Tag Archives: God

Oh 24

 I’ve been trying to prevent myself from turning 24, trying to tell the sun not to shine tomorrow, to be locked in an infinite loop or at least skip the 8th of May. Birthdays used to be fun, but since my sister died, it’s a painful reminder that I celebrate one more year without her. God, has it really been almost 3 complete years?

People say that time heals all wounds. I don’t think that’s how it works. Sure, the wound may get closed, but I think it can easily open up again and get infected. And if it doesn’t open up again, then it heals into a scar. And scars remind you about where you’ve been, what you’ve survived. I think I’m at this scar stage. I know my sister’s in a better place, but it still doesn’t cover up the fact that there are events I feel I’ve missed out on: her prom, her graduation, etc. How selfish of me to use the word “I.”

So now, the 8th of May has finally arrived. It marks the 3rd year without her. And I am now 24. I’ve gained another year of life, of experience, and hopefully, of wisdom—I’m thankful to God.

Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I’m not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You

There’s an exercise that I do whenever I get so emo. At least, I try to remember to do it. I think about all the thinks God has blessed me with and so it makes this birthday much more bearable. It’s not a complete list—I don’t think I can count ALL God’s blessings—He blesses us abundantly.

  1. I’m thankful for my parents who continue to support me in all that I do, especially through prayer.
  2. I’m thankful that I graduated from my dream school-UCLA.
  3. I’m thankful that God provided me with an awesome accountability partner who has quickly become my best friend.
  4. I’m thankful for amazing friends.
  5. I’m thankful that I’m able to use my talents.
  6. I’m thankful for church and fellowship.
  7. I’m thankful that I’m part of a group that wants to defeat the horrors of human and sex trafficking.

There’s so much to be thankful for…

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Thankful: The Truth

As the story goes, if it wasn’t for the Native Americans, the first pilgrims who arrived in America via a wooden ship called the Mayflower wouldn’t have survived their first winter. The Native Americans showed them how to fish, how to farm, and some time in November, both sides set aside their differences by coming together for a large feast. This was the first American thanksgiving. At least, this was the story that was ingrained in me when I first immigrated to America and spent my own first Thanksgiving. Little did I know, that the story of the first Thanksgiving may be more myth than history.

According to Chris Lewis, an American Studies instructor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the holiday we know as Thanksgiving  had its roots in the Civil War NOT Plymouth, Massachusetts. Constantly thanking God, Abraham Lincoln established the holiday to commemorate the dead and to unite the nation by reminding the people of the United States of being thankful for the blessings they received.

So here I am, 146 years later, and I have a lot to be thankful for. I thank God for the life He’s given me. I thank Him for giving me amazing and loving parents. I thank Him for giving me a supportive group of friends that I can laugh and cry with. I am thankful that I was able to be the first in my family to graduate from a university (UCLA, Go Bruins!). I am thankful for the freedom of speech and freedom in general. I am thankful for the men and women who fight so that freedom would still ring in this country. Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for–I don’t think I can count all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

Counting blessings is something that my friend Victor and I used to do before we left for college. It was a good practice for us because as emo teenagers who thought the world would end when things didn’t go as we wanted them to go, counting our blessings reminded us of how life wasn’t at all that bad. As teenagers, we were so dramatic about how we saw life, so when we wrote down on paper all the specific things we were thankful for each day for an entire week, we realized we were quite spoiled–that God gave us bountiful blessings. And as a result, if we were truly blessed, then why should we have a “woe is me” mentality?

Grateful–blessed, spoiled even. And I want to continue the habit of giving to others, and that’s my identity revealed.

Abraham Lincoln, photo credit: College Publisher

Here is the 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler)

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She wrote, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.” The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

 

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Wedding Pressure? Me Too

Photo Credit: Azildalions

Photo Credit: Azildalions

I can hear the church bells. Cue the violins. Don’t forget the candle procession. Oh, and the flowers–the bouquets have to be prominently displayed all around the church. The flower girls better get this right. The ring bearer better not be picking his nose. Where are the crying mothers? Oh, there they are…

I’ve been in a lot of weddings as a child, but also as an adult. Well, the adult part  invokes a tremendous sense of independence and freedom from having to hold a stupid pillow with symbolic rings on it. Strike that, being a groomsman is just as bad. With all the standing I have to do, I have to make sure I won’t pass out from exhaustion as the priest talks on and on about love and how a husband and wife should behave.

As a twenty-three-year-old, I’ve had the pleasure of being in many weddings since I started out as a cute little ring bearer and worked my way up to groomsmen. With so many of my friends getting married so young, I can’t wait to get promoted to Best Man. That was sarcasm–extreme sarcasm. Now, don’t get me wrong–I’m quite happy for my friends who have found true love and happiness. I can’t help the fact that their marriages make me feel like I’m way behind, despite my young age. Darn. And my parents are already asking, “When are you getting married?” Double darn. To all those who are under the same wedding pressure, I feel you. I’m living it. Triple darn.

Why do people get married anyway? Is marriage still relevant in our culture today? Sometimes, it doesn’t look so, as evidence by HBO’s “Californication.” Compared to a hundred years ago, it’s now more acceptable to live with your significant other without the dreaded M word.

Some people argue that marriage is for the children–having them. Sure, it definitely was many years ago when pregnant teens were rejected and were often pushed to marry the guy that got them pregnant in the first place. The thought of an unwed pregnant teen in an era like the 1950s was disturbing; it brought shame to the family. Now, you can argue that the stigma it still  the same today, but there’s definitely more degrees of acceptance. And I’ve seen functioning families where the parents aren’t even married–they live together under the same roof and do as other married couples do. They just don’t have the “marriage” title. Who needs it, right?

Other people argue that marriage shows commitment and validates the relationship. Does that mean we get married to make it harder to leave the other? What about all those divorces? You don’t have to get married to show commitment–you do that just by being committed. Your actions will speak for itself that other people know you are in a committed relationship.

So if we don’t get married for the children or for the commitment or to validate the relationship, why spend those thousands of dollars to say “I do” when you can say it every day of your life?

Again, are marriages even relevant today? I think marriages are even more relevant today than years before. For several hundred years, marriage was inevitable. But in today’s society, that’s still up in the air. Today, we have the choice to get married, or to live together and enjoy all that married life has to offer without the title. That choice makes marriages all that more relevant. But that still leaves the question: why get married today?

Maybe I’m a romantic Christian at heart, but I think marriage makes the relationship spiritually divine. Something bigger than the both of you–the author of love–that same Being has brought you together. God has blessed your relationship. As much as you chose to get married, God has agreed with you and He’s had a hand in it. I think that’s a beautiful view of marriage–that makes me want to get married even more. Alas, the wedding pressure. In the words of my best friend, “It’s time to go wife-hunting.”

Photo Credit: Azildalions

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A Not-So Taylor Swift Fire; I Can’t “Breathe”

It’s hot. Dreadfully hot. A little hotter than usual in sunny Southern California. You could fry an egg on a sidewalk if you want. I don’t suggest it, but you could. At least I don’t live in Phoenix, Arizona where it’s hot pretty much every day and where the air conditioning business and pool services are thriving. No, I’ll settle for Los Angeles. However, LA isn’t really the place to be right now. If you didn’t know it yet, Los Angeles is burning!

Sure, it’s scorching hot, and in some places it’s just plain dry. But when I say burning, I’m talking about all those wild fires that have been destroying wild life, people’s homes, and my lungs. I live many miles away (several cities away) from the closest fire, yet when I step right outside, I smell ash. Portions of the sky is black, as if LA had some massive volcano explode Pompeii style. The air quality sucks. My lungs are probably black right now. (Sigh) I rather stay inside, enjoy the air conditioning, and watch TV because I can’t breathe!

Photo Credit: Flickr

Photo Credit: Flickr

But I can’t help it. I’m kind of an outdoors-man when I want to be. I want to go outside and pull a Julie Andrews, running on a hill with my arms wide open and singing, “The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music.” But alas, all I will be singing is that the hills are alive with fire. So God, if you want to step in right now, you could let it rain. I’m sure it’ll help all those fire fighters return back to their families early. Two firefighters apparently died today.

Darn, I wish I was in the East Coast right about now, hanging out with some of my friends in New York and New Hampshire. But as I stayed inside my home, listening to my iPod, I came across one of Taylor Swift’s songs. She’s so young and beautiful, and quite a talented musician/singer/songwriter. But I think one of her songs is quite fitting for such a time as this. Because us Angelenos need to “Breathe.”

Now, I may look like I’m a fighter, but really, I’m a lover. And I’m quite comfortable with my masculinity to say that I actually belt out for “Romeo [to] take me somewhere we can be alone” and that “he’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar.” I don’t know. Call me a romantic at heart. Call me sensitive. Whatever. But Taylor Swift is worth it. And she’s been on the news a lot this summer. I just don’t see her taking the Britney Spears/Lindsay Lohan route. She’s a classy girl, and she’s got enough of style and talent to host the Grammy’s. She’s even got a sense of humor, rapping with T-Pain as the notorious T-Swizzle with “Thug Story.”

Photo Credit: Ask Men UK

Photo Credit: Ask Men UK

Oh Taylor! Now, if you ladies were looking for a different Taylor, wellyou can go here and leave me alone.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Photo Credit: Askmen UK

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God, I’m Fat. God, Are You?

Photo Source: Roosevelt Academy

Photo Source: Roosevelt Academy

I recently went running with Michael, my fraternity brother, around the hills of Westwood. As some of the expensive-looking cars drove through Sunset Boulevard, I couldn’t help but wonder which celebrity had passed by and saw me catching my breath. How did I get to this point? I used to be able to run with ease! I will one day run with ease. But in the most humorous sense of weakness, I remembered thinking: God, I’m fat.

After running up and down Drake Stadium, I gave up running altogether and made my way back to the fraternity house in defeat. As I sat on the couch disappointed in myself and what I’ve become, I decided to amuse myself by taking my iPod touch and searched for the words “How fat is God?” I needed to laugh at myself. Lo and behold, I came across various results, such as mama jokes: “Yo mama is so fat, that when God said, ‘Let there be light,’ He asked her to move out of the way.” And then I came across an amusing article entitled, “Is God fat too?” by Jim Evans, an SF Fitness Examiner. And I’ve got to say, he made some completely interesting points and observations.

First, we all know that America is one of the most obese nations in the world. According to Forbes.com, “nearly 237 million Americans are currently overweight. It is estimated that medical costs connected to obesity accounted for 9.1% of all health expenditures each year in the U.S.” Although we may be ranked #9 because 74.1% of people over 15 are overweight in this country, the first 8 countries are islands and their population can’t really compare with ours. How the heck did we get to this point? Is it because of our stressful jobs and little exercise? Is it because our physical education classes in middle schools and high schools consist of only reading and nothing to do with physical activity? Perhaps it’s also our availability of fast foods and how affordable it is? God, we’re fat.

But maybe, just maybe, God is fat too! This is where Evans’ article gets interesting. He says that a majority of the people in this country consider themselves Christians, thus if a majority of this country is overweight or obese, then Christians certainly make a large part of these statistics. Evans reminds Christians that our bodies are temples of God, and that we are to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This suggests that we shouldn’t be filling our bodies with filth and other unhealthy things. That’s Jambaisms #5: “Your body is a temple, littering is strictly prohibited.”  Thus, if we are to be stewards of this gift–this body that we have–then we need to take better care of it.

Evans goes far to wonder (and I wondered about this too as I laid on the couch recovering from the run) that if we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and we are growing overwhelmingly obese, does this reflect God’s own image? I’m going to have to say no, and not because I think we need to all look like Abercrombie and Fitch models either. No, that’s more of a Classical Greco-Roman ideal. I like Evans’s answer when he says that God gave us common sense and intelligence about what we are doing to our bodies. Our behavior and the environment are partly responsible for making us fat. But more importantly, we chose this path. We have the ability to control it. We need to control it. Our bodies are temples for God’s sake! And whether you believe in God or not, it’s still very logical and very intelligent to keep your body healthy.

Oh, and whether you’re skinny, average, or fat, God still loves you just the same. And no, that’s not a big fat lie.

Photo Source: Roosevelt Academy

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Phallic Symbol? Ties Need To Die…Sort Of

Growing up, I hated wearing my Sunday clothes to church, which consisted of dressy pants, a dressy shirt, and the dreaded tie. Oh the God-awful tie. Wearing the tie around my neck brought me great anxiety. I could feel it choking me, and as a seven-year-old, wearing such an attire was counter-productive.  It restricted movement and especially my playing time with other kids. It felt as if you were imprisioned in your own body.

neckties

As a twenty-three-year-old, I still hate wearing such clothes, but I’m less dramatic about it. I

understand the arguments of wearing your Sunday best. Most conservatives argue that if you look your best for a wedding, a party, a business meeting, job interviews, and a court hearing, then shouldn’t you also look your best for God? Okay, I’ll take that. But I’m thankful that God doesn’t judge me by the way I look, God examines the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God could careless how we look, He sees our hearts. So perhaps looking our best is really a cultural thing, it’s a performance that we do to maintain the status quo, to not insult those whose culture follows such traditions.

But it got me thinking about the dreaded tie. I pray to God that I won’t have to wear a tie to work each day.Why do we even wear them? Who thought about this crazy contraption that allows us to willingly place a noose around our necks?  I’ve always thought that they were worn to cover the buttons. However, when I eat a fancy dinner, I have to toss my tie over my shoulder or remove it entirely–so the tie just isn’t that practical, is it?

As a psychology and sociology major, I tend to see things differently. Perhaps the tie is a phallic symbol since the pointy end of the tie directs our eyes downward towards the genital area. I mean it makes sense in Western culture. Guys boast about such things all the time. We have huge egos. In other cultures, other things are done to display masculinity and power. Perhaps the tie is simply a Western thing.

I’m no historian, but legend has it that ties actually came from a military regiment from Croatia around the mid 1600s. After defeating the Ottoman Empire in The Thirty-Year’s War, the Croatians visited King Louis XIV in Paris. They happened to be wearing handkerchiefs made of silk around their necks as neck cloths, which were originally worn to warm up the vocal chords of those who did public speaking. The king took a fancy at their fashion, and immediately had everyone in the palace wear these neck cloths instead of the lace ruffs they usually wear. Some believe this may be where the word “cravat” (“soft necktie”) comes from because the French word for Croatian is “Croate.” And the rest, I guess is history…or legend.

And fast forward four centuries and we’re back with the tie as we know it today. As a twenty-three-year-old, I appreciate the tie, even if I hate it. I appreaciate how it can be a fashion statement and help me display my personality or sense of individuality.

There are all kinds of ties, some colorful, some boring. Some ties have words, some have pictures. But there’s a tie out there that suits you and your mood and what ever message you are trying to send, like ex-president Bill Clinton.

gryftie

Today, I wore a Burberry tie to complete my Harry Potter outfit. Apparently, Burberry is a brand that is looked down upon by the British. But here in America, it’s still pretty popular. Wearing the tie with a nice white dress shirt and some grey shorts made me looked more like a Catholic school boy though. I need to find a real Hogworts tie. Maybe I’ll go for a Gryffindor one.Yes, ties are remarkable.

Photo Credit in Order: TracyEdwardWeymer, CostumeCraze

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