For the Cross

Today was an amazing morning. I got up at 5:30am to walk down with a group of friends to Blackstone Park to have a sunrise service. Truly felt amazing. Although it was a little too early for me, just being able to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice at the start of the day was great. We saw the sun rising and sat down in the woods to pray, read, and sing. Thank you Katie for setting all this up.

This week has been tough for a lot of people at Brown. On Tuesday, a lot of people grieved and reflected – took in tablespoons of their own misery and agony. As the week went by and as the event started to fade from people’s immediate lives, I felt more and more burdened by my own life. I started feeling the emotions I had back in November and February. In class, we also started reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar this week too and I’m not sure if that was best, though it really wasn’t my decision . And right now, I’m at a lost for the right words to write this entry. But today shouldn’t be that day to feel awful when honestly Christ is alive and has risen.  He’s the only thing that’s keeping my head afloat.

Hallelujah, it is finished
Hallelujah, it is done
Hallelujah, King forever
We thank you for the cross

I don’t know what exactly needs to be said today and for the first time, I didn’t want to write or publish anything, but it’s Easter, and out of gratefulness I did. Lately, I’ve been having more difficulty falling asleep and staying sane in my dreams. But it’s also been easier to smile and hug.

But regardless, this week truly reminded me of how lost and hopeless I would be without Christ.

Liebster Blog Award

So I’ve been nominated by Hello Wonders a few days ago for the Liebster blog award! Her blog is also wonderful and amazing; she writes about her monthly goals, food, music playlists, and everything in between. She’s done a great job with her blog!

So here are the rules for the Liebster Blog Award:
1. Link back to the person that nominated you
2. Answer the questions asked by the nominator
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees
5. Notify all nominees on their blogs and/or social media

Here are my answers:

  • What blogging means to you?
    Blogging is a creative way to express myself. I love how I’m not limited to a medium, whether that’s text, photography, videos – I have a lot of things to work with when blogging. It’s also just been an outlet for me to share my thoughts and personal entries with friends and strangers who can easily become friends. I’ve been blogging for years, but this is really my first public blog.
  • What’s your favorite movie?
    Tough question. Maybe Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’ve watched a lot of good movies and I like comedies, thrillers, artsy, and coming of age movies. That movie really got me though. I hadn’t even realized I had tears in my eyes throughout it – the reactions that I had were so natural.
  • What makes you happy?
    Being with the people I love. Eating a really good piece of chocolate. Listening to Christian music. I don’t know, lately, trying to find what makes me happy and trying to distinguish what’s harmful from what’s good for me has been really difficult. But usually, just being able to be with people who I know accept me – at least, in that moment – makes me joyful.
  • If you could do anything, what would you do?
    Relieve my parent’s burdens. There’s a lot that I could answer this question with, but I think it would help me too if I could just relieve or alleviate their stress. It’s amazing how much they’ve given up for me, and I want them to be happy and not so stressed out all the time.
  • What do you think the world needs the most?
  • What is your biggest regret?
    I try to live life with no regrets (as cliché as it sounds). If I do have regrets, I try to forget them right away. And honestly, even if I’m going through the toughest things because of my decisions, would I really have it any other way? People make mistakes in life, but that’s what makes them individuals and unique. We make different mistakes and that’s what makes our lives so valuable and worth living. And that’s why we have stories worth listening to and discovering.
  • What is your talent?
    I can make a pretty good grilled cheese even though I dislike cheese. I think that’s a pretty good talent to have.
  • What is the most important thing in life?
    Jesus again. Because His name includes everything else that’s important as well: love, forgiveness, acceptance, redemption.
  • If you could meet someone famous, who would it be?
    J. D. Salinger. Though all my admiration for him as a writer may die if I ever did meet this hermit. Or maybe someone from Hillsong United. They’d be pretty awesome to meet and hear stories from.
  • What’s your biggest fear?
    So I used to think maybe my biggest fear was the fear of being forgotten, but I’ve found that it’s far from the case. My biggest fear is the fear of being alone – forever. Of never finding anyone who will accept you for who you are and who is willing to grow with your mistakes and trials. It’s funny because I’m an introvert who usually loves being alone, but I never really realized how internalized this fear has become or has always been. I am so honestly terrified of this reality even though I know it will never be true.
  • Okay, this is an even more serious and deep question: batman or superman?
    Batman because unfortunately I’ve never seen a superman movie before. Batman in a pink ballerina costume is so so cute.

My questions:

  1. What is love to you?
  2. What is your story?
  3. What’s your favorite quote?
  4. If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?
  5. Underwater exploring or space navigating?
  6. Where do you think you’ll be in the next five years?
  7. Who or what’s your life’s inspiration?
  8. What’s your favorite pastime?
  9. What’s your spirit animal?
  10. What’s your life worth living for?
  11. Best advice you’ve ever received.

I nominate: The CuriosityLoving With a Distance, Relevant Ranting, Peonies and Tea Leaves, Mostly Useful Musings, Master of None, Chronicles of a Kid Next Door, Nelly Sum, Rollercoasters in Love, Sonam Naidu, and Totally Inspired Mind.

A Christian’s Confession to the Church

For the longest time, I hated church. I called myself a Christian, I prayed to God, and I believed in the existence of a Savior. But I still despised the church. Sixth grade onwards, I regarded myself as an outsider. I physically felt a wall enclosing me and disconnecting me from fellowship and from normal human conversations with church people. I remember walking towards the worship music, hearing the soundtrack to my anxiety. I would quickly walk to my seat – the very back row on the left side. I read, or more so pretended to read, as I patiently waited for my inner torture to be over. I knew no one to talk to me, and to the few people who did, I was quiet and indifferent towards. I admit, I as the “outsider” only made things worse by not approaching people first or by not being more friendly to anyone. I just sat in my seat, counting minutes, glancing at others, and feeling horrible on the inside. And everything felt so much worse because I knew church was supposed to be a place of gathering, of love, of fellowship, and there I was in the midst of it all, torturing myself with these thoughts. Every church retreat I went on from then on, I cried afterwards. I remember telling my mom, after one specific retreat, that this wasn’t a church, this wasn’t a place of God – it was hell.

After that retreat, I stopped going to my youth group in general. I went upstairs to the adult service, but I couldn’t understand a word. I wanted to be a “Christian” but I didn’t want to go to church. I wondered why I couldn’t be a Christian by myself. Although I was hopelessly lost and drowning in my own thoughts sitting at church, I’m so happy I never fully gave up going to church. But anyways, tenth grade came along, and a mission trip to Ecuador was announced. I was unsure of going, but I wanted to. And so I signed up. There were too many people signed up for the trip, but in the end I went. There were weekly meetings of course that I had to go to, and in the beginning, I minded those too. I didn’t like sitting in a room with people I knew but pretended not to. I guess one of the reasons why I fell for my boyfriend right now was that he was really the only one to constantly give me a chance. I told and thanked him many times for that – that had he not constantly tried to be a friend to me, I might have given up on church forever. He talked to me as if I were already his friend, though I knew nothing about him and in that way he really did become my friend. One of the only friends I considered at church. And in this way, he encouraged me to come back to youth group or at least to the college ministry, and I went back. I still felt uncomfortable at youth group, but at least I had some sort of human communication with people while I was there now, instead of hiding behind the thin covers of a rectangle.

I came back to church as a more confident soul, not a shy and withering spirit. I started to love church for a while and fell apart for some time, and then I went off to college – a different story with a completely different atmosphere. While I fell apart for some time, I’ve learned a few truths. A quiet church is not necessarily a bad one. And sometimes, as an “outsider,” you trap yourself in a narrative of hate and torment when reality is honestly indifferent and not as unkind to you as you are to yourself.

Today, coming back to church unannounced, I don’t know… I felt the same feelings again that I had felt when I went through that narrative of self-confinement. And I remembered my pain and the hopelessness I had felt, even though I knew the narratives that were being played out in my head were untrue. And of course, I was a stranger who came for an hour today, but I’m a lot more conceited than I realize. I need to get over myself and the drama that I cause in my mind. But this is my confession that I once hated a church that I thought despised me back. And like a lot of other people, I’m fighting between my perceptions of reality and that of Christ’s. I’m sorry to those who’ve reached out and I’ve rejected in the past, and I’m sorry for being such a naive, conceited person who’s never realized anything outside of her own realm. But in that way, I know that this is just one evidence of God’s endless grace present in my life. No matter how many times I wrap myself up and choke myself to near death, He constantly comes down to save and to show mercy.

LOVE is not what you think it is

Love is an ideal we want in our lives. Everyone wants to be loved and cherished in some way – whatever love means. I used to think Love was just another term that could be used in the sense of preference. For example, I love chocolate. And I really do – I take that seriously. But really, human love, relational love, is different.

Sarah and Phil Kay(e) performed this poem. It’s a great poem, and it hints at this idea of what love could really be.

I think loving someone, whether in a Christian sense or in a worldly sense, is incredibly difficult. Loving someone is hard, and I have had struggles in coming to terms with what love really was. I guess I just had so many misconceptions of what love could be or what I thought love would be like. Here’s just a few things I’ve learned over the past few weeks and months.

First off, love is not the same as infatuation. I think a lot of people know this. It’s impossible to love someone the first time you meet them. It’s possible to be infatuated with him/her, but it’s different from loving that person. So love at first sight, in the literal sense, does not exist. If you’re infatuated with someone, you’ll be content – you might think about them all day, wonder what they’re up to, constantly be checking for updates. Your heart will flutter when you see them, and you’re just generally excited. That’s not love. And this phase fades, like any shiny new toy you buy then throw away.

Second, love is not what you need in life to live. We often make love our goal in life; we need to find the right person and we want to get married to the “one.” And I struggle quite a bit with this. I automatically assume that love is what will make me happy, and therefore I should pursue love and without it, I will die a miserable wretch (no, I actually don’t think like this, but just to prove a point). Love will not bring you happiness. And you can’t depend on love to make you happy. In fact, love might really mess up your life, make it more complicated, and you might dislike love at times. But it’s not love’s duty to make you happy – you need to have something else to fulfill you.

Thirdly, love does not mean that you love every aspect of this person. We think, oh I’m completely in love with this person; I see no flaw in him and I want to be with him forever. Just because you say that, it doesn’t mean you love him, just means you’re still not over this infatuation phase. Of course, you should love an underlying essence of this person, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely be all for his characteristics. And how can we be? We’re not perfect in any shape or form; there will be mistakes and flaws that we need to realize and accept. Love doesn’t mean you like everything about him; it means you accept and see the truth in him.

So really, love is not just being content with another person. It’s about seeing who they are as individuals, with flaws and all, and accepting them and choosing to be with no one else. You trust them. You wait for them. You accept them for who they are, not for who they can be or will be. And in this way, love is so challenging and difficult, but ultimately beautiful and great. Love will not solve your problems and you should not depend on love to rescue you.

And in those ways, a worldly love will never be enough. But it’s not nothing either.

Hope of the World

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetBack from Newport. It was a lovely and soulful trip. I think I discovered better motivations that I really need to implement in my life. I think it was the first time, in weeks (possibly months), that I’ve genuinely laughed and was just plainly my old weird self. Even though the retreat was only two-ish days in total, it was really cleansing and peaceful. I didn’t cry nor did I put out my fists in anger with how ashamed I should be, how much guilt I should really be feeling, and how lost I really am. Instead, it was a peaceful, quiet weekend for much reflecting on my faith.

I guess when I pray, I’m like others. I pray, and almost only remember to pray when I am in a time of need or suffering. But I’ve also stopped praying a bit since last year. It seemed futile and I felt like I was praying to an empty wall. I didn’t feel any bit of fullness in praying, and so I stopped. Back in September, I tried again. But life, like always, became way to busy and hectic for me to remember anything, let alone what I was doing in the next hour. I forgot and constantly neglected prayer. This January,  I felt a bit more renewed to turn back to God, even though I felt lacking in every way. I really didn’t think I could live on if I didn’t pray, if there wasn’t a God out there. So I started out again, or at least tried to. It’s honestly so difficult somProcessed with VSCOcam with m3 presetetimes just to keep up with life and its stresses, but going away this weekend made me step out of my own box of thoughts. My prayers were misdirected, my life’s purpose was lost in selfishness, and my questions were messy.

He really in all honesty is the hope of this world. In life, we constantly keep searching for some sort of answer to our questions and try to find it within our world, within ourselves. Sometimes when it gets so tough, we want to escape, just to get out of the stressful things and go away to another place, job, and relationship. But we all have our brokenness, and no matter where we go or who we go to, we’re still trapped in this cycle of oppressing ourselves and trying to escape. But we can turn our eyes towards the one who came to die for us, who shattered through our world of brokenness to save us, to save you. Yet, we constantly forget this and we constantly come back to our cycle. Our healing can’t be found anywhere on this earth, except in the one who gave everything up to be with us.

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Last and this semester have both been incredibly tough and overwhelming. And I tried all sorts of things, thought of all possible worldly options, to get out of my struggle – whatever it was or is. And I still have so much more to experience, but it gives me great comfort that there’s no specific place I have to be or a person I have to become in order to glorify God and live for Him. My sister in Christ, Alana, described that path as a narrow bullseye that you have to fit in – or else you’re in the wrong place. But she said that’s not what it’s about. He gave us free will for a reason, and no matter which choice we make, whether good or bad, He can work through anything. Abbey also said how we shouldn’t let a potentially selfish or bad motivation stop us from doing the right thing. I have big decisions to make in the next coming years, and I, like any other freshman, have been getting overly stressed out about that fact. But I take pride and comfort in the fact that my job will not define me, my success or failures will not nail me to some awful standard. Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 preset

There is no love greater in this world than His. I am in constant failure of recognizing how wonderful and fanciful it is, but I’m trying to come back. Freshman year is not yet complete, but it’s coming to a quick end. I don’t know what will happen of me in the coming months, but I have peace in knowing that my decisions are not definitive of any worldly attributes, and rather in prayer, in peace, I belong to the One and Only, Jesus Christ.

To those who have been praying for me, thank you so much for your advice, your stories, your courage. I know this is not the end. Not yet. 

Eleanor, you’re cute too. Thank you for being a truly amazing, inspiring voice.

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| TRAVEL VLOG | new york city

frozen smore x brooklyn bridge x ducks

Christy and my trip in a nutshell.

Side note: This was supposed to be a Catcher in the Rye tour of the city, but the edits didn’t work out that way.

Park n’ Tacos

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New York City is strikingly rectangular. Every building has straight, crisp edges and there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary when staring up at the city… except for this huge park right in the middle of it all. It never really occurred to me until this particular trip how unusual this was – to have nature in the middle of skyscrapers and commercial space.

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Anyhow, if you’re looking for something to do Gansevoort Market is a small hipster place a few blocks down from Chelsea Market. Gansevoort has the same kind of vibe, but a different flair. It’s busy, but not nearly as busy as Chelsea. Each shop has its own individual taste and feel. Nothing more to say than that. Very family friendly too.

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Processed with VSCOcam with kk2 presetThere’s a Tacombi truck there. The same restaurant I went to the morning after for breakfast (tacos). Normally I don’t like tacos but theirs is pretty good. I recommend the carnitas michoacana – one of the best tacos I’ve ever had.

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Not sure if the hearts are always there. I was there the day after Valentine’s Day. Couples were still out and about.

a step you can’t take back

Brooklyn bridge @1:00 PM exactly.
Christy and I are in the city for the long weekend. It’s President’s day weekend actually.
Is also the coldest day in this city… possibly in the last 20 years (I’ve heard someone say). We were crazy enough to go onto the bridge at 1:00. It took us thirty minutes to cross it, and we were hoping we wouldn’t get blown off the bridge. But trudging through that awful wind (that I really thought would suffocate me) was worth it in the end. The view of the city was the best I’ve ever seen. A perfect sunny day, outlined in silhouettes of Wall Street buildings and skyscrapers.

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We also visited Jane’s Carousel. There was a birthday party going on while we were there.

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Despite the awful wind, today was a pretty decent day to shoot.
I love carousels so much. I felt like I was five, just looking out onto the waters and letting time pass me by effortlessly.

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To end the post: we began our day with doughnuts. Later at night, I met up with Steve, who is constantly shaping my views of the world. He said I should stop waiting for life to happen because one day I’ll look back and realize it began a long time ago.

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