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.

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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.

A work of art

Another day of snow. A good time to write, I guess.

I would start with this:

If someone watch a day of your life on mute, what message would it speak? Would it look like a work of art?

My answer is yes and no. I cannot actually imagine my life on mute or imagine myself watching it, so I cannot actually tell.

I said yes because a big part of my life doesn’t have any sound, so it doesn’t matter if it’s on mute or not, because it would just be the same. Those are times when I read and write. When I walk and run. When I stop in the middle of the street to take photos of things. My thoughts are processed inside my head, and more than half of them is hidden. So I guess there would be no changes at all if it’s on mute. I wonder if it’s a work of art, though. I said yes because those moments when I do things alone, I direct my thinking towards God, and that’s how we define the work of art here. I pray while walking. I talk to God while doing daily things. I read the Words of God and write to praise Him. I proudly say yes, I create art for Him.

But still, there is a “no” part of it. My friend said all sins are the same in the eyes of God. It doesn’t matter if you lie or you hurt someone, because they’re all the same. They are all bad. That’s all we need to know. And as humans, we are sinful. We never learn to love our enemies. We don’t always choose God over our wants. We are given free will by God, and we thank Him by using it for ourselves, pushing us away from Him.

When my life’s on mute, I would say there will be just so many moments when I destroy my own work of art. My facial expression when I’m angry. My steps when I did not want to go to church. My ‘hunger’ (I believe that’s the right word to say this) for money when I work more than I need to. Those little things. They pile up, and eventually when I don’t notice, they destroy my piece of art.

I realize that there are just always more and more things for me to improve on in my life, or to be more artistic. I can become a better version of myself yesterday, I can just keep wanting to be better, because there would be no day that I’ll perfect. Walking step by step with Jesus is hard, but I guess the reward is worthy. Every community needs artists who are willing to live their lives towards God.

I don’t fully understand what the work of at actually is about. I would say that it’s when I love not only the person who loves me, but also my enemies. I would say that it’s when I try my best for the kingdom, not for myself. I don’t actually know.

Or maybe we don’t ever need to actually understand. The goal is to be more like God, not to be God.

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I would end with, “I don’t know”.

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.

Arts 🎭

This is Joy. She was mad because she didn’t understand all these artsy stuffs.

This is when I told her to smile so that this would be a great photo. And greater it is.

Curvy. Los Angeles. The City of Angels.

We have been here for five days. To me, this is my very first trip that I have gone with friends at my age, that we all have to be in charge of our own stuffs, and that I am not in my hometown.

I was and am excited. I am not sure if I want to go home, but I am also not sure if I want to stay.

A city. I was born in a big city. I know it’s big because everybody look up to it, as a goal, an achievement, something that they have to reach for, to try their best for. I was born and lived in that city for 16 years. I have met and heard about all good and bad things, and I love it.

The city. I left it two years ago for a smaller town, where once I miss the bus, I will have to wait for an hour and a half until the next one comes. It is a Dutch town, 75 years old, and it is safe to walk around at night, because there will be no one walking around except me.

My mom usually tells me to find a bigger city, because that’s where I have always belonged to. A bigger city gives me chances to learn about life, to see more people, so that I will be more “active”. But after two years living in that Dutch town, I have fallen in love with this peacefulness. No need to talk to people. They are all nice because they are not too busy with their own concerns. Little town where people know each other.

I went to LA, because I wanted to travel. I have always been aware that I need to go places. I want to make a decision about which school to go to, and the best way for that is to understand if an urbanized area is a good fit for me.

To my surprise, sure it is. I love LA because of what it has to offer. I love the metro lines, the bus, and the underground subway. I feels to me that I was born in a city, and therefore my heart is drawn back to cities the moment I am there, even though I left the original one.

Los Angeles is also not solely just a combination of Asians and Americans like Bellingham – the place where I am currently living in Washington. I don’t just hear Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese, but in LA I hear French, Italian, and especially Spanish. The mix is greatly varied.

Los Angeles was great to me, as though I found a part of me. However, traveling with other girls who are as the same age as me seems to be hard. They were all Indonesians, and therefore the only way that I can talk to them is using English, and that’s in cases when they want to speak English to me. Sometimes I do feel as though I am left out. There was even a time I cried to myself because they didn’t let me know what was happening.

Languages is a big difference between us, but as human beings we are all the same. There were small conflicts during the trip, and I, as a non-Indonesian and a gossip-hater girl, was put in the middle of a cold war. Two eighteen-year-old girls and two seventeen-year-olds (I’m 17). Joy, the girl I mentioned in the beginning, was complained about how she behaved during the trip, while I was also complained to about the other two girls.

When I got a chance to actually talk to all of them (in this case, I have nothing to do with their war, but I am put in the middle. I guess I am the bridge then, which I’d love to do.), I got to understand that they have reasonable points of view, and the only thing is that they are lack of communication.

See the photo above? The two sides of that photo have the same meaning, but from two perspectives we get two outcomes. This is also what I have learned from this trip. I think as long as they actually share what they think, they will feel better. But they never did.

I am aint the odd or even. For the most part of my life, I hang out with boys and with myself enough to understand why Joy never has best friends that are girls. I aint the odd or even. I can be both. But I’d prefer to be the bridge between Joy and the other two, rather than let them separate from each other. After all, we are one.

Women, ladies, or girls, or whatever you call them, have this powerful strength that can break others’ hearts. I don’t know who is right or wrong, but I do know that the lack of communication caused enough damage on human bondings to actually get people far from one another.

I also realize my power, that I am understanding and know what to do to make others feel better. But I don’t know what to do to make others also perceive the situations from different perspectives, so that we all can have the same voice and our bonding will be tighter.

Sometimes I think that’s my fault. The bridge is broken.

For the night, it is a mess now. I am disappointed because the other two girls are older than me, but they leave me this mess without actually telling me what to do. I know how it feels to be left behind. Because that what they have done to me. I know how it feels to worry about something but having to suffer it on my own. Because I went through that situation. But how? How am I supposed to tell them what they should do when they are older than me. This is a mess.

And I am hopeless seeing my friends turned their backs from each other.

Joy, I know how you feel, I will be with you.

Ivy and Tasha, you two are great, but I wish not just great to me, but also to Joy.

At a place 2-hour flight from home, we are home to each other. Make it safe and warm. We have been through enough.

The love that was once faded.

(Other perspectives) Almost gone.

I have been thinking a lot about how people in my home country sacrifice everything just to be able to live in the United States. Many Westerners whom my parents have met, they told me, love Asian cultures because of how people embrace each other, of how being collective is a norm, while in their home countries – the United States – children fly away from their birth places as soon as they are legally considered adults. 

For many generations in my family, people dream American dreams. But I would tell my parents, why would they want to come here when that means they will lose everything – their houses, wealthiness, as well as their connections with relatives and friends. That, I admit, is my selfishness. 

The more I encounter different cultures, the more I understand what are the true values. I’d love to wear my country’s traditional clothes – ao dai – just once more, despite the fact that I hated it for having to put it on every Monday morning back in high school. I’d love to eat all of my mom’s food, even though her cooking is not the best in the world to me. I’d love to speak my own language whenever I can, and to spend my one-hour salary to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant. 

However, the truth is I don’t speak Vietnamese whenever I can. As an foreigner in the United States, many times I try to blend in, to work, to study, as though I am an American, just to close the gap between cultures. 

I feel sad about how much Vietnamese have endure to live a life of someone else. The norms at other countries are adapted into our norms, while ours have be ignored just purely because of our identity. 

My generation exposes to better chances to learn and to grow in-depth. We embrace cultures, and therefore we understand our own values. We will all replace our parents, grand-parents, and many generations before that. We will eventually realize how important it is to live the way we are supposed to. 

But our ancestors will not. They have been and are waiting for what we refuse to offer them. They have been waiting to bury our history. 

This is me – with a really typical Asian looking – wearing ao dai. I am delighted every time friends from other countries say, “Hey that’s traditional clothing!” 

Knowhere

(Other perspectives) Beauty.

First, second, and third. 

Where do I go? 

Thanksgiving – what do I do? 
Eating turkey and mash potato. 

Her name is Isabel, his name is Eden, and her name is Caroline. They are siblings. Their father is a church pastor.

Can i sit on your lap? 

Eden

Can I hug you? 

Caroline

I love the way they are so lovely. They care for others. Isabel is the oldest, and she is wise. She understands many things even thought she seems to be not that older than the other two. She reads the Bible, and she loves reading. Just like me.

Thanksgiving. I am thankful, not because I meet these people in my life, but because I am put in a community where I have many loving friends who care deeply for each other. This is not what I usually feel thankful for. 

Years before, I would say the reason why my surroundings are always filled with awesome people is because I am awesome. 

Two positive charges will repel each other, while a positive and a negative charge will attract. 

Chemistry

But as years have passed and as I saw many of my friends who used to be awesome changed when they leave high school. Drugs. Selfishness. Material-oriented. 

I then realize how God has influenced my life, so that I can meet with people who share the love and teach me to care for others. 

Today is Thanksgiving. 

I am thankful for the people I have. 

And the nature gifts that I get a chance to experience every day.