, I had no one I could ask to write me letters of recommendation, and I had no idea what I could do with my degree once I graduated except go to graduate school. From my perspective, everything else I could do with my degree I could have done straight out of high school.

“Great,” I cursed God. “Why couldn’t You just close all these doors before I put in years of work?”

That year I met with people and we talked. We talked about the Bible; we talked about the gospel; we talked about what I believed. And at the end of it all, the conclusion was,

“Monica, I don’t know if you’re a Christian.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

‘Great,’ I raged at God. “Why couldn’t you have shown me this problem before I started planning my life around it?!”

What did it mean to be a Christian? What did it mean to believe? What did it look like to trust God? To pray? To die to myself? And if life without Christ is meaningless, what was the point of existing? Would God not be more glorified in the immediate execution of justice for my sin than for me to continue living life in rebellion against Him? Plus, that would answer my only lingering question: Am I even a Christian? The answer could only be, “Yes, you fool,” or “Away from me, I never knew you.” It would be immediate gratification of that answer at least.

My last semester I had an internship at an adapted pool facility. One of my clients was one of the most infuriating people you could ever meet: a woman with a traumatic brain injury and a devout Christian. I worked with her every week for four months, and every week she would tell me the same thing:

“I was smart and beautiful, Monica, but I was running away from God. I was smart and beautiful, but God had to get my attention. I lost everything, see? But I have Jesus, Monica. God is good! Don’t run away from God, Monica. Don’t be like me.”

She told me this every week for four months. And every week for four months I would help her stretch, help her walk, help her bathe, and help her go to the bathroom. And I would wonder if this was my warning. That this was what was coming for me in my stubborn unbelief. Was God going to take my health next?

‘Great,’ I grumbled to God. “The next time I get on the freeway I’m going crash and become a quadriplegic or something…”

Well, that car accident never happened, and after graduation I moved home. I was waitlisted for graduate school, and I didn’t have a plan B. Work on my pre-requisites and re-apply the following year maybe? But what was the point? If I was not saved, and my life was not being used to the glory of God, everything I did was worthless. I couldn’t serve in the church, I had no spiritual gifts, and now I was supposed to be proud of having a B.S. degree? B.S. indeed.

‘Great,’ I screamed at God. “Why did you even bother creating me if I’m not going to be saved?!”

Was my entire existence, then, just a giant faith exercise for those sisters at church to pray about? To stretch their faith and their trust in God while I sit outside looking in thinking, ‘Well, good for you! I’m just going to hell anyway. Have a nice day.’ Sure, that’ll bring glory to God, but d00d, why bother raising me in a church? Isn’t that the “extra special” form of rejection in the bible where someone hears the gospel, acknowledges that it’s true, and then explicitly denies it?

Two months later I was accepted into two graduate programs off of the waitlist. I accepted the offer to attend grad school at Northridge State, and immediately second guessed everything.

“Great,” I complained to a friend. “Now that I’m accepted, I’m definitely going to get kicked out.”

“Wait, what? No you’re not!”

“No, because this is how it works: I wanted to get into grad school. Now that I’m in grad school, God is going to take it away because He has some other plan that doesn’t involve grad school and I was supposed to say ‘no’ and not have accepted a spot in this program.”

“Nooo, don’t think that way! I’m glad you got in!”


‘Great…’ I grumbled against God. ‘Was I not supposed to say ‘yes’ to grad school?’

As it turns out, you can’t wrestle with God and graduate school at the same time. Four months into the program I hated my life. By finals week I was supplementing my study material with articles like, “100 reasons to drop out of graduate school.” One gem of an article I found was about how, for women, the cost of a doctoral degree is literally the cost of their firstborn child. Encouraging stuff. Every time I went to church or fellowship I was confronted with the fact that my soul was on the line, and every time I went to class I was confronted with the fact that it was study or die, and dying was beginning to sound like a really good option. The only reason I wanted this degree originally was because I wanted to use it for medical mission trips. But if I was not a Christian, there is no such thing as a “medical mission.” There is no urgency to share the gospel with others when your own soul is not secure.

‘God,’ I prayed, ‘If it will help me love You I will drop out of this program.’

I never worked up the nerve to actually drop out, but by the end of the second semester, I had failed out of the program.

And I cried.

I cried because, no matter how you pitch it, it just sucks. And I cried because I am loved. So many people have prayed for me as I wrestled with my salvation and my schooling. They have walked with me, argued with me, and pleaded with me. My family has reassured me that I am still loved and supported, and my friends have assured me that I am always welcome as a State employee (ahah…).

In my life, God has shown me that He is far more patient than I understand, and more good than I give Him credit for. For what has He taken that He did not first give to me?

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
-2 Cor. 12:9-10

My circumstances are not, in my own estimation, great. I most certainly am not great, and I cannot yet say that I am truly content. I started this post chronologically very far back in time because I think it shows just how much God has chipped away at my bitter and angry heart to basically reveal just how much of a failure I am. I am a person that puts a lot of faith in what she can do, and, as you can see, I can’t do all that much. I can’t say I understand why these things happened the way they did. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do now that I’m no longer in grad school. But what I do know, and what I have experienced in my life, is that God is great. Regardless of my circumstances, regardless of my failures, He does not change, and He hasn’t left me yet.

So let me be a failure, for in Christ alone is my victory.

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore
-O Great God | Sovereign Grace

Tl;dr: So I failed out of grad school and it kind of sucks but hey it’s OK feel free to talk about it with me, I’m generally not too emotional about it the end.

“When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”
– 1 Cor. 8:12-13

Over the years I have developed a strong dislike towards summer. As the weather climbs to the mid-90’s and winter layers are shed like old skin, like clockwork, one subject that is always brought up in female circles is the dreaded “m” word: modesty. In a conversation with a friend a while back we briefly discussed the topic of modesty, and she noted that – among Godly young women – you can rebuke them for any number of sins and, for the most part, they’ll acknowledge that they’re in the wrong and in need of forgiveness and work toward change. However, once you breech the topic of how they dress, it suddenly becomes more personal and all the defenses immediately go up. Who does she think she is? Um, look at how she dresses? She’s probably jealous of how I look. There’s nothing wrong with the way I dress! I dress pretty modest, thanks much.

When I was younger, modesty talks didn’t really bother me. My wardrobe was pretty much free t-shirts and basketball shorts – I didn’t exactly fit that demographic most modesty talks were geared toward. Fast forward a few years and suddenly modesty talks are an annoying formality. None of the information was ever new, and not to mention enforcement (at church/church functions) was sketchy at best. The rules were only ever enforced upon those who looked like they needed that enforcement. And so for years I skated through church life never bothering to think that modesty applied to me until one day, while I was out running, I suddenly realized that what I was wearing was… pretty immodest.

I wasn’t exactly thinking about modesty at the time either. I just happened to be paying attention to the cars that were driving past me along the road, when suddenly I realized that if anyone from church saw me at that moment I would probably feel really embarrassed. But why would I feel embarrassed? I wasn’t at church, and I wasn’t explicitly going out of my way to make someone stumble. I was just wearing what was comfortable for the activity that I was doing. Deciding then to take more back streets than not, I struggled with that thought for the rest of my run.

What IS modesty?

Sure, I know what modesty is supposed to “look” like: shorts past the fingertips, no bra-straps showing, no more than a hand’s width of skin showing between your collar bone and the neck of your shirt, can’t see your stomach when you raise your hands or bend over, not too tight, not too see through, not too short, no gaps, no this, no that, watch out for this that and the other thing – yeah, I get that, cool. But what does that mean for me?

At the time, I started off with a question to which I knew I would probably get an answer I liked:

“When are the modesty rules applicable?”

This was generally more bluntly phrased as:


Survey says: No, but think about your brothers.

Thanks, brothers.

Coin flip – GO!

I counseled at a high school camp a few years back. Did the spiel to the girls about dressing modestly, called some of my girls back when they were wearing things that were a little too short or a little too tight, but the ONE camper that gave me issues over modesty was not one of my high school girls, it was one of the high school guys. No, he wasn’t walking around in a Speedo, but most days he wore these cut-off tanks with deep armholes that, well, showed off his figure more or less. So for the first couple days I told him to go back to his cabin and change because I found it inappropriate. And then halfway through the week I saw one of the male counselors wearing the same type of tank. It bothered me for a little bit, but because I’m too chicken to tell a fellow counselor, “Yo, your shirt makes me stumble, go change,” I just dropped the issue and focused on the girls.

There was no main point for that little story. I just thought I’d present it for your contemplation.

Even though the survey answer was technically what I wanted to hear (don’t have to be modest all the time? Sweet), my conscience couldn’t sit with that answer. Such a double standard! If it’s not all the time, then why even have these stupid rules? It doesn’t matter what I wear then, so long as I don’t get caught.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
-1 Peter 3:3-4

Why do I even wear clothes? Well, firstly because I don’t want to be naked, and secondly because how I dress helps convey who I am, where my values lie: I wear sporty clothing because I want to be seen as athletic; I wear certain brands or styles because I want to at least pretend I’m trendy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t covet the complement of, “You look really nice today!” When I make clothing and what I wear all about me, it doesn’t always leave much room for modesty. Secondhand information, but it proves a point: a mother once complained about modesty at church and in school in that she didn’t want her kids to “look like squares.”

When looked at from the angle of self, modesty becomes an endless questioning of when I have to be modest, where I have to be modest, and with whom do I have to be modest. It becomes an issue of toeing the line and “how far is too far?” type of deal. However, when looked at from the angle of holiness, and giving glory to God – not even thinking about the purity of the brothers or anyone else – the issue becomes much clearer: modesty comes from living up to the perfection to which God has called me as a redeemed woman.

 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
– Proverbs 31:30

What is the praise of man and that elusive feeling of “I look HOT today” compared to the endless joy that is found in pursuing and being pursued by Christ? In walking with Him and being perfected by Him? Sure, sometimes – from my human perspective – it totally sucks and is ridiculously painful. Sure sometimes what He calls me to do leaves me looking frumpy and square-ish. But what does it matter if the jar is boring clay when the treasure inside shines brighter than the purest gold? Trying to be modest just for myself will only make me frustrated and angry. Cultivating modesty through walking with God will leave me with a desire to guard the purity of my brothers through my dress as well as give me the humility to change the way I dress should I be  rebuked by a fellow sister or brother regarding my clothing (lovingly or not).

I was talking that last bit out with one of the ladies from my church. We went out to dinner and she was wearing the ever controversial “leggings as pants.” According to some modesty-type articles I’ve read, this type of dress is mostly a no-go. As such, I asked her about it. Her response was, “Oh, sorry! Does it bother you? You should have asked me to change!” Used to more callous responses, I was kind of surprised. We discussed modesty a bit more, but the idea that stood out to me the most was: there is a general criterion for modesty, but there is no one set of rules. What’s more important is that women be humble enough to change their attire if it is causing even just one person to stumble.

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” –Matthew 6:28-33

I feel like this is kind of a catch-all verse, but it’s not wrong. I, for one, worry about many things, when in reality all I need to do is worry about one thing – and it’s not really even a worry. Clothing, dress, appearances – it’s all superficial, nothing that will carry over into eternity, so why worry about it? Now does that mean, “Screw the rules! I’m not dressing up for nobody!” No! If the body is God’s temple, is it be acceptable to let it fall into disarray (1 Cor 3:16)? If the Church is the radiant bride of Christ, should she show up to her wedding unkempt and uncaring (Eph 5:25-27)? Rather, I would think that it is appropriate to physically reflect the grace and the cleansing that we have been shown by whatever means God has given us. Not necessarily that we be physically attractive (Is 53:2), but that a respectful stewardship, or care, of the body is shown – and that includes modesty.

It’s taken me a full year to write this post, and even now I don’t really think I fully understand modesty. Fortunately John Piper does. I think that podcast was the main reason I could actually finish writing this. If modesty is something on your mind, I’d really suggest listening to that. It’s only about 9 minutes long, so you’re not losing too much of your life if you really don’t agree with him.

I guess this post is simply a plea to all my sisters in Christ to pray about how they view modesty in their lives. Especially with all these summer activities coming up, my prayer is that all the reminders about modesty won’t simply go in one ear and out the other, and that we would all be humble enough to accept correction if and when we receive it.

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
-Lamentations 3:21-23

A few weeks ago I had a midterm for my online class that required me to head home for the proctored midterm exam. It wasn’t really that big of a deal, yet at the same time it was because it felt like I hadn’t been home since mid-June. So, just like that I rolled into town Friday night, ate just about everything in sight, helped my aunt pack for her mission trip, and watched some TV with my grandmother. Sorry AFC (Ambassadors for Christ), I ditched you guys for C.S.I. and cutting pool noodles in half with a boxcutter. And eating oxtail stew. Mmmmm… oxtail stew~~~

Anyhow, one of my main “to-do” items while back home was to visit my grandfather who is currently residing at an extended care home designed specifically for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a pretty nice place – comfortable, relaxing, plenty of activities – but still, obviously it’s not home. So on Saturday after my midterm I went with my grandmother to visit Gung-gung. She brought along a persimmon from her tree (the tree had a pretty good harvest this year). Apparently she always tries to bring him one little snack from home when she visits. She signed us in, said hello to the head “Murse” of the facility (my general impression of that exchange was borderline flirting, but what do I know), and we headed off to find Gung-gung.

He wasn’t too difficult to find: lounging in a chair in front of the television like he would be if he were still living at home. When he saw us he got up (with some difficulty) and greeted us with hugs, hellos, and kisses for his wife. One of the nurses was nearby and he introduced us to the nurse (she’s met us several times now I’m sure). He remembered to introduce my grandmother as his wife, and I actually don’t remember if he remembered my name.


One of the things all of us in my family do when we visit Gung-gung is walk with him around the facility at least once. Half of us are currently working in, formerly worked in, or are aspiring to work in the medical field and so the signs of muscular atrophy are pretty evident. He is still well rounded in the stomach, so he’s not losing weight from inadequate calories, he’s losing muscle – leg muscle – and that’s kind of scary. So we go for walks, short walks, hoping that it’s hopefully enough and that the next time we visit he’ll still be able to get out of his chair on his own.

Grammy gave him the persimmon, which he promptly shined and began to much on, and we headed outside to enjoy the nice weather, the lovely fall decorations, and each other’s company. Conversation is tricky when dealing with both my grandparents at the same time. I can’t ask too much about what Gung-gung has been doing because once he talks about what he thinks he’s done, Grammy will cut in and correct him. Once and a while isn’t too bad, but he gets agitated if she does it too much. So most of our conversation focuses on the present: the weather, the decorations, what do you think of this and that; and my life: school, work, social life.

The Murse stops us for Gung-gung’s insulin shot. We probably shouldn’t have given him the persimmon to eat so close to taking his insulin, but he assures us that it’s fine. For Gung-gung, it’s better if his blood sugar is a little high, rather than too low. Fair enough, I suppose.

We take another short lap around the courtyard and head back to Gung-gung’s cottage. It’s almost time for dinner. There’s another lady who follows us back. A more “stereotypical” individual with Alzheimer’s, she always makes me a little sad when I see her. I kind of want to talk about her more, but I feel like if I do I’ll be breaking some kind of HIPPA law. In the end, a nurse helps her over to dinner. I ask Gung-gung to see his room before we leave. I don’t know why. Just cause. He gets a nurse to open his door and I basically look for anything that is different from the last times I visited, which are usually pictures. I fix the calendar date while Grammy reorganizes and replaces things and mutters about what is missing.

Hard fact of life: if someone you know is in an Alzheimer’s care facility, don’t send him or her things that you aren’t willing to lose. When your memory is going out the window, ownership is ruled by who currently has possession of said object.

I upgraded to a smartphone within the last year or so. Thus far, that tiny object has both revolutionized and undermined my entire life. I’m definitely a lot more narcissistic than I think I am. BUT, the phone has a camera. Redeeming feature. It’s great. I can take pictures of what I’ve been doing and show them to my grandparents (and the rest of the world). I can also take a picture with my grandparents – you know, for memory’s sake.

Goodbyes are always hit or miss. Some days are an agitated parting, while other days are clearer. This past goodbye was a clear day.

“How much does it cost for me to stay here?”

“Our long-term insurance covers it.”

“If it’s getting too expensive I can always come home. All I do here is eat and sleep.”

“Medicare takes care of the rest. Besides, that’s all you do at home anyway.”

“Okay then. But if the rent goes up I can always come home. All I do here is eat and sleep.”

“Okay- Goodbye!”

So I say, ‘My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.’ I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
-Lamentations 3:18-20

It’s just a sad existence. You can butter it up all you want, but life with Alzheimer’s at a facility is lonely, it’s boring, and it reinforces that you’re losing your mind.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about since this last visit is Salvation and mental degeneration. Is it possible to forget God? Or does “preaching the Gospel to yourself daily” take on a whole new meaning? I do count it quite a blessing that my grandparents both accepted Christ shortly before dementia and Alzheimer’s started to take their toll. But how do you navigate the Christian faith when you barely remember the names of your children, let alone this God you recently put your faith in?

What is faith when your mind is failing?

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
-2 Tim. 2:1-13 (emphasis added)

Sometimes I wonder if I am just inanely foolish. I can struggle with an issue for years, even when scripture reveals the truth so clearly. Or maybe I’m simply fearful, fearful that the truth will suddenly change and I’ll be left with the short stick.

Man is like grass. Our glory is like the flowers of the field. When the summer winds blow hot, the grass withers and the flowers fall. When I was younger I thought I’d always have my grandparents, and life was only taken when you reached a ripe old age and had accomplished everything you needed to do in life. Unfortunately, I now know this to be false. I am grass: here today, gone in an instant.

But the Word of the Lord stands forever.

The body may fail, the mind may fail, but God does not. Even if I forget yesterday, or even today, of tomorrow there is one thing that I can be sure:

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

If little Annie can sing and smile saying, “the sun will come out tomorrow,” should we, Christians, not have more to sing and smile about? For our God is more faithful than the sun.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. “
-Meg Cabot

For the most part, I dislike guessing. It’s midterm season here at my university, and I try to actually know the answers to the questions rather than simply narrowing it down and then betting fifty-fifty.  And although I dislike being wrong, I like to know when I am incorrect as well.

I took my Asian American Studies midterm today. I hope someday they allow students to take written exams on a computer. Did you know that written exams and multiple choice exams equally test your knowledge of a subject? Written exams just test how well you can articulate it.

This evening, there was a revival worship and praise night at the chapel on campus. It was led by United Pursuit Band & YWAM Circuit Riders, which was interesting mostly because I had been talking to a guy from my church about the Circuit Riders earlier that day. He had been checking out the various Christian revival groups and their theological background and whatnot. If he mentioned that they are rather charismatic, I missed it.

For those of you who don’t know, “charismatic” basically means the exact opposite of whatever you think Church is supposed to be like. In a very broad and general sense at least.

Charismatic Christians and their worship are very new phenomena for me, and I was rather uncomfortable to say the least. Plus I pretty much came in the middle, so that didn’t help either. But, either way it was a refreshing time of worship among a very passionate group of Christian leaders on campus. They were praying for revival; they were praying for passion; they were praying for the future. I was moved. I wanted to catch that fire, that passion – and then actually act upon them.

On Sunday I was talking to a couple from my church. They were taking me home from an after-church function during which the Taiwan winter missions team presented. They asked me if I had ever been on a mission trip before. I said yes: Vacation Bible School in Mexico. They asked me if I would ever go on a mission trip – like the trip to Taiwan – where basically the entire trip is dedicated to sharing the Gospel to random strangers. I said no: I don’t speak Chinese. But on the other hand, if it were a trip in the U.S., I could do that. Probably. Maybe. If I had more courage.

I left the praise night early because I figured I had other things to do. I was glad I went but…you know. Stuff. Spiritually I was feeling pretty full, like if God told me to do something, I would drop everything and do it. Right at that instant.

You have to be careful about what you pray for sometimes.

I wasn’t sure if they were acting at first. They were standing in front of a theater, so I thought they might be rehearsing a scene.

But you don’t punch someone that hard.

You don’t pull their hair.

You don’t kick them while they’re down.

And your friends shouldn’t egg you on.

You don’t treat people like that. You just don’t. But – no matter what others tell you to do, no matter what society says – my first instinct was to walk away. It’s not my business. Someone else will stop them. Don’t get involved.

“DUDE. What are you doing?!”

Back off. It ain’t your business. We got it handled. Do you want to be the one getting hit? We got it handled. Some bitches deserve to get the shit beat out of them.

The @#$% they do!

“No, it is my business! You don’t treat someone like that.”

Go away. It’s handled. It ain’t your business. Just walk away.

I had my phone. They weren’t fighting anymore, so I was reluctant to call the police. I walked away, checking over my shoulder should they start fighting again. I went to Starbucks. I thought they might know the number of the non-emergency police call line. I thought they might know what to do. There were kids fighting just outside after all. That’s not right. I was suddenly having a hard time breathing. And seeing. I checked on the group of kids. They were leaving – one girl in one direction and the other in another direction. That was good.

The situation was good.

I guess.

“But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body; every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
-1 Corinthians 12:18-20

I am thankful that I can cook edible food.

I am thankful that I can sing.

I am thankful that I have the ability to learn things quickly and without much stress.

I am thankful that I am creative.

I am thankful that I am (relatively) organized.

I am thankful that I have the ability to be active.

I am thankful that I am not afraid to speak my mind.

I am thankful that I am surrounded by patient people.

I am thankful for the people who have gladly been giving me rides all semester.

I am thankful for the people who have generously paid for my meal.

I am thankful for the friends who are quick to lend a listening ear.

I am thankful for the pastors who have preached to me the Word of God.

I am thankful for those that care enough to see through my façade.

I am thankful for the people that keep me in their prayers.

I am thankful for the people whose words and actions build me up.

I am thankful for the people who love me enough to tear me down.

I am thankful for those who are musically talented enough to lead worship.

I am thankful for those who can help me understand the Bible.

I am thankful for those whose great faith in Christ increases my own.

I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, who imparts and grows all of these gifts.

I am thankful for the love of God, for by it all of these things are given a purpose.

Re: California Internet Scholarship


Science fiction does a pretty good job of engaging the imagination and leading people to ponder where technology will take us in the future. Movies such as Tron, I, Robot, and many (many) Japanese anime shows all play with the idea of an advanced computer age where advanced operating systems and artificial intelligence is the norm. For Japanese films especially, the internet is a key plot point. If it’s not Godzilla, it’s a self-aware virus that’s destroying a world so dependent on the internet that they can’t do anything without the help of their smart phones or computers.

Not that the internet is a bad thing. I think the moral of most of those stories is that you need to rely on friends and family in order to overcome adversity.

But think about it, the internet is probably going to be a key feature in the technological advancement of the world. Yeah, yeah, the internet can’t advance unless technology advances – however, the more dependent we become on the internet, the more the internet drives our need to create innovative devices that allow us to stay connected to the web. Think back 10 years, where was the internet? In our chunky computers with dial-up connections. Now if you get lost in a new city you can just whip out your fancy little iPhone and ask Siri to Google Map where you are.

And if that is now, where will the internet take us in 10 more years?

I use Google for almost everything, so I’m a little biased when I say this but – Google is seriously going to rule our lives very very soon. Have you seen those Terminator-style glasses Google has in the works? No need to check your phone, just blink your eyes and BAM! Information. I mean, you can just look at a restaurant and ratings and reviews will pop up. This gives “World Wide Web” a whole new meaning. And what if you add face recognition software to that? Instant Facebook stalker status.

Beta testing has already gone out for Google’s self-driving car: a car that basically drives based on Google Maps routes. While it may not be 100% self-diving within the next 10 years, I’m sure the option for essentially an “auto pilot” mode for your car will probably be available. Since they already have internet programs that track traffic and highway slowdowns, could self-driving cars – directed by the internet – then improve morning and evening traffic conditions? Possibly reducing automobile crashes?

Thanks to the internet, the world is shrinking daily. Information is easier to access than ever, and interpersonal relationships are now almost required to have an online facet. In 10 years, how will this technology shape our lives? And how might it possibly destroy it? While it is world wide, it is also a web. It can be a thing of beauty and mobility, or it can be a snare.

What do you think the internet will look like in 10 years?

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
-Mark 9:24



God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near, calm my fear
And take my doubt

Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

God, my God, let Mercy sing
Her melody over me
God, right here all I bring
Is all of me

Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

‘Cause You are and You were and You will be forever
The Lover I need to save me
‘Cause You fashioned the earth and You hold it together, God
So hold me now

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

-“I Will Lift My Eyes” by Bebo Norman


I am thankful that I have a God who is bigger than I am. Bigger than my pride; bigger than my anger; bigger than everything I don’t understand about who He is and what His will is for my life.

God, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!

 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
-Luke 11:9-13

It’s usually pretty easy to ask God for things. At least for me. I always want something: grades, to not be late, ministry to go well, grades… mostly grades. It’s a little harder to thank God for the good things that do happen. Yeah, I got an “A” on my last exam. But I studied. Whatever. Thank you God that my neuron synapses worked? It’s even harder to thank God when I think the results are terrible.

I got a “C” on my exam.

The class project bombed.

The ministry was unsuccessful.

My life is a failure, You must not be working in it.

Why are You not giving me what I asked for?

“Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling.”
-Psalm 2:11

I’ve learned that, while praying out loud, dropping certain phrases makes me sound more “spiritual.”  Things like, “for YOUR glory” and, “let us not focus on OURSELVES,” among others. So the question is, how often do I actually mean those words? How often do I take all that God has given me – abilities, skills, possessions, gifting – and lay it all out before God saying, “It was never mine to begin with”? My pride answers: not often. Actually, not even my “pride”. I myself continuously think that, because God gave me all these things, I know best how to utilize them. And God, being merciful, allows me to happily hammer away at life’s nails before handing me a screw.

Lessons from The Odyssey: the tragic hero only survives through divine intervention.

I hate being humbled. I don’t easily see the “good” that is supposed to come from being humbled. How am I supposed to “give thanks to God” when I feel like I’ve just been dropped down a hole? At this point, I only ever have two options: I can see God as a prissy deity that enjoys crushing His followers just to show how mighty and superior He is, or I can finally pray with sincerity, “It was never mine to begin with, use it for Your glory.”

I was taught to say, “thank you” when given something. If I acknowledge that all I have is from God, why would I ever cease to thank Him?

For all who ask, receive; all who seek, find; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkidness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.”

-Psalm 100: 1-5

It’s easy to focus on all the things that are wrong with my life. So easy, in fact, that I often find it hard to be thankful for the little things that do go my way.

I am thankful for biomechanics because the body is beautiful. We are fearfully and wonderfully made with the capability to observe and understand how the human body works and the ability to achieve great physical feats through the proper application of those observations.

I am thankful for Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF) because the members have been examples of God’s love and care toward me (and others). They’re also a fun bunch and I was able to go after-Halloween candy shopping with them. I am also thankful for whatever person invented the delicious candies known as M&M’s.

I am thankful for my apartment and apartment mates – that the neighborhood is (relatively) safe, that we get along, that I am here.

It settles the dust, so to speak, to put abstract ideas into a more concrete form. I know I am not inherently thankful. I was taught to say “thank you” when given something. So how do I go about ridding myself of that sense of entitlement in order to genuinely utter (or type) those two simple words?

“And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.”
-Luke 17:6

The summer before my senior year of high school, my mom told me that it is possible to grow an avocado plant from an avocado seed. She probably told me this information a few dozen times before hand, but that time it just happened to click. So in my excitement, I took the avocado seed I was holding, stuck some toothpicks in it and sat it in a cup of water to wait until it sprouted. With any luck, I’d be eating my very own avocados by the next summer. Horray!

Three months later I learned that it takes 15 years for an avocado plant to produce fruit – and that’s only if you have more than one avocado plant. To say the least, I was pretty disappointed. But my mommy, taking advantage of a teachable moment, equated the experience to faith and prayer and waiting on God. Good things take time to grow. And that lesson stuck with me. I’ve since been able to build on the analogy, and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned.

1. Seeds

I don’t remember how long it took the first time I tried growing an avocado plant from a seed, but the 2nd time around took FOREVER. I’m pretty sure my seed took about 2 months to crack open, and when it finally did crack open, I thought I’d killed it. But after a few days, I began to see the root buds growing downward, and eventually a little shoot coming up from the top. Elated like no other.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
-Luke 15:10

I have a few friends I’ve been praying for their salvation. I’ve spent years waiting for their hearts to “crack open.” I have no guarantee that they will be saved, and there have been many instances that I thought I should just give up and focus on something that is more instantly gratifying. But, like I have no control over when the seed sprouts or grows, I have no control over the hearts of others. I can share the gospel, I can follow up with that person, but ultimately it is God that works within the person and causes understanding and growth.

I’m still praying for my friends, holding out on the hope that one day they will understand and believe the gospel. And when that day comes I’m pretty sure I’ll be going crazy with the angels.

2. Growing

I hate bugs. I hate gardening. In general I just kill plants (which is why my avocado plant is pretty amazing). Back in the early days of Girl’s Group we did a flower potting thing and painted pots and planted flowers in them. I decided to be all symbolic and write “faith” on my pot. If I were superstitious, two weeks later I would have been utterly devastated and quite frightened at my withered and very dead flower sitting in my pot of “faith.” You see, I kept forgetting to water it (either that or I remembered and then didn’t). It was almost the same with my avocado plant. Its early months were pretty lacking in the area of regular watering. It wasn’t until my family and I went on vacation and I left it out by the sprinkler system that I came back to a healthy, well watered, happy plant. Regular watering works wonders for the growth of a plant.

So why not faith as well?

You’d think it’d be second nature to me, reading my Bible. I mean, I grew up Christian, I go to a Bible church, and “READ YOUR BIBLE!” has more or less been beaten into my head since I’ve been able to read. If anything, the Bible is the main reason literacy exists! But in spite of all its importance, my tendency is to not read my Bible, and that is what frustrates me most. It’s like kindergarten, when you plant those silly lima beans and then constantly compare the growth of your sprout with that of the other children’s – only instead of lima beans I’m left comparing faith and spiritual maturity. I could wallow in self pity here, but hearing the constant prayer request of desiring to spend more time in the Word reminds me that it’s every believers struggle. I actually don’t have a “lesson learned” for this. I’m still working on consistently walking with God. So I suppose that this is more of an encouragement to strive to be in the Word daily. Accountability group, anyone?

“Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
-Mark 4:8

By the way, the quality of the dirt your plant is growing in determines how much water your plant will hold over time. The dirt absorbs the water received and makes sure that the plant doesn’t dry out. Otherwise you’ll just water your plant and all the water will drain straight through the dirt and it’s like you never watered it at all…

3. Grafting

The fastest way for an avocado plant to bear fruit is to take a branch from a tree that is already bearing fruit and to graft it onto your young avocado plant. The process works as so:

  1. Take small branch from fruit bearing avocado plant.
  2. Make a cut in non-fruit bearing avocado plant and insert branch from fruit bearing avocado plant.
  3. Bind and let grow together.
  4. When strong enough, whack off non-fruit bearing avocado branch and let fruit bearing branch take over.

And if that made absolutely no sense, please turn to figure 1.

Quite honestly it’s amazing what my brain remembers. However, after I Google image searched for a diagram, I realized that there are other methods of grafting branches, but whatevs. That is how I learned grafting.

Maybe it’s just me, but grafting is pretty ridiculous. You’re basically taking two different trees and splicing them together, Frankentree style. It’s how you can end up with one half of a tree producing oranges and the other half producing apples. There’s probably a science behind which trees/plants you can actually graft together, but isn’t that just fascinating? The original tree just accepts the foreign branch and nourishes it as though it were any other branch it had grown.

“If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
-Romans 11:16-18

If the root is holy, the branches are too. Me, a wild olive, grafted into the rich root of the olive tree. Who does that?! When you graft something, you usually want to take a branch from a good tree, something that will enhance the entire plant. The tree has good roots? Then you graft in a branch from a nice, well cultivated, proven tree with good fruit! Not a wild plant. Yet that’s exactly what God did. He took me, someone who has nothing to offer, and grafted me into the rich roots of His son. And that is a strange and wonderful thing.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
-John 15: 4-6

So there you have it, folks. Lessons from an avocado plant.