Tag Archives: Life

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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Aborting Tim Tebow’s Superbowl Ad?

“Tim Tebow is a Greek god,” my friend Sandra* said. “Yes–tall, dark, handsome, and a whole lot of man. Wish guys at my school looked like him. I’m definitely going to be paying attention to Florida football from now on.”

“What are you talking about? It’s college basketball season now.” I asked surprisingly. “Besides, I thought you have a crush on Mark Sanchez. He was a Trojan you know, and…” As I turned around, I realized what brought on this random conversation. There was Sandra, going through my collection of books and magazines. In her hands was my September 2009 issue of GQ magazine where Tebow was interviewed and featured.

“Yah, Tebow is bow wow.” Sandra winked. “I’d go to church if I get to see that every Sunday. Are all you Christians this hot?” Then she takes the magazine and points to a close up picture of Tebow wearing John 3:16 eye-black markings.

“Yes,” I answered sarcastically. “Very hot. I mean look at me. Better get those books and magazines away. They catch fire when I’m around.”

Sandra picks up a book, throws it at me, and starts laughing. “You wish.”

Yah, I wish. Sigh. How can a five-foot-seven, 195 pound guy like me supposed to compete with a six-foot-three, 235 pound athletic phenomenon? I know where to pick my fights. Tebow is numero uno, so why try harder? He was the first underclassman (a sophomore at the time) to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy back in 2007. The truth is, I do admire the guy, despite being a Bruin. I kind of have to, at least according to the hilarious Jon Acuff. I commend Tebow for being outspoken about his faith, without getting too preachy or Pat Roberson-ish and not minding all the ridicule or criticisms associated with being a Christian in the public eye. Here’s a guy who genuinely loves Jesus Christ, and can’t help but share that fact with the world. I mean, isn’t that what we all particularly do when we are in love with someone? We want the world to know it. That’s why songs about love are the most common types of songs. And for those who see football as a religion–well, he plays football darn well too. You don’t have to be a Christian to like him–he’s easily likable.

He’s easily likable for many female fans for obvious reasons, but for some women’s groups, that’s another story. And that story first started twenty-two years ago with Tim Tebow’s parents, Bob and Pam. In 1985, the Tebow family moved to the Philippines for a Christian missionary outreach. Unfortunately while pregnant, Pam Tebow drank contaminated drinking wanter and contracted amoebic dysentery. The doctors advised her to get an abortion because the medications that would help her recover could have extreme irreversible effects on the child she was carrying. Pam Tebow chose to keep the baby, and on August 14, 1987, the Tebows welcomed a healthy baby boy. That boy would grow up to be the Heisman Trophy-winning American football quarterback for the Florida Gators, the guy that girls like Sandra dream about, and that guy I can never measure up to.

And now, that boy grew up to star in a controversial Superbowl advertisement coming to a TV near you. Working with Focus on the Family (FOTF), the Tebows finished a commercial highlighting Pam Tebow’s predicament in the Philippines. FOTF spent about $2.8 million on the ad. The Tebows just want to tell their story, but women’s groups believe it’s an anti-abortion ad and urged CBS to pull the ad. Although I can sympathize and understand the women’s groups, I think even if you were pro-choice, you should respect Pam Tebow because she made a choice–she chose life. And to be pro choice means to respect choices that might not agree with your own.

“I know some people won’t agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe … I’ve always been very convicted of it because that’s the reason I’m here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it.” – Tim Tebow

Controversial Superbowl ads are nothing new to Superbowl Sunday. The most controversial ads tend to be the most sex-infused because the Superbowl tends to be a family event. Why aren’t women’s groups making noise about how women are being portrayed in these ads? Well, at least they made some noise over a certain wardrobe malfunction. Should Tebow’s ad have a place with all the other Superbowl ads?

I don’t care. If people are willing to shell out millions of dollars and are abiding to FCC regulations, then shouldn’t they be given a chance to show their ad? Isn’t that the American thing to do?

Tim Tebow knows some people won’t agree with it, and that’s just fine by him. But then again, not many people could say that at one point, their mothers were about to abort them either.

I picked up the book that Sandra threw at placed it on my desk. Then I got my revenge by picking up a dictionary next to me and throwing it at her. Don’t worry–it was a soft cover.

“Ouch,” Sandra said, then started laughing. “See, I’m right. You can never be like Tim Tebow. You throw like a girl.”

*Name change

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Being ALIVE!

Photo Credit: J. Kemper

I’ve seen the great heights,
Reminding me… that I’m alive,
I don’t wanna die,
I don’t wanna waste another day,
Or night,
I know there’s something more,
Than what we’re living for,
I see it in the stars,
I feel it on the shores,
I know there’s something,
I know there’s something more.

–Tyrone Wells, “More.”

Maybe it takes a walk on the beach, the feeling of the grainy muddy sand under your feet, and the cool salty ocean water splashing with every step you take in order to know you’re alive. Or maybe it takes a hiking trip with your best friends, getting to the peak and looking down at the vastness of the wilderness, the realization that you are small in comparison to know you’re alive. Or maybe it just takes sitting in a classroom, pondering the question that mankind has asked for thousands of years, only to conclude with Descartes’s Cogito ergo sum (“I think therefore I am”). Whatever it takes for you to realize it, you and me–we ARE alive in this moment…for now.

River just below Half Dome

As we’re in our sixth day in the year 2010, I can’t help but remember those #tenyearsago tags on Twitter during New Year’s Eve. Am I really a little more than two decades old? Has it really been a decade since I first entered high school? What have I done these last ten years? I began to think about some of my friends who didn’t make it to 2010, who lost their lives early on either through an accident or a suicide. I remembered the tragedy of discovering that my friends cut themselves because they didn’t look good enough to be on the cover of a magazine.

Oh youth, oh teenage years, where every thing was so dramatic that even an episode of 90210 looked accurate. We thought we were invincible, that nothing could touch us, not even death, so we participated in riskier things. No one has to take an adolescent psychology class to understand that we (my cohorts) were porcelain ten years ago, our egos sensitive and delicate. I fear for our youth and what they have to go through–all the pressure of living up to false images created by us. Even as the suicide rates have increased, I’m glad that it’s not as taboo to talk about it, to find help.

But this isn’t supposed to be a dark or emo post. This is a celebration in our identity of being ALIVE! You should be smiling, dancing even. We take that identity for granted sometimes. Instead, we focus our energies on death and our attention on what we don’t have. *Initiating inside joke now* Maybe that’s why the vampire life (or death, depending on how you look at it) is attractive.

We are ALIVE. Our beating heart pumping the warm blood throughout our bodies reminds us of the next step: doing something worthwhile. I’m learning to number my days, to celebrate what I do have. It can end in a second, I could breathe my last breath. So I choose to live a purposeful life, to help those who need help, to fight for those who cannot fight. Oh, and you’ll see me dancing soon enough, rejoicing this life I’ve been given.

And how about you? In your identity of being alive, you may find yourself asking the same questions I asked myself:

1. How am I wasting my days and night?

2. What can I do that is worthwhile?

3. How do I find meaning or purpose in my life?

4. How do I live a fulfilled life?

I want to leave you with an encouraging song called “More” by Tyrone Wells. I think he says it best:

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It’s All So Draining: Exploring Vampires

Edward Cullen

Photo Credit: CSPA Workshop

The end of Halloween and the beginning of November can only mean one thing for girls all across America. Their two-year wait can now be count down to a matter of seventeen days before they see their precious heart-throb without a heart-throbbing in the big screen. Enter twenty-three-year-old British actor Robert Pattinson, who plays forever seventeen-year-old American vampire Edward Cullen. Girls seem to fall madly in love with him. One girl I asked described the actor-character as, “Gorgeous. I want him to come rescue me. And if he wants to bite me, all the better.” Another girl said, “His eyes are just beautiful.” Sorry, excuse me if I barf. I don’t quite understand his charm–he looks like a drug addict, especially around his eyes! But maybe that’s why he brings that specific appeal to Team Edward, rather than his rival in Team Jacob (the werewolf in the movie). Before angry girls start writing in, I’m not bagging on Pattinson–just his alter ego, the way he looks in the movie and pictures. I’m a big fan of him as squeaky clean Cedric Diggory. But enough with “Twilight” and “New Moon.” This post isn’t about them, but rather about our fascination with vampires.

Vampire mania seems to be the trend these days. Heck, when you’re sitting on gold, you got to exploit it while you still can, right?  When “Pirates of the Caribbean” came out, just about everyone wanted to be a pirate–even porn stars. And I’m sure the Halloween costume sales for pirates or naughty pirates increased during the trend. But these past two years, vampires are in. Case in point, “The Vampire Diaries,” which air on the CW. It’s about two teenage vampire brothers fighting for the love of a teenage girl. One vampire doesn’t drink human blood, the other does. Sounds somewhat familiar to the vegetarian Cullen clan. Then, there’s “The Vampire’s Assistant.” It’s about a teenage vampire who doesn’t drink human blood and who has to fight against his best friend-turned vampire who does. Yes, things sound quitet familiar. And the success of HBO’s “True Blood,” which is an adult vampire story also about a vampire that doesn’t drink blood who is constantly challenged by vampires who do drink blood, opened my eyes to why we’re so fascinated with them.

Vampire Diaries

Photo Credit: TV Fanatic

First, we have to understand the past. Perhaps it’s human to want to know what happens to us after we die. Is there or isn’t there an afterlife? And what if you can live on, even after you die, but the price you pay to live is by killing another? From the Dark Ages to the Victorian era, to the early 20th century, we’ve been fascinated by the vampire mythology. For several hundred years, that fascination was more of a fear of the dead and of the unknown. I just watched The History Channel’s special on vampires, and it was remarkable for me to learn that even to this day, some European graves have corpses with stakes in their hearts because of the vampire paranoia. But if we used to fear vampires for several hundred years, why are we in love with them today?

Perhaps it’s because we are no longer afraid of seeing dead bodies. Thanks to shows like CSI and NCIS, who have pushed the envelope into seeing how a human body looks on the inside, we don’t cringe as much when we see the dead bodies. We’ve been habituated to death and death isn’t quite a mystery in our Age of Enlightenment. Or perhaps we like to flirt with the ideals of the vampires. Vampires are rebellious and live (ironic, I know) freely, who live life dangerously and in a constant mode of excitement. Deep down each of us, we all secretly want to rebel from a life of mediocrity, a theme I know all too well from “Fight Club.” Or maybe, we don’t fear vampires because they’re just darn too sexy. The classic Dracula was a middle-aged man dressed in a cape who fed on beautiful virginesque (I made up that word) women. It’s definitely creepy. But nowadays, the vampires are dressed like you and me and with the exception of the “True Blood” vampires, I have not seen a vampire over the age of 30 who is not physically fit or not physically attractive. And when we make out with a vampire, such as the case with Kristen Stewart, we are literally making out with death and figuratively flirting with death. I thinking the “flirting with death” part intrigues people, and thus attracts them to the vampire mythos. There you go, today’s vampires have undergone image reconstruction, and whoever is doing the PR work for vampires needs to get promoted or get a raise. It is now cool to be a vampire.

But with all that said, can we lay it off with all these vampire stories that seem to be recycled? It’s all so draining! Enough with the “vampire who drinks human blood versus the vampire who doesn’t” storyline. Well, I guess I have to wait until the next trend. What does our fascination with vampires reveal about our own identities? Maybe the fact that although we understand death scientifically, we still fear death spiritually. Is there life after death? The vampire flirts with us and entices us with his answer.

Photo Credit: CSPA Workshop

Photo Credit: TV Fanatic

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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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