My interest in basketball piqued in Summer 2008, when I was interning at Toyota Headquarters in LA. I remember watching the NBA Finals featuring two legendary teams: the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics. I also remember the gloom that pervaded the office when the Lakers lost… no one said much that day.

Since then, I’ve become a bit of a junkie – my interest probably peaked and plateaued during 2011, at the tail end of my Teach For America experience heading into the 2011-2012 NBA lock out season. Yeah, that season, where the condensed schedule had me watching one to two games per night. Two words: dedication and time-consuming.

I was never really a Rockets fan until Morey gutted the roster. With Scola, Dragic (traded from the Suns), and the rest of the gang no longer present, my interest shifted towards the Rockets, but not necessarily from my team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. (KD went to my alma mater when I was there, so of course I have to support him and OKC! Plus, I just like the organization.)

With the rise of Linsanity, my good guy friend and I prattled on about whether this Asian kid from Palo Alto was truly legit. I didn’t believe it until I saw his performance with my own eyes. Then, I read “Linspired”, and well, I won’t lie, he was a big part of why I started following the Rockets… nevermind Chandler Parsons’ obvious good looks and perfect hair, lol. (He wasn’t always the heartthrob of the Rockets, btw…) Then when James Harden came to H-town from OKC, the Rockets became a somewhat formidable team. When I left for Paris, I bought international NBA league pass — we don’t play around here! — so I could cheer both teams into the 2013 Playoffs.

My sister said that all I talk about is God and basketball… and I’ll add food to that, too. And she’s probably right… Anyway… Here are my somewhat connected thoughts I’ve been mulling over for a while now… (I started this post in July while spending a month in Hawai’i, but I haven’t posted it until now. I kind of forgot about it since I’ve been neglecting my blog.).

————————–

1.) His Contract: It was pretty obvious that Jeremy Lin was going to come to Houston from New York. Morey’s ridiculous contract was a no-brainer – anyone would’ve taken the deal. Carmelo and him had reportedly butt heads, Dantoni was fired etc. Besides, what’s New York’s appeal? I’m admittedly biased, having traveled to numerous places around the world, and I very much dislike New York. I would never live there. The weather stinks, the people are neutral (at best), and the cost of living is high. Houston has significantly better weather, friendly people, great (cheap) food, and the cost of living is low. Plus, there’s a huge Asian fan base who, I assume, have expendable income to watch the games at Toyota Center.

2.) Trade Rumors: With free agency rumors swirling around after the Finals, glaring focus was cast on Dwight Howard’s decision. Personally, I didn’t want Dwight Howard to relocate to Houston for two reasons. First, I think that there are certain aspects or intangibles attached to players, in this case, his seemingly immature attitude and inability to decide what he wants. There’s no denying his stats (when he’s healthy), but I wonder(ed) how he’d mesh with the team. Secondly, Dwight’s decision could’ve dominoed into the current Rockets’ roster, notably affecting Jeremy Lin (and Omer Asik), who was (were) rumored to be ‘expendable’.

I don’t think another team would’ve agreed to finance J Lin’s contract because his contract is backloaded – he’ll make about $15 million in the last year of his contract. With average stats from last season, teams don’t want to gamble on his somewhat inconsistent performance no matter what he’s shown his ceiling to be.

3.) Bandwagoning?: Personally, I think it’s a bit absurd that people so quick to jump on the “Linsanity” bandwagon have become so quick to jump off. I heard a woman plainly and bitterly yell: “Get Lin off the court! Linsanity is over!!!” during Game 6 of the first-round playoffs (when he was injured). (She was probably a basketball ‘fan’ who only watches basketball during the Playoffs…) Truth is, though, Jeremy did fairly well for his first full season playing in all 82 NBA games.

4.) Solution: Critics’ immediate reaction: put in Patrick Beverly. Everyone boasts of his stats during the Playoffs, but lets not forget he was playing against Reggie Jackson, NOT Russell Westbrook, whom he injured, FYI. (That’s a sore topic… Le sigh.) To be honest AND FAIR, would PB have led the Rockets to the Playoffs? I’m not so sure or convinced… I truly believe that J Lin is the best point guard that the Rockets have right now. And I don’t see other teams giving up their really good PGs anytime soon. (Believe me, I would’ve loved to see Rajon Rondo here.)

5.) The ‘What-If’ / Potential Game: Jeremy Lin was the top ranked player in California coming out of high school, but was still undrafted. What if J Lin had gotten real experience for two extra years in the NBA coming out of college (instead of sitting on the bench)? How much better would he be than he is now? (For those of you who like to read, reference Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” first chapter in which he talks about a self-fulfilling prophecy in context with top NHL players. I mean, isn’t that we do to Honors / AP kids in America? Take the brightest and give them the best teachers and resources?) Since the majority of Asians have super great work ethic, you can bet to see improvement in his game this year and beyond. How rapidly? I can’t answer that question.

6.) His Future: Will he be traded this year? Probably not because of his backloaded contract. (I don’t think any team would want to pay him $15 mil. Although I did read something about how his contract could be restructured to pay out the same amount over a longer period of time or something along those lines… but I could be wrong.) His NBA career beyond his current contract will obviously depend on his improvement and performance this year and next. However, his ‘fall back’ plans: being a pastor, managing a non-profit, working with kids etc. are all great options. It’s really a win-win situation for him. God’s got his back.

Final (Miscellaneous) Thoughts:

– The reason I wrote this post to begin with is because I was slightly irritated about the summer trade rumors surrounding J Lin and the Rockets. I will echo what I’ve already said: J Lin is the best point guard that the Rockets have right now. And I don’t see other teams giving up their really good PGs anytime soon.

– I’m still sore, probably as sore as Westbrook’s right knee, that he was injured during the Playoffs. Only with him will the Thunder have a chance to get to the Western Conference Finals / NBA Finals.

– I started a fantasy basketball league on yahoo and recruited all my guy friends and their friends to play. I’m the league commissioner and only girl playing in the league. I’m so pumped! I may buy NBA League Pass. Oh, and we also have participants all over the US (from Hawaii to NYC)!

– While this post focused mainly on Jeremy Lin, let it be known that I’m more just a fan of the game. Honestly, Jeremy Lin probably isn’t that cool (just like no NBA player is) to make me want to follow the sport if I didn’t already like it, not even Kevin Durant. In fact, I didn’t draft J Lin in my first fantasy league.

– Lastly, Kevin Durant answered a question when asked… honestly. So he put James Harden (instead of D Wade) in the top 10. Big whoop. What was he supposed to do? Also, it’s so adorbs that he’s engaged to his fiancé who plays in the WNBA in Minnesota. His tweet to her was so super cute congratulating their championship win. They’re going to have super amazing basketball babies that it won’t even be fair for the rest of future NBA players. LOL (Hear about him being sick of coming in second all the time? Pretty sure his basketball babies will dominate everyone else’s basketball babies.)

Signing out…

Lew

So, I’ve talked to you guys about why I made the decision to return to Houston, but I never told y’all what my job description entailed… First of all, there was no typical day – it seemed like schedules were constantly changing. You either had to adapt or you were left behind. I got yelled at, criticized, talked about etc.** I was definitely extremely overwhelmed for the first few weeks.

I went to Paris thinking I would be a tutor, but it was really more nannying and housekeeping than anything. I cooked, washed dishes, set the table, cleared the table, cleaned, mopped the floor, took out the trash… oh, here’s the cherry on top: I cleaned a filthy turtle tank by way of siphoning. If you don’t know what siphoning is, think a tube in a gas tank when gas prices are high, and people are desperate, so they steal gas. I’ll let you visualize this scenario in your head. Lets just say I definitely had to rinse my mouth a few times with listerine. I cannot even begin to convey the stench of the filter…

So how did I get through this? God. All God. Every day. Every hour. Every second. When I felt irritated, desperate, overwhelmed, unloving, and exhausted, I prayed hard and continually, expecting God to help me through it all. I asked God to continually inundate my mind and spirit with His Word and praise songs. I relied on Him for everything. Throughout all the ‘natural’ emotions, He was the calm through the storm and the solid rock beneath my feet. He never let me sink – I just had to trust Him that He knew what He was doing.

God humbled me so fast through doing the most menial labor. And the best part was that I found LOVE, JOY, and PEACE in the situation. That’s right. Love, JOY, and peace. (Say what?!??!) It was only through God’s great strength was I able to accomplish any and all of this! He showed me what it really means to be a servant, and how He honors that role in His kingdom.

  • “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
  • “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
  • “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure… then you will shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:14-15)

———–

God really revealed Himself to me in those two months – as Job says to God: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5) His grace and strength in the midst of the storm kept me grounded, purposeful, and peaceful. I experienced God on such a personal level that my only choice was to surrender all that I am to Him.

So I’ll walk upon salvation
Your spirit alive in me
This life to declare your promise
My soul now to stand

So what could I say?
And what could I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to You

(The Stand, Hillsong United)

You know what else God showed me? He gave me a small taste of what it’s like to be a mother, and guess what – I can’t wait for Him to bless me with a good man and amazing family! :o)

Lew

**I harbor absolutely no bitterness or resentment for the family – parents or kids. They were all pretty awesome, actually. I left on good terms with everyone. And I still pray for them, too.

I come on my knees
To lay down before you
Bringing all that I am
Longing only to know you
Seeking your face
And not only your hand
I find you embracing me
Just as I am

And I lift these songs
To you and you alone
As I sing to you
In my praises make your home

To my audience of one
You are Father, and you are Son
As your spirit flows free,
Let it find within me
A heart that beats to praise you.
And now just to know you more
Has become my great reward
To see your kingdom come
And your will be done
I only desire to be yours,
Lord

So what could I bring
To honor your majesty
What song could I sing
That would move the heart of royalty
And all that I have
Is this life that you’ve given me
So Lord let me live for you
My song with humility

And Lord as the love song
Of my life is played
I have one desire
To bring glory to your name

To my audience of one
You are Father, and you are Son
As your spirit flows free,
Let it find within me
A heart that beats to praise you.
And now just to know you more
Has become my great reward
To see your kingdom come
And your will be done
I only desire to be yours,
Lord

—–

This song has been in my heart for the last week or so, so I figured I’d just share it with y’all.

  • I love this song because it’s the cry of my heart — to seek God’s face and not (only) His hand (2 Timothy 6:5b-10). He is the main attraction.
  • The reason that I live is because He saved me, and because He saved me, my heart turns back (or beats) to praise Him. Knowing Him by spending time with Him is the greatest reward I could ever attain in this life. He is absolutely my No. 1 priority.
  • The only thing I can do to honor Him is to surrender my life to Him, so that He can use it for His glory.

Lew

I know a lot of you are quite puzzled, wondering, “Are you back in Houston (permanently)? What happened to Paris?! She was only there for two months!” So rather than repeat the reasons why a million times, I’ll attempt to delineate them here. I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but I want to share my (on-going) testimony that I pray and hope will generate introspection and reflection, but also encourage fellow believers.

I suppose I’ll start from the beginning. I just turned 24 when I set off on a three-month European / West Coast adventure (July-Sept 2011) right after my two-year teaching commitment with Teach For America (Hawai’i). I had this ‘absurd’ idea on my trip to live in Paris again solely to learn the language. (I didn’t when I studied abroad here in 2008, which is a shame.) I knew I had to do it soon, while I had no debt, boyfriend, or children. (You can’t just uproot your life with a mortgage, college fund, and retirement plan). So I forewent grad school (already accepted in LA), saved money, and researched ways to get to Paris.

Looking back, the whole ordeal seems a bit silly and definitely selfish. Definitively speaking, I did not consult God with my decision. Right now, I’m still processing the lesson to be learned – perhaps, God showed me the extent of my own human shortsightedness and fallibility. By not consulting Him from the beginning, I wound up in an interesting situation.

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

However, am I glad God brought me to and through Paris? Absolutely. Between the time of finalizing my arrival date to the time leading up to my departure (approx. 5-6 weeks before February 15), God was preparing my heart for what He wanted to teach me while abroad.

God absolutely used this experience for His own good. Living and working in Paris for two months, while it may have seemed like a dream vacation for some, was really a period of spiritual testing and growth for me.

  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As an aside, lets backtrack to Teach For America: I will admit I did not learn much, if anything, in Hawai’i. At that point in my life, God stripped me of everything — success in my profession, friends to hang out with etc. etc., but instead of leaning on Him, I just whined, complained, and cried. In the second year, I sought satisfaction in other things like material possessions, self-improvement, exercise, hanging out with friends – basically everything else but God, which, in retrospect, was stupid, yet extremely ‘natural’.

However, in these past four months, God has completely saved and restored me. I’ve had an encounter with God in which He has completely and supernaturally regenerated me. God found me exactly where I was in the culmination of my brokenness, and showed me the reality of my sin and worthlessness of treasuring worldly constructions above Him and, in return, promised me something infinitely better. Instead of a Hawai’i repeat, He gripped my heart to be receptive to His great work within me.

The job in Paris was very challenging, not in the traditional sense of deadlines, paperwork, bureaucracy etc. (found in most organizations in business, education etc.), but still very challenging nonetheless. I worked a lot – six days a week! I didn’t really know the language that well. In the first few weeks, I had no money. I didn’t really have any friends for support either (just like in the first year of Hawai’i). What could’ve become a lonely and unmanageable situation, was the most humbling and joyous experience I’ve ever encountered.

  • “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

I believe that God continues to put us or keep us in situations that will refine or grow in us what He seeks to see in us. What two years in Hawai’i didn’t do, two months in Paris did. My response to God was that of complete surrender and obedience to His will. I had to rely on Him for everything because I had to, and I was glad to do so! People ask me all the time if I enjoyed touring Paris, but honestly, I spent the majority of my free time immersing myself in Scripture, prayer, and reading Christian books (Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Discerning the Voice of God). Everything I did and thought revolved around a single source of sustenance: God.

Ultimately, I let go of what I wanted: to learn French in a French-speaking country. I only consulted my parents, my former discipleship group leader, and another friend when deciding whether to stay or go. I prayed earnestly for maybe a week (time-sensitive deadline), but when I finally made my decision, I was completely at peace. I prayed also for the mother’s heart, and when I told her, she took it way better than I expected. (Praise God!)

Because of the whole Paris experience, I don’t even feel like the same person anymore. My entire life is now completely reoriented around God’s purpose and will for my life, and I pray expectantly for Him to direct my future.

I’ll end with this funny scenario I’ve created in my head:

=================================================================================

So lets say I start dating some Asian dude, and I meet his (immigrant) parents for the first time over dinner –

Them: “So, Christine, what do you do?”

Me: “Well, I tutor / mentor high school students. I also volunteer in the non-profit world. And I go on missions trips.”

Them: “Oh. That’s interesting. So you don’t have a (real) career? Like you didn’t want to be a doctor? Or a lawyer? Or engineer? Or accountant?” (Underlying meaning: “Why didn’t you pursue a more well-esteemed career that’s also financially stable?”)

Me: “I guess I’d describe my career as helping people.”

Them: “Oh. So what will you be doing in five years?”

Me: “I don’t know, honestly. Whatever God wants me to do.”

Them: ::mutter something in Mandarin which is obviously unintelligible to me because I don’t speak the language!::

– Awkward silence –

=================================================================================

What’s hilarious, is that this scenario would go down exactly like this. I realize my path has been very untraditional, or perhaps to some even directionless or listless. My friends tease me saying, “Well, Christine, you have a diverse and unique skill set.” Uh… thanks? lol However, I know that God has divinely allowed everything in my past to mold and refine me, to make me learn and grow, and ultimately bring me closer to Him. He wants me to love Him with all my heart and depend on Him for everything.

I’ve realized that I am not defined by my profession or career, or money in the bank, nor am I seeking the world’s approval. My audience is God, and I want to wake up every day and live purposely in His will.

Lew

My former discipleship group leader (and still close friend) asked me if it’s harder to live in Europe than in America. One of my former students asked me how I was adjusting. I chuckled inside because…

IMHO, it’s much EASIER to live in Paris. It’s easy to walk everywhere and use efficient public transportation. It’s easier to live (and love) life because of less of an emphasis on work and materialism (less distraction), so you can simply enjoy life.

In five years, since 2008, I’ve visited / lived in Europe four times. Total time spent in Europe: about seven to eight months total. That’s almost a full year! Here are my comparisons of my hometown to my current city of residence…

==================================================================================

Houston – Pros

  • family
  • freedom to make my own schedule
  • convenience of a car when needed
  • good, cheap food at restaurants
  • free (court side) Houston Rockets’ tickets
  • doing laundry takes less than half the time
  • generally friendly, hospitable people

Houston – Cons

  • don’t have too many close friends (all my friends live on the East and West Coasts of the US and in Europe)
  • traffic is a MESS! (slight road rage due to terrible drivers!)
  • paying for car insurance, gas, and maintenance on car
  • weight gain (mom’s cooking + access to good, cheap food)
  • humidity

Paris – Pros

  • learning a new (beautiful) language, practicing Spanish (while tutoring)
  • myriad of different cultures mixed throughout the city
  • independent living
  • food is better quality
  • efficient, cheap public transportation
  • run on a higher voltage so electronics charge faster
  • one water heater per flat (since I live alone, I don’t share resources i.e. the water’s always hot!)
  • delectable treats in boulangeries (BEST strawberry tartes I’ve ever had!)
  • wearing scarves are completely legit (fashion + function)
  • many beautiful, recreational parks to sunbathe, have picnics, stroll in, fly kites
  • boasts some of the best art museums in the world (and I was an art history minor)
  • learn to live with less stuff: less sq footage in apartment means buying and accumulating less stuff (less consumerism)

Paris – Cons

  • weather, particularly the cold winter
  • everything’s really expensive (food, basic necessities like toiletries etc.)

==================================================================================

To wrap this up, I’ll share with you tidbits of my first couple of months:

  • Funniest thing: So the conversation of having a boyfriend came up with the middle child (12 years old) because I told her to watch her language. And she kiddingly retorted: “But all my friends curse, and have boyfriends now, and smoke, too.” I told her: “You’re too young to have a boyfriend! No kid of mine will have a boyfriend while in middle or high school!! You know I’ve never had a real boyfriend??” And she so wittingly responded: “What? As opposed to a fake one?” This girl. Amazing.
  • Coolest thing: 1.) The mother wanted me to take the boy out to play, so we grabbed his ball and bundled up in our outerwear to brave the cold. We rode the elevator down and when we walked outside, we walked right past the Eiffel Tower (because that’s completely ‘normal’), and he showed me where he played… right next to the Eiffel Tower. Umm, what?
  • Coolest thing: 2.) Sales associates in numerous stores have told me that my French is pretty good! Awesome sauce.
  • Ridiculous thing: I was just about to finish up a praise report / prayer request e-mail to a group of close girl friends, and I turn around and I see white foam rapidly spreading from my bathroom floor onto my laminate ‘wooden’ floor. I walk over and am in disbelief as to what I a see – a rather sizable puddle of dirty water has formed from my washer dryer. I turn the dial to the off position, so the washer stops, but the door is still locked. I wait a couple of minutes to check on the contents, which happen to be clean wet towels!!! I grab them from the washer and throw them on the ground. I pick up each towel one by one and start to wring each one in the shower. Phew – what a workout! I discover that the tube that drains the water has fallen / become detached from the wall. As I start to   ‘mop’ the floor with bedding (wet towels are cutting it!), I hear a knock on my door. It’s my neighbor downstairs who owns the boulagerie (bakery) who has come to check on me. I try to explain in my broken French that everything’s fine. In fact, he’s pretty nice and tells me not to worry when I seem a little flustered that the water has leaked into his space… sorry! While this was all happening, I was irritated all for about one minute. After that, I found the situation to be pretty hilarious. HAHA
  • Frustrating thing: Ordering and using a French debit card and credit card have been an ORDEAL. So I had to go to the bank where I opened my account to order both cards. Here’s what’s inefficient. They send the cards to the bank (not to you like in America), and you have to return to the bank to pick them up (about a week later). Then, once they give them to you, they send you a code via SNAIL MAIL (so you don’t even get to choose your PIN #), which take another two days. So I ordered my cards on March 5, the first day I could during Spring Break. I retrieve them on March 13. My PINs arrive in the mail (at my employer’s address) on March 15. I try to use my credit card to buy NBA league pass on Friday night – it’s declined. I try to buy groceries the next day, but it’s declined. (All this time I didn’t have the instructions for activating either card, just the PIN # which my friend told me on the phone.) So I go to a branch location to activate my account (bc it seems both cards have the same PIN #?), and on the way to activate my account, I LOSE MY CREDIT CARD. Why is this a problem? Well, in France, you can’t charge anything to a debit card; you can only use it to withdraw money! So when I realize that it’s gone, I get a little irritated and retrace all of my steps back to apartment. Then panic sets in when I can’t find it in my apartment. I scour my neighborhood for an hour but nothing. So then I call the bank to CANCEL a credit card that has NEVER BEEN USED! (Are you freaking kidding me?!) ETA of the new credit card: March 25. Add two days for the PIN #… So from March 5-27, THREE WEEKS, I did not have had the opportunity to charge anything. And it was a huge problem because I didn’t previously have the money to pay for everything (school and metro pass) upfront, so I really needed to charge the expenses on that credit card! PERFECT. ***Update: I finally got the second replacement credit card with the correct PIN, but it still wouldn’t work. Amazing, huh?
  • Worst thing: 1.) The boy and I were coming back from the boucherie (meat store), and he had 20 euros in change. I told him to put it in his pocket or a bird might come and take it away… little did we know that as we rounded the corner two blocks down, literally outside the flat, a man stopped us and gave me a ring. I thought he was just being nice, but I later realized that he was a gypsy. I accidentally dropped the ring, and when he looked down, he saw the 20 euro in the boy’s hand and took it and walked off. I was SO IRRITATED. Because I’ve traveled around Europe everywhere, and by myself, and I’ve never once gotten robbed. UGH.
  • Worst thing: 2.) Another gypsy story… my friend Court, who I met during TFA Hawai’i, came to visit, and we were walking towards a museum and two gypsy teenagers tried to talk to us. I politely said “No thank you” but this annoyingly forceful girl kept blocking my path up the steps and grabbed my arm! When I sternly told her, “Don’t touch me.” She kept trying to grab me and mockingly imitated what I said to her as if it was the funniest thing in the world. If she would’ve kept at it, I wouldn’t have hesitated to push her away. Awful.
  • Best thing: 1.) I hadn’t seen one of my best European (Portuguese) girl friends since September 2011, and one Friday morning she messaged me on FB to ask for my French number and invite me to her dinner party that night. So I took a friend and we hung out with all these awesome young French professionals. My good girl friend offered us some amazing Portuguese red wine (I don’t generally like red wine), and I was a bit buzzed. (I hadn’t drunk any alcohol since July 2011 in Italy.) My friend and I didn’t have much to eat that night since there wasn’t enough meat at the dinner table, so I asked my friend for food, which her boyfriend cooked so well, and we feasted. YUM!
  • Best thing: 2.) My daily time spent with God. God used this entire experience to draw me close to Him – to make me rely on Him because I am all ‘alone’ in Paris. IMHO, I’ve really had an encounter with God, in which a supernatural regeneration (description coined by David Platt) has taken place in my life. When I tell people what I do for a living, all I want to say is help people. That’s it. I don’t worry about my future or my life. I’m completely at peace confidently knowing that God will guide me through whatever life brings. All the things I wanted, I don’t really care about anymore. I’ll leave you with this song — Knowing You, Jesus by Graham Kendrick:

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh, to know the power of your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die

 

xo, Lew

Dreams I Dream for You — Avalon

You taste the tears
You’re lost in sorrow
You see your yesterdays
I see tomorrow

You see the darkness
I see the spark
You know your failures
But I know your heart

The dreams I dream for you
Are deeper that the ones you’re clinging to
More precious than the finest things you knew
And truer than the treasures you pursue
Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you

You see your shame
But I see your glory
You’ve read one page
I know the story

I hold a vision
That you’ll become
As you grow into the truth
As you learn to walk in love

Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you

So I heard this song on Spotify for the first time today while I was cleaning my flat (and simultaneously praising God)! The lyrics penetrated my heart, so I thought I’d share them with you. Then I recognized where I had seen the chorus’ lyrics… super awesome song – glad it came on today! :o)

This is the desperate cry of my heart, God: to know you, and to “let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.” (borrowed from David Platt borrowed from John Piper borrowed from David Brainerd, lol)

===============================================================================

To Know You — Casting Crowns

To know you is never worry for my life, and
To know you is to never to give in or compromise
To know you is to want to tell the world about you
Cause I can’t live without you 

To know you is to hear your voice when you are calling
To know you is to catch my brother when he is falling
To know you is to feel the pain of the broken hearted 
Cause they can’t live with out you

More than my next breath 
More than life or death 
All reaching for, I live my life to know you more 
I leave it all behind, you are all that satisfies 
To know you is to want to know you more 
To know you is to want to know you more 

To know you is to ache for more than ordinary
To know you is to look beyond the temporary
To know you is believing that you will be enough
Cause there is no life without you

All this life could offer me, could not compare to you
Compare to you
And I count it all as lost, compared to knowing you
Knowing you

More than my next breath 
More than life or death 
All reaching for, I live my life to know you more 
I leave it all behind, you are all that satisfies 
To know you is to want to know you more 
To know you is to want to know you more

The 46 Places to Go in 2013

First of all, does anyone know where the quote (title) came from? Mad props if you know!

This quote: “I’m 27 years old with no money and no prospects! I’m already a burden to my parents…” is set at the turn of the 19th century, where women didn’t have rights – they couldn’t work to earn a living, own property, vote etc. Women only had their beauty or family name / rank / title or perhaps some skill from which to marry well and survive. This woman is extremely plain, and for this reason, she’s 27 years old with no money and no prospects.

My little sister and I laugh about this quote from Pride and Prejudice ALL. THE. TIME. The problem is that when I return from Paris, I could very likely be:

                                         27 YEARS OLD WITH NO MONEY AND NO PROSPECTS!

(So if you haven’t read my prior post, do so now because this post will make more sense within that context.)

—–

I’m a thinker, and I reflect quite regularly. I find myself playing the “What was I doing a year ago?” game to see if my life is better or worse. Exactly one year ago, I spent a week with a friend in California. It seems so long ago, like another life. I think it’s because I was living another life — a life that I never want to live again. What I had then is definitely not what I want now or for my future.

What partly contributed to my deep reflection on my life direction was a sermon I heard on the radio a little over a month ago. The pastor, Tommy Nelson, illuminated FIVE tangible elements of a successful marriage. (Listen in or read the transcript for elucidation and clarification.) And before you think that this sermon has nothing for you because you don’t identify yourself as Christian, he says:

  • “You have to be alerted to them right now; all right? I don’t want to be dogmatic on this, but I’m the only one right because I have counseled the heartache that arises from the lack thereof. I don’t give these to you merely because of a priori reasoning from the Bible. I give them to you out of a posteriori observation of pain. If I was an atheist, I would still give you these same five things because I have watched them take place in couples.

My mom believes that I don’t even need to actively look. She believes that God will bring me my mate all within his perfect timing.

—–

I’ll end with this: I’ve already decided that I want to marry Jeremy Lin* or someone like him.** I mean, seriously, what Asian, Christian girl around my age – I’m only one year older than him! – doesn’t want to marry Jeremy Lin? From reading Mike Yorkey’s book, I was literally “Linspired” by his story. Not only was I encouraged by his actions, but by how God chose some random Asian kid from California (a dime a dozen) and raised him up as a shining example to bring Himself glory. His story, really his testimony, is remarkable because JLin’s choices and faithfulness to God allowed God to use him in a BIG way. And if God can use JLin, then God can use anyone, even me who has made countless mistakes.

My dentist (and family friend from church) gave me two pieces of advice to snag JLin:

  1. Be a strong Christian
  2. Speak Mandarin

1. Doable. 2. Probably not gonna happen… I’m only half Chinese. And my dad, who’s Chinese, was born in the US. So he doesn’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese, so obviously neither do I. I’d only speak Mandarin or Taiwanese if I volunteered in a Chinese orphanage for a year or something like that.

I told my good Christian girl friend about the language thing, and she laughed hysterically: 1) Because my explanation as to why I know no Chinese is spot on, 2) Because I ‘speak’ every other language (not really) besides Mandarin, and 3) Because she said, “You make it sound like moving to China to do missionary work isn’t something you would ever do, but you totally would. And then you’d subsequently learn some Chinese. For anyone else, that experience would be absurd, but for you, that’s pretty normal.”

Uncle D (my dentist) told me to get on his radar, but I don’t even know how to do that… I mean, he could very well already have a (long-distance) girl friend. :: shrugs :: I’m going to trust God and my mom’s advice concerning my future mate.

Still, if Jeremy Lin ever sang Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” to me, I’d probably faint. Or maybe chuckle… please just not in the  “Driedel, Driedel, Driedel” voice… SMH.

Lew

*You’re thinking: “Of course she wants to marry him! She’d be set for life!” Honestly, money, power, and fame mean absolutely nothing to me. If those things were important, I’d go get them myself. In my current and future vocation(s), I don’t make / won’t be making (that) much money, and I’m fine with it.

I also want to be clear: the only person who is completely worthy of my affection is God. I do not want to portray any sort of ‘hero worship’ of Jeremy Lin in this post. In fact, he’s only mentioned as one example of possible possession of the things on my list and those five elements of a successful marriage. I am sure plenty of other great, strong Christian guys exist. And really, towards the end, I’m only half-serious, as I quip about the contrast of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” and the “Driedel” song… I mean, really, how many girls get the opportunity to date Jeremy Lin?

**Just to clarify, when I talk about marriage, I talk about that distant, far off thing that exists in maybe 3-5 years of my life. Kids in 5-7? But, in reality, only God knows what lies ahead. And he has a great sense of humor! lol

Relationships seem to be on everyone’s mind. What makes me think this?

Welp, the topic comes up in every. single. conversation. that I have with my friends (both girls and guys). Her: “So… are you dating anyone now?” Me: “How’s [fill in guy's name here]?” Her: “Did you hear that Rick’s dating Shiela?!” Everyone wants to know who you’re dating, what’s going on, and if he or she could be / is ‘The One.’

Seeing as ‘Happy Single’s Awareness Day’, oopsie, I mean, Valentine’s Day, just passed, I felt compelled to write something on the matter.

Included in my 180 life turnaround, I thought long and hard about what I wanted in a mate, because honestly, I’m not getting any younger and the future is looming, yes, looming, lol – like an ominous cloud. I realize that when I finally (hopefully?) get married, over half of my life will be spent with my significant other (and our children).

I came up with a list of 16 non-negotiables (the first five are most certainly not!):

  1. Christian (serving God 24/7)
  2. Intelligent (book smart, street smart, wise, prudent)
  3. Thoughtful / sweet
  4. Reliable (punctual a plus)
  5. Generous
  6. Humble (Updated: 6/10/13)
  7. Good communicator
  8. Loyal / honest
  9. Patient
  10. Leader (i.e. a servant)
  11. Athletic / health conscious 
  12. Tender / comforting
  13. Loves kids (and animals)
  14. Loves to eat
  15. Adventurous / traveler (but not a partier / regular drinker)
  16. Clean / neat

Additionally, I think I want to marry someone Asian. Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Me. Marriage. Asian. (The last person I kind of ‘dated’ was not Asian-American, and I don’t think it would’ve worked out culturally). In the future, I want someone to not only understand, but also support me in being a ‘Tiger Mom’ (and kind of be a ‘Tiger Dad’, too!).

  • Me to my kid (and imagine me saying this in one breath, because I can, and probably will): “No, you may not go to the movies tonight. Is your homework done? Did you study? Did you practice [insert sport, instrument etc. here]? Do you have all A’s?? No, I’m not buying you that iPhone just because everyone else has one. Why not? Because you don’t need it. Let me see if I understand you correctly: you want your friend who’s a boy to come over? Sure, he can come over and sit at the dining table while I watch both of you do your homework. (i.e. I may creepily stare at him and make him feel uncomfortable so he’ll leave as soon as he came.) Why am I asking you all these questions? Because I’m your mom, and I know what’s best for you! And because I said so! And, if you get any ideas to negotiate with your dad, the answer will be the same. We have each others’ backs. Now let me see your report card.”
  • P.S. There is nothing wrong with instilling a little fear in them! Yes, my kids will still love me; I don’t worry about that in the slightest! :o)
  • P.P.S. Might as well show the crazy now and sort the weak from the strong. At least you know what you’re getting up front! Ain’t nobody tryin’ to pretend to be someone they ain’t!

—–

So I’m sure many of y’all think that my list is pretty steep, maybe even unrealistic. But I respectfully disagree. During my first year of teaching in Hawai’i, I told one of my (Christian) students (in tutorials) that I’m probably not going to marry a virgin because they don’t exist. You know what this fourteen-year-old told me? “Ms. Lew, how do you know? If that’s what you want, you can have it. P.S. You’re like a regulation hottie, so I’m sure you could get pretty much any guy you want.” (Oh, if only the latter were true!)

Look at this fourteen-year-old schooling me in school! She’s right. It is possible. (Matthew 19:26) Honestly, I’m not in a huge rush anyway. I’m so busy learning and growing in my relationship with God that a significant other seems like another life (literally and figuratively speaking). Still, I’m confident of something amazing materializing in His perfect timing!

Lew

P.P.P.S.

The next post continues from this one and clarifies the components of a successful relationship / marriage. I highly encourage you to listen to the podcast or at least read the transcript – it will be life-changing.