I try my best to put myself together, only to realize He has a better, and perhaps bigger, plan.

Stefa talked about how we all are trying to put ourselves together on the day when I was falling apart. I couldn’t figure out who I am and what I want to do. I couldn’t understand why I am loved and whether I deserve love.

That day, I told Christ that I know what is going on in my head. I understand myself so well that only me know how flawed I am. Like, I am really, really, truly a mess. I wouldn’t deserve any love. I don’t know if that’s obvious enough to others, but if it’s not, then the bottom line is that I have successfully put on that mask to become someone better, not that I am better than who I think I am.

As a firstborn, even though I’m 8 years older than my sibling, there are always things that we both want but have to share. And so as I age, I learn to say, “Here, just take it if you want it,” more to my little sister. I learn to receive less but still feel full. Seeing her getting the things she always long for already brings me good.

When Christ asked me if I wanted the gift of God, I hesitated. Because I know I am flawed and I do not, not at all, deserve any gift of any kinds of anybody. The first thought came to my mind was… “I would say I want to save God’s good gifts for other people. I would volunteer to be the last in line, because I believe many others need them more than I do.” (That was stupid of me, I admit) It’s the feeling of “in a relationship, if love is there, you need no materials to be closer to each other”. It’s also the feeling of “I want to share” just like when I want to give my sister everything. I want to share because I might not spend the gift the way it is supposed to be used, and I would just ruin it. The gift of God, to me, needed being in good hands. Not mine, obviously. I want to share because I’m afraid of being responsible. I wouldn’t ruin anything if I never hold them in my hands.

But I guess we are just all like that. Everybody in the room is trying to work things out. We all have those problems we thought we could never overcome. And then we did. And then we have other problems to think about. None of us deserve anything. This is not my opinion. It’s a fact. Every person in line does not deserve anything. Yet there is still love poured out on us, and the presents are more than just enough. The question is not “Do you want to receive God’s present”, but it is “Do you want MORE?” Because there is more.

It took me a long time to realize the problem is not that God doesn’t have enough to give His children, but rather I don’t trust Him enough to let Him be God, let Him be my Father. I need to just ask. But that part I hesitate. I need to just ask my parents for more. But I hesitate.

I have been reading this blog of this guy, who I believe is not a total stranger because I have seen him many times, but still I don’t know much about him. By seeing him from afar, I come to admire him. Things he had done are things I have dreamed to do. Travel. Share the Gospels. Love. Inspire others.

But his blog is a whole different story. I couldn’t read every single post because I was afraid if I keep reading, more of him will reveal, and more of him will tell me that yes, he is just a person trying to figure things out. He has those worries. He at times also falls apart. Just like me. Just like every single person in the room. Not my room, but a bigger one. The one with 450 people, for example. His words were and are sincere. And I’m afraid if I keep reading, I would step too deep in his privacy, in his life, in his mind. I backed up. Respect. Yet I have seen enough.

I still admire him, though, after all those brokenness, because I see him as a different yet better version of me. Perhaps it’s because he’s 5 years older than me. When I take time to think more about him and about what he writes, I see me with the same concerns, and he figured them all out, and he wrote about them, as a way to keep track, just like me, I guess, but also for me as a way to save others. He somehow saves me. Like a guideline.

Again, I’m just a person seeing him from very, very far away, so I cannot say much about who he is or what he longs for. But words are sincere, as I have always believed.

He struggled with decisions. He concerned about how to fundraise enough money for his mission trips. He talked and wrote about his doubts, but also his hopes. And I understand. How that feels. Remember those days when I woke up crying and praying and asking God to provide. Remember those days when fundraising was a huge stress because I have to break too much of my boundaries, have to step too further out of my comfort zone. I understand what he talked about. I get it. And yet he seemed to find the right way to deal with everything. Not exactly everything. But most things.

I deserve no love. That is true. Hands down.

I am flawed.

I am just a person with fear and concerns and doubts, not only in myself but many times in our Creator.

And yet He loves me enough to die for me.

He loves me enough to give up His Son for my sins and for human sins.

And I doubt Him, how lame is that.

He was right. That blogger. That believer. Whoever he is. He is right.

We are all broken. I am now feeling broken, and lonely, and tired, and hopeless. I am tired of waking up because there would just be this silence, this emptiness in a messy room. I am tired of trying to choose between options, while at the back of my mind there is always this feeling of “There is no way I’m gonna choose the right things. I’m too stupid for that.” I am tired of giving too much of myself, of fighting the battle of becoming better than I was yesterday.

Being able to live is a blessing. And I’m afraid that’s too big of a gift that I don’t want to ruin, but trying not to ruin it is another hard thing.

But I guess I need to believe He will provide me more than I need. He will provide me as long as I trust in Him. I just need to let Him be God. Amen.





Hmm and hey if you the blogger I mentioned ever come across this, I want to thank you because to me you and your life are a piece of art. I wouldn’t want to watch your life on mute, because the words you speak are inspiring, but even though it is mute, it is still great.

And if you feel offensive because I intrude your privacy, I don’t know. I believe I intruded it for good, so I beg for forgiveness then. That’s all I can do. Thank you.

Maya and I

I randomly walked into my workplace today, which I don’t usually do because I believe going to a place so many times will make me bored of it. And obviously, I don’t want to get bored of a place at which I would eventually have to work four days a week.

Anyway, I went to the Writing Center today, thinking I would just chitchat with my co-workers in there, and I ended up helping them out for quite a bit. Maya, our lead for the day, was working on the announcement board, so I stepped in to help her organize it.

The flyers supposed to go on the announcement board were about literature and composition courses that the school offers next quarter. Maya asked me how we could organize them so that people will recognize some of them are in the “Composition” category while the others are in “Literature”.

I suggest we start with just anywhere.

I said.

So she started to put the flyers somewhere. And she did it neatly. Every flyer was line to line. Horizontally. Vertically. Like when you create a table in Microsoft Word.

And this is where the fun came.

Hey Maya, I don’t do things line to line. – I said

But I always decorate my room neatly like this! – she said

I decorate my room by putting things randomly haha. – I said

We ended up each person doing half of the board the way we wanted, and they blended with each other so well at last. She would say which part she prefers it to be neatly, and I would say I agree or disagree with that. It is nice that she listens to my ideas. My supervisor laughed at us because she loves the idea that we are so different from each other. We high-fived because the announcement board looked great.

Maya and I, we are an interesting combination.

There was a time I borrowed her poetry book, and as soon as I had the book on my hands, I started unfolding folded pages because they bothered me so much. (I use bookmarks) Meanwhile, she stared at me until eventually said,

Hey do you mind not unfolding them? Those mark the poems I like most.

See? We are just so different, but I realized that these differences are those I can learn from. I have met many people in my life who agree upon things I can never understand. With Maya, it’s more like we are from different paths but walking towards the same destination.

Let me demonstrate this in a better way.

There are two types of people on Earth, according to me in this situation.

Image result for smaller than sign
This is the first type of people.

I just can never stand these people. They say funny things and I would laugh at them and leave. Keep working with them takes lots of patience because they would never understand why I think the way I think. We would walk in very different directions.

Image result for greater than sign
This is the second type of people.

We are from totally separated starting point “walking towards the same destination”. Maya and I wanted to have our announcement board look good, so we decided on representing it as a board showing how part of it seems to be tidy, while the other part is messy, just like us, just as the Writing Center is the combination of people of various backgrounds.

Being with Maya helps me learn more about her. She respects my perspective as I respect hers, and that makes things between us so much easier. I would stop unfolding her book’s pages although I was bothered, and she would let me make a corner of the Writing Center a mess.

I love that. I love the idea.

It is nice to step into your workplace on the day you don’t need to work because you might want to just learn something from the people.

write and recharge my battery

I have been…

Running more lately.

Reading more lately.

Working out more lately.

I am becoming better in many things – finishing homework before bedtime, being on time for work and classes, being open to advice from others, and changing those few bad habits bit by bit every day.

But the weather has not been nice to me. It takes all my energy, leaving me with this emotion mess. But I assume there are still ways to get out of it without moving to somewhere warmer.

Be optimistic.

That sounds counterintuitive, I know! But isn’t that all we need to be happy? It’s truly hard for an introvert like me to work in groups and talk with people at work and class all day long. I always imagine that every second when I open my mouth to speak, my energy slips out of my body.

That does not mean I will lock myself up forever to preserve my energy. I think after a while, a long while of encountering people for different reasons, I have learned to expand my limitation. I still need time to think through things before sharing them with teammates, but I also learned to initiate conversations in groups. Those “turn to your neighbors and discuss this problem” no longer seems to be annoying, but rather a way for me to use my energy sufficiently to learn from friends, I suppose.

Today, I read this great, great paper of a guy in his English Composition class. What I loved about it was how his sentences were fragmented, but they also connected so well. The structure was not something teachers teach at school, but it’s how he communicate with English, with the world. And that fascinated me.

Today, I realized that there is always this feeling in me that bothers me so much. That I am different stops me from telling those who care for me my thoughts. I always assume people will judge me for who I am and for what I do.

I never get to test if that is true. I might be able to find joy in those moments of sharing, but may I have a little bit more time? More time for me to process my thoughts, to be sure of what I think, to keep those precious thinkings for myself.

Because they’re all I have.

Those words you said, they hurt me. I would love to walk instead of taking the Uber, because I think it’s a great way to be closer with nature and with my mind. Yes, you might say I make way more money than you and I am stingy, but forty-five minutes walking under that cozy weather energizes me. I know there were other ways to do things, but I wanted to use that walking-running time to talk more with my housemate. Perspectives are dangerous and are something you cannot judge. So I beg you, for once, just listen to me, and that’s it.

Being nice is a choice

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I’d like to share some Bible verses that I really, really love. I am inspired by these, and I want to keep on living my life following God’s words, his words in these verses specifically.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:14-21

For a long time, I always believe that being a kid has many limitations. I always had to ask for permission whenever I want to do anything. I couldn’t work, for back in my home country, you cannot work until you’re eighteen. I couldn’t do so many things that I wanted to be bigger, although I understood these come with responsibilities.

For a long time, I haven’t had this feeling of wanting to be younger, to be such a kid that doesn’t care much about her own benefits. Being nice, to kids, is a natural thing to do. It is not a choice, it’s a must.

But it is also true that kids don’t know how to forgive. They can care for others, but it’s harder for them to not revenge when being hurt. I recall memories when I was in middle school, I wasn’t forgiven when I say something wrong, and I neither set in peace with others when they looked down on me.

Being nice to adults is a choice. And each person chooses different things. But I think adults also have a choice to forgive that kids don’t. God said befriend with your enemies, and let him revenge for you. He is justice, so He knows what He needs to do. When I heard that, I think it was a blessing. I realized how much love God has given me, when He takes all my concerns, my enemies, my anger, leaving me with peace and joy among others.

It’s hard to be nice when you’re hurt. I understand that.

But let us think of it this way: bitterness brings us no good. Our minds would be filled with negative thoughts that might prevent us from living our own lives. Bitterness associates directly with health problems. Bitterness stops us from seeing the beauty in others, as well as others seeing beauty in our souls.

And the good news is: God offers to take them all for us! How nice is it?

So now, would you leave it all to him and continue to live your own free-revenge life. Be joyful and be loving, because the best way to get rid of your enemies is to become friends with them.

A part of me

On my fifth birthday, my parents took me to a small bookstore and let me choose one book. I knew we could not afford much, so I picked a cheap one. That night, I asked mom to read it for me. However, I realized that only by experiencing the book myself could I dive into the author’s thoughts, so I learned to read on my own. 

Nights after nights I got used to putting the letters of the alphabet together and started reading everything within my sight, from small cards to advertisements. On a rare visit, my uncle brought me a box of books, and from that moment books became irresistible. Every night, I feigned sleep, waited for my parents to go to bed, and I fled to my little corner to read. 

One summer, I discovered a hidden collection of books in my mom’s closet, which was to become my Christmas present. As soon as mom left for work, I would rush to her room, carefully take out one book and allow myself to drown in it for hours. That collection was biographies of people who remarkably contributed to the modern world. Even before my peers could read fluently, I knew who discovered radium and polonium and who came up with the law of gravity. I began to see the world. 

At eight years old, I believed that making a wish one thousand times under one thousand airplanes passing overhead would make a dream come true. I wished for a compass because, in my dream, a compass was a symbol of adventures and knowledge. I did not know if I would ever leave my birthplace, but I felt compelled to see the world. I fulfilled my desire by burying myself under piles of books. During secondary years, my mind was occupied by stories about cultures, people, and landscapes, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Slumdog Millionaire

At sixteen years old, entering the United States for high school, I brought this reading habit with me. This land stroke me with unexpected experience and never failed to challenge me intellectually and socially. From my daily interactions with people, I raised questions about their odd behaviors and different mindsets. Books had undoubtedly shed light on my wonders. Despite the hazardous weather and busy schedule, walking to a nearby public library became my weekly journey. There, I earned myself a better understanding of American high school life, table manners, and stories that shaped American culture today. Books triggered my curiosity about everything and raised one ultimate questions: “What is culture?” Through listening to people’s stories during my time as a tutor and a leader, I got myself a clearer picture of people and norms. With all that knowledge, I then compared Vietnamese and American traditions, only to see the beauty of diversity. 

Learning about diversity brought me to one conclusion: people might be distinguished from each other, from skin color to personal interests, but they are all relatable. Listening attentively to others’ tales, I see their eyes shining and their faces becoming lively. And most importantly, I see myself. Humans are relatable also because I have known a multitude of people sharing this same interest. Instead of reading at a corner of the library, I confidently discuss books with others, getting deeper into the meanings of those written stories. 

Throughout my life, I have turned to books in all circumstances, because I know reading gives me both knowledge and a mix of feelings. From different author’s lenses, I at a distance experience war, discrimination, and poverty across the globe, but I also feel love, generosity, and perseverance. Today, I realize that the ultimate value of books is to be a foundation, lifting readers to go beyond limitations. I feel helpless at times when reading, only to be more eager to persist and learn, hoping to give my best to this astounding world someday. 

Christmas Eve

Ước mơ cho những ngày sau.

Mình không biết mọi người như nào, chứ mình muốn lớn lẹ lắm. Mình mong chờ được vào đại học, mình mong chờ được học xong, được đi làm, rồi được đi du lịch. Mình mong chờ được tự quản lí tiền bạc, chi tiêu. Mình biết vậy thì không có gì vui, nhưng mình mong được tự do, làm sai cũng bản thân chịu mà thôi. Mọi quyết định bây giờ của mình, sẽ hoặc bị chi phối, hoặc sẽ đem lại hậu quả cho người khác. Vậy thì làm trẻ con có gì vui đâu chứ.

Mình thấy thế giới bự rồi, nên mình mong được lớn để có thể đi khắp nơi và làm những việc bự bự luôn. Mình muốn đi Indo sẽ có bạn ở Indo đi với mình. Mình muốn đi Nhật cũng sẽ có bạn chờ mình. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Venezuela, Thái Lan, nhiều lắm. Muốn đi lắm, mà giờ vẫn còn chờ mòn mỏi ngày mình 18 nữa thì đi đâu cho được chứ. Đi xa xa để biết mình còn thiếu sót gì nhiều. Mỗi ngày đi chơi, mình đều nhận ra mình còn thua kém về mặt xã hội lắm, không lanh, không mạnh dạn. Còn thiếu sót và thiếu sót rất nhiều.

Mà chắc có điều này mọi người chưa biết được hay chưa nhận ra. Khi cả sấp nhỏ đều đã lớn, tụi mình được làm nhiều cái hay ho hơn cùng nhau. Không phải lên lịch đi chơi rồi một ngày bị mẹ không cho và thế là ở nhà nữa. Không phải mỗi Đà Lạt, mỗi trại sẽ phải xin cái chữ ký nhỏ xíu đó nữa. Muốn đi đâu thì tự để dành tiền mà đi, rồi tụi mình đi cùng nhau. Ra trường rồi sẽ nhận ra tụi mình còn gần nhau được bao nhiêu, còn thân mật bao nhiêu. Lên đại học sẽ không còn những người bạn như vậy nữa, nhưng mình mong chờ những người bạn theo một kiểu khác, kiểu sẽ giúp mình lớn hơn, lớn hơn, thay vì bỏ mình trong một vùng an toàn và không muốn thoát ra.

Mình vừa háo hức vừa e dè muốn được nhìn thấy bản thân bị quăng vào xã hội. Mình thấy mọi người thay đổi nhiều, kể cả bản thân mình khi đi làm rồi cũng khác đi, không còn vô tư vô lo, mà nghĩ nhiều về tiền bạc. Vậy không có gì là tốt cả. Vậy là xấu. Mình đang có thể trở thành người mà mình từng không mong muốn sẽ trở thành, người mà mình từng nghĩ mình sẽ không bao giờ trở thành. Hiện thực lạ lùng lắm. Những người mình từng ngưỡng mộ bây giờ đã đều thay đổi. Có thể bởi vậy mà mình yêu bạn bồ mình hơn, vì mình thấy bản thay đổi nhưng theo một hướng mình thích hơn, một hướng mình cảm thấy vững vàng hơn khi ở cạnh. Mình nhìn đi nhìn lại, những người sẽ ở cạnh mình thật sự không nhiều, nên mình trân trọng từng cái nhỏ như vậy vậy.

Mình mệt mỏi chán chường những ngày trẻ con ngủ một giấc. Mình biết cứ phải làm và làm thì không gì hay ho lắm, nhưng mình mong chờ một tương lai có thể dành cả 3 năm trời nuôi con nhỏ đến mức mình muốn lao vào làm và làm để ngày đó không phải lo nghĩ. Mình sợ một tương lai con của mình bị thiếu tình thương của mẹ lắm.

Mình bây giờ tuy lo nghĩ về cái tương lai gần, về tiền nong, học bổng, về trường mình sẽ được nhận lắm, nhưng mình thật sự mong chờ, mong vô cùng, đến ngày được tha hồ sải cánh. Mình muốn về Việt Nam và làm gì đó thật có ích. Mình muốn được ở Mỹ để được học hỏi từ những người cực xịn xò. Mình muốn mình trở nên có trá trị tới mức mọi người đều muốn mình haha. Mọi công ty, và cả hai đất nước, và mong là nhiều nơi khác nữa.

Bây giờ mình mới bắt đầu ước mơ. Thanh xuân vẫn chưa qua mà. Mới bắt đầu thôi. Có gì mà rầu rĩ chứ.