Abandoned

I…. wrote a song. Fine, I’ve written many songs, but it’s been awhile and it feels different on this side of things. This is a song I had in my archives for many years, hoping to include in a future project that never happened. So as I prepared for our Good Friday services this week, I decided to re-write the song to accompany a prayer center around Jesus saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Real light topic.

So, here it is. It’s called, “Abandoned Me.” I’ve decided to let go of my need for fancy production and expensive mics blah blah blah. This is where I am and this is what I have to offer. I’m happy to share this not-so-happy song. What else’s new. ūüėČ

Advertisements

Dying Young

I thought I was gonna die young.

I’ve never had the courage to even think about ending my life, but maybe it was my subconscious coming into play somehow. But here I am staring at 40 and perhaps that’s young to some who have crossed to the other side, but it doesn’t feel like it to me, even relatively.

I was supposed to have gotten a lot done by now. Not really in the way of marriage and children – I never really thought about that – but more like in my creative pursuits. It was easy to dream in my 20s and much harder to actually do something about those dreams. Fear gripped me. But I told myself that THAT can’t be my excuse. So I moved forward. And every step I took felt like I was dragging a ton of bricks behind me. And every once in a while one of those bricks would come swirling at me and hit me right on the head. I went down. Then I got back up. I went down again. And then somewhere along the way, I got tired and I just stayed down. Then I fell into a ditch.

Nothing came easy. Everything was so damn SLOW. Most of my 30s was me kicking and screaming about how my dreams didn’t come true and waking up to realize I was delusional about the grandeurs of life. It ain’t easy. And it’s a ditch.

I told someone this – that I was in a ditch. And he asked me, “What if you’re supposed to be there?”

Well, that sucks. What’s the point of anything if I have to live in a ditch? If this is it?

I hate thinking about how slow everything happens in life. I was supposed to figure out who I am by now. I was supposed to know what kind of artist I am. Singer. Musician. Songwriter. I was supposed to be confident by now. I was supposed to have a voice by now. I was supposed to be this and that and the other thing by now.

Then I wonder, what if these things happen for me in my 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s? What if it’s just. supposed. to. be. slow. for me? Would it be any less glorious? Would it be any less satisfying? I conclude no. In fact, it would be more glorious and more satisfying because it took that much longer.

So I decide, it’s time to get out of this ditch.

 

Enough

You are enough.

That’s what Lisa said this morning as she wrapped up our yoga session. And that’s all it took. I could feel my eyes welling up and a second later, hot tears streaming down my right cheek. This is my second time crying during yoga class.

You are enough.

What is it about that phrase that caused such a visceral reaction in me?

You are enough.

I don’t hear that phrase enough. No. I don’t hear that phrase ever. In fact, I hear the opposite all the time. I’m running around constantly trying to prove that I can do enough, say enough, earn enough… that I can BE enough only to find I fall short. All, the, time. It’s exhausting.

You are enough.

Am I enough? Am I really… enough? Why can’t I believe it? Why did I long to hear it so much? Even my religion tells me I am not enough – but that it’s okay because JESUS is enough. EVEN MY RELIGION.

I struggle to say the phrase. And I wonder what exactly it is I’m striving for, trying to figure out what “enough” even means. I’m tired of overthinking it. I receive the words and go about the rest of my day.

 

 

 

/tran(t)sňąf√īrm/

verb
1.  make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.
———
The word “transform” is thought to come¬†from an Old French word “transformer” (change in form of) or quite possibly the Latin word “transformare” (change in shape).

 

I’ve been pondering this word today because well, I personally use it a lot, and we use it a lot at New Life Fellowship, and also because it’s a loaded word. ¬†In our American culture, the word “transformation” gets used for outer appearance a lot, which is fine and dandy since it’s a great word to describe a significant¬†visual change. ¬†If someone loses a lot of weight, gets a totally different¬†haircut, or changes their entire wardrobe, we generally refer to those instances as dramatic transformations.

Today, however, I’m thinking more about inner transformation. ¬†As in, what causes inner transformation? And before you jump to answer that question,¬†let’s pause for a moment.

…..

I wrote about Richard Rohr’s impact on my spiritual formation in my last post. ¬†If you’re interested at all about transformation, I highly recommend you read¬†his scapegoating series of blogs starting here. ¬†Here’s a highlight (oh but I wish I could basically repost the whole thing!):

We are generally inclined to either create victims of others or play the victim ourselves, both of which are no solution but only perpetuate the problem. Jesus instead holds the pain‚ÄĒeven becomes the pain‚ÄĒuntil it transforms him into a higher state, which we rightly call the risen life.

The crucified and resurrected Jesus shows us how to do this without denying, blaming, or projecting pain elsewhere. In fact, there is no ‚Äúelsewhere.‚ÄĚ Jesus is the victim in an entirely new way because he receives our hatred and does not return it, nor does he play the victim for his own empowerment. We find no self-pity or resentment in Jesus. He never asks his followers to avenge his murder. He suffers and does not make others suffer because of it. He does not use his suffering and death as power over others to punish them, but as power for others to transform them.

Jesus is the forgiving victim, which really is the only hope of our world, because most of us sooner or later will be victimized on some level. It is the familiar story line of an unjust and often cruel humanity. The cross is a healing message about the violence of humanity, and we tragically turned it into the violence of God, who we thought needed “a sacrifice” to love us.

An utterly new attitude (Spirit) has been released in history; it‚Äôs a spirit of love, compassion, and forgiveness. As Jesus prayed on the cross, ‚ÄúFather, forgive them, they know not what they do‚ÄĚ (Luke 23:34).

I’m not even going to begin trying to explain any of this. ¬†I confess I don’t fully understand this concept of transformation through pain and suffering but when I get a glimpse of it once in awhile, I know it’s the kind of life I want to live. ¬†I usually get stuck in the pain of knowing that pain is required for transformation. ¬†But I guess it’s a start.

All Things Rohr

Today is our monthly DAWG (Day Alone With God) and I decided to read all the Richard Rohr I could get my hands on in this given period of time. ¬†I am not doing a good job getting through it. Every sentence is pretty much rocking my world. I have to pause, re-read, ponder, read again, ponder some more, write some thoughts down, ponder some more… at this rate, I’m gonna read one¬†whole paragraph by the end of today.

If I could point to one person who has impacted my spirituality the most this past year, it would have to be Richard Rohr.¬†There is a part of me that wishes he wasn’t an old, white man, but he speaks truth like no other author I’ve read as of late. Plus he has a dog and really, he’s like a sweet old grandpa, with lots of wisdom. ¬†Lots and lots of wisdom.

As I enter my late 30s, I’ve consistently found that I desire better language to articulate¬†my values and beliefs. I want to express what I’ve known to be true but didn’t have the words to explain effectively. ¬†Richard Rohr has done this for me time and time again. ¬†I understand¬†the importance of reading widely, so I will continue to read books written by people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, belief systems… but for now, I’m absolutely grateful for Richard Rohr and all the ways God is using him to speak deeply to me.

Terrific (or Terrible) Tuesday

Will it be a Terrific or Terrible Tuesday tomorrow? ¬†As we’ve gotten closer and closer to November 8, I’ve noticed my heartbeat starting to race and my blood pressure going up. ¬†I’ve had to do multiple moments of intentional silence/breathing/meditation/prayer to get myself to a calm place.

Presidential Election Day is like a holiday in our house. ¬†We compare it to the Olympics, except, of course, with much more at stake. ¬†It happens every 4 years and it can be very exciting depending on who’s running and who we’re rooting for. This year, the word “excitement” doesn’t quite capture my emotion.¬†To prepare for tomorrow and appropriately for this season, we’ve watched Recount¬†(about the Bush/Gore voting debacle in 2000 – we HIGHLY recommend this HBO movie), we bought pineapples & ginger ale (in case we get indigestion), and Steve even took the day off.

If you’re still undecided about who to vote for, this website is very helpful. ¬†Definitely check it out to gain more clarity on where you stand on the myriad of issues that are out there. ¬†We’ve noticed a significant decline in media coverage of important policies/issues as tomorrow draws near, which is really the opposite of what should be happening. ¬†Steve and I have discussed the issues ad nauseum with each other and with countless others and we’re very clear on who to vote for. ¬†The website confirmed our positions.

Anyways, my dear husband, who analyzes the Presidential Election like it’s¬†a rare sporting event, wrote this simple guideline so we can assess Election Day as it unfolds. ¬†I call them “SteveNotes,” a little cheat-sheet for Election Day. ¬†Here it is:

Election Day is 1¬†day away. If you wanna sound smart on Election Day, here’s what you need to know in 5 minutes or less:

1. Trump must take all 6 of the following states if he wants to win:
Arizona
Iowa
Ohio
Florida
North Carolina
Nevada

2. Even if Trump takes all 6 states above, he also needs to win at least 1 of the following:
New Hampshire
Colorado
Michigan
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin
Minnesota

3. Don’t worry about the other states. New York will be blue, Georgia will be red, and only 3 people live in Alaska.

4. If you must play devil’s advocate/mathmagician, various combos of the swing states will work for Trump to win. However, the above scenario is the most realistic.

5. Control of the U.S. Senate is also up for grabs. Democrats need to win 4 (if Clinton wins) or 5 (if Trump wins) states below to control the Senate:
Wisconsin
Pennsylvania
Nevada
New Hampshire
Missouri
Indiana
North Carolina

6. No matter what happens in 2016, the U.S. Senate will almost certainly go to the Republicans in 2018.

7. Don’t think about the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a virtual lock for the Republicans in 2016. But 2018 could be a toss-up.

My Best Decision (Part 4 of 4)

This is the final post of¬†a series I’ve written about my husband and best friend, Steve, for his birthday (today!). ¬†We’ve been blown away by all of you who have told us that you’ve enjoyed this series. ¬†Thank you for reading and encouraging us! ¬†For those of you who didn’t see the earlier posts, here are the previous parts of the series:

PART 1 РIntro/Background

PART 2 РEarly dating relationship

PART 3¬†–¬†Getting to know Steve

——-

And to the final part…

IMG_7609

Selfie at our wedding reception, 10/18/14

 

Since Steve and I have been married (it’s been 1 year and 10 months), I’ve wondered and also secretly questioned what our marriage would be like. ¬†Would things become mundane, would we become less loving toward one another, would we get too comfortable, would we get sick of each other…

It’s been less than 2 years so I realize we have a long road ahead, but I can honestly say that we are still each other’s favorite part of the day, and we try very hard to make each other feel loved and lovable. ¬†When I see Steve at the end of the work day, I know I’m home. ¬†When we greet each other, our eyes light up. The closest thing I can compare it to is¬†how a puppy greets its¬†owner when they come home, as silly as that might sound. ¬†We say “I love you so much” to each other multiple times a day. ¬†And I mean it every time. ¬†I don’t want Steve to ever feel like he’s not loved. ¬†Because that’s what he does for me. ¬† When I’m hurting, sometimes all it takes is one hug from Steve and I feel like¬†maybe it’s going to be all right after all.

I’ve said a lot of nice things about Steve and our marriage so you might be thinking that we have a really good thing. ¬†And it’s true; we do. ¬†But I don’t think a good marriage means that we’re happy all the time. ¬†Anyone who is married knows it takes hard work and it seriously sucks when there are conflicts/disagreements. ¬†We have to have difficult conversations that feel uncomfortable once in awhile (I really hate when that happens). ¬†But I believe because we are healthier individuals than before and we know ourselves better, we try our best¬†not to hurt each other and always try to put each other first. ¬†That really makes things easier on the few tough days we have. ¬†I’m sure we will have more hurdles ahead of us but¬†we try to stay present and enjoy each other now. ¬†We are aware that we are not perfect. ¬†And we don’t expect each other to be perfect. ¬†I could say so much more on this but maybe that’s for another post. ¬†I also think going to New Life helps because they make marriage seem like the hardest thing ever¬†(which is probably true) and so I expected this to be super, duper difficult. ¬†Turns out when you expect something to be the hardest thing ever, it can only go up from there. ūüėČ

I could never have imagined that I would marry someone like Steve. ¬†And I also cannot imagine anymore what it would be like to be married to anyone other than Steve. ¬†I don’t want to imagine any other life. ¬†I want to appreciate and be present to the life I have been given. ¬†Steve has been and continues to be a true gift. ¬†The best gift I have ever received and the best decision I have ever made.

——-

Sweet Tea, this is your birthday so I should really be giving you a gift but what can I say, you have been the greatest gift to me.  I am so truly grateful that God created you and sent you my way.  Happy birthday.  I love you always.  -Your Sweet Pea

P.S. ¬†Here’s a little video I put together for you. ¬†Hope you enjoy.

[For¬†context for¬†those of you who made it to this point of the blog series, during our engagement period, Steve had his groomsmen compete for the Best Man position in, what he called, “The Best Man Olympics.” ¬†I really don’t know anyone else who would do this besides Steve. ¬†If you know him¬†at all, you’ll know he’s an Olympics fanatic (so this has been an exciting few weeks¬†for us to say the least) and he felt it was a great opportunity at the time to incorporate that somehow in¬†his pre-wedding shenanigans. ¬†hahaha… I love him so much!]

My Best Decision (Part 3 of 4)

This is a continuation from a little series I’m writing about my husband and best friend, Steve, for his birthday tomorrow. ¬†You can find PART 1 here.¬† And PART 2 here.

——-

IMG_1214

Steve and me at the Highline, also one of our early dates

 

As I wrestled with the inner turmoil of feeling loved and also feeling insecure,¬†Steve kept on just as he had from the beginning. ¬†He was so consistent even as I doubted him and questioned his motives. ¬†He never wavered in his posture towards me even as a part of me tried to run away or push back. ¬†He was generous and patient towards me in so many ways. One month¬†turned to one year turned to two¬†years. ¬†I kept waiting for him to change or show his “true” colors. ¬†He never changed his loving ways and he never changed who he is. ¬†He worked hard to earn and maintain my trust. ¬†As much as my fears held me back, I pressed forward. ¬†This was too good to let go of and I couldn’t allow myself to give up.

As I got to know Steve better and better, I began to believe that the person he was showing me is who he really is.  And I fell in love.

If you know Steve, you know pretty quickly¬†that he knows how to have fun and loves to relax. ¬†He laughs at his own jokes and mine, too. ¬†He’s very sure about how to get himself to a happy place and he works hard to keep me happy, too. ¬†God knows I need it. ¬†I was sapped of joy in my life (just listen to some of my songs) from very early on in my childhood and I didn’t even realize how desperately I needed to be with someone who knew how to play, laugh and not take life too seriously. ¬†I am also a work horse. ¬†I don’t know how to relax or rest, or take a break. ¬†Steve reminds me regularly to¬†rest and take breaks. ¬†Basically, I need Steve in my life. ¬†Every day. ¬†And my therapist reminds me of that.

Steve is so true to himself. ¬†It’s like he doesn’t know how to pretend at all. ¬†That absolutely boggles my mind because for the longest time that’s ALL I knew how to be, to pretend. ¬†Pretend to be happy, pretend to like accounting, pretend that life is okay, pretend that I was okay with people violating¬†me with words and actions, pretend I know myself, pretend I know who God is, pretend to be holy, pretend, pretend, pretend. ¬†Steve¬†is so sure of who he is and he isn’t afraid to show it. ¬†Sure, sometimes that can get¬†him into trouble, but most of the time it’s rather refreshing to be around.

Steve is an open, generous person. ¬†When I say generous, I don’t necessarily mean financially (though he is definitely that also, which has in turn helped¬†me to be a more giving person). ¬†He is one of the most generous people I have ever known in his posture toward others. ¬†He doesn’t care much about being liked (or those who are very liked), but on the other hand,¬†he definitely notices and goes out of his way to embrace people who may not necessarily be socially¬†accepted or belong. ¬†Even as I type that sentence, I get teary-eyed. ¬†He really reminds me of Jesus in that way. ¬†When I bring that up to him sometimes,¬†I realize he’s not doing it¬†intentionally. ¬†That’s just who he is!¬† He is able to be so present with people who are routinely ignored/avoided in society. ¬†I cannot say how many times I’ve watched him acknowledge a homeless person, engage in conversation with people who are hard to talk to, include those who would probably be excluded in social settings. ¬†To him, they’re just like him, and me, and you. ¬†Created uniquely and wonderfully by the hand of God.

Steve reminds me that it’s better to exhibit grace rather than judgment. ¬†When I start to get judgmental or say something critical about someone, he brings up a perspective that I haven’t considered and helps me to pause and go inward in that moment. ¬†Steve tells me “it’s okay”¬† quite regularly and often, especially when I say or think that it’s not okay, he/she is not okay, and really¬†that I’m not okay. ¬†For someone¬†who doesn’t let herself make mistakes and has very little grace for herself, I really need to hear that. ¬†Every day.

As I got to know Steve more in all these various ways, suddenly one day, I just got it. ¬†God was showing me his love, his acceptance, his grace… through Steve. ¬†Steve was the direct conduit through which I would continually experience the loving nature of God. ¬†People experience this practically in many different ways and for me, it is¬†through Steve. ¬†I opened my eyes and there he was.

Then one day, Steve took me to the place where we first met and he asked me to marry him.  I said yes.  It was a no brainer.  I would be a fool not to marry this guy.

(To be continued)

My Best Decision (Part 2 of 4)

This is a continuation from a little series I’m writing about my husband and best friend, Steve, for his birthday on Monday. ¬†You can find PART 1 here.

——–

IMG_1114

One of our first dates… a mass pillow fight in Washington Square Park. It was a surprise date and I absolutely loved it. ūüôā

 

I haven’t shared this with very many people¬†but very early on in our dating relationship, while I drove home after spending time with Steve, I would suddenly break down in tears and have to pull the car over to the side of the road so I can cry for awhile. ¬†The first couple of times this happened, it was hard to process why I was crying. ¬†We had wonderful times together, lots of fun. ¬†We watched each other’s favorite movies, we would quiz each other on Saved By the Bell trivia, try different foods, talk about life and sometimes about nothing… ¬†so I knew they couldn’t be¬†bad tears. ¬†When I thought about it a bit more, I realized I was moved to tears because I just felt so loved by Steve, in a way I had never felt before.

Steve¬†was a gentleman towards me, and expressed his feelings to me freely. ¬†He would hold my hand and give me hugs. ¬†He listened to my long-winded analyses about the stuff of life. ¬†He was silly, told great stories and made me laugh. ¬†What I liked most about Steve was that he simply¬†knew who he was. ¬†He didn’t pretend to be anyone else. ¬†He fully embraced himself and it was fascinating to me. ¬†No frills, no drama, Steve is who he is, and he doesn’t care much about what anyone else thinks about him. ¬†That is¬†liberating for me. ¬†I care way too much about what others think of me, and that’s probably why it took me so long to discover who I really am. ¬†I was living out someone else’s life for me instead of my own for many, many years. ¬†With Steve, I felt free to be myself. ¬†I felt his acceptance of me, just as I am.

Those tears in the car weren’t all good though. ¬†After awhile, I realized I was also crying because I was absolutely terrified. ¬†It had been a long time since I started to have such strong feelings for someone and it scared me to death that I might have to trust someone again. ¬†What if he decided he didn’t like me anymore? ¬†What if this thing doesn’t work out? ¬†What if my heart gets broken? ¬†What if this… what if that… ¬†My fears and insecurities¬†surfaced almost immediately along with the¬†feelings of being accepted¬†and loved. ¬†I wasn’t sure if I would last in this relationship with these kinds of feelings. ¬†I also felt like I wasn’t being fair to Steve. ¬†He was so steady and so reassuring and just so loving.

As much as I wanted to continue in the relationship, I also knew I wanted to run away.  Far, far away.

(To be continued)

My Best Decision (Part 1 of 4)

I’ve made some good decisions in my life and some pretty bad ones. ¬†Marrying Steve is the best decision I have ever made, hands down, and that has been¬†truer every single day we have been together. ¬†He’s not perfect (sorry, sweet tea¬†ūüėČ), but I am¬†convinced he’s perfect for me. ¬†It’s his birthday on Monday and we’re both very low on “Receiving Gifts” in our Love Languages, so I thought I’d write a post (or a few posts) about why¬†I love and appreciate Steve¬†so much. ¬†I’m not the best writer but I can articulate things better and capture my thoughts more clearly when I write as opposed to speaking. ¬†So here’s my birthday gift to the love of my life, Stephen Lee Yeung.

IMG_0864

 

First, a little background.

——-

In¬†my 20s I was broken, confused, and extremely guarded. ¬†I had not come to terms with my past experiences and had no awareness of how those experiences had shaped me as I became an adult. ¬†I was carrying a lot of shame and self-rejection and didn’t understand the love of God at all, though I talked about it often. ¬†This also bled into my thoughts¬†about romance. ¬†I had very narrow views of who I would marry, if I married at all, and on top of that I¬†had a very bad theology around dating, unfortunately¬†as a direct result of¬†the Christian subculture in the late ’90s. ¬†I “kissed dating goodbye,” kept guys at a distance and waited for “God’s best” for me. ¬†And if no one showed up at my doorstep, I would be content to live single for the rest of my life. ¬†I was pharisaical and religious, judging people harshly and quickly while having very little self-awareness (quite a log in my own eye) and living in a very black and white world.

Then somewhere along the way, as life would have it, my foundation got shaken to the core and I started to question everything: ¬†moralism, love, spirituality, faith, my beliefs/values, God, my past, my identity… it was an unnerving and scary season. ¬†I went¬†on a¬†journey knowing that I may leave Christianity behind but also believing that if God existed, he could handle my questions, doubts, and all that lies in between. ¬†In a sense, I’m still on this journey and I suspect I will be for a lifetime. ¬†But I can say with confidence that so far, the God I’ve found and come to know can handle it all, and then some. ¬†And I also found he is more loving, more gracious, more perfect and more just than I had ever imagined. ¬†I found out rules¬†are important (and sometimes even necessary) but never more than relationship. ¬†My heart began to change, soften, open up more to the wonders and possibilities around me and in the world.

And while I was marveling in my journey, he surprised me with Steve.

(To be continued)