Where would we be in a world without moms? Lately I’ve been having one of those “a-ha” moments where I can tangibly feel my love and respect increasing daily for my parents, especially my mom. How exactly it feels, I am inept to describe but it’s best explained by the aching sensation of all those neglected years of not seeing what I ought to see. And that is, how I possibly can misinterpreted all the thoughtful yet forceful guidance as nagging and often another bothersome life’s hurdles to jump over. How easily annoyed I get when she didn’t readily comply with my wishes. How I looked down on her for not knowing what I know (as if I’m the gatekeeper of knowledge or something). Stupid right? It troubles my heart greatly just thinking about all the negative thoughts that ran through my unfiltered mind.
There is no sense in beating myself up now. It can only change for the better. The source for this epiphany came from my recent trip to Vietnam. There, I stayed with my aunt. Countless stories were exchanged which sparked a curiosity that ignited my heart: What was my mother like when she was my age?
My aunt told one story of faithfulness and dedication that I’ll now share. At the time when the war broke out against the communist, my parents were engaged. Because my dad was higher in ranks, they imprisoned him for treason. The Fall of Saigon in ‘75 pretty much left everyone for dead that wasn’t in the communist party. Prisons in Vietnam were unlike prisons here in America. If you had no loved ones hiking up a journey to pay a visit or cannily slipping money to the prison guards, you were as good as dead. As often as she found the time, my mother would travel long distance, hiking in the mountainous terrain to give food and extra clothing for my pops. Pretty gusty for a girl who could’ve been raped or worse, killed. Everyone, including family members urged her to call off the engagement to save her from a tough life ahead. At the time, uncertainty was the demon that terrorized our family. They did not know when he would be released from prison, if at all. Many potential suitors from rich families asked her hand in marriage for the obviously reason that she was beautiful. Nonetheless, she remained loyal for not one, but 7 agonizing years. Being engaged was not a binding commitment. Everyone would understand from her situation if she were to call it off. There was no sense in wasting your precious 20s in waiting for the unknown. However, their love endured the test of time and during those 7 years of trial, they remained absolute loyal and dedicated to each other. I have so much respect for this woman. Who can possibly top this real life love story? Very few, if any.
She lived through so much life and I haven’t even been born yet. Over the years, many valuable life lessons were handed down to me. One of which I can recall clearly. I remember sitting at the dining table, just her and I, and the topic of the purity of a woman was thrown out there. How every woman should hold so tightly to her purity that it becomes the most precious gift when she finally finds a man that she would spend for the rest of her life. Purity should start from the inside which bleeds to the outside bc one could not contain it. She went on giving examples of how practically to live this out. Dressing modestly to not draw attention to oneself in certain areas, act graciously and with class, don’t cheapen yourself by throwing yourself at them, don’t get involved with boys at a tender age, etc. etc. to name a few. To not awaken love when it’s not time, to sum it up in a nutshell. We had countless conversions about this that it’s been engrained in my mind. At a young age, God has given me the wisdom to take this life lesson to heart. Perhaps this is why I guard my heart so protectively. It’s because I truly value her wisdom. My mother, if you knew her or lived with like I do, you would be floored by how Christ-like she is. How can a person who worships other idols have so many characteristics of the Almighty God? I can only think that it’s because of God’s grace on my family. She is so generous to the point that it annoys me. The term “giving sacrificially” comes to mind, one of which I am learning as we speak. A person who’s so much like Christ in certain aspect ought to KNOW Christ. And so, this has been my prayer request ever since I accepted Christ not too long ago. For my mom to know the love of Christ has for her in a personal way. To be so stunned by the love story that Jesus died for her that it makes waiting for my earthly father for 7 years fail in comparison. This is my deepest desire. To share the love of Christ to someone I love so immensely. Lord, I know this is Your will. So now let Your will be done!
You’re looking at the face that taught me things that I thought wasn’t in me. What makes my mom so special in my eyes? It’s just simply bc she’s MY mom (and Tran’s. and i guess Ryan now also).
*I private a lot of posts but since this is a first public post in months, my bad if it’s a little lengthy.
If you ever met me, you would think I was an extrovert — I preach, I lead praise, I talk to everyone, I talk too much, and you can hear me laughing from across the street — but I am a full-blooded introvert.
If it were up to me, I’d rather be in my boxers all day eating Godiva while…
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone for the sake of the gospel? One of the lies that Satan has been using against me is that God prefers working with extroverted people; people whose good social skills thrive in pulling and winning nonbelievers over to Christ. Those who are not awkward at engaging in small talks and make developing new friendships seemingly effortless. Yup. That’s sooo not me. God wired me in a way that I get recharged when I’m away from people rather than from a crowd. I always thought the ideal evangelist is someone who’s a people person, an outgoing extrovert, a go-getter, etc. But lately, little by little, God is slowly crushing the lie. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are communal beings. He does not live in solitude but is in perfect community, therefore, his people, in his image, should follow suit. God doesn’t call us to be comfortable and go with the motion but he’s all about loving his people in a way that they can FEEL the love even at our expense. In the words of Francis Chan, nothing we do in this life will ever matter unless it’s about loving God and loving the people he has made. And so, despite my “introvertedness”, I need to be more inviting when it comes to people outside my circle. Been told that when I don’t smile, I look like a serial killer. Lovely.
So, to answer the question that I tossed out at the beginning: yes. I try to avoid awkward conversations at all cost, and so for me to ask someone on a coffee/dinner date that I only meet once or max. twice prior, well it’s kinda a big deal. But God kept telling me to be intentional. People need to know that they are wanted and sought after even if it’s only for friendship. For this reason, I have been reaching out to couple of girls from my church that I don’t know well to jump start this thing. And although meeting corporately provides encouragements to my brothers and sisters, of which I need to do more of, individual one on one meet up is where I will blossom. My prayer as of the beginning of the year is for God to unveil the blinders off my eyes and see the hurt people are carrying around. To go deeper with people rather than staying at the surface where it’s safe. I’ve come to a place where I accepted that this is my God-given personality and this too, is made in his image.
I might sound like a loony but for real, every time I style my hair a different way or decide to not wear make-up for the day, I feel unrecognizable and I like it. This is why, to my amazement, when people say hi and carry on about their usual conversation, I am so surprised bc in my mind, I had already magically morphed into a different person. Now I tested this theory out with the Sunday school kiddies several weeks ago. Either Renewal kids are super bright and they see within my soul or I’m delusional and look the same however which way i present myself. Im sure it’s the latter. My incognito mode wasn’t successful after all.
<and can I say, when the kids call me Miss. Ngan, my heart just melts into pieces>
Read somewhere that at birth, newborns have two natural fears
fear of falling
fear of loud noises
Hypothetically if this were true, that makes all other fears a derivative of our surrounding. Not for one second do I believe that God builds us to live in fear. I am not talking about rational fears regarding the fear of the Lord or escaping from danger but those imagined fears. Those fears that leave us crippled and limit our ability to unleashing maximum potential. For me, this is the fear of men, the fear of the unknown, and my personal beast, the what-ifs. Wonder where these fears stem from. From a certain angle I can justify that everyone has them and move on. Learn to live with it sort of way. But to a greater degree, (and this is me trying to strip it down to the core) it is because I don’t believe God is good to me. That he is not really on my side. He throws curveballs and watch how I swing. Is this true? Well obviously not if you ever read the bible.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
But for those fears to remain, it doesn’t sit well with me. Deep in my heart, on some sort of level, I do not trust that God knows what’s best for me. But for me to think that somehow I can outsmart him or know what fits my situation is ludicrous. There is a constant dialogue that goes on in my mind. Negative thoughts, negative thoughts, negatives thoughts. The Holy Spirit raging wars on my behalf and tackles it with Scriptures. I need to give myself at least a fighting chance and provide ammunitions. What are my ammunitions you wonder? glad you ask. It’s scripture memorization of course!!
And now I am totally going off tangent. But that’s the beauty of tumblr or any blogging sites: there’s no written codes. Let’s go back to those fears that have me at a choke hole shall we? There is a knowing that God is good. Even if he condemns the world to hell, he is still good. But I learn it solely from the standpoint of knowledge. On the flip side, I also have tasted how good he is on a personal level. But exactly how deep that level is probably child’s play. “Oh, he heals me, therefore he is good” “He allows me to have a job to pay off my mountain-high student debts, therefore he is good.” my bad, my thoughts are all scattered. Basically what I’m driving at here is perfect love casts out fears. Whoever fears has not been perfected in love (1 John 4:18). You see, the one who KNOWS that he/she is being loved perfectly by God, JC, and the HS should have freedom to live life radically. To not be paralyzed by fear of failure, rejection, acceptance, the unknown, etc… I feel like this is me trying to reach the state of nirvana or something. But can one truly live out 1 John 4:18 on this side of eternity? I think the answer is yes but only by the sheer grace of God Almighty.
Paraphrasing/quotation from a Christian novel, The Shack by William P. Young (great read) :
Most birds were created to fly. If you clip a bird’s wings and remove it’s ability to fly, it loses its purpose. We are like birds in the sense that we were created to be loved. So for us to live as if we were unloved is a limitation. That is not what God intented. Pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly. And if it’s left unresolved for very long, you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place. A bird is defined not by being grounded but by his ability to fly. Remember this, humans are defined not by their limitations, but by the intentions God has for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in His image.
Not too long ago when I accepted Christ, we attended my first mission conference. At the time, I had absolutely no interest nor urgency in reaching out to nonbelievers. I do not remember anything from that conference other than this illustration. The pastor was reflecting on the numbers of Christian workers in the U.S. as compared to those among the unreached people in China. So, you’re in the woods and you happen to see 10 men carrying a log, nine of them on one end and one of them on the heavy end. You wanted to help. Which end will you help lift? Although I’m not a very logical person, this is a no brainer. For some unknown reason, this illustration has resonated well with me. Perhaps God was planting a seed in my heart and it took two short-term trips oversea to finally sprout some growth. I have a lot of fears and still a lot of insecurities. But I believe in living your life radically because Jesus lived a radical life.
With that said, God made me Vietnamese for a reason and he has gifted me with language. And although I don’t want to limit him in any way, I would prefer working with the Vietnamese people if I can choose. There are too many shortcomings to list but in my weakness, I am pushed further in my relationship with Christ.
Carlson blogs on the booming generation of short-term missions saying:
What has made all of this possible? Western affluence and airplanes. What once took missionaries months of travel time now takes a day. George Whitefield crossed the Atlantic 13 times in his life! I crossed the Atlantic 10 times last year while eating, getting some work done, and watching a movie or two. What took Whitefield months in travel time on a boat takes us eight hours.”
“Imagine a team from France calls your church and says they want to visit. They want to put on VBS (which you have done for years), but the material is in French. They have heard about how the U.S. church has struggled and want to help you fix it. They want to send 20 people, half of them youth. Only two of them speak English. They need a place to stay for free, with cheap food and warm showers if possible. During the trip half of the group’s energy will be spent on resolving tension between team members. Two people will get sick. They’d like you to arrange some sightseeing for them on their free day. Do you want them to come?”
Sobering, isn’t it? The question that has been on my mind for the past couple of days: What will become of all my short-term “mission” trips? I put mission in quotation only because I believe it is truly missions for my soul. And although I am providing limited aid with my presence there, in the long run, I am the person that reaps the treasures. Time is the key to making disciples for Christ, is it not? Exactly how effective can I be with just two weeks to possibly a month’s stay at a place I won’t call home? I can preach the gospel until I’m blue in the face but to truly make disciples require dedication and consistency.
Come September, I will be heading back to Cambodia, God willing. I don’t know how I could be of any help but one thing I am certain about: Every increased exposure to short-term mission results in an ever increased yearning for more of Christ and in turn paving the way to the door of becoming a full time committed long termer. Maybe. Possibly. He knows.
Interested in more on what Carlson wrote, heres the link:
If you don’t believe in miracles, you need to seriously consider reading Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. Conor logs his journey while volunteering at an orphanage in a decade-long war-torn Nepal. What was a three-month volunteering stint to impress the ladies back in the States turns out to be a fight to win back lost children from child traffickers in Kathmandu. It’s filled with suspense, realness, insightfulness, and everyone’s favorite, romance. Grennan has a way with words that I find myself LAUGHING OUT LOUD at times. It warms my heart with the descriptive details about the children at an orphanage called Little Princes. It’s a true testament of how love can lead us to do some unthinkable things. Conor’s love for the young children forces him to break what he thought were his limits. Though it’s quite unbelievable with the level of injustice that still exists in this world, this memoir appeals to me on so many levels. Having worked with children in Cambodia, child trafficking is a growing problem that many Americans are unaware of. The heart that Conor develops over time provides great energy for me. It proves that one man can in fact make a difference in this world. Change starts from within and it naturally oozes out when the heart is overflowing. Which ultimately transforms into action. I’m not gonna lie, the fact that I knew he was a Christian before reading might make for some bias siding but that is beside the fact. I shall now leave you with one of the many hilarious excerpts found in the book.
“Few places in the world can teach forbearance like Nepal. Let’s say, for instance, that I asked somebody to buy me bananas from the shop next door. In fact, let’s say that I asked him to buy me bananas a week ago—then I reminded him hourly over the next few days. On that one billionth time that I reminded him that he promised to buy me bananas, the man would most likely respond with something to the effect of: “It will definitely happen today, my friend. I swear to you on the life of my son—your bananas will be bought today, in the next hour for sure. Erase all doubt from your mind. In fact, it is actually done already, even as we speak it is being concluded, as sure as the sun rose in the east this morning those bananas will have been purchased. They belong to you now—the shopkeeper has no rightful claim to them any longer. You can open your mouth now in preparation for consuming this banana, which is here, right now. It is in my hand and on its way to your mouth, so I hope that you are ready to enjoy this fine banana. Your teeth may now begin to close as the banana is now in your mouth. How does it taste? Is it very fine?”
Two simple words. Frightening yet it brings about such reassurance and often comfort to my heart. No matter how dark, how crafty and clever, how well hidden my sins are, God knows.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
There’s basically NOWHERE I can run that You can’t find me. Where can I flee from Your presence? If I climb the mountain summit, You’re there. If I submerged myself into the ocean, You’re there. If I ascend to heaven, You’re there. If I decide to make my bed in the pit, You’re there. If I go over there, You’re there. If I stay over here, You’re there. If I’m in a stadium among the crowds, You’re there. If I seek solitude in the woods, You’re there. Your omnipresence runs deep and it scares me. To make it more personal and drive it home, if I spend time on the phone gossiping to a friend, You hear me. If I am alone and lost in my lustful thoughts, You see everything. If I share my opinions to everyone, You will be listening. If a negative though form in my head against a brother and I decide to keep to myself, You know. All my shortcomings that people see, You know. All the shortcomings that I successfully hid from the world, You know it also. No matter how dark and deep a secret I have, there’s no way I can hide from You. The picture here is that God is all-encompassing, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-anything and everything.
You saw my unformed body, and said I am fearfully and wonderfully made after Your image. WHAT? Can this be true? It is bc it’s Your promise.
Ezekiel 37:3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
I have had my fair share of sermons on dating and marriage. But this message by Matt Chandler by and large one of the most sobering messages I’ve crossed paths with. Applicable, Biblical, Confrontational, Direct, etc… just listen
What if we lived as if heaven was real? What would it look like if we actually lived like Jesus conquered the grave? What if we truly acted like the princes and princesses of the King on high? What if we really lived out our belief in our salvation? And if we truly lived out the reality that the…
It has to be more. This life. This world. My life. My world. It just has to be more than this. I can’t go on faking any longer. I refuse to sing praise without sincerity, else I’ll just stand there looking at the pulpit indifferent, not fully embracing the words flowing out of my mouth like honey. I refuse to pray for anyone else, unless God burdens my heart to do so. I refuse to pray for useless everyday mishaps for the Lord knows. What I need to be doing now is pray for my salvation. I can’t be living and breathing and not have a reason to live and breathe for. How dare I say that I’ve encountered the Lord Jesus Christ and not be changed? I want to be in bondage of sin no longer. I don’t want to lose my sensitivity toward sin. I want to look at it and scream that I am free. Come down from that pedestal, Ngan. Come down that you may be set free. I need to need God so desperately that I relinquish all control. Then, loving people and earnestly praying for others won’t seem like such a daunting task. It has to be more. It just has to be… Right?
I Chronicles 28:9 (NKJV) “know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you;”
I want to fall to my knees and worship in awe because of who God is; not what He can give. I want to proudly say that I know God and He knows me. I will burn in the pits of hell if I am the way I am and nothing in me exemplify God continuously molding and sharpening me everyday. Honestly, I don’t exactly know what I am hoping to find. Neither do I know what I will do once I actually find what I have been searching for. All I know is that if I continue to live with this mask on, eventually it will devour the very bones of my flesh. I can’t be among the millions who claim to know the Lord and not TRULY know Him. I seek His face and what will I find? Will there be a smile or will He be fuming with anger? I don’t know and I don’t care. I need Jesus. It’s time to take off the mask. I’m suffocating.
Let’s journey into the year 2013, shall we? Dang, reading my old diary makes me want to light myself on fire for the Lord again. The zeal of a young Christian can be such a powerful and dangerous thing. I must confess that the pass couple weeks, I slowly allowed myself to backslide into a fatal territory. I must remind myself daily of what God has done in the past and currently doing now. Reading old journal entries like this one helps tremendously. My pastor once told us that a Christian life is like a yo-yo.
Up and Down, Up and Down. Life never stop beating you and throwing in some drama for good measure. But then, there are days when the sun breaks through and you spring back to life for a short while. However, be encouraged that the growth of a Christian is more like in the hands of someone that is walking the yo-yo up an escalator. Your low point now is higher than your high point then. Christian maturity comes with time. And this analogy is always helpful in my dark moments, as there are many weak moments to come (Thanks PC). This Saturday, a group of us will be going to a Prayer Mountain. It terrifies me bc when you deeply seek for the Lord, He will not turn his face away from you. THis is His promise to us. Expecting great things bc we serve a mighty God.
Congratulations. If you have read this far, we are friends. If we weren’t friends before, we’re friends now. Thanks for caring. I hope you feel encouraged by reading my thoughts. Come again. Bye :D
*Note: I hope you guys see how thoughtful I was in not scaring my readers with lengthy entries. Hence the picture that I ripped off of google image.
Christ was in perfect harmony with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The only time that it was broken was when he went on the cross for the sake of his creation. How heartbroken he must’ve felt at that time when he took on the weight of the world out of sheer obedience. In the garden he cried out three times, “Let this cup pass from me, let his cup pass from me, let his cup pass from me”. What the heck was in that cup?!? He was in complete anguish that he started sweating blood.
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.” -Jeremiah 12:15-16
The wrath of the Almighty God was in that cup. The nails didn’t/couldn’t hold him down; it was pure, sacrificial, holy love that kept him there. Perfect community broken for me and you. This boggles my mind. The more I attempt to dissect it, the more confused I become. Grace. I don’t understand it. I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to live without it. But I will accept it. Thank you Lord!
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.”
Sadly I will have to confess that in my younger years, I had as much interest in books as I did with ancient history. Kindly put, there is not an ounce of desire to read more than required. Recently, I grow tired of my ignorance. This thought springs up so abruptly that I find myself unsure how to react. There is an incredible sense of thirst for more knowledge, more truth, and more adventures. Where can I possibly begin after all these years of negligence. There is much to gain from reading a simple book. I now find myself looking forward to snuggling in my warm blanket with a cup of milk or mango Chobani and simply read (whether it be the bible or a novel). The mind can be a dangerous weapon. However, you can always channel that into something good. It simply starts with a thought, an idea. Books can carry you far. Often, it might even be a sweet oasis to run to after a rough day at work where the world beats you relentlessly. This upcoming year, I will awaken my inner bookworm and commit to reading more books. Books tap into the world of possibilites. Once your mind expands and exposes to those possibilities, who knows how far you can go, what movement you would start, whose lives you could change.
Happy New Year! May you find the Joy and create sweet memories in 2013 :)
A blank canvas: where everyone has the potential to be an artist, a writer, a painter, a dreamer, etc. The possibilities are limited only to what the imagination can conjure up. And yet, it can be so… troublesome. You don’t want to mess it up out of fear that it would not live up to the perfect image in your mind. And so, here I am blogging my first post; splashing my thoughts on a canvas called tumblr. I don’t expect anyone to read only to walk away with some life changing experience for I am certainly not blessed with motivational or therapeutic words of encouragement. However, I hope to log life’s events as I find time in my not-so-busy life. Good day.