Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fact vs. Truth

Once upon a time, I thought that facts are ever-changing, while there is only one truth. That is the Truth that Jesus proclaimed to the world. But I have another thought lately.

Facts are not ever-changing. They remain the same. Facts are facts. What makes them fallible is the incomplete data or information that make up the facts on hand, making it seem like it is ever-changing. However, in reality, facts never change. We extract meanings out of facts, and that's when they no longer become credible. This, however, is not the fault of the existing facts, but our own ignorance.

That is why the argument about subjective truths make sense. When we make meanings out of those facts, we create our own subjective truths. That becomes the truth that we see and believe, until another piece of fact surfaces and we derive another truth from whatever information we have. So perhaps the concept of subjective truths hold true.

But then, there is another Truth, the One Truth that Jesus was talking about. It is on a completely different level in relation to facts. There is no way to compare this Truth with any other explanations. It is the Truth of what was, and is, and yet to come. It is the Truth of Jesus Christ.

And honestly, I am still trying to fully comprehend what this Truth is. A part of me thinks that I am never going to understand it if I were to keep using my head, but perhaps I will continue searching with my faith.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I guess the economists are right. We would rather not lose something in order to receive something. The hurt of loss is more than the happiness of earning. That's why a lot of us realize that something is precious only when we have lost it. Such is my case.

Now that I know my Doctorate Degree is gone, though I hope temporarily, it hurts more. I have been attempting to take a break from my pursuit of education for quite a while now, but now that it is in my face, the thought of letting go is painful.

Why is it that we don't cherish more of what we have, only to regret that we have lost it? I want to learn to take notice of all the blessings in life, be grateful that it is there, and remember that if and when God takes it away, it was never mine in the first place. It has been loaned, and it was a blessing - God's generosity - in my life.

Perhaps that is the idea of detachment. Not getting rid of emotions or feelings towards something, or avoiding the world altogether, but enjoying every moment with the people and the things we have, knowing that they can be taken away at any time, and it will be okay.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Test VS. Answer

The next one year of my life is set, not by choice, but it at least gave me a direction to go.

I have been working at an HIV clinic for the past 3 months, believing that my parents understood and granted me their permission to work there. A couple of days ago while talking to my Dad on Skype, he just understood what I meant. All along, he thought it was a field trip, a one time deal that has no recurrent contact with the clinic. Finding out that I am working there, he ordered me to quit, no question asked; either I quit, or he would talk to the school. Then, he told me to go home right after I am done with school in August.

I wonder, at times, if this is what God has been trying to tell me, "Go home!", or if this whole thing has been a test to see my perseverance in this whole matter. I do have to say, though, that regardless what, I am a little relieved to know where I am going, though it is not my choice. Some certainty is always less stressful that none.

With that said, I guess I am quitting my pursuit of a doctorate degree for now. I do still want it, but perhaps some time in the future when the time is right. At this point in time, I feel anxious (to tell my supervisor and school), relieved (to know what's next), and sad (to let go of my doctorate degree). I think I have to settle with these emotions for a little longer.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Knew I Loved You

Do you remember the century-old song from Savage Garden, called I Knew I Loved You? One of the sentences goes like this, "I knew I loved you before I met you".

When I first heard the song, I was really young, and I shook my head at the idea. How can you love someone that you have not met? That is an unrealistic fantasy, like falling in love with someone in your head, almost.

Lately I am beginning to take a different spin with that lyric. I think I will love the man that God has created me to be with, regardless of who he may be. I have yet to meet that man, but I think I will love him very much. It's like, I know I loved him before I met him, because he will be the man that God created to complement me, and vice versa. So it's something like, there will be a man whom I am head over heels in love with, even though I have yet to meet him right now.

I apologize for the totally random post.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sleep and Rest

I have been feeling pretty tired lately, probably mental exhaustion from all that I have to accomplish. My life has become a packed checklist in which I am in a race to put a check on each item. The mental exhaustion is taking a toll on my physical body. Imagine sleeping for 9 or 10 hours in a day and still feeling tired. throughout the day. That's pretty bizarre.

This reminds me of Elijah, when he was really tired. I'd guess that he was underwent some depression. He was too tired to walk, or to do anything else. God fed him and let him rest. He rested for a long period of time.

I wonder where was my balance of eating, resting, and working? I have been having poor appetite due to missing lunch on many days. I have been eating scraps at home because I don't have time to cook, nor do I have the extra energy to go out and buy food. I have been working non-stop each day, finishing both school and clinical work. I have been out socializing for the purpose of networking. I have been sleeping, a lot.

Then, I realized that sleeping and resting are two different things. Sleeping does not mean resting. Our body is not like a battery where we can just charge it at night, and it will be full the next day. Sleeping is getting knocked out after a whole day's activities. It is a dreamland. A time where the body repairs the damages done during the day. Resting requires doing things that we enjoy, or spending time with people without feeling the need of it but feeling the want of it. Resting requires us to keep quiet and be still. Resting requires us to run to God's embrace. Resting requires us to take care of both of our mental and physical health.

I need to rest.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

3 Reminders

There are three things in life that I try to keep in my pocket everywhere I go, whatever I do, and whoever I meet. I found this to be useful for my own sanity, and you might too.

1. Always forgive others

For all the unpleasant things that others have done to us, forgive them. They too, have their issues in life that they need to figure out. When we forgive, we get rid of one painful burden that we do not need to carry. Forgive, however, never means forget. As the saying goes, once beaten, twice shy. It does not mean that we continue allowing the person to hurt us all over again, because that is mere foolishness. Forgiving means that the unpleasant act has no negative effect on our being, both in the present or in the future; we do not bring up that experience to manipulate our relationship with that person or other people in any point of time. Forgetting may not be all that healthy, as it may lead to denial or repression of that painful experience. So forgive, instead of forget.

2. Remember others' kindness

All the kind acts that others have shown us, remember to repay them, and pay them forward. One act of kindness will go a long way. Remember that though the world is broken, there is always hope, and we can see it through the acts of kindness around us. There are kind people in this world, and their kindness, whether we are aware of them or not, have and will influence our future actions. So remember others' kindness, and whatever we do, always remember that there have been people who have shown us mercy and given us grace.

3. Never remember our own act of kindness

We may have shown others kindness, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and love. That is our responsibility, more so than our right. So when we give, never expect our acts to be repaid or remembered. We serve with the hope of serving others with love, not with the hope of reaping benefits. Do not count the number of kind things we have done to others. If we look at them as though they are debts that others owed, we will end up feeling jaded and disappointed. Our acts of kindness shall be given free to others, the same way that we have received so much kindness and blessings in our life for free.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I've been having homesick spells for the longest time ever. This has never happened to me before, at least never this long. Perhaps I am coming to a crossroad, or maybe I am developmentally at a stage where I feel like I should be home and getting settled (ahh, when your friends are all married or are getting married, you really do want to be there with them). I really want to go home, especially when I have been away from my family for 14 years.

But something struck me one day. Remember our Bible friend, Joseph, the guy who was sold off by his own brothers and lived far away from his family until he became successful, and then met his family once again during the drought? I was trying to imagine how homesick he was. He was the favorite in the house, so I'm sure he received a lot of attention at home, and all the other good things and riches that I could only imagine. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn't really talk about Joseph's feelings, though I think that it would be really interesting to read his diary.

Perhaps God sent Joseph away to build his character and prepare him for a tough and important job in the government. Perhaps God also wanted to let him see the world as it is, rather than the bubble that he has been living in; after all, he was a daddy's boy. Perhaps God wanted to use him in such mighty ways that he has to undergo the tough training.

That made me feel better, knowing that God is keeping a watch on whatever I am going through, whether being away from home or missing the good things I can be experiencing at home right now. Somewhere down the road, perhaps God will make me look back and say, "See, this is why I separated you from your family for this long. This is what I've gotta do for you and to you, so you can get here, where I want you to be."

Then someday, like Joseph, I too, will experience a beautiful reunion with my family.

Monday, September 13, 2010

From the Heart

I was waiting for the elevator up from the basement parking when there was a car that stopped in front of the elevator door. Two Korean middle-aged men came out and started lifting heavy boxes (seemed like DIY furnitures).

Out of kindness, I asked, "Do you need help?" When one of them said, "Oh, yes," I froze. I was unsure how I should help. I didn't know what I should say next. Sensing my confusion, he asked again, "Sorry, can you repeat that?" Apparently his English was not good and he could not understand me the first time. So I repeat my question, "Can I help?". This time, he said, "Oh, no no, it's okay, thank you". Strangely, I felt relief, somehow.

Then the conviction came. Did I really want to help, or did I want to seem like I want to help?

I looked back and realized that so many times in life, I have offered help because I could foresee them being refused. And hey, at least I offered - better than those that didn't, right? Wrong. That's the first sign of hypocrisy, I think. The first sign of turning into the Bible's oh-so-famous Pharisee. You see the goodness outside, but inside the cup it's dirty.

Thank God for this incident that caught me off-guard, making me realize that I need to start wanting to help people sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, not just out of courtesy. Oh God, give me a genuinely kind heart.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Glimpse

I caught a glimpse of this blue ball that we live in from a distance.

The air was much cleaner and cooler up there, and everything looked so insignificantly small. One must feel the somewhat gentle yet strong breeze, it's indescribable.

I thought I saw a glimpse of what God sees. There is a sense of control, power, and freedom as we glided through the air; allowing the wind to take us higher, while manipulating the strength of the wind to take us where we want to be. It's a mid-air cruise.

Makes me realize: if our God is bigger than all these, what is it that He can't handle? If this is just a tiny creation of His, what is it that He can't overcome?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Greed, or Idealism?

I remembered something from the movie Troy. Achilles (Brad Pitt) was given two choices: he could either fight the war, lose his life and forever be remembered, or skip the fight, save his life, and have the continuation of his romantic relationship by living a calm life. He chose the first.

To live an influential and successful life regardless of whether it is positive or negative, in my opinion, your name must make it to the history book, like Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, etc. So I wondered if I were posed with these choices, which one would I have chosen? Would I, like Achilles, choose to be remembered, in exchange of my own life and everything else that could have been?

And then I arrived at another question: can't it be both? Is it impossible to be remembered and yet have the other aspects of life fulfilled? Couldn't have Achilles participated in the war, won it, and lead his life with his loved one? Will that be greed, wanting everything good in life, or is that just being idealistic, that everything good can happen in one life, in my life, in everyone's life?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mom's Words

I'm remembering things that my Mom used to teach me. Call it reminiscing, call it sappy, but her words and upbringing brought warmth to me even when I'm remembering them. And of course, I'm translating them as I go; she'd have told me in Mandarin or Indonesian. So here are the 50 things that I can think of:

1. Women have our own appeal, use it wisely, and don't abuse it.
2. It's better to find a husband who loves you more than you love him.
3. When you pick something up from the floor or when you wear your shoes, always bend your knees and not your waist, so you're not showing off your butt to others.
4. Never forget someone's kindness, and never remember your own kind acts.
5. When you give respect and toast your cup, always place your cup lower than the other person's. And never, ever, play with your chopsticks or stick it in the rice bowl.
6. Don't make noise when you eat, always finish your food, but if you can't eat something, don't refuse the offer, just put it aside.
7. When someone criticizes you, even when they are wrong, just listen until s/he finishes, then you clear it up when s/he is more calm.
8. Always give up your best for the guests.
9. You don't need to learn to live a wealthy lifestyle, but you need to learn to live a poor lifestyle.
10. Never say bad things about others.
11. 大人不记小人过 - I can't translate this, it's something like, be widehearted to those who hurt you.
12. Try not to include money in your friendship, money can ruin your best friendship.
13. Always wait till the other side hang up the phone before you hang up.
14. Don't start eating until your guest, or the eldest at the table, starts.
15. You have to adapt to the society, not vice versa.
16. In the end, only your family will be with you.
17. When you laugh, do it in front of people, but if you want to cry, do it where nobody sees you.
18. Buy the best thing, rather than hundreds of mediocre things.
19. 天下不会掉馅饼 - something like, there is nothing free in this world, you have to work for it.
20. 提得上就要放得下 - something like, if you can start something, you need to be able to let it go.
21. When people ask you something that you are not comfortable answering, smile.
22. Always take off your shoes when entering anyone's house.
23. Clean up after yourself when a friend invites you to dinner.
24. Patience is virtue, learn to swallow your anger.
25. Learn to endure, and take sufferings with a grain of salt.
26. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
27. Always have breakfast - if you have to miss it, drink a glass of water, or milk.
28. In the end, life is a lonely road; don't be afraid of that power you have in making decisions.
29. Always respond when someone calls you, even if you are in the middle of something.
30. Always pay for your own food when you go out with a boy, even when he offers to pay (to boys: always pay for the girl(s)' food when you go out with her/them, especially when you are the only boy in the crowd)
31. Treat everyone equally, your enemy today may become your friend tomorrow, and vice versa.
32. To spend money, you have to earn them first. Spend 30% of what you earn and save the rest.
33. Money doesn't come from saving, you need to spend in order to earn.
34. Don't be calculative with your friends over small amount of money, but there is a difference between what is borrowed and needs to be returned, and what is insignificant.
35. Your confidence should not come from how wealthy you are, and other status-related factors; it is in your accomplishments, values, and principles in life.
36. Don't be afraid of the challenges ahead, your family will be with you.
37. Girls need to be modest; carry yourself well. Always have a smile on your face, even when you are ill.
38. A tainted reputation is hard to clean up.
39. Marry someone who can complement your talents, and vice versa.
40. When someone says you aren't good enough to achieve something, do it to prove him/her and yourself otherwise.
41. Give yourself to your husband and in-laws because you have become their daughter; your biological family will always be here, while they may require more from you.
42. You only have one brother, take care of each other because he's all you have.
43. Don't be stubborn and let your intelligence get the better of you. Be humble and hide your intelligence, it's better when people think that you have no skills, so you don't become a threat.
44. Do everything backstage, people in the limelight gets the kick first.
45. It's best to be wealthy and nameless; you get to enjoy while not getting any threats.
46. Remember to brush your teeth every night.
47. If you have done your best, that's good enough.
48. Never give up and keep trying, but know when to stop.
49. Don't be a sore loser. Congratulate the winner, and keep polishing your skills.
50. You don't have to try to be the best, you already are in my eyes.

Obviously, I haven't been very good on many of the things on the list. Oh, Mom, I love you :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Can't Dump 'Em

I'm a shoe whore, forgive my language, but that means 1) when I see a pair that I like, I can never walk away without making a purchase unless it costs over $1000 and I shall think about Africa, and 2) I can never throw them out even when they have been well worn.

I realized my inability to dump them out after people in my life started pointing out my tattered shoes. Some of the comments and jokes I have received: "Whose are those? Throw 'em out!", "C'mon, you're not that poor", "Seriously? It's time for a shoe shopping spree".

It is difficult for me to throw them out because each has its function, and each has its story. Similarly, so many of us have difficulties letting go of certain baggage in our lives, because of the memories or functions they have, whether to soothe our guilt, calm our anxiety, or deny our responsibility, etc. And perhaps there are many people in our lives who have been attempting to tell us, "Throw them out! You deserve better!", but we have become so attached to the baggage that it is easier to tune our their voices.

I am going to start dumping out my torn shoes, so I can make space for other things in my closet; I am going to start letting go of my baggage, so I can start creating more beautiful memories in my life.

What about you?

Monday, August 9, 2010


How big the value of US$10 is when brought to church as an offering; but how small is its value when brought to the mall to be spent!
How long it is to serve God for an hour; but how short it is if we watch a movie.
How hard it is to find words to pray spontaneously; but how easy it is to chat and gossip with friends.
How hard it is to read a pericope of the Bible; but how easy it is to read 100 pages of the best-selling novels.
How exciting it is to sit on the front row of a game or concert; but how we prefer to sit in the back pew of a church.
How difficult it is to learn a simple chapter of the Bible to be shared with others; but how easy it is to keep repeating the same gossips to others.
How easy it is for us to believe the newspapers; but how we doubt what the Bible says.

Day 15, Monday, Aug 9, 2010 40 Days of Praying and Fasting

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thrown Away

Let me share one of my fears that I have discovered lately (I really wonder how it has gone unnoticed for so long!). This is one of the fears that has driven me to do everything that I have done till this point.

When I was really little, I won a first place in my first competition in poetry reading - gold trophy that I prided myself in, especially because I used to have a really bad stage fright. I put in so much effort and courage into winning the contest. It is one of the few things that I want to keep till the rest of my life, to remind me of my perseverance. It is my one prided trophy - and I mean it, because I'm a trophy collector. I have perhaps won about 20 up to the end of my high school years, and I think it's explained below by my need for over-achievement.

Years later, while moving house (we have moved a lot in the past, so it's while moving to one of the houses), the trophy broke by accident. Rather than getting it fixed, my Mom dumped it out. Imagine my anger and hurt when I found out - because I could not find it, not even because she told me after she threw it out. Yet I could not be angry, because after all, it's my beloved mother.

From then onwards, that is my goal - to never get broken so I'm never thrown out - because there's never a chance to be fixed. How do I do this? Achieve, achieve, achieve. Achieve so that it will never be broken, achieve so Mom will appreciate and acknowledge my hard work, achieve so that I will not get thrown away. Cover up all the weaknesses and defects, so people cannot look at me to find any emotional vulnerability. I need to be the best, to be perfect, to cover up the shame that perhaps, I am unknowingly broken inside. Straight A student, well-rounded, object of envy - yet none of these satisfy my need to achieve even more.

To face this fear is to be experiencing the anger, pain, and hurt once again. I need God to help me release those emotions so I am no longer bound by this fear of not achieving.

I know I'm not alone in this. You too, perhaps are bound by something in the past that you may not even notice anymore. Seek God and ask Him to reveal those things to you, so you can make corrective experience from the distorted past experience and not let it hinder you from living the fullest. For one, I now know that my decisions have been driven by a lot of shame in the past and I am willing to work on it one by one, though it is a painful revisitation to memories that I don't want to remember.

I no longer want my obsession to achieve to be the driving force of making important decisions in life. What about you?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Love Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you with knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Friday, July 30, 2010

With the Dentist

I just came back from the dentist to fix this one cracked tooth and also crowning, after a long break from any kind of heavy dental procedures. I forgot how terrible the experience can be, and realized how much faith I exercised in the room.

There was nothing that I could see except the ceiling - not even the dentist's face. I could only hear his voice when he said, relax and breath normally, or when he reminded me, if it's too painful then lift up your left hand but don't move, but that's all there is to it: listen.

The dentist's voice is softer compared to all the other tools that are making hair-standing noises like those of the drill, enhancing my fear and distracting me from hearing the dentist's voice. I have to listen closely, but most of the times I just have to sit still and trust that he will get the job done. There is a mixture of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, loss of control, but there's also trust (that he knows what he is doing) and hope (that the ordeal shall pass soon).

I thought, hmmm, this sounds very much alike my spiritual faith. I need to sit still, trust, hope, and keep listening.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

God Is Lonely

I have often heard the argument that God, in His existence being Trinity, has all the love to share amongst them all. God is satisfied with Himself, He is who He is.

Let me throw you an unanswerable question: what if God can be lonely? What if, in being a human, He has limited Himself to the things that He can access. What if Jesus was lonely, when He way praying and His disciples were sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane?

What if, each day as God waits for us to spend time with Him, and as we continually forget about Him, what if, God is lonely - lonely without us?

(Post is inspired by a song in my IPod by Alanis Morisette - What If God Is One of Us?)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Truth Doesn't Make Us Free

I was reading a book, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!, and was challenged by one phrase, "the Truth does not make people free" (Kopp, 1976, p. 13). I had to put down the book, sit down and reflect. Is this book misleading?

There was a tension inside my heart because I am utterly convinced of what the Bible states. I know the Bible states that the Truth will set us free (John 8:32).

After sitting down with that tension and allowing it to seep through, I realize that Kopp was right. But the Bible is also true. I have come to a conclusion that even though the Truth will set us free, It definitely does not make us free. If the Truth makes us free, God's proclamation about human freewill becomes questionable.

The word "will" in the Bible is the important key that we often overlook. We forget the divine requirement of our very own participation in every change, improvement, and encounter with God.

The Truth can make us free as much as we want ourselves to be freed. If we want to stay in bondage, the Truth does not make us free, even though It will and It can. The Truth cannot change our attitudes unless we want to; the Truth can be everything but is not going to unless we want It to be.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marrying a Psychologist

DISCLAIMER: This thought is based on my own experiences and has nothing to do with empirically-supported research or findings in the field. Thus, this is a conclusion or an opinion solely coming from me and no one else. This does not represent any other individual or organization in the field. The use of "he" instead of "she" is a conscious decision, rather than due to ignorance or gender bias, because I am writing as a She.

Marrying a psychologist may not be a bad idea.

1. He will generally be more empathic, or rather, have the capacity or conscious ability to be and to act such.
2. He will be capable of listening with all due critical analysis to the hidden meanings behind every sentence, thus more sensitive to hints and nudges.
3. He will be more understanding towards little quirks.
4. He will be more intentional in attempting to fix bad habits of both parties.
5. He will take more initiative to find a solution if there were to be any miscommunication or misunderstanding.
6. He will be more forgiving because he has been trained to contain others' chaos.
7. He is able to look beyond the flaws and believes in the strengths of his wife, motivating and encouraging her to reach her maximum potential.
8. He will be more adept in being direct or subtle, depending on the situation.
9. He knows the best way to care for and love his wife.
10. He is a psychologist at heart.

Or marrying a psychologist may be a nightmare.

1. He will be tired when he gets home after work so he does not want to be intentionally empathic, instead taking advantage of his wife as a dumping bin.
2. He will be less attuned to his wife's words because he has used up all his energy at work and now wishes to be listened or heard instead.
3. He will be less patient because he is not paid to be a psychologist at home.
4. He will be more than qualified to over-analyze every sentence, ensuring that every unintentional hidden meanings are expressed.
5. He will be more sensitive to every bad habit his wife and has the ability to point out every mistake committed.
6. He may expect her to listen to him as to how to fix it because he believes that he is an expert.
7. He is capable of diagnosing his wife with anything from the DMS-IV, including a couple personality disorders.
8. Since he can conceptualize different interpersonal problems, he may unintentionally manipulate the situation according to his wishes.
9. He knows the best way to trick or annoy his wife.
10 He is a psychologist at heart.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Psalm 23

I was having many thoughts regarding the present and the future. Unfortunately, at the same time, making comparisons between people.

I thought, how is it that some people are able to get there without putting in so much effort? How is it that some people are in better positions without doing anything challenging or difficult, or at least noticeably so. How is it that people are able to live such good lives without worries, just because they have access to everything that they need?

Then Psalm 23 came in a form of night devotion. God will provide for all things, I shall not want. I shall not want what others have, or where others are. I shall only want God and His presence in my life.

We are running different races ultimately, and there is no such thing as who is faster or slower in this race, for everyone has been entered in a different race. My race happens to be harder than others, while easier than most, if I were to sit down, think, and be gut-wrenching honest with myself.

My race is a race that only I can run and complete. How I will finish is determined by how faithful I am during.

Monday, May 24, 2010



Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Have you ever heard people saying that they love constructive criticism? I think a part of them is in denial. I'm serious. I mean, who likes to be told that he or she is not good enough? No matter how constructive it may be, it is still criticism, and criticism hurts.

I hate criticism. It reveals how imperfect I am. Sometimes it challenges my self-esteem and self-concept, things like, "Why am I not good enough?", "Why did I do that?", etc. But I also think that they are good for me. Criticisms bring you back to humility and increase your capacity for unpleasant things. After all, we are born in the golden era. People in our generation respond really badly towards criticism - it's been researched.

I think it is what you make of criticisms. Do you ruminate and let it affect your views on yourself, or do you use it to better yourself?

However, in the end, these are just positive outlook on criticisms. I still don't like them, no matter how necessary they may be. I just have to learn to embrace and deal with them, because they are good for me; and usually, things that are truly good for you don't really make you feel good initially, just like bitter medicine - if you can swallow it, it will work wonders.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


This past weekend, I went back to my University for 2010 Commencement, held at the prided Big House. Back during the school year, whether rain or shine, school spirit triumphs weather, and we'll be there religiously for football games.

We left the house at 7.40 am in the hope for good seating area, when the commencement was to start at 11 am! If I had known it started at 11, I might have thought twice about leaving the house that early... and in the rain... (I seriously thought it started at 9 am!)

My graduation in the year 2008 was the year that the Big House underwent construction, and we graduates celebrated our graduation at the Diag. So when I was able to step on the carpeted football ground, I couldn't help but to take a closer look and embrace the fighting spirit of the school.

From my seat, we could see a tiny Obama as he delivered his speech.

"The truth is, the debate we’ve had for decades between more government and less government doesn’t really fit the times in which we live; our government shouldn’t try to guarantee results but it should guarantee a shot at opportunity for every American who’s willing to work hard."

“As I’ve found out after a year in the White House, changing this type of slash-and-burn politics isn’t easy. And part of what civility requires is that we recall the simple lesson most of us learned from our parents: Treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect."

I found it to be a deeply embedded political speech, almost like a propaganda, and almost like a Coke advertisement in the comedy Friends.

Pride is a funny thing. It overwhelms you even more after you are no longer a part of the event. Memories reconstruct your experiences and exaggerate your attitudes. My memories of being in University of Michigan inflated my pride each time I flew back to the small campus city.

Happy Graduation, my fellow Wolverines! You guys are going to do great in the world!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Do It

This was a reflection upon a book Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. I recommend this book to those out there who are seeking God's will.

Reading this book made me take the leap of faith. After all, I don't know the specifics of God's plans in my life. All I know is that He wants me to choose what I like, what pleases Him, and what will bring me closer to Him.

In the end, God cares only for your progress towards holiness, intimacy with Him, and growing to become more like Christ. The little details is life, though it is important, isn't the Major thing in life, because He is a great God, He will take care of the details and somehow weave them all together to create a beautiful picture. But holiness is something that WE, based on our freewill, choose to do, so that, He cares a lot about.

Rather than being afraid of choosing the incorrect thing, let's take that one step with faith and wisdom, such that even when it somehow is not the best, it will become a learning process where we become closer to God. Rather than wishing that God will speak in a loud voice over Choice A or Choice B, let's use our God-given brain and make that decision, with the motivation to please God, to make ourselves more holy, and trust that God will be with us whatever it is that we choose in the end.

Just do something. Don't wait because you're afraid of the imperfect or incorrect choice. God is sovereign, so as long as you have weighted your decision wisely, consulted with people in regards to the pros and cons, go ahead. Every decision involves a loss, and our brain will take care of that discomfort when you are unconscious of it (the automatic attempt to resolve cognitive dissonance), so you will be surprised at how un-painful the decision that you have made becomes later on.

If there has been something that is tugging at your heart, listen to it closely, use the resources available within and outside of you, and make that decision. Don't wait for the burning bush or the lightning from the sky. Just do it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Conversation 4/18/2010

Today's conversation at church was inspiring. So here's some points that I would love to share. All materials here are taken from my senior pastor, so I'm giving him the credit for them.

There are 7 mountains that God's people should conquer and be at the top:
1. Business: This talks about the riches and wealth that will support the other mountains. Money made should finance godly projects and deeds in the other mountains.
2. Religion: This is the honor of the bride. Religion shapes culture, culture shapes practices, practices shape the health of the people - spiritually and physically.
3. Family: This describes strength. Godly family will produce godly generation, which will impact the community and culture.
4. Education: This is wisdom. Think about all the philosophies and intellects that will be produced for the nations with the people's level of education and understanding of God's creation! Things of the earth will be used effectively for godly outcomes.
5. Media: This describes glory. The media, when used to portray the Truth, will bring glory to God. The amount of people who are influenced and impacted by junk in the current condition are immense, if instead, they are influenced in a good and godly way, think of what may happen.
6. Government: This is power. Policies implemented may kill or save millions of people. People at the top of the nation control how things should work for the people.
7. Art: This describes praise. Many art pieces in the world mocks at God, while they should have been used to praise God. Imagine the art pieces in the Cathedrals or paintings in the past - they were used to bring a godly experience to people.

Everyone has been called to conquer the different mountains, and these mountains will be conquered by God one day. The question is, will you be there when that happens?

We have all been called to be conquerors, not escapists. And the path of Christianity is not one that is calm and happy; it is, in fact, filled with violence. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence (Matt 11:12), because there is a fight that is going on as to who will be at the top. Are we going to let ungodly people be at the top to control us when Jesus has died, risen, and given us the authority to be at the top of the mountains?

The devil will give us an offer as we make our way to the top of the mountain. As we climb the hard path, the devil will offer us short-cuts, and he will offer us the power and everything in the world in exchange of our worship of him. This is exactly what he did to Jesus: offer Him the world and all of the power and glory so He doesn't have to go through crucifixion, in exchange for His worship of him. However, it is important to know that who we worship on our climb to the top will be in control of us when we reach the top. Do we want the devil or Jesus to be in control when we have conquered the mountain?

Life is about fighting for kingdom, power, and glory. But who are we using it for: Jesus, or the devil?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Somber Easter

So often we fast forward Jesus' story to the resurrection and forget that there had been a death - a significant death, such that when we celebrate the resurrection, we are also celebrating the death.

And the death is nothing to be celebrated, really. We can celebrate it because we have seen the ending. But imagine if you had been the mother, father, or the disciples of Jesus. Your son, teacher, best friend, mentor, had died - and he died in the most gruesome way. Imagine the sadness, the tears, the heartbreak, the pain, etc. Imagine and feel the magnitude of pain involved.

Yet we celebrate that death with much joy, because we have seen the resurrection. Perhaps it was too painful for us that we have chosen to ignore the painful side of this story and rush towards the happy, victorious ending. Or perhaps we do that because we only want the sweet side of our faith. We only want the part where there are happiness, successful promises and blessings.

But at least for this time, remember what you are celebrating. Remember the sufferings that Jesus had to go through. Remember the death that had come before the resurrection. Remember that our God is a God who suffers; this path that we have chosen to follow promises nothing but pain and persecution, and the only consolation is God's presence, peace, and joy amidst the sufferings.

Let's have a somber Easter this year in remembrance of what Jesus had to go through to get to this point.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Voices Past The Noise

As I drove to my friend's funeral service today, I rolled down the window of my car while driving on the highway. The air conditioning was too heated up and the hot air was blowing out and fiercely blowing onto my face. I had to turn it off and depend on the wind that blew into the car as I flew by at 70miles/hour.

I blasted my music so I can hear it, passed the noisy wind that shook my windows. Then, Hillsong's music started playing, and a light bulb appeared. Another insight from God came unexpected.

When things get heated up and we tried all kinds of ways to save ourselves from pain and stress, the external factors might seem really loud. But perhaps God's been blasting His voice so we can hear Him above all these distractions. And sure enough, when I came to a halt and stayed still (you know how traffic is really bad in California), not fighting against the current, I realized how loud the music had been.

It's like God's been there all the while, but His voice are covered by the distractions and noises from the outside. So what do we do? I suggest that we should always be aware that God's always trying to talk to us. When we realize that, we will be more sensitive to His voice and search for it amongst all the noises thrown at us. And of course, sitting still and staying within God's presence during bad times, instead of trying to fight them off alone.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Today I found out that a friend has passed. A couple of days ago, she took her own life, or so it seemed.

Was Jesus there when she planned her death? I believe that He was. But why was it that He did nothing to stop her, if He is as great as He claimed Himself to be? He could have shown up and saved her... So why?

I believe also that Jesus was in pain when He watched her take her own life. Jesus might be suffering even more. I believe that if Jesus really cherished and loved us, He would have done everything to stop this untimely death. If He is the God of Life, then He would have chased Death away. If He does everything for the best outcome possible, does it mean that her death is better than her living? So my question remains, why?

In the end, I can only ask what happened in between the time that she took her life and Jesus trying to save her. I'm not sure if there will be anyone at all who can answer the "why" questions, but perhaps one day Jesus will reveal the answers Himself.

Rest in peace, my friend. Our encounter was brief, and our contact was limited. But I wish that I could have been there for you when you went through difficult times. Please forgive my lack of awareness. I will keep in prayers your family, sisters, and people whom you've blessed with your presence.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My New Fetish

Paraphrase Of The First Psalm
Robert Burns

The man, in life wherever plac'd,
Hath happiness in store,
Who walks not in the wicked's way,
Nor learns their guilty lore!

Nor from the seat of scornful pride
Casts forth his eyes abroad,
But with humility and awe
Still walks before his God.

That man shall flourish like the trees,
Which by the streamlets grow;
The fruitful top is spread on high,
And firm the root below.

But he whose blossom buds in guilt
Shall to the ground be cast,
And, like the rootless stubble, tost
Before the sweeping blast.

For why? that God the good adore,
Hath giv'n them peace and rest,
But hath decreed that wicked men
Shall ne'er be truly blest.

Friday, March 19, 2010





Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Smell of Rain

When I was a junior high/high school student, I used to love walking in the rain. My uniform was wet, my backpack was drenched, thankfully I never had to carry a lot of books, I usually left them in school and only had my pencil case, a wallet, and a useless notebook. One good thing that came out from that: I never had to carry an umbrella.

When I got home, hmmm, the warm shower. Then listening to the tapping sound on the windows when I am in my pyjamas. It's kinda like a free rhythm that one can dance at.

The smell of rain usually takes me back to those days. Just a few hours before it rains, my nose will start itching and I will start sneezing. I'm sensitive to the smell that rain brings. It's like a distinct kind of humid air that brings a certain pleasant smell. It brings soreness to my nose, as though I am empathizing with the sky as it covers the land with its tears.

But I no longer play in the rain. It ruins my make-up, fashion, shoes, bag... I no longer stop to listen to the sound of the rain. I avoid it, I dislike it, I am bothered by it. It ruins my schedule. Traffic becomes worse.

At times I wonder what happened to that small girl who loves walking in the rain; she looks forward to receiving the signal from the rain through her nose.

I want to start smelling the rain once again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Heaven and Hell

The kingdom has come, repent and believe! Heaven will be a place where we go after we die.

It started with that, and then slowly the theological teaching has changed. We can help bring God's kingdom on earth by living the biblical way, loving one another, etc. But the ultimate heaven will be much better than the current state of heaven.

Then something struck me. If heaven can be a place on earth... Won't hell be a place on earth as well? We talk so much about hell being filled with fire and gnashing teeth. That pretty much sums up some parts of the world where God isn't around. But the ultimate hell will be much worse than the current state of hell.

I now see the parallel. Do you?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Everything Is Borrowed

I've never had a more poetic way of describing this, than to use the words from a song by The Streets - Everything Is Borrowed.


This is my hour, I’m never going to bed.
The sky is still black, but begs to be red.
I just put my book down, but it begs to be read
I’m not nod, I’m not napper, never rest my head.
Some days I feel I’m getting smaller and smaller,
but some nights, I seem to grow taller and taller.
And we keep shrinkin’ and shrinkin’ but this will not finish.
You’re never nothing, if you didn’t disappear.
Just when I discovered the meaning of life, they change it.
Just when I’m loving life, it seems to start raining.
I pulled the sail safe switch, sea sail and I’m into the stars.
I love the rain on my scars. The sky’s now red, my eyes reflect jets.
Smiling at this blessing, this life is the best.

I came to this world with nothing
and I leave with nothing but love
everything else is just borrowed

I want to notice chances I’ve passed without notice
I want to see details previously veiled.
I want to grab that chance, carry it home
so I can marry and know
That I noticed every chance
that I could have passed without notice
I saw details that to all were veiled.
And I grabbed those chances, carried them home
and then I’ll have had it with roaming

I came to this world with nothing
and I leave with nothing but love
everything else is just borrowed

I want to speak every cliche but tweak if I’ve seen change
in new way it could be said.

If it’s bleak, or if the week’s leaking down the street
or if any days wasted I want to face facts.
My time on this earth is my only penny,
wise is the gent counting every moment spent.
I don’t want to explain things, don’t wanna fill in the gaps,
I want to look at my friends and in that minute be at …

Memories are times we borrow
for spending tomorrow.
Memories are times we borrow
for spending tomorrow.

I came to this world with nothing
and I leave with nothing but love
everything else is just borrowed

If spit like luck, you can only seem,
to borrow it, you can’t keep it.
When the wind of change whistles into play
will I blink or flinch away?
The wind of change won’t whistle me away
if I spin my tails and sail.
And sail away, let yesterday become today.

I came to this world with nothing
and I leave with nothing but love
everything else is just borrowed

As time will say, nothing but
I told you so

Memories are times we borrow
for spending tomorrow.


I hope that the lyric to this song speaks to your life as much as it did to mine. Beautiful, beautiful lyric.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Better Place

I think as clinician, therapist, psychologist, and whatever else that you will call the helping profession, we have a tendency to want to better the world or help the people so the world will become a better place. I mean, we work so hard to deal with people's issues, garbage, burden, or whatever word that you use to describe all the stuff that are maladaptive.

But today, I realize something. That is a huge burden if we are trying to make the world a better place to live in. All the external things are not within our control, we can only help influence it to go towards a healthy direction. There is, however, one thing that we can be sure of, and that we can be successful in doing. Rather than trying to make the world a better place, what about making ourselves become better people to live with?

This was a thought that sprung up during my chiropractic session today. My non-Christian chiropractor told me that I am too much under stress, and after exchanging thoughts, she jokingly asked, "You want to be Jesus or what?". This struck me. I think so often, we want to be Jesus, not to be LIKE Jesus.

Our cups are different. Jesus took the heaviest cross of all so we can choose to carry our cross.

Just another insight from a normal routine. This one, though, I'm not even sure if it's biblical, but it makes sense to me. I need to learn from Jesus and to become more like Jesus, but not become Jesus. I need to be a Jesus-like Karlin.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Every Broken Bowl, There's A New Carafe

I broke my blue bowl, which was one of my favorites actually, because I thought it was the perfect size for a lot of my food and eating habit. To be truthful, I was rather devastated, and I'd rather have some other bowls broken rather than that.

I forgot where I had purchased it, so in a pursuit to find a similar bowl, I went around quite a little bit. I went to Ikea and was unable to find anything like it. Then, I made a stop at Crate & Barrel (God bless them, they have such good stuff). In my search for my bowl, I found a carafe, something I needed but for the longest time, I was unable to find one that suited the functions I had in my head.

I lost a bowl, I found a carafe. (I will still be in search of my bowl, who knows there's more functional one out there.) I'm not as upset, I think, because after all, in life, for every broken bowl, there's a new carafe.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Rich and The Pretty

Have you ever thought, why do all the rich guys get pretty girls? Rich guys know they can get pretty girls, just like pretty girls know they can get rich guys. It's almost like a trading of characteristics. I see a lot of this happening with people whom I know, or just people around me. Girls fall for rich guys and rich guys fall for pretty girls. What a pair.

There's not a problem if things work out and both can further the Kingdom of God.

The sad thing is, the society encourages that kind of behavior, especially for girls, because after all, wealth is tangible guarantee for your future. So girls sell themselves short, all for wealth's sake. What a pity! What happened to, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matt 6:26).

Oh, our faithlessness and greed for power. I mourn for those who left their Love and Giver of Life for worldly goods and counterfeit honor.

Monday, January 18, 2010

When God Speaks

When God's trying to catch your attention, when God speaks, there is nothing - literally - that will stop Him. Usually we are the thing that hinder Him, but even that, He can slice through it when He needs to.

I have one question for Him. One. He spoke to me three times. Three. And He spoke in parables, still, after two thousand years. Now I pray so that my heart can understand what I've heard.

The Beginning. On Friday's class, we talked about the values that we individually attach ourselves to, that our spirit is perked up by, and reviewed the purpose of our lives. Then, we thought about how what we have been doing needed change in order to walk towards that target. It was a stimulating discussion, and a pretty disturbing process, because there is a disparity in what I want people to remember me by and the way I live. I was perplexed. I asked God about my calling, how what I am doing right now, in regards to church and school, will lead to fulfilling His purpose, and what specifically it will be. One question that I have been asking for quite a while.

First answer. On Sunday, for some reason, the pastor brought a message about our calling. We have to be working hard on the field before God called us, because sloth will not get us anywhere, just like how Elijah found Elisha. Then, leave the past behind, and be immediate in answering God. God reminded me of how he has called me and how I have answered to Him immediately. You have left for Me, so stay with Me, even though there are other things that you want to do, there will be nothing more satisfying that being with Me.

Second answer. We were about to watch a chick flick movie, but we could not make it in time, so we ended up watching Book of Eli, though I had no idea what it was about, I was desperate to just watch anything. There, God spoke. Bring my Word, bring Me, to the rest of the world who needs Me, and I shall be with you, and no sword can go against you. Of course, Eli convicted me too. I should read the Bible to the point I memorized it back to back.

Third answer. A friend's call for help in the middle of the night, mere minutes before I slept. Thank God I caught it before I was done with my day. Giving her advice was like the Spirit giving me advice. The words that came out from me were the words that came out from Him, speaking to me. Give the church, give the people, another chance. Learn to love them the way I have loved you. I've died for them too, you know.

So yes, three parable-like answers. I have yet to know how my schooling will lead me there, or if what I want to do is what God wants me to do. But at least I know He will lead me to the target, and when I start stumbling around, He will catch me before I make the wrong turn.

Ask, and you shall receive. God is not afraid of your questions. He can answer them, and He knows even if you will be scared after hearing the answer, He can still capture your heart all over again. And when God speaks, you will hear. But only you can choose whether you want to listen. I pray that God will answer your questions and your heart will hear Him.

Friday, January 15, 2010

That Person

I am taking Substance Abuse, Alcohol, and Addiction class right now, and there was something that came to mind while I was doing my reading for the class.

Youths (and elderly, actually) have higher risk because of the higher level of needs. People these days are not as reserved when it comes to experimentation either. There are mixed social messages around youths in regards to drugs and alcohol. Well, I'm sure that these people know that these substances are not good for them, but they still take them nevertheless. I wonder what can be a universal protective factor (factors in their lives that decrease the likelihood of getting involved with these substances)?

I'm an experimenter; I like to try new things, random things, anything that comes my way, and in an extreme fashion (mostly good and sometimes bad for me). It's either all the way (unless I really dislike it), or none at all, so I've had my share of drinking too much and getting wasted, taking my first puff (which I discontinued because I hated the taste), and things that are less critical, like doing too much of something. That's my trait, I think.

Anyway, drugs are the only thing that I never touched in my life. Ok, I touched the stuff before, physically, but I never consumed or used any. My protective factor: my older brother, or more specifically, his trust and love for me. He told me once that it is okay if I want to try drugs, he understands that it is natural to be curious, but he explicitly states that if I ever want to take drugs, I must take it in his presence, so he can ensure that I don't hurt myself in any way (overdosed, irrational behaviors, etc.). And you know what? I kept that sentence of his real close to my heart, and knowing he trusts that I won't touch these stuff without him really helped. (Even though when I think about it now, he probably must be taking a huge risk, because if I did get interested in trying, he would be responsible for the ruin of my life; but I guess he knew me well).

That person in my life was my brother. I wonder, if youths experimenting with substances are lacking that person in their lives. I want to be that person in another person's life. Call it a friend, a mentor, or whatever. But wouldn't it be great if our presence in another's life is a protective factor against the things that bring destruction to that life?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lone Journey

I had a thought while I was doing my laundry today.

We glorify our unique calling in God, that noone else can take over the special task God has given us. It is as though we each have our own path to walk. Thinking of it through another perspective, our path will be a lonely one. It is a path wide enough only for one to walk on.

Sure, paths cross each other, and that's when we meet people from all over in our journey. But in the end, our path is only ours to walk; it is wide enough only for a single pedestrian. Perhaps that is why the desire to find a soul mate in our lives, for a soul mate has a path that is parallel to ours (or supposedly). The paths do not merge to become one, but at least they are parallel and we won't feel so lonely walking down the road.

Friends may have paths that are parallel as well... But their paths may be far from ours, and that may not be sufficient for many people, for this is a lone journey. One feels lonely easily. Perhaps God knows that, and that's why Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit to comfort, teach, and guide us when we feel alone.

I give thanks to the many paths that have crossed mine, for those encounters have made me who I am today. I want to learn to cherish the paths that are crossing mine right now, for one day they will be as precious as those that have passed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Birthday 2010

My birthday came and went. Sometimes I wonder, what's the significance of celebrating another year that reminds you that you are a year closer to your death bed? Sure, I am thankful for being alive for another year, but every year when I look back, something feels... empty. Fulfilling but empty. It's the feeling of, okay, it's been an enjoyable year, but so what?

On a happier note, I received a tangible present from my brother (2nd birthday present he has ever given me, the first being a burnt CD with cool songs compiled), and it moved me to tears. That was probably a surprise I did not expect. Mind you, my family is really bad with surprises and presents. I buy my own present every year, directly or indirectly. So when things like that happen, it's not surprising that I am moved.

Surprises still move me, because I am not easily surprised, in a sense that my imagination and expectations are pretty difficult to beat. So when something surprised me, you know it's pretty good for the standard of the context of the surprise.

My birthday was another quiet one, and I like it that way. After all, birthdays are YOUR day. I like to spend my birthday with myself. Surprises can wait the day after, or it can happen the day before.

On new year's eve, my family and I went up to our rooftop to watch the firework display. It was an amazing sight, looking over Jakarta's horizon in the dark, with fireworks lighting up the sky. Everyone was celebrating the upcoming year with much zeal and gun powder. It was a great start to a birthday, for sure.

I look forward to the new year ahead. It will be a good, enjoyable year, just as they all have been. I do hope, however, when I look back to the year 2010, it won't feel empty. I hope that your year won't feel empty as well, as satisfying and fulfilling as it may get.