Monday, June 30, 2008

Living In the Gray

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In the recent past (let's say the last few years), a theological/philosophical realization has been slowly cooking in my head. To many, I'm certain, it isn't much of a revelation; it is an every day reality, an assurance and philosophy that governs one's thoughts and actions almost unconsciously. For me, however, it has taken years of personal experience and discovery to override my natural tendencies toward thinking and acting in black-and-white extremes.

My journey into this new way of thinking and approaching life probably began in earnest when Hubbs and I started dating. Up until that point, the planted seeds had not yet begun to take root, although my life experiences had been broadened significantly owing to my years spent overseas, working with friends and colleagues from different schools of thought and denominational theologies.


To my disgust and disappointment, my relationship with Hubbs quickly became fodder for gossip and speculation on the part of those whom I had called "friends" and "brothers and sisters in Christ." Though none had summoned the courage to approach either Hubbs or I to ask or accuse us of anything to our face, many from my then-worship community seemed to feel entitled to cast judgments and aspersions on our honor** behind our backs. Family members ended up unfairly caught in the middle, charged with the unenviable task of fielding nasty personal questions and assumptions while attempting to defend our names, which were being dragged through sludge.

From that painful experience, which was the primary motivation for me to leave that destructive worship community, I was led by the grace of God to a church where both Hubbs and I were able to be ourselves, and to grow. Within this new community of believers, I was given the freedom to explore the ideas that were now simmering in my mind. I was surrounded by people who were honest and transparent, who expected not to be judged, who didn't judge me, and who were equally flawed as I am. We were a motley crew of sinners, not unlike the 12 gathered in the Upper Room over 2000 years ago, who simply wanted to love God and figure out the best way that we could, how we might live out our lives to serve Him in this world.

I recall looking around the room during one of our early small group Bible studies, at the faces of the beautiful and sincere God-seekers who surrounded me. I remember being overwhelmed by a feeling of genuine affection for these folks, whose so
uls were laid bare to one another each week in the spirit of authenticity and brokenness. I wondered how my old church would have judged them if they had known what I knew about each of these real people sitting around me. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," Jesus had taught. And yet Hubbs and I had been unwittingly pounded by rocks over the course of many months. Would my dear friends have survived the stoning, their faith intact?

And so the simmering thoughts began to bubble over. I believe the soup is now ready.



God is all good; there is no sin in Him. He has not changed His mind or His nature. What He has deemed sin is still sin, no matter what day and age we may be living in. That much is true.

He is also a fair Judge, and will one day ask us all to give an account for our words and our deeds. He will judge everyone, and in His omniscience He will know what we are each guilty of.

I, however, am not God. My mandate is clearly outlined by Jesus, who describes the two greatest commandments as these: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." "Love your neighbour as yourself." I am not called to judge others, to condemn them, to change them, or to shame them. I am only called to love them.

In a time when our world is struggling with more overt sin than ever, be it lust or greed or homosexuality or promiscuity or selfishness or idolatry, it would be really easy to sit on my high horse as a forgiven believer, examine the situation from a sin-no sin perspective, and judge others for their flaws and shortcomings. It would be equally easy to avoid such sinners and shun them from my worship community. It would be effortless to gossip about them behind their backs under the pretense of concern and a disingenuous desire to be "praying for them."
However, I am called to do none of these things. I am only called to love others, and to share the good news about Jesus with those who need a message of hope. Though I used to think and operate on the basis of extremes - right or wrong, black or white - I now know that grace happens in the gray. That is where I am called to live, and where I am to be a change-maker in this world, and in the lives of those whom I have an opportunity to bless and to encourage.

Though this is not necessarily a big Eureka! moment for the rest of you, it has been for me. It has been shaping and changing the way that I regard those around me, and has affected how I live my life and where I choose to worship and spend my time. It has also opened my eyes to the lack of grace that seems to be present in many of our churches, and the desperate need for reform in these communities.

May we all continue to extend grace and love to a greater degree as we learn to live with integrity in the gray.



** Most of the gossip and speculation surrounding Hubbs and I were completely false, and much of it centered around the purity of our relationship and whether or not we were living together "in sin." Nobody has ever attempted to ask us for clarification on the matter, and none have apologized to us for the part that they played in the idle gossip. Our loved ones who were affected did not get an apology either, and some ended up being targeted later on.







Catching Up On the Classics

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Much as I pride myself on being a reader, I haven't had a lot of time lately to devote to the task. Now that the summer is here, I want to ambitiously tackle some of the books that I've put off reading for some reason or another. Two of my first projects:

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which I've already begun to read and am enjoying quite a bit. I didn't realize that there was a lot of sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek humour in the novel, and I would think that if I had read the book when I was younger, I wouldn't have caught some of the wit that I now appreciate so much.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Hubbs is going to read this book, so I think I will join him in the daunting task. I tried to read it a few years ago, and made it to page 65 before I was so bored and confused that I put the book down, never to touch again until now. A friend of Hubbs' recommended this book, and I feel ready to face the challenge of slugging through the many names to see just what the hype is all about.

I'll let you know when...if...I finish it. ;)



Summer Lovin'

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It is officially summer time, and with it comes a lot of great things that I look forward to:

- outdoor BBQs
- the consumption of cool drinks and watermelon and the refreshing feelings that these bring
- bare feet on green grass
- fire-roasted hot dogs and smokies
- smores
- lounging beach chairs
- outdoor patio dining
- wearing open-toed shoes
- holidays and street festivals
- late sunsets and early sunrises
- sleeveless shirts
- sangria and mojitos

Of course, then there are the less than awesome things that come with summer, which I am already annoyed with just a mere week and a bit into the season:

- mosquitoes, flies, and other creepy crawlies
- mosquito bites that swell up to the size of a quarter on various parts of my body
- the obsessive need for sunscreen (or conversely, the painfulness of sunburns)
- the lingering smell of campfire that takes extra scrubbing to wash out of your hair and your clothes
- sweating
- eczema rashes from summer allergies
- rising gas prices when my fuel consumption goes up (A/C!)
- alcohol-induced dehydration ;)

In spite of these, I look forward to my busy summer. Trips and more trips, plus a lot of socializing and planning for my sister's wedding. This is going to be one fun, crazy season!



Sunday, June 29, 2008

If The Shoe Fits....

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...you might want to buy it. If the shoe fits and is lightweight and comfortable for cardio exercise, and corrects the slight overpronation of your flat Asian feet, then no matter the cost you buy it.

I obviously took my own advice, and bought these for working out:
Nice, eh? I wore them on my last day of school, and they felt beyond comfortable while I was busy climbing and cleaning and moving and packing up my stuff.

While I was at the store, I managed to convince Hubbs to replace his old ratty sneakers with these new "Darth Maul" shoes (as I affectionately call them):



He looks really cute in his shoes...even though they look sort of evil.








New Start, New Look

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The summer is here!! As I enter into a new phase of life (or so it seems), I figured it was high time for me to expand my Blogger template boundaries. Voila! The new look of my not-so-new blog ;)

You like? I am still playing around with it. There were a few other templates that I also fancied, so don't expect that this blog will remain in this form forever. :) Just as my blog is an extension of my thought processes, so too is its appearance an extension of my ever-changing moods.




Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm Done!

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I'm done I'm done I'm done I'm done!!!!!

Fin.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You Gotta Have Faith, a-Faith, a-Faith

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Guess who is going to see George Michael?!?!?!? MEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Well, actually, it is a gift from moi to Hubbs for his birthday; he is a big-time fan and so I thought I'd get him tickets to the show.

Of course, it so happens the show is in our favourite part of the globe...Vancouver! :) It has been 17 years since George Michael has gone on tour in N. America, and he only has 3 concert dates in Canada, so I figured this was pretty much once-in-a-lifetime as far as concert-going experiences are concerned. This is why I'm willing to pay for decently-located seats, and flight, and hotel!

I am uber-excited. I can't wait!!!! It was a miracle that I was able to secure decent seats, too. Must mean it's all part of the Big Guy's plan - you gotta have faith, a-faith, a-faith!!



Memesday

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It's exam time, and yours truly is eyeball-deep in marking and grading. No time for original thoughts, people! ;) Then Tejanamama goes and tags me...perfecto. Instant blog post.

You know the rules. You're all tagged...all 5 of you who are still keeping track of my little corner of the blogosphere.

1. What was I doing ten years ago? Wait...1998....June...I believe I was starting my psychology internship stint at the local Parole Office. I worked with sex offenders, drug traffickers, frauds, other convicted federal-level criminals and parolees, and worst of all....the boss from Hell. No joke, HELL. If I knew then what I know now, she would have been reported for verbal abuse, workplace bullying, and sexual harassment.

2. Five things on my to do list for today: Make dinner reservations for Thurs. and Sat., mark & grade, do dishes, copy my exams, go grocery shopping, do laundry, iron Hubbs' shirts, fold the other clean laundry, make dinner

3. Snacks I crave: It depends on the day. Today I am craving nothing in particular.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Buy/build a home (an actual house) in Vancouver West, buy two new cars (a sporty thing for Hubbs and an Acura or BMW sedan for me), invest a crapload of money in medium-risk funds and real estate, visit several Euro countries while staying at nice hotels, get a summer home on Kauai, set up my own home gym, hire a weekly housekeeper, return to Hong Kong for a visit, buy a huge flat screen wall-mounted HD TV, and send my parents on their honeymoon to a destination of their choice (believe it or not, they skipped their honeymoon 34 years ago!!!)

5. Places I have lived: Caronport, Grande Prairie, E-town, Hong Kong

6. People I am tagging: See above.


Friday, June 13, 2008

It's Not All Roses

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"I can't stop the birds from flying overhead, but I can keep them from building a nest in my hair." - Martin Luther

In many instances, Facebook is a fun application. It lets you share pictures and play games with your friends, re-connect with old classmates, make plans for the weekend with pals, and spam your best buds with crazy wall postings. There are a bazillion and one cutesy and/or convenient things you can do to enhance communication with others.

That said, the application is by no means a perfect medium for establishing a "global community," or even a "social network." Its flaws lie in its design; it allows you to search and attempt to add just about anyone who has a profile. This opens the door far and wide for people such as crazy ex-girlfriends or boyfriends and former crushes to attempt to add you, or stalk you, or just try to re-establish a connection with you, potentially in the hopes of reviving a long-dead relationship.

As a wife, I am not happy with this particular feature of Facebook. I am viciously protective of my marriage, and adamantly opposed to anything that would threaten the integrity of my relationship with Hubbs. In order to have a healthy, solid marriage, certain boundaries need to be established between a husband and wife to keep unhealthy temptations and doubts at bay. As Christ-followers, Hubbs and I both believe that we have a supernatural enemy who wants to ruin what God has created in our covenant union. Our job and our commitment is to protect and shield our marriage from this enemy and from the temptations that he throws at us.

In my humble opinion, some of these boundaries that need to be set in terms of Facebook are:
  • Ex-significant others and ex-crushes of one spouse should not be added to his/her friend list. These individuals are not friends; they are previous lovers or potential lovers. These people do not have a relationship with either spouse outside of the context of a previous romantic interest. Therefore, they have nothing to offer to a healthy marriage, and should be avoided lest they introduce an unhealthy element to it.
  • All "private" Facebook communication between a spouse and a member of the opposite sex should be shared with the other spouse. To keep communication open, and to ensure that there is no reason to doubt and every reason to trust, spouses should keep their exchanges with people of the other gender, open and accessible. No secrets.
  • Spouses should not chat with members of the opposite sex through Facebook, or email them outside of the application. Again, there is no relationship or potential for a relationship between these people of the past and either spouse; this is why there is no purpose served in re-establishing contact with any of the "exes". The desire to satisfy curiosities and see how these others are doing is poor justification for opening up one's covenant relationship to temptation or mistrust. If closure is required on the part of a previous significant other, then that discourse should be shared between both spouses, and decisions should be made together as it pertains to future communication. All correspondence should be accessible and shared between both spouses.
I found a fascinating Rabbit Blog article that was quite relevant to this topic, and contained some very insightful ideas that I totally agree with. Some of the liberally "borrowed" excerpts are:

Well, first I have to admit to a prejudice against corresponding with long-lost-friends/lovers/ wannabe lovers out of the blue, fishing for a taste of intrigue, pondering what might have been, revealing true feelings, revisiting the past, etc. Even though these things might start off on pretty solid ground – “Hey old friend! What’s happening with you these days?” -- both parties are always clear on the point where it slips onto shaky territory. “How did you feel back then? Wow, I always thought that…"

You start walking down that path, and things get weird fast. We all google old boyfriends and wonder what they’re doing, without thinking twice about it. And every now and then, maybe someone contacts you out of the blue, and it sends you back to how you felt a long time ago. Things always seem unduly romantic when you look back at them from 15 years later – or unduly tragic, or unduly mysterious.

I think that when your life is stable and predictable, there’s some part of you that wants to be back in that unpredictable, rarefied space where a look makes your heart drop, where you feel powerful and alive and full of lust for someone you can/can’t/shouldn’t have. When you make mundane decisions and complete mundane tasks for a family every day, occasionally your subconscious mind, at the very least, wants to float free in a heavy, romantic, swooning, exotic, youthful mire again.

See, these are exactly the sorts of relationships that we tend to get nostalgic and romantic about: Platonic relationships that never went further, affairs that ended prematurely, even people we always had crushes on, way back when. You’re craving that one split second BEFORE you f**k the guy, and nothing more. Most of us are hung up on that moment, thanks to being flooded with its supreme significance through every minute of our waking hours on earth. That’s the pinnacle, but it’s just one tiny moment, blown out of proportion.

And personally, I have to say that I distrust the man or woman who goes out looking to find old friends or lovers and ends up waxing nostalgic via email night after night as his/ her marriage falls to pieces. That’s the easy road, a distraction from the hard work of sticking with someone, or even deciding not to.

If you mention your spouse but the other person doesn’t like talking about him (or about his spouse), if there’s a lot of “If only we knew!” and “Too bad the timing was wrong!” and rehashing of those one or two magic moments, if you’re laying out your life philosophies like you just started dating or just fell in love, then you’re whipping up intrigue. You’re manufacturing mystery. You’re stirring up a cheap imitation of romance. You’re wanking – not waxing – nostalgic.

Avoiding screwing up your marriage is partially a matter of avoiding situations where the lines are blurry.


That pretty much sums up what I think. I am lucky that Hubbs agrees with me (grudgingly, perhaps) ;)


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

MeMe Tuesday - 50 Random Facts About Yours Truly (Not That You Care)

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I completely agree - I'm being lazy. Doing a meme is a nice cop-out to true blogging, but given that it's nearly exam time and I'm up to my eyeballs in marking, this is about as good as it's going to get for a while. ;)

1. Do you like blue cheese? Gross. NO.

2. Have you ever smoked heroin? No.

3. Do you own a gun? No, but some days I'm tempted to get one and learn to shoot.

4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic? Where's Sonic? I usually add a wedge of lemon to my water, if that counts.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? No - I usually get annoyed with waiting for so long!

6. What do you think of hot dogs? Best if they are grilled on the BBQ, or made by the Fat Franks company on one of those revolving hot dog cookers.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Charlie Brown Christmas.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? A cup of orange pekoe (Splenda, creamer) followed by several mugs of coffee (flavoured creamer).

9. Can you do push ups? Does one count? I can only do 1-2 of the real kind, but can probably do 10 if it's the "ladies'" version.

10. Age? Old enough not to divulge on my blog...young enough to pass for being a new university grad!

11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My necklace (the cross is passed down from my mom) and my engagement ring/wedding band.

12. Favorite hobby? Snuggling with Hubbs. Sleeping. Shopping. Reading.

13. Favorite actor: Nobody. I'm currently disillusioned with all things Hollywood.

14. Do you have A.D.D.? I do not.

15. What's one trait you hate about yourself? My ability to procrastinate is overdeveloped.

16. Middle name? It's a Chinese one.

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment?
1) I wonder what I'm going to write for this question?
2) Nope, still nothing.
3) What time is it?

18. Name 3 things you bought today: Nothing yet. I'm still in pajamas.

19. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Tea, coffee, flavoured carbonated sugar-free water

20. Current worries? Report cards, entering my marks, making sure there are no majorly discrepant marks, marking...not in that order, either.

21. Current hate right now? See yesterday's blog entry. DOUCHE-BAG!!!

22. Favorite place to be? In bed with Hubbs. On a beach in Kauai with a Lava Flow in one hand, a good book in the other. On the massage table getting the knots rubbed out of my very tightly-wound back.

23. How did you bring in the New Year? With Hubbs, and some of my sibs and their significant others.

24. Where would you like to go? Back to bed? Um...Hawaii again (maybe Maui this time), the Bahamas, Disneyworld, Hong Kong, Italy, France, Austria, the Caribbean, Bora Bora, the Maritimes, Bali, Tokyo... anywhere, really, as long as it's 4-5 stars or higher.

25. Name three people who will complete this? All 3 of you who read this blog ;)

26. Do you own slippers? I'm into freedom of feet. We do own plastic flip flops for when we stay at hotels, however; never walk on their carpets - you could catch something!!!

27. What shirt are you wearing? "I Climbed the Great Wall" - I'm so sad I shrunk this t-shirt! :(

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried. Sounds impractical.

29. Can you whistle? No, but I can shout, and it's just as loud.

30. Favorite color? Blue, black, red, at the moment. This changes frequently.

31. Would you be a pirate? No, but I would want some of their treasures.

32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Angsty songs (e.g. "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson) or show tunes (e.g. "I Swear I'd Give My Life For You" - Miss Saigon) or praise & worship stuff - the shower has the best acoustics and also the steam is excellent for my throat!

33. Favorite girl's name? If I tell you, you will copy me and name your kids that. Can't say.

34. Favorite boy's name? Noah - you can't copy us!! Hubbs and I have copyrights on naming our first son this.

35. What is in your pocket right now? Nothing.

36. Last thing that made you laugh? Hubbs...being Hubbs. :)

37. Best bed sheets as a child? The ones that were freshly laundered and just put on the bed. Nothing like crawling into new sheets. :)

38. Worst injury you've ever had? My back issues from that stupid car accident where I got rear-ended by a punk who didn't think it was important to stop for pedestrians.

39. Do you love where you live? I like it enough. Am not so fond of the city, but the apartment is comfy and conveniently located.

40. How many TVs do you have in your house? Just one. We barely use it.

41. Who is your loudest friend? I have lots of loud friends and family. Hard to pick only one.

42. How many dogs do you have? None. Hubbs is allergic.

43. Does someone have a crush on you? I believe my husband does.

44. What is your favorite book(S)? There are so many! The entire Little House series, the Twilight series, the Harry Potter series, most of Judy Blume's stuff, the Little Men/Little Miss series, Charlotte's Web, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Bible, Tell Me the Story by Max Lucado, the Time Traveler's Wife, Life of Pi, Glass Castle, the Bridget Jones series, Richard Scarry's books, some of the L. Frank Baum Oz books, ... honestly the list could go on and on, and there are so many books I have yet to read!!

45. Where were you born? In a cold, snowy place.

46. What is your favorite candy? Not really a candy girl - maybe the Jelly Belly's? I prefer chocolate - Skor, Aero, Kit Kat, and Twix, are my favourites.

47. Favorite sports team? I am a traitor to my own city. I have no favourite sports team...for any sport.

48. What song(s) do you want played at your funeral? The hymn "This World Is Not My Home." And maybe a strings version of "Nearer, My God, to Thee" (like what those guys played on the boat in the Titanic movie).

49. What were you doing at 12 A.M.? Snoring.

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? "What time is it? Do I have more time to sleep?"

Monday, June 09, 2008

Douche-bag is Spelled M-C-C-A-I-N?

2 comments
Two things: 1) I'm not really into American politics. As a proud Canadian, I'm pretty happy with how the true north strong and free handles our politics, and I sort of let my neighbours south of the border get all worked up about Reps vs. Crats. 2) I don't usually believe everything I read online. Every type of reporting is biased to some extent, and it is best to take most reports with a grain of salt.

That said, if this report written by the Daily Mail in the U.K. is true, then John McCain is a top-notch douche-bag who deserves to have his gonads ripped off his body by giant razor-fanged lizards.

According to the article, before he married drop-dead-gorgeous Cindy McCain, this presidential hopeful(ly not!) was married to a lovely beauty queen named Carol Shepp, whose two kids from a previous relationship were adopted by McCain. The two of them also had one child together. Anyway, the saintly first wife had apparently stuck by her man through his years as a POW, even refusing to worry him during his imprisonment by telling him the news of her horrible car accident (which left her 5 inches shorter, scarred, and with limited mobility). When he was finally released, he was reportedly shocked by Carol's changed appearance, slight weight gain, and shorter stature. According to the article, his repulsion with his wife's new look and his mid-life crisis caused him to become a philandering pig. Just a month after divorcing Carol, McCain got married to Cindy, the much younger, beautiful daughter of a wealth and well-connected man.

If this story is true (and my gut feeling is that it mostly is), then John McCain is not only unworthy of the presidency, but he is frankly unworthy to lick the scum off from underneath the dirtiest toilet seat in America. Anyone who wishes to lead his/her country should endeavor to live a life of honor, integrity, faithfulness, and humility, be it a Republican or a Democrat. Questionable behaviour, even in choices made decades earlier, are sufficient reason to cast doubt on this person's ability to lead the country responsibly, selflessly, and with morality. After all, if it is true that these events occurred when McCain was 40 years old, then he was a fully-formed, experienced adult making a conscious choice even then; I find no reason to believe that the fibre of his true nature has changed all that much in the 40 years that have followed.

The fate of the U.S. lies in the hands of my American brothers and sisters. I should hope that as this election unfolds, each and every U.S. voter will arm themselves with sufficient information to make an educated, informed decision that is best for their nation. Certainly Barack Obama's character will also be called into question during this campaign (though I'm pretty sure he is still with his one and only wife, and does not have illegitimate children littered across the country or disfigured ex-wives that he has abandoned in his quest for the presidency), and it will be the responsibility of the voter to weed out the lies from the facts.

That said, I know who I'd be voting for if I could vote, and it's not for a douche-bag.




Friday, June 06, 2008

Just for Tejanamama

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Here is our beautiful family :)

THE GIRLS



THE GANG :)



How Not to Sell Meat at the Deli Counter

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I fell in love with the Sobey's Urban Fare grocery store that opened up near my home recently. Today, I popped in to pick up some groceries, and decided to try out the smoked duck prosciutto from their deli.

Me: Hi! Excuse me...I'd like to get 100 grams of smoked duck prosciutto,
please.

Deli Girl: (points at the lone piece of duck prosciutto inside the deli counter) This one?

Me: Yes.


Deli Girl: (mumbles) This is expensive, you know.

Me: Um....excuse me?

Deli Girl: (loudly) This stuff is really expensive.

Me: Oh! Yes, I know.

So what was her point? Was she afraid I was illiterate and couldn't read the price tag protruding from the piece of duck breast inside her display counter? Was she concerned that I would make her slice all 100 grams and then change my mind? Much as I love this new grocery store, methinks their trainers need to give their workers a lesson in sales. If you announce that your food is expensive, somehow I doubt that will increase your sales.

Incidentally, the sliced meat wasn't cheap, but it wasn't bank-breaking, either. And it tastes amazing and was worth the cost anyway.




Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Love Shots - An Inadvertent Part Two

4 comments


A few weeks ago, my family and I decided to get some family portraits taken, since it has been forever since we posed for the camera as a family, and our clan has grown (3 white sons have since joined).

I wasn't actually planning for it, but the photogs (Just Married Photography) decided to do a few "couple" shots, and Hubbs and I ended up feeling like we were in our e-session with Dave & Quin again (our wedding photogs).

Here are some of our pics...the ones Hubbs would let me post, at any rate ;)